Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight: Abandon All Hope All Ye Who Enter

Earlier this year I watched a movie in which a submarine breaks through thick sheets of ice and pops up atop the ice to chase down a gaggle of SUVs (and one Lamborghini). It fires a torpedo at the vehicles and one, "The Rock" Dwayne Johnson, leans out the side of the car he is currently driving, grabs hold of the torpedo as it speeds across the ice, and manually (meaning with his actual hands) changes the trajectory of the live torpedo. When I saw this happen I just naturally assumed this would be the dumbest thing I saw on screen all year. But then again... I forgot Michael Bay had made yet another Transformers movie. And Michael Bay will not be out-dumbed by anyone. Believe it or not Transformers: The Last Knight is the fifth film in the franchise. And there really are no films like the Transformers films. They contribute nothing to the good of humanity or the enrichment in the lives of anyone. Yet... they don't do any harm either (except maybe dumbing down our youth and future of this country). When I was a kid my mother always carried this little ziplock bag in her purse with candy and gum in it. Every once in a while she'd have something delicious in there when I was seeking some sort of sugar rush. And other times, she'd be damn near out of candy and all that was leftover were seven-year-old peppermints that were still wrapped but visually chopped into little pieces that I would reluctantly accept when there were no other choices of candy. This is what I equate the Transformers movies to. They're nothing you ever want, they're not exactly satisfactory when you're immersed in them, when it's over you don't feel any better... but you don't feel any worse, either.

The Last Knight is incomprehensible bonkers crazy shitsack dumb. There is no rhyme or reason that it should exist other than for some inexplicable reason the other films have made money and Mark Wahlberg must be repaying some sort of debt he made to the devil because this is the second movie he's been involved with. I saw the fourth film (first with Wahlberg), but I really don't remember a goddamn thing about it other than he was some sort of inventor, robot-cars get him involved with their intersellar war, and he is replacing (heh) Shia LeBouf as the lead of the franchise. This time around, Transformers have been outlawed by... uh... Earth(?)... and Wahlberg is now their fugitive protector. Somehow Optimus Prime is traveling the vastness of space in search of his planet Cybertron (actual name of the planet). So, as the Autobots (good guys) and Decipticons (hahahaha bad guys) are at war over some sort of ancient MacGuffin Merlin staff... Prime is confronted by this floating robot Medusa chick and turned from good guy Optimus Prime to (I'm not fucking kidding you) Nemesis Prime. She also tells him that their planet is a good planet and it was attacked by its own personal nemesis... Earth (or... heh... heh heh heh... Unicron). I can't make this shit up. Then there's something to do with King Arthur... something to do with the Army... something to do with a British Professor... and something to do with Anthony Hopkins. It makes no goddamn sense, but somehow this movie is better than it's previous two entries.

I assure you I am not advocating for the film, but there is some good within it. Once again, the CGI is top notch and beyond impressive. In moments when there's so much going on you can't recognize any discernable human figure, I found myself in awe of the technological marvel which is the animation in all of these movies. They may be dumber than a suitcase full of buttholes, but you can't argue they are visually impressive. Then, there's the female role. Normally, and this is the case with most Bay movies, they're "eye candy" introduced in very little clothing and covered with sweat. Instead, we actually have a strong female character who isn't just a sexual being, but capable of holding her own as well as integral to the actual plot of the movie. And then there's Anthony Hopkins. This film has generated quite a bit of buzz... not because anyone is actually interested in seeing it... but because everyone is wonder why SIR Anthony Hopkins agreed to do it. My guess... a fuckload of money as well as a fun character to portray. He's not just some wise British guy... he's an eccentric goof of a character that looks like he was having a blast. Even Hopkins has enough integrity as a thespian to give it his all, even in a movie that is based on fucking toys.

Okay, so that's what it's got going for it. But against it... I'm glad you asked: I still just can't get over how dumb this movie actually is. I don't mean dumb like hundreds of people got together to make a movie they genuinely thought was going to be a masterpiece... even Michael Bay knows this isn't happening. He's just out to rape your eyeballs with enough explosions that you'll still pay him money every time he releases a movie. His intention is entertainment... not artistic integrity. And... because of that... he genuinely succeeds. I was entertained in chunks when I wasn't so caught up in how unbelievably dumb everything else was. I keep saying this... but I don't think you understand. First off... King Arthur... the story of the Knights of the Round Table and Merlin and shit... that fictional tale... it's used in this movie as if it is actually factual history. Like it actually happened. And we're just supposed to accept it because I mean, we've already paid for a fifth movie based on plastic molded to be a children's toy, why the fuck would we question if Lancelot was a historical figure or not? I'm going to write a movie about a con man having an existential crisis and he's going to find out he's the direct descendant of Robin Hood and give all of the money he's stolen to the poor because now I can. I'm going to write a movie about a Wall Street banker who gets arrested for fraud and finds out his greed comes from his ancestor Ebenezer Scrooge because why not? I'm going to submit my script of a white teacher who reaches inner-city kids and improves their test scores who also has full on conversations with Peter Pan because fuck you.

Then, after this whole King Arthur nonsense... the movie basically turns into The Da Vinci Code with Wahlberg and Professor Lady figuring out where her long-lost father hid the MacGuffin from Merlin. There is actually a moment just like in Da Vinci Code when Tom Hanks figures out The Last Supper was actually something else... except this time it has to do with our planet and fucking PANGEA... I'm not making this up!!!!! And none of this would seem so ridiculous if everyone in the movie and everyone behind the scenes wasn't taking everything so fucking seriously. Like literally how many times can you hear someone with tears in their eyes, huffing and puffing, sweat dripping down their face, screaming/crying about something called a Decipticon?! I just... I just can't. Everyone involved in the film just wants you to care so damn much about everything... that's why they hold nothing back, especially when it comes to the action. The "plot" is dumb bonkers, but the action is nothing but rock-hard cocaine rage boner. They got a bunch of MIT graduates, pumped them full of Monster Energy Drinks and coke, sat them in front of their computers for four months, told them "you work for me now", explained that they'd be animating shit for a new Transformers movie by saying "now make this explode, pussy!"

There is no actual reason why you should go see The Last Knight... even, God forbid, you are a fan of the franchise (are there still any of you left who are older than twelve and not injecting roids directly into your testicles?), but if, for some reason, one of these people who your accidentally love happen to force you into a theater... it's not as bad as you think it is. I've seen them all and this one is leaps and bounds better than the last two and probably the last three (I can't seem to remember anything about 2-4). There are genuine moments you'll be visually impressed with... there are characters you can't help but like... and there's Anthony Hopkins there to do everything in his power to save this nightmareish experience for you. Just don't expect to walk out of the theater smarter, happier, or even a better person because Transformers does everything in its power to work against you.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

47 Meters Down: Bad Acting, Bad Dialogue, Decent Thrills

Most of us enjoy a good shark flick. Jaws was obviously the one that started the trend and no other shark attack movie has ever been as good, or even close. They're fun movies and due to Sharknado there has been a recent resurgence of the sub-genre. However, what gets to me about these recent shark attack films is the PG-13 rating slapped down on the films. It's a problem because most of us... us degenerates... watch these movies to see the gruesome shark attacks that bestow our cast members. Would anyone remember Deep Blue Sea if all of the bloody shark maulings and torn-off limbs had been dulled down to a PG-13? (Or does anyone even remember Deep Blue Sea?) Last year's The Shallows had a PG-13 rating, but this is the one exception I would say works. The film isn't exactly a shark attack movie... it's a survival thriller. Blake Lively's character is trapped on a reef being surrounded by a shark. She's all alone and the thrills are in how she is going to survive. There are a couple of casualties in the movie that are a tad lame because of the watered-down violence, but it doesn't actually detract from the terror of the movie. 47 Meters Down is actually in the same vein as The Shallows... but this one, unfortunately, suffers at the hand of its PG-13 rating. 

Now... that being said... the film doesn't suffer ONLY because we don't get to see the full effect of a shark gnawing on human flesh. The film suffers in many other ways. First, the acting. In our story we have Kate (Claire Holt) and Lisa (Mandy Moore), sisters who have made their way down to Mexico on some sort of getaway. Lisa is nursing a broken heart and her sister is there to help pick up the pieces. They're offered a chance to go out on a boat, get into a cage, and lowered 5 meters below the surface to see great white sharks up close. As they're lowered into the water, the cable snaps and the cage falls all the way to the bottom... forty-seven meters down!!! There they have to figure out a way to get back up to the top without being eaten by sharks or losing their oxygen. Their two options are to wait for rescue or swim to the top... stopping for five minutes to equalize and not get the bends. So, most of the film rests in the hands of our two lead actresses. Unfortunately, they just can't hold their own in this film (I mean... there's a reason we haven't seen a lot of Mandy Moore these days). I get that they're supposed to be panicked and it is truly a frightening situation, but their acting comes off more annoying than terrified. However... I will concede that it isn't exactly all of their fault...

The dialogue in the film is beyond terrible. I read recently that this movie was originally penned for a straight-to-DVD, video on demand release and it definitely feels that way when it comes to the script. The dialogue is so on the nose it's sprouted blackheads. The two girls just don't talk the way that two human sisters actually speak. "Oh my gosh, Kate, I was so frightened when you left." Then there's moments where the screenwriter... fearing his audience had the IQ of a dull hammer added in lines like this: Mandy Moore looks at her O2 level... it's down to 4 (out of 200)... and she has to say... when she's COMPLETELY ALONE: "Oh no. I'm going to run out of air." And finally, and this might just be me nitpicking because this sort of thing annoys the hell out of me anyway, Mandy Moore's character says her sister's actual name almost every other line. "Look out, Kate." "We're trapped in the ocean in a cage, Kate." "There is a shark right there in front of us and it is big and has teeth and is gray and could potentially be a very dangerous situation for us, KATE." It's an obnoxious thing when it's in any movie, but it's redundant as fuck when it's in a movie where there are only two characters. She does not have to address her own sister by name when she's the only other person at the bottom of the ocean with her! Even the Captain of the boat stays in contact with the girls on the ocean floor in order to spoon feed us rules to the movie as if we're playing a video game. "I'm sending down some extra oxygen tanks, but BE CAREFUL, the nitrous could get in your blood stream and make you hallucinate..." Like... oh... that was subtle... no way I'll be looking for that later on in the movie!

However, as poorly acted and awfully scripted as the dialogue is... the thrills are actually pretty great. The claustrophobia of being trapped in a cage amongst a dark and expansive ocean, the lurking threat of a shark circling the cage, the shortness of breath you feel as an audience member as the girls quickly run out of air, the fear of the unknown ocean terror that looms outside of the cage at any moment... all of these elements are very effective and well done. If the girls took two seconds to just shut the hell up every once in awhile it would've been a much better thriller. And every time there was an unintentional laugh due to something painfully obvious a character has to say... there's a moment of pure heart-racing terror that accompanies it. I think one of the most unnerving moments of the film is when Lisa climbs out of the cage to swim and fetch a flashlight. She retrieves the light, turns around and there's nothing but black. She's disoriented and can't remember which way she came to get it (of course, she says this out loud so we really understand this plight). Suddenly, as a viewer, you feel the terror and panic the same as she does. As far as a thriller goes, the movie succeeds on almost every level. 

And yet... here's where I bring it all back around to my original gripe... the PG-13 rating. It affects this movie, not because I'm such a gore junkie I need to see these kills up close and personal, but because there is a moment that is integral to the film that had to be edited in order to appease the ratings board. There is a character... I'm not going to say which... who is attacked by a shark and killed. We briefly see the shark approach said character, bare its teeth, hear a shriek... and then nothing. It's actually important to know if this character had lived or died in that moment and I'm sitting there going... well... are we hidden from knowing the truth because this character is going to miraculously escape and return... or because in order to get the PG-13 rating we don't get to see it happen? The rest of the shark attacks don't necessarily need the blood and gore and limb-tearing that we got from a movie like Deep Blue Sea... a few of the attacks are thrilling enough as is... but this particular one could've served the film if we were able to see just exactly what the hell happened. 

If you can stomach some really bad writing and acting enough to be able to get terror-stricken by a very intense and thrilling movie, then I'd say 47 Meters Down is worth your time. However, as a cohesive unit, throwing everything (the good, the bad, and the terrible) all together as one movie... there is a lot that isn't working. If I ever bring myself to watch it again... I'll just turn the volumn all the way down and enjoy watching the two mute girls try and make their way back to the surface. 


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Wonder Woman: One Small Step For Woman, One Giant Leap For DC

As I'm sure you're all well aware, I'm 150% OVER this superhero craze. Yet... I keep seeing them. When I think of them as a singular unit (superhero movies), I swear I will never watch another one. But then, individually... I make up reasons why I have to. First this year it was Logan (Well... I have to see this one... it's rated R!), then there was Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (Okay, this one's different... I actually liked the first one... and it's not really a superhero movie), and finally, Wonder Woman (okay... it's got a 92% on RT and it's the FIRST female-driven superhero movie... I can't sit back like some chauvinist pig and not support the ladies). The bitch of the situation is that I've actually enjoyed each and every one of them. Individually, they're enjoyable films... but as a unit... I'm sick of them (and I can pretty much guarantee that as my instincts tell me I'm definitely NOT seeing the new Spider-Man... my brain is going: "But... dude... Michael Keaton is the villain!"). However, I was really rooting for Wonder Woman to be a success... not just for DC which looks like elementary school kid who always has a ketchup stain on his face, clothes unwashed, and shoes untied holding a dripping sack lunch, compared to Marvel which looks like the clean-cut high school quarterback... but there needed to be a clear message sent to Hollywood that there actually CAN be more female-driven films... that we won't boycott them... and they WILL actually make you some damn money. Thankfully, it looks like Wonder Woman has sent that message loud and clear. 

I really enjoyed WW. Probably more than I thought I was going to. I was a little bit late to the party so I'd already heard the rumblings of how great Gal Gadot was as the titular lead. I'd already heard how much ass she kicks in the film and how badass she is doing it. I'd already heard that Chris Pine gives his all as well, even though he's got no super abilites whatsoever. And I'd already understood that director Patty Jenkins took her camera and showed this male-driven business what the fuck's up. What I did not know is HOW GREAT all of these elements within the film actually were. Gal Gadot is someone that I just didn't take much notice of in the Fast & Furious franchise. I thought she held her own in the "boy's club" fine... but when they killed her off I didn't feel any sort of betrayal or overwhelming sense of loss for that franchise. But, damn is she great as Wonder Woman. I think I was impressed most of all because when I think about the character of WW, I think about the cheesy 80s TV show with Lynda Carter and how campy the character is. Director Patty Jenkins and writer Allan Heinberg have given us a story that is completely devoid of camp and replaced with badassery. 

We begin in the fictional land of Themyscira, a land of Amazon women who spend most of their time training as warriors in preparation for a looming epic battle that may or may not ever happen. Diana (who eventually becomes Wonder Woman) watches these warriors as a child from afar. Her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) wants her as far away from the battle as possible, but her aunt General Antiope (Robin Wright) knows her true destiny and wants to begin her training ASAP. Flash-forward... Diana is now one of the most powerful Amazonian warriors, thanks to her aunt's training. A WWI soldier Captain Steven Trevor (Pine) crash lands his plane in the waters near Themyscira and is rescued by Diana. As he explains the war happening in all of the countries around the world, the desire to save humanity is triggered in Diana and the two are off the stop the war. 

Like... even as I type up the brief synopsis... it just sounds kinda stupid. That's why I have so much respect for this movie. Comic books aren't an easy thing to translate into film and not feel so ridiculous that no one will take them seriously. The writers and directors hired for these films aren't picked lightly. There is a good amount of depth to a lot of these movies that help to add some realism to the surreal. Diana's character has many layers because she is a kind-hearted and earnest character who believes there is only good in the world and that it is her duty to put an end to evil. She's unware of the light and the dark within humanity. She's naive, but not stupid. As much as she has the desire to thwart all evil, she has the desire to learn about the world and about herself. It's truly impressive the amount of heart and depth enveloping her character. Chris Pine is also great as her guide. He's charming and funny and sincere and the perfect foil to Diana. What works so well about their relationship is that, yes, there does develop romantic feelings, but it's earned. And not only is it earned, but it's necessary to not just the story, but to the evolution of Diana's character. There's so many of these superhero movies that think there needs to be a love interest... for the sake of having a love interest... and rarely do we get a necessary reason for the love interest to exist other than to be put in danger when the hero needs to accomplish defeating the villain. Thankfully, and expertly, here... this is not the case. 

I think my only complaint with the film is the final end battle. I understand that the way a movie formula works-- and especially the superhero formula-- is that the end has to be an epic battle. When the plot comes to a head... there needs to be this moment where all of the chaos of the first two acts collide and our heroes look like there's no way to win, until finally... somehow... they manage to figure it out and succeed... I get that. But I'm tired of it because now it's expected in these movies. One of the best Marvel Extended Universe films is Captain America: The Winter Soldier because they took a more practical and realistic approach to the genre. However, it still fell into the same pitfall as EVERY one of these movies in that there is an epic CGI-filled battle that suffocates the story that was built by the rest of the film. And while there isn't much that is practical about Wonder Woman as far as effects go (in fact, the film really reminded me of the first Captain America movie), I thought perhaps it would finally transcend that end structure that has been overkilled by all of the other superhero films... but it doesn't. And while it was still enjoyable, it felt like just another predictable crutch. 

There are certainly more reasons to celebrate Wonder Woman's success than there are to nitpick. The best being that maybe we'll be able to get more female-centric superhero films (we already have Captain Marvel with Brie Larson next year... but do I hear a Black Widow film???). There's also the proof that... oh my goodness!!! a successful superhero film can be helmed by a WOMAN DIRECTOR?!?!?! Whattttt??? (Speaking of... can we PLEASE replace Colin Trevorrow with Patty Jenkins as the Star Wars Episode IX director??) And now we finally have our first good DC Extended Universe film. The Zack Snyder Superman and Batman films have been garbage and while I didn't hate Suicide Squad as much as most critics (then again... I could watch Will Smith take a nap and still be thoughorly entertained), but now we have the first great film of DC's EU. It also looks like it's going to stay that way for at least awhile... the accompanying trailer for this year's Justice League gave me no impression it would be de-throning Wonder Woman's excellence anytime soon. I may still be swearing off superhero movies altogether... but I can tell you this... the Wonder Woman franchise has certainly gained a new fan. 


Friday, June 16, 2017

Rough Night: Broad Shitty

Here's a very important tip for any budding filmmakers out there who just so happen to be reading this: if you're going to be "re-imagining" material that has already been made... don't make it worse. Look at The Hangover. It took nearly the same exact plot of Dude, Where's My Car, removed all the terrible alien subplots, found actual funny actors not named Ashton Kutcher, and made a superior film (sequels notwithstanding). Now, you probably don't know this... and definitely don't remember this... but back in 1998 an extremely dark comedy called Very Bad Things came out. The movie centered around a bachelor party in Las Vegas. The guys all pitch in and get a stripper/hooker. In the midst of their drunken and drug-fueled debauchery, the stripper is accidentally killed. Instead of doing the right thing and calling the cops... the guys reluctantly decide to bury the body out in the desert. From there the guys (who include Jon Favreau, Daniel Stern, Christian Slater and Jeremy Piven) all try to live with the guilt of what they did and wind up injuring and murdering themselves or others in the process leading to one of the MOST fucked up (and equally hilarious) endings to a film in movie history. If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend it because it is damn-near perfect and egregiously underrated. Rough Night... is not.

I really wanted to like Rough Night. I really did. I was excited at the idea that a female-driven Hangover-style comedy from the writers of Broad City were doing a remake of a darkly hilarious and macabre film that has been undervalued since its release. Hell yes. The roles have been reversed and the stage is set for these ladies to outdo the source material upon which it is based. Unfortunately, Rough Night misses nearly every single opportunity presented to them at every stage in the film. Let's start with our characters: We have an opening scene set ten years in the past with four of our five leads at a college party. We get almost nothing of the friendship dynamic from this scene other than the fact that they're friends. This would've been a perfect time to set, well, anything up for later... and, you know, start us off with even a little hint of comedy. But even my girlfriend, after the first five minutes of the movie, whispered in my ear, "this isn't very funny so far." I'm a little less quick to judgement... but her instincts would not fail her for the rest of the film.

Flash-forward ten years to present day. We've got Jess (Scarlett Johansson), the bride-to-be who is now running from some sort of political office. She's a workaholic and hasn't made any time for her friends as of late and continuously puts work over her fiance. Then there's Alice (Jillian Bell), a neurotic school teacher who is very protective of Jess and hangs on her every word. There's Blair (Zoe Kravitz) an uptight rich chick going through a divorce and ex-college-lover of Frankie (Ilana Glazer), an almost caricature of a feminist activist. Finally, there's Pippa (Kate McKinnon), the old Australian roommate of Jess. Together this quintet go to Miami for a bachelorette party, wind up doing an obscene amount of cocaine and drinking just as much in alcohol, hire a stripper, and... wouldn't you know it... accidentally kill him. However, this is where Rough Night differs from Very Bad Things. The guilt that piles up inside of each of the men in VBT leads them to turn on one another in violent and uncomfortable ways. The girls in Rough Night have a moment or two of guilt and freaking out over a dead body, but the rest of it is them kind of goofily trying to dispose of said corpse. Instead of going all out, balls to the wall, crazy with this kind of hilariously morbid situation... they go more Weekend At Bernie's with it... and it's kinda stupid.

Because we only have surface-level relationships within the group, there's no real common conflict or emotion derived from these characters and the situation they find themselves in. Sure, there's some banter and arguing (or debating), and moments of it can illicit a chuckle here and there, but you're just kind of sitting there waiting for something, anything, funny to happen. I think there are three main reasons why Rough Night fails as a film in my mind. First, because of the source material. Very Bad Things held nothing back... NOTHING. In fact, it almost goes too far over the line that you probably have to be a special kind of sick person to get any sort of enjoyment out of a film like that being played for a dark comedy (I am definitely one of these people). But Rough Night doesn't. Aside from some jokes about body functions/appendages... there's nothing really over the top about Rough Night. The violence ends with the dead stripper and the rest of it is played out like slapstick gags. For instance, Pippa drives the body out to the ocean on a jet ski, then races it back to the beach... hits the sand... is ejected from the jet ski and lands on her neck. She stands up revealing she's fine while everyone else questions why she isn't dead. That's the level of "pushing it over the line" we get from this film.

The second reason the film fails is that it's helmed by Lucia Aniello, a regular writer/director/producer of Broad City. That show is very funny funny and unbelievably smart in its comedy and social commentary. The level of sharp comedy and intelligence that I expect from Broad City, I was expecting here, and in fact, got nearly the opposite. These are lazy gags that could've been spruced up and improved upon with just another rewrite or two. It's even more especially disappointing because we are given a cast of very funny women. Which leads me to my third and final point of why the movie failed... is all of the missed opportunities for comedy. There is hardly a joke or a visual gag that lands. Our audience was unusually quiet for a comedy film with a cast as funny as Rough Night's is. ScarJo isn't given much to do in the comedy department. Jillian Bell, for a good portion of the first half of the film is trying to do the jokes for everyone. Ilana Glazer has some funny moments, but her character is more of a parody of a feminist activist than a real-life one. She has absolutely zero chemistry with Zoe Kravitz who is supposed to be her equal and opposite reaction. Then, there's the entire sub-plot of Jess's boyfriend (also Broad City alum Paul W. Downs) freaking out about the girl's party, he pulls a "Sad Astronaut" (like the chick who drove across country in adult diapers to catch her man cheating) to catch up with the girls and find out what exactly they're doing. It's obviously supposed to be played for ridiculous laughs, but it comes off as just awkward, uncomfortable, and trying much too hard.

There are several cameos in the film, too, that are severely underused and wasted. Jess's boyfriend Peter has his bachelor party the same night as her party, but (and this is kinda funny), they're doing it classy-- wine tasting-- and acting like complete bores as the girls go out and rage. Among the friends at the bachelor party are Bo Burnam and Eric Andre... both comics with a unique and strange style of comedy that could've added anything more to the script... except they have to play it overtly straight-laced, which lacks any sort of unique comedic presence from either of them. Then there's the next door neighbors of where the girls are partying... Ty Burrell and Demi Moore are the sexed-up swingers trying to entice the girls to bring their party next door and swing. This sounds like it's ripe for any number of hilarious or uncomfortable moments, but the only thing uncomfortable about it is how unfunny all of it really is. The only comedic legs this movie has to stand on are that of Kate McKinnon, who I'm convinced is quite possibly the funniest female in Hollywood right now. Even given a garbage script and an uneven film, she can make nearly everything that comes out of her mouth funny. Her eyes get bigger laughs than anything Zoe Kravitz does throughout the entire movie. McKinnon, and to some extent Jillian Bell, is the shining comedic light in an otherwise dimly lit "comedy" that just doesn't really know what kind of comedy it even wants to be.

The fact that this movie isn't good just sucks. With gender inequality running just as rampant as ever in Hollywood and the first female-led superhero movie hitting record box office numbers, this should've been a second win for women. These movies are never greenlit by Hollywood. They support frat pack films significantly more than female-driven comedies and this should've been a win. However, with the release in the middle of summer... reviews mixed... and word of mouth that's inevitably going to be spread... it's going to disappear pretty quickly. It's unfortunate, but hopefully it does well enough that someone else, who has the ability to write something a bit more cohesive and a lot more funny can take the female-driven comedy reigns and give us more movies like this... only, you know... funny.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Actor Spotlight: Steve Martin

A couple of months ago I randomly turned on The Jerk while cleaning up the house. I like to put movies on that I've seen a ton of times, mostly comedies, so I don't have to pay attention to the screen, but I'm still getting enjoyment out of it while I clean. When I finished, and there was still about twenty minutes left in the film, I just kind of sat in awe at how funny The Jerk still was today in 2017. There aren't a lot of comedies from the 70s and 80s that still hold up today. And I thought to myself: Steve Martin really is a comedic genius.

I'd considered myself a Steve Martin fan for a long time now. It clicked for me about ten years back when I read his book Born Standing Up, which is hands-down the best book on life in the entertainment business and stand-up comedy (this is also verified by several professional stand-ups who also consider Martin's autobiography to be the holy grail of autobiographies). In my brain I'd seen nearly all of his films and he'd earned a spot for me on the list of top 20 best comedic actors. He probably hadn't graced the top ten, but he was somewhere on the lower part of the list. After I'd finished The Jerk I traversed over to the IMDB app on my phone to look at the rest of his filmography. I'd seen a handful of his movies before (Planes, Trains & Automobiles and Bowfinger being my favorites), but as I read the list of movies starring Steve Martin... I suddenly realized why I don't think Martin had graced the top 10 or even top 5 comedic actors for me... I hadn't seen hardly any Steve Martin films. How could I fully appreciate the man when I'd seen only about a quarter of the comedy he'd already spread to the world?

This is when I decided to watch them all (well... almost all). This was the deal... I wasn't required to watch any Martin movie that I'd already watched in the past five years. If I'd seen the movie several times and was familiar with it, then I didn't need to watch it. These films included: Three Amigos, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Bowfinger, Bringing Down the House, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Pink Panther, It's Complicated, The Big Year and SGT. Bilko (though I did end up watching that one because my girlfriend hadn't seen it).

So, what qualified and what didn't make the cut: Movies that earned a watch were films that I'd seen as a child but had little to no memory of... films I'd never seen but always wanted to... and films I'd never seen that were critically revered and praised enough that I had to seek them out. This means the only films that didn't make the cut were ones that I haven't been able to get a hold of yet (Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, Lonely Guy, Leap of Faith, and A Simple Twist of Fate) OR the ones that I just have no desire to ever watch (Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Cheaper By The Dozen 2, The Pink Panther 2, Love the Coopers, and that shitty Billy Flynn movie).

The rest... I spent two months seeking out and watching. Here was what I missed out on in the world of Steve Martin:

I began with a film I'd seen several times before as a child. This was one of those "childhood staple" movies... not because it was aimed at that or it had that sort of long-lasting cultural impact (say, like, The Sandlot), but this was a film I would always watch when I was babysat by my grandmother. Coincidentally, we'd also watch The Sandlot. Anyway, even though I'd seen it several times I'd forgotten a lot of it and it was a perfect way to sink into my journey of Steve Martin. It's a funny little film, with nothing particularly memorable, but the chemistry between Rick Moranis and Steve Martin was great. Martin also does a particularly bad Italian accent... that I believe was on purpose. He's just having fun.

Next, I made my way over to HouseSitter, a film he made with Goldie Hawn. This almost stopped my venture entirely because it's a pile of shit. It's one of those early 90s movies with no laughs that you have to wonder why it was made. Not even just who spent all the time and money and effort into making it... but who got the idea for the movie and thought it was strong enough to even type up an entire script, much less try to get someone to purchase it. It was generic (unfortunately, much like a few of Martin's recent comedies) and I wasn't sold on Martin being on of the greats. That is until...

The Man With Two Brains is a hilarious parody a la Airplane written by Steve Martin and directed by The Jerk director and another great comedic mind Carl Reiner. Wanna talk about a comedy that holds up today... check out The Man With Two Brains. It's a spoof so nothing has to make sense. Martin looks like he's having more fun in this movie than he's had in any of his other films. It's crude, it's weird, it's crass, it's roll on the floor hilarious. Reiner and Martin would also collaborate a third time on a film called All of Me in which the dead spirit of Lily Tomlin would become trapped inside Martin's body... with her able to control his left side. This, along with TMWTB showcased Martin's physical comedy prowess. We're all aware that he is a brilliant comedic writer and performer, but he was initially known for his slapstick physical comedy. I mean, there is a reason he's one of the main people to inspire Jim Carrey. All of Me is probably the weakest of the three Martin/Reiner collabs, but there are still moments of hilarity and brilliance... and, once again, Martin and Tomlin's chemistry essentially makes the movie.

I continued onward to a film I'd always seen the VHS cover in the video store as a child. I remember seeing Steve Martin in a tuxedo giving a bow with an inordinately long nose. For some reason I never connected the dots and considered it might be a comedy. And when I did realize that it was... I thought it was going to be a one-joke film. And while the film didn't hit me as hard as a few of his others really did... Roxanne was still pretty well-put together. There is quite a bit of credulity strained in the film due to the female character's actual awareness of what is actually happening around her... which the film really hinges on... but it's Martin's character that keeps you watching. Plus, there is a scene where Martin tells twenty "nose jokes" in a row that get funnier and funnier as the scene goes on.

After Roxanne, I watched Little Shop of Horrors. I know. Can you believe it? I'd never seen such a wildly loved cult classic? It's a travesty. And while I did love a lot about LSOH, even as depraved as he is... I think we can all agree that Steve Martin hamming it up as a psychotic dentist is the best part of the movie (especially in the scenes with Bill Murray). Even in something as already established as LSOH, Martin was able to bring his own unique flare of comedy into the film and give it that extra umph it didn't necessarily need, but definitely deserved.

The Father of the Bride movies are films I'd seen before as a kid, but didn't have the Steve Martin appreciation package I was carrying to go along with it. I didn't remember much about the movies (other than my favorite character being Franck, played by Martin Short), so I figured I might as well dip back into these waters. And while I understand why these movies are so revered, I wasn't a fan of either one. It has nothing to do with Steve Martin's character... who is very likable and just as Steve Martin-y as most of his other roles. I don't like the TYPE of comedy these movies are. Other than the fact that they, unfortunately, strain Martin's ability to be a 'wild and crazy guy'... they're movies about privileged white people having privileged white people problems. I couldn't connect to anyone or any situation in either film. There are fleeting moments of comedy because Martin's character does find himself in a few sticky situations that he's inevitably put himself in... but anything else goin on in the movie is happening to wealthy white people and the problems they're having are ONLY problems wealthy white people have. There was just nothing to latch on to.

Now... that being said... next I watched Parenthood... another vehicle with Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Rick Moranis. Parenthood is a dramedy by Ron Howard and it accomplishes a hell of a lot more than either Father of the Bride film does. These are regular, everyday white people with everyday regular problems that a regular, everyday audience can connect with. If you're trying to find that poignant Steve Martin family movie with some real comedy involved, then Parenthood is the far superior choice.

From there I watched three more Martin films in a row: SGT. Bilko, Mixed Nuts, and LA Story. Bilko, as I said earlier, is a film I'm very familiar with, but my lady hadn't seen it and I had to show her. And while there is a significant amount of 90s cheese involved with the film, to me it's still very funny. Plus, it's just another reminder of how much we still to this day aggressively miss Phil Hartman. Mixed Nuts was just bad. It's an early Nora Ephron vehicle and it's supposed to be a black comedy with a bunch of weirdos around Christmas and it just doesn't work. It's weird, but not in a good way.  However... LA Story was surprsingly fantastic. It's very, very weird... but in a wonderful way. It's really its own breed of comedy and I don't think I've seen another movie like it. It's unique and original, yet still has that comedic voice of Martin (of course he wrote it) and it was such a hilarious delight to watch such a funny and fresh film. I think the general rule of thumb here when seeking out a good Steve Martin movie is if he had anything to do with the writing... you're gold.

Steve Martin, believe it or not, has actually made some very serious movies as well. I wasn't as interested in these because it wasn't really on the docket of my quest: to seek out why Steve Martin is considered a comedy God. But, I checked out two: First, the dark comedy that is Novocain. I didn't hate it, but it was very dark and uncomfortable. It was one of those movies that is nearly forgettable, but you have to wonder how they got Martin to agree to it. It was hard watching Steve Martin do the opposite of what I'd become accustomed to seeing. I applaud him for taking the risk, but in my opinion, it just didn't work. The second is an early 90s drama called Grand Canyon, which is essentially just a 90s version of Crash. Martin isn't a lead in the movie and only appears in a handful of scenes, but this movie was awful. I know it's hailed as groundbreaking (it's a movie about race) and progressive for its time... hell, it even has an amazing cast (Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, the list goes on) it's just an awful film. Had I seen it "back in the day" I may feel differently about it, but it's almost insulting today.

Our final entry into the crusade of Steve Martin films is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Just as I had shown my girlfriend SGT. Bilko, astounded she'd never seen it before... she showed me DRS, astounded I'd never seen it before. I saved this one for last because it was my favorite Martin movie I'd never seen. I'd mentioned several times the chemistry he has with his other fellow actors, but besides his chemistry with John Candy in Planes, Trains & Automobiles, his chemistry with Michael Caine in DRS is unmatched. This is just a funny-as-hell movie that's both wickedly, darkly comedic and slapstick silly. There are very few movies like it able to combine sophisticated wit and obnoxious farce. This is the movie where it all finally clicked for me... Steve Martin is a comic G E N I U S.

I've now had to seriously revise my stance on Steve Martin.  He is no longer in the top 20 comedic actors to me anymore. He's in the top 5. Hell, he's in the top 3. The day Steve Martin is no longer with us is going to be a very difficult day for me (I'm talking Robin Williams difficult). In my mind, Steve Martin was the straight-laced character who got into weird situations, but played more of the 'straight-man' in comedies leaving the 'wacky man' to someone else to play off of him. I was simply naive. He's played them all. He's been the straight man and the wacky man and the villain and the creep and everything else an eclectic comic actor should be doing. It's disappointing that we haven't seen Martin in something hilariously brilliant in quite some time and he's relegated himself to bit parts in shitty movies or starring roles in shitty family remakes. I'm glad I watched them all because I revel in my newfound respect for Steve Martin... a one-of-a-kind comedian who will always ALWAYS be one of the greatest of all time.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Mummy: Tom Cruise And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Movie

--Written by Guest Reviewer Jason Rockford Booth 

Okay, first of all, I’d like to start by reminding you that art, skill, and storytelling ability does still exist in the world. 

I think it’s important that I do that over the course of this review so that you will know that all is not lost.  This will be pivotal because, as you will soon see, we will be delving into the dark and depressingly tragic end product that was The Mummy starring Tom Cruise. Now first of all, it takes a bold movie executive to believe that a Brendan Fraser franchise should be revisited in the first place.  There aren’t a lot of screaming throngs desperately flooding the subreddits for a Bedazzled revamp, or a Blast From Past 2: Blast from the Future.  But someone over at Universal is under the impression that they can build a similarly intriguing Monster Universe like that of Marvel’s Avengers or DC’s Justice League. You’re reminded of this right before the beginning of the movie when a film student’s procrastinated thesis project flashes up on the screen with impressive Dolby Digital Sound. “DARK UNIVERSE” the logo reads ominously.  Because that’s definitely what kids are currently interested in. Dracula and the Mummy and the Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolfman and on and on. Right now as we speak, there is some middle school nerd out there just RAVING to his friends about how much he hopes they cast Paul Giamatti as the Creature from the Black Lagoon. This is a studio with their fingers directly on the pulse of youth entertainment preferences. Interestingly enough, there was also a preview of Tom Cruise’s upcoming American Made a couple of minutes prior, just as a reminder that he also still does good films when he feels like it.  

And now would be another good time to check in with you and let you know that everything is going to be okay, and that art still has a place in this crumbling Matrix-of-a-world that we live in.  Do not despair. 

Anyway, back to the viewing experience that zapped away 40 percent of my remaining life force.  

The Mummy is a special brand of suckage—the type that is wedged firmly between taking itself too seriously and not taking itself seriously enough.  It’s almost skillful to be this painstakingly unaware of how bad you are. Tom Cruise manages to make Harrison Ford seem like a better archeologist and Brendan Fraser seem like a better actor. Even Tom Hanks’ Harvard Symbologist or Matthew McConaughey’s treasure hunter (there was once a movie called Sahara believe it or not) seem more believable than this. The film begins with a slide featuring the mysterious Egyptian prayer of resurrection. This brilliant movie-making technique should instantly build our anticipation for how fiction and reality can sometimes swirl together in a terrifying feat of delicate storytelling.  What it actually did was make two different people in my theater chuckle…because, I mean, are they really still trying to remind us that there are Mummies involved?  Shouldn’t that be the centrally implied arc by now? From here, the plot begins to feel like a chain restaurant mojito:  muddled and at times, overly syrupy.  Now, I could write a review where I focus on specific plot points or attempt to relay what it was the director was trying to say with this movie, but that would be an unrealistic endeavor considering the source material. For what followed over the course of the two hours that I was in that theater attempting to drink away the sensory pain of the experience, was hardly something that needed to be analyzed for its contributions to the world of film and cinematography. Instead, I will assign whatever half-hearted nicknames I need to for the characters and lazily describe the poorly strung-together plots points however I see fit.  In other words, I will give this review the same care and attention that the directors and producers saw fit to give. 

Here is another moment where I would like to tell you that you are loved and that there are talented writers creating complex storylines about the human condition and that you should be comforted in their dedication to the craft.   

But back to the middle row of the mostly-empty Regal Cinemas theater where I found myself pounding IPA’s with six other mostly dismayed adults drowning in the cesspool of a poorly chosen matinee decision. The scene begins with some important facts that we’ll apparently need to know.   As far as I can remember…the English are working on a new Chunnel, or something like that, and England, as you all know, is basically one, giant gravesite full of tombs and catacombs artfully crafted by some people who had their resumes ignored by the Disney Imagineer Hiring Team. In one such tunnel, a room full of crusader’s tombs are found.  Knights Templar? You betcha. Don’t think for one second that Dan Brown has beaten that dead horse enough. There’s always a little bit of life left in a horse. Or maybe, that horse is a Mummy (holy crap…I think I know what the sequel is gonna be about!). When all of a sudden, the entire room is cleared out by a mysterious organization dressed all in black, and the man in charge is a very overweight Inspector Javert. At any moment, you can feel that his anger might boil over and cause him to throw a phone at one of the construction workers… instead, he glides to the wall to inspect a plot-device hieroglyph that instantly transports us to ancient Egypt for more super-relevant backstory. 

Now if there is one thing that the Mummy franchise has taught us, it’s that each new unearthed evil is suddenly the most evil evil that has ever eviled. Just because they SAY that last Mummy was the most evil Mummy, doesn’t mean that a more evil Mummy won’t come along eventually. The evil power rankings for Mummies are constantly shifting…and as you know, Stephen A. Smith might have a different top five list than local Egyptian newspaper columnists. So, ya know, keep an open mind about that. The most evil mummy that we’re about to meet? That’d be High-Heeled Blade Girl from Kingsman:  The Secret Service. She was next in line for the throne or something, and then her dad had sex with some other sexy Egyptian lady and now there is a baby boy and she goes all “DOWN WITH THE PATRIARCHY!” on them, only this time she doesn’t use foot blades she uses a carved Egyptian ritual knife which, you know, these people just find or already have in case anyone ever flies off the handle and decides to go all Rosemary’s Baby on every single person they once knew and loved. In this case, some Egyptian God gives it to her because, why not? Oh, yeah, it’s because I guess if she stabs a guy with it then his spirit transfers into that person’s form. And then they can do it and stuff because an eternity of evil rule shouldn’t be without a little romance. So, then there is this whole deal with evil itself thing, because that’s what spoiled girls do when they don’t get their way, they make pacts with the underworld.  In other words, High-Heeled-Blade-Girl-From-Kingsman is really just ancient Egypt’s version of Veruca Salt. After she accepts Beelzebub in her heart or whatever, she gets all of these super hipster/goth/I-hate-my-parents type face tattoos (which are gonna ruin her future job prospects but let me get off my responsible adult soapbox for a minute) and just as she’s about to complete her evil spell of eternal life and world domination…


And you thought the writers weren’t going to get a good blowdart scene into this movie! PSSSHHH!  You do realize how many times they rode Indiana Jones at Disneyland during their research, do you not? Auteurs abound here, ladies and gentlemen. So the blowdarts are apparently powerful enough to stop this possessed princess in league with the devil, and from there they bury her outside of Egypt—somewhere NO ONE will ever find her (à la Megatron in the ocean). Cut to present-day Persian Gulf and Tom Cruise is standing in the middle of the desert with his Comic Relief Friend. They’re riding camels and dressed in overly stereotypical Middle Eastern garb. As they peer down at a nearby village, Cruise insists that they must attempt to infiltrate it, even though it’ll soon be swarming with enemy combatants. They’re in the military, just so we’re clear here…and of course everything goes wrong. They’re instantly under siege and trapped on a building and making serious, yet also occasionally wacky, remarks because that’s what you do when you’re a swashbuckling soldier of fortune. An airstrike saves them of course, but then the building collapses into a sinkhole, which I can only assume was meant as an early metaphor for the script at large. The sinkhole reveals the long-hidden tomb of possessed High-Heeled-Blade-Princess, who is currently trapped in a sarcophagus and submerged in a pool of mercury that is strapped down by ropes and other security measures, which I can only assume is an early metaphor for how this film’s acting is supposed to make you feel—like you are trapped in a mercurial pool of Tom Cruise one-liners.   

Tom is now joined by his former lover for some reason, a blonde archeologist who just happens to be a member of Fat Inspector Javert’s secret underground Monster-Fighting Squad that travels around with the military protecting expensive antiquities discovered during the war. She immediately reveals that the two of them (her and Tom) slept together recently, and that this is a very important archeological find and that the colonel will need to ignore whatever criminal charges should probably be filed against these two rogue soldiers who are literally just using their entirely made up positions to go treasure hunting. So after this bit of Deus Sex Machina, Tom, his Comic Relief Friend, and his One-Dimensional Love Interest make their way into the cave to discover said sarcophagus. Even though every dark minor chord in existence is being played for the entirety of the scene, they take the ancient, evil coffin out of its magical bonds, and transport the thing back to England. Even though they are literally being followed by huge waves of crows. Even though there are camel spiders just coming out of nowhere to bow to the Sarcophagus. Even though Tom ran out of facial expressions four scenes ago and even though Comic Relief Guy hasn’t actually given us any relief yet. And even though the love story has about as much chemistry as a Simon and Garfunkle Reunion Tour, the characters trundle ever onward.

The flight goes poorly of course, because you don’t put a possessed princess in coach. [Cue the ‘I Want it Now’ remix about first class and eternal life]. Comic Relief guy is possessed and starts stabbing people. Tom Cruise shoots comic relief guy.  OH GREAT, NOW HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO LAUGH?! The plane is attacked by crows, and the only people to survive are Sexy Archeologist love interest and Tom…but only because of black magic. He should’ve died, but High-Heeled Blade Girl wants a corporeal God Lover so he miraculously survives. The next half hour is basically just 30 minutes of special effects work where mummies act either like zombies or dust-monsters depending on what is needed. They can be shot and stabbed, but also just poof into thin air if that works better. Tom is rejoined by his now Undead Comic Relief friend who apparently is also just possessed. The three of them jump from one battle to the next, employing all the tropes of a Harrison Ford scrum with none of the charm. Eventually, they are saved again by Fat Inspector Javert and his army of, I dunno, I think they’re connected to the government maybe? They’re monster hunters okay? I’m tired.  

Anyway, they foil High-Heeled Blade Girl once again right before she is about to make Tom her Eternal God Lover…this time though with spear-guns, not blowdarts. 

Everyone heads back to Prodigium, which is apparently the name of this agency, headquartered directly below the Natural History Museum of London, because, fuck you, that’s what they’re going with. We find out that Fat Javert is not the good guy we thought he was. He wants to let High-Heeled Blade Girl finish her death spell and bring her God Lover to life so they can kill him once and for all, but Tom’s like…eh…I dunno. So everybody fights for a while. Also, Fat Javert is cursed from some Jekyll and Hyde backstory thing (I was pretty tipsy at this point). And while all of this is going on, High-Heeled-Blade-Girl, who is completely tied up with like, industrial strength tubes and chains, takes control of another Red-Shirt and has him basically free her by smashing an electrical box with an axe (best performance in the entire film). She sucks out his life essence and returns to her attractive self. Once again, Deus Sex Machina moves our plot along.

I’d just like to step back in here and remind you that we still have Broadway and brilliant TV shows and strong journalism and thriving writer’s guilds. You are loved and there is goodness in the world.  Art cannot be so easily extinguished.  

Not that it really needs to be forewarned, because this is less of a review and more of a warning against the film, but SPOILERS BELOW of the finale of the film.

Returning to it then—Tom and Love Interest escape Prodigium while being pursued by mummies.  High-Heeled Blade Girl finds her dagger’s ruby from that opening Chunnel Crusader Tomb location and apparently NOW she can finish her ritual.  Oh that’s why she wasn’t able to stab him before…mmmkay. Tom and Love Interest run through the subway tunnels so they can have another creative place to kill Crusader Mummies, and eventually, they come to a large chamber full of water and convenient fighting props where they must face down High-Heeled-Blade-Girl once and for all. She drowns Love Interest because Tom’s heart is clearly torn and then Tom tricks her, steals the dagger, stabs himself so that he can become a god (you see where this is going don’t you?), begins to fall for High-Heeled-Blade Girl because she has those Katie Holmes bangs, but then at the last second, sees his recently-murdered Love Interest who he literally only had sex with like, five days ago, and decides he’s not quite ready for the commitment of a new supernatural forever-relationship.  So he harnesses his new God powers to kill High-Heeled-Blade-Girl, and bring Love Interest back to life. In doing so, he is cursed to live as half Egyptian God/half Tom Cruise for the rest of his days.  But, it also gives him super strong powers and he’s able to bring Comic Relief Guy back from the dead too!  NOBODY DIES IN THIS MOVIE!  

As the two of them ride out into the dessert, we hear Fat Javert’s voiceover explaining that Tom will have to decide whether he is going to allow good or evil to control his destiny, or some shit like that.  

Finally, Tom Cruise looks straight into the camera and says, "I am Tom Cruise, Half Man, Half Egyptian God; and I'd like to talk to you about the Church of Scientology." 

D- (for Red Shirt Guy's acting)

Friday, June 9, 2017

It Comes At Night: Horror Fans Rejoice... But That's All I Can Tell You

I can't tell you anything about this movie. Do not assume you know anything about this movie. When it comes to horror movies, I personally feel that the less one knows going into it, the better and scarier the movie is. In fact, when it comes to horror the only thing I want to know is if it is going to be worth my time. Horror is a strange breed of film. There are always far more terrible horror films than worthwhile ones. And while I don't use rottentomatoes as the gold standard of whether or not to see a movie... I will almost always trust it with horror. When a horror film scores over 80% on RT, I have yet to be let down (other than It Follows which is universally adored and I just don't get it). I made it a point to avoid any and all trailers for It Comes At Night and I'm glad I did. And while it wasn't anything like what I was expecting... it's a really good horror film.

All you really need to know about this movie is what kind of horror movie fan you personally are. If you're in it for the "jump scares"... this will disappoint. If you're in it for the copious amounts of gore... this will disappoint. But, if you like a slow burn of ever-building tension and unease... then you will enjoy every second of It Comes At Night. There are so many elements of Trey Edward Shults' first venture into horror that lend to the slow building dread within the film. It's not just the acting or the writing or the plot or what's in the shadows or the soundtrack (btw-- fucking terrifying soundtrack)... it's in the camera work as well. Each shot is so smooth and deliberate, slowly focusing on what Shults wants you to see and keeping just out of sight what he doesn't. It's like walking through a haunted house while someone slowly and lightly runs the tip of their finger softly down your spine. If it wasn't so terrifying, it might actually be relaxing.

I wish I could tell you more. I wish I could tell you why I enjoyed the movie so much. I wish I could explain to you how proud I am of this film and the originality and creativity of it. But I will give you only what this movie provides-- what's unseen is far scarier than what you're shown. I don't want to give you the slightest glimpse into the movie because this is a film that deserves your blind attention and trust. I did the same with last year's The Witch (which tonally is very similar to It Comes At Night). The unfortunate element here though... I didn't actively have to avoid advertisement for this film. There were a few instances where I'd turn off my screen or look somewhere else... but there wasn't a hell of a lot of promotion for this movie. It will inevitably go overlooked, especially amid the Summer Movie CGI-fest we have going right now. I highly suggest seeing it in theaters, but if you're unable to... let's hope it finds an audience when it's released into our homes.