Movie Review: The Invitation (2016)

Every year for the past few years, as we get closer to October (AKA the Month of Spooks), people keep recommending this fucking movie. So there, I finally got around to it. YOU HAPPY NOW?

Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for accepting… “The Invitation”.

On a night like any other, Will (Logan Marshall-Green) gets invited to a nice dinner at his ex-wife’s home. And as the night goes on, old memories keep coming back, all the while Will suspects that something might be going on. So now we have our story, and I think it’s an interesting one. What we have here is partly a character-driven drama, and partly a bit of a psychological thriller, and the blend makes for an utterly compelling and unpredictable experience that kept me on the edge of my seat from scene one. It is quite a slow burn, which might turn some viewers off, but for me it just added to the overall experience.

The characters in this are flawed, nuanced, and overall interesting. And I won’t go through them all, as that might ruin some of the reveals or interesting moments with them in case you’ll watch it. But the cast features people like Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michelle Krusiec, Mike Doyle, Jordi Vilasuso, Michiel Huisman, John Carroll Lynch, and they all are great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Theodore Shapiro, and I thought it was good. It is this low, almost droning score that creates a bit of an uncomfortable tension in some scenes, and adds emotional weight to others. It isn’t one I’m gonna find myself listening to in my spare time, but I thought it worked quite well for this movie.

“The Invitation” was directed by Karyn Kusama, and I think she did a fantastic job with it. She has a way of staying intimate to the main character while still encompassing everything going on around. To call the direction tight and focused would be underselling it. This is complemented by the outright stunning cinematography by Bobby Shore, which gives the movie an almost dreamlike vibe at times.

This movie has been generally well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

I can see now why people kept recommending me to watch “The Invitation”, because it’s fucking great. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Invitation” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Invitation” is now completed.

Maybe it’s a good thing that I don’t get invited to a lot of stuff.

Movie Review: It (2017)

And the Month of Spooks continues! And today we’ll be talking about a Stephen King adaptation. How fun.

Ladies and gentlemen… “It”.

Maine, 1989. A group of outcast kids have to come together during their summer holiday when an evil clown (Bill Skarsgård) starts haunting them and wreaking havoc. So I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, when this story focuses on the drama of the Losers Club (the kids we follow) and their personal issues, that shit is compelling, it is insanely well written and it had me engaged. There’s a lot of nuance to that stuff, and it really adds to it all. But when it focuses on the horror shit… meh. I’ll get into that in more detail later, but for now… this plot is a mostly positive mixed bag.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and overall really interesting. The kids feel real, I love their camaraderie, and they have great chemistry. Jaeden Martell, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, and Wyatt Oleff, they play the Losers Club, and they were all fantastic. And then we have Bill Skasgård as Pennywise. I really liked his performance, but I’m not sure if that’s for the reason the filmmakers wanted. They wanted him to be terrifying, and at times he does have a creepy gaze. But for the most part he’s just an absolute fucking ham, and I loved watching it, because I live for hammy shit. But seriously, that was a great, if a bit goofy, performance.

The score for the movie was composed by Benjamin Wallfisch, and god damn, it was great. It has many layers to it, and it helps build a strong emotional core that really manipulated me at points. Usually with horror movies, my expectations for the music are often kinda low, so I’m glad the Wallfisch proved my ass wrong by giving us some really stunning tunes. And some decently creepy ones. Good job.

Based on the beloved novel of the same name by Stephen King, “It” was directed by Andy Muschietti, and I think he did a great job. His control of the camera and flow a scene can’t be understated, it was truly some damn good stuff. Even built some decent creepiness to it at times. And the various effects in the movie, both practical and digital, were damn good. Buuuut then we get to the “scary shit”. Yeah, I wasn’t scared by it. And that’s not me being a douche about it, I would’ve loved (for lack of a better word) to have been scared by that stuff. But it never got to me. Like I said, there’s some decently creepy moments throughout, but when it tried to full on scare me, it never really worked. Partly due to the hamtastic Bill Skarsgård, and partly due to some of the audio cues added to certain scares. So the craft here is great… I just wasn’t scared.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 69/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

While it fails at spooking me, I still think “It” is a damn good movie. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Boo*. My final score for “It” is an 8,78/10. So while flawed, I’d say it’s still worth buying.

My review of “It” is now completed.

I am so mixed on this movie.

Movie Review: Mulberry Street (2006)

And the spooks continue. So what’s on today’s menu? Well, it’s a movie from a creative team whose other works I’ve enjoyed. And this was their first collaboration, so I thought I’d finally get around to it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mulberry Street”.

Mulberry Street, Manhattan. It’s a hot day. A group of people go about their day. But soon that will be turned on its head when an infection that turns people into rat monsters starts spreading. It’s basically a zombie siege movie, but with a unique spin on the infection. I can respect that, and it’s clear that the writers really wanted the story to feel more fleshed out and engaging, but in the end I just didn’t find the overall execution very interesting.

The characters, like the story, are written to seem more fleshed out, but again, I just didn’t really give a shit. Maybe I could care a little bit about Nick Damici’s character at times, but that’s mainly because he’s played by the awesome Nick Damici. The cast try, and the performances for the most part are alright. But man, in the end it doesn’t do much to help me care about the people who might become a rat monster’s lunch.

The score for the movie was composed by Andreas Kapsalis, and it isn’t great. I’ve enjoyed this kind of more minimal synth-esque score before, but the way it was executed here wasn’t that great. It somehow managed to feel like it wasn’t enough, while also being slightly overbearing.

This movie was written by Nick Damici and Jim Mickle, with Mickle handling direction. Like I said at the beginning of the review, I love this team, I’ve reviewed multiple things of theirs before, all getting recommendations from me. And I get that they were working with a lot of limitations (most of them budgetary) on this. But man, I am not a fan of the presentation in this movie. It’s a shaky, handheld, early 2000s digital camera, which is a combo I don’t like. The look it creates honestly hurts my head. Moments that should be scary and intense end up becoming a little annoying.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 70% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,6/10.

I love these guys, I really do. So it kinda hurts when I say that “Mulberry Street” isn’t really that good. The plot is uninteresting, I didn’t care for any of the characters, the performances are okay, the music isn’t great, and the directing/cinematography is kinda painful. Time for my final score. *Sad ahem*. My final score for “Mulberry Street” is a 4,76/10, so I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “Mulberry Street” is now completed.

*sigh*

Movie Review: Candyman (1992)

Time for some more spookums for the Month of Spooks. So let’s stop standing around and get into it.

Ladies and gents… “Candyman”.

Grad student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) is working on a thesis about a local spooky legend known as the Candyman (Tony Todd). And as she investigates this legend, she soon comes face-to-face with the titular myth. So now we have a psychological thriller/procedural. And I’m gonna be frank with you guys, I really liked the story told here. For something that can be technically considered a slasher, there’s a surprising amount of nuance to the story, putting doubt in your mind about certain story elements, making the viewer feel uneasy about the things going on. Despite a relatively short runtime, it took its time to tell this chilling and surprisingly nuanced narrative. That’s not to say that there aren’t thrills, ’cause there are. But the story here isn’t just some thinly veiled excuse for gory slicing and dicing a la Jason Voorhees. The story here has an actual purpose, and I was pleasantly surprised by it.

The characters in this are, like the story, surprisingly nuanced and engaging. Virginia Madsen plays Helen, the grad student investigating the local legend. She’s a bit of a skeptic, so when she starts coming face-to-face with some of the strange things she doesn’t fully believe in, she starts going through a bit of a fascinating arc. And Madsen is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tony Todd as the titular legend. I won’t go into too much detail in case you haven’t seen it but want to. But let’s just say that he’s one of the more intriguing horror antagonists out there. And Todd is great in the role (and what a cool voice he has!). We also get supporting work from people like Xavier Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons, DeJuan Guy, Vanessa Williams, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for “Candyman” was composed by Philip Glass, and I think it’s pretty spectacular. Sure, the opening track has some minor things that I’m not a huge fan of. But other than that, this score is wonderful. It’s eerie, yet mournful. Haunting, yet sad. Like with the things we talked about earlier, there’s a surprising amount of nuance to it, and especially with the main theme, which is one of the most stunning that I’ve ever heard.

Loosely based on a short story by Clive Barker, the movie was written and directed by Bernard Rose. And I think he did a great job with it. Yes, there are jump scares, and yes there is gore. But he still has a direction that generally relies more on a subtle creep-factor rather than constant thrills, which adds to the overall experience. There’s even a lot of fun camerawork throughout, which helps add a bit of extra energy to proceedings, and not just have it be a slightly boring, static shot of something happening.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 74% positive rating. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

I was pleasantly surprised by “Candyman”, it’s a surprisingly nuanced little horror movie. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Candyman” is a 9,78/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Candyman” is now completed.

Wait, how many times did I say his name in this review? 1, 2, 3, 4, fuck.

Movie Review: Shelley (2016)

Ladies, gentlemen, and space aliens, it’s finally here. The first review in my yearly blogging thing called THE MONTH OF SPOOKS! *Dramatic music, thunder & lightning, very very frightening*. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gents… “Shelley”.

A young Romanian woman named Elena (Cosmina Stratan) has come to Denmark to help a Danish couple (Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Peter Christoffersen) out as a maid. Not too long into her service she agrees to become a surrogate mother for them. And it doesn’t take long for her to discover that there might be something strange going on with this pregnancy. So now we have our little horror-drama. And it’s certainly an interesting story. Now, it’s not perfect, there are flaws. It has a little bit of an ambiguous nature, never giving an explanation for what happened. Being ambiguous isn’t necessarily a problem, but I feel like they could’ve fed us a few more bread crumbs so that we could interpret more from it, because this is maybe a little too vague with some stuff. With that said, the stuff we do get though is interesting and is made more engaging thanks to a really cool, off-brand atmosphere. The plot has a lot of flaws, but it’s still pretty interesting.

The characters in this are flawed and decently interesting. Cosmina Stratan plays Elena, the young woman who agrees to carry the baby. She’s charming and energetic, a nice young woman who wants to help people. And seeing her go through the development she goes through here is quite fascinating, making her a decently layered character. And Stratan is really good in the role. Ellen Dorrit Petersen plays Louise, the woman whose child Elena helps to carry. She generally seems like a good person, very friendly, and does everything to make sure Elena (and the baby) is comfortable. And she is decently interesting, with Petersen giving a solid performance. And in the supporting cast we see people like Peter Christoffersen and Björn Andrésen, both doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Martin Dirkov, who I think did a good job with it. It’s not a very melodic score, going more for eerie droning sounds, because that apparently makes stuff spookier. I know that sounds like a criticism, but it isn’t. Like I said, it’s overall a good score, and it works pretty well whenever it’s used within the movie.

“Shelley” was written by Ali Abbasi and Maren Louise Käehne, with Abbasi handling direction. And this is overall a very well crafted movie. Abbasi’s direction really helps conjure a creepy, off-kilter atmosphere which almost gives the movie a sort of dreamlike quality, which at times makes it a little more unsettling. Also makes for some nice shots on occasion.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,2/10.

While “Shelley” isn’t perfect, it’s still a decently creepy little horror-drama. It has an okay plot, okay characters, really good performances, good music, and really good writing/direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Shelley” is a 7,11/10. So while flawed, I’d say it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Shelley” is now completed.

Do you think that title is a cute nod to Mary Shelley? Or is that just wishful thinking on my part?