It isn’t often that you find a movie willing to open with a mother killing her own daughter in a misguided effort to save the child, but The Haunting of Julia is that rare exception. As the little girl chokes on a piece of apple, I ask myself, “Um, ever heard of the Heimlich Maneuver?” Oh, maybe not. (If you didn’t follow that link, it seems the stomach thrusting reach-around we all know and love was only first written about in 1974, so by 1976 or 1977 when they were filming, Heimlich may not yet have become a household name.) So, perhaps the amateur emergency tracheotomy was the prudent course of action.
With her daughter dead and her wanting a divorce from her husband, she moves into a nice neighborhood populated mostly be people from the League of Nations. Nope, not kidding, that’s one of the key selling points for the sales agent. Immediately, atmosphere begins to build.
And atmosphere is pretty much all this movie has. I wish I could gush about it, but it was just… well… dull.
Mostly though, I want to focus on one thing. There is a guy, who dies, in the house, where Julia lives. His body is in the basement. And after he dies, the movie keeps going. It’s at least several days, maybe longer. No one finds the body. No one seems to even be looking for him. So apparently, not only is the house haunted, but it has a very cool basement that keeps bodies from rotting and smelling. I don’t understand why the sales agent didn’t mention it.
Oh, and before I forget… terrible sound track. I’m pretty sure it’s just a guy murdering a synthesizer. You know, like a lot of late 70s and early 80s films.
In the end, totally not scary.
Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.
UPDATE: Check out other participants – Life Between Frames, Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Money and a Half, Final Girl, Mermaid Heather, Thrill Me!
Let the Right One In is the heartwarming tale about a vampire that teaches a young boy how to deal with bullies.
Okay, not really. But it totally is.
In my experience, there are two major types of horror movies. On one side you have the films that are aiming directly at you. They jump and they scare. They throw things as the camera or they toss the camera into things. People are stabbed and gashed and eaten. Blood spurts in slow motion. Then on the other side there are films that tell you a story, slowing revealing details and most of the time they are trying to lure you in to believing that everything is fine or that maybe the little bits of evil you are seeing are justifiable. And then they pull the rug out and show you the monster standing next to you.
This is the point where I say that you should probably stop reading if you are averse to spoilers, because I am about to spoil the shit out of this movie.
“Forewarned is forearmed.” -Peter Vincent
Oskar is just your average kid being beat up by bullies. Chances are you either were that kid, knew that kid, or you used to beat up that kid. He’s a little sad, and a little pathetic. Eli is a strange little girl who likes to hang out at the playground in the middle of the night and has the windows in her apartment boarded up. They meet, they talk, Oskar shows her his Rubik’s Cube (and that’s not a euphemism), and she tells him he needs to hit back when the bullies pick on him.
Oh, and Eli lives with a dude who isn’t her father, who we see killing a random guy on the street and stringing him up to drain him of blood. She might be a little odd, but he’s totally a secret serial killer or something. Only, it’s her who is upset that he didn’t get the blood.
Anyway, she remains being creepy, but she’s nice to Oskar, and we like Oskar, we root for Oskar, we want him to kick some bully ass! And then she kills a guy. But Oskar is totally becoming a stronger better person, so we’ll overlook that little transgression.
Bit by bit we, the audience, gets pulled along… her protector guy gets caught, pours acid on himself and then leaps out a hospital window after she drinks his blood. But, you know, Oskar! He hits the bully with a stick and he’s started working out to get muscles and confidence. Go Oskar! Eli accidentally turns a woman into a vampire, but she explodes in flames when a nurse opens the window to let the sun in… but before that the woman is attacked by a whole mess of cats in a scene right out of Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers (written directly for the
scream screen!). Anyway, Oskar finally finds out that she’s a vampire, they dance to music and then he takes a peek at her naked body while she’s getting changed.
Time out a second here… You see, I saw the remake, Let Me In, first. And it pretty much cloned the original almost shot for shot. Except for this scene, which is not in the remake at all. I’m not a perv, because my wife was totally in the room, but I had to watch that scene twice because I wasn’t sure what I saw. Earlier, in both versions, there is this scene where the vampire girl and the normal boy are hanging out in his bed and he asks her to go steady and she says, “I’m not a little girl”, which I totally took to mean “I’m a vampire” or “I’m a monster” but in this, the original… did I just get Crying Gamed? Is Eli actually a little boy who had his junk cut off? What the hell is going on here? And now I’m recalling the scene where Eli is puking after eating the candy, and she asks if he likes her and he says yeah and she asks “Would you like me if I was a boy?” and he says “Sure.” I totally just got Crying Gamed!
