Sinister feelings from Sinister

Sinister.jpgI know you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about a movie that’s been out for four years. I saw this movie from director Scott Derrickson in theaters back in 2012, but I was not a fan. This was a time in my life when I was adamantly against horror films that didn’t wrap everything up with a nice little bow at the end.  Yet, when Sinister 2 came out I still insisted on going to see it when it was in theaters.

I thoroughly enjoyed the second one.

The premise of the first Sinister is easy enough to understand. Ellison Oswald, played by Ethan Hawke, is a true crime novelist who moves his family to a home where a family was murdered in their backyard. In the attic Ellison discovers a box of film canisters and an old-school projector.

When he loads the film onto the projector and begins to watch he is confronted with gruesome movies of various family’s elaborate murders. Strange things begin to happen in the Oswald household, and Ellison soon discovers a demonic apparition in the films. When he contacts a demonology professor he is told that this apparition is a pagan deity known as Bughuul: the child eater.

When I first saw this, as I said, I was not pleased with the ending. Once I found out they were making a second film, however, I was much more at ease with the ending of the last one. It didn’t matter than things weren’t wrapped up because they expanded on the story even more.

What do you think about movies that set up for sequels that don’t come out for years? Does it annoy you too?

Sinister Wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinister_(film)

Sinister IMDB:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1922777/

Sinister Trailer:

 

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Bewitched by The Witch

The WitchI volleyed back and forth for awhile on whether to try and come up with a clever (or what I think is clever) title for this entry. I didn’t want to detract from the movie at all, and I was worried that a ridiculous title would take away from the seriousness of how much I loved The Witch. But I couldn’t resist and I broke down and I went with a silly title.

But in all seriousness this movie was absolutely fantastic. I knew that critics had been raving about the film and the few people I knew who had seen it absolutely loved it, but I like to form my own opinions about movies. Yes, I realize how ironic it is to have someone writing a movie review blog say that they hate listening to reviewers and critics, but I do. There have been many movies I’ve seen that critics have annihilated and I’ve absolutely adored.

I was on the same page with most reviewers this time though.

The Witch is an incredible combination of actual horror with a psychological thriller. There are so many layers to peel at with this type of film that you will still be thinking about it a week later. Thinking about it right now I am still in complete awe at what directer Robert Eggers and his crew was able to accomplish.

The film opens on a small community of pilgrims in the year 1630. A man is on trial for “prideful conceit” in his small, enclosed Puritan community.  His family is exiled and forced to leave the walled plantation where they have spent their time since they made the journey from England.

William (Ralph Ineson) and Katherine (Kate Dickie) have four children when they are cast out of their community and Katherine is pregnant with a fifth. They build their own farm out at the edge of the woods, and after several months Katherine gives birth to their fifth child, Sam.  One morning when their oldest daughter, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), is playing peek-a-boo with the baby he is stolen by the witch in the woods.

This starts the spiral of fear and paranoia that is eventually the downfall of this family. Not only is there the actual threat of a very real witch that lives in the woods, but there is the mounting tension within the house since Katherine blames Thomasin for the baby’s disappearance and the paranoia growing around Thomasin’s fraternal twin siblings’ accusations that she is the witch.

It is an incredibly tense ride. You can’t go into this movie expecting it to be a jump-scare-filled terror ride. It is a much deeper type of horror than that. It is the type that chills you to your core and leaves you disturbed for weeks.

It was refreshing to see a movie like this. It felt like a return to classic horror and I loved that. This is definitely a movie that, while I want to watch it a dozen more times, will take some time before I can put myself through it again.

It also gives us a sobering glimpse back into a dark and grim time in our nations history. We tend to forget, or maybe just ignore, how truly horrific the witch trials were. We all know the old saying “truth is stranger than fiction”, but in this case truth was more terrifying than fiction.

What do you think about the intertwining of psychological thriller and actual horror? How do you feel about the horrific time in our history that seems to be sensationalized now?

The Witch Wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Witch_(2015_film)

The Witch Rotten Tomatoes: 

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_witch_2016/

The Witch Trailer: 

 

Forget Me Not will not be forgotten

If you like watching former Disney kids doing the complete opposite of evForget Me Noterything we came to know and love them for, then this movie is for you. OK, OK, so there are only two of them and they are from completely different generations of Disney channel, but it was still intriguing to see people I grew up watching in less than G-rated situations now in R-rated ones. It also really has nothing to do with the plot of this movie at all, and I’ve officially crossed the border into ranting, so I digress.

(I’ll leave you wondering what Disney kids went bad in this movie for a little longer.)

Let me just get this out there right off the bat so there is no confusion over what you may be getting yourself into if you sign up to watch this movie: Forget Me Not is a stereotypical teen horror flick when it comes to the old tropes they use.

Girls in bikinis? Check

Underage drinking? Check

Sexual exploits of minors? Check

Vacations to remote locations that lead to bad news bears? Check (kind of)

You would think that this whole movie would just be something that is overplayed and stale. But despite the utilization of all the cliches in the book, the monotony ends there.  The entire concept that Forget Me Not is built around is an extremely fresh and unique idea that really caught me by surprise.

I watched this particular movie on Amazon Prime, and the synopsis left a lot to be desired, so I was more or less going into it blind.

The premise is this:

Sandy, who is played by Carly Schroeder, aka Melina from Lizzie McGuire, is that girl at their high school.  She is smart and beautiful and has a large and tight knit group of friends that most people are never lucky enough to find in high school.  Her little brother Eli, who is played by Cody Linley, aka Jake from Hannah Montanna (that’s right, ladies, Heartbreak-Jake is playing a dorky little brother and does an amazing job of mixing adorable and awkward), is a boy genius who skipped a grade, is graduating a year early with his big sister and is valedictorian of their class.  Cue-bad boy boyfriend of Sandy who is the son of the town sheriff and has a little sister who needs some serious behavioral therapy, throw in a couple more hot girls and a cheating boyfriend and you’ve got the perfect summer chick flick, right?

Wrong.

The conflict really arises when the group decides to go to a local graveyard and play a game that is very reminiscent of the old gym-class game that we all used to play in school, Ghosts in the Graveyard. A mysterious girl shows up and requests to play with them, stating it is her “favorite game.” The game springs into full effect and results with our mystery character winning. When Sandy runs after her and announces that she is the winner, the girl asks, “Do you remember me?” when Sandy does not tell her yes, her reply is “You will” before diving off a cliff.

Suddenly Sandy’s friends begin to die off (in true teen horror-flick fashion), but there’s a catch: Sandy is the only person who remembers her friends ever even existed after they’ve died.

I will end my own synopsis there before I give too much more of the film away, and I will tell you what I thought about it.

Despite the cliches and tropes they used to try and pull people into this movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it for what it was. I was not going into it expecting to see something amazing or to find my new favorite horror movie, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I did find. It wasn’t as scary as I would have hoped for, but the ghostly apparitions of their dead friends that appear right before another one is killed off were creepy enough to stick with me when I was falling asleep alone in my dorm before my roommate got back. Director Tyler Oliver married the cliches well with the unique premise he and the writers developed.

I think that this is a horror movie that even some of you who don’t enjoy horror movies could get on board with.

What do you think about the utilizations of cliches and overused tropes in the horror movies? Do you think it can work? What movies have you seen that do this well?

Forget Me Not Wiki: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forget_Me_Not_(2009_film)

Forget Me Not IMDB: 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1147684/

Forget Me Not Trailer: 

The Diabolical-ly misleading synopsis

I’m going to be completely honest with you and tell you that I decided tdiabolicalo watch this movie because of the fact that the lead actress is Ali Larter, an actress I adore. For those of you who were fans of Heroes back before the failed reboot may know her as Nikki/Jessica/Tracy/a whole other slew of characters or, for those fellow horror buffs out there, as Clear Rivers from the first two Final Destination films. I went into this expecting a poltergeist-fueled horror film with things that go bump in the night and voices coming through the TV.

I did not, however, get what I was expecting at all. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what to even say about this movie. I think my main issue with this movie was that I got something completely different than what I was expecting, so I can’t even judge this with an unbiased view point. As it turned out, this was not a horror film at all, but a science fiction film.

Once I realized that I had actually gotten myself into a sci-fi film, I seriously considered turning off the movie and starting another one, but at that point I had only 20 minutes left in the film and I had committed far too much time to just give up.

The film starts out intense enough with our main character Madison (Larter) waking up to a noise in her house after falling asleep at the dining room table. After checking things out very briefly, she sits back down to continue the work she was doing on her laptop only to be interrupted by a disgustingly gruesome apparition that looks like a combination of a grown-man-sized newborn baby and a burn victim. To me this boded well for this movie.

I was severely mistaken.

We find out that Madison is a single, widowed mother of two who has been trying to figure out what exactly has been terrorizing them for some time now. She has brought in paranormal investigators, priests, clairvoyants and paranormal psychologists, to no avail. It quickly becomes clear that her children are also aware that there is something unnatural going on in their home.

Her son, Jacob (Max Rose), has been in trouble for beating one of his fellow classmates unconscious, and it becomes increasingly clear that Jacob has severe anger issues that he is unable to control.  It is alluded that his father also had problems with rage, and hints at him being abusive to Madison. Jacob has been receiving tutoring–presumably because he was suspended from school for his outburst–and we quickly find out that Madison is romantically involved with his tutor Miguel (Wilmer Calderon).

I will say that when I was still under the impression that this was a horror movie about poltergeists rather than a sci-fi movie about teleportation, I was excited at the prospect of a horror movie actually addressing the theory that poltergeists are not actually ghosts or spirits at all but are a form of negative energy. There are so many possibilities to marry sci-fi and horror with the actual lore of poltergeists. This movie, however, did not quite hit the mark.

If you like sci-fi (which I normally do), it is worth a watch.  The acting was very impressive, and I assume that if you go into it knowing more of what to expect than I did, it is a pretty good movie. For the sake of this blog, however, it was a dud.

What are your opinions on the mixing of sci-fi and horror? Are there any movies you’ve seen that have done it well?