Here’s The Trailer For The Witcher!


To be honest, I had my doubt about this project but the trailer actually looks kind of good.

The Witcher, which is based the series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski, tells the story of Geralt of Rivia, who hunts monsters at a time and in a land where it can often be difficult to tell the difference between who is truly a monster and who is not.  Heny Cavill will be playing Geralt in the series and Adrzej Sapkowsi swill serve as a creative consultant.

So, let’s hope for the best when The Witcher drops on Netflix on December 20th!

Here’s the trailer.

The Things You Find On Netflix: Eli (dir by Ciaran Foy)


Eli (Charlie Shotwell) is a young boy who is allergic to everything outside.  As a result, he can’t venture out of the house unless he’s covered, head-to-toe, in protective gear.  Eli wasn’t always allergic, of course.  It’s just something that suddenly started.  Eli’s mother, Rose (Kelly Reilly) and her husband, Paul (Max Martini), are taking him to a special clinic run by Dr. Isabella Horn (Lili Taylor).  Because the clinic is sealed off from the outside, Eli can leave his plastic bubble.  Because the clinic is in a dark old building, we know that it’s either going to be haunted or run by some sort of cult.  In fact, it doesn’t take long before Eli is doubting not only Dr. Horn but his parents as well!  He keeps hearing voices that hiss, “Lie.”  And the only other patient at the clinic, a young girl named Haley (Sadie Sink), repeatedly tells him to be careful….

Eli is 98 minutes long and I lost interest after the first ten.  Basically, I was willing to give the film a chance but then a bunch of rednecks started to taunt Eli while he was walking around outside in his protective gear and I was like, “Yeah, okay.” Then they started throwing stuff at him and I was like, “Getting a little bit heavy-handed now.”  Then the suit got torn and Eli started screaming like he was about to die and the rednecks just stood there laughing and that’s when I said, “Okay, this is going to suck.”  There’s heavy-handed and then there’s just attacking your audience with a sledgehammer.  Sledgehammers give you a migraine.

Once Eli reaches the clinic, the film slows down to a glacial pace.  In theory, the slow pace should have helped to maintain an ominous atmosphere but …. eh.  To be honest, I’ve seen a lot of creepy clinics in a lot of creepy movies and there was nothing that special about this one.  It all leads to a big twist but, again, it wasn’t a particularly original twist and even the film’s attempt to blow my mind with a subversive ending just left me shrugging.  “Really?” I thought, “That’s what’s going to happen, huh?  Well, what can you do?”

Like a lot of bad movies, the script for Eli was included on the infamous Hollywood Black List.  The Black List is an annual list of the “best” unproduced screenplays in Hollywood.  A few good films have been made out of scripts on the Black List but, for whatever, the majority of Black List films always seem to turn out to be somewhat disappointing.  Broken City, for instance, was a Black List film.  So was The Beaver.  You can add Eli to the pile of mediocre Black List films.

The Things You Find On Netflix: The Laundromat (dir by Steven Soderbergh)


To say that Meryl Streep gives a bad performance in The Laundromat actually does a disservice to your average, run-of-the-mill bad performance.

Meryl Streep instead gives an absolutely terrible performance in The Laundromat, playing not one, not two, but three characters.  One of the characters is Ellen Martin, a middle-class widow from Michigan whose attempts to collect a fair settlement after the death of her husband provides a portal in the world of shady con men and corrupt financial institutions.  One of the characters is a secret, which means that Meryl wears a lot of make-up and frumpy clothes.  That said, from the minute the character appeared on screen, I went, “Oh, there’s Meryl again.”  Then, in her third role, Meryl plays herself, demanding campaign finance reform and striking a Statue of Liberty pose while holding a hairbrush instead of a torch.

