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
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.
Yes!!!! January is OVER! Okay – it’s been over for a while – I’m just behind on my monthly update as usual. I f*^king hate January. And I spent it watching loads of shit! WTF? So much for my resolution to watch fewer movies this year and to try to watchmore “quality” films. Pfft. Oh well. Let’s see what utter shit I wasted my time on during dark, dreary January 2019…
– Paprika – This is one of my 2019 Blind Spot choices so I’ll review it in full soon. It was okay but I didn’t love it. – 7/10
– Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – This was okay but it didn’t exactly change my life. I’m starting to wonder if I’m too damn picky (or bitchy) since a lot of people loved this film/game thingy. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been big on video games and this felt more like a game than a proper film to me.As far as the story goes, it’s weaker than a regular Black Mirror episode. The characters were fine but I didn’t care enough to bother trying out various different choices. Who has time to watch something multiple times?! I just read about the other options online afterwards instead. Apparently the ending I got is the hardest one to get to. Hmm. Sounds like the best one anyway. – 6.5/10
– Every Day – I kind of liked this. If I was honest, I’d put it above Bandersnatch but I’m always a little embarrassed by the fact that I still read & watch YA stuff. Guilty pleasure! I read the book last year (review HERE) because I loved the concept. Here’s the book synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” This is one of those rare occasions where I think the movie is slightly better than the book. It’s very faithful to the book so it might be down to its star (the girl – played by Angourie Rice) being quite likable. I remember thinking she was great alongside Ryan Gosling & Russell Crowe in The Nice Guys, considering they’re big stars & she was unknown. Anyway, this is a simple & sweet teen romance with an interesting story. If you like that sort of thing, you’ll like this one.– 6.5/10
– Murder On The Orient Express – Had to check this out since I read the book in 2017 when I heard they’d be adapting it again (and that Daisy Ridley & Michelle Pfeiffer would be in it). It’s the first & only Agatha Christie book I’ve read (and one of the only crime/mystery thrillers I’ve read – I stick to horror and sci-fi). It’s a great story and I enjoyed the book but this adaptation was weak. The casting felt very wrong, although I like most of the actors in it. Johnny Depp was the worst. I loved him back in the Edward Scissorhands days. I want that Johnny Depp back! The movie also gets off to a very slow & boring start. It does pick up once they’re on the train (and the murder happens) but, if you’ve read the book and already know the conclusion, it’s not that exciting watching the mystery unfold. They managed to make a murder mystery very dull in this.There are some references to other Christie novels (I think), which fans will probably appreciate but which went over my head. If you love the book and the actors, you still might want to check this film out one rainy afternoon. But I’d definitely recommend the novel over this adaptation if you’re interested in the story. – 6.5/10
– 2:22 – This sounded so good from the plot synopsis on IMDb: “A man’s life is derailed when an ominous pattern of events repeats itself in exactly the same manner every day, ending at precisely 2:22 p.m.“Sci-fi weirdness! Totally my type of thing! But it has a really low IMDb rating and bad reviews. This wasn’t great but the reviews are way too harsh. The story was intriguing and a bit romantic if you’re into that. The execution of the story is far from perfect but the people calling it boring clearly haven’t seen that pretentious snoozefest Comet (a somewhat similar genre film involving two lovers). If you like full-on mind-bendy sci-fi weirdness, I highly recommend Coherence or Circle or Predestination over this. If you’re in the mood for more of a romance with a simple story that happens to have a small twist of sci-fi, you may like this one okay. I think I just have some weird thing for Theresa Palmer because I always seem to watch her movies even though she’s rarely in very good ones… – 6/10
– Roma – Okay… I’m one of those people who found this film boring. Very boring. Guess I just have no class. I’m sorry but I’m always 100% honest when it comes to my opinion on things and I never pretend to like something that I didn’t enjoy. I actually found it a chore to make it through this one and don’t know how I managed to stay awake. I was exhausted. I deserve a medal! It’s a beautiful looking film, I get that. Alfonso Cuarón is a great filmmaker and I think Gravity and Children Of Men are fantastic. But this? I don’t get it. I hated the family. The main girl was good (the family’s maid, played by Yalitza Aparicio, who is up for an Oscar). Not sure it’s an “Oscar worthy” performance but she’s the only sympathetic character in this. I still didn’t connect with her, though. That may be due to her lack of emotion throughout all that happens but you do feel for her character and want a better life for her. Roma isn’t a bad film, obviously. I just can’t see it sitting alongside Best Picture Oscar winners from the past, which are some epic, all-time classics. But I’d say the same for a lot of Oscar nominees from the past decade or so. The Academy is completely out of touch. I’d love to hear from people who genuinely enjoyed this, though. Honestly – I do want to understand what all the fuss is about. But I know that not one real-life person I know (I know no obsessive movie nerds like me) would like Roma, let alone be able to sit through the whole thing. – 6/10
