Uncle NecRo Watches: HEREDITARY

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Recorded June 9, 2018

Uncle NecRo is joined by Work Friend Sarah in watching the new psychological horror thriller Hereditary. This is being touted as this generation’s The Exorcist. Is it really? Come join Uncle NecRo and Sarah in talking about the movie at Sean O’Casey’s in Omaha…SPOILERS ABOUT, my wonderful freaks…

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Movie Review: CARNIVAL OF SOULS

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carnival of soulsHerts-Lion International Corp.
1962
PG

“It’s funny, the world is so different in the daylight. In the dark, your fantasies get so out of hand. But in the daylight, everything falls back into place again.”

 

Carnival Of Souls was one of those movies that was included in the 50 Horror Movie Classics pack I got for a mere $20 back in 2005, I believe it was. You know the ones, that have 20 DVDs in those cheap paper sleeves inside, each with a bunch of Public Domain movies that, for the most part, do fall under the “horror” category, but also include some that very losely qualify as such. There are some interesting gems in there, including this rather cheaper cut of this particular movie in question.

We meet one Mary Henry, a young lady who is riding around in a car with her two other friends, when they’re challenged to a drag race by some guys in another car. Because this was the early 60s and this was apparently a thing that happened every day (according to movies and television shows from the era), they do so, resulting in the car the ladies were riding in to plummet over a bridge into the river. Mary manages to survive, but she doesn’t remember how. So, she then moves to Utah (as you do after cheating death like that), where she finds work as a church organist. Along the way, she experiences some odd things, like only picking up organ music on the car radio, having a pasty guy’s face replace her reflection, and being drawn to an abandoned pavilion on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. She then rents a room, gets hit on by one of the tenants, and continues to hallucinate that pasty face guy, while suffering from nightmares where she’s invisible to the world around her. Oh, and the pasty face guy keeps haunting her. She then loses her church organist job by practicing some very eerie jams the pastor deems profane, goes on a date with the creeper housemate, continues to see a bunch of ghouls now wandering about, and then she finds herself at the pavilion surrounded by dancing ghouls, and she runs off into a twist ending. The end.

Carnival Of Souls is a rather slow-burning psychological thriller that, upon the initial first viewing, can come off as dull at best. This is, I believe, mainly due to the high expectations that can be built up before going into the movie. Since it’s release, Carnival Of Souls has attained the kind of cult status hype that can do exactly that: Rogerebert.com called this an “accidental masterpiece”, a New York Times piece in 1989 gave it a favorable write-up for the Fantasy Festival it was being screened at, not to mention seeing Carnival Of Souls pop up on many a Top 10 List of classic movies online.

Unfortunately, I was aware of the hype by the time I got around to watching this, and because of that — and also having a poor cut of the movie — I ended up wondering what all the accolades were about. I found it boring and hard to pay attention to. Over time, though, I began to appreciate the style and atmosphere utilized, going more for a isual encapsulation of the lead lady’s decent into madness, leading up to an admittedly effective twist at the end.

Do yourself a favor, and watch Carnival Of Souls if you haven’t but don’t go into it for the story. That’s only secondary to what it is. Is Carnival Of Souls a classic? I’m still chewing on that one. I’ll get back to you, when I decide.

Movie Review: DARK IMAGE

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dark imageMidnight Releasing
2017
R

“Look, no one thinks clearly when they’re sober.”

Ever since caving in and signing up for the Amazon Prime account over a year ago, I’ve used it primarily to watch the oodles and oodles of horror movies they include in the free streaming movie sections. And just like with Netflix and those multi-movie DVD packs from WalMart, more often than not, I find myself wading through what initially appears to be at least a decent movie gauging by the cover art, is actually a rather bad movie, and not one of those so-bad-it’s-good type, either. Dark Image is one of those movies.

Originally made in 2012, and going by the title Mirror Image, Dark Image tells the tale of a young lady who, after being found tied up in a basement with her twin sister dead, is released from a psychiatric hospital and put in the charge of her psychiatrist uncle. The girl decides to go back to her childhood home to work out some of her demons from the traumatic experience, and maybe find out who the murderer is. Always a good idea, there. There’s this cop that is hired on to follow her around in accordance with trying to solve the cold case of her family’s death. Soon after showing up with her cousin to keep her company, the young lady begins hearing voices, receiving flashbacks to her growing up, and seeing things…and then goes out to a club with her cousin. Continuing to get flashbacks and warnings from what seems to be an otherworldly entity, so she goes back home, with her cousin following suit some time later. Meanwhile, flashbacks keep driving the lady over the edge, and finally we get some answers as to who killed her sister…HERSELF! Dun dun duuuuuuuun. So then she goes back to her stabby-stabby ways, everyone dies offscreen, and we end with her back in the psychiatric hospital and stuff. Gads.

Watching Dark Image was very much an exercise in mind-numbing endurance. As it turns out, this movie was one of those magical ones that bends time and space, making its paltry 1 hour and 15 minute run time seem like forever. It’s like when whatever is getting sucked into a black hole, the closer it gets to the event horizon, time slows down to a near stand-still. The same theory holds here: This movie sucks so hard, the further you get into watching it, time slows down to a crawl.

Everything is just bad here: The daytime soap opera level quality of both the acting and the filming, the bargain bin effects, the horrible script…if I wasn’t feeling insulted with the quality, I was constantly checking the time lapse to see how long it was before this thing was over. Pass this one up entirely, if you come upon this in your search for horror watchin’.

Movie Review: A QUIET PLACE

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a quiet placePlatinum Dunes
2018
PG-13

Hey, remember Jim from the American version of The Office? You know, the character who kept pursuing a relationship with the secretary, and instead of being slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit, ended up marrying and having a family with? He was played by John Krasinski, who, as it turns out, also writes, produces and directs other movies and television.

You’re probably rolling your eyes and groaning, “I know, idiot.” Fair enough. I just needed a way to start off this review, and I went with the Pointless Trivia Everyone Already Knew route. You probably also already knew that Krasinski doesn’t like the horror genre. Which I find fascinating, because his recent movie, A Quiet Place, is an amazing horror movie.

So, we’re dropped right into Day 86, and the majority of the Earth’s population has been hunted almost to extinction by extra-terrestrial apex preditors that hunt primarily by their ultra-hightened sense of hearing. If you make the teeniest of sounds, they can zero in on you and take you out in the blink of an eye. We follow a family of five scavenging for supplies in a deserted town, making no sounds, as at this point they’ve figured out some tricks to keep under the sound radar, if you will. That is, until, due to an unfortunate act of affection by the older sister, their youngest son is taken out by one of the creatures on their way back to the farm they live at. Jump forward about a year, and the family is not only surviving, but thriving, as the mother is pregnant and is a short way off from the due date. Pretty ballsy choice, given how infants are not exactly paragons of complete silence. But, they prove themselves to be up for the challenge, devising a sound proof box that the baby can sleep in, to keep from attracting the creatures to their already heavily modified homestead. The daughter is deaf, and is more than a bit on the angsty side, as she’s on the cusp of puberty, and she also blames herself for her brother’s death, as well as believing her father doesn’t love her because of that, only caring for her out of obligation. Nothing could be further from the truth, but because of all the silence needed, it’s hard for the father to really express his love for his daughter, outside of trying to build better hearing aid devices to try to help her hear. Everything comes to a head one afternoon when the father takes their middle oldest son out to teach how to fish, the daughter goes off to the spot where the youngest son died to do some brooding, and the mother goes into labor a couple of weeks early, which is bad enough…but then she steps on a nail getting to the safety of the basement, which is when everything really hits the fan.

And, I’m going to just stop there, and let you go ahead and find out what happens.

It took me a week from the release date to finally catch A Quiet Place, but I’m glad I did so. John Krasinski seems to know what he’s doing, as he’s crafted a tense, taunt and utterly genuine horror movie that’s incredibly effective. The entire cast carried the script wonderfully, having to act without words, building up and fleshing out their characters with hardly any dialogue, and it works. You get drawn into the family, tangibly feel the love and affection they have for each other, especially with the tension between the father and the daughter. The use of the sound — and sometimes the utter lack of it — is incredibly effective with building the tension.

The monsters themselves were wisely kept in the shadows, out of sight, until the very end, letting us piece things together through the movie. When they show up, though…yeah, pants-wetting nightmare fuel.

Overall, A Quiet Place is a very effective, well-made horror movie that will draw you in, and won’t let go until the very final scene, which will leave you wanting to know what happens next. Highly recommended.

Movie Review: HANNA

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hannaFocus Pictures
2011
PG-13

“Kissing requires a total of thirty-four facial muscles, and one hundred twelves postural muscles. The most important muscle involved is the orbicularis oris muscle, because it is used to pucker the lips.”

Raised by her father, an ex-CIA agent, in the wilds of Finland, Hanna’s upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one. Sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe, eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own. As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces starting revelations about her existence…

It was movie night with my circle of friends, and I chose Hanna to be the one we watched. This was back when the movie was first released on DVD, and while looking into the movie, the premise intrigued me. It seemed to be a bit more than your standard Bourne Identity-style psychological thriller. For one, it involves a young girl as a trained-since-birth deadly assassin, who was raised by the CIA agent that was part of the project to develop these super soldier kids. Not exactly a unique premise, admittedly; but what interested me was that it was said that Hanna wasn’t shot like the other action thrillers that were being churned out.

There’s a lot of European folktale influence on the visuals and ambiance of the movie. I don’t know what other way to explain it, other than this is definitely a different beast. There’s more of a subdued, sombre quality to the execution, almost a Kubrick-esque style. Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett are great in their roles, and the cinematography is breathtaking. The story itself moves along at a decent clip, with several locations utilized.

Overall, Hanna was a good change of pace from the bunch of action flicks that normally clog the theaters. It’s a good psychological thriller that will stay with you a bit longer than usual. Recommended.

Movie Review: AMERICAN PSYCHO

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american psychoLionsgate
2000
R

Look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my god, it even has a watermark!

 

Patrick Bateman is a Wall Street yuppie obsessed with success, status and style. His co-workers, like Paul Allen, are just as obsessed with success, status and style. However, there’s one thing that sets Patrick apart from his co-workers. He is also a psychotic killer who rapes, murders and dismembers both strangers and acquaintances without provocation or purpose. With Detective Donald Kimball on his tail, Bateman seems to be leading himself into a spiraling downfall of insanity and defeat…and all the while, he’s still able to throw a few Huey Lewis and the News facts your way.

American Psycho is one of those movies that I’ve seen a few times prior, but haven’t gotten around to pounding out a review of, mainly because it also happens to be one of those movies that defies being lumped into just one category. Certainly, one would stick this in the general horror genre, maybe even in the psychological thriller sub-category. You might even be forgiven for thinking this is just another slasher flick, going by the title and movie poster art alone. But, first impressions going into American Psycho are deceiving.

On the surface level, yes, American Psycho certainly is a kind of slasher horror movie, about a wealthy New York investment banker in the later part of the 1980s with a taste for pop music and elaborate business cards who begins offing people, possibly due to the stress of his lifestyle. But, the way he goes about his homicidal tendencies falls squarely in the “Black Comedy” style that will have you laughing and shaking your head at the utter absurdity of it all. But then, subtly at first but then rather evident as the story unfolds, reality itself seems to be breaking down right before your eyes, taking a serious Aronofsky style mind-bending psychological twist.

It’s because of these aspects, and also the great acting by Christian Bale and the 80s setting that has made American Psycho stick in my head all this time. And I’ve watched it several times, mainly because I’m still trying to figure that ending out. Yeah, I know I had it explained to me, but I keep thinking I’m missing some kind of subtle nuance to give me that “Oh, right, I gotcha”. Also, naked Christian Bale wielding a chainsaw. I couldn’t stop laughing.

Overall, American Psycho is twisted, will mess with your head, and make you wonder what you just watched by the end. All the while, you can’t not keep watching. Recommended.

Movie Review: The GOOD NEIGHBOR

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Movie Review GOOD NEIGHBOR, TheLionsgate Home Entertainment
2016
NR

“Maybe I should teach him a lesson. Keep that son of a bitch on a leash, okay? Because the next time, if it happens again, I’m going to cut him in four pieces and send him home in this can.”

A pair of mischievous high school kids create the illusion of a haunting on an unsuspecting neighbor. While keeping his every reaction under surveillance, they see much more than they bargained for, and discover that the man they’re tormenting is not the easy target they’d expected.

Never have I been pleased with a simple mistake. You see, there’s this horror thriller movie out there that stars comedian Bill Engvall called The Neighbor. Ever since I learned of the existence of a straight horror thriller that features a member of the Blue Collar Comedy team, well, let’s just say my sense of morbid curiosity still hasn’t been sated yet. Because I happened to get the slightly differently titled The Good Neighbor by mistake. I was disappointed by the mix-up, yes, but I ended up watching The Good Neighbor anyway, because this one stars the always great James Caan as a delightfully grumpy neighbor to a couple of teenage boys with far too much time on their hands.

So, here’s the story: We start off with what seems to be yet another found footage-style setup, introducing a couple of suburban teenagers setting up some high-tech video surveillance equipment, with the one who is clearly spearheading this endeavor narrating what they plan on doing with said equipment–rig the house of a cantankerous and reclusive old neighbor that lives across the cul-de-sac where they dwell to seem that he’s being haunted, and film the results with said video cameras. The kid claims it’s for SCIENCE!, but it’s rather clear this is a thin excuse to take out some passive-aggressive anger on the neighbor for reasons that go beyond “he’s not a nice guy”. That, and teenagers are douche-nozzles, generally speaking. Anyway, just before you think you’ve gotten yourself into a feature-length episode of Punk’d, the movie cuts to courtroom scenes, where the teenage boys are on trial for the murder of the neighbor they’re doing the experiment on. So there, you know something went awry, and now you’re invested to continue watching to see what may have transpired. As we continue with the found footage angle, it’s clear that the old man’s reaction to the various “haunting” rigs is not what the boys were hoping for, as instead of being wigged out, he acts…differently. That’s really the only way I can put it without really getting in-depth and spoiling things for you. Basically, things are not what they seem on the surface, when we learn this goes beyond just wanting to prank an old guy because he emulates Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino…and the old guy has a reason as to why he’s grumpy. And why he ultimately reacted the way he did to put the boys on trial.

The Good Neighbor isn’t exactly a horror movie, so much as it’s a very tense psychological drama that has an atmosphere that will get under your skin and leave you on the edge of your seat, with an ending that will send some chills down your spine by the implications. James Caan is fantastic, as he has very little dialogue but nails everything without having to say much. Everybody did a rather good job, and I liked the fact that this didn’t turn out to be yet another found footage movie. Or your standard horror flick.

Overall, if you’ve overlooked The Good Neighbor before, do yourself a favor and check it out some time.

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