Terrifier 2


Viewed – 10 November 2022 online rental

The first Terrifier was a gory little slasher with a striking villain in the shape of ‘Art the Clown’, and had a tongue-in-cheek humour to it that helped gloss over any shortcomings in acting or budget. This bigger and bolder but still fairly low budget follow-up has the psychotic clown return to stalk a fresh set of victims on Halloween night.

With a run time of a surprising 138 minutes, this is far more ambitious than the first movie. It further develops the mystique of Art the Clown by introducing a haunting, freaky little girl version of him. The plot revolves around a teenager as she prepares to enjoy Halloween, creating a costume for the night etc. Her younger brother however seems obsessed with the stories of the killer clown from exactly one year earlier. The movie is a bit all over the place plot-wise throwing in dream sequences and hinting at a back story that’s never fully explored. However, director Damien Leone delivers a constantly freaky, unnerving and at times downright nasty experience. His style is very grind-house but there’s clear skill behind the camera. He was also partly responsible for the excellent practical effects and with that let’s get to the gore… oh my god! This has to be one of the most unrelenting and brutal slasher movies I have ever seen – seriously, no matter your disposition, there’s several scenes of savage violence here that are simply hard to watch.

The big failing though is that the plot doesn’t go anywhere, with any deeper lore kind of forgotten about as the movie nears its end. It’s also not as darkly funny as the first movie, preferring to be intense and nasty. Acting isn’t great either, with the younger brother especially cringe. That being said Lauren Lavera is at least a decent, gutsy heroine and her look and personality do stand out. Yet of course the star here is David Howard Thornton’s ‘Art’ – who cements his place in the halls of horror icon infamy. At over 2 hours this was too long and often felt self-indulgent… but as a movie it certainly packed a punch.

Verdict: Good+

Where The Crawdads Sing


Viewed – 30 October 2022 online rental

When a popular local guy is found dead under mysterious circumstances, the towns folk quickly point the finger at a girl who lives in seclusion in the marshland. Through a series of flashbacks we learn her origin and whether or not she’s as guilty as people suspect.

Based on a best selling novel by Delia Owens, this was a very absorbing drama. With a stand out performance from Daisy Edgar-Jones who reminded me of a young Holly Hunter, I was drawn in by this girl’s story, the backdrop of 50s / 60s North Carolina and exploration of prejudice. The courtroom drama aspects were very much a cross between To Kill a Mockingbird and Twelve Angry Men. There was also some eye-catching cinematography, showcasing the beauty and the eerie atmosphere of the setting.

Some of the support cast are a bit stereotypical and the ending was slightly predictable. But overall I was gripped by the story and very much found myself caught up in the girl’s situation. Emotional and powerful stuff.

Verdict: Recommended

My Best Friend’s Exorcism


Viewed – 12 October 2022 Amazon Prime

I went into this hoping for a fun 80s throwback horror like I grew up watching when first getting into horror. The concept is an appealing one. A nerdy girl begins to think her hot best friend may be possessed after a night at a drunken party summons a demon.

This did make me think of Megan Fox horror Jennifer’s Body. However with the casting of relative unknowns, the first mistake this makes is weak clichéd characters and only passable acting. Secondly for a demonic possession movie, teen comedy or not this is very watered down and tame. The horror aspects are not for a minute scary either. Even the effects work is poor (a vomit scene, obviously a nod to The Exorcist is just laughable).

For a movie set in the 80s, apart from the music and some posters, it fails to ever feel or look particularly 80s. Really, when I think the horrors I grew up on, this was just embarrassing.

Verdict: Avoid

The Bad Guys


Viewed – 8 October 2022 online-rental

These days, the majority of animated movies are so beautiful looking that it’s easy to rate them all highly. So for me it’s a genre I’m particularly tough on. This latest Dreamworks effort follows a gang of career criminals; a sly wolf, a shark, a piranha, a snake and a tarantula. All creatures feared in society, so they find it easier to embrace being ‘bad guys’. However when their latest heist to steel a priceless award, goes wrong they’re given the opportunity to turn their lives around and go ‘good’.

This comedy-caper has a solid initial concept and is full of energy, action and personality. Voice acting is good, especially Sam Rockwell as the wolf. Add to this the slick, eye-melting animation, seemingly in that similar hand drawn meets CGI that worked so well in Spider-Man Enter The Spiderverse, and on paper this has it all.

However the script isn’t as sharp as it could have been, it leans a bit too heavily on the sentimental, and could have been a lot funnier. It’s never explained also, why animals live and talk like humans, alongside humans (!?). The villain is highly forgettable too. Overall well-made and fun, but not one to rush back to.

Verdict: Good

Blonde


Viewed – 01 October 2022 Netflix

I won’t say I’m an expert on the career or life of legendary Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe, yet I approached this movie with some caution as I’d heard it was more an ‘Inspired by true events’ take than a full on biopic. However it wasn’t long until I began to get a feel for the woman and her image as actress Ana De Armas (Knives Out) stepped into her shoes and truly became the iconic sex symbol.

Charting the life of Norma Jean Baker, who would eventually transform into Marilyn Monroe, this details a troubled childhood with a mentally ill mother, through to her attempts to become an actress and eventually super-stardom. Along the way we have Hollywood producers sleazing over her and making her do ‘things’ just to get a part, a ménage a trois relationship with Charlie Chaplin jr, through to her marriages with ex-baseball star Joe DiMaggio & play-write Arthur Miller (even though names are changed here).

Having read up on the life of the actress since, in many ways, this gives a good interpretation of Marilyn’s life (with some deviations), and other than sections detailing abortions and sexual abuse, both of which are not exactly stretches to imagine happening, I came away feeling I’d had an education. Director Andrew Dominik has delivered a haunting yet absorbing experience with a stunning & uncanny central performance from Ana De Armas (who surely deserves an Oscar nom). His creative approach to editing, camera work, the use of various types of film stock, aspect ratios and camera lenses all helped convey the fragile psychology and tragedy of Marilyn – and for me raised this movie into something rather mesmerising. It doesn’t cover everything, and I’d have preferred some of the more gratuitous aspects were toned down, as it can get quite graphic … but overall this was powerful viewing.

Verdict: Recommended