JASON X (2002)

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Christopher

I kind of started this whole Friday the 13th campaign just to get to Jason X because it sounded so crazy and weird to me that the Jason series ended with Jason in space. However, getting to it, I think it might be my least favorite one. Maybe tied with Jason Takes Manhattan.

What took me out of this movie the most was how cheap it all was. Now, the rest of the Friday the 13th movies don’t seem to have a large budget but all they have to do is be outside by a lake. In this movie they had to make it seem like they were on a spaceship and even went so far to create its own type of holodeck.

Jason does get an update to his appearance and abilities at the end of the film which was okay and they made references to past kills like slamming people against a tree in a sleeping bag. However, the tone of the film was just too jokey as well. I’ve enjoyed the movies in this series that take themselves more seriously. When there are moments in the movie where it feels like Jason wants to look at the camera to see if you’re laughing, it’s not as enjoyable to me.

I’m excited to watch the reboot now!

Elizabeth

I truly don’t know why anyone would think setting a Friday the 13th movie in space or in the future would be a good idea. Why anyone would think setting a Friday the 13th movie in space and in the future is therefore waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay beyond me – but whatddya know, they did it.

And it’s really what you’d expect – the Jason we know gets cryogenically frozen, stays that way for 400+ years, then finds himself on a spaceship after humans have long abandoned earth for another planet they call Earth 2. Now, one would think of all the humans that must have been cryogenically frozen at this point in this universe, Jason would not exactly be high on the list of people to save and keep alive for research. But all the scientists are convinced he’s both full of good research material and would fetch a lot of money because I guess in this future people are in the habit of buying the bodies of cryogenically frozen serial killers. Once Jason wakes up, he kills everyone he sees – including, of course, plenty of sexual active teenagers. And once again, despite being killed over and over again in ways varying from having his head cut off to being incinerated, the movie ends implying that he will come back to life and terrorize the sexually active teenagers on Earth 2.

At this point, what I want is for some filmmaker to try to get to the bottom of Jason. He went from being the son of a deranged killer to a bonafide unkillable movie monster – but why? After 10+ movies, surely the various creators have utilized any idea they could possibly come up with in terms of creatively murdering teenagers. Maybe someone could once, just maybe, take a different angle to it.

Or send him to space again, whatever.

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SERENDIPITY (2001)

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Elizabeth

I imagine most people who’ve seen Serendipity saw it because of a desire to see charming John Cusack and charming Kate Beckinsale brought together by fate and fall in love and live happily ever after. So I also imagine most of those same people were extremely disappointed because instead they got a Lloyd Dobler-wannabe and a waif being total childish assholes.

If you’re like me, you knew the whole thing starts with Jonathan (Cusack) and Sara (Beckinsale) meeting because they both grab the same pair of gloves at Bloomingdale’s, causing them to go on a are-we-fated-to-be-together journey. And that’s true, but here’s how it goes down: Jonathan, who is in a relationship, grabs the same pair of gloves to buy as Sara, who is in a relationship. Despite said relationships, they get ice cream together. They leave the ice cream parlor (called Serendipity 3, ugh) to go on their separate ways, but they find each other there again after they both realize they’ve left something behind at the ice cream parlor. Again, despite their relationships, Jonathan and Sara take this as a sign that they should . . . well, not be together, but enough to go on a more extended date around the city. At the end of the night, Sara, who is in a relationship, gives her phone number to Jonathan, but the piece of paper flies away in the wind. Sara also takes that as a sign, and I guess negating the previous signs of the gloves and the ice cream parlor, so she has Jonathan write his number on a $5 bill that she immediately spends and she writes her number inside a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera that she has in her purse for some reason  with the intention of selling the book to a used bookstore the following morning. IF THAT’S NOT ENOUGH OF THE FUCKING SIGNS FOR YOU, THERE’S MORE! Jonathan, who is in a relationship, decides that they should go into the Waldorf-Astoria together, get on elevators, and if they choose the same floor, they’re meant to be! Luckily for us, they do choose the same floor! So the movie should be over, right? Wrong, because that’s idiotic because of course something is going to happen in an elevator, like a child pressing all the buttons in Jonathan’s elevator, so they . . . DON’T end up together! So the movie should still be over, right?

Wrong. Years later, Jonathan is engaged to someone and Sara is engaged to someone. Despite that, for some reason (ie they DON’T WANT TO GET MARRIED TO THE PEOPLE THEY’RE WITH) they decide to try and find each other again. After both receiving sign after sign saying they should be together and they shouldn’t be together, ultimately they finally fucking get together because jesus christ make a decision already. And how does Jonathan find Sara again? His sad, unknowing fiance gives him the copy of Love in the Time of Cholera with Sara’s number in it as a wedding gift. Thanks, fiance, and fuck you!!!!!

similar (not identical) situation is presented in the Richard Linklater’s Before series: the characters don’t exchange information but instead choose to meet at a certain time and location, and if it works they’re meant to be together. It doesn’t work, but they still end up together, but only after both admitting how childish and naive of a plan that was. Instead of basing their entire lives on this one thing, they move on, find each other again, and admit that they were stupid to think their big fate idea would ever work in the first place. Serendipity could really use a dose of that self-awareness.

Christopher

This is a movie I thought was around longer than it was. For some reason I thought Sandra Bullock was the female lead but I was totally wrong since it’s Kate Beckinsale. But it’s a romcom where I really don’t know why anyone would like it? It’s full of too many terrible people that shouldn’t be getting married.

A trope that shows up almost every time is that the conflict comes when the main character is supposed to marry someone other than the one they want. WHY IS THAT A STORY? Why can’t these characters just be real people and call it off? Why do they need to put the other person through so much shit, just in case the other romance doesn’t work out?

I’m glad I saw this since I’ve seen the cover forever but the idea that anyone would be invested in these people’s stories seems like a joke.

CABIN FEVER (2002)

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Christopher (spoilers!)

Before watching this all I knew about it was that it was directed by Eli Roth, a virus was the killer, and that it had Shawn from Boy Meets World in it. I wasn’t expecting this to scare me but I was really interested in how a movie set up like a slasher would work when the killer was not human.

Unfortunately, I do not think this movie really did much. It had a lot of pointless characters, namely Eli Roth himself as an over the top X-Games enthusiast stoner who might be bad but really is just a man lost in the woods. There are also storylines involving love but whenever anything bad shows up people do not hesitate to turn their backs on each other. And I felt like we never really knew much about the virus. It seems like it’s spread through water but one of the characters, who apparently is only drinking beer, also gets infected? Maybe I missed something but I thought the beer was setting it up for that character to live till the end, but that did not happen.

I think overall this was a dud but I’m glad I watched it. I still have yet to see a movie from Eli Roth that I’ve enjoyed. I think his Thanksgiving trailer in Grindhouse is the best thing I’ve seen him do. I am interested in Green Inferno but that sounds like it has even less of a story.

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I’m really terrible at figuring out movies before they end, which usually works in my favor. Being bad at guessing doesn’t keep me from guessing, though, and I was so sure I had Cabin Fever figured out. I was wrong, but in this case I actually wish I had been right. I knew Cabin Fever was an Eli Roth horror movie that people seemed to love when it first came out. I haven’t really heard much of it since but I still kind of figured it must be pretty good, or at least, okay, or at least, different.

So as the teenagers in Cabin Fever started to die off from what appeared to be an unknown flesh-eating virus, I assumed there was no virus and our main character, Paul, was killing everyone off. The biggest case Cabin Fever made for this theory was the treatment of another character, Karen. Karen and Paul have been friends since childhood, with Paul, having declared his love for her, obviously hoping their cabin weekend together will turn their relationship into something more. Karen is the first of the group to become infected with the virus – and this is shown to us in a scene where Paul appears to be fingering Karen, only to remove his hand in horror and realize it’s covered in blood because he had his hand within her thigh, now infected. What does it say about Paul that he mistook an open thigh wound for a vagina? A lot, but it doesn’t really matter. As soon as the group discovers Karen has the virus, she’s immediately locked away in a shed. Karen, whom at least two people in the group consider to be their best friend, whom Paul talks about being in love with, is literally put out into a shed to be forgotten about and die.

This would be such crazy behavior for anyone really in this situation that I thought it must be something else – that Paul was really a killer, locking Karen away to die after refusing Paul’s advances. Because if Paul, or any human, was not the killer, that means these characters truly thought the best course of action to help this person they love was to lock her away in a dark shed to painfully die alone.

Turns out – I was wrong, Eli Roth was . . . right? Because that is all there is – just a flesh-eating virus. Of all the problems this virus causes, becoming indifferent and/or evil is not one of them. So turns out we were watching some super shitty people who lack any self-awareness the whole time. So in the end, not only is it not scary – I’m pretty okay with the fact that everyone died. Except for Karen. She just really got gypped.

DOUBLE JEOPARDY (1999)

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Elizabeth

Double Jeopardy is by no means a perfect movie, but was most certainly a perfect movie for 12 year old me, which is how old I was when I first saw this. I didn’t care how accurate/inaccurate the whole double jeopardy concept was, or who was right or wrong, or really anything other than the fact that a woman was wronged by a man and then turned into a badass. The only other movie I had known about that was squarely about a female badass was G.I. Jane, which kind of scared me (and I’ve never actually seen it because for years I was sure there was rape involved), so Double Jeopardy was a much more palatable alternative.

And in the 15 or so years since, I still kinda feel the same way. I know now that double jeopardy doesn’t quite work like that, but I still don’t really care. If anything, Ashley Judd’s badassery is only more obvious to me now as the total gravity of her situation (falsely convicted of her husband’s murder, son essentially kidnapped by not-dead husband) is much clearer. There was a part of me as a kid that thought maybe, in the end, she and her husband could like . . . make up? I didn’t really want that to happen per se, but it didn’t seem out of the question for some reason. Watching it now, I wanted Libby to spit in the face of her fake dead husband every time she saw him. The flip side is that Tommy Lee Jones’ parole officer seems less of an annoying bad guy turned good guy and more of a guy literally trying to do his job.

I will say, one thing that did not work for me in 1999 or 2016 is the absolutely absurd depiction of New Orleans. In the Double Jeopardy New Orleans, Mardi Gras is 24/7, you literally can’t walk down the street without being stopped by a jazz funeral, and everyone is rich, white, and has a thick Scarlet O’Hara-esque old Atlanta accent. The New Orleans of 1999 is very different from the New Orleans of 2016 but Double Jeopardy does not get a pass just because of Katrina. The Double Jeopardy New Orleans just never existed, anywhere, anytime.

So no, don’t watch Double Jeopardy for a law lesson or a travel guide to New Orleans. But if you want to see a scorned woman work her way up the badass ladder until finally achieving ultimate badass status . . . do see Double Jeopardy.

Christopher

I have a strange feeling that I might have watched this before but overall it seemed fairly new to me. I did know what the whole double jeopardy part of the plot was though, unfortunately. I think overall this movie was fun but it had a lot of just strange things. It felt like sloppy film making sometimes. And nothing big but like, someone would be on a phone talking with their hand over the where they talk into the phone. Or there was a lot of bad green screen choices. The nudity in the film was surprising and nice though.

Overall I think this movie is fun but it feels too much of a product from the 90s to really hold up over time. It was also a movie I loved asking Elizabeth if New Orleans really is like that. There were some pretty terrible attempts at New Orleans accents.

THE WITCH (2015)

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Christopher

I went into The Witch kind of scared that my post-movie self would be way too scared to sleep for a few days. Unfortunately that did not come close to happening. I think the biggest thing against The Witch to me, was how it really wasn’t a horror movie. It had creepy moments/images but nothing ever resulted of it.

I am someone that enjoys some vagueness in films but recent horror movies, to me, are always just left completely open to interpretation. I enjoy when it seems like the director knows what the whole story is and The Witch was not that at all.

I think the name also threw me. I was waiting for the witch the whole movie and she barely showed up. And when she was there, she reminded me of Broom-Hilda with all her witch stereotypes.

I give The Witch one tine!

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I was so ready to love The Witch. I received an email from the Alamo Drafthouse weeks ago about how The Witch was a “Drafthouse recommends” complete with an endorsement from Drafthouse CEO Tim League and told Chris that we had to see it. So we did, the day it came out. I was hoping for something close to Let The Right One In or maybe, just maybe even something along the lines of The Vanishing. I momentarily forgot my usual skepticism of horror movies and was all in and ready to go for The Witch. And it ended up being not just stupid . . . but insultingly stupid.

I’d like to take a quick moment to clear something up: for some reason, The Witch has a reputation for being a “short” movie. The Drafthouse serves food and when our server came to us before the movie started he warned us that the movie was short. Everything I’ve seen online about The Witch comments on the length being so short. But people . . . it’s fucking 93 minutes long. Per the MPAA, if a movie is 41 minutes it’s feature length. If you think of movies being about an hour and a half long, The Witch is right on the money. If you think of movies being about two hours long, it’s barely 30 minutes short of that. The reason I’m pointing this out is because the movie is not short – it just feels short. Because it has no point. Let us begin.

William (Ralph Ineson) is the head of the most Puritan of Puritan families. The film opens with a judgment by some village elders that more or less outlines that William and his family are even more Puritan than they can handle. William willingly accepts banishment for himself and on behalf of his family: wife Katherine (Kate Dickie), teenage daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), tween son Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), and young twins Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson). They climb on the rickety family wagon and travel an unknown distance to a remote spot of land near some woods. An unknown (well, at least 9 months) amount of time later, they’re settled with a house, some crops, some animals and a new baby, Samuel.

Let’s stop here for a second. At this point, I was still totally ready and into the movie. But as soon as William spoke, I was hit with one of the most fundamental problems of the whole movie: it’s absolutely impossible to understand what the fuck anyone is saying. This is from a combination of thick, inconsistent accents and 17th century English. Here’s what I mean by inconsistent accents: William and Katherine are supposed to be from England, where Thomasin and Caleb were also born, while Mercy, Jonas, and Samuel were all born in America. William has a thick, deep Northern England accent. Katherine has a Scottish accent. Thomasin has an Irish twang and a lisp. Caleb, Mercy, and Jonas all have English accents and sound more like southern England than anything else. Now, I’m not saying Puritans had a modern American accent. But I am saying I expect a family of Puritans to at least sound like they maybe all came from the same place. And then there’s the matter of 17th century English, the worst of the offenses. I’ve read almost every work by Shakespeare (not exactly the same English, but still difficult), The Scarlet Letter, and trudged through The Pilgrim’s Progress. It’s not like I’ve never heard, or understood, Puritan tongue. But The Witch was just fucking impossible. “COME HITHER, MERTHY!” Thomasin screeches in her Irish-y lisp. It sounds totally fucking ridiculous. I understood, maybe, every 15th or so word that was spoken. I waited for it to get better – at first it was just William, and I thought “Maybe it’s just because his voice is so deep.” Then it was Thomasin, and I thought “Maybe it’s just because this is a super closeup shot of her face.” Then it was the whole family, and I realized that since this will clearly be a movie about an isolated family that’s all we’re going to get and it’s not going to get better – and, of course, it didn’t.

So, if you’ve seen the trailer for The Witch you’ve probably seen Samuel get kidnapped – as Thomasin plays peekaboo with Samuel as he lays on the ground in front of her he suddenly disappears in the couple of seconds she has her hands over her eyes. We see Samuel lay on some kind of table in some kind of house with a shaky, creepy-looking arm touching him. We can assume this is the witch that’s taken Samuel, and she kills him. Don’t worry – your imagination is much worse than what actually happened. One second Samuel is there, the next he’s gone but there’s some blood in his place. So don’t go on thinking this movie has graphic baby killing. The witch is naked and takes the blood and rubs it all over her body (again, this isn’t explicitly shown), then lay down with a broom and rubs the blood over the broom. We then see her silhouette as she flies on the broom into the moonlight.

Katherine is inconsolable over Samuel’s disappearance – which they attribute to a wolf – and spends her time crying and praying over his crib. Thomasin struggles with guilt and Caleb is clearly disturbed by the idea of his unbaptized brother burning in hell. William takes Caleb hunting in the woods where Caleb tries and fails to call William out on his religion – how can William preach that those not baptized go to hell while simultaneously insisting that unbaptized baby Samuel is not? William never comes right out and says Samuel is in hell but he does tell Caleb he took a silver cup of Katherine’s and sold it for hunting supplies without Katherine knowing. They see a rabbit that William fails to kill when his gun backfires. Apparently they didn’t tell Katherine they were going hunting because she’s pretty freaked out when they return. Caleb can’t tell his mother they were hunting because that would lead to her finding out about the silver cup, so he tells her they were looking for apples.

A few times, Caleb steals glances of Thomasin’s cleavage. He’s subtle about it and never does anything more than that, which as gross as it might seem, it also doesn’t seem that crazy considering the isolation these kids are under (plus it really seems more out of curiosity than sexuality). Thomasin never notices and treats him like her little brother as always. Mercy and Jonas taunt Thomasin over losing Samuel, chasing around a black goat while Mercy accuses Thomasin of being a witch. Thomasin plays along, telling Mercy that she is a witch and ate Samuel and will eat her too – just enough to get Mercy away from her. Katherine, convinced it was Thomasin who stole the silver cup, has a loud conversation with William about sending Thomasin away. It’s almost comical how they try to hide their conversation – they live in a hand-built, non-insulated cottage. Katherine calls her children’s names as their bedroom is directly under William and Katherine’s. When they don’t answer, she concludes they’re asleep, so they argue about Thomasin extremely loudly as all the kids listen in. So William and Katherine aren’t very bright.

The morning after overhearing his parents, Caleb decides to go hunting and Thomasin insists she join him. Thomasin gets on the family’s ONE HORSE and off they go into the woods. That’s right, this family of SEVEN out in the middle of fucking nowhere has ONE HORSE. So the family dog sees the rabbit William failed to kill and runs after it, freaking that goddamn horse out enough to throw Thomasin off and knock her out. Caleb runs after the dog, who winces and yelps so you know his fate can’t be good. And Caleb does in fact find the dog’s disemboweled body. So that’s another great thing The Witch has to offer – a mangled dead dog. Caleb leaves the dog and finds a small cottage where a beautiful woman steps out. She smiles and she and Caleb walk toward each other. Because writer/director Robert Eggers has clearly seen The Shining one too many times, the woman bends down to kiss Caleb and as he kisses her back we see her old, grotesque hand reach around and grab the back of his head. Thomasin wakes up and goes home with Caleb’s whereabouts unknown, which Katherine also starts to blame her for. William comments that he can’t do shit because their ONE HORSE is now gone and as Katherine berates Thomasin for taking the silver cup and losing Samuel and Caleb, William finally chimes in and tells Katherine he took the cup, not Thomasin. Later that night Thomasin finds Caleb leaning against the farm’s fence, naked and weak.

Not knowing what to do and having NO HORSE to do anything with, the family prays around a semi-conscious Caleb. He starts having a fit, causing Mercy and Jonas to drop to the floor and have their own fits. He appears to start choking on something but won’t open his mouth so William pries his jaws open with the end of a knife, fishing out a rotten, bloody apple from his mouth. Caleb appears to have visions of Jesus and dies. The twins lay on the ground, motionless, as Katherine accuses Thomasin of being a witch while in turn Thomasin accuses the twins of being witches because they chased around that black goat and talk to it like a pet. William flips out and grabs Thomasin, Jonas, and Mercy and puts them in the goats’ stable and boards it up. They spend the night there and during the night Thomasin notices the witch in there with them, naked and feeding on the blood of one of the goats. When the witch knows she’s seen, she turns and we see her profile which is straight up the most stereotypical witch face ever, complete with a hooked nose, warts, and a cackle. The kids in the stable scream. Katherine has a vision of Caleb and Samuel and talks to Caleb as she breastfeeds Samuel – only for the viewer to discover that in reality there is no Caleb or Samuel there but there is instead a crow pecking at Katherine’s nipple. ‘Cause, you know.

The next morning William finds the stable destroyed, the goats dead, and the twins nowhere to be found. In fact, the twins never show up again and are never mentioned again. So, hope you didn’t give a shit about them because they absolutely don’t matter, apparently. Black Philip, the name of the goat the twins chased (I only caught that Black Philip was the fucking goat until around this time of the movie because of the goddamn language) repeatedly gores William, knocking him into a woodpile that falls on top of him, killing him. Thomasin goes to him and is attacked by Katherine, whom Thomasin stabs to death as Katherine tries to strangle her.

That night, Thomasin starts talking to Black Philip. She demands that he speak back to her – which he does! “Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?” “Wouldst thou like to see the world?” Thomasin agrees but tells Black Philip she can’t sign his book (what book? guess it doesn’t matter?) because she can’t write her own name. Black Philip tells her to take off her dress and tells her “I will guide thy hand.” Naked Thomasin follows a trotting Black Philip into the woods where she comes across a coven of naked witches chanting around a bonfire. The witches take their brooms and begin to fly. As Thomasin watches, she also begins to fly and she laughs and the movie fucking ends.

So right off the bat – nothing scary happens. They don’t even go for cheap jump scares. You don’t see the baby get kidnapped, you don’t see the baby get killed. The only time you get a full view of the witch is when she’s walking toward Caleb as a beautiful woman. You don’t see the dog get killed. You don’t see what happened to Caleb. You don’t see (or ever even find out) what happened to the twins. You don’t see the devil, which Black Philip apparently is. So, no, nothing scary.

So if nothing scary happened – what did happen? Halfway through the movie I suspected that Thomasin was not a witch but would be driven to become a witch because of her family’s crazy religion and that’s exactly what happened. So for the whole movie we know Thomasin to be a good, moral, Christian girl. She’s heartbroken by the deaths of Samuel and Caleb and feels guilty about them. She cries over her father’s dead body. She cries as she stabs her mother, the only way to get her mother to stop choking her. After she kills her mother, she sits alone and cries. But after she’s done crying – she’s ready to join the devil? The devil that, to a Puritan, is extremely real and horrifying? It’s like a switch goes off inside her. It’s . . .almost as if . . .yes, I do believe this movie is trying to tell us women are inherently evil and/or crazy. The witch-ness of Thomasin is treated like something lying dormant within her that just needed to be triggered. Her evil woman cleavage enticed Caleb who wound up dead pretty quickly. Her evil and crazy mother could never get over the deaths of Samuel or Caleb, despite William being able to easily move on. Her evil and crazy mother was eventually killed by her evil offspring. When Thomasin becomes an evil woman she has no trouble finding other evil women with whom she can be evil and serve the devil with. None of this has any real effect on any men or children – just women. The whole story ended up falling on Thomasin’s shoulders – it was “her fault” Samuel was kidnapped, it was “her fault” Caleb died, it was “her fault” the silver cup was stolen. But the reality is if you want to place blame, which this movie and the characters within it clearly do, it’s all goddamned William‘s fault, who got the whole family banished because of his crazy religion in the first place and stole the stupid cup. And yes, William is killed in a painful way. But it was really Thomasin who had to pay the price – William died but Thomasin watched her brother and father die and had to kill her mother in self-defense all before giving up everything she believes in to work for the devil. So, according to Robert Eggers: getting boobs = turning into a witch.

I wish you could say “at least it was shot beautifully,” but you really can’t. It’s not shot badly, but it’s fucking boring. The shots of the opening of the forest are the shots from a poor man’s Lars von Trier. Making everything gray doesn’t automatically make everything look scary, as the filmmakers clearly thought.

I don’t think it’s the least bit creative to have a movie with a witch as the main villain in 2016 and not expand at all on any stereotypes. What I mean by that is the witches in this movie don’t do anything new. They steal children, use flying ointment, fly on brooms, have hooked noses and warts, cackle, have naked coven bonfire chants . . . and not much more. We get no context or explanation as to why any of that is there, either. So does that mean I get to make a movie that has a Dracula complete with tuxedo, cape, fangs, and gelled hair and it’ll be called original? I guess so!

At the end of the movie, a title card brags about how some of the dialogue in The Witch was taken directly from 17th century accounts. Uh, no shit. I already suspected Eggers hid his lack of plot within the overly-complicated language, but then the end of the movie confirmed he did that plus passed it off as a positive. What the fuck good does accurate language do a film audience if there is no way to understand it?

Is Eggers aware of the Salem witch trials, I wonder? Is he aware that, although over 320 years ago, at least twenty people, mostly women, were wrongly accused of witchcraft and publicly murdered by hanging for it in this very country? Is he aware that, before the Salem witch trials, tens of thousands of people were wrongly accused of witchcraft and publicly murdered for it by being burned alive? I’m not saying that this, or any witch movie, has to be completely sensitive to the real deaths caused by hunting accused witches. But I am saying if you take a movie, drop it in 17th century New England, give the main protagonist dormant witchcraft that comes out after trauma, and argue that classic witches and witchcraft are real and not the products of religious hysteria – yeah, that’s pretty fucking insensitive. Wouldn’t we all be shocked at a movie about an American slave who discovers she really is sub-human and that slavery came about not because of racism or politics but because all of the people accusing her of being sub-human and worthless were right? I’m not saying American slavery and being falsely accused of witchcraft are the same thing. But the women murdered for being witches were certainly victims of a system they couldn’t control and positing the idea of “Hey, wouldn’t it be interesting if those women had been witches and female sexuality was evil and religious fanatics were right?” is so incredibly disrespectful that it made me feel sick after.

The Witch – oh, excuse me, I mean THE VVITCH – is a piece of shit movie that has everyone duped.

SOLO POST: LOST: SEASON 6, EPISODE 17 – “THE END” – SERIES FINALE

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Elizabeth (spoilers)

Yes, I know this is Chris and Elizabeth Watch Movies and we’re smack in the middle of Oscar season. But Christopher and I just finished watching Lost. For me it was the first time, for Chris – who knows. But Lost has taken up a lot of movie brain space, and the finale was the length of a feature film, so I’m using our space here to write about it.

I’ll also add a disclaimer that I wrote this after seeing every episode of Lost including “The New Man in Charge” and every “Missing Pieces” episode. I also acknowledge that watching the show the way I watched it, which was nearly every day for a couple of months, was a much different experience than those who watched it when it was on, one episode a week over six years. 

I was nervous about watching Lost. It’s Christopher’s favorite show and I was scared I wouldn’t understand it or like it. Once we started the show, it was clear pretty early on that those fears were totally unfounded. But the further along in the show we got and the more I shared with other people that I was watching through Lost for the first time, the more nervous I got about the series finale and how I would feel about it.

“The seasons got shorter because the show got sucky,” one person told me.

“Well just wait until you see the last episode,” another person told me after I told them I was watching and loved Lost. What did all that mean?  It’s intimidating to barrel down toward a finale so many people are telling you is horrible, will ruin the show. But Chris did not feel that way. And the more I watched the show, the more I wondered what the ending could possibly be that made everyone so mad. I listened to the official ABC Lost podcast in between episodes, and executive producers and writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse brought up multiple times that they don’t introduce any new element to Lost without knowing its resolution first. Nothing I saw contradicted that. I felt confident that the show would not end with something that negated the entire show, like everything being a dream (a theory that with “Dave” was debunked by the creators). I had trusted Lindelof and Cuse to take me through six seasons of Lost and I wasn’t about to lose my trust in them before the finale.

The finale was incredible. I didn’t know how I wanted Lost to end, but after seeing the finale I realized that that was how I wanted it to end; with dignity, love, and most of all resolution. So I was especially curious what all the negative fuss was about once I saw the ending for myself. I found that the biggest problems people had with the finale can be broken up into two categories:

A.) Those that didn’t understand the ending
B.) Those that wanted more answers out of the finale.

Those that didn’t understand the ending:

No, the characters on Lost were not all dead from the beginning. They were all dead at the end, yes, but that in no way means they were dead from the beginning of the show. After finishing the show I was shocked to learn that so many people walked away from the finale thinking that that’s what happened. The biggest reason for my shock is that, in what I’m sure was an effort to clarify the ending, it’s explained before the episode ends. Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) is brought to a church where he sees his father, Christian Shephard, standing before him, although Jack knows Christian is dead. They have this exchange (emphasis mine):

Christian: Hey, kiddo.
Jack: Dad?
Christian: Hello, Jack.
Jack: I don’t understand . . . you died.
Christian: Yeah. Yes I did . . .
Jack: Then how are you here right now?
Christian: How are you here?
Jack: I died too . . . [Jack begins to cry as he remembers.]
Christian: It’s okay, it’s okay. It’s okay son. [Christian approaches Jack and they hug each other.]
Jack: I love you, dad.
Christian: I love you too, son.
Jack: You…are you real?
Christian: I should hope so. Yeah, I’m real. You’re real, everything that’s ever happened to you is real. All those people in the church…they’re real too.
Jack: They’re all…they’re all dead?
Christian: Everyone dies sometime, kiddo. Some of them before you, some…long after you.
Jack: But why are they all here now?
Christian: Well there is no “now” here.
Jack: Where are we, dad?
Christian: This is the place that you…that you all made together, so that you could find one another. The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people. That’s why all of you are here. Nobody does it alone Jack. You needed all of them, and they needed you.
Jack: For what?
Christian: To remember…and to…let go.
Jack: Kate…she said we were leaving.
Christian: Not leaving, no. Moving on.
Jack: Where are we going?
Christian: [smiling] Let’s go find out.

Everyone was dead at the end because, as Christian says, everyone dies sometime. There are people we see in the church – Kate, Sawyer, Desmond, etc – whom we never saw die. But their characters were not immortal, so just because we didn’t see them die within the span of the show does not mean that they never died. When someone died, how they died, and how far apart they died from the others is irrelevant at this point. What is relevant is that now that they’re all dead, they can all move on from “purgatory” to “heaven” or whatever you want to call the afterlife.

Purgatory was not the Island. It did not start when Flight 815 crashed.

Purgatory was the “flash-sideways.” It started at different times for everyone because everyone had their own unique issues to work out. Purgatory was not so much the place for our survivors to “do everything differently” with the knowledge they gained in life, because if that was the case all of our couples (Jack/Kate, Sawyer/Juliet, Sayid/Shannon, etc) would have been together the entire time. Purgatory was more of a place for our survivors to work through the issues and struggles that plagued them in life that did not get resolved before their deaths, so that they could move on. A perfect example of this is David, Jack’s son that he never had but had in purgatory. David was a way for Jack to acknowledge the effects his own relationship with Christian had on him, to forgive him, and let it go – which he demonstrates by fully opening himself up to the love that David would give him. Once they were ready to move on, as we saw in the finale, each character gradually started to realize where they were and connected to each other once more, preparing to move on to heaven.

I’ll be the first to admit that as soon as the finale ended, I didn’t quite get it. I was so emotional (and had been for so long by that point), trying so hard to see everything in every frame and take in every piece of dialogue that I sort of missed the boat completely before I just let myself think about it for a few minutes and let it wash over me.

Some viewers point to “evidence” that they were all dead: Jack’s eye closing at the end (mirroring his eye opening at the beginning of the series) and quiet shots of the wreckage, without people, playing over the end credits. All I have to say about that is: if you truly think the minds behind Lost would leave the entirety of the show to a few seconds at the end – well, you just don’t know Lost.

Those that wanted more answers out of the finale:

There are plenty of very specific questions that remained unanswered when Lost was all said and done. Some examples I’ve heard:

Was Claire/Mr. Eko’s psychic a fraud?

Why was Desmond dismissed from the army?

Why can’t the Smoke Monster pass through ash?

It’s true that those and many other small questions never found an answer. But there were also some big questions that plagued the survivors from the moment the plane crashed:

What is the Island?

Why did the plane crash?

Why were the survivors brought to the Island?

What is the Smoke Monster?

All of those questions were answered, along with another one: what happens when you die. Or, more specifically, what happened to our main survivors when they died. It wasn’t a question that had been asked yet, but Lost answered it for us anyway. It blows my mind that anyone could watch all of Lost and feel that there were still missing pieces and burning questions that were unanswered. Not every element of every mystery has to be solved for the entire mystery itself to be solved. The Island is a place of mystery and mythology – not everything has an explanation and most things just “are,” and that is how we must accept them. Then there’s also the undeniable fact that Lost is a TV show and the writers can’t be expected to have an explanation behind every single element of every event of the entire series.

We don’t get answers to every question. But we get something much more important and satisfying – resolution.

You can break down Lost in a lot of ways, but I think ultimately and most importantly it was about the characters and their relationships. It’s worth noting that the flash-sideways/purgatory did not show the Island whatsoever. The place where everyone met at the end was a church, not the Island. So it wasn’t the Island that was important, it was what happened on the Island and who was there that was important. Did it matter than Ben murdered Locke? Of course it did. And I was very sad knowing that not only was Locke murdered by Ben, but that he was confused and sad when he died. But I liked to think that in this universe of Lost that Locke, or some part of him, would ultimately know the outcome of everything and know that he did have a purpose, that he didn’t die for nothing. So it was fantastic when, at the end, Ben apologized to Locke and Locke forgave him and went inside the church to move on. So yes, it mattered, just like everything else on the Island, that Ben murdered Locke. But in the end, it was not the most important thing to either of them. Locke, unlike in his life, finally found himself part of a family, part of bonds that could never be broken, and with purpose.

Another example of the connections being the most important would be the relationship between Sayid and Shannon. Shannon was on Flight 815 to leave an unhappy life full of dark, complicated relationships. Sayid was on Flight 815 to finally find Nadia, his long lost love whom he had just found out settled in Los Angeles. Neither were in a place where they would be looking for love or be open to a new relationship. And after the crash, they were still resistant – Shannon remembering how she told airport police about “an Arab guy” leaving his bags unattended (in Shannon’s defense, that was dumb of Sayid to just leave his bags at an airport, but that’s neither here nor there) and Sayid getting frustrated with Shannon’s inability to translate Rousseau’s message. But they are kind to each other, speak softly to each other, and touch each other carefully. Despite Boone “warning” Sayid about Shannon and Shannon’s fear that Sayid thought she was worthless, they continued to believe and have faith in each other. Shannon is a totally different person after Sayid enters her life and we see the warm, romantic side of Sayid in the way he treats Shannon with such tenderness. We never truly see that side of Sayid again after Shannon’s death, and he seems to make good on his statement to Ana Lucia that he’s “already dead.” His eyes stay dull and his voice never has the same sweetness as it did when he spoke to Shannon. There seems to be hope for Sayid’s happiness when he leaves the Island as part of the Oceanic Six and reunites with Nadia. But they’re not even together for a year before she too dies in Sayid’s arms. At the end of Sayid’s life, you could argue that he had and lost two soulmates, Shannon and Nadia. But in purgatory, Nadia is not with Sayid but instead with Sayid’s brother. Despite having affection for each other in purgatory, Sayid makes it clear that he was never meant to be with Nadia. After Hurley has come to his own realization about purgatory, he sets out to help his other survivors remember, namely Sayid. First he brings Sayid to a hotel he once stayed at with him – nothing. He shows Sayid a tranquilizer gun similar to one that had been used on Sayid at the hotel – nothing. He takes Sayid to a bar, where Sayid tells him that he is a bad person, and anyone who doesn’t think that doesn’t know him very well, when he’s practically cut off by Boone and Shannon running out of the bar, Boone and a random guy about to fight. It’s not clear at first that it’s Boone and Shannon, but Sayid is immediately interested and when the random guy shoves Shannon, Sayid is out of Hurley’s car in a split second. They see each other and, for the first time in the finale that we’ve seen, recognize each other from their time before. Shannon says Sayid’s name, Sayid says Shannon’s name. Sayid touches Shannon’s cheek and looks at her with the soft eyes we hadn’t seen in Sayid since Shannon was alive. He speaks to her softly as he did before and they kiss, knowing everything they need to know. As a torturer in the Iraqi army before 815 crashed, Sayid’s life was full of negativity, of loss, of trauma, of frustration. But all of that was secondary – to Shannon. Nadia was important, yes. But she was Sayid’s Rosaline – her importance was not so much her relationship with Sayid, but that she brought Sayid and Shannon together. So of course, when Sayid is dead and ready to move on to heaven, it’s not Nadia at his side, but Shannon.

Obviously a big theme that runs throughout Lost comes from Jack’s speech that they will “live together, die alone.” In the end, the fate of the Island and possibly humanity itself lies with Jack. When he accomplishes what he needs to do, it must be clear to Jack that he is about to succumb to his stab wound. He stumbles back to the same bamboo field where he woke up after 815 crashed, knowing that he’s essentially alone on the Island now. He knows that despite his efforts and his own speech, he will die alone. It just has to be that way. But then Vincent shows up. Vincent, Walt’s Labrador that was the first to greet Jack after the crash, comes back to Jack and with no prompting, lay down next to Jack. So no, not even after everything that happened, after all that Jack sacrificed despite knowing it would both separate him from Kate forever and kill him, he will not die alone.

Lost gave me so much and made me feel so deeply that it gave me a renewed energy as both a writer and a consumer of stories. It’s taken its rightful place next to True Detective as Greatest Show I Have Ever Seen. The finale was everything that it should be and we should all be thankful such a perfect piece of art exists, ready to be watched – whenever you’re ready.

THE FRIGHTENERS (1996)

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Christopher

This is a movie I saw when I saw young and remember the story being interesting, engaging, and really enjoying it. Watching this movie now however, makes me question who this movie was actually made for. It feels almost like an Adam Sandler movie where the story feels so childish and kid-friendly but it’s also littered with adult humor and possibly legit scary moments for a kid.

I’ve never really been a big fan of Peter Jackson and this adds to those feelings. I’m not sure how one could watch Frighteners and think, that’s the guy we want to take charge of this giant book franchise. I think the next Jackson movie I want to try is Bad Seed and see if there is anything interesting there. I feel like he has as much talent as George Lucas. It’s there but also not really?

I don’t think I would recommend this to anyone.

Elizabeth

According to Chris, we watched this movie. And I sort of remember it. But last night we finished watching Lost (my first time through) and I can’t make any more room in my brain right now to try to pluck out the memory of watching it.

But I’m guessing it wasn’t good.