Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019) Review

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reblogging my review of the surprisingly enjoyable Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

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Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019)

Directed by André Øvredal

Story by Guillermo del Toro, Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan

Based on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.

My Opinion:

I went into this film with zero knowledge of the short story collections it’s based on. How in the hell did I not know about scary books published during my childhood and aimed specifically at “middle school kids”?! I was a kid obsessed with weird and/or scary stories! My favorite childhood TV shows were the original The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents! I loved Christopher Pike and, when a bit older, Stephen King

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Repulsion (1965) Review

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reposting my mini-review of the 1965 psychological horror Repulsion

Repulsion (1965)

Directed by Roman Polanski

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Yvonne Furneaux, Ian Hendry, John Fraser

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Repulsion is a 1965 British psychological horror film directed by Roman Polanski, and starring Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser and Yvonne Furneaux. The screenplay is based on a scenario by Gérard Brach and Polanski, involving a young withdrawn woman who finds sexual advances repulsive and who, after she is left alone by her vacationing sister, becomes even more isolated and detached from reality.

My Brief Opinion:

This film probably deserves a higher rating than I’m giving it. It’s artsy fartsy & “worthy” but I can’t say I exactly enjoyed it. However, Catherine Deneuve was very good & it’s worth watching for her performance. I decided to watch this film after liking Deneuve in a somewhat similar role in Belle de Jour. I haven’t seen her in much – I don’t know why she played a sexually repressed woman in both of these but she handles this type of character well. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis if you don’t know anything about Repulsion: “A sex-repulsed woman who disapproves of her sister’s boyfriend sinks into depression and has horrific visions of rape and violence.”

Obviously, having come out in 1965, it seems tame now but I would imagine this was a very shocking film at the time. The pacing is very slow & it does take a long time before much of anything happens, so bear that in mind if you choose to watch it. I have to say I preferred Belle de Jour. I was hoping this would be much weirder, based on that image I used at the top of this post of Deneuve in the hallway with all the hands coming out of the walls. It’s not, though – it’s a pretty straightforward story of a woman who may have experienced sexual abuse in the past (I think this is implied), which eventually drives her insane. Deneuve is great in these films, though, and I’d watch her in other movies based on what I’ve seen so far.

My Rating: 7/10

Ghost Stories (2017) & Starry Eyes (2014) Reviews

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reposting my mini-reviews of Ghost Stories & Starry Eyes. I wasn’t a fan of either…

Ghost Stories (2017)

Directed & Written by Jeremy Dyson & Andy Nyman

Based on Ghost Stories by Jeremy Dyson & Andy Nyman

Starring: Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, Martin Freeman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Ghost Stories is a 2017 British horror film written and directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, based on their 2010 stage play of the same name. It stars Nyman reprising his role from the play, as a man devoted to debunking fraudulent psychics, who is tasked with solving three unexplained paranormal events.

My Brief Opinion:

Wow. This was boring. I normally enjoy horror anthologies and this sounded good on IMDb: “Skeptical professor Phillip Goodman embarks on a trip to the terrifying after finding a file with details of three unexplained cases of apparitions.” The overall story was pretty good, in a Twilight Zone type of way, but the individual stories were bog standard ghost/demon stories and the ways they were presented weren’t at all scary (I’m never a fan of seeing too much, especially when the effects & make-up look cheesy). And the “twist” ending, which was okay, didn’t make up for the previous almost hour and a half of cheesy, boring hauntings. Modern horror is so often a huge disappointment for me.

My Rating: 5/10

Starry Eyes (2014)

Directed & Written by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer

Starring: Alexandra Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Noah Segan

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Starry Eyes features Alexandra Essoe as a hopeful young starlet that finds that fame’s price is not always easily paid.

My Brief Opinion:

I hated this. But I don’t feel like trashing it since, well, I assume it’s a low budget film that people worked hard to create and what the hell have I done with MY life? Huh? Nothing! I’ve never made a movie. So they’ve accomplished more than I ever will. Right? Man I hated this movie. I’m never listening to “Horror Twitter” users again. They praise ALL horror movies. I’ll give this an extra half a point for, um, the fact that they made a movie & I haven’t. I’m feeling generous today. Yeah, I realize this isn’t a “review”. I can’t be bothered. I’ve got stuff to do, dammit.

My Rating: 2.5/10

The Funhouse (1981) & The Monster (2016) Reviews

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reposting my mini-reviews of The Funhouse & The Monster…

The Funhouse (1981) (also released as Carnival of Terror)

Directed by Tobe Hooper

Starring: Elizabeth Berridge, Cooper Huckabee, Largo Woodruff, Miles Chapin, Kevin Conway, Sylvia Miles, William Finley

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film’s plot concerns four teenagers who become trapped in a dark ride at a local carnival and are stalked by a deformed killer inside.

My Brief Opinion:

Not only do I love 70’s horror… I also love cheesy 80’s horror! So this Tobe Hooper movie seemed right up my alley. PLUS it’s set in a carnival and I always love this sort of setting. And a Funhouse! What’s better than a creepy-ass Funhouse?! Well… damn. This movie isn’t exactly the worst 80’s horror I’ve seen since I’ve seen MANY bad ones – It’s just very forgettable. Maybe I hyped it up too much in my mind. Meh. Watch it only if you’re sad like me and feel the urge to watch every movie ever made in my favorite sort of genres…

My Rating: 5/10

The Monster (2016)

Directed & Written by Bryan Bertino

Starring: Zoe Kazan & Ella Ballentine

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Its plot follows a troubled mother and her adolescent daughter who find themselves stranded at night on a country road with a malicious creature hunting them.

My Brief Opinion:

This was fine for a (I’m assuming) low-budget indie “horror”. It’s more of a psychological horror, although you do see the monster (even though it’s symbolic of the mother and her strained relationship with her daughter). If you want a straight-up horror, this one probably won’t be your kind of thing. If you want an indie drama about a mother & daughter with some decent acting (for a “horror” movie), you might like this one. But I gotta admit it’s a little boring & the mother (played by Zoe Kazan) is a little too hateful.

My Rating: 6/10

Crawl (2019) Review

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reblogging my review of Crawl…

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Crawl (2019)

Directed by Alexandre Aja

Produced by Craig J. Flores, Sam Raimi, Alexandre Aja

Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Crawl stars Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper as a daughter and father, who along with their dog are hunted by alligators after becoming trapped in their home during a Category 5 hurricane.

My Opinion:

Oh my god I’m so stressed! Work is manic at the moment. But I want to catch up on reviewing the films I’ve seen in the cinema. So here’s a quickie for Crawl since I don’t have much to say about it.

Crawl was fine. I mean, it’s a movie about people being attacked by huge fucking alligators in a goddamn hurricane. It’s absolutely ridiculous! But it’s meant to be, right? Gotta admit that I loved the idea of a disaster movie, which is sort of a guilty…

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Breaking In (2018) & Searching (2018) Reviews

For October Horror Month, I’ll be re-posting some mini-reviews of horror movies that I watched in the past year. Here are my reviews for thrillers (okay, not exactly “horrors“!) Breaking In & Searching

Breaking In (2018)

Directed by James McTeigue

Starring: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Ajiona Alexus, Levi Meaden, Seth Carr, Mark Furze, Jason George, Christa Miller, Damien Leake

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a mother who must protect her children after the mansion of her recently deceased father is invaded by burglars.

