Last Month in Movies – October 2017

Coherence – I’m not sure about the best way to describe this movie. On one hand, it’s one of those films where if you know what’s going to happen, there’s no point in watching it. On the other hand, it’s really hard to say anything about it without giving away too much. Full-on spoiler mode it is, then!

A group of four couples gathers for a dinner party on the night that a  comet passes by the Earth. Phones spontaneously shatter and the power goes out… except for at one house down the street. After a short expedition, our heroes learn that the people in the house down the street is an alternate reality’s version of them, and everything spirals out of control from there. Eventually, the main girl leaves quietly, spurred by the group’s infighting, and travels to many other realities until she finds a version where all her friends are not fighting each other. She knocks out the alternate version of her to assume her place in that timeline, and then… END.

It’s a bit of a heady film, which I do appreciate, but it does drag on at multiple points, which really kills any re-watch potential. What I actually found most interesting is how it was made: there was no budget at all, and the actors were not given a script or even the whole plot, but only vague directions for each day of shooting, in an effort to make their conversations and reactions more genuine. And I think they succeeded! For the most part, the actors seem much more like real people than actors, the improvised dialogue more authentic than written lines, and I think that’s a big plus.

Pod – This movie opens, as so many do, with a man stumbling through the snowy woods, somewhat disoriented, with his gun and his dog. But then the dog gets away from him. We hear barking, barking, barking, WHINE, silence. The man finds a trail of blood that leads to the mangled carcass of the dog. The man starts shooting wildly. Suddenly, he stops. He has seen something. The camera begins to pan and then… black. Cut to opening credits.

Seriously, how many films open with some variation of that? It’s so tired. Be more creative, please. The rest doesn’t fare much better. It’s about a stuffy fella with way too much moustache and his burn-out sister going up to a secluded cabin to visit their mentally unfit, ex-military brother. Who has apparently captured some manner of synthetic government assassin monster.  Most of the film is about how Moustache does not believe Crazy Eddie, and Junkie doesn’t know what to believe and just freaks out for about an hour straight.

It all comes to a head, though, when Crazy Eddie slits his own throat, allowing Moustache to go into the basement to see what’s actually down there. Surprise! It really was a monster all along! Moustache battles the monster while Junkie goes to get help. A man named Smith shows up and kills them both, and then the movie ends on the clumsiest jumpscare ever committed to film. I’m thankful that this movie was only an hour and fifteen minutes, because it was very bland. Nearly all of it was the siblings all squabbling between themselves. There was no tension, no mystery, no suspense. You knew exactly what was going to happen at all times. At least since it was very dialogue-heavy, it was an alright movie to have on in the background as I played picross.

Happy Death Day – I had been hyped for this movie for several months before release, and I was sure that nobody I knew would have even the slightest interest in going with me. So this was the maiden voyage of USS Ryan Goes To A Movie Alone. I was happy to see my movie, but it was still a little weird. I don’t know if I’d do it again. Go to a movie alone, I mean. I would definitely watch Happy Death Day again.

If you aren’t aware of the conceit here, Happy Death Day is basically the horror version of Groundhog Day; a stuck-up college girl is forced to relive the same day over an over again, each time ending with her murder at the hands of a masked killer. There’s a quote right in the trailer “this is your chance to solve your own murder” which is pretty well spot-on. It starts out with the usual disbelief of what’s happening, followed by acceptance and a couple montages of failed attempts. You know, exactly what you’d expect.

Where it diverges from the slasher handbook (albeit a little later in the movie that I’d have liked) is that the twists were actually good. And the way that it messes with both main character and the viewer were a lot of fun. I would be remiss to omit the fact that this is a horror comedy. That’s basically what drew me to it in the first place. I knew of the film and had a vague interest, and then I saw the trailer and thought “man that’s probably going to be hilarious.” It’s maybe not quite as satirical as I would have liked, but I got a number of solid chuckles out of it, and that’s really all I ask for.

To recap: I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish, and I believe that this was pretty much a perfect movie. For me. I’m sill confident that everyone I know would just turn their noses up and act like they’re above it. Oh well. That’s just how it goes in my lonely world.

Cult of Chucky – Speaking of movies that people would turn their noses up at and act like they’re too good for… this is the seventh installment in the Child’s Play series. That’s kinda nuts when you think about it. I never would have thought that this series, of all the 80’s slashers, would be the one to have the longest legs and maintain the highest level of quality. Well, there was that dip with Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky where the series had a bit of an identity crisis, but it shot right back up after those two!

Coming in five years after Curse of Chucky, this one follows the previous protagonist, Nica, who is now locked in an asylum after having been convicted for five murders. They go through the usual rigmarole of group therapy and the “Chucky was never real” business that I’m come to expect. And then, of course, Chucky actually shows up and starts killing off the patients and staff one-by-one, saving Nica for the very end. The first of two big twists here is that this time around, there are multiple Chuckys, explained away by Chucky having found a voodoo spell that allows him to split his soul and possess multiple hosts. This actually solves a lingering issue with the last film’s ending, but also raises the question of why he’s so focused on possessing Good Guy dolls if he can possess anything with “two legs and an arm to stab with.”

There is also a subplot where grown-up Andy Barclay (the protagonist from the first three movies) is trying to exonerate Nica and stop the other Chuckys, but it’s so separated from everything else that it feels like it was forced in. But they had that amazing post-credits scene in Curse and had to do something with it, right? Oh well. The main plot of the movie was perfectly good, and I don’t feel like Andy’s story really detracted from it, per se, it just didn’t feel quite natural. Didn’t flow right, or something like that.

Before watching Cult, I somehow got it in my head that it was going to be a big last hurrah for the series, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The ending doesn’t just have a sequel hook, it slaps you across the face at screams “You’d best be ready for more of these!” And they’ve really opened Pandora’s Box with this one, now that there are at least five Chucky hosts and two Tiffanys on the loose. Personally, I can’t wait for the next one, but I do hope that they scale it back down somehow, because it’s getting uncomfortably close to self-parody again. Chuckys on a Plane might be too far off the rails even for me.

The Babysitter – Netflix original movie that I assumed would suck because Netflix original movies usually suck. It did not suck! Kind of reminded me of Tucker & Dale vs Evil. You know, I want to write more about it, because it’s worth the words, but this post is already stupid long. I spent way too many words on friggin’ Pod. Ah, one paragraph, I guess.

The Babysitter is about a young boy who stays up too late one night and discovers that his babysitter and her friends are a satanic cult, intent on using his blood as a sacrifice. Hilarity ensues. It’s kind of a cross between Home Alone and a slasher parody, with the kid (I cannot be bothered to remember his name) forced to defend himself from the murderous teens/twenty-somethings. As usual, I assume that everyone I know will think it’s bad and stupid, but I thought it was a lot of fun, and it made me laugh out loud quite a few times. Heartily recommended.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter – Obviously not actually the final chapter. There are six more and a reboot and a crossover with Nightmare on Elm Street. No sir, Jason is not done yet.

Anyway, this is a fairly standard entry in the series. Jason comes back to life, kills a house full of sexy teens, and then is taken down just before everyone is dead. I suppose the one twist is that this one features a small child, who is ultimately the one who kills Jason. Otherwise, there’s no gimmick. No Jason fake-outs, no 3D effects, no psychic powers, no trips to the big city, no ridiculous demon slugs. Just… a very paint-by-numbers slasher.

In fact, it may be the most boring entry in the series. So why did I watch this one? It’s got the highest volume of bare tits.

I kid, I kid (though it does have the most nudity in the series). In truth, this is just the one that the Netflix app promoted to me. Turns out that they acquired the whole series like a week before Halloween, but this is the one that they felt was important to make sure that I knew about.

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