In the Tall Grass (2019)

Originally released October 4th 2019

Plot synopsis

Essentially, if you go into the grass, you may never come out.

Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) and her brother Cal Demuth (Avery Whitted) are traveling to San Diego so that Becky can give up her baby for adoption. During the drive, Becky gets nauseous and they pull over so she can throw up. While stopped, they hear the sound of a young boy calling for help, claiming to have been in the grass for days and unable to find the road. They go into the grass to help him and that is when everything gets confusing.

Along the way they meet Tobin (Will Buie Jr.), his father Ross (Patrick Wilson), his mother Natalie (Rachel Wilson) and even end up running into Travis (Harrison Gilbertson), the father of Becky’s unborn child. These are all the players on the board. Ross ends up being the henchman of this malevolent force within the grass and the world around all of them begins to loop, time repeating itself and people who are killed being able to come back—as though even in death, they are trapped in the grass.

Travis ends up being the hero, sacrificing himself by touching this mysterious rock that apparently gives the people who touch it the ability to see the way out of the grass. He leads Tobin to the road, and then tells him that he can’t go with him, but makes Tobin swear to not “let them in.” Tobin ends up in the church, as it was a gateway of some sort, and we watch as Becky and Cal’s car is parked on the side of the road, replaying the scene from the beginning of the movie. He manages to get them from venturing into the grass by showing them Becky’s necklace that Travis had given him, and the movie ends with them driving away and we watch as Travis seemingly dies in the grass, after learning that the woman he loves was able to get away safely. The loop finally closes.

My thoughts

I began the movie expecting it to be cults. It was not cults, but it could have been cults? It’s the kind of movie that even when it ended, I wasn’t sure what I knew. It seemed like aliens for a moment, with the rock and the way that it seemed to control Ross. However, it then brought up the question–was Ross really controlled by the rock or was he a willing participant? He killed for the rock. Travis, even after touching the rock, he wanted to help Tobin. He made sure that Becky and Cal didn’t get into the grass. He still had control over his actions, so Ross must have as well. Though, he was in the grass for much longer so maybe he wasn’t right in his mind by the time he touched the rock, so it did have a hold on him?

Also, at one point Travis confronts Cal for having feelings for his own sister, and that was why Cal hated Travis so much. It is never truly addressed, so I don’t know exactly if it was true or not. It was hinted at though out the film, but there’s a lot of questions I still have after it ended. The movie was based on a short story by Stephen King and Joe Hill, that I may end up reading just to see if anything was different in the movie.

Overall, this movie left it’s mark. I was left confused and more than just a bit creeped out.

Have you guys seen the movie? What did you think of it?

It Chapter 2

Originally released September 6th 2019

Plot synopsis

The evil clown Pennywise comes back 27 years later to the city of Derry, Maine. The children of the first movie come back as adults, and it is interesting to see that they lost all their memories before returning to the town. In order to defeat Pennywise, the Losers are forced to relive the memories they had forgotten and confront their past demons. A ritual needs to be performed to ensure that Pennywise is defeated, and they will do whatever it takes to win.

my thoughts

For a horror movie, I wasn’t very scared. Sure, there were moments where I jumped or something surprised me but to say that it held the same lasting creepy effect as the first, would be a lie. I liked being able to see who the kids grew up to be, and how their lives changed after they got out of Derry. One of the first points that I noticed was that Beverly (Jessica Chastain) seemed to have ended up with a man that was a lot like her father. I was happy to see that she left him.

For me, the stars of the movie were Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) and Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransome). Richie’s sarcasm and foul mouth were able to break through the moments of tension, and Eddie’s knack for reminding people of the dangers of infection were able to make me laugh even when I should have been scared. While I enjoyed that, it made the movie fall farther and farther away from being scary. Though, Pennywise’s daughter was imagery I would very much like to never see again. Overall, the movie was enjoyable and it had a closing sequence that I found incredibly wholesome.

Have you guys seen the movie? What did you guys think of it?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Originally released on August 9th 2019

plot synopsis

The stories in the book come to life.

The book in question, is Sarah Bellows book of scary stories and even in death, she is writing her stories but this time, they are coming to life and terrorizing the children of Mill Valley, Pennsylvania in 1968. Stella (Zoe Colleti) wants to be a writer, her two best friends Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur) and their new friend Ramón (Michael Garza) decide to go to the Bellows house since it has notoriety for being haunted. As one expects, Stella takes the book of scary stories home and she is the first to notice when a new story appears that seems to match the mysterious disappearance of the town bully Tommy. One by one, the children are put in a scary story and it is up to Stella and Ramón to stop Sarah, and the only way to stop her is by promising that her story would be told since she had been framed by her corrupt family while she was alive. In the process, Auggie and Chuck disappear and even in the end, they don’t come back.

My thoughts

As a child I read all of the stories in the book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, so when the movie was announced and trailers began being released, I was very excited. While the monsters in the movie were rightfully terrifying, the movie fell short from being as terrifying as the book was. The scariest creature was probably The Jangly Man, because of his contortionist movements and the overall grotesque character design. Despite the movie not being as scary as I thought it would be, the stories surrounding Stella and her life with her dad, as well as the scary reality that Ramón faced, being drafted into the Vietnam war. I enjoyed the interpersonal connections between the characters throughout the movie. I remember watching the trailers and finding it really scary, to the point that I was not going to the theater to watch it because I wanted to watch it from the safety of my house. But the movie wasn’t as chilling as it seemed, so that’s my big take away from the film. Not as scary as it appeared to be. Still a good film though.

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

A Simple Favor (2018)

Originally released September 14th 2018

Plot synopsis

Essentially, the two main characters are Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) and Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) and they are seemingly polar opposites. Despite this, the two become increasingly close and they begin to confide in each other but things get messy when one day Emily calls Stephanie and asks for ‘a simple favor’–picking her son up from school and watching him until she can come home from work. Days pass and Stephanie grows worried, and an investigation is opened about the missing person that is Emily Nelson. More and more is revealed throughout the movie and every time you think you understand what happened to Emily, you are sorely mistaken. There are so many intricacies in this plot, layers and sublayers to the characters and their relationships. Despite spoiler warnings being implied, I don’t want to reveal what is revealed in the film since I think it impacts the audience more if they are left in the dark.

My thoughts

Since the movie came out I have wanted to watch it but I completely forgot it existed as more and more time passed between the release and present day. It’s a fun watch, Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick are a dynamic duo that really works well together but truth be told, it didn’t live up to the expectations I had when starting the film. It wasn’t a bad movie, but it became a bit predictable and fell short from the true mystery thriller that I thought it would be. In fact, this movie actually made me want to watch The Age of Adaline (2015) because it has that same feeling to it, and I think this has become Lively’s niche in film. She thrives in settings of mystery, where not everything is as they seem. I’ve added The Age of Adaline to my list of movies to watch.

Has anyone seen A Simple Favor? What did you guys think of it? I also wanted to take a moment and thank all of my new subscribers, I really appreciate it!

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Originally released on June 10th, 2016 (USA)

Plot Synopsis

Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) went on a sabbatical, but they call it off to go to Enfield, a borough in London. This is where they meet Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Conner). She believes there is something evil in her house–which the Warrens agree with when the youngest child, Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe) begins showing signs of demonic possession. They choose to help the family, even if it means putting a target on their own backs.

Review

We meet the Nun in this one, and we find out that it’s name is Valak. Since we got the prequel The Nun (2018) we know more about the history of the nun, and how the Warrens came to cross it’s path. There will be more on that when I have a dedicated post for the movie. As for The Conjuring 2, this one is definitely scary. Demonic possession–ever since The Exorcist (1973) has been something that I find really unnerving. I found this installment to be just as scary as the first one, and it left me looking forward to the third installment–coming next year. As always, I believe Farmiga and Wilson did a great job in this movie, especially Farmiga’s talent in showing how the vision really disturbed Lorraine.

What do we think of this trial run of my reviews? Any objections to the new format? I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet, but I’m figuring it out. Let’s talk about the movie and what you all think about it!

The Conjuring (2013)

Originally released on July 19th, 2013 (United States)

Plot Synopsis

Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) are called in to deal with strange happenings with the Perron family. Roger Perron (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) moved to a farmhouse where their family begins being played with by malevolent spirits. They decided to call the Warrens after hearing about their dealing with the cursed doll Annabelle. The Warrens are able to help the family, but their story isn’t over as they return home and place a box from the family in their room of artifacts from all of their cases. The movie ends with the box inexplicably opening and playing music.

Review

I find this movie scarier than Annabelle (2014)–mostly because the story of the Warrens in real life is such an interesting one. The story of the Warrens is at the core of the rest of these movies, all of them being part of what has come to be known as the Conjuring Universe–movies following different individual paths but that are all woven together. I also find this movie to be enjoyable because of it’s suspense and pacing, once again focusing on a spirit that is wreaking havoc on a family. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play their roles well, stepping into rather large footsteps when portraying such famous names in the world of ghosts, demons and the supernatural. Annabelle (2014) came out after this one, so it is safe to say that this movie laid the foundation for the movies that followed.

It is no wonder why this universe encompasses some of my favorite horror movies. Have you guys seen this one? If you have, what did you think of it, and if you haven’t, what has kept you from doing so?

Annabelle Comes Home (2019)

Originally released on June 26th, 2019

If you find out that the house you’re in has a room filled to the brim with supposedly cursed artifacts, do yourself a favor and don’t sneak into said room and touch everything in it.

That’s exactly what happens when a girl named Daniela (Katie Sarife) convinces her friend Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) to let her come over while she’s babysitting the child of the famous demon-fighting duo; the Warrens. Judy Warren, (Mckenna Grace) seems to have followed in her mother’s footsteps, having an ability to see and communicate with spirits. Due to her parents’ well-known choice in career, little Judy has a hard time making friends, instead clinging to Mary Ellen, her babysitter.

What ensues when Daniela, a girl who lost her father and is now trying to contact him, decides to pry into the room of artifacts and ultimately unleashes everything–including Annabelle. The evil doll we have come to recognize through her previous films and cameo in The Conjuring.

Personally, Daniela’s character annoyed me due to her blatant disregard for the rules of the room. Since she believed she’d be able to talk to her dad, it means that she believed in the ghosts and stories of the room–so to ignore the warnings and touch everything anyways, was super annoying. She learned her lesson though, I guess being haunted by evil beings would have that effect on someone.

I actually watched this movie in a theater that had about six other people in the room, and the big screen and powerful speakers combination made it so this movie was definitely scary–but a bit all over the place.

It becomes almost like an anthology of scary stories, a collection of some notable creatures that the Warrens dealt with–but none of them apart from Annabelle warranting their own movie which means they all get sandwiched into this installment. While it was scary, it felt too messy. Too many creatures all packed into one story. It lost it’s structure.

A scary movie has to do more than simply scare you. It has to leave some sort of imprint, have an effect. Being scary is the bare minimum nowadays and this installment felt like it had nothing going for it except for the scares. It lacked lasting power for me, a movie that is easy to skip over if you have another option.

I haven’t watched Annabelle: Creation yet, but I’m planning on it. What did you guys think of this installment?

Annabelle (2014)

Originally released on October 3rd, 2014

Lets officially take a dive into the first official movie I’ll be talking about that is part of the Conjuring Universe.

This movie begins with the Form family comprised of John Form (Ward Horton) and Mia Form (Annabelle Wallis). Mia Form is pregnant, and as a gift for their unborn daughter, John gives his wife a rare porcelain doll. One night, the couple is disturbed from their sleep as a home invasion takes place next door. John goes to see what is happening while Mia stays behind and calls the police. John is attacked by the killers, but the police arrive and kill one of the assailants–the man, while the woman commits suicide in the nursery, slitting her throat while holding the doll. The killers turn out to be the estranged daughter of the neighbors and her unidentified boyfriend, both of whom were known to be in a cult.

As with all movies in this universe, paranormal activity begins occuring over the next few days. Mia gives birth to a healthy baby girl named Leah, who becomes the sole obsession of the malevolent spirit. Mia reaches out to the detective who dealt with the home invasion in order to find out more about the cult–and with the help of a bookstore owner and fellow tenant Evelyn (Alfre Woodard) they learn that the cult practiced devil worshipping and hoped to summon supernatural creatures. They were successful, and Mia learns that a demon has latched onto them in hopes of claiming a soul.

It’s all a very scary scheme to get Mia’s soul, the demon using a priest’s body as a way to get into the apartment and abduct Leah. Mia is standing on the edge of the window with the doll in her hands, ready to sacrifice herself for her child when Evelyn stops her. Evelyn has had her own demons to deal with, having felt immense guilt over the death of her daughter Ruby in a car accident while she was driving. She decides to give her own life as atonement. Six months later we watch as the doll is bought from an antique shop, meaning that her story isn’t over yet.

Thoughts

I remember seeing this film in theaters when it came out, and I remember how scared I was. Especially knowing that the story of Annabelle is one that the Warrens, the duo the Conjuring Universe draw inspiration from, have told is true. I find this movie scarier than the Insidious franchise, only because of my own aversion to dolls. They creep me out and I don’t like them. I remember being caught off guard by Evelyn’s death, but most importantly, the jump scares in this one were enough to genuinely frighten me.

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

Insidious: The Last Key (2018)

Originally released January 5th 2018

We’ve finally made it to the finale of the Insidious franchise. What began in 2011, as a story of a family whose house wasn’t haunted but rather–they were the ones haunted. Insidious: The Last Key takes place in 2010, after the events of the third movie but before the events of the first two.

Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) lived in New Mexico with her family as a child, but when her mother is killed by a demon, she has to deal with the wrath of her father (Josh Stewart) until she grows older and leaves, abandoning her younger brother Christian (Bruce Davison). Many years later in 2010, she and her team which consists of Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) get a call from Ted Garza (Kirk Acevedo) claiming that his house is haunted. Upon realizing that it is her childhood home, Elise agrees to help.

The childhood home is indeed haunted, but not just by the supernatural but by the memories that cling there. Memories of her loving mother and her abusive father, it is no secret why she didn’t want to return to such a place. While in town, she runs into her brother who is still furious with her for abandoning him. He has two daughters now, Melissa (Spencer Locke) and Imogen (Caitlin Gerard). Imogen has inherited Elise’s abilities, and we watch as the story continues to unfold. Elise finds out that the woman she saw when she was younger in her house wasn’t a ghost, but rather a girl that her father had kidnapped and later killed.

Elise ends up having to go into ‘The Further’ in order to rescue her niece Melissa, and this is where she finds out that the demon she calls ‘Key Face’ was controlling her father, and later Ted Garza and feeding off the hatred and fear of the women they kidnapped. He pushes Elise to beat the spirit of her father as he did to her, but Imogen, who has gone in after her tells her to stop, and to not give Key Face more power. Key Face attacks Elise but her father Gerald stops him and his spirit is destroyed in the process. With the help of the spirit of her mother, Elise, Imogen and Melissa all end up being able to get out and back to safety, but not before we see them open a door where we see Dalton Lambert only to realize it is the wrong door and they leave to find the right one.

Elise says her goodbyes to her mother, and makes amends with her brother. Later, as she sleeps, she sees Dalton and a red-faced demon. Waking up to a call from Lorraine Lambert, who we recall is Dalton’s grandmother, who has worked with Elise before to help her son Josh with his astral projection problem. All the pieces fall together and we now learn how everything was connected.

Final thoughts

In terms of ranking, I’d have to put the first movie at the top, followed by the third, fourth and then the second. The second one was lack-luster for me, personally. This series is a strong contender in the genre of modern horror, where there is a good balance between scares and story. It doesn’t have an unnecessary abundance of jump-scares and it gives the actual story sufficient time to play out and not feel rushed. While not part of the official Conjuring Universe, it fits the same vibe as the others. It would have been awkward for it to actually be in the same universe since Josh Lambert’s actor, Patrick Wilson, plays Ed Warren in the Conjuring movies. I digress. Patrick Wilson, as a brand, has made a name for himself in horror movies recently–with the outlier being his role in Aquaman.

What has always interested me about the Insidious movies is there ability to connect everything without going in chronological order in storytelling. A lot of franchises do this (Star Wars, The Fast & Furious) but it’s interesting to see a horror franchise do this and do it successfully.

The first series of spooky season is now complete! What did you guys think of it?

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

Originally released on June 5th 2015

This story takes place years before the events of Insidious (2011) and Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) and it follows Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) who has suffered a terrible loss. Her mother, Lily, died one year prior to the beginning of the movie. She desperately wants to be given the chance to speak to her mother again so she seeks out now retired demonologist Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) for help. Rainier tries to help, and ends up telling her not to try and contact her mother again due to a malevolent spirit that can be sensed. Elise has come to refuse to enter into ‘The Further’ after she realizes that there is a spirit that is hunting her down, and she’s sure that this spirit will be the reason she dies. This spirit, is the Bride in Black, aka the spirit that possesses Josh Lambert in the second movie.

This is the movie where Specs, Tucker and Elise form a partnership that follows them to the Lamberts later on. We as the audience truly understand by this point, that the story is about Elise and not the people she helps. While they are a big part of the storyline, it is still Elise’s story that we are watching unfold. She truly is a selfless character because she is warned from the beginning that her life will end by the hands of the Bride in Black, but this doesn’t keep her from choosing to help people using her abilities.

Personally, this movie was hard to watch at times. There’s a specific scene where Quinn’s legs are broken but she is possessed and begins walking on them, and the crunching sounds that occur are enough to make me wretch. On that same note, this movie held my attention since we were introduced to other characters besides the Lamberts, and yet it all still ties together. So far I’d have to rank the Insidious films as follows (from best to worst):

Insidious (2011)
Insidious: Chapter 3
Insidious: Chapter 2

Do you guys agree with my ranking? Why or why not?