Movies

The Old Ways

I’m always wary of supernatural horror involving exorcism and demons because such a subject matter is not be taken lightly. There is magic involved in invoking such things. Most people might not believe in such superstitions but for those that do, this movie does an excellent job at treating such ways with respect. The story unfolds in the midst of things, without a huge exposition dump, and lets the viewer try and piece things together. It’s about a woman, an American reporter, who comes to Veracruz to explore a lost culture. She ends up in the care of a bruja, a witch, who sees in her something that others do not. A demonic entity.

I liked this movie because it did not rely on jump scares, like most cheaply made horrors do. It uses imagery of tribal ways, of an older culture, to invoke a sense of mystery. The fear is a slow build up, and once things get under way, you are no longer scared but empowered against it. My hands were pools of sweat watching, but it wasn’t an outright fear, it was insidious. The character goes through a transformation, both physical and mental. She becomes a better person by the end. The acting was well done, maybe a little bit of a cheesy line here and there but nothing serious to detract from the story. I loved the camerawork, the out of focus shots to hide things in the background and to bring things to the forefront. With action primarily taking place in one location, the movie relied on the strength of the actors. Brigitte Kali Canales in the lead role was believable, and I enjoyed watching her go through denial before finally accepting that things are this way. This is how they’ve always been. Julia Vera as the bruja had an aura around her, you felt safe whenever she was on screen. Sal Lopez as the son of the bruja gave that feeling of a fatherly character, another to feel safe with. And Andrea Cortez as the cousin of the reporter did a good enough job, though a couple times, there was a little bit of a continuation error with her character but ultimately nothing too distracting.

Overall, I enjoyed it and I do recommend it if you’re in the market for some exorcism, demons, and confronting old wounds and healing them.

Movies

The Swarm

This review will be a little different than other ones. I’m going to include at the bottom, after my review, the notes that I took while watching the movie. Obviously, it will be severely spoiler heavy so don’t read that part until you’ve watched it yourself. Unless you like spoilers, then go ahead.

The Review

A genuine slow burn horror, no jump scares. Everything foretold and spotted early on which only furthered that tension, that unsettling fear. If there is one word for this movie, it’s that: unsettling. Everything feels wrong, yet it’s trying so hard to feel like it’s normal. A fatherless family tries to survive on a farm by turning to alternative flour such as locust. There is a little bit of a message bluntly stated that food supplies are dwindling and locust flour is much better. It has more protein at 100 grams than meat does at 150 grams. Cool. A little distraction from what’s clearly about to unfold. The family has its own problems; the mother is too invested in the locusts to pay attention to her children, the daughter is an outcast at school due to her mom’s reputation, and the son wants his mom to be attentive and watch his soccer games.

There is a very human story here that eventually grows quickly twisted and more perverse as it goes on. The mother is desperate for money and her locust flour is barely as thick as others. She can’t find sellers. That sinking feeling is very prevalent as a viewer. The movie starts out innocent enough. The close up shots of locusts have them feel like a normal thing, but as time moves on, the perspective changes. This movie is insidious. The strain on the family explodes in various disturbing ways. The mother makes the most drastic of all the choices.

The body horror of seeing bugs on human flesh is very real here. It is used to great extent to drive home that sense of being unsettled. I was constantly uneasy. I actually had my text document up half the time, covering the horror on screen. The sound was still there. That is a masterpiece as well. We constantly hear the buzzing of the locusts when we’re at the family’s home. The sound gnaws at your mind. It starts to condition you in that short while that you watch the movie.

I’ll be honest folks, if it weren’t for the review aspect, I wouldn’t have normally watched this movie. I think my brain blurred out certain scenes that I watched from the sheer trauma of it. If you want expert level of horror, then look no further. I recommend this French film.

Spoilers

Spoilers

Warned you enough times, Spoilers

And the spoiler notes I made

SPOILERS

This movie is incredibly insidious and gnaws on the mind with a slow burn. The use of the locusts is at first peaceful, and normal. Slowly it twists and warps the perception of them to be wrong, to be an aberration. You can feel the sinking feeling as you start to think what will die first. This being a horror movie and all. My money is on the goat.

A family struggling to make ends meet who turns to alternative methods like raising locusts. The inability to sell the product turns to angst, anger and change. In unpleasant ways. Injuring herself leads to a change in the environment for the insects. They feed on blood. An old man appears to take his dog back, she had gotten lost. Again the feeling of foreboding fear. It might die.

A political message about food running out and that locust flour has more protein per 100 grams than meat does at 150 grams. The locusts that ate blood bred more. It begins. The title of the movie. Somehow makes a grasshopper molting feel unnerving. Children having to live with their mom’s reputation, the impact it has on their lives. Being treated as outcasts. Bullied.

Mom lets locusts feed on her injured arm. Closeup of her taking out bits of locusts from wound. Dear god, this is horror. The constant sound of the locusts making their distinctive sounds, always there keeping you on edge. She expands the habitat, that extension letting your mind wander as to how large the swarm will get. THe locusts themselves have apparently gotten larger than before.

Mom not involved in her children’s lives, too focused on succeeding with her locusts. This causes problems with her eldest child, a daughter.

locusts ate other locusts in kid’s bedroom. Mom cuts her wrists to draw blood to feed locusts, sits down inside their cage, and they swarm her. She contemplates her existence in bathtub afterwards.

Her friend is struggling as much as her with his winery. She manages to fill 5 large barrels full for the duck guy, earlier scene showed a couple lived during the heating process. Now she buys 30 liters of blood, and the old man with his dog from before his being creepy like, stalking. His dog growling. Starts to feed them bloody jelly. they go crazy. reveals she has three large setups now.
locust sound so loud when they feed, the sound is so prevailant and in your head, daughter has headset and volume to max and barely can drone it out. The setting sun leading the goat, the change to night. A master of tension.

Daughter runs up to greenhouse with locusts in rage, slashing at several of the containments with an exacto knife and then the greenhouse itself. They are loose. Younger brother is in truck with goat in the back. There it is that feeling of doom. The goat is going to get eaten while the boy watches helpless. The rope breaks, the swarm passes. The gost is missing. It is found several kilometers away, barely alive being eaten by what remains of the locusts. Mother deals with it. She disciplines the daughter who has angst agaisnt her mother for failing to care about the goats.

Mother helps son search for goat she well knows is dead.

A respite from the tension, a family trip to the lake. It’s bright and free of the locust’s buzz. Daughter notices the wounds on her mom’s body that she’s trying to hide. Back to the house, the sound returns. Daughter gets bought off with a shiny new scooter.

Mother gets close to winemaker friend, starts to kiss. She pulls aways when he tries to take her shirt off. Son keeps kicking ball into the greenhouse aggravating the locusts. Mom expands and cuts down former tree belonging to the goat or tries to. Makes more feed using her own blood because she can’t get the blood she requires because she’s on a waiting list.

Everytime we’re at the greenhouses, the only extra sound is the locusts. She damages her relationship with her winery friend.

Mom hears the old man’s dog at night, barking and growling. Finds it and feeds it to the locusts. I skipped forwards because we back to some satanic ritual stuff here. We out here breeding monsters. Can we stop sacrificing pets in horror movies? This feels super cheap but then again, it’s the french, they don’t care about animals. Son has nightmare about locusts.

Mom cleans the remains of the dog she murdered. Mom drives out to a random farm and kills a young calf. Cuts the body up and takes it back to feed her new babies. Needs all the blood she can get. The music is always dischordant.

Mom couldn’t be there to see her son off to soccer camp. Daughter drives home determined. Finds blood on her mom’s clothes. Goes to greenhouse and witness’s her mom’s feeding process to the locusts. sits there naked save for her head, as the feed of her body. Gnarly stuff. What the fuck french men, like the last movie I saw was disturbing but we out here on a whole new level.

Daughter reaches out to winery friend, says somethings wrong with her mom. He comes over and takes them both back to his place. Daughter tries to tell what’s going on, but mom doesn’t let that happen.

Old man comes searching for his dog. Looks around the greenhouses. Enters one. Yea, he’s next totally. Opens one of the locust bags, sees something at the back. Looks up and sees mass of locusts.

Winery friend drops them both back home. He backs up but then parks and decides to investigate greenhoueses as well. He gonna die maybe. Finds the half eaten dead body of the old man. Karim (wine man) runs off. Mom angrily runs at daughter demanding what she told him. He starts to pour gasoline all over the greenhouses and lights it on fire. The entire swarm escapes. IT attacks the house. surround karim, and have him half dead. being eaten alive.

laura runs away but the swarm gives chase. Mom follows, unsure of where her daughter is. Daughter is taking a boat upside down to hide away from the swarm in the water. The swarm descends on the boat as the daughter cries out for her mom. She is running down the beach watching. Mom cuts her hands, drawing blood, and coats her face. She is drawing the swarm out to her, a sacrifice for her daughter. She goes in the water, and the swarm all suicides into it as well. Mom lives.

WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST WATCH?

Movies

Werewolves Within

A movie adaptation on a video game by Ubisoft? Oh, not an original game. A VR version spinoff of the popular werewolf/secret hitler format of group games where one of you is trying to kill the others or have them join your team, and you must figure out who it is. There are roles which can impact the gameplay like witch or scientist that allow you to better figure out who the wolf or secret hitler it is. So to turn that around into a competent and hilarious horror comedy is quite impressive. I find it a little funny that the screenplay is written by someone named Mishna Wolff… Anyways, the point is, Ubisoft has a successful and brilliant little horror comedy on their hands – ignoring the hard work of everyone else involved. Of course I’m joking, but you understand what I’m saying.