– Dreamscape – This is another 2019 Blind Spot choice so I’ll review it at some point. Worst Blind Spot film I’ve ever chosen… – 6/10
– Unsane – 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 & dialogueand, 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… – 6/10
– Green Lantern – Why did I watch this?? I’m sick of superhero movies and this one is known to be bad. To be fair, it’s very silly but certainly not the worst superhero movie I’ve seen. I’ll be honest – I enjoyed it more than Man Of Steeland Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. AsI always say, I prefer superhero movies to be fun instead of dark & dreary like those two. So. Meh. This was silly but Reynolds was fun. I’ve seen worse. – 5.5/10
– Pitch Perfect 3 – I won’t waste time saying much about this. It’s bad. Hollywood needs to stop milking the shit out of every idea. The first Pitch Perfect was fine. It was a fun concept and I got some laughs out of it (mainly thanks to the weird girl who whispers crazy shit and makes puke angels). There were very few funny moments in this one and a pathetic story. Time to move on! – 5.5/10
– Ghost Stories – 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. – 5/10
– Bird Box – 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. – 5/10
– Winchester – 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’s up for a bunch of Razzie Awards, I guess. – 5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)
I got these two short Stephen King novels for Christmas so of course read them immediately. I read everything King writes and I almost prefer his shorter stories to his full novels so I was excited about reading these. They’re fine but not his best.
– Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar – Iliked the setup for this one. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson takes the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside.
One day, while Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground and the chink of an aluminium bat hitting a baseball, a stranger calls out to her.
On a bench in the shade sits a man in a small, neat black hat. He offers Gwendy a mahogany box with coloured buttons. The buttons will produce gifts, such as chocolate which can make you slimmer. But he warns her that the gifts will be small recompense for the responsibility.”
I liked the character of Gwendy and am a sucker for a 70s or 80s time period plus I like a story that spans many years so I enjoyed reading about Gwendy as she grew up throughout this short novel. However, not a lot happens. There’s also very little horror, which was fine by me as I’m just as happy with King’s less horrific books but I can certainly see not all King fans loving this one. I loved the concept and had fun with the story and like that the title sounds slightly dirty. – 3/5
– Elevation by Stephen King– I think this one really won’t be loved by all King fans. Like Gwendy’s Button Box, it’s not exactly a“horror”. Again, though, I really liked the concept. A guy starts losing weight very quickly, although his outward appearance never changes andhis scales register the same weight even if he’s holding something heavy. I couldn’t wait to see where King was going with this odd story. Strangely, this felt more like a story his son (Joe Hill) would write. Hill does weird concepts more often than full-on horror. I love the style of both King & Hill. I maybe liked this one slightly more than Gwendy’s Button Box, actually – but I think that was a better novel overall. – 3/5
TV SHOWS WATCHED
None. Am thinking of starting on that South Korean zombie thing Kingdom on Netflix. Looks like something I’d like. Anyone seen it?
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
I’ll again try to review whatever I watch in the cinema. I’ll also try to review one of my Blind Spot choices (probably Paprika).
February Movie Releases:
– Burning – Not a February release but, dammit, I want to see this. It was showing in limited cinemas recently. I need to live in London!
– Destroyer – Looks okay but I’ll wait for Netflix.
– Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Was hoping to see this for its Oscar-nominated performances but don’t think there are enough showings.
– Escape Room – Cheesy teen horror. Can definitely wait for Netflix.
– How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – Going to miss this now as there are too many other films I want to see. Will probably send the hubby & kid to this while I go to Green Book.
– If Beale Street Could Talk – Looks really good. Will try to check it out if I have time.
– Alita: Battle Angel – Seen this already. Really enjoyed it! Will try to review it soon.
– Boy Erased – Again, I’ll probably wait for Netflix. I can only take so many dreary dramas at once so I’ll focus on the ones up for Oscars first.
– The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – Saw this as well so will also review it soon. Was disappointing compared to the first film, which I thought was great.
– Instant Family – Netflix film! Like most silly comedies.
– The Kid Who Would Be King – I seriously want to see this because 1. I really liked Joe Cornish’s last film Attack The Block and 2. Patrick Stewart!!!!