My Brief Opinion:

This film wasn’t too bad as far as lightweight “PG-13-Style” home invasion movies go. Is it a bit cheesy? Of course! But is the family likable and do you want them to survive? Yep! Good enough. What more do you need from this sort of movie? I wasn’t expecting something Oscar-worthy here. Gabrielle Union was good and I loved that she was pretty kick-ass for a mother but also not unrealistically so. I actually hate movies like this where a character makes no mistakes whatsoever – that’s unrealistic as we’d all fuck things up in this sort of situation in real life. Wow – Union looks young, though. I had to look up her age and she’s actually a bit older than me. Damn. Lucky her! Well. I don’t know what else to say. This movie is flawed. It’s ridiculous at times. It’s far from perfect. But I liked it. It’s the sort genre we saw a lot more of in the 80’s & 90’s. I miss this kind of straightforward cheesy thriller sometimes. It’s not trying to be anything more than that.

My Rating: 6/10

Searching (2018)

Directed by Aneesh Chaganty

Starring: John Cho, Debra Messing, Michelle La, Kya Dawn Lau, Megan Liu, Alex Jayne Go, Sara Sohn, Joseph Lee, Steven Michael Eich, Ric Sarabia, Sean O’Bryan, Colin Woodell

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set entirely on computer screens and smartphones, the film follows a father (John Cho) trying to find his missing 16-year-old daughter (Michelle La) with the help of a police detective (Debra Messing).

My Brief Opinion:

I enjoyed this way more than I was expecting for a movie that’s all seen through a computer screen via Skype, social media posts, websites, videos, etc. I didn’t think the gimmick would work but the mystery of the daughter’s disappearance was intriguing enough to keep you interested the whole time. The story worked well, the father & daughter had good character development (making up for other characters having very little), and the gimmick didn’t end up being a distraction from the story like I feared it might. The pacing was also really good – these mystery thrillers can drag a bit sometimes but this was fast-paced and very engaging the entire time. I feel like I’m hyping this too much… It’s not exactly Oscar-worthy material but I’m impressed that its gimmick worked so surprisingly well.

My Rating: 7/10

Cam (2018) & The Love Witch (2016) Reviews

For October Horror Month, I’ll be re-posting some mini-reviews of horror movies that I watched in the past year. Here are my reviews for Cam & The Love Witch

The Love Witch (2016)

Directed & Written by Anna Biller

Starring: Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Jared Sanford, Robert Seeley, Jennifer Ingrum

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Samantha Robinson as Elaine, a modern-day witch who uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her with disastrous results.

My Brief Opinion:

Like American Mary, this was on Film 4 the other week and I was really happy as I’d been intrigued by the look of this one since it first came out. Damn – this was a huge disappointment. While I did indeed love the look of it, I can’t say that I thought the film was good. Film critics will say something about this exploring gender roles or some shit but I thought the film was all style & no substance. However, I appreciate the effort it made on its 60’s aesthetic and the lead actress is definitely beautiful (and half naked quite often, which may be why the positive reviews I’ve seen have mostly been from dudes. Hmm). As a woman, I was hoping to like this a lot more as it’s from a female director and has a strong female role. It’s artsy and pleasing to the eye but the intentionally bad acting and the slow pace made it a chore to even finish it. Still, it has fans and I can see why it would as it’s a unique film. It just didn’t work for me personally, so don’t let my unenthusiastic review keep you from watching it if you like the look of it.

My Rating: 5.5/10


Honestly, this chick is gorgeous. As if she’d need to use spells to get guys to fuck her.

Cam (2018)

Directed by Daniel Goldhaber

Starring: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters, Devin Druid, Imani Hakim, Michael Dempsey

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Alice, an ambitious camgirl, wakes up one day to discover she’s been replaced on her show with an exact replica of herself.

My Brief Opinion:

I really need to stop trusting tweets from Twitter’s “horror community”. I’ve realized that they rave about every horror movie no matter how good or bad it really is. Cam is yet another Netflix film that everyone thinks is great, probably because they get to watch it at home as part of their subscription, which is a lot easier than dragging your butt off the couch to go the cinema to watch something that’s actually good. Netflix is the new equivalent of “straight to video” in the Eighties. Anyway, after all my bitching I can see why this would have some fans (especially horny guys). And, yes – it’s an original story so I definitely give it credit for that in this day & age of sequels and reboots. It’s a good concept but having a thoroughly annoying character as its focus didn’t really work. I don’t want to hate all the characters in a movie – it just means that I don’t care what happens to them. To be fair, this movie did have a good idea and I think I’d have liked it okay if they’d gone about it differently. Plus the porn thing didn’t work for me, I suppose, since I’m a girl. Hey – whatever happened to Babestation in the UK? Is that still around?? I haven’t been channel surfing at 3am in recent years…

My Rating: 5/10

Ma (2019) Review

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reblogging my review of Ma…

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Ma (2019)

Directed by Tate Taylor

Starring: Octavia Spencer, Kyanna Simone Simpson, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis, Skyler Joy, Luke Evans, Andrew Matthew Welch, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianni Paolo, Dante Brown, Missi Pyle, Nicole Carpenter, Tanyell Waivers, Allison Janney, Dominic Burgess, Heather Marie Pate, Tate Taylor, Victor Turpin, Margaret Fegan

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Ma follows a group of teenagers who befriend a lonely middle-aged woman who allows them to party in her basement, and find themselves being terrorized by her.

My Opinion:

Hey! The main teen girl in this (Diana Silvers) was in Booksmart. I reviewed that yesterday and was probably very unfairly harsh on that film. It’s a better film than Ma. However, I weirdly got far more enjoyment out of Ma. So, while I recognize that Ma is an odd film that some will hate, I’m going to review it positively…

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A Simple Favor, American Animals & Slaughterhouse Rulez Movie Reviews

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reblogging my review of Slaughterhouse Rulez since it’s a horror I saw after Halloween last year so it never got to be a part of “Horror Month”. It was pretty shit anyway. But, hey, I reviewed it along with A Simple Favor! Now THAT was a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed…

Cinema Parrot Disco

I’m determined to catch up on reviewing the films I’ve seen in the cinema this year. Here are three quick reviews I never got around to and I have three more quickies ready for tomorrow (Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms, and The Grinch. Merry Christmas! I know you desperately need to know my stupid opinion on movies…

A Simple Favor (2018)

Directed by Paul Feig

Based on A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Simple Favor follows a small town vlogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her mysterious and rich best friend.

