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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Kate Lyn Sheil

Brigsby Bear (2017)

Some shows we just never want to end. Looking at you, Freaks & Geeks.

For as long as he can remember, James Pope (Kyle Mooney)’s life has been run on “Brigsby Bear Adventures”, a children’s program that teaches James about recycling and not masturbating more than twice a day. Weird stuff like that, but hey, James loves it so much that he doesn’t care or even see the weird message. Then, the series abruptly ends and James doesn’t know what to do with himself. And to make matters even worse, he’s moved into a new house, with a new family, and doesn’t quite know how to fit in with the rest of the world around him. Still though, everybody pretty much already accepts him for what he is and they decide that it’s time to help James finish up Brigsby’s final adventure. James hopes it will bring him some closure on the TV series, whereas everybody else hopes that it will allow him to move on and come to terms with the real world.

Blow it up, Brigs!

So yeah, I’m being a little coy about Brigsby Bear because there are some parts of the plot that are kept secret and with good reason: It’s dark. But in a way, it’s shocking and it works; it gives you the idea that this movie’s going to go far and beyond just being another silly, over-the-top indie-comedy about a childish man-baby trying to finish off the final episode to a cult-followed TV show.

It also helps allow for there to be real some tension in the air, even when in reality, there isn’t. There aren’t bad people, or insanely good people in Brigsby Bear and it’s kind of sweet. It’s the kind of movie that cares much more about characters, their relationships to one another, and how they treat the outside world, as opposed to just being all about the plot and riffing on everyday life. Had this movie been taken in the hands of someone like Will Ferrell or Steve Carrel, who knows how centered and focused it would have been.

But without them, and instead, with Kyle Mooney, it’s much far better off.

Never break character.

And that’s why Brigsby Bear, while it could have easily just been a spin-off of Mooney doing goofy and crazy things, like he does on SNL, it’s much different. He has this character that, despite having the general facade of being a weirdo, is actually kind, earnest, and so innocent, he could literally kill a cat and you wouldn’t be upset with him. He’s just getting used to a new world and it’s Mooney’s performance that really works wonders, enthusing a great air of mystery of this character, but also a great deal of sympathy too.

And of course, the same sentiments transcend to the rest of the characters, too. Matt Walsh is funny as the dorky dad who tries to relate to James; Michaela Watkins does the same; Claire Danes, playing probably anything resembling a villain here, is fun to watch; Greg Kinnear’s nice cop role gets better once we discover he’s got a bit of the acting bug; Ryan Simpkins plays James’ sister who seems like she’s going to be an embarrassed pain in the rear-end, but eventually lightens up; Jorge Lendeborg Jr. plays one of James’ friends who seems lik he’s going to be a deuche, only to then not be and probably be the best character in it all; and Mark Hamill and Jane Adams, well, the less said about them, perhaps the better.

Either way, just know that they’re all good, because they’re given characters to work with and not just the sitcom-y kind, either.

Real people, who also seem to be kind of funny to watch.

Consensus: A little odd, but overall, Brigsby Bear is a very funny, sweet, and well-acted comedy that actually takes its time to work.

7 / 10

Brigsby’s mid-life existence.

Photos Courtesy of: Sony Pictures Classics

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Buster’s Mal Heart (2017)

Yeah, life can be weird.

There’s an eccentric mountain man named Buster (Rami Malek), who, for one reason or another, is surviving the winter by breaking into empty vacation homes in a remote community. While Buster isn’t his actual real name, he mostly acquired it by calling up local talk shows to rant and rave about the impending Inversion at the turn of the millennium. Of course, people just assume he is a total nut and leave it at that, but there’s actually more to Buster than just crazy and insane theories. Believe it or not, back in the day, or at least, so we think, he was a married-man, with a wife (Kate Lyn Sheil), a kid, and yes, in-laws that bothered the heck out of him. But he’s constantly by what happened to them, him, and the role that he may have played.

He’s a mountain man.

Buster’s Mal Heart is being described a whole lot as “a Donnie Darko-type” that means it’s just weird and supernatural enough to charm all the sci-fi loving nerds of the world, and also still realistic and humane enough to be, well, a movie for almost everyone. Although, to say the least, this movie isn’t for everyone; it’s a little weird, a little twisted, and most of all, a tad confusing. However, there’s something to be said for a movie that does seem to trust its audience in filling certain gaps that perhaps scenes or moments of obvious dialogue could.

It’s like, get this, writer/director Sarah Adina Smith knows we came to see her movie, to not just think, but also be a bit challenged.

