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July 6, 2020

A Simplistic Review: The Beach House (2020)

I remember back in the day reading ‘Beach House’ but it was one of those early-90s pre-teen horror novels by R.L. Stein that seemed steamy and edgy at the time and included twists and turns and someone being drowned while tied under a dock.

Needless to say ‘THE Beach House’ is nothing like the the novel of my youth, and provides me everything I want in a horror film; trippy visuals, pseudo-cosmic/deep sea horror, and of course some cool, GOOEY parasitic body horror.

The long and short of ‘The Beach House’ features a young couple, Emily and Randall, heading to a beach house to help re-connect and repair their relationship where they think they’re all alone. Running into another couple already staying in the house they decide to make the best of a weird situation and take some edibles while sucking down Chardonnay and some fine local oysters.

Little does our quartet know that there is something sinister in the air, and water, that turns what should be a weekend of connection and love, into their worst nightmare.

With influence from ‘The Fog,’ ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ and maybe a sprinkle of ‘The Bay,’ director, Jeffrey Brown, has crafted a tight apocalyptic horror ditty that relies on hallucinatory sensory horror that actually makes you question what you may or may not be seeing.

Sure, you can read into other themes of climate change, with the oceans and Earth fighting back against those that destroy them, turning us into undead zombies filled with deep sea worms and aliens after we eat the food that we purposely poisoned over years and years of pollution, overfishing, and deep sea drilling.

That’s fair, but there is nothing like a human turning into a fluke monster in a basement that gets the blood pumping.

‘The Beach House’ delivers on fun scares, a spooky atmosphere and great authentic performances by the small cast.

‘The Beach House’ will be available to stream on SHUDDER starting July 9th, 2020

May 10, 2020

A Simplistic Review: Horror Noire

To be black is to live in a horror film. It’s shocking to me that it took so long for something like “Horror Noire” to be released, OVERDUE if you will.

Obviously the success of “Get Out” made people re-think about the African American Experience in horror films, and this is a great doc to check out in case you want a crash course on the history of said Experience.

From “Birth of a Nation” to “Us,” it’s scary to see how African Americans have been portrayed on camera. “Noire” explores how racism and bigotry was rampant in turn of the century filmmaking and it really wasn’t until 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead” in the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, that people saw a black protagonist in a horror film that was also the lead. It changed the genre…mostly.

Overall, “Noire” is a great documentary on minorities in horror, even though it does also play it’s part as a 90-minute commercial for Jordan Peele and “Us.”

May 9, 2020

A Simplistic Review: Justice League Dark: Apokolips War

Look. I rarely write reviews anymore. I typically save my written praise or vitriol for something that truly affects me. A Mad Max: Fury Road or a Last Jedi. Most of the time, I let the ones smarter than I break down the films and TV shows because I have a tendency to lean into my emotions on things when breaking down their strengths or weaknesses. But then there are some emotions I can not quell. Some emotions that wake me up in the middle of the night on a Saturday and have me pouring my thoughts down on paper as though I were in a trance. And in this film’s case, it is a trance of pure hatred. So, let’s talk about the latest and last film in the current DC Animated Universe as presently constituted. Let’s talk about Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. (Slight Spoilers)

I am sick and tired of living in an era of entertainment where filmmakers adapting a classic property are keen on tearing down said classic property, leaving it unrecognizable to what it is intended to be and doing it under the thin veil of  “it’s different” or “subverted expectations”. If you are going to deconstruct a character as classic as Superman or Batman or Wonder Woman or the Justice League as a whole and it not be a satire like the Harley Quinn animated show, you better have a deft hand. A brilliant hand. The hands behind Justice League Dark: Apokolips War did not act with any deftness or brilliance that I could see. To me, they acted with the intent of a 14-year-old bully tearing apart a kid’s comic books because they think comics are stupid and wanted to see how the kid would react by doing so.

Talk about the film? Right. Sorry.  The “film” centers around the Justice League’s assault on the villainous Darkseid and his planet of Apokolips and the fallout after the battle, seen through the eyes of the always reluctant John Constantine. And from the word “go”…they f*%k up Superman. Oh, sorry. Did I jump ahead? Not really. They f*%k up Superman….from…the word…”go”! The beacon of hope and truth and justice and pragmatism makes a brash decision to have the JLA attack and kill…KILL…Darkseid, a guy who would dishrag Thanos without a second blush. A decision Superman so fervently believes in, he throws a rage-filled destructive hissy fit when he is questioned. Questioned with reason and logic by, of all people, Lex friggin’ Luthor. So right there, ten minutes into this film, I checked out. And I still had an hour and a half to go. But I knew it wouldn’t get better because in this short time the creators of this film have shown me they either hate Superman or think he’s an irrational idiot. And by association, they’ve made Batman and Wonder Woman equally stupid by having them go along with this plan. Batman puts his literal kids in harm’s way to go along with a murder plan that is about a step away from “Hulk Smash” in terms of strategy on Darkseid.

If I have to point to things I liked, it would be Matt Ryan as Constantine. The guy certainly loves this character since he’s been playing him in some iteration since 2014, and it shows. This is likely his last time voicing him and that saddens me. He and his relationship with Etrigan the Demon and the callously refrigeratored Zatanna were the only cool breeze in this burning desert of disappointment I had.

