NO ONE WILL SAVE YOU (2023) [27 September 2023]
A while back I was talking to someone about the non-scifi alien movie I wished existed, a straight-out horror about gray aliens breaking into your home. I described a shot I saw of the character looking at their ceiling as footsteps thud across the roof of their house, knowing where, but not what, the intruder is. When that exact shot happened in this movie I thought, "Well, damn." But I never expected the twists and turns this movie takes, how it hits all the expected alien invasion horror notes (or is it tropes?) and how it injects originality into the familiar. Its way of isolating and alienating (ha ha) the character from her community is interesting, and that alienation (huhhaha) contrasts well with aliens that are very communicative with each other. Sometimes, though, the aliens felt unclear in motive. In some scenes they show curiosity and perhaps even understanding of our lead, Kaitlyn Dever, who impressively sells an emotionally rich experience almost completely nonverbally; yet in other scenes they brutishly smash up furniture and doors, forgetting their telekinetic power in favor of a chase. Many scare moments are punctuated with overbearing, too-loud noises that I think end up distracting from scares that can stand on their own. But the speed this movie moves at and how jam-packed it is with alien terror makes it really entertaining and easily rewatchable. I don't imagine it'll be long before my second viewing.
MAD GOD (2021) [10 June 2023]
When someone spends 30 years personally making their own animated movie, the result almost has to be something so unique and singular that it becomes incomparable to anything else. The level of detail, imagination, effort, and dedication is visible in every frame of this film. From blasting gun emplacements, down through layer after layer of bio-mechanic ruin, through the lives and deaths of so many strange and disgusting beings, Mad God is a hypnotic non-narrative slice of existence that can only be described as a masterpiece. Many shots in Mad God left me blown away, stunned by the creativity and willingness to do things other stop-motion animation may as well consider impossible, and to do those things well. It's the kind of dark fantasy I'll revisit time and time again, not only to appreciate its horrific beauty, but to appreciate simply the work that Phil Tippett put into perfecting his own independent vision.
DEADSTREAM (2022) [29 May 2023]
I'll be honest, this one's an instant classic for me. A douchebag YouTuber and streamer pulls a stunt in a haunted house to try and rebuild his brand after a controversy, and things get spooky. Didn't have high hopes going in but I had a smile for the whole movie. The lead is fun to laugh at and annoying enough to hate but not enough to ruin the film. The stupid decisions and idiotic setup are fun in the context of a douchey streamer trying to get views. This is the Evil Dead of the found footage genre, and the aspect of it being livestreamed adds a layer of humor the movie is unafraid to mine. The lead argues with the chat during the haunting; he tapes a GoPro to a stick of beef jerky and takes the time to label it "BEEF CAM" on the stream; when he's sure he's gonna die he issues an apology to the minorities he's offended with his content. As far as horror comedy clowns go, this whiny streamer-turned-screamer is a blast to watch as he hides in closets, shouts out his sponsor, and is slowly tortured mentally and physically by vengeful spirits and his viewers. Great fun.
GREENER GRASS (2019) [10 May 2023]
I loved this movie from frame one. Its writer-director-stars are geniuses. Geniuses. This is a perfectly uncomfortable, unpredictably strange suburbia satire mainly focused around two moms competing with each other. Things happen, they don't make sense, they do make sense. It's funny, it's sad, it's vapid, it's deep. It has a lot to say about suburban America and what it takes to create the image of it. I'm obsessed with it. Its opening title sequence is top 10 all time. I started watching it again while typing this. That's why I thought of the thing about the title sequence. Anyways, don't speak to me for 96 minutes.
THE GREASY STRANGLER (2016) [1 May 2023]
I'll be honest. I don't know what to type here. This movie is disgusting. It's fucking abhorrent. I laughed, I grimaced, there were weird dicks, some light cannibalism, a hell of a lot of grease,
and that's about the gist of it.
SKINAMARINK (2022) [13 April 2023]
I have no clue where I land with Skinamarink. I watched alone in the dark with headphones in my own room. And, for multiple scenes in the film, the "mood" was established quite beautifully, especially in the final shot. And then for the rest of the movie it's walls. I get the intention behind never showing your characters—you don't want the viewer connected to "Kevin" and "Kaylee," you want them to feel alone—but holy shit does it test your patience. 20 minutes in I saw a phone and said to myself, "If it cuts to the ceiling and I hear someone pick up and dial, I'm done with this movie." And it did. And I was. But I stuck it through. And you know what? I think about this movie all the time. I keep mulling over it and seeing those family photos. It's been a while since a movie stuck in my head like this. I guess that's a good thing? Is that a recommendation? I don't know?
MALIGNANT (2021) [15 October 2021]
I'm a connoisseur of many things. Fine art. Soap. But one of those things is garbage. Pure, fucking, burning dumpster trash. You'll never find a more fun movie than a trash movie, and let me tell you, this movie is absolute, unadulterated, gourmet garbage. It looks so cheap and the writing is embarrassingly bad in the first half but only occasionally funny-bad. I wasn't sure I was gonna finish it. But oh my fuck, the last half hour or so is some of the best schlock I've seen in a long time. I was screaming and laughing at the screen. Just thinking about it makes me crack up. I wish I could describe what happens without ruining it. This movie has the same opening scene as Jurassic Park and it isn't about dinosaurs. I wish I had friends so I could make them watch this movie. But I don't. So I'm telling you. WATCH THIS MOVIE. DO YOU LIKE GARBAGE? THEN WATCH THIS FUCKING MOVIE.
BLOW OUT (1981) [9 July 2021]
Y'all remember when John Travolta wasn't just a chunk of dry meat underneath a parade of strange hairdos? Yeah, I don't either. But remember when he was a good actor? That ruled. Nowadays he's become a bit of a joke so it's easy to forget how good he was in the late '70s - early '80s. For some reason though, I never really heard people talking about Blow Out. And looking it up, people didn't really see it in theaters when it came out. That sucks. Cuz this movie is great. It looks fantastic, it has great direction and editing. It's directed by Brian de Palma for god's sake, so you've got some really impressive split-screen sequences and a lot of technical know-how behind every scene. Also John Lithgow plays a stone cold murderer. Dope.
THE BLOOD OF A POET (1930) [6 July 2021]
It's always entertaining to me to go back to old movies and see how they did the effects. Working around limitations produced some pretty creative stuff in early cinema and maybe no one's creativity shined brighter through those limitations than Jean Cocteau's. A lot of the camera techniques used in this film are super groudbreaking for 1930 and I think it shows Cocteau's skill at approaching different artforms from abnormal points of view, even willing to critique those points while taking them. I appreciate that a weird mouth shows up on the main character's hand and the second he stops freaking out about it he uses it to blow himself. Very realistic.
THE WAGES OF FEAR (1953) [28 June 2021]
I had always heard this film was one of the best thrillers ever and damn they were right. The first half hour we get to know this small cast of characters, the rest of the movie they are in mortal danger, transporting explosives in trucks without safety equipment. If they hit a bump too hard it could blow them up. So you get "oh shit" moments out of potholes, falling rocks, and shots of tires on the edge of ledges. An overall lack of a score keeps the atmosphere tense, where it sounds like a pin dropping could ignite the whole load. Each victory over some obstacle is hard-won, never guaranteed, and won't be celebrated long, cuz there's surely something worse right around the corner. Hold on tight everybody, it's gonna be a *bumpy ride* hueheuehehehheue
HOUSE (1977) [27 June 2021]
What in the hell do you want me to write about this movie? Yeah, you. I mean, no, her — I don't know. This is one of those movies that already feels like weird dream I had even though I just watched it. but that's it's reputation I guess. It starts out like a light drama (??) about a group of young friends, each one cartoonishly named after their main traits. So like, later, when Fantasy sees the floating head of one of their friends, they don't believe her. Cuz she makes shit up. Cuz her name is Fantasy, yeah? There's a lot of early green screen in this movie which is fun. And then. . . I don't remember. I remember a cat. And a lot of blood. And I remember the character Kung Fu taking over the film's genre for 15 seconds at a time. Oh shit, I just remembered the piano part! That was great. Shit, I'm gonna watch it again. I'm gonna watch it again. And sober this time.
ANDREI RUBLEV (1966) [11 June 2021]
I don't really know what to even say here. I don't know how to even begin reviewing this, or even describing. I'm not religious. Andrei Rublev feels like a religious experience. It feels like the best lesson on faith I've ever heard. It's lucky that that lesson in faith is delivered by one of the best directors who has ever directed, and is delivered using some of the most beautiful black-and-white cinematography that has ever been shot. It is simply a masterpiece.