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Rating History

Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters (2016)
6 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

With so many people already having made their minds up about this movie, it's rather difficult to write a review objectively, but I will do my best. The cast is great, they all do a great job, however, I found Kate McKinnon's character grating and obnoxious (( believe they were going for humorous). The gags with the dumb male secretary were not as funny as the film-makers thought they were. Neither were the gags about the delivery guy getting the soup wrong. The first two-thirds of the movie is completely watchable, there are some funny parts and some parts where the jokes fall flat (and there's more than one joke about youtubers posting mean comments on their videos which sounded pretty defensive). The final third of the movie is pretty bad, though, some sort of pseudo action film that lifts it's ending directly from the first Avengers movie (substitute ghosts from another dimension for aliens from another dimension). Like I said, it's not a bad movie, Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy have a lot of chemistry, I just wish the writing had been better.

Evil Dead
Evil Dead (2013)
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It takes a lot of nerve to try and re-make Sam Raimi's "The Evil Dead". Made in 1979-1980, it was Raimi's feature length debut and was overflowing with creativity and passion, in spite of it's low budget. It attained a "cult status", becoming banned in several countries for it's brutality (but in reality, much of the horror came from the film-maker's technique, rather than cheap, exploitative shock). But Raimi is no longer a fresh-faced kid making exuberant movies just to satisfy some inner passion, he's an established hollywood producer, and making movies is a big time, money-making endeavor. Along with fellow producer Bruce Campbell (star of the original "Evil Dead" series), and a screenplay co-written by the director, Fede Alvarez and Diablo Cody (the ex-stripper best known for writing the oscar-winning screenplay for "Juno"), Raimi gives us a re-make that is tailor-made for today's horror movie box office. As released, it's one of the purest examples of torture porn I've seen in awhile, and I've seen Hostel, the Rob Zombie Halloween re-make, Chainsaw Massacre 3D, The Devil's Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses (Rob Zombie's films excel in this particular field), Cabin in the Woods (which this especially reminded me of), etc etc, the list goes on and on.

As the movie opens, five good-looking twenty-somethings go off to stay in some secluded cabin wayyy up in the woods somewhere. "Why?", you ask? It's not to party, but to help one of their friends recover from a drug addiction. While they sit around, comforting her, the dog uncovers a blood-stained trap door under the rug, that leads down into a pit filled with animal carcasses and an evil book. One of the particularly bright kids opens up the book, bleeds on it, and then recites the ancient resurrection passage that is clearly marked "do not read". Of course you know what happens after that. What you don't know is just how indifferent it all seems. As limbs are hacked off and eyeballs stabbed with needles, the characters seem less involved with what's going on up on the screen than the audience is expected to be. Look, I'm not making a value judgement: if you get off on seeing people sadistically murdered, or even if you're terrified by it, fine, but can't filmmakers just come up with new ideas instead of retreading the same waters over and over and over again? I didn't enjoy this re-make, and if it's not going to be better than the original, why bother with it at all?

Silent Hill: Revelation
4 years ago via Flixster
½

Let me start off with the following disclaimer: I am a fan of the Silent Hill video game franchise. In addition to the highly creative and frightening visuals, there's an aura of creeping dread that builds throughout the course of each game as it looms closer to it's climactic ending. Regardless of the respective plot, each game is about sinking further and further into the pits of personal hell. One can feel almost tainted after completing one of these games.

Silent Hill the film series is another matter. Both films try to pay lip service to the game's visuals, but they lack the emotional investment the games provoke. Adelaide Clemens plays Heather, a girl on the run with her father (Sean Bean). She thinks she's on the run because her dad killed a home invader, but actually they're trying to escape the people of the town of Silent Hill, who are trying to capture her and bring her back for some occult ceremony or something. Heather will every once in a while experience some weird hallucinations, like acid flashbacks or something, where walls melt away and people have sewn up holes for faces. When the townsfolk of Silent Hill kidnap her dad, it's up to her and her school friend Vincent (Kit Harington) to get him back, even if that means going to the forbidden town.

Silent Hill could've been better, and it could've been worse. It's the kind of movie video game detractors love to hate. Yes, there are some cool visuals, but the plot is stilted, and adds up to a lot of nothing. Not really scary by any definition, it's at least interesting to look at. The most disturbing thing about it is that it felt sort of like a "Twilight" film, or at least the romance aspect of it did. *Shudders* Now THAT'S horror...

The Master
The Master (2012)
4 years ago via Flixster
½

Writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson may be one of the most talented yet divisive film-makers of the 21rst century. The ambiguous nature of films like "There Will Be Blood" and now "The Master" leave a great many perplexed. Often compared to Stanley Kubrick (both enjoy a languid, methodic pacing and an aversion to quick pans and fast edits), P.T. Anderson probably draws a better comparison to Carl Theodor Dreyer, as both would rather focus on aspects of character development over traditional story-telling, and both are perfectly content to let an actor's face tell the story, as evidenced by Dreyer's "Passion of Joan of Arc" and also Anderson's The Master.

The Master opens with the story of Freddie Quell (Phoenix), a sailor with the navy in the south pacific during WWII. In freudian terms, Freddie is all id, a never-ending pursuer of the pleasure principle (for what is more stereotypically libidinous than a 1940s sailor, conjuring images of red-faced boys chasing women of ill repute down by the docks?). He's a manic depressive who borders on schizophrenic, and is believed to be suffering from what is known today as combat fatigue. While he's not terribly bright, he does display a unique talent for creating homemade hootch from just about any toxic household ingredient. In some cases, it serves him poorly (as when he "accidentally" poisons a migrant farm worker), in others, such as his first meeting with the Master, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), it serves him well. Dodd is throwing an elaborate party on a ship that Freddie happens to stow away on, and is saved only by Dodd's fascination with his homemade "elixir" (and Dodd's overwhelming sense that he knows Freddie from somewhere). Dodd isn't just a well-bred host of fancy parties, he's also, as he describes himself, "a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist and a theoretical philosopher". It's clear from the start this Lancaster Dodd fellow might not be anymore sound-minded than Freddie is. Dodd is the ego to Freddie's id: he's constructing a great analytical complex to discover and disseminate information leading to the betterment of humanity. His organization is large, and his followers are loyal (or are loyal in their own ways). Some believe him to be a crackpot, but serve him for whatever benefits they hope to receive from him. Deep down, Freddie isn't that convinced by Dodd's smoke and mirrors, yet he savagely attacks the non-believers who question Dodd's ramblings.

The Master has many pointed and obvious parallels to Scientology, the sci-fi religion created by L. Ron Hubbard, but the Master could be any god or godlike figurehead, when faith means to serve something blindly without understanding why. The relationship between master and pupil (both Seymour Hoffman and Phoenix deliver outstanding performances) is a little messy; it's full of fraud and deceit, yet there is a genuine comradery there that can't be denied. Shown in 70mm, P.T. Anderson wants you to right in the middle of the characters he's put up on the big screen. So much of the screen time (and screen space) is dedicated to faces and the space between them. People's faces with their emotions being displayed and the still moments that run between the events of lives. "The Master" is haunting and unforgettable, as are the characters it brings to life.

House at the End of the Street
4 years ago via Flixster
½

House at the End of the Street, the latest PG 13 teen horror movie, feels like a cross between the "Twilight" saga and perhaps "Psycho" (not that kids are going to know what Psycho is). Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Shue star as a mother/daughter recently transplanted from Chicago to some backwood hick town. And when I say backwoods, I mean that literally, as the house they're renting is on the edge of a state park. Just over the hill and past a few trees lies the "House at the end of the street", or the place where 13 year-old Carrie Anne murdered both her parents before escaping off into the woods. Elissa (Lawrence) isn't too interested in the double murder ("People used to get shot on our street all the time"- she says), and would rather focus on playing the guitar and singing in a band. She goes to a party, meets a drunk girl (new BBFs!), and almost gets date raped by the jock that keeps making weird faces. Walking home, she's picked up by Ryan (Max Thieriot), brother of Carrie Anne and lone survivor of the double murder family. He's moved back to the old homestead and lives there all alone (where he watches sunsets and writes poetry, while brooding and probably pursing his lips all sexily or something). Around here it all devolves into some pseudo-romance movie where the two make aspirations to be the Bella/Edward "forbidden lovers" or something. Meanwhile, it turns out Carrie Anne might still be alive after all...

I'm sure there have been worse attempts at horror movies made, but House at the End of the Street still kind of feels like pandering. The twist ending might be lost on the twelve and thirteen year old girls who make up the target audience, and to anyone over the age of thirteen, you've probably seen it all before. Not very much fun, and kind of dumb, it's not worth the time or effort to watch it.