That’s fine for me, because while it’s not an easy movie to fully immerse yourself in, Buster’s Mal Heart still does a lot of interesting and neat little tricks that make you think that the ideas are here, but maybe, just maybe, the execution may be a bit flawed. After all, it’s a morbid and rather sad movie about a dude losing his crap and why that all happens, without ever seeming to actually explain why it all went so downhill. Then, the movie does and it feels a little plain and conventional and a tad random, as if we didn’t really need an explanation in the first place.

That said, Smith takes her time with this story, developing it, and telling us what we need to know to keep us going. Seeing Buster as a squatting, fully-bearded mountain man is odd, but then seeing him as Jonah, the lonely, bored and rather odd hotel clerk, makes the movie even more odd. But it still works because we’re watching two stories be told to us, with a certain amount of deliberate pacing that helps us in the small, yet subtle and meaningful ways that work for weird movies such as this.

Marriott Inn better have a good Fire Wall.

Just like Donnie Darko, although, when compared, this movie clearly takes the cake.

Then again, was that already obvious in the first place?

Regardless, in the lead role, Rami Malek does a nice job showing us a normal, everyday dude who has some oddly weird and rather sinister thoughts and ideas brewing underneath the appearance. Watching Malek play a nut-ball can be occasionally amusing, but watching him as he loses all control, even when he’s with his family, or at his job, is actually more compelling. After all, watching a crazy person be crazy, while sometimes amusing, can often times get boring because, well, we know what they are and that’s it. However, watching a crazy person act normal, in everyday situations are way more compelling, mostly because we never fully know where they’re going to go, or when they’re going to let out the crazy cries. Malek does that well on Mr. Robot, but he does that especially well here and it makes me think that perhaps it’s time he take on more movie roles, rather than getting stuck on a crazily pretentious show that, with all hopes, will come back into our good graces when the second season premieres.

But that’s another story, another day, and hell, a whole site in general. Not this.

Consensus: While definitely odd and off-kilter, Buster’s Mal Heart still gets by on keeping itself just weird and clear enough to stay compelling, even when it veers into absolute weirdness that’s almost a little hard to explain.

6.5 / 10

We get it. You’re nuts. Let’s move on, shall we?

Photos Courtesy of: Everything is Everything, Gamechanger Films, Snowfort Pictures

Equals (2016)

So much feels.

In a futuristic dystopian/utopian society, all sickness and diseases (including cancer) have been eradicated. At the same time, however, so has human emotions, where everyone acts, sounds and interacts with one another just about the same. Because of that, nobody really knows one another and whenever they do start to feel anything resembling “emotions”, they’re made to get it fixed and forgotten about. Silas (Nicholas Hoult) is a member of this society who is now a victim of “feeling” something for a co-worker/confidante of his, Nia (Kristen Stewart). Silas doesn’t know how to channel these feelings without getting in any sort of trouble, which leads him to talk about it with fellow people who are going through the same issues as him. But little does Silas know, is that Nia is going through the same thing that he’s going through and it’s only a matter of time until the souls collide and they make something of their shared-feelings for one another. Although, when you’re stuck in a society that doesn’t take too kindly to people who think, feel, or love for themselves, it’s kind of hard to express one’s love in absolute fullness.

Who's she looking for?

Who’s she looking for?

While watching Equals, I couldn’t stop but think that it was a better adaptation of the Giver, than the actual adaptation of the Giver actually was. Of course, yes, I know that the two stories are different, but there’s a lot that they have in-common; the dystopian, futuristic society, the forbidden romance, the rules and regulations to keep people from acting out in a certain way that most humans should, a depressed tone, and yes, a powerful government that seems to strike fear in all of its citizens who dare not get out of line. One is clearly more adult than the other, but still, watching Equals, there was that constant feeling I had that I needed to either re-read the Giver, or watch the movie again, and see if my mind can be swayed.

Then again, I probably won’t do that.

All in all, Equals is fine enough because it presents us with a society that, yes, may not be all that believable, or make even much sense in the long-run, but is still compelling because of what it offers us to think about. For instance, how come in this society, one where all disease has been eradicated, is everyone made to be walking, talking robots, who don’t feel anything? Why are some of them committing suicide? Better yet, why are some of them cool with others committing suicide? How does anyone get pregnant in this society if no one is really supposed to feel anything, especially not love?

None of these questions are ever answered and I guess that’s why it’s easy to get a little frustrated, but for director Drake Doremus, what this society offers is just another chance to give us a forbidden romance that’s easy to feel something for, even if they exist in a world that doesn’t want, or accept them. In fact, Doremus’ past two flicks, Like Crazy and In Secret, have both been about Doremus’ obsession with forbidden love, or in ways, lust; while he doesn’t necessarily care about giving any sort of conclusion on these ideas of these stories, he also doesn’t stray away from portraying them in some of the drabbest ways imaginable.

But honestly, that’s why a part of Doremus works for me.

He takes his material as serious as can be, without hardly an ounce of humor to be found, but it surprisingly works in the long-run. In Equals, you get this claustrophobic feeling where, no matter how hard you try, your love will never be allowed and will always be frowned upon. Or, well, maybe. Honestly, it’s hard for me to fully make up my mind about what Doremus is trying to say here, but because his camera/attention never strays away from this one single idea of unwanted and secret love, it’s hard to turn away from.

Then again, there is the first half-hour or so that does a lot of world-setting, and yeah, it’s a bit of a bore. Mostly, this has to do with the fact that we never quite understand just how we got here and how things work out in this society. Also, there’s something mysterious about the jobs that these two characters have and while Doremus gives us some hints about what it is that they’re doing, it never really gets the full attention it should have probably gotten. Sure, call me nit-picky, call me what you will, but certain things like this bother me.

Who's he looking for?

Who’s he looking for?

Give me a futuristic society and don’t try to explain all that much about it to me?

Well, uh, no thanks.

Regardless, what works best about Equals is that its central love, between Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart, surprisingly works. Because the two characters are so repressed, the brief moments of actual personality that the two share one another, make a huge impression on the rest of the movie and their relationship as a whole. Hoult’s Silas may seem like a bore, but there’s a little something more to him, just as there is to Stewart’s Nia. Together, the two have something sweet and heartfelt, even if the world they’re trapped in, doesn’t really accept them together. It’s your traditional love story, but a little sadder.

And really blue, too. Literally.

Consensus: A bit dark and repressed, Equals may test some viewer’s patience, but also works because of the attention paid to its central romance.

6.5 / 10

Oh, never mind. Good for those kids.

Oh, never mind. Good for those kids.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Queen of Earth (2015)

Everybody’s got that one “crazy friend”.

Having drifted apart for many reasons (mostly personal), Catherine (Elisabeth Moss) and Ginny (Katharine Waterson) go out to a beach for the week to where they’ll relax, catch up with one another, and hopefully, heal some wounds. But what eventually starts out as a promising, fun-filled week, soon turns sour when Catherine starts acting out in some rather strange ways. For one, she’s talking to herself almost constantly. And then, she’s always turning each and every conversation she has with a person, into some sort of fight or argument that goes and ends nowhere, except with her bawling her eyes out soon afterwards. Though Ginny’s no peach, either, she’s still trying to get control of her best friend’s emotions, which only intensifies once Ginny’s neighbor (Patrick Fugit) comes around. As the rage within Catherine grows and grows larger by each and every day, it becomes all the more clear to those around her that she’s clearly suffering from some painful mental disorder, but what it is? Nobody knows and quite frankly, they aren’t let ruining their one week away from the rest of existence, get ruined because of it, either.

Crazy.

Crazy.

Queen of Earth, on paper, is as simple as you can get with a movie. Two friends, go to a beach house to get away from all the pains that exist in their real lives. But writer/director Alex Ross Perry, being the inspired creator that he is, decides to take it one step further in showing that there may be more dark and sinister stuff lurking somewhere underneath. Though there’s a lot of tension as is what with Catherine acting like a crazed-nut half of the time, the movie never makes itself clear as a “thriller”; I guess you could consider it one, but not the kind people pay huge buckets of cash to go out, see, and have a splendid time with.

Nope, Perry means to go a lot deeper than that and it’s actually a lot better than most of the “bigger” thrillers I see in theaters today.

Though it would be safe to write Queen of Earth as nothing more than a “Roman Polanski knock-off”, it’s also a bit unfair. Sure, Perry is clearly aiming for that same sort of brooding style that Polanski utilized oh so well in his early-career psychological thrillers, but to call it a “rip-off” of sorts, isn’t giving him as much credit since he works off of this style and adds a bit more to it. One way, you could say, is that he put the style in a modern-day setting, but even then, it’s still effective. Because the movie takes place in what seems to be this little stitch of land that’s far, far away from the rest of the real world, the movie feels a whole lot more claustrophobic and gives you the feeling that no matter how hard these character’s try to escape one another, there’s hardly anywhere for them to go.

And it’s worth noting that the movie is crazy intense, but it isn’t for the reasons you expect. There’s no guns, no car-chases, no brawl, and there is sure as hell no action-sequences; it’s literally just three-to-four people sitting in a room, arguing with one another long enough until the other decides to throw in the towel and go be pissed-off elsewhere. It sounds so incredibly boring, but while watching it, with Perry’s non-stop usage of the close-up, as well as these performer’s, it’s anything but.

Which brings me to my next point: Elisabeth Moss.

It’s no surprise to anyone that Moss is a good actress. For many, many years on Mad Men, Moss was able to show us the transition Peggy Olson had as a small-minded, cute and naive girl who eventually became her own boss, got the man she wanted, and, from what we can believe, everything worked out for and she was happy about. But, to be honest, she was a lot more restrained in that role and was never able to show people what she was truly made of and could do as an actress.

As Catherine, Moss is able to let loose like she’s never done before. It’s almost as if all those years of holding everything back for Matthew Weiner finally made its way out of her and it’s such a beauty to behold. Not because it’s fun to watch Moss cry, run around rooms, curse aloud, and give people the stink-eye, but because we all know it all comes from a thoughtful place. Perry doesn’t point the finger at Catherine and her antics, as much as he just holds up a magnifying-glass and allows us to see her for what she is; she may be a loony tune, but she’s one that it’s easy to feel bad for, because we know that a lot of this is out of her control.

Sad.

Sad.

Does that make her a perfect person? Nope, not at all. But just like in real life, nobody else is either.

Like, say, Katharine Weston’s Ginny who, believe it or not, has a worse attitude than Catherine. Through some very telling flashbacks, we see how Ginny would sometimes treat Catherine; sometimes, she was cruel, others, she was as sweet as could be. But the times that she was mean and ugly, are hard to get past as they show exactly what kind of person Ginny is: The jealous type.

Though a lot of people are going on and on about Moss’ performance, it’s worth noting that Waterston is quite good here, too. While it’s less showier role than Moss’, it’s one that still delivers on a lot of stern and scary standing that gives Ginny a lot of presence in scenes that you don’t even think she’s in. Together, the two are great; whether they’re fighting or loving one another, there’s always some neat little piece of info to pick-up on from their scenes together and it’s the true sign that these gals are true acting talents that deserve all the work they get thrown at them.

As for Patrick Fugit, his role in the film is where I started to get a little annoyed. Though Perry does take his time and care in portraying Catherine’s mental issues, those that are opposed to her don’t get the right amount of treatment. While Fugit is good as the neighbor who comes around and can’t help but piss Catherine off, the dude’s still very much “the dick character” and it plays-off a little too hard, rather than being tucked-in underneath. This is where the movie’s sense of subtlety started to fade away, and I soon realized that maybe Perry needed to take a little more time in writing how these other characters were.

But hey, that’s just me. He’s the one making movies with Elisabeth Moss, Katherine Waterston, and Patrick Fugit.

Not me.

Consensus: Thanks to two spectacular performances from Waterston and most definitely, Moss, Queen of Earth is a lot more compelling and eerie to watch than the small premise may have you think.

8 / 10

Ticked-off. As usual.

Ticked-off. As usual.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Listen Up Philip (2014)

New York writers seem so much more hot-headed than Philly ones. Thanks heavens.

After his first novel got published, hit the shelves, and was read by millions upon millions of people, Philip (Jason Schwartzman) seemed to on top of his own little world; a world in which he was the greatest, most smartest person alive. However, years later, he’s struggling. Not just to get his second novel out there and avoid “the sophomore slump”, but with his personal life. See, Philip lives with his girlfriend of two years, Ashley (Elisabeth Moss), who is supportive of his career and what he wants to do, although she can tell that he’s slipping away further and further into his own pretentious mind. This is when he meets the aging, once-hot writer by the name of Ike (Jonathan Pryce), and the two strike up something of a friendship; a friendship which the two don’t really expect to go as far as it does, but ultimately, self-serving in the way they treat their own respective egos. That proves to not just be a problem for Ashley, but also Ike’s daughter, Melanie (Krysten Ritter), who wants nearly as much, if not more, adoration from her father than Philip does.

Honestly, movies about the rich, slightly famous, and ever-pretentious lives of novelists’, just aren’t for me. Usually, it takes me about two minutes before I already want to break my TV, get on Twitter, and talk about how I hate people like the ones I just watched, and always promise to never turn into one day. It’s a promise I not only hope to keep to those around me, but myself as well.

Currently in the process of thinking of what negative comment about the meaning of life to say next.

Currently in the process of thinking of what negative comment about the meaning of life to say next.

But that’s exactly why Listen Up Philip works; though it portrays the lives of these artsy farsty, New York individuals exactly as you’d expect them to be, the movie also takes the piss out of those conventions as well.

For instance, take the main character of this film, Philip. See, while he’s insufferable, mean, cruel, and nasty to just about everyone he ever meets, the movie never really tries to make it abundantly clear that there lies a decent human being underneath. Sure, he may have the ability to love and make people happy, but mostly, it comes at his own expense and it only furthers the idea that Philip, though our main protagonist, as well as the one we’re supposed to be paying the most attention to, just isn’t a nice person and shouldn’t be viewed as such. Therefore, he also can’t really change, either. We’d like to think he can, but honestly, there’s only so far one can go until they are just viewed as annoying a-holes and they stay as such.

That said, the movie doesn’t apologize for Philip’s, or anybody else’s actions, either. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the real strength behind Listen Up Philip is that writer/director Alex Ross Perry doesn’t hold any punches back when it comes to showing us its characters, and allowing us to see them for all that they are. Like I said before in the case of Philip – while he may be a total pain in the ass, there’s still something inherently believable about him that it’s easy to find one’s self actually meeting this same kind of person on the streets of Manhattan. You’d probably regret meeting him in the first place, but the fact that you met someone like him, with the way he dresses, acts, or carries himself in casual conversations, makes the experience all the more raw and understandable.

Most of that has to do with the fact that Jason Schwartzman’s performance as Philip is very good, but it’s also because the writing is well-done, too. But it’s not just Philip who gets most of the love here, as most of this movie is a group-effort on every side of the spectrum. For instance, a bold move Perry decides to take is rather than just keeping his focus solely on Philip and Philip alone, we actually get to take some little adventures into these individual character’s lives. We not only get to see how their lives are possibly affected by Philip, but just exactly what they do to get by in this little existence that they call their lives.

Now, of course this means that some of these viewpoints are more interesting than others, but altogether, taken as a whole, they still do well for a film that could have easily fell on its affected face.

Woman with cat? Single.

Woman with cat? Single.

Probably the best subplot of the few we get, and possibly the best part of this movie, is Elizabeth Moss’ Ashley. If any of you’ve ever seen Moss as Peggy Olson, you’d know one thing is for sure: The girl can act. And while Moss isn’t doing anything quite different here as Ashley, except for the fact that she’s playing a character in modern-day America, she still knocks it out of the park as a gal who genuinely loves her boyfriend, but just doesn’t know how to handle her emotions well enough for him, so that when he does decide to get up and leave, she doesn’t get as destroyed as she expects to. There’s about 20 minutes of this movie solely dedicated to Moss and it’s compelling to watch. Not only did it make me wish we got more of her character and her side of the story, but maybe that we could have gotten a whole movie dedicated to her in general.

But while Moss’ Ashley is definitely the highlight of this movie, the downside is that the other two subplots in this movie don’t really hold up as well. For example, while Jonathan Pryce’s Ike character may be interesting on paper, doesn’t really bring much to the movie as a whole and only brings the energy away from a story that could literally go anywhere, at any given moment. Even worse is that while we do get plenty of scenes with her, Krysten Ritter’s Melanie is hardly featured nearly as much as everybody else and it’s a bit of a shame. Not just because Ritter’s a good actress (which she is), but because you can tell that maybe the movie would have been able to draw something interesting out of her character, but just didn’t give her the right time of day to do so.

In a way, when judging how it treats Ritter’s character, you could think of Listen Up Philip as Walter White. But that’s enough AMC original series’ references for now.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t always hit its mark, Listen Up Philip is still a funny, fresh, and sometimes realistic look inside the lives of a couple characters nobody would ever expect to like spending time with, yet, are somehow able to, when given the right amount of detail and development.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

One insufferable prick to the next. It's all in the facial-hair, people.

One insufferable prick to the next. It’s all in the facial-hair, people.

 

The Sacrament (2014)

Hey, if a Southerner has a certain way with words, I too would follow him anywhere.

Fashion photographer Patrick (Kentucker Audley) gets a strange letter from his sister (Amy Seimetz), who he knew went away to a rehab of sorts and is inviting him. Patrick decides to tell his buddies (Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen) this and considering they’re both journalists who love whenever a good story comes their way, all three of them take the trip out to see just what this secret place is really all about. What all three discover, at first, is a pretty shady place considering it has guards defending it with AK-47s and tells them to turn off their cameras or don’t come in at all. Eventually they’re allowed in and they see the type of safe haven this place was being hailed as by Patrick’s sister. There’s food, a hospital, goats, and heck, even a day-care center for the young, as well as the old. It seems like the pretty ideal place for anybody who has ever came at a crossroads in their life and needed a change, and mostly all of that can be credited to a man everyone knows as “Father” (Gene Jones). Though he hardly comes out at all, Father decides to do an interview for the camera-crew, which is when strange things start happening around the camp and the three guys realize that maybe there’s something dark and sinister lingering beneath what’s being shown to them as “perfect”.

With his past two flicks (the House of the Devil, the Innkeepers), if there’s one thing that Ti West shows, is that he knows a thing or two about creating, building up, and maintaining tension. In both cases, we get a sense that West is just reeling us in, more and more, for something big and completely terrifying to happen, yet, we don’t care all that much about it because we’re so swept-up in having him distract us with other stuff. That other stuff being character-development, ideas, and a feeling of some “fun” in the air.

Exactly how I feel whenever I show up to a party two hours late.

Exactly how I look and feel whenever I show up to a party two hours late.

However, while West still shows us here that he knows a thing or two about making tension, he still loses everything else that made his movies so worth while in the first place: Their personalities.

And it’s not like West’s other movies have shown him to have a keen-sense of humor in any way, but he’s shown us that he’s able to tell one story, while simultaneously hinting at us that there’s another one just brewing somewhere in the deep end. Here though, it feels like there’s nothing else here except for what Ti West presents: A found-footage horror movie documenting a cult, that clearly resembles the same one of Jonestown. I guess just stating that fact in and of itself could be seen as a bit of a “spoiler”, but to be honest, you get the sense of what’s going to happen as soon as we enter the camp.

We all know that there’s some dark, mysterious and disturbing force hidden behind all of the happiness and smiles, and while the mystery itself may keep us interested, it’s not hard to see what the end-result of it all is going to be. The only aspect that really could keep us even more glued are the characters, and for the most part, they’re all pretty boring. Which is a shame because when you have a hand-held camera film such as this, the one thing you can depend on working are the characters themselves and whether or not they’re worth rooting for, even if/when they make/say stupid decisions. West hasn’t really written anybody out to be at all interesting, just as plain as you could see them.

Which is very disappointing considering the great cast he’s assembled, who are all, essentially, people that he’s worked with in the past five years or so – AJ Bowen plays the main reporter who wants to ask all of the questions and get down to the bottom of this cult, while still dealing with issues at home with he and his pregnant-wife; Joe Swanberg plays who is basically “the camera guy” and says some snappy line here and there, but doesn’t get nearly as much to do here with his face blocked; Amy Seimetz is, at first, quite chilling because you never know what to make of her character, but as she begins to get more and more developed, then Seimetz’s starts playing a bit more over-the-top and crazy. Maybe that’s how she was told to play it, I don’t know, but I will say that it’s a very B-ish performance in a movie that never knows whether it wants to be smart, sophisticated, and trying to get its point across, or just be another freaky, fun, and chilling found-footage that wants to place us, the audience in front of all the action.

Not exactly the type of welcome wagon I'm sure anybody feel comfortable with.

Not exactly the welcome wagon I’m sure anybody feel comfortable with.

In fact, the only time whenever the movie seems to have any sort of bright ideas just rolling around, is whenever Gene Jones shows up as the almighty and alluring “Father”. I’ve never seen Jones in anything before, and although I definitely might have and I just totally forgot, I’ll make sure to never make that same mistake twice considering he’s great here and never allows himself to get too far, or too deep into this movie’s own wackiness. Jones, for what it’s worth, plays mostly everything subtle and by being able to hind behind those dark, thinly-rimmed glasses of his, we never truly have an idea what he’s thinking, or going to do next; all we know is that he’s a simple man who has a certain power over all of these people, and you can totally feel it everytime he’s in front of the camera and talking about God knows what (no seriously).

However, he’s not really in the film all that much, and it shows. Whenever he’s not around, his presence is felt in the air, as if he himself is a guardian angel just looking down upon everybody else around him. Okay, maybe that’s giving the dude too much credit, but I’ll put it like this: When the best part of your whole movie is in it for about 15 minutes, you may have yourself a huge problem. And a huge problem is exactly what Ti West has.

Next time, dude, stay away from the hand-held cameras. It’s a style just waiting to die out.

Consensus: Ti West still has his sense of creating tension, yet somehow, with the Sacrament, he can never quite maintain it as well as he’s been able to show in the past, which is mostly due to the fact that the story is conventional and at times, too wacky to be taken as seriously as it wants to be.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Suck that, Matt Lauer!"

“Suck that, Matt Lauer!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

You’re Next (2013)

Next family reunion, G-Mom and G-Pop better bring their arsenal. Just in case.

The very rich, but very dysfunctional Davison family reunites for the 35th wedding anniversary of the mother (Barbara Crampton) and father (Rob Moran). Everybody in the family comes, and hell they even bring their own significant others to get everybody acquainted. However, it becomes abundantly clear early on that nobody in this family really gets along, and as a result, fight at the dinner table over something utterly and completely dumb. But once somebody gets an arrow shot through their head, all of the family-squabbling is put to the side, and the feeling of danger arises throughout the house. Why? Well, it’s simple: A bunch of masked-killers are attacking these family members and killing them one-by-one. Some are unlucky, and some get very lucky, but staying alive and being fight off the enemy is only where the night begins.

After this movie being postponed for what seemed like a century (in reality, it was only 2 years, but it was a long two years!), I am finally able to get a taste of You’re Next, and figure out just what all of the fuss was about. Home-invasion thrillers come, and they go as they please, and rarely re-invent the wheel of the horror genre, especially in today’s world of modern-day cinema. However, that doesn’t mean a little movie like this can’t just come out of nowhere and completely shock us, but not by changing the game up and offering us something new, but by simply having fun and remembering the old-school days of horror movies, where one used to cheer for the goodies, and boo the baddies.

Yeah, those were the days my friends, and You’re Next reminds us that they’re back and still as fun as they were all those years ago. Hurrah for that!

Relax! It's not like it's real blood or anything....

Relax! It’s not like it’s real blood or anything….

The aspect of this movie that totally works is how the screenplay from Simon Barrett and the direction from Adam Wingard totally compliment one other; almost in a way that I haven’t seen from a writer-director combo in quite some time, especially within the horror genre. Barrett’s tone for this movie may weird some viewers out at first by how jokey it is, despite being terribly gory and gruesome in the first 5 minutes or so, but once the movie gets going, the plot starts to thicken, and you’re ultimately set-up for what the rest of this movie is going to be and look like, and it only gets better from there. One second, Barrett will have us laughing our assess off by a random sight-gag, or something silly a character does; and then the next second, have a disturbing sequence of someone getting a bodily-organ torn from them, in the most gory way possible. However, with most horror movies where it seems like it would not work and just become a disjointed affair, Barrett surprisingly keeps it grounded in a sense where you know what to expect from the comedy, and you know what to expect from the inordinate amount of violence.

Then again though, a lot of that same credit I just gave to Barrett, could easily have gone to Wingard as well, considering he seems to be having just as much fun with this material, if not more. Once the first person at this family reunion is killed, it’s an all-out slug-fest from there, and every chance Wingard has to do something new, cool, or simply righteous with his kills, he doesn’t back away and embraces it. You would think that all of the killings in this movie will just make you numb after awhile, but Wingard surprisingly finds newer, more exciting ways to bring out as much awe-inspiring and cheerful moments of violence, as humanly possible as it is to do for a horror movie. He never goes over-the-top with it; nope, instead, he keeps it bloody, brutal, in-your-face, and mostly compelling, even when he does seem to be pulling whatever he can out of his ass. However, I think more horror directors need to be pulling stuff out of their ass, especially if it’s this fun and entertaining to watch.

Which may be weird for some to hear, especially considering this a horror movie, and as we all know; horror isn’t necessarily the most joyous genre of all. But Barrett and Wingard think differently: They know that horror movies should be just as disgusting and as horribly gruesome as it has been perceived as being, while also being scary whenever possible. Also though, they know that horror movies should be an entertaining experience you can only have at the movies, especially when they’re done at this caliber, and with this much of a playful tone and feeling. The two do get a tad bit “too jokey” at times, almost, dare I say, falling into the territory of being “meta”, but most of the times, they were able to make me laugh, while also expecting the unexpected with it’s story, the violence involved with it, and the direction.

Hello 2013's most-demanded Halloween costume!

Hello 2013’s most-demanded Halloween costume!

Thank you, Mr. Wingard and Mr. Barrett. It’s been awhile since the last time us movie critics remembered how much fun it could be going to the movies, and seeing a horror movie, without necessarily having to be scared shitless. Thank you very much.

And of course no good horror movie would be considered “good”, if it wasn’t for the perfectly-pitched cast they have on hand here. Everybody’s good here, especially because of the fact that nobody’s really a bigger star than the other here, and even if they are, they sure as hell aren’t treated as such. With the exception of maybe one chick, everybody’s demise is left up in the air, flying, and soon to land at any second, for any reason. Every character here is actually like a pawn on Barrett’s and Wingard’s chess-table: They all have their reasoning for being there, their strengths, and their weaknesses, however, they could be gone without any fair warning. Literally, you could be watching a character on-screen, seeing them do something cool, courageous, or even bad-ass, and then the next second, see them taken away from you because they weren’t thinking all that straight or got caught off-guard. That was a whole bunch of fun to watch, and it was only made better due to the cast being totally up for anything that Barrett and Wingard were able to throw at them. And yes, blood-flavored corn syrup was one of them.

Consensus: While it may not be the game-changer or revolutionary flick that most have been deeming it as, You’re Next still goes back to the basics, keeps it simple, bloody, fun, entertaining, wild, unpredictable, and always worth watching, even if the horror genre isn’t your favorite flavor of pie. It sure as hell isn’t mine, and look what I’m saying about it!

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

If they are in fact "Next", they better get a move on and start the love-making later. Idiots.

If they are in fact “Next”, they better get a move on and start the love-making later. Idiots. What? Have they never been home-invaded by killers in animal masks before?

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Halloween Horror Movie Month: V/H/S (2012)

That’s why it’s usually best to get DVD’s instead.

The film more or less centers on a group of petty criminals who are hired by a mysterious third party to steal a rare VHS tape from a rundown house. But as they search for the right one, they are treated to a seemingly endless number of horrifying videos, each stranger than the last.

Here’s a great idea for a horror movie: take what is essentially the new and cool thing in horror (found-footage), mix it in with something old (anthology), and see what happens from there. It’s what you usually get from these anthology films, but it’s still a great way to remind us that found-footage films can still kick-ass, especially when they got a grainy look to them as well.

Being that this is all pretty much 5 short-films that have nothing to do with each other than being terribly freaky and featured on a VHS tape, I’m just going to go at it and give each story their own little mini-review. DTMMR readers, you are all in for a treat my friends!

1) This story is about a bunch of drunken frat guys that go out one night, go to the bars, drink it up, snort cocaine (always a good idea), pick up chicks, and try their hardest to get laid by the end of the night. You know, the schedule that I’ve been holding up everyday for the past 5 years. It’s cool because not only does this story go from hilarious to scary at the drop of a hat, but it’s all filmed by this one dude’s glasses who has the camera built into them. Shows you that the found-footage genre can still be pretty inventive when it comes to how they capture all of these crazy happenings on film, and it’s even better here, because the story gets so tense that I actually watched the last 3 minutes of it through the spaces in my hands that were covering my eyes. I’m a big baby, I know, but this was a perfect way to start off this flick and had me hoping for the best.

2) This story is about a vacationing, young couple who actually stumble upon a weird chick, asking them if she can get a ride somewhere. The story here is set-up with a very tense and strange atmosphere, but what really bummed me out is where they end up actually going with it. This ends up being one of the weaker stories in this flick not only because it takes a dumb-ass turn about half-way through, but because it features a twist that’s even dumber and comes out of nowhere. There’s an on-screen killing that I think is pretty cool, but that’s about.

3) This next story features, as you guessed it, a bunch of horny and wild teenagers that go out into the woods where a murder happened not too long before that. Typical horror shit, right? Anywhoo, this film is probably the goofiest of the bunch but it seems to have a bunch of fun with itself by playing up a lot of the conventions we have with these sort of “teenagers in the woods” stories: kids do some drugs, kids try to get laid, kids get naked, kids jump into lake while they are naked, and the horniest kids are the first ones to get “offed” because they can’t seem to control themselves. Doesn’t sound as interesting as I may make it, but it’s fun to watch and when the actual “killer” comes out, it seems pretty cool at first, but then when you think about it, makes no sense at all. Why the hell was this guy all blurred out as if he was naked on live television? I don’t know, it just looks cool.

4) This is probably the most inventively-told story of the whole bunch, as it takes place through a bunch of Skype calls, that all seem to have some deep, dark twisted meaning. This segment probably has the most tension throughout but what I didn’t like about this one is how music continued to play in the background, telling us when and where we should “freak out” at what’s happening on-screen. Silence would have been perfect for this segment, as it was for plenty of the other ones, and the eventual reveal at the end seemed a bit cheap and unbelievable. Still, I was tense throughout this one and that’s all that mattered for me.

5) Even though all of the other stories may have not been the scariest pieces of shite that I have ever seen in horror movies, let alone found-footage movies, V/H/S does a great job at keeping the best, for last. The story takes place around 1998, and follows a bunch of guys that go to a Halloween party to what they think is a haunted mansion, and well, actually ends up being just that. Literally. This is probably the most exciting and most entertaining segment in the whole film as I was laughing my ass off for a good 10 minutes or so, while the last 10 minutes, I was absolutely pissing my pants by how freakin’ scared and tense I was. There’s a great deal of tension that builds and builds and builds until the final shot, and it’s a great little piece of 20 minutes that ends this film on a high-note, rather than just a so-so note like I was expecting it to be before this one came up.

Of course, all of these other segments revolve around one big segment where these douche bags break into a house just to find one tape, which is scary but since it’s told in fragments, doesn’t really do much to excite us until the end. But other than that, this is overall a pretty scary, anthology film that’s a mixed bag (as you would expect), but overall, the nice kick in the ass that the horror genre needed, ever since the idea of Paranormal Activity 100 started running through producers minds. Call up your buddies, get in a big room, turn off the lights, turn up the volume, and be ready to be scared. I didn’t do that at all. Actually, I watched it by myself, on my computer, at 3 a.m., and I found it hard just to go from my bedroom to my bathroom in the middle of the night. It’s honestly like 5 steps, too.

Consensus: V/H/S may not always hit the scary-spot we expected from all of the hype and promotion this flick has been getting, but all of the segments will hold your interest, have you tense, and have you redeem some faith in the horror genre and show you that maybe these films can still work, given the right talent in front-of and behind the hand-held camera.

8/10=Matinee!!