Friday, October 26, 2018

Chills & Thrills: Raw (2016)

Movie Name/Year: Raw (2016)
Tagline: What are you hungry for?
Genre: Drama, Horror
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Petit Film, Rouge International, Frakas Productions, Wild Bunch, Canal+, Ciné+, Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC), Le Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique, Casa Kafka Pictures Movie Tax Shelter Empowered by Belfius, La Wallonie, Bruxelles Capitale, Centre du Cinéma et de l'Audiovisuel de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF), VOO, BE TV, Arte / Cofinova 12, Torino Film Lab, MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Angoa-Agicoa, Ciclic - Région Centre, Ezekiel Film Production, Rouge International
Producer: Jean des Forêts, Julie Gayet, Amélie Jacquis, Thomas Jaubert, Philippe Logie, Jean-Yves Roubin, Antoun Sehnaoui, Nadia Turincev, Cassandre Warnauts       
Director: Julia Ducournau
Writer: Julia Ducournau
Actors: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella, Laurent Lucas, Joana Preiss, Bouli Lanners, Marion Vernoux, Thomas Mustin, Marouan Iddoub, Jean-Louis Sbille

Blurb from Netflix: Forced to eat raw meat during a hazing ritual at her veterinary school, a young vegetarian develops an overpowering hunger for flesh in all its forms.

Selina’s Point of View:
That’s it?

That was the movie that disgusted/disturbed people so much that they couldn’t stay in the theater for the whole thing? Really?

Movie creators do themselves a disservice with that kind of rumor. I hear something about people being scared out of the building on their first watch-through and I expect to be frightened. I don’t want to hear about jump scares. I don’t want subtle. I want to be completely white-haired terrified. Slow burn is fine, but it’s gotta at least end in an inferno.

My hopes were SO high for this film, that there was very little chance it was going to live up to my expectations.

I know most people would want a ‘but’ at this point, but there is none. Except that one. Two. Whatever.

I just didn’t care. Aside from some basic cringe and a slow burn that you never really get any pay off for – it’s got nothing. I don’t understand the hype. Even the twist at the end is completely predictable.

You never even learn why things are happening. It was all just so disjointed and purposeless.

The one thing I can say, with absolute certainty, is that Raw is definitely a movie that exists.

Cat’s Point of View:
Oh, good Lord, what have I just watched?

To say that this movie is horrific is an understatement.

Let me rewind a little. I do try to find something good in everything – even when I generally don’t like the movie in question. The premise regarding this particular path to cannibalism is something I haven’t seen before. It was intriguing. I didn’t even see the twist at the end coming. I just wish the rest of it wasn’t so tedious.

It was as if the film meandered drunkenly along, in no particular hurry to end.

I was not surprised to learn that people have been known to leave the theater in droves while watching this movie – others required barf bags. Fans of body horror might get more of a kick out of this one, but that was decidedly not my cup of tea. In fact, I was wishing I had one of those barf bags for myself.

While I enjoyed the fact that our Chills & Thrills ended up with a Foreign Film Friday throwback, it’s a pity it just wasn’t a different movie. 

Speech Available: French
Subtitles Available: English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 76%
Metascore - 81/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.4/10
IMDB Score – 7.0/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating1/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Chills & Thrills: Truth or Dare (2017)

Movie Name/Year: Truth or Dare (2017)
Tagline: None
Genre: Horror
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: Cinetel Films, Angel Cake Truth
Producer: Lisa M. Hansen, Paul Hertzberg, Lisa Riley, Brian Tidmore, German Michael Torres
Director: Nick Simon
Writer: Thommy Hutson, Ethan Lawrence
Actors: Cassandra Scerbo, Brytni Sarpy, Mason Dye, Alexxis Lemire, Ricardo Hoyos, Luke Baines, Harvey Guillen, Christina Masterson, Heather Langenkamp, Taylor Lyons, Jonathan Mercedes

Blurb from Netflix: A game of “Truth or Dare” among college friends on spring break turns deadly when a demon seems determined to use it to kill them all.

Selina’s Point of View:
Before I go into how I felt about this film, let’s just understand what it was.

Truth or Dare, as its name suggests, is a movie that follows the dare-to-die trope. You see this in a lot of films; either through use of the traditional game of truth or dare, or some bastardization of it. Sometimes it’s a game show where people have to do crazier and deadlier things. Other times it’s some kind of supernatural force doling out the hurt.

In the dare-to-die trope genre, there are expectations. There will almost always be a dare that includes two women kissing. Usually the other dares will start off mostly tame and will escalate quickly. The first death will shock the others into believing what’s happening and the game will get more tense from there. People will die.

As films go, this one wasn’t the most original. It followed the trope almost to the letter. So, I don’t feel comfortable judging it as a stand-alone movie. Instead, I’m going to look at it as a representative of its trope genre.

For a basic-bitch dare-to-die film, it wasn’t bad.

It had some serious flaws. I’m not going to deny that. 

There were a ton of plot holes. For instance, the failure/completion (that’s how I’ll avoid spoilers) of the second-to-last dare, if thought about for more than a few seconds, makes no sense. There were some twists to the story that were shoe-horned in and no where near necessary. There were also a few basic script issues.