My Opinion:

I went to this one night with no expectations as I had a couple of hours to spare. I enjoyed the shit out of this! It’s a fun film…

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Better Watch Out (2016) & Amber Lake (2011) Reviews

For October Horror Month, I’ll be re-posting some mini-reviews of horror movies that I watched in the past year. Here are my reviews for Better Watch Out & Amber Lake

Better Watch Out (2016)

Directed by Chris Peckover

Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Aleks Mikic, Dacre Montgomery, Patrick Warburton, Virginia Madsen

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
On a quiet suburban street, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, only to discover it’s far from a normal home invasion.

My Brief Opinion:

This was an odd one. I was excited about this as I like a good Christmas horror comedy: Gremlins is an all-time favorite & I thought Krampus was a fun film. The marketing was strange for this… I got the impression that it might be another comedy horror such as Krampus but it’s nothing of the sort despite being listed as a “comedy crime horror thriller” on IMDb. Everything I read said to avoid spoilers for this so I’ll not say much about it other than that I absolutely hated the turn that this film took. As I’ve said before, it takes a hell of a lot to offend me but I didn’t like the creepy way this played out. And, as always, I hate movies filled with hateful characters (though the girl wasn’t too bad). I don’t know. This has an okay IMDb rating (as far as horrors go) so clearly some must like it but I can’t for the life of me imagine who as I can think of no one I would recommend this movie to.

My Rating: 4.5/10

Amber Lake (2011)

Directed & Written by Joe Robert Cole

Starring: Carmen Argenziano, Mekenna Melvin, Natalie Smyka, Melina Lizette, Polly Cole

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Three half-sisters, after being invited to their father’s lake house to meet him and each other for the first time, are each questioned by a local sheriff to explain the events that took place leading up to the discovery of their father floating dead in the lake.

My Brief Opinion:

This was one of those movies with a decent story idea but truly hateful characters. The low budget didn’t help either, I suppose. Actually, one of the Ambers was okay (Mekenna Melvin). The girls are all named Amber because their father is an asshole and you wouldn’t blame any of them for wanting to possibly kill him. The movie uses the Rashômon concept of telling the same story from different perspectives. But that of course worked in the hands of Akira Kurosawa as he was a genius and one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Amber Lake is no Rashômon! Obviously. Um… I don’t actually know what to say about this. Here’s the plot synopsis from IMDb: “Three half-sisters, after being invited to their father’s lake house to meet him and each other for the first time, are each questioned by a local sheriff to explain the events that took place leading up to the discovery of their father floating dead in the lake.”

It’s on Amazon Prime in the UK if you’re interested but do yourself a favor & watch Rashômon instead. Or any Kurosawa film. To be fair, though, I’ve seen worse “horror” films (well, this is more of a “mystery thriller”) with much bigger budgets. I guess Amber Lake did have some potential and it had a decent ending. And I hated the baddie in Better Watch Out FAR more than any characters in this.

My Rating: 5/10

Shocker (1989) Review

Shocker (1989)

Directed & Written by Wes Craven

Starring: Michael Murphy, Peter Berg, Cami Cooper, Mitch Pileggi, Heather Langenkamp

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After being sent to the electric chair, a serial killer uses electricity to come back from the dead and carry out his vengeance on the football player who turned him in to the police.

My Opinion:

Been meaning to watch this for ages as I love old Wes Craven (RIP) horrors. I’m a huge fan of A Nightmare On Elm Street and think Scream is pretty great and, hell, I even like Deadly Friend and Red Eye. Shocker isn’t a very well known Craven film and I can now see why, unfortunately. Well, I still had some fun with it despite it certainly not being anywhere near Elm Street standards. We even get a Heather Langenkamp cameo in this! Which I didn’t notice in the slightest until reading her name in the credits online… Damn.

I’ll start with the bad: The effects are dodgy as hell and the acting isn’t the greatest. Not that you expect too much from an old slasher but these elements somehow worked beautifully in 1984’s Elm Street. Shocker was five years later but looks and feels so much worse. The bad guy is also bland and boring. How could we go from Freddy Krueger, one of the best slasher villains with loads of personality, to this? All the characters in this movie are weak compared to such strong ones in Elm Street (Freddy & Nancy are great).

Also, the story is a mess. I know it’s not rocket science but my mind kept wandering and then when I paid attention again I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. This was partly due to a lot of things occurring when our main good guy was in a “dream state”, I think (Ha! Like Elm Street!). But, also: The serial killer, who ends up being, um, “electricity” or some shit after being in the electric chair, didn’t seem adhere to the “rules” set out by his situation. Yeah yeah – I know it’s ridiculous anyway. But I didn’t understand how he was defeated in the end (Oops. Spoiler? Not really – it’s a cheesy old slasher. The killer is always defeated). The good guy wasn’t “electricity” – how was he diving into televisions and shit? And is this town just never ever going to turn on the electricity ever again??? Huh? Why am I even thinking about this…?

Well. I’m glad I saw Shocker as I love Craven and had just never gotten around to seeing this one. Oh yeah… I said I was gonna start with the bad as if I had a long list of good things too. Um. Hmm. I guess I kind of liked the absolutely ridiculous ending where they’re hopping about inside different television shows within TV sets. Although that made NO fucking sense whatsoever so maybe that’s not a “good” thing. But it’s the only time the movie had a slight sense of fun. This movie is actually listed as comedy as well as horror at IMDb but there was zero comedy until that slightly amusing bit at the end. Oh, and some silly stuff at the very start where the main guy was being all dorky in front of his pretty girlfriend. Maybe the whole movie would’ve been better if it had been more of a comedy.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Bird Box (2018) & Winchester (2018) Reviews

For October Horror Month, I’ll be re-posting some mini-reviews of horror movies that I watched in the past year. Here are my reviews for the rubbish films Bird Box & Winchester

Bird Box (2018)

Directed by Susanne Bier

Based on Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Danielle Macdonald, Sarah Paulson

Music by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a woman, played by Sandra Bullock, as she tries to protect herself and two children from malevolent supernatural entities that make people who look at them go insane and commit suicide.

My Brief Opinion:

Ugh. I read the book by Josh Malerman (review HERE) and enjoyed it. Really good story only let down slightly by unlikable characters. I like Bullock but she was so wrong for this role. Not that it matters, I suppose, but the character in the book is half her age. Then the film changed the story so much until the very end. I don’t understand why films make changes when completely unnecessary and when it actually makes the story worse. This does pick up a little toward the end when the focus is on Bullock and the kids (and when it also isn’t straying so far from the book). Dreadful acting in this film, as well. Just read the book.

My Rating: 5/10

Winchester (2018)

Directed by The Spierig Brothers

Starring: Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Sarah Snook

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Helen Mirren as heiress Sarah Winchester, with Jason Clarke and Sarah Snook, and follows Winchester as she is haunted by spirits inside her San Jose mansion in 1906.

