The Green Inferno

A group of student activists travels to the Amazon to save the rain forest and soon discover that they are not alone, and that no good deed goes unpunished.

Lorenza IzzoAriel LevyAaron Burns

Director: Eli Roth • Year: 2013
IMDB Rating: 5.3/10 • My Rating: 3.5/5

My Review

*Spoilers*

After a particularly upsetting lecture about some of the practices still used in the Amazon (namely female circumcision), college student Justine (Izzo) gets involved with an activist group, led by Alejandro (Levy) and his girlfriend Kara (Ignacia Allamand). Spurred on by what she’s learned in class, Justine realises just talking about things isn’t enough and that it’s the doing that counts.

So she finds herself part of a group traveling to the Amazon to save the destruction of the rain forest from a massive logging project. She’s pretty useful to them given her dad is a United Nations attorney and promises to use this connection to raise awareness of the issues at hand.

Our team is made up of a rag tag bunch of pretty much the worst people on the planet, Alejandro being the crown prince of douchery. His do-gooding does not seem to translate into all areas of his personality and he has the compassion of a brick. But he’s easy on the eye and Justine has clocked it – she’s only human after all.

This changes considerably when the group chain themselves to bulldozers and are almost killed by private militia, who are protecting the logging area. BTW the operation has been funded by a drug dealer named Carlos (Matías López), which might tell you all you need to know about the outfit. When Justine is held at gunpoint, Alejandro orders his crew to film everything they see so they can stream it to the world. Kara (I think) goads the machine-gun wielding guard to shoot Justine “and see what happens” – and our heroine starts to question what the fuck she’s doing there.

On the light aircraft home, head thankfully still intact, Justine is pissed off with the smug self-congratulation of her new associates. Nobody seems in the least bit concerned for her welfare despite the video of her near-death experience going viral. Luckily, she’s on her way back home to a comfortable bed, her BFF Kaycee (Sky Ferreira) and her carefree student lifestyle – social activism soon to be a distant memory.

LOL.

When the plane crashes in the forest, their problems really begin. Half the crew are killed in the accident (lucky bastards), while the survivors are captured by a tribe painted red. They kill Kara with arrows and tranqulise the rest of them, dragging them back to their small but perfectly formed village. The remaining group are thrown into a bamboo cage in the square, while one of the boys, Jonah (Aaron Burns) meets the tribe’s female elder, a lovely warm woman who makes him a cup of tea and lets him flick through old back issues of That’s Life magazine while soaking in the tub. Kidding. She pops out both his eyes, cuts off his tongue and severs his arms and legs, before lopping of his head, all while he’s still alive. Then the tribe eat him.

It’s a bad scene, man.

The gang have obviously witnessed everything and are under no illusion about their fate. Even so, Alejandro has enough energy left in him to joke that at least they chose Jonah first because he had the most flesh and will keep the cannibals busy for longer. One of the girls (forgive me, all the blond white girls merge into one) literally shits herself in front of a group of kids, while they mock her. Things can’t get much worse, can they? May I remind you that this is an Eli Roth picture?

To top it all off Alejandro reveals that he staged their protest to benefit a rival logging company and to prove that deforestation is inevitable. WTF.

When the girls are taken away and given a brutal ‘virginity’ test, it is revealed that Justine is still pristine and pure, so she’s taken away to be prepped for a genital-mutilation party. When she’s returned to the cage, the others lament the fact that she’ll never survive the shock and blood loss of being circumcised. Thanks for the PMA, guys.

The friends enjoy a meaty bite to eat, despite Amy’s veganism but when she finds a chunk of her friends’ skin in the dish, signposted by one of her tattoos, she slashes her own throat and dies horribly. Figuring she’ll be on the menu later that evening, Lars (Daryl Sabara) stuffs a bag of marijuana down her throat, the plan being that while the tribe are off their tits, they can try to escape. Alejandro mocks their ‘Scooby Doo plan’ but it kind of works. King Douche manages to tranq Lars before he can get out of the cage though, while Daniel (Nicolás Martínez) and Justine escape. For a time.

Basically, everyone is killed in one nasty way or another except for the chosen one, Justine, who is painted white and red, all ready for her mutilation ceremony. Eventually the tribe get her back where they want her and she’s just about to be sliced up when the militia rock up, a short distance away. This leads most of the tribe away from the village to fight them. Justine has befriended one of the tribe kids and somehow persuades him to free her in the kerfuffle.

