Trailer Tuesday: Tragedy Girls

Tragedy Girls is that film that I’ve been waiting for without knowing that I’ve been waiting for it. I am so excited for this film. It looks like it’s going to be hilarious. I totally agree with the marketing ploy stating it’s a combination of Scream and The Heathers, at least from what I’ve seen in the trailer. The director, Tyler MacIntyre, also worked Patchwork––a horror comedy that I just watched and enjoyed. This makes me believe the dialogue will be as witty and clever, but perhaps a bit more cleaned up.

I’m expecting a ton of laughs and a killer soundtrack. Here’s to hoping the movie delivers on both.

Tragedy Girls comes to theatres on 20 October.

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

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Trailer Tuesday: Insidious Four: The Last Key

I like the first three Insidious movies. I don’t think they’re mind-blowing, but they are really entertaining, and have some pretty effective jumpscares (even though I mostly hate jumpscares).

I was a bit disappointed that they announced there would be a fourth one, because I’m a bit tired of horror series getting long and drawn out––sometimes, you just have to end a good thing while you’re ahead.

That said, I do think this movie looks entertaining, and I’m here for Lin Shaye hunting down some demons with her geek squad duo. Even though the concept looks a little weird––I mean…a ghost/demon thing with keys for fingers? That’s a bit wacky. We shall see.

 

Until next time, stay scary.
–E.

Movie Review: It (2017)

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Release Date: 8 September 2017 (USA)
Director: Andy Muschietti
Screenplay: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga Gary Dauberman
Actors: Bill Skarsgård, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff
Rating: skull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emoji

Summary 

A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of clown, begins hunting children.

(via IMDB)

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After months of teasers and trailers, It finally dropped in theatres last week to major box office success.  I’m assuming everyone reading this knows what It is about, but in case you don’t, the plot revolves around a group of kids who have to battle an evil presence that preys on the children in a small town in Maine. Compared to the novel and the 90s miniseries, the main story of It remains the same in this adaptation, though the director and writers did change the story from the 1950s to the 1980s. This means that a) we get some amazing 80s references, and b) the second part will take place in 2016 or 2017––which is interesting, because we’ll get to see the characters transported into our modern day. What will It look like with cell phones? Facetime? Internet that isn’t dial up?

I have a long relationship with It. I first watched the 90s miniseries when I was probably four or five, and my babysitter at the time gave me the choice of either going to bed or watching with her. I chose to watch the miniseries, and it straight up terrified me. For months I was terrified of sewer drains and clowns. I’m still not a huge fan of clowns, but they no longer terrify me to the extent they did when I was younger.

I’ve wondered, for a while, if It is the reason I’m such a horror fiend. I’ve wondered if there’s some small, unconscious part of me that’s waiting for another movie to scare me as much as It did when I was a child. The only movie that’s come close is The Ring from 2001, but even that didn’t quite match up to It. There’s something about the story and Pennywise that has been at the back of my mind for around twenty-three years. It is a huge part of my horror identity, which means there was a lot riding on this adaptation for me. I went into this movie with extremely high hopes. What I wanted the most was a closer adaptation to the novel than the miniseries––which wasn’t allowed to be as dark as the novel because it was on TV.

I wasn’t disappointed. This film is dark in moments. Georgie’s death is shown in quite a lot of detail––there’s nothing more horrifying than watching a six-year-old bleeding to death in the middle of the street before being dragged into the sewers. And, the film doesn’t shy away from Beverly’s abuse at the hands of her father, which is a huge part of her character. Apparently, there was a more violent assault scene cut on the editing room floor, which would have obviously added more complexity to this issue, but I don’t think the severity of the situation is lost to audiences without its inclusion.

The reason It is such a successful film (and novel) is because of the characters. The film does a fantastic job of getting you to care about each member of the Losers Club. You get the right amount of backstory for each child, and as you watch the relationship form between all of them, your relationship to the characters strengthens. If you don’t care about the kids, you’re not going to care about what they’re going through. The film (and novel) asks you to empathize and root for these poor kids who don’t quite know what’s happening in their hometown, especially when it comes to Bill’s sorrow over the loss of his brother.

Obviously, because this is only the first part of It, we don’t get much of a backstory of Pennywise. I like the fact that he’s just this evil, embodiment of fear that preys on Derry. The scariest thing about monsters with no backstory is that there’s no reason they’re present. You can’t reason away their presence. They’re just killing (and, in Pennywise’s case, eating) for no purpose. That’s terrifying, especially when you’re a kid. And, specifically, Pennywise preys on individual fear. Throughout the movie, he appears differently to some of the children, which makes him all the more frightening, because you really never know what he’s going to look like. You can’t plan for him. He just appears and fucks shit up. I found his depiction of Georgie whenever he went after Bill to be the most effective, and the most tragic, of all his “characters.”

