Villains (2019) & C.H.U.D. (1984) Reviews

I have two NEW horror reviews today!!! Likely to be the only new ones I write all month instead of just re-posting stuff I’ve already written. Well, maaaaaaybe I’ll review Halloween 1 through 6 since I just rewatched all of those (well, I watched 5 & 6 for the first time ever). Dunno. I’m not in a blogging place at the moment. Find it difficult to put any words together on anything lately. We’ll see! Now what the heck am I going to say about these two films…

Villains (2019)

Directed & Written by Dan Berk & Robert Olsen

Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Blake Baumgartner, Jeffrey Donovan, Kyra Sedgwick

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After a pair of amateur criminals break into a suburban home, they stumble upon a dark secret that two sadistic homeowners will do anything to keep from getting out.

My Opinion:

I liked this one. For some reason, I’d not heard of this one at all despite it being recent & on Netflix (it’s actually a 2021 release here in the U.K.). It doesn’t have huge megastars but it still has names well known to movie fans so am not sure why I’d heard nothing about it. So thanks, Film Miasma! I first heard of this when reading your review.

I’ve liked a lot of the films Maika Monroe has done so far, especially It Follows which not everyone loves but I do. She’s admittedly been in some real rubbish but I think she stands out in those films & expected her to be a bigger star by now. I didn’t love The Guest but appreciated its style and the fact that it felt original plus, again, I liked Monroe in it.

I also really liked a film of hers called Bokeh, which I keep putting off reviewing since nothing whatsoever happens in that movie. Honestly. Which is quite an accomplishment for a movie about everyone on the planet suddenly disappearing other than Monroe & her new fiancé (or maybe it was new hubby, I dunno) while vacationing in Iceland. But I’ve always been obsessed with end-of-the-world stories so I liked it plus the movie was gorgeous and I badly want to visit Iceland now. It was a really good tourism advert for Iceland! But, see? This is why I can’t write anything lately. I’m way off topic! This is turning into a Bokeh review. (But, hey – I did like Bokeh a lot so watch it if you just want to watch a pretty young couple do nothing other than wander around & go swimming while looking at beautiful landscapes. I’d give it 6.5/10).

So, yeah, I liked Monroe in this film too. But what I liked the most was Bill Skarsgård & the relationship these two had. I’d even say that this somewhat strange sort-of-horror-thriller-almost-horror-comedy-movie had a nice romance going on with these two. They were good together & had a nice chemistry. But Skarsgård was kind of adorable. I’m not sure why. I mean, he’s Pennywise FFS. That’s creepy. And I’ve never given him much thought other than thinking he looks bizarrely like a young Steve Buscemi. So maybe it’s because I adore Buscemi but I really liked Skarsgård in this and I wanted these two to get married & live happily ever after. And I liked the thing she did with her hair to calm him down. It was cute.

So, I won’t give away the story as wanting to find out the crazy secret that the two above weirdos, played by Jeffrey Donovan & Kyra Sedgwick, were hiding was the whole reason I wanted to see this movie after reading the synopsis. I’ll just say it wasn’t as crazy as I was expecting for some reason but it’s still a decent story and these two did a good job playing normal looking middle class American psychos. Those are the worst kind of psychos, right?! And I liked it being one of these movies with slightly bad people who meet really bad people, which makes the slightly bad people the really good people. And I can see some not loving the very end but I really liked how this one ended up. Overall, it’s not a movie as over-the-top as it may sound, it’s just a bit quirky. And it has an interesting mix of genres & better characters than we get it in a lot of horror-comedy-thrillers. It’s also one where, after writing about it, I like it a little bit more.

My Rating: 7/10

C.H.U.D. (1984)

Directed by Douglas Cheek

Starring: John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Kim Greist, J C Quinn, Michael O’Hare, Peter Michael Goetz, Sam McMurray, Frankie R Faison, John Goodman, Jay Thomas, Hallie Foote, Graham Beckel, Jon Polito, George Martin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot concerns a New York City police officer and a homeless shelter manager who join forces to investigate a series of disappearances, and discover that the missing people have been hunted down by humanoid monsters that live below the city.

My Opinion:

I don’t have as much to say about this movie. I’ll just start by saying, yes, I love the ’80s. I grew up in the ’80s. The majority of my favorite movies are (and always will be) those from the ’70s & ’80s. That includes some movies I know are bad. Is C.H.U.D. bad?? Okay, it’s not great. You know what? I never saw this one until now!!!

