In this week’s episode, Mike and Jay return, slightly tipsy and ready to talk about Mike’s gaming foray into the new God of War game, Nintendo’s Labo, his reaction to the sequel Supertroopers 2 and Netflix’s Lost in Space, while Jay rambles on endlessly about things tangentially tied to all subjects at hand.
I had recently heard so many good things about this movie that I was very hesitant to watch A Dark Song. But I will say that I was initially gripped by the idea of a woman hiring an occultist to help her summon an angel, her guardian angel, to help her right a wrong in her life. Compelling performances and what seems to be a thorough presentation of occult rituals and the importance of intent and purity when pursuing such endeavors.
The strongest elements of this movie are the atmosphere and believability to the occult practices. The discussions of sleep deprivation, dehydration, and other naturally occurring bodily functions playing such a role in the occult is something not often seen in such narratives. The occult is a science when practiced. There is mathematics, scientific applications, and observation, and experimentation involved in the practices. This movie shows the moving parts of an occultic working, something along the lines of what Aleister Crowley probably would have done. And the depictions of the mental breakdown that can occur during a summoning seems relatively realistic, considering what is happening. Overall, I was very impressed and unnerved during most of the movie, enjoying every moment.
Dir(s). St. Vincent, Karyn Kusama, Jovanka Vuckovic, and Roxanne Benjamin (2017)
I want more from these filmmakers, as horror needs more female voices to guide us through the horror landscape. Here is how I enjoyed the different segments: the first entry was one of the better entries, the second was the “worst”, the third was…the third best, and the final installment was the best. The first was great because of its creepiness and unique narrative. The second wasn’t as good because it did have some good moments, but it was dark comedy that fell flat for me; if there is something horrific, I missed it. The third was effective and told a well trod trope of the creature in nature, and it was quick enough, although also a little thin on narrative. The final is the best because, in my opinion, Kusama is the best filmmaker of the bunch and she knows how to wring out tension from a slow burn perspective. I want more horror from these women specifically, and women in general.
Now, I will make this clear about the ratings I gave: even the “worst” is much better than most mainstream fare in horror. This is another title that I feel warrants another viewing. And I don’t buy any arguments that women’s directing style is any different in a negative way, let alone a general sense. Looking at Kusama, her direction is lean, mean, and ferocious. BUT I will concede there is a warmness at times, but that could very well be the material she wrote and what she put into that material. All of the entries have an energy to them that is refreshing. I’m not sure if it is because of the unjustified perceptions about women in horror, and while I don’t buy those perceptions and criticisms, I’m kinda glad they took to them head on because their dedication to genre shows. I need more movies from all of these filmmakers. Now.
I cannot believe how much fun this movie is. And I can’t believe that I put off watching it as long as I had. Playing with time and the effects of toying with it is not easy at all. Most often the fatal flaw is forgetting to consider which type of cosmology of time travel is being used. The filmmakers often forget to ask whether they are looking at a multiple worlds theory, a loop, or any iteration of time travel aesthetics. And even more difficult to make work well is when a minor detail pays off in later acts. This movie has all of that in spades.
Timecrimes works well because of the affability and relatability of the the male lead, and how quickly his desperation warps him into a cruel person. And the deaths that he creates at first seem to be unavoidable, the further into the time spiral we go, the more we realize how easily the situations are engineered. They are built from multiple failed attempts at course correction, with multiple versions of the male lead running around causing one situation to spiral out of control. And with each iteration of the lead we see a callousness to the “first” with each attempt at course correction. But, the film succeeds in building tension from a very simple premise that quickly escalates and becomes overly complicated because of very simple and human flaws. And the ending is simple and dark. Which in this case is the most rewarding type of ending.
The Veil is a hybrid of found footage and traditional narrative that works really well. The performances were solid, and although it was clearly designed to be a B-movie to sell to VOD audiences, it is so much better than it should be. And it also trods over the well-worn mysterious death cult trope, which it somehow made work in its favor. There is the charismatic leader who convinces his followers to do creepy and untoward things in the name of social rebellion. And then things get crazy.
The performances really make this movie work, even in its weakest moments, of which there are plenty, and those performances elevate what could have easily been barely passable fare. And there are tiny details woven in throughout the narrative that all build up to a nice payoff for some characters. And the story doesn’t exactly go where it might seem it to be destined to wander off into. It’s better than it should be and doesn’t pretend to be anything that it isn’t.