In Theaters Now: Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark

In Theaters Now entries give insight on films currently in theaters. There is a brief review, followed by a deeper dive WITH SPOILERS behind the cut. 

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Pictured: The leading face of my nightmares from 1992-1993. What up, Harold? 

Overall

As an experience, Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark is a delightfully creepy tale.  Based on the legendary book series illustrated by someone who very probably hated children and wanted them to lose sleep, the film creates a narrative out of the otherwise disparate and well-loved stories. The Wendigo (my fave!), The Big Toe, and a few others I’ll refrain from mentioning are present.  The story structure is simple: taking place in Halloween 1968, some kids who trespass into a local haunted house and steal a book of ghost stories that belonged to the local crazy lady must deal with the aftermath. The book’s stories, written in blood, almost always kill the protagonist, and there are both old stories and new ones that appear as events unfold. There are haunted houses, creepy music boxes, mental hospitals, a jerk bully, and all the classic fare.

I would recommend the film for fans of horror, the original book series, and people looking for a thrill. But I stress: just because it’s rated PG-13 doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for children. One family had a 4-year-old present, and while he was chattering away before the movie, I hope his lapse into silence was because he fell asleep and not into a state of paralytic horror. Bad Parenting Decision, Random Family.

Although the movie is a delightful and terrifying romp, it didn’t have the emotional depth I was hoping for. I mention this because when Guillermo Del Toro’s name is attached to something, I expect an emotional payoff.  André Øvredal directed the film and I know he knows how to tell an emotional story because he made The Trollhunter. That isn’t to say the movie isn’t worth seeing, but if you’re looking for Deep Meaning Subtext as I did, you’ll leaving feeling a bit let down.

For more in-depth discussion involving spoilers, dive below the cut!

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In Theaters Now: Hereditary

 

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This poster is en Francais! Fancy!

As a lifelong horror fan, I can confidently say that there are two kinds of horror movies that do well at the box office.

The first kind of horror movie delivers on thrills and jump scares. Friends have fun clinging to each other, spilling popcorn and jumping in their seats. Afterward, the group quote lines at each other or mimic trademark gestures or sounds, and Halloween Horror Nights has a new haunted house theme. These movies are certainly effective, but it’s not that hard to leave them at the theater.

Hereditary is the other kind of horror movie.

I don’t mean I’m going to check under my bed for anything scary tonight. I mean something else entirely, and quite honestly I don’t even want to talk about it too much because I want people to experience the film for themselves. But I’m going to talk about it and so of course, spoilers will go below the cut. 

Hereditary begins with an obituary. A matriarch has died, and right away Annie (played by Toni Collette) gives a halting but brutally honest eulogy about the complicated relationship she had with her mother. Grandma’s death sets off a chain of events that at first seem normal to a family dealing with grief, but soon even the cracks start to show cracks.

Hereditary is getting mixed reviews, and for good reason: not everyone is going to get it. I don’t say that to sound cool or jaded, I say that because I could hear other moviegoers laughing at certain parts that I found incredibly effective–parts that were almost too effective. This movie upset me quite a bit at times, even though the projector broke two-thirds in and we had to wait half an hour for the staff to fix it.

But when the action started back up, nobody moved or laughed for the rest of the movie.

I can absolutely recommend Hereditary to fans of real, provocative horror. Casual filmgoers might want to wait for home release.

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In Theaters Now: The Shape of Water

I want you to know three things about The Shape of Water.

They are, in no particular order, that it is:

  1. Beautiful, lyrical, and absolutely deserving of the buzz surrounding it; the fact that there is so much buzz around it and that people are appreciative of such a daring story is wonderful.
  2. Marvelous, in that it literally contains marvels of all sorts. Acting, effects, imagery, characters, sets, dialogue, music, production, you name it, there is something in this movie to dig into.
  3. Inspiring a much, much longer review from my co-blogger Achariya and I that we will hash out tomorrow and post in the next day or so. I will keep general comments above a cut, but deeper discussion will need to contain spoilers so those will go below the cut.

Man. That was something. I cannot WAIT to write more, but it’s late and this sort of thing requires a proper marination of the brainmeats before anything can be said.

In Theaters Now: Ladybird (A Conversation)

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My friend and co-blogger Tanya and I went to see Lady Bird, a movie directed by Greta Gerwig, this past weekend at the Enzian. Afterwards, we had thoughts. Some of them (including spoilers) follow.

But what is Lady Bird? In short, it’s the story of a young woman’s relationship with her mother during a year of transition between high school and college. The story is set in Sacramento and deeply embedded within the politics of the city, especially economic and racial ones. It was also great, awkward, fun.

Here’s our post-movie discussion.

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In Theaters Now: IT (and also I am still alive!)

Orlando and the rest of the Southeast was recently lambasted by Hurricane Irma, and we were very, VERY fortunate that it had calmed down to a Category 3 and lost strength as it crept up the country’s phallus. Millions are still without power, including civic infrastructure (you never miss streetlights until you don’t have them and realize not everyone knows what to do when they go out) and businesses. The islands were trashed, as the news footage has shown. Apparently Jose’s still out doodling around in the Atlantic, so until that goes away we won’t really be able to unclench and get on with things. 

Happily my power only flickered, although I was without internet until Tuesday night and my yard was full of branches. 

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He was right, I did float. 

So fitting that one of my favorite stories involving a giant storm hits theaters just as a giant storm hits my state. ART IMITATING LIFE.

As far as IT goes, I enjoyed what was onscreen, but I can’t help but miss everything that didn’t make it, and lament some of the bigger changes. I’ll put these behind a cut to to avoid posting spoilers, but if you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss please jump in!

Continue reading “In Theaters Now: IT (and also I am still alive!)”