In Theaters Now: A Quiet Place

aqpposter
Shhhh….

After all the buzz surrounding it and a few recommendations from friends, I decided to see A Quiet Place in theaters. Being a horror fan, how could I not?

What A Quiet Place does well, it does very well. Tension draws out and there are genuine emotional scenes with real payoff, such as those moments when a character is finally, finally able to scream or even speak. However, I admit to being underwhelmed.

I am not saying this film was bad; far from it. I would rank it as above average for a mainstream Hollywood horror movie, which any horror fan will recognize as damning praise. From a technical filmmaking perspective, it was beautiful: John Krasinski, who stars and also directs, knows how to frame beautiful compositions, how to work with ambient lighting, how to film action so it’s exciting and tension so it’s heart-pumping, and how to draw evocative performances from his actors. The creatures look cool and their CGI is great.

As mentioned, the actors’ performances are strong, and there are several character moments that really resonate. Krasinski is great as a patient paternal figure, Emily Blunt is his tired, blonde, and eventually pregnant wife, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as the children work well together and the whole ensemble effectively portrays a nuclear family.

Most filmgoers and horror fans will enjoy the jump scares and leave the movie rattled, but I found myself frustrated by the end. There were a number of weaknesses that leapt out and jarred me right out of the narrative, and created what ultimately felt like a missed opportunity.

A more detailed unpacking appears below the cut. As always, there will be spoilers.

Continue reading “In Theaters Now: A Quiet Place”

Dead Teenager Week – V/H/S

Welcome to Horror Movie Month here at Late to the Theater! Once a year we focus on one of our absolute favorite things, horror movies! For the entire month of October we’ll review at least two movies a week, some old, some new, and usually fitting into a weekly theme. So pop the corn, pour yourself a glass of whatever, and come along for the ride! I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers!

This week’s theme is one coined by dear departed Roger Ebert: it’s Dead Teenager Week! So strip down to your skivvies and dive into the moonlit water with me! I totally got into my dad’s liquor cabinet and stole some of his beers, and the kids from the next school over are meeting us down by the lake where Old Man Crumbles was last seen fishing before he killed that busload of nuns with an axe…or something…

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Just waiting for them to all fall down…

Continue reading “Dead Teenager Week – V/H/S”

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!)”

Werebeasts Week: Dog Soldiers (2002)

The SAS squad send up a distress flare. Investigation reveals an absolute mess at the SAS campsite: blood everywhere, but no bodies, trank darts, some heavy duty hunting equipment. … And one survivor

October is Horror Movie month, where we let down our hair and celebrate all things macabre and scary! Not that we don’t during the rest of the year, but still… HORROR MOVIES! People who don’t like horror are encouraged to check back November 1st for less bloody and/or disturbing films. For everyone else, let’s put on our galoshes and WADE INTO THE MIRE!

Hello and welcome to Werebeasts Week here at Late to the Theater! This week’s selections are hairy, scary, and usually unfairly judged – They just want to be understood! Or fed! Either way, we’re looking at people who sprout fur, fangs, and bad attitudes this week, so make sure your shots are up to date and you’ve packed a doggie bag*. Let’s get going!

Today’s entry is Dog Soldiers, in which a group of British Army soldiers/football hooligans encounter werewolves while on an exercise in a remote part of Scotland. It will contain spoilers! 

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AKA: The Shittiest Dog Park Visit, Ever

So let’s get going!

Continue reading “Werebeasts Week: Dog Soldiers (2002)”

Hell Week: Clive Barker’s Hellraiser

Today’s post is about the Hellraiser series and unfortunately is NSFW – mostly because it’s damn near impossible to show work-safe images from the movies. Also S&M, torture, physical, mental, and sexual abuse…

….Man, you start listing all the disturbing things in this series and wonder what you’re doing with your time…

ANYWAY!

October is Horror Movie month, where we let down our hair and celebrate all things macabre and scary! Not that we don’t during the rest of the year, but still… HORROR MOVIES! People who don’t like horror are encouraged to check back November 1st for less bloody and/or disturbing films. For everyone else, let’s put on our galoshes and WADE INTO THE MIRE! 

This week is Hell Week, where we’ll be focusing the Hellraiser series. Unfortunately these posts are NSFW – mostly because it’s damn near impossible to show work-safe images from the movies. Also LOTS OF gore, S&M, torture, physical, mental, and sexual abuse…

….Man… you start listing all the disturbing things in this series and wonder what you’re doing with your time…

ANYWAY! On to the review!

Here we go, folks!
Here we go, folks!

[DISCLAIMER: I recently watched the first 3 movies, and although I think I saw the “Hellraiser in Space” one, I don’t remember anything from it. I might watch the rest of the series over the month, we will see! Also, brace yourself for bad puns.]

HELLRAISER

I GOT YOU A PRESENT HERE OPEN IT
Fun fact: Pinhead’s real name is ‘Hell Priest’ or ‘Priest,’ and Clive Barker never liked him being called Pinhead. The crew began calling him that during the makeup process and the name stuck (HA!)

Clive Barker wrote and directed the first Hellraiser movie, which is based on his novella The Hellbound Heart. You can’t get much closer to the source material when it comes to realizing an artist’s vision, and that is probably why the first movie is one of the most respected horror films of the genre. When Barker’s good, he’s REALLY good. His characters are fleshed-out (HA!) and believable: boring, staid Larry is trying to rekindle romance with his second wife, Julia, who had an affair years ago with Larry’s hot, globetrotting scumbag brother Frank, who we saw murdered in the film’s opening after he solved a mysterious puzzle box– as one does. Larry and Julia move into Larry’s old childhood home, a BEAUTIFUL old house that Frank has been hiding out in. Thrown into the mix is Kirsty, Larry’s daughter from his first marriage, who doesn’t get along with Julia and has a place of her own. This pic below accurately summarizes Julia’s excitement about moving into the house.

Not Pictured: Thrills. In fact Julia's face tells you how excited she is to be moving into her husband's childhood home
Not Pictured: Thrills.

But surprise! After Larry has an accident that spills blood on the floor, Frank is reborn in possibly the most intense, gross, and visceral rebirthing scene in the history of cinema. The day that CG graphics manage to reproduce anything that stomach-churning, we’ll know it has finally arrived. Practical effects ALWAYS win when it comes to slime, blood, pus, and anything else the body can produce.

Although Frank’s back, he’s missing a few key accessories, like fat and skin, so Julia decides to help him by bringing home dudes she meets in bars and killing them. Frank absorbs their lifeforce and grows less-juicy by the day. She does this because Frank makes her feel alive in ways Larry never did, which is code for ‘he gave her orgasms.’ Fun fact: When the film was being made the name was still undecided, as The Hellbound Heart sounded like a romance. An older woman working on the crew suggested ‘What a Woman Will Do for a Good Fuck,’ which is actually pretty apt.

Aren't you going to invite me into your house and body? I've got exciting, sexy places to be and none of them involve dinner parties
Aren’t you going to invite me into your house and body? I’ve got exciting, sexy places to be and none of them involve dinner parties with my dud of a brother.

There are hints during their interaction at the dinner party that Julia and Larry used to be happy, but considering she hooked up (HA!) with Frank before she even married Larry I wondered what brought them together in the first place. Larry’s just so earnest and eager-to-please… I picture Julia, early in the relationship, having that moment of ‘Well, he’s got a good job and he’s a nice guy, I guess he’s the best I could do.’ Maybe this is clearer in the novella, it’s been 20 years since I read it. Anyway, she meets Frank and is instantly fascinated.

Kirsty makes a deal with the cenobites and manages to save herself and send Frank and Julia to hell, but unfortunately can’t save her father. I’ve always appreciated Barker’s embrace of the theme that people make the best monsters; sure, Pinhead will peel your skin off and nail your eyeballs to his big revolving flesh cabinet, but you EARNED it. Frank and Julia murder Larry for no reason other than they are assholes. The Hellraiser universe (or at least the first film) understands and embraces S&M better than the 50 Shades of Gray films, and I would expand on that idea in another blog post if I weren’t so lazy. Also, I’ve never read 50 Shades of Gray. 

They can come in my house, but they're not sitting on my couch. Not without towels.
They can come in my house, but they’re not sitting on my couch. Not without towels.

Last Thoughts: Normally I can see actor’s faces under anything, or recognize them by their eyes and voices. Doug Bradley is the ONE exception to this. I have never been able to recognize him under the Pinhead makeup. Bravo on both makeup and acting! Fun fact: during the movie’s wrap party, Doug Bradley wondered why no one was talking to him, since he thought he got on well with the crew. Turns out they didn’t recognize him without the makeup.

I STILL don't see it! No idea why!
I STILL don’t see it! No idea why!

So that’s Hellraiser! Thanks for reading, and join us again on Wednesday when we discuss Hellbound: Hellraiser 2!