My Brief Opinion:

Bloody hell. Modern horror really does suck. What an utter snoozefest this was. Again, it sounded so good on IMDb: “Ensconced in her sprawling California mansion, eccentric firearm heiress Sarah Winchester believes she is haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle.” How did they manage to make an intriguing story so damn boring? And what a waste of Helen Mirren (I like that saucy lady) and Sarah Snook (absolutely brilliant in the fantastic Predestination). To be fair, I was paying zero attention by the end since I was playing on my phone out of sheer boredom. Maybe I missed something that made this good? Unlikely since it was up for a bunch of Razzie Awards, I guess.

My Rating: 5/10

Happy Death Day 2U (2019) Review

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reblogging my review of Happy Death Day 2U…

Cinema Parrot Disco

Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Directed & Written by Christopher Landon

Based on Characters by Scott Lobdell

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Rachel Matthews, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Ruby Modine

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Tree Gelbman discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quickie review for yet another “meh” modern horror film. I don’t know why I keep watching modern horrors. I guess I’m a bigger horror fan than I like to admit. If scrolling through Netflix, I’ll always choose a horror over a comedy or a girly romance. However, as much as modern horror sucks, I didn’t hate these Happy Death Day films (my “meh” review of the first film is HERE). They’re fine for a bit of fluffy, PG-13-level-horrorfun. In fact, I preferred this sequel to the first one…

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The Sentinel (1977) & Curtains (1983) Reviews

For October Horror Month, I’m re-posting some mini-reviews of horror movies that I watched in the past year. Here are my reviews for The Sentinel & Curtains

The Sentinel (1977)

Directed by Michael Winner

Based on The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz

Starring: Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Martin Balsam, John Carradine, José Ferrer, Ava Gardner, Arthur Kennedy, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Deborah Raffin, Eli Wallach

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot focuses on a young model who moves into a historic Brooklyn brownstone that has been sectioned into apartments, only to find that its proprietors are excommunicated Catholic priests and that the building is a gateway to Hell.

My Brief Opinion:

Ugh. I love 70’s horror so had been meaning to check this out for a while as I’d never seen it. Plus, it has Burgess Meredith in it (love him!). I wasn’t missing much. There was some messy, incoherent story about, I dunno… priests or some shit? It doesn’t matter – the story was stupid. There was some fun weirdness in this, though, and some unnecessary nudity. Maybe that’s why some people remember this fondly; they got to see some boobies and therefore forgot that the overall film was a bit crap.

Oh, we also got to see Beverly D’Angelo playing with herself…

Yeah, that’s ruined National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for me a bit. What’s funny is that, for a crap 70’s horror, this had some very big names in it! Here are some of them: Cristina Raines, Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, John Carradine, Jerry Orbach, Tom Berenger, and, of course, Beverly D’Angelo masturbating. This movie was a real waste of some big stars.

My Rating: 5/10

Curtains (1983)

Directed by Richard Ciupka (as Jonathan Stryker) & Peter R. Simpson (uncredited)

Starring: John Vernon, Linda Thorson, Samantha Eggar, Anne Ditchburn, Lynne Griffin, Lesleh Donaldson, Sandee Currie

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Centered on theater and filmmaking, its plot focuses on a group of actresses auditioning for a role in a movie at a prestigious director’s mansion, where they are targeted by a masked killer.

My Brief Opinion:

Meh. This probably deserves to be ranked below American Mary & The Love Witch (which I saw at the same time) as it wasn’t very good but I’m just a sucker for cheesy 80’s slashers. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis for this mediocre horror film with a kick-ass poster: “A slasher film centered on theater and filmmaking, its plot focuses on a group of actresses targeted by a masked killer at a prestigious director’s remote mansion where they are auditioning for a role in a movie.” Look at that awesome 80’s movie poster for this film!

This stars Samantha Eggar (from David Cronenberg’s brilliant The Brood) as an actress so desperate for a role as a crazy woman in a new film that she has herself checked into a mental hospital for “research”. I’ll say that part of the reason I’ve wanted to see this for years was because of that doll in that cool poster. I love a creepy doll movie! Well, this isn’t a creepy doll movie, although the doll is used in an effective way in a couple of creepy scenes. This movie is fine. It’s a fairly predictable 80’s slasher but better than some of them. It’s worth a watch on Amazon Prime but only if it’s a genre you like.

My Rating: 6/10

Annabelle Comes Home (2019) Review

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reblogging my review of Annabelle Comes Home, which I thought was the best of the “evil doll” Annabelle movies. Which isn’t saying much as the first two were dreadful…

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Annabelle Comes Home (2019)

Directed by Gary Dauberman

Story by James Wan & Gary Dauberman

Starring: Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
While babysitting the daughter of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a teenager and her friend unknowingly awaken an evil spirit trapped in a doll.

My Opinion:

I’m not sure why but I’ve watched all the Conjuring Universe movies. I thought the first Conjuring film was very good but the rest of the films have mostly been rubbish. The Annabelle movies have been the worst and I hated the second film. Well, I’m happy to say that I think Annabelle Comes Home is at least far better than the first two Annabelle films. I still didn’t love it but actually did quite enjoy it. And I’m in a rare good mood so I’m going to give it a…

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Greta (2018) Review

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reblogging my review of Greta (more of a thriller than a horror but close enough)…

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Greta (2018)

Directed by Neil Jordan

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Stephen Rea

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Greta follows a young woman as she befriends a lonely widow who becomes disturbingly obsessed with her.

My Opinion:

I recently re-watched the delightfully “so bad it’s good” Single White Female while stuck in a hotel & mentioned in my review (HERE) that we don’t get enough of those cheesy psychological thrillers anymore that were so common in the 80s & 90s. Thank you, Greta! This is exactly the type of cheesy thriller that I was talking about. Is it a good film? Oh hell no! Is it a fun film? Oh hell yes!

First of all, we have the sexy Isabelle Huppertplaying one of my favorite types of characters: A Batshit Crazy Lady. Fuck it. I’m a lady (well…

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Unsane (2018) & Single White Female (1992) Reviews

For October Horror Month, I’ll be re-posting some mini-reviews of horror movies that I watched in the past year. Well, these two are more thriller than horror… Here are my reviews for Single White Female & Unsane.

Single White Female (1992)

Directed by Barbet Schroeder

Based on SWF Seeks Same by John Lutz

Starring: Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Steven Weber, Peter Friedman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A woman advertising for a new roommate finds that something very strange is going on with the tenant who decides to move in.

My Brief Opinion:

God, this movie is so shit. The acting is atrocious. Goddamn I thoroughly enjoyed re-watching this pile of shit all these years later while stuck in a hotel with nothing else to watch. This is the kind of cheesy thriller I was talking about in my Breaking In review. We had so many films like these in the 80’s and especially the early 90’s. I kind of miss these shitty thrillers with bad acting! Remember the movie Malice with Nicole Kidman & Alec Baldwin? That was early 90’s too. I loved that movie for some odd reason. Oh! And how about The Hand That Rocks The Cradle?! I kind of liked that piece of shit too. Man, early 90’s movies were crap. Anyway – Single White Female is kind of in the “So bad it’s good” territory. I love Jennifer Jason Leigh and her overacting here and Bridget Fonda’s, I dunno, underacting? Does she have any emotions at all? And how crap is this movie title? And who the hell doesn’t remember the high heels in this film?! Classic cheese. I kind of feel like giving this a slightly higher rating but can’t in good conscience do that…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Unsane (2018)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins, Amy Irving

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Unsane follows a woman confined to a mental institution after she is pursued by a stalker. The film was shot entirely on the iPhone 7 Plus.

My Brief Opinion:

This is that Steven Soderbergh movie he filmed on an iPhone. The gimmick doesn’t really work if the movie is boring, though. I wasn’t distracted by the iPhone thing but the story and characters were very weak for a Soderbergh film. He’s not a favorite of mine but this film is certainly no Out Of Sight or Ocean’s Eleven. Sex, Lies, And Videotape had far more interesting characters & dialogue and, for a film of his with a somewhat similar theme, I’d definitely recommend Side Effects over this. This is the first thing I’ve seen Claire Foy in and everyone raves about her but I can’t see why based on this film. That’s probably the fault of the film, though. I didn’t care about her character and whether or not she was crazy. But, hey – Juno Temple rips her tampon out in this & chucks it at Claire Foy so I guess it at least deserves an honorable mention on My Top Ten Period Dramas list…

My Rating: 5.5/10

Ready Or Not (2019) Review

Ready Or Not (2019)

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett

Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Samara Weaving as a newlywed who becomes hunted by her spouse’s family as part of their wedding night ritual.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this brief. I enjoyed this film but I do absolutely love the “horror comedy” genre. I of course did a top ten once (My Top Ten Horror Comedies). So, as far as this genre goes, I have to say that Ready Or Not comes nowhere near making it onto my Top Ten list. It was a fun one-time watch, though, and I loved the ending. I’m often disappointed with how horror movies end so that was a plus.


I agree with everyone saying that Samara Weaving was good in this. She’s certainly the star, as expected, but I’d say the rest of the characters are weak in comparison. I’d say we also don’t get a lot of character development when it comes to her character – just a very tiny bit of backstory involving foster homes. But it’s a pretty ridiculous setup anyway and it’s a comedy so I wasn’t exactly expecting anything too “deep”. It will be fun to see how she does as Bill S. Preston’s daughter in Bill & Ted Face The Music. I can’t wait for that movie!!! To be honest, I think her role in The Babysitter was more fun than in this but I think Ready Or Not is definitely the better movie of the two.


Be warned that this one is pretty gory. It’s rated 18, which is very rare in the UK these days unless it’s a Tarantino movie. A lot of it is very fake gore, though, as it’s played for laughs. I did worry beforehand that this might be similar to You’re Next as the trailer gave me the same vibe for some reason. Luckily, it’s far more enjoyable (I kind of hated You’re Next). I’d have liked even more humor than there was, but maybe that’s just me. This movie doesn’t go as all out on the comedy as in something like Grabbers but the few big laughs did get a good reaction from the crowd. It very much sticks with only dark humor, which works perfectly for the ending that I really enjoyed. Overall, Ready Or Not is a fun addition to the horror comedy genre but, as we have so many great horror comedies, I wouldn’t say it feels quite as original or unique as people are saying. Maybe I just watch too many movies…

My Rating: 7/10

Truth Or Dare (2018) & American Mary (2012) Reviews

For October Horror Month, I’ll be re-posting some mini-reviews of horror movies that I watched in the past year. Here are my reviews for Truth Or Dare & American Mary

Truth Or Dare (2018)

Directed by Jeff Wadlow

Produced by Jason Blum

Starring: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Sophia Taylor Ali, Landon Liboiron

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Truth Or Dare follows a group of college students who play a game of truth or dare while on vacation in Mexico, only to realize it has deadly consequences if they don’t follow through on their tasks.

My Brief Opinion:

I did NOT expect to like this AT ALL. Why do I watch so many horror movies I expect to be shitty?! Oh yeah – because my husband doesn’t get mad at me when I watch shitty movies without him. 😉 Anyway, this is a pretty typical cheesy slasher film filled with twenty-something twats. But as far as that sort of thing goes, I actually thought this was fairly decent example of the genre. A good bad horror movie! I’m a sucker for supernatural horror so was happy about that aspect of the film but know this doesn’t work for everyone. The story actually gave me a Final Destination vibe as this “curse” comes after these characters one by one and there’s seemingly no way out as they are forced to play along or die. The characters were somewhat better than your usual twenty-something horror twats, too. Most were even likable! Only two were assholes. I want to want characters to survive and will never understand why horror films often make absolutely everyone hateful. The overall story is a little predictable and it doesn’t exactly feel like we’re seeing anything new here. However, some of the truths & dares were fairly original and I had a decent enough time watching this knowing it’s slightly silly. The ending was also a bit stupid but, hell, what movie like this doesn’t have a stupid ending?! I’ve seen plenty of twenty-something twat supernatural horrors far worse than this one.

My Rating: 6/10

American Mary (2012)

Directed & Written by Jen and Sylvia Soska

Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk, David Lovgren, Paula Lindberg, Clay St. Thomas, John Emmet Tracy, Twan Holliday

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Isabelle plays a medical student desperate for money who begins taking clients from the extreme body modification community in an effort to solve her financial troubles.

My Brief Opinion:

This was pretty hardcore. I’d been meaning to watch this film for a while now to see if it would be a contender for My Top Ten Body Horror Movies list. I’m afraid to say I didn’t love the film but thought Katharine Isabelle did a good job in this crazy role. I thought the film started out pretty strong but it loses its way when Isabelle’s character goes so extreme. She starts out quite innocent (although practising surgery on turkey carcasses while wearing sexy lingerie was odd) but then she goes completely batshit crazy and it just didn’t feel realistic after she was set up as this poor, struggling student who loves her sweet grandmother. I have to say, though, that she seemed to have enough money for lingerie for someone so poor! Lingerie is expensive. If you’re poor, surely you should buy clothes that keep you warm?! But I guess she needed the lingerie for turkey surgery. Anyway! There’s a bit of a revenge plot going on in this film and I did enjoy that because I love some good vengeance. And this was some fucked-up vengeance! I just wish the final half of the film hadn’t fallen apart. We start out on Mary’s side but can’t relate to her anymore by the end (at least, I hope no one can relate to her at the end). Oh well. It’s certainly a memorable film! I give it credit for that. I far prefer a memorable film to something so bland that I won’t remember it in a year.

My Rating: 6/10

Brightburn (2019) Review

Welcome to Day 2 of Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reblogging my review of Brightburn…

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Brightburn (2019)

Directed by David Yarovesky

Produced by James Gunn & Kenneth Huang

Written by Brian Gunn & Mark Gunn

Starring: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Gregory Alan Williams, Jennifer Holland, Steve Agree, Becky Wahlstrom, Christian Finlayson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a young alien boy raised on Earth who realizes he has superpowers, soon using them to terrorize his town.

My Opinion:

This was okay but I was disappointed overall. It’s certainly far more a “horror” than a “superhero” film, which was perfectly fine with me as I have superhero burnout. However, I admit that it was far too gory for my liking. Yikes! So, if you like your horror to have plenty of gore, I think you’ll be happy with Brightburn.And if you just want a “superhero gone bad” movie, bear in mind that this…

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Child’s Play (2019) Review

Happy October! I’ve watched and reviewed a lot of horror movies in 2019 so I’ll be reblogging and reposting those reviews each day this month. Here’s my review for the surprisingly enjoyable Child’s Play remake….

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Child’s Play (2019)

Directed by Lars Klevberg

Based on Child’s Play by Don Mancini

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill

Music by Bear McCreary

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Child’s Play follows a family that is terrorized by a high-tech doll that rejects its programming, becoming self-aware and murderous.

My Opinion:

What the hell? I, um, quite liked this? This goes against everything that I stand for! It’s silly & ridiculous and it’s yet another goddamn remake (or is it a reboot?!). Whatever – both piss me off. Come up with some original ideas, Hollywood!!! I think I was just in a really good mood when I saw this. Maybe the popcorn was really good that day? Maybe it was the fact that my expectations beforehand could NOT have been any lower? Maybe my hair was looking good? Well, whatever the reason, I had…

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Watched, Read, Reviewed: August 2019

Happy Almost-End-Of September! Where did August go?! I spent half of it in America & half of it mega busy with work but still managed to watch some movies (Six on airplanes – What the hell else can you do on a plane?!). Here’s what I watched & read in August…

MOVIES IN AUGUST

I saw Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood while in America & Crawl in the UK (links to my reviews are below). I also saw four 2019 UK movie releases on the plane trips so reviewed those in a separate post (also linked below). I’ve done mini-reviews of the rest…

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – 7.5/10


Green Book – 7.5/10


Sorry To Bother You – This movie was a little mental but, overall, fairly entertaining. It’s very hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t seen it and also one that’s absolutely impossible to recommend to anyone unless you know their tastes really well. Now, I absolutely love “weird” movies. The problem here is that it’s not weird enough. It’s quite straightforward through most of it – it only suddenly gets weird at the end (think From Dusk Till Dawn). I’d have liked more weirdness. Strangely, it gave me Joe Versus The Volcano vibes, though I have NO idea why (but only during scenes set in the dreary workplace office). It just reminded me that I badly need to rewatch that underrated film… But where was I? I’m getting off track! I have no idea how to review this film. I enjoyed it but it’s one where I can’t imagine ever watching it again for any reason. The strongest thing about it are the characters and I especially liked Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, and Steven Yeun (probably because his character Glenn was one of very few characters that I actually liked in The Walking Dead). Oh, and I loved Tessa Thompson’s funky earrings and cool sort of 80’s style. How did I not even realize that the smarmy guy was Armie Hammer? He just has such a nondescript smarmy face. Well, I liked this movie as a one-time watch and won’t forget it. It wasn’t perfect and didn’t fully work for me but it’s the kind of indie movie I’d like to see more of: Creative & highly original instead of just boring navel-gazing and hateful characters (I’m looking at you, Eighth Grade movie!). – 7/10


The Hate U Give – This was a fairly decent look at a very serious issue, albeit from a very YA perspective. I’d been thinking about reading the Young Adult novel first but never got around to it, so I can only judge this based on the movie itself. It’s certainly no Boyz N The Hood but I see no problem with raising awareness by aiming a story at a slightly younger audience. Amandla Stenberg is good – I enjoyed her in The Hunger Games & Everything, Everything (she’s certainly in some of the biggest YA stuff!). Other than her character, though, I’d say a lot of the others were a bit one-dimensional (especially her annoying school friend). I don’t mean to sound too down on this one as it’s a pretty good film but it does suffer a little bit from the YA feel and a slightly too perfect “things might be okay” sort of ending. But not everything has to be gritty – it’s good if this movie has given a more mainstream audience an insight into this issue. – 7/10


Bad Times At The El Royale – Well, this was an odd one and not quite what I was expecting. I’d been super annoyed at missing this after loving the look of a skinny, shirtless, Jesus-looking Chris Hemsworth in the trailers. Just FYI if you’re wanting shirtless Hemsworth – he doesn’t show up until an hour into the movie and his character is extremely hateful. Damn – how can you make someone as loveable as Chris play someone hateful?! I did like the strange atmosphere to this film and the 60’s setting and the mysterious & creepy hotel but the strangers’ stories were a mess and didn’t seem to have any sort of point. You also certainly aren’t made to care about any of them, other than maybe the two characters played by Jeff Bridges & Cynthia Erivo, who are the true standouts of this film and by far the best things about it. Dakota Johnson is as underwhelming as always and, as I said, can we not make Hemsworth a bad guy ever again? I love him but, honestly – it didn’t work. Sorry, Chris! It was completely unbelievable. Overall, I did like that this movie felt a little bit unique and thought Bridges and Erivo were great together and fun to watch but, man – the movie is just kind of a mess. – 6.5/10


Crawl – 6.5/10


Instant Family – 6.5/10


Can You Ever Forgive Me? – 6.5/10


Mortal Engines – Look! Yet another adaptation of a dystopian YA novel! Hey, I’m not exactly complaining since dystopian YA is a huge guilty pleasure genre of mine but I think the general public has had enough of it. I did read this book (mini-review here) and really enjoyed it but it was mainly because I loved the bizarre concept. Basically, the cities in this dystopian future are on wheels and go around devouring smaller cities (I suppose there’s some sort of political message there). The characters could’ve been stronger but the story was enough fun that I didn’t care too much. Well, shit – this movie was pretty terrible but I can’t explain why as, from what I remember, it’s a fairly faithful adaptation. I was just bored. It should’ve been Mad Max: Fury Road levels of craziness but it was bland and the characters were so underdeveloped and uninteresting, although that was a fault with the book as well. They also shifted the focus onto the girl in the film, which is fine, but it meant they spent far too little time on the boy who’s the main character in the book. By the way, the girl is also WAY more disfigured in the book so they really did try to make her “Hollywood pretty” in the film. It’s just a surprisingly forgettable movie for one with such a nutso concept and I can’t see this having done well enough to warrant any of the remaining books being adapted. What a shame. If you like the sound of this concept, just watch Howl’s Moving Castle instead. – 5/10


Eighth Grade – 5/10

Re-Watched:

Adventures In Babysitting Yes, I still love this movie. It’s a personal favorite. – 8.5/10

Big Daddy – I don’t care what anyone says about Adam Sandler. Yes, he has some really bad movies but he also has several that I really like. The Wedding Singer is his best by far and I love it but I think Big Daddy is good too and doesn’t get enough credit – It’s definitely one of his better films. I mean, come on – it’s quotable and the kid is cute. “I wipe my own ass! I wipe my own ass!!“. Ha. I love that bit. And we once again get a small Steve Buscemi cameo! It’s not as hilarious as his Wedding Singer cameo but it’s still fun. And it’s even a little bit sweet and heartfelt without being over-the-top saccharine and annoying. Plus, quite frankly, Sandler’s character is likeable in this one. I like this movie. I like Scuba Steve. Screw snobby film critics. – 7/10

The Dark Crystal (1982) – I watched this since the new series was coming up and I’d not seen this in years and honestly couldn’t remember a thing about it. I adored the look of it. Of course! It’s Jim Henson! I’m an 80’s kid so I’m a sucker for his work. This is no Labyrinth, though – I’ll be honest and say that I still far prefer Labyrinth. I might have even snoozed through The Dark Crystal a little bit. Blasphemy, I know! I’m sorry. Maybe I’ll watch it again sometime. I did watch the first episode of the new Netflix series so I’ll try to get back to that when life is a little less hectic. – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

Shattered by Dean Koontz – Well, as I said I went to America in August so I needed a light & easy read to bring with me. I love Dean Koontz but I have to admit that his novels are usually light & easy reads so he was of course my first choice of author to bring along. Shattered is one of his older books (first published in 1973 under the pseudonym K.R. Dwyer) so it was perfect as it was short since he didn’t get so overly wordy in his older books. Here’s the synopsis from Wikipedia: “Artist Alex Doyle and his new family, bride Courtney and her 11-year-old brother Colin, are moving from Philadelphia to San Francisco. Courtney’s flying out ahead to get the house set up. Alex and Colin are driving there in Alex’s new Ford Thunderbird. The cross-country trip starts out as a bonding experience, but their car is being tailed by a van; a van driven by a psychopath intent on terrorizing them.” This book was perfectly fine. For its short length, the characters were developed well enough (other than the wife, but there’s not much focus on her as she’s not the one being stalked on the journey). She’s a little too perfect & beautiful, though, like most female Koontz characters. My only issue with this book is that it ended way too abruptly. Loads of build-up and then, BOOM, it was over. Huh. Kind of like sex. – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Stranger ThingsUm. I can’t, uh, even make it through Season 3 of Stranger Things. I think I have only two or three episodes to go but can’t even be bothered to get back to them. Everyone seemed to love it, though. Are the hubby & I the only ones not feeling Stranger Things anymore?? So disappointing after Season 1 was so enjoyable.

BLOG PLANS FOR SEPTEMBER

Ha! Well, the month is pretty much over. Crap… It’s almost October! I usually do October Horror Month but don’t think I’ll have time. Maybe I’ll try to re-post mini reviews of the many horror movies I’ve watched this year.

September Movies I Want To See:

It Chapter Two – Seen it! Thoroughly enjoyed it. My review is HERE.

Hustlers – Well, I had no interest in this as the thought of watching Cardi B makes me cringe but it’s had such surprisingly good reviews that I just might check it out…

Ad Astra – Sci-fi is my favorite genre and I badly want to see this.

Rambo: Last Blood – Nah! I’m not bothered but thought I should mention that it’s out.

The Farewell – Looks good! Going to try to go this week.

Ready Or Not – Looking forward to this after it got great reviews. Looks a bit fucked-up! I love fucked-up…

The Goldfinch – Shit! Not happy this has had such terrible reviews as I’ve been working my way through the extremely long novel for MONTHS and I’m finally almost finished with the damn thing.

Poms – Looks a bit stupid but the cast is great so I’ll catch this one on Netflix when having a girly night alone.

There was no great music in what I watched in August other than Adventures In Babysitting (which has an awesome soundtrack). Here’s the Iggy Pop song Real Wild Child (Wild One) that’s in the film. Love it.

Green Book, Instant Family, Can You Ever Forgive Me? & Eighth Grade Movie Reviews

I managed to see four 2019 UK cinema releases while on planes to and from America in August (I realize they were 2018 releases in the US). I’d not flown anywhere for years – When did the movie selection get so good & recent?? I figured I’d give these quickie reviews since I try to review all UK film releases each year. I’ll start with the best and end with the worst…

Green Book (2018)

Directed by Peter Farrelly

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1962, the film is inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by African American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Italian American bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) who served as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard.

My Opinion:

I’m glad I managed to catch up on seeing this controversial Best Picture Oscar winner. I enjoyed it. I know there’s a lot of hate for this one but I thought the performances were strong and I always like stories involving an unlikely friendship between two very different personalities. I thought Mahershala Ali was great in Moonlight and, at the time, was hoping he’d get more roles so I’m happy that’s happening (and that he keeps winning Oscars). I thought his character & Viggo Mortensen’s worked well together and it felt realistic in that the friendship was often awkward and grew very slowly as they were so different.

Is it true to their real life story? I think some of the controversy comes from Don Shirley’s family saying the two weren’t friends at all (the film was co-written by Frank Vallelonga’s son) but interviews with Shirley himself say differently. Who knows? That’s just what I read at Wikipedia to try to find out what caused the controversy surrounding this movie but I’ve read no more than that. I love movies for their escapism so don’t often go for the “true story” films anyway. I like to think it’s all true but know that movies always play up the feelgood factor. As long as it doesn’t feel too over the top & phony, I’m happy enough with a little bit of feelgood cheese.

At least Green Book keeps it fairly real as things are far from perfect during their journey but I’d have liked a tiny bit more focus on the history of the actual Green Book itself (but that would easily make for another whole separate movie). The focus here is on the friendship between the two men and, as far as roadtrip friendship movies go, I found Green Book enjoyable despite any issues surrounding it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Instant Family (2018)

Directed by Sean Anders

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Tig Notaro, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty, Octavia Spencer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A couple find themselves in over their heads when they foster three children.

My Opinion:

This movie was fine. It actually had a great IMDb rating when it came out in the U.K. and I’d really wanted to see it but the feelgood cheese (as I mentioned in my Green Book review) was a little too much at times in this one.

To be fair, though, this movie was marketed as a comedy drama so it kept things fairly light instead of being a hard-hitting drama at all times (which isn’t my thing anyway – real life is depressing enough!). I just think that this situation in real life would probably be far more challenging than depicted and, for whatever reason, I never felt a strong connection between the couple and the foster kids although the actors all did a perfectly fine job.

The strongest performance was from Isabela Moner as the headstrong and challenging teenager. She was tough but not totally hateful, which is often a danger with teenage characters. The relationship between her character & Rose Byrne’s felt the most realistic and it was nice seeing those two grow closer. Overall, Instant Family was a nice and somewhat safe film that was at times a tiny bit contrived but, oh well – A feelgood film never killed anyone.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Directed by Marielle Heller

Based on Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Lee Israel

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a biographical film based on the confessional memoir of the same name by Lee Israel. Melissa McCarthy stars as Israel, and the story follows her attempts to revitalize her failing writing career by forging letters from deceased authors and playwrights.

My Opinion:

This was a pretty typical movie with Oscar nominations for acting: The acting was fantastic but the movie was just okay. The true story is actually pretty interesting but I guess it didn’t translate well to film as I was a bit bored throughout the movie. However, Melissa McCarthy & Richard E. Grant were so great and such entertaining characters that this one was still well worth a watch to see their Oscar-nominated performances. I think both of them haven’t gotten enough credit over the years (Yes, even McCarthy, whose brand of humor isn’t my thing for the most part but I can see why she has fans). It’s great that they got recognition for their parts in this film as they’re what made it enjoyable and they had really good chemistry. I’ll keep this short, though, as I honestly have nothing else to say about this movie. Good story, a little slow & boring at times, but fantastic performances and interesting characters.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Eighth Grade (2018)

Directed & Written by Bo Burnham

Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Fred Hechinger

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The coming-of-age story follows the life and struggles of an eighth-grader, played by Elsie Fisher, during her last week of classes before graduating to high school. She struggles with social anxiety but produces vlogs giving life advice.

My Opinion:

This came out aaaaages ago in America but was only finally released in the UK in April this year. It got brilliant reviews from “Film Twitter” people and, even though I’m an old lady, I’m still always up for a really good coming of age film ever since falling in love with Stand By Me during my own coming of age years. Plus, I can relate to the whole socially awkward thing since I’m still awkward as shit.

Well, damn – This movie was very disappointing. I’ll say that the actress, Elsie Fisher, did a good job and felt very real (she seems sweet – I have nothing bad to say about the actress). She also did the socially awkward thing extremely well so, in that regard, I identified with her (even though she was actually far more awkward than I ever was!). However, I couldn’t relate to the character in any other way whatsoever. I know that pre & early teens can be annoying as hell but her character really was a bit too hateful for me to care at all what would happen to her. And her dad just put up with her whiny bullshit and her being a bitch to him and he didn’t monitor her time spent online AT ALL.

Yeah, yeah – I know I’m sounding old. But, seriously – keep your kids away from all forms of social media as long as fucking possible! It’s dangerous. And if you can’t do that for some reason, monitor what the hell they’re doing! FYI – the girl is a vlogger and this movie is NOT about the dangers of living a phony online existence – It’s just about not fitting in during the most awkward time of life. I’m simply having my own personal rant because seeing young girls living out their lives online and pretending to be something they’re not breaks my damn heart. Do we seriously need a whole generation of superficial KardashiJenners?! I can’t stand that fake bullshit and don’t want real-life girls like this character committing suicide when they can’t live up to the impossible standards set by “influencers” and people with an unlimited supply of money.

No, this movie isn’t about suicide or depression or anything like that – It’s a “comedy” drama, supposedly. Maybe I just AM too old for teen movies now as I found Booksmart disappointing as well. However, I thought The Edge Of Seventeen was very good and a more realistic portrayal of being a teen. I don’t know – I just think Eighth Grade would’ve been better with a more likeable and therefore more sympathetic main character. And possibly with “comedy” that was actually funny – I had to double check to see if this was actually considered a comedy. It also felt like it dragged on forever, despite being a short film. It has one of those typical meandering indie movie storylines that doesn’t go anywhere – I don’t know how I managed to stay awake watching this one on the plane. I suppose that reading all the hype for this one while waiting at least a year for it to come out in the UK didn’t help either as my expectations were probably way too high. What a massive disappointment.

My Rating: 5/10

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019) Review

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019)

Directed by André Øvredal

Story by Guillermo del Toro, Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan

Based on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.

My Opinion:

I went into this film with zero knowledge of the short story collections it’s based on. How in the hell did I not know about scary books published during my childhood and aimed specifically at “middle school kids”?! I was a kid obsessed with weird and/or scary stories! My favorite childhood TV shows were the original The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents! I loved Christopher Pike and, when a bit older, Stephen King (still do)! I’d have loved Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark!!

Well, this movie was a pleasant surprise. Obviously, I’m reviewing this as someone who’s not read the source material so I don’t know how fans feel or how faithful this adaptation is. But I thought it was a very effective and surprisingly scary movie aimed at pre to mid teens. Hell – I don’t know the US rating but it’s a 15 in the U.K., meaning you have to be 15 to be allowed to see it. There’s actually no gore or anything like that – the only warning was “prolonged & intense scenes of horror” (or something along those lines). So to get a 15 rating simply for that does show that it’s quite intense for the slightly younger audience it’s aimed at. I do wonder how people feel about it as not many horror films are aimed at the pre to mid teen market. It’ll be too “tame” for hardcore horror fans but far too intense for younger people expecting a Goosebumps type of film. Personally, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I liked the “horror middle ground”. We need to get more kids hooked on scary stories these days!

I also really enjoyed the setting (1968 small town America) and the fact that the movie started with Donovan’s fantastic Season Of The Witch – That song is bloody awesome. It’s also set at Halloween, which is always good fun for a scary film. The characters were likeable teens and the main girl, played by Zoe Colletti, was especially good. It’s of course sort of a horror anthology, with each character being affected by a different story. This was very entertaining but I’ve always been a big fan of horror anthologies. The separate stories were also linked to one overall story/mystery that was also quite good.

Honestly, I have zero complaints about this movie and I’m normally extremely picky about horror films. If you watch it, just bear in mind that it’s aimed at teens so don’t judge it compared to adult horrors. Oh, I also loved that it used practical effects (as far as I’m aware?). I absolutely hate dodgy looking CGI in horror movies and the terribly cheesy CGI in It Chapter Two was my biggest (but only) complaint about that movie. It’s just pretty bad when a “horror movie for kids” is one of the better horror films we’ve had recently. I think I’m going to go read all the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books now…

My Rating: 7/10

Crawl (2019) Review

Crawl (2019)

Directed by Alexandre Aja

Produced by Craig J. Flores, Sam Raimi, Alexandre Aja

Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Crawl stars Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper as a daughter and father, who along with their dog are hunted by alligators after becoming trapped in their home during a Category 5 hurricane.

My Opinion:

Oh my god I’m so stressed! Work is manic at the moment. But I want to catch up on reviewing the films I’ve seen in the cinema. So here’s a quickie for Crawl since I don’t have much to say about it.

Crawl was fine. I mean, it’s a movie about people being attacked by huge fucking alligators in a goddamn hurricane. It’s absolutely ridiculous! But it’s meant to be, right? Gotta admit that I loved the idea of a disaster movie, which is sort of a guilty pleasure genre for me, crossed with a horror film. And it kind of works, although I’d have liked better character development. I know, I know – That’s asking a bit much for a movie like this. I just got more enjoyment out of the equally ridiculous The Meg last year as the characters were far more fun and likeable. But fuck that movie – it only had a 75-foot-long megalodon shark. It didn’t have a 75-foot-long megalodon shark during a hurricane or earthquake or killer meteor shower or a goddamn nuclear apocalypse or something.

Well. Yeah. Crawl is fine. If you like the “killer alligators during a hurricane” idea, you’ll like this movie just fine. It’s what I expected but would have been a bit better if I’d cared more about the characters. I disliked Kaya Scodelario but can’t say why so, whatever – Just ignore me! The movie is also a bit too silly at times but I suppose it would’ve been boring if it hadn’t been ridiculous. And it was slightly boring until the alligators showed up, which took far too long.

My Rating: 6.5/10