I’m sure people love this sorta thing and that’s their right. But I hate it. I hate lazy, A to…um…let’s skip B and C so we can just get to D, shock and awe storytelling solely to gain shock and awe through the quickest route. I used to think the Killing Joke animated film was the worst, most offensive DC animated film I’d seen, but this hateful film is by far the worst. I will never watch it again and may just stay away from DC animation for a while until I hear overwhelmingly good things from people I trust. Going in, I didn’t even know they were resetting the DC Animated Universe. After I found this out, I was even more upset. This…this is how you’re going to do it?

If you want to see a good, smart, respectful, enjoyable approach to this same story and enemy and material…watch the last few episodes of Justice League Unlimited. There they actually give Darkseid, the villain, a motivation, a character, and even bother to mention things like the Anti-Life Equation. What’s that you ask? Oh, nothing. Just the one thing Darkseid has ever cared about. Is it mentioned in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War? No…but hey look! One of your favorite comic book characters was just torn in half with their guts splattering on the pseudo camera. Cool huh? Who needs motivation when you can just wallow in displays of base instincts.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is like if Eli Roth was forced at gunpoint by Martin Scorsese to make a DC film that would take away the allure of comic book movies forever so people would pay to watch a four hour Irishman re-release. If you think it’s fantastic if comic book characters act uncharacteristically while dying horribly, disturbingly, and vacantly with all the gravitas of a jump scare in a bad Blumhouse movie, go and enjoy Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. A film that made me believe the actual apocalypse couldn’t be as bad.

May 7, 2020

A Simplistic Review: Climax

I love the fact that people hate ‘Climax.’ It almost whips them into a frenzy of how much they hate it…and on the other side, the people that love it.

Look, I get it, Gaspar Noe is as polarizing as it gets. From ‘Irreversible’ to ‘Love’ and now ‘Climax’ he’s the lynchpin in the French Extreme genre in many ways, and he continues to want to piss people off, just like Lars Von Trier likes to piss people off.

The dance scenes in this film, while great, take a backseat once that punchbowl gets spiked, and that’s when business picks up…considerably.

Prepare to get sad.

May 5, 2020

A Simplistic Review: The Lost Arcade

I grew up in arcades. They were my second home to be honest. But a lot has changed in the arcade since the early 1990s. Mainly, they just aren’t the same, they are extensions of a 10-year old’s room, full of consoles and a shocking lack of arcade cabinets. But some of the relics still live.

“The Lost Arcade” is a film about the TRIBAL nature of nostalgia and essentially how it’s hard to have nice things without people getting bent out of shape. Of course, I’m a hypocrite who loves nostalgia, but pop culture, from video games to ‘Star Wars’ to comic books has become a toxic blend of ‘us versus them’ with little room for discourse.

“Arcade” is a flimsy meditation on why change is hard for people and how letting go isn’t always easy, but it can be necessary to maybe find a way to create your own version of what you love and hold to be true.

May 1, 2020

A Simplistic Review: MidSommar

“Midsommar” is pretty good. It takes a lot of INFLUENCE from all of those cult-y types horror flicks like “The Wicker Man” and sprinkle in a pretty healthy dose of films like “Hostel” where you take stupid Americans and introduce them into a world they know very little about. The irony of most of them being Anthropology students probably makes a bigger point about book smarts versus street smarts.

Sure you can talk about the ideas of grief and breaking away from bad relationships in this flick, but I just want to see old people jump off of cliffs and people taking hallucinogens.

December 6, 2019

Simplistic Humbug: Krampus (2015)

“Krampus” is a fun little holiday ditty that is sure to put you in the spirit.

The cast is fun, the family is pretty much the worst and you actually don’t mind when all hell starts breaking loose and bad things start happening.

But one thing I couldn’t shake was the ending, which hey, if you’re a fan of ‘St. ELSEWHERE’ you’re sure to get a kick out of.

Creature and most of the practical effects are creepy and effective and Michael Dougherty is officially 2/2 in book, at least when it comes to holiday horror.

December 1, 2019

A Simplistic Review: The Irishman

DeNiro, Pacino, Pesci….Action! No, I’m not playing Scorsese here and yelling “Action!” I’m talking about the best part of “The Irishman” and that would be Action Bronson.

Sure, the acting triumvirate of DPP is fantastic but when you consider it takes almost three hours to get to the best acting performance of 2019, it’s a surprise you’ll never see coming.

*If you’ve gotten this far into this very short review without throwing your desktop or laptop out of the window of your New York apartment or into a lake behind your Florida home…jk 🙂

November 21, 2019

A Simplistic Review: The Lighthouse

Between all the drinking, tentacles, seagulls, masterbating, and mermaids, there certainly is a film hiding in here. A BONKERS film, but a film nonetheless.

“The Lighthouse” is a black-and-white-horror-fever-dream-of-an-experience where Roger Eggers lets two actors let loose on each other and creates one of the most surreal times you’ll have in the theater all year for sure.

Whereas Willem Defoe is great, Robert Pattinson is the real story here and he continues to prove he’s more than a shimmering creature of the night, or at least a Fall Day in the Pacific Northwest.

November 13, 2019

A Simplistic Review: The Nightingale

What happens when you take “The Revenant,” “Last House on the Left,” and anchor it with the BRUTAL truth of what the British were really doing while colonizing other lands in the 1800s, well you get “The Nightingale.”

Jennifer Kent is relentless is depicting the horrors of the times and creates a gothic hellscape Down Under.

Hats off to Baykali Ganambarr and Aisling Franciosi for the performances, which are as good as any you’ll see all year.

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