Category Archives: science fiction horror

Review: The Untamed

Director(s)Amat Escalante
Principal CastRuth Ramos as Alejandra
Simone Bucio as Veronica
Jesus Meza as Angel
Eden Villavicencio as Fabian
Release Date2016
Language(s)Spanish
Running Time 100 minutes

The Untamed is a thought provoking story about the depths of sexuality and the way that humans have codified and defined themselves in relations to those articulations creating a disconnect between ourselves and our inner most desires. The story plays out like a well thought out Mexican drama featuring staples of the genre: secrets, the stratification of sexuality and gender, violence, inner turmoil; but adds in a extraterrestrial tentacle sex creature for good measure, giving the movie an element of visual horror and making the themes go to the next level. If you ever thought The Shape of Water needed to be creepier and more unnerving instead of romantic, this is the movie for you.

The first scene in the movie depicts Veronica, a young women, who’s in the middle of orgasming due to her alien counterpart. The creature ends up injuring her, and two elder individuals who own the farm where the creature crash landed, ask Veronica to cease relations with it . Suffering from a new wound, she finds herself at a hospital, being treated kindly by a nurse, who she slowly befriends. Meanwhile, in another part of the city Alejandra, the film’s protagonist, deals with her unhappy domestic life. Her husband, Angel (ironic I know) uses her for sexual gratification but is rarely there for her. As the two groups’ stories interconnect, what follows is a sexual journey that’s harrowing, impossible to look away from, and deeply unsettling.

The movie deals with our relations to sex and sexuality. Every character’s orientation and reasons for wanting sex are coded differently. Watching those interactions play out with the sex monster in the background creates an interesting discussion on the place of sexuality and the way it’s deployed and internalized by rational agents. There are constantly scenes that juxtapose humans with animals to highlight the differences in how each group approaches their more base desires. Add in the ideas and themes of a well-rounded drama on top of that, and suddenly you have a piece that’s teeming with nuanced discussions. This is one of the most thought provoking movies I’ve seen on sex and sexuality in a long time.

That being said, the movie never exploits it’s premise to create fantasy sex sequences for the audience. Escalante is focused on the element of sexuality, not the visual depiction and subsequently goes to great efforts to show only glimpses of the creature and sexual actions. The camera slowly moves throughout important scenes, without revealing the shocking event at play until the very end. This is visual storytelling done right. Scenes and the way they’re shot and edited lead you to certain conclusions which are subverted in a way to make you sympathize with the characters and make future decisions more shocking.

The creature is rarely ever shown, except in tidbits and pieces, so its eventual reveal is well earned and horrifying. This is a creature feature done right, and I genuinely couldn’t avert my gaze when it’s full visage came onto screen. This process of slow reveals, building tension, and letting it all explode in one final reveal feels like the process of foreplay and sexual gratification, so the entire experience feels sublime and thematically resonant.

My biggest issue with the movie is a sub-plot involving some less involved characters that never plays out as much as I wanted it too. I like how they’re incorporated thematically, but I wish they made more sense from a story perspective, because they’re the only real aspects of the movie (sans the sex alien) that aren’t grounded. There are also a few moments where characters talk a bit too much , making some of the underlying ideas a bit more heavy-handed. I love how subtle the storytelling is, so these moments bothered me more than they would most other people.

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TLDRThe Untamed combines a well-executed and thought out drama with a creature feature involving an sex alien with tentacles. It’s well paced, prefers to show rather than tell, and presents one of most interesting discourses on sex/sexuality that I’ve seen in recent years. The movie prioritizes atmosphere and mood over visceral images and jump scares, so if you like the latter you may find yourself bored by this.
Rating9.4/10
Grade A

Review: High Life

Director(s)Claire Denis
Principal CastRobert Pattinson as Monte
Juliette Binoche as Dibs
Mia Goth as Boyse
Jessie Ross as Willow
Release Date2018
Language(s)English
Running Time 110 minutes

This slow, non-lineally told, atmospheric ride into space is a one of a kind look into the human condition. Denis is not focused on spectacle or sci-fi hi jinks. Instead, she uses space as an tool to alienate our protagonists, trying to isolate and draw apart the elements that we commonly associate with being a human. The movie is really hard to talk about without some spoilers, so be warned. I won’t talk about anything that isn’t revealed within the first few scenes in the movie, so don’t worry. Nothing important, just enough to help explain the stuff I liked and didn’t. The movie also depicts some fairly dark stuff. If rape/assault bother you, watch with someone who can tell you when those scenes stop.

The story opens up on Monte, a man who’s apparently in charge of taking care of a baby, Willow, on a seemingly empty spacecraft. From there it cuts to Monte in the past, as part of a crew sent to explore black holes. The catch? Each member of the crew is a criminal who’s participating in the mission in lieu of sentencing. Denis isn’t as concerned with keeping up the mystery as some major questions are answered fairly early. The focus of the movie instead is on the human body and the way it responds to different stimuli.

As part of their sentence, the crew members are not allowed to masturbate or have sex. Instead, they must relieve themselves in a sex box, a mysterious object filled with sexual paraphernalia that bring subjects to orgasm and relieves them of their relevant fluids. The scenes involving it are disturbing in how they make sex mechanic and programmable. By stripping such an intimate action of its human element, the story asks us if humanity really has any meaning outside of the composition and arrangement of our organs. Are we just our genitalia, our sweat glands, our eyes, our mouths, etc working together like a biologically pre-programmed machine, unable to do anything worthwhile in this universe or are we creatures that can impact the universe in a way that creates meaning? Are we held back by traditional rules of thinking about ourselves and others or are they the things that keep us grounded and capable of doing anything at all? I won’t spoil the film’s answer (mainly because I think it varies based on how you take the story), but I think the journey it takes to get there is interesting.

I think this is a movie that’ll only continue to grow on me and I’m sure I’m missing a lot of ideas. The movie almost plays like a microcosm of Earth, with a population of radically different individuals trying to work with each other under a draconian set of rules (plug in whatever social system you want; ex: patriarchy, capitalism, prison industrial system) and their subsequent responses to alienation within that system. The way the movie is shot, edited, and presented allow you to to tinker around with different ideas and I think different people can walk away with different meanings.

The movie is gorgeous in its visuals and presentations. There are scenes that genuinely had me feeling upset and wouldn’t leave my head for a while. There’s not too much visceral violence outside of a few assault sequences, but they’re not the focus of the horror. The real scares come the eerie set up and poignant imagery. Blood splattered walls, objects floating outside of the spacecraft, and the beautiful image of a black hole (that shockingly looks like the recently discovered image by the Event Horizon Telescope team) should keep visual audience members enthralled. Despite taking place on a spacecraft, the movie is teeming with colors. Clever use of flashbacks, ship mechanisms, and lighting choices keep each shot feeling distinct and picturesque. There are scenes in the latter half of the movie that are absolutely stunning to watch and should be seen by any fan of the science-fiction genre. In fact, the movie’s presentation of gravity, orbit, black holes, and other phenomena are exquisite and are beautiful to watch play out. It’s a physics marvel.

The lead performances are also great. Pattinson is impressive as Monte. He’s calm and collected and the way he grows along with Willow is remarkable to see. His nickname on the ship is “monk” and he really exudes that aura, staying strong in will and action. The way he’s contrasted with his crew mates makes him all the more interesting and makes his backstory that much more relevant, both from a character arc and thematic view. Binoche does a great job as the lead scientist, Dibs. She’s in charge of collecting the fluids from the crew members and is responsible for ensuring that sexual urges are gratified via the machine. It’s disturbing to watch her ideas come into play, and her fervent obsession in getting what she wants keeps your eyes glued to her whenever she shows up on screen.

Most of my issues come from the way the story is under utilized. There’s a major plot thread that ends up being ignored (in a literal sense) that’s never explained. It makes the entirety of the story’s setup confusing and I wish that it was addressed again at some point. The movie also dumps a lot of exposition, in spite of its excellent use of visual storytelling. These moments fell really out of place and make the movie flow strangely. When the editing is otherwise so crisp, these sequences end up standing out even more. I would rather have just been shown more beautiful images hinting at what happened like what the rest of the movie ended up doing. A lot of these decisions could be argued to be done for the sake of distilling themes at play, but they come off feeling like missed opportunities instead of lean cuts.

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TLDRHigh Life is a beautiful look into the human condition and our respective place in the universe. It’s slow and methodical, told in non-linear order, and prioritizes eerie atmospheric existential horror over visceral jump scares. If that sounds like something you’d like I highly recommend checking this out. It’s definitely something I plan on checking out again.
Rating9.2/10
GradeA

Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!

 

Review: A Quiet Place

Director(s)John Krasinski
Principal CastJohn Krasinski as Lee Abbott
Emily Blunt as Evelyn Abott
Millicent Simmonds as Regan Abbott
Noah Jupe as Marcus Abott
Release Date2018
Language(s)English
Running Time 90 minutes

A Quiet Place is that rare horror movie that unites both mainstream and cinematic horror fans. The story and its presentation is coherent on its surface level and is easy to follow so it doesn’t come off as confusing or ambiguous. The scary monster in the movie is revealed early on and isn’t kept hidden away from the camera the whole time. This makes it easy to digest for people who aren’t used to the weird places horror can go to. However, Krasinski doesn’t sacrifice artistic integrity in his pursuit of reaching a broader audience. The movie has gorgeous shots, genuinely scary scenes that aren’t cheap jump scares, and some real emotional moments.

The story follows the Abott family as they try and survive in a post-apocalyptic world over-run by terrifying alien creatures that hunt through their sense of hearing. In a world where the smallest noise has the possibility of leading to death, the family is forced to adapt to the world around them. I love how intelligent each member of the family is. None of them feel like they have plot armor and most of their actions make sense. In particular, the children, Regan and Marcus, come off as incredibly grounded and developed. Despite, their post apocalyptic grooming, they’re still developing kids with lots of growing left to do. They both strike a balance between competent survivor and child. In particular, Millicent Simmonds does a great job in portraying a teen angst and sadness against the post apocalyptic background. I was surprised at how effective it was. Normally, something like that would grind my gears.

I love how effective the creatures are in the movie. They’re used consistently so they never feel like a plot convenience. It’s demonstrated that they hone in noise, but that they don’t necessarily respond to every noise. This means that accidental noises aren’t a death sentence but are still terrifying because of their potential risks. Subtle details about the creatures’ nature and abilities are littered through the movie and I was astounded with how many clues I missed from my first viewing. I understand feeling frustrated at the early reveal of the creature. You’re not supposed to “show the shark” early because it ruins the expectation and build-up to the creature. However, I don’t mind it in the case of this movie. The decision to show them early on is done intentionally because the focus of the movie is the family and the way they grow and develop with each other in their new environment. The creatures are only a facet of the family’s respective story, and as a result they’re not the main focus of the movie.

As you’d expect from a horror movie about noise, sound design is on point. The movie actually refrains from awful jump scares and slowly builds up to its scares. Yes, there are jump scares, but they’re all justified given the nature of the plot and the way the situations come about. It’s sure to satisfy people who want to be scared and not annoy people who are put off by the horror genres increasing reliance on them. The movie is quiet for the most part, so when sound does come up its meaningful. It’s why I recommend watching this with absolutely no distractions. You want to be fully immersed so your ears can go through the experience with you. The score is used sparingly, but when it does come in its always purposeful. It always suits the mood and accentuates the emotional beat at the heart of the scene.For example, when A Quiet Life starts playing during that scene in the third act, I could feel my heartstrings being tugged at.

