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Posts Tagged ‘Blumhouse’

The Invisible Man

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

When we last saw Australian writer/actor/director Leigh Whannell two years ago, he had graduated from James Wan’s main writer (SAW I-III, DEAD SILENCE, INSIDIOUSes) to director of “a ferocious low budget cyberpunk action thriller” (source: outlawvern.com) called UPGRADE. I guess not very many people saw it, but Blumhouse still liked him enough to listen to his pitch for a remake of THE INVISIBLE MAN. And it was apparently a good one.

It had me not long after the simple, eerie title sequence – yes, you can still have a title sequence! – of waves crashing on rocks, splashing up and dripping off of invisible letters. The opening takes place high above those rocks in the mansion of super-rich-tech-genius Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, FASTER, The Haunting of Hill House), who is asleep. His girlfriend Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss, SUBURBAN COMMANDO) is trying to sneak out, something she has clearly planned for and is very scared about, with a go-bag in a hidden compartment, a plan for turning off the security system and a rendezvous point with her confused sister Emily (Harriet Dyer). (read the rest of this shit…)

Sweetheart

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

SWEETHEART is a simple little horror movie from second-time writer/director J.D. Dillard (SLEIGHT). It only has a couple characters, most of the time only two, and only one of those is human. Jenn (Kiersey Clemons, DOPE) wakes up face down on an island shore, life vest on, having survived some unspecified boat disaster. A friend or acquaintance of some kind, Brad (Benedict Samuel, the Mad Hatter on Gotham), has washed up too, but he’s impaled on some kind of shell, and he doesn’t last long.

So it’s a castaway movie. Jenn immediately proves to be very resourceful, smashing through a coconut with a sharp rock to get water. She finds her luggage, and manages to be well dressed in beach attire throughout the movie. She also finds luggage from someone else who’s been on the island, but maybe a long time ago. Long enough to have a Gameboy.

For a bit it seems like some puzzle-oriented video game like Myst, because she’s looking at objects and photos, piecing together a bit of a backstory for characters we never even see. There’s a journal, but it got wet enough that all the ink smeared away. (read the rest of this shit…)

Black Christmas (second remake)

Monday, December 16th, 2019

BLACK CHRISTMAS (2019) is another loose remake of BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974). Like the original and the 2006 remake it’s about a group of sorority sisters who stay on campus during winter break and then start getting stalked and murdered. The creepy phone calls have been updated to creepy texts, and the identity and mythology behind the killings is completely different from either of the previous versions. Which I support. No reason to do this otherwise.

The opening feels like the serious, scary parts of SCREAM. A student named Lindsay (Lucy Currey) is walking home one snowy night, getting weird texts, thinking a dude is following her. He’s not, but suddenly she crashes into a different man wearing a mask and black robe who chases her around a heavily Christmas-decorated house where no one responds to her cries for help. But the horrifying/beautiful overhead shot of Lindsay making a snow angel as she dies and is dragged away sets a bar that’s never met in the subsequent off rhythm and ineffective cat and mouse scenes. I didn’t realize until afterwards that it’s a PG-13 movie, which might explain some of that, but doesn’t really justify that the mask isn’t particularly cool or creepy. That shit is important in a masked slasher movie.

But maybe not as important as a good protagonist, and in that department BLACK CHRISTMAS definitely delivers. The story centers on Riley (Imogen Poots, 28 WEEKS LATER, FRIGHT NIGHT, GREEN ROOM), who is helping the sisters prepare for some sort of Christmas performance at a frat party, but doesn’t plan to participate. Even though she’s in a sorority, her long coat and Doc Martens signal a tinge of cool non-conformist status that Poots somehow makes credible. (read the rest of this shit…)

Flesh & Blood (Into the Dark)

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

Into the Dark is a series of low budget holiday-themed horror movies that Blumhouse produced for Hulu. IMDb and Wikipedia classify them as an anthology TV series like Masters of Horror, but Hulu presents them as individual movies, and they’re feature length. (For some reason I assumed they’d be shorts.) I decided to try out last year’s FLESH & BLOOD, one of the two Thanksgiving movies in the series so far.

