Series Review: The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

And here we are, my friends. The last post of Month of Spooks 2021. It’s been a fun ride, but it is time to wind down a bit. And to cap it off, we’re ending it the way we started it… with a Mike Flanagan show. So let’s go.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Haunting of Hill House”.

The story follows the Crains, a fractured family as they try to confront the haunting memories of what had happened to them in the past. “The Haunting of Hill House” blends a grief-driven family drama with a ghost story, and it is insanely effective. It’s difficult discussing the story and themes and general impact it had on me without delving into spoilers, but I’ll try my best. The spooky stuff is good on its own, it’s solid horror. But what carries my attention is how the family drama and character-driven subplots and the meditation on grief develops throughout, showing how everyone in this family’s been broken by the traumatic events in their past, and how they’re trying to cope with all of that. It’s a very nuanced, tender, and emotionally charged story that hit me in a way that few shows manage, even making me cry multiple times throughout. It’s a beautiful, scary, and sad story that I absolutely adored.

The characters in this are some of the most nuanced and believable I’ve seen in a show. They all feel so real and I found their personal stories and developments extremely engaging and interesting. And for the show we also have a huge cast, with everyone giving top notch performances. So I’m just gonna list them off, because I want to shout them out. So we have Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Elizabeth Reaser, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, Mckenna Grace, Lulu Wilson, Victoria Pedretti, Paxton Singleton, Timothy Hutton, Anthony Ruivivar, and many more. It’s just a stellar cast all perfectly playing stellar characters.

The score for the show was composed by The Newton Brothers, and they absolutely killed it, this might be my favorite work from them. They have this brooding eerie tension at times, and for a lot they go for a more somber, emotionally charged piano style that hit me right in the god damn heart, further amplifying the heartache that this show creates. It’s just excellent stuff.

Based on the novel by Shirley Jackson, “The Haunting of Hill House” was created, directed, and co-written by Mike “Let’s make sad stuff” Flanagan. Aaaaand, the man just doesn’t fucking miss. His direction here is stellar, building tension when needed, but also letting more dramatic moments breathe just the right amount for maximum emotional investment. I don’t know what to say here about his style that I didn’t mention in my reviews of “Midnight Mass” or “Doctor Sleep“, I can’t really elaborate much beyond it. The dude’s amazing. And Michael Fimognari’s cinematography is beautiful as always. It’s just an insanely well crafted show.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10, and is ranked #132 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“The Haunting of Hill House” is a masterful horror-drama, and a further showcase for why Mike Flanagan is one of the best filmmakers around. It has a fantastic story, great characters, fantastic performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Haunting of Hill House” is a 9.93/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Haunting of Hill House” is now completed.

And with that, the Month of Spooks is over. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have tears to mop up. God damn it, Flanagan…

Movie Review: The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)

Well, well, well, look what we have here… someone reading a blog post during the Month of Spooks, ain’t that fun. Anyway, what do we have on the menu today? Wolf stuff? Neat.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Wolf of Snow Hollow”.

When a series of gruesome murders start occurring each full moon in the mountain town of Snow Hollow, the people start speculating that some monster might be on the prowl. Skeptical Officer John Marshall (Jim Cummings) on the other hand is set to prove who might’ve done it, all while trying to care for his teenage daughter (Chloe East) and his ailing father (Robert Forster). “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” mixes elements of procedural cop drama, horror, and dark comedy, and I think it blend together really well. It’s nice and heartwarming, while also being decently suspenseful and even quite funny at times, and I admittedly never really saw where it would ultimately end up. I guess my only issue with it is the short runtime. I am a big proponent of movies that don’t exceed 90 minutes, but here I feel like it hurts the movie a little bit. It makes it feel like it’s rushing through certain sections a bit. Had they had another ten-ish minutes to let certain bits breathe a little more, it would’ve definitely improved it. But as it stands I still enjoyed my time with this story.

The characters in this are all quite colorful, flawed, fun, and pretty nuanced. Jim Cummings (not the Winnie the Pooh one) plays Officer John Marshall, our main protagonist, a troubled man going through a lot of stressful stuff. He’s an interesting character who makes for an excellent lead, with Cummings giving a great performance. Riki Lindhome plays Julia Robson, John’s (much more competent) colleague, and I really like her, she’s a good character, played really well by Lindhome. We also get some damn good supporting work from people like Robert Forster, Chloe East, Jimmy Tatro, Skyler Bible, Will Madden, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Ben Lovett, and I liked it. When things need to be more atmospheric and suspenseful, Lovett gives us some brooding and quite eerie tracks and really helped set the mood nicely. But he also creates these frumpy and kinda bouncy tracks for scenes that are meant to be a bit more comedic. And I think he did a really good job on both styles. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and I think they’re implemented quite well.

“The Wolf of Snow Hollow” was written and directed by its star, Jim Cummings, and I think he did a really good job with it. You can tell that he’s improved a bit as a filmmaker since his debut feature, “Thunder Road”. Not that his direction in that was bad, but there’s a definite step up with this one. It’s kinetic, it’s fun, it’s a bit suspenseful, Cummings just nails it with his direction here.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.2/10.

While its brevity does hurt it a bit, I still found “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” to be a really enjoyable little horror-dramedy. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good direction. Time for my final score. *Awoo*. My final score for “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” is an 8.45/10. So while it does have flaws, Id’ say it’s still worth buying.

My review of “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” is now completed.

Awoooo, Wolf of Snow Hollow

Movie Review: I Saw the Devil (2010)

Hello there, my friends, I hope you’re having a most spooktacular day. Anyhow, what’s on the Month of Spooks menu today then? Korean stuff? Haven’t done that for MoS yet… how exciting!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “I Saw the Devil”.

When his fiancée is brutally killed by a vicious and perverted killer (Min-sik Choi), special agent Soo-hyeon Kim will go on a crusade to get revenge. “I Saw the Devil” is an almost non-stop ride of darkness, depravity, and turning my stomach inside out. It’s a morally grey revenge story where you understand why the protagonist does what he does, even if you find yourself questioning his methods. It’s an interesting spin on the familiar serial killer/cat and mouse game stuff that balances dark, morally grey, and disturbing drama with unflinching and brutal violence. It’s hard to describe the narrative without giving stuff away, so I’ll just end this section by saying that I thought the story here was great.

The characters in this are all fucked in the head in one way or another. I know that sounds like a weird generalization in some way, but it’s true. They are all messed up in some way, and the movie explores that in really fascinating ways, which makes all of them quite interesting. What also helps make them compelling are the performances, in particular from our two leads. Byung-hun Lee is brilliant as our protagonist, and Min-sik Choi is delightfully icky as the serial killer. They make for a great pairing in this. We also get some really solid supporting work from people like Gook-hwan Jeon, Ho-jin Chun, In-seo Kim, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by a man known as Mowg, and I think he did a great job with it. Most of it is used to help build this kinetic intensity, which really helps add to the frenetic pace of the movie. But there are also slower, more moody track that build ambiance and emotion when the movie does decide to slow down a little. It’s a solid score that works really well for the movie.

“I Saw the Devil” was directed by Jee-woon Kim, and I think he did a great job. His direction is intense and unflinching, never shying away from showing brutal, bloody, or outright disgusting things… but rarely does it feel gratuitous in that sense. I don’t know how to explain it, but it handles all this stuff in a way where you do see a lot, but it never goes overboard. Anyhow, I especially think his direction shines in the more action-heavy scenes, with the intensity and energy of those bits crackling in a way I don’t see much of in a lot of other movies. And on one final note, you’ve probably figured it out already if you’ve read this, but there’s quite a lot of disturbing content in this. So if you have a weak stomach or you’re in general just very squeamish and easily triggered by graphic content… you’ve been warned.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.

“I Saw the Devil” is a brutal and unflinching thriller that I highly recommend. It has a great plot, really interesting characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “I Saw the Devil” is a 9.67/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “I Saw the Devil” is now completed.

See no devil, hear no devil, speak no… devil? No, that doesn’t work…

Guest Post: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Hello there, friends, I hope you’re having a great day. Once again, I get to take a slight break today (slight bits of editing and image searching doesn’t count as work, shut up), and lean back as my wonderful and amazing friend Mary gives us a third (and final) guest post for this Month of Spooks. So without further ado, let’s see what she has to say about “Bride of Frankenstein”.

Four years after audiences were delighted and horrified by Boris Karloff’s first outing as the Monster in James Whale’s Frankenstein, the director followed it up with a sequel. In this, he promised to find the lab-made man a bride. Whale was not interested in directing a sequel and Universal toyed with the idea of pursuing one without him, until he was finally persuaded to come on board.

The horror sequel drifts even further from Mary Shelley’s source material and – sadly – from the tone and emotion conveyed in the original movie. Nevertheless, it introduced audiences to a female horror icon, complete with startled eyebrows and lightning bolt hair.

The title credits roll and, whilst Karloff is given top billing this time, the actor playing the Bride is simply left as a question mark as a way to build suspense and keep your interest.

In a similar vein to having Frankenstein introduced by a bow-tied MC, Whale opens his sequel with a conversation between Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon), Percy Shelly (Douglas Walton) and, of course, Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester in a dual role). Mary insists that having her Monster die in a flaming windmill was not the ending she had in mind for her story – there are flashbacks to the original movie here in case you had forgotten what happened. Instead, she had planned for … cue wavy screen transition into the start of our new movie. It’s extremely twee and rather out of place.

The score is far more lively this time around, with sweeping violins and thunderous percussion in almost every scene. The expressionist inspired shadow techniques are once again prominent here – but only for the male characters in their laboratory. The females tend to get that soft focus close-up effect that makes everyone’s face look like a glowing moon.

Colin Clive is relegated to a relatively minor role in this sequel, owing to a broken leg (you’ll notice he’s sitting in most of his scenes) and his ongoing battle with alcoholism (making him increasingly unreliable on set). Valerie Hobson replaces Mae Clarke as the love interest, Elizabeth, and is given about as much to do as her predecessor.

Two new characters are introduced in prominent roles. The first is quite possibly the most annoying character to ever grace the screen. Minnie the maid (Una O’Connor) is seen – and heard – long before Henry or the Monster. She’s a gossip, scuttling around, over enunciating her Estuary vowels. Prepare to roll your eyes every time she appears on screen. Part of this is the poor, two dimensional “maid roles”, the other part of this is terrible overacting.

In contrast, we have the nefarious Doctor Pretorious, brought to life with a maniacal laugh by Ernest Thesiger. He is shot most beautifully, practically from his ankles to create a looming sense of doom and lit like something from The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. He takes on his own quest for creating new life, goading Henry back into the lab once more to stitch together some other poor soul. Thesiger barely blinks in the role and has a rich, deep Vincent Price-esque voice, making him the perfect villain of the piece.

Karloff has a far more to do in this film and we get to see even more of the Monster’s tenderness. The scenes with the blind violinist (O.P Heggie) are so touching. The violinist the only character to befriend him because he literally cannot see that he is a “monster”. The scene where he tucks him in for the night – resulting in a tear rolling down the Monster’s cheek – is a bit overdone, but rather sweet.

And, as the exclamation point on the promotional materials promised, we get to hear the Monster speak, giving the famous “Alone … Bad … Friend … Good” line. Karloff is alleged to have argued with the studios as he didn’t want the Monster to speak at all, but he was clearly overruled. And he was right – it turns the Monster into almost a comedy figure as he chomps away on bread and cigars, pointing out the new words he has learned.

Rather disappointingly, in a film called The Bride of Frankenstein, we do not get to see this ravishing creation for any longer than five minutes – and not until the very end of the film, either. It’s a shame that what could have been a very early prominent female horror role is reduced to nothing more than a gimmick for the finale of a film dominated by men and their desires. That being said, Lanchester looks truly resplendent in the role. Although she is not given too much to do, her jolting head movements, hissing and startled eyes convey all that they need to – she does not want to be there.

In fact, the gender politics are more prevalent than ever, here. Female characters are seen to be gossips or hysterical; fainters or screamers. It is the men who are brave and strong; daring and scientific. Yes, it’s the 1930s but it all feels a bit two dimensional. No female character is given any depth or, quite frankly, anything to do that doesn’t involve a male.

