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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. 

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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.

The movie opens with a young girl named Adelaide (newcomer Madison Curry) and her parents at a carnival at the beach in Santa Cruz in 1986. She wonders off, finding a house of mirrors, where she has a traumatic experience. Flash forward to the present, where the adult Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) is on a summer vacation with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), her preteen daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph), and her young son Jason (Evan Alex). Each scene with the family in the first half crackles with authenticity. They are invited to Santa Cruz by their family friends, Kitty and Josh Tyler (Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker, respectively), who have two teenager girls of there own (Cali and Noelle Sheldon).

One night, a mysterious family appears in the drive way, turning out to be doppelgängers of Adelaide’s family. This, indeed, is where the horror and chills really goes on full blast, and is where I will stop talking about the plot. Plot twists can make or break a film (especially in horror), and there were plenty that I am still picking my jaw off the ground from.

Each of the four actors play their respective other. Zora’s opposite has a grin that will make your hair stand on end, while Jason’s is (for the most part) wearing a mask. Gabe’s is more akin to that of Frankenstein’s monster. Yet if there is anything that is to keep you up at night for days, it is Adelaide’s doppelgänger (named Red), with a voice that is one of the scariest in any film I have ever seen (to put it in perspective, it is up there with the voice of Regan in The Exorcist).

Parents, there should be no real surprise that this film is not for kids. While there is no sexual content (despite one comic scene of the dad trying to lay suggestively on the bed, with no luck), the film has more than enough violence and swearing to make this a solid R rating.

Us is one of those movies that you can watch again and again and find new things that the director is trying to say (which is always a positive). There are hints at politics (which I truly hope does not turn off people from seeing the film), but also lessons to be taken when we leave the theater. We do, in a sense, have to face ourselves in life. Peele’s view of human nature is that we all have skeletons in our closet; I’d say that we all have a sin problem and that’s why we need a savior, whether we are the perpetrator or the victim dealing with the trauma. We have our secrets that eventually come into the light. Luke 8:17 says, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

There is another bible verse actually mentioned in the film. I won’t say what it is, because you will undoubtedly look it up. Of course, this verse is taken out of context, but when you read it after the theater, it will be just another chill that Jordan Peele has sent down your spine.

Overall:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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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.