Really, it’s the type of horrendous performance that could only be delivered by a truly great actress.  (If Meryl Streep is the modern Norma Shearer, this is her Romeo and Juliet.)  Watching Meryl Streep play the role of Ellen, It occurred to me that Meryl is one of those actresses who is incapable of being authentic but who can certainly act the Hell out of pretending to be authentic.  You never forget that Meryl Streep is acting and that’s one reason why her best performances are usually the ones where she’s playing theatrical characters, whether they’re politicians like Margaret Thatcher, celebrities like Julia Child, or the Witch in Into the Woods.  But when you cast Meryl as someone who is basically supposed to be a member of the “common people,” it just doesn’t work.  Laura Dern, Laurie Metcalf, Allison Janney, even Annette Bening probably could have done a decent job playing Ellen Martin but Meryl is just too Meryl.  As for her other two performances in The Laundromat, they don’t work because one is meant to be a joke on the audience and the other is just a retread of her standard “I’m just a middle class woman from New Jersey and I love the little people” awards show speech.

Of course, The Laundromat itself is a remarkably bad film.  Again, it takes a lot of talent to make a film this bad.  Watching the film, I found myself wondering why, at this point in his celebrated career, Steven Soderbergh would decide to become a second-rate Adam McKay, especially when McKay himself is just a third-rate Jean-Luc Godard?  The film is structured so that, while Ellen is obsessing on why she’s getting screwed over by the insurance companies, we’re also treated to scenes of Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas talking directly to the camera and explaining to use why the poor are always going to get screwed over by the rich.  That’s probably true but the film gets so heavy-handed in its execution that the resulting migraine is going to be due less to outrage and more due to the sledgehammer that Soderbergh takes to your head.

Along with Ellen’s story, we also get to see several other stories featuring people and their money.  Jeffrey Wright is a crooked accountant who has two families.  And then there’s an African businessman who bribes his wife and daughter with shares in a non-existent company and then we take a trip to China, where we learn about cyanide and organ harvesting. And yes, I get it.  It shows how a crime committed in China is ultimately felt by a widow living in Michigan.  But one can’t help but wish that Soderbergh had just focuses on one story, instead of trying to imitate the worst moments of The Big Short.

Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas are technically playing the film’s villains but they’re both so charming that The Laundromat at times seems like more of a recruiting film for aspiring money launderers than anything else.  (To continue the Adam McKay comparison, it’s a bit like how Vice actually left audiences feeling sympathy for Dick Cheney as opposed to writing petitions to send to The Hague.)  It desperately wants to leave us outraged but Soderbegh gets so caught up in his own cutesy storytelling techniques that it just leaves us feeling somewhat annoyed.  Watching the film, one gets the feeling that the perfect directors for The Laundromat would have been the Coen Brothers, who are capable of outrage but whose detached style would have kept them from bludgeoning the audience with it.  Soderbergh is too angry to be effective.

As I said, there’s a lot of talented people involved in The Laundromat.  It’s full of people who have done great work in the past and who will do great work in the future.  As for The Laundromat, it’s a legitimate contender for the biggest disappointment of the year.

The Things You Find On Netflix: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (dir by Vince Gilligan)


As one might expect from the sequel film to Breaking Bad, the shadow of Walter White hangs over very minute of El Camino.

Physically, Bryan Cranston doesn’t have a large role in El Camino.  Like many of the characters from Breaking Bad, he appears only in a flashback.  Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) spends a good deal of this movie dwelling on the past, perhaps because the only way that he can have a future is by mentally forgiving himself for all the stuff that went on while he was cooking meth with Walter White and, later, for the Nazi bikers who kept him chained up in a cage like an animal.  So, it makes sense that we would see a lot of flashbacks, the majority featuring characters who are no longer alive.  Cranston’s Walter White only appears towards the end of the film, when Jesse remembers the conversation they had at a diner about what Jesse was going to do with the money that they were making.  It’s a bit jarring to see them, largely because Walter still looks like an earnest and frail science teacher while Jesse is still young, loud, and more than a little obnoxious.  It’s quite a contrast to what we know will eventually happen to both characters.

