Category Archives: Horror

“Raw” Movie Review

In all of 2017 cinema, I don’t think there has been a single film that lives up to its title quite like this one. Dear God, I had to take a few showers after watching this. The debut feature of writer-director Julie Docournau, this sexually-charged horror drama premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival under the International Critics’ Week section where it won the top prize. It was released worldwide on March 10th the following year and just barely earned back its budget of $3.1 million. It also held a screening at TIFF, and the screening for it was apparently was so real and volatile that two viewers fainted and were escorted out via emergency medical services. That should give you some idea as to the effect this movie had upon audiences, including this critic. The story follows a young woman named Justine who begins attending an unnamed veterinary school somewhere in France. Upon meeting up with her older sister Alexia, she becomes embroiled in harsh hazing rituals from upperclassmen. Despite being a lifelong vegetarian, she is forced to eat raw meat on campus and her craving for flesh only gets stronger as she goes on a personal journey. How do you even evaluate a film that repulsed you in almost every possible way yet still loved everything about it? This movie had gotten a lot of hype leading to its release, if only because of how explicit its content was. I’m not typically one for foreign films, but I was still intrigued. There’s not much I can build up to saying this, so I feel it’s appropriate to put out there: Raw is one of the best directorial debuts of the 21st century so far. One could easily write this off as the nothing more than the next shocking entry in art-house French horror cinema. You’d be forgiven for thinking just about that. But it’s also a surprisingly involving coming-of-age drama about Justine’s transitional period in life. There’s a sensual undercurrent flowing with every act of brutality carried out onscreen. She’s just budding her true self out into existence in a very horrific yet captivating manner. It’s not until she finally blossoms like a flower that we discover what she’s truly capable of. And it’s not exactly comfortable viewing. Garance Marillier totally knocks it out of the park in her lead role as Justine. She evokes all of the insecurities and naivety typical in a teenage girl, but she also brings something charming and different about the character. She and Docournau were made for each other, evident in the fact that they made a short together before this. Her sister Alexia is played by Swiss actress Ella Rumpf, who brings something neat to the supporting table. She’s definitely the more unstable and party-hungry of the siblings, and her wildly unpredictable decisions throughout the movie take the viewer further down the rabbit hole of juvenile hedonism. And finally, Justine’s roommate Adrien is played well in a fantastic debut from Rabah Naït Oufella. Of the characters, he was perhaps the most interesting one because of his contradictory nature. And his scenes provided most of the spare laughs in the film. And Raw also makes sure to grab viewers’ attention through its technical aspects. Belgian cameraman Ruben Impens contrasts the lens’ technique quite often. Often times, a scene unfolds from a beautiful, distant wide shot which helps develop the atmosphere. We can’t see the faces of the people, but we know what they’re doing. The one exception was a during a party scene early on in the film that was captured on a single shaky shot. We follow Justine the whole way through the event, and we really share her feeling of discomfort. Other times, a shot will linger on one particular subject for a certain amount of time which heightens the uneasy and foreboding tone of the film. The musical score is composed by British man Jim Williams in his 6th feature film, and boy is it memorable. The soundtrack at times feels like an homage to old-school horror movies, with plucked strings and organs switching off from each other. In fact, that’s probably not too far off from he had intended. But still, the main melody is composed of a harsh synthesizer that works to further establish the warm feeling of tension and anxiety. It also succeeds in keeping the audience humming after the credits roll. Before you start humming, though, you’ll have to wash out all of the disgusting imagery you’ve just witnessed. Despite its 99 minute-long runtime, virtually everything horrendous or provocative that you could imagine is placed somewhere in the movie. Want a bit of context? Arguably the tamest part of the entire movie is when Adrien, Justine’s roommate, is watching gay porn on his laptop. But it’s not exploitation. There is ultimately a purpose for the violence and gore, it pushes the plot and character development forward. All of it leads to a shocking final twist where everything is suddenly given more meaning and all we’ve seen is explained. To be honest, it’s actually not as bloody as I had anticipated, but that’s not saying much. While it’s certainly not for everyone, especially the faint of heart, Raw is a lurid parable of flesh and sexuality. It has finally been added to Netflix after months of failing to hunt it down. It’s genuinely one of the best films of 2017 and reveals Julie Docournau as a brand new talent to keep it an eye on.

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“The Disaster Artist” Movie Review

Have I ever told you guys that I’ve thought about becoming a film director someday? Well, this movie has given me even more of an incentive to pursue that dream. That’s one of the few things we can thank The Room for. This biographical comedy-drama received a standing ovation at the premiere of its rough cut at South By Southwest in March. After another screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, it released worldwide on December 1st, 2017, where it has already earned back its $10 million budget. Based on the tell-all nonfiction book by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, Seth Rogen’s production company set up film rights with James Franco in place to star. Despite the real-life subject wanting Johnny Depp for the lead role, Franco and A24 replicated the marketing strategy by having an actual billboard on Highland Avenue where they would call him and he’d ask them to see his movie. Beginning in 1998, the true-story stars the director’s younger brother Dave as an aspiring actor named Greg Sestero who befriends a fellow student Tommy Wiseau. After the two move to Hollywood and struggle to find any work, they resolve to make their own movie, The Room. And as the production unravels, their friendship and passion for acting is tested by a number of blunders which lead to the creation of one of the worst movies ever made. For those wondering, I have seen The Room. I caught it on cable once a few years ago and kept thinking the entire time, “What the hell is this?” It earns its reputation as the epitome of “so bad, it’s good” because, despite its terribleness, I just couldn’t look away. I will say that the only way to truly enjoy it is with a crowded theater where attendees know the movie backward and forwards and throw spoons at the screen. But the idea of a movie about the making of that movie? That’s like a cinephile’s wet dream come true. Do you need to have seen The Room in order to appreciate The Disaster Artist? No, you don’t. But you should definitely see James Franco’s new film because it’s highly entertaining. You can tell his deep passion and respect for the subject at hand. In fact, some scenes from The Room, such as the rooftop or the flower shop sequences, are recreated exactly as they were, right down to the framing of the shots. But also because Tommy Wiseau is one of the most mysterious and eccentric figures in the history of the film industry. No one, not even Sestero, knows anything concrete about him except that he apparently has a bottomless pit of money. And screenwriters Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter, previously scribes for The Spectacular Now and The Fault in Our Stars, find the empathy and the human being inside of him. At least, as much as they could. The younger Franco Dave finally finds himself a worthy role as Sestero, a good-hearted yet quiet actor. Having him play Greg was a stroke of genius because he manages to have great chemistry with his older brother and is the only one in Hollywood willing to give him a chance. But I’m sorry, no matter how many celebrities make a cameo in this film (I counted at least 45) none of them come close to James Franco as Tommy. A revelation in every part of his performance, he nails everything about Tommy Wiseau. From his strange accent to his oddball laugh, it was all spot-on. He has no business making a movie of any sort, but we still root for him in the end. If we’re going to talk about Gary Oldman receiving praise for his makeup-heavy work in Darkest Hour, then James Franco also deserves Oscar consideration for Best Actor. As I said, he has a clear passion for the subject at hand, and that also shows on the technical side of things. Cinematographer Brandon Trost chooses to use a shaky, vérité-style movement around the set in between takes of The Room. In fact, several shots are on one take which gives off this feeling that we’re watching a documentary about Tommy Wiseau rather than a narrative feature. With the creative decision to have several celebrities give interviews at the beginning in a cold open, everything felt real and lived-in. And like many other films of its kind, it ends with a montage of footage and photos featuring the real-life versions of both Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau. While this strategy feels tacked-on most of the time, I felt like it worked here pretty well. The way that Stacey Schroeder edits the real footage together with what’s unfolding before our eyes is pretty nice. And for me, The Disaster Artist could not have come at a better time to come out. For all the scandals of abuse, harassment, corruption, cover-up, divorces, and indifference in current stories regarding the film industry, here’s a movie about a couple of goofballs who are genuinely trying to chase their dream. And seeing the tumultuous production of it progress was invigorating as they constantly butt heads on opportunities. As many of you probably know, The Room was meant to be a very gritty, Tennesse Williams style drama. And so when Tommy slowly realizes how people are actually reacting to the finished movie, it was heartbreaking to see his brainchild collapse. I felt like that was what this film captured best, even though, again, no one really knows anything about Wiseau. The Disaster Artist is a hilarious and unexpectedly heartfelt tribute to all the dreamers in the world. Some characters feel like they get left behind, and it occasionally panders to fans of The Room. Otherwise, I’m very happy with this product. In a way, Tommy Wiseau succeeded because his “masterpiece” is still shown and talked about all over the world. And he got a movie made about it.

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“The Girl With All the Gifts” Movie Review

I didn’t know that originality still existed in zombie flicks. The world still has a few surprises in store for me. Released in theaters earlier in February this year, this post-apocalyptic horror drama made a lengthy run on the festival circuit the previous year, from Toronto all the way to the BIFF. Despite favorable reviews from critics, it only managed to earn back half of it’s $5 million budget. The craziest thing about this film’s production isn’t the fact that the book it was based on was written in tandem with the screenplay. What was more insane is the fact that the filmmaker Colm McCarthy got aerial shots of London by going to Pripyat, a part of Chernobyl. Adapted from the novel by M.R. Carey, who also wrote the screenplay, the story is set in an England following the breakdown of society due to a fungal infection. Anyone who is turned becomes a sort-of zombie called “hungries.” But one special girl named Melanie oscillates between humanity and damnation. With the help of a teacher, a scientist, and two soldiers, she embarks on a journey that may lead to mankind’s survival. I know what you might be thinking from hearing that premise: The Last of Us. Many people who have seen the film have compared it to the highly acclaimed video game by Naughty Dog, and indeed it does share some similarities from both a thematic and storytelling standpoint. You learn just the right amount of backstory to get the apocalyptic picture and see the characters in their current state. And as an enormous fan of the game, I was quite enticed to watch this horror movie. By the time the credits rolled, I was a mini-mess. This is a gorgeous and fantastically entertaining movie, horror or not. Much like The Last of Us, the focus is not on zombie violence. Make no mistake, the hungries are ferocious and allow for some really tense moments. But they’re almost secondary to the human drama and how the characters react to the situation. With most of the population wiped out and the children in danger of infection, humanity seems doomed. But along comes this girl with a special ability and high I.Q. Indeed, it does sound like familiar ground for the genre, and there might be some viewers who might not connect with a young girl in charge of saving the world. Even some of the characters question it, with one character saying, “Why should it be us who die for you?” There are long stretches of the movie with quiet, asking for patience from its audience. A total newcomer to the industry, Sennia Nanua is an absolute star as Melanie. Highly intelligent yet incredibly innocent, the film is often terrifying because we’re scared for what could happen for her. Gemma Arterton has struggled with films like Quantum of Solace and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunter. But here, she is captivating and compassionate as a teacher assigned with normalizing children on the military compound. When the main group is let loose into the British wilderness, she is the one that tries to keep everyone under a level head, unafraid to put her own life at risk. Meanwhile, Glenn Close impresses as Dr. Caroline Caldwell, a pragmatic scientist bent on finding a cure for the disease. She wants to help Melanie, but she has a hard time trusting anyone else, especially the hot-headed soldiers. And technically, The Girl With All the Gifts is an astounding motion picture. As I said, some scenes were shot near Chernobyl, which contributes to enhancing the oppressive and apocalyptic atmosphere of the picture. Simon Dennis chooses to film a lot of scenes with handheld cameras, but still keeps attention to what’s happening to the characters. A sequence where our heroes make their way through a field of still hungries in the streets of London was particularly terrifying. The couldn’t make a single sound, and each time the camera cut away to an undead being even just twitching, my heart would stop. Another moment of note is when the character’s are taking a pit stop in the forest, and they start hearing signs of other life (Or lack thereof) around them. Such was the power of the editors. The soundtrack was composed by first-timer Cristobal Tapia de Veer, and honestly, it’s not that memorable or noteworthy of a score. It’s pretty similar to other films of its kind in terms of style and structure. Moments of intensity and violence are backed by rigid guitar and pulsating percussion, while quieter moments are bolstered by emotional strings. But the key difference here is that the score also incorporates ambient sounds of nature, chaotic vocals, and the outside world. In a way, this further immerses the audience into a decaying world with the broken remains at our feet. Aside from that, I won’t be going on YouTube to replay certain tracks. There’s really nothing left that I can add. Almost everything about this movie worked for me, and tells a story with a big scope on an intimate scale. And that’s what makes it such a mini-triumph. The Girl With All the Gifts is a breath of fresh air in a dying genre. It’s currently available on Amazon Primer, and I implore you to give it a chance. It’s one of the year’s most overlooked films.

 

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“Stranger Things” Season 2 T.V. Show Review

*Fair warning: This review contains some spoilers from the end of the first season.  Please catch up so I don’t have to be the asshole who ruins it for you.

Since the creators of this show are treating this second season as more of a sequel rather than a straight-up continuation of the series, I will approach it in a similar fashion. With as much objectivity as a reviewer that I can muster, of course. The second season of this science-fiction coming-of-age horror series premiered all 9 of its episodes on October 27th, 2017, generating high ratings and a feverish anticipation. Following the surprisingly massive success of the first season from last year, the creators, the Duffer Brothers, stated that writing a followup was the hardest thing of their dual career. Set about a year after the first season wrapped up, we pick back up with the characters in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. Will Byers has escaped the Upside Down, but still is affected deeply by the experience, as are his friends and family. New faces come into town, and the gang tries to return to normalcy in time for Halloween of 1984. But there might be a brand new threat waiting for them in both the Upside Down and the government laboratory. Following up an impressive first season is difficult enough. But when that first season is for a show that has so gradually gained a rabid fanbase like Stranger Things, that’s even more difficult because you have to live up to the expectations of your fans. But the Duffer Brothers said this season acts more like a blockbuster sequel than a continuation of a television series. And that’s completely apparent because almost everything this time around is bigger and, in some ways, better than the first season. What I appreciated most about this season is that it dared to try different things than last time. The most obvious of these is the highly controversial 7th episode, which sees one of the characters take a detour away from the main action. Many fans hated it, saying it was unnecessary and pure filler. Personally, I thought it was delivering vital information and character development needed for that person, and in a way shows that there is a bigger picture outside of Hawkins. Could it have been done better? For sure. But the fact that they were willing to do the episode suggests new territory for them to travel through in the coming seasons. They tried something new and original, and for that alone, they deserve praise. By this point in time, all of the regular cast members have grown comfortable in their roles. Noah Schnapp is especially impressive as Will, always looking over his shoulder to make sure that the Demagorgon is never behind him. His personal arc is one of overcoming trauma and the repercussions of growing up afterward. David Harbour is great once again as Chief Hopper, this time more world-weary and cautious of his actions. He arguably has the best dynamic with most of the characters, particularly when he cares for Joyce Byers and a preteen Eleven, to whom he’s a close father figure. Some of the new characters were a mixed bag. 80’s stars Paul Reiser and Sean Astin were great additions, but Max and Billy felt a little out of place. Sadie Sink played Max well enough, but the way she was written felt like a typical young girl with unusual angst. Dacre Montgomery’s portrayal of Billy bordered on the edge of parody with a seemingly stereotypical high school bully. But the show-stealers this season have undoubtedly been Joe Keery and Gaten Matarazzo as Steve and Dustin. Their bromance was awesome and by far the most watchable part of the season. Meanwhile, this show continues to be a technical marvel. The steady camerawork by Tim Ives and Tod Campbell emulates films made by John Carpenter from the 1980’s. Not one single aspect of any scene is left unfocused or obscured by a shaky cam. Instead, it sustains a heavy and consistent atmosphere that this series has built so well. Also, the visual effects have been upgraded quite a bit. With the expansion of the world and the benefit of a larger budget, the Duffer Brothers got to be more creative. Some constraints are still noticeable, (This is a T.V. show after all) but the design for the new villain is utterly fascinating. Like if the ghost of H.P. Lovecraft had inhabited the mind and body of Stephen King and wrote a screenplay centered on a new monster in his universe. As with last time, the musical score for all 9 episodes is composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, also going by the band Survive. They continue to eschew the cliches of big boisterous orchestras in favor of synthesized melodies and beats. When it comes to the action scenes, they’re heightened and intense. But in the slower character-driven moments, it’s more emotional and subtle. At all times though, it feels like the unofficial soundtrack for a horror movie. Guys, it’s the same thing as last time. Stranger Things 2 is a worthy sophomore outing with an intriguing story and likable characters. Although I ultimately like the first season a little more, this followup is definitely worth a marathon or two on Netflix. I’m eagerly awaiting where this series goes in the future.

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“Wish Upon” Movie Review

This film is brought to us by John R. Leonetti, the director of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, The Butterfly Effect 2, and most recently Annabelle. That’s all of the information you need to know right there. This teen horror flick was released on July 14th, 2017, earning back $20.7 million against a $12 million budget. According to some sources, the script by Barbara Marshall was voted to the 2015 Black List. That means it was selected as one of the best-unproduced scripts in all of Hollywood. It also means that there is the foundation for a good movie somewhere in the plot. A young unpopular girl named Clare in high school is haunted years after her mother committed suicide. One day, she receives a Chinese wishing box from her father’s dumpster diving affairs. After using it on a girl bullying her who gets necrotizing fasciitis, she has 6 wishes left in the box. But each one must come with a new victim. So how does this movie fare against other schlock of its kind? Well, let me go ahead and get the positives right out of the way: Wish Upon is a marginally more enjoyable horror movie than this year’s The Bye Bye Man. But that’s like saying watching a Shakespearean actor fail hilariously onstage is more tolerable than a standup comic giving a painfully unfunny routine. Aside from that… yeah, this movie’s really terrible. Just its own concept feels an idea that’s been used countless times before. But in this particular case, it feels rehashed by emerging film students with the budget of an entire grocery aisle worth of Ramen Noodles. I really thought we were past the time where we got truly atrocious teen horror movies. That films like It Follows and The VVitch had taught genre enthusiasts to get back on track. That the era of 2000’s splatter garbage was officially over. Make no mistake; while this one doesn’t star Paris Hilton, it’s still just as bad. How about that acting? Hoo boy. I’m sure that Joey King is a nice young woman in real life, but she is so lifeless as the main protagonist. In fact, she actually comes off as unlikable because even though bodies consistently pile up, she still wishes for more. Not far behind her is Josephine Langford as the popular girl who constantly teases Clare. Everything that comes out of her mouth sounds like it was written for ABC Family back in 2000. (Okay, if I’m being generous it was 2005) Ki Hong Lee and Ryan Philippe are by far the best performers here as her crush and father, respectively. But sadly, neither of them can save this mess. Similar to The Bye Bye Man, this movie is incompetent from a technical standpoint alone. The editing for every death scene is so horrendous and chopped up. It felt like Peck Prior was forced to cut many corners in order to stick to a PG-13 rating. Other times, it elongates a scene to draw out the tension, Final Destination style. But it ended up being hilarious in every possible way. There is an overhead shot of the city our characters inhabit. It was so fuzzy, like 480p-level bad, that it looked like a video game level from a pre-alpha Resident Evil 6. And just like some the worst horror films out there today, there virtually is no real score here. Almost all of the tracks are stock songs. They’re all composed of simple violins and other strings meant to make the audience jolt when a jump scare happens. Nearly everything else that plays in the background is some sort of 2010’s pop song meant to advance the teenage girl drama that we all SURELY relate to. Who doesn’t think of bubblegum pop at a friend’s party? All that being said… Wish Upon entertained me. But not at all in the way the filmmakers had intended. Whether it was from one of the awfully stupid deaths or from a horrendous line of dialogue, I had a hard time resisting the urge to laugh my ass off. I firmly believe that this is one of the funniest movies to come out all year. If you get some friends to all come over to your house at night with the drinks and snacks, you’re going to have an awesome time. That’s what I should have done. But taken as a whole, there are so many absurdities and leaps in logic for a movie that takes itself way too seriously that it can be seen as anything but a roast session. When you have Barb from Stranger Things and she can’t save your movie, that’s when you know you’re in trouble. Wish Upon is a pittance of ironic enjoyment mired in utter shit. While it was unintentionally fun for me, I cannot in good conscience encourage you to watch this as a film critic. One of the funniest movies of the year and simultaneously one of the worst.

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“The Thing” Movie Review

First of all, yes; I’m fully aware of how late this review is as October has ended. Secondly, we made it! I finally get to talk about this movie. This sci-fi horror classic was released on June 25h, 1982 by Universal Studios, only barely making back its $15 million budget. The film later became a cult hit on VHS and DVD and, like most of director John Carpenter’s work became revered only with time. A remake of The Thing From Another World by Christian Nyby, which itself was an adaptation of the story Who Goes There? by John Campbell Jr., the film was put through several different drafts, including one supposedly written by Tobe Hooper. And not only is this Carpenter’s 8th movie overall, but his first to be distributed by a major studio. Set in a frigid research facility in Antarctica, the story follows a group of scientists whose expedition is interrupted by a surprise visit by a Norwegian team. Shortly afterward, they discover that a monster, possibly from outer space, has invaded their outpost and can imitate a person down to their biological structure. With a blizzard rolling in and contact with the outside world cut off, the men must decipher which one of them is the creature before it kills them all. I’ve been asked for about a year or so what my favorite movie of certain genres are. Sometimes, they ask for action, other times for comedy, and even occasionally romance. But not horror. I guess they’re afraid to know what truly scares me at night. They might even be afraid to tell me what their favorites are. I’m here to say that I have absolutely no problem or hesitation when I tell you that John Carpenter’s The Thing is my favorite horror movie of ALL TIME. Which is odd, considering that most people didn’t really know what to think of this movie upon release. Much like his original Halloween, many critics were dismissive of it at first, calling it too gross and violent. The director of the original movie flat-out distanced himself from the remake entirely. This isn’t uncommon for Carpenter, as most of his movies came into recognition years after their release. Now, this is celebrated as a classic. It is honestly a product of a time when movies, especially horror movies, were made perfectly and studios should never remake them. There is a bit of leniency with the 2011 prequel, but the day that the film itself is rebooted for a shared universe franchise is the day I give up on cinema. Although not often regarded for its acting department, regular Kurt Russell carries the entire movie with his frozen beard alone. Despite regularly collaborating with Carpenter in films like Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China, I dare say that this the best performance of his career. In opposition, he tells a comrade, “If it takes us over, then it has no enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it’s won.” Everyone else, especially Donald Moffat and Keith David, does a great job in their limited roles. Like this year’s Dunkirk, we’re not given much backstory for their characters, but the bizarre and unimaginable terror they face causes us to root for them the whole. And the film contains, hands down, the greatest dog performance in any motion picture. Apparently, the canine Jed had wolf blood in it, which allowed it to ravage uncontrollably in the first half of the movie. And yeah, since this is a John Carpenter movie, you know this film is going to look gorgeous. Making full use of its 2.39:1 anamorphic widescreen, every bit of action is captured by cinematographer Dean Cundey. It’s all captured using Steadicam, just the way Carpenter likes it. And of course, it also uses minimal lighting, which is perfect for the bleak and almost monochrome setting. Nothing is obscured by shaky cam sequences or hyperactively edited moments of action or even by being overlit or too dark. Each scene is perfectly rendered for the screen. But unlike almost all his other movies, Carpenter himself did not compose the musical score for The Thing. Rather, it was done by Ennio Morricone, and man did he deliver. It sounds just like if the director would do the soundtrack himself. Although the film itself does share similar characteristics with Westerns, the score is much different than anything Morricone has composed before or since. Most of the tracks are these droning low-note rhythms that perfectly capture the grim mood of the film. Mostly playing in the background, it racks up the nerve and tension to crazy heights. And during some of the more action-filled sequences, the synthesizers truly come out. And last but not least, I have to touch on the groundbreaking effects. Most horror movies from this period were incredibly cheap to produce and have aged horribly in the modern era. The Thing has some of the best practical and makeup special effects ever put to a feature film. Several of the cast and crew members have actually gone on record saying that they became physically sick because it looked so real. Brought to disturbing life by master Stan Winston, it still looks better than most CGI affair released today. It also enhanced the ever-present feeling of terror and dread because this monster could be anyone. There are two particular scenes that always get me every time I watch the film. Unlike Halloween, this film is practically driven by the gore and violence, but only as a way of telling the story. Dripping in aesthetic and haunted by master craftsmanship behind the camera, John Carpenter’s The Thing is an ageless cage-rattling exercise in paranoia and sheer terror. Even 35 years after its initial release,v it still holds up amazingly well today and keeps me coming back each Halloween season. P.S. it’s also my favorite movie remake. I’m very curious to know what your favorite horror film of all time is. Please share and do keep the love for this movie flowing.

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“Shaun of the Dead” Movie Review

Just as with Bone Tomahawk, I went looking for horror movies that weren’t exactly horror movies. This is by far the best result. Released in late September of 2004, this *extremely* British horror comedy earned back nearly 5 times its $6.1 million budget. The 2nd feature film by Edgar Wright, and the first one to actually be released theatrically, the film marked the inauguration of his Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. It was apparently conceived when he and star/co-writer Simon Pegg worked together on the show Spaced. Pegg stars as the titular character Shaun, a salesman dealing with a laundry list of personal problems. As he’s trying to get a focus with his girlfriend, stepfather, and mother, a zombie apocalypse breaks out. He and his best friend Ed, played by Nick Frost, haven’t the foggiest idea of how to survive, but they decide to push through London to find their loved ones. Honestly, the zombie genre now is as dead as the monsters the stars run away from. I mean, I still really like The Walking Dead and there is another film from 2017 called The Girl With All the Gifts that I do recommend watching. But for the most part, it’s damn-near impossible to add anything new to the genre that George A. Romero created. But Edgar Wright and CO. aren’t concerned in the slightest with reinventing the zombie movie. Their goal is to mock it and simultaneously celebrate it, and by God did they accomplish it. Like most of Wright’s films, Shaun of the Dead injects references to other films of the genre, most notably Dawn of the Dead. Funny enough, the Zach Snyder remake of Dawn was released around the same time as this. Much like his followup Hot Fuzz did with action movies, this movie doesn’t simply piggyback off of the established tropes of zombie films. In fact, Wright, Frost, and Pegg continuously poke fun at them while simultaneously subverting them. There’s actually a scene near the very beginning of the film where Frost’s character lays out the entire 99-minute plot to come. But much like Wes Craven’s Scream, you don’t think much of it and the rest of the movie is allowed to continue. Simon Pegg is perfect in the role of Shaun. Like some of his other characters, at times, he can seem like a total jerk. But he always delivers his lines with excellent timing. Right by his side is the hilarious Nick Frost as his best friend, who is equally oblivious to the world-ending occurring all around him. Their chemistry is spot on, with one particular scene of them arguing which records to throw at advancing zombies being positively gut-bursting. Kate Ashfield and Wonder Woman’s Lucy Davis are equally funny in their supporting roles as love interests, while Peter Serafinowicz is a perfect snobby idiot driving our heroes around. Bill Nighy plays his usual self: a tall, awkward Englishman with an odd speech impediment. But he is so perfect in it that he is great as the main character’s detached stepfather. Technically speaking, this is an Edgar Wright film through and through. Chris Dickens’ frenetic editing job captures the fast-paced nature of the action and humor. It being a shade over an hour-and-a-half, it sometimes feels a little too fast for its own good. But Wright’s constant and kinetic direction gives it an energy and personality missing in most comedies. At one point in the movie, a character is getting brutally murdered and is put in perfect sync with Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and think of how the director did a similar tactic in Baby Driver with the action scenes. That being said, despite having a smile on my face throughout most of the film, there were some very inconsistent emotional moments. Near the end of the film at the bar, there was a sudden tonal shift that felt kind of compromising. The movie has a large heart covered in undead guts, but not quite as gut-wrenching as it wants to be. Aside from that, the film is still awesome, totally rewatchable, and packed with great quotes you’ll be remembering for days. Shaun of the Dead is a rambunctious romp of fast-paced humor and a love letter to its own genre. A definite modern classic of both comedy and horror, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost have done George A. Romero proud.

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