The Shape of Water and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Did it REALLY have to take this long for the darn film to show up in a theater remotely close to me!? While EVERY OTHER film critic in the world got to check this out a few weeks ago, I’ve been sitting here on pins and needles; waiting for the studio to begrudgingly bring this film to the wider masses. There have been a few movies that I’ve been looking forward to quite a bit as we were heading into Award Season, and at the top of the list was this freaky looking cross between Beauty and the Beast and The Creature from the Black Lagoon from one of the best genre filmmakers out there. With only slightly waned excitement due to its slow rollout to general audiences, does this manage to live up to the high expectations set up not only by the wonderful looking trailers but by the ceaseless buzz from every other film critic on the planet BESIDES me, or was this a huge misstep that we’re all gonna look back on with less than favorable feelings once the hype has settled down? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Eliza Esposito (Sally Hawkins) who’s one of many janitors in a SUPER SECRET SCIENCE FACILITY that’s somewhere in Baltimore which presumably has REALLY specific NDA agreements as the place has been known to house strange and unusual specimens. The latest of said specimens turns out to be some sort of Freaky Fish Guy (Doug Jones) who was captured and dragged out of the Amazon Forest by Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). Said Colonel is now head of security in the SUPER SECRET SCIENCE FACILITY, at least until the government can figure out what to do with the Freaky Fish Guy, and both Eliza and her friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer) are stuck cleaning the room that the creature is housed in. Eliza immediately takes a liking to said creature and the two of them begin an unlikely friendship as Eliza’s mastery of American Sign Language (which she learned due to her being mute) as well as her awesome record collection give the two of them a way to communicate and something to bond over. Colonel Strickland on the other hand is less inclined to get friendly with the Freaky Fish Guy, preferring to use a cattle prod to get the creature in line, and eventually is dead set on dissecting it before it gets any funny ideas. Eliza, along with her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) hatch a plan to try and save him as does the mysterious Dr Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) who has his own reasons for wanting the creature to be kept alive. Will Elisa be able to protect the Freaky Fish Guy from having his internal organs removed and put into labeled jars? What is Dr Hoffstetler REALLY up to, and how will Colonel Strickland react once he finds out that his own staff is working against him? Seriously, who can look at that Freaky Fish Guy and NOT immediately fall in love with him!?
The Bye Bye Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment
Directed by Stacy Title
See, I thought I wouldn’t have to talk about STX Entertainment again until that damn Mars YA movie finally came out (ENOUGH WITH THE TRAILER ALREADY!) but it looks like they’re here to fill the January Horror Movie quota which was met in previous years by gems such as The Forest, The Devil Inside, and Texas Chainsaw 3D. Then again, The Boy came out in January of last year, and that was ALSO a film from STX Entertainment, so maybe there’s just a TINY bit of hope here. Can STX pull off the impossible yet again and give us a January horror film that won’t embarrass the genre, or is this movie just as stupid as its title suggests? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins in the late sixties where a guy (Jonathan Penner) shoots a bunch of people because they had heard of THE BYE BYE MAN, which I’m sure was the most sensible solution to that problem. Jump ahead five decades and we find ourselves in modern times where three college students, Elliot, John, and Sasha (Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, and Cressida Bonas), just moved into a new house off of campus and are cleaning up all the crappy furniture that the landlord left them. Of course, one of the tables has something crudely etched on it that Elliot ends up reading. Of course it’s the words THE BYE BYE MAN, and in doing so he… I guess invites The Bye Bye man to take permanent residence in his brain. You know, at least when they summoned the deadites in Evil Dead, they had to read a WHOLE passage from an ancient Sumerian text instead of just a dumb name! Anyway, the name eventually reaches his two roommates as well as some sort of psychic who is obvious slasher fodder (Jenna Kanell) and so The Bye Bye Man just starts messing with all their heads; making them see things that aren’t there and driving them more and more insane in the process. Will the three of them find a way to get past this monster’s illusions before it makes them do something they’ll regret? Why did that dude in the sixties end up shooting everyone who had heard of this… ghost, I guess? Did anyone stop to read the script before filming this, or were they winging it the whole time?
“Just watch it, don’t question it. I wonder what that means…”
Ouija: Origin of Evil and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Mike Flanagan
In a year that’s already been pretty good for horror movies and sequels, has it been just as good for horror movie sequels? Well ironically enough for a genre known for churning out sequels, there’s really only been two I’ve seen this year; The Purge: Election Year which is one of the best films of the year so far, and Blair Witch which is one of my least favorites. Sure I heard people liked The Conjuring 2, but I hated the first one with a fiery passion so I highly doubt it would end up on the good end, and then if you wanted you could count 10 Cloverfield Lane as a horror movie which I would put on the good side even if it’s sequel status is somewhat questionable. My point is that the data on horror sequels this year is, shall we say… inconclusive. Will we have a more definitive answer one way or the other with this prequel (I know that’s technically not the same thing as a sequel, but I’m freaking counting it!) to a movie that was universally panned just two years ago? Let’s find out!!
The movie takes place in 1967 at the home of the Zander family, made up the mother Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) and her two daughters Lina (Annallise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson). Alice is barely getting by after the death of her husband as her fortune telling business isn’t quite paying the bills, but they’ll make due for now and they even get a new item for the show that should definitely drum up some business, right? Well those concerns become secondary as it JUST SO HAPPENS to be a ghost living in the house already that has started to take control over young Doris and is clearly after something but we’re not sure what. For now, it’s just using Doris to pretend to be the dead father and freaks everyone out with the Ouija Board as a way to… I don’t know; keep Alice from calling the Ghostbusters? Either way, Alice is more than happy to have a REAL (and presumably benevolent) ghost in the house to not be used to keep a roof over their heads but to also get some closure with her “husband” after his tragic death. Of course, Lina smells bullshit from a mile away and knows better than to trust something possessing her sister CLAIMING to be her dead father, so she starts to investigate and even gets a local priest involved (Henry Thomas) to find out exactly what’s going on; something the ghost isn’t too happy about. Will Lina and the Padre stop this madness before it’s too late? Just what is the ghost after if it needs to pretend to be good rather than just kill everyone in their sleep? How the hell is it gonna convince everybody of that when it keeps messing with her face!?
“Look at that! How is that normal!?” “Oh will you relax? She’s just yawning!”