Midnight Massacre

The Invitation

2016 

Dir: Karyn Kusama
*SPOILERS AHEAD*

We’ve all been there. That awkward scenario when an ex invites you to a dinner party; you don’t wanna go because that’s the house you used to live in, also because you think your former spouse is now in a cult, and you have a sneeking suspicion that this might be an initiation ceremony. 

But you go anyway.

And typically everyone gets drunk and shit goes down, and then there’s a massacre, plus a bit of bad mouthing and bringing up the past. Your friends just can’t handle their drinks anymore.

What Will should’ve done when his ex wife called him up and invited him round after a two year disappearence in Mexico, is cancel. Only Will (played by the very handsome Logan Marshal Green) let his curiousity get the better of him. So off he went dragging his jesus beard and his poor girlfriend Kira with him.

Everyone knows an Eden; usually wealthy, usually unfulfilled, usually in Planet Organic buying organic buckwheat and preparing to spend ten grand to visit a witchdoctor from the Tibeten footfills. Typically its those with more stuff, bigger houses, expensive built in kitchens, that seem to crave this need for something deeper and more authentic. “There is no darkness” states one the cult leaders who discreetly came to dinner to show everyone a recruitment video. 

To some degree, certainly in the developed world, which can often feel very soulless, there is a growing desire to feel “special”. I guess there’s an element of new age spirituality (sometimes unknowingly) in many of us; whether you’re actively attempting to reach higher conciousness, doing Kondalini or just drinking wheatgrass shots, this has trickled down in a variety of guises.

Whilst a lot of it can be constructive and turn rich douchebags into bohemian douchebags, there is a history of California dreamin that takes an ugly turn.

Watching the murders unfold in Eden’s home on the hollywood hills is an eery reference to the Manson murders which marked an abrupt and nasty end to the age of free love. There’s something about those hills, the land of dreams, that has a very dark undercurrent, which is made constantly present in the film.

Will knows from the second he arrives that hes not feeling the vibe. “Theres something not right here” he retorts, even before the screening of the video (which shows a woman dying btw-heavens gate anyone?), or the mention of that weird place in Mexico where Eden and David went (Spahn Ranch anyone?) So his spidey senses were very much in tune that night.

Of course the others had their suspicions, but everyone was being super apt at ignoring the elephant in the room. Will just winds up looking like the neurotic crazy guy with trust issues. There are points where you question why he doesn’t just take his girlfriend and leave, but then i guess that would make a shit ending, because if people did sensible shit, horror movies wouldnt exist. 

The pace is slow, so if you have issues with dialogue or sitting still, or metaphors, this might not be the film for you. There’s an underlying theme of loss which is very touching and sensitively executed, despite the massacre at the end, which was impressive. 

I like this movie

I like Logan

I like Edens dress

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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.

Black Mess

Black Mass (2015)
Dir: Scott Cooper

Slightly off topic, (mainly because there aren’t enough horror movies around to warrant an hour of thought), I’ve opted for Johnny Depp horrifying us all with his rotton front tooth and deeply dehydrated skin.

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Theres been more gangster biopics lately then we’ve had in a while. After Legend I think we were all ready for a further exploration into the criminal mind, Depp hasn’t done anything that hasn’t involved LSD or chocolate since Donnie Brasco, so many have really been looking forward to it.

The film tells the tale of one of the FBIs most wanted men, the infamous Whitey Bulger leader of Boston Mob “the winter hill” gang. The almost unrecognisable Depp plays a chilling Bulger and really gets into his role. Lots of killing, teaching people lessons, burying bodies under bridges, highly loaded yet ambiguous gangster threats (please refer to scene at the dinner table, which has forever changed my opinion on soy sauce and garlic powder), the usual. Apparently the purpose of the film was to chronicle the rise of Whitey Bulger and his relationship with the FBI. Sadly what we were presented with (sorry Guardian film page) was a flimsy script, and a disjointed picture of how and why Bulger goes from small time criminal to FBIs most wanted.

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We see so much of Bulger being a total douche, without really understanding what actually makes this guy tick, that this lack of context ends up creating a widening bridge between him and the viewer as we can never truly immerse ourselves in his world. Allegedly the real Whitey Bulger also didnt care, so much so that he refused to cooperate with Depp et al regarding characterisation; this was highly apparent in the end product.

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So much revolved Bulger’s relationship with FBI agent Johnny Connelly, that it almost felt like “Stand by Me”. This relationship alone should have been the focus of the film, rather than trying to cram in 30 years of activity. No other characters really mattered, it starts with a promising intro and then solely becomes about Bulger and Connelly, and essentially how obsessed Connelly was in pleasing him. Everything and everyone else just felt like they were there for decoration.

Why even BOTHER with any female characters? They literally serve no purpose to the plot, literally zero. Bulger’s wife? Pointless fifteen minutes of airtime. Why cast such a great actress if you’re just going to give her a  one minute scene in a hospital and never explain where she went afterwards?

In fact where do any of the women go? Are there any women in Boston in the 1970s? What the hell happened to Connelly’s wife? Did she get over Bulger’s psycho medical speech in her house? Did she buy another pair of satin flares? Does she leave Boston? I really would’ve liked a resolve to that situation.

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Essentially my primary beef with this film is the utter disinterest in developing any of the other characters. Take Benedict Cumberpatch for example (I wish this was the start of a sherlock joke), he played a powerful political figure, whose brother was a mob kingpin, THAT SHIT IS INTERESTING GODDAMIT!! Couldn’t we perhaps have a bit more development there? So there was absolutely no issues with the fact that this was a real situation? It was skimmed over at best, which was super infuriating and yet again a reflection of a poor script. Soz.

Having no emotional involvement with anyone in the film whatsoever does also make a film feel considerably longer than it should. Just a casual FYI.

Johnny Depp, aside from looking tired,  doesn’t do enough with the complexity of Bulger’s character to make me care. His mannerisms, fucked vibe in general, yes. Why this guy is so fucked up? no idea. Take Ray Liotta and his portrayal of Henry Hill; he brings me in, involves me in his world, and therefore I get him, appreciating his intentions and actually feeling bad for him when things start to unravel in his life.

This guy Bulger…don’t get it, I don’t understand why that whole bit with his wife and kid was put in, I don’t get how and why he got into organised crime, I don’t hate him enough to feel sickened by what he does, don’t like him enough to feel pity for him.

The one thing that entertained me more than it should was John Connolly. Joel Edgerton plays him so brilliantly as a FBI wannabe mobster that it makes you recoil. He’s that guy in college who does shit to impressive the popular crew, it’s pretty painful to watch. He goes out of his way for Bulger in a way which is confusing and seems to have very little gain (aside from financial) for him. Subsequently he ends up doing one of the longest sentences out of anyone, which makes it all the more pitiful.

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Watch it for the violence and sexy accents.

Don’t watch it if you’re tired 

Revisited: Orphan

Well…what can I say.

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Round of applause to the guy that made this. YOU sir, deserve a drink.

like…where do I even begin? I’ve spend the past hour shouting profanities at my laptop and wanting a 9 year old dead so badly (even though she’s really 33…we’ll get there), that my brain is actually overwhelmed with emotions.

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I first watched this amazing car crash of a film when I was like 23 and thought I knew everything. I was so pretentious and full of shit  at the time that I categorically refused to finish it deeming it “ridiculous”. man I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to lighten the fuck up. I missed out BIG time with this one. No amount of fellini will ever give me the same joy that an escaped lunatic from Estonia with dwarfism can.

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The layers to this film are stupendous; you literally don’t know who to hate more. It gets to a stage where you basically want everyone to die because their middle class problems are more frustrating then the psycho dwarf in the tutu.

So you have the ex alcoholic mum, who has been dealing with a lot of issues since having a stillbirth  (understandable). She’s seeing a councillor (Dr. Bobby) who, it emerges, seems to know jack shit about her job ( nice, wildly inaccurate, observation of Esther… keep up the good work there buddy). Karen drives a lexus, lives in a beautiful house has a tense relationship with her husband and plays the piano to compensate her alcoholism. Fantastic

Then you have the passive aggressive cheating husband who obviously can’t spot a psycho dwarf when he sees one. he. He’s one of those annoying men who tries to act totally chilled about the fact that his wife doesn’t wanna sleep with him anymore, but you basically suss out that that’s potentially what lead him cheating on her in the first place…possibly, I’m just brainstorming here.  

Then you have the crazy lunatic posing as a 9 year old when she’s actually a grown ass woman who escaped from an asylum (SO brilliant)

https://youtu.be/o8TSn3qVu44

So they decide to adopt, (which it later materialises was a really bad idea). Said adopted child categorically ruines their already pretty unstable lives, and does so in the most manipulative and cinematically epic way possible.

In true “yuppie thriller” fashion (think the hand that rocks the cradle, fatal attraction) we see the husband and wife turn on each other and (surprise surprise) Karen looks like the crazy one for thinking that there’s something wrong with the creepy kid.

I won’t ruin the good bits by telling you all the amazing shit this crazy bitch does… but it is MIND BLOWING.

watch this with a loved one. they’ll appreciate you more.

The Visit….sure

Every now and again comes a director so mind-blowingly overrated you almost feel compelled to hate them just to level out the playing field a bit. Even though not all of them are as evil and self obsessed as say, Christopher Nolan (just picking names out a hat here guys), you’ve decided by default that you WILL dislike their over hyped work, and nothing will change your mind. Which is why when this came out i felt a weird sense of curiosity and sympathy.

Bless M. Night Shymalan…hes had a bumpy ride….

Noone likes M Night Shymalan

Although I’ve never been his biggest fan, I do, to a degree, get what hes tried to do. And that’s not because I hate The Sixth Sense (i do hate The Sixth Sense), or because I think all his films are like…the same, or any of that. I just don’t find him particularly effective as a director within the horror genre…as it were.

