Friday, October 12, 2018

Chills & Thrills: Aftershock (2012)

Movie Name/Year: Aftershock (2012)
Tagline: The only thing more terrifying than Mother Nature is human nature.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Horror
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Sobras International Pictures, Cross Creek Pictures, Dragonfly Entertainment, Vertebra Films
ProducerMiguel Asensio Llamas, Helen Cappuccino, Mac Cappuccino, James Holt, Brian Oliver, Eli Roth, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Howard Young
Director: Nicolás López
Writer: Nicolás López, Eli Roth, Guillermo Amoedo
Actors: Eli Roth, Andrea Osvárt, Ariel Levy, Natasha Yarovenko, Nicolás Martínez, Lorenza Izzo, Marcial Tagle, Ramón Llao, Ignacia Allamand, Matías López

Blurb from Netflix: An American tourist and his friends are partying in Chile, but a major earthquake devastates the area and forces them to scramble for survival.

Selina’s Point of View:
I forgot I was watching a horror movie for a while.

The beginning of the film was just so slow. Yes, they were trying to connect the audience with the characters and make their plight more important to us – but they didn’t really succeed. I wound up thinking the majority of the characters were annoying.

I believe exposition is sometimes a necessity in film. But there are ways to go about it. In Aftershock it all seemed clunky and out of place – pointless, even. I get that they were trying to set it up so people understood how much a later scene affected one of the characters – but it failed. Besides, the scenes were so upsetting that I didn’t need the character’s perspective.

One thing Eli Roth always does incredibly well, is the violence aspects. They’re always done in a terrifying manner. The gore is always the kind of upsetting it was meant to be. When Roth has a hand in horror, expect the maximum amount of blood and gore an R-rating will allow.

Once the actual disaster started to occur, the horror/action amped up considerably. I went from being super bored to thrust into this sequence of action events. It was a little jarring, but it was meant to be.

The most horrifying parts of the film revolved around the human component – not the disaster. I like that in a film like this. It really shines a light on what’s wrong with humanity.

I can’t say the movie was phenomenal, but it wasn’t bad, either.

I just feel the need to warn you that there are a lot of scenes that can be triggering. One of my triggers was hit on pretty hard in the film and it made calming down a little difficult when it was over.

Cat’s Point of View:
There’s one word that comes immediately to mind to describe this – powerful. It both describes the natural disaster that drives the plot and the strength of the story, itself.

This movie is not for the faint of heart. It is graphic, bloody, and includes all sorts of scenarios that are simply horrifying on many levels.  In fact, they actually had to scale some parts of the original cut back in order to get their R-rating. It was almost NC-17. I certainly see why. This wasn’t my first viewing of this film, but my visceral reaction to the story was no less.

It’s a disaster-horror masterpiece, really.

The effects, largely practical, were on point; the performances were believable; and the gritty events were eerily realistic to how a scenario like this might just play out.

I just get chills even thinking about it. My husband and his side of the family are from California, so earthquakes are just par for the course for him – much like tornadoes are here in Northwestern Louisiana. While I love the climate out there in Northern Cali, the whole ground-shaking thing makes me nervous.

Add that, though, to being a tourist in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language beyond a handful of words when a big one hits. This exploration of human nature (for good and bad) in such a circumstance is, frankly, harrowing. I swear, Eli Roth (Rock of Ages, The Green Inferno, Clown) is a sadistic mofo to characters.

It starts a little on the slow side, but necessarily so for character development; because once it hits its stride, its nonstop pedal to the floor all the way to the end.

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia for you. Roth’s wife, Lorenza Izzo (Hemlock Grove, Feed the Beast, Life Itself), also stars in this film. She’s a Chilean native in reality, but plays an American tourist vacationing with her sister in Chile. I digress.

Eli Roth is quickly emerging as one of my favorite horror writer/director/producers. His brutally twisted takes on life and beyond rarely miss the mark. For this reason, I’m pretty excited that he’s hosting a new series on AMC called Eli Roth's History of Horror (2018). I can’t wait. It premieres this Sunday, October 14th at 11:12pm Central with its first episode focusing on zombies. My DVR is already set. I’m digressing again.

If you’re a fan of the disaster horror genre, this movie is a marriage made in hell – but in the best of ways. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you about the level of disturbing content.

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: Spanish, English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 37%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 24%
Metascore – 39/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.9/10
IMDB Score – 4.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Chills & Thrills: Teeth (2007)

Movie Name/Year: Teeth (2007)
Tagline: Every rose has its thorns.
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Pierpoline Films, Teeth
Producer: Richard E. Chapla Jr., Mitchell Lichtenstein, Richard Lormand, Joyce Pierpoline
Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Writer: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Actors: Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Josh Pais, Hale Appleman, Lenny von Dohlen, Vivienne Benesch, Ashley Springer, Laila Liliana Garro, Nicole Swahn, Adam Wagner, Hunter Ulvog, Ava Ryen Plumb, Trent Moore, Mike Yager

Blurb from Netflix: When a virtuous high school student is sexually assaulted, she discovers that she has an unexpected line of defense: a toothed vagina.

Selina’s Point of View:
This movie is NOT for everyone. You need to have a very dark sense of humor and you need to be nearly impossible to offend.

The jokes this film makes are about incredibly dark and triggering subjects. There’s a reason it could never possibly be anything more than a cult film.

I won’t lie, this film is a total guilty pleasure for me.

Teeth is ridiculous, offensive, dumb, and completely in bad taste… and I still enjoy watching it. This wasn’t even my first watch-through. I’ve seen it about eight times in total – approximately.

As much as this film jokes about dark topics, it also sheds light on them while giving a taste of revenge to the story. The main character deals with a lot of things that real life women go through, the only difference is that she has a natural defense against it. That means we get to see real life jackass-architypes get exactly what they have coming to them when, in reality, there isn’t usually punishment for some of them.

It’s a harsh reality that the state of politics lately has very clearly shined a light on.

As someone who has been a victim of sex crimes, I get the fantasy in this movie enough that it keeps the more offensive aspects from affecting me. But that’s a very personal take on it. It’s not going to be the way everyone reacts.

Definitely only watch Teeth if you’re in it for the cult horror of it all. If you have triggers that revolve around rape or sexual assault – keep in mind that the scenes can get VERY graphic. The revenge fantasy helps me deal in general, but you’re the only who can decide if it would help you. 

Trust yourself, and skip it if you don’t think you can handle it. There are plenty of other awesome horror films out there that don’t go the same route.

If you have been assaulted and are in need of help, call 1-800-656-4673. That is the number for the RAINN -  the National Sexual Assault Hotline. By calling RAINN you will be given an anonymous ear to talk to, referrals to long term support, medical and legal information. The service is confidential and the staff members are highly trained.

Cat’s Point of View:
So one of the first things that comes to mind after watching this movie is… why?

For the love of Bob, why.

My initial kneejerk reaction aside, I do have to say that this is a very effective and successful horror movie. This wasn’t my first watch-through, and yet I am no less horrified for the repeat experience. (Truth be told, I’d forgotten a few of the bits here and there – quite likely on purpose.)

The theme is solid, and it’s well executed. This also isn’t the sort of horror movie you see every day, even though it has quite a lot of the elements of your standards present.

If you’re not a fan of body horror, this probably isn’t the movie for you. There are some rather graphic aspects to this film. There’s also a few points where things are just so wrong that it hits a comedic note. IMDb does show comedy as one of the genres for the film, but overall it seems like the story is taking itself seriously – unlike Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010) which is a clear-cut comedic horror thrill ride from start to finish.

There are some nuances that I didn’t notice on my first watch-through of the movie that I started picking up on with this second viewing. The details were interesting, but weren’t of any mind-blowing significance.

I’m generally all for movies that celebrate girl-power…but eesh.

The crazy thing is, I can’t say that I DON’T like the movie; and yet I am not entirely sure that I do. This is one of those I’d recommend just to see what someone else thought about it, as they experience The-Things-That-Cannot-Be-Unseen. 

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 80%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 45%
Metascore - 57/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.7/10
IMDB Score – 5.4/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, October 8, 2018

Chills & Thrills: Stephanie (2017)

Movie Name/Year: Stephanie (2017)
Tagline: None
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Drama
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Blumhouse Productions, Chapter One Films, Gotham Group, Unbroken Pictures
Producer: Bryan Bertino, Adrienne Biddle, Jason Blum, Phillip Dawe, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Matthew Kaplan, Nate Matteson, Seth William Meier, James Moran, Eric Ian Robinson    
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Writer: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski
Actors: Shree Crooks, Frank Grillo, Anna Torv, Jonah Beres

Blurb from Netflix: A menacing, unseen force stalks a young girl living by herself in a suburban house, where she’s surrounded by reminders of her once-happy family.

Selina’s Point of View:
This is one of those films that I just get angry at.

The concept of Stephanie is phenomenal. The twists, the story, it’s all really spectacular. Unfortunately, it’s handled so wrong that it’s impossible to be carried away by any of it.

Anything that was supposed to hit hard, simply didn’t. The fore-shadowing was SO overt that there were no surprises. What should have been a psychological masterpiece of a horror film… was barely a predictable mess of supernatural bullshit.

With a different director and two or three more drafts of the final script, Stephanie could have become a trope-setting movie for its genre. It makes me angry that the people working on the film couldn’t see what needed to be done to make it better.

Using the same actors with a slightly different script and some vastly different direction, I would have loved this movie. Instead, I’m left angry and wanting.

It’s a shame.

This was not the best start to our October Chills & Thrills.

All of October we’ll be examining the Horror/Thriller films available on Netflix. Whether you’re looking for a serious scare or a ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ film, we’ll be here to offer our recommendations – or warnings. If it goes well, maybe we’ll look into Christmas/Family movies for December and Romances for February. If you have any other suggestions, let us know!

(For the remainder of October we’ll be going back to our Mon/Wed/Fri schedule.)

Cat’s Point of View:
I’m not even sure where to start.

This film was not at all like what I expected, and it had me hooked through every step of the way… That is, until the end.

Akiva Goldsman (Angels & Demons, Fringe, Star Trek: Discovery) captured the essence of the horror here quite deftly. It was more than jump scares or the occasional bit of gore. My instincts were screaming and my heart was pounding. 

Shree Crooks (Extant, American Horror Story, The Glass Castle) has got a bright future ahead of her.  She evoked such eerie innocence that it was easy to get lost in the events on screen.

My confusion when Anna Torv (Fringe, Love is Now, Secret City) and Frank Grillo's (The Grey, Big Sky, Wheelman) characters entered the story quickly shifted into the next phase of alarm and suspense as a few more layers of the story were revealed. 

Suspense. That’s definitely a good description here – the film teases you with flashes and glimpses and leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat as events unfold.

Then things changed. I absolutely adored about 90% of this movie. The last 10%? I don’t know. Something felt off.  I wish I could put my finger on which element bugged me the most. Regardless of my mild disappointment in the conclusion, the movie on the whole was highly successful.

I certainly wouldn’t mind giving this a solid recommendation for anyone looking for some thrills. Tis the season to be screaming, after all.

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 47%
Metascore - 52/100
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 3.5/5

Movie Trailer: