Series Review: Mindhunter – Season 1 (2017)

I know what you’re thinking. “Markus, you said that October was about spooky shit, and maybe some trailers and Thor!”, and that is true. However, sometimes an idiot like me has to make exceptions. Plus, this could technically count as Month of Spooks stuff… ’cause serial killers are scary.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mindhunter” season 1.

Set in 1979, “Mindhunter” follows FBI agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) as he investigates various murder cases while also developing a system for psychologically analyzing criminals. So now we have our drama plot. And is it any good? Yeah. Seeing the early stages of criminal psychology and how it develops is fascinating, and the way they use it to investigate these horrible crimes is quite riveting. The pace here is deliberately slow as a tortoise, which will turn some people off, but I thought it worked quite well for the show. But the plot isn’t just the development of the criminal profiling system, it is also an engaging character-drama. Seeing how these characters react to all the shit going on and how it affects their lives is quite riveting. So yeah, it’s a solid plot.

As you probably could understand from the end of the previous paragraph, the characters here are all quite interesting and engaging. It’s also pretty refreshing to have a cast where I didn’t know any of the main players. I recognized a couple of the supporting people, but for the most part I knew no one. Jonathan Groff plays Holden Ford, the young man who we follow for the majority of the show. He’s slightly naive, but means well and shows great intelligence. And Groff is really good in the role. Holt McCallany plays Bill Tench, Ford’s colleague/partner. A slightly stern family man, Tench often get slightly annoyed at Ford’s plans and action, but understands that they can be important. And McCallany is great in the role. Anna Torv plays Wendy Carr, a consultant who gets brought in to help Ford and Tench in their work. She’s determined to get shit done, and she’s an interesting part of the team. And Torv is great in the role. Hannah Gross plays Debbie, a woman that Ford meets and starts a relationship with. She’s sassy, she’s smart, and she’s a nice foil for Ford. And Gross is really good in the role. The entire cast does a solid job here.

The score for the show was composed by Jason Hill and it was great. It was dark and quite chilling, reminiscent of the movie scores by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. It often helped elevate certain scenes, making them feel a little eerie and slightly uncomfortable. There were also licensed tracks used throughout the show and they were used pretty well.

This show was created by Joe Penhall, and directed by three people. The directors are Asif Kapadia, Tobias Lindholm, Andrew Douglas, and David fucking Fincher. And yes, the only reason why I listed all of them was for that dramatic effect on Fincher. And even though he only helmed four of the ten episodes, all of them feel very Fincher-esque. Cinematic, cold, steady, confident, it just oozes of David Fincher. So yeah, it is incredibly well directed. This show is also R-rated. Cursing, nudity, sex, some violence. Sure, it’s not “Game of Thrones” levels of R-rated, but it still has some stuff that makes it inappropriate for younger audiences. Also, this show was produced by Charlize Theron… not trying to make a point, just think that’s pretty cool.

This show just came out but has already been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,2/10 (but will most likely drop in the near future).

“Mindhunter” is great… don’t know what else I can say. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mindhunter” season 1 is a 9,65/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mindhunter” season 1 is now completed.

Month of Spooks, not Month of Spooks… Killers are scary, Month of Spooks.

Movie Review: Van Helsing (2004)

The Month of Spooks continues. And what’s this? An adventure movie featuring classic monsters? That’s cool. I mean, how could it possibly go wrong?

Ladies and gentlemen… “Van Helsing”.

The story follows legendary monster hunter Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) as he travels to Transylvania with a friar named Carl (David Wenham). Why are they traveling to Transylvania? Obviously they’re traveling there to kill Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). So now we have our adventure plot featuring classic monsters. And is it any good? No… it’s bad. There’s no point in the plot where I’m even remotely interested in what is happening. They have a fun idea that could make for a fun little easy-breezy adventure plot. But it somehow manages to be both paper-thin and convoluted at the same time. It’s also duller than dishwater, fucking boring. And the tone is inconsistent, at best. The plot here is bad. I’m not gonna try to put it in a more elaborate way… it’s bad.

The characters have motivations (sort of)… but I never found myself giving a single shit about any of them. Hugh Jackman plays the titular Van Helsing, monster hunter extraordinaire. He has an okay motivation for what he does (sort of), but it never plays into the plot in any significant way, so I could never care about it. And Hugh Jackman… I love Hugh Jackman, but he’s not very good in this. Kate Beckinsale plays a woman that Van Helsing runs into pretty early on, and she’s somehow important to it all because she’s related to some big shot person. It was mentioned like twice and it was so poorly delivered that it never stuck to my mind. She’s supposed to be a badass lady, which is something I like seeing in a movie… but here she comes off as more of a lucky idiot, an idiot savant as it’s usually called. And her attempt at an accent here? Nope, no good. Beckinsale is bad in this. David Wenham plays Carl, the friar that is joining Van Helsing on this journey. He’s meant as a comic relief, but he never really says anything funny. Wenham is… okay in the role. Richard Roxburgh plays Dracula in this and his performance is awful… but in the right way. The performance has more ham than a Christmas buffet, and it made me laugh. It doesn’t really give the movie any points, but it at least made some scenes easier to get through than others. There are talented actors in this, but none of them are particularly good in it.

The score for the movie was composed by Alan Silvestri and it is pretty good. Here’s why it doesn’t work though… the overall quality of everything else is so low that this epic and booming score doesn’t quite match up with what’s happening on screen. It just feels off.

This movie was directed by Stephen Sommers and he did a meh job. It feels so bland and uninteresting that nothing about what I was seeing interested me. The action too has a sever lack of tension… and impact… and fun… it’s fucking boring. There’s also an overload of shitty CG. And to those giving the “Well, it was the early 2000s” argument”: The final “Lord of the Rings” movie came out the year before and the CG in that looks amazing. There was also an overload of it. Sure, there were a few props, costumes, and sets that looked pretty good, but they rarely got as much focus as the terrible computer effects.

This movie hasn’t been particularly well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 23% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 35/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars (Wut?). And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,0/10.

“Van Helsing” is bad… just bad. It has a bad plot, bad characters, bad performances, okay music, and bad directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Van Helsing” is a 4,32/10. I didn’t like it and I would recommend skipping it.

My review of “Van Helsing” is now completed.

*Annoyed groan*

Movie Review: Sinister (2012)

And the Month of Spooks rolls on. Aaaaand we’re back to creepy house stuff. So let’s just jump into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Sinister”.

Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a true crime author who moves into a new house with his family. And while searching through the house he stumbles upon a box of super 8 reels. When he decides to watch them for research he finds out that they feature the gruesome murders of various people. And shortly thereafter some strange things start happening around the house. You could say that these occurrences are… sinister (HA!). Puns aside, this is a good plot. It’s a slowly burning horror movie that has an interesting enough idea and manages to do some interesting things with it. Sure, the plot features various horror cliches throughout, but it does them well enough that I didn’t mind. The plot is tense and at times quite disturbing. The only things about it that I don’t like is the very final moment of the film. I’m not gonna spoil what it is in case you’re someone who wants to watch the movie, and to be honest it didn’t ruin anything for me. But it felt a bit out of place compared to the rest of the movie. But yeah, overall this is a tense, interesting, and kind of disturbing plot.

The characters in this feel real and interesting and I found myself actually caring about them. Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswalt (a combination of Harlan Ellison and Patton Oswalt), the author looking for his next big hit. Seeing him go through all this horrifying shit is part fascinating and part terrifying, because we do really get to know him and even care about him, which makes it scary when he’s put at risk. And Ethan Hawke (as usual) is great in the role. Then we have Juliet Rylance as Oswalt’s wife, Tracy. She’s a loving and caring wife who only gets mad at her husband because his obsession with these cases makes him act strange, putting pressure on the family. And Rylance is really good in the role. Then we have James Ransone as a police deputy who helps Oswalt with the investigation, getting some inside info for him. But unlike other deputies in horror flicks (Like Dewey in “Scream”), he isn’t an idiot… just a bit starstruck. He’s clever, he’s charming, and Ransone is really good in the movie. Then we have Clare Foley and Michael Hall D’Addario as Oswalt’s kids. Both actors are good in their roles. Yeah, this is a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Christopher Young and it was great. It was weird, eerie, dark, creepy, atmospheric, and just overall well composed, more often than not helping to elevate the tension of a scene. Really, the music was great. I wouldn’t listen to it while riding the bus or sitting alone in my room, but it was great.

This movie was directed by Scott Derrickson (who later went on to make “Doctor Strange”) and I think he did a great job. His directing is tight, claustrophobic, and incredibly tense. And while there are some jumpscares in this movie, it doesn’t rely on them (unlike a lot of modern horror flicks). Also, they are genuine and feel earned. And since this is a horror movie, let’s talk scariness level. Fuck me, this movie was terrifying. Like I said, the movie builds a lot of tension, and then puts in a few genuinely scary jumpscares. It also features some horrifying imagery that will stay in my head for days. I felt genuinely terrified throughout the movie. Real fear, real dread. Good job, crew.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 63% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,8/10.

Guys, “Sinister” is fucking terrifying. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great/horrifying direction. Time for my final score. *BOO!*. My final score for “Sinister” is a 9,65/10. So it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Sinister” is now completed.

Sinister purpose, knockin’ at your door…

Movie Review: Insidious (2011)

Hello there, guys, and welcome to the first post for the Month of Spooks! That’s right, for those of you who might’ve missed the announcement post (cave dwellers), for the third year in a row I am dedicating October to the spooks and the creeps! Exceptions to this include trailer talks and also “Thor: Ragnarok”… what can I say, Marvel is a must watch for me. Anyhow, it is time… for some spooky shit.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Insidious”.

After she moves into a new house with her family, Renai (Rose Byrne) starts experiencing weird, probably supernatural phenomena. And soon they find out that these scary occurrences might be happening because of their comatose son. So now we have our haunted house(ish) movie plot. And is it any good? Yeah, I’d say so. It puts some really interesting and surprisingly tense spins on the haunted house formula and makes it feel somewhat fresh in an ocean of movies featuring hauntings. My only problem with the plot is the final act. While entertaining, it is quite the tonal shift from the rest of the movie. For the longest time it is a somber, creepy, and eerie trip through this family’s horrible situation. But then in the final act it becomes a little more lighthearted (for lack of a better word), making for a weird shift in tone. Again, it’s not bad, but it does bring it down a bit since it’s such a weird shift from the haunting (HA!) two acts that came before. So overall the plot here is good.

The characters here are decently fleshed out, sympathetic, and interesting. Rose Byrne plays Renai (pronounced like Renée), the mother of the Lambert family, and the first person to start experiencing these scary things. She is determined to get to the bottom of this, trying to hold it together, but you can see that she might crack any minute, like any normal person would do in that situation. And Rose Byrne is great in the role. Patrick Wilson plays Josh, Renai’s husband. He’s a bit more of a skeptic to the supernatural stuff, but he is willing to do anything to help his wife and his family. And Patrick Wilson is great in the role. Ty Simpkins plays Dalton, Renai’s and Josh’s son. And while he doesn’t get to do/say too much in the movie, the little acting he gets to do is definitely really good. We also have Lin Shaye as a psychic who gets brought in to try to help the Lamberts out. And she’s really good in the role. And we have Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson Lin Shaye’s assistants, and they’re a fun presence in the movie, both giving good performances. Overall this movie is well acted.

The score for the movie was composed by Joseph Bishara and it was fine. In terms of style it doesn’t do anything very unique, you’ve heard a lot of the musical cues in most other horror scores. But it’s well composed and used well enough in the movie, so I don’t have any complaints about it. There’s also at least one licensed track in the movie. They use it, and while it’s distractingly out of place for an eerie horror flick, I can’t fault it because it never ruined the experience for me.

This movie was directed by James Wan and I think he did a really good job. Everything looks smooth and the shots do look quite nice. But what I appreciate most about his direction is how much suspense he manages to build throughout. He does a lot with very little, managing to create a constant feel of unease and tension throughout. And let’s talk about jumpscares. They’re a staple of horror, popping up in so many horror movies… and this one’s no exception. However, I think this movie does jumpscares well. Most movies use “fake scares”, trying to make people jump when there’s nothing scary in frame. But “Insidious” has no fake scares like that, instead having good jumpscares that actually work. So yeah, this movie scared me a bit.

This movie has been decently well received (I guess). On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 66% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 52/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,8/10.

“Insidious” is a good little horror movie. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, great directing, and some good scares. My only problem with the movie comes from the final act not being as great as the the other two. Time for my final score. *BOO!*. My final score for “Insidious” is an 8,88/10. So while flawed, I’d say that it’s definitely worth buying.

My review of “Insidious” is now completed.

Month of Spooks has officially begun!