Watched, Read, Reviewed: March 2022

I watched way too many movies in March. Most were Oscar nominees I wanted to watch before the Oscars. Not that anyone is talking about any of the winners now… It’s a shame that CODA isn’t getting as much attention as it would have if not for someone’s stupid antics.

Well, I somehow managed to already do full reviews of most of those below so I’ll include the links to those & briefly discuss the ones I haven’t talked about at all yet.

MOVIES WATCHED IN MARCH (ranked best to worst):

CODA – Reviewed this just before the Oscars. Really enjoyed it & am happy it won Best Picture. A great feelgood film with likeable characters & a good sense of humor. Also glad Troy Kotsur won Best Supporting Actor & Sian Heder won Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s nice to see a Best Picture that’s actually watchable. Really thought The Power Of The Dog was going to win, which I found a struggle to get through. Watching a movie shouldn’t feel like a damn chore. Far too many Best Picture nominees are like that in recent years so I loved actually really enjoying one for a change. – 8/10

A Quiet Place Part II – Reviewed this in full already at the link. Was a big fan of the first film & thought it was a very effective monster horror with a fantastic original idea. I’m happy to say that the sequel was also really good. Like these films a lot & can’t wait for Part III. – 7.5/10

Columbus – Loved this movie! Also already reviewed in full at the link. I should really have ranked it above A Quiet Place II & I think it’s one of the best films I’ve watched this year but I just really enjoyed A Quiet Place II. Here’s the quick Wikipedia synopsis: “The film follows the son of a renowned architecture scholar (John Cho) who gets stranded in Columbus, Indiana and strikes up a friendship with a young architecture enthusiast (Haley Lu Richardson) who works at the local library“.

Richardson & Cho are very good together and Richardson especially shines as a bright young woman going nowhere in life while stuck in the town of Columbus. It’s a beautiful looking film with great characters & seems like the kind of thing the Oscars would go for so I don’t know why it had no recognition that year & why I’d heard nothing about it. Well, I said a lot more about it in my full review. It’s one I’d recommend but only to certain people as it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. – 8/10

The General (1926) – Finally got around to watching this Buster Keaton film for my IMDb Top 250 Project. I have very little experience when it comes to old silent films so would feel weird saying too much with so little knowledge. I’ll just say that one of my biggest “discoveries” when starting the Top 250 Project was Charlie Chaplin. I absolutely fell in love with the three films of his that I’ve watched so far & think he was brilliant so was eager to see how Keaton compared.

I enjoyed The General & the dangerous stunts they pulled off for this film in 1926 were bloody amazing. How did he not get killed?! Very impressive. Far more impressive than all of today’s CGI bullshit! Keaton was good & I also found him oddly attractive. Like, when you like the weird, lanky, quirky guy? I always like the weird ones but I think I mainly just have a thing for any guy wearing eyeliner (like in the below photo).

However, this film didn’t connect with me the way the Chaplin films immediately did. It didn’t have the heart that those do plus I prefer Chaplin’s great physical comedy and facial expressions. City Lights especially is one of the most moving films I’ve ever seen & gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling that only the very best cinematic masterpieces can achieve. But The General’s technical achievements (is that the right word for 1926?!) are admittedly extremely impressive for the time so I have to recognize that although the Chaplin films are more my type of thing.

I’d certainly give another Buster Keaton film a try, though. But I first want to check out Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! as that’s also one I’ve not yet seen. Anyone have any other silent classics to recommend? (Yes, I’ve seen & love Metropolis & The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari). – 8/10

West Side Story (2021) – Reviewed this already. I’ll just say it’s a gorgeous film, Ariana DeBose & Rita Moreno are great, Ansel Elgort & Rachel Zegler sadly have zero chemistry, and I can’t say we necessarily needed a new adaptation when we already had a very good adaptation in 1961. But I still enjoyed seeing Spielberg’s vision of this & it’s good if it has brought this musical to the attention of a new generation. – 8/10

Fresh – Liked this quirky dark-comedy horror. And am finally starting to like Sebastian Stan after this and Pam & Tommy. He just seems to be having a lot of fun in these roles. I like him unhinged! Daisy Edgar-Jones was also perfect for this role & the two of them worked really well together. Good fun but a slightly weird film, which I guess is a satire of the horrors women face on the dating scene, that won’t be for everyone. – 7.5/10

MassMass is a good film but obviously a very heavy topic. It’s about two sets of parents who meet to discuss a tragic school shooting six years after the event. One I’d recommend but you obviously need to be in the right frame of mind to watch it. Although Mass is fiction it’s a very real and sadly far too common occurrence & one I find very upsetting. – 7.5/10

Malignant – Still trying to decide how I feel about this one. I think it’s grown on me (haha). A bit better & more original than some of James Wan‚Äôs work. I appreciated the Giallo influence but it could have used much more of that. I also liked how bonkers it got at the end, raising my score. It could have used much more of that too. – 7/10

Lionheart(also released internationally under several names including A.W.O.L: Absent Without Leave, Wrong Bet, and Leon) – Wow, those other names SUCK! What’s wrong with Lionheart?! By far the best name! Anyway. I’m an old lady so of course obsessed with ’80s & early ’90s movies but for some reason completely avoided watching any Jean-Claude Van Damme films because, well, they looked dumb. Plus he had a mullet in a lot of them. But then I watched Bloodsport last year and kind of Bloodyloved it so now I watch his movies when I notice one on a service (Lionheart is on a free one – either Plex or Pluto, can’t remember). Bloodsport is still the best by far, then Timecop, then this one. This was still good fun, though. Van Damme is in a war or something but then some gangsters set his brother on fire back in America so he goes AWOL & comes back to help his brother’s poor widow & cute kid and he somehow ends up fighting people for big money to help them pay the bills. Or some shit. I dunno. Does the plot really matter?! Oh, and he’s also on the run as he’s AWOL!

