RODEO AND JULIET (2015) WITH SUPER SPECIAL GUEST POST!!!

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Elizabeth

It’s hard to say what the biggest problem with Rodeo and Juliet is. Is it the immediate comparison to Romeo and Juliet, which it kind of follows and then gives up on? Is it the fact that you never get a clear understanding of the main characters’ ages? Is it that all of the main characters are distractingly ugly?

When we first meet Juliet, she is eating pizza (teenager?) and video chatting with her girlfriends (teenager?) and complaining about being forced to spend Christmas break (teenager? college?) with her mom. It’s also difficult to gauge Juliet’s age under the 10 pounds of makeup she constantly wears:

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Juliet’s mother, Karen, doesn’t make it easier to determine age. She dresses like a teenager but looks like she’s had some kind of work done to her face.

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Karen’s father, whom Juliet has never met, has just died and Karen is taking Juliet to Louisiana to collect her inheritance, mainly the “ranch” that Karen’s father worked so hard on it killed him. I’m from Louisiana, too, and found it hard to imagine exactly what kind of ranch they were talking about. All we ended up seeing was a house on a biggish piece of land and one horse. It doesn’t look or sound like a ranch but it was apparently enough of a ranch for Karen’s former love, Hugh, and his nephew, Monty, to work on apparently full-time. Hugh is mentioned a few times before we meet him, and I didn’t know what to expect. Some overly-rugged overly-handsome dude.

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That’s the dude causing all this inner-turmoil in Karen? And she lives in New York now? Uhh, well he apparently wasn’t worth even breaking up with when they were previously ENGAGED, so I think it’s safe to say that he’s not worth it (for both of them, really). Then at a “barn dance” Juliet meets Hugh’s nephew, Monty. Monty looks like a cartoon character and Juliet dresses overly sexy for . . . a . . . teenager? College student? Hmm . . .

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Karen finds out that Juliet and Monty have met and freaks out and forbids Juliet from seeing Monty again. Okay, so at this point JULIET meets a boy and his uncle whom when their names are together make MontyHugh which is a fucked up version of Montague, at a party and his forbidden to see him. INTERESTING! But she also meets a horse named Rodeo. So who is Juliet’s true love: Rod[m]eo or Monty[gue]?

Karen wants to sell Rodeo and Juliet fights to keep him. She starts secretly training with Monty to win a horse show with Rodeo, to win enough money to keep him. Karen finds out Hugh owns part of the ranch and keeps hating him. Juliet’s face gets harder to look at:

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Karen realizes she doesn’t hate Hugh, she loves him and has loved him all along! Juliet loses the horse competition but Karen, her cold bitch heart now full of love, lets her keep Rodeo anyway. She and Monty are told they are on demand on the horse circuit now, and so they all get to stay and be one big (slightly incestuous) family. So I guess . . . Juliet is not in high school? Or school of any kind? Or Karen just doesn’t give a shit and just wants Juliet to do whatever she needs to do to stay. Good thing it doesn’t matter!

I hated this movie. And I would never watch this without the motivation of company:

SUPER SPECIAL GUEST POST: MIKE WILDER OF https://waldersblog.wordpress.com/

First of all I want to say that it is an honor to be featured on Chris and Elizabeth’s wonderful blog. They are both wonderful people with interesting perspectives on cinema and I hope I don’t embarrass either of them but especially Elizabeth. Anyways here comes my take on Rodeo & Juliet!

I came into this movie expecting one of those stories where the stuck-up city girl goes to the country and, despite her shock at the way Real Americans live, falls in love with the hottest guy there. Instead it was exactly like that. This is a powerfully unoriginal movie full of unremarkable performances and plot points that are objectively uninteresting. But keep reading my review of it anyway please.

At the start of the film, Juliet (like from Shakespeare) has to go with her mom to the country for a little while to settle her grandfather’s estate. While they’re out in the country, she learns she is a naturally talented “barrel racer” and meets her hunky country boyfriend who helps her learn to ride. It’s a little bit like Star Wars Episode 1, I guess, with the horse as the podracer and Juliet as Anakin Skywalker: the talented youngster who makes the best of a bad situation by learning to race fast. Anyways, Anakin somehow learns to be one of the best “barrel racers” in the area in like two weeks and goes to the Big Local Competition where she goes head to head with the defending champ. She loses.

Besides the horse sports story line, the central conflict here is that Juliet and her mom might not be able to sell the ranch that kind of belongs to them. They can’t sell it because they don’t have Juliet’s grandfather’s will. BUT the will might be out there somewhere. Every time the will comes up, everybody starts talking about how they haven’t found it but it might exist. This really happens so much throughout. My favorite part of the whole movie was when they finally found the will and everybody had to shut da fuck up about it. Anyways, the will said that Juliet’s mom had to split the ranch with her ex-lover and so they fell back in love and got engaged and (miracle of miracles!) Juliet’s boyfriend is that guy’s nephew/son so they have a perfectly efficient Family Romance Unit! There’s also something about how Juliet and her mother have things they are avoiding in New York, but selling the ranch and falling in love are clearly the important things here.

At the end of the movie, after 90 minutes of things that didn’t really matter at all have happened, Juliet and her mom don’t have to go back to New York. Which is a relief even though that’s where they live. The viewer is left to assume that Juliet and her mother didn’t have any relationships in New York worth maintaining. I guess they just turned their two-week trip into a new life with their new boyfriend/husband combo who are, once again, essentially a father/son combo. Makes sense.  Good movie. Really really good. I strongly recommend this movie. Especially if a horse once kicked you in the head so hard it made you like bad movies about horses but you don’t want to shell out $2.99 to rent War Horse on iTunes.

Christopher

It’s an honor to have a guest reviewer on our blog today. It can be a difficult duty watching these terrible movies and it’s nice when you know another person is going through the same experience as you. Mike also has his own movie blog so you should absolutely check that out right after you read this. 

After watching The Longest Ride, still one of my favorite terrible romance movies we’ve seen, I’ve been interested in love on the ranch. Though there isn’t an attractive person in sight, Rodeo & Juliet was pretty engaging to me throughout 88 minutes.

It’s very apparent that this movie was on a very low budget but nothing said it more than the insane makeup of the main character. There were many moments in the film where it was almost hard to watch her on screen. I feel like the closest I’ve ever come to that before was when I saw Pink Flamingos with my roommates in college. But what’s also distracting is how much older she looks than what I assume the character is supposed to be. She is upset that her mom has to take care of the legal issues surrounding her father’s ranch. This means she has to live in the middle of nowhere indefinitely with her mother. No cell service, yuck. No internet, unfair! Just on her own. But luckily within days there she ends up loving the ranch and wants to ride her grandfather’s horse, Rodeo, in a barrel race. And yes, the horse is called Rodeo. I wonder is this movie helped inspire Travi$ Scott.

When the mom is dealing with the deed of her father’s ranch we meet the town judge. Or some old guy that runs a business out of his home and it’s slightly cluttered but only in the sense that what did clutter the office was only what the producers of the film could find around set. The house the mother and Juliet live in is also very bare and eerie. Did the grandfather need such a giant house if he only had a few belongings? And going with the theme of this movie feeling cheap the audio is very distracting. In multiple scenes the white noise level jumps all over the place depending on who’s talking. It reminds me of freshman film classes at SCAD.

Another frustrating part of the film is the ranch itself. We know the mom wants the land. We know that the mom’s love interest wants the land because he spent most of his life riding with the grandfather and working the ranch. But we never really see the ranch. Is it just the house? At one point they say it makes money. How does it make money? It’s very vague. It’s similar to Tyler Perry films trying to talk about law. It’s just a bunch of very generic terms.

This movie has some bad acting. The two male love interests are the obvious ones. But Rodeo & Juliet gives us lines like this: “Everything looks accurate,” said by a DMV notary documenting a supposed agreement with the grandfather that he owned all the land. And before Juliet starts the barrel race in the not-so-climactic end, Juliet says to Rodeo, “So don’t lose.” Ohhhh how charming she’s just a silly quirky high school adult? Actors such as Juliet’s love interest Monty, mumbles most of the film. When I fist became obsessed with Bob Dylan my mom made fun of a part in “Talkin’ World War II Blues” where he kind of mumbles and doesn’t complete a sentence. While I think it’s perfect and has a purpose in the Dylan song it doesn’t work when people mumble and don’t enunciate most of their lines throughout Rodeo & Juliet.
Anyway, this was fun to watch but I wouldn’t really recommended it to anyone. Instead go see Vampire’s Kiss.
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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.

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.

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.

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.

DARKMAN (1990)

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Christopher

I think this was the third time I’ve seen this movie. It’s a film that has adult themes but is in such an unrealistic universe it feels like a kid’s movie. But I feel like that’s all part of the charm of the film. Nothing makes sense, so anything can happen. I don’t feel like it’s a movie that requires a viewing but I really like that it exists. It just feels too weird and is its own thing that it still makes a mark in my mind.

The movie follows a scientist who is trying to develop skin via SCIENCE. He is then blown up and is forced into the shadows due to his disfigured/burned body. The conflict comes from the villains being intertwined with his girlfriend/fiancé. There is not a lot of superhero work going on. It’s a bunch of comic book ideas all jumbled together. It’s difficult to understand time in this film. It’s something where everyone is just where the writer wants them to be.

I feel like this review is all over the place but that really represents the film. I have more fun watching something like this than Michael Bay!

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

Often I’ve wondered to myself, “Why isn’t there a thriller/superhero movie based entirely around an office memo?” I feel like such a fool now because that movie has existed since 1990 in the form of Darkman!

Because yes, the plot of the movie revolves around the discovery/attempted recovery of the majestic darkman-macguffin. A fucking memo, for real. But let me back up.

Liam Neeson plays Peyton Westlake, a scientist developing synthetic skin for burn victims that doesn’t really work yet. His girlfriend is Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand), district attorney. Julie stumbles upon a memo that, for some reason, details all of the bribes her client has made to zoning commissioners. Because I know when someone at my company bribes anyone, a memo with every detail is sent out! Turns out some mobsters want this magical memo, too, to the point where they break into Peyton’s lab, murder his assistant, fuck him uuuuuuup thoroughly by putting his face in acid, then blows up the lab. Good thing his whole career revolves around making fake skin, because he makes nearly flawless Liam Neeson masks for himself to cover up his fucked up face while he gets revenge on everyone who caused it. He tries to get back together with Julie, who thought he was dead when his lab blew up with him in it (usually a safe assumption), but despite her declaring she loves him no matter what, Peyton determines his weirdness and anger is too much and in the end they just go their separate ways.

I didn’t get much from Darkman. The villains were so over-the-top that they seemed like goofy comic book characters instead of a real threat. It was fun seeing a young, cute Liam Neeson . . . until he got all fucked up. I was just kinda ready for this movie to be over.

That memo was pretty great, though.

 

 

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)

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Christopher

Sooo we watched this just cause I wanted to continue like we have with Friday the 13th. Also Matthew McConaughey is in the third or fourth film in this franchise and I kind of want/wanted to see that as well. However, this movie just ended up being too gross while also just being the same story as the first film.

Dennis Hopper is in this one and I really thought that meant this film was going to be better. However his character is pretty much by himself most of the movie. He’s trying to cut down the family’s lair and I guess it was built very well because it takes him almost half the movie to do it.

Also, I felt like they really dropped the ball on Leatherface as a character. In this film we are supposed to kind of feel sorry for him I guess? But he’s just does what his family tells him to do. I wish they went with my theory of Leatherface just needing a female figure in his life and possibly identifying as female. Oh well.

Also there are just so many long scenes; We get that you beat that guy in the head; Okay Leatherface, that metal door isn’t going to be cut by your saw; Fine, put that other persons face skin her face, but we get it and you can stop now.

Elizabeth

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre wasn’t very good but it somehow managed to be better than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. The sequel follows a radio DJ who looks like Laurie Metcalf and sounds like Holly Hunter but is confusingly neither of them. She ends up in Leatherface’s lair and . . . I sort of stopped watching. Oh, I was there, but I literally couldn’t look at the screen after a certain point because it was so disgusting. I’m usually not easily grossed out by gore, but this was just over the top. And it wasn’t scary at all! Not remotely worth it.