I admit I’m always happier to find an older film like this to watch for the first time than to watch some mediocre & boring modern film. Give me some ’80s nostalgia instead! And this one has lots of old familiar faces, so that was cool. I’d always known of the existence of C.H.U.D. thanks to great old videotape covers but never realised it had so many people I knew in it. Plenty of old horrors star unknowns. (This one isn’t on the level of those starring in The Sentinel from 1977, though – what a waste of a good cast that was).

If you’re old like me, you’ll know that C.H.U.D. stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. And that D.A.R.Y.L. stands for Data-Analyzing Robot Youth Lifeform. But C.H.U.D. actually stands for something else in this movie. I can’t remember the exact words & I’m too lazy to go check. Besides – it’s a big plot spoiler anyway. It’s a part of what this cheesy looking movie is actually about: How the homeless are cast aside & ignored in society. The problem of these mutant cannibals crawling out of the sewers & killing people is completely ignored while it’s at first only affecting the homeless community.

The biggest roles are played by Home Alone‘s John Heard as a photographer doing a project on the homeless people of NYC who live in the city’s underground and, interesting connection, also Home Alone‘s Daniel Stern as a man who runs a homeless shelter. They were both good, especially for this type of film, and I liked Stern’s character. There are other familiar faces but not exactly household names & most would only be known to old people like me. But worth mentioning that John Goodman & Jay Thomas have small roles as two cops. James P. Sullivan!

Well, I liked this. You probably won’t like it unless you’re a fan of ’80s horror & special effects. I mean, yeah, these mutant cannibals look cheesy as hell now. But I was surprised that the story was actually pretty good & also that it had a message about how homeless people are treated. The acting was also better than you expect from this sort of thing. All of my blog posts auto-tweet or I tweet them again for various reasons but this is the only one recently to get a couple replies on Twitter from people who like it so I guess it has its fans. Too bad I didn’t watch it in the ’80s but am glad I finally took a chance on it now.

My Rating: 6/10

Greta (2018) Review

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 Huppert playing one of my favorite types of characters: A Batshit Crazy Lady. Fuck it. I’m a lady (well, a female). I’m not offended by women so often being portrayed as unhinged in movies. In fact, I did a list of My Top Ten Crazy Ladies In Movies HERE. These movies are meant to be over-the-top fun. Unfortunately, Huppert wasn’t as batshit as I was hoping. She’s a psycho, yes, but can’t really compare with people like Carrie’s mother in Carrie (I love Piper Laurie in that). She’s clearly having fun with the role, though. I’ve been wanting to explore more of her work since developing a slight girl crush on her after seeing Elle. She’s certainly the one who made me choose to go to this instead of waiting for Netflix, although I don’t mind Chloë Grace Moretz. I also like Maika Monroe as an actress but Huppert is the true star of this film. She has a presence that the two younger actresses lack.

Speaking of Chloë Grace Moretz (and Maika Monroe, who plays her best friend & roommate): I love how many things these two fuck up. Love it! I love how the people being terrorized in these types of movies do so many thoroughly predictable & ridiculous things. There are so many overused tropes in this film! That’s normally something that annoys me, especially in horror films, but it’s what I actually WANT to see in a cheesy psychological thriller. The more clichés the better for this genre! It actually made me smile when Moretz did stupid shit. And the “making cookies” scene was awesome. God Moretz was an idiot following that bit. To do something so cool and then to be so dumb… She really is the Bridget Fonda character from Single White Female. Those two naive morons would get along great. And that ending that we ALL saw coming from a mile away! Hilarious. So bad. So goodbad.


Well. That’s it. What else can I say? This movie was exactly what I was hoping it would be: Cheesy & cliché with predictable idiots, a predictable crazy lady, and overacting without being really bad overacting that throws you out of the film. Greta is not a great film. Thank god! I don’t want Oscar-worthiness ruining a perfectly good cheesy thriller with a batshit crazy lady.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Single White Female still wins, though. High heel scene beats cookie-making scene…

The Guest (2014) Review

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The Guest (2014)

Directed by Adam Wingard

Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser, Sheila Kelley, Brendan Meyer, Lance Reddick

Running time: 100 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.

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My Opinion:

I watched this a couple of months ago & I’m still trying to decide if I really liked it or not. I’ve seen so many positive reviews for it here on WordPress but I’m kind of surprised as this movie is such an odd mix of genres that I would think opinion would be more divided. I do think it’s a total “movie blogger” type of movie – stylish & unique but too odd to be popular with a mainstream audience. I wouldn’t be able to mention this movie to co-workers and find anyone who likes it let alone anyone who has even heard of it. Which is a good thing! That’s a big part of the reason why I started this blog – I love discussing these sorts of films with like-minded movie lovers who’ve watched all kinds of weird & wonderful films. I still get strange looks from co-workers when they see the Totoro wallpaper on my computer & they ask me “what’s that cartoon??”.

