Do you like movies?! Do you like so called “cult classics”?! Do you like Films people have rarely heard of?! Do you see your friends switch off when you begin to go on and on about a film that you know they’ve not seen but you can’t help it, its like word vomit?! Well my friend this is the series for you!
In this series I indulge in my favourite pastime; watching films and then annoying people with my opinions on them. Some odd, some wonderful, some downright bad, all watched over the course of one week and then reviewed for your pleasure. Sit back, relax, and potentially find your new favourite flick.
Also I’ve lengthened my reviews in some cases so if you like the longer review let me know, or if you’d like me to go back to my three to four paragraph structure let me know!
FILM : Let Me In
RELEASE DATE : 23rd September 2010
WATCHED : On DVD
RATING : 1.5/7 Days
SYNOPSIS : A young boy called Owen makes friends with a young vampire girl called Abby when she moves into his apartment block. She’s manipulative and he’s creepy
Okay, so you should know that I take no pleasure in saying mean things about films. I know how hard it is to create a film and so ripping holes in someone else’s hard work is something I feel really bad about, but on the other hand I really didn’t like this film. The characters were not amicable, the pacing was all over the place, and the whole third act made no sense. The cinematography saved this film from getting 0/7 days, but I’ll come back to that at the end.
So I have this thing I call “Phone Films”, phone films are movies that cannot hold your interest. Instead of being enthralled in what’s happening on screen you instead browse your phone for new memes on Tumblr. If I find myself reaching for my phone in the middle of a film I know it’s a bad thing because it means that I don’t actually give a crap what’s going on onscreen. Let Me In is a perfect example of a phone film. Lets talk about characters shall we?
So the main child actor is called Kodi Smit-McPhee and he does a wonderful job of portraying future serial killer Owen. Within two minutes of being introduced to this child he is standing semi-naked in front of a floor length mirror, brandishing a knife, wearing a plastic mask and asking his reflection “are you scared little girl?” He then proceeds to spy on his neighbours through the windows of their homes. If that doesn’t make you want to run a mile away from this film, strap yourself in because you’re in for a ride.
The other main child of this film is portrayed wonderfully by Chloe Grace Moretz and is a little vampire girl called Abby. Now I don’t want to spoil anything but Abby is a master manipulator and all round creepy woman. Not only does she flirt with a boy who is presumably at least 40 years her junior but also engages in a romantic (but one would hope not sexual) relationship with the man pretending to be her father. The sexualisation of this character throughout the film put me on edge for the entire process, obviously the character is meant to be an at least 50 year old woman trapped inside a 12 year old’s body but her manipulation of that to bend men to her will is just plain creepy. Oh and trigger warnings for several kinds of abuse my friend; Abby abuses her father, Owen’s mother abuses alcohol, and I’m pretty sure the couple across the way showed signs of physical abuse too so just go into that with your eyes open.
Lets go for pacing next, shall we? This film has alright pacing for the first hour or so. The opening is a hospital scene and then we flash back to two weeks pervious so we tick along knowing some of what should have been the ending. I say what should have been as there is a whole hour more of the film after we come to this point. What really annoys me is that most of the events which happened after the hospital scene could have happened before it and actually would have improved the sense of tension and seriously improved the pacing. I don’t understand why the flashback wasn’t simply set a month in advance. My theory is that they needed to stretch out the run time, though I know this is an adaptation of a Swedish film which itself is a book adaptation so perhaps it’s a sins of the father situation.
But lets move on to the saving grace of this film; the cinematography. For goodness sake this is the most beautifully shot film! Each set is perfect, it’s like watching a series of gorgeous paintings. I particularly love all of the scenes shot from within cars; it’s like you’re sitting right in the car with the characters and helps to really ground you in the scene. It made me a little mad at myself that I didn’t like the film overall because it was so wonderfully shot, but it’s like lipstick on a pig I guess; it may look good but it still stinks.
TL;DR It’s so pretty, but it’s so boring. Trigger warning for abuse.
FILM : The Lobster
RELEASE DATE : 16th October 2015
WATCHED : On DVD
RATING : 3/7 Days
SYNOPSIS : Ummmmmmmm…Because of the laws of this strange dystopian world if you do not fall in love you are turned into an animal at a weird hotel for speed dating. The story follows a man running away from this hotel and subsequently finding love in the woods. Kind of.
I’m so confused. Right so this is a really tough one to talk about without spoilers, I even think my synopsis is a bit spoilery, though it says “an unconventional love story” right on the box so…though thinking about it the box also calls the film “dizzyingly funny” which I would not agree with. In fact, I’d place this in the horror section. It’s one of those films that made me that combination of sad and frightened for the characters while also confusing the heck out of me.
The tone in this film is kind of just sad. The main character, David, has just been left by his wife and now must find a new love or be turned into a Lobster, which is his choice. (Well the lobster is his choice, not turning into the lobster). Basically the whole film continues in this vein; David and the other characters are never truly happy and all sort of just wander about trying their best. There is a feeling of anxious anticipation throughout the film which really never lets up. I suppose that’s also a point for pacing as there was never a moment during this film that felt like it didn’t fit or spur on the narrative in some way. The beats made total sense which I suppose you really need in a film where you constantly feel that you have no clue what’s going on.
The feeling of confusion is not necessarily a bad thing. It helps to make you feel more anxious for the characters and makes you invested in the story. This feeling of confusion and anxiety are why I really would call this a modern horror film; though you could never market it in that way it’s not violent enough or jump-scary enough for modern film goers. But if you’re a fan of horror from the 70’s a la Don’t Look Now, this is going to be right up your ally.
I can’t figure out if I like Colin Farrell in this or not. I can’t figure out if the character is meant to be wooden and unemotional at certain points or if that’s just him having a few off days on set. Overall I do like Mr. Farrell as a human but I never really connected with the character, that being said though I did care about him, but in more of a “you’re the main character I don’t want to see you as a Lobster/dead” way than a “I like this character as a human and want to see him okay” kind of way.
The rest of this cast was pretty spectacular, Rachel Weisz, Oliva Coleman, Michael Smiley, John C. Reilly, just to name a few. It’s rare to see this many big names on one picture and I do think everyone did well. It was strangely jarring to hear all of the different accents being used with no comment, it gave me this feeling like these people potentially had not lived in this society their whole lives and could have been living in my world during their childhoods. This really adds to the horror element, which is nice.
Something I noticed again and again was the use of music in this film. Only rarely is a soundtrack used, and then songs are only used when they could conceivably be playing in the room. The score was used when something frightening or life-changing was about to happen or was happening. And diegetic sound is used to really pull the audience in; there is a scene early on in which David struggles to remove his clothes in order to go to bed. The only sound is the creaking of the bed springs. It makes you feel sorry for David but also is something that’s intensely uncomfortable to watch, keeping the anxious theme from the beginning.
TL;DR It’s a slow build horror with an interesting use of sound. Basically I want to buy this film so I can show it to other people.
FILM : Death Line (aka raw Meat)
RELEASE DATE : 1972 (I can’t find the exact UK release date online, but it was September 1973 in the US)
WATCHED : Digital Download
RATING : 5/7 Days
SYNOPSIS : When a top civil servant is the latest to go missing in the London underground two college students become embroiled in a murder-mystery which involves an inbred underground cannibal. Yeah, you weren’t expecting that were you?
Yes! I am so excited to talk about this film, it’s one of the films I had in mind when I began this series. It’s such a strange premise, and when you couple it with a film which obviously didn’t have a huge Hollywood budget you get a film that’s hard to convince people to watch but I promise you wont regret it when you do. Though anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a think for horror films from the 70’s so perhaps I’m biased.
Lets get in on why I didn’t give this film 7/7 days even though I’m about to rave about it. So it’s not the perfect film; the camerawork is often sloppy, the sets are less than believable, and come on the plot is nowhere near realistic. But these things are so easy to overlook because I love the film so much.
Right so the camerawork, there’s a lot of steady cam work that’s not so steady around at this time. And maybe its the technology, maybe its the budget but a lot of the 70’s horror flicks that I love don’t have the best steady cam work I’ve ever seen. That being said some of the shots in this film are breath-taking. There’s one shot which shows the big bad’s lair is this glorious 360 shot of the room which then exits the room through a small window; how did they do that?! It gives the viewer a complete understanding of the world and is so well done. For me those few scenes that look a bit too wobbly for my liking are totally cancelled out by amazing shots like that which pepper the film.
What’s next? Sets? Okay yes, we’re in an era of film making where you know 100% that most of the sets are just that, sets. But damn it they try so hard. It’s one of those things where you can sit back and appreciate the hard work that’s been put in by set designers, rather than just take it for granted that we’re in the real world which happens a lot in modern movies. Though really, the fact I can’t tell what’s set and what’s real world in a lot of modern films is a credit to set designers so we should be appreciating their hard work all of the time, but that’s another discussion for another day.
As for the plot…okay yes how could generations of cannibals survive beneath London? They try really hard to explain things away like having big oil drums because the area was a storage space, and indicating that the cannibal has very poor genetics but it never really flies. But come on, this is 100% nit picking, it’s a horror movie. Suspend your damn disbelief and just have a good time!
The thing I think turns Death Line from another B-rated horror flick to a classic of the genre is the acting. Every character is 3D, they have good sides and bad sides, their decisions make sense based on their personalities. Even the cannibal is a figure which the audience pities and understands to a point. And all of the characters are perfectly cast and acted and who can resist a film with Christopher Lee popping in to be creepy?
TL;DR It’s a quintessential 70’s horror flick so worth a viewing!!
FILM : Spider-Man: Homecoming
RELEASE DATE : 7th July 2017
WATCHED : In Cinema
RATING : 4/7 Days
SYNOPSIS : It’s Spider-Man, he does Spidery things and learns emotional stuff. This is a spoiler-free blog remember?!
Guys, I think I’m getting bored of superhero movies?? Now Spider-Man was never my favourite but I don’t get the buzz out of seeing a man in spandex kick another man’s butt anymore. I’m having a crises I think. So I can’t figure out if I was uninspired by this film because I’m jaded by superheroes, or if I actually just didn’t have the best time. I also have a sneaking suspicion that I may have subconsciously compared the whole thing to Wonder Woman (best superhero film I’ve ever seen) and Baby Driver (most recent cinematic experience), which are hard to beat.
But lets not dwell on what I didn’t like, lets talk about what I did like, which is 90% Tom Holland. He is so sweet! He perfectly captured the whole awkward teenage thing probably because he’s not long out of his own teenage years. He fumbles and he nerds and he acts like a love-sick puppy in front of the girl he likes, and then he tries to be super tough Spider-Man and it doesn’t quite work and I loved it. He plays the whole thing brilliantly and I just want to wrap him in bubble wrap and keep him safe; Tom is definitely going to be one of those actors that when we goes on to do “serious acting” I’m gonna be sitting in the audience crying with pride.
And I loved the whole Tony-Peter father-son relationship thing. Every time RDJ and Holland they were on screen together you could feel the chemistry between them and they worked so perfectly together. Tony has always had Daddy issues and Peter has recently lost his father figure, so when that relationship comes into play it really hits home as an audience member that these two need each other whether they realise it or not. And their relationship is one of my favourites in the whole film.
TL;DR I wasn’t wowed but I had a good time, it’s MCU watch it just to be caught up and fall in love with Tom Holland a little.
And that’s all for this week! If you have a film you think I’d enjoy or you’d like me to review please leave it in the comments below, and let me know if you watched any mind blowing movies this week too! Have a good one folks!
Until Next Time,
Emily Jayne xo