Categories
3 1/2 Stars

Scream (2022)

Being that I saw the original Scream around the ripe age of 11 or so (it was all the hype in fourth grade), it took me some time to understand the “meta” aspect of the film.

Eventually (after seeing Scream 2, the only sequel I would see until now), I would get the references in the original as I would have seen most of the movies the characters have talked about. Thankfully, one does not need to see any of the other sequels to understand the newest Scream film (technically, “Scream 5”).

Categories
5 Stars Movies

Jaws (1975)

Two men stand alone on a pier. One of them hooks a big slab of meat and throws it into the open water. Soon enough, something underneath takes the bait, along with half the pier, dragging one of the men into the depths. Then he swims for his life as the unknown entity chases after him. He gets out in time, but what was chasing him?

That was what I asked my 6 or 7 year old self one day when my dad and older brother were watching Jaws, when I walked into the room. At that time in my life, I had basically no idea what a shark was, much less what it looked like. Naturally, I had to wait and see what it looked like, but we had other things to get done that day and we stopped just before the trip out to kill the shark started. I don’t know how long I had to wait before I saw the beast, but it was on my mind for a long time. 

Categories
4 Stars

The Lighthouse (2019)

When I started my DVD/Blu-Ray collection as a teenager, one of my key rules was that the film had to be in widescreen format. I quickly realized that not all films were made in widescreen, but still preferred the aspect of seeing all the screen that I could.

The first thing one would notice about The Lighthouse (along with it being in Black & White) is that it is filmed in 4:3. This is a vital film choice from the director Robert Eggers (who made 2016’s The Witch), as it is one of many key factors that makes his latest film so chill inducing.

Set in the late 1800s, the film revolves around two men tending a lighthouse somewhere off the shores of New England. Most of the story is seen through the eyes of the younger Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattison), who just took the job as a lighthouse keeper and is being trained by Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe). We learn right away that one of Wake’s sincere orders is to never go to the top of the lighthouse and locks it up from Winslow.

Much of what Winslow learns is by the hard way (like cleaning the sewage before drinking from the well, how to deal correctly with seagulls (more on those later), and keeping the wind factor in mind when emptying the toilet bowls). While Wake is tough, he is not without reason (he does cook for both of them).

Not to mention the flatulence. This film has quite a lot of flatulence for a movie that is not strickly comedic.

I can’t remember entirely if the film has a concrete reason for the two to be on the island (aside from keeping it in order). We do get some background of the characters (failed marriages, failed jobs, and so on), but it is what happens on the island that is important. To say that cabin fever (or lighthouse fever?) ensues is a gross understatement. We get striking visuals (thanks in large part to the cinematography of Jarin Blaschke, who also worked with Eggers on The Witch) that make the film’s horror aspects more palpable than that of a film that tries to give us cheap jump scares. Eggers is patient in waiting to frighten us.

Both of the two actors are in top form. Dafoe has always been an actor who commands a unique force, and is never boring on screen. Still, I admit to being completely surprised by Pattison. Like many, I went in remembering this is the same guy from the Twilight film series (unseen by me), only to realize I had only seen him in one other film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was way back in 2005. I am not alone in saying I had my doubts when I heard Pattison would be the new film version of Batman, but now some of those doubts are dissipating.

Parents, this is indeed not a film for children. The film does have at least two main scenes with sexual content (as well as female nudity). There is a moment where (minor spoiler) a character is fantasizing about having sex with a mermaid (end minor spoiler). There is also a good amount of violence (especially at the end, with a truly haunting, visceral, yet somehow memorable shot), and swearing. Trust the R rating.

It is this fantasy aspect of the film, I think, that keeps the movie from being truly great. I am not sure if we needed all the fantasy aspects added, and instead just focused on the two men. Human’s diving into insanity (not unlike what we saw recently in Joker) is just as scary as the scenes we see involving seagulls (anyone who knows me is aware of my legit fear of birds).

I mentioned before how the film was shot in 4:3, giving a clear feeling of the characters being boxed in. There is indeed a sense of sheer loneliness, both for the men as individuals and together. It reminded me of moments in movies set in prison, when they would send the prisoner to “solitary”, or “the hole”. For a specific (or maybe not) amount of time, they are alone with only themselves and their thoughts.

And thoughts (mainly the sinful ones), is where horror can sometimes be birthed.

Overall:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Categories
5 Stars Movies

Us (2019)

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”

-Psalm 27:19

This was the verse that was on my mind as I was watching Us, the new horror film from Jordan Peele (who won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his 2017 debut film, Get Out). We tend to be our own worst enemies at times (something Satan knows and loves to use as mind tricks on us), which is one of the many things that this film gets spot on. While it is no secret that many horror films are bad, the past few years have shown many quality examples (The Babadook, The Witch, IT, Hereditary). Us is one of the best of the decade. Hitchcock would not be proud: He would be envious.

Categories
4 Stars

A Quiet Place (2018)

I doubt even the biggest fan of The Office would have predicted that they would see John Krasinski stepping out with his talents like this. He not only stars in A Quiet Place, but directs and helped with the screenplay. It is only his third time at the helm as director, but it is certainly the charm.

Krasinski and Emily Blunt (his wife in real life) star as Lee and Evelyn Abbott, who live with their two kids Regan and Marcus (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, respectively). They are some of the very last survivors on earth after creatures with super sonic like hearing have killed everyone else. They have lived just under five hundred days, with a strict schedule of normal life, provided they don’t make a sound. It is fortune for them that they do live in a farm in the outside parts of New York, and have already learned how to use sign language (the daughter Regan is deaf). New dangers do arise, as we find out that a new baby is on the way.

It is obvious that there is jump scares a plenty in the film, which I am not ashamed to admit got me shaken a few times. Still, what scared me the most of the film is not the jump scares or even the creature (which is creepy, no doubt.) For me, it was knowing off the bat that, if this happend in the real world, and we all had to be quiet. I would not last long at all.

It is also refreshing how such a small cast can give strong performances. Krasinski and Blunt are obviously good (especially in one scene they share by themselves as they dance), but the kids are equally impressive. Both kids were in 2017 films: Simmonds in Wonderstruck and Jupe in Wonder (he was Auggie’s friend Jack Will). It is really Simmonds who is given the most moments to shine (she is deaf in real life).

Parents, the movie is PG-13, mainly for the horror and violence (there is bloody images, but nothing worse than what is on cable these days). Due to the lack of dialogue (though there is some), there is no real swearing. Middle school and up is fine.

It is not perfect: A second or third viewing will be needed to see if there are sounds that are made that you would think the creature would have heard. Still, undoubtably, the man responsible for A Quiet Place is Krasinski. In years to come, he could be in races for an Oscar. Still, the most impressive thing (and creepiest) came after the credits. It is not a scene, but a name of a producer that John Krasinski has linked to a good movie.

That name is Michael Bay.

When you make a good movie with Michael Bay’s name attached to it (in any way), you know a movie is not only good, but a rarity.

Overall:

Rating: 4 out of 5.