I just Googled it, the movie and the book. Mind. Blown. That’ll teach me to watch remakes!
Anyway… so Eli kills another guy, and this time Oskar watches. Eli leaves, like, for good. Then the bullies trick Oskar into coming back to the fitness program and they are in the process of possibly drowning him when Eli shows up and kills everyone. Cut to train, Oskar looks out the window, we hear a tapping and Oskar smiles. He taps out a reply on the large trunk that accompanies him.
So, back to where I started… two types of horror films, one where the monster leaps right out and one where the monster sneaks up on you. Let the Right One In is definitely the latter, and while I’d classify the movie as a horror film I wouldn’t call it a scary film. It’s practically a romance. Although, knowing what I know now, maybe it’s a bromance.
Peace out… I’m off to write some scorpion/frog slash-fic.
Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.
UPDATE: Check out other participants – Final Girl, Life Between Frames, Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Money and a Half, Thrill Me!
I first saw Sunshine in 2008 after the DVD released in the United States. I really wanted to see it in the theater, but never quite found the opportunity to do it. I mean, it was a no brainer, right? I think the conversation should have gone something like this:
Marketing: From the director of 28 Days Later…
Marketing: …starring the guy from 28 Days Later…
Marketing: …comes Sunshine, a movie about
Me: Yeah, you can stop now. I’m in.
Marketing: You don’t want to know what it’s about?
Me: No, just tell me when I can see it.
However, somewhere between knowing that I was going to see this film and when it stopped showing in local theaters, I didn’t manage to find any other people who also wanted to go see it, and since going to the movies alone isn’t something I normally do (though I am not opposed to it) and so, I didn’t. Not until about a year later.
But that’s neither here nor there, nor on the surface of the sun. The basic plot is this: for some reason, which I don’t recall even after rewatching it, the Sun is going out and the world is going to freeze, but there is a plan – to fire a giant bomb into the Sun and reignite it. I looked up some stuff on wikipedia and saw there was apparently some back story about a Q-ball or something causing the Sun to expend energy faster than it should. Anyway, there was a previous mission which after passing into the dead zone – where they can communicate back to Earth because of the radiation interference of the Sun – it didn’t appear to complete its mission. So now we are on mission two, the final mission, because it took everything the Earth had to make these two bombs. And they fly toward the Sun, and they approach Mercury, and discover the first ship, hanging in orbit around the Sun.
Of course, they decide to investigate…
I think what I love most about this movie is that there is a lot of science in it, but a bunch of it is junk science – science that makes sense in its pieces and parts but not in the manner in which the movie lumps them together. And it’s got that whole race to save humanity element. But another strong element is that I think, at least emotionally and in some ways stylistically, it parallels another movie that I love: The Black Hole.
You got ships sitting on the brink of oblivion and men who have lost their sanity and an ending that leaves open a lot to interpretation because it goes for art rather than solid facts.
When I saw it then and now as I watched it again, I know this is supposed to be a horror film, but it doesn’t scare me at all until the boogeyman shows up. Until that point, the movie is just science, logic and hard but inevitable choices clouded with a little bit of human curiosity and compassion. Seriously, until the sun scarred former captain arrives and starts stomping around the ship killing people in the last act of the film all of the horror is based on preying on the primal fears of uncertainty and helplessness in the face of nature and science we don’t fully understand – which doesn’t scare me.
I also think the movie tried to do something it didn’t succeed at. It’s a brilliant idea, to tell a scary story that normally relies on shadows and darkness but do it in full light. And if this movie had done that, it would have been awesome, but when the captain shows up the first thing he does is kill the computer and turn off the lights. We are plunged back into darkness, the very familiar darkness. It also doesn’t help that Danny Boyle went with an artistic style when showing us the captain and his skewed perspective of his environment. He’s a shaky blur rather than a solid figure, and it robs him of some of the terror he might have caused. If they’d kept the lights on, gave us a clear view of the captain and had him speaking logically and passionately about how the mission had to be stopped while relentlessly hunting the crew – perhaps using things he’d learned in the last seven years trapped on his identical ship.
