Ghost Stories (2019)

Score: /10

Length: 144

Rating: Mature (Netflix)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, Hindi, Bollywood, anthology, murderer, monster, ghost

There are a lot of films with this name, so don’t get confused- this is the Bollywood horror anthology film on Netflix. The same directors who worked on Lust Stories share four creepy tales. A few things you need to keep in mind- Bollywood is known for elaborate action films and romances with loads of singing and dancing. It’s not known for its horror films and rightfully so- they don’t compare to the actual horrors we see in most North American, European, and Asian films, they’re more like spooky bed time stories. So take that horror genre categorizing with a huge grain of salt. And maybe some cilantro.

The segments don’t have titles so I’m just going to make them up and review them separately.

The Old Lady – A young woman is a caretaker for an elderly, bed-ridden lady. Strange things happen in the house at night, and eventually, the nurse happens upon a horrible secret which she smelled from the start.

Egg Envy – An almost black and white story about an expecting mother, a jealous child, and feathery fears of a miscarriage.

Monster Meal – I suppose a zombie movie, but more with monsters. Most of the humans are still turning, however, our main monster looks a lot like Harry the sasquatch from Harry and the Hendersons.  Funny enough, this is probably the scariest segment, due to some of the frightening acting by the affected-humans. A man visits a small town and finds two children to be the sole survivors of some sort of mutation that turns humans into apelike creatures with bad eyesight who eat humans.

Granny’s Blessing – The final film is strange and not scary, but definitely quirky. An attractive couple plan an arranged marriage, but the wife-to-be has second thoughts after learning that her fiance is obsessed with his dead grandmother.

The Perfection (2018)

Score: 3.5/10

Length: 90

Rating: Mature (Netflix)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, Netflix, murderer, recent, girly

The first half of theis movie is actually pretty decent. Guessable, because it’s pretty much Black Swan with cello instead of ballet, but still enticing. There are two points in the film in which there’s a rewind of events. Each time this happens, the film gets worse. A lot worse.

We start with the typical waspy white girl (a character Allison Williams has down pat by now) and your typical sweet, bi-racial competition. Both girls meet in Shanghai, where their former musical academy is auditioning for new students. The former-students make fast friends and plan an excursion together which goes horribly wrong when one of the girls gets sick. The Netflix movie can be split into three parts, separated by the rewinding of events: The first part is full of gag-worthy body grossness, including vomit, diarrhea, maggots, and amputation, so I’d highly recommend you don’t start this movie with a meal. Unless it’s meal worms and you’re trying to go for a theme. The second chunk is all of our twist reveals and the action-section. It’s watchable, but you can feel the film start to slide downhill. Part three is just horrible, stupid, and ultimately laughable. I actually guffawed at the end, and that’s a rare occurrence for me unless Larry David is present. I assume they were trying to finish with the same thrills the film started with and just went way too far. We get it, it’s rape-revenge, you want something bad to happen to the perpetrators, but throwing in at the very last moment that’s so incredibly ridiculous, does not satisfy anyone. If the movie cut after the second scene with the girl running, it might have won itself a few more points.

 

Us (2019)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 116

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, underground

I watched this on a plane returning from Israel along with every horror movie the plane offered, and sadly, this was the worst one. At the start I thought, wouldn’t it be funny if (this) was the twist? And then it was. Womp Womp.

Obviously high expectations are set for this movie- Jordan Peele’s follow-up after the success of Get Out and staring loved-by-all, Lupita Nyong’o. Lupita does a fantastic job as both versions of her character, from the creepy voice to the scared mother, and this is clearly where the film shines. Unfortunately, the story, although unique, is not thought-provoking, scary, or even an interesting tale. The reveals at the end are incredibly unsatisfying and ruin anything the film has achieved thus far. It’s not an awful movie… I wasn’t bored, cringing, or rolling my eyes, but it’s not anything I’d recommend or ever watch again.

It’s about a family who goes on a vacation, and stops at a familiar beach where a traumatic childhood event happened to the mother. Later in the evening, strangers stalk and taunt the family, but even stranger still, the aggressors look just like them. The story revolves around the family we see, and “the tethered” which we learn about later. A big issue with the film seems to be the confusion and lack of story-telling around “the tethered”. Lots of potential, lots of let-down. Too many bad decisions, too many plot holes. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen to Candyman, as the story is already there.

 

Midsommar (2019)

Score: 9/10

Length: 147 (yes, it’s like three hours long, but it doesn’t feel like it)

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, murderer, recent, recommended, supernatural

This is the director’s second full-length film after Hereditary, and let me say, I thought it was fucking fantastic. It has everything I want: flowers and hippy euphoria nonsense, strange plot line that actually somehow makes sense, uncommon gore, and a break-up story with a fantastic ending. I think most will probably like Hereditary more (though you have to look up what’s it’s actually about afterwards to appreciate it fully), but this movie was my jam. I also thought the acting was very well-done, the actors were well chosen, and the location was on-point. It’s a story about a rocky couple and their friends who venture to Sweden for a mid-summer festival. Things get very cult-y and weird as the group discovers (and participates in) more “family rituals”. Things go from bad to worse at a believable pace, and I found the choices the characters made strangely realistic for the situation they’re in. The one and only thing, in my opinion,  that’s lacking in this movie is the scare-factor. Don’t expect any tension or jump-scares in this film, it’s not really the director’s style. He’s more of a slow, repulsion kinda guy, and I can’t fault him for that, but that’s why it’s not at a perfect score.

Mandy (2018)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 121

Rating: NR (clearly R)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, supernatural

If you want a metal movie without much actual metal music, this is your film. Packed with Nicholas Cage anger revenge awesomeness/hilarity, this one is a must see, but that definitely does not guarantee you’ll like it. There’s not even really a story. Wifey Mandy is killed by a strange hippie cult and their motorbike demons for no reason I can remember. There’s no twist or anything, she’s killed in front of her hubs, he’s traumatized, and does a bunch of ridiculous stuff to seek revenge with his self-made ax-chainsaw situation. I mean, this movie can be summed up as a really bad drug trip experienced in a basement full of records and guitars. Weirdly enough, I wanted a little more from the film. Mandy wasn’t likable in the least, and I feel like if you’re going for an insane Nic Cage revenge film, you should be going HARD. I also kind of wished the rock and roll aspect was a little more integrated. Perhaps one band holds the soundtrack, or just more rock and roll aspects in the movie. I didn’t even notice many songs in the movie to be honest. Loved the art house vibe, the crazy Cage acting and the whole idea, but I just wasn’t blown away by it, and this should be a movie you remember forever.

Apostle (2018)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 130 (aka way too long)

Rating: TV-MA (Netflix release only)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, religious

I’m just going to get right to it- I was bored. I didn’t really find this to be much of a horror flick outside all of the torturing, and even with the torturing I found it quite dull. It took me awhile to get into it, and by the time I was interested, the story seemed to be unraveling. I felt I was more interested in the cinematography than what happened to any of the characters, especially our “hero”. Don’t get me wrong, the acting was solid and it’s always fun to see Michael Sheen (especially as a cult leader in the early 1900s), but as per usual, this film really didn’t need to be stretched out as long as it was.

It’s about a guy who is looking to rescue his sister from a cult. As you can imagine, it doesn’t go very well, and in learning all their secrets, he puts himself in a vulnerable position. People are tortured and killed by religious psychos, blah blah blah the end.

A lot of people are comparing this to The Witch (which I was highly disappointed with) but even though both films are slow, I was invested in the magic and the characters in The Witch, unlike this one. In the end, I don’t feel like this film was a waste of time, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it to anyone, and I wouldn’t watch it again unless I was half-way to dreamland.

Pyewacket (2017)

Score: 6/10

Length: 90

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, Canadian, forest, supernatural, murderer

This is yet another one of those films I was supposed to watch about a hundred times and never ended up actually watching it. I’m very sorry as a true Canadian, but I’m thrilled to see it today with my poutine, as I’ve been cheating on horror movies a lot lately with dark, sci-fi Netflix shows.

