A scary thing happened on the way to the Movie Forums - Horrorcrammers


So when I saw Barbarian I deliberately chose a screening that would take place at the same time that our local NFL team was playing its season opener, thinking the crowd would be smaller. When I opened the app that morning, there were no seats yet reserved, meaning I was the first. So far so good. (Chose a spot in the back row, center)
Imagine my surprise when I arrive at the theater and find that the only two people in the room are sitting directly next to the seat I reserved.
It's been said that people have gotten ruder as a result of the pandemic and I think it applies to me because when I got up there I asked "Did you seriously book the seat next to me? This place is empty." (I'm usually not so confrontational). She confirmed that she did indeed, so I just moved down the aisle a few seats. By the time the film started there were maybe 10 people in the room, which is the largest at this particular AMC theater so why they felt the need to sit directly next to a stranger is beyond me.

This was a minor inconvenience at worst, but I'm just a misanthrope and am hoping one of you understands my struggle and can relate.
Captain's Log
My Collection

I did have the following interaction while buying my ticket:

CASHIER: So you just need to pick your seat.
*swivels screen toward me*
ME: *Tapping chosen seat* *tapping chosen seat* *it's not changing color* *Continuing to tap*
CASHIER: You just, like, tell me the seat.
ME: D6

Yeah, so I have become like my students, who assume every screen is a touch screen. Also, why did she let me tap the screen like four times?! (The kids who work at this theater---all of whom look about 14 years old to me--are very nice and polite. But maybe they have a pool going for how many times a customer can tap their computer monitor before realizing it's not an interactive deal.)

Sole Survivor, 1984

Denise (Anita Skinner) is the sole survivor of a plane crash, an unexplained miracle. But her survival starts to seem less miraculous as she tries to get back to her normal life. While she strikes up a romance with one of the doctors who cared for her, Brian (Kurt Johnson), she is haunted by the seemingly possessed bodies of the recently dead. The only person who seems to understand her is Karla (Caren L. Larkey), an actress who foresaw the plane crash and knows that things are not right.

Sometimes I watch a horror movie and feel a bit shocked that it's title was not super familiar to me. Why, I wonder, is Sole Survivor not part of that second-tier of horror movies after the big names?

Obviously I really liked this film. I liked the feel of it a lot, and it makes a lot of sense that the director would later make Night of the Comet, another film that makes great use of ominous city streets and "world gone mad" paranoia. (I'll note that he also made Naked Fear, a movie whose premise sounds incredibly exploitative but somehow isn't terrible and actually has some compelling character stuff in the middle in the form of a group of campers the victim meets while running from her pursuer.)

I thought that Skinner was good in the lead role, bringing a low-key sense of unease to Denise's plight. Denise is warned early on by Brian that most sole survivors of disasters tend to die within two years of the event. As the world around Denise tilts sideways, Denise carries the knowledge that it's expected that she might go a little nuts. And, indeed, when she tries to explain about mysterious girls appearing in loading docks or describe the wrongness of a man who hunts her through a parking garage, she is treated in ways that imply she's either crazy or subconsciously putting herself in harm's way.

I wish that we'd gotten more of Larkey's Karla, a woman who is likewise haunted by knowledge that alienates others and also, you know, has a negative impact on her career. Johnson's Brian is fine. The character is kind of condescending--as are most of the authority figures in this world--but he does care for Denise and tries to get to the bottom of what's happening to her. Brian also gets the benefit of existing in a context where all the other men are pretty gross, from the patronizing police detective who responds to Denise's claims of a home invasion to the taxi driver who openly sexually harasses Denise.

The vibe of the entire film stays in a zone of unnerving. The dead appear and stare at Denise. And Denise, who is already haunted by the feeling that she owes a debt, doesn't know how to respond. I don't want to get into spoiler territory, but Denise's reaction to her final confrontation with one of the undead was super interesting to me.

Some of the best horror movies put you in a position of wondering what you'd do in the protagonist's position, and here I'm not sure there is any good answer. When she tells the truth about what she sees happening to her, she's treated as crazy or intoxicated. Yet increasingly these encounters cannot be ignored. She is slowly being driven to a point where she cannot function. I really loved a scene where a stressed out Denise sees one of the dead and emerges from her car having pulled a gun. One of the men (a very not-dead group of them) talks her down, but then also stops one of his friends from further provoking her. Denise, in her fear, is becoming dangerous in her own right.

This one also gets big points from me for really nailing the ending.

I would say that my one complaint is that the, for lack of a better word, conspiracy doesn't actually make that much sense when you think about it. It seems . . . inefficient, and also in some ways it seems to contradict its own premise.

But little nitpicks aside, this was a really enjoyable watch. Especially with not being at all familiar with it before watching.

I started off my Hooptober this time with the Bruce Willis science fiction horror Breach (2020).

At least Bruce Willis is on for more than 15 minutes. And although the dialogue out of his mouth is weaksauce, it does look like he's trying.

WARNING: "Note" spoilers below
It also feels like they're replaying the greatest hits of his career, action edition.

Anyway, it's time to play guess the hero. Is it Mr. Willis? Perhaps Thomas Jane? Or maybe a space doctor played by Rachel Nichols?

Surprise, it's none of them. It's a schlub played by Cody Kearsley who is pretending to be a janitor so he can sneak on board the ship with his pregnant wife. Of course, it happens that she's the daughter of the ship's admiral. Plus, others have a low view of stowaways. Head janitor Willis proceeds to give him a hard time. Then there's a creature that starts by sneaking up in a beer can and ends up attacking the crew and passengers.

You can thank the person behind the Die Hard battery commercial for this one. At times, it threatens to move beyond your standard bad Syfy movie with a slumming cast. But it never seals the deal into mediocrity. Perhaps it's the paint by numbers dialogue? Maybe it's the lack of effects for the creatures? Or maybe because you can think of 5-6 films you'd rather watch again that fit the similar criteria.

For late period Bruce, it's slightly better than expected. But just don't expect much good in this one unless you're filling a weather delay/putting off taxes/delaying grouting the tub.

WARNING: "Spoiler" spoilers below
Also, there could be a twist that makes little sense at the end.

Watcher, 2022

Julia (Maika Monroe) has just moved to Bucharest with her husband (Karl Glusman) for his work. She's soon unnerved when she notices a man watching her from a window in the opposite apartment building. Around the same time, she begins seeing the same man (Burn Gorman) everywhere. Is he stalking her, or is it a coincidence? Julia has something of an ally in Irina (Madalina Anea), the next door neighbor who is friendly and an exotic dancer at a nearby club. Is Julia paranoid, or is someone out to get her?

This is kind of a by-the-numbers thriller that we've all seen variations on many times before, but it does right by the formula through good performances, writing, and a satisfying final act.

Watcher takes the old "woman being stalked but everyone thinks she's nuts" plot and pushes it into overdrive by putting its main character in a setting where she doesn't speak the language and yet communication is key. Instead of just being like, oh well, it's all foreign to her!, we see that Julia is avidly trying to learn the language, and as she starts to get a grasp on vocabulary and grammar, it changes how she perceives what is happening around her.

One of the things that I liked here was that very few of the surrounding characters were overtly unhelpful. There's a police officer who is rightfully a bit doubtful when Julia says she recognizes the silhouette across the street as the same man who was in the grocery store. He offers to take Julia to the apartment across the street to identify the man, but she is understandably spooked by that idea. When Irina's boyfriend (Daniel Nuta--who looks so familiar to me, yet I've never seen him in anything else! Must be a lookalike to another actor!) comes by the apartment, he willingly accompanies Julia across the road to try and confront the mysterious watcher.

The only truly unhelpful person is Francis, Julia's husband. Yes, this is a movie about being stalked and living in fear, but it's also a movie about the infuriating powerlessness of being dependent on a person who doesn't believe you or want to support or protect you. This is driven home in scene after scene of Francis interacting in conversations that Julia is present for but wholly or partially excluded from because of the language barrier. I think everyone knows the frustration of someone talking about you as if you aren't in the room, and this is something Julia must experience over and over while fearful and stressed.

Monroe is her usual dependable self. Gorman is very creepy as the maybe-a-killer neighbor. Glusman nails the "this is all about me" self-centered nature of Francis.

Not the most original, but still worth a watch.

Glorious, 2022

Wes (Ryan Kwanten) is stopped at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere, clearly reeling from the end of a relationship. After battling a vending machine and leaving numerous regretful voice messages, Wes ends up in the bathroom where, you know, an ancient world-ending god, Ghat (the voice of JK Simmons) is holed up in a stall. You see, in order to save the world, Ghat needs something very special from Wes . . .

This film has a great, insane premise and I regret to report that it runs out of steam after about 50 of its 79 minutes.

Kwanten and Simmons lean into their roles and do a good job of elevating a pretty uneven script. There are some fun, physics bending sequences of Wes trying to escape the bathroom, and some funny banter between the two of them. There's also something nicely melancholy about Ghat's request---that he be hidden away from the world so that he cannot do harm--that gives the film an emotional anchor that's not quite present in Wes's story of heartbreak.

Unfortunately, some of the humor just falls a bit short. There's a running joke that Wes believes he needs to sexually service Ghat as part of the deal. I mean, ha? And how do I even describe my reaction to the fact that I'd thought Wes was so squeamish because he'd be on the receiving end, but actually he thought he was supposed to be the top in the situation. Like, I'm sorry, you were going to let the world end because you didn't want to receive oral sex? I assure you that if you watch the film, I think you'll understand why this dynamic felt kind of off and not as funny (or grounded) as it's meant to. I know that in theory it's supposed to be part of the horror aspect, but it can't help but feel kind of childishly homophobic.

Then there are some character and plot elements that are saved to the very end, and I was kind of underwhelmed. I always find it frustrating when a film is clearly holding something back and then when they go TA DA you're like, "That's it?!".

Not bad, per se, but just kind of middling and nowhere as deliriously over the top or funny as the excellent premise would lead you to believe.

I started Flux Gourmet but bailed almost immediately because of animal stuff.

If someone wants to tell me what happens to the turtles (or maybe just tell me that I don't want to watch what happens to the turtles) it would be much appreciated, please and thank you. I already was not okay with animals being held by their heads off of the ground so the vibes were not good.

Offseason, 2021

Marie (Jocelin Donahue) is shocked to learn that her deceased mother, Ava (Melora Walters) has been buried back on the island where she grew up. Ava was always adamant about never returning to the island nor being buried there. Marie and her boyfriend George (Joe Swanberg) get to the island the day before the bridge connecting it to the island is set to be raised until the next spring. As Marie investigates the town, she learns the dark secrets being hidden by the locals.

You've seen this movie. I've seen this movie. It's sort of Lovecraft-adjacent, borrowing general horror imagery like foggy cemeteries, whited-out eyes, and tight-lipped locals.

This isn't bad, but I'd say it's definitely just aggressively fine. You know how it's going to end after the first ten minutes. There's a backstory, naturally, that is entirely unsurprising in its details.

The best scenes are probably the unsettling flashbacks featuring Marie and Ava as Ava was dying. Marie is never sure how much to believe about what her mother says, and Walters does a good job of playing someone who is just unstable enough that you believe Marie would be skeptical of what she says.

Swanberg is solid as the slightly hapless boyfriend, and later in a creepier turn. I never know with Swanberg, because anytime I see anyone who was in Proxy I get the creeps regardless of context, LOL.

The effects are pretty good---including one very striking visual in the last act. I just wish that it all didn't feel so overly familiar and predictable.

I'd have to rewatch Flux. I don't remember the turtles. Granted, I didn't fully know what I was getting into with the movie. There's a lot fewer animals very quickly in the film because the sonic-chef being profiled doesn't use animal products in their cooking.

But admittedly, I'm not someone registers simulated violence or anything towards animals. It's the unsimulated stuff that stays with me.

Pretty excited that they’ll be playing The Keep. I think that one’s been pretty hard to come by for whatever reason.

Anyway, I'm currently locked out of my living room due to renovations, so I hope I get access back soon 'cause this all looks delicious.

Pretty excited that they’ll be playing The Keep. I think that one’s been pretty hard to come by for whatever reason.

It's rentable/purchasable on iTunes, but only in SD, last I checked. Which was probably a little over a year ago, when I bought it.

Of the 14 they list at the end, I am not familiar with White of the Eye.
Of the others... I own all but a few of them.

I guess since people are hearting their cult classics here, I'll voice my enjoyment at Lair of the White Worm.

Looking forward to what else they show. (I think the only on that list I'm tepid on is The Funhouse).

ETA: looking at the vampires teaser, there's some interesting sounding ones in there I haven't seen, so I might spending more time in that collection this year.

What's the current situation with the Near Dark copyright? Wondering if it being in the vampire collection is a sign it might released as physical media again. Granted, the price of The Velvet Vampire Blu-ray is kind of jaw-dropping.

Victim of The Night
What's the current situation with the Near Dark copyright? Wondering if it being in the vampire collection is a sign it might released as physical media again. Granted, the price of The Velvet Vampire Blu-ray is kind of jaw-dropping.
I watched it streaming recently, does it need a Blu-ray?