September Blind Spot Review: JFK (1991)

“Telling the truth can be a scary thing sometimes.”
– Jim Garrison

SYNOPSIS: New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison discovers there’s more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story. – via IMDB

A movie about the JFK assassination? Man, this must have been tailor made for me! Ask anyone I know (Natasha knows about as well as my husband) how I feel about the Kennedy assassination. It is ridiculously fascinating and I love reading about it or watching things on it – it never gets old for me. So yeah, this is something I just never got to, and this was the year to correct that.

I think JFK is actually a great movie for someone to watch who doesn’t really know much about the Kennedy assassination, or the ludicrous explanations that were put forth about it, and that embarrassing investigation into it. Really, it covers a lot of relevant ground, and also happens to have another story over and above it, bringing to Zodiac to mind, because of watching Jim Garrison’s obsession with the case. A lot of research went into this and that is evident, but I would not say to go into this movie and take everything it presents as gospel, for reals. Look at it as entertainment, don’t take it as a hardcore documentary and the holy grail for answers to the JFK assassination. Enjoy it for the conspiracy it discusses.

The movie is shot well and I enjoyed the pacing – it is long, but takes the time to lay down the evidence and the story and then get going with it, which I liked, but I can see how it could annoy others. One also cannot deny that the movie looks and feels dated. The pacing was just fine here, and the performances were pretty damn good all around. I was so engrossed by the telling of this from Stone, how the case was presented and researched and pursued. It was quite tense and definitely entertaining. There are obviously a lot of issues with the movie in the sense that there are a lot of fictitious characters brought in and spewing “facts” and Stone sets out the good guys and the bad guys in a classic black and white way without actually finessing anything there. The movie is also presented as “fact”, which at times is a little difficult to swallow, and you can see a lot of confirmation bias going on for Garrison at times. That being said, this movie had a lot of things to balance, from fact to fiction and everything in between.

Overall, JFK is an entertaining watch sure to keep you hooked, especially if you enjoy conspiracies (whether you take them seriously or just like to hear what they are) and especially if you are interested about what happened that day in November of 1963, provided you don’t think this movie is going to give you all the answers, evidence and proof you are looking for. But as a movie taking a look at some of the conspiracies surrounding the assassination, balancing fact, fiction, everything? So worth it, truly.

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Review: Get Out (2017)

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
– Shrink

SYNOPSIS: It’s time for a young African American to meet with his white girlfriend’s parents for a weekend in their secluded estate in the woods, but before long, the friendly and polite ambience will give way to a nightmare. – via IMDB

So there was a lot of hype when this came out – some people thought the raving killed it, some people flat out didn’t like it, either way, I was interested in checking it out. I believe my beloved Chop was not a super fan, but I know that Tom really liked it on the other hand.

Well, let’s put it right out there – I actually quite enjoyed Get Out. I am not going to write too much here or discuss too many themes as there are a ton of other writers/reviewers that looked into the smaller things and explore all of that in more depth. I am looking purely in terms of entertainment, and I thought that this was quite fun. The movie keeps you rather interested from the off, and is carried by really good performances and reveals the answers as you need them.

The air of mystery to Get Out is quite good, and the tension builds, because wtf is actually even going on half the time? Who are these people? What is wrong with the people that work for the Armitage family? What the heck is up with that icky Redneck-esque brother and his embarrassingly weak porn-stache? What is up with the terror that breaks out of the employees from time to time?

The movie is carried by pretty solid performances. Betty Gabriel gives us one of the biggest chills in the film, and Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Bradley Whitford and Allison Williams provide some memorable performances to pick over. Naturally one cannot forget Lil Rey Howery’s Williams, because damn, he definitely brought the humour to the table. I swear,  that scene in that cop shop? I laughed man, I laughed.

I feel that Jordan Peele debuted in style here. I was engaged, the pacing was good because the movie came in and did its thing and finished up before it wore out its welcome and it came across as quite smart. Get Out is clever as to where it uses humour, and where it runs the mystery and tension home. I thought it was well worth a watch.

Review: Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)

“You want a killer hillbilly? I’ll show you a killer hillbilly.”
– Dale

SYNOPSIS: Affable hillbillies Tucker and Dale are on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they are mistaken for murderers by a group of preppy college students. – via IMDB

I remember when this came out, I was dead set against watching it. One part was being contrary about watching a recommendation from someone I was a) peeved with and b) I considered to have sketchy taste. I did not feel like a stoner movie (his forte). Ultimately I was roped into this by my now-husband, and I was pleased I was. What I thought this movie was and what it turned out to be? Two totally different things. Horror comedy. Why didn’t someone just open with that? You know I would have been all over that!

Tucker and Dale vs Evil is conscious of what it is, and owns it. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are perfectly cast as hapless hillbillies Tucker and Dale. Like, really. The movie gets right into the plot, no dilly dallying, and I am good with that. The run-time is also perfect, so before anything (read: humour) gets the chance to become stretched out and stale, the movie is over, leaving you with a bundle of laughs and pretty damn good comedy throughout. There are so many memorable lines that will stay with you, and silly little scenes.

The movie is smarter than you initially think, but still not necessarily a sharp comedy, if that makes sense? It is a bundle of fun, and genuinely gets you laughing at times. Unfortunately, it is not perfect. The final act is a bit messy, and the humour not as fast of quick or as frequent as before, and comes across as trying too hard a little. Not to say it isn’t funny anymore, it is just not as hilarious as earlier.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil was an unexpected gem for me back in the day, and a movie I still reap quite a bit of enjoyment from. If you are into horror comedy, this certainly leans more on the comedy side, though it has plenty of gore to keep the bloodlust of a horror viewer at bay. I would definitely recommend giving this a spin, especially if you are in for a good laugh, misunderstood hillbillies, and some icky deaths.

I would like to say that the trailer is a spoiler, so if you have not seen this, skip the trailer and just go straight on to the movie. Trust me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1t8OZn_uhE

Review: It Comes at Night (2017)

“You can’t trust anyone but family.”
– Paul

SYNOPSIS: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son. Then a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge. – via IMDB

I have been looking forward to this one for a while based on the trailers and the posters and, of course, Joel Edgerton. I had high hopes or it, it looked super creepy, and I definitely liked it quite a bit, though there were issues. My husband was livid about having wasted time watching this, and was major peeved about many aspects of it, which I will get into.

Joel Edgerton was well worth a watch here again, as always, though there was a particular scene (out in the woods) that was just jarring and didn’t really flow so well and felt awkward, which is unfortunate, and is the only time you wonder what the hell that was all about. I enjoyed the fact that there were so few characters to deal with in this movie, it made it feel so very claustrophobic and scary. It was almost suffocating, and the way that it was shot, tight and dark, with the soft, complementary score over it made it even more so.

The plot is simple and never really gets too into what happened, why everything is the way it is, exactly what everyone is afraid of (aside from it being a sickness) and how the illness affects people. Now, I didn’t mind this so much, the ambiguity lets the imagination run rampant, and the atmosphere of the movie is so tense as is that you can just go crazy thinking about the possibilities, and how something like this could plausibly happen. It Comes at Night focuses more on the people and their fear and isolation as opposed to the how and why, and while I was okay with it (though it was frustrating at time – we are so used to be given everything on a spoon), my husband was pissed. He was waiting for the what comes at night, and got no answers, just more questions.

So while the ambiguity is refreshing, it is also frustrating. The movie is put together extremely well, and looks and sounds excellent. The execution of this is really good, but I think that this is going to divide audiences. You cannot deny that the movie is well crafted and does keep you hooked, but it is also unsatisfying in the sense that nothing is resolved. It felt like something was missing. The movie gives you a section, a slice of time to look at, to chew on, but that is all you get. So I suppose it will depend on how you feel about that.

It Comes at Night may be flawed with some issues and lack of actual story aside from this one section of time it is focusing on, but it is atmospheric as hell and the score truly runs this point home. The actors are all pretty good, and the movie looks and sounds suitably creepy, and the ambiguity works both for and against this movie, so it really depends on your mood when going to watch it, that’s for sure. That being said, I quite enjoyed it, but it was lacking something.

Review: Red Eye (2005)

“Sometimes bad things happen to good people.”
– Jackson Rippner

SYNOPSIS: A woman is kidnapped by a stranger on a routine flight. Threatened by the potential murder of her father, she is pulled into a plot to assist her captor in offing a politician. – via IMDB

I watched this in cinema when it came out, and never went back to it, and there were only certain things that stuck with me after, such as Murphy being a fantastic villain, and Rachel McAdams sure knowing how to wield a hockey stick, and how this all happened on a plane. I saw it the other day and thought I would give it a shot again, I usually really like Craven’s work.

Again, Cillian Murphy is a great villain. He is so charming and all initially and you are like nice, smooth guy, and just like that *snaps fingers* he turns into this menacing, super scary dude. The transition is seamless and amazing. Rachel McAdams, too, is your generic heroine for a horror, but sadly as much as she fights back, she never comes across as having spine (until that hockey stick, man). That is not to say she wasn’t good, she was actually solid, but not so memorable as to stay with you long after (hem hem Sidney Prescott).