The story itself is simple and elegant. A new park ranger, Finn Wheeler played by Sam Richardson, arrives in the quirky town of Beaverfield where he learns of the town’s problems, both natural and supernatural. The residents are all a little bit off to put it mildly. Everyone’s got their own tics and issues. It felt like a real backwards-like town. When the moon rises, the story begins to pick up. The opening, for me, was pure horror followed swiftly by laughter. I was scared laughing until I began to pick up the clues and figure out who it was. That’s when the fear disappeared and I was awaiting to see the result. The effects were well done, because it seems like they went with a hybrid practical and CGI approach. Similar to one of my favorite movies, An American Werewolf in London. This helped the immersion factor. I was just sucked into this world, and along for the ride.

The acting helped a lot. Everyone felt at ease in their roles, and it wasn’t until the credits rolled that I put the actor behind the character into the picture. This was a properly told story. The elegance came from the fact there are multiple layers and actions often happening, at the same time, on screen. Hints in the background. The camerawork was stellar, the cinematography picked a great location. The woods really added to that sense of unease. They were creepy. It worked well. The tension hung in the air until the moment of revelation. The atmosphere was well executed and established. Music added instead of distracting from scenes on account of being too loud.

Overall, I highly recommend this movie. I think everyone should watch it. Or, wait until Halloween, if you’re that dedicated, and watch it then. Very fun, doesn’t shy away from the blood/gore that comes with werewolf movies. Lot of genuine laughter, and a lot of nervous laughter too. Watch it!

Movies

The Wolf of Snow Hollow

Written and directed by: Jim Cummings
Starring: Jim Cummings as John Marshall, Riki Lindhome as Officer Julia Robinson, Robert Forster as Sheriff Hadley, Chloe East as Jenna Marshall, with Jimmy Tatro as PJ Palfrey, and others.

An idiosyncratic black comedy that toes the line between horror and thriller that delivers a tale that is quite good. When murders start occurring in the small town of Snow Hollow, Utah, local police are stumped as to the identity of the killer. Local reports suggest a canine, or wolf, is responsible, with rumors circulating that is the work of the Wolfman. Local deputy, and son of the Sheriff, John Marshall is adamant it is nothing less than the work of a man. What follows is a poignant story of an alcoholic who tries to care for his teenage daughter, while circumnavigating the stress of his job as a police officer, and the mockery that comes with it. Mockery in no small part due to the inadequacy of the police in apprehending the killer.

The cinematography of the sleepy town is beautiful, with snow capped mountains and desolate, sparse trees. What little forest there is, is often used to great effect to help invoke feelings of paranoia and fear. It is at once haunting as there is also humour to be found in many situations. Like poking fun at a cop’s tendency to shoot when startled, or even mild corruption when it comes to a father’s dealings with his daughter’s boyfriend. It wrestles with the notion that women have been having to deal with men trying to kill them since the middle ages, and the fear that comes with that.

It was marvelously acted by Jim Cummings as the alcoholic father and deputy, and his mannerisms and quirks kept me enthralled throughout. I wish to see more his work throughout the upcoming years. The supporting cast also did a great job in their roles, from the grieving boyfriend of a murdered woman to the partner (Julia) of the deputy, John. Robert Forster did great, in his final role, as the aging Sheriff dealing with health concerns in his old age while trying to keep at his job.

Overall, it was an entertaining ride with a satisfying conclusion. I recommend it for a watch, and I hope writer/actor/director Jim Cummings keeps his projects coming.

Movies

The Platform

I was repeatedly sought to see this movie for it had a message akin to Joker or so I was so told. Joker was subtle and insidious. This movie beat you over the head every 10 minutes, and not kindly too. I would equate it to torture porn. Wholeheartedly unneeded, and left a bitter viewing experience. I had to mute and block much of the screen, reading only the subtitles at times.

The worst part is you could see the disgusting violence that was about to happen long before it did, therefore why would the movie continue to actually show it for such an extent? It can’t be to reiterate its message that the world is currently run in a such a manner that those who are wealthier leave naught but scraps for those that are poorer while both sets are led astray by the owners of such a system. To show extreme violence with the sole purpose of violence is unsavory. If you can heavily imply the violence, there is no need to explicitly show it. Unless you’re going for shock value; at which point, you’re devaluing your external message. This isn’t John Wick or some other revenge fantasy. This is one of those attempted allegorical art house films. Be tasteful with the gore and violence.

It felt like they were trying to make it feel like Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now with our main character’s descent from a moral and good man into madness and then a moment of redemption. Perhaps that was the purpose they sought with the movie, but I digress. It did not feel that way at all. It felt cheap. Somebody’s idea of prison torture porn.

I’d skip this movie. The amount of symbolism and beating you over the head repeatedly is off-putting, having the main bring the book Don Quixote with him is just… Why don’t you defecate in a character’s mouth while climbing to freedom to further iterate that everything is shit? You wait, you do. I feel bad having Joker even mentioned in this review, it doesn’t deserve such disrespect.