Monday, November 21, 2011

Why did I Get Married too?

I heard a lot of bad things about this movie before I watched it (and not just from the same people who bash everything tyler Perry does, even fans of the original "Why did I Get Married" have a lot of problems with this one) so I was apprehensive about watching it. After watching it, I can definitely see why a lot of people don't like it. the first half hour to 45 minutes of this movie feels like we're all just standing around waiting for a plot to happen, because I don't really understand the reason for the movie. It's great to see all the characters again, but I didn't really understand what the movie was going to be about for a long time. I think it takes too long to get going and that lag in the first 45 minutes just feels kind of awkward.

Once things get going though, they hit with a BANG. Let me say that in the first movie, while I liked Patricia (Janet Jackson's character) she felt kind of cold and distant to me and I kind of wished she'd lose it a little and scream and yell and cry a bit. anything to break that wall she'd seemed to build around herself to keep her emotions locked inside. well, let me tell you, in this movie, she doesn't just lose it a little, she loses it a LOT. both she AND Gavin (who was kind of cold and distant himself) spend a lot of this movie yelling and screaming and breaking things, and while I know it's not the healthiest way to express yourself, I appreciated it because I know how harmful it can be to hold in your emotions because you think there's something wrong with expressing them (in fact, this movie might be a perfect example of WHY you shouldn't hold everything in until you explode and start breaking coffee tables with a golf club). In this movie, Gavin and Patricia are still struggling with grief over their son's death, and Gavin is reaching a breaking point over Patricia's refusal to let him in. For Patricia's part, the facade of successful therapist and author is starting to crumble around her, and when it cracks, it EXPLODES.

The other couples are going through tough times too, of course. Marcus and Angela are always fighting, but it seems that Angela's lack of trust is hitting a high point and Marcus is getting sick of always having to defend himself against her attacks. Dianne and Terry had the little boy that Terry always wanted, but Terry is starting to suspect that Dainne's recent happiness has more to do with another man than with he and the kids. Sheila and her new husband Troy are handling the stress of having a new baby, moving to a new state, and dealing with Troy's unemployment, as well as Mike's sudden interest in getting back into his ex wife's life. I have to say, Mike redeemed himself in this movie. I spent most of the first movie wanting to beat the shit out of him, but in this movie at one point I actually yelled at the screen "Oh my God, no one learned ANYTHING from the first movie except MIKE!" Mike starts off slow, but by the end of the movie, he seems like a genuinely good guy, and I can finally see what everyone saw in him being friends with him all those years.

This movie isn't perfect. It kind of feels like a truncated season of a TV show rather than a movie, so it feels like a lot is left out, but there's enough good here that I enjoyed the movie, cried a little, laughed a little, and actually wouldn't mind seeing a third installment if tyler Perry is inclined to make one. I can definitely see why people didn't like this movie, and the awkwardness is a bit much to handle, but it has enough good that I enjoyed watching it and wouldn't mind adding it to my collection as well.

Why did I Get Married?

I always get a lot of crap for liking Tyler Perry movies. I don't know what this man did, but whatever it was, it was bad enough to make some people rabidly hate him and bash everything he makes. If you don't like his movies, fine, but I happen to like them, so leave me the hell alone. not only that, but I think his movies keep getting better and better. this movie is a case in point. I didn't think it would be possible for me to love one of his movies more than "I Can Do Bad all by Myself," but I think "Why Did I Get Married?" might be even better than that, which is a feat I never thought he'd achieve.

This movie introduces us to four couples who meet every year for a week long marriage retreat, to re-evaluate why they love each other so much and why they want to stay married. Marcus and Angela are always fighting, loudly and everywhere about anything and everything. Dianne and terry love each other, but Dianne's job keeps her away from home most nights, and they don't seem to see eye to eye about having another baby. Gavin and Patricia are the core of the group. Patricia is a successful author and therapist who wrote the book detailing the principles the couples use to evaluate their marriages during the retreat. They love each other, but they've recently suffered a devastating loss, and they don't seem to know how to relate and reconnect anymore. And then there's Sheila and Mike. Sheila is overweight (a fact that Mike harps on all the time during his constant put-downs) is harried and at her wit's end trying to figure out how to save her marriage. Mike is emotionally and verbally abusive, constantly bashing everything Sheila is and does and making cracks about her appearance every chance he gets. he seems to have no interest in saving his marriage, even bringing along another woman to the marriage retreat (who is supposed to be a friend of Sheila's but doesn't act very friendly toward her, instead choosing to be friendly toward Mike).