And none of his films have actually ever scared me in the slightest.

And I don’t like that his name sounds like a three part drama.

And i fucking hated the village

So I reluctantly watched this, because i was told I WOULD enjoy it by trustworthy sources, and felt i should give him one last stab at winning me over. Go on then Shymalan…do your worst.

thevisit

Premise of the story is that two teenagers have never met their grandparents due to family estrangement. They go and visit them (I missed this bit completely by the way, because i was in a line buying m&ms), and then some really odd shit starts happening. Becca, the older of the siblings, puts this erratic behavior down to age (they’re old, and old people do odd stuff). The younger one however (Tyler), has his cray-dar firmly fixed since they arrived, and picks up on said red flags pretty quickly.

Now i happened to walk in halfway through a ‘hide and seek’ scene, and noticed that (spoiler alert), the film was being shot entirely from the perspective of Becca, thus making it…

found

fucking

footage.

Lets just clarify right now that there is nothing more infuriating then found footage. Literally. nothing.

How can you time your filming so accurately with all the horrific things going on around you? How? How did you even know? Are you that confident within yourself that you don’t mind looking through a lens and possibly getting possessed or killed at the same time? that eager to capture the moment…really? that eager?

‘fine, lets sit through an hour of this, hate it, and then write something really scathing about how he couldn’t get funded and had to pay for it all himself’, I thought.

Surprisingly though, I actually didn’t hate it.

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There were moments at the start where it really could’ve gone left with my patience. and i mean really left. Like the grandma’s crazy eyeballing of everything around her, pop pop and his shed full of shit, and that story about going to the costume party (??!). Crazy nan pops up again scratching the walls butt naked and then there’s another story about sundowning, or sungazing, or something…which i’m really glad the kids googled the next day, because i personally wasn’t buying a single word of that crap.

Once you get past the obvious predictability that comes as standard with a found footage film (eyeroll), the end result was really quite great.

It was sharp, it was funny. Tyler was played by an exceptionally talented actor who’s going to get really far in his career, and the ending was phenomenal. Very fun to watch. very sinister (shock horror) and amazingly ticked all the boxes.

Well done Shymalan. you stopped listening to the voices.

Maniac: Revisted

Even though it wasn’t actually out that long ago, (fine…its only recently become available on Netflix). I feel that this month’s revisited should go to Elijah Wood for acting like a crazy fool.

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Or Frodo goes Loco as Total film put it.

He’s actually so mind-blowing crazy in this film its beyond words.The worst part is that we don’t ever really find out the specifics into why he enjoys murdering so many women, but we do know he LOVES hair. Later there’s some flashbacks of his mum snorting coke and having threesomes, while he’s like 5 and watching from a wardrobe (I’ll assume this lead to some of his angst), but no definite ‘I’ve decided to murder chicks’ epiphany. We know he likes to stalk. That we can be sure of.

In the opening scene he full on stalks this poor girl from outside the club right to her door (ladies, get a ride with your friend yo), and then he scalds her…and then staples her scalps onto an awkwardly standing mannequins back of house, (thankfully he’s intelligent enough not to put that shit in the window). He likes to chat to the mannequins (full on Conversations), and scrubs his hands profusely with bleach a lot. It’s all so damn Freudian.

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To be fair who the hell would trust a guy who works in a mannequin shop? I know who…Anna does. Anna is a French Chick who’s equally as obsessed with mannequins and wants to use them for an art installation thing (like really though, who you expecting to meet in that field girlfriend?) So Anna and our Maniac strike up an unusual friendship, which seems to tip him over his killing threshold. In fact I’m pretty convinced as a way of NOT killing Anna, he just goes on a mad killing spree so he can expel those angry feelings.

The scary one was the online date he goes on, with the girl who takes him back to hers. That annoyed me a bit I must say. If you look at the guys hands, they SCREAM serial Killer, I was literally shouting  ‘please dont fuck him’ really loudly at the TV hoping it would shift the plot. Nope.

Its been labelled by many as trashy gore, with lots of unnecessary explicit scenes, so yes it got a lot of bad reviews, but i actually loved it. The POV thing totally works, except for a few times when they forget its POV and randomly zoom out and you’re like ‘woah…its POV, what are u doing to my mind’, (like the scene in the garage with the girl who runs off the train), so I guess if they kept it a touch more consistent it would be miles better.

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I also love that its Elijah wood, and he’s just creepy as fuck, all the time. Even when he was Frodo I was like if this guy didn’t have a ring, he’d be out murdering elves for no reason. So that helps.

Also the fact that its set in a very unglam downtown LA, and LA looks scary. Forget all those images of Beverly Hills and Laguna Beach. This is a grim LA and you don’t wanna be there on your own at 3am.

So all in its worth the watch. Theres a few weird bits where the mannequins come to life and it gets a bit surreal, but try to gloss over that.

And don’t eat. It’s really gory.