This super slow-burner is about a teenager who, in struggling with her relationship with her mother, completes a black magic ritual to kill her. In her fleeting moment of anger, she doesn’t quite realize what the demon she’s summoned is capable of, and how it will wreak havoc on her life. Although I felt like the film spent time developing characters that it could have spend building tension, it was a good idea, sort-of like a scary bedtime story. The twist was pretty obvious, but I was really appreciative that the ending wasn’t happy or neat. It definitely could have been stretched out a minute or two as I felt it was like: “TADA! Here’s the twist! The end!” Like it was just so great the movie should end right there. The demon-thing was also pretty well done- mostly shadows with some decent make-up when close-up. I could have done with a few more demon scenes thrown in there and a little more of a build-up with what happened with the freak-out friend. This witchy teenage film probably won’t leave  a lasting impression, but the acting was good, the scenery grand and familiar, and I can’t exactly fault this film for much besides being very slow to start.

Happy Canada Day!

The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018)

Score: 4/10

Length: 86

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, demon, underground, murder

Well, here we have yet another demonic possession movie with an innocent Suzie, or Sarah Anne, or Elizabeth Mary or whatever. This one features our determined heroine taking on a new job in a morgue. Everyone is skeptical of the pills she takes/ doesn’t take, and she starts to hear and see strange new things in the morgue. No one trusts her, everyone thinks she’s crazy… typical. Even when the random guy breaks in and screams about a body not being dead, no one pays attention to our girl. The tension in the beginning of the movie where only little things are happening kind of got my hopes up, but the rest was just a crackly demon-girl following people around and killing them. It lost all scare, really, and became super predictable, finishing off with an extremely corny ending. Like we care about your “journey”. No one had any background to them anyway. Even with decent make-up and acting, and a fantastic setting, I think this is one to be buried in the DVD bin (if this was Walmart, five years ago.)

Suspiria (2018)

Score: 5.5/10*

Length: 152

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, supernatural, witch, girly, paranormal, remake, hotel

I watched this over an extended period of time. Like, a more than a week. It’s very long, and conveniently in chapters, so I quite enjoyed it in more of the television episode format. Almost like people of the eighties and early nineties got to enjoy Stephen King classics on tv as a mini-series, instead of being trapped in a theatre for three hours. The characters are mostly the same, and so is the story, but I didn’t often liken it to the original. In fact, although the OG Suspiria is incredibly memorable and well-known, I didn’t think of it much at all while watching the new version. Yes, it’s about ballet and witches, but I more felt it akin to watching an art-school film, and it took me closer to memories of my own art experiences (hence the high levels of pretension…). I found the many characters confusing (as I usually do when there’s more than five or six) but I still enjoyed the performances by all the great gals in the film. Even Dakota Johnson’s performance was decent, though I don’t appreciate the actress in the least. The Director, Luca Guadagnino, is virtually unknown- mainly directing shorts- but I’m curious how he came upon directing, as he is also Italian, like Argento. Tension, dread, and gore are all fairly absent in this highly anticipated film, just tipping it into flop status. There were some unexpected bits, such as the Star Wars blob and the lengthy bone-crunching scene, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it added anything amazing to the film, it just caught me off-guard, The cinematography was exquisite- a visually beautiful film from the ballet to the gore- but this isn’t a stoic piece of art, it’s a movie, and as such, it really falls flat.

* score based on watching in episodes. Would for sure be lower if I watched it all at once, as this film could do with some harsh editing.

OG Suspiria 1977 review here

Malevolent (2018)

Score: 4/10

Length: 99

Rating: TVMA

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, ghost, supernatural

This is your typical team of amateur ghost hunters led by a medium who visit a house that has more than they bargain for. A woman lives in a house where she hears screaming and lazy girl ghosts are seen with stitched up mouths (which is the gore focus in this film). It’s not painful, nor is it memorable, as are most Netflix horrors. The acting is okay, the story is okay, I felt okay watching it, I fell asleep quickly after. Lack of suspense and tension and characters with mediocre personalities are key ingredients in this recipe for just another horror movie.