On the way out, Alejandro (still in the cage) begs her to take him with her. When she can’t save Daniel, who’s being feasted on by giant ants, she fucks off leaving Alejandro behind – because honestly, screw you man. This has been a very long review so I’ll park it here. There’s a final girl and there are no prizes for guessing who, she’s brunette and a virgin after all. But Justine takes an interesting stand when questioned later about what went down and I think it’s cool.

My Comments

This film appears to have been critically panned and at first I was a little puzzled. I actually enjoyed it. However, most of the criticism is leveled at the depiction of the indigenous people and it is distasteful AF. I mean, sure they’re a tribe untouched by civilization and they have ways that have not been governed yet by any law but would they really be devoid of any humanity at all? I think the answer is probably no.

The circumcision thing is horrid but I don’t really understand why they’d bother with Justine. She’s not a local, so what would they care about her rite of passage? Unless I’ve missed some nuance (which let’s face it, is likely). There’s also a lot of gore and in classic Roth-style it’s not always necessary but is always fun. Jonah’s scene particularly is presented with relish and it is naaaaaasty, girl.

However, what I do like are two key things. Roth’s take on the White Saviour complex which seems even more relevant today actually – and the way he ties it up at the end. Justine’s final activism isn’t to demonize the tribe further and have them punished horribly, but to accept that she shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I haven’t seen this done in such a way anywhere else that I can remember and I dug it.

I really disliked most of the activists too and there’s no way that’s a coincidence. In all honesty, Jonah and Daniel, along with Justine were probably the best of the bunch but beyond that I was rooting for the tribes people. That eye-popping scene though, man. 👀

What are you watching?

Midsommar

A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown’s fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.

Florence PughJack ReynorWilliam Jackson Harper

I find it quite hard to define Ari Aster‘s films. Last year’s feature debut Hereditary was hands down one of my favourite films of 2018 and gave me nightmares for a solid week. It was horror from a completely unique angle, so when the first trailer for this movie dropped, my heart rate rose in anticipation of the trauma to come.

I’m on the other side of it now, having actually seen it and I have two immediate thoughts: 1) FUCK and 2) When can I see it again? It’s incredible, really and for many reasons. First up, it looks magnificent. All the terror happens in broad daylight – which makes it all the more unsettling. I mean, day time is supposed to be when we can take a breather from whatever horror is in store for us. Bad things only happen when the sun sets, right?

The Swedish countryside is breathtaking (though actually it was filmed on location in Hungary) and the colour pops like no other. At just shy of two and a half hours run time, it’s no joke but the pacing works perfectly. I didn’t want it to end as it built up to its odd and frankly eerie crescendo. Honestly, it isn’t a film that will make you jump out of your skin at every turn but it will haunt you.

Dani (Pugh) and her boyfriend Christian (Reynor) are a couple just going through the motions. Dani seems to have a drama queen reputation, which is exacerbated ten fold when she receives a distressing message from her sister Teri, who lives with bipolar disorder. Christian, encouraged wholeheartedly by his buddies, Josh (Harper), Mark (Will Poulter) and Swedish Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), is on the verge of breaking up with her when a life-changing event occurs.

The couple stay together and when Dani finds out her boyfriend and pals are planning a trip to Pelle’s homeland to attend a once-in-90-years Midsommar festival, she’s invited. Reluctantly. Off the friends go to Sweden to join in the festivities, guests of Pelle’s ancestral commune, the Hårga. Will the vulnerable Dani find peace here? That is the question.

If you’ve read anything about Midsommar or seen the trailer then you can probably surmise that it’s not all flower crowns and sun-basking, although those things do feature prominently. I won’t say anymore because going in with as little information as possible is going to be for the better.

Florence Pugh is wonderful, an incredible talent I just want to watch forever. Dani is a complex character in an uncomfortable position, fully-aware something has changed within her relationship. She’s haunted by recent events and curious/repelled by the rituals unfolding before her.

The constant feeling of dread throughout is stoked by all the mysterious potions being passed around and there are some incredibly beautiful and trippy scenes of hallucinogenic drug taking that take me back to my own experiences. I think Aster captures them perfectly. He also injects darkly comic moments into the most absurd scenarios and it’s much needed.

It’s all just a very creepy fever dream and I love it. The rest is up to you.

Film details:

Midsommar
Year: 2019
Director: Ari Aster
IMDB Rating: 8/10
My Rating: 5/5

What are you watching?

Brightburn

What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?

Elizabeth Banks • David Denman • Jackson A. Dunn

He’s Not Here To Save The World.

