Horror Bingo 2022: Nope

Roughly a week and a half after Halloween, Horror Bingo 2022 has finally reached its conclusion, with our last movie being Jordan Peele’s Nope. Which means—

Keke Palmer GIF by NOPE - Find & Share on GIPHY

—I won! I mean, Marisa won, really, but in the battle of the St. George Sisters, I PREVAILED. Horror Bingo 2022 Queen for me! I need to get myself a sash and a bottle of champagne immediately. Well. Okay, I’m not that into champagne, but I’d totally take a sash and a bottle of Martinelli’s.

We’ll get to our brief Horror Bingo wrap-up in a little bit, but first let’s discuss our final movie.

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Triple Spooky Scoop Review: Happy Death Day 2U, Cube, and Mayhem

Okay, I know. Halloween is over. Guess what? Horror Bingo continues until there’s a winner, and so far, it’s still neck and neck. The stakes are high! (There are literally no stakes of any kind.)

Happy November. Let’s twist this.

Happy Death Day 2U

Hdd2U GIF by Happy Death Day 2U - Find & Share on GIPHY

Year: 2019
Director: Christopher Landon
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Amazon
Spoilers: Yep
Grade: Vanilla

Happy Death Day 2U is an interesting sequel in that it slightly genre hops from “horror comedy with an SFF plot device” to “SFF comedy with vague slasher leanings.” I don’t know that it totally works for me, though. I really enjoy the embrace of parallel dimensions–it’s always fun to see what’s the same and what’s different in any given universe–but I’m also a tiny bit bummed by just how much of a backseat the whole slasher part takes. I was also a little disappointed when I realized that only Tree would get caught in the parallel dimension time loop. That’s what I’d been initially expecting, mind you, but then we began the movie with Ryan caught in his own time loop, and I had just long enough to think, Oh, that’s so INTERESTING, before we essentially just restarted Happy Death Day in Earth 2.

That being said, Tree’s reaction to realizing she’s back in the loop? Priceless. I still like Jessica Rothe as Tree, and a lot of the humor still works for me. (Some, admittedly, is a bit goofy for my tastes.) The emotional beats work too, mostly: I like that Tree is tempted to stay, though sometimes the swelling background music is trying way too hard; also, I definitely don’t care enough about Tree/Carter to make the World Where Mom is Alive vs. World Where Carter is My Boyfriend even remotely a debate. I also enjoyed getting to see the nicer, less homicidal Lori, though I do wish we had more time to spend on Comic Relief Scientist Friends.

I’m also still a little unsure about, well, most of the time/dimension mechanics, honestly. Why, exactly, was Ryan in a time loop again? Tree got stuck in hers when the quantum machine went off, but I don’t think it went off again, so . . . not sure? Also, while Alternate Ryan is interesting, I don’t know if he makes much sense, especially considering we get 2 Ryans in Earth 1, but only 1 Tree in Earth 2. I’m curious, too, about Alternate Tree, like, I get that her mind went traveling when our Tree came into the picture, but did she actually come back? Does she remember what happened to her? Would she have been stuck forever if our Tree decided to steal her life? It’s possible I missed some of these explanations, and even if I didn’t, I’m sure many would consider them nitpicks. But IDK. In some ways, Happy Death 2U is kinda intriguing; in other ways, I feel like there’s just so much more it could’ve played with and explored.

Cube

Year: 1997
Director: Vincenzo Natali
First Watch or Rewatch: Rewatch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Amazon
Spoilers: Yes, in this paragraph and in the trailer above
Grade: Vanilla

Cube came out when I was about 12, and I haven’t seen it since I was, IDK. 13? 15? It’s the first horror film I can think of, offhand, that uses an escape-the-booby-trapped-room set up; it’s also the oldest film I can remember that uses the Razor Floss death trope, which became popular a few years later. (Though if you can think of older films, please do let me know in the comments.) It’s definitely influential, and I can see why it’s gained something of a cult following. (Plus two sequels, neither of which I’ve watched.)

Some parts of this movie hold up better than others. I won’t pretend I can speak expertly about good autistic rep, but everything I’ve ever read suggests that the autistic savant character is a frustrating stereotype, one that’s become dominant in film and television since Rain Man. Some of the scene transitions are kinda laughable. Also, some of the actors are notably better than their costars, though I did have fun playing spot the actor. When I first watched Cube, the only person I knew was Nicole de Boer, who was on DS9. Now, I also recognize Nicky Guadagni from Ready or Not, David Hewlitt from Stargate: Atlantis, and Julian Richings, That Guy who pops up in every SF/F/H show that’s filmed in Canada. (You may also remember him from Urban Legend, which I just reviewed a few weeks ago.)

Still, it’s a fun concept and easily watchable, if you don’t mind how awful some of these characters are. Leaven, in particular, is so much worse than I remember, both incredibly whiny and also just a total jackass to Kazan. I enjoy how Quentin, a cop, is initially presented as the calm Good Guy, only for him to slowly reveal his true nature: namely, Sexist Murderous Dick. After all, the traps only kill 2 people; Quentin, himself, kills 3. I also like the twist that the rooms themselves are moving around. (Which, uh, the trailer just straight up spoils? Way to go, trailer.)

Cube is never gonna hit my personal Top Ten, but its influence cannot be denied, and it’s worth a watch if you also enjoy this type of horror. (Also, there’s apparently a new Japanese remake? Ooh, I hope it becomes available in the US. I want to check it out!)

Mayhem

Year: 2017
Director: Joe Lynch
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Other – Shudder
Spoilers: Only mildly
Grade: Vanilla

I mean, look. I could watch Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving running around being chaotic neutral all day. They’re pretty delightful here, talking metal bands and Dave Matthews Band in between murdering people with power saws. This premise promises, well, mayhem, and it certainly delivers on that front. There were definitely moments I laughed out loud, although annoyingly, I’m having trouble remembering specific ones right now. I did love the moment when Derek confronts The Reaper in his office. Also, Ewan asking, “Do you think I like the taste of kale?” Heh.

As an actual satire, I do feel like it’s missing something. Maybe it’s because I feel like there’s something of a missed opportunity with all the other mistreated coworkers, who are by and large just around for background gags or to act as no-name henchmen. Maybe it’s because almost everyone on the board of directors acts normal, despite the fact that they’ve also been infected. The only person really acting any different is our chief villain, John (AKA, The Boss), and even then he’s mostly just yelling more and doing a lot of cocaine. The film would be stronger, I think, if none of the bosses were infected, especially if they proved to be just as violent without the excuse of an infectious, inhibition-removing disease. I also can’t help but feel like Derek Cho is resting a lot on the legal precedent of one case, as if America’s justice system is just gonna automatically treat a person of color the same as some white guy.

So, yeah, I do think the satirical aspects of this script could be stronger. (Also, the accents, which is totally not a big deal, but like. Couldn’t this just have been an international company?) OTOH, if you’re mostly watching to see Steven Yeun absolutely flip his shit or Samara Weaving add another notch to her Fun Violent Ladies On Screen belt–and let’s be real, that’s absolutely why I watched it–I mean, yeah, it’s totally a decent movie to check out.

Coming Soon-Ish: Okja, Star Trek, Superheroes, And Lady Wrestlers

Star Trek: Discovery

I’m gonna watch this cause, like, Star Trek, but I’m only so-so on the trailer and it’s probably gonna need to hook me fast. Cause this CBS All Access crap? Bullshit.

Initial random thoughts:

A. Great to watch awesome ladies Sonequa Martin-Green and Michelle Yeoh share the screen.

B. Wish I had some measure of assurance that Michelle Yeoh is going to make it past the first episode, considering her ship isn’t the titular Discovery and it looks like something bad is about to go down. (IMDb has her listed for 13 episodes, but . . . IDK. I still worry. If she makes it past the pilot, then I guess I can graduate to concern about her surviving the first season . . . assuming the show does well enough to have a second season, which I think is a big if at this point.)

C. I’m totally cool with James Frain as Sarek.

D. I’m interested in our MC’s backstory. Is she a human raised on Vulcan? She seems to have rounded ears, so I’m assuming she isn’t half-human and half-Vulcan, although introducing more genetic diversity into the universe wouldn’t be the worst idea ever.

E. Still kind of bummed this is a TOS prequel.

F. Still deeply not okay with how we’ve changed the Klingons AGAIN. How do they keep looking worse? (TNG Klingons for life!)

G. Happy to see Doug Jones appears, as always, to be playing the weirdest and most ominous character in the show. Love you, Doug Jones.

The Orville

Can’t discuss Star Trek without discussing our new Star Trek spoof, The Orville.

I could give this a try. I’m not sold on this being the next Galaxy Quest or anything, but parts of it did make me laugh. Like the crew listening in on the captain and his ex-wife XO (Bobbie!) arguing, and acknowledging, oh, this is gonna be a fun trip. That whole part was great. Also, the anti-banana ray bit. Other jokes fall pretty flat for me, though, so my interest is there . . . but mild.

Okja

I’ve been interested in this one for months, so I’m excited to finally see a full-length trailer for it. The story presented thus far is only so-so for me, but I like the look of the trailer, I’m interested in seeing more of Bong Joon-ho’s work (I swear, I SWEAR, I will finally watch The Host this year), and oh my God, the cast is amazing: Tilda Swinton, Steven Yeun, Paul Dano, Giancarlo Esposito, Jake Gyllenhaal, Shirley Henderson, Devon Bostick, and Choi Woo-sik, who I just watched in Train to Busan. (Although, not gonna lie: I’d probably just watch this for Steven Yeun alone.)

GLOW

OOOH. This looks FUN.

Like Okja, I’ve been interested in this one for months, ever since looking up what Betty Gilpin was up to and finding out she, Alison Brie, and Ellen Wong were all going to be in a show together, like, YES, these are all ladies I’ve hoped to see more from. (Maybe especially Wong, who sadly doesn’t really feature in this trailer, but who I adored in Scott Pilgrim and haven’t seen much of since, with the exception of her guest-starring in Dark Matter.)

But it’s not just the cast. This show looks funny and feminist as hell. I love the bit about the man’s part versus the woman’s part (it’s funny because it’s true). Also: the alpha/omega/submit joke, the blood/tits/storytelling joke, and the ‘you mean stereotype’/’exactly!’ joke. Plus, just some of the ridiculous costumes: sexy lady astronaut, anyone?

This is the extremely rare non-speculative and/or non-mystery show that I’m actually geared up for. I definitely plan to check this one out.

Dark Matter

Speaking of Dark Matter.

I was pretty lukewarm on this show during the first season (although it did pick up towards the end), but I really enjoyed the hell out of second season, and now that we’re back for a third? Baby, I’m there. This trailer doesn’t tell you too much, other than Ryo has become our new villain. Curious to see if he’ll stay that way; he did betray the team, although not quite to the extent that they believe. Doubt Ellen Wong is going to make it, but happy to see that she’s coming back too.

Looks like I’ll be marathoning this on Netflix to remind myself of everything that happened. And to watch every Android scene possible cause let’s be real: we’re ALL here for the Android, right? She’s the best.

The Gifted

I’m . . . sort of interested in this? Like, I kinda like that it centers on a family, specifically a brother and sister. Mom is the most interesting, of course, because she’s played by Amy Acker. Bill from True Blood is fine, too. But there’s nothing about it that’s exactly drawing me in, either. Perhaps even I’m getting a bit worn out on new superhero shows, or at least ones that aren’t doing anything fantastically different. This is kinda different, but . . . I don’t know. I might try it, but if I do, it’ll probably be mostly for Amy Acker.

Black Lightning

Speaking of superhero shows.

I’m actually a little more interested in this one, despite the very CW voiceover that I’m hoping will go away after the pilot. CW superhero shows generally skew young, so having a middle-aged family man and high school principal as a superhero is kind of a bold move for them. Also nice to see what looks to be almost entirely a black cast. I am disappointed, though, to hear that Black Lightning won’t be a part of the CW superhero multiverse, like, that just feels like a missed opportunity to me.

I’m not sold, but I’m sure I’ll check this one out for at least a few episodes.

The Crossing

Meh. I might try this. The shot of all the bodies in the water is great, like, that’s just a fantastically haunting, creepy image. And this could be an interesting way to tell a story about refugees and the serious problems with our established immigration system . . . but for some reason, my hopes aren’t high. Obviously, I like me a good speculative element, but the whole ‘time travel into the past to escape the war that’s coming’ thing isn’t quite working for me, maybe because it seems like a pretty short-sighted plan for time travelers, or maybe just because as much as I like trying them, most time travel stories don’t end up working for me.

If I hear good things, I might give this a whirl, but as is, I’m not that interested.

The Good Doctor

Although. I would watch The Crossing 24 billion times over before I watched this show. No. So much no.

This is one of those shows that looks like it’s going for inspirational (admittedly, not really my bag) and is landing somewhere around offensive instead. And let me be clear: I am absolutely not an expert on autism, and I welcome the comments of anyone who knows more on the subject than me, but . . . we seem to have problems here. Briefly putting aside that this is yet another show about A Super Special Dude With Poor Social Skills Who Sees Things No One Else Sees, and even putting aside that this show appears to be portraying autism in the Standard Hollywood Way (savant, speaks in a stilted, almost robotic manner, etc.) . . .  what I mostly take from this trailer is that people on the autism spectrum aren’t capable of being surgeons, and the only reason that this guy can is because he’s a savant, like, no one else on the spectrum could possibly do it. Which, like, no. Pretty sure that’s not the case.

To be clear, a show about the difficulties that people on the autism spectrum face, specifically in regards to workplace discrimination, would be totally fine. I think that maybe that’s what this show is trying to be, but based on the trailer, I don’t think that’s what it is. There are a lot of solid actors in this–Freddie Highmore, Richard Schiff, Antonia Thomas, Nicholas Gonzalez, Tamlyn Tomita–but not one of them would make me give this a shot. No, Richard Schiff, not even you.

American Assassin

Man. I want to be interested in a movie where Dylan O’Brien is playing both a grown-up and a badass, but . . . oh God, not this.

Generic ass title? Check. Refrigerated girlfriend? Check. Angst beard? Double check. Islamophobia? Probably. I’m torn on Michael Keaton’s character: he could be a mentor that dies, but I’m kind of getting a diabolic double agent twist or something from him? I don’t know, maybe not. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to watch this movie to find out, either. I’ll just be here, re-watching the episodes of Teen Wolf that make me happy, like, mostly ones prior to 6A. Sigh.

Finally . . . Blade Runner 2049

I kind of need to watch the original Blade Runner again. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, and I feel like I missed half of what was going on anyway, since I had to keep the volume real low (I was trying not to wake somebody up).

The look of this sequel is pretty great: dark, gorgeous, uber cinematic. But because I don’t have much feeling about the original film one way or another, my interest in this is only mild. At this point, I figure I’ll probably watch it eventually, but I doubt I’ll see it in theater unless somebody I know really wants to go.

My Own Dream Show – A Cast of Characters

Last week, I asked for everyone else’s dream casts. Today I provide my own.

Instead of a team-oriented space opera, as I’d originally intended, I came up with the idea for a Twin Peaks-esque show, only with less icky rape and molestation stuff and more werewolves and random musical numbers. There will be a murder investigation. There will be iconic costumes. Lots of food. ALL the offbeat, deadpan humor. I’m not gonna lie, people: I think I’ve got a winner here. This is absolutely a cult classic that gets cancelled in its first season in the making.

A few disclaimers first:

The clips I’ve chosen do not always match the show I pulled the actor from. I didn’t pick a Chris Pratt clip from Parks & Rec, for instance, because I haven’t watched Parks & Rec. Other times I just liked a different clip better for that actor. I’m fickle.

Also, some clips may include SPOILERS. You’ve been warned.

Now! Introducing your Cast of Characters:

The FBI Agent. Also, The Unlucky Magnet For All Things Weird.

Allison Janney (The West Wing)

(The problem with embedding clips is that you never quite find the one you’re looking for. I was hoping for a specific scene with turkeys, but hey, I like this one too.)

The FBI agent fled this strange little town long ago, hoping for a life of normalcy and law enforcement and chain restaurant options; however, the strange and supernatural follow wherever she goes. If handed a simple home-invasion-gone-wrong homicide, you can bet that psychic clowns are somehow involved. Has long since accepted this, and basically everything else that happens. Weary and cynical. Will always make time for breakfast.

Quote: Yup. That’s a werewolf, all right. Look, I believe I was promised donuts?

The Small Town Cop. Charming, But Slightly Tortured. Also, Psychic.

Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)

(Ugh, forget about the turkeys. It is stupidly hard to find Luke Cage scenes with Shades in them on Youtube. This is probably not the representative example I would have given, but I didn’t have much to work with. You can find the “lawyer” scene here at the 7:05 mark, though, and that one always makes me laugh.)

The FBI agent’s liaison/local partner during this investigation. Does the majority of his casework by reading the cards, looking for omens, having creepy dreams, and speaking to ghosts, who unfortunately aren’t always as helpful as you’d expect them to be. Has far more hobbies than any one person could realistically have. Begins a romance with the ghost of the current murder victim.

Quote: The mime in my dream told us we’d find a clue at the old sawmill. Then the Dark Mime God came and punished the mime by erasing his mouth from existence . . . but that part wasn’t real, probably.

The Hot Mechanic Werewolf Ghost, AKA, The Murder Victim

Chris Pratt (Parks & Rec)

Doesn’t know who murdered him. Doesn’t know why anyone would, and is, all in all, pretty outraged by the whole thing. Otherwise affable. Appears in two forms: his Hot Mechanic form (jeans, dirty white tank, the perfect amount of sweat) and his Awesome Werewolf form (an actual wolf). Falls hard for the small town cop. Misses food.

Quote: I’m supposed to be eating tacos today. Everyone should be clear on that.

The Hotel Owner. Also, The Badass Pack Leader Seeking Vengeance.

Shohreh Aghdashloo (The Expanse)

Owns the only hotel in town. Courteous, elegant, and seeks rampant, bloody vengeance for the murder of one of her wolves. Frequently annoys her guest, The FBI Agent, by keeping tabs on the investigation. Never impressed by its progress. Dresses fabulously.

Quote: So, you see, I cannot stand about forever for your clumsy investigation to conclude. There is a throat out there, waiting to be torn out. My teeth will only wait so long.

The Eccentric Heiress. Possibly A Vampire.

Gina Torres (Firefly)

The richest woman in town. Easily owns half the land, and is fond of popping up at night to remind people of that. Her clothing is always expensive, no matter what she’s doing, and highly unpredictable: she might show up in a black dress and matching feather boa one day, a plush white bathrobe the next. Longstanding enmity between her and The Hotel Owner. Never leaves her mansion during daytime hours.

Quote: You absolutely must come to my party. I’ll just have your head if you don’t.

The Postman/The Guy Who Can Get It For You

Michael Emerson (Lost)

Only seen in his USPS uniform. Delivers letters and packages from the normal mail, plus whatever anyone else needs on the down low. Friendly, almost always willing to engage in small talk, but takes his job very seriously. Will become quietly, abruptly, horrifyingly violent if someone maliciously tries to interfere with his legal or illegal deliveries. Eventually revealed to be the right hand man of The Eccentric Heiress.

Quote: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stop me, sir. It was foolish of you to try.

The Local Witch Who Owns The Diner

Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is The New Black)

Plainspoken. Profane. Calls everyone hon or honey or sweetie. Has cast a spell on her restaurant that causes the patrons to talk about all their secrets and/or confidential business in public. Most customers aren’t aware of this, and the few who are put up with it because it’s the only diner in town. Wears an old fashioned waitress uniform with sensible shoes, and frequently decides for people what they want to eat.

Quote: Hon, I’ve worked here 30 years. I’ve seen some weird shit. I know when my customers need blueberry pancakes, and you don’t deserve them yet.

The Baker/ The Guy Who Automatically Makes Every Scene A Musical

Jesse L. Martin (The Flash)

Intelligent, funny, generally delightful. Frequently shows up to distribute baked goods in places that a baker really has no business being in: crime scenes, for instance. Also, funerals. Whenever he arrives, everyone spontaneously bursts into song. No one will ever acknowledge this during the course of the show.

Quote: There are vanilla cupcakes here/and mocha cupcakes there/it’s hard to deliver when there’s blood everywhere. 

(Look, don’t judge. If this was an actual thing, I’d hire someone to write better lyrics for me. It’s not exactly my forte, okay?)

The Investigative Reporter Seemingly Stuck In the 1940’s

Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire)

Favors trenchcoats, fedoras, suspenders, white tank tops, and cigars. Pants, too. Frequently speaks in hardboiled noir slang. Writes for the local paper and takes every article equally seriously, whether it’s the murder of a mechanic werewolf or how the next-door-neighbor’s cat came to be stuck in that tree. Enjoys appearing out of nowhere whenever possible. Also writes the newspaper’s horoscopes.

Quote: Scorpio, you weasel. You’re behind the eight-ball this week, all right. Better lay dormy somewhere until it blows over; otherwise, you’re liable to face some serious chin music. Avoid cinnamon.

The Town Librarian. Also, The Town Secret Assassin

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)

Glasses. Dresses almost entirely in black. Ace/Aro. Leads a reading group of young girls from ages 4-17, exposing them to different types of literature, as well as the many different ways to kill someone. When in assassin mode, may vary wildly from Victorian elegant poisoner to exuberant punk overkill, depending on what the client wants and her general mood at the time.

Quote: Excellent progress, girls. Now, who can tell which poison Merricat Blackwood used in We Have Always Lived In The Castle, and the pros/cons of that particular poison?

The Bartender/Coroner. Eventually Undead.

Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest)

Owns and runs a bar called Autopsy Room Four. Does autopsies in one of the back rooms when the town requires one. Friendly, personable. Enjoys geeking out over things, especially baseball, virology, and Stephen King. Murdered during the first season, but mysteriously comes back to life in her grave and crawls her way out. May or may not experience cravings for human flesh.

Quote: Last round, everyone! Hey, I’m disappointed, too, but this bag of meat isn’t going to autopsy itself.

The Wandering Armchair Psychologist

Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy)

Chatty. Enthusiastic. Entirely too blunt. Has appointed herself the town’s therapist, and relies heavily on pop culture, particularly TV Tropes, for her evaluations. Whenever it becomes clear that an episode is going to primarily feature a main character’s emotional arc and/or backstory, the Wandering Armchair Psychologist will appear for a series of sit-downs with that character, whether he/she/they want it or not. Usually, not.

Quote: So, your father was horrifically dismembered and eaten by a flock of wereturkeys. Let’s talk about that.

The Stranger. Also, The Voice of the Audience

Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead)

No one knows who he is or anything about him. Pops up sporadically to either tell people that they’re doing something stupid and/or dangerous, or to help them come to a ridiculously obvious realization. Usually very dry, but every now and then becomes so aggravated with everyone’s stupidity that he has a full meltdown about it . . . before once again disappearing into the night.

Quote: Going there without calling backup, huh? Yeah, that won’t get you killed immediately.

I’m telling you, people: I want this show. I want it now. I already have possible theme songs in mind: “Jugband Blues” by Pink Floyd or maybe “Strange Days” by The Doors. Oh, the many unrealized dreams of the human heart.

And if you haven’t already done so, I’d still like to hear your dream casts. (Especially YOU, Mekaela! I let it slide last week because it was your birthday, but NO LONGER.) Feel free to comment here, or at the original post where I laid out the rules.