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I can see why this keeps getting compared to the movie Drive. It’s “cool”. It has an interesting visual style, soundtrack, and lots of violence. Even its star, Dan Stevens, has a Ryan Gosling way and look about him. I like Drive and have to say it’s the much better film of these two but my opinion on Drive has gone down slightly since I first saw it. I love the soundtrack and its style is great (that jacket rules!) but all style & no substance isn’t going to make for a movie I’ll love as an all-time favorite. I think where The Guest fails most in comparison to Drive, though, is with Dan Stevens (I’m going to get in so much trouble with other female bloggers for that statement!). I’ve kind of gone off Gosling but I did love him for a while. I have to say he has that certain something, though, that only some actors can achieve. There’s an extra something there – a distant calmness that makes you think his character has all kinds of deep thoughts going on in his head when all he’s doing is just sitting there & staring (I admit that Gosling “stares” too often! Lol). Dan Stevens has a sexy sort of thing going on, I suppose (not my type), but he doesn’t have that special something to make this film even better in the way I think Gosling did perfectly with Drive. I think Drive is a good film but Gosling helped make it so.

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This is from the same director as You’re Next (Adam Wingard). I wasn’t a huge fan of that one as I felt, like this one, it didn’t have much substance. There wasn’t much of a plot to You’re Next – it was just an excuse to watch a lot of gory violence (however, I did like the main female character). The Guest has a plot but it’s pretty damn silly & laughable by the end. I think I know what it is about these two movies… It feels like the characters were thought up first with a vague idea of a story, then some interesting deaths, then the story was written to fit around all that. It kind of feels like, if this movie wasn’t so “cool & hip” with a young, attractive cast (ha! does anyone say “hip” anymore?!), people would be laughing at it instead of raving over it. If this had been made in the 80s, you youngsters would all hate it! You know it!! (And I’d probably love it…) 😉

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Now that I’ve made it sound like I really hated this, I have to say there are some things that I did really like about it. First of all, I think Wingard has taken a step in the right direction with this movie. I think it’s much better than You’re Next and will have earned him a fan base that will be eager to see his next film. It’s a very unique movie, which I’ll never complain about as I watch a lot of movies and get very bored with the mainstream at times. I like when a movie really surprises me and appreciate it when one does something a bit “different”.

Also, as with You’re Next, we have a strong female character I liked (Maika Monroe’s Anna Peterson). I thought Monroe was pretty great in It Follows and I think she’s the real star of this one as well. (I have to say It Follows is fantastic, though, and does a unique twist on the horror genre so much better than The Guest does with the thriller/action/whatever-the-hell-genre-it-is genre. watch It Follows first!). Can I just say it’s nice to get female characters who aren’t sluts, bitches, or idiots?? We seem to be getting that more often lately. Thank you, Hollywood! I hope Monroe continues doing characters similar to these (and hooray for the clothes staying on in both films!).

Finally, I really liked the end. Or… the “final confrontation”, shall we say (to avoid spoilers). I liked the setting & the look and this is where I most appreciated this film’s style. Don’t get me wrong – a film’s style is very important to me and I’m a total sucker for ones that look great. This is why I like things like Daft Punk’s Electroma even though people give me weird looks for liking stuff like that. I can understand why people have gone for this movie even if it didn’t totally work for me in the same way. There are some strong characters and good, memorable scenes which is more than can be said for a lot of mainstream blockbusters.

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Summary :

I think I appreciated The Guest more than I actually liked it. I wouldn’t say no to watching another Adam Wingard film after this one and hope he continues to go more in this strange thriller sort of direction instead of continuing with the gory slasher genre. This movie has some good moments and I really did want to like it more than I did. I do think it’s one that’s definitely worth checking out if you’re at all curious about it and I think I can understand why a lot of people love it.

My Rating: 7/10

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It Follows Gets Cool Poster Art And Expanded Release

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I LOVE this totally 80’s looking poster I found at Geek Tyrant for the film It Follows!

It looks like this film is getting a wider release in America this weekend plus I think it’ll be available online there from March 27th. I liked this movie a lot & it’s actually gone up in my estimation since I reviewed it HERE. Definitely not for everyone but I loved the retro look & feel plus the amazing score. It’s great to see some good horror films being made again. 🙂

It Follows (2014) Review

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It Follows (2014)

Directed by David Robert Mitchell

Starring:
Maika Monroe
Keir Gilchrist
Olivia Luccardi
Lili Sepe
Daniel Zovatto

Running time: 100 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
For nineteen-year-old Jay, Autumn should be about school, boys and week-ends out at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone, something, is following her. Faced with this burden, Jay and her friends must find a way to escape the horrors that seem to be only a few steps behind.