Each of these couples have problems, but it is Mike and Sheila's marriage that caught my interest the most. I'll admit it, I spent most of the movie wanting to jump through the screen and beat Mike in the face. He is such a jerk to his wife, always putting her down, so much so that she often does it herself, without his help, even when other people compliment her or her looks. It's heartbreaking to see her reach out to Mike over and over again in an attempt to reconnect, only to have him beat her down again. the other couples aren't faring well either, finding that the things that are driving them apart are getting stronger than their attempts to hold everything together. during a climactic dinner party scene, all the secrets come out, and the fallout from that dinner party will take a lot to repair...if repair is even possible.

I really liked all these couples (well, except for Mike) so I was rooting for them to get their acts together (again, except for Mike...the only thing I wanted him to get together was a long fall off a cliff). The movie really touched me. I spent most of it crying, and laughing, and crying. angela is responsible for most of the laughs here. I loved seeing her take everyone to task and stand up for her friends. Because of the scenes with Mike putting Sheila down, the movie is often hard to watch, but I definitely think it's worthwhile.

Rabbit Hole

I tend to have the attention spam of a flea these days, as I've said before, so when I first started this movie I had no idea what was going on and I had to turn it off after about 20 minutes and come back to it later to give it another chance. I really like Nicole Kidman, so I wasn't about to pass the movie by without giving her a chance, and it turns out that this is really a good movie, though it's very subtle and quiet in its storytelling, so I really had to pay attention to fully appreciate what was going on.

The plot of the movie is that this couple has recently lost their young son to an accident, and they're trying to work through their grief and put their lives back together while everything seems to be falling apart around them. they try to go to a grief counseling group, but that just seems to be awkward and not much help (and the parents who say losing a child is "all part of God's plan" really piss them off, which I don't blame them for). Family and friends don't really know what to say to help, and they don't know what to say to each other, so they sort of float through life in this trancelike state, wondering if things are ever going to get better.

It's harrowing stuff, and without giving anything away, I can say that this movie doesn't offer easy resolutions or pat answers, and there are scenes that are hard to watch because the movie refuses to sugar coat the awkward, heart-wrenching feeling of not knowing how to pick up the pieces after a tragedy. I'm impressed that this movie was willing to go there and stay there, even when its hard to watch. Definitely worth checking out, though it's not always easy to watch.


The funny thing about this movie is that a few months ago, I hadn't even heard of it. Around the time the October horror movie challenge was going on, I heard a few people mention that they'd seen it and that it was a decent independent horror flick, and so I added it to my blockbuster queue based solely upon that recommendation. I knew nothing about this movie, didn't even know what it was about, and I couldn't really tell from the cover picture (is that kid a vampire or a zombie?) So I got this movie in the mail and I let it sit around my house for about a week, and then one day I'm tired and bored so I decide to watch the movies I got from Blockbuster, but I don't know if I'm in the mood to watch "Colin," so I decide that if I'm too tired after watching the first two movies, I'll just return it without watching it. I watch the other two movies and I figure I'll give "Colin" a shot, too, so I put it in, and then proceed to spend the next two hours glued to the screen, transfixed. I LOVED this movie, and it cracks me up not how a movie went from being one I wasn't even interested in watching to being one of the best horror movies I've seen this year.

"Colin" is a zombie movie (not a vampire movie, just to clear that up) and it's unlike any other zombie movie I've ever seen. Most of those movies feature people running from the zombies and the suspense comes from wondering if they will escape the zombies or not. In this movie, the main character, Colin, becomes a zombie in the first few minutes of the movie, and the rest of the movie is spent watching life from his perspective. that might sound boring (I know I sure as hell wouldn't have given the movie a chance if I'd known that this was the premise, because who wants to see a zombie lurch around for two hours?) but somehow, it works. Colin isn't a typical brain-dead member of some flesh eating horde. He clearly has some consciousness left, and it's sad to watch him stagger around, not really fitting into the zombie world any better than he fit into the human world. It's sad to see Colin's family react to him as well, since they obviously want to find some way to cure him but it doesn't seem to be possible, though this doesn't stop them from loving him and being sad that he's gone (even while he's technically still alive). That drama is handled well and adds to the overall sad feeling of the movie.

