Horror

CinemAbysmal’s Best of 2017 – Movies

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Well, here we are! We’ve come to the end of another year, and the hosts of CinemAbysmal: The Podcast are here to round up their favorites. We’ve included some surprises, like some stuff showed on (gasp) television! Amazing writers and directors are choosing this medium over Hollywood lately, so get over it. Anyway, enjoy the picks and let us know if you agree with the selections or want to let us know about any of yours!

Holly Hill

10. Logan Lucky

9. Thor: Ragnarok

8. Guardians of the Galaxy 2

7. Logan

6. It

legion

5. Legion (FX)

4. Ladybird

3. Baby Driver

2. Blade Runner 2049

dunkirk

1. Dunkirk

 

Eric Lemons

10. Baby Driver

While I will contend that this film is style packed on to very little substance, the style is enough to carry this fucking joy of a film. Ansel Inglberghumperdink kills it, though every shot looks like a different actor. Wright is the king of this kind of movie and a heist flick is always welcome in the Lemons Casa.

9. Life

This is a brutal fucking film that takes the Alien film and turns it on its microscopic head. Boasting a boring title and a lackluster ad campaign, this film snuck under many noses as just more space peril, but the stellar cast and nihilistic viewpoint thrive in this earth-shattering, intense horror sci-fi flick.

8. Raw

Sure it is French and not as fucked as we could imagine a French horror being, but the thrill of this film comes from the humanity within it. Focusing on a vet student with a lust for human flesh, we see the making of a monster in her most vulnerable and interesting state: maturation.

7. Logan Lucky

Soderbergh is officially king of making films better than they have to be in  this rural heist movie; a genre that produces at least one interesting film a year. The film is funny, inventive, and builds around a story of idiots making smart moves.

6. It

Pennywise is back in this 80s remake that feels fresh and new, despite rehashing the same King notes down the line.

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5. Kong: Skull Island

A frolicking flick for fans of 70s creature horror and Vietnam action fare. A nice mix of old school fun and new school aesthetics bring out the best in a revival of the Kong series.

4. John Wick 2

Easily the most fun I had watching a film all year. Non-stop action pours out and rubs against your legs in a manner that would be creepy if it weren’t so beautiful.

3. The Bad Batch

KEY-AH-NEW! We get more Keanu as he plays a minor villain (?) in a story of a girl caught between warring factions in a dystopic wasteland. Cast, thrills, and story is a lovely morality tale in a land without morality.

2. Blade Runner 2049

Denis Villanueve fucks us all real hard and good in bringing to life the future of Ridley Scott’s world in a film that is brilliant on its own before blasting your mind brain apart with its connections to the 1985 classic.

ghost

1. A Ghost Story

Every couple years comes a film that blows your heart apart and depicts some epiphany about the world around us. It changes the way you speak to your loved ones and the way you see yourself. A Ghost Story is that film 100 times over. A triumph unlike anything else.

 

Nick Spanjer

Just Missed the Cut:

  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Wonder Woman
  • Silence
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Okja

10. The Bad Batch

As far as straight-up coolness goes, no film matched this one in 2017. Between the literal trippy scenes, the music, and the jaw-dropping cinematography, this almost alternate dimension, post-apocalyptic thrill ride is sure to quench any action fiend’s thirst. Plus, Jim Carrey being weird as fuck.

9. Marjorie Prime

Holy shit. This is one crazy good flick. Jon Hamm is a hologram. Tim Robbins is at his best since The Shawshank Redemption. Geena Davis’ performance will tear your heart out. If you’re easily upset by dementia and Alzheimer’s in film, this one will probably get to you. It’s a little too indie to catch any awards action, but if I had a vote, I’d be all over this little wonder.

8. A Ghost Story

Oof. Speaking of having your heart torn out. Yeah, yeah, Casey Affleck is an asshole. Don’t fear, though. He spends most of the film under an actual bed sheet. That is beside the point of this incredible movie, though. Casual movie watchers beware: this is not a horror film. There’s hardly any dialogue for long stretches of time. But what it says about us as humans and the mark we leave on those we love is just heart-wrenching. Absolutely beautiful movie.

