Get Out (2017, Peele)


WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR GET OUT:

Also this essay is a work in progress and was penned while drinking at my favorite local bar after I saw the movie months ago:

From the very beginning when a black man is afraid to walk the suburbs to the gory and exciting last act, Jordan Peele’s Get Out is an exercise in pure fear. Every once in a while there is a horror film that scares the crap out of me, and 2017 delivers one that should be seen on the big screen. I laughed and then got quiet as a poor black man was knocked out and stuffed into the back of a trunk, while weird southern music played in the background. Cue opening credits. Thanks to Halloween (both versions) and Scream I am terrified of the suburbs. Only this time it’s not one psychopath wearing a mask.

Also don’t forget the liberal racism of white people, although I doubt most of the guests at the dinner party Rose’s creepy white parents throw during the weekend that Chris, her boyfriend, and her decide to visit fit leftist ideals. Upon arriving we get two black servants and a house straight out of any upstanding horror film. This movie has so many references I lost track, although several came to mind: Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, Burnt Offerings and even Funny Games and You’re Next. I think there may even be a little Texas Chainsaw Massacre in that instead of poor redneck cannibals it’s a rich family using black people to keep on living forever, obtaining their strengths. One thing I got out of the dinner party is how secretly cruel and awful elderly people set in racism can be, and that even the one who isn’t apparently racist is in fact just as bad as the rest of them.

Oh and Chris’ buddy, Rod is hilarous yet also makes sense through out the entire film. When he goes to the police it doesn’t matter that they’re minorities, either: his story is dismissed, partly for being crazy but also because cops are worthless in any horror movie. They never believe what is happening, even if presented with evidence. When Chris gets carded by the police and responds with a tired expected compliance, it’s very telling. As is when a cop car pops up later and Chris assumes the hands up position that I’m sure all too many people of color know quite well.

Peele couldn’t have picked a better pair of people to play Rose’s parents. Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are a perfect embodiment of white privilege and attempts to convince people they aren’t racist. Although I wonder if they would take anyone who fits their ideal of strength and proper genetics, according to them anyways. Get Out also features their kids carrying on their parent’s heritage of racism, this proving that hoping the younger generation overcomes their parents brand of hate is a foolish notion. If anything the film almost suggests that eliminating white racists is the answer, although I don’t want to read too much into a movie where a man kills someone with deer antlers.

I love the little details in this movie. Someone on Twitter pointed out how Rose refuses to mix her colored cereal with her milk. Her brother sits and pulls a Deliverance, playing some type of guitar while Rose and Chris reenter the mansion shortly before things completely explode. If there is critiques of this movie then it is that I saw the twists coming, although they are fairly telegraphed in the film. I really hope that Jordan Peele makes another film and has a successful career as a director. He has style, ideas and has given the world another great film, not just a horror film but a movie. Might as well cut back on the titles anyways.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: The Hole (2009, Joe Dante)


Throughout his career Joe Dante has been good with child actors. He’s made successful films for both adults and kids, yet The Hole is aimed mostly at younger folks despite some adult themes. Dante for all of his faults never talks down to his audience and The Hole works as an exercise in what scares us. Literally.

Two brothers, Dane and Lucas, move into a new house in a small town with their mother. They befriend the local neighborh girl, Julie, and in the process uncovers a hole covered by a door in their basement. Opening the door leads to creepy things happening, such as Lucas getting attacked by the world’s scariest puppet and Julie facing a ghost from her past. Despite some flaws and the film taking a bit too long to become interesting, this is a fun and sometimes surprising flick. Plus it has cameos from Dick Miller and Bruce Dern, which is a nice touch.

Horrorfest 2015/It’s Hammer Time Presents: The Woman In Black (2012, James Watkins)


These days Daniel Radcliffe seems to like being in horror movies. That’s good because he is fantastic in both of the ones he’s done-particularly in The Woman In Black, from Hammer Studios. The famous horror studio returned in time to give Britain a very good, creepy and well crafted horror film. It’s great to see that they haven’t lost a step and thus film is a nice throwback to their glory days. Having famous character actor Ciarán Hinds as the other star is a quality choice, as he brings gravitas to the proceedings.

Radcliffe is a young lawyer who journeys to a small town on business concerning a large estate. The house sits outside the village and is imposing, empty, and possibly haunted, of course. This calls to mind other previous and famous horror films, although James Watkins, the director, does a fine job of not depending on horror cliches or homages.

Also I like that this film doesn’t need jump scares or gore to be effective. Old school ghost films are something I have a soft spot for, and Watkins has a keen eye for unsettling moments. I also like that I was unable to guess the ending, which is always a plus. Whether or not the sequel is worth seeing, I’m not sure. I might check it out regardless. I do look forward to more Hammer films in the future, as I’m a big fan.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Creep (2014, Patrick Kack-Brice)


This is one horror film where jump scares are used to hide the real freaky parts. Creep hides it’s terrors, luring the viewer into a sense of calm and then unleashing moments that are quite scary. There is one scene that I cannot reveal more about that made the film live up to its title in a big way. This is a film that despite the usual limitations of found footage style filmmaking is still a really good, maybe even near great, horror film. I like ones that dig under your skin and linger on after the end credits. Those types are usually more scary than ones that are either too obvious or are trying too hard.

Patrick Kack-Brice also benefits from his main star, Mark Duplass, who is great in other material and shines here. Without Duplass continuing to lead on the audience and make you wonder the level of crazy hidden beneath those warm grins of his, the film would never have worked. He gives a performance that is chilling, effective and unnerving. I was surprised by how good Creep was, and I recommend this film as an example of how to create something that makes a normal walk in the woods so damn nervous and unsettling.

 

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: The Babadook (2014, Jennifer Kent)


After watching The Babadook I realize that I’m glad I don’t have kids. Poor Amelia is a widow dealing with the fact that her kid’s birthday is on the same day her husband died. So things don’t get any better when her son, Samuel, believes that a monster is after them. Naturally things spiral downward from then on, eventually building up to the possibility that it may be all in their imagination. Or maybe not. Either way, not good. The rhyme describing the creature itself is beyond creepy.

Few horror movies adequately deal with female issues and problems. Well The Babadook does this in spades and is a truly frightening and nightmarish experience. The opening is a slow burn that eventually leads to a mass escalation and the Babadook making an appearance. I love how the monster is practical effects and not CGI, which results in attack scenes being highly effective. Also the ending was somewhat unexpected, a hallmark of a good horror film.

Despite some questionable moments this is a near great and terrifying horror film. Several moments recall previous classic horror movies and Essie Davis gives a brave and unflinching performance as Amelia, while Noah Wiseman is great and surprising as Sam. Without giving further details I must say that I like the story and feel that based on observation and basic knowledge this film does a fine job of covering what it’s like to deal with a troubled child while being a single parent.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: The Conjuring (2013, James Wan)


Sporting a talented cast and channeling precious classic horror films The Conjuring is a near great film. James Wan seems to have a knack for horror, having also directed others such as Saw  and Insidious. Reportedly based on the cast files of a pair of psychic researchers named Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), this is a really freaky and entertaining movie. The 1970s setting is  a bonus, and I do like how this film answers the question of all haunting films: why don’t the people just leave? As in the good horror films the answer isn’t simple, and the solution may be unpleasant.

Having previously dealt with a creepy looking doll (interestingly the most eerie thing in the entire movie) called Annabelle, the Warrens seem content to rest and spend time with their daughter. However a Rhode Island couple named Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) approach them in a desperate bid to defeat the malevolent spirit that may be threatening them and their children. Naturally there are horror cliches such as the dog refusing to enter the house (dogs always sense the evil, don’t they?) and strange sounds echoing throughout the house. Wan uses plenty of slow burn and intense close up shots to make the audience feel as if they are in the house, and he actually doesn’t abuse jump scares or offer cheap moments, something that too many directors overuse in movies such as this one. Also it helps that the cast is all top notch, as Livingston and Wilson have also appeared in horror movies and Farmiga has a knack for playing both strong and vulnerable. However it is Taylor, who also starred in the remake of The Haunting, who is the main attraction of this movie. She has the difficult task of playing a woman that at first wonders if she is crazy, then slowly accepts what is going on, and in the end is forced to deal with the evil on a personal level.

Thanks to this movie I will never be able to think about a game of hide and seek again, not to mention whenever I hear multiple clapping. Plus I dug the scenes where the Warrens host question and answer sessions with local colleges, as they show footage of some of their encounters. The film even uses found footage style film making at one point with a valid reason to do so, which is cool too. Whether or not the actual incident in question ever happened I’m not sure, yet I am curious to learn more about the Warrens and I look forward to the planned sequel, which will feature both Wilson and Farmiga returning along with Wan, who is a promising young horror film maker in his own right. Also this film has a great original score, something that is worth mentioning as not too many modern horror films have exceptional original scores or original scores in general. This one does.

Horrorfest 2015: The Final Chapter


There’s no theme this year. Also this might be the last one. Maybe. List which is always subject to change endlessly and whenever I feel like it. Especially when Netflix decides to pull horror films before October like they often do. Bad Netflix:

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Netflix Instant Viewing

1. The Babadook (2014, creature feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/horrorfest-2015-presents-the-babadook-2014-jennifer-kent/
2. Pet Sematary 2 (1992, demonic)
3. Housebound (2014, ghosts)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/horrorfest-2015-presents-housebound-2014-gerard-johnstone/
4. Late Phases (2014, werewolf)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/horrorfest-2015-presents-late-phases-2014-adrian-garcia-bogliano/
5. The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977, mad scientist)
6. Troll (1986, creature feature)
7. Disturbing Behavior (1998, crazy people)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/disturbing-behavior-1998-david-nutter/
8. Nightbreed: Director’s Cut (1990, monsters)-Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Nightbreed (1990, Clive Barker)
9. V/H/S: Viral (2014, anthology)
10. Starry Eyes (2014, crazy people)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/horrorfest-2015-presents-starry-eyes-2014-kevin-kolsch-and-dennis-widmyer/
11. Almost Human (2013, slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/horrorfest-2015-presents-almost-human-2013-joe-begos/
12. The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (2013, giallo)
13. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014, vampire)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/a-girl-walks-home-alone-at-night-2014-ana-lily-amirpour/
14. The Quiet Ones (2014, ghosts)
15. Ghoulies Go To College (1991, monsters)
16. Leprechaun 3 (1995, creature feature)
17. Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997, creature feature)
18. Ju-on: The Grudge (2002, ghosts)
19. Damien: The Omen II (1978, demonic)
20. Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981, demonic)
21. The Fly (1958, creature feature)
22. Dead Silence (2007, killer puppets)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/horrorfest-2015-presents-dead-silence-2007-james-wan/ 23. Deep Star Six (1989, creature feature)
24. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988, demonic)
25. Vampire in Brooklyn (1995, vampires)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/horrorfest-2015-presents-vampire-in-brooklyn-1995-wes-craven/
26. The Sacrament (2013, crazy people)-I finally watched this in 2016, heh: https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/7750/
27. Murders In The Rue Morgue (1971, slasher)
28. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, aliens)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/horrorfest-2015-presents-invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-1978-phillip-kaufman/

Other Media:

29. IT (1990, creature feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/it-1990-tommy-lee-wallace/
30. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986, slasher)
31. Society (1989, creature feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/horrorfest-2015-presents-society-1989-brian-yuzna/
32. Murder Party (2007, slasher)-I also finally watched this in 2016: https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/08/28/horrorfest-2016-presents-murder-party-2007-jeremy-saulnier/
33. Q The Winged Serpent (1982, creature feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/horrorfest-2015-presents-q-the-winged-serpent-1982-larry-cohen/
34. Night of the Demons 2 (1994, demonic)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/08/06/horrorfest-2015-presents-night-of-the-demons-2-1994/
35. God Told Me To (1976, crazy people)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/horrorfest-2015-presents-god-told-me-to-1976-larry-cohen/
36. Campfire Tales (1997, anthology)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/horrorfest-2015-presents-campfire-tales-1997-matt-cooper-martin-kunert-and-david-semel/
37. The Conjuring (2013, demonic)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/horrorfest-2015-presents-the-conjuring-2013-james-wan/
38. The Vampire Lovers (1970, vampires)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/07/07/horrorfest-2015its-hammer-time-presents-the-vampire-lovers-1970-roy-ward-baker/
39. The Woman in Black (2012, ghosts)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/horrorfest-2015its-hammer-time-presents-the-woman-in-black-2012-james-watkins/
40. The Final Terror (1983, slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/horrorfest-2015-presents-the-final-terror-1983-andrew-davis/
41. What We Do In The Shadows (2015, vampires)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/horrorfest-2015-presents-what-we-do-in-the-shadows-2015-taika-waititi-and-jemaine-clement/
42. Phantom of the Paradise (1974, crazy people)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/horrorfest-2015-presents-phantom-of-the-paradise-1974-brian-de-palma/
43. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970, vampires)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/lets-get-criterion-presents-valerie-and-her-week-of-wonders-1970-jaromil-jires/

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: V/H/S/2 (2013, Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sanchez, Timo Tjahjanto, Adam Wingard)


Having enjoyed the first installment I eagerly viewed the second entry in the V/H/S/ series, which built upon the rather solid first film and was a notable improvement. Also like many other horror sequels this one ups the scares and the level of crazy, resulting in a more consistent movie that works better. Despite its share of critics I rather enjoy the found footage style of film making as it takes the viewer front and center to what is happening, thus making it harder to look away from the awful events happening onscreen. While I enjoyed all of the segments one stood out greatly among the rest and one was a tad slow, although once it got started it was rather freaky.

Of course just like all anthologies there is a wrap around story or a narrator who is presenting these events to the viewer in a certain order. In this case you have “Tape 49,” which is the frame narrative and involves Larry and Ayesha being hired to find out what happened to a woman’s son. Even though this tale is not as good as the others (okay its better than the first tale, but not by much) I still liked how it concluded and it provided a halfway decent explanation for why two people would stay in a seemingly abandoned house, digging through videotapes. Even though this is a DVD and Blu Ray era the idea of V/H/S tapes containing footage of awful events, operating as a gateway into the dark corridors that should perhaps not be explored is a rather neat idea, even if its very 1990s at this point and is rather dated.

“Phase I Clinical Trials” is the first official story, and at first I was not impressed. However it does have some rather effective jump scares and its properly creepy and has an unexpected conclusion. One of my favorite things about ghost stories is how the person refuses to leave even when they should, but how does one escape when they are being haunted no matter where they go? The eye implant looked rather freaky and alien, too, and it offered a halfway decent commentary on experimentation and documentation leading to something the person involved did not sign up for, much less expect. “A Ride In The Park” is a nice, terrifying second story involving zombies in the great outdoors. I liked that this story took place during the daytime, as it added to the overall tension level, and it plays out as a tragedy and a nightmare. Oh and the zombie attacks at the picnic cause flashbacks to the classic birthday party footage from Signs.

Yet the best story and the most famous one of the bunch is “Safe Haven,” which ends up being a quickly paced and really messed up tale about a documentary crew that has the misfortune to investigate a cult at the group’s eerie compound. What transpires inside after a slow burning opening gives way to a descent into madness, extreme amounts of gore, and a conclusion that reminds me of several famous horror movies. This tale is largely responsible for the film’s really good rating, and has been discussed ever since this film came out. If stretched to a longer film this entry could have been turned into one of the most disturbing horror movies ever made, yet it works best in a short format. Too bad the camera dies just as things are getting interesting…

Finally the last installment is “Slumber Party Alien Abduction,” which is also a mad dash to run away from evil forces seeking to destroy people for reasons unknown. Even though the aliens have the look and feel of your typical gray bodied monsters its still a fairly unnerving episode, one that also has a brutal ending. Especially for us dog lovers. Why horror movies kill off dogs I’ll never understand, and for some reason that’s more disturbing than the death of onscreen characters. Which might be a not so good commentary on humanity. Anyways V/H/S/2 showcases mostly the best of found footage films, and is an entertaining, mostly scary, and crazy anthology horror film that comes recommended.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Red State (2011, Kevin Smith)


Although half of this film is an action/suspense filled politically charged film, overall it is a horror movie. The film begins with a trio of young men being tricked by a religious fanatical cult in a scene that is terrifying and harrowing to witness. Michael Parks takes over this film as Reverend Abin Cooper, who preaches to a group of people that do not believe in reason or logic. Having to watch a friend of yours die because a bunch of people decided it was God’s will is a messed up moment that happens in the film. From that point on the situation escalates from there, as the cult kills a local cop and draws the ire of the ATF, led by Agent Joseph Keenan (John Goodman). These events result in the ATF and the cult fighting each other in a violent struggle that mirrors the violence that occurred at Ruby Ridge and Waco back in the 90s.

Despite being rather obvious with his political commentary Kevin Smith crafts another well made picture, one that in some ways is different from his other movies. This is the first horror movie he has made, and its a good one, right up with his best films and full of surprises. The ending is a bit of a letdown and not all that funny, yet the rest of the movie has some dark humor and the part where one of the boys that was kidnapped attempts to escape is tense and thrilling. Red State condemns both sides in this film, as the ATF ends up bumbling their way through the situation while the Five Points Trinity Church cult gets many of their members killed instead of surrendering in the first place and avoiding the bloodshed. Michael Parks gives a commanding performance and Goodman delivers something quieter and more insightful, especially near the end with his mediation upon the dark nature of humanity. Oh and the actual ending that Smith decided not to go with would have been far more interesting if even more outlandish than how the movie actually concluded. Huh.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: The Prophecy 3: The Ascent (2000, Patrick Lussier)


While the first film was really good and the second one a disappointment the third movie is somewhere in-between. Its an enjoyable film sure, and I liked it more than the second one, yet it has its limitations. Christopher Walken returned as Gabriel, who is now human and in search of redemption. In fact the film’s title is directed at him and not the main character, Danyael, who is the son of Valerie from the second movie, although its also concerning Danyael’s destiny. For Danyael must battle Zophael and Pyriel, who are bent on destroying humanity. One of the things I liked about this movie is how it brings the overlying arc full circle, only this time Gabriel is on the side of humanity since he was forced to live among them.

This aspect makes the film more interesting, and of course there are angel fights and the fate of mankind hangs in the balance as usual. Maggie is Danyael’s girlfriend and becomes forced by Zophael to go after Danyael. There is multiple jokes about driving once again, which is a staple of the series, and I liked that all three films have the same corner: poor Joseph at this point seems wary of angels, and is ready for his problems to end. I also liked that Gabriel ends up at the same dinner that he stopped at during the first film, and the final battle is outlandish, having been proceeded by freaky nightmares that Danyael has throughout the film.

Oh and this movie has some thoughts on God and religion, although they are very Hollywood in nature and therefore only scratch the surface of religious discussion. I liked how this one ended, and overall I have enjoyed the three films. There is a forth film yet due to Christopher Walken not being involved I don’t really consider it part of the series. I might still watch it but I’ll have low expectations. Sometimes trilogies work best.

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