Dream Cast: IT Part 2

The wonderful duo over at Good Mourning Nancy did a great episode this past Tuesday, where they listed their dream cast for IT Part 2. I love that idea, so I’m going to piggyback off their great idea and present my ideal cast for the movie. If you haven’t given Good Mourning Nancy a listen, I highly recommend them! Abbey and Gracie are wonderful, and I love that they always discuss whether or not a particular horror movie passes the Bechdel Test.

 

Billethanembry-243x300

Ethan Embry would be the perfect older Bill. We know he kills it in horror (he was great in The Devil’s Candy), and I think he would bring the perfect amount of anger and vulnerability to the part of Bill.

 

mwhbyltBeverley:

My one and only, Lily Rabe, would be a perfect Beverley. She killed it in American Horror Story, so we know she handles horror well, and I just think she would be perfect in the role. I think Jessica Chastain is too big of an actress to be in IT (I want them to be relatively popular or completely new people––but if Chastain were in the role, I would just see Jessica playing a role and it wouldn’t be as seamless as the first film).

Benmv5bmtmwotq0mduynf5bml5banbnxkftztcwntq1mzy1mw-_v1_uy317_cr180214317_al_

I actually think Jason Bateman would be great in the role as Ben, and he would sort of harken to John Ritter (who played adult Ben in the miniseries back in the 90s).
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Mike: Baron Vaughn has been the perfect Mike for me since I first read the book a couple summers ago. I think Baron would bring so much to the role, and I’d love to see how he performs in a horror movie. Plus, we already know he has a great relationship with Ethan!

 

Stanmv5bmta0odi1odk4nzdeqtjeqwpwz15bbwu3mdkwnjkzoty-_v1-_sx214_sy317_ux214_cr00214317_al_

Joel Edgerton would bring so much to the character of Stan––who (spoilers) isn’t in Part II long but does set up a lot in the few moments he’s present.

 

159785247Richie:

Richie is a hard one, because Finn Wolfhard played him perfectly, and I can’t think of an actor who would embody Richie as much as Finn did. So, I’m gonna go with Finn’s suggestion that Bill Hader play adult Richie.

 

 

Eddieadam-scott-0819975001519812934

I agree with Gracie and Abbey that Adam Scott would make a brilliant Eddie. I can see him playing off of the humor Jack Dylan Grazer brought to the role. He’s the biggest star I’ve listed, but I don’t think he’s such a big actor that his presence would be distracting.

So, that’s my dream casting! Who do you envision in the roles? Let me know!

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

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Top Horror Movies of 2017

Horror in 2017 was a mixed bag: when it was good, it was good; when it was bad, it was bad. The following movies aren’t in any order until we get to the top three, which are solidly the top films I’ve seen this year. For the most part, the movies were released to a wide (American) audience in 2017, but I do have a couple earlier films that I watched for the first time this year and they blew me away, so I’m counting those, as well.

The Lure (2017) the_lure_282015_film29

The Lure is a weird film, and that’s why I love it. It uses mermaids in an interesting way; I love the dark cinematography coupled with the musical interludes. It just worked for me. The relationship between the sisters is great, and when the movie decided to be bloody, it was well done. I’d recommend this film, but check out the trailer beforehand––if the trailer doesn’t speak to you, I don’t think the film as a whole will.

 

mv5bmja2mtkxmdyzn15bml5banbnxkftztgwntc3mzc4mzi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Creep 2 (2017)

I liked Creep, but it didn’t blow me away. The acting is good, and I like the concept, but it didn’t astound me. So, it’s kind of a surprise to me that I liked Creep 2 as much as I did. I thought the execution in this film was great––I loved the fact that Duplass’ character (Aaron, in this film) was able to admit his serial killer tendencies right away. It added a certain je ne sais quoi to the film that I enjoyed. I also liked Akhaven’s performance as Sara a lot––their relationship struck me more than the relationship between Duplass (Josef) and Brice (Aaron).

The Babysitter (2017)mv5bmty0mduwnzg5ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnty4nju3mzi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_

The Babysitter is a Netflix original that dropped in October––and it’s a lot of fun. I don’t have much to say about this movie, because it’s not a groundbreaking or original horror film, but it is a lot of fun. The acting, for the most part, is good, and the atmosphere is so deliciously 80s. The kills are entertaining, as well. If you’re looking for a fun, absurd horror film, check this one out.

 

large_prevenge-poster-2017Prevenge (2017)

Prevenge is a dark comedy about a woman who believes her unborn child is guiding her to commit murder. It’s an absurd concept executed well by Lowe, who basically did everything from writing to directing to starring (while actually eight months pregnant). It’s another fun movie to watch if you’re in the mood for a horror comedy––the only thing that kind of ‘put me off’ was the baby’s voice. It was odd, and took me out of the movie a bit. Other than that, solid film.

 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) mv5bmja2mtezmzkzm15bml5banbnxkftztgwmjm2mtm5mdi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_

I watched The Autopsy of Jane Doe in January––it certainly set the bar for me for horror in 2017. I love this film. I think the atmosphere and the tension is great. The acting is solid. The storyline isn’t unique, but it’s executed well. It just works for me. And, I love horror movies that are set in the coroner’s, so the environment is a plus for me. It can be difficult to pull off a movie in such confined spaces and keep the tension throughout the film, and I thought this movie did just that. I’d highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet!

raw_28film29Raw (2017)

Raw is the latest French horror, though I wouldn’t attach it to French New Wave horror (a lá Martyrs, High Tension, Inside, etc). I was expecting a movie along the lines of the previously mentioned, and that is not what I got with Raw, so I initially left the theatres I bit disappointed. However, I gave it a rewatch in October and because I knew what to expect, I enjoyed the film a lot more. Certainly don’t go into this movie with any of the “it’s so gross it made people vomit!” marketing that went around, because, honestly, it’s a pretty tame French horror film that involves cannibals. This is more of a movie about the relationship between two sisters and trying to grapple with an identity that is far, far from the norm.

The Devil’s Candy (2017) large_devils_candy_ver3

The Devil’s Candy is such a joy to watch if you’re a fan of the horror genre who has sat through numerous shitty mainstream films. It’s indie horror at its finest. The acting is superb (Ethan Emery is fantastic in this film), and though the plot is simple, it’s done extremely well. I love the grunge and vibe of this movie a lot, and the relationship between Jesse (Emery) and his daughter is wonderful. And Pruitt Taylor Vince nails his role as Ray Smilie. Just watch this movie if you haven’t––it’s a breath of fresh air in the horror genre.

 

get_out_xlgGet Out (2017)

Obviously, Get Out is going to be on this list. I’m assuming everyone has seen this, but if you haven’t, watch it immediately. I’m so excited to see what Peele does next, because this is a fantastic film. It juggles horror, social commentary, thriller, and humor so well, and the acting is excellent. There was a lot of hype around this movie when it was released, but the film holds up viewing after viewing. It’s a keeper.

 

Boys in the Trees (2016) 35dd07b2ccaae7bef3350277b12ac39762b0c290

Boys in the Trees is close to my top horror of the year. It’s a quiet film that snuck up on me. I wasn’t expecting to love it, but love it I do. I don’t want to give too much away, because I think it’s important to go into this knowing nothing. I will say, it’s pretty surrealist, and it revolves around friendship, loss, fear, and growing up. It’s a beautiful film: The cinematography, the acting, the plot…everything is wonderful. It’s not your typical horror film, but it does solidly fit into the genre, which you’ll understand if you’ve seen it. It’s a film I think about all of the time, even though I haven’t rewatched it since I first saw it in October. I just love it, unapologetically.

Top Horror

mv5bmja5ndeymjqwnv5bml5banbnxkftztgwndq1mjmwmdi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_The Love Witch (2017)

The Love Witch is such a delight. It’s unapologetically feminist, it’s about witches, it feels as if it’s actually a film set and produced in the 70s…honestly, it’s me in a film. Like Lowe (Prevenge), Anna Biller did everything for this film: she starred in it, directed it, wrote it, made its costumes and its set…she did everything. It’s not a film that everyone will love, but it’s easily one of the best films I saw in 2017. Elaine is a beautiful, complicated character, and I love her. Like with The Lure, you’ll know if you’ll like this film once you see the trailer.

 

Shape of Water (2017)* the-shape-of-water-teaser_poster_rgb-e1504487100887-216x300

Shape of Water is the one movie that I’m not entirely sure belongs on a horror list, but it IS based off of Creature from the Black Lagoon so I’m including it. It’s more fantasy than horror, but this is my blog, so here we are. I love this film. I’ve seen it twice thus far, and I plan on watching it over and over again as soon as the blu-ray comes out. It’s a visually stunning film (I mean, it’s del Toro, so obviously), the characters are fantastic, the music is perfection…it’s beautiful. The film centers around identity and belonging and it’s just perfect. If you love del Toro (specifically Devil’s Backbone & Pan’s Labyrinth del Toro), you will love this film. Watch it. Be amazed.

it_85b0f17c__36677-1496221062-450-659It (2017)

Obviously, It is my favorite horror film (and probably film) of the year. If you’ve read my review, you know how I feel about this fim. I won’t wax and wane here (that’s what the review is for), but I bloody loved this adaptation. The acting is fantastic, the cinematography is fantastic, the sound is fantastic. It’s just a winner. It took the best parts of the book and brought them to live fabulously, and it left out the weird parts that probably shouldn’t have been included in the first place––you know what I mean if you’ve read the book. I cannot wait for the second part to come out. Is it 2019 yet?

Well, that’s it: my favorite horror films of 2017. What horror did you watch last year? What did you love? I might do a worst horror of 2017, because I love ranting, and there were some terrible movies released last year.

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Movie Review: It (2017)

Stats it_85b0f17c__36677-1496221062-450-659

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.

Movies to (Maybe) Look Forward to in 2017

Seeing as how it’s December (a simultaneously joyful and frightening thing), I decided to peer into our horror prospects for next year. Outlook: possibly grim. While there are some releases I’m excited for, I wonder why others exist. Let’s see what’s on the docket, shall we?

  1. Amityville: The Awakening–6 January 2017; I’m not quite sure why we’re still making Amityville movies. It might be time to let this franchise die, y’all.
  2. The Bye Bye Man–13 January 2017; Originally, this was supposed to come out this year, but then they pushed it back. It’s too bad they didn’t come up with a better title.
  3. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter–27 January 2017; Not going to lie, I kind of love the trailer to this movie. I’m excited.
  4. Rings–3 February 2017; Another movie that got pushed back. Still not really looking forward to this one, but–of course– I’ll be seeing it.
  5. Get Out–24 February 2017; This is probably the movie I’m most excited for. It looks like it’s going to be amazing.
  6. Annabelle 2–19 May 2017; Another movie whose existence I question. The first one was terrible, so why is there another one being made?
  7. Alien: Covenant–4 August 2017; I didn’t actually know about this movie. It’ll make for a great Trailer Tuesday.
  8. It–8 September 2017; I’m pretty excited for this remake. It could use some updating.
  9. Friday the 13th–13 October 2017; We know nothing about this except for the release date. I remain cautious (like…do we need a remake of the remake).
  10. Insidious: Chapter 4–20 October 2017; I don’t know how I feel about this. I thought the third Insidious movie was a great way to end the series, but I remain optimistic that Leigh Whannell could do something cool. We shall see.
  11. Saw: Legacy–27 October 2017; Why?
  12. Wrong Turn 7: At the End of the Road–Release Date TBD; Again, why?
  13. Suspiria?!?! Why? There’s no information about this, but I am perturbed.

Movies that are TBA: Jeepers Creepers 3, Hellraiser: Judgement, Chucky 7, Children of the Corn: Runaway, Halloween (?!).

I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know what to feel. Let me know what you think about the possible line up. Is there anything I missed?

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.