I decided at some point after watching Bloodsport that Van Damme was kind of a hottie so that may be why I keep watching his movies now. Okay, okay – it’s that amazing BUTT. Unfortunately, he doesn’t go around doing the splits all over the place in this one. What?! Why?!?! What a waste of that amazingly sexy talent. At least he had no mullet in this one. What else can I say? This film is pure 1990 cheese. But it’s fun cheese. And, hell, it has more likeable characters than a lot of movies. I liked it! Okay? I like Van Damme movies now! (But you still won’t catch me starting to watch Steven Seagal films). – 6.5/10

Old – I do like Shyamalan’s films although they’re admittedly cheesy. But I always like a good story idea & think he comes up with some fun ones plus I’m always a sucker for a twist. I enjoyed Old although, as with most of his stuff, it could have been better. – 6.5/10

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It – This was fine. As far as The Conjuring Universe films go, this is one of the slightly better ones. At least it’s better than most of the Annabelle movies. I also like it when the Warrens are in the film plus I like a good “devil movie”. Overall, though, the film is a bit forgettable. – 6/10

Turning Red – Damn. Another very disappointing Pixar film. Remember when Pixar could do no wrong?? The story was okay and the red panda was cute. The girl was fairly likeable too but, ugh, her mother was too over-the-top & annoying. Maybe I’ll give it another chance someday but I’m longing for the Pixar masterpieces we used to get from them. – 6/10

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye – I had zero interest in watching this one but stuck it on before the Oscars since Jessica Chastain was nominated. Am glad I checked it out. I knew pretty much nothing about Tammy Faye Bakker & her husband. It’s an interesting story of a lifestyle that’s very bizarre to me. Bakker comes across quite well in the movie as a woman who cared about everyone from all walks of life, thereby demonstrating some true “Christian” values much more so than the sexist & racist men in power at the time. I think it was a worthy Oscar win for Chastain. – 6.5/10

The Forever Purge – Meh. The Purge films are a guilty pleasure of mine. I LOVE the concept. But they have yet to make a truly good film from that idea, which is disappointing as there’s so much they could explore. These last two films have been the worst of the series but they were still okay. I’ve been a bit generous with my score & should probably drop it half a point but I’ll leave it as is for now. – 6.5/10

Nightmare Alley – My god, I can’t believe how utterly boring this Guillermo del Toro film was. It’s not a bad film and it looks great & I liked the setting of the carnival (although that’s only at the start – I wanted that to be the whole film). Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara are very good but Bradley Cooper is dull and the film drags on for far too long. Disappointing. – 6.5/10

No Exit – Watched this as it’s a 2022 movie release on Disney Plus. Here’s the short Wikipedia synopsis: “It stars Havana Rose Liu as a recovering drug addict who discovers a kidnapping in progress while stranded at a rest stop during a blizzard.” At the rest stop, there are four other adults who become the suspects when the main character discovers the girl in the van & doesn’t know whose van it is. So there was a bit of suspense there at first, which was fine. This is one of those movies where all the characters aren’t very likeable, though. Meh. The movie was okay, I guess. It passed the time. – 6/10

The Stand-In – First of all, I have to say that I love Drew Barrymore. She’s my same sort of age so I grew up with her. She seems so likeable & down-to-Earth (but who knows with celebs, right?! most seem like assholes). So I’ll always watch a movie with Drew. Damn – this one isn’t great, though. I still enjoyed it as it’s Drew but it’s possibly the worst of all her films that I’ve seen. I’d say it’s through no fault of her own, though. She’s fine in this dual role. She plays an actress as well as her lookalike stand-in who later becomes a part of the actress’s (is that right with the letter S together three times?!) life when that actress wants to hide away from society after her bad behavior ruins her career. The actress character was fine but the stand-in was annoying. Disappointing but, again, I’ll watch anything with Drew so didn’t feel like it was time wasted. – 5.5/10

Spencer – Holy hell I hated this godawful movie. But I had a rant about it in my full review so I don’t need to moan again here. I’ll just say thank god Stewart didn’t win Best Actress. Everything about this film was dreadful. – 4.5/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous:

I binged a lot of the Oscar nominated shorts (and one full-length documentary) before the Oscars. I lucked out on seeing all of the ones that ended up winning. Not that they matter since the stupid Academy decided they weren’t important enough to award live during the ceremony. Twats! What a disaster that whole thing was. Well, here’s all I watched…

Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)Winner of Best Documentary – I really enjoyed this Questlove documentary about this absolutely amazing 1969 music festival that I knew nothing about. The music was fantastic & it was great seeing so much live footage from the concert. Check out some of the performers that we see (from Wikipedia): Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, The 5th Dimension, The Staple Singers, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mavis Staples, Blinky Williams, Sly and the Family Stone and The Chambers Brothers. What a line-up! A deserving win for Questlove. Too bad it was completely overshadowed by Will Smith being a total dickhead immediately before this award. In fact, the feed in the U.K. cut out for a while after that plus the shorter replay of the Oscars didn’t show this win (why?!) so I had to find this acceptance speech online to even see it. Ridiculous. Smith really ruined that night for everyone & took all the focus away from people who worked so hard. Ass. Anyway, we’ve all heard enough about that goddamn story! Am glad this won the Oscar & I highly recommend it to music lovers.

The Queen of BasketballWinner of Best Short Documentary – Here’s the IMDb synopsis for this one: “Queen of Basketball is an electrifying portrait of Lucy Harris, who scored the first basket in women’s Olympic history and was the first and only woman officially drafted into the N.B.A.” A fascinating story & Lucy came across as such a lovely person. Was sad to see she just passed away in January when I looked this up just now. Think I saw this on YouTube or Vimeo (as well as most of these shorts) if you want to check it out.

The Long GoodbyeWinner of Live Action Short – Not a fan of this Riz Ahmed film. Watch it on YouTube if you want to see yet more hate.

The Windshield WiperWinner of Animated Short – This animated short had lovely animation. However, the story was nothing that intriguing & dragged on for too long (for a short!). Can’t say I’ll remember anything about it in a year. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Inside a cafe while smoking a whole pack of cigarettes, a man poses an ambitious question: “What is Love?”. A collection of vignettes and situations will lead the man to the desired conclusion.

Audible – A good short documentary on Netflix following the students of The Maryland School for the Deaf. Thought it might win the Oscar.

Lead Me Home – Another short doc on Netflix, this one following the lives of several homeless people in West Coast America.

Please Hold – I liked this live-action short the most. Very Black Mirror inspired story about a not-too-distant prison system. Here’s the YouTube link if you want to check it out.

Boxballet – A Russian animated short film about a ballerina & a boxer who grow close despite being so different. Not too bad.

Robin Robin – This stop-motion short produced by Aardman Animations is also on Netflix but, not gonna lie, I played on my phone through the whole thing so it clearly didn’t grab my attention. I’ll try to watch it again sometime.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Community: S2 & S3 – I f*%king LOVE this show! How on Earth did I miss out on this when it was on?! I mean, I was very busy with a baby when it started in 2009 but I’m still very late to this one. So glad I just stuck it on at random one day with the family. We’re all addicted.

Last month I ranked my favorite characters (so far). My ranking probably hasn’t changed. I now currently have three favorite episodes as well. My favorite was Remedial Chaos Theory, which the above image is from. Don’t you love when you finally find out what a popular meme is from?! I’d seen that above meme sooo many times. Thanks to that episode my daughter & I now go around saying “Me so hungie! Me so hungie!” & doing the Britta dance. Because I’m a mature adult. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is a very close & brilliant second. Then Digital Estate Planning, in which I was like “That’s me!” when Pierce’s video game character was stuck behind the potted plant not knowing how to use the controller. And Troy jumping around constantly was SO my daughter.

The hubby & I were saying that’s part of why we’re so taken with this show. I think everyone who watches it would probably see parts of themselves in at least one of these misfit characters. I’m mostly a combination of Abed, Britta & Shirley with a dash of Troy (especially as Troy thought all dogs were boys & all cats were girls like I did as a kid. Ha!). I think these characters are just fantastic & work so well together. I’m already heartbroken knowing we’re right now also almost finished with Season 4, which was short, and only have two more (also short) seasons to go. What am I going to do when finished?!? Daughter said she wants to just rewatch it all again from the start. Not loved a sitcom like this for years. ūüôā

Safe: – We quite enjoyed Harlan Coben’s murder mystery limited series Stay Close on Netflix so decided to check this one of his out as well. Also really enjoyed this one but preferred Stay Close. And now my daughter seems obsessed with murder mystery thrillers so am sure we’ll be watching plenty more shows like this! And I’d happily check out Coben’s books now based on these two shows. I like how many twists & turns his stories take. Any recommendations of similar shows or his best books?

Pam & Tommy: S1 E7-8 – I said plenty about this last month so I’ll just say again that I thought Sebastian Stan & especially Lily James were really good in this. Not sure the point of the show or if it needed to be made but it was interesting to see this, mainly from Pamela’s side, as she was treated horribly over the whole thing. Lightweight entertainment but, yeah, it was entertaining.

Moon Knight: S1 E1 – Only one episode so far so I don’t have much to say about it other than it didn’t grab me for whatever reason. And Oscar Isaac’s accent sounded weird as hell to me. But I’ll still continue. Maybe it’ll get better. Can’t be worse than The Falcon & The Winter Soldier!

Severance: S1 E1 – Loved the sound of this & still think it’s a great story idea but the first episode really dragged. Will give one more episode a chance to see if it picks up a bit…

Inventing Anna: S1 E1 – Found the first episode boring plus the girl’s accent or whatever the hell that was annoyed the hell out of me. But I liked seeing My Girl girl all grown up! Does the show get better?? Not sure if I’m bothered…

Punky Brewster (2021): S1 E1 – Hey, I’m an ’80s kid so I loved Punky Brewster. Very weird seeing her grown up in a new show. A bit cheesy & SO American but I’ll totally continue with it at some point.

Fleabag: S1 E1 & half of E2 – I fell asleep during episode 2. I think this one just isn’t for me. The character was funny a few times but also too much of the sort of asshole I can’t stand or relate to in any way whatsoever. No thanks.

BOOKS READ

A Song Of Ice And Fire: Book One ‚Äď A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – I FINISHED IT!!!!! Crap, do I have to review it now?! I don’t have the energy! This literally took me months to finish. Not that it’s bad or something – I’m just kind of a slow reader plus it’s long. I enjoyed it, though. I really like that it’s a book where each chapter focuses on a specific character. Was always happy to get to a chapter focusing on one of my favorites (Number 1 favorite is still easily Tyrion, followed by Daenerys & Arya). Oh! One thing I’ll say is that Jon Snow is much better in the book. I always wondered why everyone liked him in the show as I found him a bit dull. Oh! Also… they upped the ages of the “younger” generation for the show. In the first book they’re: Bran 7, Arya 9, Sansa 11. Robb Stark & Jon Snow are both 14. Daenerys is 13. And that prick Joffrey is 12 (still hate his guts).

I’d like to say I got to know the characters even more now but, surprisingly, the show was really quite faithful to this first book! Is it later that they start changing stuff more? Because as much as I HATE when adaptations aren’t faithful to a book, it also meant I didn’t exactly get any surprises while reading this after watching the show. Damn. Well, I still enjoyed this & will continue with the series. I need a break first, though. Going to read some more lightweight stuff I got from the library instead for now. – 4/5

Currently reading The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I went movie & review crazy last month so will probably take it easier this month. Although I keep wanting to do a week of posts counting down my Top 100 bands & singers. Should I do that? Sounds like too much effort. But would be kind of fun. I miss making lists…

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

I honestly don’t know anymore what’s in cinemas but services have a terrible selection at the moment. Have Apple TV for a month so gonna try to watch Finch & binge Ted Lasso. Also want to watch Freaky, Another Round, In The Heights & The Suicide Squad on another service I have temporarily.

I end these posts with a music clip but can’t find the great Summer Of Soul full performances to share (so go watch the doc!). So here’s a song I’ve always liked from Fresh: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll:

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) Review

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

Directed by Michael Chaves

Story by James Wan, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The Warrens investigate a murder that may be linked to a demonic possession.

My Opinion:

Here’s my ranking of all the Conjuring Universe films:

The Conjuring – 7.5/10
Annabelle Comes Home – 6.5/10
TIE: The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It – 6/10 & The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case – 6/10
The Nun – 5.5/10
Annabelle – 5/10
Annabelle: Creation – 4.5/10

The one I don’t really remember well for some reason is The Conjuring 2, so I’ve just put 2 & 3 together because I think they were both fine but not bad like most of the Annabelle movies (although I remember liking the most recent one, which is probably an unpopular opinion). Damn – I just looked online & The Curse Of La Llorona is part of the Conjuring Universe?? Ugh. Now I’ll have to watch that too or I’ll be annoyed at missing one but it looks crap (so it will fit right in…).

Overall, these films aren’t exactly favorites of mine. The one thing I do like is the idea they had to make movies based on the real-life cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren. It’s a good idea for a series of movies & they’ll be able to make them forever since the couple claim to have investigated over 10,000 cases. But I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about the real people or that I’ve looked much into the “true stories” behind any of the films. The only one I looked into a bit was the Annabelle stuff, which was kind of fascinating. Has there been a documentary about this couple? Probably. I’d maybe watch one but I mostly just like a bit of light horror entertainment & I’m sure these movies are very exaggerated.

I liked this film okay as it’s another one heavily featuring Ed & Lorraine and I prefer when they’re in the movie. I also like the whole satanic horror sub-genre most of the time so the story was fine. You can read about the real murder case in 1981, in which Arne Cheyenne Johnson claimed innocence due to demonic possession, HERE.


Ouch

And… I don’t know. That’s it, really. I don’t have a lot to say about this movie. It was the sort of thing I was expecting from another Conjuring film. I enjoy watching them but they’re not very memorable. They do sometimes have some good imagery or things you just know are going to be used in another film, like that ugly Marilyn Manson looking Nun or of course Annabelle, but I can’t think of anything in this one that they’d base another movie on. The Conjuring 2 was probably a bit better than this one, actually – I should rewatch that sometime. Oh, and when I added the cast list to the top of this post I was like “Why isn’t Evan Peters listed?!“. I spent the whole movie thinking he was the one possessed (the actor is Ruairi O’Connor, apparently). So I’m turning into one of those old people who mix young actors up. Pretty soon I won’t be able to name movies just like my relatives who try to talk to me about a movie they saw by saying “Oh, WHAT was the name of that movie? It stars that guy from that other movie? You know the one!“.

My Rating: 6/10


Not Evan Peters

Annabelle Comes Home (2019) Review

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 decent rating. Here’s my Conjuring Universe movie rankings & links to my other reviews:

The Conjuring – 7.5/10
Annabelle Comes Home – 6.5/10
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case – 6/10
The Nun – 5.5/10
Annabelle – 5/10
Annabelle: Creation – 4.5/10

I was kind of tough on The Nun. It wasn’t that bad. And The Conjuring 2 is probably much better than Annabelle Comes Home but I just can’t remember much of that one at this point…

I’m not sure if people are liking this movie or not but it’s certainly the “least evil” of the Annabelle movies, which may not please Conjuring Universe fans. I believe all these movies are probably rated 15 in the UK but was curious what the American rating was for this one so I looked it up. It was far more tame than the others so I’m surprised it’s still rated R?? It really feels like a PG-13 film, which I know not all horror fans appreciate but I have no problem with. Hell, the movie almost gave me more of a Goosebumps feel (not helped by the fact that the babysitter in this was in Goosebumps 2).

I think that’s why I had fun with this one, though. I liked that the focus was on a couple of teenage girls babysitting a younger girl (played by Mckenna Grace). I also liked the predictable but simple story. Slight spoiler but the doll awakens various evil spirits which terrorize each girl in a way that also reminded me of the plot in the first Goosebumps film (I admit it – I liked the Goosebumps movie). Most importantly, though, the three girls are likeable. Too many cheesy horror movies have hateful characters, which I never understand. I want to like the characters if I’m going to care about their fate.


For fans of Ed & Lorraine Warren, I’m sorry to say that they’re barely in this. That’s a shame but they’ve had bigger roles in some of the other films so I was okay with them being in this one less. I do find it fascinating that these stories are (loosely) based on their real life paranormal investigations. I didn’t realize that the Amityville haunting was one of their cases as well. I love that paranormal shit! I know these movies are massively exaggerated, of course, but supernatural horror is my favorite type and I usually enjoy even the many bad movies in this genre. Annabelle Comes Home isn’t bad, though. It’s fine but it’s not exactly going to blow anyone away and it doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before (although the bit with the old television set was fairly inventive). I also liked that they included a nod to the real-life Annabelle doll, which was a far less freaky-looking Raggedy Ann doll.

Speaking of creepy dolls, I’ve always been a fan of scary doll movies. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Annabelle movies are the best in this sub genre and Annabelle herself doesn’t have much to do in these films. I realize it’s better than movies where you’re actually seeing the dolls walking around & stuff as that’s super cheesy… Anyway, I of course made a list of My Top Ten Creepy Dolls In Movies & Television. I’ll forever be haunted by an old Alfred Hitchcock creepy doll episode…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Annabelle: Creation, The Autopsy Of Jane Doe & It Comes At Night Movie Reviews

Here’s another repost of three super brief “reviews” of three dreadful horror movies I watched this year. I desperately need to see a GOOD horror film. Here’s hoping Mandy lives up to the hype. I’ve booked a ticket to see it this week. Can’t wait!

Annabelle: Creation (2017)

Directed by David F. Sandberg

Starring: Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to 2014’s Annabelle and the fourth installment in The Conjuring Universe. The film stars Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, and Miranda Otto, and depicts the possessed Annabelle doll’s origin.

My Brief Opinion:

Ugh. I trashed the first movie HERE. The first film was ridiculous and couldn’t have been more clich√©. 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.

Oh, hey – I suppose I can again use this opportunity to link to my post of My Top Ten Creepy Dolls In Movies & TV. And, as I reviewed The Nun last week, here are my reviews & ratings of all the Conjuring Universe films:

The Conjuring – 7.5/10
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case – 6/10
The Nun – 5.5/10
Annabelle – 5/10
Annabelle: Creation – 4.5/10

My Rating: 4.5/10

The Autopsy Of Jane Doe (2016)

Directed by Andr√© √ėvredal

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Olwen Catherine Kelly

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox as father-and-son coroners who experience supernatural phenomena while examining the body of an unidentified woman (played by Olwen Kelly).

My Brief Opinion:

Why do I bother to watch modern horror movies when 90% of them suck? Like this one. I don’t know if I have the energy to again do horror movie reviews for all of October this year. If I do, I’ll review this piece of shit. For now, I’ll be nice and say that at least this one also had a fairly original concept and going through the stages of the autopsy was kind of interesting.

**Okay – that was my initial review. Damn! I guess I didn’t actually review this. Since seeing this film, I’ve seen far worse (Jug Face – WTF was that?! I’ll review that later this week). So I’m now thinking I was a little harsh on this one. I’ll say that this one did have a fairly creepy atmosphere. I mean, what’s more creepy than a morgue? And it started out fairly promising. As I said, the stages of the autopsy were interesting as they found more & more bizarre things to do with this unidentified girl’s body. Too bad it turned too silly by the end, as most horror movies do.

My Rating: 4.5/10

It Comes At Night (2017)

Directed by Trey Edward Shults

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Riley Keough

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son. Then a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.

My Brief Opinion:

Another 2017 movie that I was wanting to see ASAP due to its rave reviews at the time. WTF?! I was bored out of my damn mind! I’m starting to truly believe that IMDb is being filled with fake reviews written by the studios. This has a 78 out of 100 metascore?! Fuck off! Nothing happens in this but, to be fair, there’s more of a plot than the mumblegore stuff. The performances are good, especially from Joel Edgerton’s son in the movie (Kelvin Harrison Jr). But. But. Ugh. I don’t know. If someone here did like this, I’d genuinely be interested to hear why. Because maybe I’m missing something since, for a horror, it has a decent IMDb user rating as well (6.2). I’m really annoyed with the shitty movies I wasted time on this year. I have too many other things to do.

My Rating: 4.5/10

The Nun (2018) Review

I’ve decided that I’ll try to post some horror movie reviews this October after all. As I gave very brief opinions of every horror film I’ve watched in 2018 so far in my monthly recap posts, I’ll re-post those mini-reviews each weekday until Halloween. They’re VERY brief. Which is better than when I blather on for ages about a movie anyway. Here’s what I thought of The Nun

The Nun (2018)

Directed by Corin Hardy

Story by James Wan & Gary Dauberman

Starring: Demi√°n Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A spin-off of 2016’s The Conjuring 2, and the fifth installment in The Conjuring Universe, the film stars Demi√°n Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, and Jonas Bloquet. The plot follows a Roman Catholic priest and a nun in her novitiate as they uncover an unholy secret in 1952 Romania.

