The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Originally released on October 11th, 1974

Overview

As the story goes, a group of friends consisting of Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns), her brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain), Kirk (William Vail), Pam (Teri McMinn) and Jerry (Allen Danziger) are all traveling to check on Sally and Franklin’s grandfather’s grave to investigate reports of vandalism and grave robbing. They come upon a gas station that unfortunately had no gas, and they are forced to go to the grandfather’s house without refueling. Upon arrival, Pam and Kirk quickly venture off by themselves in search of a swimming hole, but inside they come upon a house that has a working generator–which leads them to want to ask the owner if they could buy some gasoline. This is where they meet Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) who wastes no time in killing the two of them, and butchering their bodies. Curious as to why their friends haven’t returned, Jerry follows their same path and inevitably meets their same demise.

Left alone, the two siblings Sally and Franklin argue about whether it is smarter to go and search for their friends or to try and find gasoline. Franklin, who is bound to a wheelchair, is all about trying to find gasoline until he realizes that they do not have the keys. Refusing to let Sally go by herself, he joins her and the two of them are subsequently caught by Leatherface, who kills Franklin first before chasing after Sally for what felt like forever. She ends up fleeing to the nearby gas station, only to find out that the owner, Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow) is actually apart of the same cannibalistic family as Leatherface, because he brings her back to the house where the hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) from earlier in the movie is also living. We find out that they all make up a family of insane cannibals. The last thirty minutes or so of this film is just Sally screaming and fighting for her life but she ends up escaping by climbing into the back of a pick up truck, leaving Leatherface to raise his chainsaw in anger as she gets away.

My thoughts

Even for a 70’s slasher flick, I think there was a lot of screaming. To the point that it was like nails on a chalkboard, it lasted so long. I’ve heard that this movie was terrifying, practically all of my life. To the point, that I put it aside for so long out of fear. When I finally chose to watch it, I had hyped it up so high that I gave myself no other choice than to end up disappointed. The parts where Leatherface is butchering the individuals were undeniably chilling, but they were no more scary than other movies. There lies my final conclusions about this film; what made The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) so scary wasn’t the chainsaw wielding cannibal, but in fact, the existence of his insane cannibalistic relatives. The hitchhiker being the creepiest one, Edwin Neal really did an amazing job making me uncomfortable anytime he was on the screen. He made it scary, with his unflinching portrayal of a deranged man who had no qualms about killing Sally, even mocking her the entire time she is understandably terrified.

It is undeniable that this film is a classic, and while on the surface it can seem like nothing more than your run of the mill slasher flick, I strongly believe that the horror lies in the family dynamics of the Sawyers.

What did you guys think of this one? Have you seen it, and if not, why?

Rattlesnake (2019)

Originally released on October 25th 2019

Overview

A mother-daughter duo are driving through Texas when the car gets a flat tire, causing the mother, Katrina Ridgeway (Carmen Ejogo), to pull over. While working on the tire, her daughter Clara (Apollonia Pratt) wonders into the barren grounds of the desert and is subsequently bitten by a rattlesnake. The situation is looking very dire until Katrina carries her daughter into a nearby trailer, where a mysterious woman claims that she will be able to help the child, and that a payment will be discussed afterwards. Upon returning to her daughter after fixing the tire, she notices that the rattlesnake bite has completely disappeared. They still go to the hospital however, and it is there that Katrina is approached by yet another mysterious individual, a man in a suit and tie that explains to her that as payment, she will need to kill someone by sunset. The only conditions? The soul must be human, and it must be done on time. Believing him to be crazy, she tells him to leave but he shows her what will happen if she does not comply; her daughter quickly turns blue and looks on the verge of death. That seems to be evidence enough, because Katrina soon thereafter sets out, trying to come up with a plan on how to repay the debt.

First, she sets her sights on an old man that she overheard was already on the verge of dying, but she decides against it–he dies minutes later and her seemingly only chance is gone. By chance, she goes to a bar and is mulling over her situation when a woman walks in, and after a short conversation with the bartender, Katrina figures out that the woman is currently in a relationship where the man treats her badly but she refuses to leave. Katrina follows them to their home so she can remember where it is, and then she goes out to buy a gun, the target being the abuser. For the sake of her daughter, she forces him at gunpoint to drive to the canyon. After a long few minutes of going back and forth, the upper hand switching between the two of them, she finally kills him as he lay bleeding out due to falling as a result of a rattlesnake bite. He becomes another specter, waiting for the next person who needs to repay their debts.

my thoughts

The plot of this movie had a lot of potential, while not being anything revolutionary, it seemed interesting enough. Apart from some scenes that were definitely unnerving, the movie felt bland. The camera angles at times were questionable, making it easy for the audience to focus on insignificant details. The movie moved at a slow pace, and while that can work for some stories–it fell flat for this one. It also left me with a few questions; did the daughter know what her mother had to do? If not, why would they show that she drew a picture seemingly depicting the rules of payment? Was the rattlesnake all a ploy, to force the need for payment? The doctor mentions that Katrina had told him that they were driving from Phoenix, Arizona to Oklahoma, but since she never talks about it, I don’t know if this is true. If it was, why were they leaving? Who was the man that was texting Katrina, that she brushed off? There’s a lot that I still don’t know, but the answers to these questions didn’t seem like anything that would change the plot dramatically, they seemed like facts that were omitted out of lazy writing or this need to create mystery where there was none.

Have you guys seen this one? What did you think of it?

The Turning (2020)

Originally released January 24th 2020

Overview

Kate (Mackenzie Davis) becomes the governess for a young girl named Flora (Brooklyn Prince), who despite her young age, has been dealt her fair share of traumas. She witnessed the death of her parents in an accident just beyond the front gate of the property, and then after growing close with her live-in tutor Miss Jessel (Denna Thomson) she too leaves without saying goodbye to the young girl. Upon her first night staying in the house, Kate hears noises coming from the East Wing of the house, and upon investigating it, she meets Miles (Finn Wolfhard).

Miles was expelled from his school due to attacking another student, and he and Kate’s relationship becomes strained at best. He begins to act more and more like the deceased Quint (Niall Greig Fulton) as time goes on, and the longer Kate stays in the house, she begins to experience nightmares and witnessing the ghosts of Miss Jessel and Quint. Despite the toll all of the experiences are having on her, she refuses to leave due to a promise she made to Flora when she first arrived. In the end, we are left to wonder whether Kate herself has lost her grip on her sanity, just as her mother appeared to, or if the events that have unfolded around her were in fact true.

My thoughts

This movie doesn’t end with a concrete conclusion, one that the audience could walk away with, content that they know how it all ends. In fact, it is the opposite. We are left not knowing whether any of it was real, and if it was, if the lives of those in the house are doomed or not. We don’t know if in the end, when Kate is shown to be in the mental institution whether she is seeing her mother, or a reflection of herself. We are left not knowing very much at all. That can be very frustrating for people, because it definitely was for me. I haven’t read the source material, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, but I’ve looked into and it seems as though it was already a confusing story, one that didn’t end in a concise way.

Finn Wolfhard has made a name for himself, starring in Stranger Things, It (2017), It Chapter Two (2019) and the The Addams Family (2019), among others, and I really think he made this film as creepy as it was. There’s something about his presence in a scene where his character is making dark remarks that really adds to the atmosphere of the entire film. Another name from this film that really shaped the entire experience is Mackenzie Davis, who played Kate. Throughout the film we got to witness her descent into madness, whether it be due to genetic factors, or as a result of supernatural entities. She takes up a lot of screen time, as we watch her either be tormented by the living, breathing, Miles or by the seemingly long-dead ghosts of Miss Jessel and Quint.

It was actually surprising for me to learn that on Cinemascore, it received a rare F rating. You know what else has earned an F rating this year? The Grudge (2020). This rating, I can agree with but I have to dispute the rating for The Turning (2020). While the ending was confusing, and that is enough to make people dislike a movie, it wasn’t a disappointment just as The Grudge (2020) was. I say more people need to watch the film, in order to really see for themselves.

Have any of you watched it? What did you think? Let me know down in the comments.

Dolittle (2020)

Originally released January 17 2020

overview

The doctor is in and he can talk to animals. He’s led an adventurous life but he calls an end to all adventures when his wife dies in a shipwreck. In order to avoid losing anyone else, he stops all contact with humans. Living his life within his sanctuary with his animals and no one else. That is, until the Queen (Jessie Buckley) herself falls gravely ill and she needs Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) to help her. He takes on an apprentice, Stubbins (Harry Collett), and the humans along with an ostrich (Kumail Nanjiani), a polar bear (John Cena), a gorilla (Rami Malek), a macaw (Emma Thompson), and a few other animals set off on a trip to find a tree that no one believes exist, on an island no one has been able to find.

my thoughts

I loved Dr. Dolittle (1998) with Eddie Murphy, so when it was announced that the story would be returning to the screen, re-envisioned and with Robert Downey Jr. playing the titular role, I was intrigued. However, when I say re-envision, I really mean it. In this version, Dr. Dolittle does not have any children, and his wife has died in a shipwreck. It is also based somewhere between 1837 and 1901, since Queen Victoria is the one who calls upon Dr. Dolittle, and she reigned during these years. The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts by Hugh Lofting was originally published in 1920 and while the stories aren’t the same, it isn’t hard to assume that the story takes place during similar years.

This being said, I think the movie was entertaining. It was the first role I’ve seen Robert Downey Jr. in since his iconic portrayal of Iron Man, and I think he did a really good job. The movie was funny, it was sentimental, it was serious and it was suspenseful. It told a tale that we’ve heard before, following a pattern we’ve come to know. The main character is broken when we meet him, choosing to isolate himself from any other humans because he lost the love of his life and is terrified of experiencing that kind of pain again. Then he is introduced to someone a lot younger than he, someone who can remind him of the good that life can bring. There’s a call to duty, one he almost ignored until he learned that it would mean he would lose his animal sanctuary. There’s a villain that we the audience learn is the villain pretty early on, who is fueled by jealousy and the need to be better than our protagonist. Despite following a similar path as many stories before them, I didn’t feel bored. The world that we were able to step into through this film was really beautiful.

The one character that surprised me was Rassouli, the king of pirates, played by Antonio Banderas. He was Lily’s father, and for this, he resents Dolittle for the death of his daughter. I’ve liked Banderas ever since his role in Spy Kids, so it is always a nice when he pops up in new movies. All in all, I enjoyed this movie and that’s always a goal when I watch a new movie. However, I don’t think it will leave a lasting mark and I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of this year, many forget that it happened. This has little to do with the individual movie but more about the amount of movies that come out every year. It is taking a lot more for movies to stand out to an average moviegoer. With a constant stream of new movies every week, it is no wonder when December comes around and people find themselves stunned when recalling movies that came out that same year.

Have you guys seen Dolittle? What did you think of it?

Fantastic Four (2005)

Originally released on July 8, 2005

Overview

Dr. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) believes that evolution came as a result of a cloud of cosmic energy in space, and he goes to Dr. Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon) to ask for permission to use his private space station in order to study his theory. It is there that he runs into his ex-girlfriend from MIT, the chief genetic’s research, Susan Storm (Jessica Alba). All three of them are joined on the space station by Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis). While in space, Reed figures out that the cloud is actually a lot closer than he realized and all of them were in a lot of danger. Ben is out in space when it hits, and Reed, Susan and Johnny are out of the protective shields in order to help but Doom closed the shields behind them. They are all exposed to cosmic energy and they end up getting powers as a result.

Reed gets the power of elasticity, becoming known as Mr. Fantastic. Susan gets the power of invisibility and the ability to create force fields, becoming known as the Invisible Woman. Johnny can engulf himself in flames and can actually fly using his powers, becoming known as the Human Torch. Ben becomes known as The Thing, transforming into a rock-like creature with superhuman strength and durability. Unbeknownst to them until it seems too late, Victor also gained powers–the ability to produce bolts of electricity as his body is transforming into an organic metal.

My thoughts

My immediate thought upon meeting Victor Doom, was ‘of course he is the villain, his name is literally Dr. Doom.” So when this becomes true and he tries to kill the entire team at the end of the film, I wasn’t surprised. He’s also just gross, he and Susan were never even together and yet he felt it was only right to propose to her. It’s a weird scene that just made him seem increasingly vile. Also, this guy is almost always exclusively hidden in the shadows of any scene that he is in. Cinematically, this acted as foreshadowing to the nefarious character hiding underneath the surface.

Someone who isn’t the villain but is definitely still a really bad person? Debbie. Ben’s fiancee who breaks up with him when he comes back and looks different. Even if it wasn’t his fault, she doesn’t even give him time to explain or talks to him again. Acting in fear when he tries to approach her, only adding salt to his wounds since he was already feeling upset about the way he looked. She never deserved him.

Reed is a really cool character because he is someone I can relate to. He doesn’t do anything without looking at the situation from all angles, always thinking very analytically but he grows a lot throughout the movie. He eventually proposes to Susan, showing that he was ready to act on his feelings without stressing about all the variables. I’ve always enjoyed the stories of the Fantastic Four, and I do plan on watching the sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Have you guys watched any of the Fantastic Four movies? What did you think of them? I’ve been noticing a lot of support recently on my posts but I’m hoping more people begin interacting in the comments. I want to hear YOUR thoughts. Let’s have a conversation.

Delirium (2018)

Originally released in 2018

Overview

A psychological thriller produced by the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jason Blum, directed by Dennis Iliadis, starring Topher Grace as Tom Walker. It’s a story about a man who inherits his family’s mansion after his father commits suicide. Released from a mental institute and put under the supervision of parole officer Brody (Patricia Clarkson), Tom begins to suspect that his family home is haunted after strange occurrences start happening around him. He’s been told to have trust in his mind, and not his eyes but when he’s seeing the truth around him, he assumes it isn’t real. Along the way he meets Lynn (Genesis Rodriguez), a clerk at the market that takes a liking to him for being ‘interesting and weird.’

my thoughts

Let’s talk about what landed Tom in the institute. When he was a lot younger, still a child, his brother handcuffed him to a pole and forced him to watch as he drowned a girl. After being threatened not to tell anyone, his older brother Alex (Callan Mulvey) killed another girl and when the authorities connect the dots, the two brothers are sent away. Alex, to a life in prison and Tom, to the institute. It’s a messed up origin story, one that makes you feel immediately sympathetic towards Tom. Especially because when he is telling this story, we have already encountered Alex, but we aren’t sure if he is actually there or if he is an hallucination.

The parole officer isn’t a great person, in fact, she’s really unethical. Believing Tom to be coming onto her, she kisses him and when he declines her offer, she takes his med as punishment for seemingly embarrassing her. When she shows up later to a trashed house, presumably due to a mental breakdown, she offers to return later with his meds. When she does however, she comes in to see Tom carrying an unconscious and bleeding Lynn in his arms. She asks him whether he hurt Lynn because of what happened to his brother–he presumably died in a prison fire but when Tom asks her “Are you positive that he is dead?” Alex shows up and kills her. He claims that he is only doing what Tom cannot.

The remainder of the movie comes at you really fast and a lot of stories come to light. Their mother left their father many years prior and had completely abandoned the two boys–or so they thought. In reality, their sadistic father had kept her underground in a cell because she had begun to talk back to him. In the end, Alex and his mother drown in the cell as Tom and Lynn are able to escape due to his mother’s sacrifice, ensuring that Alex would not get away.

I really liked this movie. This was the first thing I’ve seen Topher Grace do since his time on That 70’s Show and I was surprised to see him pull off the horror genre so well. There were moments where I was genuinely afraid and I was pleasantly surprised that the movie found a good balance between jumpscares and atmosphere. If you can recall, when I was talking about The Grudge, I explained that I think a horror movie shouldn’t solely rely on jumpscares but rather the environment plays an important role. Delirium is a good example of that.

Have any of you seen Delirium? Are there any films in particular you’d like me to review? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Frozen 2 (2019)

Originally released November 22nd, 2019

Overview

The world of Frozen expanded in this film, introducing the people of Northuldra. People who lived in the forest, working in harmony with the spirits of the elements in order to live a simple life. In a flashback, we watch as King Agnarr (Alfred Molina) is telling a story to his young daughters Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) about an event that took place when he was a boy. His father, King Runeard (Jeremy Sisto) and the leader of the Northuldra people, have made a treaty through the construction of the dam. As the story goes, Northuldra betrayed Arendelle which results in a fight that costs King Runeard his life. Enraged, the spirits create an impenetrable mist that traps those within the forest. King Agnarr manages to escape through the help of a stranger.

The second film takes place three years after the events of the first movie. Elsa begins hearing a strange noise, one that only she can hear and it is calling to her. Unable to resist the temptation, she awakens the spirits and the people of Arendelle are forced to seek refuge on higher grounds. In order to save their people, Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven all go into the forest hoping to find the answers and fix everything. Without revealing any spoilers since the movie is still fairly new (when are spoilers allowed? Three months?) the movie takes us on a journey that diverges from the simple story of the first film.

My thoughts

Having little sisters mean that I’ve seen the first Frozen movie more times than I can count. The songs were good enough to be loved by the children but they didn’t grab my attention more than any other catchy song would. I never listened to any of them on my own volition, unless they were in a playlist with other Disney songs. The plot itself was different from the classic formula for a Disney princess movie, focusing on the relationship between two sisters and having romantic relationships take the backseat. However, the second movie takes that same foundation and built on it, making the final product remarkable.

All of the characters have depth to them, depth that isn’t expected from a children’s movie. Elsa is the Queen but she doesn’t feel like she belongs. Anna will follow her sister anywhere, there is a fierce loyalty to her that knows no bounds. Kristoff is unabashedly sensitive, a characteristic not often found in male characters because it is no secret that boys are taught that having feelings is a ‘girl trait.’ By seeing Kristoff, a guy who loves Anna wholeheartedly, who has his own power ballad about his feelings, it can teach boys that they can talk about how they are feeling without the fear of judgement. They can learn that having feelings is okay rather than growing up to be emotionally constipated.

The songs in this film are a lot better in this film. My favorite being a toss up between ‘Into the Unknown’ and ‘Show Yourself’. But in truth, all of the songs are really well done. Each one having a role to play in telling the story, even Olaf’s song titled ‘When I am Older.’ While to the adults, it can seem as though he really has no idea what is going on and that doesn’t seem like something that will change. But for the kids, they can relate to it because as a child, we always believe that things will get better when we get older. That we will be independent and the world will be open to us. The message behind the song resonates with the kids.

I really enjoyed this movie, I actually watched it twice. I do wonder if a sequel is in the cards, but if not, I feel as though the story reached a good conclusion.

Have you guys watched this film? What did you guys think of it? Feel free to leave comments to let me know what you thought of Frozen 2.

I’ve noticed an influx of visitors and followers recently, thank you so much!