Saturday, July 26, 2014


A lot of people say that all horror movies are the same and most of the time they are right. There aren't a lot of surprising scary movies nowadays. Oculus is different. I like that both stories, past and present, are told simultaneously. The storyline is fresh. Kaylie and Tim Russell are children when they move with their parents into a new home. Their father, Alan Russell, buys a big, antique mirror known as the Lasser Glass. Cut to the present. It is eleven years later. Tim is in a mental institution and Kaylie works with antiques. (Coincidence?) Tim is released on his 21st birthday, just as Kaylie tracks down the Lasser Glass and takes possession of it. (Coincidence?) Kaylie is convinced that a malevolent supernatural force is living in the Lasser Glass and killing anyone who owns it while Tim is convinced that Kaylie is insane, just as their dad was. (Maybe.) Present day Kaylie, played by Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan, recruits Tim and sets up an elaborate plan to document the mirror's influence in their old family home. She sets up timers to remind them to eat and drink, an anchor set up on a kill switch hangs above the mirror that will smash it if Kaylie or Tim are not alive to reset the timer, house plants litter the floor because the mirror "gets the low hanging fruit first." Kaylie's fiance Michael, played by James Lafferty of One Tree Hill, is set to call every hour on the hour. It's a foolproof plan, right? Wrong-o! The mirror comes to life, killing the houseplants and messing with Kaylie and Tim's minds. Flashing back to eleven years ago, Alan is becoming angry and distant while his wife, Marie, played by Katee Sackhoff, is becoming paranoid and psychotic. It is clear that both of the adults are under the mirror's influence. Marie freaks out and tries to murder Tim, so the logical thing for Alan to do is to chain her up in their bedroom. We go back to the future, light bulbs are burning out all over the house. This is the scene with which we are all familiar. The previews kind of ruined it for us. While Kaylie is changing light bulbs, she is also eating an apple. When she takes a bite, the mirror makes her think that she is holding a lightbulb. As she pulls a shard of glass from her mouth, it goes back to being an apple. As we go back to the past, Kaylie discovers her mother chained to the wall of the bedroom, all of her teeth completely shattered. As the story of the past unfolds, it is unclear whether the mirror is the cause of this or human psychosis. As the movie goes on, past and present start to blend together. When Kaylie finds a shattered plate belonging in the past, she is convinced it is not real. When her fiance comes to check on her, she is startled and puts a shard of plate in his neck. (No, James Lafferty!!!) It is unclear if this is real because soon after her phone rings. It is her fiance calling to check in. (Dun dun DUN!) Sorry Charlie, it's real. Michael is dead. Kaylie and Tim "run outside and call for help," though shortly after they see themselves inside the house, standing in front of the mirror. In the past, it is clear how Tim ended up in the nuthouse. This final night is a horror show. The kids watched as their father killed their mother, then Tim was forced to shoot their father. Meanwhile, ghosts are everywhere! Anyone the mirror has ever killed shows up as a ghost with creepy mirror eyes. (No, James Lafferty!!!) Tim is brought back to the present by the sound of alarms. Kaylie is nowhere to be found. Tim turns the dial to the killswitch, dropping the anchor on the mirror. Then it is revealed that, though Tim couldn't see her, Kaylie was standing right in front of the mirror. Back to the psych ward for Tim.

The kids who play young Kaylie and Tim are fantastic. Child actors can be really terrible, but these two are very convincing. I love the effect of the mirror eyes on the ghosts. I was expecting either both Kaylie and Tim to die or they defeat the evil living in the mirror. Instead, the mirror lives on and Tim is arrested for killing his sister, leaving the story open for sequels. (Fingers crossed!)

Transformers 4: Kinda Over This Franchise

This movie was just... ugh. There is no word to describe how I feel about it, merely a disgusted sound. It is so 'blah' that I can't even be bothered to remember the whole title. Age of Extinction? I think that's right, but who really cares anyway? The movie would have been much better had it not been for a few terrible characters. This is the story of Transformers Without Shia LaBeouf as it stands now:

Mark Whalberg is a hardworking American, living in Texas with his teenage hottie of a daughter. Before Markie Mark discovers Optimus Prime, the movie is about how he wants to shelter his daughter from boys and teenage pregnancy, basically that tired storyline of "I want you to have a better life than I did" that has been done to death in almost every single movie that has ever been made. We get it, try something new. So after an hour or so of Mark Whalberg, hot daughter, and this random surfer guy who is Mark's only friend and business partner, stuff finally starts happening. They discover Optimus Prime, the government finds out and starts hunting them down, Optimus Prime destroys stuff, yada yada yada. Then we discover that hot daughter has a secret boyfriend who happens to drive cars really well. While escaping The Fuzz, random surfer guy is killed by a robot alien working for the government to destroy all Transformers. Everyone is sad. At this point, we are about an hour and a half into this movie. So much stuff happens, tons of product placement and lame jokes later, the gang stumbles upon a technologically advanced company that used the broken bodies of the dead Transformers, Autobots and Decepticons alike, to engineer their own versions of the robot aliens. What a shocker, the robot they modeled using the head of Megatron cannot be controlled by humans. This robot is now Megatron reincarnated. Stanley Tucci is the genius responsible for these human-engineered Decepticons, he realizes his mistake much too late to stop it, and joins up with Mark Whalberg and his Funky Bunch. (I really should stop making references to Mark Whalbergs rap career, he was really the only good thing about this movie.) Anyway, the gang ends up in China and destroys a bunch of cities there instead of in America. Hot daughter gets taken by the aliens and it is now a race against time for Mark and secret boyfriend to get her back. Mark and secret boyfriend fight the whole time, they find hot daughter, they climb down some giant land anchors to the top of a big building and all the while hot daughter is complaining and I'm really hoping she falls. Pretty much everything else that happens is CGI madness, Optimus Prime wakes up the Dinobots (FINALLY) and they all defeat the human-engineered Decepticons.

This freakin' movie is almost three hours long. I left to get more soda somewhere in the middle and missed ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. There are a lot of moments that could have been trimmed. Here is how I would have edited this movie down:

No hot daughter and no secret boyfriend. They are nothing characters, they serve no purpose. Taking them out of the movie trims it down by at least 45 minutes. If the men in the audience really need someone hot to look at to keep their attention, it is obviously not a very good movie. If it's REALLY necessary, I would give Mark a tough-as-nails girlfriend, not someone who is going to whine and cry her way through the movie. I would keep Mark Whalberg just the way he is, I would even keep random surfer guy. I would change his character to not be a surfer guy, though. This is Texas. It's like someone took a guy from California and plopped him in the middle of a cornfield. I would keep his death, too. This would fuel Mark's involvement with Optimus Prime to help in defeating the alien menace. He would be like "Fuck it, I've got nothing left to lose." I would make Stanely Tucci's character much less of a douchebag. I mean he gets there in the end, but it takes far too long.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Purge

Okay, so it's 4 a.m. and I have insomnia. Just can't sleep. It's been a VERY long time since I've blogged and I just watched this movie that I have to discuss. So I turned on HBO and The Purge was just starting. You always feel lucky when you happen to catch a movie when it's just starting! I had been wanting to see this movie with the new one coming out. It raised a question that I can't quite shake: if The Purge were real, would you participate? I mean, the people in the streets purging their anger and violence on seemingly innocent people seems wrong, that much is obvious. I definitely rooted for this nice little family to live because everyone else just seemed psychotic. As the movie went on however, I found myself yelling at the boy, Charlie, for first letting the stranger in, second helping the stranger hide in the house, and third generally being an idiot. Now, I want to say that Rhys Wakefield did an excellent job playing the Polite Leader in the merry band of purgers that encompasses the house. He was creepy, but still managed to look very attractive while being completely psychotic. Instead of throwing this homeless guy to the purgers, the family decides to fight back, which I think was really stupid. Ethan Hawke was all ready to toss the guy out when his family was all ::whiny voices:: "No this is wrong, look what you're doing, look what you've become" and so Ethan changes his mind. There are at least 10 psychos surrounding your house, they're going to get in and you have your unstable wife and your two dumb kids. Odds are not in your favor, sir. So Ethan takes this huge gun that is more like a canon and kills a bunch of the purgers. This is when I have to call time-out. So instead of one man dying, Ethan Hawke is killing a bunch of other people, kids even. All of these purgers look like they are in their late-teens, early twenties. This makes no sense at all. After Ethan kills 5 of the purgers, he turns to leave and the Polite Leader sticks a huge knife in his gut. Remember in Crocodile Dundee when Paul Hogan says the line "That's not a knife. THIS is a knife"? That big knife he pulled out? It was like that. No one survives that. SPOILER ALERT: Ethan Hawke dies. I predicted that fate early on. Then out of nowhere, these random people in evening wear come in and start killing all of the purgers and it seems like they are there to help the remaining Sandins. Nope. It is their crazy neighbors, taking advantage of the situation. They are jealous of the Sandins and want to kill them while it's legal. The stranger is forgotten about until now, when he gets one up on the neighbors, kills one, then holds the rest of the them at gunpoint. Lena Headey decides she doesn't want to sink to their level and kill them so she just holds them until morning. So my analysis is this: everyone in this movie is an idiot. Especially the child. All of those deaths, now he is fatherless, all because he was a moron. To answer my own question, I honestly can't say for sure that I would not participate in the annual purge. I don't think I'd be a murdering psycho, but I don't think I would sit at home, waiting to be brutally murdered.