Posts Tagged ‘horror’

Thoughts on “Alien Contamination”

April 22, 2021

So despite having the name “Alien Contamination”, this movie from the “The Deadly Beyond” compilation is really more of a horror movie than a sci-fi movie.  It’s also one of the movies that made me realize just how common a theme deadly viral infections are in sci-fi/horror movies (which I note more now for obvious reasons).  Here, it isn’t a virus that’s doing the killing, but instead pods brought back from Mars during a Mars mission that are deliberately being seeded around the world and that kill or convert those who encounter them (mostly kill).

What is interesting about this take on the contamination plot is that normally the contamination starts and is a threat because people act stupidly or carelessly towards them and that’s what causes it to spread.  Here, they tend to act fairly intelligently towards them and take lots of precautions, and so the real threat is that one of the astronauts from the mission is deliberately trying to spread them and so he needs to be stopped.  Opposing him is a agent assigned to stop the infection, an expert she brought in to help, and the other astronaut on that mission.  They try to set this up as a kind of love triangle, but while they give her the most resolution with the expert, they also end up killing him off in a long, long dragged out scene and leave her seemingly with the astronaut who was not really developed all that well as a love interest.  Again, they approach the issue mostly intelligently, but it devolves into an action movie with a long, drawn out threat and death scene right at the end.

The version in this compilation also has really, really bad cinematography.  I’m not sure if that was how it was filmed or if that was just the version that was available, but it’s really noticeable here.

As for the characters, the female lead is unnecessarily aggressive and hostile until the end, the astronaut is more reasonably hostile since he was sick of people not trusting or believing him, and the expert is actually kinda amusing and so the most sympathetic of them all.  Still, this is not a set of characters to build a sympathetic cast out of, although they do all resolve their issues as the movie goes on, which is nice.

With the poor production values and the weak plot and characterization, this is not a movie that I’d really care to watch again, even though it wasn’t terrible.

Thoughts on “Mutant”

April 15, 2021

So the pack that I have called “The Deadly Beyond” contains a fairly even split of sci-fi/fantasy and horror.  I’ve covered “Slipstream” and “Warriors of the Wasteland” on the sci-fi side, and here I’m going to cover the first horror movie from that collection, “Mutant”.  This is essentially a zombie flick with a more science fiction premise, where it seems to be some kind of alien infection rather than a simple virus or some sort of magic, which means that it pretty much follows the tropes of those movies.  However, it also kinda flubs some of the themes of those sorts of movies.

The movie opens with two brothers driving down a country road, heading somewhere to get the one brother over being dumped by his girlfriend.  They encounter a bunch of locals, get into a car combat type of thing with them, which ends up with their car in the ditch and them having to walk to the next town, where the locals, including the sheriff, are not all that much more welcoming, but they get put up with a strange woman and we eventually find that some sort of alien influence is turning people into zombies.  The one brother disappears (he was turned into one) and the other brother takes up with a local teacher as they try to figure out what’s going on and escape the town.

So one of the themes or tropes that they whiff on is that the brother who survives to the end and is the main character is not the brother whose girlfriend had dumped him, but instead the other brother.  The first issue with this is that that brother is, in fact, kinda a jerk.  While the locals were unnecessarily hostile, he didn’t really help his case by being hostile back at them.  So we’re going to have a hard time liking him enough to feel sympathetic for his plight.  Meanwhile, the other brother was presented as being more reasonable and so was easier to like.  Also, it makes more sense to put him into a romantic plot to make his being dumped relevant to the story, which isn’t the case for the existing brother.  Finally, the brother who becomes the lead was presented as being protective of his brother and spends a lot of the movie trying to find and save him, but can’t do so.  That not only makes that arc a downer arc, but also means that they can’t use the superior plot of the other brother having to step up on his own and protect himself and others, which would have been more interesting.

The other theme they miss out on is the female lead.  She’s aggressively useless throughout the entire work except for a brief scene where she shows empathy for one of her students (who I think ends up dead).  Yes, it’s rather a trope for the female lead to need protection, but she doesn’t do anything else in the entire movie.  It’s really difficult to see why he seems to like her so much and why they get together.  Which means that she’s not very sympathetic, and we really do need the female lead in a horror movie to be sympathetic … especially if she’s not the active character.  We really don’t want her to turn into the load when we’re supposed to want the hero to rescue her.

So, unsympathetic leads and a rather standard zombie plot that stuffs in overly aggressively hostile locals.  This isn’t a movie that I’d want to watch again.

Thoughts on “Trick ‘r Treat”

April 8, 2021

“Trick ‘r Treat” is a horror movie that I’ve had sitting in my closet for years, from even before the blog existed.  I was browsing in HMV and picked up a couple of things to buy, and this movie was at the front for a very discounted price that the clerk was more than happy to draw my attention to.  It sounded interesting and I recognized Anna Paquin, so I figured I’d give it a try.  And then never actually got around to watching it.  Since for the past few months I’ve been on a push to work through the various movies I’ve bought and haven’t watched — especially for the horror movies while I could start to see the end of the stacks — I decided to finally sit down at watch it.

This movie is another horror anthology, with a set of stories all set around Hallowe’en in a small American town.  While the box itself tries to set it up around Anna Paquin’s character as she moves through the town and is seemingly stalked by a killer, in reality the stories aren’t particularly connected at all.  For the most part, the connections are all coincidental, which is actually not a bad thing, as it lets each story stand on its own.  The most direct connection is that the aforementioned serial killer who stalks Anna Paquin’s character ends up getting his comeuppance because it turns out that she and her friends are all werewolves hunting for victims, and he becomes one.  We also see a group of kids trying to find a bus where the driver killed a bunch of kids on Hallowe’en long ago, and there is a connection to an old man who happened to be the bus driver and gets his own comeuppance.  At the beginning and the end we see a young couple where the woman is not in the mood for Hallowe’en and gets killed for it, which brings the night and movie to a close.

The movie is actually fairly good.  Since each segment is loosely related but separate, we simply follow through each group as they go along in the town and hit their own story.  This allows the movie the freedom to insert a bunch of different sorts of horror without having to explain why each is happening or link them to each other (having to link them together was a big flaw in “Portals”).  We just have a strange town where strange things happen.  That’s it.

If I have any criticism, it’s that the movie is very set on giving characters their comeuppance except for when it comes to Anna Paquin’s werewolves.  Sure, her victim was actually the serial killer and completely deserved it, but they pick up some guys who were filming a news story in the town and so surely only wanted to party with some hot chicks.  So the serial killer gets his comeuppance, and the bus driver gets his, but the werewolves instead are cheerfully heading out of town with the implication that Anna Paquin’s character made her first kill — the analogy is to losing her virginity until the, ahem, climax — despite the fact that they quite likely killed innocent people for their own personal pleasure (since Anna Paquin’s character had been implied to be holding off on making her first kill, they don’t seem to need to kill to survive).  The contrast in treatment is noticeable and annoying.

Still, the movie is actually pretty good.  It moves fairly well and does an anthology of unrelated stories in a way that doesn’t require it to have a fully explained link between them while at the same time reminding us that, yes, they are in fact linked.  I am putting this movie in my closet of movies that I plan to rewatch at some point.

Thoughts on “Anne”

April 1, 2021

I think I was fooled with this movie by thinking that it had something to do with the “Conjuring” series, mainly associated with the later “Annabelle” movies that focused more specifically on the specific dolls that were associated with the first movie.  Then again, after watching “The Conjuring” I haven’t watched anything else in that series, so that really shouldn’t have driven me to actually watch this movie.

The basic premise of this movie is that a mentally disturbed woman lives alone in a house with a bunch of dolls, watching a kind of self-affirmation show that she really likes.  Some strange things start happening, and things keep getting stranger.  We see a strange man show up around the house who turns out to be her son, and then the main character — Anne, natch — gets injured and needs a nurse, the house gets sold, and we eventually discover that Anne had died quite some time ago and that the son is the one with the mental illness, and that he’s been fantasizing that the women who has now moved into the house is Anne’s nurse and so has been harassing the new owner.

This movie doesn’t really work as horror.  Yes, there are some creepy scenes, but for the most part all we see is Anne going out her daily business while some creepy things happen.  So any possible horror is smothered under the intense boredom of the movie.  There are long stretches where nothing at all happens.  If the character of Anne was compelling or did compelling things, that might be interesting, but she doesn’t and so it isn’t.  It’s not creepy enough to really build suspense and too dull to keep our interest.

Now, the movie didn’t have to really do full-on horror.  It could have done something like “The Dark Stranger” and been more an examination of the mental illness itself examined through a horror lens.  Except that it doesn’t do that either, possibly because that wouldn’t have been boring.  We don’t really find out anything about her mental illness, nor do we really see anything that relates to it, nor does the plot or characterization make it a key component.  Plus, it pulls the rug out from under any such an examination with the twist that the son was in fact the one whose mental illness was being shown as far as we can tell.  And since he’s not a focus character, we don’t get any sense of his mental illness.  It could be the case that both of them had a mental illness, but the movie doesn’t really do anything to establish that.

And all of this makes the twist utterly pointless, useless and nonsensical.  The movie in no way shows that the son had any mental illness at all (other than, perhaps, that the other son was going to sell the house, but that is presented as them going to move her to a home).  Since the movie is shown from Anne’s perspective, even the nurse is shown as, well, being a nurse and there is no indication that anything is wrong (other than perhaps that the nurse might not be treating Anne that well, although that is presented as trying to push Anne to do more for herself).  So the entire movie is spent examining what really seems like and really would have to be Anne’s delusions, and then at the end it tries to convince us that the delusions are the son’s … even when he wasn’t present.  So the twist makes no sense because the movie does nothing to set it up, and so it seems to come out of nowhere and, again, because it wasn’t set up at all in the movie it doesn’t even seem clever or cool.  It’s a twist for the sake of a twist, in a movie where that sort of twist didn’t actually make sense.

“Anne” is incredibly boring, not at all scary, and ends with a nonsensical and uninteresting twist.  This is going in my box of movies to possibly sell at a later date.

Thoughts on “The Nanny”

March 25, 2021

She was working in a bridal shop in Flushing, Queens when her boyfriend kicked her out in one of those crushing scenes …

Oops, wrong “The Nanny” …

No, this isn’t the sitcom starring Fran Drescher, but is instead a relatively recent horror movie that’s kinda about a sinister nanny.  Except it isn’t, since it’s really about fairies.  And some weird sinister monster.  And an anti-fairy father.  You know what?  I don’t think the movie actually knows what it’s supposed to be about, which is a weakness in the story.

The movie starts with the aforementioned father — played by Nicholas Brendon — having a lovely moment with his daughter, who is scared of something, and is then abducted.  We then move on to a new family where the boy is having problems and his slightly older sister is trying to get him out of trouble.  The mother then decides that she needs help — as she’s a single mother — and so wants to hire a nanny to look after him and the daughter, which the daughter is strongly opposed to, so she tries to sabotage the effort which, once it’s discovered, really ticks off her mother.  At that point, a nanny suddenly appears on their doorstep and is hired on the spot, but comes across to the daughter as being sinister.  Then the father from the beginning shows up and seems to agree with that, but he ends up kidnapping the daughter in order to hurt or kill her because he thinks she’s a fairy and fairies kidnapped her daughter.  Well, it turns out that both the children are fairies, but when the father’s child comes back it turns out that there’s a monster who took her and wants to take the other children, who ends up killing him, but the nanny and the daughter use their fairy powers to defeat it, and then the daughter stays in this world with her family instead of moving on — at least not yet — to the other world where fairies live.

Now, what a typical movie of this sort would do is focus on the mother, so that when the new and strange nanny shows up we’d have the daughter complaining about her strangeness but the mother torn between believing her daughter or thinking that she was making it all up.  When the father showed up and seemed to corroborate the daughter’s story, the mother then could have doubts.  The best thing about this sort of set-up is how easily it supports either the nanny being evil or the subversion of having her really be trying to do good that the movie actually went with.  Since the mother wouldn’t be seeing any of this and the daughter didn’t want a nanny at all, her trusting the nanny but also becoming suspicious as the movie went on makes perfect sense and can be used to build suspense, especially if we do see a little bit more than the mother does.

However, the daughter is the focus character, and she is seeing a lot of what happens directly.  This means that they have to make the nanny’s actions far more sinister than they would have in the typical set-up.  Thus, she can’t be just potentially a little odd and a little strict, but instead has to come across as, well, completely sinister.  So the movie gets caught between us wanting us to feel that the focus character is reasonable in her suspicions and not just being paranoid and needing to ensure that at the end we are willing to believe that the nanny is not, in fact, actually evil and really is acting in the best interests of the children.  This is only made worse by the fact that we have the father as a character who opposes them and we need to overcome the fact that since he’s reacting to the loss of his child he’s going to be sympathetic, if mistaken.  So while she needs to be strongly unsympathetic to build up the twist, the nanny also by the end needs to be completely redeemed to fill the role she needs to fill in the movie.

The movie also doesn’t handle the father character very well.  As noted above, we’re going to feel some sympathy for him because he’s reacting to the loss of his daughter.  While we won’t support him attempting to kill all the children that he thinks are fairies, we can see why he opposes them.  Again, in a typical movie what they’d do is either have him redeem himself at the end and save the children from the monster once he learns that the fairies aren’t responsible for his daughter’s abduction — possibly dying in the attempt — or else have him get the information and look like he might be able to be redeemed but to instead have his long-standing hatred cause him to deny that truth and so attack them, dying because he could not let go of his hatred.  But the movie doesn’t really do either.  He never realizes that the fairies are not responsible and so never attempts to protect the fairies, but he’s killed incredibly quickly by the monster offering him his daughter and so never really dies out of hatred.  He just kinda … dies in the movie.  Since again a father pining for his lost daughter which leads him to blame the fairies incorrectly — and possibly have killed some of them — is actually going to be a sympathetic antagonist, we really needed the closure that one of the typical options would have provided.  Without that, the character seems extraneous, as the character doesn’t get a proper arc but also doesn’t seem to play a large enough role in the plot to justify its presence.  The movie would have been simpler and better if the character had been left out entirely.

As noted, the movie doesn’t really seem to know what sort of story it wants to be, and so shoves a whole bunch of tropes into the movie loosely aligned around a nanny but never really joins them up properly or develops them properly to make a fully-functional movie out of them.  I don’t think I’ll watch this one again, and will likely stick it in my box of movies to maybe sell.

Thoughts on “The Haunting of Sharon Tate”

March 18, 2021

I have an interesting relationship with this movie.  I had heard about this movie and thought that it might be interesting, but then had also heard that it wasn’t a very good movie.  So I kept coming across it and wondering if I should buy it, but ultimately always rejected buying it.  Well, at least, I did that most of the time, because it turns out that I actually had bought it at one point and had forgotten that I had done so, and only noticed that I had bought it when I was sorting through my movies to set up an order to watch.  Which means that it was very good that I rejected buying it all of those other times, since this movie was definitely not one that it would be worth buying more than once.

The main premise is a retelling of the last few days of Sharon Tate’s life, an actress who along with some friends was killed by the infamous Manson Family.  Tate has visions and dreams of the death she will suffer at their hands, and the movie bases itself around those visions and those implications.  The problem is that it doesn’t really seem to know what sort of movie it wants to be here.  You could have made a decent biopic out of this where we experience her life up to her untimely death, but the movie doesn’t focus enough on her as a character nor make her sympathetic enough for that to work.  It could have worked as a straight horror movie with the predetermined ending, but they reference the fated ending too much for that to work and attach a plot of different realities to make that more doubtful, including ending the movie with a scene where they actually escape.  It also could have worked really well as an exploration of alternate realities and even raise some doubts about which reality is really real, but they don’t do enough to develop that and the ending seems to have them more as ghosts than as live people in another reality.  So while there were things they could have done that could have made for a good movie, not committing to any of them leaves it as a rather meaningless movie.

Which then means that the movie is rather dull.  There’s too much horror and visions to really develop the characters, so we can’t really enjoy watching them and see it as a tragedy.  But there’s too much normal interactions and clashes among the characters that is ultimately meaningless and so we don’t really get to soak in the horror.  And it doesn’t actually have anything interesting to say that all of those scenes combined could be aiming at.  Add in the ending and my biggest impression of the movie is that it was mostly pointless, which isn’t a recommendation.

I don’t think I’ll be watching this one again.  It had potential, but ultimately isn’t about anything and Sharon Tate as portrayed in the movie is neither interesting nor sympathetic enough to carry our interest through the entire movie.  This one is going in my box of movies to maybe eventually sell.

Thoughts on “Don’t Breathe”

March 11, 2021

“Don’t Breathe” starts with a premise that’s actually pretty good:  a bunch of kids break into the house of a blind veteran in order to steal a bunch of money that he got from a settlement over his daughter’s death, and then find themselves stalked by him when the caper goes wrong and they find themselves trapped in the house.  Because he’s blind, they can stand right in front of him without being detected, but he’s going to be at least listening for noises and probably has been trained to follow and detect noises more than normal, so you have to be very quiet.  This leads to a cat and mouse game where everyone is being as quiet as possible and the littlest sound can be deadly.  This, then, can be used to create a very creepy atmosphere and movie, especially when the veteran turns all the lights off so that they are all, effectively, blind.

However, while this does work, ironically this just under an hour and a half movie is actually a bit too long.  The problem is that while the veteran is believably somewhat capable, he is still blind.  So as the movie goes along it has to come up with more and more cases where he’s a threat to them, and so late in the movie it starts to seem a bit contrived.  Yes, it isn’t impossible, but it does seem a little implausible.  This, then, hurts the movie, because it’s never good to have the audience saying “Oh, come on!” in the middle of your tense scenes.

Another issue is that the main character isn’t all that sympathetic.  Remember that they were breaking into the house to rob a blind man of his money, and a blind man who had lost a daughter in a tragic accident.  Those aren’t sympathetic characters.  But the only character who ever at any point seems at all upset about this is the one guy, who ends up dying to save the life of the main character.  He also has an unrequited attraction to the main character, which turns the plot into essentially a representation of the rather famous incel complaints:  she is using him to get what she wants (money to escape to California), she knows he is interested in her but is instead in some sort of relationship with the more thuggish guy who is on their team (and whose main contribution to this is to act like a jerk and make a mistake that gets himself killed), and after the first guy saves her from a horrible fate she doesn’t seem to really express any regret at his death or gratitude for it, but instead just moves on with her life.  That doesn’t make us want to like her, especially since she doesn’t seem to bring anything in terms of actual skill to the team.

In fact, I really thought that this movie really needed a Bittersweet or Downer Ending.  What they find as they are being chased through the house is that the veteran has captured and impregnated the young woman who was driving the car that killed his daughter so that the baby she would then have would replace his daughter.  They try to rescue the young woman, but she gets killed as they try to escape the house.  Later, he captures the main character and sets her up to replace that young woman, but is going to artificially inseminate her because, as he claims, “he’s no rapist”.  She does escape and gets away with the money, but again she’s not all that sympathetic a character, so much so that they have to attach a little girl to her to make us happy that she gets away with the money from the veteran.  I think it would have worked as an ending to have him succeed in impregnating her and having her deliver him a child, and then having him disappear with the child and leave her enough money to go off to California.  Yes, you can object that a forced birth is horrific, but I’ve watched other horror movies that leave their heroines to far worse fates and so that, in and of itself, wouldn’t preclude it.  But the main reason I think it would work is that the veteran is not evil, but is instead broken.  What he’s doing is indeed horrific, but even the “I’m no rapist” line hints that he himself isn’t evil, just insane with grief and loss.  With the main character being somewhat unsympathetic and the implications of us having to be happy for her to be stealing the life savings from a blind man, it would have been really interesting to set up the implications of the ending I describe above:  she’s endured an ordeal, but she was given the freedom from her mother/stepmother that she wanted anyway, and that very broken person is raising a child but is he in any way able to do that properly, or will he produce a broken or possibly even evil person as well?

As it is, for me it seems that the ending only works if we find her more sympathetic than I think most people actually will.  I think it relies a lot on the attachment to a little girl and the idea that the forced pregnancy is so horrific that we have to be happy that she escaped it, but then the big twist is that the veteran survived which is underwhelming, especially since she’s leaving the area.

This movie is one that I might watch again, but isn’t good enough to guarantee it.  So it goes into the box in my closet of horror movies that I might watch again but am not likely to rewatch any time soon.

Thoughts on “The Turning”

March 4, 2021

I’m going to spoil this movie big time right from the beginning, because the biggest problem with the movie is both the ending and how they could have even thought that such an ending might work.

In watching this, I watched both the ending and then, puzzled, went to watch the alternate ending including with the movie.  In watching these things, I never do that.  And the problem is that the two endings are so far apart that it’s difficult to see how the movie could play them both off properly.  The released ending has it that the main character is insane and is hallucinating all of the events in the movie.  The alternate ending has her and the children facing off against the presumably ghostly handyman and leaves us with at least the impression that they are not going to survive the final onslaught.  Now, obviously, these are pretty different endings, and the big risk here is that in order to make both endings seem like something that would have followed from the movie itself they’d need to make a lot of things pretty vague and ambiguous, which would make for a movie where we are more confused than scared (and everyone knows how much I criticize horror movies that confuse the audience).  But if it was carefully done, it could have worked, although again it would be difficult to pull off.

This movie does not manage to pull it off.

The movie opens with a scene of what we presume is the nanny trying to flee the house who is killed.  Soon after, we pick up with the new nanny arriving to take her place.  Spooky things happen — including things moving around and a creepy sewing room with a creepy mannequin or statue that seems to look at her when she’s in the room — and the boy — the two children are a boy and a girl, with the boy been teenaged and the girl being younger — adds weird and seems to have a crush on her that he sometimes tries to develop.  We also find out that her mother is in an insane asylum and that’s one of the reasons she needs money, I think.  The little girl has a morbid fear of leaving the house that is never really resolved, but leads to some odd cases.  The boy shifts from being nice to being a jerk and back again, expresses sympathy for the now dead handyman that most other people think was a jerk (and probably killed the previous nanny), and seems at times to be adopting the handyman’s personality.  This then builds until we get to one of the two endings.

The problem is that given the initial scene of a different nanny being killed that absolutely could not be a flashback, it all being inside her head makes little sense.  She didn’t know about the previous nanny then and if she had she’d have been much more concerned about all of this than she was.  So the inclusion of that scene only makes the ending they went with seem nonsensical.  While there is an interesting implication that perhaps the mother in the insane asylum was really the protagonist and not her mother, that’s not played with or developed enough to really work and make up for the clash with the beginning of the movie.  Also, it all being inside her insane mind makes all of the points about the handyman and all of the scenes where the boy seems to be talking to him and acting like him utterly irrelevant.  While the alternate ending is a bit of a Downer Ending, it’s also far more consistent with the movie as a whole.  I suspect they thought the “it’s all in her head” ending clever, but in order to pull off clever endings the movie needs to establish the meat of it so that it can really turn out to be clever at the end, instead of inconsistent.

And unfortunately the rest of the movie isn’t all that great either.  The scares are pretty prosaic, and outside of that most of the movie involves dealing with the children, who are annoying most of the time.  The little girl has moments of cuteness, but also moments of being annoying.  The boy is, of course, annoying by intent in order to build up the creepiness and threat.  So we spend most of the time watching annoying people do annoying things.  If this built to a proper ending this could work, and I will commend the movie for giving the boy a bit of a split personality which can generate some sympathy and work to make the possession/corruption angle work, but then the ending tosses it all away which leaves that as meaning absolutely nothing.

I can’t imagine watching this one again.  I don’t really care for any of the characters and any plot or character points that I did care about are tossed by the ending.  This one is going into my box of movies to maybe sell.

Thoughts on “The Sandman”

February 25, 2021

While I’m writing about this much later, I watched this over the Christmas break, and I was wondering, after watching it, what caused my reaction to the movie.  Did my heart just grow three sizes because it was Christmas?  Are these horror movies finally wearing me down?

Because this movie is terribly flawed and yet I found myself enjoying it anyway.

The big flaws all follow around what the movie is about … or, rather, that the movie doesn’t really know what it wants to be about.  Which, again, is something that I’ve savaged other movies for, but found didn’t bother me that much in this movie.  The movie itself focuses on a young girl whose father is killed by a monstrous creature who then has to move in with her aunt, who takes pornographic pictures for a living.  But other than it being shown at the beginning and being a minor complication in her being able to take the girl in, this really doesn’t come up again.  It provides a little fanservice at the beginning of the movie and then is completely ignored.  The girl herself has strange powers, which include summoning the titular monster “The Sandman” when she feels threatened, but the movie is unclear about whether she’s supposed to be a girl with powers that she can’t control that sometimes cause her to lash out and hurt people directly — she does it to the aunt’s boyfriend when he wants to kill her to stop the monster — or whether she’s the victim of otherworldly forces that spawn through her power, as “The Sandman” seems to be.  Also, there’s a shady organization that wants to capture her in order to use her powers, but they show up just  in time to be a complication and to bring the girl’s powers out again — and she and The Sandman wipe most of them out — but really don’t do anything than to hint that there’s more of a world out there that includes such powers but the movie really doesn’t do anything with it.

So, this is a movie that is so convoluted and so unclear in what it wants to be that I should by all rights dislike it.  And yet, as noted, I enjoyed it.  Why?  I think the reason is that it ties into two movies or sorts of movies that I also oddly liked.  The first is “Arizona”, where it comes across a lot like that and the other sorts of movies that you’d see on Lifetime or Crave in Canada where there’s just enough plot to get you through a couple of hours of light entertainment but for the most part the plot gets out of the way of the rest of the things that are going on.  This movie is quite like that, as the plot comes in just in time to create the next complication for them but then gets out of the way so that we can watch them get out of it.  Thus, this means that the plot issues end up  being like the ones in “Friday the 13th”, where we can see that they’re there but the movie itself doesn’t seem to care at all about them, and so by that it kinda chides us for caring about them, so we feel embarrassed if we worry about it.  The movie never makes these revelations seem important.  They just seem to happen to be the case.  So it doesn’t really milk it for drama and so make us have to pay attention to see if they pull that off, and so can just follow it along as a series of events that happen to get us to the next part of the movie.

However, the movie falls down on this in the credits scenes.  There are two of them.  The first one shows that after they lock The Sandman away the girl still has her powers … but we knew that her powers were independent of The Sandman so it’s not a surprise that she has them, and there’s no reason for us to consider her powers necessarily sinister from the movie itself, since most of the time the locked away Sandman was the killer.  The second one shows the researcher from the shady government agency bringing The Sandman to the agency to study, and seeing some grains of sand fall from the statue.  This gives the agency some importance and also focuses us on The Sandman whom the movie never really explained, meaning that both of them were too important for the lack of attention they had in the movie.  So those scenes are the only blemishes in a movie that seemed to be striving to make us not really care about the details and instead to encourage us to simply follow along and not think too much.  And it was pretty successful at that.

For all of its flaws, I still enjoyed this movie … but not enough to put it on my list of movie that I will definitely rewatch.  So it will go in the box of movies that I might rewatch at some point but really can’t say when.

Thoughts on “Gretel & Hansel”

February 18, 2021

This movie is a reimagining of the “Hansel and Gretel” fairy tale, which has been done a fair bit before.  The challenge with doing this one specifically is that there really isn’t much to that fairy tale.  Two children wander into the woods and come across a witch who wants to eat them and lures them in with food, whom they ultimately kill.  It’s a pretty simple story, so expanding it into an hour and a half movie can be tricky.

I will give the movie credit for trying to stick to the original story as much as possible.  What it adds is the idea that the witch might have been unfairly outcast from her original village and is interested in Gretel becoming her apprentice, to pass on her abilities and have someone like her around.  However, what I noted in the first paragraph is still true here:  that’s not all that much to hang an hour and a half on, and so the movie really does seem to drag as nothing at all really seems to happen.  There just isn’t enough plot to carry the story through its short runtime, so the movie ends up being boring for the most part, despite the fact that at least the lead character is sympathetic enough for us to be interested in her story.  There’s just not enough story there to keep us interested for the entire movie.

The movie also hits one of my pet peeves where it starts using a first-person narrative from Gretel in the beginning, but drops it for long stretches only to bring it back in at the very end.  It doesn’t really give us any big insight into her character, nor is it maintained long enough to work as a stylistic device.  So it seems pointless and not taken advantage of, which makes us wonder why it’s here at all.

It’s not a bad or terrible movie in and of itself, but because it doesn’t have enough plot to carry the movie it ends up being boring.  I think this will go in the box of horror movies to maybe sell because I don’t want to watch it again.