Do not expect something deep from the story. Heck, some questions never get answered and some motives are never explored (who sent him, why was the whole things going down that he was sent in for anyway, these are just a few questions). The main reasons seem like a way to just throw these two performers together to get a scary movie out of a woman being terrorised on a plane, but it also requires that you suspend ridiculous amounts of belief, and there is not even much of a payoff for doing so.

It’s a pretty fun, light, fluffy movie though. Decent horror night material, but there are better ones at the end of the day. Such a far cry from Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but worth a watch to be sure.

Review: Prom Night (2008)

“I did this for us.”
– Richard Fenton

SYNOPSIS: Donna’s senior prom is supposed to be the best night of her life, though a sadistic killer from her past has different plans for her and her friends. – via IMDB

Goodness, gracious me. What a bloody mess of a film! Like, wow. I mean, I wasn’t expecting greatness, I was expecting a mindless horror to put on, chill throughout, but then there was this. It was… Shitfest terrible. For reals! There was absolutely nothing going on here!

Watching the title credits roll, I saw Idris Elba’s name pop up on screen, which piqued my interest. That is about as much oomph as the movie brought to the table. His performance was miles above any of the others, though Sheriff Stilinski Ashby was alright, too, and so was Ransone. Well, they were as good as they could be, considering. Brittany Snow was awful. The whole lot was awful, I am not even going to get into specifics here because… well, ugh.

The film lacked tension. Completely. You don’t give a crap about these characters or their “plight”, you cannot even root for the virginal final girl because, well, what a nuisance. You know that’s really bad. Elba swoops in and does what he can, but the script is truly beneath him. Not only are there no characters to root for, there is no fun to be had – not at this stupid prom, not the interactions between characters, and certainly not with the whole “slasher” aspect – no blood, no fear, nothing. It is just immensely disappointing all round.

While we are at it, the score sucked, and the dialogue was so damn cringey, and the plot progression was messy and the story flimsy. A flimsy story does not make for an awful slasher, but when there is nothing else to tempt you, it is a lost cause overall. There really is nothing to redeem this movie at all. It is predictable and lazy, and it is particularly offensive because it plods along and never really tries, so I can’t even give it points there.

People, seriously, you could totally just skip Prom Night and you wouldn’t be missing anything at all. Not a thing. The movie has no spine, no hopes, no dreams, and it will eat up your valuable time. It is wasted, and it is lost, and it is truly not a rewarding experience. Skip it, skip it I say!

August Blind Spot Review: The Orphanage (2007)

“Seeing is not believing. It’s the other way around. Believe, and you will see.”
– Aurora

SYNOPSIS: A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend. – via IMDB

Finally got to checking this out, too, and again, another one I am pleased to have checked off my list. For years and years it has been recommended to me and I have always been like Captain Eventually about it, but this year was the year for me! I honestly didn’t know too much going in to watching this, not about the story, nothing (except maybe that the kid from above was in it), and I am grateful for that. This is the kind of movie where the less you know, the better.

The movie gets into the swing of things gradually, not too rushed or anything, and you get the backstory for what is going on. When Simón goes missing, the effect on the Laura and Carlos is heavy. Their hope dwindles as time moves on, and to see the way they handle it is really sad. I think the story is woven so well, because there is a psychological and emotional aspect to this and it is handled deftly throughout. You really get caught up in the story and their suffering, as well as the mystery.

The performances from Belén Rueda and Fernando Cayo are truly good, as they are the ones that sell the story to you throughout. The Orphanage is a creepy film – it does not go big for jump scares, but a subtle chill that creeps in, which is awesome. Jump scares are overrated, and I always prefer a movie that works more with the atmosphere and the psychology. This one definitely goes for more of a look at the parents, specifically the mom, and how she is dealing with it. I wish they had explored a little more how it was for her to be back at the orphanage she grew up in. 

So we have covered the performances and the pacing, which leaves us with how the movie looks and sounds, and I think both work wonderfully to weave that dark, mysterious, magical feel of it. It all works together to create a fantastic atmosphere. I  didn’t expect it to have as much of an emotional core as it did, but I really think it takes The Orphanage from being a generic mystery/horror to having a little dramatic spine which elevates the whole experience.

The Orphanage is such a good movie and it has so much going for it. I was mesmerised from the off and enchanted throughout. It is a magical, mystical, dark, creepy film, and well worth checking out!