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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Camping 

The idea of a sequel pains me. 

With the exception of The Godfather and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, I really don’t have an overwhelming desire to watch a sequel. Ever.

Look at what happened to Paranormal Activities. What started as an incredible film (a film, 1 film, singular), turned into a barrage of annoying follow ups including a baffling offshoot called  The Marked Ones (#neverforget), which was literally the worst movie ever madeSo obviously when I saw this, THE Blair witch, being advertised it was a major eye roll moment. 

I’m a big fan of the original, and naturally I didn’t care much for the HORRENDOUS follow up. Luckily it turns out that this version has nothing to do with the sequel; in fact director Adam Wingard goes above and beyond to bypass Blair Witch 2 and any reference to it altogether. Just like Catwoman with Halle Berry, we’ll all pretend it didn’t happen. 

I like Adam Wingard, I trust him. He’s made some solid, terrifying and well written films in the last few years which he should be applauded for. The horror genre isn’t easy you guys, it’s really challenging to make a. something original and b. something scary, because we’ve all become so accustomed to the formulas. We KNOW when to expect shit, which is why horror directors now have to do the absolute most to keep us engaged without being predictable or resort to lots of unnecessary and gratuitous torture porn tactics.

I digress, what I’m essentially trying to say is that having Adam Wingard as the director of this remake, and in essence the captain steering the entire reboot of the franchise, means he was bound to inject some quality into it. He was responsible for Youre Next and V/H/S so I was rooting for him in a big way. 

Netflix it turns out, was not. In fact Netflix stopped working a grand total of TWENTY FIVE TIMES whilst we were trying to watch this film. What ended up happening were 3 days (yep) of “screenings” all in 20 minute segments because basically Netflix hates me and doesn’t want me to enjoy a well rounded cinematic experience. 

As you can probably imagine, a horror movie, drawn out over 3 days is going to somewhat dilute the whole “horror” aspect. Luckily I was engaged, and wanted to know how these poor bastards would end up dying, so I watched with the same enthusiasm and vigour on the third day as I did on the first; trying to catch a glimpse of the witch and taking mental notes of things I wouldn’t do whilst camping. 

Basically I would never go camping.

Here’s a thought. Why not just drive? I personally don’t fully understand the logistics of a wood because I live in London, but SURELY you can just drive, park up on a main road and basically avoid dying? 

Anyway 

The whole premise of the film is a that very uncharismatic guy called James wants to go into the woods to find his sister Heather (remember Heather, the girl from 1999 with the snot and the camera and the fear?) A new video emerges on YouTube which indicates that Heather may still be alive, and basically provides new evidence to lure people back out in the woods. James takes the bait and heads into the woods with 3 of his friends, plus the couple who originally found the tape and put it on YouTube. They thankfully go armed with literally every camera, gadget, GPS device, drone, smart phone, walkie talkie, hovercraft etc that they can get their hands on. 

This element actually makes this a much more “up to date” found footage movie, as it is sadly filmed in that style. Often directors can just forget that their movie is meant to be “found footage” and halfway through a mysterious “other” camera appears which kind of defeats the purpose and breaks any form of continuity (hence why I hate found footage movies). Luckily Adam Wingard et al get around this aspect with all the additional “stuff” that the group have brought with them, meaning you get loads of angles and perspectives which don’t seem far fetched. 

So let’s get to the nitty gritty. Was this film shit? No. It surprisingly really wasn’t.

The beginning was a solid suspenseful lead up seasoned with lots of subtle indications, references to the witch, and general vibes predicting the fuckeries about to be bestowed upon them. Then they get lost…..(drums), and an infection gets worse (more drums), and Peter goes missing (several drums)…and it descents into absolute hell.

The end could have been shorter. There’s a long winded final scene at the witches house which is just stressful and confusing and goes on for way too long. Like, really really long.