7. The Big Sick

I finally got around to watching this movie today after hearing about it nonstop for the last year. Oh man. I really dig Woody Allen films, and though this movie reminded me of Allen’s golden age in the late 70’s, it’s something entirely different. With that signature Apatow feel, this true life story between Nanjiani and wife Emily Gordon is funny as hell at times, and gut-wrenching at others. Also, they could not have gotten a better cast together for this. Zoe Kazan is amazing, Ray Romano is hilarious, Holly Hunter kills it, and god damn. Who knew Kumail Nanjiani could carry a film in a lead role? Also, Michael Fucking Showalter directed this! Looking forward to his new career path. Upsetting to see this got snubbed at the Golden Globes, but I recommend this one for anyone that’s enjoyed any Judd Apatow or Woody Allen films.

6. Legion (FX)

I know. It’s TV. But fuck, watch these 8 ‘episodes’ (creator/god Noah Hawley calls them ‘Chapters’) all together and it’s one of the coolest movies you’ll ever see. Yes, it’s Marvel. But it’s nothing like you’ll ever see in that universe. The music is incredible and the cinematography is one of my favorites in anything that I’ve ever seen. I’m fairly sure I watched the seventh chapter four times, and it’s absolutely thrilling to watch. Speaking of snubs, where the hell is Aubrey Plaza’s nomination? Seriously though, check this out if you haven’t yet. It’s essential.

LOGAN

5. Logan

Wow, man. I waited too long to see this one. I love Westerns, and this – though it’s a Marvel film – is one of the best Westerns I’ve ever seen. There’s no cowboys, but there’s pretty much everything else. I really dig James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma and Cop Land, and the Rated R feel is perfect in this. It’s different than Deadpool, as much of this film is not funny at all, but the violence seems to never let up. I think Patrick Stewart delivers one of the best performances of his career, not to mention Hugh Jackman’s stellar and heartfelt spin as Wolverine. I know that Disney just power-grabbed Fox, but I’m really hoping we’ll get more R-rated superhero flicks. We deserve it.

4. Get Out

There’s not much to say about this flick that hasn’t already been said. So instead, I’ll just tell you how it made me feel. I have never been more uncomfortable sitting in a movie theater. At times, Jordan Peele’s funny side shows, but it’s more like nervous laughter than anything else. Peele designed the film this way, knowing white dudes all over the country were going to be watching it. I sunk lower and lower in my chair as the movie progressed, and though the movie isn’t particularly scary, the chills are incredibly effective in other ways. One of the better metaphorical film packages I’ve ever seen. Jordan Peele directing is going to be pretty damn awesome for years.

3. It

I really don’t like going to movie theaters, but I couldn’t pass this one up. So I went twice. Pennywise has been in my life since I was a kid, and I just read the book again last summer to refresh myself for the film. Though I like to fantasize what the first part of this two-headed monster could have been with Fukanaga at the helm, I think Muschietti did a damn fine job bringing history’s most horrifying clown to life. One of the most important things to remember with Pennywise is that It is not just a clown. It’s an interdimensional being out of time as we know it, and this film captures that perfectly. Not to mention, holy shit, some of the finest kid acting I’ve ever seen. I love this damn movie and can’t wait for Part Two.

2. Blade Runner 2049

I noticed that all three of us made this our second favorite film of the year. And if it weren’t for the next one, it would have been my favorite by far. I really dig the original movie, but everyone knows that it’s got its share of problems. Not 2049. This movie is perfect in every single way. Gosling was the perfect choice as the lead, his performance muted, yet commanding. Ford is great as an older Deckard, but the performances are just a small part of this gigantic event. The music, cinematography, story – everything is absolute perfection in this. From beginning to end, I was floored in its scope. Villenueve may be the greatest living director we have…but he’ll have to wait for this next guy to leave the throne first.

tp

1. Twin Peaks: The Return (Showtime)

It’s not technically a movie. I know. But fuck off. It is filmed like a movie, and it’s the weirdest, most fucked up, absolutely beautiful thing we’re ever going to get in a theater or a television set. I’ve been waiting for a return to Twin Peaks for most of my life (not to mention a return from David Lynch doing anything), and now that I’ve finished this round, I don’t think I could be more satisfied. No, it wasn’t the same Twin Peaks. Like, even a little. But what we got instead was David Lynch free to do whatever the fuck he wanted for 18 hours and it is the most batshit insanity he’s ever produced. It’s violent, maddening, ridiculous, beautiful – just one of the craziest things that has ever been produced in any medium. I love that Showtime did this and hope it opens doors for other creative geniuses. Kyle Maclachlan turns in one of the greatest performances of not just his career, but television and film history as not just Dale Cooper, but three brand new characters. And don’t even get me started on Part Eight. This is the greatest hour I’ve ever seen on television, and may be the best and most Lynch piece that Lynch has done in his illustrious career. Fight me. I could legitimately go on for hours about his glorious cinematic event, and if you know me personally, you’ve probably caught some of it already. I’ll leave it here, though: we’re never going to get anything as insane as this again. So if you get a chance, sit down for a weekend and crush this. It’s the best and craziest “movie” you’ll ever see.