The movie succeeds because it gets us invested in our lead family. Despite the problems they go through and the situation they find themselves in, they never really stop loving one another. In a world ravaged by alien creatures, love is the one constant they have that can serve as a source of meaning. The way the movie tackles the love between a parent and a child and the lengths one party will go for another is touching and is something a lot of us can relate to. It’s not deep or ambiguous, but it’s poignant and resonant. This is the kind of movie that’ll make you hug your loved ones a bit tighter afterwards.

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TLDRA Quiet Place is the rare mainstream horror movie that critics and audience members can enjoy together. It’s scary and coherent on the surface, but is emotionally poignant in the way it approaches its subject matter. If you can get past a few “why?” moments, you’re in for a meaningful and entertaining trip.
Rating9.3/10
GradeA

 

Review: Color Out of Space

Director(s)Richard Stanley
Principal CastNicholas Cage as Nathan Gardner
Madeleine Arthur as Lavinia Gardner
Joely Richardson as Theresa Gardner
Elliot Knight as Ward Phillips
Release Date2019
Language(s)English
Running Time 115 minutes

If you like Lovecraft or enjoy the story this movie is based on, please do yourself a favor and watch it. The feeling, tone, and aesthetic are all distinctly Lovecraftian but feel renovated for a modern era. Stanley has done a great job directing a modern story that disorients its audience while keeping what made the original story distinctive and memorable.

The story follows the Gardeners, a family living out in the sticks, trying to forge a new life as farmers. Then one day, a meteorite crashes in their year, painting the sky in a neon pink/purple and causing the earth to quake. Soon after, the Gardner’s notice some strange happenings going with mutations in their vegetation and wildlife. The story starts off slow, but after a certain moment in the latter half of the movie, things go absolutely off the rails in the best possible way.

Light spoilers here, but the titular colored light works to zoink out the psyche and perception of those affected by it. The movie spends a decent amount of time building up characters and their orientations towards life, so the changes they go through because of the light are genuinely unnerving manifestations of their inner drives. Watching each actor/actress go from point A to point B is entertaining and believable (for the most part). Cage in particular has a standout performance as the Gardener father, Nathan. He’s asked to go to dark strange places and it can get uncomfortable. At times, certain performances seem comical but I can’t tell if that’s because of the nature of the horror or the performance proper. Needless to say, there were a lot of moments I laughed. I don’t know if black comedy is how I’d describe it – it’s more perverse than what I normally associate with that.

The special effect work done is amazing. The lighting effects really ride the line on comical and mesmerizing and the balance achieved kept me staring at the screen. However, what I’m really talking about is the creature effects. I was immediately reminded me of some of the terrifying creatures from The Thing, but slightly touched up to look more modern. There are some nightmare moments from the movie that haven’t left me since I watched it – stuff that’ll stick to your head for a good while, especially if you let the experience take you.

The nature of the movie leaves it open to a lot of interpretation. My personal take is that the movie is about humanity’s relation to nature. We seek control and compartmentalize it , as though it’s an entity that exists beneath us as opposed to being something that should be treated with some kind of reverence. Nature can at any point turn and is impartial to those it takes. Nothing can really protect you no matter how safe you think you are. I’ve read Staley’s interview and can definitely see where he was coming from (and think that he managed to naturally depict a lot of what he talked about) . A friend I was watching with had his own interpretation, so what I’m saying is this is a good thinking movie. There’s not precise or clean answers and it invites discussion.

While I appreciate the changes made to the original story, I wish Stanley would have gone a bit further. A few of the scares feel more horrifying because of how they’re tied in to the characters respective fear/personality but it doesn’t happen for all the characters. It feels like an odd choice that could’ve been ironed out. It’s especially strange given some later character choices that just scream bad idea. You know the one where the audience is screaming, “No, you idiot don’t do that.” Granted you could just chalk those up to “X is crazy because of the light” but the movie feels smarter than that.

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TLDRColor Out of Space should satisfy any fans of Lovecraftian/cosmic horror. It has splendid visuals, an absurd story, and some horrifying monstrosities that’ll haunt my nightmares for weeks to come. If you enjoyed Annihilation, give this a gander. It shares a lot of similarities but goes in a completely different direction – more horror, less sci-fi.
Rating9.3/10
GradeA

 

Review: Annihilation

Director(s)Alex Garland
Principal CastNatalie Portman as Lena
Oscar Isaac as Kane
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dr. Ventress
Release Date2018
Language(s)English
Running Time 115 minutes

If you haven’t already seen this movie, avoid the trailer because it spoils so much of the movie that I don’t understand why or how it was released.Now that I got that out of the way, Annihilation is one of the most ambitious science fiction movies I’ve seen in recent memory. The story follows a group of 5 scientists as they’re tasked with entering a zone enveloped by an alien aura known as “The Shimmer”.

This movie is a big discussion on creativity and its relation to the death drive. The Shimmer is filled with mutations that are either beautiful, horrifying, or some mixture of both. These creatures are not only meant to be horrifying, but are also used to provoke discussion on the nature of the alien substance. There are answers to its nature (the movie is fairly up-front about it), but the end of the movie is open enough to allow discourse on the meaning of it all. It’s a great movie to watch with friends and talk about afterwards because the movie does a great job of balancing giving direct answers and hinting at answers with multiple meanings. You could watch the movie straight up as a horror sci-fi movie with crazy sequences , but that would be a disservice to the layers going on. I’m not going to pretend to act like I got all of this on my first view. Honestly, the first time I saw this movie I really disliked a subplot focused on Lena, our protagonist. But on later viewings, I came to appreciate how it added to multiple themes in the movie. I still think it could’ve been done better, but I appreciate the reasoning behind it. Big Lovecraftian energy.

For those of you who are looking more for the sci-fi or the horror in the movie, don’t worry. The movie has them in spades. The movie might start off slow for some. There’s a lot of character work done (mainly exposition and introduction) here that pays off later, so I think it’s worth it, but I can see how it can feel grating. Thankfully, the movie soon transitions into “The Shimmer” and everything goes off the wheels. The visuals are jaw-dropping and watching the alien substance interact with everything is something you can’t stop looking at. Not to mention, the movie has one of the scariest creature moments in recent memory. It really stays with you. Once the 3rd act is underway, everything gets amped up another notch. The story and its themes come together in an audio-visual experience that’s wholly unique.

Every scientist feels developed and the audience gets a good insight into each of their personalities (even if some of that is done via the characters analyzing each other)They’re all good enough for the story and I could remember bits and pieces of them after I had first seen the movie. The cool thing about them is how the movie uses them all as foils to Lena which not only makes her decisions more interesting, but also nicely develops the themes.

The only issues with the film are some strange narrative choices. There’s a really odd framing device that’s used to explain a lot of the narrative. It feels almost like someone didn’t trust the audience to put the pieces together (which is false), so a lot of the movie comes to a painful standstill so that Lena can explain what we just saw to a room of people. It makes the movie feel bloated and I really wish it wasn’t there at all. The ending also feels odd – like it was tacked on to please audiences (which based on what I’ve read about production seems true). I don’t dislike it now, but I remember really thinking it was wonky on my first viewing.

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TLDRAnnihilation is a thought provoking treat on the eyes. It’s packed to the brim with sci-fi goodness and a real mystery. There are some story issues that make pacing a bit wonky, and the story takes a bit to start up, but once it does you’re in for something that can’t really be explained.
Rating9.4/10
GradeA

 

Review: Underwater

Director(s)William Eubank
Principal CastKristen Stewart as Norah Price
Vincent Cassel as Captain Lucien
T.J. Miller as Paul
Jessica Henwick as Emily
Release Date2020
Language(s)English
Running Time 95 minutes

After the disappointment that was The Grudge, I wasn’t that excited to see another January horror movie. So I set my expectations to 0 and went into Underwater with an open mind.I’m really glad I did, because the movie is a hell of a lot of fun. Yes, it’s an Alien derivative that doesn’t push the monster survival genre in any unique ways, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun time.

The movie is paced phenomenally. It doesn’t bloat the run time with a bunch of useless information or tired sequences – instead, it starts off with immediate action. Norah, a mechanical engineer aboard a corporate underwater drill, has to act fast when a breach in her station threatens to flood and destroy everything. Her and a few survivors have to band together and find a way to get out of the situation, but unbeknownst to them there’s some beasts lurking in the sea waiting to strike. Once the action starts it rarely lets up and I was surprised at how interesting the movie was. I never felt bored once, which I think is a mark of success for a thriller/horror.

All the members of the crew are adequate. The pacing of the movie gives little time for character development and it definitely feels like some of them are underutilized. This doesn’t mean there’s no character work – watching the characters deal with the stress of the situation in different ways definitely keeps the movie feeling fresh. Emily’s constant over-analysis or need to explain versus Paul’s humor add some levity to an otherwise tense and claustrophobic experience.

Performances are decent all around. Stewart does a great job as Norah projecting vulnerability and a resolute bad-assery. She’s the only character with a real arc, and it’s satisfying to watch it play out. Everyone else is just kind of along for the ride, so they don’t really get opportunities to add a lot of their own flair to their characters.

The movie is shot way better than I thought it would be. It’s only shaky when it needs to be which keeps the chaotic moments feeling distinct. There’s a great use of darkness and the movie follows the cardinal rule of not showing the “shark” too early. The creatures are hidden until they need to come out so I always felt tensed when I saw something flicker on the screen. The color palette is also murky and has a submerged feeling to it. Some people might be irritated by that. I personally wish it was used less, but it never felt like an issue.

The only real issue the movie has is a lack of purpose? I put a question mark here because I think the ending hints at a more complex “story” which would resolve this issue, but I can’t know until a sequel comes out. This is written with that in mind. Even though the movie is shot and executed well, outside of some awesome moments in the third act, there’s nothing really here that’s unique. It’s not bad- but if you want to see something that completely re-invents the Alien style of movie, you won’t find it here. Instead, you’ll find a competent thriller that’s action packed from beginning to end.

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TLDRUnderwater is a tense,claustrophobic, and exciting from start to finish. It may not reinvent the wheel, but it’s a well executed thriller with some incredible moments in the third act. If you like Alien derivates or underwater thrillers, you should check it out!
Rating7.5/10
GradeC+

Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!

 

Halloween 2k19 :Marathon Retrospective

Introduction

I’ve loved horror movies for a long time, but I’ve always found it hard to talk about it with others because of my lack of familiarity with the western cannon. As a kid I started off with horror movies like The Ring and The Grudge and subsequently got into Asian horror. Because of this I never ended up watching common American classics like A Nightmare on Elm Street.

This challenge was my chance to play “catch-up” and improve my understanding of western horror history. I thought it’d be hard because of how many slashers I’d have to watch. I’ve never liked blood – it always makes me feel queasy – so slashers were my natural enemy. However, I did look forward to movies like The Silence of the Lambs and The House of the Devil, because I like supernatural and psychological movies and I find them easiest to get lost in.

The biggest part of the challenge I was scared about was actually forcing myself to watch a horror movie everyday and then write a review within the day. Yes, I tell my friends what I think of movies all the time but writing my thoughts out is a lot more time intensive than casually speaking them. My biggest concern was having a competent review for each movie.

Now that the challenge is done- I thought it’d be interesting to go ahead and analyze the results and experience overall. Did I meet expectations? Was it everything I wanted and more? How did my reviews compare to aggregate sites like IMDb? Tune in and find out.

General Statistics

I went to Metacritic and IMDb and found the aggregate ratings for each of the movies I saw. The Metascore on Metacritic uses a scale of 100. I scaled it back down to a scale of 10 to make comparing the numbers easier.

The sample size is only the 32 movies I saw during the challenge, so take the numbers as you will. As I get more reviews up here I can do more robust analyses. This particular retrospective might seem more trivial, but it’s a fun journey nonetheless.

NOTE: Ratings may change as more reviews are added over time so if you view this well after the posted date- keep that in mind.

Title My Rating IMDb Rating MetaCritic User Score MetaCritic Meta Score
Hour of the Wolf 8.5 7.7 N/A N/A
Scream 9.3 7.2 8.8 6.5
The Thing 10.0 8.1 8.8 5.7
Zombieland 8.8 7.6 8.6 7.3
The Shining 10.0 8.4 8.8 6.6
Poltergeist 9.0 7.3 8.5 7.9
Green Room 8.3 7.0 7.2 7.9
The House of the Devil 9.2 6.4 6.9 7.3
Night of the Living Dead 9.5 7.9 8.5 8.9
Texas Chain Saw Massacre 10.0 7.5 8.0 7.5
A Nightmare on Elm Street 9.1 7.5 8.8 7.6
The Cabin in the Woods 9.3 7.0 8.1 7.2
The Silence of the Lambs 10.0 8.6 8.8 8.5
Shaun of the Dead 9.0 7.9 8.7 7.6
In the Mouth of Madness 10.0 7.2 6.8 5.3
Saw 8.1 7.6 8.1 4.6
An American Werewolf in London 9.1 7.5 8.8 7.6
Joker 9.4 8.8 9.2 5.9
Nosferatu 9.5 7.9 N/A 7.9
Cube 9.2 7.2 7.3 6.1
Black Swan 9.4 7.5 8.1 7.9
28 Days Later 9.5 7.6 7.7 7.3
Candyman 10.0 6.6 N/A N/A
Event Horizon 7.4 6.7 7.2 3.5
Friday the 13th 7.2 6.5 5.6 2.2
The Devil’s Backbone 8.8 7.4 8.7 7.8
The Others 8.4 7.6 8.7 7.4
Jaws 10.0 8.0 8.8 8.7
The Lighthouse 10.0 8.3 8.3 8.3
Hell House LLC 8.2 6.4 N/A N/A
Zombieland: Double Tap 7.5 7.2 5.3 5.6
Ringu 9.7 7.2 N/A N/A

Personal Analysis

Based on my ratings you can tell that this month was good for me. Out of the 32 movies I saw 8 movies that I would classify as a 10. Those movies were:

  • The Shining
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
  • The Thing
  • The Silence of the Lambs
  • In the Mouth of Madness
  • Candyman
  • Jaws
  • The Lighthouse

Even though I’d say I’m more willing to give 10’s than other critics, I still find it amazing how many of the movies profoundly impacted me. On top of these 8 “unicorns”, an additional 4 movies made the A+ squad meaning that 37.5% of the movies I saw were good enough for me to want to recommend then to everyone. These additions include:

  • Night of the Living Dead
  • Nosferatu
  • 28 Days Later
  • Ringu

The distribution of these movies genre-wise is also something I’m surprised by. I didn’t think that I would rank any slasher up that highly, but Candyman and Texas Chain Saw Massacre were both so nuanced that I couldn’t help but be entranced by both movies. I love supernatural and psychological movies so that part makes sense.

Genre Count
Supernatural 3
Psychological 3
Slasher 2
Monster 1
Science Fiction 1

The movie I ended up liking the least was Friday the 13th, which I gave a 7.2. After A Nightmare on Elm Street, I was hoping that one of the other great slasher series could give me something meaningful to bite into. Unfortunately, despite having a few nice moments, the movie didn’t hit me the way I wanted it to. It’s funny- before I started the marathon I didn’t want anything to do with the movie, but after being spoiled by some great ones, I started looking forward to the ones on my list. Congrats slasher movies – you got a fan in me.

Relational Analysis

Review Source Mean Median Standard Deviation
Me 9.09 9.25 0.81
IMDb 7.49 7.5 0.61
Metacritic – User 8.03 8.3 0.96
Metacritic- Meta 6.82 7.3 1.56

My friends have always said I’m a film snob, and I’ve always maintained I’m not. But everytime I end up loving a horror movie (The Witch, It Follows, The Babadook…) it ends up being one of those divisive movies that gets good “critic” reviews but not so great user reviews. That’s what made the comparison of the major statistics so surprising.

