The Cutting Room is a monthly post where we all do short, single-person reviews for movies we’ve watched on our own over the last month because why would we include each other?
We have a long list of films to review, and while the movies you see here haven’t come up quite yet, they may receive the full review treatment in the future. Stay tuned and let us know if there’s anything you think we should watch. We’re always looking for ways to get more content to you beautiful people.
Jack's Score: 5 Awkwardly Personal Stories From Someone You Just Met
This movie was a 2015 independent job written by Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice, directed by Brice, produced by Duplass and BlumHouse, and starring Duplass and Brice. The movie’s premise is that Duplass, the titular creep, is paying Brice to film a sort of video-diary of him for his family before he dies of cancer. Duplass’s performance is top-notch, and he really is just a fucking creep. Brice’s performance is less noteworthy, but serves the movie fine. Ultimately this is pretty much two different movies, with a pretty clear dividing line right in the middle. The first half is a great movie I would watch again to catch the myriad of nuances that I’m sure I missed the second time around. The second half is an exercise in frustration and little more than lazy tropes tied together with questionable jump scares. But with a 78 minute run time, it’s definitely worth watching for Duplass’s performance early on. Plus I might have nightmares about Peach Fuzz’s manic crotch gyrations. That was a strange thing I just wrote.
Jack's Score: 3 Spray-Painted Trees
This movie was trying to do a lot. A wife is drifting away from her husband who’s always working or on his phone. They decide to get away together, but at the last minute, the husband invites his PTSD-riddled brother along for the trip and changes the plans so he and his struggling brother and his vegan wife are now going on a hunting trip. Nailed it. Perfect relationship maintenance. Anyway, they go off into the woods into an area that’s closed off, but no problem, it’ll be fine right? Turns out no. I didn’t hate this movie, but I sure didn’t like it either. The movie managed to do some cool things with the cinematography and setting, but that sure doesn’t make up for the non-stop assault of cliches the thing hits you with. Fine background fodder, but I wouldn’t make it the focal point of your evening.
Jake's Score: 8 Med Kits Full of Beer
I went into this movie blind. It had come across my Netflix recommendations a few times, but never quite made the cut when browsing. What can I say? I’m pretty tapped out on the zombie sub-genre, and the name did not inspire confidence. Needless to say, my expectations were low going in… and you know what they say about low expectations… I had a fuckin’ great time with this Aussie zombie-jam. The trailer calls it a Mad Max and Dawn of the Dead love-child. I can’t say that’s inaccurate. But there’s so much more here than that, including some not-so-subtle references to the British zombie flick Shaun of the Dead (there’s a pretty tongue-in-cheek cricket bat scene), and many similarities that remind me of Peter Jackson’s early flicks like Brain Dead. There’s also a few fresh concepts at play,which is noteworthy considering just how fuckin’ stale zombies are these days. The only thing holding it back a bit is that these same concepts introduce some Grand Canyon-sized gaps in logic, but the whole thing is just stupid enough to make it irrelevant. Wyrmwood has quickly vaulted to damn-near the top of my zombie movie list.
The Hallow (2014)
Jake's Score: 6 Flaming Scythes
Dipping into the fairly deep and largely untapped well of Irish folklore is 2015’s The Hallow. This one is essentially a dark fairy tale. While I don’t think it did anything extremely well, it certainly isn’t guilty of doing anything extremely poorly, either. I liked the remote Irish village setting, and I think the directing did a fairly good job of creating a foreboding aura for the forest that surrounds our characters. This film isn’t trying to hide its commentary on environmental conservation, but it didn’t feel overly allegorical either. My one big indictment is that for a 90 minute movie, it took for god damned ever to get going. By the time it reaches its fairly entertaining and feverish climax, I was somewhat checked out... Had the pacing been better, I would have really enjoyed this one. There’s also some lazy jump-scares. Stop it with those.
Crimson Peak (2015)
Mark's Score: 6.5 Knife Wounds
Let me tell ya, for a non-slasher flick there is a lot of stabbing in this movie, and in general it is very ineffective. The people in this movie are damn near indestructible. Three story fall directly onto your back? Sleep it off. Stabbed directly in the heart. Meh, do some cardio, you’ll be fine. Severed Axillary artery? It’s totes K. Guillermo Del Toro wrote and directed this thing, so you know going in that it’s going to be a visual masterpiece. The story is a period piece about clay mining, sham marriages, and (of course) murder. Although the narrative didn’t really demand my attention I will say that the movie delivers pretty hard on the special effects front. The ending was actually fairly entertaining, but I felt that the rest of the movie dragged a bit.
The Visit (2015)
Mark's Score: 5 Burgeoning Rappers
I don’t think it’s saying too much to say that this M Night Shyamalan movie has a twist. I will say, however, that I actually didn’t see this one coming and at the very least it caught me off guard. Turns out it was pretty effective for the 15 seconds that it was allowed to let linger before the movie moved past it. Also of note is that this film, unlike literally every other one Shyamalan has made, could actually conceivably happen to some extent. Granted the whole conceit of the film is basically just “Gosh, old people are scary,” but the fact that it’s even the remotest bit realistic helped the movie out a lot. This isn’t Shyamalan’s best, but it’s also not wildly disappointing. Sadly, that’s enough to put it in his top 3. Plus, I have to bump it up a little bit for attempting to be a “found footage” movie.