*Minor spoilers*

Brightburn is essentially the Superman origin story, had Supes not been the earnest jobsworth that he is – and had been bad to the bone instead. Which is a cool direction to take such a well-known and well-loved story.

Tori (Banks) and Kyle Breyer (Denman) long for a child of their own. One night they get a visit from a mysterious meteorite that crash lands in the middle of their farm. Several years later we meet their son Brandon (Dunn), a slightly odd (soon to be) twelve-year-old doted on by his adoring mother.

Brandon as it happens is on the cusp of his teen years but clearly doesn’t fit in with the other kids. Mildly bullied by his peers, he finds comfort in his classmate Caitlyn (Emmie Hunter), who tells him smart guys get into good schools. Brandon also likes to doodle which might be a detail we’ll come back to later.

On Brandon’s twelfth birthday, something changes dramatically. He starts reacting to something the Breyers have stored in the barn. He’s woken in the night and drawn to the locked hatch that leads to this mysterious secret. It’s not a spoiler to say that it is of course an alien spacecraft of some kind. The very craft that delivered Brandon to earth from wherever it is he came from.

So Brandon is special in every sense of the word and his parents grow frightened that he’s about to discover his unique origin. Unfortunately, this awakening in Brandon – stirred up by an alien transmission from the ship – has a very negative effect on the boy. Shit starts to go down as he finally starts to figure out a few things for himself.

Brandon becomes creepier and creepier, behaving inappropriately around Caitlyn and, after lashing out violently, ends up in session with his aunt, the school councilor Merilee McNichol (Meredith Hagner). Along with her husband Noah (Matt Jones), Merilee forms Brandon’s small family unit. Which is shame when the McNichols become more concerned about the changes in their nephew, with devastating consequences.

When local diner owner Erica (Becky Wahlstrom) goes missing after what looks like a robbery at the restaurant, Sheriff Deever (Gregory Alan Williams) finds some intriguing evidence at the scene. But what does it mean? Well, there aren’t many surprises here in terms of twists and turns, Brandon is a bad guy with a mission to “Take the world” – whatever the cost. But is there still good in him, as his hopeful mother suggests?

Well, I enjoyed this much more than anticipated. If I’m honest, the trailer gives away a lot but there is enough in the film to make up for it. The most notable thing about Brightburn is how relentlessly (and deliberately) gory it is. Like for real, I had to watch several of the scenes through fanned fingers. There’s one scene that turned my stomach enough for me to put down the giant chocolate buttons, which is no mean feat.

Elizabeth Banks is terrific. I really bought her as a mother who will stop at nothing to protect her kid. It’s devastating to go through the gamut of emotion that she does, as the penny drops about what a turd her boy is. Pretty sure he never told her to fuck off when she asked him to mow the lawn though, Timothy James Martin.

Ultimately, however this isn’t the most memorable movie of all time. Dunn doesn’t have a lot of range as an actor yet – and that does affect things. I get that he’s strange but I would have liked to feel some empathy for him. I really do appreciate how little we know about where he’s from and what may happen next. And the climax was great, dark as shit and poignant.

Special shout out to the brilliant Michael Rooker in his pre-credit scenes. As conspiracy theorist The Big T, he sites several sightings of other familiar comic book characters around the world, including a witch that strangles people with ropes… I want to hear more about her.

Film details:

Brightburn
Year: 2019
Director: David Yarovesky
IMDB Rating: 6.4/10
My Rating: 3.5/5

What are you watching?

Another Horror Movie Questionnaire

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Bad morning breath is a deal breaker, no question

  1. If you were to direct a horror movie, what sub-genre would it be part of?
    I love horror-comedy when it’s done properly. Good examples are Evil Dead II (1987), Drag Me to Hell (2009) and The People Under the Stairs (1991), so I would like to think I would contribute to that tricky sub-genre. However, if not comedy, a damn good ghost story.
  2. If you could erase one horror flick from your mind, what would it be?
    I’m going to say Hostel (2005) for being so awful and disappointing. It plays like soft porn and is completely gratuitous, all the characters are horrific and I just didn’t give a shit about any of them.
  3. Do you have a problem with nudity or sex in horror films?
    I don’t have a problem with nudity or sex in any film if it’s not just there to titillate the audience. Too often it feels like it’s only there to appeal to a certain type of audience member, and has nothing to do with the character, the story, etc. At least try and work it into the storyline, yo.