My ratings were closest to the Metacritic – User ratings and also furthest away from the Metacritic – Meta ratings. It’s also interesting that that’s the only source that had a standard deviation well above 1. It seems like “critics” are more broad compared to a more “in tune” user base. I’d be interested in finding out why that’s the case, but that’s for another time when I have more data and better codding knowledge.

I also wanted to check out just how different my A+ movies differentiated from the way my counterparts ranked them. Maybe my self perceived greats were so good that they elicited similar reactions in others. I’ve excluded Nosferatu, Candyman, and Ringu because they have missing Metacritic data.

Title IMDb Difference Metacritic Meta Difference Metacritic User Difference
The Shining 1.6 1.2 3.4
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2.5 2.0 2.5
Night of the Living Dead 1.6 1.0 0.6
The Thing 1.9 1.2 4.3
The Silence of the Lambs 1.4 1.2 1.5
In the Mouth of Madness 2.8 3.2 4.7
28 Days Later 1.9 1.8 2.2
Jaws 2.0 1.2 1.3
The Lighthouse 1.7 1.7 1.7

The differences are promising in a certain light. Though my final rating for most of the above titles is higher than my counterparts, their position comparative to other movies on the list remains similar. I may give higher ratings – but those ratings are in line with (for the most part) the trend of rating horror movies. The biggest exceptions to this rule so far are The Shining and In the Mouth of Madness. Both movies are cult classics and I appreciated their depths into darker, more Lovecraftian themes. After looking it up, I found out that they’re part of John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy”. When I found out I still had one movie, Prince of Darkness, to watch I felt tremendous jubilation.

In a more general sense, the ratings for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Lighthouse have the closest score distributions out all the movies. The Lighthouse is the most striking given that every source sans myself had given the movie an 8.3.

Review of Writing Style

When I first started writing reviews, I thought the process was overwhelming. I’ve always been someone who just focuses on plot and interpretation. I’ve always appreciated things like score and camera angles but never thought about how they impacted my viewing experience. Trying to find a way to incorporate discussion about all the elements was my first big hurdle.

My earlier reviews like , Review: The Hour of the Wolf, exhibit the issue clearly. When I mention certain things, they come off as static and feel more like statements that have to be there as opposed to streams of natural thought that followed from the previous one. This is mainly because I’m not the best at using commas, so translating my spoken thought into proper written work is… difficult to say the least. If you’ve been reading for a while, you may notice I use a lot of “-“‘s in my work. I don’t know how correct it is, but the feeling it creates feels natural.

Thankfully, my more recent reviews are more fluid, even if the difference isn’t as big as I wanted. Sentences extend for longer and there’s more voice and expression in everything. There’s probably a lot more, but I’m more interested in seeing where my writing is at in a year, so I’ll wait until then to take a deeper look.

Final Takeaway

Overall, this experience was great. Watching a movie and writing a review everyday was challenging but was also incredibly rewarding. I was forced to critically inspect each movie at multiple levels and ended up appreciating the craftsmanship at work.

The hardest part of the process was feeling like there was a constant deadline for each movie. Some of the movies hit emotional beats pretty hard and it was difficult to force myself to watch a movie the next day. Balancing a movie a day on top of work and everyday life was also challenging and something I should’ve prepared around more.

The more serious movies that were playing in theaters proved to be the hardest to review. Joker and The Lighthouse both moved me and brought up a lot of interesting points, but I couldn’t pause, write out my thoughts, and rewind to catch up with certain points like I could do back at home on my PS3.

I’m definitely planning on doing this challenge next year, but now I think I have some good changes to make the process more manageable. I definitely need more fun/cheesy movies to lighten the mood. Being scared and philosophically boomed is great but there’s a charm to less serious movies. At the very least, they would serve as a much needed change in current that would keep the experience fresh.