Aside from this. It’s a good horror movie and not a total embarrassment to the Blair Witch legacy. IN FACT I would go as far to say that if the 1999 classic were made for the first time in 2017, this would be the result.

The artist formerly known as Prairie

The OA

Creators: Zal Batmanglij, Brit Marling

 

Like…where do I even?

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You wonder how high they must have been to actually think of this. You actually wonder.I tried so hard to explain this to someone earlier, and I kept sounding like I was making shit up. Literally as though I was pulling random story lines out of thin air and adding them onto a more elaborate story to make it seem all Christopher Nolany and mind-fucky. I wasn’t though. I was genuinely doing my up most to stick to a simple description, which turned into a lengthy, convoluted, and agonizing run down  of one of the weirdest shows in the history of netflix.

And I still can’t decide if I liked it or not. Eight bizarre hours later.

So a. spoiler alert, and b. I’m not here to knock this show. I appreciate that the OA has now built an army of loyal fans who will hex my first born child if i say anything bad, so that’s not exclusively my aim. I just want to talk about it, you know? because I need to. I need to vocalise some of this shit before attempting to watch anything else on Netflix, because why should I suffer alone?

So the ‘premise’, in the simplest way possible: The show starts with a woman who jumps off a bridge, which we later find out had been missing for the best part of seven years and used to be blind. Now she’s back and she can see, (and by blind I mean actually blind, i’m not talking about it in a biblical context or anything).

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Are we happy with this so far?

So this lady is called Prairie, but she keeps calling herself The OA, which is weird and kinda hilarious. Like… who the hell calls themselves ‘the’ anything? Aside from ‘the exorcist’ or ‘the artist formerly known as Prince’ who ended up abbreviating it anyway because he realised it made him sound like a massive douche.

The OAs parents (i feel dumb just saying it) are a whole heap of ‘wtf’ about everything, partly due to the name change, partly due to the seven year absence (which she refuses to explain), and partly due to the fact that she isn’t blind anymore and doesn’t wanna discuss it.

The OA befriends a group of local teenagers via a weird video she posts on youtube (please stay with me), so they all start meeting at an abandoned house every night to hear her tell her story about what the fuck happened to her. She seems really cool to tell them the story, but literally noone else. Not even the FBI, who you would assume would be the first port of call.

Her story goes something like this (again, stay with me)…She was born to a wealthy Russian Oligarch in the 80s and had a near death experience on her way to school. She came back from the dead without her sight, but a whole bunch of odd stuff happened to her after the near death experience; lucid dreams, premonitions and an amazing ability to play the violin. This is all totally fine so far, so I’m all like yea ok…I can run with this. But then..

Then she moves to America, lives with her aunt in a brothel after her father dies, gets found by a nice couple who visit said brothel in the search of illegal kids, and goes to live with them.

The rest then involves a psycho scientist, who kidnaps her and locks her in a basement (a la Josef Fritzl), a bunch of near death experience survivors used as test subjects, interpretive dance, and an Arabic gatekeeper of the universe called ‘khtum’.

brit-marling-as-the-oa-and-khatun

Oh yea, and they’re all using mystical tai chi to try and move across dimensions and escape this fucked up dungeon they’ve been in for seven years.

That’s a whole lot of tai chi.

If The OA, was about maybe 1 thing…or even 5 things, then it would be absolutely perfect. No-one on earth is expecting a sci-fi to be believable or realistic, so that’s not my beef with this in any way. My beef is that there is literally SO much going on, all at once, in a short space of time, that you’re just like..’I don’t believe you bruh.’

 

For example, I really don’t get why these kids are so invested…SUPER INVESTED, in the OA. Call me a pessimistic prick, but your story requires some type of cut out or you tube link to make me buy it. All they have is imagination and dim lighting. Its not enough hun.

Then you have all these separate side stories involving the kids. The one with the anger issues who’s face is always red, the overachieving Mexican kid who’s mum is a drunk hot mess. Then there’s the emo skater one whose entire family is dead apart from his sister who literally smokes weed all day. Too much going on.