– On The Basis Of Sex – Another “wait for Netflix” film but I do really like Felicity Jones.
– Cold Pursuit – Well, I kind of wanted to see this for its sheer ridiculousness but didn’t know it’s based on a Norwegian film, In Order Of Disappearance, which is currently on Amazon Prime. Now I want to watch THAT instead!
Oh yeah! I always try to end these roundups with music from one of the films I watched. I forgot the very best thing about Bandersnatch: Tangerine Dream! YES!!! 🙂
I’ll be posting all my 2018 Year End Top Ten Lists the rest of this week. I’m starting off with My Top Ten Books (And Short Stories) Read In 2018. I even managed to review them all, making this a very quick & easy post! Links to the reviews are below.
And as always, my “Top Tens” are often full lists of all I’ve seen, read, etc. I read 19 stories so I’ve ranked all 19. Here we go!
Happy December, everyone! Is winter over yet? Oh man – I’m mega late with this update & it’s now almost January. That’s even worse than December. Have I mentioned that I hate this cold & dreary time of year??? Well, here’s what I watched & read way back in November…
**I’ll try to review all the below 2018 releases in full later so I’ll only talk a little about the two I saw at home.
– A Star Is Born – 8/10
– Mirai – 7/10
– Ralph Breaks The Internet – 7/10
– The Nutcracker And The Four Realms – 6.5/10
– The Boat That Rocked (aka Pirate Radio) – I’d always wanted to check this out sometime as I find the pirate radio thing that happened in the UK fascinating. I love the spirit of pirate radio. Sticking it to corporate radio bullshit! And I’ve always had a thing for Pump Up The Volume (I think it was a teenage nerd dream of mine to be Slater’s anti-establishment pirate DJ in that). This movie was pretty bloody awful, though. Could they really not just make a movie based on the true story of pirate radio, which would be thoroughly interesting, instead of an overlong piece of fiction filled with hateful characters? What I find most fascinating, however, is just how much the world has changed in the ten years since this was released. This couldn’t be made in the same way now as there’d be a huge backlash due to how the female characters are portrayed (and a scene involving Gemma Arterton is rapey beyond belief). I have to get the hell off the internet sometimes when I see words like “woke” and “problematic” and I just want to puke. I’m Gen X and rude as fuck and offended by nothing so, if I found this movie slightly uncomfortable in 2018, I’m hoping that the people who use those words never check it out. I’ll say two good things about it, though: Philip Seymour Hoffman was really good and the soundtrack was AMAZING. Holy hell! Richard Curtis must have some serious connections to have gotten the rights to so many great songs for this film (I looked it up – there are 60 songs in the movie). It was actually worth watching for the constant background music alone. I’d say the movie somewhat captured the spirit of pirate radio’s love of good music and wanting to share it with others. It’s just a shame that a good movie about pirate radio wasn’t made instead of this silly one. – 5.5/10
– Slaughterhouse Rulez – 5.5/10
– The Grinch – 5/10
– Better Watch Out – 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 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. – 4.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
– Bird Box by Josh Malerman – I enjoyed this horror novel. If you liked A Quiet Place, you’d probably like this story as well. In the book, people start going mad and killing themselves & others after seeing *something*. No one knows the cause so people start barricading themselves in their homes & wearing blindfolds at all times. I’d say the only negative was that I didn’t love the main character as she seems so cold & uncaring but it’s also completely understandable as this terrible new existence has made her that way. This has now been made into a Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock and I have to say I hate the look of the trailer as it looks like too much has been changed (plus she’s very wrong for the role). I’ll check it out but I highly recommend reading the book first if you’re interested. – 4/5
– Ghastle And Yule by Josh Malerman – This was a short story hidden at the end of Bird Box and, oh my god, I loved it! I liked it so much that I tweeted the author (I never do that – I just felt the need to let him know I appreciated it). The story is about two rival horror filmmakers and I highly recommend it to lovers of filmmaking & especially classic horror filmmaking. The way Malerman describes each of their films in detail made them feel like real directors and actual movies I’d seen. Seriously – every movie described in this story needs to be made for real. Horror filmmakers are missing out if they don’t do this. At the very least, the story itself should be a film. – 4.5/5
– Stories Of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang – I’ve only read two of the stories in this collection so far. I’ll try to review this once I’ve read the whole book.
Currently Reading: Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby – But I have to return it to the library and I’ve not finished it. Damn. Good so far. Typical Hornby.
