Blind Spot 34: Scream

As I was planning my blind spot picks for 2018 I wanted to challenge myself with a few picks and step outside my comfort zone. And no pick did that as much as this month’s pick Scream. Directed by Wes Craven, Scream has become an iconic slasher film which went on to inspire 3 sequels and the Scary Movie spoof series.

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One of the interesting things about Scream is it is not just a scary movie but it is a critique of the horror genre. There are many references throughout the movie both visually and in the script to classic horror franchises like Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween. Unfortunately since I am a newbie to the genre a lot of the references were lost on me, but I can see why many fans really enjoyed them.

The story to Scream is simple. A man in a scream mask (called Ghostface) is calling teens, talking to them in an increasingly chilling manner and then stabbing them with a knife. Most people are probably most alarmed by the killings in the movie, but to me, the phone calls were the creepiest part. It is especially chilling in an opening scene with Drew Barrymore when the caller is giving her movie trivia to keep her and her boyfriend alive. That was pretty scary!

Most of the violence is done with a wink and isn’t especially scary. It’s more meant to be fun and silly. It’s not the kind of thing I am going to get nightmares of because it is very over-the-top.

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Neve Campbell plays a girl named Sidney who is hesitant to give up her virginity because of her Mother being murdered (and raped I think) a year earlier. Her boyfriend Billy struggles with her choice but seems to respect it. There is also a sheriff (David Arquette), a reporter (Courtney Cox), a principal (Henry Winkler) and friends (Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Jamie Kennedy, and more).

The last act of Scream is a bit chaotic for my liking. I prefer the opening scene with Drew Barrymore over the messiness. It’s  much scarier when tension has time to build and bubble up until you can’t help but respond. The never-ending mayhem gets tired even as it is increasing in violence. The only thing that really creeped me out (or grossed me out) in the last part is a death involving a garage door.

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But that said, Scream is an enjoyable film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It has a winking sensibility to it and while I think I would enjoy it more if I knew what the jokes were referencing it still was a fun enough ride.

Of course, Scream is rated R so it won’t be for everyone but if you are up for a light-hearted slasher movie (such a weird description but it’s true) than this is the movie for you! I’m glad I saw it even if I don’t think I’d ever watch it again. Always good to get out of your comfort zone!

Have any of you seen Scream? What do you think of it and its sequels?

smile worthy

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Get Out Review (No Spoilers)

get-out5Today I got the chance to see the new horror film from director Jordan Peele called Get Out. This film has received much praise and currently has a 100% rating on RottenTomatoes.com, which is very rare. I’m not the biggest horror fan, but I like good movies so I decided to give it a shot, and I’m glad I did.

get-outGet Out stars Daniel Kaluuya, as a black man named Chris who is dating a white woman (Allison Williams) named Rose. She is taking him to meet her white parents and he is anxious about any prejudices they might have. She reassures him they are progressives who would vote for Obama a third time (as if that means you aren’t racist!) and they head off.

get-out2Once they arrive, her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) are liberal yuppies just like she’d described but there’s something strange going on…

get-out3I won’t tell you any more so that you won’t be spoiled. Suffice it to say Get Out does a good job weaving together traditional horror tropes with pointed satire about racism and modern white and black fears of each other. It’s something I will definitely want to see again to pick up on all the clues, messaging and moments I missed the first time (my brother was with me and he noticed a lot more than I did).

I must admit it was refreshing for me as a conservative to finally see the parents weren’t rich Republicans but liberal yuppies. Yep, they can be racist too. It was a nice change of pace, and I think made the satire a bit more subtle and biting than it might have been otherwise.

get-out4That’s not to say Get Out is a masterpiece as a 100% might imply. I found the introduction to be pretty slow going and I was beginning to wonder if this was super over-hyped. Then it picks up and becomes very entertaining.

My only other caveat is it’s not that scary. If you are expecting a horror movie that makes you jump and gives you nightmares this isn’t it. It is pretty bloody but everything that happens is a bit over the top (hence it being a satire). In general, horror movies that are very realistic are the scariest for me. For example, Norman Bates in Psycho feels like a real man who could be working at a dumpy hotel and everything he does is fairly pedestrian like how he kills, buries the car etc .Things that happen in Get Out are not realistic in that way. (I hope that is cryptic enough for you!)

I think there are a couple places they could have made it a little more realistic and not sacrificed humor and made it scarier but it’s nitpicking. You kind of have to go with it and for the most part I did.

As far as content it can be bloody and there is some strong language to be aware of. Probably for mature teens and adults only.

Overall Grade- B+

The Shallows and Cafe Society Reviews

I just thought I would give you guys two quick reviews of films I was able to see this week. Ironically both films star Blake Lively in all her gorgeousness but aside from that they couldn’t be more different.  Today we are looking at The Shallows and Cafe Society. Neither will make my best of the year list but they are both solid entertaining films.

The Shallows-shallows

Those of us who love Jaws were excited to see what  a modern film could do with a killer shark story. In the case of The Shallows we have Jaume Collet-Serra in place of Steven Spielberg and he delivers an entertaining film that isn’t near approaching Jaws but is better than the Jaws sequels so that’s something.

The Shallows stars Blake Lively who looks stunning in her bikini on the beach. She has arrived at a secluded beach in Mexico to swim at her Mother’s favorite spot. It takes a while to get her to the core shark part of the story but since I love the ocean and surfing I didn’t mind that.shallows4

However, it was painfully obvious they pasted Lively’s face on another surfer’s body in the surfing scenes. This brings up my major problem with the movie- the visual effects were uniformly poor.  I mean look at the shark above. Don’t you think it looks like styrofoam?

shallows2When Lively was on the rock and we didn’t know where the shark was then it was tense and exciting (and that’s a lot of the movie) but as soon as they showed the shark it took me out of the film. Collet-Serra should have learned from Spielberg if the shark doesn’t look good don’t show the shark.

shallows3It also gets extremely silly towards the end of the movie with Lively lighting the ocean on fire at one point and her spearing the shark with a buoy like a superhero.

Nevertheless, Lively is really good, the ocean looks gorgeous and the survival scenes when she is caring for her leg and trying to figure out what to do were gripping. There’s enough there to give a mild recommendation.

For me 10 Cloverfield Lane is the better small horror movie of the year but if that is too gory for you The Shallows could be just the thing.

Overall Grade- B-

Cafe Society-

Cafe_SocietyI have to say I had an absolutely terrible theater experience seeing Cafe Society. A group of older women were in front of me being loud and one woman literally looked at her phone the entire time.  So, perhaps it says something that I liked it as much as I did.

Cafe Society is the latest film from Woody Allen and it’s not one of his best but it is an enjoyable little movie. It’s pretty simple story about Bobby played by Jesse Eisenberg who goes to LA to work for his big time Hollywood agent uncle Phil played by Steve Carell.

cafe societyHe meets Vonnie played by Kristen Stewart who is lovely and luminous in the role. People need to let the Twilight movies go and give Stewart a chance to act. She’s proven herself in movies like Still Alice, Into the Wild, and this that she can be a good actress with the right material. In this movie she has to compete with Blake Lively and yet you still understand why Bobby is in love with her.

wasp2015_day_14-0220.CR2Speaking of Blake Lively, man is she beautiful in this movie. It reminded me of Age of Adaline in how well she wears clothes and graces the screen. She is definitely Woody Allen’s shiksa goddess in this film. wasp2015_day_38-0044.CR2I also loved Corey Stoll here. He plays Bobby’s mobster brother and I think I just have a crush on the guy. I like him in everything I’ve seen him in.

As you can probably tell from the photos Cafe Society looks great. The costumes and production design are impeccable and it is a pleasant enjoyable story of old town Hollywood.

That said, certain scenes fall flat like when Bobby hires a Jewish call girl. It’s supposed to be funny but it doesn’t work at all. Also, the whole film feels inconsequential.  There is nothing memorable about it. It feels extremely derivative of 30 other better Woody Allen films.

Allen also does the narration in the film which is distracting and helps remind the viewer of all the other films he’s done that are better.

Still, not a bad watch and I’m glad I saw it even with the stupid moviegoers who were with me.

Overall Grade- B

Do you have a favorite animal horror movie like The Shallows? What about your favorite Woody Allen movie? I’d say Jaws is my favorite animal horror movie and Midnight in Paris is my favorite Woody Allen movie with Annie Hall and Blue Jasmine close behind.