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Rating History

It Follows
It Follows (2015)
20 hours ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It Follows is damn good for a horror movie because of its thoughtful direction, original, mysterious concept, and terrifying score. Although the film doesn't live up to all of its ambitions and peaked early on for me, it doesn't leave my mind because of certain scary scenes and standout visuals.

The premise is ambiguous, with an "it" following the characters that isn't explained. Director David Robert Mitchell understands that horror is scariest when it's not fully revealed, which is why this premise works. It's even purposely underdeveloped, which might leave some asking questions about the rules, but I didn't feel the need to because it was affective overall and doesn't detract from the scares.

Things follow the characters, and it's scary. The reason it's scary is because of Mitchell's astounding direction, which is comparably thoughtful in its visceral effectiveness to that of great horror films such as The Shining. The cinematography uses wide angle, deep focus lenses that make us aware of the character's full 360º surroundings just as they are. We are constantly searching the background of shots, waiting for something to appear. The camera follows, it spins, it zooms slowly, all so that we have the experience of our followed protagonist. There's no shaky camera, no editing of close-up after close-up. The shots are clean and spacious, and as a result we don't feel gimmicked. These are authentic scares.

The score by Disasterpeace has two sides. There's the 80's-esque synthy theme music, and deep, droney, pulsating electronics during the scary parts. Some of the tracks lay in between, like the song Heels played in the eye and ear opening opening sequence. There's a combination of tribute and originality within the score, just as there is in the film, and I appreciated all of it. I took special note of the score during the scary parts, however. The music establishes tension with repeating distant booms, and explodes into chilling soundscapes. These sounds are at times quite simply fear in music form and it's amazing. Listen to the track Doppel for an example of this. The music is so good, and so contributive to the scares, that I wondered if the film could do so well without it. But it's part of the film nonetheless, and I'm thankful for it.

My main issue with the film was that after the first three or four scares, where the film was going extremely well, it started to get stale. I was waiting for the film to maybe twist the plot a bit so that the scares wouldn't be the same scary people walking towards the protagonist coming to get her, and it didn't. I was disappointed that my favorite parts of the film were within the first forty minutes, and that it didn't reach that level again because it failed to introduce anything that new. It never got too silly or ridiculous thankfully, so I enjoyed it anyway.

The film seems to have larger ambitions on its mind somewhere. Maybe this ambiguous "thing" that follows is a metaphor for something? Maybe it's a coming of age story where the characters are entering a sort of horrific aftdulthood? None of this came across for me. The horror in the film just doesn't seem to stand for anything other than its own scares. There's also an obvious water metaphor and I didn't know what it meant, but the movie was telling me there was one.

As for the acting, Maika Monroe is very good, even if you can't tell. This is because she is never laughable, which is an accomplishment when you're screaming and crying over weird things all the time. Her character is care-able, and the side characters are too, even if the performances there are just okay.

There's no getting around it: this is a standout in its genre even with its faults. It's been a over week since I've seen it and I'm thinking about it still. Some of the horror sequences are not just scary- they're visceral experiences. But for me they were all in the beginning. I think for that reason this is a good one to go to the theaters for.

Song Of The Sea
28 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Song of the Sea has beautiful visuals throughout and is always a treat to look at. It's an intimate fantasy tale of a family living in the wake of their mother having went into the sea because she's a creature thing to become a creature thing. Now the brother and sister must get back home from their Grandmother's house and also solve the fantasy thing because the girl is a Selkie (half-seal) like her Mom was. This movie didn't really make sense to me.

Watching the movie is a nice experience because the images look like well-crafted, detailed drawings like a painting from a children's book. But beneath these visuals is a story that feels like it makes enough sense to pass off, but I can't figure out why anything really happened. To put it best, this movie made up its own rules as it went along. It's like someone is telling you a bedtime story that they're just making up as they go along. It lacks proper stakes and explanations for why things in its fantasy world are the way they are.

I'm not just trying to nitpick, here. Towards the beginning, I was getting a hint that this story didn't have anything at stake. They want to get home, and separately, the girl is discovering that she is a seal creature. With this discovery, which happens out of nowhere, she has a task. What is this task? She has to un-stone creatures and fairies from this fantasy world that she meets as if she is a chosen one, but she isn't. We don't know why they want her specifically or what she is getting from them by doing this. We don't know what it means for her to be a Selkie. We do know that she is going to die for some reason if she doesn't do it.

So what are her tasks for accomplishing this? The one thing that makes sense is that she has to get a coat from her house, but most of the story is the two siblings wandering wherever in this fantasy world. She has to follow some little shiny things and then she'll solve the fantasy thing. I call it the "fantasy thing" because she's not really solving anything at all. She's just going on a thing that she needs to do because the movie said so. There's a shell that she plays that makes bad things go away when convenient, established by the movie when needed. There's a water portal in a house in the middle of nowhere that leads to a guy whose beard grows and I guess each strand tells a story. I don't know what this guy did for the story or for the characters. There are seals who help the characters ride to where they need to go in the ocean just because.

The pieces in this story add up to what looks like a proper film but they don't actually make any sense, and therefore mean nothing. Unlike other fantasies, this one establishes its rules on the spot and without any grounding. By the end of the movie, I had realized that no explanation was coming for me, and that this movie simply didn't make sense. I can't say, however, that it was unpleasant to watch. The characters, while not that developed, were nice to watch and had loving relationships with one another that gives the movie some emotion. The score, I should mention, is very very good. I had a warm feeling while watching much of it, but it's hard for me not to be weighed down by its lack of making any sort of sense, and I have a hard time believing that apparently no critics see this.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
38 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Fun spy movie. Good act, good enough story, good style and edit in action. Silly movie. Some cliché, but some not chiché. See if want fun gun movie.

Fifty Shades of Grey
38 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I didn't think it was bad. Watching this movie, I didn't expect much. What I got were nice visuals, a protagonist who felt real, and a conflict that felt genuine. I wasn't objecting to this movie in my head as it happened and it was surprisingly inoffensive and not just a mess of erotica. Sure, these characters aren't all that deep, and their bondage even less so, and the conflict does get repetitive towards the end. But there wasn't anything in this movie that bothered or irritated me very much, and there were actually some pluses.
Possibly the best part of the film was that the protagonist, played by Dakota Johnson, felt real. Johnson portrays her character's shyness without seeming fake, and is able to sustain her realness even in weird situations where you might expect a stumble. Her relationship with Christian Grey was also believable. She spends a whole lot of this movie objecting to Christian's ideas of a relationship, asking the same questions that we have. I found her easy to identify with within this movie that would not have worked at all without that due to the weird subject matter. As the movie progresses and the conflict rises, we even get a glimpse into the depth of Christian Grey, who is totally one-note, but why becomes the question that Anastasia asks. I felt like most of the movie we weren't rooting for her to be Christian's submissive, and I expected the audience to only want her to get fucked and whipped. It's not porn whatsoever. Expectation defied.
Speaking of subject matter, which is getting this movie a ton of attention, it seems much more dedicated to other aspects of its story. This movie wasn't even sexy. I didn't want it to be so that's fine. Some people might want that and might be disappointed, but I didn't care. The sex scenes weren't too enjoyable for me and I couldn't tell how much the movie wanted me to be aroused by them. The fact that the subject was different actually prevented this movie from being over familiar, since we don't see this kind of relationship on film very often.
The visuals are nice looking, and best of all they're spacious. I could see this story being suffocated by mediocre cinematography, but the director and cinematographer give us a lot of breathing room. They're slick and clean looking.
There are stupid lines of dialogue, sure. I suspect that the director was aware of how silly these lines were, and I think they're supposed to make us laugh, and they succeed. The movie knows that you know what it is.
Problems? Sure. There are some minor inconsistencies and ehh moments throughout the film, but nothing that ruined it for me. Anastasia's desire for a real relationship with Christian, the main conflict, becomes pretty repetitive after a while. This movie could have easily been twenty minutes shorter. There is also a lack of depth in Anastasia's fascination with Christian, and his fascination with her. Their attraction is just that they love each other. It's surface level, but that's good enough to work in this movie. While I felt that Anastasia's character was real, she's not that deep and nothing is revealed about her past. Christian is the opposite, where he feels almost unreal, but there are hints of depth in him, most of which are left hanging by the end of the film. I actually liked what the film left the audience hanging with and the decision that the protagonist ultimately made. I can see a lot of people becoming bored somewhere towards the end of this film because of the repetitiveness of the story and blandness of parts, especially if you want a lot of sex, but I was into it most of the time.
Overall this movie surprised me. There's nothing here that hints at greatness, but I can't complain all that much. I think if you want to go see this movie with some friends for fun or whatever, go for it. You could easily go into this movie wanting to hate it and getting exactly that, but I think people who go in with an open mind might just find themselves enjoying it more than they expected.