For obvious reasons, Walter White isn’t in much of El Camino but his ghost seems to following Jesse through the entire movie. For that matter, so does the ghost of Tod Alquist (Jesse Plemons).  It’s not just that a good deal of the movie deals with Jesse trying to figure out where Tod hid all of his money.  (Jesse is planning on using the money to hopefully escape New Mexico and start a new life in Alaska.)  It’s also that Jesse has been scarred, both physically and mentally, by the Hellish time that he spent as Tod’s …. well, Tod’s pet.  Tod treated Jesse like a dog, keeping him on a leash, punishing him for being “bad,” and then offering Jesse pizza as a reward whenever Jesse did something right.  To be honest, the flashbacks with Tod take some getting used to, largely because Plemons has obviously aged quite a bit between the finale of Breaking Bad and the shooting of El Camino.  But, still, Plemons is absolutely terrifying as the unfailingly polite but definitely sociopathic Tod.  At one point, Tod casually brings Jesse over to his apartment so that Jesse can help dispose of the body of his cleaning lady.  Tod murdered her because she came across some money that he was hiding in a hollowed-out book.  Tod shrugs as he tells the story of her murder, as if his actions are as commonplace as waking up and going to bed.

Throughout Breaking Bad, Jesse spent most of the series being manipulated by evil men.  What was ironic, of course, was that Jesse was the only one of those men who must people automatically considered to be a criminal.  Everyone thought that Walter was a tragic family man.  Tod was largely anonymous and those who did notice him usually assumed he was just an eccentric weirdo.  Jesse, on the other hand, was the guy who was continually getting hauled in by the police and harassed by the DEA.  He was the one who was viewed as being a danger to society even though he eventually proved himself to be one of the few characters with anything resembling a conscience.  In El Camino, Jesse finally gets a chance to determine his own fate.  Will he embrace the lucrative but soul-destroying greed of Walter and Tod?  Or will he escape and try to make a new life for himself?

El Camino is a visually stunning tour-de-force, anchored by Aaron Paul’s empathetic performance as Jesse.  Jesse is no longer as loud as he may have been in Breaking Bad.  He’s a man haunted by the past and, watching the film, you know, regardless of whether he makes it to Alaska, the scars will never fully heal.  He has the haunted eyes of a man who is never going to be fully okay, regardless of where he ends up.  In fact, if we’re going to be realistic, he probably doesn’t have much of a future ahead of him.  Those ghosts are always going to follow him and, as Robert Forster’s Ed sagely explains it, much of what has happened is due to Jesse’s own poor decisions.

Still, whatever mistakes he’s made in the past, you can’t help but wish the best for Jesse Pinkman.

He’s earned it.

Constantine, Review by Case Wright


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Can one act stain your soul for all eternity? It turns out that if you attempt suicide, you’re going to Hell.  Anywho, Constantine was a comic by Alan Moore (Watchmen) long before Keanu Reeves played the demon fighter.  Full disclosure, I have purchased, but not read the comic. It’s long and I’m not sure if I can get through it for this horrorthon, but I WILL TRY!

Constantine was born with a “gift” that he could see demons among us.  This drives him out of his mind; so, he commits suicide and is sent promptly to Hell. He’s tormented for what seems like an eternity, but in our time was just two minutes. He returns to Earth because paramedics revive him.  Because he attempted to kill himself, he’s condemned to Hell when he dies.  How do I know this?The “Half-Angel” Gabriel tells it to us in really clunky exposition.  It turns out that Heaven and Hell are basically in a Cold War and can’t directly fight on Earth.

Constantine REALLY doesn’t want to go back to Hell.  His solution is to fight demons for a living to get into heaven. He does an exorcism here and there and fights evil, but this isn’t his ticket back to heaven- as I was told by MORE exposition.  Constantine is kind of a depressive and a little whiny at times.  I guess that’s why I kept getting annoyed by him.  Yeah, Yeah, your life sucks, but there’s no reason to do this all the time:

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There’s a lot of these “I’m so broody Boohoo” moments in this film.

Like this one: broody 3.jpg

This one was a long trip to bummer time with a soupçon of anger:

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Between the complaining, Constantine uncovers a plot that Lucifer’s son Mammon is trying to break into earth and cause a lot of trouble.  Trouble….Trouble….that starts with M …. and ends with N, which stands for Mammon!

Constantine was entertaining, but it seems kinda all over the place at times.  The parts that had him hot on the trail of Mammon and his evil plans were fun, but all the side plots and side characters were a mixture of goofy and dull.  Overall, it was a good burgers and fries flick.  Not to say that the comics or the cartoon (yep, there’s a cartoon, I know because of Google) aren’t awesome, but if they are the same quality as the movie, they are beach reads or I’m stuck on public transportation reading.  There might be sequel.  Will I watch it? Yes, because despite my snark, I’m basically 14.

 

“In The Tall Grass” Review by Case Wright


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Happy Horrorthon! With all the streaming services that I review, you’d think one of them would comp me for a month! Feel bad for me… What do you get when you mix: Religious ferver, sacrifice, cannabalism, a soon to be baby daddy, a really skinny dirty kid/oracle, a dog, alien influenced grass, and A LOT of REALLY stupid choices? Yep, you get “In the Tall Grass”.  This sounds really convoluted, but the tall grass is just that, but it’s also evil or controlled by an alien spaceship.  I’m guessing spaceship.  The story is basically Tommyknockers, but without any inventions and far less math.

Let me explain, Becky is unmarried, pregnant by a musician of sorts, and on her way to give up her baby to a family in San Diego.  Cal, her brother, is driving her cross country to do it. Why are they driving and not flying?  I don’t really know because the adoptive family would’ve definitely paid for a flight, but the adoptive parents make remote bad choices like everyone else in this story.  Let’s call this Bad Decision #1.  They decide to stop and they hear a boy yelling for help who is purportedly lost in the tall grass and needs emergency services.  Becky and Cal do not have EMS training, supplies, or even a compass- so they decide to enter the tall grass because they are stupid..really.  This is Bad Decision #2.  Really what did they think that they would do other than get lost?  They didn’t even think to call the police first! The police by the way would’ve said DON’T GO IN THE GRASS or pay a lot for that muffler.  The two of them rapidly realize that they are lost and not really in normal grass.

Later, the soon to be Baby Daddy- Travis- shows up at the cornfield.  He finds his girlfriend’s abandoned car.  It’s been there a while.  Does he call the police? Nope.  Now, I get some folks want to be their own first-responder and that’s respectable if you are basically competent.  Travis is not call police – Bad Decision #3. Travis then decides to also trounce around in the grass …. and gets lost. Bad Decision #4.

Travis finds Tobin the boy that called Becky into the grass and he knows A LOT about everyone: Travis, Becky, Cal, and all the other people in the grass. Yes, there is another family in there, BUT the dad in the family has gone full on EVIL.  That man is Ross (Patrick Wilson).  Ross was a normal person until he went into the grass and touched the monolith rock at the grass maze’s center.  The rock tells you to do things like how to get out of the grass, how to smash your wife’s skull – yep that happened, and whether or not Keto is just plain bullshit.

I’d like to take a second to write about Patrick Wilson’s performance. I liked it. Granted, I’m a fan of his work, but it was fun to see him play a villain. He had the phony real estate thing down and he could really turn up the rage. Also, his character was the only one not to make stupid choices.

The story shifts into a cat and mouse game of Ross hunting Becky and the rest of the people down to kill them over and over again.  Over and over again? Yes, there’s a time loop created by the rock.  So, you get lost in the grass a lot and killed a lot by Ross.  Bummer.  Their only hope is to kill Ross and stop the cycle. Will they kill Ross? Will they remain in the tall grass? Will I get up to benching 315Lbs (142 Kg)?

Is this movie worth watching? Well…the constant bad decisions really make it hard to sympathize with the characters.  I feel like the grass could’ve been more choosy or maybe the grass is a rescuer alien entity likes chaos like ALL of my ex-girlfriends.  The movie also really reminded me of Cube and it turns out it was written by Vincenzo Natali – the writer and director of Cube. Well, it basically was Cube meets evil Field of Dreams.  What is old is new again and again and again…wait I just wondered into some grass. No…wait, it’s just the kitchen. Do you want anything as long as I’m up?

For all you Stephen King nerds there were some Easter eggs In The Tall Grass, See Below:

 

The Things You Find On Netflix: Deadly Detention (dir by Blair Hayes)


If you’re in high school and you have to do Saturday detention in an abandoned, but perhaps haunted, prison, there’s a good chance that you’re gong to die.

That’s the main lesson that can picked up from the 2017 film Deadly Detention, which I watched via Netflix a few nights ago.  Old prison.  Sex.  Detention.  It all leads to death.  Of course, you really shouldn’t need a movie to teach you that lesson.  I mean, it’s just common sense.  STAY OUT OF THE OLD PRISONS, PEOPLE!  Especially if it’s got a death row because you just know there’s going to be a lot of pissed off ghosts floating around there….

The good thing about Deadly Detention is that it realizes that abandoned prison=death should be common sense as well.  It’s an extremely self-aware movie, fully indulging in all of the slasher movie cliches while, at the same time, poking cheerful fun at them.  Deadly Detention may start out as a horror film but, after about 15 minutes or so, it turns into a full-blown comedy and it’s actually pretty fun to watch.

Why are our students attending detention?  Well, it turns out that the majority of them have been framed, which explains why even the popular school athlete is being punished.  Why are they attending detention in a prison?  Well, it seems that a pack of rabid possums were somehow released into the school.  Now, of course, being the former country girl that I am, I immediately knew something strange was happening because possums are actually immune to rabies.  So, seriously, if you see a possum in your back yard, don’t panic!  They’re harmless.

Among those spending their Saturday in detention:

Officer Pete (Kevin Blake), the quiet hall cop,

Miss Presley (Gillian Vigman), the principal who brings her very big and very pointed principal-of-the-year trophy with her,

Lexie (Alex Frnka), the rebellious school tramp who turns out to be a lot more smarter than anyone gave her credit for,

Jessica (Sarah Davenport), the school athlete who has always been driven to be the best,

Barrett (Henry Zaga), the hilariously vain and shallow rich kid whose main hope is that, if he dies, he’ll still look good,

Kevin (Coy Stewart), the gay religious kid who turns out to actually have a lot more depth than anyone originally suspected,

and Taylor (Jennifer Robyn Jacobs), the cheerfully strange girl who knows all the stories about all the ghosts.

Now, you may be thinking that this cast of characters sounds familiar and it’s true that they’re all deliberately meant to invoke various slasher movie tropes.  At the same time, I suspect that they’re also meant to remind us of the members of The Breakfast Club as well.  However, each character is so well-cast and each actor seems to be having so much fun that they all soon develop their own individual identities.  In fact, this cast is so fun to watch that it’s kind of sad once the blood starts to spill.

But spill, it does.  Soon, the detainees find themselves having to figure out how to escape the prison while an unseen stalker taunts them over the intercom.  What sets this film apart from many other Netflix slasher films is that the students all seem to know that they’re in a horror film and they tend to comment on the action accordingly.  When it comes to a horror-comedy, a film always has to decide if it’s going to be more of a horror or a comedy and, early on, Deadly Detention embraces the comedy label and it turns out that the film made the right choice.  Thanks to a likable cast and some clever dialogue, Deadly Detention is an entertaining 90 minutes.

As I said, the entire cast is good but Alex Frnka, Coy Stewart, and Jennifer Robyn Jacobs especially deserve a lot of credit for taking characters who could have been cliches and instead turning them into fairly compelling human beings.  Alex Frnka not only gets all the best lines but she makes them even better with a delivery that’s perfectly perched between sincerity and snarkiness.  The same can be said of the film as a whole.