The Curse of La Llorona

2019 | Dir: Michael Chaves | 1h 33m

As a fan of the (so far) two Conjuring movies, I want so badly to enjoy the rest of the universe, but these releases make it really tough. La Llorona is about as generic as it comes, and might actually be worse than The Nun, except that I would lean toward the setting of La Llorona moreso than the boring dusty church and stone tunnels of The Nun. This film is filled with way too many jump scares and cheap attempts to frighten audiences; tension is never properly setup and there is no rewarding payoff. 

Score: 1 / 5
IMDB Letterboxd


2017 | Dir: Adam Randall | 1h 30m

What would you do if your brain was directly wired into the internet? I was reminded of Scarlett Johansson's action/sci-fi Lucy, wherein she unlocks 100% of her brain. It's a silly concept but so is having pieces of a cell phone embedded in your brain that effectively gives you similar abilities. It's not entirely clear what's off limits to our victim-turned-hero, as he manipulates electronics but also car engines and electricity. It's not clear to him what he should do either, save for his motivation for revenge as he goes after the bullies who assaulted his crush. Nothing particularly stands out here, save for the concept itself, which leads me away from the movie and into my own fantasies. 

Score: 2 / 5
IMDB Letterboxd

Weird Science

1985 | Dir: John Hughes | 1h 34m

As geekdom becomes ever more dominant in popular culture and socially acceptable, it's fascinating to go back and see how the old stereotypes are represented, and it seems that most my "research" are in John Hughes' filmography that I somehow missed out on (nearly) entirely growing up. This is also a film that would probably benefit from nostalgia goggles, but I digress: it seems to mean well but was a little too wacky for me to get behind - well, at least the first part of the film. Echoing Frankenstein, the two boys throw together a series of computer settings and scanned images to create their girlfriend, in what I first misunderstood and writing off as completely ridiculous. Then I remembered I was watching a comedy (maybe I was just a bit grumpy that evening) and I allowed myself to go with the flow and enjoy the ride. Some of the followup scenes were hit or miss for me, but overall the movie was enjoyable and I was glad that The Perfect Woman did not play into the "born sexy yesterday" trope that befalls many films. I'm certain this would get better with subsequent views and enjoyable with the company of friends.

Score: 3 / 5

IMDB Letterboxd

Peeping Tom

1960 | Dir: Michael Powell | 1h 41m

This was discussed in some detail on a podcast I just started recently (The Evolution of Horror) where they tackle the path of various horror genres, starting with slashers. In this case, the topic was Psycho and Peeping Tom, both of which came out within months of one another and both being influential, although Peeping Tom ended up being banned and ruining the career of the director, Michael Powell, and Psycho was heralded as one of the greats and Hitchcock was celebrated. So I was expecting a bit of a sleazy, almost trashy film, but Peeping Tom was anything but. Our villain is more sympathetic than Bates, and has more room to develop as an actual character as the film takes place from his perspective.

Score: 4 / 5 | IMDB Letterboxd


2014 | Dir: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead | 1h 49m

I had recently watched - and enjoyed - The Endless, so I was intrigued to take in more films from the creative team of its directors: Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson. An american tourist visits a small town in Italy on vacation, and falls in love with a woman who only appears at night. You can see where this is going, and you would be mistaken: the film veers more heavily into a romance than I had hoped, and wastes time with scenes that ultimately feel unnecessary. While I wasn't disappointed per se, the bad CGI and ambiguous ending left a sour note in my mind.

Score: 2 / 5 IMDB Letterboxd

The Toybox

2018 | Dir: Tom Nagel | 1h 35m

Denise Richards and Mischa Barton star in this atrocious D-movie about a sentient RV with a penchant for killing people. I wasn't expecting the film to go in that direction explicitly, but it really does lean into it and provides an ultimately unsatisfying - although somewhat comedic - film that just made me more sad than anything else. The acting is bad, the lines are bad and the deaths are merely okay. This is a hard pass, sorry. 

Score: 1 / 5 | IMDB Letterboxd

Dark Age

1987 | Dir: Arch Nicholson | 1h 31m

Although it falls pretty short of being Australia's equivalent to Jaws, Dark Age does not disappoint. Tagged in the horror and adventure genre, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but the film ended up being quite fun. There are some shocking moments, fun characters and no shortage of villains as our heroes race to take care of the killer crocodile before the entire croc population is savagely eradicated.

Score: 3.5 / 5 | IMDB Letterboxd

Dark Phoenix

Sometimes a film is nearing release amid a turmoil of negative hype, and as it crests to a swelling of negative criticism in the final days the movie releases to a thud at the box office - exactly as expected. And sometimes, your curiosity still gets the best of you, and you have to watch the train wreck for yourself. As an avid enthusiast for so-called "bad" films, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to watch the (presumably) last entry in Fox's rocky X-Men franchise that began so innocently, and triumphantly nearly twenty years ago. The series was a owed a small debt as well; I've seen every entry in the theatre and I wouldn't allow some nasty reviews to deter me from completing the saga: it was the least I could do for the franchise that ultimately opened the door for our modern superhero blockbuster films.

It nearly bears repeating, that expectations into a film hold a lot of sway over opinions of the film (least for me). So in this case, my expectations are pretty low. Like, VERY low. With that, I may just enjoy the film for what it is.

Continue Reading

Horrors of Malformed Men

My fascination with Japanese culture has its roots firmly planted in my passion for video games and Godzilla; from the first moments in the mid-eighties when I saw the Nintendo system in action, and then held the rectangular controller in my hand, a curiosity and admiration planted itself within my mind. It wasn't just the games themselves, but the origin of these works and how they came to be. My parents would spoil me on a monthly basis with a plethora of video game related magazines, and within those tomes, I would read about the latest title causing an uproar in Japan, while we had to wait for our North American release of said game later on. 

We had a hand-me-down black and white television with a Betamax player connected in the basement's rec room while the colour set and VHS player were relegated to my parents living room domain. Maybe it was just availability, or an interest my father had, but we had amassed a collection of Betamax movies, both purchased and recorded off televisions, with a strong focus on Godzilla films. The syncronization in English dialogue with Japanese actors was incredibly fascinating; even being so young with no concept of a foreign film, I knew these movies came from parts of the world that I did not know about or understand, but I loved this place nonetheless. 

Continue Reading