    I like to think we’re moving away from the ‘slutty/busty co-ed shags her boyfriend in her parents bed, then gets slaughtered’ trope and we should go with it. Besides, sexy can be done in a white vest and jeans (Eliza Dushku, Wrong Turn) if you can’t bear to have your characters all buttoned up.

    wrong_turn_2

    “I know we’re in peril but don’t think I don’t notice your hand on my arse…”

  4. Do you have a favourite music score from a horror film?
    Anything by John Carpenter of course. He’s the King of the Movie Score and a master of manipulating the hairs on the back of your neck.

    The Fog (1980) is perfect, as is Halloween (1978) and, though not strictly a horror movie, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). I also love the score in Candyman (1992), by Philip Glass but then I love everything about that movie.I’ll be watching it again this Halloween.

  5. What are the best settings for a horror film?
    Sofa, under a blanket. There’s no better place. Lights off.
  6. Are there any guys or girls that you have an attraction to in any films in the horror genre?
    Apart from Candyman (Tony Todd), you mean? Sure.Ash (Bruce Campbell), Jessie (Dushku again, Wrong Turn), Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle, American Mary – yes I am obsessed).

    Ryan Reynolds in the The Amityville Horror (2005) is super fine. Mind you, so was James Brolin in the original (1979). Matt Bomer is insanely hot in American Horror Story: Hotel, as is Gaga.

    There are so many hot horror characters, it’s kind of a given in this genre, non?

    amityville-2005-13-g

    Drag me to bed

  7. Is there any specific scary film you watch every Halloween?
    Candyman, Halloween, The Descent (2005). This year I’m adding The Blair Witch Project (1999) to my rotation.
  8. If you were to write or direct a horror, what would you change or put in to refresh the genre?
    I don’t exactly know but I would love to take the concept of the Final Girl (which I blogged about yesterday) and play with that. Whatever happened it would be a very feminist horror film!
  9. Which scary film gave you the most nightmares?
    I tend to get more disturbed by realism than horror. Things like The Others (2001) stop me being able to go to the loo alone. Martyrs (2008) was a tough one because the ending shocked me so much.
  10. Would you count horror as one of your favourite movie genres?
    It is my favourite, hands down.
lady-gaga-matt-bomer-ahs-hotel-2015-billboard-650

Too much hot in one room

~

Thanks to Vinnieh for the horror questionnaire. You can read my answers to the first one here.

I hope you’re all having a positively spooky Halloween month. Mwahahahahah! 🎃

Nightbreed (Film) Review

nightbreed-directors-cutJill and I are big fans of Hellraiser, arguably Clive Barker‘s most recognisable work to date, and so I was pretty stoked to be dipping back into his world with this, a film I’d never seen before. (He also wrote Candyman (1992) which I bloody love with all my heart).

I don’t really want to give too much away in the first paragraph but I found myself scratching my head a few times and I don’t mind telling you I haven’t a scooby about what I’ve just seen. That’s not to say there aren’t moments of pure wonderment.

Barker’s imagination is quite something and one dodgy flick from the 1990’s can’t take that away.

Or can it?

*Spoilers* – although if you ain’t seen this in the 26 long years that have passed since its release, I would say you can’t really be that precious.

Nightbreed (1990)

Director: Clive Barker
Stars: Craig ShefferDavid Cronenberg, Anne Bobby

IMDB Synopsis: A troubled young man is drawn to a mythical place called Midian where a variety of monsters are hiding from humanity.

My Review:

Our hero, poor man’s Angel (even though Buffy/Angel came later) dreams of a place called Midian, where monster dreams come true. Not really, but monsters do try to live there together in their version of sweet harmony.

nightbreed-boone-lori

“I loved you in Buffy. Uh, a TV show from the future…”

He’s a bit distant and messed up, so his girl Lori (Bobby) has him seeing a psychotherapist called Dr Decker (Cronenberg). Dr Decker is pretty much the worst psychotherapist of all time as he convinces Angel, real name Boone (Sheffer) that he’s a serial killer. The kicker? It’s actually Decker doing the killing, and brutally at that! Clever, non?

To drive his plan home, he drugs Boone and persuades him to hand himself in. Things got confused for me quite quickly but if I recall correctly, Boone gets hit by a truck, there’s a hospital scene, we meet our first monster, Narcisse (Hugh Ross) and his face gets torn off. (Narcisse btw harvests dead men’s faces to wear over his own apparently grotesque features). Seems legit.

Boone flees the hospital and heads to Midian which is basically a crappy underground village beneath a cool graveyard. Here he bumps into some monsters that aren’t that happy to see him and one of them bites him. He gets away from them only to run into the fuzz and Decker, who pretends Boone has a gun. You don’t have to ask the pigs twice to draw their weapons and poor Angel is cut down fast in a hail of bullets.

anne-bobby-nightbreed-cabal-cut-clive-barker-terror-in-the-aisles-11-chicago

“What do you mean I’m not a patch on Kirsty from Hellraiser?”

