Two more reposts today of two very brief reviews of a couple of foreign horror films that I watched this year. They were just okay. Certainly not great but I’ve seen much worse (especially this year).
Goodnight Mommy (2014)
Directed by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala
Starring: Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Twin boys move to a new home with their mother after she has face changing cosmetic surgery, but under her bandages is someone the children don’t recognize.
My Brief Opinion:
This Austrian horror film was another big disappointment after a lot of bloggers really seemed to like it. I wanted to like it and it did start out very strong. But the “twist” was obvious from the start. I assume it was meant to be, though. Right? It’s been done so often now. I just really hated how this movie ended. Too over-the-top. And I know we’re not necessarily meant to like everyone in a horror film but I still want to care about at least one of the characters. It was hard to sympathize with anyone in this, even though there was a very good reason to. But the ending took that away. Well, the film did have a great look to it and started out very promising. I’d probably still watch another film from the same directors since this had potential.
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates.
My Brief Opinion:
To quote Wikipedia again, Veronica is a Spanish horror movie “Loosely based on true events from the 1991 Vallecas case where Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro died mysteriously after she used a ouija board“. It showed up on Netflix with a lot of people saying “scariest horror movie ever!” and shit like that. I guess it’s the only horror movie they’ve ever watched? It was a well-made film with decent acting but it’s not something we haven’t all seen before. However, I liked the characters which is always a plus as we don’t often get likeable characters in this genre. I felt for this poor 15-year-old girl and her sweet younger siblings she’s forced to take care of since their mother is always working. It made the film an okay watch as the story itself was a little bland (especially as, from what I’ve read, it’s only very loosely based on the “true” story).
Happy June, everyone! As always, I’m behind on my blog. I’m annoyed that I didn’t see Deadpool 2 in May (but I’ve seen it now – I’ll review it soon). And I didn’t manage to review my Blind Spot movie in May (Enter The Dragon) so I might post two Blind Spot reviews in June. Or not. Life is too busy! But you gotta put life first. 🙂 Here’s the crap I watched & read in May…
• War For The Planet Of The Apes – LOVED this. Wasn’t happy that I missed out on seeing this in the cinema last year but things were too hectic for me when it was out. If I’d seen it, it easily would’ve made My Top Ten Movies Of 2017. I’d put it in either 3rd or 4th place – I can’t decide if it would be above Blade Runner 2049 or not. Oh, by the way, I’d also add Colossal to that Top Ten now too and I recommend that if you’ve not seen it. But back to the apes! How great are those apes?! Who ever would’ve thought that they could look SO damn good?? I mean, I’m still a fan of the original 1968 film but this reboot has been amazing, especially in the development of these characters. The ape characters, of course. Love them. It’s funny how we can care so much more about them than we can about most human characters in movies nowadays. Anyway – I don’t need to ramble on forever. I missed this at the time but am so glad I’ve finally caught up. This has easily been one of the most satisfying reboots ever and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these films. But I hope they end it here – it would make for the perfect ending plus Hollywood needs to learn to quit while ahead. – 8/10
• Metropolis – This is a Blind Spot choice so I’ll review it in full soon. It’s a gorgeous film. – 8/10
• The Theory Of Everything – I’m happy that I finally watched this as well. I gotta be honest – Eddie Redmayne annoys me for some reason so that may be why I didn’t rush to see this. But, damn, he earned that Oscar! He was brilliant in this film. I’m sorry, Eddie Redmayne! I was also equally impressed by Felicity Jones – it’s a shame she didn’t get an Oscar as well but at least she was nominated. Jane Hawking came across as an incredibly strong woman in this movie so it’s a shame I think the role was overshadowed. I’ll be honest again and say that I didn’t know much about the life of Stephen Hawking, especially his personal life, so I found this film fascinating. I don’t normally like many “true stories” based on real people but this film was fantastic. Stephen & Jane Hawking led an amazing life. R.I.P. Stephen Hawking. – 8/10
• A Monster Calls – I read this book last year (it just made it into My Top Ten Books Of 2017). I never got around to reviewing the book but thought it was a great pre-teen to young adult novel showing a different way of handling grief. What the boy goes through with his mother’s cancer felt very real & heartbreaking. The idea for the story was conceived by Siobhan Dowd while she had cancer. She died before she could write it, so it was written by Patrick Ness. This probably helped add to the grief feeling so real in the book. As for the movie, it’s a great adaptation & very faithful to the book. I loved the look of the film (also true to the illustrated version of the book that I read). Felicity Jones (again!) is very good as the mother, the boy (Lewis MacDougall) is great in a very difficult role, and Sigourney Weaver, um, sounds weird as hell with an English accent. And the dad is a useless fuckwit (same as in the book). The movie is so faithful that you could probably just watch the movie if you really don’t want to read the book. But I recommend at least one or the other. Be sure to have tissues… – 7.5/10
• Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – I don’t know why I’m on a Marilyn Monroe kick but this is the third movie of hers that I’ve watched in the past several months. I always wanted to check this one out since, not gonna lie, I loved Madonna’s Material Girl video. Wow – she really did do an almost exact copy of Marilyn’s performance in this film. It was fun finally watching that scene in full. Of the three films I’ve seen so far, Marilyn played the “dumb blonde” and I don’t know if she did much beyond that sort of character but, hell, it worked. I thought I might find her a little annoying (sorry!) but she’s likable in a very innocent yet shrewd sort of way. Monroe herself wasn’t dumb in the slightest – she used what worked for her and, yes, I can see her appeal. Personality-wise, though, I’d have to say that I’d personally choose to be more like Jane Russell’s character in this. She’s the very definition of SASSY! I don’t watch enough old films so I think this is the first thing I’ve seen her in. I especially loved how she lusted over the male Olympians (I loved that song & dance number – I’ll stick it at the end of this post). Together, Russell & Monroe made a great team in this with their very different, yet determined, personalities. And this is probably the best I’ve seen from Monroe – I think Russell helped bring out the best in her here. I think I have a weird sort of girl crush on the combo of the two of them. I still like Some Like It Hot the most but far preferred Gentleman Prefer Blondes to The Seven Year Itch, which is dated in a somewhat uncomfortable way that doesn’t really work now. All three have outdated values but, screw it, who cares? These movies were made in a very different time. Monroe and Russell are very sexy but also very strong women in this one. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is just a really fun film. Movies are rarely fun anymore. – 7.5/10
• Everything, Everything – This is another book that I read last year and liked a heck of a lot. But it’s sooooo “Young Adult romance” and definitely not for everyone. Again, this is a pretty faithful adaptation but the book did a better job of capturing the likable personality of Madeline, who suffers from “severe combined immunodeficiency” and hasn’t been able to leave her house for 18 years. This becomes complicated when she falls for the boy who has just moved in next door. Amandla Stenberg is perfect as Madeline, though. Hey – she was Rue in The Hunger Games! When did she grow up? She’s adorable. The boy she falls for is played by Nick Robinson from Love, Simon. He was good as well but the movie tells you very little about him. Anyway. I really liked the book and this adaptation but you won’t like this one unless you’re into YA romances. – 7/10
• Atomic Blonde – This was fine but a bit disappointing. I feel similar to how I felt about The Hitman’s Bodyguard – it has a lot of big movie stars who did well in a weak film. Charlize Theron was great – tough & sexy & had me wondering how I would look in a blonde wig just like hers (I’d look shit – I’m not Charlize Theron). This is set in 1989 so I loved the soundtrack but the movie does try too hard to look “cool”. But it’s still a good-looking film and I totally wanted to be Charlize (without all the “getting beat to shit” stuff). I had fun with it and enjoyed it more than The Hitman’s Bodyguard. This is from one of the same directors as John Wickand it’s basically John Wick but with boobs and a far weaker storyline. – 6.5/10
• Shane – I watched this because this is the film they watched in Logan. Seriously – I’m weird like that. I’m always interested in looking into the films showing within films. This is a full-on old Western and not even one of those cool Leone Spaghetti Westerns so it’s not my favorite sort of genre and I’m certainly no expert. But it’s a very good film with some gorgeous cinematography and Shane is a really cool tough dude who stands up for what’s right. It’s a timeless story & totally deserves a much higher rating than I’m giving it. But the Leone films are much more my thing if I’m going to make myself watch Westerns. – 6.5/10
• Carnival Of Souls (1962) – I’ve wanted to see this for years (FYI – it’s on Amazon Prime UK). Mainly because of the title: CARNIVAL OF SOULS!!! Seriously – that’s an awesome title. The movie itself? Low budget and extremely slow-paced. I love the idea of the story, though, and can see that this probably influenced many later horror films such as Romero’s brilliant Night Of The Living Dead. There’s some great stuff going on in this movie, including creepy & atmospheric organ music and zombielike people who seem to be after the main character’s soul following her car accident. I want to give this a higher rating. It deserves higher. I may up my rating at some point… I do think it’s worthy of its cult status and that all film lovers, especially horror film lovers, should see it. But it IS very slow. The story is dragged out for too long but, to be fair, the ending won’t have been blatantly obvious in 1962. This film was probably a bit of a shock back then! But it could’ve made for a kick ass half-hour episode of The Twilight Zone instead. – 6.5/10
• Going In Style – I watched this as it seemed like a nice, lightweight film starring three actors that I really like. Oh, shit – one of them is in trouble now. Dammit. Am I allowed to talk about this movie now? At this rate, I’m going to have to delete half my blog’s old Top Ten lists involving male actors (I’d never do that – I don’t believe in erasing the past). Anyway, this film was fine but a bit meh. It’s one of those that I enjoyed well enough while watching but will barely remember in a year. It relies too much on its big name stars, who all did well and were likable as always but the story is a bit weak. – 6/10
• The Space Between Us -The same again – a bit meh. Disappointing as I really loved the plot synopsis on IMDb: “The first human born on Mars travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl to discover how he came to be.” It was okay. I liked the story but they somehow managed to make it into a very bland film. I like all the actors in it and am not really sure where it all went wrong. Oh well. I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time – I just wanted it to be better. – 6/10
• Goodnight Mommy – Another big disappointment after a lot of bloggers really seemed to like this one. I wanted to like it and it did start out very strong. But the “twist” was obvious from the start. I assume it was meant to be, though. Right? It’s been done so often now. I just really hated how this movie ended. Too over-the-top. And I know we’re not necessarily meant to like everyone in a horror film but I still want to care about at least one of the characters. It was hard to sympathize with anyone in this, even though there was a very good reason to. But the ending took that away. Well, the film did have a great look to it and started out very promising. I’d probably still watch another film from the same directors since this had potential. – 5.5/10
• Annabelle: Creation – Ugh. I trashed the first movie HERE. The first film was ridiculous and couldn’t have been more cliché. At first, it seemed that this one was going to be much better. Oh, hell no! It’s even worse. I think it made me appreciate the first film more, even with all its overused horror tropes. Those things are overused because they sometimes work. This sequel probably could have used a little more of that. I dunno. I think what annoys me with modern horror films such as these, besides the predictability and stupid jump scares and lack of originality or good storytelling, is the filmmakers’ obvious hatred for the characters. The characters are only there to die. So why would I give a shit about what happens? In that case, I’d rather watch silly 80’s slashers which had a sense of fun. We need at least one person to root for/to possibly survive/to not be possessed. I mean, we do have a nice group of young girls I wanted to like but they got so little character development. And a tragic beginning turns a sweet couple into “creepy people who act strange”. It doesn’t end well in this film for people who don’t deserve to suffer (sorry if that’s spoiler-y). And, okay, maybe I don’t like sweet young girls turning into psychotic demons. Well, maybe in a good movie. Actually, I like demonic kids – The Omen is awesome… Never mind. I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. This movie just sucked. – 4.5/10
• Re-Watch: Stardust – Watched this with the kid and she loved it. She adores The Princess Bride (since she has awesome taste like her mother) so I figured she’d enjoy this as well. Not that this is nearly as good as The Princess Bride! But nothing is… – 7.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)
• Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Me & my YA novels! What can I say? They’re simple reads and some are pretty good. This is one of the pretty good ones. It’s yet again another romance but the characters feel real & truly in love despite being so different. Plus, it’s set in the 80s and they talk about lots of music that I like so that was a big plus for me (I’m so old). The story is pretty straightforward but the characters make this a really enjoyable read. – 4/5
• The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James – This was an odd one. I love sci-if so was intrigued by this synopsis at Goodreads: “Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . . ” This is, I guess, what would fall under the YA definition again? But only because it involves a teenage girl. And it’s not a romance in the way it sounds in the synopsis. It’s hard to describe this without spoilers but this gets pretty intense at the end and I have to say it was a real page-turner as I took it everywhere with me as I was eager to find out how it would end. I liked the way we learn about these chatacters through e-mails that they aren’t able to reply to until months later. And the thought of being alone in space has always intrigued me/freaked me out. But I’m not sure how I feel about the direction the book takes at the end. It would make for a good movie & I liked the story but I’m not sure this “YA sci-fi romance drama thriller” quite worked. – 3/5
• Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – I’ve now read all of Flynn’s novels and I think she’s a very good & entertaining writer, especially as I’m not usually into the crime thriller type of genre. Gone Girl drove me a bit crazy with its hateful characters but it was a damn good read. Sharp Objects, however, was so utterly twisted that it’s my favorite so far just because it was so bonkers. Dark Places was also a good read from Flynn but definitely my least favorite of her full-length novels so far. But that’s not saying it’s bad – it’s a twisty turny murder mystery that I’m sure any fans of this genre would like. It’s just not my favorite genre. And although everyone in it is truly fucked-up, I liked the even crazier Sharp Objects-level of fucked-up. – 3/5
• Laurie by Stephen King – This was fine. A very short, not-full-on-horror type of King story. This was a freebie released by King as a precursor to his new novel, The Outsider. Can’t wait to get that! I adore King and try to read everything of his. If you like King too, you need to read Laurie. – 3/5
Currently Reading: Odd Hours by Dean Koontz
TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)
Just stupid Grey’s Anatomy. Still. For some reason. They almost killed off a main doctor character again. Such a dangerous hospital to work in!!! Boring season finale. Maybe they should’ve killed someone after all.
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
• Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – I’m not overly excited, though, to be honest. The last one was just okay. But I’m not a massive Jurassic Park fan beyond the very first film anyway.
• Hereditary – This looks intense! And I always get excited by horrors that actually get really great reviews. This is the movie I’m most looking forward to this month. Can’t wait!
• Ocean’s 8 – Looks like a bit of fun but I don’t expect much more than that.
• Sicario 2: Soldado – I thought Sicario was fantastic despite it not being my type of genre at all. But different people are involved this time (no Villeneuve or Deakins!) so it’s hard to get overly excited about it.
May watch on Netflix:
Book Club, In The Fade, Adrift, Tag, Leave No Trace