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Episode 19 – Halloween Part II: Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 & Leprechaun in the Hood

Welcome to the 19th episode of CinemAbysmal: The Podcast, where the three writers of CinemAbysmal.com talk about what society would consider some of the worst of the worst media out there. This week, we discuss two absolutely horrendous Horror films in anticipation of Halloween with a Christmas movie and the fifth installment of a St. Patrick’s Day franchise. Don’t worry, we didn’t forget to bring up Eric in the bathtub. We also slowly devolve into doing a few minutes of Ice T impressions from SVU, so there’s that. Check it out on all your favorite apps below! As always, please SHARE, RATE, AND SUBSCRIBE!

iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinemabysmal/id1153464020?mt=2

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Spreaker – http://www.spreaker.com/show/cinemabysmals-show

You can also find us on BeyondPod! Just search for CinemAbysmal.

CinemAbysmal: The Podcast – Episode 18: Halloween – It Follows, As Above, So Below, & We Are Still Here

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Welcome to the 18th episode of CinemAbysmal: The Podcast, where the three writers of CinemAbysmal.com talk about what society would consider some of the worst of the worst media out there. This week, we discuss the three of some of our favorite current horror films in anticipation of Halloween, as well as more of Eric’s bathing habits! Check it out on all your favorite apps below! As always, please SHARE, RATE, AND SUBSCRIBE!

iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinemabysmal/id1153464020?mt=2

Google Play Music – https://play.google.com/music/m/Irjld24rxpsi22hdnugilmxh57u?t=CinemAbysmal

Stitcher – https://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=128435&refid=asa

Spreaker – http://www.spreaker.com/show/cinemabysmals-show

You can also find us on BeyondPod! Just search for CinemAbysmal.

CinemAbysmal: The Podcast – Episode 16: IT – The Book, The Miniseries, & The New Film

Welcome to the 16th episode of CinemAbysmal: The Podcast, where the three writers of cinemabysmal.com talk about what society would consider some of the worst of the worst media out there. This week, we discuss all things IT! SPOILERS for the new film lie ahead, so if you haven’t seen it, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING! Go see it now, then listen to us discuss the book and the two cinematic adaptations! Check it out on all your favorite apps below! As always, please SHARE, RATE, AND SUBSCRIBE!

iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinemabysmal/id1153464020?mt=2

Google Play Music – https://play.google.com/music/m/Irjld24rxpsi22hdnugilmxh57u?t=CinemAbysmal

Stitcher – https://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=128435&refid=asa

Spreaker – http://www.spreaker.com/show/cinemabysmals-show

You can also find us on BeyondPod! Just search for CinemAbysmal.

The Void

voidThe Void (2016) – Horror 

Directed by: Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie

Starring: Aaron Poole and Kenneth Welsh

How I Watched: Amazon Instant Video

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

Everyone has their ideal movie in their head. The one they always wished they could make or at least see. Characters that speak on themes that are important to you. The addition of plot twists and full frontal male nudity. Everyone has something they want their favorite movie to be. I want to see an 80;s style cosmic horror film that feels equal part Lovecraft and Cronenberg. I want practical effects and an ending that feels completely batshittingly disconnected from the first act. And folks, I have seemingly found this film. Or so I thought.

The Void is a film that was produced in 2016 and feels very much like a full-length film cousin of Stranger Things. It doesn’t initially try anything too daring, starting with a small town sheriff’s deputy finding a man who has run away from some seemingly bad men. He brings this man to the nearest hospital, which unfortunately is under reconstruction after a recent fire and thus, suffers from a limited staff. And the deputy’s ex-wife works there also, which is the kind of coincidence that happens in films all the fucking time to give emotional depth, but tends to just break down fourth walls.

But forgiving that, shit goes full fucking insanity pretty fast when a whole host of white cloaked figures descend and surround the building, killing anyone who wishes to enter or exit. Their perfectly starched and ironed cloaks look very KKK outside of the black triangle over the face, presumably so they can see. Also, one of the nurses has killed one of the patients and therefore has also decided to cut her own face from her skull. So that’s cool. She is killed, but pretty immediately comes back as a giant bloody tentacle monster which has to be re-killed. It is pretty fucking sweet to watch. And this all happens in the first act. Are you pumped, cause I am fucking pumped.

Then the second act hits and shit slows way the fuck down. It becomes the same dynamic that plays out in every single location horror film. Mistrust, survival runs, and hashing out personal issues that really don’t matter but again, add depth. I really don’t want to ruin the rest of the film for you, because the third act is a masterclass on mind-blowing and face shredding.

So this is the film I wanted to see. It kinda feels like one of those wishes where you wish for something, but some asscracked genie or monkey paw kills everyone on Earth because you asked to be the richest man alive. Turns out, I like a lot of things in films besides which other artists it stole from. Like good acting. The acting in this film was fairly disgusting in many scenes. Also, casting. This is some backwoods community and half the characters look like patrons of some french named coffee bar in Williamsburg. I know actors tend to look like actors, but come on. Does the sheriff’s deputy really need an undercut and skinny jeans? Dialogue was also just kinda boring. We are talking about entering a new plane of existence and reanimating the dead and monsters and shit, and I am just fucking yawning. You have to try so hard to make dialogue with that subject matter boring.

Overall, the film’s strengths can really carry the film. And I am definitely buying it on Blu-Ray or a future as-yet-named format and recommending everyone with the same tastes as me go out and see it. All the weaknesses do is frustrate you with how great it could have been. I love the blood and gore and tentacle porn, but when the characters’ emotions don’t match the tension of the scene, it pulls you out of all that horrible shit. I like that horrible shit. I want to sleep in it. Don’t do that.

The Boy

theboy

The Boy (2016) – Horror 

Directed by: William Brent Bell

Starring: Lauren Cohan and Rupert Evans

How I Watched: Streamed on Showtime

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

There are some ideas that are so fucking stupid, they are actually good. Horror tends to be the genre that best collects these gems that make you think, ‘who the fuck thought this would be good?’ The Boy, which came out in 2016, is one of these films. Quite possibly, the most overused trope of the 2000’s in horror was that of the creepy kid. We saw it in The Ring and The Grudge. The 2010’s saw the return of the creepy doll with Annabelle and the remake of Poltergeist. Yes, the creepy kid and creepy doll are tropes that played out in the 70’s and 80’s as well. We live in a recursive culture, you see. Time is a flat circle or some shit. Anyway, the point I am getting to is that The Boy mixes these tropes to seemingly idiotic effect, until the story actually starts evolving.

The film starts with a nanny played by Lauren Cohan who was in The Walking Dead and still might be. I don’t watch that shit. The nanny, Greta, gets some Craigslist job in England where shit is inherently creepy to watch some child. But when she gets there, the spooky unhinged parents reveal that she will in fact be watching a doll that looks like a boy, but is totally inanimate. The design of the wooden figure is actually quite excellent in that it has a blank expression that simultaneously looks both angelic and menacing. Not like Dead Silence (2007) where it fucking grins maniacally throughout, and then everyone is surprised when it turns out evil.

I mean, of course, the situation in The Boy is fucked up, but what the film tries to hint is that maybe it isn’t, and that’s where the film gains strength. Greta indulges the “parents,” complying with what seems to be their grief, as the doll is meant to represent the boy the couple lost in a fire. They eventually leave on an extended holiday (British for vacation), and she is left alone with the doll. She just throws it on a chair and makes herself a peanut butter & jelly sammich, relaxing. This is where shit is kinda weird for me. Being somewhat neurotic, I’d either assume this was some test and I was on CCTV, or that maybe there is some fucked up reason the parents catered so heavily to the doll, and I would just keep acting like it was a real boy. I would probably fail some social experiment about compliance, but fuck it, I am like 20% sure ghosts don’t exist, but like, 20% afraid of everything. Therefore, what can it hurt? Anyway, the negligence gets to be too much for the doll, and it starts moving and shit when she isn’t in the room.

The strength of the film comes from Greta’s reaction to the movement and supposed life of the doll. Not with fear, but amazement. Too often in horror films, we see characters, especially women, respond with terror when confronted by anything outside of the norm. It is refreshing to see someone experimenting with that which is strange. I mean, the film does come with its own brand of “horror,” in that it turns out the movements are made by the actual adult son that is living in the walls. He then tries to kill people because it is a stupid third act, but for a bit of time, the film is curious and energetic, playing against the shit that usually comes from the “haunted house” story.

In many ways, the film is unremarkable, however it is fun to follow, and the inherent creepiness of seeing people treat a doll like a real human gives legs to the uncanny nature of the story. It sounds stupid to recommend a film like this, but if you are in the mood for a horror film that will tingle your interests, but won’t take up too much brain matter, check it out.

The Eyes of My Mother

eyes

The Eyes of My Mother (2016) – Horror 

Directed by: Nicolas Pesce

Starring: Kika Magalhaes and Olivia Bond

How I Watched: Netflix

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

Opening on a sultry black and white shot of some goddamn trees, that is quite possibly the most beautiful shot of trees I have seen outside of a BBC Planet Earth special, The Eyes of My Mother is almost jarring in its simplicity. I had heard a many creepy story of this film, most notably by my mother, who accidentally turned it on one night and sat through the whole thing. “It’s really dark,” she said. She wasn’t fucking kidding. It is a film about solitude and grief’s effect on the human psyche, blatantly starting off with a mother describing to her child the religious ecstasy of Francis of Assisi, canonized in 1228 after receiving the stigmata after years of loneliness. This connection between solitude and violence is a central theme, I think.

The mother and her daughter are seen cutting out the eye of a cow in a scene that seems to pay homage to the 1929 Surrealist film by Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel, Un Chien Andalou, which uses a cow’s eye as stand-in for a woman’s eye, which is stand-in for the way the clouds seem to cut through the moon. But you’ve seen that film. You know what I’m saying.

The mother is a surgeon, or was in Portugal, and is seemingly teaching her young daughter the family craft. Soon, a stranger arrives at the home played amazingly to creeptastic effect by Will Brill, who played that methy prisoner in The OA if you watched that. He smiles and his eyes bulge like a Peter Lorre impressionist. He looks like a fucking evangelist with his white shirt and black slacks, but presents an almost immediately ominous tone. He is an animal and they his prey. They regard him with the same poise and caution one would present a rabid wolf. But by the time the Father arrives, the mother is no more. The discovery of her demise is pitch perfectly played with the camera following the Father and the audience hoping to press the brakes for fear of the barbaric sounds coming from the bathroom. The animal is subdued and like any animal, chained in the barn. Perhaps the Father has more torturous plans for the stranger. Maybe he just doesn’t have the ability to kill another human being. But his daughter steps in, ten years old at the most, and after seeing her Father’s agitation toward his screams for help, the girl decides to cut out the eyes and vocal cords of the creature, but not before he relays to her the secret behind why he kills. Because it feels so good.

The film then follows as the girl, Francisca, is now an adult woman. She is played by Kika Magalhaes in a mixture of intense angst and far-off stares. She is beautiful and slender and sports the jet black hairstyle of Chantal Goya in Masculin Feminin. Her father has died and she still yearns for her mother, while tenderly caring for the blind and mute stranger locked in her barn. The film turns to story of a young monster while she preys on locals in a pursuit to regain the family she has lost. The final impact of her life comes in a gunshot heard from a drone filming above the familial home.

I like this film and would recommend it to anyone, but for reasons outside of it being a great film. It is honestly one of the more stunning hour and twenty minutes you will find within the horror genre. The subject matter is dark and disturbing on every count as you ride along on very stark journey into the mind of a killer. Scenes are complex with many layers and alternative viewpoints to be gleaned. But the story in and of itself doesn’t have much to say. I found myself constantly amazed by what I was watching, yet questioning, what the fuck is the point? Should I just be shocked or is this film saying something outside of the context of the film?

It feels like it relies so much on the momentum of the callous way that Francisca destroys her fellow humans in the search of a connection, that it doesn’t collect anything worth saying about the human condition. The film never stands up for the protagonist or makes excuse for why she acts the ways she does, and in another film, this could be seen as a strong point, but in this one, it feels like a cop out. The entire third act feels rushed and devoid of the very relationship building it needs in order for the audience to feel the full weight of the climax. It just ends.

Ultimately, go see it. Turn it on Netflix and revel in its beauty. Think about it for days but don’t be surprised if you find nothing of value on the other side of all that thinking.