The special effects aren't anything spectacular, but I was impressed as hell with how real they looked (especially considering that this movie was supposedly made for about 70 US dollars...this makes me want to go out and make my own movie, if a movie this good can be made that cheaply). I was seriously blown away by this movie. every time I started to think "Ok, this is getting kind of long, it can end now" the movie would toss some other plot twist at me and get me hooked all over again. It's such an impressive movie that I want to run out and buy a copy (and buy copies for all my friends). Well worth checking out. Tell all your friends.

Somebody Help Me

You know, I watched "Somebody Help Me" after I watched a movie that many consider to be a "cult classic" and an "underrated cinematic gem" and blah blah blah blah blah, so I probably had a better experience than I would have had otherwise, but I really enjoyed the hell out of this movie. I like slashers to begin with, so I'm always up for a movie about a group of friends going to a secluded location and getting picked off one by one by a sadistic killer. I've wanted to see this movie since it first came out, and I'm kind of glad I waited, because getting to see it (a movie that of course gets no respect from anyone) after seeing a movie that everyone slathers with praise highlighted for me the reason why I like this movie and why I have great amounts of disdain for the other one. That movie, to be sure, had some scenes that were brilliant, but hey were buried under piles of boring crap. This movie, while never approaching anything "genius" or "brilliant" nevertheless was a TON more fun to watch than the other one, because this movie was consistently entertaining, whereas that other movie had flashed of brilliance that were lost in a sea of pointless crap that had me wanting to gouge my own eyes out from sheer boredom.

This movie has a premise we've probably all heard before. A group of college students goes to spend a weekend partying in a secluded cabin. There's a sadistic madman on the loose, and when their friends start disappearing one by one, these characters must try to put a stop to the killer before it's too late. I definitely enjoyed how the movie's tagline that there are things worse than death plays out in the movie. seeing some of what this madman does to his victims is pretty freaky, and the worst part is imagining being kept alive praying for rescue, waiting for help that doesn't come. It's nothing I haven't seen before, but the movie did well with its premise.

Also, the acting was WAAAAYYYYYY better than a lot of what we see in movies like this. the two main actors, Marques Houston and Omarion, interact and exchange dialogue that makes it easy to believe they are friends. Sometimes the dialogue in movies like this can be painful to watch, but it was fun watching these two onscreen because they sounded like actual friends talking, not two guys who sound like they're reciting their lines. I appreciated the effort, and it made me like their characters more.

The plot isn't really original, but it had some touches that added to the suspense. Little kids always up the creep factor in movies like this, and this one was no exception. The characters also fight for their lives instead of standing around waiting to be picked off, which made me root for them, and they actually have a halfway intelligent reason for staying at the house instead of running away once people start disappearing, which always helps. all in all, this movie isn't anything groundbreaking, but it made this slasher fan happy, and that's all I asked for.


Here's the thing about John Frankenheimer, the director of this movie, and I have to get this out of the way before I say anything else. Everyone goes on and on about what a genius he is, and it frustrates me and makes me want to pull all the hair out of my head. Not because I don't think Frankenheimer is a genius, but because he IS. If he weren't, if he were a two-bit hack who should never be allowed near a camera for any reason, then I would be fine with his movies. I would probably even love them, because the moments when his movies transcend their medium and become not just films but ART, those moments would shine if he weren't a very good director. I would be impressed and I'd probably fall all over myself to praise him too. Because he rose above my expectations and created something great.

Here's the thing, though. Because John Frankenheimer IS a great director, because I KNOW he's capable of creating art, and BECAUSE his movies are full of genuinely great moments, I can't just sit here and praise him. I can't give him a pass when over half an hour of this movie is blathering, plodding, slow, boring, mind-numbingly pointless, and insulting to my intelligence. BECAUSE John Frankenheimer knows better, and because he is capable of creating some of the GREAT scenes on display in this movie, I have to take him to task for wasting my time with over half an hour of useless footage that bogs this movie down when it could have been an hour long and been a BRILLIANT film. It would have made a great movie if he'd cut all the pointless stuff that we don't need to see, all the repetitive garbage that's supposed to make us feel disoriented and send us into a dreamlike state, but is more likely to send us into an ACTUAL dream state when we fall asleep out of pure boredom. THIS is what pisses me off about John Frankenheimer. He ALWAYS does this crap. He did it in his OTHER movie I saw, called "Prophecy" (not to be confused with "THE Prophecy" with a creepy christopher Walken) and it makes me want to track him down and smack him in the face for not only wasting my time but for ruining a movie that would have been great if he'd gotten out of his own goddamn way and learned when to shut the fuck up and leave well enough alone.

The premise of this movie is intriguing, and like any good episode of The Twilight Zone, the movie keeps it enough under wraps to disorient us while keeping us intrigued and wanting to know more. Basically, a man who is dissatisfied with his life encounters an organization that offers him a chance to start his life anew. Plastic surgery gives him an all-new appearance, he gets a new job and a new place to live and a new life. It's a dream come true...or is it? The thing is, since it took like, two sentences for me to explain this premise to you and I'm sure you understood it, there's no need for Frankenheimer to try and beat the idea into our heads that this guy is uncomfortable in this new life, that things aren't perfect, and that he's not happy. We get that point. we got it BEFORE we started the movie, so to spend over a half hour of useless, boring, repetitive, redundant, bullshit footage to drive home the point we already understood before we even watched the movie? THAT is the kind of thing that makes me want to track Frankenheimer down and smack him in the face. Seriously, there's a scene involving grapes and wine that drove me into a homicidal rage because it was so repetitive and pointless. I'm also sure that an audience who was used to seeing Rock Hudson laughing it up with Doris Day was freaked out at the thought that someone wouldn't want to live Rock Hudson's life. The idea that even "beautiful, successful people" can have horrible lives probably added to the shock value for this movie back when it was released. I honestly wish this movie was better, because there are so many positive things going for it that it's really infuriating to see Frankenheimer systematically ruin them one by one. Sure, the ending was powerful, but did I really have to wade through so much shit to get there? If I could edit out the pointless bullshit scenes and make this movie into the hour long masterpiece it's begging to be, I would, but as it stands, it's a great idea buried under a pile of shit that is worth a watch for sure, but is infuriating because it could have been so much more if Frankenheimer had known when to shut the fuck up and leave well enough alone.

Never Let Me Go

now this is a movie that takes some settling in before I can write a fair review. I tend to have the attention span of a flea these days, and I've wanted to see this movie for over a year, but when I finally put it in the DVD player, my attention was wandering around the room, and I didn't understand why I should care about what was happening to these characters, and I was tempted to turn the movie off. then the movie jumps ahead, and these "kids" are in their late teens/early college years, and again, I don't really understand why I should give a crap about what's going on, though at least there's some drama now that they're old enough for a love triangle to crop up. then the movie jumps ahead AGAIN, and at this point I kind of want to stab the filmmakers, but what happens in this third act manages to tie everything that came before together so beautifully that it made my heart ache, and it totally changed my view of everything that had come before. I'm just glad I was patient enough to get to that point.

First of all, let me say that I wasn't kidding when I said my attention was wandering. somehow, I was glancing around the room and so I missed what was apparently a rather lengthy explanation that flashed across the screen in the beginning of the movie. I managed to figure out most of what was going on without reading this explanation, but I recommend you read it, because it helps put everything you're seeing into a context and it makes the events of the movie make much more sense. Essentially, it is the future, and science has discovered a way for people to live well past the age of 100, but it comes at what I think is a pretty horrific cost. The children in the boarding school in this movie are clones, and they will live out their childhood and teenage years, and then when they reach a certain age, they will begin having their organs harvested. their organs are then transplanted into other people, thereby allowing the other people to live for many more years after their original organs fail.


Seriously, this premise freaked me out. It still freaks me out. I mean, brrr. I used to watch movies and read books like this and enjoy seeing a world that was so different from my world, but now when I read these books or watch these movies, all I can think about is what will happen if our world BECOMES this world? It's a frightening world to have to imagine. These kids are basically harvested for spare parts until they can no longer survive and they die, and society deems this as ok because these kids are cloned from the dregs of society (drug addicts, prostitutes, the poor unwashed, you get the idea). So society sees nothing wrong with using these kids for spare parts because they don't see these kids as people. Um, ew. The explanation that flashed across the screen sets this up, but I missed it, so I didn't understand why the boarding school scenes were important because nothing significant seems to happen. the kids take classes, make some art, and hang out, but nothing groundbreaking is going on. It's only with the revelations in the third act where we learn WHY these activities were so important that the early scenes start to have more of an impact.

The acting in this movie is top notch. I love Kiera Knightly and Carey Mulligan anyway, but they really shine in this movie. their roles are complex and they manage to portray characters that aren't always the easiest to understand. I mean, it would be easy to want to hate Kiera Knightly's character for being such a self-centered bitch, but then none of us really know what it's like to know from the moment that we're born when we're going to die and how, to know we're going to waste away so someone else somewhere can live a long and happy life, so in that context, it's hard to blame her for wanting to carve out some happiness for herself. And it's easy to want to reach through the screen and smack Carey Mulligan's character for being so passive and accepting this horrible society without trying to fight for anything for herself, but again, we don't live in this society where everything is so set in stone and everything is accepted, even this horrific system for harvesting people for their organs, so it's hard not to admire her for being strong and caring in the face of what is a pretty terrifying fate. Andrew Garfield does a great job here, too. The scene at the end with him smiling at Carey Mulligan through a window is such a quiet scene, but it haunts me. It's stuck in my mind and won't go away. That's a lot of power for one scene to have, and it's just one reason why I loved this movie so much.

I have to say, I wound up loving this movie and I want to read the book now and I want to buy the movie and watch it a million more times. It's very quiet and subtle at the beginning, but give it a chance. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011 October Horror Movie Challenge Movie 81: Paranormal Activity 3

So knowing that the first movie frightened me into hysterics, what did I do? Why I decided to watch the second and third installments on the same night, within hours of each other, and I nearly gave myself a heart attack.

Here's the thing with these movies. They don't have a lot of special effects; they're just regular people hanging out in their house when suddenly things start happening that can't really be explained by natural causes, and the people get more and more frightened and everything builds to a conclusion that usually doesn't end favorably for everyone involved. In most movies like this, you scream for the people to get out of the house, but in these movies that won't necessarily help, because the evil is attached to the people, not to the house, so it can follow them even if they move. Furthermore, the demon/evil presence thing seems to feed on fear, so the more people get scared of it, the stronger it grows. Even trying to cast it out seems to give it the attention it needs to grow stronger. It's impossible to fight. The only way to stop it is to give it whatever it wants, which is usually something indispensable, like your soul. It's a terrifying premise for me. That's why, no matter how cheesy the movies get, the underlying mythology of what's happening to these people is enough to make my skin crawl right off my body and hide in the closet. And even there it's not safe.

This movie certainly has its flaws. The video quality, being from the 80s (supposedly) is bad, and sometimes it's hard to see what's going on, and the twisty explanation for the events onscreen is a little hokey, though I think in the end it works. I'll be honest with you. I love children, I adore them, I think they're wonderful...but they creep me OUT sometimes. This movie is chock full of little kid creepiness. It also has some gags involving regular household objects falling or flying around that manage to creep me out. One particular scene involving a white bedsheet probably shouldn't have worked, but it scared me so badly that I screamed and cried (it is embarrassing to watch movies with me in a theater). Once the characters finally realize what is going on it's mostly too late, and the climax of this movie really had me torn. On the one hand, I was tempted to roll my eyes at the cheesiness of it, on the other, I was thinking in the back of my mind "damn, I have to go home alone after this and sleep..." not a good thing. Every noise in the house was amplified and seemed sinister and foreboding.

That's the thing about these movies. They feature regular people in regular houses, except in these movies, those noises, those bumps in the night you hear when you're lying alone in bed at night? The ones you tell yourself are nothing? They are SOMETHING. something evil that can come after you and stalk you throughout the years until it finally kills you. Nighty-nightmares! That is what makes the movies work for me. In spite of everything that may be wrong with them, they remind me that every little spooky noise I hear could be an evil thing that wants to kill me (like I needed another excuse not to ever sleep again). The movie may not be great, but I do think it's good, and it will probably haunt my dreams for awhile after watching it. If you like these movies, give the third one a chance. Sweet dreams.

2011 October Horror Movie Challenge Movie 80: Hush, hush Sweet Charlotte

I love this movie. I mean I LOVELOVELOVE this movie. Really I do. I watched it back when I was a kid and every twisted twist shocked me, and I loved seeing the evil people who do evil things being haunted by the evil they created. It was like watchung one of those old "Tales from the Crypt" and "Vault of Horror" and "Haunt of Fear" stories come to life, and in a lot of ways it was creepier and more effective than the TV show "Tales from the Crypt" ever managed to be. Don't get me wrong, I loved that show, but there's something about reading one of those stories, where despicable people commit despicable acts and are then haunted by something trying to get revenge from beyond the grave that never translated well onto film for me, until I saw this movie when I was ten. Here, houses are haunted by more than ghosts. They are haunted by memories and past misdeeds can catch up to you even years later, and people aren't always what they seem, and things can be so disorienting and confusing that it's hard to know who is a friend and who is out to harm you.

That's the mystery haunting Charlotte in this movie. Years ago, she was all set to run away with her married lover, but her father wouldn't allow it, and on the night she was supposed to escape with him, he was murdered. The image of Charlotte walking into the ballroom of her father's mansion covered in blood and confused about what was going on is a GREAT image that still holds up to this day. Of course, no one was able to pin the murder on Charlotte, but in the small town in which she lived, everyone had her tried and convicted, so she grew to be an old recluse in her father's decaying mansion, getting more and more eccentric every day. By the 1960s, the state is set to tear down the mansion that has been her home and her prison, and she doesn't know what to do. Her cousin Miriam returns, ostensibly to help her, but what really happened all those years ago when the man Charlotte loved was murdered? And what is haunting Charlotte now, trying to scare her to death? Is it her lover's ghost?

This was the first gothic mystery I ever saw as a kid, and it stuck with me. Looking through the gallery of movie posters trying to find the best one to include with this review, I was happy to see this movie has been translated into many languages and seems to be beloved by lots of other people besides me. I'm glad, because I honestly think this is a great movie and I don't often see it getting the praise it deserves. Of course the "mystery" has a solution that is blatantly obvious to me now, but it shocked me as a kid, and even now after seeing this movie many many times over the years, the climax is still just as explosive as it was when I first saw it. I couldn't ask for a better ending. Give this movie a chance. It may be old and dated now, but every time I watch it, it peels back the years to my childhood, and suddenly I'm ten years old again, rooting for the mystery to be solved and the truth to come out and the troubled spirits finally get their revenge. Like I said, I loved it then and I love it now and if you watch it, I hope you have as much fun with it as I do. Happy Halloween.

2011 October Horror Movie Challenge Movie 79: Pandorum

I've heard so many mixed things about this movie that I didn't know what to expect. I heard everything from "It's great!" to "It's the worst movie of the year!" and everything in between, so I was unsure about checking it out. One comparison stuck with me, though. someone compared it to another horror/sci-fi movie set on a spaceship, a movie called "Event Horizon," and while I love and adore that movie, a lot of other people hate it, so trusting that the case might be the same with this movie, I decided to buy it and check it out in spite of my reservations. And I'm glad I did.

You know those movies where a group of people wake up to find themselves in a place and they aren't sure how they got there or what's going on and they're fuzzy about the details of their lives leading up to whatever brought them together? The "Saw" movies trade on this scenario a lot, and it's a good one because it's disorienting and confusing and puts the audience at the same disadvantage as the characters in the movie: they don't know what's going on, and they have to find out along with the characters. "Pandorum" uses this setup. A man wakes up in a hypersleep chamber on a spaceship, gets out and is confused about what's going on and what brought him to be where he is. Soon another guy wakes from hypersleep too, and they try to figure out what's going on together.

Crawling through the air vent system in a spaceship is a claustrophobic experience, it would seem, and this movie uses that to great effect. The guys encounter lots of strange things along the way, and they split up and communicate with walkie-talkie like things, and that adds to the tension because each of them are discovering things separately and neither they nor the audience is sure exactly what's going on. Memories return in fits and starts, and soon the men find they aren't alone on the huge, cavernous ship. there are creatures that appear humanoid but are violent and dangerous, and there are other humans aboard, each providing a different piece of the puzzle. Once everything is revealed, it's a fight for survival against horrors both real and imagined (or are they?)

As you can probably tell, this is a very disorienting movie. I actually had to check out the movie's wikipedia page after I was done watching it to make sure I had everything straight, but I don't consider that a bad thing, necessarily. It's a complex plot with a lot of heady imagery and some philosophical ideas mixed in with action and horror, and I loved it, honestly, but I can see why a lot of people didn't. People claim this movie is derivative, and to some extent it is. There's some bits of "Event Horizon" and "Alien" and "Pitch Black" and the "Saw" movies and probably a ton of other movies thrown in here, but it's never so obvious that I thought the movie was actively stealing something from other movies. Rather, I just saw it as showing things that are universally scary and confusing and interesting, and since these experiences are common to a lot of people, they're going to crop up in a lot of movies and books. that doesn't means anyone is stealing from anyone else, it just means that we humans have a common language, and while we have a ton of differences, we also have a lot of experiences and feelings in common, so often we find ourselves telling the same story in a lot of different ways in order to better understand our world.

That sounds like a lot of claptrap, I'm sure. It kind of sounds that way to me, and I'm the one writing it. But I'm serious when I say that this movie has a lot of elements in common with a lot of other movies, but it doesn't "STEAL" anything, it just uses some of the same things to tell its own story, and I don't see that as a bad thing. I like the disorientation of the movie, the thrill of trying to put the puzzle pieces together as they are revealed to us and to the characters, and I like the idea of "pandorum," which is a term for a condition that can affect people in hypersleep, causing them to get shaky and confused and eventually to have delusions and become dangerous and violent. An early scene showing one instance of what happened on a ship where one of the crew suffered from pandorum is very creepy. That image is still stuck in my mind right now as I'm typing this. It gives me the heebie-jeebies and enhances the scariness of my experience. And while I kind of guessed the final "twist" early on because yes, it has been used to some extent in other movies, that's not a bad thing and there are enough other twists along the way to keep me occupied. the bottom line is that not everyone will like this movie, but I think you should give it a fair shake and see it before you decide you think it's a derivative piece of crap. I for one loved it (of course; I don't do anything the way anyone else does).

2011 October Horror Movie Challenge Movie 78: The Hills Run Red

This movie starts off great, then after an hour it turns kind of stupid and annoying, but by the final shot, it's turned itself around enough that I definitely liked it in spite of not liking its twist at first. In the beginning, the movie is about a horror movie geek who is obsessed with finding out the backstory behind "The Hills Run red," an infamous movie released during the 80s slasher craze that was pulled from theaters right after its release for being too sadistic and violent. I feel for the film nerd here, because I would definitely want to track down that movie, too, though I'd like to think I'd be smarter about it than he is.

The interpersonal dramas in this movie were well done, too. Let's just say that the relationship our main nerd Tyler has with his girlfriend is strained, and his best friend has been less than truthful with him as well. When Tyler tracks down the daughter of the director who originally made the film, he finds that she's a drug addict turning tricks in order to get by,. He forces her to get sober and enlists her help in finding the original locations of the movie and helping him flesh out the story for a documentary he's planning. Once the group starts off into the woods following the trail of the director, the movie is set up to be a cool slasher.

This is where things take a turn, and to be honest, I didn't appreciate the twist at first. It got on my nerves, even though I had suspected it to some extent, and I had a hard time with this movie's final hour. there's a lot that's good in it, but there's also some stupid and cheesy overacting from people who had been competent in their performances up to that point, and I was more angry than scared. But like I said, by the final shot of the film, everything has tied itself up into a sufficiently creepy package, so I forgave the movie its faults and enjoyed it for what it was; a better than average slasher movie tailor made for people like me who are huge slasher fans. If you're a fan of slashers, this one is definitely worth checking out.

2011 October Horror Movie Challenge Movie 77: Paranormal Activity 2

I feel that I should explain my history with this movie. The first Paranormal Activity scared the shit out of me. I mean I turned on every light in the house and sat up all night crying and singing hymns, afraid to close my eyes. THAT kind of scared. I know that a lot of people think these movies are stupid, and I understand where that is coming from. Take this sequel. A great majority of this movie really does feel like you're watching some stranger's home movies. The original had a better balance of rising and falling action, I think. Scary things would happen, but even when nothing scary was happening, I got enough information about what the characters were going through that I cared about what was happening to them.

In this movie, I seriously timed 25 minutes of nothing happening before anything actually happened. I know the main characters were supposed to have returned home to find their house ransacked and we're supposed to think some ghostly force did it (though they don't suspect that at first) but that doesn't count as scary for me, because we didn't actually SEE anything ghostly happen, just the aftermath. BORING. And the rest of the video falls flat. The dad comes out to the pool to find the pool cleaner has somehow made it out onto the patio every morning, but that's not very scary, and the geniuses still don't suspect anything at first, because they're dipshits.

Once scary things do start happening, though, I think this movie picks up and holds its own and manages to be creepy as well as having a mean-spirited streak that I enjoyed with a twist at the end. I definitely dug it, though it didn't scare me as much pound for pound as the original movie did. Still a very spooky movie to kick off my Halloween night.