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My Opinion:

I’ve said it here before but I rarely like modern horror films. I did a list of My Top Ten Horror Movies (HERE) and the most current one is from 1985 (Day Of The Dead but I’d also count A Nightmare On Elm Street 3, so… 1987. Dream Warriors rules!). That’s pretty sad – I suppose I’m showing my age. There have been a few okay ones such as The Descent and 28 Days Later, comedy ones like Tucker And Dale Vs Evil, and foreign ones such as Let The Right One In but, until the brilliant The Babadook came out recently, I was really disappointed with the horror genre these past 28 years. It Follows, although not perfect, is still in the very rare “good horror” category for me.

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It Follows is a hard movie to describe. I’ll say it’s definitely going to be one that will divide horror fans. This is one of those horror movies that’s apparently been shown at a lot of film festivals since last summer & is now getting a full release in the UK (and in the US on March 13th). It’s had some glowing reviews from critics & very positive word of mouth. It’s a slow, atmospheric, low budget (as far as I can tell) psychological thriller. Those looking for loads of gore will need to go elsewhere as will those who want a fast-paced horror full of cheap jump scares. Not to say there aren’t jump scares in It Follows but it feels a bit more fresh and far less formulaic than something like The Conjuring, which I thought was also a pretty decent modern horror yet was still guilty of certain horror clichés.

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I’m still trying to figure out what other movies can be compared to It Follows. Bear with me – I’m going to list a lot of them as I think it may (or may not!) give you a better idea of what to expect if you watch this one. At times I thought it felt like a Ti West film (especially The House Of The Devil) in that the pacing is very slow & a lot of attention is paid to creating the right sort of atmosphere & setting. I also thought it had the same sort of mood & pacing as the slightly underrated All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. From the little bit I’ve read about the movie online so far, I was surprised to see some comparisons to The Virgin Suicides as well. I can see that – it has similar characters & the same sort of mood (plus both share a similar Michigan setting, I suppose). The Virgin Suicides is definitely set in the 70s, however, but It Follows is one of those films that seems to make a point of not revealing the exact year. There’s just enough to show that it IS set now however the use of old cars, old televisions, black & white films, the clothing not being too specific to a time period, etc, makes you sometimes question when this is all taking place & gives it a timeless feel that I really like. Finally, certain scenes made me think of A Nightmare On Elm Street while the fantastic John Carpenter-esque score constantly brought Halloween to mind.

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I should mention the characters & the acting. The main girl, Maika Monroe, is very good & young enough to actually be believable as a teenager. She’s also apparently in The Guest, which I haven’t yet seen. I loved that she had a real Nightmare On Elm Street “Final Girl” look about her (specifically a cross between Patricia Arquette then Tuesday Knight from A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 & 4). It will be interesting to see if she’s able to break away from the horror genre & be in other types of films. The other actors all did well and I liked their characters, which is rare for a horror film. One of my biggest complaints about horror movies is that the characters are so underdeveloped and hateful. In It Follows, they focus on Monroe, her sister, two of their friends & a neighbor boy. The friendships were believable as were the ways in which they tried to help their friend with her visions of being followed by people only she can see. They don’t always do the “smartest” things, as is the case with most horror characters, but they didn’t do anything to the point of being annoying.

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Summary:

I suppose I should wrap this up before I compare It Follows to every other horror film ever made. The thing is, it actually feels quite unique which is why I’m still trying to decide how I really feel about it & trying to figure out what other movies it could possibly be compared to. I do admit that I’m a sucker for a good score and I LOVED the retro synth score from Disasterpeace. It really helps set the mood & I do wonder if I’d have enjoyed the film as much without it. As I also said, the movie is very atmospheric & I loved the Midwest suburban setting in a non-specified time period. As for it being scary? Well, I have to admit that I didn’t find this one at all scary but very few movies manage to frighten me. It may work more with teenagers as It Follows is basically about not having sex before you’re ready and STDs & all that but, unfortunately, this slow-paced psychological type of horror probably isn’t the type of movie that teenagers will like. Overall, I enjoyed It Follows and always appreciate films that try something a bit different, especially in a genre as tired as horror. It’s not as good as The Babadook but I’m still happy enough to say I’ve actually seen two good modern horror films in the past year now.

My Rating: 8/10

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