That said, there were some seriously unexpected moments.

The end twist didn’t belong in this film. It was lazy writing. Pure and simple. However, there were other twists that DID belong. They weren’t treated like twists, though. They happened naturally, which was what made them so effective. If the writers had just trusted their story without adding that final eye-rolling epiphany, it would have been a better film.

In the end, I didn’t hate it. It isn’t a film I’m going to remember in a month, but I also don’t feel like I completely wasted my time.

Cat’s Point of View:
The classic Truth or Dare party game has been a popular one for horror films in the last few years. The general theme seems to be the same – the game escalates beyond willing participation into do or die territory.

Unfortunately, following that recipe makes the whole movie rather predictable.

At least this version didn’t have the creepy smile that’s in the trailers for the 2018 offering by the same name. I haven’t seen that one, so I’m reserving judgement there – but that smile. Eek.

Moving on.

I have to say, for a SYFY Channel made-for-TV-movie, this one was a bit more graphic in the horror department than I recall for their in-house movies. Then again, there are a few hairy scenes that cut away or are missing a good bit of the blood you would expect.

Basically, this film is a bit of torture-porn-lite with a slight twist. 

I’m thankful that they didn’t go the found-footage shaky-cam route, at least. There was plenty of opportunity here. I’m not exactly sure where my disconnect was with this movie, but I just couldn’t find my way to investing in the characters or their plights.

I don’t think it was bad, though. It just hit a real ‘meh’ note with me.

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: Spanish, English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 38%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.2/10

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

Movie Trailer: 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Chills & Thrills: Emelie (2016)

Movie Name/Year: Emelie (2016)
Tagline: The babysitter is here.
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 82 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production Companies: Uncorked Productions, Sandbar Pictures, ULTRAMEDIA, Priority Pictures, Abandon Features
Producers: Roxanne Fie Anderson, Robert Beaumont, Robyn K. Bennett, Andrew Corkin, Lizzie Friedman, Richard Raymond, Harry Herbeck, Karen Lauder, Greg Little, Bryan Reisberg, Elizabeth Stillwell
Director: Michael Thelin
Writers: Richard Raymond, Harry Herbeck, Michael Thelin
Actors: Sarah Bolger, Joshua Rush, Carly Adams, Thomas Bair, Susan Pourfar, Chris Beetem, Randi Langdon, Dante Hoagland

Blurb from Netflix: She's cool, she's fun and she's on time. She's a babysitting dream come true ... until the nightmare begins.

Cat's Point of View: 

When I first watched the trailer for this movie while we were working on the Top 20 for March of 2016, I remember feeling a pulse-pounding dread. The core of this movie is certainly one of the worst nightmare scenarios a parent could experience. Funny enough, Selina and I both listed this as our #12 entry on that month’s list.

The very idea of a babysitter, such as this one portrayed by Sarah Bolger (As Cool As I Am, The Lazarus Effect, Mayans M.C.), gives me the heebie-jeebies. It hits particularly close to home since my husband and I had to cut ties with a sitter once because of a combination of a bad gut feeling and some really questionable decision-making on her part.  Bullet dodged.

Unfortunately for the kids in this movie, there was no way to evade.

The film is definitely a solid thriller, but it doesn’t quite feel like it really completes the horror recipe. There are plenty of horrific moments, however. It adds up to something more psychological rather than a bloody gorefest.

I can’t say that I was satisfied with the way things played out. I’m not even talking about how the movie literally ended. There are just so many unanswered questions. Quite a few of them boil down to an essential plea of ‘why?’ The core motivation for events becomes clear but there’s still so many dots that were left unconnected. Perhaps that sense of randomness is part of the psychological mind-screw that the film is going for.

I was actually surprised to learn that this was the first mainstream release film project for director Michael Thelin (Shinedown: Madness from Washington State, The Live Room, Paper Towns Live Event Concert). His body of work has generally been related to the music industry covering live events, music videos, and the like. He does have one other movie release, but it was intentionally released straight to DVD – it’s even in the title: All Time Low: Straight to DVD (2010). Of course, the movie is about a band so that makes Emelie decidedly the first project that doesn’t revolve around such things.

I’m curious how much input a director has with the musical selection for the final credits. My interest in the topic was piqued after discovering Thelin’s background. The song that was chosen just adds a final unsettling bit of icing on the cake. In the context of the movie, the cover of “One Way or Another” performed by Until The Ribbon Breaks left me with a delightfully creepy feeling.

Even though I wasn’t buying everything that this movie was selling, it was still an engrossing thrill ride that gave me heart palpitations at every turn. I think parents, especially, will feel the full effect of the horrifying events – but it’s definitely not a requirement to enjoy this movie. One thing to also keep in mind is that, like most horror movies, this is probably not the best to watch with small children. The official rating status is ‘Unrated,’ but Netflix appropriately gave it the TV-MA stamp on the listing.

Speech Available: English, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English [CC], Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 88%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 41%
Metascore - 62/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.6/10
IMDB Score – 5.4/10

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5

Movie Trailer: