Behind Again

I’m still reviewing Halloween movies here firmly in December and that’s because I’ve been busy and lazy, a wonderful combination. So I’m going to have to squish some of my To Do list into one post, which I kind of hate but what can you do?

Here’s what I’ve been watching since the end of October:

Halloween

I waited for what feels like forever for this 40th anniversary sequel and… I can’t say I was disappointed. A lot of it doesn’t work, some of it spectacularly (looking at you fake Doctor Loomis/terrible podcasters) but all in all David Gordon Green‘s offering is a lot of fun and that’s what I wanted.

Jamie Lee is dope as the deeply affected, original Final Girl™ Laurie Strode. A lifetime of paranoia has made her into a reclusive survivalist and she is barely holding onto her family as a result. But what happens when all that preparation finally comes to fruition? Well, you’ll find out when Michael Myers busts out of the institution that has held him for the last four decades – and the whole thing is as gory and tense as you’d imagine. Plus, there’s something truly disconcerting about the humanisation of The Shape just before shit kicks off.

My Rating

4.5/5. Probably for nostalgia more than anything.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

In my opinion this movie suffers for not featuring enough Jack Black but IT’s Jeremy Ray Taylor does a fine job as a mini version of the man himself. If I’m honest, I don’t remember too much about the plot (I think because I saw The House with a Clock in its Walls right before it and they’ve sort of blended into one) but I did enjoy its childlike Halloween wonder.

The effects are very good – plenty of inventive monsters and sadistic gummy bears – the kids are fantastic and Slappy is a dollop of mischievous fun. I think I’ll always be here for the Goosebumps movies honestly, they’re charming. I’ll definitely be hitting this up with a re-watch as soon as possible.

My Rating

3.5/5. Witches be crazy.

The Hate U Give

Based on the YA novel by Angie Thomas which I have half read, THUG is a pretty solid adaptation, if a little heavy-handed in its delivery. Starring the ridiculously talented Amandla Stenberg as our main protagonist Starr and the ridiculously cool Regina Hall as Starr’s ferocious mother Lisa, this movie examines subject matter that is all too relevant. I enjoyed the ride and also cried like a baby throughout.

While I could never understand what Starr and her family and community have to deal with, I was pumping the air with triumph as Starr stood up for herself and her lost friends in the most dramatic, tense scenes imaginable. Not only does this movie look at the horror of racism and police brutality, it also hones in on the insidiousness of subconscious prejudice, particularly within Starr’s own friendship group. Russell Hornsby is fantastic too as Starr’s wise old ex-gang member father.

My Rating

4/5. Powerful stuff.

Slaughterhouse Rulez

Meh. This, sadly, was a steaming pile of nothingness and given the cast, I’m surprised. It’s just not that memorable, funny or endearing – and takes an age to get going. When it does there are a couple of okay moments but there’s not enough to make it worth the effort. Sorry, Nick Frost, I still love you.

My Rating

2.5/5. A real stinker.

Widows

My takeaway from this is that Viola Davis should be cast in every film from now on. Literally every single one. As freshly widowed Veronica, she is mesmerising – the perfect blend of vulnerability and strength – I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She is matched perfectly though by Elizabeth Debicki as Alice, who steals scenes left and right, even from the Queen herself.

I enjoyed this film very much, it follows the lives of a handful of women left devastated by the death of their husbands, a band of bank robbers. But as with most crime capers, there are twists at every turn and danger lurking in every shadow, not least the terrifying Manning Brothers, Jatemme and Jamal (played, respectively, by two of my favourite actors, Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry).

My Rating

4/5. Girl power at its finest.

***

What have you been watching?

The Wolfpack (Film) Review

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This film, man. It’s different to anything we’ve reviewed before as part of our collaboration and that’s a good thing I think. I have no idea where to start on this documentary but I’ll give it a damn good go anyway, because that’s just the kind of girl I am.

I think that this will be the last in our Blog Free or Die Hard series for a while, in favour of Christmas movies (yey!). Jill and I haven’t discussed this at length yet, though we’re both totes up for it, so watch this tinsel encrusted space! (Basically, I cannot bloody wait).

Also, for the first time in forever I’m going to put the tree up before mid-December, so that gives you an idea of how festive I’m starting to feel.

But to the movie. As always *spoilers* ahead!

I might add here that my enjoyment of this film came in part from not knowing much about it. I got a brief synopsis but then deliberately didn’t dig any deeper because I didn’t want to spoil it for myself. I’m not afraid to admit that I wasn’t even sure it was a documentary.

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Awkward when six of you rock up in the same outfit

The Wolfpack (2015)

Director: Crystal Moselle
Stars: The Angulo Brothers (Bhagavan, Govinda, Jagadisa, Mukunda, Narayana, Krisna), Visnu (Sister), Chloe Pecorino

IMDB Synopsis: Locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo brothers learn about the outside world through the films that they watch.

My Review:

The Angulo Brothers are six brothers, ranging from (at the time of filming) 11 to 18. They are Bhagavan, Govinda, Jagadisa, Mukunda, Narayana, Krisna. Confined to the four-bedroom, sixteenth floor apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan they share with their sister Visnu, and their mother and father, the boys are home schooled and rarely leave the building.

Mother Susanne educates the boys the best she can from the comfort of their own home, while they gain the rest of their life experience from the movies. Such favourites as Reservoir Dogs (1992) and The Dark Knight (2008) become their outlets, which they re-enact together and sometimes film on a shaky camcorder.

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Bat-ears and chill?

Oscar, the boys’ father guards the only front door key and strictly monitors (and more or less prohibits) unauthorised trips outside. He maintains that the streets outside are like a ‘prison’ and worries about the danger of drugs. This means that the boys have hardly set foot outside their door in all their life-times and never interact with anybody outside their family.

Things changed though, the day Mukunda (then 15) left the apartment without his father’s knowledge or permission and, in his own words, “one thing lead to another.” (Going out in a homemade Michael Myers mask can do that for you, yo). This documentary focuses on this event and how it changed things not only for Mukunda but for all the brothers.

The film is a patch work of home footage, interviews with the boys and clips of them re-enacting their favourite films. Tarantino is a regular feature, as are Christian Bale and Heath Ledger‘s Joker. The boys have the performances down, and play out each scene with painstaking detail.

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Clownin’ around

We learn more about Oscar and Susanne’s origin story, of how they met when they were young and idealistic, and how they came to be here. Susanne is loving and protective of her boys, though clearly regretful when it comes to how it all turned out.

Oscar, well I don’t understand a single word of what he says, even with subtitles. I don’t know what has driven his decision to keep his family virtual prisoners under his rule but I’m sure he believes it’s for their own protection.

He beats his wife (something the brother’s reveal) and there’s heavy implication that she’s even more controlled than her children, taking the brunt of his irrational behaviour. This isn’t really touched upon too much but there’s a lurking menace there in the background.

The boys, following their brother’s original escape, start to head out as a group and slowly but surely begin to interact with the world around them. Dad can’t stop them as they grow older and even Mum begins to reach outside their circle, by contacting her own mother who she hasn’t seen since she had her children.

I’m going to go with my opinion that the less you know about it, the more you’ll be blown away by this story and stop here. This post will be a little less waffley than usual as a result but there you go. I’ll obvs still be asking the hard-hitting questions because that’s my thing. So…

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On beach days we wear black

Questions:

How will/do the boys adapt to the outside world? Will they maintain traditional relationships, meet girls, make friends, etc?

What the fucking hell is Oscar on about in every single one of his interviews? Why did Susanne put up with all this in the first place?

And – how is it that each and every one of the Angulo brothers seems kind and lovely, and more importantly well-balanced, when they’ve lead anything but a normal life?

My Thoughts:

God. I watched this with my heart in my throat. It’s very emotional. It’s also crazy that this is a true story and that this family really exists.

The Angulo brothers are beautiful, with long, long hair but what stands out most about them is the purity of their souls (*vom* at my corny wording, but it’s true). I guess it’s their innocence we see primarily, they’re kind and gentle, and despite the fact there’s some very real anger and resentment between father and some of his sons, they never resort to bitterness.

Of course, we don’t know how things are when the cameras aren’t rolling but on the face of these interviews, they just seem lovely. I would like to hang with them, please.

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Our other car’s invisible

There are elements of this life I would like to know much more about, particularly the question of “Why?” (really how can this happen?). But also, I’d like to know more about their sister, Visnu who is described as “special” by one of the boys.

I just want more really, and could watch and listen to them for hours and hours. Their props and costumes, mostly constructed with paper, are incredible. Almost as impressive as the real thing!

Alas, I had to make do with this brief glimpse into a life less ordinary. I fear I’ve played this lovely film down but please, if you love the weird and wonderful, and the movies, this is one for you. Promise.

My Rating: 5/5 LOVED. I’m still thinking about it this morning with a mixture of awe and sadness, so that can only be a good thing.

What did Wifey think? Pop on over to see for yourselves.

NB: This Wiki page is really fascinating the and tells more about how the Director came into contact with the Angulos.

Halloween Movies – My Top Picks

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Chill, Mike, I got this

As a horror freak I have always loved Halloween. It’s not as huge here as it is in the US or North America, of course but it’s still always been my very favourite holiday. Ever since my Step Son came into my life and we’ve been taking him trick or treating it’s meant even more.

I particularly respect the adults who throw themselves wholeheartedly into their chosen part on the night. This year I’ve decided to go all out and have not one but two costumes planned. The B’s are going to a Halloween house party at the Haunted House on the Hill (AKA my friend Mix’s house). She’s been planning it for months.

I will most definitely reveal more of that when I can, but I’m keeping things under wraps for now. When Mrs B goes to town, she really goes to town. Instead, let’s talk about my favourite horror films to watch in the lead up to All Hallow’s Eve, shall we?

In no particular order:

Candyman, Candyman

So good, Christina Aguilera named a song after him*

Candyman (1992)

Man, I loved this movie as a teen. It still shits me up and everything about it, from the music to the story of the how Candyman became Candyman, was spot on for me.

Virginia Madsen is crazy good as Helen, the curious grad student intent on uncovering the local legend. Question is, are you brave enough?** Candyman, Candyman, Candyman… Nope, not me.

Calm down, dear

Calm down, dear

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

One of the original ‘Video Nasties’ of the seventies, this film is older than I am (and that’s pretty ancient, let’s face it). It’s up there with one of my favourites because I find Leatherface and his family utterly fascinating.

Even more fascinating is the fact that this is loosely based on the real life of Ed Gein who was a messed up individual. Horrible, bleak and hopeless, this is the complete opposite of a feel good movie but you’ll be rooting for the hippies all the way through it, even though they’re quite annoying. Maybe.

Quitting clownin' around

Quitting clownin’ around

House of 100 Corpses/The Devils Rejects (2003/2005)

Heavily influenced by the aforementioned Chain Saw Massacre, Rob Zombie‘s seminal masterpiece(s) hold their heads high in my top ten because they’re damn good. Horrifying, creative and at times hilarious, both movies follow the lives and times of the Firefly Family, a collection of truly heinous individuals.

They might be sadistic, twisted killers but I dare you not to kind of like them.

Just chillin'

Just chillin’

Haute Tension (Switchblade Romance) (2003)

This is a French horror thriller about two college friends, Marie and Alexa, who run into trouble when they spend the night at Alexa’s parents house.

This is one of those flicks that makes you feel sick and will have you peeking out from behind a cushion until its bloody climax. Jumpy as hell and very gory (which I love), it’s a strong horror contender which manages to keep you gripped until the very end. Definitely recommended.

You've got red on you

“You’ve got red on you”

The Descent (2005)

Another movie that likes to play on multiple fears at the same time, it follows a group of women on a caving expedition after one of the gang suffers a horrible tragedy. It’s no surprise that claustrophobia plays a huge part in the overall feel of the movie but that’s the least of their worries when it all kicks off.

Rumour has it that the American release of this movie changed the ending, which enrages me, as I feel the climax is one of the best things about it. Since it’s rare to get to the end of your average horror these days without being disappointed, that’s very annoying. This might just be a rumour but since you might not have seen this move yet, I’m not saying any more. Love this film as it is.

"I just wanna Axe you a question"

“I just wanna Axe you a question”

The Shining (1980)

Until very early this year I had no idea how good (and scary) this story really is. Like many people, I adore Kubrick‘s version of The Shining and, although I never thought too hard about it, was a little bemused by Stephen King‘s hatred for it.

Now I understand that it’s merely a re-imagining and most of the very terrifying events from the book aren’t really captured in the film. I haven’t watched this since I read the book and it’s been a while, so I’m not sure my fresh understanding will alter the way I feel about it, but I hope not.

I’m happy for there to be two versions. I must admit, at first, it was hard to imagine my own Jack Torrance without Nicholson‘s insane rendition getting in the way. But I coped.

"I got the key, I got the secret"

“I got the key, I got the secret”

The Orphanage (2007)

More of a ghost story than an all-out horror flick, The Orphanage is truly spooky. One particular scene has stuck with me and has to be squeezed out of my consciousness whenever I turn out the bedroom light.

Very, very good.

Not Another French Horror Movie

Not Another French Horror Movie

Martyrs (2008)

Even sourcing a still for this post has turned my stomach a little but I do think that Martyrs deserves its place on this list. The film seems to play out in three separate acts, and tells the tale of a young woman hellbent on revenge on the people who kidnapped and tortured her as a child.

I watched it after it was highly recommended to me by my work colleague and I had no idea what was to come. In fact, I thought it would be pretty standard torture porn fare but actually it gave me so much more than that.

I can honestly say I will never watch it again, since it’s a horrible ride but I think it’s worth it for the final reveal and for the concept itself. At least it tries to be different. Oh, and it’s also French and those French do horror bloody well.

Knife to see you, to see you... knife

Knife to see you, to see you… knife

Halloween (1978)

As if any Halloween list could omit the King of all horror movies! One doesn’t simply forget to reference Michael Myers and his sister, Laurie.

This movie has everything: the plucky heroine, the escaped mental patient with a past, the slutty BFF, the score… its pure perfection really and anyone who’s anyone will fit this into their viewing schedule this October. It’s practically the law. Thanks John Carpenter, for your contribution to the tried and tested slasher movie formula.

So there you have it – my favourites.

How about you guys? Now I know some of you are big film fans so I need recommendations stat! What are you Must See/Go To Halloween Horrors and why? Don’t be shy!

skeleton-spin* not really!
** say his name 5 times in the mirror and then… POW!