So that’s that then. Lori is devvoed but suspicious about the circumstances in which Boone dies, and frankly she has a right to be, especially since Boone’s become the walking dead. She travels to Midian herself to work shit out (though at this point she doesn’t know Boone has resurrected).

She meets the best character at a bar on the way and her new friend agrees to accompany her to Midian the next day. When they get there they split up (always a good idea). Lori goes skipping through the catacombs, while her friend gets brutally murdered – nooooooooooooo! Seems Decker is tracking Lori and he thinks she’ll make pretty good Boone bait (seems he’s figured out that Boone isn’t dead).

Decker wears a ‘Kid from The Orphanage/Trick ‘R’ Treat‘ style sack cloth mask and I dig the aesthetic frankly. He’s also rather stab happy. Lori, meanwhile, finds a very odd looking creature that turns into a ginger kid and meets a bunch of monsters.

nightbreed-1990-still

Zip it, Button Eyes

You get the impression that the brain storming (thought cluster?) sessions for the monsters must have been fun, though as we get to the end, we meet Hand Chin and I’m not sure how much work went into him.

Lori meets Boone again, much to her delight; Decker runs rampage, there’s a lot of monster politics, I got lost, we meet a priest. There is a story in here about a prophecy (Boone saving the day) and then a battle between good (Midian and the monsters) and evil (?) (the priest, the babylon). It’s very confusing and a shambles, sorry. The monsters are cool though.

In the final fight, led by Boone, there are lots of casualties and imaginative deaths. There’s a happy ending of sorts and one of the most manipulative scenes in cinematic history, in which Lori tries to kill herself so Boone has no choice but to ‘turn her’ immortal, so they can live happily together forever.

I’d have refused on principle.

nightbreed1

Tribal is so done

My Thoughts:

Confusing (maybe it’s me), not very linear and boring in places, this has some great creatures and a nice philosophy about peace loving monsters driven out of society by non-humans (fucking non-humans). It’s a tale as old as time and it does try. It’s nowhere near as strong as Hellraiser, but I had a soft spot for Decker, whose motivation I can’t even be arsed to work out. And the porcupine lady.

I’m being kind here but I should add that I had to read Wikipedia to fill in the blanks on all the bits I lost track of, which was most of it. Call it my heart not being in it, but it just made me want to go and visit Pinhead and Julia again.

My Rating: 2/5. Messy. Points given for the gory deaths.

nightbreedgroup

This year’s Christmas card was going to be well edgy

What did Wifey think ? Was she willing to live in sweet harmony with the monsters or would she prefer to take a carving knife to the whole thing? Find out here.

American Mary (Film) Review

American-Mary-UK-Poster
I’ve wanted to see this movie for a few years and finally found a way to view it recently. It’s been getting some great reviews ever since its release and is kind of a big deal in horror circles. Which is great.

I’ll go into my rating and view on it nearer the end of this post, but I want to put a small disclaimer at the beginning, before I myself get started. First of all:

*This post is rife with spoilers, so tread carefully, my dears*

Secondly, I will review this is a similar format to all the other films we’ve included in Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab; however, I strongly feel that this film should be enjoyed, particularly by horror fans who will adore it, so I’m not going to ruin absolutely every last piece of it with detail. Okay?

We shall begin.

The Film:

American Mary (2012)

Where to Watch:

US Netflix

The Premise:

The allure of easy money sends Mary Mason, a medical student, into the world of underground surgeries which ends up leaving more marks on her than her so-called “freakish” clients. (via IMDB)

The Trailer:

Viewable here.

The Uncondensed Version: 

We open with a close up of a scalpel gliding through flesh. The same flesh is then stitched and as the camera pans out, it become apparent that this is the flesh of a chicken (or turkey). Our heroine, Mary is obviously a dedicated student as she studies into the night, in the comfort of her very best negligee.

american_mary_2_20121210_1437760517

“Relax, I’ve got Thanksgiving sewn up.”

The next day, Mary is admonished in class when her phone goes off. Her grumpy professor is quick to pull her up in front of her peers, though she answers his smug questioning like a pro. After class she apologises and he tells her he’s had enough of twats in his classroom and that she shouldn’t fuck it up since she’s one of his most promising students.

