Friday, September 11, 2020

The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020)

Streaming Services: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020)
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Length: 101 minutes
Rating: NR
Production/Distribution: Boies / Schiller Film Group, Wonderland Sound and Vision, Netflix
Director: McG
Writer: Dan Lagana, Brad Morris, Jimmy Warden, McG, Brian Duffield
Actors: Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Jenna Ortega, Emily Alyn Lind, Andrew Bachelor, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Hana Mae Lee, Ken Marino, Leslie Bibb, Chris Wylde, Carl McDowell, Maximilian Acevedo, Juliocesar Chavez, Jennifer Foster, Raymond Patterson, Valentina Mandala

Blurb from IMDb:  Two years after Cole survived a satanic blood cult, he's living another nightmare: high school. And the demons from his past? Still making his life hell.

Selina’s Point of View:
The Babysitter (2017) blindsided audiences when it came out. It looked like it was going to be a super basic, overly campy film. It was released in that October and people figured that it was going to be Netflix’s attempt at a B-Halloween flick. Instead, we wound up with a smart – if still campy – piece of comedy-horror gold.

It was an instant classic.

Honestly, with McG (3 Days to Kill, Terminator Salvation, Charlie’s Angels) at the helm, we all should have known better. He’s an executive producer/consultant for Supernatural (2005-2020). The comedy and paranormal quality of The Babysitter is right on par with that series – if a little goofier.

Of course, The Babysitter: Killer Queen is a sequel. It makes sense to be a little nervous about it. It’s tough to capture the same feel of a film twice, especially when the first one was so surprising.

What made people even more nervous is that the trailer lacked any sign of the modern scream queen that made the first one so incredible: Samara Weaving (Ready or Not, Guns Akimbo, SMILF). It was a gamble for Netflix to make it seem like she wasn’t going to have any part in The Babysitter: Killer Queen. Next time, if that’s the direction they want to take, they should wait to label her stunt double until after the film comes out.

That said, the sequel took a much more basic approach to the story telling process. It starts off with us learning that everyone thinks Cole is crazy and that only his best friend stuck by him through it. He’s bullied at school and having a rough go at it. At first, I was a little disappointed.

We’ve seen that story play through in the past. Part of what made The Babysitter such a dark horse success is that it subverted our expectations. Audiences went into it figuring the film would tell a story we’ve already heard, and then it didn’t.

I grew concerned very early on here.

By the end of it, though, I was happy. It turned into a much more interesting plot than I had initially believed it would and it took some risks.

The Babysitter: Killer Queen was just as campy and fun as the first one. There’s a touch more cringe, but otherwise, it’s on the same level. If you liked the first movie, you’ll probably like this one.

(Cat was unable to write her review due to some health issues, but she wanted me to add that she loved it and would have given it a 4.5.)

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 37%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 77%
Metascore – 30/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.3/10
IMDB Score – 6.3/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5

Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating: R

P.S.: Mid-credits scene.

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Cured (2017)

Streaming Services: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: The Cured (2017)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Bac Films, Savage Productions, Tilted Pictures, Axinite Digicinema, Kino Films, Shaw Organisation, Bac Films International, E.S.C., Falcon Films, IFC Films, Movies Inspired, Shout! Factory, Splendid Film
Director: David Freyne
Writer: David Freyne
Actors: Elliot Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Stuart Graham, Paula Malcomson, Peter Campion, Oscar Nolan

Blurb from IMDb: A disease that turns people into zombies has been cured. The once-infected zombies are discriminated against by society and their own families, which causes social issues to arise. This leads to militant government interference.

Selina’s Point of View:
I love zombie films. I’ll go to see anything that has any kind of living dead in it. It’s a guilty pleasure. That said, even I’ll admit that most zombie films don’t really make you think. They’re turn-your-brain-off, horror goodness.

That is not the case for The Cured.

Now, I’ll be honest, I have seen this thought process examined in one other zombie film. Still, I’m willing to say I consider the take original.

The previous film in question was a very small-budget mockumentary B-movie that I watched for the blog. You’ve heard me talk about how I’ll watch films and forget that they exist about a week later, but this was the complete opposite. ZA: Zombies Anonymous (2005) has stuck with me since I reviewed it in 2013. It’s done so because of it’s unique take on the zombie genre. The plot was a lot simpler than what we see here, though.

The Cured is like a dream flick. It takes a lot of the issues examined in ZA: Zombies Anonymous and expands upon them. It goes deeper and takes an even more serious tone. It covers not just the rehabilitation of former zombies, but other aspects. The cured remember their time as zombies, so we get to see what their mental state is as they try to come to terms with what they did when they were infected – but we also get a peek into what their minds were like as members of the undead.

The film also goes into discrimination, and even a bit into recidivism and victim blaming.

When there’s a zombie film, it’s safe to expect mindless violence and gore. This, however, was a much different film. You get some violence, but the edge-of-your-seat thrills actually come from the lack of violence. You’re always teetering right on the edge of a disaster waiting to happen. It’s almost a relief when it does.

I don’t think I blinked. For the entire hour and a half I was watching The Cured, my eyes were glued to the screen. I even loved the ending.

I expect this one to stick with me. I’ll likely be mulling over the plot and the conclusion for a long time. Just, if you watch it please remember, it’s not your typical zombie flick.

Cat’s Point of View:
I can’t say that I was entirely sold on The Cured.

While the premise showed promise, and there were intriguing bits sprinkled here and there, I felt that the movie took too much time plodding along to get where it was going…and then it left me hanging in the wind created by its abrupt ending.

Let me rewind a little and give some credit for the good things that I appreciated about this film. I hate being negative sometimes because I respect that every production is someone’s “baby.” A whole production team and crew work for a multitude of hours to create something. That’s nothing to sneeze at – but it can’t be helped if it doesn’t resonate with part of its audience.

I appreciate that this was ‘a little Irish movie that tried’ in that it was both filmed and set in Ireland with Irish cast members (for the most part). I was glad that the non-Irish cast was integrated into the story in a way that it made sense rather than just being a random non-Irish accent (or a hokey one) sticking out like a sore thumb. For instance, Elliot Page’s (Juno, Inception, Flatliners) role as the widow of an Irishman.

Character-wise, Sam Keeley (In the Heart of the Sea, The Siege of Jadotville, Meagan Leavey) and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Peaky Blinders, The Infiltrator, Dublin Murders) did well with their roles. I felt the interesting dynamic between the two from the beginning –and while I found my initial guesses regarding their connection were off, I wasn’t far from the mark. I palpably felt the desperation of Paula Malcomson’s (Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy, The Hunger Games) character as she pursued her goals in the movie. I don’t think that any of the film’s faults rest with them or any other individual cast member.

Increasingly, we are seeing more and more zombie genre movies focusing on the monstrosity of humanity rather than the zombies; keeping the flesh-eaters mostly in the background. This film focuses primarily around that with the topic of discrimination. The point is conveyed well enough, even if the plot somewhat muddies those waters with the central antagonist.

I hated the ending. There’s just no way to sugar-coat that.

Sadly, I can’t say that I’d be able to recommend this movie if asked. I definitely wouldn’t volunteer the film as a suggestion, and I likely won’t watch it again. There are so many zombie movies and shows out there. While this production might be better than your average B or C movie schlock, it was still unsatisfying.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 69%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 46%
Metascore – 57/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10
IMDB Score – 5.5/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, September 7, 2020

The Pool (2018)

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year:  The Pool (2018)
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror
Length:  91 minutes
Rating: NR
Production/Distribution: Dark Army Studio, TMoment, ABS-CBN Film Productions, Cathay Cineplexes, MM2 Entertainment, Sabay MVP, Amazing D.C., Busch Media Group, Busch Media Group, Interfilm
Director: Ping Lumpraploeng
Writer: Ping Lumpraploeng
Actors: Theeradej Wongpuapan, Ratnamon Ratchiratham

Blurb from IMDb: In an abandoned 6-meter deep pool, a couple is stranded there with a deadly predator.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was scrolling through Shudder one day, looking for a good horror film to watch, when I stumbled on this one. Instead of watching it myself, I thought we could use it for the blog. Both of us relatively enjoy creature features, so why not?

I enjoy movies that utilize a cold open. This one drops you right into the story with no exposition at all. You see the production company logos and then, boom, a bleeding guy on the floor. (It’s not a spoiler if it happens within the first 2 minutes of the flick.) That kind of thing immediately hooks me, and I find it particularly useful in horror stories.

Due to the ‘straight-into-it’ opening, you’re faced with both the good and the bad right off the bat. Five minutes in, you know exactly what you’re getting.

In that time, it’s easy to tell that the protagonist is charismatic and facing insurmountable odds. You can also tell that the CGI is going to be a little off. Still, I’ve seen worse graphics. These were acceptable.

While we’re on the main character I have to say one thing: he is the dumbest protagonist I’ve ever seen. I don’t mean that he’s badly created. What I mean is that he makes the worst choices of any character I’ve ever come across in any film. You know what? Add books and TV shows, too. Still the dumbest.

I spent a lot of my time watching The Pool, screaming at the screen as if it wasn’t a horror movie, but a soccer game.

Those issues aside, the majority of the movie wasn’t bad. I wrote off a lot of the main character’s stupidity by saying he was in a panic mode. It helped me give him the benefit of the doubt.

That said, I had some big issues with the ending.

There are not enough words in the English language for me to express how much I hated the conclusion to this story.

You know how the Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) trilogy had 97 endings? At least all of them were complete and made sense. Not so much with The Pool.

It felt like the writer couldn’t decide how he wanted it to end. It was as if he wanted to go bleak, but he didn’t quite have the balls. However, he also didn’t want to give a happy ending, because it didn’t fit the feel of the film. Meanwhile, the music is hitting crescendos and then softening over and over again while several incomplete options play through for about 20 minutes until the writer finally settles on the single most unrealistic one.

I don’t think I’m going to look back on this film fondly. It’s a shame because I do think it had some really good moments. It had the potential to be something truly memorable – it just couldn’t stick the landing. 

Cat’s Point of View:
Let’s dive right in! (Not sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

I’m feeling a little ridiculous at the moment because this movie has left me a bit “shook.” A large part of that stems from a fairly visceral flashback to a moment in my youth where I nearly drowned in a wave pool at the local water park. My bestie absconded away with our inner tube, and I was in the deep end when the waves started. I’d say it’s the second time in my life that my red hair has helped save my skin in a pool.

I was brought back to the memory of scrabbling at the sides, trying to gain purchase on one of the metal bars dotting the wall for this very purpose. The waves kept knocking me under and I couldn’t keep a grip on the bar.

Needless to say, I could relate on some level to the position that the character Day found himself in. To a point. The hopelessness of being “so close, and yet so far” to freedom from this sort of situation can be overwhelming in the moment.

That’s about where my ability to relate with that character ends, however. I sincerely hope that I wouldn’t make the gigantic string of bad decisions he did. Day was certainly not the brightest crayon in the box.

A good creature feature now and again is fairly required viewing for me. I really enjoy them that much. It’s been nice to see “real-world problem” type movies that feature animals you could actually run afoul of; rather than your typical horror haunts, extinct critters, or debatable cryptids. The crocodile is really what drove the tension and dread-factor in the film for me. The effects were pretty decent for the reptilian menace, and they captured the creature’s behaviors fairly well. I generally bought in and forgot that it was CGI.

I am thankful that the writer and production team didn’t decide to go for the obvious danger in this sort of situation – a la one of the early deaths in The Final Destination (2009). If you haven’t seen it and don’t want to be horrified about pool drains, I wouldn’t recommend looking it up.

The Pool lost me at the end, however. I hated the last 10-15 minutes of the movie. It fairly ruined the whole thing. I don’t plan to campaign against the film, but I certainly won’t be volunteering this title as a suggestion – nor, will I be watching it again. I can only offer a warning: watch if you must, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 96%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 68%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.5/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2.5/5

Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating - R

Movie Trailer: