Hey guys, check out my review of the 30th anniversary Blu-ray edition of Pet Sematary on GingerNuts of Horror (link above)
US – U.S.
After all the hype and build up for Jordan Peele’s latest horror movie, US, I couldn’t wait to go and see it. I quickly booked tickets for me and my hubby to be to go after work last night (Friday 22nd March). It was worth the wait.
Anyone who has watched Get Out will understand the complexity of his work and the subtle genius of the man. US was no different. It is an ingenious film, well executed with layer after layer to peel through of complexity and hidden meanings.
US is a film about, well, us. It’s a disturbing look behind the curtain towards the dark inner workings of society. The title even has double meaning, being also about the state of America – “We’re Americans”. Jordan Peele saying that he was inspired by “the state of this country” and that “We’re a country that is afraid of the outsider”.
“There’s a double meaning to everything, this movie’s about duality” – Jordan Peele
‘The Tethered’ the shadows, are what’s left of a government experiment to create a more pliable population. Copies were made of people in an attempt to control the person above ground via a psychic link. The experiment failed and the ‘others’ were left abandoned below the surface. They themselves became the controlled, living their lives as their above ground counterparts did, not knowing why or how, but just existing. It is a life of slavery and isolation.
Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) was left traumatized after a childhood incident at Santa Cruz beach in which she encountered ‘herself’ in a hall of mirrors. She returns years later with her family on vacation, only for her doppelganger to show up again, but this time with copies of her husband and two children.
We find out during the course of the movie that this is in fact happening everywhere. There has been an uprising of the tethered and they are killing their counterparts, or anyone who gets in their way. I loved the symbolism of the scissors that all the tethered use as weapons, cutting the ties with their masters.
For Adelaide and her family, it becomes a fight to the death for each of them as they face both their counterparts, and their deepest fears.
The concept of US is our inner selves, or our other selves – our other face. The ones we don’t show, the repressed versions of ourselves. We spend so much of our lives conforming and ‘fitting in’, obsessing over material objects, and acting in ways we wouldn’t normally behave if we were with different people. It’s a film that pierces through the shallow veil of reality, taking swipes at both government and capitalism.
All the central characters have issues with themselves, Gabe (Winston Duke) wishes he had the things his more wealthy friend does, even going as far as to buy a boat just to say he has one. Kitty (Elizabeth Moss) showing off her plastic surgery to stay young looking, she wishes she had been an actress. Zora (Shahidi Wright Joseph) doesn’t want to be a runner – her parents are talking Olympics of course. I loved Zora’s double – she was a runner. I felt it was a very ‘coming of age’, ‘coming into your own’ type of scene for Zora when she was forced to run as fast as she could away from her doppelganger – running away from running.
Another swipe at Capitalism was the references towards the Bible passage, Jeremiah 11:11.
Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them. – Jeremiah 11:11
A homeless man is seen holding a sign saying “Jeremiah 11:11” early on in the film, and again later after he had been killed by his doppelganger. The clock in the house also hits 11:11pm, just before the doppelganger family strike.
The context of this particular passage is about worshiping false gods. In modern day society those false idols are things such as money and objects. We will have to answer for our sins and our abandonment of society. It’s all on us. We will, and we are, causing the demise of the human race.
The ending of the film itself contains a major twist – I won’t mention it here as I want to leave you some surprised. What I will say is that it’s a big one, and it explains a lot about the uprising.
US is a sinister look inside of our lives. It makes you sit back and think, take stock of what you hold dear and what you consider to be valuable and necessary. It’s a deep exploration of government, capitalism, society, and our fears of control, of losing control. Who really holds the keys to our lives? Is it us? Or is someone else pulling the strings?
I definitely need to see this film a few more times. I’m confident that I have missed plenty of content. It’s a very complex film, one you really need to focus all of your attention on. The more you think about it, the more terrifying it becomes.
Starring: Luis Tosar, Marta Etura, Alberto San Juan
Director: Jaume Balaguero
Genre: Horror/Psychological Thriller
Release: December 2011
From the director of REC, a movie I love, we have ‘Sleep Tight’. This is a wonderfully made and acted psychological horror movie. This film really freaked me out badly.
I’d first like to thank my brother, from whom I ‘borrowed’ this (I will totally return it I promise). I stole it from him as soon as he bought it, as we (myself and hubby) thought it looked good, and we love REC! We were not disappointed.
This is a great slow burn movie, it really digs itself deep under your skin from the get go. There is no doubt from the beginning that Cesar (Luis Tosar) is a creep. He wakes to his alarm, and makes his way down to his work as the concierge of the building. We see him take part in the daily morning routine of life, thinking nothing of it. We assume that he just doesn’t want to awaken his partner, the lovely Clara (Marta Etura) who he has left asleep. What we soon find out though, is that Cesar is not Clara’s anything. He sneaks in to her apartment every night, chloroforms her as she is asleep, and (we later discover) rapes her. She has no knowledge whatsoever of this, the only thing she feels is increasingly groggy and unwell from all the chloroform and trauma.
Luis Tosar plays Cesar with the perfect level of charming nastiness. My skin was crawling every second he was on screen. His only goal in life to make people unhappy (admit it, we also know someone like that), because he can’t feel happiness. It seems that the only thing that appears to placate him is the misery of others. Clara is a happy girl, she loves her life, and always has a kind word and a smile. Cesar cannot stand this, hence making his mission to ruin her, to ‘wipe that smile off her face’ as it were.
The ending is absolutely disturbing. You totally need to watch as I won’t completely ruin it for you. Oh my days though, it’s a good one!!
A complete 5/5!!
Lesley-Ann (Housewifeof Horror)
The Canal (2014)
Country: Ireland (IFB)
Running Time: 92 minutes
Written and Directed by: Ivan Kavanagh
Release Date: April 18th 2014 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Cast: Rupert Evans; Steve Oram; Antonia Campbell-Hughes; Hannah Hoekstra
After found footage, psychological horror films are a favorite of mine. I love how they pull you into the story, how up is down, left is right, I love to be enveloped by the plot. That tingly feeling I get on the back of my neck, the hairs standing up, I know then it has me in its clutches. I had that feeling with The Canal.
David (Rupert Evans) works as a film archivist, he is given a reel of footage from the police archives to watch and subsequently archive by his work colleague and close friend Claire (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), which turns out to be old crime scene footage of he and his wife’s current home. It was the scene of a shocking crime in 1902, the brutal murder of a cheating wife, their children and the nanny by the enraged father.
David suspects his wife Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) of having an affair, so he decides to follow her one night, only to unfortunately confirm his suspicions. He watches Alice while she is with her lover, and then picking up a hammer, he appears to mull over the idea of using it, only to quickly come to his senses. Walking away, he throws the hammer into the canal on the way back to their marital home, where he has left their young son asleep in bed, alone in the house.
David, feeling sick from what he witnessed, as well as what he had considered doing about it, runs into the (quite dirty) canal-side public toilets. He hears something or someone coming in after him, and then sees them, their feet, under the stall door, followed by fingers appearing to creep over the top of the door. He then proceeds to suffer from quite nightmarish visions that include the man, the husband, from the 1902 crime scene footage. He seems to be taunting David, whispering things to him. David, in a state of distress, manages to crawl outside, where he then witnesses what appears to be his wife being thrown into the canal; he just can’t see it very clearly or coherently. He later comes round on the floor of the bathroom, unnerved and disheveled, and makes his way home. The next morning, when he realises that Alice has not come home that night, David goes to the local police station to report her missing. Obviously, the police suspect David, “It’s always the husband” says the (inept) detective on the case.
The plot twists and turns, is it David? Is it the entity? Some great revelations about the grim history of the house come up throughout. It’s an interesting watch that comes to a disturbing conclusion.
A great little scene, that made me believe David was the killer, was during one of his viewings of the old footage. He stood up, in front of the projector, silhouetting him in front of the screen, making him appear to be a dark shadow. To me, this was the director’s nod to David’s darkness within.
The Canal is a great psychological horror; it does very well to dig itself under your skin as you watch, and drag you into this nightmare that David’s life has turned into. I was really impressed with the performance of Rupert Evans, tormented and devastated, he made David’s pain almost tangible. Watching him seemingly fall further into madness as the story progressed was quite frightening. I really felt for the nanny, she is a totally innocent girl who just wants to protect David and Alice’s son Billy, and can’t leave even when she knows she should. She gets dragged deeper and deeper into the madness; everyone close to David is brought into this waking nightmare.
The ending is well, quite creepy and rather disturbing as I have said earlier. The story feels to me to have come full circle, and you can envision that it is a tormenting nightmare that will repeat itself over and over with future residents of the house for years to come.
4/5 – It’s rather worth a look if you like a good psychological horror
Stream now on Shudder:
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)
DVD Release: 20th August 2018
Directed by: Brandon Christensen
Starring: Christie Burke; Jesse Moss, Rebecca Olson and Jenn Griffin
My one worry before watching this film, being the obvious antagonising incident in the title, was that I was praying they would handle it both tastefully and respectfully. This is a sensitive subject for many people, and I was concerned that it would be handled a little too blasé within a horror genre movie. Thankfully, it was handled very well, and quite discreetly (the entire scene was screened without any real sound and it was just the look of heartbreak between the new parents and the nurse when they came to the realisation that one of the twins had sadly not survived). I appreciated also, that they didn’t show the scene graphically just for cheap shocks.
The central focus of the story was of course the tragic loss of one twin at birth, as well as the developing post-partum psychosis of the twins’ mother, Mary. The film deals with how her depression and breakdown affects her both mentally and physically, as well as affecting her relationship with her husband Jack. Their relationship made more strained as, due to his work, he is required to be away on business trips.
It’s suggested to be an evil entity, intent on taking Adam, the surviving twin. And we follow Mary as she hears noises, see lights coming on, even windows smashing – ghost or troublesome kids? Jack does his best, offers to fly her mother in, puts in security cameras throughout the house so he can keep an eye on her and Adam. It’s a shame though in the capitalist world we have made for ourselves, that he chooses to work away for ‘the big account’, than stay with his grieving wife and new born son for a little longer. I guess if we want the nice things, we have to sacrifice the real things that matter.
Mary, while taking Adam for a stroll, meets her neighbour Rachel, who also happens to be a new mother, and they soon become fast friends. I found it quite heart-breaking how Mary’s descent into her depression is played out within this friendship. She begins to mistrust Rachel more and more, as well as seeing things that are not real – scenarios playing out in her mind involving Rachel and Jack, even watching Rachel appear to seduce Jack via the new security camera feed that Jack had installed to make her feel safer.
I think, for me personally, this film would have been better suited as a character driven thriller/horror rather than a supernatural horror. The entity that wanted the surviving twin, Adam, was well done, well portrayed to a point, but sadly got neglected, and we didn’t see too much of this. The story was more overtaken by the post-partum depression and heightening anxiety of Mary (not a bad thing – I just feel it was too much of one thing and then the other, over and over), and her descent into delusion, with her desperate need to save Adam at any cost. For me, I thought the entity was used just as a metaphor for her psychosis, and as a way for her brain to come to terms with the loss of her child, as well as her terrible fear of losing her surviving child Adam.
The film started with some genuinely frightening scenes, courtesy of the baby monitor in the nursery. It tailed off a bit closer to the end, losing its way with a decent, yet slightly awkward feeling finale.
In my opinion, this film tried to be two different things that just didn’t mesh well. There wasn’t enough time to fully explore both the supernatural element and the psychological aspects. For me personally, it would have been much better overall had they chosen one path for this movie and ran with that.
3/5 – It was good, but it could have been great.
Lesley-Ann (The Housewife of Horror)
If you haven’t already caught a peak at this, check out the comic book and web series Zombie with a Shotgun, that’s soon to be a film.
It’s very awesome and extremely watchable. The web series and the film follow Aaron, who may or may not be infected with the zombie virus, and his girlfriend Rachel as they deal with what’s in front of them and the battles to come. Aaron is our hero of the piece.. along with his trusty shotgun.
Check out the web series via YouTube below:
Cast: Bruce Abbott (Re-Animator; Bride of Re-Animator); Jennifer Rubin (Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors)
Release date: April 8th 1988
Blu-ray release date: 23rd July 2018
Directed by: Andrew Fleming
Run time: 84 mins (approx)
‘When Cynthia wakes up, she’ll wish she were dead…’
Cynthia (Jennifer Rubin) wakes up from her coma after 13 years. She was the only survivor of a Jonestown-style suicide cult, a suicide-by-fire pact, instigated by Unity Fields cult leader Franklin Harris (Richard Lynch). We see in a later flashback that she began to retreat after the fire was started, she was just far enough away from the source of the resulting explosion that she lived, badly hurt, but alive.
When she wakes, she begins to have nightmarish visions of Harris, burnt and bloodied from the fire that destroyed all bar herself at Unity Fields.
Cynthia is inserted into a group therapy session, for borderline personality disorder treatment, run by Dr Alex Karmen (Bruce Abbott). Here she meets an eclectic bunch of individuals, including masochist Ralph (Dean Cameron), who takes an instant shine to Cynthia. The film is worth a watch for Dean Cameron’s performance, he portrays a very likable psychotic patient perfectly.
The first of Dr Karmen’s patients to die is Lana (E.G.Daily). an upset Cynthia has a flashback/vision of herself being baptized into the cult of Unity fields, a vision that takes a dark twist when Harris begins holding her underwater, forcing her under until she drowns, Cynthia horrified, realizes this is actually Lana. Afterwards, with Lana’s body below him, Harris turns to Cynthia and says “I warned you Cynthia, I warned you someone else would take your place”. Cynthia then ‘wakes up’ and hears a scream. Running into the pool room, she is confronted with the lifeless body of Lana, who has drowned in the pool – much like in her vision.
Each of the group continue to meet their end, one by one, by Harris (or so it would seem). Cynthia continues to have horrendous visions of him, his face all burnt up from the fire, and then the next person meets a grisly demise. She is convinced it’s Harris, she is convinced he has returned to take her, and is punishing her and those around her for fleeing the fire.
This is a very well acted, intense and thought provoking film. It doesn’t rely on gore and shocks to garner reaction, it relies primarily on the interactions and relationships of the characters, as well as the increasing tension and fear within Cynthia and the remaining patients of Dr Karmen. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Cynthia and Dr Karmen, Bruce Abbot portrays a very sweet and empathetic character, who cares a great deal about his patients, especially Cynthia who he bonds with closely.
I very much enjoyed the end twist of the film, up on a rooftop, when we are shocked to find out that it is actually Karmen’s superior, Dr Berrisford, who has been dosing the patients with psychogenic drugs to make the patients unstable and suicidal. All this just to corroborate his research – makes you wonder how much of this actually goes on in institutions. Karmen had suspected something was amiss with Berrisford for a while, and he confronts him after he sends Cynthia to isolation – “you want this, you want her on the edge, you’ve wanted this from the beginning”.
We are then left to decide for ourselves whether Cynthia’s visions of Harris and the resulting deaths of the patients were actually suicides caused by Dr Berrisford’s drug cocktails, or was Harris actually there, was he he really tormenting Cynthia and murdering everyone around her in a twisted revenge for her survival.
- Duel format collectors edition includes the High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and the Standard Definition DVD version of the movie.
- Interview with director Andrew Fleming.
- Interview with actress Jennifer.
- Interview with Spencer Murphy – Bad Dreams fan and University Lecturer.
- Audio commentary with Nathaniel Thompson and Tim Greer (Mondo-Digital.com).
- Theatrical trailer.
- Reversible sleeve with alternate artwork.
The blu-ray includes a booklet from 88 Films, looking back at the 30 essential North American slasher movies from 1960-89.
I love this film, I’m extremely impressed with the Blu-ray from 88 Films’ Slash Classics Collection.
Great special features, well worth a watch and a listen.
5/5 for the film and 3/5 for the features (A Bruce Abbott interview would have made it perfect)
If you haven’t seen this, give it a watch, it’s a horror classic!!
Lesley-Ann, the Housewife of Horror
tEXt, is a most impressive, and award winning, short horror film from Tye Gibson and Nick Johnson. It stars Kelsey Samara Dacci and Emily Hutchison.
I won’t say anything about it as I don’t want to spoil it for you. The only thing I will say – WATCH IT!!
If you like short horror.. check out these gems too. Lights Out (2013) is great!