Triple Scoop Reviews: The Call, Event Horizon, and Ready Or Not

The Call

First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Crap, I don’t even remember. Amazon, maybe?
Spoilers: Yes
Grade: Strawberry

So, I actually watched this with my folks shortly before I went on vacation, and initially, I was surprised by how much I was actually enjoying it. Like, some silly things, sure, but for the first, say, 2/3 of the film, I found it to be a surprisingly claustrophobic little thriller starring two female leads I was rooting for. Both Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin give strong performances here; I specifically like watching Berry balance her character’s ultra-competence with her semi-recent trauma. And the relationship between these two characters is interesting: Casey (Breslin) is fighting to survive and sees Jordan (Berry) as her only lifeline, while Jordan quickly gets over-invested, determined not to lose another caller. It’s actually a pretty interesting dynamic.

Unfortunately, things rapidly fall apart in the last, maybe, 15 or 20 minutes of the movie. For starters, we get a lot more of the serial killer’s backstory, which besides trying way too hard to be creepy–he’s scalping blondes that remind him of his dead sister (COD: cancer), who he had skeevy and presumably unrequited Lannister love for–it’s just not really what this movie’s about, like I don’t give a shit about Bobo the Serial Killer* and his bullshit psychology. Then, after she loses contact with Casey, Jordan takes it upon herself to go looking for her, which–while predictable–is both incredibly unrealistic and just kinda dumb. In its defense, I will say that if Jordan had been a dude, I suspect a lot less people would’ve complained about the realism because audiences have been trained to expect Heroic Male Action, no matter if it makes sense or not. Also, there is, admittedly, something pretty empowering about watching our two heroines repeatedly save one another and kick the shit out of Bobo the Serial Killer.

Still, when Jordan’s boss (Roma Maffia) tells her that her part in this unfolding drama is over, like, there’s actually something really compelling about that. How exciting would it have been if Jordan did just have to go home, and Casey, using something that Jordan taught her, kills her abductor and rescues herself? There could even be an awesome Powell-McClane meet-up moment at the end. I’d be really into that. But we don’t go that way, and worse, after our Empowering Beatdown of Bobo, The Call goes for a completely dumb and “edgy” twist where, instead of calling the cops, the ladies decide to tie up our bad guy and leave him to starve to death, which, like, look, I’m all about dark turns and vengeance stories, but the twist comes out of left field. It’s totally unsupported, and I just don’t buy it from either character at this point. It’s a hugely disappointing ending for a movie that, up till that last act, really wasn’t so bad at all.

*I couldn’t be bothered to look up the character’s name, but the actor, Michael Eklund, plays Bobo in Wynonna Earp, so Bobo the Serial Killer he became. It is, of course, another excellent band name.

Event Horizon

First Watch or Rewatch: Rewatch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Amazon
Spoilers: Yes
Grade: Vanilla

I watched this for the first time about nine years ago with my friend Denise, and until just now, I’d totally forgotten that I’d reviewed it before. (God, it’s so painful to read early reviews, both for writing skill and for shit I just wouldn’t say now. I still have high school journals I fear looking at.) Many of my general impressions are the same: fun, cheesy, gory SF in space. I like the movie, despite (or possibly because of) its flaws, like shitty mid-90’s CGI, occasional poor acting, excessive slow motion, etc. Though I do still wish we got more time with all our characters being properly tormented by their hell visions. Also, more time with Starck, who I like better this go-around but has very little to do, possibly because they cut some whole romantic arc between her and Miller.

I think my biggest takeaway this time is that Sam Neill’s character just doesn’t really work for me. Everybody starts hallucinating terrible shit, yeah, but no one starts turning evil or even really seems to change, personality-wise, because of it; no one, that is, except Dr. Weir (Neill). Which is weird because while he’s clearly an annoying, arrogant motherfucker, nothing he actually experiences really lends itself to this type of character arc. Like, the whole sad backstory of how his wife killed herself because he worked too much, or something? Yeah, it’s terrible, but at least I’d get it if Dr. Weir thought his dead wife was in the Hell Dimension and he was determined to find her, even if it killed everyone else. I’d get that. But instead, Weir quickly descends into villainous madness, you know, Because. And the whole backstory mostly seems to be an excuse for irrelevant creepy imagery and the opportunity to see Dead Wife’s boobs, which, uh, yay?

I have a surprising amount of nostalgia for this movie, considering that I didn’t see it until roughly fifteen years after its initial release, but I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing a remake now, maybe one that differentiated itself with not just better effects but a different tone: a little less cheese, a little more atmosphere.

Ready or Not

First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Other: actual goddamn movie theater
Spoilers: Not this time (unless you look at the tags)
Grade: Chocolate

I enjoyed the hell out of this. As I already mentioned on my various social media accounts, Ready or Not is the most recent example of what’s swiftly becoming one of my favorite sub-genres of horror: “Welcome to the Family. Here There Be Bloodshed.” (There’s probably a more succinct, less pirate-y name for said sub-genre, but this is what I’ve got right now.) There are some definite You’re Next vibes here, of course–much with the Feels and dysfunctional family dynamics couched between all the comedy and gore–but there are differences, too, and not just plot ones. The jokes in You’re Next are less overt, I think; the horror played more straight. Meanwhile, Ready or Not is campier, but it’s smart, purposeful camp–not to mention, it’s just a really fun spin on that whole “The Most Dangerous Game” type of horror story.

I do have quibbles, of course, but they are very few and relatively minor and I can’t really discuss them without spoilers. Suffice it to say, they don’t take away from what I love about the film: great dialogue, delightful characters, and an utterly brilliant ensemble cast. Kristian Brunn and Melanie Scrofano (from Orphan Black and Wynonna Earp, respectively) are hilarious, as is Nicky Guadagni as Aunt Helene. I would cosplay her in a goddamn heartbeat; she is–as I’m sure many people have already pointed out–one Big Ass Mood. Henry Czerny was just born to play the rich asshole patriarch of this family, while Andie MacDowell is a lot of fun as his considerably more practical and competent wife. Adam Brody fucking excels at tragicomedy, like, I definitely wanna see more of this from him. And Samara Weaving just shines as Grace, who is funny and real and a terrific Final Girl. Weaving’s performance really stands out here, which–considering just how good this cast is–is all the more impressive.

I keep seeing reviews that stress how this movie isn’t anything new or original, even though it’s fun, and like . . . maybe, I guess? And if it’s not your thing, then it’s not your thing, and that’s totally okay. But while it’s always exciting when a film truly breaks the mold, not every movie has to be the next Get Out, you know? Besides, making a movie like this and making it well are two very different things. Tone is difficult. Balancing violence, Feels, and laughter is hard work. You really have to thread that needle, and, IMO, Ready or Not does a pretty great job with it.

Triple Scoop Reviews: Krampus, Hush, and Phenomena

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I confess, I haven’t been watching very many movies lately, choosing to binge-watch shows like Killing Eve and Shadowhunters instead. (Yeah, I said Shadowhunters. Come at me. I AM IMPERVIOUS TO YOUR SCORN.)

Still, the few movies I have been watching these days have mostly been horror, ranging from the clever to the weird to the very fucking weird. Let’s discuss.

Krampus

First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Netflix (DVD)
Spoilers: Not really
Grade: Vanilla

This one is actually pretty hard to rate. I enjoyed it, I think. I’m reasonably certain that I’d like it more and more with each viewing. But tonally, it’s definitely bizarre: part family drama, part inspirational holiday, part holiday horror, and part crack comedy, this is the movie for you if you like some killer gingerbread men and homicidal Christmas angels along with your “what it means to be a family” stories. Honestly, that sounds pretty much exactly like my jam, so I’m trying to figure out what my hesitation is on this one.

Maybe it’s the PG-13 rating. The vast majority of the violence here is of the “you never actually see it” variety, and I’m not 100% sure it works, like, I feel there’s maybe a lack of payoff or balance. At first, we only get glimpses of the horror, and that’s fine, but when we eventually do get to explicitly see the delightfully absurd Christmas monsters, I feel like we should also get some equally explicit, over-the-top gore, too, and that never happens. Not even mild gore, TBH. I don’t know, I’m having a hard time putting my finger on it, exactly. Something just doesn’t quite feel right with the build.

Great cast, though: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Allison Tolman, David Koechner, Conchata Ferrell, etc. And I really enjoyed the ambiguous ending, too, which is not something I say very often. I’m always looking for more alternative holiday classics; we’ll see if this one gets another viewing next year.

Hush

First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Netflix
Spoilers: Only mild ones
Grade: Chocolate

This is a really solid horror film. I enjoyed it a lot: it’s original, well-acted, generally well thought-out, like, the staging of certain scenes and moments pan out pretty much perfectly. It’s also a really good length, which can be tricky with this kind of ‘one dude tries to murder one woman in a house’ story. Hush doesn’t outstay its welcome, which is nice.

My primary disappointment with the film is that it doesn’t actually star a deaf actress. Which isn’t a knock to Kate Siegel, who also co-write the script–she’s fantastic, and I like her performance a whole lot. (And, of course, I also loved her in The Haunting of Hill House; she and husband Mike Flanagan have teamed up for some pretty good horror stories, though this one, I think, has a much better ending.) That being said, Maddy is still a deaf lead character, and it would’ve been nice to see that role actually go to a deaf actress. And if you’re gonna argue that Hush needed a hearing actress because of the one scene where Maddy listens to her inner voice, let me just cut that off, because the movie already told us that Maddy’s inner voice sounds like her mother. While I like the scene as it plays in the film, there is absolutely no reason Maddy’s Mom couldn’t have worked for this role as well. (Also, there’s a weird beat at the beginning of the movie where the director uses ominous music while showing you that Maddie is deaf. And while that’s probably just to establish genre and set mood, it has the unfortunate side effect of making her deafness itself seems ominous in the everyday context of chopping onions and shit. I’m not a fan.)

That all being said, I did enjoy Hush quite a bit. It’s a smart, claustrophobic horror flick, and while the kill count is admittedly low, Maddy still makes for an awesome Final Girl.

Phenomena

First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Netflix (DVD)
Spoilers: YES, ALL OF THEM
Grade: Strawberry

Well. That was a movie, all right.

Look, I adore the premise of this film. A baby-faced Jennifer Connolly plays the new girl at a Swiss boarding school in a town where, unfortunately, several murders have taken place over the past eight months. (Which is why we do our research before we send our kids off to boarding school, thanks.) Our heroine is special, though: she has psychic dreams, psychic somnambulism, and she can control/communicate with insects. Under the mentorship of consulting entomologist Donald Pleasance, Jennifer tries to track down the killer. I am all on board with that level of weirdness. I want Netflix to remake this into a surreal, binge-worthy TV show immediately.

But wow, this movie’s fucked up and not always in a good way. The killer, it turns out, is a deformed little boy, who’s being protected/helped by his mother, who was raped by a mental patient years ago, and you can just miss me with ALL that bullshit. Donald Pleasance has a chimpanzee BFF who, I shit you not, avenges the entomologist’s murder at the end of the movie when he kills the shit out of Evil Mom with a razor. There is also some poor writing, odd editing choices, and a weirdly intrusive soundtrack with music that often feels completely mismatched with the scene itself. Goblin and Suspiria, this is not.

Mostly, Phenomena just feels like something of a hot mess. A hot maggoty mess. Mekaela, the best gift I’ve ever given you is watching this one on my own. There are so MANY maggots in this movie. You would never have forgiven me.

Coming Soon-Ish, The Netflix Edition: Zombies, iPhone Brains, and Voltron

Santa Clarita Diet

OMG YES THIS.

I adore Timothy Olyphant, and it’s been a while since Drew Barrymore has done anything I’ve been interested in, and I’m so, SO down for real estate zombie shenanigans. Please, PLEASE, show. Be as good as I want you to be.

The Discovery

This tells you . . . not a whole lot, but it’s certainly intriguing, especially as it suddenly seems to change genre (with some helpful musical cues) from “independent romantic dramedy” to “surreal SF horror.”

IMDb, slightly more helpful, tells me that the story is set “one year after the existence of the afterlife is scientifically verified,” which apparently leads to a whole bunch of suicides? And there’s a cult of some kind, and mad science, and Robert Redford may or may not be evil? I’m not sold, exactly, but I’m intrigued.

iBoy

Meh. I don’t mind the totally silly concept, but I’d be a lot more interested in this if Maisie Williams was the one who woke up with the smart phone brain. Lucy the vigilante? I’m up for that. Lucy, the damsel in distress? Less so. (To be fair, it looks like she does get to hold a gun at some point, and I like getting to hear her swear. Still, my interest remains low.)

Deidra & Laney Rob A Train

This looks pretty cute but also potentially grounded with some real emotional weight. There are a lot of great comedic beats here–“Oh, you mean the robbery we’ve been planning all week? Yeah, I’m sure about it.”— and I’m pretty excited about a sibling story where the sisters are working together instead of, you know, Opposites Who Hate Each Other. I’m not familiar with either of the young actresses here, but they both seem fantastic. I could definitely give this a try.

Finally . . . .Voltron: Legendary Defender – Season Two

I didn’t watch Voltron when I was young; I was a Power Rangers kid. I don’t think I even heard of Voltron until I was in my 20’s, so I’m wildly outside this show’s demographic: far too old for the kids it’s intended for and a tiny bit too young for the nostalgic adults. But I recently decided to check out the first season anyway, mostly because someone online recommended it, and then I saw that Steven Yeun and Bex Taylor-Klaus voiced main characters. I would probably watch many, many terrible things so long as Steven Yeun and Bex Taylor-Klaus were attached to it.

The first episode didn’t do a whole lot for me, but once we got past all the set-up stuff? I had a lot of fun with it. I didn’t expect the season to end on a cliffhanger, though, so I was extremely happy to see that this trailer for Season 2 went up the same day I finished the last episode. That was some lucky goddamn timing right there.

As far as the trailer itself goes, it looks cute and enjoyable and I’m looking forward to finding out how the Paladins all find each other again. Also, how Zarkon keeps tracking them down (I assume it’s an actual plot point), and also what’s up with that shiny alien magic goo or whatever Keith got all over himself last season? Like, they’re going back to that, right? They have to be going back to that.

Season 2 comes out soon; in less than 24 hours, in point of fact. It’s probably the only good thing that will actually happen tomorrow.

“My Daughters Are Trained For Battle, Sir, Not The Kitchen.”

So, I’ve read and watched multiple versions of Pride and Prejudice, but–presumably to the horror of Jane Austen enthusiasts everywhere–I have done so in a completely backwards fashion. First, I watched the 2005 film with Keira Knightley, which I liked. Then I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, written by Seth Grahame-Smith (and Jane Austen, sort of), which I also liked. Then I watched BBC’s Pride and Prejudice from 1995, which, to be honest, I was only so-so on. Then I finally read the original Pride and Prejudice, which was quite enjoyable.

And now I have seen the 2015 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

ppz cover1

It may surprise you–being the blasphemous wench that I obviously am–but ultimately, I didn’t care for it.

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The 2015 Movie Superlatives

Okay. One week into 2016 and we finally have the last of my End of the Year posts. Welcome, friends, to the 2015 Movie Superlatives! (Feel free to imagine some loud cheering here, like you’re at a colosseum death match or something.)

Other people are around to tell you the Most Raw Method Performance or the Most Inspirational True Life Story of Whoever. I rarely watch those kinds of movies, though, unless someone’s forcing me to. If, on the other hand, you want to know who won awards like Worst Romance, Most Fabulous Fashion, and Chief Asshat, well, you’ve come to the right place.

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“At Least I Get To See Her. Even If She Is Being Chased By a Psycho With a Machete.”

When I first heard about The Final Girls back in August, I was totally delighted by the concept and I had every intention of watching the movie in theater. Unfortunately, I then discovered that this was not meant to be, for the film had a limited release, and Sonoma County–not shockingly–was not part of said release. I was pretty bummed by this.

Now, however, I’ve finally had time to watch the film. My conclusions?

group1

Yeah, I’m pretty sure The Final Girls just made it on my list of Favorite Horror Comedies of all time.

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“So, What WERE You Gonna Be When You Grew Up?”

Being October and all, I figured it was time to go back to the Friday the 13th series. When we last left off in A New Beginning, Tommy Jarvis had picked up Jason’s mask and looked about ready to stab the hell out of his final girl. Now?

maggot eye

Well, now we’re ignoring all that so Tommy Jarvis can accidentally resurrect Jason’s long-dead corpse with lightning.

Welcome to Jason Lives, everybody.

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Season Premiere Review Round Up – Numero Uno – 9/20-10/2

It’s that time of year again: Fall TV has begun. Normally, this is a pretty exciting time for me, but I’ve got to be honest: the shows I’m most looking forward to (Agent Carter, Person of Interest, Lucifer, Daredevil) all begin mid-season, like, January at the earliest. (And in Daredevil’s case, possibly much later.) Even the fall shows I’m most excited about (The Librarians, Jessica Jones, Elementary) don’t start till November. Still, I did watch a fair number of shows these past two weeks, some new, some returning, and some I thought I’d given up for good.

Here’s what I have for you so far — but fair warning: there are lots of SPOILERS here. If you haven’t watched the episode in question, you know. Go do that first.

Agents of SHIELD

porcupine!

Okay, this was pretty awesome.

Last season of Agents of SHIELD had some balance problems for me, mostly in the second half, and I remain fully annoyed by the turn in May’s character, which I never even remotely bought. “Laws of Nature,” though, was a great way to start the third season. I was invested in all of it — the rise of the Inhumans, the pitiful plight of Joey Gutierrez, Coulson adjusting to his new lack-of-hand, Coulson vs Rosalind on the train, Hunter’s commentary on basically anything, this new WTF Porcupine Big Bad, Fitz’s desperation to find Jemma, etc. Man, that scene at the end with Fitz screaming at the monolith? So, SO good. It still amuses me that my least favorite character in the beginning of this show has easily become my favorite now.

Other random thoughts:

A. I will inevitably slip up and call Daisy “Skye” at least once, but I will try not to do this.

B. I kind of forgot all about May — who I normally love — until the very end of the episode, when Coulson pointed out that she was MIA. Whoops. When she returns, I would really like to immediately move past that whole BS “betrayed by Coulson” thing and just get back to them being awesome. Also, I hear Blair Underwood’s coming back, which is great. You know who should also come back? Tsai Chin. She was only in this show for, like, four seconds, and she was spectacular.

C. I’m deeply glad that Bobbi and Hunter aren’t seriously on the outs already. Also, I couldn’t help but laugh at the throwaway line about Bobbi’s apparent biology degree that no one’s ever mentioned before. She comes in wearing that white lab coat, and I’m like, “Uh, sure?” (Yes, fellow nerds, I have since discovered that this is IC with the comics, but considering they’ve never brought it up even once on the show, it felt kind of hilariously OOC to me.)

D. So, that’s where Jemma went. Man. Ominous alien monoliths never take you anywhere fun anymore.

E. Finally, the WTF Porcupine Big Bad? I’m looking at it, thinking to myself, “Okay, what the shit is that?” But also thinking, “You know, that silhouette looks really familiar to me.” It took me about an hour to remember the monster guys from The Village. Heh.

FAVORITE PART:

Easy: Fitz taking a shotgun, blasting his way into the monolith, and screaming at it to do something. Seriously, so, SO GOOD.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

A-

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

daily show

So, this was funny. I don’t know how much I have to say about it, really. Like most Americans, I knew very little about Trevor Noah before this, but he made me laugh pretty consistently here and I’m looking forward to watching more of the show. Whole thing seemed pretty solid.

FAVORITE PART:

Hm, hard to say. I enjoyed all of these:

“And it’s weird because Dad has left. And now it feels like the family has a new stepdad. And he’s black.”
“Nooo. Why leave now, I just got here?”
“And to you, the Daily Show viewer, both new and old, at home or on your phone, thank you for joining us as we continue the War on Bullshit.”

TENTATIVE GRADE:

A-

Gotham

gotham

I gave up Gotham sometime last year when I just couldn’t take its downward spiral anymore. I hadn’t planned to go back, but skimming through the recaps on io9 changed my mind because it really sounded like Gotham had decided to ditch their poor attempts at Serious Batman Show and fully embrace their balls-to-the-wall crazy. And I figured, Well, that could be entertaining, at least.

People. I was not wrong.

I giggled like a fiend while watching this, and not only that, I was giggling mostly when the show wanted me to. Like, at least 85% of the time. Barbara’s black-and-white striped Arkham Asylum dress? It is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. I kind of want to cosplay as Barbara Gordon now — and I named this woman as the Worst Female Character on Television last year. Possibly ever. Now that she’s evil, though? Fantastic.

I’ll admit, the whole story where Gordon loses his job and goes to Penguin to get it back? Eh, it didn’t do much for me, considering I thought Gordon already learned this lesson last year. On the other hand, the fact that Bruce is the one who talked him into compromising his morals for the greater good is sort of interesting — in a weird way — and holy shit, I did not expect Gordon to kill the dude. For someone to die, sure. But I didn’t actually think Gordon would do the deed himself, even in a kinda-sorta-self-defense way. This is, however, the rare instance where I’m actually hoping they won’t dwell too much on the emotional ramifications of this. I know that’s bad, but my favorite flavor of Jim Gordon — at least, as acted by Ben McKenzie — is cranky as hell, not super broody. It’s not that I don’t buy McKenzie’s broody, necessarily; I’m just not interested. Personally, I loved the scene where he took down Sword Wielding Crazy and brought him to the police station. I want more of that from Gordon.

Mostly, though, this episode cracked me up. I mean, pretty much everything about Bruce and Alfred blowing up Thomas Wayne’s Secret Door was great. For instance:

  • The level of pure condescension in Bruce’s voice when he argues that he too knows how to make a bomb because he “read a book.”
  • “Don’t you start talking French to me.”
  • “I’m building a bomb to blow that door down. You may assist me or not, as you wish, but if not, some tea would be nice.”
  • How happy Bruce and Alfred are when they successfully blow shit up.
  • Bruce apparently not thinking to try his own name as a combination on his father’s secret door. Oh, Little Bruce. You still have so much to learn about the human heart and, also, cliches.

Also on the Side of Awesome: James Frain (who, sadly, is not British here), an a cappella farewell to Commissioner Loeb, Bullock telling Gordon to slow down his drinking literally as he pours him another drink, “two A’s,” and Riddler’s split personality saying, “Dude. It’s a mirror. That’s how they work.” (Although I’m not quite sold on Riddler having a split personality yet. We’ll see.)

If the show can keep up this level of crazy . . . yeah, I could potentially get back into this.

FAVORITE PART:

ZOMG THAT DRESS.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B+

Quantico

quantico

I kind of miss being hooked on a juicy night soap, especially one that’s a mystery, even though I don’t think I’ve ever made it through a whole series without inevitably giving up on it. (See: Scandal, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, The Vampire Diaries, etc.) I’ve been considering checking out How to Get Away With Murder, especially now that the first season is on Netflix, but in the meantime I decided to try out Quantico.

I sincerely doubt that I’m going to stick with Quantico until the bitter end, but as pilots go, this actually wasn’t a terrible one. There are some neat things, some annoying things, and some ridiculously silly things. I figure I’ll keep going with it until I hate virtually every character. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen in Season One, but will see. Likable characters wasn’t one of this pilot’s strong suits.

The Neat:

  • An Indian protagonist
  • Aunjanue Ellis, who I just adored on The Mentalist.
  • Josh Hopkins, who I adored on Cougar Town. (Though, sadly, he looks to be more annoying here, and I assume there will be significantly less guitar playing.)
  • The revelation that Ryan Booth is spying on Alex. (Because thank Christ – I rolled my eyes HARD when they just happened to be on a plane together.)
  • Alex liking casual sex, and not caring if anyone knows that she and Booth hooked up.
  • “Paradise Circus” by Massive Attack. I love that damn song.
  • Elder Eric killing himself, mostly because I called that shit from the second we saw him. Possibly that’s not fair because I did know he was a main player on Sense8. Still, who knows when that show’s even coming back? Hell with it. I TOTALLY called it.

The Annoying:

  • At this point, the only characters I actively like are Alex and Miranda Shaw. Nimah and her secret twin sister are okay, I guess. On the other hand, I’m not loving Booth or Ryan, and I already seriously dislike Shelby, Simon, and King Douchebag Caleb.
  • Of course King Douchebag Caleb appears to be out, but I didn’t buy that even before I looked him up on IMDb. (I wanted to see where I knew him from. The answer: Revolution. Oh no.)
  • For Christ’s sake. How hard is it to write a virgin character who’s not the most pathetic nerd in all of existence? I am tired of this.

The Ridiculously Silly:

  • Nimah’s twin sister. I actually called that, too, but I’ll admit — I was kind of hoping I’d be wrong. Even for a silly show that’s obviously going to have a lot of ludicrous twists . . . I don’t know, man. I worry.
  • I’m confused. Do any of these people have any kind of law enforcement experience in their pasts? Doesn’t that seem like a thing people would have before joining the FBI?
  • Pretty much everything about the dorms.
  • Sexy FBI swimming, apparently, is in our future.

Finally, everyone’s obviously taking bets on who the traitor is. I wonder if there might be two of them. Honestly, I don’t really trust anyone at this point, although I guess I’d be pretty surprised if it was Nimah or her twin. (Maybe one, but surely not both.) At the moment, I’m looking the closest at the blonde who lost her parents on 9/11, and — as much as I hope this isn’t the case — Aunjanue Ellis. Pathetic and Deeply Annoying Gay Virgin could be evil, but if that’s the case, he’ll either get a) even shrieker and more annoying, or b) far more intimidating before revealing he isn’t gay OR a virgin, especially that last one. Cause, you know. Heaven forbid.

FAVORITE MOMENT:

Honestly, I laughed pretty hard at Eric saying, “I’m assuming none of that applies to you?” Good zinger, Mormon dude. Too bad that guy’s dead now.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B

Scream Queens

sq

So, this was . . . okay. I’ll probably continue watching it for now, though I’m not exactly in love with it yet. I am in love with Jamie Lee Curtis, though. Holy shit, she’s AMAZING. I’m tempted to say this is my favorite thing I’ve ever seen her in, and this was just a two-hour pilot. She was hysterical, and I can’t wait to see more of her.

On the other hand, while some of the jokes made me laugh, a lot of the humor felt forced. One of my problems with Ryan Murphy shows in general is that the jokes often feel like they’re trying way, WAY too hard for edgy. Sometimes, they worked for me. Often, they did not, like I’m thinking maybe a 30/70 success rate here, so. Not all that successful.

My other main problem with the show is that I’m not sure it knows what kind of comedy it wants to be. Some of it feels like it’s going for more of a Scream or You’re Next vibe, while other parts — like Ariana Grande going to Twitter while the serial killer is currently trying to murder her — feel like they could have been deleted scenes from broad parodies such as Scary Movie. And there’s nothing wrong with either kinds of comedy, but they don’t blend that well. The first kind is trying to be funny and scary; the second, not so much. You’re Next would never have been frightening if Erin had turned to the First to Die and shrieked, “Oh my GOD, why do you have an arrow in your head?!”

A few last notes:

A. The main girl, Grace (Skyler Samuels), is surprisingly okay so far. I’m kind of into the idea of her staying at the sorority as this, like, investigative reporter type, bent on making the kind of sorority she dreamed about. She’s a little funnier than I expected her to be, especially in some of the scenes with her new stalker boyfriend (Diego Boneta). I seriously hope stalker boyfriend bites it, though.

B. Zayday (Keke Palmer) is easily my second favorite character. I want her to live, even though the BS rules of the genre are very much against her.

C. I feel that I’ve somehow managed to grow an irrational dislike towards Emma Roberts. I’m trying to work on that because I honestly don’t know where it’s come from. I’ve found her work in the past somewhere between disappointing and adequate, but this feels like an overreaction to two meh performances. Still, she’s just okay to me here. It’s not that I don’t buy her in the role; I do. But there’s a way to do Queen B’s, like you’re kind of rooting for them despite yourself? (Leah Pipes in Sorority Row is a great example of this.) And I just feel like Emma Roberts isn’t quite there for me yet, like I buy her as this awful character, but that just makes me wish I spent less time with her. I am definitely not rooting for her. (On the other hand, I’m totally rooting for Asshole Popular Guy, Chad {Glen  Powell}. He’s actually kind of hilarious.)

D. Lea Michelle did not annoy me nearly as much as I thought she would. Considerably less enamored, though, with the Deaf Taylor Swift (now deceased) and the Candle Vlogger (unfortunately still here).

E. Finally, I thought Nick Jonas looked familiar, but I was probably wrong because I don’t know that I’ve ever actually seen Nick Jonas before this. I cringed at some moments with his character but other parts did make me laugh, and I liked the twist that he was still alive, although obviously we’ll have to wait to see how that unfolds.

FAVORITE PART:

Basically any time Jamie Lee Curtis was on screen.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B

The Blacklist

blacklist

Meh. You’d think Red and Keen being on the run together would be a little more exciting, but honestly, I kept finding my attention drifting during this premiere. The only storyline that really interested me at all was Dembe’s, partially because I like Dembe, and partially because I was interested in this new baby-snatching villain, Darwin. (Okay, the guy’s name isn’t Darwin. I didn’t actually catch his name, but he’s played by Edi Gathegi, the actor who played Darwin in X-Men: First Class.)

Otherwise, eh. Keen running to the Russian Embassy at the end was kind of an interesting twist — and vastly more interesting than, say, running to Tom or turning herself in — but mostly I found her pretty boring in this ep. (And of course she looks just like her mother. Of course she does.) Meanwhile, I wasn’t remotely interested in Ressler’s angst/guilt/anger/whatever either, which saddens me, since I used to enjoy that kind of thing. And no one was in a car accident or kidnapped at all. Samar was in mortal peril for a second there, but no abductions or SUV flips.

I’m going to stick with it, for a while, but even taking Keen’s fantastic fugitive hair into consideration — I have the sinking feeling that this is the year I give up on The Blacklist.

FAVORITE PART:

When the adorable baby is adorably touching the face of a dude who’s calmly insinuating baby-murder. It’s so cute and so evil, all at the same time!

TENTATIVE GRADE:

C

Coming Soon-Ish: Final Girls, Boy Scouts, and Quentin Tarantino

The Final Girls

Okay, so, this movie was basically made for me. It’s like Scream meets Last Action Hero, or The Purple Rose of Cairo. I know some people are tired of the whole meta-horror comedy thing, but what can I say? That shit’s where I live, and I’m actually pretty interested in the whole mother/daughter storyline here. It sort of adds a new angle, and I think it’s awesome when parodies like this have something more going on underneath, something with a little heart. Whether it’ll be effective or not, I couldn’t say, but I’m interested regardless.

My main concern here is that this trailer’s giving away all the best parts for free. (“I want chainsaws and big ass knives, and I want them now.” YES. Excellent, Nina Dobrev.) But hopefully not. I want to see this, and I want it to be good.

The Scouts Guide to the Apocalypse

Unfortunately, I’m a lot less into this particular horror comedy. (And pretty NSFW, by the way.) I want to be excited about it — I mean, come on, it’s Boy Scouts vs Zombies!  — but after that trailer, I’m just like, Okay, so we’ve got one token hot chick badass, plus three stereotypically pathetic nerd boys, and some huge zombie tits. Uh, yay?

Of course, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this movie will surprise me by being totally awesome. But my interest just took a pretty sharp nosedive.

Victor Frankenstein

I’m not sure what tone I expected Victor Frankenstein to have, exactly, but I’ll admit . . . that wasn’t it. Honestly, I could still totally watch this movie — I’m kind of digging James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe’s lighthearted banter — but at this point, I think it’s probably for the best that I keep my expectations low because it’s kind of looking like a hot mess. Although maybe that’s not fair. Maybe I’m simply judging it on some of the weirder monster shit, which immediately reminded me of Van Helsing — NOT one of my favorites.

Also, when McAvoy says, “It’s . . . alive!” I’m like, “What is? The Creature, or Harry Potter’s Stupid Hair?” I mean, look at that mop. It’s completely ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as Daniel Radcliffe’s current actual beard. I say this knowing that I have green/black/blonde/blue hair right now and probably no right to speak to anyone, but . . . no. Just no, honey. You have lovely features, and the razor is your friend.

The Witch

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here (other than, you know, super spooky shit), but I feel like this movie might have come into being by somebody watching The Village and thinking, “Fuck you, Shyamalan. I’m taking this shit and making it EERIE.”

There is just a ton of creepy imagery packed into this trailer, and some of it looks pretty disturbing. I wouldn’t mind a better idea of the actual plot, but I could potentially check this one out.

The Keeping Room

This actually also looks pretty interesting, too. Westerns (like most genres that aren’t romantic comedies or family dramas) rarely have multiple lead female characters, but here there appear to be three, defending themselves and their home against Sam Worthington . . . and yes, while Sam Worthington is almost always an automatic strike against the film these days, well, who knows? Maybe playing a villain will give him a spark of personality.

Either way, I’m kind of into this. I’d love to see more feminist westerns, and some of the cinematography looks absolutely stunning.

And finally . . . The Hateful Eight

Now notice how many women are in this western? Yup. That’d be one. She also doesn’t say a damn thing, either, and I don’t know if that’s because her character’s mute or just isn’t worthy of speaking in this trailer. (I could Google, but, like, effort.) Then again, I did laugh pretty hard at all her waving hello and pantomiming death, so it’s not all bad. (Just . . . it’s possibly not a coincidence that Kill Bill and Death Proof — you know, the ones where the female characters easily outnumber the men — are some of my favorite Tarantino films.)

Still, let’s not even pretend that I’m going to skip Quentin Tarantino’s next movie. Obviously I’m going to watch it. The setup looks like a lot of fun, and there are a ton of actors I really enjoy, although I’m basically bucking myself up now for Walton Goggins’s inevitable demise. (I just love the actor so. Surely, I’ve doomed him by my adoration.)

Could a ticket to The Hateful Eight be a Christmas present to myself? Maybe. Sure beats The Polar Express, anyway.

*shudders*

Worst. Christmas Movie. EVER. If you haven’t seen it, consider yourself lucky. It is the schmaltziest crap of all time. Stay away. STAY AWAY.

Coming Soon-Ish: Teen Wolf, Scream Queens, and Zombie Kids

Teen Wolf

SEASON FIVE IS COMING!

I will not apologize for my excitement. I am content in being a total fangirl about this show, even though it often operates on shaky logic and last season wasn’t its strongest. Fifth season, like third, will be divided into two halves, and there’s a pretty strong chance that this will be the final season, so. My time for fangirl squee is limited.

A lot’s going on this trailer, and it’s hard to make sense of most of it. Lydia doesn’t seem to be having an easy time of it, poor girl. (Though maybe she’s faking whatever insanity thing is going on to do undercover detective work at Eichen House. That could work for me.) Then again, no one really seems to be having a great senior year. There appears to be some friction between Scott and Stiles, which I could totally approve of. And if it’s about this new wolf guy, then I’m firmly on Stiles’s side, because yeah, I absolutely don’t trust that dude, either. (Also the whole trust everyone/trust no one thing seems to be a pretty perfect representation of their two characters. Me gusta.)

“Watch Your Pack” is not my favorite of the Teen Wolf season slogans . . . but I’m still pretty excited by this trailer. Damn it. Why isn’t it the end of June yet?

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Ah, the Dylan O’Brien project I’m considerably less interested in.

I guess I could watch this for mockery purposes, but I have no immediate plans to, since the first one was basically just two hours of missed opportunities and failed potential. Although, Thomas does look pretty angsty in a shower, a shot that’s often reserved for women. (After trauma, male protagonists grow angsty facial hair, while women cry naked and alone. I don’t actually think Thomas will start crying here, but if he did, I’d almost be a little impressed.)

There are many, many generic action shots. I suspect O’Brien is contracted to run and nearly get killed by a closing wall/door in each film. And Aidan Gillen is here too, playing our Probably-But-Possibly-Not-Totally-Evil Antagonist. Only I think he’s going for an American accent, which, well. It’s not working for him. This was a problem in the first movie too, where only one of a handful of British kids got to keep their English. It makes even less sense here; after all, we all know villains come from Europe! Let him just be Irish, for the love of God.

Scream Queens

All right. I know I’ll have to give this one a try.

I have a feeling the tone is going to bounce all over the place in this show. Like I’m getting satire for the most part, but then there are scenes like the one with the rent-a-cop screaming — that shit seemed straight out of the Scary Movie franchise. And while Emma Roberts and Abigail Breslin are perfect as Bitch Queens from Hell, I’m already not wild about the ridiculously nerdy pledges, like Lea Michelle or, worse, Random Candle Wax Eating Girl. I mean, really? Really?

Based on that trailer, I’m rooting for Keke Palmer and Jamie Lee Curtis to survive. Unfortunately, I worry that’s not very likely.

Cooties

This trailer kind of reminds me of Recess Pieces, a comic book with an awesome premise that I, ultimately, didn’t like as much as I’d hoped. I kind of feel like that’s going to be the case here, too. I’m all for teachers on the run from their zombie students, and I did laugh at Rainn Wilson telling us, “This is that scene.” Still, the “I’m gay!” line came off as particularly awkward and uncomfortable to me, and I’m worried that this is a one-joke movie that’s going to get old thirty minutes in.

Still, I wouldn’t mind being wrong about that. Zombie fourth-graders automatically make me smile, and I’m a fan of both Elijah Wood and Alison Pill. One way or another, I’m sure I’ll get around to seeing this. Whether it’ll be good or not, though, that’s another story.

And finally . . . Nina Forever

. . . I actually have no idea what to say to that. But if you’d like to try the trailer out for yourself, just be warned: it’s definitely NSFW. Like, even more so than the movie about killer kid zombies.