Friday, November 1, 2013

Horror Challenge #106: "Mama"

So watching this movie last night, my friends and I concluded that Guillermo Del Toro must have had a terrible childhood, because terrible things happen to kids in all his movies that we could think of.  Just kidding really, but seriously, the poor kids in his movies never stand a chance.  In a way I like it, because a lot of movies don't seem to have the guts to show horrible things happening to children, or children doing terrible things, and since these are HORROR movies, and their goal is to HORRIFY, I think they should be more willing to show such things even if those things are horrible (that's their JOB after all).

The things that happen to these poor girls in this movie are indeed horrible.  Their parents are dispatched early in the movie, and they wind up cold and alone in a creepy abandoned cabin in the woods with only the spirit of a long dead woman to raise them.  They regress to an almost animal like state, and they live that way for five years because the police in this town are the most incompetent police ever to wander into a horror movie.  Once the girls are finally rescued, they go to live with their uncle who never gave up on the hope of finding them, and then creepy things start happening because it seems that the ghost that kept the girls safe all those years in the woods doesn't want them to leave her...ever.

The thing about horror movies is that often, even the dumbest B horror movies follow the age old pattern of fairy tales: there's a natural order to the world, and something comes along to disrupt that natural order, and something must happen to restore that natural order so that good can triumph over evil.  For example, parents are supposed to love and care for their children and protect their children, but when parents do terrible things to their children, something must happen to stop that evil from touching the children, so that the children can go back to being loved and cared for and protected again, so that the world can be restored to the way it should be.  Even campy slasher movies have hints of this pattern (people are happy, bad guy starts killing them, someone defeats bad guy so people can go back to living and being happy)..

In "Mama," the natural order of the world is subverted in a bunch of ways in just the first ten minutes of the movie.  Spouses are supposed to love and protect their partners, not do terrible things to them, parents are supposed to love and protect and raise their children, not kill them, and that's shot all to hell right from the start in this movie, but someone comes along to set things right.  I really like how at first, the mother figure who will be caring for the girls, their aunt, the wife of the uncle who never gave up on them, is a reluctant hero in that she doesn't really want her role as protector of the children, but she slowly comes to love them and is thus willing to fight for them.  That really got to me. 

I also like how the movie subverts your expectations, because like I said, the expectation is that something comes along to threaten the order of things (the children are put in danger) and something else must battle that evil to restore order (stop the evil, protect the children) and then in this movie, that "protector," the ghost who initially saved and cared for the children, turns sinister and evil when it seems that she will lose the children, because they will come to love their new caregivers and thus won't need her anymore.  Most movies wouldn't have the guts to do what this movie does, which is basically rip my heart out and make me really sad and angry, like every other Guillmero Del Toro movie does, making me sad even when his movies have a happy ending.  The movie isn't perfect, it does some things wrong, like it probably relies too much on CGI, and the cops are dumber than a bag of rocks, so that irks me, but overall it's a dark and nasty little glimpse into the world that I really respected for what it does right.

Horror challenge #105: "The Prophecy II"

So I really enjoyed the first movie in this series, because I like the idea of evil angels battling good angels for the fate of humanity, and Christopher Walken is awesome and he plays an evil bad guy like no one else I know.  I heard that this series deteriorated quickly after the first movie, but I would say that the second movie is as good as the first in my estimation.

The movie is about a woman who encounters a man while driving to work one day (he literally falls out of the sky seemingly and hits her windshield, the literal interpretation of the song "It's Raining Men" I suppose) and she rushes him to the hospital and visits him as he gets better, and they seem to take a liking to each other, so they go back to her apartment one night and have sex.  Sluts.  So this wouldn't really be a bad thing, except that she finds out he is an angel and he had sex with her in order to fulfill a prophecy and impregnate her with a half human half angel child who is supposed to be important in the battle between good and evil.  she's understandably pissed that he used her, and now the evil angel Gabriel (Christopher Walken) has her on his radar and wants to find her and kill her before she can bring this kid into the world.  What a buzzkill.

Having read the bible, I know that angels aren't always the good, benevolent messengers of God that people seem to think they are, and they can be kind of creepy and evil when they want to be, and I like watching any movie where that idea is explored, so I dug this movie.  Plus I love Jennifer Beals and Christopher Walken, so this movie is a win-win on all fronts.

Horror Challenge #104: Supernatural: Season 8: "Bitten" (Wildcard)

This is another standalone episode, and it's one that I will want to point to whenever people say that this show should have been canceled many seasons ago, because this is genuinely a GREAT episode, and I really loved it.  It's about a small town where a killing has taken place, a guy who was ripped apart by what looks like a wild animal, but the biggest animal around is a raccoon, so something bad is going on here.  It's also unique in that Sam and Dean take a backseat in the episode, because the bulk of the episode is found footage shot by some amateur filmmakers who are attending a local university.  I love found footage type movies because I think when they're done well, they can draw me in better than any other type of movie, because they look like something that could actually happen, and this is no exception.  I like the two main characters, best friends who meet a girl who causes a rift because they both like her but she only has eyes for one of them, and the story that plays out as they encounter the big bad evil thing in the episode is sad because I actually cared about the characters.  Like I said, a great episode.

Horror Challenge #103: Supernatural: Season 8: "Heartache" (Wildcard)

This is the first episode of this season that functions mostly as a standalone episode, apart from the story arc of the entire season.  There's some mention of the main story arc of course, with Sam and Dean revealing a little bit more of what happened to them during their months apart, but they spend most of the episode looking for a bad thing that's killing people that has nothing to do with their own personal drama.  I enjoy episodes like this because we get to see them doing what they do best, what drew me to this series in the first place, solving a mystery that has supernatural elements to it.  Here people are getting their hearts ripped out, and no one is really sure why, and Sam and Dean have to figure out what evil bad guy is doing all this and put a stop to it.  Funtimes!

Horror Challenge #102: Supernatural: Season 8: "What's Up, Tiger Mommy?" (Wildcard)

So this is the second episode in season 8, still a little shaky on our feet, not really entirely sure what's gone on with our characters Sam and Dean, and they're not really talking to each other about it either (because they spend half of each season pissy with each other over whatever happened at the end of the previous season...it's what they do).  We get to know Kevin's mother better in this episode, and for a mother who just found out her son is a prophet of the Lord, she's taking it pretty well.  I like this episode because we see that even though she's strict and all, she genuinely loves her son and is willing to sacrifice everything to keep him safe.  Generally I think that's what parents should be like (but they're not, not even close, especially in the world we live in) so even with all the evil surrounding her son, all the demons trying to destroy him, he has someone fighting on his side, and that's what family should be.

Horror Challenge #101: Supernatural: Season 8: "We Need to Talk About Kevin" (Wildcard)

So some people think that the show Supernatural should have ended awhile ago.  Most people disagree on a point, but the general consensus is that it should have stopped at least after season five.  I of course disagree (because I don't do anything the way anyone else does) because I actually think it got BETTER after season 4, more complex and darker and more gray line between good and evil, and I love that stuff.  Season 8 is on rocky ground with this episode, and some things have happened that we don't understand yet and I know they won't be explained until later in the season, but I like that they didn't just abandon characters like Kevin, the prophet of the lord, who was kind of annoying (teenage angst and all) but was still a character I liked and didn't want to see used as a plot device and then tossed aside.  This episode is heavy on backstory, but it still introduced some intriguing ideas, so I am along for the ride.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Horror challenge #100: "Truth or Dare (2012)"

This is a nasty little horror thriller that sends a message that it's a bad idea to bully people, but instead of focusing on the harm bullying can cause, it mostly focuses on the harm people can cause when they avenge bullying.  In the movie, a prank at a party drives a student to do something terrible, and then several months later five friends who were at that party are invited to this kid's birthday party.  they don't like him, but they come for the free booze, only to be held hostage by a maniac and forced to play a game of "Truth or Dare" with deadly consequences.  There's a lot of icky torture scenes in the movie, and even though this group is full of people who are kind of assholes, they still don't deserve what happens to them.  There are a lot of twists along the way and the ending is great.  I really enjoyed this one.