Monday Movies #4

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.

If I get this up before midnight GMT it still counts as MONDAY movies right? God I seriously shot myself in the foot naming this series after a day of the week.

FILM : Oculus
RELEASE DATE : 13th June 2014
WATCHED : On DVD
RATING : 5/7 Days
SYNOPSIS : A brother and sister attempt to destroy an evil mirror which they believe to be the cause of their parents deaths.

Okay I know I go on and on about sound in film; I mean its important but I really do spout on about it. And I’m about to go again because the use of sound in this film is perfect. This is my new recommendation to people if they want to become more aware of the use of sound in cinema. The way the score is used in this film is to denote the paranormal activity and it’s increase; so the beginning of the film which is very much set in our world is almost completely diegetic sound and the music creeps in more and more as the spookiness increases. By the end of the film, when we have been completely drawn in to the idea that the haunting could be real the movie is almost entirely scored. Its a really interesting use of sound to me because it’s almost a subconscious nod to the audience to tell them that the scary stuff is about to happen, and I can’t recall ever hearing a song playing in the background, even diegetically. So music, in this film, denotes a scare and whether you pick up on that or not its something you’re going to feel. It’s an incredibly smart way of using sound and I could talk about it all day. But that would be boring so I will move on!

Another technique I really loved was the ambiguity of the haunting. It’s established early on that Tim and Kaylie are both mentally disturbed either because of the trauma of their childhoods, or because of potentail mental illnesses that run in the family. Tim talks about it as he tries to convince Kaylie that there was no paranormal activity; their father was mentally unstable and drove their mother mad. Kaylie counters with the idea that no one in the family was suffering from a mental illness but rather it was the mirror getting inside their heads. And that argument doesn’t ever really become resolved. We only ever see the film through the siblings eyes and even they realise that what they’re seeing isn’t always trustworthy. I love this way of telling the story, I think it’s horror filmmaking at it’s best; it’s simple but leaves you incredibly unsettled when you think about it too long.

The acting is pretty great in this film too; Karen Gillan’s American accent is much better in this than it is in Guardians of the Galaxy, though it’s still strange to hear her not using her Scottish accent. She carries the film really well, the character is the driving force behind the scary stuff going on and she is very set in her beliefs. With a less proficient actress I think Kaylie could have come across as straight up nuts, ruining the sense of ambiguity that is so wonderful in this film. But Gillan does a great job of really making the character endearing. Brenton Thwaites also does a great job in this film, though he does rather play second fiddle to Gillan. He has a wonderful vulnerability to him in this that really makes the ending incredibly sad; perhaps it’s my maternal side, or the fact I’m a big sister, but I really did want to protect him and make sure he was okay.

TL;DR I love the use of sound and ambiguous madness, this really is a great horror film.

FILM : Away We Go
RELEASE DATE : 18th September 2009
WATCHED : On DVD
RATING : 5/7 Days
SYNOPSIS : A couple expecting their first child travel the continent of North America in an attempt to find a good place to raise their child.

This is such a break from the films I’ve reviewed so far, looking back over the last month or so there’s been a huge helping of horror and action but the cute rom-coms have not gotten a look in. That changes with this sweet little film. There’s nothing particularly poignant or any real major lessons to be learned from this film. Other than perhaps what you need to have a good home for your child is a lot of love and there’s no one right way to raise a child. I think perhaps that I’ll come back and review this film again when I’m 30 and have actually had a child (fingers crossed) because some of the themes were very much beyond my realm of experience.

The beauty of this film comes from the chemistry between the leads Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph). Their relationship is so realistic and loving and sweet. It’s everything you need in a love story. They don’t bicker or snap at one another, and when they do argue its a discussion. The major conflict of the film comes in the form of them worrying that they wont be perfect parents or have a good place to raise their child. I think this vision of a functioning, happy, normal relationship can be really lacking in film and it’s wonderful to see portrayed so perfectly.

It really feels like something anyone could go through. This film is filled with laughter and genuine feelings and conversations that sound completely real and it made me feel so good. As I said it wasn’t exactly weighty, but it didn’t need to be; it was like a perfect relaxing getaway for my brain. Literally my notes on this film read as follows;

• This gonna be good.
• Warm fuzzies
• I’m in love with their love
• So Fucking genuine (capital F for emphasis)
• I feel good

I had almost forgotten recently that not all films were meant to make you think very deeply about the human condition or blow your god damn mind; some are just beautiful stories about real things that happen to real people and that’s a fantastic use of the medium too.

TL;DR This is a beautiful film which will make you feel happy; what more do you need?

FILM : An American Werewolf In London
RELEASE DATE : 21st August 1981
WATCHED : On DVD
RATING : 5/7 Days
SYNOPSIS : A young American man is bitten by a werewolf in the English countryside. Capers ensue.

And we’re back to classic horror! I never do stray for long. But this is one I haven’t watched in years and it never does disappoint. If I ever want to explain my sense of humour to someone I usually use this film because it seriously cracks me up. The whole suicide conversation in the porn theatre…okay that doesn’t sound particularly funny but I promise you it’s a bloody riot. (Literally haha.) There’s lots of quippy one liners and funny call backs and other wonderful things happening in this film; I love love love a good black comedy and this is one of the blackest.

I think this is probably one of the best films to use to rope people into strange horror films of the mid-twentieth century. It has a recognisable plot, it can be rather scary, and everything pretty much makes sense. I particularly think you feel for every single character; I mean I feel for naked David Naughton 5,000% of the time but that’s not what I mean (Jenny Agutter also gets her kit of if you are femininely inclined, just as a side note) Ahem, what I mean is no one makes any utterly mind boggling decisions (aside from perhaps Ms Agutter’s character but I understand why she did what she did) and everything that’s coming out of the characters mouths sounds like it was made up in their brain. What I’m trying to say I guess is that this is an incredibly well written film.

And who can talk about An American Werewolf in London without mentioning the effects? No one, because it won the first ever Academy Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Makeup” and holy hell did it deserve it. In a time before CGI it managed several convincing werewolf attacks, a character who is a corpse and decomposes over time, and of course the amazing and fantastic werewolf transformation. Okay so the transformation is not hyper-realistic, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s visceral. You can feel it in your bones, like you’re changing alongside David. It is a real sight to behold and you can see it’s effect on all future werewolf films just from watching that one scene. This film has played a pivotal roll in shaping werewolf films and I can see its fingerprints in everything from Night of the Wolf Late Phases, to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. And I think anyone who’s seen this film would wholly agree with me. Beautiful, beautiful effects.

TL;DR The gateway drug of cult classics, highly quotable, beware the moon.

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

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