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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Minisode 23: The Faculty

June’s Donor Pick episode is finally here, just in time for August. Our patrons had to choose between five different 90’s horror movies and somehow this Robert Rodriguez sci-fi joint came out on top. We had a surprisingly good time revisiting the film and that results in a very fun conversation.

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

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MOVIE REVIEW: It Comes At Night

Each time Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr., Birth of a Nation) picks up his lantern to wander the dark halls of his family’s  boarded up home, he strikes the image of a ghost- perhaps of a weary railroad conductor making his rounds. Tension builds with each creak of the floorboards, and the lengthening of shadows indicate that something ominous lurks. In his sophomore feature length effort, It Comes at Night, writer/director Trey Edward Shults proves sometimes less is more with horror.  Sometimes, what we don’t see is as unsettling as actually revealing the monsters that hunt us.

The audience isn’t given a lot to work with in regard to world building. There is the aforementioned house and the surrounding woods.  Nothing more is required.  The presence of gas masks posit some sort of airborne virus exists, and the gruesome illness that has befallen Travis’ grandfather indicates said virus isn’t screwing around.  Besides Travis, the house is occupied by his parents, Paul (Joel Edgerton, Loving) and Sarah (Carmen Ejogo, Alien: Covenant), and the family dog.  Paul’s day-to-day routine is militaristic in nature- designed with safety and survival as priority.

When that safety is threatened, Paul is forced to make some uneasy decisions that will alter the dynamic he’s worked hard to sustain.  The fly in the ointment here is Will (Christopher Abbott, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot), a survivor who attempts to break into the home in search of supplies for his family.  Will eventually convinces Paul that his intentions are honest, and with some prodding from his own family, Paul consents to bring Will’s wife Kim (Riley Keough, American Honey), and young son Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner) to live in the house and share resources.

Shults keeps traditional horror tropes at arms length.  He has no interest in burdening the audience with cheap jump scares or semi-visible ghoulies scurrying about.  The tension in It Comes at Night stems from the atmosphere Shults has created.  Most of the film is shrouded in a suffocating darkness- the fear of falling victim to the unseen virus keeping everyone on edge.  Shults doubles down on the uneasiness through his characters’ interactions.  Trust  between the families is paper thin, and one sideways glance can send the new household dynamic into chaos.

Our perspective of this story comes primarily from Travis.  The mood set by Harrison Jr.’s often unmoving gaze provides us a glimpse of a devolving world- a human condition that is gradually unraveling, fed by a lingering deceit and burgeoning mistrust.  The graphic nightmares Travis endures, perhaps symbolic of the film’s title, show us a consequence of the withering psyche of Travis as an individual that’s clearly seen too much.  Harrison Jr. sells all of it, and although we as the audience aren’t privy to any real context of what is happening in this world, the deconstructing of this one small segment of it is enough to earn our attention.

When we aren’t living in Travis’ worldview, the film treads along the interactions of Paul and Will.  Edgerton and Abbott volley their mistrust of each other back and forth, threatening their uneasy alliance almost minute by minute.  As an audience, we wait idly by for something to break.  Both actors succeed in playing off each other’s skepticisms, but each is bound by a sense of personal duty to do right be their family.  Alas, Ejogo and Keough serve little purpose beyond looking frightened and succumbing to direction from their men.

So what is Shults really playing at in It Comes at Night?  Is the virus used as a macguffin to get at a more intimate portrait of social constructs?  Does it really matter whether any of the characters fall victim to unseen horrors when the clear and present danger presents itself within their own interactions?  A lot of time is spent worrying about what lies on the other side of a creepy red door, when the true horrors may reside on the same side as the people who are doing the worrying.

No doubt there are people who will walk away confused, or perhaps even angry.  It’s a consequence of ambiguity. The ending is not conducive to filmgoers needing answers, but that doesn’t mean answers can’t be had.  Monsters don’t always need to be tangible things with sharp teeth and fangs.  But just because we can’t always see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.  Paranoia is a big motivator, and it hangs like a thick fog over this story.  How you reconcile the themes within the film, and especially the ending, probably depends on the way your own life mirrors certain aspects within- the losses you’ve been dealt- the people you’ve had interactions with.  It Comes at Night dares to play with those subconscious thoughts and invites you to explore them for yourself.  Sometimes the true horrors lie within us.

Rating:

 

Episode 5: It Comes at Night

Raw, fully spoiled, instant reactions after leaving the theater. This film is not what trailers made it seem. Instead it is a deep, psychological family drama that had the potential to leave viewers seriously confused. Aaron and Don talk through their emotions and try to figure out exactly what this film means.

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Intro/Outro Music – “Seeing the Future” by Dexter Britain

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MOVIE REVIEW: Alien: Covenant

In 2012, two types of people exited showings of Prometheus; those satisfied with the earnest attempt to weave some different ideas into the Alien franchise, and those pissed off at the lack of bloody, chest bursting goodness. Count me in the former. I quite liked Prometheus. I liked that director Ridley Scott chose to examine deeper themes and do some world building rather than take the easy way out in catering solely to the ADD crowd seeking nothing more than guts and gore.

Flash forward to now, and the release of Prometheus 2.0, also known as Alien: Covenant. I’ll come right out and say that I liked this film quite a bit, even if it feels like a course correction on Prometheus to appease some of those aforementioned pissed off fans.  And that’s the rub. Your thoughts on Prometheus may shape your thoughts on Covenant.  And while I liked both of these films, it is time for Scott to propel this franchise forward.  After essentially the same movie twice, it’s time to find out who the engineers are. It’s time understand some of the science and history of the titular xenomorphs.  And it’s definitely time to get a handle on whatever it is these darn synthetics are up to. If the next installment is nothing more than another ragtag crew du jour made up of scientists that make horrible life choices, we may have a problem.

We definitely get a heavier dose of aliens in Covenant. They’re faster and more vicious than ever. Chests are bursting at a more satisfying pace. It’s fair to say Scott is still able to craft tense scenes that draw audible gasps from his audience, even when the timing of those moments are pretty obvious. It’s all quite impressive to look at, with top notch production value and set design.

This time around, we are aboard the colony ship, Covenant, loaded with a crew and two thousand embryos on course for a new planet to inhabit in a galaxy far, far away. The film starts out Passengers style, with the crew snuggled in cryo-chambers for safe keeping as the years wile away during the lengthy journey. A malfunction leads to tragic events, and the crew must now deal with some new circumstances before they can consider jumping back into the cryo-pods to finish hibernating. As is typical with this franchise, very smart people make some very questionable choices. Years of study and training can somehow be derailed by the soulful stylings of Mr. John Denver.

As the crew detours to seek out strange signals, hoping they may have discovered a much closer, habitable planet than the one they’ve prepared for, because…wheat…. shenanigans soon ensue. This crew is led by Daniels (Katherine Waterston) and Oram (Billy Crudup), both of who are up to the task as the film’s main protagonists. Add Daniels as another in a sequence of strong female characters in the franchise. Much like Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley and Noomi Rapace’s Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, Waterston portrays Daniels with a combination of intelligence and strength. Also notable is Danny McBride, as the ‘throw caution to the wind’ ship’s pilot, Tennessee. He’s a franchise trope, but a fun one to watch.

But let’s not think for a second this film doesn’t stand on the broad shoulders of Michael Fassbender, here playing two versions of synthetic android- David from Prometheus, and Walter, a new and improved version of synthetic traveling with the Covenant crew. We knew David was up to something in Prometheus, but Scott doubles down on that idea here in Covenant. Fassbender’s movements, chilling demeanor, and ‘cat that ate the canary’ expressions are worth the price of admission. He ably transitions from one personality to another, giving each synthetic an unique voice.

Alien: Covenant fits neatly into the Alien mythology. It ties well with Prometheus, answering enough of the lingering questions from that film to move forward. Yet, whatever comes next needs to do just that. Move forward. We cannot be satisfied with another side quest film that treads water, regardless of how entertaining it is. Regardless of how brilliant Fassbender is. Regardless how much John Denver is used. Covenant does enough to put the series in a position to build upon the mythology, but we’re at the proverbial crossroads. Which way Scott goes next may determine the viability of future installments.