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Then you have the OA herself who is single handedly the most irritating character to ever grace my laptop screen. Why does she speak in hushed tones? Why are her roots so immaculate? Why does she look like the ZARA 2003 autumn/winter model? Where did she buy her foil jacket? Then it turns out she might have been lying the ENTIRE TIME (????!!!!!!!) erm……ok, that was a waste of everyone’s time. Luckily the poorest ending known to man, clarifies that maybe she isn’t lying, so leaves us with a set of pointless questions, to add to the plethora of questions we had already armed ourselves with. Fab.

Is it a sci-fi? is is a drama? Is it a teen thriller? Is it a pisstake? who knows. Its like Donnie Darko meets The Breakfast Club but not even remotely in a cool way. The general pace reminds me of one of those Scandinavian crime shows like The Killing, mad amounts of grey scale tones and bad weather. But then you have the flashbacks, which are super high saturation and vivid, and then randomly Riz Ahmed pops up as the FBI guidance councilor and that made me happy.

Sadly however, the ending is such trash it actually manages to ruin everything. Watch it for the interpretive dance and general confusion.

Don’t watch it if you think its gonna be better than Stranger Things

 

 

A timeline of fear

Hush (2016)
Dir: Mike Flanagan

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“I don’t feel comfortable….”

Four words that very rarely escape from my lips, which i found myself repeating over and over again in the first twenty minutes.

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I knew absolutely nothing about Hush other than the fact that I could A) Watch it on Netflix and b) it comes  up constantly as a recommendation. Then one magical Saturday three separate friends all mentioned it at various times during the day, each insisting it was my kinda movie. I had no choice really, the universe had spoken.

Twenty minutes in and I’m seriously not feeling comfortable or safe in my own home. My flatmate accidently slammed the bathroom door shut and I almost leapt out of my skin. I then had to pause this delight of a movie to do a casual “spot check” of the premise… you know, just a run of the mill surveillance of the property. I go and investigate the back door, kitchen, the downstairs bathroom, shed. Anywhere involving walls.

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And although I’m paranoid as fuck about wandering up and down the house alone, I’m equally trying really hard to avoid going back into the living room to unpause the movie. “Some stones are better left unturned, am I right?” I say out loud to myself. Then I realise I actually write horror reviews and proceed to sit the fuck back down.

Unpause

30 mins in…..WOW. WHAT THE FUCK YO?! Maybe I’m just really not about this life. Maybe I should start watching Rom Coms and writing about them instead. Maybe a movie starring Jlo and some handsome Caucasian dude is less likely to fuck up my sleeping patterns. I just wanna leave the room at this stage, fuck it, judge me. I wanna leave the room and go somewhere loud, with alcohol and unicorns.

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I frantically start texting my flatmate literally begging her to come downstairs and sit through the next 70 mins with me “i have icecream *smiley emoji*”. I don’t even recognise who I am anymore. I don’t eat dairy or use emojis. I’m a mess and I need to get a fucking grip.

1 hour in. THIS GUY IS SUCH A PIECE OF SHIT…..WTF. WTF. WTF. Why is he doing this?  Does he know her? is he some disgruntled ex?No he can’t be because Craig is the ex, and Craig tried to facetime her and she rejected his call, and I’m pretty sure Craig was black and this guy looks borderline ginger. It’s not Craig. Craig is nice and doesn’t kill people’s neighbours OVER AND OVER AGAIN WHILST STARING IN THROUGH THE GLASS.

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1.15mins. I’m done. I’m so done. You know what I’m literally never gonna do? Live in the countryside on my own. Also, I don’t think I’ll facetime for a while.
Ive heard of a home invasion movie, but this is invasive on all counts. There was absolutely no need for this level of nerve wreck.

I need to avoid all doors and windows for the rest of the evening. Or maybe for life.