Cannibals and Keanu Reeves 

The Bad Batch (2016)

Dir: Ana Lily Amirpour
Let’s start with the positives. I’m feeling lots of love and harmony lately, and I’ve decided that I’m gonna try REALLY REALLY hard to see the good in things. Ironically I had this epiphany just before i watched this film so……sucks for me.

So pros….

This film has Jason Momoa in it, who as you all may know, is fucking delicious.

It also has a good soundtrack- albeit bizarre, but good. In a Spotify playlist on major shuffle kinda way.

KEANU REEVES PLAYS A DYSTOPIAN PIMP 

Jim Carey is in it, and he’s brilliant 

Suki Waterhouse has a hilarious accent. Seriously you guys, it’s so hilarious, you literally have to keep rewinding because you will not believe she’s not joking.

It’s filmed nicely.  It’s nice to look at.

There’s not much convo if thats your thing. Sometimes dialogue is overrated. Too many films contain dialogue nowadays, this film just skips that shit altogether. A movie is all about images am I right?

It’s made by VICE. It’s a VICE film.

Just so we’re clear. It’s a VICE film. 

I also mentioned Jason Momoa?

Interestingly there’s more cons, which is unfortunate because I’m trying to be nice. What are those cons you may ask? What could possibly be better than a film devoid of dialogue about cannibalism with Jason Momoa?

A lot of things it turns out, are better. 

I pride myself in my ability to sit through slow films that don’t really go anywhere. I wrote many a uni paper about Jim Jarmusch and Jean Luc Goddard, so when it comes to slow pace I’ve pretty much reached advanced level monk-like patience. This however, took it too far.

What starts off promisingly, with Suki Waterhouse being dumped in the desert kidnapped by cannibals and then consequently having her limbs severed off, turns into a trippy mess that really should have ended an hour before it did. 
Everything happens in the first half hour; then it’s all random people in the desert drumming on bins and Keanu Reeves giving people acid. I totally get it, it’s art. The director is cool and edgy and wanted to make something odd and political, but unlike A girl walks home alone at night (an Iranian vampire western, just so we’re clear), this ends up feeling a bit like a really long Bjork video from the 90s. 

My brother would have HATED this film so bad. When I think about who would hate it the most out of everyone I know, I’m confident in saying that I’m gonna go with my brother.

I myself quite like the juxtapositions between good and evil, which later transfer on themselves. I dig that, it’s art.  But there are elements that borderline on the ludicrous, and you’re like….nah, too far. 

*Warning major spoilers*

If I for example, killed your wife, stole your kid, and basically made you hunt me down as a consequence, I wouldn’t exactly be next in line as potential girlfriend. Well not according to this movie! Waterhouse and Momoa are basically full on about to hook up even though she took his child and literally just murdered his wife. Cool

Then there’s the prosthetic leg. Dude if you got thrown in the middle of the wilderness because you were excommunicated from life you wouldn’t expect them to have prosthetic limbs kicking around. I know it’s a film and the likelihood of this actually happening is extremely slim. I enjoy realistic details in unrealistic films. The realistic detail is that there are probably zero prosthetic limbs avaliable in the desert in high abundance. Probably. 

What’s with taking the kid away from a perfectly safe place to return him to his cannibal dad? Like why would you have such a change of heart? You JUST MURDERED HIS MUM And the DRAMA she caused in the process. It then got way too unnecessary; holding a pregnant woman hostage just to get back the kid? She literally could’ve just asked Keanu Reeves. The conversation would’ve been super straightforward and that would’ve been that. 

I really wanted to like this film. I wanted to because I like the director and I like the cast and I like the concept. On paper I like this film.

The reality is that it’s soul destroyingly long with no purpose. Zero. It was basically a shit “horror” version of Spring Breakers– very visual but lacked substance and context and therefore did a lot of overcompensating because it wanted to be cool.

It wasn’t cool.

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The darkest shade of neon 

The Neon Demon (2016)

Dir: Nicholas Refn 

If you were to see this on Netflix, without knowing anything about it, and toyed with the idea of watching it because the visual was cool, and the bloke who did Drive directed it,  then don’t watch it. 

Really, don’t.

I’m not even really sure if Netflix is the right platform for Nicholas Refn. Without sounding like a prentious douchewipe, I see this as more a “Amazon Prime” scenario; the type of film a Kimmy Schmidt viewer may not immediately go to as their first port of call, (unless said Kimmy Schmidt viewer likes cannibalism and necrophila). It doesn’t feel particularly organic, what section would you even put The Neon Demon in? Certainly not “party on!” (Ironically currently featuring Bojack Horseman). 

I digress…don’t get me wrong guys, Nat (my flatmate and very close friend) watched it with me, having no prior context whatsoever, and Nat enjoyed it. I was, however, kind enough to point out that there would be lesbian morgue sex about halfway through, and also that pace was not exactly high on Refn’s priority list. Clearly we needed to stablish some fundamentals prior to our sunday night junk food and horror sesh.

In fact we, and possibly a few other humans sporadically dotted around the globe, enjoyed this movie. The dude from the guardian film section seemed to like it (dude from Rolling Stone magazine….didn’t like it so much). Proof, at the risk of stating the mind-blowingly obvious, that not everything is for everyone.

End of review

Just kidding.

Let me start by explaining that this movie isn’t Drive. A lot of people were passionately pissed off that he didnt make another ‘masterpiece’ like Drive (Drive 2?) and wrote a lot of unsavoury shit about Refn. He famously got booed at Cannes, (often a great PR move), with some even walking out in outrage and shock (think Lars Von Trier circa six years ago). Folks were not happy; apparently appalled and shocked, calling this movie depraved and sickening. So many people got really touchy about the some of the themes, (a far cry from cars, masculinity or crime), that it’s really become a “thing” in relation to the film. So let’s just clarify once and for all that a.Nicholas Refn is allowed to make other types of films that don’t include or involve Ryan Gosling and b. Can we all just get the fuck over Drive. Yes it was incredible, but he’s exploring something else, it’s cool if you don’t like it, let’s move on.

This particular film explores dark topics, in a less than subtle fashion. Excess and materialism marry together beautifully mmm against the isolation backdrop of a dark LA. Everything is visually beautiful, but also feels incredibly detached and in some cases clinical. This notion is further enhanced by the flat conversations between the characters, (its not bad acting, despite Keanu Reeves), the lack of any real emotion in any of the other characters (aside from anger, which is what shapes the end), and the very obvious disposable nature of those within this “world”. If the conversations seem like non starters, its kind of the aim; everyone’s dead on the inside and hates each other.  

The premise is a beautiful child (that’s what I’m calling her, because she’s 16), enters the world of modelling and discovers pretty quickly that you can’t trust anyone. Problem is, this young beautiful ethereal girl (played by the very cute Elle Fanning), becomes increasingly more narcissistic and selfish the more she is sucked into “the neon demon” (a metaphor for the bright shiny lights of the hollywood machine). Her mannerisms subtly change, she grows increasingly more self aware…and kind of turns into a dick. Another casualty of LA.
On the sidelines are groups of grown ups out to get her in various ways. Each with their own set of vile intentions; be it lust, jealousy or power, that culminate in an actual blood bath…

Literally.

So i’m sure you’ree all dying to know about the necrophilia scene (no pun intended)…well, i never thought i would say this, but there is actually a worse scene in this film. That scene ladies and gents, involves Keanu Reeves in a shellsuit forcing a knife down Jessie’s throat. This alone was so stomache churning and dark that it made me question whether i wanted to see what was on its way, which I’m sure was the whole point. This scene also marks a change of pace, because up until this point it’s all been pretty visuals and awkward conversations.