Briefly, I’m going to touch on the acting. I just have to say, Bill Skarsgård does a fantastic job as Pennywise. He’s brutal, he’s creepy, and he apparently can actually make his eyes move independently, so it’s like he was born to play this role. He got the voice right, the laugh right, and the movement right. I know a lot of folks were skeptical, because Bill hasn’t done a whole lot prior to this film, but he nailed it. He made Pennywise his own character, which is awfully hard to do when you’re following an acting giant like Tim Curry.

The kids of the Losers Club were also fantastic. Each one played their character perfectly, and they worked well as a collective whole. There was never a moment when one of them felt out of place, or like they didn’t mesh with the rest of the group. Their energy with each other was organic. I particularly enjoyed Finn Wolfhard’s performance as Ritchie and Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie. Their performances slayed; they made me laugh so goddamn hard throughout the entire film.

Let’s move on to aesthetics, because this is an important category for me when it comes to films. It is a pretty, pretty film. It’s filmed so beautifully, which makes sense, because Chung-hoon Chung was the director of photography. If you’ve seen Oldboy, The Handmaiden, Stoker, or Thirst, you know that Chung is a fantastic cinematographer. His movies are beautiful––the color, the way shots are aligned, it’s all utterly extraordinary. If you’re a fan of well shot movies, especially well shot horror movies, you’ll appreciate the time and consideration taken to achieve the visual components of this film. The 80s elements of It are great, as well. This movie utilizes nostalgia well, and captures the look and feel of the 80s well without seeming over the top or corny.

One issue I had with the film was the CGI, at times. It bordered the line between well done and over stylized a bit too much at times. I do think that the CGI reflects children’s terror (by which I mean––experiencing horror as a child is to experience horror in all of its extremes; the horror is larger, louder, etc), but as an adult, it seemed a bit clunky at times. I also wish that Pennywise moved a bit differently each time he rushed towards a child. When you see Pennywise running towards Bill in the trailer, you’ve seen Pennywise running towards each member of the Losers Club throughout the duration of the two-hour movie. The shots are chaotic, rapidly moving, and all kind of look the same. I wish there had been a bit more variety there, especially because we know that Bill we Skarsgård worked pretty hard with body contortionists while making the film. I wish more of that movement was brought into his character.

That said, I would highly recommend seeing this movie in theatres, because the (polished) CGI and Pennywise look awesome on the big screen. I went to a local Alamo, which is always a fun time. Some of the ushers were dressed as clowns––a both creepy and amazing detail, and they even had a later showing that was “clowns only,” which I found hilarious. I didn’t go, because no thank you, but I appreciate the sentiment from afar. My fellow audience members were great, as well. I was next to a young woman who would mutter “oh god, don’t do that. No. No, don’t do that. Don’t go in the room” whenever tension rose, and I found it hilarious. It didn’t bother me at all, and it was nice to hear someone be so terrified while watching, because I, personally, didn’t find it very scary. (This is not a point against the film––finding shit scary is so subjective, and I enjoyed everything else about this movie, and could still appreciate the creepy, disturbing imagery that was in the film without being scared).

To conclude, I would (obviously) highly recommend this movie. It has a lot of heart, it’s hilarious, the acting is fantastic, and it captures childhood horror well. You may not find it visually terrifying if you’ve seen a lot of horror movies, but I don’t think that takes away from enjoying the movie. It’s so nostalgic, and makes you think about your own childhood terrors, especially if you have a long history with the story. If you’re interested in the movie at all, please go see it in theatres. It’s such a great experience.

I’m excited (though nervous, I’m not going to lie) to see the casting for Pt. 2. Apparently, it’s going to be pretty dark. Perhaps, then, it will be more visually terrifying? We shall see. It’ll be a challenge to find a set of actors to represent the Losers Club after the amazing group of kids in Pt. 1,

I did just write a piece responding to those saying It isn’t a horror movie. If you’re interested, see “Defending Horror.”

I know this was a long post, but I had a lot of feelings about the movie. Clearly. It’s times like these I wish I had a podcast.

Have you seen It? What did you think? Let me know!

Until next time, stay scary.

––E.

Defining Horror

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that IT dropped last weekend and has absolutely been killing the box office (pun probably intended). There has been a multitude of praises showered upon the movie (most of which I agree with––my review is forthcoming; I want to see it again before reviewing!), but, of course, there have also been some critiques. The most interesting “critique” and, perhaps, the most frustrating, is the notion that IT isn’t a horror movie.

You can probably tell by my use of scare quotes that I highly disagree with this. I’m a bit biased, because I did love this film, and I wish nothing but wild success for the kids of this movie and Bill Skarsgard––who nails Pennywise. But, again, my formal review is forthcoming.

I concede to the fact that the movie does spend a long time building the relationships between the Losers Club. But, they had to do this, otherwise why would the audience care or root for these twelve-year old kids? The strengths of this story hinges entirely on the Losers Club. They are the most important piece. Without this strength, the story just isn’t successful.