Later on, Mary is in the car park speaking to someone on the phone (a debt collector). Grumpy professor (actual name Dr. Grant), overhears as he’s getting into his car, but drives off without comment.

Mary returns home and wouldn’t you know it? She lives alone in a wonderful Bohemian loft (on her own with a bird). There’s the source of her money issues right there, I have to say. If she downgraded to a bedsit or got roommate for a few months, I think she’d be fine.

While searching online for a way to make some cash, Mary chats to her Nana on the phone, a Hungarian lady who is concerned about young people making love all over the shop. Mary assures Nana she’s watching the wrong TV shows and stumbles across a ‘Non-sex’ job that pays cash.

Mary goes to a strip club, where she meets Poor Man’s Mark Ruffalo, Billy who is a chauvinistic strip club owner (big wow), who makes her strip to prove she isn’t fat. (I got annoyed by the fat joke here because it’s unnecessary, but does illustrate what a pig Billy is supposed to be). He then gets Mary to massage him but whilst this happens, shit kicks off.

American-Mary2012_zps92cf0980

No scrubs.

From Mary’s resume, Billy knows that she is a medical student so he asks her to go with him. He says he’ll give her $5K (CAN) if she does what he says. She’s a little bit dubious, which annoys him, but then she agrees to do anything he asks if he gives her the cash that night (oo-er). Thankfully, it’s not a degrading sex act. Mary is required to sew up a bleeding man who seems to have lost an eye and been sliced up a bit.

american_mary_10_20121210_1848490432

“OUT OUT DAMN SPOT!”

Back home, Mary is sickened by what she’s done and climbs into the shower (semi) dressed. Later she falls asleep on the couch with a baseball bat.

These are the actions of a woman not entirely comfortable with her actions the previous night. She sleeps, just about, but then her phone starts to ring.

Mary answers and is shocked when the caller asks for Doctor Mason. She hangs up. The caller rings again. They chat a little more, with the caller revealing her name but Mary hangs up again, assuring Beatrice that she has the wrong number and the wrong idea.

Mary is back in the kitchen suturing turkeys and gulping down wine when the doorbell goes. The disembodied voice on the intercom announces that it has a package for Mary and Mary lets this person up, which let’s face it is sloppy work.

Since the voice is identical to Beatrice’s from earlier on, it’s no surprise when she appears inside Mary’s airy loft (not a euphemism). The surprise, instead, is that Beatrice has a distinctive look and is seeking unorthodox assistance from Mary, for a friend (it’s always a friend). Mary is unconvinced until they talk figures and is persuaded to at least show up by the promise of $2K (CAN).

Beatrice_MG_0409

Boop boop be doop

Mary arrives at Beatrice’s niece’s place of work, a veterinarian’s surgery (convenient) and still isn’t sure what she’s let herself in for. Bea (who is my favourite character and hands down the most adorable creature I’ve ever seen), suggests that Mary speak to her friend, Ruby to find out what she wants herself.

Mary meets Ruby, a real-life Barbie doll fashion designer who gives Mary a speech about dolls and the non-sexualisation of said dolls. It becomes apparent that Ruby would like her nips removed, please and her va-jay-jay sealed up (I can see obvious issues with this plan, but who am I to judge?). Mary takes about 25 seconds to decide that she’s cool with this arrangement and soon gets to work.

The surgery scenes are actually very well done (and I credit the female directors for this). They aren’t for the squeamish but they aren’t gratuitously gruesome. Mary, in fact, is quite tender with her first (second) patient and it’s quite touching. After the deed is done, Mary tells Bea what to do with Ruby, aftercare-wise, and then tells her not to give her details out to anybody else.

As Mary is leaving, Bea asks her what she wants to be called on Ruby’s website, as she will have to be mentioned in some way to the body modification community. Mary says she doesn’t mind. After the surgery, Mary is sick again but recovers much quicker.

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Something bad is going to happen to you, Mary! DO NOT DRINK THE DRINKS

Round about here I’m going to hold back a little and just tell you that Bea turns up again (Yey! I was worried she’d be a one scene wonder) and gives Mary a present from Ruby. Mary goes about her bizniz at the hospital (being a proper student, yo) and gets in with Dr. Walsh, an important looking surgeon at the hospital.

He invites her to an exclusive drinks party at an undisclosed address later that evening, stating that everyone is very impressed with her and that Dr. Grant (Grumpy professor) had recommended that she be invited. She arrives wearing the amazing dress gifted to her by Ruby.

