Trailer Tuesday: The Ritual

I hadn’t heard anything about this new movie–The Ritual–and only came across it scouring Youtube for new horror trailers. I’m glad I stumbled across it, because it looks like it could be promising. If you’ve been here for a while, you know I’m super into horror that takes place in nature. It’s one of my favorite sub-genres of horror. There are so many fun psychological twists and turns one can take, and this looks like it might be a lot of fun. It also looks like it might break the fourth wall a bit, or play with genre irony. I’m thinking, in particular, of the moment in the trailer where one of the characters says “This is definitely the house we die in,” or something along those lines. It’s a great line.

The Ritual comes out 13 October 2017.

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Movie Review: Raw (2017)

Stats raw_28film29

Released: 15 March 2017 (France)
Director: Julia Ducournau
Writer: Julia Ducournau
Actors: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella
Ratingskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emoji

Synopsis 

When a young vegetarian undergoes a carnivorous hazing ritual at vet school, an unbidden taste for meat begins to grow in her.

(via IMDB)

&&&

If you know me, you know I love French horror. French horror pushes every possible boundary they can–with buckets of gore as an accompaniment. I’m also a fan of supporting female directors, so Raw seemed like the perfect movie: a debut by up-and-coming French director Julia Ducournau. Plus, reviews trickled in about how the movie caused viewers to flee the theatre, usually in order to vomit because of the gratuitously violent content. Now, you should always read these reviews with some suspicion–they’re mostly clickbait. However, it did make me hope that the movie would push boundaries the way that French horror usually does.

That line of thinking is what you need to leave behind before viewing this film. Raw is more of a personal drama with added horror elements (there is cannibalism, after all–but only about three scenes of cannibalism). If you go into this movie wanting a gory horror flick, you’re going to be disappointed. There are a couple gross moments, don’t get me wrong (and they’re awesome), but this movie focuses more on relationships, desires, and transformations of the body.

I’ve watched Raw twice now, and can’t help but notice how reminiscent it is to one of my favorite horror movies–Ginger Snaps. Though Ginger Snaps deals more with menstruation taboos, I do think there are similarities with the sisters’ relationship and the sort of “unleashing” of a woman’s sexual side.  Obviously, Raw is a bit more brutal than Ginger Snaps is, and deals with cannibals rather than werewolves, but I still think they pair well together.

Raw also details how repressing one’s deepest desire can fuck with you when you have to confront it alone once you move away from home. It’s a movie about hunger–both sexual and physical. It’s a primal hunger that affects the main character, Justine, more and more as the film continues. I loved the way that her body language changed as she grew more confident (and hungry)–it grew more fluid, but also more hunched and animalistic. Both Ducournau and Marillier did a fantastic job at portraying Justine. She’s easily the most relatable cannibal figure I’ve seen in the horror genre, and you do sympathize with her as the movie progresses–especially once it becomes clear that she’s trying to navigate and learn how to deal with her newfound monstrosity. And the dichotomy between how she handles her situation and how her sister handles the same situation is great.

Another plus for this film is the soundtrack. The music is so good. It perfectly captures the atmosphere and tone, and matches the cinematography well. Along the same lines, the way that Ducournau utilizes color is fantastic. There are rich reds, and vibrant blues and yellows. When a scene needs to be more subdued it is, but that’s juxtaposed between colorful, vivid moments.

Raw is definitely a film to rewatch. I think you catch more with each subsequent viewing, and I feel like each time I watch it my understanding of the ending deepens and grows.

All in all, I highly recommend checking this film out–but remember that it’s a bit more slow-paced and it’s not a gorefest. It’s not going to be the scariest movie you see, but it is going to challenge the way that you view certain taboos and behaviors. And, if you’re a fan of body horror and how the body can transform and push its own boundaries, you’ll dig this film .

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Movie Review: Rings (2017)

Stats mv5bnju1ndaxntg0mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzuxmjewmti-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_

Released: 3 February 2017 (USA)
Director: F. Javier Gutiérrez
Screenplay: David Loucka, Jacob Estes, Akiva Goldsman
Actors: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio
Ratingskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emoji

Synopsis

Julia becomes worried about her boyfriend, Holt, when he explores the dark urban legend of a mysterious video said to kill the watcher seven days after viewing. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a “movie within the movie” that no one has ever seen before.

(via IMDB)

&&&

So, before I go into my review of the Rings, I have to discuss just how much I love The Ring. The Ring successfully scared me when I first saw it; I thought Samara was wickedly badass and a terrifying specter I never, ever wanted to meet. I hadn’t properly been frightened in a while, and I haven’t had much affect me in a similar way since. The Ring is a beautiful horror movie–in that it’s so well put together and aesthetically pleasing to a fiend like me. I also read all of the books by Koji Suzuki when I got into high school, so I have a pretty positive, longstanding relationship with the universe cultivated around this story. I was a youngin’ when the first movie came out, so I obviously didn’t get the chance to see it in theaters, so I was pretty excited to see Samara on the big screen if only for a trip down memory lane. That may color my perception of some events in the film.

Now, you should know that Rings isn’t a spectacular horror movie. It’s pretty average. It’s nowhere near as brilliant as The Ring, though it is slightly better than The Ring 2. I was a bit worried going in that it would be flat out horrendous, especially because the movie’s release date had been pushed back at least three times. You should also know that if you happened to see one of the first trailers of the movie, you know literally everything that’s going to happen in this film. I’m not going to spoil it here, because that would be shitty, but because I’d seen the trailer, I thought I was in for a totally different movie. When it turned out that the movie ended on the note shown in the trailer, I was so confused. It, of course, acts as a set up into another movie (if the industry decides to fund it–Rings hasn’t done that well in the box office).

On to the movie. Aside from being a bit disappointed by the trailer, I was severely underwhelmed by the romance in this movie. I didn’t really care about the relationship between Julia and Holt. It would have made for a stronger movie, in my opinion, if the movie centered around Julia and her supposedly sick mother (who is mentioned once and then completely disappears into thin air). It would have been a great continuation on the themes present in the first two movies, but would have added a twist in that it was between a woman and her mother.

The acting in this was okay. No one was spectacular, but no one was outright terrible either. Again, I didn’t really care about the relationships discussed in the movie, and I thought that it was a bit convenient that Julia just happened to be special to Samara with absolutely no explanation. I think having a reason (i.e. relationship with her mother, etc) would have made that aspect of the film stronger. The reason given (by her boyfriend) is that she was never afraid of Samara, but that’s not true. She was terrified when she first encountered Samara.

On that note, there are plenty of plot holes in this movie–not only the whole “you’re magically special, Julia.” There’s a lot of play with the information given to us in the first two movies–Rings feels more like a beginning to a new franchise that takes the bare bones of Samara’s background, which makes the movie feel a bit disjointed in certain parts. And it’s not scary–it barely reaches creepy. It’s a lot more like a mystery than a horror movie.

I did, however, appreciate the feel of this movie in some moments. The addition made to the tape or footage that was specific to Julia was just as creepy and beautiful as the original footage. I also enjoyed the moments in the beginning that felt subtly noir-like (example: the rain ‘falling’ up while Johnny Galecki stared out the window after having seen the tape the first time). That feeling was eventually lost–it would have been nice to have seen it carried out throughout the movie. And , naturally, I enjoyed the moments with Samara. She looked great.

So, do I think it’s worth watching? Especially for a Ring fan? I’m hesitant to say. If you know you’re not going to feel nostalgic, and if you’re a super fan of the first movie, you might be disappointed. You might even hate it. It’s a lot more cheesy than The Ring (I mean–the opening scene was ridiculous) and you’re probably not going to give a shit about any of the characters. If you do think you’ll feel a level of nostalgia and want to see Samara on the big screen, you’re probably not going to hate it. And, the movie might be fun to watch with a group of friends around Halloween–but I’d honestly suggest the first movie any day of the week.

Have you seen Rings? What did you think?

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

 

Movie Review: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

Stats mv5bmja2mtezmzkzm15bml5banbnxkftztgwmjm2mtm5mdi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_

Released: 21 December 2016 (USA)
Director: André Øvredal
Screenplay: Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing
Actors: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond
Ratingskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emojiskull emoji

Synopsis

Cox and Hirsch play father and son coroners who receive a mysterious homicide victim with no apparent cause of death. As they attempt to identify the beautiful young “Jane Doe,” they discover increasingly bizarre clues that hold the key to her terrifying secrets.

(via IMDB)

&&&

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of those quiet, subtly creepy horror films that I love. I went into the movie with some high expectations because of the trailer, and I’m quite happy that the movie didn’t disappoint me.

the-autopsy-of-jane-doe-directed-by-andrecc81-c3b8vredalThe most striking thing, to me, was how claustrophobic it felt. For the most part, the two main characters spend their time in the morgue with the “Jane Doe,” so when shit starts to hit the fan, there’s a heightened awareness about the possibly dire situation at hand because there’s nowhere for the characters to run. They’re boxed in, which affects the way you, as a viewer, feels when you’re watching it. The room you’re in might start to feel a bit smaller. The shadows slowly creeping up the walls might seem a bit more haunting. I adore the subtle dread that such small horror movie sets can achieve in the hands of a great director. The fact that the claustrophobic room just happens to be a morgue makes it even more dreadful. Added to this is the fact that we don’t see a lot of horrific things. This movie plays with both the characters’ and the audience’s imagination. Are you seeing something? Are you not? What’s really there? The small set amplifies these questions and the uneasiness you might feel. This film’s success in this department reminded me a lot of the tone and anxiety brought forth in Pontypool–one of my favorite smaller horror films.

The other solid aspect of the movie was the acting. Both Cox and Hirsh were great in this film. I found it easy to sympathize with both of them, and you really do start to root for them. It’s easy to make a familial relationship too saccharine when terrible things start to happen, but I never thought the acting or the script got overly sentimental, which I appreciated. I also have to give props to Lovibond, who managed to really creep me out, and nailed the whole “laying dead on an autopsy table” aspect of her character. The one plot point I felt was a tad unnecessary, or perhaps just underdeveloped, was the girlfriend–and a lot of this is because I felt she became an easy variable to throw in without a lot of work necessary by the end of the film. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about.

the-autopsy-of-jane-doe-red-band-trailerThe effects used were, overall, great. There’s a lot of gore in the movie, which is to be expected when you go into a movie about an autopsy. You’re going to see a bone saw, and you might (definitely) see some brain. I particularly enjoyed the second set of skin we got to see about halfway or three-fourths of the way through the movie. I thought that was a great touch, particularly in light of the advancing plot, and looked awesome. Just like the claustrophobia of the autopsy room, the breaking down and stripping back of Jane Doe’s body makes you feel uncomfortable in all the best ways, but it’s never gratuitous. It never feels exploitative, either.

I’m obviously not going to spoiler the ending, but I will say that I thought it was a bit weak immediately after watching the film. However, I think it would seem stronger upon a rewatch. I obviously enjoyed the reveal that happened, but I felt that everything came to a head too quickly after the reveal. It felt just the tiniest bit rushed. It would be interesting to see how it comes together knowing ahead of time what will happen.

Overall, I highly recommend this movie. It’s a solid, successful horror film. It’s more original than the scores of remakes we keep receiving, and it makes for a great night. I , obviously, recommend watching it in the dark. It adds to the discomfort that the film so successfully achieves.

Have you seen The Autopsy of Jane Doe? What did you think?

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Trailer Tuesday: XX (2017)

I heard about this new horror anthology–directed by four bad ass lady directors–in a quick scroll through a news feed. I’m glad it caught my attention, because XX sounds awesome. From the trailer, each story looks original and pretty creepy. Sometimes, it’s difficult to find a fully fleshed out, well rounded horror anthology. Here’s to hoping XX joins the list of the greats.

XX releases on 17 February! Will you be checking it out?

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Trailer Tuesday: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

An upcoming horror film that I’m intrigued by is The Autopsy of Jane Doe, directed by André Øvredal, which has a limited release here in the US on 21 December 2016. The cinematography looks like it could be really well done, and I dig some of the shots in the trailer. (I’m also a big fan of the creepy children singing–but that’s always pretty effective, because children are creepy af.)

Here’s to hoping this is a fresh take on what looks to be a oc/cult movie. (Or, even better, something more original than that.)

What do you think of the trailer? Will you be checking out The Autopsy of Jane Doe?

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Trailer Tuesday: Pet (2016)

As some of you might be reeling from yesterday’s election, I decided to push back and release some horror trailer goodness today. This “Trailer Tuesday” comes in the form of Pet, a movie that premiered at SXSW this year.

This movie has some echoes of The Collector, a 60s novel by John Fowles, and looks like it could be quite gruesome. Both main characters look like they’ll be great, and I’m excited to see how the movie might flip the narrative of “man steals woman and keeps her hostage” on its head. It could be quite original. We shall see!

Until next time, stay spooky.

–E.