And yet, despite that, I do still love the movie. It helps, I guess, that the final act is so short. Once it’s over, we spend a beautiful moment with Cillian Murphy, experiencing the strangeness of the uncertain warpings of time and reality that occur in the heart of the Sun, standing before a wall of fire for an eternity even though from the outside he probably vanished in a flash of fire nearly instantaneously.
The sacrifice is made. The Sun reignited. The Earth is saved. Humanity lives on. And Sunshine ends.
Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.
UPDATE: Check out other participants – Final Girl, Life Between Frames, Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Money and a Half, Into the Mirror
So, there is this blog I read, Final Girl, that is all about horror films, and for the month of October she is doing a thing she calls SHOCKtober, which is basically a movie a day. The idea is to spur discussion and thought about horror films and I intend to participate. For the next 31 days, assuming I can get access to every movie through my collection, Netflix, Amazon, Redbox, and… more nefarious means, I will be posting something each day relating to the movie in question. Many of them will probably be reviews, but perhaps not all of them. We’ll have to see what each movie inspires.
In any event, I hope it is an enjoyable ride.
In the meantime, go check out Stacie Ponder’s Final Girl blog. Read back through the archives, there are quite a few gems in there well worth reading.
UPDATE: Adding links to this post.
- Sunshine (2007)
- Let the Right One In (2008)
- The Haunting of Julia (1977)
- Audition (1999)
- Nosferatu (1922) / (1979)
- Slither (2006)
- Cat People (1942)
- Tenebre (1982)
- Dead Alive (1992)
- Possession (1981)
- Pulse (2001)
- Shivers (1975)
- Left Bank (2008)
- Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)
- A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4 (1988)
- Hour of the Wolf (1968)
- The Tenant (1976)
- Santa Sangre (1989)
- I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
- And Soon the Darkness (1970)
- Battle Royale (2000)
- Who Can Kill a Child? (1976)
- The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
- Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)
- Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
- Triangle (2009)
- Calvaire (2004)
- Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
- The Horde (2009)
- Planet of the Vampires (1965)
- Martyrs (2008)
The last time I wrote in the Getting Fit category was back in October when I ran a 5k. So here it is, almost 6 months later… what have I been up to?
Throughout the winter I (mostly) kept up with a simple workout. 100 push ups, 100 sit ups, 100 squats, 100 dips, 100 reverse sit ups. Not all of them every just, just one per day, a 5 day program. And occasionally I’d run for 30 minutes to an hour on the elliptical machine. This has worked well for me. I’ve built up a decent bit of strength in all those areas, but it was time to do something else.
Now, before people go all off on commenting about how I should be careful and not hurt myself, allow me to state emphatically, I am not an idiot. I am fully aware that I have only one body (until science advances far enough) and I have to take care of it (which, coincidently, is why I am exercising), and this is actually why I chose Insanity over other workouts (I actually watch the videos with a critical eye prior to ever attempting the exercises myself). And throughout, while Shaun T is screaming things like “Work!”, “Faster!”, “Push it!” and all the other things instructors say to make you move, he’s also constantly saying “Know your limits.”, “You don’t have to keep up with me.”, “Take a break whenever you need to.” and this makes all the difference. In other workouts that I’ve tried, they always made me feel like a failure when I couldn’t do their programs to their level, but here, I always feel like I’m doing my best, and my goal is to make my best better over time, and not to meet some arbitrary goal set by a guy who already has a perfect body.
Right now, my best is pretty pitiful. Each day when I do it, I am winded and exhausted by the end of the warm up, and it is a struggle to get through the rest of the day’s program. I attempt each exercise, do what I can, and then take a break. However, after just the first week, I feel better.
I also know I’ve picked the right workout because doing it is hard work, but after I stop, shower and relax a little, I don’t feel like I’ve been dragged through the street behind a car. A workout should work you out, not devastate you.
Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind later. I’m only one week into the program, but right now I feel great.
If I have any quibble about the Insanity program, it’s the same one I have for almost every workout program: perfect people. They have a group of a dozen people doing the exercises, but none of the guys have guts or love handles and none of the women have hips or chests. But that is minor and common, so it really isn’t worth being bothered by it.
One week down, seven to go.
Saw 3D: (official site)
I actually like 3D. I want them to continue developing it and one day perhaps have it without needing the glasses. I love movies filmed with the 3D cameras, and pretty much universally hate the 3D in every movie that does it in post processing. I even like horror films in 3D. That said, I just have absolutely no desire at all to see a Saw film in 3D. There is just too much blood and gore and torture in the Saw films, and I don’t want that leaping off the screen at me. I just don’t. Of course, the 3D isn’t really the turn off I’m making it out to be. I haven’t seen a Saw movie in the theaters since Saw II. In fact, I have seen a Saw movie since Saw II. I might watch them some day, but after the second film and all the copycat torture-porn films, I just don’t have much interest in watching two hours of people being killed in horrendous ways. However, if this sort of thing is up your alley, the trailer looks like more of the same and in 3D, so you should probably go see it.
Are you going to the movies this weekend?
Hereafter: (official site)
For about the last decade, Clint Eastwood has been knocking them out of the park as a director. Sure, he has some great films from before that too, but the last ten years have just been great. Matt Damon’s decade hasn’t been too shabby either. Those two elements had me interested in the film… then I watched the trailer. A reluctant psychic, a woman with a near death experience and a boy who lost his twin brother. I’m very interested in how their stories intertwine, what the lynch pin is going to be. This is a must see film for me.
Paranormal Activity 2: (official site)
I saw the original with absolutely no knowledge of the film going in, and that was probably the best way to see it. If you know too much about it, most of the film is ruined. It is a slow burning build up with a few tense or eerie moments building to a chaotic and partly ambiguous end. You have to be willing to get swept into the story. So with that experience in mind, I had avoided all mention of this film. I wanted to see it with no expectations. And I did… and it was good. Once again, if you are interested in this movie, don’t watch the trailer, don’t read any reviews that actually talk about the film, just go see it. See it and just let go, relax and watch the movie unfold. Had I not seen it for free, and having enjoyed the first one so much, I’d easily have paid full price for this. And I might, since the wife was sick and couldn’t go to the screening.
Jackass 3-D: (official site)
Ummm… yeah. I was never really a fan of America’s Funniest Home Videos and their constant barrage of men getting hit in the nuts and other zany antics caught on film, so when Jackass aired on TV and it was essentially people doing the AFHV stuff on purpose, I tuned out. On the other hand, people doing crazy stunts was pretty much made for 3D. I’ve been trying like hell to get into a free screening of this, because that’s the only way I’d ever see it, but have had no luck. I suppose I’ll never get to enjoy Jackass in 3D.
Red: (official site)
Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Julian McMahon, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Cox, Karl Urban, and James Remar. That’s eleven reasons to see this movie right there. Add to that the fact that the trailer looks awesome, and it’s based on the Warren Ellis comic book about an ex-CIA agent who has been targeted for assassination, and you’ve got a must see film for me. I’ll be there. Count on it.
Secretariat: (official site)
Another inspiring movie about a horse. I’m sure it will be good. It looks good. But I’m just not going to spend $10 to see this in the theater. However, the wife and I will happily watch it the minute it’s available on Netflix.
Life as We Know It: (official site)
Two people who don’t really get along find out they are the intended caretakers of their best friends’ child when the best friends die in a horrible car accident. As they learn to raise a child, they also learn about themselves, and that maybe they get along after all. Honestly, there is nothing surprising about these sorts of films. Sure, they may have a particularly clever joke here or a particularly romantic turn of phrase, but you don’t go to these sorts of films for their originality. You go because they are fun and make you feel good. I got to see a screening of this a short while back, and I can say it delivers. Personally, I’d say it’s worth a matinée price, but if these sorts of films are right up your alley, go ahead and see it. It’s worth the money.
My Soul to Take: (official site)
Wes Craven. I have loved, for one reason or another, every film that he has made. So I’m sure I’ll love this too. Plus, it’s horror. In 3D. If any movie earns my money this weekend, this might be it. There is only one thing that could possibly stop me…
Buried: (official site)
… and that would be this film. Not only am I a huge fan of Ryan Reynolds, but the mere idea of this film intrigues me. Practically the entire film taking place inside a box where the main character is buried alive with a lighter, a knife and a cell phone. I know plenty of people who can’t see this film. Not won’t, but can’t. They would have to leave from all the claustrophobic feelings. But I want to see this. I must see this. Luckily for me, this weekend is my birthday, so I might just get what I want.