Basically, all the red flags are flapping as Mary enters the party but she doesn’t notice because she’s a good, conscientious girl. Something bad does happen to her and it’s nasty (and hard to watch). Though it is a necessary scene in terms of setting the tone of the rest of the movie, so I understand why it had to be included.

Once home, Mary has visibly changed and she wastes no time. Revenge is on her mind and this is where Billy (and his lovely henchman, Lance) come back in. I should say here that I forgot to mention a conversation Mary has with Dr. Grant at the party, before her horrifying ordeal begins. The gist of it is this, he tells Mary that as long as they make no mistakes as surgeons, everything else they do is forgiven (RED FLAG, MARY! RED FLAG!). Mary doesn’t buy this (because she is inherently good) but takes it on board.

But back to vigilante justice. Billy and Lance deliver a special care package to her loft in the form of one Grumpy professor. The message is clear: don’t rape people. Ever.

americanmary

“This is going to hurt you a helluva a lot more than it’ll hurt me, fucker!”

Mary is starting to show more of any interest in the body modification community, having stumbled across a website called abstrakt.me. This leads to some creativity thinking and thankfully she now has a guinea pig to practice on. Eek!

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I love me an alternative film poster!

Mary gets good at the old body mod and starts to drum up a nice little business for herself. Lance seems to be on the payroll now too, which I love (he’s so cute!). Meanwhile, a detective appears and he’s investigating the disappearance of Dr. Grant. He’s been given a list of students Dr. Grant may have harmed (by Dr. Walsh) and he wants to talk to them. Mary plays it cool and the Detective seems well-meaning but leaves.

Billy is falling in love with Mary and keeps dreaming about her. Mary tells him about the Detective and Dr. Walsh’s involvement. He asks her if she wants him to take care of Walsh. She says no.

Beatrice takes Mary for coffee and they stop off at Ruby’s studio for some information that Bea wants her to have. While there, Mary sees a picture of Ruby with a man. Bea tells her it’s Ruby’s husband. Bea then reveals that abstrakt.me are interested in Mary’s work and want to meet with her. She agrees to meet them at Billy’s club.

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Mary thought the job interview was going well

The twins sent by abstrakt.me (or are they abstrakt.me?) make quite the entrance and head to Billy’s office. They lay out their plans to Mary and tell her that she has quite the following. They also tell her that she’s referred to underground as ‘Bloody Mary’. They advise her that she needs to think about all this herself and consider setting up her own website as people will be looking for her. She asks them if they’re free Friday for their body mod op.

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Twisted sisters (and the Directors of this very flick, the Soska twins.)

Mary performs the procedures requested by the twins and then goes off to do something while they’re still unconscious. I won’t reveal but during this outing, Mary ends up committing her first murder. Shocked and appalled by what she’s done, she calls Billy (who’s busy beating someone up) who sends Lance (lovely Lance). Lance buys Mary dinner and they talk about how bad she feels.

Lance breaks it down, telling the story of a woman he knows who was horribly abused by an intruder and found four days later. He says he wishes he’d known Mary back then. He then tells her to never devalue what she does and just make sure the people she chooses deserve it. This speech cheers her up no end, so well done Lance, you cutie.

Mary moves because she’s got loads of cash now and starts to take pictures in her professional looking studio for her website. As she’s pottering around, having just completed a dick splitting op, the Detective appears again and tells her that Dr. Walsh is now missing. He then tells Mary that they found a video of the girls Dr. Grant has abused. She asks if she is on the tape. He says she wasn’t but that he still believes she was one of his victims.

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“Come on a trip?” “Maybe.”

Turns out Billy has involved himself even though she asked him not to and has the tape. He lurves Mary, you see. Sadly she walks in on him being sucked off by a stripper. Mary gets a little jealous so we know she likes him too. He tells her that he needs a change of scenery and is thinking of driving down to Cali. He asks her to go with him and she says she’ll think about it, as she might need a change too.

She heads home… and there’s an ending. You can figure that out for yourself.

The Critique:

Loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I should probably admit that this week was my choice and that this movie has been on my Netflix list for some time. My reason for picking it was purely selfish.

I have a massive crush on Katherine Isabelle obviously, because the fact she’s the lead in this was what peaked my interest in the first place. The plot itself was a close second as I love the idea of self-expression and body positivity that flows throughout. Even if you do feel you have to seek it out through modification (which is A-OK with me). Katherine, you may remember, was also the star of Ginger Snaps, the first film Jill and I collaborated on.

Sure, it’s not a perfect film, there’s probably no such thing (maybe Kill Bill (2003)?), but that’s perfectly fine by me. It’s about enjoyment and this was superb. As I mentioned above, I like the themes involved, I’m also a sucker for vigilante justice.

I think the fact that this movie is presented by women, namely the Soska sisters, has something to do with the way it was handled. It’s graphic to a point but doesn’t ram its message down your throat. When the unthinkable happens to Mary, it’s done in a subtle way. It’s not done in the same way as, say, Last House on the Left (2009). And believe me, as a viewer, this makes a difference, if a scene like this absolutely has to feature for the sake of the story.

It’s inventive, empowering in places (in terms of taking control/fighting back) and it’s fun. It’s definitely one of the best modern horror films of recent times, in my eyes anyway. Katherine is a dream and I also have big love for some of the smaller characters; for Beatrice and for Lance, in particular.

I do feel very strongly about self-acceptance, but I think it’s down to the individual how they love themselves. If arriving at a place of self love means changing things, however big or small, then why not? I know my tattoos are a more socially accepted form of modification and I love them more than anything.

All in all, this was a great film and I hope the horror genre continues to give us more of the same calibre. I’m done with the Insidious films and of never seeing anything new or intriguing.

Incidentally, my sister-in-law is doing a masters in film and is currently working on her second film. She’s focusing (at the moment) on the horror/ghost story genre and, although I’ve always been interested in films of this nature, I’ve been reading more about women in film/horror and it’s exciting. See Screen Queens for a really good blog on the subject. And if you want to, please check out my lovely sis’ production blog too.

The Rating:

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5 surgical knives out of 5

That might seem like a generous rating for an imperfect movie but I’m sticking by it. It was just interesting enough to keep me engrossed until the end (the Soskas have talked about an alternative conclusion, which they almost went with) and I liked the characters, though more padding would have made it even better. Basically, I loved it.

Pop over to Jillian’s to see what she thought.

All images via Google.

Bite Me: The Girl With All The Gifts Review

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Photograph is not mine

*** Chance of Spoilers! ***

This isn’t the kind of story I would ordinarily be attracted to but something about the introduction appealed and I am so glad that I picked it up.

Pun intended, I devoured this book hungrily.

I don’t want to give too much away, and although it’s not really a twist you won’t see coming, I think the less you know about the plot, the more impact it will have on you.

Described on the back cover as “Kazuo Ishiguro meets The Walking Dead” I knew I was in for a treat. I love a bit of dystopian future and although Science Fiction is a hard one for me to really embrace, the idea of it being clinical and dark, much like Never Let Me Go was what inspired me to part with my pennies.

Ordinarily, for the record, statements that compare new works to existing works (or trumpet something to be ‘the new something’) bug me big time. It seems lazy and although I understand the purpose of doing it, the rebel in me wants to decide for herself. In this case I would say this proclamation is pretty spot on.

I liked the fact that the central character is a young girl. Melanie is Test Subject #1, whose gift of hyper-intellect sets her apart from her young counterparts, or class mates as they really are. This may or may not turn out to be a good thing. She is a great heroine and a well crafted character even at the tender age of ten. Mark my words, she will break your heart.

Again, it’s hard for me to talk about the characters without giving the game away but you’ll meet Ed Parks, hard wired tough guy who is really only interested in leaving no man behind. There’s ruthless Caroline Caldwell, big hearted but secretive Helen Justineau and green behind the ears, Kieran Gallagher.

Photograph is not mine

Photograph is not mine

Central to the plot is a touching reflection on the maternal instinct but also redemption. Can you make up for something really really bad by saving a life? It’s an upsetting theme but I feel for all those involved, in fact I feel something for all the characters, who all have their own demons to deal with. Even mega bitch Caldwell, whose twisted mission to save an all but extinct race is awe-inspiring in itself.

As I was curled up reading this book, which at times is quite gory and also made me a bit jumpy, I kept thinking how much Mr Bee would like it. Then I Wiki’d its author, M.R. Carey who has written a lot of the comics that Mr Bee is into and it made perfect sense.

The language is so vivid that you feel as though you are part of proceedings and it feels like TGWATG would make a compelling movie as well as graphic novel. In some ways I hope it stays under the radar because I love it so much. But in a genre that has been very popular in recent years, particularly on the small screen and in Hollywood, it’s nice to get a different perspective, and although the book is written from multiple points of view, I feel like Carey nails feminine and childlike psyches quite well.

Read it. It’s a bit tense and a lot scary in places. If you’re not into The Walking Dead or 28 Days Later‘s themes, maybe you shouldn’t.

But this would be a good place to start.

Book details: