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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Megan Charpentier

It (2017)

Honestly, real-life creepy clowns are creepier.

Derry, Maine is just like any other small-town in America. Quiet, quaint, and yes, quite a lovely little place. But look a little bit deeper, and there’s some true darkness lying underneath. And said darkness begins to show up more and more when kids randomly start disappearing left and right, without any signs of how, why, and where they may even be. Some kids believe it’s just kids being kids and getting lost somewhere in the woods, but for a select-few of other kids, they think it’s the one, the only, the infamous, and the incredibly dangerous Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), who lurks somewhere in the sewers, luring little children with his evil, magical powers. And the few kids who do see Pennywise, are quite screwed-up and don’t really know what to do with it, mostly because they’re too busy figuring out their own lives. For instance, there’s Bill, (Jaeden Lieberher), who has a stuttering problem; Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), the chubby kid who’s also new to town; Beverly (Sophia Lillis), a gal who’s daddy may have a serious problem touching her; Richie (Finn Wolfhard), who enjoys making fun of every situation; Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), who’s a germophobe, but maybe because his mom only tells him he is; Mike (Chosen Jacobs), who seems to be the only black kid in town and is constantly bullied for it; and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), who’s Jewish faith continues to guide him in his life. Together, they’ll try to stop Pennywise, once and for all.

Nothing bad’s ever on a old-school Super 8 flick.

The reason why It works so well beyond many other Stephen King adaptations is because it hints at something truer, something meaner, and something darker than just what we see. See, in It, this new adaptation, while Pennywise is no doubt the true evil and scary-being here, it’s really other elements like rape, incest, murder, racism, and even time itself that seem to be the true evils. Like mostly all of King’s work, It shows us that the truest evils aren’t just ghouls an ghosts, but more or less, life and how it can be ruined by just some of the most dangerous and disturbing people imaginable.

But yeah, also killer clowns.

Still though, what works about It is that it’s not afraid to go the extra distance to get as dark and as disturbing as it wants. Director Andy Muschietti seems to know that the key-element to making material like this is not holding back and going as far as one can go with a hard-R rating. Meaning, we get a lot of blood, gore, cursing, nudity (sort of), and oh yeah, kids in peril. In fact, there’s so many moments of kids in peril here that it literally felt like another 80’s flick (and it probably wasn’t helping that one of the kids from Stranger Things is also here).

But it all actually works. As much as the movie wants to rely on the good old nostalgia of the small-towns from the 80’s, it also wants to terrify the hell out of us and with Pennywise, and with practically everything else Muschietti throws at us, it gets the job done. Granted, a lot of it can tend to be a bit over-bearing, obvious, and oh yeah, predictable, but for a horror flick that’s nearly two-hours-and-15-minutes and not feeling like a second of it, it’s nice to have around. It helps that the movie’s constantly tense and trying out new ways to creep us out, but yeah, the movie works where most horror movies nowadays don’t.

It gets the scares right, the characters right, and above all else, the villain right.

Sure he’s fine. Wherever he may be….

And as Pennywise, Bill Skarsgård is pretty scary. While Tim Curry’s original portrayal will forever stand the test of time, his take was a bit different; whereas Curry’s was far more campy and over-the-top, for comedic-effect, Skarsgård’s is meant to be more dangerous and absolutely unimaginable. He’s not supposed to show up watering the plants, or cracking dumb puns, but instead, biting the arms off of five-year-old children (which is something he does in the first ten minutes). It’s a solid portrayal that, depending on where this franchise goes, will be interesting to see how it all changes.

Same goes for the rest of the cast who, for now, are all very good at what they do. Sure, no one really stands out from the rest of the crowd, considering that they’ve all got a great deal of development and personality to help them get by, but the fact that they all were discernible from one another and had something going on in their lives, worked and mattered. The movie actually goes out of its way to show us more to these kids than just a bunch of wise-cracks about mullets and Molly Ringwald – like you or I were at their age, they’re vulnerable, scared, and absolutely terrified. You could say of the creepy clown that seems to be following them everywhere they go, but also of growing up and whatever other depravities the future holds out for them.

And yeah, I look forward to seeing the next part of their lives’ journeys. Because, of course, there’s going to be more of this. Don’t be naive.

Just give in and float away.

Consensus: With the unrelenting willingness to go to deep, dark places that most horror movies are afraid to even step near, the latest re-imagining of It works because it doesn’t forget to remain faithful to the source material, but to also the smart, solid, and somewhat terrifying scares that are much needed.

8 / 10

If he’s got candy, I’m interested.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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Red Riding Hood (2011)

He won’t puff, nor will he huff. But he’ll probably just moan.

Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is a young girl living in a small, peaceful little village with her parents (Billy Burke & Virginia Madsen) who plan to keep her safe from any harm that may come her way. The only reason why I even mention this to begin with is because this village of hers was, many, many years ago, attacked by a big, bad, and blood-thirsty wolf. Why? Well, nobody knows, but they don’t want to take any chances so they settle something of a peace treaty with him. They stay in their neck of the woods, he stays in his own, and that’s about it. Problem is, the wolf is hungry again and decides to come back to the village and wreak all sorts of havoc. This leaves the small village no other choice than to call upon the likes of a werewolf-hunting priest (Gary Oldman), who is a bit of a pro at these sorts of things. However, he begins to take a stranglehold on the village and leave everybody wondering just who is the beast. Is it the sexy, but mysterious Henry (Max Irons)? Or, is the sexy, mysterious, but also angry Peter (Shiloh Fernandez)? Or, quite simply put, is it Valeria?

Oh, what drama!

Sexy-ish.

Sexy-ish.

One of the biggest problems with Red Riding Hood, among many others, I assure you, is that it has no reason to exist. Sure, you can say that about a lot of movies made by Michael Bay, but it’s also kind of incorrect; his movies are created solely for entertainment and because he has a gigantic hard-on that he needs to be rid of. While his movies may borderline near-stupidity, they still have reasons for existing, even if the reasons themselves may be incredibly silly.

But in the case of Red Riding Hood, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. What it seems like producers in Hollywood wanted was nothing more than just a Twilight-ized version of the old folklore tale, Little Red Riding Hood. One reason it was made to begin with was most definitely for money, but then again, I bring up the question: How? How could something that seems so odd, nerdy and better yet, limited, in terms of whom it may actually reach and intrigue, be given all this money, with all this sort of talent, just for the hope that it will bring in all the same sort of big bucks that director Catherine Hardwicke was able to reel in with Twilight?

Well, whatever the reasons may be, who knows. And honestly, who cares!

Because really, Red Riding Hood‘s a pretty crummy and whether or not it exists, doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it’s a pretty terrible movie that seems to have been dead from the very first second it arrives on the screen. While I can assure you that I was not in the least bit expecting a masterpiece of any sorts that discussed the interesting ways that humans and nature can interact and learn how to get along, I still wasn’t expecting something to be as boring as this.

Which is a big shame, because we know that Hardwicke is a fine director. However, here, it doesn’t seem like she’s actually directing anything; scenes just sort of happen and everything rolls on in a continuous fashion. There’s no real tension, no real fun (with a few exceptions), and most of all, there’s no real drama. Meaning, most importantly, there’s no romance to be felt, which is exactly what it seems like producers were going for in the first place. That the handsome male duo of Max and Peter are as dull as they come, already spells out problem for Valerie, as it seems like the movie wants to be smart about how it treats her viewpoint and the way she tells this story, but in the end, is only concerned with which dude she wants to bang first.

And that’s not normally something I have a problem with, but here, it was so boring that I didn’t even care whose bone got jumped, by whom, or even when it happened. I just wanted the movie to stop happening and end.

Sexier.

Sexier.

This is all to say that throughout Red Riding Hood, I felt extremely bad for the cast and crew involved, as it seems like most of them were definitely strapped for cash and needed something to pay their heating bills. Amanda Seyfried is always an interesting screen presence, but most of the movie here takes her personality away and leaves her to just be on the side as everything else sort of happens around her. Which, like I said before, is a big shame, because it’s a fantasy tale, told by the viewpoint of a woman, but sadly, they go nowhere with this character, or Seyfried’s talents as an actress.

Same goes for just about everybody else who dares to show their face in this. Virginia Madsen and Billy Burke are just hanging around as the parents, only called on for emotional cues; Fernandez and Irons are just hot, and that’s about it; Julie Christie tries as the grand-mom, but really seems to be in a whole other movie, completely; and Lukas Haas, well, is just here. The only one who dares to make this movie any bit better is, unsurprisingly, Gary Oldman.

Oldman’s always a great performer, but here, it seemed like he came ready to play and didn’t care what everybody else in the movie was doing. Oldman probably saw that the movie was about the classic Riding Hood tale, realized that it was probably a bit of a goof, did it, and decided that, because he’s Gary Oldman and all, can do whatever the hell he wants. So what if everybody else around him is sulking and drop-dead serious? Gary Oldman has a voice to use and holler with, so screw all that other nonsense! I wish I could say that I was sad to see Oldman in this movie here, but honestly, it seemed like the guy was having a blast and helped me to sort of do so, as well.

Although, when he’s gone, everything else about Red Riding Hood falls apart and that’s about it.

So be it.

Consensus: Despite the onslaught of talent, Red Riding Hood is too dull, aimless and boring to actually do much of anything fun or interesting with its old tale and instead, try its hardest to appeal to a broader audience who, quite frankly, probably won’t be interested in this anyway.

2.5 / 10

Oh, man! Sexy as hell! More Oldman! More! More! More!

Oh, man! Sexy as hell! More Oldman! More! More! More!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Mama (2013)

A mother’s love can be just so damn smothering sometimes, am I right fellow young adolescent males?

After the Stock Market crashes, Jeffrey (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) kills his wife and takes his two daughters somewhere unexplained to us. However, as he’s driving around in the mountains with the kiddies in the back, his car, literally, takes a sharp turn for the worse and lands the three in a remote part of the snow-infested woods. And then, lo and behold, Jeffrey finds a remote cabin these woods and decides that it’s time to not only end his life, but his kids’ lives as well. Just as he’s about to off his kids, he is all of a sudden snatched up and killed by something very, very mysterious that the girls are originally scared by, but in a strange way, embrace. Fast forward five years later, and we have Jeffrey’s identical twin brother Lucas (still played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) searching for these girls as if they were his own. Just as Lucas is about to give all sorts of hope and call it quits on the search parties, something miraculous happens: THE GIRLS ARE FOUND!! They’re pretty messed-up in the head, but being stranded, all alone, and left to fend for yourselves for a whole five years will do that to ya, so Lucas decides to take them in and raise them in a normal family they deserve. Two problems though: 1.) Lucas gal-pal (Jessica Chastain) doesn’t really take kindly to children, and 2.) that very, very mysterious being that snatched up and killed his brother all of these years before, is somehow still with those girls, AND IN THAT HOUSE!!

Save paper! Color the walls!

Save paper! Color the walls!

Okay, so yeah, maybe I went a bit overboard with that plot-synopsis, but regardless, you get the drift of this movie: Creepy girls get adopted, creepy girls start doing creepy things, innocent people get thrown into the mix, doors start closing and opening unexpectedly, heads start flying, etc., etc. You’ve all seen it done a million times before, and trust me, Mama is no exception to the rule. It’s essentially a haunted house movie where kids act strange, have an “imaginary friend”, and better yet, feature characters that have never, ever dealt with this type of paranormal activity in their lives before, EVER. Lucky for us though, none of them have the ability to work a hand-held camera (from what we know of), and even luckier for us, the movie ain’t all that bad, especially if you take into consideration just how truly lame and unoriginal the horror genre has gotten as of late.

So yeah, what makes a horror movie a good horror movie, is the scares, which this movie has plenty of because it focuses on its dark atmosphere and mood. For once, I felt like I was watching a horror movie where not only did the scares feel deserved, but they continued to have me expecting the most conventional thing to happen, and then somewhat surprise me giving me something new in front of my face. Doesn’t always happen, and once our ghost of the two-hours shows up more than a handful of times by the end, it feels like a jumping-of-the-shark, but nonetheless, the movie caught me off-guard more times than I expected. And that’s coming from somebody who isn’t the biggest horror fan, and from somebody who knows what to expect, when, and how when it comes to a horror movie. Don’t get me wrong, I can still have fun with a horror movie, but you have to make me feel like it’s worth my time and effort.

This was one of those times, and that’s partially credited to the fact that the movie also has characters worth caring about and investing your emotions in. For the most part, anyway.

Perhaps the oddest selling-point behind this movie that probably worked wonders for it back in late-January when it first came out (aka, the same time around when Chastain was up for an Oscar), was that she suddenly went all goth for this role. She has the black hair, the arm-tats, the extraneous amount of eye-liner, and heck, even plays bass in a pseudo-punk rock band. So basically, she’s supposed to be this wholesome, cutie pie, dressed down and all dolled up to look like this anarchistic bad ass that doesn’t like kids and never, ever wants to get preggo. In essence, she’s the woman of my dreams, minus all of the black make-up and hair. That I can do without.

"Too method", I guess?

“Too method”, I guess?

Appearances aside, Chastain is still very good as Annabel because even though she is a bad ass that doesn’t give a flying hoot about having kids, or better yet, raising them, she still makes for a sympathetic character because her transition from “arms-length adoptive mother, to loving and caring adoptive mother”, feels real and honest, even if her main competition for these girls’ whole heart, love, and affection is the ghost of a woman who died almost hundreds and hundreds of years ago. But hey, maybe that’s why she’s one of the most exciting and promising faces we have out there working today! We need an actress like her to take material that’s conventional and by-the-numbers, and find some emotion behind it all that goes deeper than the surface-level. More of her will definitely do us all good. You can count on that fact.

And Nikolaj Coster-Waldau ain’t so bad either as her more endearing boyfriend, Lucas, but he gets knocked out of the game about half-way through due to a coma, which leaves us plenty of time to care for Annabel, as well as these little girls, Victoria and Lilly. Speaking of these girls, both Megan Charpentie and Isabelle Nélisse do some solid jobs with what they had to do, which didn’t look easy since a lot of it consisted of being creepy, using their eyes to convey emotion, and just being kids, while also not being over-bearing and annoying like most kids in movies seem to come across as. While one has more lines to say than the other, both girls show that they may have a bright future ahead of themselves, if they don’t let mommy and daddy take over their lives and get an edumication. Because honestly, when you’re the centerpiece of a major, big-budget horror movie that goes #1 for two weeks in a row, do you really need to worry about learning how to write in cursive? Hell naw!!! Lord knows I didn’t want to and look how I turned out…..

Consensus: May not be a game-changer in the slightest bit, but Mama is still an effective horror flick that’s chock-full of some worthy scares, worthy characters, and best of all, a worthy story that takes some surprising turns you don’t expect it to go through with, especially with that ending.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Christmas Card material? You bet your ass it is! Especially if you're a sick, twisted fuck like me! Mwhaahahaah!

Christmas Card material? You bet your ass it is! Especially if you’re a sick, twisted fuck like me! Mwhaahahaah!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net