That all said, IT is about a monstrous “clown” (Pennywise is actually the embodiment of fear itself and chooses its form based on the victim’s fear, but he’s mainly a clown in this movie) that hunts and slaughters children. The movie opens (spoilers?) with Georgie, a six-year old boy, getting his arm bitten off, bleeding into the street, screaming wildly for help before Pennywise drags him into the sewer. The movie doesn’t shy away from showing this young boy in pain, dying. This opening scene could be the definition of horrific alone.

But, where IT shines is not in its supernatural monstrosity––both the movie and the novel–-but in its concern and reflection on the true monsters of the text: humans. In Derry, children shout and scream for help, to no avail. They find themselves ignored by the adults around them. Or, in the case of Beverly, assaulted by them. Pennywise, in part, is so successful at drawing in children because the adults don’t do anything about it. They put up ‘missing’ signs and then just forget until the cycle repeats itself. The Losers Club learns, at a young age, that they can’t rely on the adults around them. They have to find and kill Pennywise themselves. Throughout the movie, various kids repeat the phrase “but it’s supposed to be summer break; we should be having fun.” But, they’re not. They’re terrified, and alone, and the ignorance or maltreatment from the adults is reinforced each time the audience is reminded that these kids aren’t able to act as kids should. There’s been a loss of innocence.

Now, I would agree with the statement that IT isn’t a terrifying movie. I wasn’t really scared. I was creeped out, because there are plenty of disturbing images, but I never felt truly frightened. That’s an entirely personal reaction though. As I like to joke, I’m dead inside, so naturally I didn’t get scared. (I’ve earned many a metaphorical gold star from Last Podcast on the Left). Some folks were terrified, though. I don’t think you can label a movie as “not horror” just because you, personally, don’t find it horrific.

Again, this movie is about a killer clown. How can you not consider it horror? Granted, this is being said at the same time that some folks are deciding that we’re living in a “post horror” era. Another statement that I don’t buy––just because a movie doesn’t have gratuitous blood or a chainsaw wielding maniac who likes to wear people’s faces, doesn’t mean it isn’t horror. There are other horrific things in this world, like the fact that it’s 2017 and people are still being shot for the color of their skin.

This has been a long enough rant, but I figure I should probably post some of the qualities that I look for when I’m watching a horror movie, seeing as how the title of this post is “Defining horror.”

  1. Some sort of supernatural (or sci-fi) entity. The devil, evil fairies, ghosts, killer clowns.
  2. Invasion (a la The Strangers, The Purge, etc)
  3. Gratuitous violence and/or nudity
  4. A haunted object
  5. A pushing past some sort of boundary, usually to the extreme (biting off a child’s arm and dragging him into a sewer, perhaps?)
  6. Abandoned houses, asylums, etc
  7. Blasphemy–-though this closely aligns with #5

There’s probably more, but that’s what I can think of right now.

What do you think? I’d love to know. I’m hoping to see IT again within the next week, so I can get my review out. I will say this: go see it in the movie theatres. It’s a fantastic film, and it’s so funny. I highly, highly recommend it.

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Trailer Tuesday: Inside

I only recently found out that a remake of  À l’intérieur was coming our way; after the complete and total failure of the American Martyrs, I have little hope that this will be a good remake.  I wish that directors and producers would leave brutal French new wave horror movies alone. I just can’t see a remake of any of the films actually  being successful. Does that stop me from watching the terrible remakes? Of course not, because there’s always the chance that the remake is good. Or, at the very least, does something interesting and unique separate from the original. This remake appears to be an American remake, but the directors and screenplay writers are all Spanish, and the movie has only been released in Spain thus far, so there’s that. I think if the director of Rec had been behind this movie, as was originally predicted in 2015, we may have had a chance of getting a good movie. This looks pretty generic, though, and like it won’t have half the brutality of the original film.

 

Like I said, there’s no expected release date for America yet. I’ll update with more info when that drops.

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Trailer Tuesday: Escape Room

It was bound to happen eventually: there’s a horror movie being released about a group of friends getting caught in an Escape Room. Certain elements from the trailer seem awfully familiar to Saw (or literally any other horror movie that involves people trapped in a room fighting to get back out). If I watch this, it’s definitely going to be when it’s on Netflix. It looks pretty predictable and unoriginal.

It looks like the movie is going straight to DVD and VOD, so we’ll see how long it takes before you can stream it for free, if it’s a movie that’s up your alley.

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Trailer Tuesday: The Monster Project

I first heard about The Monster Project while recently binging Modern Horrors’ podcast (which you should definitely listen to if you haven’t already–-they’re so entertaining). Their episodes are split into three parts, and Mathieu’s movie popped up in their “News” section of this episode. Now, this movie looks pretty ridiculous. The premise is that a documentary crew hires a bunch of people who claim to be monsters, and then find out they really are (dun dun dun!). The effects don’t look that amazing, either, but it’s possible they’ve done some extra editing since the trailer dropped. In short: This movie doesn’t look like it’ll be movie of the year, but it does look entertaining. The campy premise just speaks to.

I kind of wish The Monster Project had an October release, but alas it comes out 18 August.

Stay tuned for my review of Wish Upon, which will be coming out this week!

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.