My Brief Opinion:

Meh. I don’t know. This was actually a bit better than the terrible reviews would suggest. I thought it was far better than those idiotic Annabelle movies but far worse than the first Conjuring film. I thought the characters were all fairly strong (as far as horrors go) and I really liked the setting of the secluded old convent or castle or whatever it was. It was fairly creepy & atmospheric and, hell, I think I’m talking myself into liking this one a little more than I thought. I do love a good bit of Satanic horror but there are far better films in that sub-genre.

Also, I didn’t say it in my original mini-review but I can’t really find a nun who looks like Marilyn Manson all that scary. To be honest, she’s barely in the film (which annoyed most fans). In my opinion, it was better that we didn’t get to see that much of her.

My Rating: 5.5/10

I’ve realized that I’ve watched all of the Conjuring Universe films so far despite not being a huge fan. Here are my reviews & ratings:

The Conjuring – 7.5/10
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case – 6/10
The Nun – 5.5/10
Annabelle – 5/10
Annabelle: Creation – 4.5/10

As far as Taissa Farmiga horror movies go, I had a lot more fun watching The Final Girls last year.

My Top Ten Creepy Dolls In Movies & Television 

Well, you knew this would be my top ten list for Creepy Dolls Week. I hate dolls, puppets, marionettes, ventriloquist’s dummies, and mannequins (unless there’s some Starship on the movie’s soundtrack). Evil f*^kers! All of them!!!

It was hard to decide on the order for this top ten. I’ve kind of done a combination of how much I liked the movie crossed with how creepy the dolls are. Well, don’t take the order too seriously but I’ve ranked each doll’s creepiness factor.

So here are My Top Ten Movie & TV Creepy Dolls:

10. TIE: The Twilight Zone: Episode – Living Doll (1963) & The Boy (2016)
The Doll: Talky Tina (The Twilight Zone) & Brahms (The Boy)
Doll’s Creepy Rating: Tina: 6/10, Brahms: 7/10

– I adore The Twilight Zone & this episode, starring Telly Savalas as a mean step-father, is a great one. The doll isn’t that scary but it’s a fun story. The Boy, starring The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan, has a story with a retro 80’s feel & I really enjoyed it even though it’s predictable. Loved the design of the porcelain doll with the “sweet” face. Not all dolls have to be ugly to be creepy.

9. Trilogy of Terror (1975): Part 3 – Amelia
The Doll: A Zuni fetish doll
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 6.5/10

– It’s been a long time since I saw this horror classic starring Karen Black but I certainly remember the “Amelia” segment, unlike the others in the trilogy. The doll was kind of more funny than scary but it’s a must-see of the killer doll subgenre.

8. The Conjuring (2013) & Annabelle (2014)
The Doll: Annabelle, in real life a Raggedy Ann doll
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 7.5/10

I was quite harsh on Annabelle in yesterday’s review. The movie isn’t very good but the doll itself is effectively creepy while the real life story, as shown in The Conjuring, is far more scary than the made-up story in Annabelle.

7. Pin (1988)
The Doll: Pin (short for Pinocchio) – a doctor’s medical dummy
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 8.5/10

I caught this bizarre movie on TV late one night when I was maybe about 18 or so & that creepy medical dummy has stayed on my mind ever since. Ugh! Look at it!!! From what I remember, this was actually a pretty good psychological thriller (despite some, er, Flowers In The Attic-y incestuous brother/sister stuff).

6. Dolls (1987)
The Doll(s): Various – there’s a creepy old mansion filled with loads of them
Dolls’ Creepy Rating: 7.5/10

This cheesy 80’s horror is loads of fun (and very tame for a Stuart Gordon film). And the chick from the A-ha Take On Me comic book video is in it!

5. Magic (1978)
The Doll: Fats – a ventriloquist’s dummy controlled by Anthony Hopkins
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 8/10

I reviewed this William Goldman written/Richard Attenborough directed film on Monday as one of my Blind Spot choices & recommend it for the great performances from Anthony Hopkins & Burgess Meredith. Good psychological character study also starring Ann-Margret.

4. Dead Of Night (1945)
The Doll: Hugo – a ventriloquist’s dummy controlled by Michael Redgrave
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 8/10

This British horror anthology classic is most memorable for the segment involving Michael Redgrave’s ventriloquist & his dummy, which he believes is alive. Fantastic film that was ahead of its time.

3. Child’s Play (1988)
The Doll: Chucky (aka Charles Lee Ray)
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 7/10

I always had a soft spot for the Child’s Play films (well, the first three – I’ve not watched any further). They’re bad. They’re cheesy. They’re SO Eighties (even though the second two were early Nineties. Never mind). They’re from my teen years, though, and we all like what we grew up on. I was in America & knew nothing of the banning in the U.K. & the reason why. I’ve not watched them since but I can’t leave Chucky off a “creepy dolls” list.

2. Poltergeist (1982)
The Doll: A toy clown
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 8/10

Who doesn’t hate a creepy clown? It’s a well-known phobia, which is why there’s a current “crazy clown” phase going on in the U.S. & U.K. Poltergeist is easily the best film on this list & its clown, although only a small part of the film, has haunted us 80’s kids forever.

1. The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: Episode – Where The Woodbine Twineth (1965)
The Doll: Numa
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 4/10
The Episode’s Creepy Rating: 10/10

This had to be my number one as it’s the one thing responsible for my fear (or, more like a deep distrust now in my old age) of dolls. As you can see, the doll itself in this story wasn’t creepy. Well, there’s a slight creep factor as ALL dolls look like they have murder on their minds but the doll in this was actually very cute and, slight spoiler… Friendly. She’s the best friend of the little girl in the story & the ending of this story scarred me for life. Seriously. The entire episode used to be on YouTube but, at the moment, I can only find a clip of the ending (watch it HERE if you’re curious but I obviously recommend seeing the entire episode if you can). I also found the whole short story, by Davis Grubb, online HERE if you’d like to read it (just remember that it was written in a very different time period). It’s funny – I can barely remember things I watched a year ago but the ending of Where The Woodbine Twineth, which I must have seen at the age of eight or so, is forever burned into my brain. I watched that clip just now, which I last saw probably 30 years ago, and I remembered it like I’d seen it yesterday. That’s the power of good storytelling.

Honorable Mentions:
– The Saw film series (first one 2004) (Doll: Billy The Puppet)
– Dead Silence (2007) (Doll: Billy, a ventriloquist’s dummy)
– The Fear (1995) (Doll: Morty, a wooden mannequin)
Goosebumps (2015) (Doll: Slappy, a ventriloquist’s dummy)
Finders Keepers (2014) (Doll: A possessed doll that may have had a name but I can’t remember & don’t want to watch the movie again because it’s BAD)

A Few Movies I’ve Not seen:
– Puppetmaster (1989) & its sequels
– Demonic Toys (1992)
– Two truly bizarre looking films I’d never heard of until I started looking up creepy doll movies and now I really want to see them! Tourist Trap (1979) & The Pit (1981). Anyone seen these??

The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case (2016) Review

The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case (2016)

Directed by James Wan

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney, Franka Potente

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This is the sequel to the 2013 film The Conjuring, with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprising their roles as paranormal investigators and authors Ed and Lorraine Warren. The film follows the Warrens as they travel to the United Kingdom to assist the Hodgson family, who are experiencing poltergeist activity at their Enfield council house in 1977.

My Opinion:

I thought The Conjuring (number 1) was really good as far as modern horror movies go. I gave it a very positive review (HERE). Thinking back on it now, I’d still say it was a really good modern horror but I probably rated it a little too highly. I think at the time that I was just SO happy to finally get a horror movie that didn’t totally suck since most of them do nowadays. But then The Babadook came along…. Now there’s a damn good modern horror! That one made me realize that it is indeed possible for post-1984 horror movies to actually not suck. The Conjuring (number 1) was a step in the right direction, however. Too bad The Conjuring (number 2) takes a step back.

First of all, I know nothing about the actual facts of the Enfield haunting case so I won’t be discussing how accurate this movie may or may not be. I do love a good haunting and/or possession movie (especially when “true”) so I did enjoy the overall story here. It’s very similar to the first film (storywise) so I think you’d probably be interested in at least checking this one out at home at some point if you really liked the first one.

However, this one fails in many ways that the first movie didn’t… This sequel falls back into the James Wan trap of showing us too much for too long, just like all the laughable shit in Insidious. Sorry, but a Marilyn Manson-looking nun just isn’t scary to me! Sorry for a slight spoiler there (there’s a nun in this who looks like Marilyn Manson and you see her a lot). No. Less is more, horror-movie-makers! Why do you keep doing this? Mystery is scary. The things we don’t see or only just glimpse are scary. That bit with the sheet in the wind in the first film was pretty scary and unexpected! I can’t say that I really found anything even a little unsettling in this one. This was one of those movies where I just steeled myself for the predictable jump scares. Because I’m a jumpy person! But jump scares are cheap & they’re temporary. I think I’d probably have been more creeped out if I had just read about the real case instead (I may look into it now).

This film also didn’t seem to try as hard to get the right look, which worked so well in the first movie. It felt like it was genuinely set in the Seventies before whereas the sequel felt more like, well, a movie made in 2016 with funny clothing. I don’t know if maybe the first movie was filmed in a different way that gave it the correct look? I know nothing about filmmaking – I just know that the first movie looked “right” to me. And it had a great atmosphere that this one doesn’t quite manage (again, this is mainly down to “seeing too much”).

Okay – I’m sounding way too negative! This film isn’t awful – it’s just disappointing after the first film. I just wanted more of the same again instead of it veering slightly into Insidious territory. But it’s certainly not as bad as Insidious or that pathetic Conjuring spin-off Annabelle. It does start out promising with your standard haunted house movie stuff that is predictable but that I like (scary noises, creepy toys, etc) and I have no complaints as far as the acting goes – everyone did a solid job, including the young actress (Madison Wolfe). Unfortunately, the actors were let down by some very schmaltzy moments and a final half that loses its way just like so many other modern horror films seem to. The Conjuring 2 isn’t a bad horror movie – it’s just yet another fairly forgettable one. Which is a shame as I didn’t feel that way about the first film. 

My Rating: 6/10

See The Cast Of Say Anything Then And Now

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Yep – I LOVE Say Anything. I know I’m getting to be totally predictable and anyone who knows me & the age I am will have guessed that I love Say Anything. Like Jake Ryan, the sweet & perfect Lloyd Dobler also ruined boyfriends for me for life. The movie is now 25 years old (man I feel old!). Here are some “then & now” photos of the cast. You can see these and more here: ScreenCrush.