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Walking Dead – Ugh. Why do I keep doing this to myself?! This show has sucked for years. It has sucked since Darabont left. And I never loved Rick but it’s completely pointless without him now…
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
No plans! Too busy with work. And stupid Christmas. I may try to review the 2018 films I’ve not yet reviewed. And I’ll do end-of-year Top Ten lists as always but that may be the first week of January.
December Movies I Want To See:
– Sorry To Bother You – Sounds like a “love it or hate it”. I do like weird.
– The Old Man & The Gun – Sounds like an interesting story but I’ll wait for Netflix.
– Mortal Engines – Damn, reviews aren’t great but I liked the book. Looks like it’ll be another “wait for Netflix” film.
– Aquaman – Meh. DC movies suck but he’s pretty damn hot so I might watch this one.
– Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – Saw it. It’s brilliant! And I’m not a huge superhero fan.
– An Elephant Sitting Still – I know nothing at all about this but it’s a Chinese film with decent reviews (but probably too obscure for me to be able to ever see it easily). And I’ve just seen that it’s four hours long?! Huh. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
– Mary Poppins Returns – I’ll go as it looks like a lovely family film and I like Emily Blunt but I’m seriously bored with reboots and remakes and sequels and whatever.
– Bumblebee – Tickets booked! I’ll have seen this by the time this posts. Sounds like a fun family movie.
– Holmes & Watson – Could be fun. Could be shit. Will Ferrell movies are iffy.
**I’ll end with a song from the thoroughly disappointing The Boat That Rocked movie with the thoroughly fantastic soundtrack. I’ve always loved Crimson And Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells. I seriously always thought this song was about taking a girl’s virginity in the grass but I can’t find any evidence of this online and I’m now weirdly disappointed that there’s no actual meaning. This is from Wikipedia: “The title, “Crimson and Clover”, was decided before a song had been written for it. The combination of unknown meaning came to James as he was waking up, comprising his favorite color – crimson – and his favorite flower – clover.”
I seriously thought I’d quit this blogging thing once I hit my five year anniversary. Well, shit – I’m still lingering a year later. Sorry – I think you’re stuck with me! I enjoy this online movie diary. I may not post as many full-length reviews anymore but I’m obsessed with keeping lists so I’ll continue my monthly roundup posts.
As it’s so close to the end of the year, I’ll do what I always do for my anniversary posts & just do a short roundup of my favorite things I’ve watched & read so far this year. That means lists! So here are My Top Tens for 2018 so far (and likely to change order by the end of the year as I’m totally indecisive).
My Top Ten Books (& Short Stories) Read This Year:
A quick comment on the ones I’ve just finished & not yet reviewed: I really enjoyed Bird Box by Josh Malerman. It has been made into a Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock but the trailer looks rubbish (it looks like too much has been changed). I recommend the book to horror fans, especially if you liked A Quiet Place. And I got a nice surprise as the UK version of the book has a bonus story called Ghastle And Yule. I loved this!! If you’re a lover of films, and especially if you’re a lover of classic horror films & filmmaking, I highly recommend finding a copy of this story about two rival horror filmmakers. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author & got a nice reply. It’s great having these kind of exchanges with authors, filmmakers & actors whose work you appreciate.
A quick comment on these: I’m clearly enjoying exploring more anime as so many are in my top ten (I’ve watched loads of movies this year – the full list is HERE). And I certainly didn’t expect a martial arts film to easily be my number one so far (Bruce Lee kicks ass!). I’ll say that the Blind Spot project is worth doing each year as most of them end up being in my top ten. So far, my top three are all Blind Spot choices of mine.
A quick comment on these: I always go by UK release date so I, Tonya makes this list. It’s still my favorite, although I wouldn’t say it’s the “best” film on the list. I’ve just always been fascinated by the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan story and the movie was entertaining as hell. Plus I love dark comedy/drama. “Best” film is probably A Star Is Born. Cooper & Gaga are brilliant. Not sure if it’ll stay in second place, though. Straight drama isn’t really my thing and I probably enjoyed some others on this list a bit more. I do have the urge to move Mandy way up the list but I’m not sure why. I’m not sure if I even liked it all that much! But it’s weird and trippy and crazy as shit and looks good and sounds good and is maybe a little bit pretentious. It’s so my type of thing.
Thanks to everyone who still reads my occasional posts and my annoying lists. I do appreciate it!
I usually end these posts with a music clip so I’ll go with Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger from the thoroughly entertaining anime Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem: