The Gift (2015) & Coherence (2013) Reviews

Okay, these two aren’t horror films but they’re “mystery thrillers” (one a sci-fi mystery thriller) and it feels right to review them as part of October Horror Month. I love a good thriller! And these two weren’t too bad. Let’s discuss… 

The Gift (2015)

Directed & Written by Joel Edgerton

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Tim Griffin, Allison Tolman, Beau Knapp, P.J. Byrne, David Denman, Busy Philipps, Wendell Pierce, Katie Aselton, Mirrah Foulkes, Nash Edgerton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.

My Opinion:

I thought this was a good film in terms of “psychological mind-fuckery”. I love psychological horrors & thrillers and Joel Edgerton’s character was creepy as shit. It’s a hard film to discuss without spoiling the outcome. I’ll just say that the horrible thing that may or may not occur (and it is truly disturbing) is left up to interpretation. I love it when it’s left up to the audience to decide. Did he or didn’t he?! Oh man, I hope not. It’s my own personal opinion that he did NOT. But that’s the whole point of the psychological fuckery behind Edgerton’s character’s motives. It’s a well written psychological thriller and I did enjoy it (despite being somewhat offended and grossed-out…!).

Sorry for the vague review. If you’ve not seen it, it’s better if you don’t know much about it. I’d compare it to another rather random favorite “psychological mind-fuckery” film of mine: Malice starring Nicole Kidman & Alec Baldwin. I’ve not thought of that one in a long time. I can’t exactly say that was a “great” film but it was a thoroughly entertaining thriller. Hmm… Another one that comes to mind is David Fincher’s The Game (although I wouldn’t say The Gift was as good as The Game). Another fun one was Shattered (1991). Overall, The Gift is a decent psychological thriller & I wish more films like this were still made. It feels like we don’t get as many movies within this genre nowadays as we did in the 80s/early 90s. I’d like to see more being made again (even if they’re cheesy like those 80s/early 90s ones often were!). It’s a fun genre.

My Rating: 7/10

Coherence (2013)

Directed & Written by James Ward Byrkit

Starring: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.

My Opinion:

This movie is very much my type of thing (mindfuck sci-fi!) and I really liked it. I need to see it again, though. This is one of those movies that you’ll probably need to rewatch to catch things you may have missed the first time around. So, hey hubby! I know you were annoyed I watched this without you. I’ll rewatch it with you sometime! 😉

I’ll say it starts out quite slow and some of the friends who’ve gathered for a dinner party had the potential to really get on my nerves. Why are people at dinner parties in movies so annoying? Who the hell has dinner parties in real life anyway? Maybe I just have no class. If you come to my house, I’ll just order a pizza & we can watch a movie! Anyway, this started out a bit like a thriller I reviewed last year for October Horror Month: The Invitation (which I also quite liked despite it starting out with some annoying dinner party wankers). But Coherence gets far more weird than that one. Oh I do love weird!

In reading about this, I read that director & writer James Ward Byrkit was inspired by The Twilight Zone, which would explain why I liked it since that’s my absolute favorite TV series ever. It does have a very Twilight Zone feel. I do have to compare it to a few other movies I’ve seen in the past few years to better give you an idea of what it’s like. By the way, I recommend all these films: Primer (although it was WAY over my head), Predestination (love this crazy time travel mind-bender), and Circle (fantastic story in which a group of 50 strangers wake up in a mysterious room and realize that someone will die every two minutes & that they have the ability to choose who will be next). To be honest, although I thought Coherence was pretty great, I think I was slightly underwhelmed simply because I saw Predestination & Circle first and I thought they were brilliant mindfuck science fiction films. If you watch them, just keep an open mind. Especially with Circle, which seemed very low budget but had such a good story that I didn’t care.

As for Coherence, I’d probably again say it’s best to not know too much beforehand so I’ve not gotten into any specifics about the story. I love the idea that comets could totally mess us up, though. That’s such 1950’s Twilight Zone thinking! I will just say that they don’t all turn into weird comet-zombies like in Night Of The Comet (that movie kicks ass, by the way). 😉 I do recommend this movie to lovers of sci-fi weirdness and promise you’ll enjoy the story after the dinner party wankers stop being annoying once the weird shit starts going down.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Krampus (2015) Review

Krampus (2015)

Directed by Michael Dougherty

Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a Christmas demon to his family home.

My Opinion:

I was really excited about going to see this one. A Christmas horror comedy with an evil creature??? Oh my god – I thought it could be the next Gremlins! Well, damn – it’s certainly not as good as Gremlins but I did have fun with it.

This was an odd one. I like “odd” but what I mean is that it was a bit all over the place as it didn’t seem sure of what it wanted to be. It’s certainly much more a comedy than a horror so anyone going to this expecting a violent, gory horror film may be disappointed. Heck, I’d say that the Gremlins kitchen scene is actually much more violent than anything in Krampus. But the tone of Krampus makes it seem like it has a slightly older target audience than Gremlins even though the overall theme is quite “young” and it starts out as a pretty typical family movie. Plus the main star is much younger than Zach Galligan was in Gremlins (although they have a similar look & hairdo):

The problem with Krampus is that I honestly don’t know who I could recommend it to. It’s too scary for older kids, teenagers may be a bit bored, horror lovers won’t like the lack of gore, and comedy lovers may not find it funny enough. I don’t mean to sound negative about it, though, as I did enjoy it. I just think that only a select group of people will like this one. I’m guessing that people my sort of age who grew up liking things like Gremlins will be the ones who go for this.

Krampus feels like it has come straight out of my beloved Eighties and, if it had, it would be a cult classic now. Having been made in 2015, however, may keep this from achieving that status as I’m not sure the current generation will latch onto it. It has very few votes on IMDB (but a decent rating for a horror at 7/10) & it was showing in a very small screen in my cinema even though it just came out last Friday. It’s a shame it’s not getting more attention but I suppose it’s a bit niche.

Krampus starts out pretty damn good. It starts out exactly like a lot of my favorite (and very American) Christmas movies. Most notably: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We get all the typical Christmas stress & annoying relatives who really don’t get along with each other but get together anyway as it’s Christmas. It had a very promising start and I was surprised that it was so heavily focused on “family” and that it felt like something the whole family might watch together. At first…

As expected, this movie gets a bit bonkers about halfway through. Well, I think it was more than halfway and a big part of this film’s problem is that it took too long to get crazy. It goes like this: family comedy… family comedy… family comedy… family comedy… family comedy… family comedy… family comedy… WHAT THE FUCK?!… sudden & disappointing ending. I can’t say it due to spoilers (even though only one or two people here would even know what I’m on about) but I think the director watched the finales of too many 80’s TV shows to come up with that ending. Quick! Someone my age watch this & tell me what the ending made you think of!

Summary:

I don’t know why so many of my reviews end up sounding quite negative. I didn’t mean for this one to sound that way as I did like Krampus. I think I “appreciated” it slightly more than I “liked” it, though. I love the fact that this was made, at least, and want to see more films like it. I’m a big fan of horror comedies (I did a Top Ten HERE and, yes, Gremlins was number one). I think my expectations were too high so that’s why I sound slightly disappointed.

I’d have also liked to see them either up the comedy or up the horror as they didn’t get the balance quite right. The Christmas themes were rather sweet & heartfelt but the director not concentrating more on just one of the movie’s aspects meant that the movie suffered a bit due to a lack of focus. I should point out that the director also made Trick ‘r Treat, which I’ve not seen but I know it has its fans on these blogs. I’m now interested in seeing Trick ‘r Treat to compare the two.

I’m not sure if Krampus will become a Christmas classic that I watch every year but I certainly wouldn’t mind watching it during the holiday season every once in a while. Don’t let me talk you out of seeing it if you think you’d like it as some of you will love it (and, yes, some will hate it). If you grew up with 80’s movies I think it’s more likely that you’ll be the type to appreciate Krampus (especially when it gets a bit crazy in a great, cheesy, retro way). I just wish the madness had started earlier & gone on for far longer.

My Rating: 7/10