Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Suicide Song

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The song in this film is a country song!  Get it?  Because country music is just horrendous.



The Suicide Song – 1 out of 5

I often sing the praises of horror films that are produced overseas and will make the claim that they are better than what America produces.  As critical as I am of the genre, I watch a lot of horror films and find 95% of them to be awful and filled with low production value and little to no scares and it seems like every one I watch that is made outside of The States is impeccable and unique.  However, I’m forgetting that I’m just watching the popular ones from elsewhere and not realizing that these countries also have their fair share of crap in this genre.  For example, this Japanese film called The Suicide Song.  This movie was an eye-opener to how bad foreign horror features can get. 

Ah, little cartoon demons.  Yep, this movie is batshit insane and, yet, so amazingly
boring.


At an all-girls school, student Anzu Natsuno (Yuko Oshima) witnesses a classmate kill herself after singing a melodramatic song.  While the school tries to figure out the motive behind the girl’s action, a magazine writer by the name of Riku Nagase (Ryuhei Matsuda) reaches out to Anzu and her friends about the song, claiming it is a tune from an urban legend.  The legend claims that anyone who sings it will kill themselves after it is sung.  However, the true origin behind the song seems to be tied to Anzu’s past and she must now get to the bottom of it before her friends succumb to its power.

Turns out the song is "Who Let the Dogs Out" so the body count proves to
be incredibly low.

I was incredibly disappointed with The Suicide Song.  The concept of a song that would drive people to kill themselves after they sing it is sound (sorry for the pun).  Having this concept take place in the world where karaoke is king should have resulted in, if anything else, an interesting horror film.  However, this product goes a different direction and decides it wants to be something a little more than just a horror or a thriller…and that is only the beginning of the feature’s problems.

Oh dear lord, those monsters dismembered Captain Atom!

The Suicide Song tries to be a genre-bending product as it incorporates humor and social commentary into the story but it never truly felt like it succeeded at doing so.  The humor comes in at awkward moments and I honestly didn’t find it funny and the commentary feels like it consists mostly of students and adults asking if bullying was involved in the initial girl’s suicide (seriously, you can have a drinking game with how often the phrase “Was there bullying?” is stated).  There never feels like there is any more exploration beyond that.  And that leads me to the next factor that wasn’t functioning in this film:  Exploration and development.

Thank you, movie.  Thank you for giving me a horror film that involves a man
making mouth love to an ice cream sundae.

The number they did in the first act really set the stage
for prime horror.  I'm surprised more horror films don't
have pop song groups in them.  Wait, actually I'm not.
This movie is hard to follow.  While cultural barriers may play a very small role, the biggest problem I had with this film was just how messy the plot was and how uneven the story and character development was.  First off, there are a ton of characters in this film because the school girls in the feature are portrayed by a Japanese all-girl pop group called AKB48.  None of them have any real character or depth to them and the film really likes just jumping in and out of scenes involving them as a group.  Matters are made worse when Riku and the magazine crew appear and they seem to grow with each passing minute of the film.  By the end of the movie, there are a ton of characters and none of them feel developed or explored.  It’s bad enough that none of their performances feel that really engaging or memorable (Matsuda just looks outright bored in his role) but the amount of characters undergoing nearly no development beyond the fact they survive the central conflict made the movie very hard to engage with.  

Matsuda literally looks this bored throughout the entire film.

This lack of development and exploration is mirrored in how the plot is developed.  There were literal moments where I would watch a scene and then that scene is described to another character and the description didn’t match what I saw.  I started to wonder if the subtitles were incorrect but then I started to take into consideration how the entire movie just jumps wildly from moment to moment, never really developing anything and using dialogue as ways to somehow expand the narrative.  Too often the characters are telling backstory and plot details and we are rarely seeing them in action (tell don’t show in action).  Due to this, the song never truly feels like an urban legend and ends up feeling like it's some phenomenon that just began and, when you combine this with the film’s ridiculously low body count, it makes the whole “this song is gonna kill ya” plot point feel weak and never truly threatening, despite how the reporters keep talking like this is a long running problem.

They didn't sing the song, they were just trying to get out of the boring damn movie.

I really liked the concept to The Suicide Song but found the execution to be boring and a real chore to get through.  From a tone perspective, the film is all over the place and the conflicting tones never blend together.  From an acting standpoint, the film is not very attention –grabbing and the plot and development is just terrible.  There are also a big issue with the film’s obnoxious editing as it has constant, almost never ending, fast cuts that just felt unnecessary at best and absolutely distracting at worst.  Overall, I really didn’t enjoy this film and, with all its problems, the over 2 hour running length was very hard to endure.

Hereditary

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! A horror movie that gave me all the feels...or at least sobbing and pissing myself in fear.  



Hereditary – 5 out of 5

The current trend for horror stories seem to be ones engrossed in human drama.  Look at anything made overseas like The Babadook, or John Krasinkski’s A Quiet Place or Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House.  Each of these features are very creepy and unnerving but also involves a lot of human emotion and drama at their core.  Personally, I like this approach because there is something to be said about a horror film that can make you weep one moment and then threaten to make your spine shiver its way out of your skin the next.  Hereditary is just the latest one of these dramatic horror films and the feature is nearly perfect.

Ah yes, that is absolutely terrifying.

Annie (Toni Collette) is a working artist living with her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), her son Peter (Alex Wolff) and daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro).  However, after her mother passes on, strange events start to occur around her and the family.  After she is approached by a woman named Joan (Ann Dowd), she is offered a chance to finally be a peace with her troubled past and loss-filled present but instead finds frightening secrets that threaten to pull her and her family into darkness.

I hope for her sake that Shapiro doesn't get shoe-horned into horror films but I also
won't deny that she was absolutely fantastic in this one!

It’s hard to find a jumping off point when talking about Hereditary because it is doing literally everything right.  For starters, the story is fan-freaking-tastic.  My synopsis doesn’t do it justice at all.  Aside from the fact that I did everything I could to avoid Spoilers, it’s hard to properly sum up the plot of this film because there’s so much depth to it.  To top it all off, there’s a mystery around it all that you aren’t ever fully aware is even there.  Due to this, when the ending arrives and all the pieces that had been laid out before you come together, it was impossible for me not to go “Ohhhhhh.”  Of course, that moment of realization comes in-between the shivers going up my spine because this movie is freaky as hell.

She didn't see anything scary, she just stepped on a LEGO.

Hereditary is a slow-burn horror film that never relies on jump scares and uses its music to create tension, ambiance and unease but never to spook.  Slow-burn features can be a double-edged sword because they move slowly but often lead to very satisfying and extremely terrifying payoffs.  Sometimes, unfortunately, they move slowly towards nothing and can get repetitive.  So, with that being said, there was a real chance that this one could have been boring and disappointing.  While I won’t make the claim that the plot was always moving at a decent pace (there are some moments that drag), the payoff that comes from this slow approach is incredible and wholly horrifying.  The film also does a tremendous job of using music that never telegraphs upcoming scares but rather is crafting a foreboding front that is always looming and threatening to approach.  Even when it feels like nothing is happening, the score gives the feeling that there is always darkness ready to strike around every corner.  This is especially notable in the first act as the story is establishing itself.  It made for the more mundane moments feel treacherous and unsettling and it really helped set the tone for the rest of the film.

The visuals are so good too that just looking at this still and you swear you can
hear an amazing score.

Writer/director Ari Aster also does a tremendous job at blending the horror of the film with its inherent emotion and family drama.  I was amazed at how the film could, at one moment, make me cry over the struggles the family was enduring and then, the next minute, feel like my chest was about to burst as the my heart raced and the shivers went up my spine.  This is only amplified by the amazing performances from the entire cast.  Every player is doing a tremendous job at showcasing authentic levels of grief and coping mechanisms.  The writing and performances combined so well to make me, as a viewer, sympathize with the characters and that only made the drama hit harder and the horror more effective.

This movie made great use of the background...and that made me have great
use of my bowels.  I'm saying this was so scary I shit my pants.

If I was forced to come up with a drawback to Hereditary it would be the running length does feel long at points.  I hate to say that the narrative dragged at times because it never truly felt that way but there are low points.  Thankfully, these moments are few and far between and when they arrive they really do no harm beyond reminding you that this horror film is on the longer side.  For all intents and purposes, Hereditary is as perfect as a horror/drama can get and is a prime example of how effective slow-burn features in this genre can work. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

13/13/13

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The biggest shame is that in 2014 we never got a 14/14/14.   



13/13/13 – 1 out of 5

So I laughed at 11/11/11 and cringed at 12/12/12 and with 13/13/13 I found myself sighing.  While these films aren’t technically a franchise since none of them have really anything to do with each other and each has their own stories, they are all connected in the fact they were produced by The Asylum and all revolve around the date.  At this point you are probably asking yourself how this one can be linked to a date since there isn’t a 13th month (Smarch?).  Well, The Asylum couldn’t pass up an opportunity to make another dumb film and to have their 12/12/12 followed by a trifecta of unlucky numbers now, could they?

Remember when I posted this on my review for 11/11/11 and said it would come
into play in a future review?  Well, 13/13/13 reuses this footage despite the fact
that the two films are not connected.

After Jack (Trae Ireland) returns from a camping trip with his odd collection of friends, he discovers his ex-wife has harmed herself badly and he rushes her to the hospital.  Once there, he finds that all the doctors and patients are acting erratically and aggressively.  In the madness, he meets Candace (Erin Coker), and she doesn’t appear to be suffering from the same kind of insanity.  She informs him that the only people free from this “infection” are those who were born on a leap year and that because mankind has been adding this day it has violated the Mayan Calendar and has made this day the 13th day of the 13th month of the new millennium.  Now Jack and Candace must try and survive in this new world overrun by crazy and violent people.

Good luck finding more Leap Year babies in order to recreate society.

I say this in every review of a film from The Asylum but the production on this movie is not good.  Yes, I know the company is apathetic towards filmmaking and their goal is not to make something watchable but rather to just create for the sake of creating but it bears noting with every one of their films that they are made terribly.  Sometimes this terrible filmmaking results in accidental gold that is fun to watch because it is either so damn ridiculous that it is a fun ride (like Zoombies) or because it is just fun to riff on (like almost ALL of their films) but sometimes they are just so bad that it is a test of one’s willpower to sit through them.  That is what 13/13/13 delivered:  A product that is less than a movie and more of a test of one’s mental strength and patience.

These are Jack's friends.  The one in the back is a pedophile and Jack knows it
(the story covers that), one is the lead singer to Smash Mouth it seems and the third is
just an unlikable asshole who spends most of the movie ordering people
to get him a beer.

Like all films from The Asylum, this movie’s concept is stolen from a more popular movie.  In this case, the film they are ripping off is The Crazies.  Also, like every production from The Asylum, they don’t do a very good job in ripping the film off and by that I mean they took a movie that’s already kinda/sorta good (both the original and the remake) and somehow make it insanely worse through bad editing, weak camera work, a score that sounds like it was downloaded from a royalty-free website and plot that can’t figure out its pacing and where story and character developments should take place.  For example, the writers think when Jack and Candace are out in the open, where all the infected crazy people are roaming in broad daylight, is the best time to explore Jack’s tragic backstory and how it has affected himself and his relationships.  A more skilled writer would have waited until the characters are put in a scenario where they are relatively and momentarily safe but just throwing the spaghetti at the wall and not caring if it sticks is kinda the way of the world for The Asylum.  Ultimately though, these elements can be laughed at and make an otherwise terrible movie somewhat watchable but what really kills this film and makes it truly one of The Asylum’s worse (but not nearly as bad as 12/12/12) is the acting.

"We are out in the open and exposed.  This is the best time to talk about
my tragic past.  The crazy people will respect my character development
and will patiently wait to attack."

Oh look, his eyes are wide.  That means he's crazy!
I’m going to preface this by saying that mentioning the bad acting in a film from The Asylum is a given because there’s no shortage of desperate actors with limited talent for the company to find and I will also add that the lead, Trae Ireland, isn’t too bad in his role and is doing what he can with a bad script.  However, there are certain markers that can really showcase bad acting and they can range from acting drunk to acting scared but the thing that is really hard to pull off convincingly is acting crazy.  Very often people think acting crazy means just looking wide-eyed, messing up your hair and laughing a lot.  At least, that’s what the majority of the cast in 13/13/13 thinks.   

Hey look, they are totes crazy!

When they are not being violent (which the cast thinks means dropping as many F-bombs as humanly possible—over usage of this particular swear is often a sure sign of bad improvisation on sets) they are laughing to convey being insane.  It is horribly monotonous and very grating to see as it is done over and over again.  Laughing wildly isn’t being crazy and it just comes off repetitive.  The cast could have at least watched either the original or the remake of The Crazies so they could have varied their performances.  However, this is what the production went for and it is an ordeal to sit through.

I have no problem with swearing (I swear in this blog) but sometimes an
over-reliance on the word "Fuck" shows really bad writing and a desperate
attempt at trying to sound like an adult.

13/13/13 is your typical movie from The Asylum.  It lacks originality and talent, there’s no creativity to it and the technical side of things are a mess.  Usually I watch these films to laugh at and riff on but this one was more cringe-inducing with its horrible performances that it made creating jokes at its expense very challenging.  At least when The Asylum does their over-the-top shark and monster films you can laugh at their horrendous special effects and can giggle at the fact that whenever madness is going down you can always see things going about normally in the background because the company’s reach is very limited (and you can see that in this one too at points) but this film was just boring and so bad that it was very hard to finish.