Posts Tagged ‘Rewatch Review’

I’m halfway through this series I’ve been doing of rewatching and reevaluting horror films I previously disliked to see if I missed something. And for those of you who are keeping score, I found I now love Perfect Blue, hate The Strangers more than I did the first time, don’t really have a different opinion on The Witch, and feel underwhelmed by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And I’ve just finished watching my fifth entry, Oculus. What did I think? Let’s find out.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: Oculus follows Kaylie and Tim Russell, a pair of siblings who witnessed their parents murdered by the spirit in a mirror as children. They return to their childhood home ten years after those events with the mirror in tow, Kaylie determined to prove that the mirror is haunted, Tim believing he hallucinated everything he experienced as a child. Weaving between past and present, Kaylie and Tim unearth dark memories, old wounds, and eventually, must decide if they are facing they’re own insanity, or an old and intelligent evil.

WHY I DIDN’T LIKE IT: Simple: the ending. I really liked these siblings, and without going into spoilers (though I could be forgiven for them, this film has been out for four years), I didn’t like how the ending treated them. Plain and simple, it just poisoned the film for me.

WHY I REWATCHED IT: An online critic I follow on YouTube did a video a while back of the Top 11 New Halloween Classics, and Oculus got #7. That alone was enough to get me interested in a rewatch. And when I did this series, Oculus was definitely on the list.

Thoughts: How did I hate this movie? It was awesome!

Now, I won’t go into full review mode, but this movie is almost entirely flawless. The concept alone is pretty ingenious, but it’s done in a way that puts you right in there with the characters. You’re seeing their memories as they remember them, at the moment they’re remembering them. And you’re experiencing what they’re experiencing the moment they’re experiencing it. It leaves you not only wondering what is real and what isn’t, but also makes you feel the paranoia and terror of the characters, who by the way are played amazingly by their actors. Especially Karen Gilliam as Kaylie Russell (we love you, Amy Pond!).

I also like how the film isn’t afraid to use a bit of body horror. There were definitely moments where I had to look away because I was so freaked out by what I was seeing, and these moments are never excessive in terms of gore or number of uses.

Add in some great camera work, ambiguity, and CGI that really deposits itself within the uncanny valley, and you got yourself a creepy horror film.

And as for that ending, it’s been four years, and I’ve done some just like it in that time. It’s honestly a good way to close out a horror story, especially if you care about these characters. It makes the ending that much more gut-wrenching. To sum it up, I now approve of the ending.

Judgment: This is definitely a masterpiece in horror filmmaking. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving Oculus a well-deserved 5. Check it out, and see the horror through the looking-glass.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. The next one in this series should be entertaining, at least. And if it’s not, at least the sequels are supposed to be betterthan the original. I’m talking Evil Dead.

Until next time, Happy Holidays and pleasant nightmares one and all.

Going with a classic this time around, as well as one of the most polarizing films in horror. Some love it, some hate it. I hated it at first, but I think it’s time I see if my opinion needs to change. After all, this was one of the earliest slashers and is considered a staple of horror movies. Maybe it’ll give me a jump.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: A pair of siblings and their friends go to the former’s ancestral home to make sure their grandfather’s grave wasn’t a victim of recent grave-robbing in Texas. They later come across a house filled with a cannibalistic family, including the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface.

WHY I DIDN’T LIKE IT: In high school, I had heard this movie hyped so much among horror fans. When I finally could get Rated R movies on my own library card, I was disappointed. I didn’t jump, or feel any atmosphere. I wasn’t scared. It just felt over-hyped.

WHY I REWATCHED IT: You learn more about its production and legacy, you see some remakes and one sequel. You wonder if you missed something. Hence a rewatch.

THOUGHTS: I didn’t care for it.

Yeah, I was more aware of the film’s importance in the horror genre, but I still didn’t find myself enjoying it. It took the film forever to actually get going and become interesting. And even then, it was cheap to the point of noticeable (I refer you to the meat hook scene), there were lots of awkward close-up shots of girls freaking out, and more shouting and screaming than was probably necessary…from the villains. When damsels in distress scream, it’s fine with me, it’s kind of expected. But villains being so loud and annoying…yeah, I don’t care for it.

Yeah, it was quite the shocker in 1974, and that was the point. The film was meant to shock the 70’s movie-going audience. And it did, which lead to it becoming so famous and getting so many sequels and remakes. But to me, who is used to more gore and shock and terror from later slashers, it just feels tame and boring.

JUDGMENT: 1.5 out of 5. Watch it to see what it did for horror, but honestly, once you’re past a certain age and seen enough horror films, you’re just not going to get scared.

Don’t kill me in the comments for hating my opinion. It is what it is.

 

Next time around, I’ll be taking a look at a film that has become a staple for Halloween, but I had one particular problem with it that ruined the experience for me. It’s time to rewatch Oculus.

Well, I’m back at this again, with an odd film for my third outing. You see, I watched this film last July, and I even wrote a review. So why am I watching it again and making it part of the Rewatch Review series? Well, here’s why:

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: A Puritan family is forced to move out into the wilderness and start a farm on the edge of a forest. There, a witch sets into motion events that will change the fate of this family, especially the teenage daughter Thomasin, forever.

WHY I DIDN’T LIKE IT: Well, I actually did like it. I gave the film a 3.8 out of 5. That’s a good score. However, I went into the film with different expectations based on the title (the titular witch is actually very peripheral to the story), and I had a hard time without subtitles understanding what anyone was saying, which affected my enjoyment of the film.

WHY I REWATCHED IT: Over the past year and however many months, I’ve thought a bit about this film, and how my enjoyment of it was skewed by the fact that I had totally different expectations going in. I wondered if maybe, f I rewatched the film knowing what it’s really about–not the witch, but the family she affects–I’d enjoy it more. So when I decided to do this series, I put this film on my list.

THOUGHTS: I guess I did enjoy it a bit more, but I wouldn’t raise that 3.8 any higher.

The Witch is a good film, and I go into detail why in my review. It’s faithful to the time period in all the best ways, the psychological aspects are handled very well for a first-time writer/director, and the actors are all good in their roles. With great setting and music, it’s a pretty damn good horror flick. And if you watch it with the subtitles and don’t get miffed by the witch only being in the film for about two or three minutes, you’ll enjoy yourself thoroughly.

I did notice this time though that sometimes the lighting makes it hard to make out what’s going on, though. Like seriously, I know you’re in the middle of the woods, but maybe still use some lights so we can see the characters? Thank you!

JUDGMENT: My opinion doesn’t change, but I’m glad I watched it the way it was meant to be watched. It’s still a good movie, and if you get the chance, check it out. Just remember: subtitles! Those thick accents will puzzle you to death if you allow them to.

 

Well, that’s all for this entry in the series. Honestly, it was shorter than I expected it to be. The next one will probably be a bit longer, at any rate. After all, I’m watching one of the first slashers ever. That’s right: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bring it on!

My first entry into the Rewatch Review series, Perfect Blue, turned out to be an enjoyable film, much better than I remember it. That said, could the next one do just as well? You’ll have to read on to find out. Here we go with 2008’s The Strangers.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: A couple go home after a wedding to relax and work through their issues. They’re stalked and attacked by strangers who show up in the middle of the night (simple and to the point).

WHY I DIDN’T LIKE IT: I just thought it was basic horror fodder. Nothing original or likable, nothing to make it stand out. It was bad, the kind of film that people hold up when they say horror movies are just lifeless stories about boring people screaming while someone or something tries to kill them.

WHY I REWATCHED IT: I heard some people praise it as scary. I heard it was loosely based on the Manson murders (right around the same time I read Helter Skelter). And I heard a sequel was being filmed. That’s it. Motivation enough.

THOUGHTS: I didn’t think it was possible. It was worse than I remember.

Nothing about this film makes it especially good or scary. For one thing, our two main characters are the blandest I’ve ever seen. It’s like watching white bread with saltines trying to be interesting and have chemistry, but the characters feel mismatched, and their actors feel like they couldn’t give a crap about making us believe them, just as long as they get paid! So when they discuss their issues or try to seem “in love” with one another, it just rings hollow. And when that happens, it’s hard to get invested into the movie at all.

On top of that, the camera is seriously unsteady. Not kidding, in shots where the camera should stay still to focus on a character or a dramatic scene to make it more powerful, the camera is moving around shakily, which is seriously distracting and takes away from the scene. I felt like the cameraman was holding a handheld, and his arm just got tired from holding the camera, so it shook. Seriously sloppy.

And beyond all that, the story has been done to death! “Killers in the house! Ooo-oooh! Scary!” But here’s the problem, we’ve seen this sort of story done so much better, in classic slasher films like Halloween and When a Stranger Calls. This is trying to be those films, but it doesn’t even feel like pale imitation here. It’s like paint-by-the-numbers (or kill-by-the-numbers, I guess).

The only good points were that the film did pick up a bit as it went on, with decent attempts at atmosphere and a few jump scares, but the first half hour of the movie just made it so boring, it’s hard to move past that and get emotionally invested in the story. But other than that, there’s nothing redeeming to make up for the mistakes made with this film.

JUDGMENT: I had more fun checking my phone than watching this movie. The Strangers, on a scale of 1 to 5, gets a well-deserved 1. Stay away from it, because let’s face it, the crap in your toilet will be more entertaining than this film. Don’t expect me to go anywhere near the sequel.

 

That’s all for now, Followers of Fear. Let’s hope that the next film I watch, I actually enjoy. Especially since I thought it had great potential the first time around.

So here it is, finally. The first in my Rewatch Review series, in which I look at horror or thriller movies I’ve seen and didn’t like/had problems with and see if maybe I missed something the first time. I’m kind of just winging it with this first one, with no fixed plan on length or how deep I’m going into these films and their respective qualities, but at the very least, I hope if you haven’t seen these films, you get an idea of whether or not it’s worth checking out. And if you have seen any of these films, you’ll get an idea of what my thoughts are on them these days.

With that out of the way, here are my thoughts on Perfect Blue!

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: Perfect Blue is an anime film that follows Mima “Mimarin” Kirigoe, a Japanese pop idol singer who, on the advice of her agency, is reluctantly leaving the pop idol industry to become an actress on a TV show.  Experiencing a crisis of identity and followed everywhere by a violent stalker, things only get worse for Mima as events conspire to blur her perceptions of reality and fiction, leading to a violent and horrifying head where not just her own life is at stake, but her very identity as well.

WHY I DIDN’T LIKE IT: I thought it was too trippy when I first saw it in college, and it kind of dragged at points. I had expected something much more dynamic, and this felt more slow-burn to me.

WHY I REWATCHED IT: I saw a video essay on the movie a while back, and it pointed out some interesting things about the film that made me want to go back and give it another chance.

THOUGHTS: I’m glad I rewatched this film, because it is really good. I’m actually a little disappointed that I didn’t care for it when I saw it in college. It’s a great psychological thriller, and there’s a lot to talk about on several different levels (I’ll stick to the film quality and not to diving deeper into the psychological aspects. I’ll leave that to the video essay I mentioned above).

First off, the animation is different from most anime, which is very stylistic. The artwork isn’t exaggerated or distinctly cartoony, full of jumpy animations and wild reactions. If you think of most anime, like Sailor Moon, Pokemon, and One Piece as analogues to cartoons like Family Guy or Looney Tunes (just examples for the non-fans out there, don’t kill me, fellow anime lovers), then Perfect Blue‘s style is more analogous to early Disney films, particularly those of Cinderella and Snow White (the latter is actually a lot darker than you probably remember it if you go back to watch it). It’s very grounded and scaled back, with very few characters actually looking pretty, cute or cool. The only ones who do are characters directly involved in the entertainment industry, and that makes the movie feel real to us. It’s a world very much like ours, with violence like ours, and people just like ours. So when you see something violent within the film, the realism makes it all the more powerful. This isn’t just animation, this feels like it could happen. Maybe it has happened, and it’s amazing to see animation portray that.

Speaking of the main character, Mima is presented to the audience with extraordinary skill. There’s no exposition or anything, but who she is and how she feels is made clear to us, which makes her real to us. We’re shown quiet moments for her, such as grocery shopping or getting to and from work, presented in contrast to her life as a celebrity, and that really conveys to us just what sort of character Mima is. And that’s good, because the central conflict is around who she is: Mima has trouble dealing with the fact that she’s been talked into changing careers, and isn’t sure who she is now that she’s changed. With the struggles of her new acting career starting to get to her, as well as visitations from her stalker, Mima’s own grasp on reality starts to go. She starts to lose track on what’s part of her new TV show, which bears some resemblances to her own mental struggle, as well as starts to see a phantom version of her pop-idol persona. And so do we, the audience, unable to tell what is real, what is part of her show, and what is part of her tortured pscyhe.

And when that happens, we feel Mima’s inner anguish. We’re right there with her, trying to unsuccessfully figure out what’s real and what isn’t. And when we can’t come up with those answers with Mima, it only makes the terror of the moment and of the unreality of the situation that much stronger.

JUDGMENT: If you think that anime can’t be deep or anything other than silly cartoons, you need to watch Perfect Blue. It’s a twisted story of a girl trying to find herself under the most terrifying circumstances reality can give her, full of gorgeous but realistic animation, intense scenes and visuals (I’m talking to you, screwdriver scene!), and great questions on the idea of our true selves versus the personas we create for ourselves (that’s a subject for another post). Definite 4.5 out of 5. Pop it in and see what the rabbit hole uncovers.

 

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you enjoyed the first entry in the Rewatch Review series, and I hope you join me when I get my hands on 2008’s The Strangers.