Yay, Nay, or Just Okay: Catching up on recent viewings

I’ve been MIA here on Horrormonal for the last seven weeks (2018 has been off to a rough start for me) but now I’m back.  And you know damn well that I still managed to squeeze in a few horror movies that I’ve been slacking on seeing.  Instead of dedicating a long, thorough review to each of the five films I’ve watched recently (because some of them just flat out DON’T DESERVE that much attention anyway), let’s play a game of “Yay,” “Nay,” or “Just Okay”…

The Yay:

  • Green Room (2016) img_52722016 was a definitive year for art horror, including the release of the awe-inducing films like The Witch, Raw, and Don’t Breathe, so this little indie thriller may have slipped under some fans’ radars.  The plot is simply this: a local punk band plays a small-venue show in the middle of a deserted area, where they witness a crime and have to escape from a group of dangerous, old-school Nazi punks that have absolutely no regard for human life.  I’ve had this movie on my list ever since its release almost two years ago, and I’m happy to say it definitely holds up, in terms of quality.  It’s simultaneously an anxiety-fueled thriller that makes you nervous with sweat beads, while also identifying as a love letter for punk rock music fans that are fully aware that their beloved scene is (almost) dead.  Patrick Stewart gives a hauntingly stoic performance as the owner of this venue, as well as the leader of this group of White Supremacist assholes.  I’m not sure if Green Room has the rewatchability factor in my opinion, but sometimes movies are striking enough after just one viewing, and that’s all you need.  This thriller is definitely worth at least one watch.
  • Goodnight, Mommy (2015) img_5271Okay, so I’ve been putting off and putting off watching this Austrian modern classic, not because I didn’t want to see it- in fact, I was dying to see it, ever since I saw its trailer that critics deemed one of the “scariest movie trailers ever made” (and it is up there on the list)- I was frankly nervous to watch it! Me, of all people, who has only been truly terrified of less than a handful of horror films that I have watched during my entire lifetime, was afraid that this was going to scar me for life.  (Plus, I also read somewhere that a cat died in it, so naturally I dreaded having to witness that).  I feared that watching Goodnight Mommy for the first time would ruin my day after viewing, and while it didn’t quite do that necessarily, it is absolutely a psychological assault to your brain.  The story is as follows: two twin boys are suspicious of their mother, who is behaving differently, after she returns home from having plastic surgery work done on her face.  Even though I saw the “twist” in the film coming from very early on, it didn’t matter.  In fact, of all the creepy backdrops, scenes, and performances from both the children actors (Lukas and Elias Schwarz) and actress Susanne Wuest as “Mother” throughout the 100 minutes, the last two minutes of the film sent the most shivers down my spine, and there’s nothing more to ask for from a film than that.  Tip: make sure to pay close attention to something that is in the lefthand corner of a house during a fire scene. 

The NAY:

  • Open House (2018) img_5273 I love Netflix as much as the next person, but when it comes to their original content, they don’t always grasp what it takes to create a damn good horror film.  Open House tells the unnecessary tale of a widowed mother and teenage son who temporarily move into a family member’s log cabin that is on the market to be sold (even though it’s a gorgeous mansion that seems unrealistically stupid to get rid of).  During their stay at the house, they are told to leave every Sunday for open houses for potential buyers.  I was hoping that Open House would be different than what I was expecting (which was yet another lackluster paranormal film) and it actually was different than what I was anticipating…but not in a good way.  The only positive it has going for it is that the cinematography is impressive, and it is shot beautifully…but that’s about it.  I think Dylan Minnette is a total cutie pie, but in terms of acting like a broody teenager, he’s still got lots to learn, which is totally okay (his performance was much more impressive in Don’t Breathe).  I don’t think he had much to work with here anyway, because the dialogue in this movie is almost laughably bad.  We find out bits and pieces about his strained relationship with his mother (Piercey Dalton) but we never find out enough to actually care too much about either character.  Additionally, the plot points are so nonsensical and unnecessary at times, that you feel removed from the movie, because you’re too busy asking yourself why the hell would one do the thing that these characters are about to do.  If you’re looking for things that won’t waste your precious time on Netflix, check out my recent list of horror goodies you should watch on Netflix currently.

The Just Okay:

  • The Ritual (2017) img_5275So, I’ve read mixed opinions about this British horror that is exclusive to Netflix viewings: some have considered it a gamechanger in the horror categories, and others, like myself, weren’t completely blown away by it.  The Ritual gives us a story about four thirty-something men who go on a scenic hike in the middle of a Swedish forest, to honor their late friend whose life was cut short in a tragedy months before.  The Ritual is definitely well-shot, with its landscape cinematography of gray Swedish skies and green forestry.  The characters are not unlikeable by any means, but I can’t say I actually gave a damn about who lived and who died by its climax.  Perhaps too much attention is paid to their fallen friend who dies within the first 20 minutes of the film, when we should have learned more about the main four, so that we cared more about their well-being? I’m unsure of the answer to that, but I will say that the themes of grief, guilt, and shame always hit the audience’s hearts close to home.  Another plus is the revealing moments of the monster that is haunting these four men- I must admit, it is pretty damn daunting, original, and scary-looking.  But, alas, the film itself is nothing too innovative- it did not leave me with the desire to analyze the events I had just witnessed after watching.  The ending was also terribly long and drawn out, to the point where I just wanted it to wrap up- 10 minutes before it actually did cease.  I didn’t find The Ritual entirely effective, but I would still recommend giving it a shot sometime.
  • Dismissed (2017) img_5274Cole Sprouse is surprisingly (kinda) chilling as the too-bright-for-his-own-good overachieving high school student Lucas, who displays early signs of antisocial personality disorder, when he exacts revenge on his teacher who doesn’t give him the grade he thinks he deserves.  For better or for worse, Dismissed plays into the stereotype that young men and women who exhibit genius-level IQ’s are more prone to psychopathy than others.  As someone who, admittedly, had a reputation in college of slightly overachieving in terms of grades, I can relate to Lucas’s neurotic need to have a 4.0 GPA, and be irked at that damn B+ grade, but guess what, Lucas? That’s life!  You entitled, annoying, little millennial!  Sometimes your work falls short at times, and you can use that as motivation to do better for the next assignment- not motivation to blind a fellow student’s eyes with lithium, or to blackmail your teachers.  But, then of course, we would have no plot.  Dismissed is just another reiteration of the stalker thriller: Obsessed, Fatal Attraction, and Single White Female, etcexcept, in this case, the stalker is a good-looking teenage boy whose looks are too unrealistic and unbelievable for a boy THAT bright. (Sorry.)  If anything, it reminded me the most of the deliciously bad Jennifer Lopez movie The Boy Next Door, which is never a compliment.  Overall, Dismissed is not good, but it isn’t totally unwatchable- I was entertained enough to want to know how it all ended.  Even though it’s formulaic, predictable, and gives bright, young students a bad rep,  Dismissed is guilty pleasure-worthy enough to watch on a rainy day.


For March, I’ll be visiting Monster Mania Con and rubbing elbows with some of the horror community’s finest; traveling to New York City for the Halloween bar Beetlehouse; checking out The Strangers sequel; and reviewing FX’s limited series American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (who else is obsessed!?) See you in a few weeks with some shiny and new content!

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