TV Shows

Hellbound

I can understand the critical love for this show, it is masterfully helmed and well crafted. The characters are strong, rounded, and believable. Humanity reacts in a predictable manner when masterfully manipulated by psychology under the guise of religion and the unexplainable. Being marked by so called angels for death, and then being brutally beaten to a pulp before burned away out of existence, is an interesting concept. Six episodes was far too short to explore such an idea, and I hope season 2 delivers. The cliffhanger was the only time it got truly interesting for me.

I understand the allure of telling emotional stories, playing with the viewers’ heartstrings to get audience immersion, and nobody does it like the Koreans do, but man! This felt like one of those Hollywood movies crafted solely for an Oscar… Except for the sheer brutal violence. It is over the top, and gory, and just feels like it’s there for the sake of being there. It wasn’t done tastefully, it was too much. I looked away every time. Perhaps that was the intent, to showcase how some would look on in glee, while others away. Perhaps, like all media, there’s social programming plugging away at you. Desensitizing you to the brutality of it all. I would have liked this show if they did away with the horrific acts committed by entities to humans, and just shown the after effect of the burned bodies. I don’t need to see a man or woman brutalized against the ground, pavement, or other.

I would have enjoyed the story way more if it focused on the supernatural element as the forefront plot point. Yes, yes, humans will create their own religion and groups to make meanings of events they don’t understand. I wanna see an exploration into these demonic entities, research some ancient libraries, make a special government team for it. But, that wouldn’t draw people in as strongly as small interknit stories between specific individuals that shape the world, and the small people affected by such decisions.

Overall, yes, it’s a good show, not denying that. I, myself, didn’t like it.

Movies

Night Teeth

After I finished watching this movie, and had felt like I enjoyed it, I was curious to see what other people had to say on it. I was surprised to see a negative response to it. Perhaps the genre is better said to be a coming-of-age modern fantasy vampire movie rather than thriller, action, horror and crime as listed. All those elements are merely backdrops to the story of our boy, Benny. His is a simple story amplified by the elements of the supernatural, action horror oriented crowd. Reminded me of Odd Thomas. His plight of being held up on a chauffeur job by a crazy pair of customers also reminded me of Collateral with Tom Cruise. Those movies certainly influenced the idea of the movie. As did any secret society movie, recently popularized by John Wick, influenced Night Teeth, with the world of the vampires and humans that know about it similar to the society of assassins and their counterparts.

Benny, played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr., is a delight to watch. His character is so likeable and charismatic, and you want to see him make that character arc grow to completion. The amount of foreshadowing present and Chekhov’s gun are enjoyable because the point of a simple story like this is to establish this character. This world. Debby Ryan was nearly recognizable to me, I was just so attuned to the character, to Blaire; she got action hero fit. Anyways, it was a mysterious and fun ride to be taken along with. It also reminded me of Bright with Will Smith, in that it’s a fantasy world set within Los Angeles featuring all the politics that go with it. The pace is consistent, moving you quickly with the flow while still delivering that world building in style. Some negative reviews said it had too much style and little in terms of good story, saying it was predictable and that’s exactly how I feel about Dune 2021 except Night Teeth had an actual ending with a hint of another movie. Dune was like watching LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring, and it ending at Rivendell when the party is gathered. I digress.

The soundtrack was electric and reminded me of cyberpunk/futuristic techno, it helped the scenes flow. The coloring of the movie was soothing, a city of neon lights. The action scenes were brutal but not to the point of being too filled with gore. And the antagonist played by Alfie Allen was nothing to write home about, but he wasn’t terrible either. I liked the other casting roles for that game of “Oh it’s this person!” The final fight was quick and didn’t drag on, but a minor continuity error at the end was funny (watch Jay closely).

Overall, I recommend this movie for a nighttime watch during the spooky month of October. Great movie if you understand that this story is about a coming of age tale, for a young man trapped within a horror story, that’s slick with style.

TV Shows

Midnight Mass

Mike Flanagan strikes again with an excellent and well told horror story. Everything he’s put out so far, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He is a master at creating suspense and keeping tension through the entirety of the season. Midnight Mass is seven episodes long varying in length, usually an hour for the most part. Each one is masterful in developing characters and has just the right amount of calm before the storm. Each episode’s final 10 or 15 minutes accelerates the horror plot in unexpected ways; that is, until you catch onto what is happening then it becomes a sense of wonder.

I can’t say the references it has, or the pop culture ones either because to say would be spoiling the plot, and this is one show I really don’t want to do that. It is best to go in blind and be left at the mercy of what will unfold. The acting is superb by everyone involved, and I especially liked the Sheriff (Rahul Kohli) and Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford). The cinematography was excellent and helped add those feelings of isolation with the wide sweeping views of the lonely island. The music elevated the tension and suspense further, and I’m really glad that it didn’t give away if a mild jump scare was to happen. Speaking of those, they are far and few and the ones that do happen, are to be expected.

The imagery and religious symbolism within the show was used to great effect, and really made you think how well the subject matter of the Bible tied into the idea presented in the show. I’m not Catholic, so a lot of the Bible might have gone over my head, but the few passages I did understand, I really enjoyed the idea presented. In fact, one of the passages about Jesus, I always thought since I was a child, that it could be used for such an idea as this show. I read other reviews that didn’t enjoy the long monologues by many of the characters but I felt that they were needed because this show is filled with preaching and lots of sermons so the monologues fit into that idea of preaching.

Overall, I highly recommend the show. It’s a standout on Netflix, and one of their few really good original series. For fans of horror, it’s a must see.

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?