This definitely feels like one of these sequels that almost didn’t need to be made. It does look and feel relatively similar to the original, but tonally it’s all over the place, veering wildly from comedy maids to cackling villains. It’s clearly trying to capitalise on the popularity of the Monster by giving him more screen time but, in doing so, it almost changes the way you perceive him.

However, Karloff is once again excellent in the role and – despite the brevity of her screen time – Elsa Lanchester makes for a fantastic woman of horror.

Written by Mary Palmer

Movie Review: Army of the Dead (2021)

Hello there, my friends, I hope you’re doing well. So now we’re moving onto the final stretch of the Month of Spooks. Only seven days left. So how are we kicking off this last week then? More zombies? Okie doke, let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Army of the Dead”.

The world has gone to shi- actually, most of the world’s fine for once. Really, Las Vegas is the only place that’s gotten fucked by a zombie outbreak. Anyhow, an enigmatic businessman (Hiroyuki Sanada) has decided to hire a group of mercenaries from all walks of life to bust into the outbreak zone and pull off a daring heist. So yeah, part heist flick, part zombie flick… and I had quite a bit of fun with it. The narrative doesn’t ever really do anything we haven’t seen in either of those sub-genres, but it instead just chooses to do them in a gleeful, bombastic, and sometimes insane way that I had a lot of fun with. Now, I’m not saying that the enjoyment was absolute, because there were a few things holding it back a little. First off, this movie is two and a half hours long, and while it for the most part moves at a clip, there are times where it drags a little. And that dragging comes from the second issue, and that’s some of the more serious drama spread throughout. I don’t mind having serious character drama in my goofy action movies, that can be surprisingly effective, but I just didn’t think it quite worked here. Had they given the script another pass and tried to iron it out more, then maybe. But as it stands, the drama just bogs it down for me a bit. Otherwise, I had fun with this apocalyptic heist story.

The characters in this are… fine? I didn’t necessarily mind them, and a few I did actually kinda like. But on the whole they all feel a little underdeveloped and like they could’ve been a little more fleshed out. But what I can happily say is that the cast itself is great. Dave Bautista is great as the tough yet kind leader, Matthias Schweighöfer is great as the comic relief safe expert, and Hiroyuki Sanada (despite very limited screen time) is as cool as always. The rest of the cast, containing people like Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwicke, Nora Arnezeder, Garret Dillahunt, Raúl Castillo, Tig Notaro, Athena Perample, and more are all great too.

The score for the movie was composed by Tom Holkenborg (AKA Junkie XL), and I enjoyed it. Nice mix of brass and electronics to create a score that hearkens back to more old school films, while still feeling quite contemporary. It’s solid stuff. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and I have slightly mixed feelings. Some work well enough and can add a nice bit of fun, but one or two didn’t fully click for me, with one specific track eliciting the biggest eyebrow raise I’ve given in a while. So yeah, the music in this is mostly good.

“Army of the Dead” was shot, directed, produced and co-written by Zack Snyder for Netflix. Aaaaand I think he did a really solid job here. The dude knows how to craft some bombastic, fun action set pieces, and he delivered on that front here. When zombie carnage is going down, Snyder cranks it up to 11. It’s generally well shot, insane, intense, and insanely gory. Speaking of which, I love the gore in this movie, as it’s not only well crafted, but also plentiful and quite creative, making for one hell of a fun time. The only thing I didn’t necessarily enjoy about Snyder’s ways here is his frequent use of shallow focus. I don’t mind shallow focus at all, and there were times where it helped create a nice shot in this movie. But he uses it a bit more than maybe needs to be done, which can be a little distracting at times. For the most part I like what Snyder does with his directing and such here, but that part was a little iffy at times.

This movie’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.8/10.

While it does have its fair share of flaws, I still had a really fun time with “Army of the Dead”. It has a fun plot, okay characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/action/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Army of the Dead” is a 7.99/10. So while flawed, it’s still certainly worth watching.

My review of “Army of the Dead” is now completed.

Viva Las Veg- AH, IT’S BITING MY LEG!!!

Movie Review: The Battery (2013)

Did someone say zombies?  No? Well fuck, then I guess I’ll do it… LIVING DEAD! Damn it, I messed up.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Battery”.

The world has gone to shit (god, it’s been a long time since I last used that phrase). Zombies have taken over and humanity is spread thin over New England. And in the middle of this apocalypse are Ben and Mickey (Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim), two former baseball players traveling together to try to survive. And that’s really about it, no grand goal, no major arc… just two polar opposite dudes trying not to die and trying to enjoy their new, horrifying life as best they can. And I appreciate that about this. I do of course love big stories with a lot of themes, but I found this one oddly refreshing. The relatively minimal story gives it a bit of a day-in-the-life kinda vibe that I dug. What also helps is that it never takes itself too seriously, keeping things pretty light, and even managing to be quite funny at times. And for a movie technically about corpses, it certainly has a beating heart. It does take a bit to really get going, but when it does, it becomes a really engaging story that I really fucking enjoyed.

Let’s talk about our two lead characters for a bit, because I love them. They’re opposites in most way, so for a lot of the movie they’re more or less clashing. Not in a hateful way, you can tell that they do care about each other on some level, but they’re not necessarily besties either. And what really helps sell these characters are Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim, both absolutely killing it in their roles, while sharing some terrific chemistry.

The score was composed by Ryan Winford, and it was alright. It wasn’t super memorable, but it worked well enough for the various scenes it could be heard in. But then there also are a fair bit of licensed songs used throughout, and they’re all really good and help to establish the mood of the film in really wonderful ways.

“The Battery” was interestingly enough written and directed by lead actor Jeremy Gardner, and I think he did a good job with it. He clearly shows how to make the most out of having almost no budget, always finding clever workarounds for the various scenarios that he wants to show. And the cinematography by Christian Stella is really solid too, really helping maintain the film’s vibe.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.4/10.

“The Battery” is a very charming and refreshing take on the zombie film that I really enjoyed watching. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Battery” is a 9.55/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Battery” is now completed.

Hey batter batter batter batter batter, SWING!

Movie Review: The Addams Family (1991)

Hello friends, how does another Month of Spooks piece sound to you? Bad? Awesome, let’s go!

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether ooky… “The Addams Family”!

Gomez (Raúl Juliá) and the rest of the Addams family are in for a shock when their long thought dead relative Fester (Christopher Lloyd) shows up on their door step. What they don’t know however is that it’s not actually Fester, but a con man with his sights set to scam the family of all they have. Half heist movie, half Addams antics… and it’s a fun mix. I would’ve been perfectly fine with good ol’ Fester just being good ol’ Fester throughout, but I really enjoyed this spin on the classic characters. It makes for a fun story that contains a surprising amount of good character moments throughout. There’s also a lot of funny stuff throughout, with jokes ranging from very goofy to quite macabre. Now, not all jokes land, there were a handful that didn’t really elicit any reaction at all if I’m gonna be honest. The good jokes still outweigh the meh by quite a bit, but those that didn’t make me laugh still definitely stick out. But overall, I had fun with the story here.

The characters here are creepy and kooky, mysterious and spoo- god damn it, sorry. But I don’t know how else to describe them. They’re all wacky and weird and wonderful, and I love them all. They’re well written and all feel like wonderfully updated interpretation of the classic characters. I also think the cast helps in this department. Raúl Juliá is an amazing Gomez, Anjelica Huston is perfect as Morticia, Christopher Lloyd is terrific as Fester-not-Fester, Christina Ricci and Jimmy Workman are adorable and hilarious as Wednesday and Pugsley, Carel Struycken kills it as Lurch, Judith Malina is great as Granny. And the supporting cast of Dan Hedaya, Elizabeth Wilson, Christopher Hart, Dana Ivey, and more are all great too. It’s just a wonderful cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Marc Shaiman, and it was really good. Energetic, bouncy, a little spooky, it’s got everything you could really ask for when it comes to music in a mildly horror-adjacent family fil- Wait, this is PG-13? Oh shit, I guess I can’t call it a family film then… or can I? Anyhow, Shaiman’s score is good.

Based on the comic strips by Charles Addams, “The Addams Family” was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and he did a really solid job. His direction here has this snappy energy that really fits the story and characters and keeps any scene from getting dull. Even when something happens that didn’t cause laughter (despite the clear intentions of the crew), Sonnenfeld’s direction at lest kept me watching. I can also say that I really liked the effects in this. Some great hair and makeup effects are featured throughout, a few fun and unexpected things I don’t wanna spoil, and of course Thing. Some of the compositing in a few moments can look slightly jank, but I think it kind of adds to the charm of it. I just like the way this film’s made.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 65% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

“The Addams Family” is a charming and quite funny little caper adventure. It has a good plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, really good direction, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Addams Family” is an 8.65/10. So it’s definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Addams Family” is now completed.

*Snap* *Snap*

Movie Review: Before I Wake (2017)

Good *insert the time of day you read this in here*, hope you’re doing well. Time for more spooktacular content. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Before I Wake”.

Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane) are a loving couple who have made the decision to adopt a young boy (Jacob Tremblay). What they don’t know however is that this boy carries a special, strange secret. The story in this movie is an interesting one, often leaning more towards a dark fantasy rather than outright horror… at least early on. Towards the later half it leans heavier on the horror elements. And I must say that I found the story here quite enjoyable. It has some interesting themes that we’ve seen discussed multiple times in works by this director, and while this isn’t his most engaging or nuanced take on the subject matter, it’s still a generally well written and enjoyable narrative that managed to creep me out a few times.

The characters in this are alright, not the most deep or interesting ever, but they work well for the story. Kate Bosworth does a really good job as Jessie, Thomas Jane is great as Mark, Jacob Tremblay is of course great as Cody, the kid that the couple adopts. And then you also have an interesting supporting cast, featuring people like Annabeth Gish, Dash Mihok, Kyla Deaver, Jay Karnes, and more!

The score for the movie was composed by Danny Elfman, along with the Newton Brothers (talk about one hell of a teamup), and I’d say they did a solid job together. It’s an ambient score that manages to build a fair bit of drama, helping add a good bit of emotion to certain scenes. There’s also of course some classic loud horror hits, and they work fine, even though we’ve heard that sort of stuff a kajillion times.

“Before I Wake” was directed and co-written by Mike Flanagan (hell yeah), and also has a bit of an interesting production history. Apparently Relativity Media bought the rights in 2014, slating the film for a 2015 release, but later got pulled due the company going bankrupt. Eventually after much back and forth it then landed in the hands of Netflix, who finally released it in 2017 worldwide… except for the states who got it in 2018. So yeah, it’s an interesting tale. Anyhow, back to Flanagan.
This man doesn’t miss when it comes to directing. Even in this film, which isn’t one of my favorites he’s done, he still does a damn good job. His direction has this simmering, slowly burning, often dreamlike vibe that just makes each scene a hell of a lot more engaging.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 66% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.2/10.

While not my favorite film from Flanagan, “Before I Wake” is still an enjoyable little horror-fantasy that I can recommend. It has a good plot, pretty good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Before I Wake” is a 7.44/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “Before I Wake” is now completed.

I don’t know about you, but before I wake, I sleep.

Movie Review: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Are my eyes deceiving me, or is this another Month of Spooks post? Well it is! And what’s the deal today then? Exorcism? Interesting, let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”.

When a priest (Tom Wilkinson) is accused of causing the death of a young woman (Jennifer Carpenter), lawyer Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) takes his case, soon finding herself diving into deeper, and more complex waters than she ever could have expected. If you read the title of this movie, you expect a straight up horror flick, right? Well, that’s not quite what we have here. “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is actually for the most part a courtroom drama, with some flashbacks interspersed throughout that are mor horror-focused. And I personally liked the courtroom stuff quite a bit, as they provided a thematically and dramatically interesting debate on science vs. religion. But then we have the flashbacks to what happened with the character of Emily, and I kind of tuned out of those, because they leaned too much into typical horror tropes, without generating any actual scares. There’s decent atmosphere in those bits, but there’s no actual tension or terror, and I was uninterested in the storytelling in those bits. So yeah, the story here is a bit of a mixed bag.

The characters in this are all pretty interesting, and I like the way they’re used throughout the movie. Even when the storytelling loses me in those flashbacks, the characters are still decently engaging. And a lot of that comes from the spectacular cast, containing people like Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Jennifer Carpenter (who steals the show), Colm Feore, Campbell Scott, Henry Czerny, and many more.

The score for the movie was composed by Christopher Young, and I think he did an alright job with it. Some of the track resonate decently, creating some good emotion. But some just feel a bit overbearing as they just try to create this droning horror-y sound. So the score can feel like a mixed bag at times, even though I can’t blame Young himself.

“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” was directed and co-written by Scott Derrickson, and I think he did a really good job with. Derrickson is a director who’s work I’ve enjoyed before, and this was his cinematic debut, so it was exciting to see where it started for him. And he definitely has a style and skill that was well beyond his years. Even though I didn’t find the horror bits scary in this, Derrickson’s direction still kept it slightly interesting.

This movie has not been super well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 44% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 46/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.7/10.

While it is a bit of a mixed bag, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” can still be recommend for its courtroom drama and electrifying cast. The story is alright, the characters are okay, the performances are fantastic, the music is okay, and the direction is really good. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is a 6.97/10. So while it’s very flawed, it’s still certainly worth a rental.

My review of “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is now completed.

Your honor, I will exorcise my rights to plead the fifth.

Movie Review: Happy Death Day (2017)

Hey there, friends, and welcome back to more Month of Spooks content. So what do we have on our plate today? A slasher of sorts? Neat.

Hey there, friends, and welcome back to more Month of Spoo- wait… deja vu… Um, Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Happy Death Day”.

College student Tree (Jessica Rothe) has managed to find herself in a bit of a predicament. Not only has she woken up hung over in a strange dorm room, but later that same night she also finds herself murdered… only to wake back up in the strange dorm room. She must now figure out what the hell is going on and she can end it. TIME LOOP! Of course, time loop stories have existed in film many times before time. But “Happy Death Day” is a little different in that it takes the time loop idea and mixes it with a slasher, while also being “Groundhog Day” inspired comedy. And the mix of the three styles works surprisingly well, leading to a narrative that is fun, fast paced, and fucking hilarious, all without sacrificing the suspense of the mystery and horror. It’s a highly enjoyable narrative that had me glued from start to end.

The characters in this are all colorful, unique, fun, flawed, and entertaining. Let’s talk about our protagonist Teresa “Tree” Gelbman. What I like about her as a character is that she has quite a substantial and enjoyable arc. Because when we meet her she’s kind of a manipulative, selfish, bratty mean girl. But as we see her get taken out and go through the loop, she develops quite a bit, making for one hell of an enjoyable arc. And Jessica Rothe is absolutely fantastic in the role, as she sells the drama, the horror, and the comedy masterfully. We also get supporting work from people like Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Rachel Matthews, and more, all doing really well in their respective roles.

Hey there, friends, and welcome back to more Mont- Damn it, AGAIN!? Anyhow, the score for this movie was composed by Bear McCreary, and I think he did a great job with it. Heavy brass hits, fun strings, some electronics, it’s McCreary playing around to create a highly energetic score that just fits movie really well. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they fit really well with their respective scenes.

“Happy Death Day” was directed by Christopher Landon, and he really killed it here. His direction has so much energy and snappiness to it, leading to a frenetic and fun vibe that keeps everything engaging. He also plays around a lot with the camera, especially during montages and chases, which made those stick out even more, making them insanely entertaining. Yeah, this shit’s well crafted.

This movie’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.6/10.

“Happy Death Day” is a hella entertaining horror-comedy that I could see myself watching over and over (Sorry, Tree). It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, great direction, and very funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Happy Death Day” is a 9.78. Which means that it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Happy Death Day” is now completed.

Hey there, friends, and welcome back to more Month of Spook- SON OF A BITCH, GET ME OUT OF THIS LOOOOOOOOP.