Tagged: m. night shyamalan

Movie Review: the Good and the Bad of Jordan Peele’s ‘US’!

Ok, so I’m not going to go into full deep detail here on Jordan Peele’s latest horror outing ‘US’, as there’s easily enough online analyzing with the buzz and huge hype surrounding it. I’m gonna just give a few quick thoughts on it now that I’ve had a couple days to let it sink into my brain and let you know an unbiased opinion, the good and the bad, as a huge horror hound and a big fan of his first film ‘Get Out’. Most already know the plot of this one but if not here’s a quick refresher:

Married Couple Gabe and Adelaide Wilson take their two children to their long time family beach home expecting to relax and hang with with friends at the beach. But as night falls upon them, their vacation quickly turns to terror and utter chaos when dopplegangers of themselves violently raid their home. It turns into a evening of terror as they play a deadly game of cat & mouse with insane mirror images of themselves.

So Jordan Peele has undeniably crafted a damn good mainstream horror movie once again that feels like a high budget, more violent episode of The Twilight Zone. That’s a great thing, as I’m always down for an intelligent, thought provoking horror flick and this one leaves you with a lot to think about. ‘Us’ fully delivers the frantic action, legit scares as well as some stunning violence and grooves along at near perfect pace never losing a beat. Right from the start Peele gives us a clue as to what influences he’s drawing from here, I liked the 1980’s opening with the ‘C.H.U.D.’ vhs in plain sight as well as ‘The Man With Two Brains’ and ‘Goonies’ next to the old TV which also is broadcasting something that should be paid close attention to. There’s a lot of clues sprinkled about here throughout and it’s a fun thrill ride.   

The acting of course by everyone on board was pitch perfect and the sense of dread and despair Peele drums up shows he fully understands the genre in all the best ways. The evil family that arrives upon the scene are likely to become modern horror icons, scary as ever and their perplexing motives for even being there at all is easily one of the best parts of the entire movie. I’ve always thought the doppleganger concept was a frightening one, meeting an “off” version of yourself in a dark alley is something of nightmares. Peele take this concept, puts it on steroids and leaves you thinking just how you might really react being put in a similar situation.

Now with all that being said, as a big horror fan, I found many of the brilliant tense scenes a bit undermined by attempts at comedy, much of which admittedly landed pretty well but felt out of place. For me though as funny as Peele makes the dialogue at these moments, (I feel) perhaps this trend of following scenes of tension with a joke a bit tired at this point. It takes me out of the movie in a big way, I understand the masses dig that type of thing, but it’s kinda something I feel so many try to replicate due to the success of the Marvel movies. It felt tonally off & I personally can do without, unless I’m watching something like ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’. I also found that within the first 20 minutes or so the major twist was so blatantly obvious I’d actually put it to the back of my mind as being not a likely possibility. However when the end roared forward it was indeed revealed to be exactly what I’d expected. Maybe I’ve seen too many of these horror flicks? So possibly a minor spoiler to some, I’d actually wondered if Jordan Peele had seen the 2015 movie ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ as there’s a story in the X-mas horror anthology that features a black family that well, let’s just say experience the same thing basically. Coincidence? Maybe. 

By the very end it was clear that there’s a social commentary going on again here as in ‘Get Out’, perhaps a good one but the insertion of it this time around I think kinda derailed the horror mystery that came before it. It feels more like a fable by the time the end credits hit, one that introduces new plot info to seemingly prove some kind of lesson. The explanation for the madness that erupted before feels slightly forced, just doesn’t make much sense and ultimately in my opinion changes the dynamic of the whole movie altogether. I’d actually rather be given no real explanation for what occurred than be given some sort of societal lesson at the end of the movie. It all comes pretty much out of left field, reaching a more sci fi inspired explanation that requires some serious suspension of disbelief and a much more surreal dream like approach that feels a bit out of place here ultimately. I guess it’s much more of a symbolic presentation, at least towards the end and perhaps I just wasn’t expecting it to move fully into that mode.

In a way I guess I can compare it to M. Knight Shyamalan’s movies, where sometimes his twist ending undoes some of the brilliantly crafted terror that came before it by trying to prove some deeper “meaningful” point. However, that’s just my opinion as I know many love those movies that tie into real world issues. That all being said, I highly recommend ‘Us’ as it’s still a shit load of fun and miles above the crappy ass normal Hollywood B.S. that you’re likely to see at a big cinema. Surely one of the best horror movies of 2019, Check it out and let me know if you think I’m way off here with some of my criticisms? 

Movie Review: Thankfully ‘GLASS’ is the Opposite of a Marvel Movie!

So there’s a damn big ‘split’ (no pun intended!) in movie goer’s opinions on M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie ‘Glass’. The long awaited sequel to both ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Split’ has caused a ton of debate online, some think it’s the perfect end cap to Shyamalan’s “Eastrail 177” trilogy other’s think it’s a boring waste of two hours. For me I found it to be a compelling end to the saga, in fact I saw the critics bashing this movie so hard that I was truly expecting the worst going in. I mean Shyamalan’s let me down before in big ways (The Happening, The Last Airbender anyone?) so I was fully prepared to begin my next phase of “hatin’ on the guy” once again. Luckily he stuck to his guns and in my opinion delivered a smart, tense & mysterious movie that feels right in line with ‘Unbreakable’ & ‘Split’. He definitely subverted my expectations, not in the same way Rian Johnson did with ‘The Last Jedi’ but in a way which I’ve come to appreciate early on in M. Night’s career. I was hoping that it would avoid trying to be a “Marvel” movie, something it seems all big Hollywood productions are desperately trying to replicate using a somewhat, imo, tired film making style, mixing their usual “witty banter comedy” with gigantic bloated CGI battles, that at this point makes me begin to nod off in theaters.

Instead he creates smaller scale action sequences that feel real, tense and important when they occur. I’ve grown pretty damn bored with the modern superhero movies and their predictable tropes and overuse of green screens & rubbery cartoony CGI action sequences. Glass feels like it could actually happen in the real world and I was pretty scared Night was going to try and tap into that Marvel-esque money making formula that’s all the rage. Thankfully it feels like a natural progression to what came before it, more like a Christopher Nolan style superhero film than ‘Infinity War’ or ‘Aquaman’. That being said I can see how modern audiences conditioned to the ultra fast paced video gamey CGI action stuff would find plenty of reasons to be pissed off at this one. Its a dramatic supernatural thriller with slight elements of the superhero genre sprinkled about, I think ‘Glass’ will surely satisfy fans of the the two previous installments.

That all being said the movie does have plot points I found a bit disappointing. Not because they were bad moves, but because it didn’t go the way I ENVISIONED it to. The movie sets up the audience for things that might not occur at all and this all works as it feels like the real world as opposed to ‘The Last Jedi’ which is based in 100% fantasy in an established universe spanning back to the 1970’s. Shyamalan’s decisions left me disappointed and heart broken, but not in a way that destroyed the film’s appeal to me. It made me want to go back and watch all three in order and the films third act subverts expectations in ways I never saw coming. It feels like Shyamalan wasn’t merely looking to cash in on his new “superhero universe” but rather had a complete story he was willing to start and end. It was bizarre seeing a movie that didn’t feel like it was trying to tease the next installment. It brought back familiar faces from Unbreakable and Split as well and all of them were wonderful in the roles, I’ve got to admit though the characters didn’t do what I’d originally imagined they’d do. Again, I kinda appreciate that.

A few things that bothered me? Wanting more of Bruce Willis and Sam Jackson interacting, but I guess we got a heap of that way back in Unbreakable and there’s some clear problems with how Jame’s Mcavoy’s character was kept imprisoned in the mental ward where the three of them were locked up in. Minor qualms really, my major being one of the key events that occurred at the end left me perplexed and actually quite saddened. Again never expecting they’d go there and go that direction. So all in all ‘Glass’ is one I highly recommend, I give it an ‘A minus’ as it left me thinking about it a couple days later and left me wanting a second viewing now that my expectations aren’t there. Night delivers a beautiful, tense, realistic superhero character piece that fully enhances what came before it. Check it out, but don’t expect your usual superhero flick!

Glass: The Kickstart of M. Night Shyamalan’s Superhero Universe!!

M. Knight Shyamalan has been spending the last few years making a legit comeback after crafting some seriously bad movies. The guy who was at one time being referred to as “the next Hitchcock” seemed to hit a bad slump that many never though he could return from. He recently though gave us ‘The Visit’ which was, in my opinion, a great little horror flick and then ‘Split’ which took the his classic twist ending to new heights as it revealed it was indeed a direct sequel to his 2000 masterpiece ‘Unbreakable’. ‘Split’ opened the floodgates of possibility for an expanded universe within Shyamalan’s cinematic world leading to the upcoming third movie in the ‘Unbreakable’ franchise. Yeah ‘Glass’ is based on Sam Jackson’s villainous comic book obsessed mastermind from ‘Unbreakable’ & will feature characters from that movie and ‘Split’. I’ve been pumped for a trailer.

The film’s plot description reads: “Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of “The Beast” in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.” Check out the all too short tease for the full trailer said to hit this friday.

I’m pretty excited to see what Shyamalan comes up with as his possible ‘superhero universe’ is vastly different thus far than the over the top, CG heavy Marvel and DC films. Night offers a more serious, tense and mysterious take on the genre and that’s a breath of fresh air in my opinion. I’m rooting for him to hit a full on home run here!

 

VHS Verdict 1987: ‘The Caller’ & The Art of the Twist Ending!

I checked out a perplexing VHS tape last night, ‘The Caller’, a “thriller” from 1987 starring Malcolm Mcdowell & Madolyn Smith. Now even though I’d been told this flick had a twist ending and even on the cover it boasts “a surprise ending”, somehow I’d just had no way of predicting what was gonna go down no matter how hard I tried during. That’s a pretty difficult task especially in this day and age. M Night Shyamalan eat your heart out. Warning, this one’s got a ton o’ dialogue and then some, oh boy and then some. At it’s beginning something is most definitely off with our two main characters and immediately my mind began racing to try to figure out just what the hell it could be. Basically it’s just two actors the entire movie and is a simple story about a woman who resides in an cabin out in the woods, who one dark night has a strange creeping man, Mcdowell, appear at her front door, claiming his car broke down and needs to use a phone.

From that point on both of these characters act in truly bizarre ways, they talk to each other about how they’d get away with murdering one another and at times actually get quite physical while doing so. There’s a ton of tense talk here and overacting a ‘plenty to behold from them both. The premise though startlingly simplistic and a bit absurd does a decent enough job of keeping you curious about where the fuck this one’s going to end up. It’s not the average “stalker” movie that the cover makes it out to be either, think more of an extended episode of The Twilight Zone instead. I’ve gotta admit the interesting thing about this one is that about an hour in I was getting a bit frustrated and had some serious doubts that things were going anywhere remotely interesting. There’s a lot of weird motive flip flopping amongst the two leads & at one point it almost seemed as if it might sharply go the erotic thriller route.

The odd banter at times can become quite tiresome but as the movie ended, I appreciated it and actually consider the lengthy chatty-ness of it all to make the finale that much more effective. Being a bit of a sleuth at the movie’s beginning I’d noticed a couple things that reinforced my will to stick it through to the end the first being the legendary horror b-movie bandit Charles Band was an executive producer, Richard Band did the music and also fx wizard John Carl Beuchler who’s know for his work on Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood (which is one of my faves), Nightmare on Elm St. 4: The Dream Master & Re-Animator was behind the fx work. These three things should give you enough of a reason to check this one out, if in fact the names mean anything to you. Definitely a hidden gem, that most definitely worth one solid viewing!! It also may deserve a quick re-watch to see if there perhaps are some clues amidst all the dialogue that may have really foreshadowed the movies bizarre ending. A neat-o 80’s low budget mind bender~

I couldn’t find a trailer for this one but here’s the whole damn movie if you’re feeling frisky!

 

 

Movie Review: Crazy Christmas Twists & Turns in ‘Better Watch Out’!

 Deck the halls people! I checked out the new Christmas thriller / horror flick “Better Watch Out” last night as I was beginning to crave me some holiday themed mayhem! I really had no idea just what to expect, but had heard this one had a few twists and turns under it’s belt and of course I love creepy Christmas movies so why the hell not kick off the holiday season with a possible bang. ‘Better Watch Out’ is indeed an interesting movie, especially because it of it’s clever mind game it plays at it’s nasty core. More thriller than horror, with it’s fair share comedy and seemingly lighthearted holiday seasoned set up.

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WTF?! Did M. Night Shyamalan Just Make the Best Horror Flick of 2015?!

Well, well, well, I must admit I didn’t see this coming! Yeah I’m a bit perplexed myself at just how much I liked M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie “The Visit”!! I am going to go as far to say it’s quite possibly the best horror movie I’ve seen thus far in 2015. Some major contenders were “It Follows”, “The Babadook” and “We Are Still Here” but I’d certainly put The Visit up against any of those. I alway knew Night had it in him somewhere to make a full on horror movie and this time around he certainly went the distance. This is easily the darkest of any film he’s ever done and it proves that he shines on a smaller stage, with a smaller budget. Night should stay far as far away from the summer blockbuster territory as he possibly can. I also think he’s invented a new style of horror flick “Senior Citizen Terror”!!

The Visit is not only a return to form, but it’s also a transformation for the film maker. It show’s in a way that he’s grown up a bit and has become a bit more of a risk taker. He’s willing to scare the shit out of you this time around, pulling no punches like he did previously. I’ve always suspected if he let loose he’d be able to craft something really genuinely scary. You know how most of his movies reach the final act and they get kinda….family friendly? Well this one goes to some dark places and then some. In fact there are some scenes in this movie that you will NEVER be able to erase from your memory. A bold statement for any horror flick but it seems M. Knight was done fucking around this time. The guy has had a quite a string of clunkers under his belt recently and it goes to prove a point, never underestimate a guy who’s down on his luck with nothing really left to lose.

The Visit really shines in it’s simple plot. Two kids go to visit their grandparents which they’ve never met because of a falling out that their mother had with them when she was much younger. So really it’s a bit of a story of trying to forgive and forget the past and hopefully move on. And really, we all can relate to being a little kid staying with grandparents, no matter how sweet they were they always seem a bit odd especially through the eyes of a child. Of course the plot thickens when Granny and Gramps do start acting a bit odd during the daytime really fucking weird when the sun goes down!

This movie has got some great acting as well and the movie’s real stars are definitely the young boy played by Ed Oxenbould and his grandmother played by Deanna Dunagan. The Visit surprisingly also is one of the few modern horror flicks that really puts children in serious fucking danger, which is something you rarely see in this day and age. So kudos to Shyamalan for having the guts to go the distance here. It’s really best if you know as little as possible about this one as it’s packed with surprises and yes….a damn good twist!

Last my only real complaint at all is the found footage route Night decided to go with this. I’ll admit I wasn’t thrilled about the idea going into it all. Seeming at first a little late to the party perhaps, he really does utilize this medium quite well to tell the story. He does it so well with no creepy score that this feels pretty damn realistic when all is said and done. He also blends some great comedy throughout somehow that works leap and bounds better than any movie he’s tried to pull this in before. So final thought, I’d say it’s safe to say M. Night Shyamalan is back. Scarier, bolder and riskier than ever before and I hope this time he’s realized he’s at his best when trying to scare the shit out of us.

Lets Give M. Night Shyamalan One More Chance?!!

Well, well, well, it seems that M. Night Shyamalan has just dropped his trailer for his latest flick ‘The Visit’ and I’ve just got to say I really think he’s going to hit a home run this time! Ok so Night has struck out a LOT over the years as it seems each movie he directs gets progressively worse. But deep down in his heart I think he’s got a couple winners left to offer now that he’s kinda hit rock bottom. His problems often times are his “lessons” which he tries to teach within every movie. They come off a little too hokey most times, a little too feel good family friendly and at times a bit preachy. But many times his movies are pretty damn cool up until the final five to ten minutes.

The Visit was originally titled “Sundowning” a much better name as far as I am concerned, but perhaps he wanted to avoid giving away too much plot with the term. By the way Sundowning is a psychological phenomenon associated with increased confusion and restlessness in patients with some form of dementia. Most commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. For patients with sundowning syndrome, a multitude of behavioral problems begin to occur in the evening or while the sun is setting.

With The Visit it looks like Night is going for a much more straight up horror vibe something I’ve always wished for him to try. Let’s face it the guy knows how to create some truly nerve bending moments, straight up chills and a ton of atmosphere to tingle the senses. He’s done some real shit though too like The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth (I honestly liked all of his other movies-yes even Lady In the Water!). But “The Visit” I think just might catch people off guard as the first trailer looks exactly like what I’ve been hoping for him to try, a straight up horror romp. Let’s hope he doesn’t try and teach us some worldly lesson by the end. I’m also always down for a “twist” that’ll blow my mind, but these days getting a twist by and audience or a noisy internet is pretty much impossible.

Well now that was jumping the gun a bit huh?

So if you can find it in your jaded hearts to give Night one last chance I think we might all be surprised. I mean this one is truly his low budget independent micro film. Sometimes these overblown directors need to go back to the basics, hint hint Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi? Check out this trailer I think The Visit is going to be his comeback!