Kimberly Tooms (Diana Silvers before BOOKSMART and GLASS) has just turned 17 in early November of 2018. Some time after Thanksgiving the year before her mother (Meredeth Salenger, EDGE OF HONOR) was murdered, and the case has not been solved. Since then she’s developed agoraphobia. She has a bit of a support group online, but Dr. Saunders (Tembi Locke, STEEL), the therapist who comes to the house to work with her, doesn’t think she’s making enough progress. When she follows her dad (Dermot Mulroney, COPYCAT – also about agoraphobia)’s encouragement to try to get an Amazon package off the porch she fails. The world turns blurry, dizzying, loud. She can’t function. (read the rest of this shit…)

Ma

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

MA is a pretty simple little Blumhouse thriller that doesn’t go much deeper than what you see in the trailer, but I had fun with it. Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer (HALLOWEEN II) plays the titelistical matriarch, a.k.a. Sue Ann, a single veterinarian’s assistant in a small town in Ohio who is randomly approached one day by some high school kids who want her to buy them alcohol. Not only does she hook them up that one time, she becomes their regular buyer. And then she decides to let them use her basement as their party space. She’s like a cool, irresponsible aunt. She jokes around inappropriately sometimes, but tells them she’d rather they be here than out driving drunk or something. (Plan A was to party in a van.)

There are a couple obvious ways to play this. One would be to draw out the reveal of whether or not Ma is a psycho. I like that they immediately show her looking up the kids’ Facebook pages like a stalker. There are two other major escalations in craziness that happened so abruptly I got a big laugh and wished I’d seen this with an audience. The suspense is in how far she’s gonna take this. And there’s tension about things like “why is she so insistent that they not see the upstairs” and “will Maggie (Diana Silvers, BOOKSMART) be able to make her friends and her boyfriend Andy (Corey Fogelmanis, Girl Meets World) see that this lady is trouble?” (read the rest of this shit…)

Happy Death Day 2U

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

HAPPY DEATH DAY was a well-executed take on a fun premise: a slasher GROUNDHOG DAY where mean sorority girl Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe, LA LA LAND) has to keep reliving her birthday until she figures out who the fuck keeps stabbing. As she investigates everybody around her she starts to understand their lives better and be nicer to them. Except the one who killed her, who she kicks out a window. I wished it had been Rated-R to take gory advantage of the “heroine dies repeatedly” gimmick, but they made it work, largely because Tree is such a compelling character. Like Bill Murray in that other time loop movie she gets to be a fun asshole, which is so rare for a female lead.

In the sequel we get to see a little bit of the creepy baby mask, but the mystery of who’s stalking her is pretty much irrelevant. Sure, they revisit it in alternate timelines where it’s different people behind the mask, but there’s not as much suspense to be wrung out of it, so it shifts a little away from the horror comedy and more into sci-fi comedy, again made fun by the character of Tree and the performance of Rothe. If anything she’s even a little better in this one. (read the rest of this shit…)

Happy Death Day

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

HAPPY DEATH DAY is a nice little high concept horror movie. 90 minutes, fast paced, upbeat. When I first saw the teaser I thought “I can’t believe nobody’s thought to do that before!” and sure enough these people did it ably.

See, it’s GROUNDHOG DAY meets a slasher movie (specifically SCREAM 2 I would say). Oddly named sorority girl Tree (Jessica Rothe, LA LA LAND) wakes up hung over on her birthday in the dorm room of some geek she barely knows. She shame-walks out of there in her shoulderless sequin blouse, squinting at the bright sun, and goes through a busy day (rushed changing of clothes, late for class, awkward run-ins with guys, sorority meeting, avoiding her dad, attempted tryst with a teacher) before being stabbed to death by an unknown person in a baby mask (weird school mascot, good slasher mask). And then she wakes up in that dorm again, on her birthday again. So she has to keep re-living this day, but also solve her own murder so that maybe she can see tomorrow. (read the rest of this shit…)