The Grudge and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Nicolas Pesce
In the great debate that I ASSUME exists, I was always more of a The Ring guy than a Grudge fellow; mostly because I’ve actually SEEN the Ring movies (at least the Western ones) and haven’t seen any of the Grudge movies (not even the Western ones). Things might change however as The Ring had its chance to reassert its relevance, but instead completely missed the mark with the awful Rings, and if nothing else this one looks to be trying to build a stronger and more intense atmosphere than the cheap cash in nature of Sadako’s most recent Western adventure. Is this the movie that will finally get those of us to jump on the Grudge train, or is this the perfect illustration of why we never bothered with it in the first place? Let’s find out!!
Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) has just arrived in town and is still reeling from the death of her husband, but is managing to eek out a somewhat stable life with her son Burk (John J Hansen) with her new job at the local police station. Her partner Detective Goodman (Demián Bichir) has some clear baggage from something that Muldoon hasn’t sussed out yet, but when a body shows up with an address to the nearby spooky house, it’s time for her to uncover whatever secrets are being hidden from her. It turns out that the first owners of the House, The Landers (Tara Westwood, David Lawrence, and Zoe Fish), were all murdered by the wife. The realtors who were trying to sell the house for them (John Cho and Betty Gilpin) ALSO wound up dead under similarly grim circumstances. There were other occupants who arrived after them, you can probably guess how they ended up, and now Muldoon is sniffing around the place which will no doubt attract the attention of whatever ghost, curse, or GRUDGE as it were, that is affecting the people who get near this place. Will Muldoon not only uncover the secret of all these mysterious deaths but also stop the bloodshed once and for all? What is the entity that is behind all of this, and what is after aside from endless slaughter and mayhem? Is it just me or did they seriously oversell John Cho’s presence in the trailers? I’m getting flashbacks to that Godzilla movie that had Bryan Cranston in it for like twenty minutes!
The Nun and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Corin Hardy
I wasn’t even planning on seeing this film as my utter apathy to the Conjuring Universe knows no bounds; despite Annabelle: Creation being a pretty solid horror film which I ascribe entirely to roping in a very talented director. Then the weekend came up and there was literally no other movie I was going to see, so this one won by default; take a step forward to volunteer and everyone else took a step back. Does this latest entry in probably my least favorite expanded universe (at least on a conceptual level as The Warrens were in fact a bunch of fraudsters and I HATE that we’re making movies that pretend they weren’t) manage to rise above its lousy origins to give us something entertaining, or will I be forced to be reminded once again why I didn’t like that initial film in the first place? Let’s find out!!
Back in the 1950s, there was a castle in Romania where some spooky stuff was always going on. What kind of spooky stuff? Voices in the hallway, a fake demon nun appearing and disappearing in an instant, and oh yeah, A NUN THROWING HERSELF OUT OF A WINDOW WITH A NOOSE AROUND HER NECK!! Now my first guess it that she did it all for Damian but he wouldn’t be born for another twenty years, and instead it’s probably that demon nun that’s walking around the place. In The Vatican’s effort to be real life Ghostbusters, they send the disgraced Father Burke (Demián Bichir) out to solve this bizarre mystery; like a renegade cop getting his badge and his gun back. He takes along a Soon To Be Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) because… I don’t remember; she has psychic powers or something? Anyway, the two of them head to Romania and are led to the castle by the man who discovered the nun’s body, and his name is… wait for it… Frenchie (Jona Bloquet). When this unlikely trio gets there, well you can imagine what happens! Lots of spooky ghost tricks, hidden dark rituals, and a horrifying history that will no doubt ensure at least a dozen more THE CONJURING UNIVERSE films! Can Father Burke and Sorta Sister Irene discover the true reason that the nun threw herself out a window in this dark and spooky castle? When they find what they are looking for, are they prepared to do what is necessary to stop that evil once and for all? Wait, why does a demon have to hide as a nun? It’s not like it does a good job of hiding how obviously evil they are and they can disappear at any time, so why even bother with the costume!?
Alien: Covenant and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Ridley Scott
Before I get into the review proper, I feel it might be worth discussing my thoughts on the series as a whole in order to provide the proper context for everything else I’m about to say. Ridley Scott’s original film from 1979 probably holds up the best; even more so than James Cameron’s Aliens from 1986 which is still a VERY fun action film and one of the few BIGGER IS BETTER sequels out there (matched only by his own Terminator 2 in 1991). I give the edge to the original because it’s a straight up horror film and those tend to hold up better than shoot-em-action flicks (the quality of special effects changes rather quickly while what scares us transcends generations), but both are damn near the pinnacles of their respective genres. Alien 3… not so much. Oh sure, there’s PLENTY of aspects in it that are outright brilliant and awe inspiring (as well as bone chilling and utterly haunting), but they’re all wasted on a portentous and sluggish script that’s too impressed with its own sense of self-importance to pace itself properly, and yes I’m referring to the Assembly Cut which has most of the stuff that David Fincher wanted in it. The one thing this movie DIDN’T need was to be over two freaking hours (also, killing the most interesting new character off halfway through didn’t help things either). That said I would watch that movie TWICE if it meant I never had to watch Resurrection again. Good GRIEF is that a monstrous product of its time! I don’t think I’ve seen a franchise so thoroughly 90s-ified in the worst ways imaginable outside of that Roland Emmerich Godzilla movie! Needless to say that the franchise needed a fresh start in order to get things back on track; and it wasn’t gonna be with those FREAKING Alien vs Predator movies! I REALLY enjoyed Prometheus which seems to be a minority opinion for some reason, and I’m not sure why. No matter how “scientifically minded” you are, there is always gonna be things you didn’t expect when traveling to ANOTHER FREAKING PLANET and people are gonna make mistakes! Honestly, it seems less like a true critical consensus (film stands at a solid 72% on Rotten Tomatoes) than some inexplicable backlash due to it… not being completely scientifically accurate I guess? What was your first clue? Was it the giant humanoid albino dudes or the baby alien growing in that one person’s stomach? Now I didn’t know ANYTHING about Alien: Covenant walking into it other than it was Ridley Scott directing and that it will indeed have Xenomorphs throughout, but considering how much I liked Prometheus I was hopeful that some of the cool stuff Ridley was working with in that movie would find its way into this seemingly straightforward Alien creature feature. Does Ridley Scott succeed in his true return to the franchise he started all those years ago, or it time to end this bug hunt once and for all? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with the crew of the Covenant, a spaceship with thousands of cryogenically frozen humans and almost as many frozen embryos, being violently woken up due to some sort of science catastrophe. Now normally the crew is left to sleep with the passengers, all of whom are headed to a new planet to colonize it, while their Synthetic buddy Walter (Michael Fassbender) takes care of everything, but with this… solar flare or something? I don’t know, let’s just go with that. With this solar flare causing havoc on the ship, all of them need to be woken up and at their posts to avert disaster. Most of them are fine, but sadly enough the captain (James Franco in a very brief and crispy cameo) gets burned alive in the chaos; leaving the second in command Chris Oram (Billy Crudup) in charge. So already things are going pear shaped on this trip that’s gonna take another seven years to complete, but they just so happen to pick up a strange signal that might be the answer to their problems. The signal traces back to a rather close planet which they scan and find to be very hospitable to their needs, even more so than the planet they were heading to in the first place! Despite the protestations of one the scientists Danny Branson (Katherine Waterston), Chris decides to at least investigate the place and see if they can locate the source of the strange signal as well as check if the planet really is as good as their scans indicate it to be. Of course it’s not. You KNOW it’s not. This movie isn’t called Pleasant Space Cruise; it’s called ALIEN COVENANT! The question isn’t IF they’re gonna get killed by monsters; it’s HOW MANY of them will! Aside from the obvious revelations, does the crew of the Covenant find something unexpected on this seemingly perfect planet? What was the source of that strange signal to begin with? Maybe it’s someone from one of the other films who’s playing someone new in this movie!?
The Hateful Eight and all the images you see in this review are owned by The Weinstein Company
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Like the rising of the tides, the phases of the moon, and the DiCaprio Oscar denial, Tarantino comes back once again to give us a well written update of one his favorite films as a kid. Now Django Unchained was a REALLY good movie, but it was weighed down by some less than stellar decisions throughout like the excessive use of… that one word, and how little Django got to do in his own movie before the third act. Oh, and let’s not forget the baffling inclusion of horse tricks at the end and the terrible acting chops of Quintin himself. Still, this movie seems to be much smaller in scope and looks to be much more focused on being an ensemble piece than any one person’s movie which gives Tarantino plenty of opportunities to fill his scenes with his trademark dialogue (and fill these bodies with his trademark amounts of excess blood and gore). Is this going to be a step up for the iconic director, or is this the sign of a trend towards being an ALMOST amazing director instead of an amazing one? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with the bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) being begrudgingly picked up of the side of the road by John Ruth (Kurt Russel) who’s also a bounty hunter and is taking Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to hang in a nearby town of Red Rock for her crimes. Unfortunately, there’s a blizzard coming and the driver O.B. Jackson (James Parks) isn’t inclined to risk it, so they head to a nearby waystation that’s delightfully called Minnie’s Haberdashery, though they find another straggler in the snowy wasteland along the way in the form of Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who claims to be the new sheriff of Red Rock. Once they arrive, they find Oswald Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gag (Michael Madsen), former Confederate General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) as well as Bob (Demián Bichir) who’s running the place in Minnie’s absence. Now John Ruth doesn’t trust any of these mother fuckers and none of them seem to be good wholesome people in the first place, but there’s nothing John can do with the blizzard blocking all means of travel, so they have to share this tiny space until it clears up. Will this be a peaceful affair as these nine strangers (yes, there’s nine instead of eight of them) get to know each other, or will things erupt into a cacophony of violence, blood, and racial epithets? Well I’m sure you can guess which route this movie takes, but is it at least super captivating to watch, right!?