Horror Movie Reviews

Get Out

Film Title: Get Out

Get Out (2017) – Horror | Comedy | Thriller

Directed by: Jordan Peele

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams

How I Watched: Theatres

Review by Nick Spanjer

Here’s the thing about the first big horror movie of 2017: it is not that scary. Now before you turn away from this review, know that I loved the film. While each trailer wraps it in a pretty horrific little bow, the truth is, the film is more of a psychological clusterbomb, meant to fuck with the heads of the droves of white audiences filing in to see it. I know you’re thinking, “Oh man, Jordan Peele just made a movie to rip on Trump voters?,” but, no.

The smartest part of Get Out, was not that it rips on Trump, Trump voters, or even white people in general. What the movie actually does is firebomb the white, liberal elite; those same ones that were sure Hillary Clinton had the election in the bag. At one point, a terrific Bradley Whitford, who plays main character Chris’ girlfriend’s father, tells Chris that if he could have, he would have voted for Obama a third time. This sort of forced validation with the “black” community that Chris represents shows how out of touch these people really are.

I’m not going to go too much further into the plot, but what I can tell you, is that this movie definitely did its job in making me horribly uncomfortable. Being a white liberal, I could just feel the awkwardness of Bradley Whitford and his wife (played by an awesomely creepy Catherine Keener) almost giving each other pats on the back of how accepting they are of their white daughter’s new black boyfriend. The musical score does its job to inflict unease (with the exception of one over-the-top section at the end of the film), but the most discomfort is caused by the characters’ interactions. While there are plenty of classically tense “horror” moments in this, these moments are the most uncomfortable. And trust me, there are plenty of them.

I think my favorite performance in the film came from Caleb Landry Jones, the brother of Chris’ girlfriend. From the get-go, you can tell the character is off his rocker and it is one of the more well-acted pieces in the film. There is a dinner scene in which I was sinking further and further into my chair as the tension built. There are also moments which made me think of films like Rosemary’s Baby and Under the Skin, where the movie almost descends into a dreamlike abyss, causing you to feel the worst case of inescapability. At one point, Chris is hypnotized and his state of claustrophobia was nearly infectious upon me.

Get Out is not a horror movie in the classic sense. Yes, there are jump scares and there is some pretty gruesome violence. In all reality though, this is Jordan Peele’s living nightmare on film. He took what he saw was happening in our country and all over the world, and made it into a film. Our world has become a pretty horrific place for a lot of us, and there are funny moments, as well as really uncomfortable ones. We do not treat each other right, and we have not been treating each other right for a long time. This is the movie that shows us just how awful it has gotten – and that is the most horrific part of Get Out.

Final Score: 3.5/4

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Similar Films: Rosemary’s Baby, Green Room, The Stepford Wives 

31 Days of Horror – ‘Ti West Triple Feature’

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The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers, The Sacrament

Directed by: Ti West

Review by CinemAbysmal

I originally watched The House of the Devil about 5 or 6 years ago. The first time, I wasn’t all that impressed, probably because I was looking for scares in the classic sense. While I’m not saying that this movie is lacking in scares, it is definitely a slow-burning test on your psyche. The film’s events are set during a lunar eclipse in 1983. I think the coolest part about the movie though, is that it’s filmed like it’s 1983. Heavy grain is visibly present, the score is incredibly cheesy (yet effective) and lead actress Jocelin Donahue is so good. This movie is pretty slow on the buildup, but it absolutely pays off. One more thing that makes this movie imperative: Tom Fucking Noonan. Check out this one on Hulu Plus now.

The Innkeepers is probably my favorite of the three we’re featuring here. It’s more of the classic ghost movie, featuring a haunted hotel and some creepy yarns about its troubled history. West has picked some excellent female leads and Sara Paxton is one of them. She plays the role of the curious, wannabe ghost hunter to perfection. As with The House of the Devil, this movie burns slowly, but the payoff is excellent. It is also filmed excellently, with some tense hallway shots. Jeff Grace’s score is great as well. Check out The Innkeepers on Hulu Plus.

The Sacrament kind of took me by surprise. I, like a lot of people, have grown a bit tired of the found-footage concept. While West spins it a bit different, featuring a Vice News crew filming a Jim Jones-esque cult, it still is a found footage movie. This one is good enough, though. The acting is pretty excellent and I think Gene Jones steals the show as the Jim Jones inspired character, ‘Father.’ While this movie definitely provides a different feeling than the other two, it still kept my interest and featured West’s signature ‘slow-burn’ that builds to a wildfire of an ending. Check it out on Netflix.

31 Days of Horror – ‘Eight Legged Freaks’

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Eight Legged Freaks

Directed by: Ellory Elkayem

Starring: David Arquette and Scarlett Johansson

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

I love a good B-horror film. One that rides the line of camp and comes out with something both exciting and fun. It is a difficult genre though, for every Tremors you get four Sharknados. You expect the CGI to be bad, which in Eight Legged Freaks, it is. But not too bad for a film out of 2002. You got David Arquette, a sort of random crown prince of cult-ish horror after the Scream flicks and having written and directed The Tripper, a sort of ode to 80s slasher flicks that has Ronald Reagan like figure as the slasher. But in this movie, like many, he sucks. His line delivery felt like it came after a long trailer weed nap.

That being said, I really dug this movie. It was corny, but pretty funny in parts. In many ways, it felt like one of my favorite films, Slither, albeit only in tone and not in plot or quality. It really is an amalgamation of many different cool horror flicks. It takes place partially in a mall like Dawn of the Dead, and partially in a mine like My Bloody Valentine. The way they picked off their prey by sneaking into their homes felt like Arachnophobia, but on a comically larger scale. My one major complaint in the film that just got too annoying was they gave the spiders voices that sounded half the time like a mogwai and half the time like a minion. I don’t need a high-pitched squirrel voice from a spider to know it hates being shot.

I would recommend this movie to anyone who wants to watch some fun bullshit in which they know what will happen and they don’t have to think about it, but it is cool to see spiders take out tanker trucks and pile into malls and get shot. It isn’t perfect or really great in any feasible way, but you’ll enjoy it, especially with the help of alcoholic beverages or inhaled cannabis smoke

31 Days of Horror – ‘Scanners’

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Scanners

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Starring: Stephen Lack and Michael Ironside

Review by CinemAbysmal

OK, so maybe this is not technically a horror movie in the classic sense. However, it is a David Cronenberg film so it’s unsettling enough at every turn that it feels like a horror movie. There are certainly parts that are horrifying; the infamous head explosion, for instance. Really though, this is just an intense movie all around. There isn’t a whole lot of dialogue, but Cronenberg lets the film breathe, not really punching everything up until the very end.

This is my first time seeing this movie. I know a lot of people reading this probably already have, but I just never got around to it. I really enjoy a lot of Cronenberg films, (ExistenzA History of ViolenceNaked Lunch, the list goes on and on), so I’m not sure why it took so long to watch it. After finishing, I really wish I watched it sooner. The effects (for 1981) are absolutely amazing and disgusting, the pacing is strange but in a way, beautiful and god dammit, Howard Shore’s score is haunting and perfect for the movie.

One complaint I must lodge, is the main character, Cameron’s (Stephen Lack) acting. It’s so unbearable to hear him speak, that you can’t help but feel disconnected from the story for a good portion of the film. His lines are hamfisted and even his most general of reactions are not even convincingly human. That’s alright though, because the fantastically vicious Michael Ironside is there to balance out the awfulness with his creepy villain, Darryl Revok. Ironside is incredible in this and really carries the movie all the way to the end.

Cronenberg is a weird dude. Maybe it’s because he’s deeply Canadian, but that’s alright with me. I dig the hell out of the Canadians. From The Kids in the Hall to Denis Villenueve to Ivan Reitman, some of my favorite works come out of that wonderfully beautiful country. And after watching Scanners, I’ll just have to add another one to that ever-growing list.

31 Days of Horror – ‘At the Devil’s Door’

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At the Devil’s Door

Directed by: Nicholas McCarthy

Starring: Ashley Rickards and Naya Rivera

Review by CinemAbysmal

This a strange fucking movie. Not exactly in the good way, either. The acting is pretty underwhelming, the dialogue is laughable and it seems to be pieced together by a drunk person. However, there almost seems to be an underlying intent to all of this as the movie stumbles along.

What we have with At the Devil’s Door is a good enough horror film. It plays on concepts from other movies such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen, while mixing in some haunted house jumps. There’s even a mysterious girl donning a red rain jacket, which immediately reminded me of the creeptacular Don’t Look Now. There are some genuine frights in this and the Satanic storyline is actually pretty damn unsettling. It’s also really pretty. A lot of the shots are bathed in a greyed out palette and McCarthy is particular with his use of bright colors to surprise the eyes. He’s also very careful about his use of the devil in this. He is shown many times, a tall man with horns, but he is always blurry and it’s creepy as all hell.

The timeline in this film is probably the most distracting part. It begins with a teenage girl in the 1980’s and jumps around between then and now, but it feels forced and does not really come natural at all. I already mentioned the acting, but I think it’s worth talking about again. Most of it is pretty god-awful, and I can’t really tell if McCarthy meant for the hamfisted presentation of it all. I really think this would be a legitimately good movie if the dialogue was more carefully written and he grabbed some better actors.

At the Devil’s Door is currently streaming on Netflix. If you are into jump scares and some pretty damn good satan-soaked evil, this will probably satisfy you. It tends to move at a snail’s pace sometimes, but it really is a pretty vicious horror film. It’s just not that good of a movie-movie.

31 Days of Horror – ‘The Canal’

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The Canal  

Directed by: Ivan Kavanagh

Starring: Rupert Evans and Antonia Campbell-Hughes

Review by CinemAbysmal

This is a genuinely mean and frightening film. You look at the picture above, and you’ll probably think it’s a typical ghost flick where the submerged body comes floating to the surface to haunt the living. Truth is though, this movie is a straight ripper. Rather than relying on jump scares and things that go bump in the night, The Canal presents a story floating face down in a murky puddle of grief and infidelity.

I am not saying that there are no horrific parts in this. There are some absolutely chilling scenes brought on by ghosts haunting a house. There is a disgusting public bathroom that is repeatedly revisited causing a great amount of discomfort as a Shiningesque score wobbles and whines in the background. There is a tale of a family that was killed by their patriarch in 1902 in the house in which the main character now lives. The director, Kavanagh knows what he is doing to make the viewer as uneasy as possible.

Back to what makes The Canal brutally scary though, is the weaving story of the main character and his wife. The movie begins with them looking at a house, deeply in love and childless, their whole lives together ahead of them. Several years later the film jumps ahead and we are led to believe that the main character’s wife is cheating on him, leaving him with their son. His reaction is genuine and awful and heartbreaking, and I feel this is where the horrible fright of this film lies: everyone’s worst fears coming to life causing an unrelenting descent into madness in the face of infidelity.

For those into haunted house movies, this movie should be quite enough for you. But if you’re looking for a really depressing film that will most likely just absolutely devastate you while some ghosts tease the living, this one is definitely for you. Check out this bad boy on Netflix now. I promise it will affect you in some way.

 

31 Days of Horror – ‘The Amityville Horror (2005)’

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The Amityville Horror (2005)  

Directed by: Andrew Douglas

Starring: Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

Ah, Amityville Horror. What do you say about a film that has nothing to say? I have never seen the original but this one, starring Ryan Reynolds before he was likable, talented Ryan Reynolds, and was still trying to wash himself of the fetor heaped upon him by Two Guys and a Girl and a fucking Pizza Place.

Ryan Reynolds is a step-father in the 70’s, married to Melissa George. That is pretty much all we know. The set up is pretty cliche, for which I won’t really fault it considering this is a remake of the original “family moves into house and is terrorized by ghosts” story. But it definitely doesn’t expand or redefine the genre in any interesting way, instead opting to fester in its own mediocrity while borrowing heavily from films that did it much better; most notably Poltergeist and The Shining.

Speaking of The Shining, I had heard King disliked Kubrick’s casting of Jack Nicholson because he felt it wasn’t a stretch to see him going crazy. This is how I feel about the choice to make Ryan Reynolds a stepdad. When shit starts going crazy, and he starts being physically and verbally abusive toward his family, I didn’t suspect a supernatural force was behind it, because I just think that’s how stepdads are.

Ultimately, the film is the type of film you have seen a million times if you watch horror flicks. Family moves into house, things get wacky, child speaks to ghost, there is some demon that gets stronger, family tries exorcism or intervention which doesn’t work, then they have to fight for their lives, and they leave the house. It isn’t interesting and they show the ghosts far too often and with comically long takes. The key to a good horror flick, especially one dependent on jump-scares, is to keep shots of the monster very short, so that our brains can register the danger, yet not unravel its flaws. And this film had many, many flaws.