Episode 092: The Shining

Happy kick-off to Kubrick Month, listeners. In this first episode of 2018 we begin our celebration of the director by discussing his masterful horror film, The Shining. Also on this episode are reviews of Insidious: The Last KeyPaddington 2 and The Wolf Children.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:04:53

(Aaron – Insidious: The Last Key & Paddington 2)
(Patrick – The Wolf Children)

The Shining Review – 0:29:51

The Connecting Point – 1:30:15

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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

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MOVIE REVIEW: Insidious: The Last Key

INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY (2018)


GOING IN

The INSIDIOUS series has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. I acknowledge that it isn’t the best horror out there, but I very much enjoy the first two films in this franchise, and due to a strong final act I even don’t mind the third chapter. The concept of The Further and exploring a place where spirits roam while trying to attach themselves to the living is certainly an intriguing one. While James Wan has gone on to make much more masterful horror films in THE CONJURING series, his ability to create atmospheric dread made the series one I could stomach more than the blood and gore pictures in this genre. Admittedly, INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 was a letdown and Wan’s absence was felt as co-creator Leigh Whannell took over directing duties. Now director Adam Robitel is attached for yet another Lin Shaye led sequel. It’s not unheard for little known horror directors to surprise with a good film, but it is rare that fourth entries in a horror franchise ever live up to their original material. I’m going into this one with pretty low expectations and hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

1 Hour and 43 Minutes Later.


COMING OUT

 

INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY begins with a flashback to a young Elise (series star Lin Shaye) living in her home on a prison campus. This insight into her childhood family dynamic and living situation immediately sets the stage for what will be her most personal haunting experience yet, when she returns to this childhood home much later in life to face off against a sinister demon. The details behind this particular occurrence are fairly dark in nature and the plot gets even more serious as it progresses. It’s actually somewhat shocking that the film maintains a PG-13 rating with the heavy content, but like other films in the series it does shy away from blood and guts, relying more on jump scares and atmosphere to provide the audience a sense of fear. Those scares are hit or miss, with a few genuine moments of surprise but many more of the telegraphed typical horror film variety. While some scenes may give audiences a quick jolt, the film never creates any lasting feeling of terror.

Returning to pen this entry (as he did the previous three) is series co-creator (and director of INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3) Leigh Whannell. Whannell also stars in the film as Specs, part of the sidekick ghost hunting duo that provide technical assistance to Dr. Elise Rainier. You may notice the wording used in that last sentence and find it odd. After all, Specs and Tucker have never been the focus of any previous INSIDIOUS installments, but rather provided important brief moments of levity to give audiences a chance to breathe and have a break from the tension. One of the major problems with INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY, though, is that Whannell has taken Specs and Tucker from fringe supporting characters almost all the way to centerpieces. In a trend that began with INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3, their screen time has increased and so have the one-liners and goofy actions. Because of their frequency this makes the film feel like almost half comedy. Instead of the jokes being used as levity, they are gags that bring attention to these characters, taking the audience out of the tension built up. It’s almost like two guys from a buddy cop comedy got dropped into this horror movie. It feels very, very weird. Whannell also really gets lost in his story, and as it gets deeper and darker it also becomes more convoluted. There are some really interesting ideas, but he just doesn’t deliver them in narrative form in a crisp understandable manner. The time travel element that takes place in The Further, in particular, has never been explained well and is no different here. Understandably there is some disbelief that must be had to accept the fantastical nature of the spirit world in the INSIDIOUS franchise, but the decisions here just take that further (pun intended) than most viewers are going to be willing to go.

Also disappointing was Robitel’s male gaze as a director. This is something that I have only recently started to notice, but did so multiple times in this film and one particular scene is an egregious example. It’s because of this scene, which focuses the camera up close on a female’s heaving chest for nearly 30 seconds as she lays on the floor gasping for breath, that it became hard to take the two new young female characters very seriously. So little devotion is given to developing their characters and in the end they are simply a plot device and object of desire for Specs and Tucker. Robitel does manage to create solid atmospheric fright at times. His framing of character faces within scenes where action is taking place in the background was something that stuck out as a positive, and the opening section of the film was quite strong as well. Additionally, the demon design and way in which it attacks is unique and scary, even if it does move a bit like The Crooked Man from THE CONJURING 2.

VERDICT

Continuing the downward spiral after a solid first two films, INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY deserves to be locked away and forgotten. Whannell’s script puts way too much focus on himself and his comedy sidekick, while also taking a strong opening idea and making it so complicated that its difficult to take seriously. Robitel’s direction isn’t all bad, and the physical atmosphere is appropriately creepy, but the objectification of two younger female characters is hard to ignore. The INSIDIOUS franchise under Wan’s hand was great, but it has now lost the focus it once had and it’s time to use THE LAST KEY to close the door on these ideas for good.

Rating:


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on how his expectations influenced his experience. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Minisode 034: Gremlins

This month’s donor pick choice was kind of a surprise to both of us, but our listeners spoke and we listened, so here we are, ready to talk Joe Dante’s 1984 sci-fi/horror/comedy/camp film… GREMLINS.

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Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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Episode 082: The Blair Witch Project

For our 2017 Halloween episode, we are discussing the 1999 cult classic film that launched the found footage genre. The Blair Witch Project featured an incredible viral marketing campaign on its way to becoming the 2nd highest return on investment in film history. Listen for a great conversation that covers the films history, our thoughts on how scary it is, and some intriguing theories about the ending, plus much more.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:07

(Aaron – Song to Song, Nintendo Switch)
(Patrick – Scythe by Neal Shusterman)

The Blair Witch Project Review – 0:20:19

The Connecting Point – 1:36:40

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Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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Minisode 30: Scream

For October’s Donor Pick Episode we’re discussing Wes Craven’s masterpiece that revived the slasher genre in the 90’s. That’s right, it’s the iconic Scream, with all its self-awareness, gore, and that incredible opening scene. We talk about just how great Craven really was, as well a conversation about whether or not horror movies turn people violent. Enjoy this special Halloween minisode.

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Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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Episode 081: The Thing

On this week’s episode we cover our first of three scary movies for this October. Patrick called out sick but the show must go on and the People’s Critic, Tim Hall, fills in admirably to talk about one of his favorite movies of all-time. The Thing is well known for its incredible special effects, but there is much more to explore in this paranoia-filled sci-fi horror.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:59

(Aaron – Only the Brave)
(Tim – The Snowman, Happy Death Day)

The Thing Review – 0:13:37

The Connecting Point – 0:57:02

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Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Snowman

The Snowman (2017)


When one reads the reviews of film critics, chances are that you’ll notice they tend to talk about a film for a bit before getting into what they actually thought about the movie itself. I assume this is because they want people to scroll through the whole thing, maximizing your exposure to their advertisers, so they bury the lede. I’m not a film critic, I’m just a guy who sees a lot of movies, so I don’t really know about all that. What I do know is that The Snowman sucks. It sucks hard.

I should probably tell you about the plot, even though I don’t really want to. Basically someone is killing women and putting their heads on snowmen. Michael Fassbender plays Harry Hole (yes, Harry Hole), a drunk detective who teams up with his new co-worker (Rebecca Ferguson) to solve these murders. At the same time, Fassbender is trying to be a father figure to his ex-girlfriend’s son while Ferguson is secretly working hunches of her own on the case due to a connection with where she’s originally from. If I had to find something good to say, I’d commend Fassbender and Ferguson for being as good as you’d expect them to be. The film isn’t terrible because they mailed it in, that’s for sure. Oh, and Val Kilmer shows up for a few minutes, or at least someone who is wearing Val Kilmer’s face. It’s hard to tell, really. To say much more would be to spoil it I suppose, although I’d argue that if the choices are paying to see the film and my spoiling it for you, spoiling it would be the more humane way out. Everything about it was mind-bogglingly stupid. There are several characters that exist exclusively to be suspects, but then the way they’re made to look shady is so heavy handed that no 4 year old child who has ever seen an episode of Blue’s Clues would even entertain the notion that they actually did it. There’s no suspense or intrigue at all. The director, Tomas Alfredson, who has come out and said that 15% of the script wasn’t filmed due to rushed production, compared the finished product to a puzzle that has a few pieces missing. But it would be ridiculous to call this a puzzle. A puzzle builds on itself until all of the pieces working together start to tell a composed picture. This movie doesn’t even come close to demanding any problem solving ability on the part of its audience and it doesn’t build to anything resembling a composed picture. It’s a complete and total mess.

Listen, I don’t want to tell you what to do or how to live your life. You have to make your own decisions. But if you have a couple of hours carved out to go to the movies this weekend, I’d suggest going to something else. Anything else really. Go see something you’ve already seen. Go see something you’ve already seen that you didn’t even like. Get Jack Frost on demand instead! There really aren’t many types of movies that I enjoy more than thrillers about serial killers. I’m pretty easy to please with this genre. I even like the mediocre ones. The Snowman is just bad. Really, really bad.

Rating:


 

Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. In addition watching as many movies as he can and writing reviews for Feelin’ Film, Jeremy consumes an unhealthy amount of television and writes about it weekly in his Feelin’ TV column.   Follow him on Facebook and Twitter  to be notified when new content is posted.

Minisode 28: mother!

Sometimes you’ve just gotta talk it out.  Emmanuel Noisette of Eman’s Movie Reviews joins Aaron for an exploratory, therapeutic, cathartic, and hopefully insightful conversation about the many possible interpretations of Darren Aronofsky’s latest film.

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Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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Minisode 27: It

IT just so happens that a particular box office smash of a horror film is opening during our book-to-movie month and IT fits our theme perfectly. So here we are, after having forced Patrick to watch movie in his least favorite genre, discussing the new 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s classic scary clown novel. We try to do IT justice as we talk about ITs scares, ITs character depth, and ITs themes. We hope you enjoy… IT.

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Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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BONUS: Tokyo Ghoul S1

This is a re-release of an episode that was recorded for the now defunct podcast Feelin’ Film Plus. We had a conversation about the first season of the anime Tokyo Ghoul and wanted it to be available for you. The show presents a world in which humans must co-exist with a race of human-like creatures who require flesh for sustenance. As you can imagine there are plenty of ethical questions to discuss and we do our best to consider them justly.

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Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!