John Cusack

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Ione Skye (Donovan’s daughter! I love Donovan…)

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Lili Taylor

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(I’ve always loved Lili Taylor, especially in Say Anything. Loved seeing her in the actually-very-good-horror-movie The Conjuring! I reviewed that HERE).

The Conjuring Getting Annabelle Spin-Off Film

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Ugh – a spinoff about that creepy ass doll from the beginning of The Conjuring. I’ll probably skip that one! Dolls are evil.

I like the sound of the (potential but not confirmed) sequel to The Conjuring a bit more. The following is from this link: GeekTyrant

As for the separate Conjuring sequel that is currently being written by Chad and Carey Hayes, the studio is hoping to get Wan back on board to direct that. There’s no official information on what the sequel will entail, but here’s one of the story possibilities that has leaked online.

“The case file they‚Äôre looking at occurs in the late ‚Äô70s and centers on two sisters in Enfield, England, who were allegedly possessed. Warren said she personally saw them levitate and even saw one of the sister dematerialize in front of her only to be found 20 minutes later stuffed into an over sized fuse box, contorted in such an unnatural way that they couldn‚Äôt have replicated it if they tried. She also said that the demon spoke directly to her husband on many occasions. Warren cited this case as one of the most terrifying experiences of her career.‚ÄĚ

The Conjuring (2013) Review

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The Conjuring

Directed by James Wan

Starring:
Vera Farmiga
Patrick Wilson
Ron Livingston
Lili Taylor

Running time: 112 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

This “based on a true story” movie follows paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) as they investigate mysterious supernatural occurrences at the home of the Perron family (parents played by Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor).

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My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this film. I rarely watch horror movies anymore as they seem to have turned into nothing but the torture porn variety that I can’t stand. Give me either a good old fashioned 70s & 80s slasher with cheesy special effects I can actually handle or a creepy old-school supernatural thriller. The Conjuring, I’m happy to say, comes pretty close to feeling like a genuine 70s supernatural thriller.

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The Conjuring opens with the Warrens showing us a previous case they worked on where a doll had become possessed. Dolls freak me out. Dolls freak a lot of people out and the makers of The Conjuring clearly know this. They take as many horror movie cliches as they can and throw them all at us. But all horror movies do this anyway. The Conjuring at least manages to use every trick in the book in a few fairly original & effective ways. (To be honest, the doll was too over-the-top freaky. The music box was more subtle & far creepier… )

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The Conjuring takes place in the 70s, which helps add to the overall creepiness. I’m a sucker for 70s films so that will have helped my enjoyment of this.The clothes! The cars! The 70s were so groovy! (From what I remember of the decade as I spent the latter part of it watching Sesame Street). So I really liked the look of the film. It’s no The Shining as far as the look and feel go (can anything really beat that one?!). But I appreciate the effort they put into making this feel more like a good old-school haunted house movie.

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Did The Conjuring scare me? I know that’s the main question people seem to be asking. Well, I can’t really think of a movie that ever HAS scared me. There are some that give me the heebie jeebies a little bit. The one I just mentioned, The Shining, is probably the film I find the creepiest and comes the closest to “scaring” me. The Conjuring didn’t scare me, no, but had I seen it for the first time alone & in the middle of the night, I’m pretty sure I’d have slept with the lights on.

It’s fairly intense and that tired old “based on a true story” thing DOES seep into your brain whether you believe it or not – that’s why so many horror movies use that line. (I’ve not yet looked into the true story of the Warrens & Perron family so can’t comment on how true this film actually is). I was a little bit jumpy through the film but, as always, you know when the scares are coming. The film also shows us more of the “ghostly visitors” than I was expecting but I know they need to keep things balanced as the younger cinema goers expect that these days. I’ve always been someone who’s been more scared by the things we don’t actually see. However, I think The Conjuring strikes a decent balance at trying to keep the old-school supernatural horror fans like me and the current generation of fans happy.

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The number one reason that I think makes this film stand out so much compared to other horror films of recent years, though, is this: The acting (particularly the two female leads). Too many current horror films are full of either horrible acting or completely unlikeable characters. I don’t want to watch a movie with either of these things – I don’t think the rules should be any different for the horror genre. Lili Taylor was the best thing about this film for me. She was genuinely believable as a loving mother who just wants to protect her five daughters. I know she’s been in plenty of things in more recent years but not much that I’ve seen so it was great seeing her in a big role in this – I’ve always especially loved her part in Say Anything. Vera Farmiga is also great in this although I kind of feel I’ve seen her play a similar role before. The bond the two woman share as they both have daughters was very good. The men are fine but really take a backseat to all the females in the film (Ron Livingston especially seems to have very little to do). Being a woman, I really liked seeing a film with such strong female leads. Even all six daughters in this film do an excellent job, which is great as there has been some especially bad child-acting in horror films.

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Summary:

The Conjuring uses every trick in the book to scare us but at least uses those tricks in some fairly original & effective ways. The film has a good look & feel which will keep fans of old fashioned horror films happy but I think should also please a younger generation of fans who want something other than torture porn. But the thing that makes the film stand out the most in its genre is some great performances, especially those of the strong female leads. This film feels like a more grown-up horror film and will hopefully pave the way for similar films in this genre. I don’t think it’s the best “haunted house” film I’ve seen but it’s a refreshing return to an old formula that’s a step in the right direction in a generation now filled with some mind-numbingly bad and excessively gory so-called horror films.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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