Thursday, February 23, 2017

Blumhouse: Last Week Today

While I crank out some long-gestating reviews, let's take a moment and revisit some of the articles I've had posted on this week! It's all happening so fast.

I was kind of coerced into putting Norman Bates on the list, so here's one more entry for your reading pleasure:

Roman Bridger (Scream 3)

He might look like a big ol' nerd in this film, but I've always had a bit of a thing for Scott Foley. And his character in Scream 3 is a successful young Hollywood director. He'd be a real hit at your next dinner party, hands down. As long as you don't mind those hands having blood on them.

My whole life has been leading up to this article. I've always been a voracious reader, and I'm loathe to tell most horror fans this but I genuinely prefer Koontz to King almost every time. Here's an extra book to check out:

Intensity (1997)

This is the one I was chastised by my dad for not including. The popular French extremist flick High Tension was essentially based off this novel, so much so that Koontz successfully sued them for copying his work. It's a chilling, pulse-pounding thriller that's probably #11 in my top 10, if that helps.

Yeah, I don't have a bonus entry for this particular list. That would require a lot more research than I'm ready for right now. But this was definitely one of my favorite articles to write!

Go Women in Horror Month! We've been celebrating this all February at Scream 101, but that's not enough to contain my love and support. Here's one more film that I didn't include on the list because our audience is exclusively horror fans who would have laughed at me for including such an obvious pick:

The Slumber Party Massacre

Although this cheapo slasher is as exploitative as they come, there's a stirring of actual subtext hidden in the killer's phallic drill weapon, a leftover from feminist writer Rita Mae Brown's satirical original script. This flick was directed by Amy Holden Jones, and both of its sequels were also directed by women. It's an awesome opportunity, and I'm happy to report that all three are some of the best of their kind.
Word Count: 413

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Rewind: February 2017

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting a lot recently. Well, times is tough in the Brennan household and a girl’s gotta eat, so she can’t spend every waking second on a free blog. But I’ve been seeing my fair share of movies in the theater and thought I should spread the word on some highlights of the past few months. Here are the films you should check out, if you can possibly spare the time.

GET OUT (out February 24th)

No, this isn’t just me shilling for Blumhouse. The directorial debut of modern comedy icon Jordan Peele, Get Out is no joke. It’s a creepy, wild exploration of racial clashes in the American suburbs that is a slick update of The Stepford Wives and a pulse-pounding thriller that had the crowd cheering.


I can’t believe I almost wrote this off as a not-worth-seeing spinoff of a funny side character that couldn’t sustain an entire feature. I was deadly wrong. Lego Batman takes the manic, freewheeling humor of the The Lego Movie and marries it to a pitch-perfect parody of DC’s cinematic history. The visuals are dauntingly overstimulating, but the comedy is worth the cross-eyes.


Now, bear with me here. I’m not saying Monster Trucks is a modern masterpiece, but it’s a generic kids movie bolstered by surprisingly detailed CGI, a breezy retro atmosphere, and a flat-out terrific performance from Don’t Breathe’s Jane Levy, of all people.


The best time I’ve had in the theater all year. Is it a great piece of cinema? Of course not. But it ups the ante on the rather boring original, doubling down on the kinkiness and the frothy soap opera lunacy. It was an ironic viewing to be sure, but a truly delightful one.
Word Count: 302

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Skeletons In The Closet: Best Actress 2016

Every year I try (and mostly fail) to catch every film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and I will continue that tradition this year. But I also want someone to root for in the Performing categories as well. But here's the thing. I don't have the patience to sit through quite that many Oscarbait movies, so I've decided to Brennan up the joint and run a new experiment: I will watch a horror film starring each of the Best Acting nominees to honor the performances they gave long before they made the A-list. 

Let's conclude this project with mini-reviews covering the female performers being honored at this year's ceremony.

Skeletons in the Closet: Best Actress Nominees

Isabelle Huppert

Nominated for: Elle

Paul Verhoeven is back, baby! Isabelle Huppert is garnering awards nomination for playing the title character Elle, a woman who seeks to get back at her rapists.

Skeleton in the Closet: ...Elle?

Yeah, the closest Huppert has ever come to starring in a horror movie is Elle itself, so we're gonna give her a pass on this one. Darn foreign actresses swooping in with their prestige picture histories!

Ruth Negga

Nominated for: Loving

Ruth Negga is a shiny new face in the awards crowd, but the Irish actress has been working since the mid-2000's. Before she played the role of Mildred Loving, one half of a couple that challenged the country's notion of interracial marriage, she appeared in an early direct-to-DVD film from I Am Not a Serial Killer's Billy O'Brien that challenged almost nothing about the horror genre.

Skeleton in the Closet: Isolation (2006)

Director: Billy O'Brien
Cast: Essie Davis, Sean Harris, Marcel Iures
Run Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

Five people find themselves trapped on a secluded Irish farm with a genetic experiment gone wrong.

I was excited to check out Isolation. It’s a film from a year and a country I don’t often visit in my horror travels (2005 and Ireland). Plus, in addition to starring Ruth Negga in an oddly major role considering she’s billed fifth in a cast of six, it features an early appearance by The Babadook’s Essie Davis. With that knowledge, I was down to clown with Isolation until what to my wandering eyes did appear but the director’s name, Billy O’Brien. That might not mean anything to you, but to me it meant that I would shortly be sitting through a film by the man who just last year perpetrated I Am Not a Serial Killer, a widely praised film that rubbed me the wrong way so hard it flayed the skin from my bones.

I’m pleased to report that Isolation is much more entertaining than I Am Not a Serial Killer, though it suffers many of the same problems. It’s an exciting concept with a clear driving conflict that is instantly muddied with an excess of inscrutable detail and a mega-grim atmosphere. Instead of being a full-tilt creature feature with crazy mutant cows, Isolation asks you to take out your pencil and notepad and memorize three different stages of mutagenic development, a multitude of inconsistent behavior patterns, and the late addition of a viral aspect that actively argues against the parasitic ideas that were being developed the whole time.

In short, it’s overcomplicated but it also makes no damn sense. Also, I’m guessing they didn’t hire a geneticist to consult on this script, because almost none of this is medically possible, even in this quasi-real world that asks for your suspension of disbelief. Why can’t these people just be fighting a gross thing with sharp teeth? It’s a direct-to-video horror movie, not a TED Talk.

I will give Isolation this though: It’s hella gross. As an effects spectacle, it stretches its budget to the limit to create some truly vomitacular creepy crawly moments. That’s by far the best thing the film has to offer other than its cast, which is packed with future names all avoiding embarrassing themselves. Ruth Negga is asked to portray a profoundly boring character who exists solely to set up a predictable twist and whose backstory only gets more confusing the more she explains it, but she manages to keep a handle on those twitchy, disparate impulses in the script. I wouldn’t watch Isolation again, but I’m not physically angry about sitting through it, which is certainly a step up.

Rating: 5/10

Natalie Portman

Nominated for: Jackie

Natalie Portman's triumphant return to the Academy Awards sees her bringing to life one of American history's most tragic and iconic figures: Jackie Kennedy. But before that, she already won herself an Oscar for Best Actress in one of Oscar's most horrifying entries in recent memory...

Skeleton in the Closet: Black Swan (2010)

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
Run Time: 1 hour 48 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

A ballerina obsessed with perfection gets the lead role in Swan Lake, which leads her on a journey of sexual discovery and psychotic splintering.

Black Swan is a film that’s overloaded with ideas, some of which are crowded out by bigger, brassier ones clawing for attention. It’s a head-trip arthouse picture whose every fevered thought spills out onto the frame like a Jackson Pollock canvas. It’s a sublimely messy, unrealistic, on-the-nose exploration of its themes, and at times it might seem so simplistic it’s almost juvenile (the black and white outfits representing corruption of purity would be obvious if this was the first film you’d ever seen). But boy if it doesn’t stick in your memory like a shard of glass.

A shabby little shocker masquerading as an art film, Black Swan possess some of the most chilling, intimate body horror this side of David Cronenberg. I’ve always said that the smaller a gore scene is, the more impactful it tends to be, because it’s easier to relate to a paper cut than a decapitation. Black Swan is a series of paper cuts, taking tiny powerful jabs at your sense of security with infinitely memorable horror sequences, including one involving a hangnail that I’ve thought about nearly weekly ever since I first saw this film back in 2011.

These moments are sheer perfection, and they’re worth every second of Vincent Cassel’s obnoxious, incessant repetition of the theme in rapturously clunky dialogue. Black Swan is a deeply unsettling motion picture that rocks you out of your seat with kinetic camerawork, boldly uncanny imagery, and Natalie Portman’s whiplash-inducing performance. Much like her character Nina Sayers, she’s better at portraying the pure, weak, almost voiceless side of her personality, but she grounds the performance enough that the darker, violent side rises organically form it.

Black Swan isn’t a perfect movie, but it never lets itself be anything other than unadulterated pop lunacy. It’s a beautifully crafted ode to a broken mind, and while its narrative is occasionally just as broken, it’s nevertheless a captivating, exhilarating experience.

Rating: 8/10

Emma Stone

Nominated for: La La Land

Emma Stone is another youthful face in this year's Best Actress slate, but she had a fairly long period of B-level fame before hitting the big time with the likes of Easy A and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Before she played Mia, a Hollywood actress with big dreams, she had big dreams of herself that led her to a horror-comedy with a mighty silly name...

Skeleton in the Closet: Zombieland (2009)

Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson
Run Time: 1 hour 28 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

A nerdy outcast attempts to navigate a zombie apocalypse, following a list of survival rules he has come up with.

Zombieland is the American Shaun of the Dead. That’s an easy comparison, but it’s true. It’s a hyper-stylized romantic comedy zombie romp with a little less wry British humor and a lot more bombastic American personality. This is not a bad thing. There’s room in my heart for both films, and the way they’re presented is so fundamentally different that they almost feel like they’re in entirely separate genres despite their similarity on paper.

Zombieland is a sarcastic, geeky, Americana-fueled road trip comedy with explosive gore, big laughs, and an inimitable stylization. It’s always funny, mostly sweet, and occasionally flat-out terrifying. That’s a lot to heap on one film, so let’s break it down a bit.

The defining structure of Zombieland is the list of rules curated by Jesse Eisenberg’s character Columbus, both as a recurring visual gag and as a reflection of his arc as he transitions from a closed-off neurotic to a true blue hero. It takes the genre-skewering centerpiece of Scream and runs with it, having the rules appear in big block letters on the screen, often interacting directly with the events of the film. It’s a fun, organic visual gimmick that knows exactly how long it can go without getting stale.

If that were the only funny, clever element in the entire film, Zombieland would still be a triumph. Fortunately, it’s not. It’s an expertly cast film that uses its sharp script (by Deadpool scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick) as just a jumping-off point for the creation of four unique characters who are more or less the sole focus of the film, which in spite of its elaborate setpieces is a remarkably small-scale character piece.

Jesse Eisenberg is a great snippy, nervous anchor for the film (before that was pretty much all he was ever asked to play), Woody Harrelson is an effortless redneck badass caricature who never loses his humanity, and Abigail Breslin gives one of those haunting child performances where the terrors they’ve lived through are reflected in aged eyes beaming from a fresh face. But I suppose we’re here to talk about Emma Stone, who also gives a terrific performance. So terrific, in fact, that you almost don’t notice how flatly the character is written. She is only ever meant to be a romantic foil for Eisenberg, and the very real, very human pain she shares with her sister is almost entirely due to her performance, which builds out an entire life from a tissue paper characterization.

In fact, the film’s frequently icky treatment of its female lead is essentially the only reason it doesn’t get top marks. I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and say that the movie is narrated by Columbus, and thus is necessarily colored by his perceptions of the world and his weird attitudes toward women. But her arc is still a little too sweaty geek fantasy-y to be entirely comfortable. However, beyond that, Zombieland is an excellent comic thrill ride, and a tiny miracle of Hollywood filmmaking that a story this intimate and kooky made it to the big screen.

Rating: 9/10

Meryl Streep

Nominated for: Florence Foster Jenkins

If Meryl Streep isn't in this category, Oscar voters are drowned in molten gold. But I'm especially excited to see her this time around, because before she played notably atrocious real-life singer Florence Foster Jenkins, she showed off another side of aging stardom...

Skeleton in the Closet: Death Becomes Her (1992)

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn
Run Time: 1 hour 44 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Two feuding debutantes take a potion that gives them eternal youth, so their plots to murder each other go hilariously awry.

Death Becomes Her, over the course of its twenty-minutes-too-long run time, is about fifteen different movies. Not all of them are great, especially the bizarre action-thriller feint it makes during the closing act. But it takes such joy in its own construction, it’s hard to look away from even in its rougher patches.

How a dark comedy this high concept ever came to be I’ll never know, but I respect the dickens out of the team that committed themselves to making it a reality. As a slapstick effects spectacle, it hasn’t aged especially well, but this nevertheless contributes to its cartoonishly hyperbolic tone, and that tone is well served by director Robert Zemeckis’ almost absurd attention to detail. 

One scene in particular stood out to me on this viewing: Goldie Hawn explaining to Bruce Willis her plan to assassinate his shrewish wife, played by Meryl Streep. This plan is visualized in a series of playful cutaways that blend the present and the future, showing Hawn voicing her explanation as she performs those actions onscreen, eventually culminating in a roaring flame reflected in his glasses, as their violent urges reach a crescendo. This is a man who truly knows what he’s doing when creating a heightened cinematic reality

And boy is it fun to play in that reality. Death Becomes Her really is quite hilarious when it wants to be, even when it’s shooting for obvious Hollywood satire. The cast is pitch perfect, including – perhaps especially – Bruce Willis as the nebbish Ernest Menville, maybe the best role of his entire career (and certainly his best comic role). Hawn and Streep have a wicked, mercurial chemistry that allows you to feel their relationship even as it’s not particularly fleshed out by the script. It’s always nice when Streep steps out of the prestige drama wheelhouse so we can bask in her considerable comic chops.

Yes, Death Becomes Her has a flabby mess of a plot, but during those sequences of darling slapstick that oh so frequently nudge into full-tilt body horror, it’s like the movie has gulped down its own youth potion, and every blemish is blasted away for a few moments of pure, glamorous perfection.

Rating: 7/10
Word Count: 2254

Friday, February 3, 2017

Skeletons In The Closet: Best Actor 2016

Every year I try (and mostly fail) to catch every film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and I will continue that tradition this year. But I also want someone to root for in the Performing categories as well. But here's the thing. I don't have the patience to sit through quite that many Oscarbait movies, so I've decided to Brennan up the joint and run a new experiment:

I will watch a horror film starring each of the Best Acting nominees to honor the performances they gave long before they made the A-list. Let's begin with mini-reviews covering the male performers being honored at this year's ceremony.

Skeletons in the Closet: Best Actor Nominees

Casey Affleck

Nominated For: Manchester by the Sea

I actually caught this one, as it's also nominated for Best Picture, so you can read my review right here. Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a grief-stricken man who must take on the responsibility of caring for his late brother's teenage son. But before that, he was a teen himself, and he wound up on the wrong end of a post-Scream horror extravaganza.

Skeleton in the Closet: Soul Survivors (2001)

Director: Steve Carpenter
Cast: Melissa Sagemiller, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck 
Run Time: 1 hour 24 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

After a fatal car crash, Cassie begins to see ghostly visions of her boyfriend as mysterious happenings disturb her midterms week.

Seriously, what the f**k is p with Soul Survivors? As evidenced by its headshot lineup poster, crane shots of school buildings, and grotty pop metal soundtrack, it’s meant to be a post-Scream teenybopper slash-em-up, (during the prolonged death rattle of that particular trend), but it rams head-on into that other horror trend of the early 2000’s: the Sixth Sense-esque reality-bending parapsychological thriller. Toss in Dorm That Dripped Blood co-director Steve Carpenter, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for an unholy disaster, even if its cast is a stunning result of the collusion of the B-movie gods, uniting millennium Scream Queen Eliza Dushku, a Wes Bentley fresh from American Beauty, and B-side brothers Luke Wilson and Casey Affleck.

This seems like it would be so far up my alley it’s blocking my back door, so why exactly does it fail so miserably? It’s certainly not Affleck, who’s giving a performance similar enough to his turn in Manchester by the Sea that I’m sure he’s praying nobody notices. And the rest of the ensemble is perfectly serviceable for this kind of movie (look, in the 90’s we got two films in a row starring Jennifer Love Hewitt’s breasts, so this is a step up). And the cinematography is TV movie bland, but at least it’s in focus.

I think the bulk of the blame will have to settle on the script, also by Steve Carpenter. It so vaguely resembles anything even remotely similar to a feature film that you have to wonder if this wasn’t some 85-minute Kuleshov experiment, juxtaposing random images to see if any meaning rises from them whatsoever. It doesn’t. Among the shattered fragments of motion Soul Survivors calls “scenes” are Elm Street nightmares, interminable clubbing shots that mimic Buffy’s The Bronze, an allegedly adorable wall-painting sequence that is frighteningly overzealous, and… Well, I have no clear idea who is where and why, because this movie had such a multitude of interlocking layers of dream, hallucination, and reality, but somebody definitely had sex with a ghost.

It’s a ten-car pileup of a story, one that could be called “nightmare logic” if the film was well-made enough to be scary to any degree. As it stands, the only shock gags it can come up with are shadowy figures that look like Eliza Dushku turning out to be Eliza Dushku. It has all the thrills of looking at things without your glasses on. It throws every spooky element it can think of into a pot (masked serial killers, ghosts, crypto-lesbians) but it fails to spice things up with any sort of atmosphere before forgetting to resolve anything it introduced in the first place.

In short, Soul Survivors is haphazard, poorly paced nonsense, and its very existence is an affront to everything I love. Don’t watch Soul Survivors, for the love of God.

Rating: 2/10

Andrew Garfield

Nominated for: Hacksaw Ridge

Andrew Garfield is a fresh face, having just hit the scene in 2010's The Social Network, but before he played a pacifist in Mel Gibson's Best Picture nominee Hacksaw Ridge he... Well, he didn't have much of a chance to work in horror before he escaped the B-list, but here's a mildly supernatural short film he did, which was incidentally directed by the screenwriter of another Best Picture nominee: Lion.

Skeleton in the Closet: "Air" (2009)

Director: Luke Davies
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Felix Benton, S.A. Griffin 
Run Time: 18 minutes

An English geologist meets a young boy with a mysterious secret on his travels through Texas.

It’s perhaps unfair to compare “Air” to a cliché-ridden, desperately overserious student short film, because that’s in all likelihood what it actually is. If you’ve seen a  single ghost movie, you’ll be able to guess at least one of the two plot twists within seconds. Considering that I too have made my share of crappy student films, I’ll keep this short and polite.

The plot is overly straightforward, too much to justify the 20-minute run time, but one takeaway from this is that Garfield has an inherent neurotic charm. Even in this microbudget environment, he gives a performance that – if not superlative – is at least natural and engaging. Do I recommend anybody ever watch “Air?” No, of course not. But I’ve sat through enough short film festivals to know that it could have been much, much worse.

Rating: 5/10

Ryan Gosling

Nominated for: La La Land

Another flick I’ve seen and reviewed! It’s almost like I didn’t need to do this project after all. Oh well. In La La Land, Ryan Gosling reteams with Emma Stone for the third time (after Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad) as Sebastian Wilder, a down-on-his-luck jazz pianist with big dreams. But before that, he was a Canadian child star with even bigger dreams, of being a famous actor. But if you want that Oscar, you’re gonna have to slum it...

Skeleton in the Closet: Are You Afraid of the Dark? S5E3 "The Tale of Station 109.1" (1995)

Director: Ron Oliver
Cast: Gilbert Gottfried, Zachary Carlin, Ryan Gosling
Run Time: 22 minutes

A kid who’s obsessed with death is accidentally sent to the afterlife’s waiting room after stumbling across a radio station transmitted from the beyond.

Of the two beloved children’s horror shows of the 90’s, Are You Afraid of the Dark? maintains the best continuing reputation, and for good reason. A kids’ series that wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty in the Twilight Zone trenches, it didn’t talk down to its young audience. “Station 109.1” isn’t particularly gory or shocking, but it’s a reliably macabre tale that combines low-fi ghostly thrills with an ironically bureaucratic satirical tang provided by – of all people - Gilbert Gottfried.

Gosling isn’t the lead in this one, but he’s oddly convincing at playing a mechanically-inclined older brother in spite of his weedy-ass arms. There’s nothing that would indicate the stellar work he’d grow into, but we all have to start somewhere. “Station 109.1” is a delightful 90’s relic (a major plot point hinges on a slap bracelet), even if it’s utterly disposable TV entertainment. But wait, there’s more… 

Rating: 6/10

Skeleton in the Closet #2: Goosebumps S1E15 "Say Cheese and Die" (1996)

Director: Ron Oliver
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Akiva David, Renessa Blitz 
Run Time: 22 minutes

A kid discovers a cursed Polaroid camera that causes bad things to happen to whoever it takes a photo of.

Guess who has two Oscar nominations and was also in the other pre-eminent kids horror show of the 90’s? This Gosling! While I love the Goosebumps book series and “Say Cheese and Die” in particular, Goosebumps was the Bud Light to Are You Afraid of the Dark’s craft brew, A cheesy ramshackle affair with a toothless approach to Stine’s already light horror material, this one wears its low budget on its sleeve. Although the splashes of red, green, and blue light in an abandoned warehouse are lovely, the easiest prop in the world – a spooky camera – is a dreadful hunk of plastic that looks like it was fished out of a Burger King dumpster.

And I don’t know what happened in the intervening year, but Gosling is terrible here, mugging like the back shelf of a coffee shop. The only redeeming thing about his performance is that it’s not half as dreadful as his co-stars: excepting Richard McMillan (Cube Zero, The Day After Tomorrow) serving a delicious plate of ham as a sinister lurker in a bright silver fright wig. I suppose as a child actor, you learn on the job, and somewhere along the way Gosling sharpened his craft to the stiletto point it is today. Maybe it happened on the set of Young Hercules

Rating: 3/10

Viggo Mortensen

Nominated for: Captain Fantastic

Viggo Mortensen is a happy surprise on this list. It's been a while since we've heard the Lord of the Rings star's name in casual conversation (especially considering nobody actually saw Captain Fantastic), but before he played a hermetic father who has raised his kids deep in the woods, he belonged to another, even less healthy family living in rural seclusion...

Skeleton in the Closet: Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

Director: Jeff Burr
Cast: Kate Hodge, Ken Foree, R.A. Mihailoff
Run Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

Well whaddya know, I've already reviewed this one. How convenient for me!

Rating: 4/10

Denzel Washington

Nominated for: Fences

Denzel Washington has had a long and storied career, so it's no surprise to see him gracing this list. But while that career has taken him to the role of washed-up lower class father Troy Maxson in the film adaptation of August Wilson's play, he had a chance to get down and dirty with a film that combined one of his most frequent roles - a homicide detective - with something a little more supernatural.

Skeleton in the Closet: Fallen (1998)

Director: Gregory Hoblit
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland
Run Time: 2 hours 4 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

After a serial killer is executed, his crimes begin again. A local homicide detective quickly learns that he must hunt down a body-hopping, murderous demon who’s perpetrating the killings.

Fallen is a preternaturally weird movie. And I don’t just mean because it’s a theological police procedural with a literal demon as the villain. This is a film that pretty much incinerates the fourth wall with an in medias res “how did I wind up like this?” gag straight out of Emperor’s New Groove before diving into its vein-throbbingly serious rumination on God and the human experience. This tonal imbalance teeters through the entire film, which can’t seem to decide whether it’s Silence of the Lambs, Seven, or Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.

Whatever it is, it’s still pretty good. Denzel Washington is so charming he actually humanizes the role of “perfect, by-the-book cop,” and his partner is John Goodman so I can’t complain. And although the film doesn’t explore its body-switching concept to tis fullest extent (it’s much more content to wallow in philosophical soliloquies, because the 90’s were a rough time for everyone), it provides several memorably chilling moments where a cotillion of random passersby have their average facades splinter into expressions of pure malice.

Do I like the abortive Hannibal Lecter riddles that paint our hero to be such an unrestrained moron that he has to ask a nun to define the word “apocalypse” for him? Of course not. Do I want to watch the incessant shots that paint the world in the mottled yellow hue so popular in late 90’s urban dramas? Hell no. Do I enjoy seeing the sole major female character be treated like an anthropomorphic baby carriage? I’d rather gargle hot coals. But in spite of its excess of extremely dated detritus, it still manages to leave an impression.

Maybe it’s because I just watched Soul Survivors, but I had a good time with this one. It’s far more a Denzel Washington movie than it is a horror movie, but its villain is distinct enough to cast an eerie pall over the proceedings. And a certain reveal in the third act should be monumentally silly, but it’s so earnestly presented that you kind have to love it. I’d sooner watch Fallen than any other project on this list, though- full disclosure – my tragic viewing history predicts I’ll probably catch Leatherface way more times.

Rating: 7/10
Word Count: 2140

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Blumhouse: Come To The Dark Side

Check out my new article for!

I have a very special bonus for you this time around. Here's a sixth entry from the list that I cut before publication! Your reward for being a dedicated Popcorn Culture reader is a look at this oh so controversial pick.

#6 Ryan Murphy

Known For: Glee, American Horror Story, The People vs. O.J. Simpson

The prolific showrunner has shown a definite proclivity for horror, having created both American Horror Story and Scream Queens, and before that awkwardly shoehorning a serial killer subplot into his plastic surgery soap opera Nip/Tuck. But his only film projects have been Eat, Pray, Love and The Normal Heart. I'd like to see him apply his deranged visual imagination to a horror film, and having it be a single, 90-minute long story might reign in his notorious lack of an attention span.
Word Count: 155

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Blumhouse: What I Did Over Summer Vacation

Howdy, folks! It's been slim picking around here lately because I've been so busy, and one of the blot projects I'm working on is a little more long-term than my usual fare. So I've decided to keep the content rolling by sharing what I've been working on over at, along with some insider secrets for those who have been following Popcorn Culture all this time.

Here are the two articles I've published so far, with many more to come!

Longtime readers might recognize this one as a list I posted a couple years ago, but I'm constantly rethinking this topic as I watch new movies, so my debut article is a fully remastered take.

Now this one is an idea that I haven't written about before, but it was without a doubt birthed from my love of The Blob, a well-documented phenomenon around these here parts. I'll take any excuse to talk about The Blob, and if it's on a global web forum, so be it.

I can't wait to share more articles I've been working on! See you soon!
Word Count: 201