I won’t pretend that this film isn’t self aware, or a little slow. It’s both. If you want to watch a “horror” movie with haunted houses and chainsaws, this might not be your bag. Yes he does borrow a lot; everything from Italian horror, to Kubrick to Lynch. Yes it’s very stylised and very visual. Is it shit? No. It isn’t.

Enfield. Not North London

Dir: James Wan

2016

 

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Let’s just start with a couple of basics right here right now. Enfield is in EN which therefore means its not in London, can I get there by tube? Is it in zones 1-4? Do they even have Uber? I think we can all agree that anything outside of zone 4 really doesn’t count as London.  And whilst I totally apreesh what James Wan is doing, and in the iconic words of Kanye West imma let him finish, Enfield is literally NOT in London.

So that’s that, and lets really just clear that up before any form of advancement is made.

NB. Sorry if you’re from Enfield and feel like I’m being unjust. It’s literally Middlesex, you can’t argue with geography.

Ok so, the story is set in Enfield MIDDLESEX, in the 70’s and it documents another one of Ed and Lorraine’s infamous cases of demons causing a lot of aggro to yet another family who literally just need a good nights sleep. Like all the other films about Ed and Lorraine, it is based on a ‘true’ story (lets say inspired by true events), so you can google the Hodgson family, and their house on Green street and even look at how much its selling for on Zoopla (I do this a lot with homes that were inhabited by serial killers or ghosts, worth knowing if affects market price). The original recordings, can be found at: Real footage from Enfield Haunting, plus there’s like a ton of shows about the house, so if you fancy weighing up how accurate Wan was, it’s all there on the fantastic world wide web for you to draw your own conclusions.

enfield

I personally don’t really care, it might have been true, yada yada yada who knows? Is anything true? Are we even here? I could get into this kind of low level existentialism all day, but that’s not really the scary part. What disturbed me more than anything were the massive fluctuations is English accents courtesy of the ‘actors’ who were chosen to play the Hodgson family. Why did the mum sound like Pat Butcher but her kids sound like the cast of Oliver? The overdone ‘cockney’ accents, combined with Billy and his biscuits were really eye rolling. I half expected a shoe shine boy to pop up and get involved. Give them one English accent for continuity as opposed to five. We know what English people sound like thanks, and don’t actually need an entire family covering all of the London boroughs under one roof.

So the film. Well the Enfield house is basically like most of the houses we grew up in in London; two up, two down, not very glam, with bad wall paper, dire need of paint and Starsky and Hutch on the walls, just a standard regular house. It wasn’t a huge mansion, or even particularly nice, which is proof that ghosts aren’t picky. One minute its Amytiville, and the next its some estate in Shadwell. Be careful out there.

Things escalate pretty damn quickly. One minute Janet is messing about with a makeshift Ouji board made out of shit she found in the art room at school and then BOOM demon from hell, in your home. Classic Janet.

enfield 2

Would’ve been great if Ed and Lorraine didn’t take their sweet time getting to Enfield. It’s literally Christmas and one whole hour into the (really unnecessarily long) film before they even say London. Meanwhile they’re dealing with their own fallout from Amytiville; Lorraine keeps seeing a Marylin Mansonesque nun in her visions, and then casually walking around her house. Doesn’t help when she wakes up one sunny morning and her husband has drawn a GIGANTIC painting of the thing on canvas ‘I just couldn’t sleep Lorraine’ he muses, ‘So i thought i’d draw what was in my dream’ oh yea….just draw the demon that traumatized your wife in Amytiville, and then proceed to HANG IT UP IN YOUR OFFICE.

demon

My favourite bit was Ed doing an Elvis impersonation and playing the guitar. If there was ever a time for the Demon to throw some mad shade, it should’ve been there and then. Whip that guitar out of his claws and club him over the head with it. Fuck you Ed, don’t come into a haunted house with your Christianity and big sideburns and patronize everyone by singing. Time and a place mate.

Despite all of the above, surprisingly enjoyed it.

And i’m sure you will.