Cutting Room
April 2018

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Cutting Room is our monthly post where we do short, mostly spoiler-free, single-person reviews for movies we've watched on our own. If you hear us shout something out on the podcast, you can swing by here to read our more succinct thoughts on the matter. Let us know if you have some thoughts on any of these movies, and check out past posts in the "More Horror" section.


JAKE'S SECTION

Rift (2017)
6 Red Jeeps

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I watched this movie because I went to Iceland last year. There, that’s out of the way. In fact, I’ll shamelessly watch pretty much any horror movie coming out of that country for at least the next little bit. More on that soon. Anyway, I walked into this movie expecting a home invasion flick, as I’m sure you probably would have after watching the trailer. Let’s reframe our expectations a bit though. You’ll have a better time that way. What Rift is, in a non-spoilery way, is a dark drama with heavy horror elements and an absolutely beautiful setting. There are elements to enjoy for genre fans here, including bits from the aforementioned home invasion subgenre and a couple legitimately good bump in the night moments. This is primarily a drama, don’t get that wrong. But if you choose to sit down and watch it for what it is, I think you’ll find this to be a refreshing and relatively unique piece of cinema that has plenty to scratch the horror itch.

I Remember You (2017)
6.5 Attempted B&B’s

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Yep, here’s the next one. This movie is a little lighter on the “lt’s show off how fucking beautiful iceland is with gorgeous cinematography” and a little more of a straight up movie that happens to take place in Iceland. I Remember You is interesting in its approach as it follows two separate storylines that are intertwined in the narrative but remain physically separate. One follows a doctor as he slowly becomes involved in a weird game of “find the serial killer” while looking for his missing son. The other follows a group of three who head out to a very remote corner of the country to renovate an abandoned home and fashion it into a B&B, presumably to capitalize on the continued tourism boom the country is experiencing. Horror ensues. Because we don’t do spoilers in this section, I’ll just say that the separation of the two storylines is for very good reason and it’s actually quite impactful once the finishing strokes are applied to the horror painting. I’d give this a recommend, but caution that it is not particularly well paced, which hampered my score quite a bit. Chalk it up to one of the difficulties of this type of storytelling.

A Quiet Place (2018)
7 Bags of Sand

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Here’s the big dog in the figurative genre dog pound for at least the early portion of 2018. You already know what this movie is and chances are you’ve seen it as well, so I’ll keep it brief. This is a really good movie. I love that its essential lever is to play with one of the most important elements in horror; sound. The movie uses sound to incredible effect throughout, but it’s how it ties that into its core narrative where this really shines. Great work in almost every regard by John Krasinski. All that being said, there are still nits to pick here. This family really shits the bed at being competent survivors multiple times throughout the film, and it’s to infuriating and immersion breaking effect. Regardless, the good far outweighs the bad in this one and if you haven’t seen it, I’d stop waiting.

Here Alone (2016)
6 Baby Toys

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Here Alone is a zombie movie that came to me by recommendation from the guy who writes after me in this post. In the 2017 Omnibus Awards Show of the podcast, he picked this as the movie he saw in 2017 that he most wanted me to see. Now, this had to mostly be a joke on my consistent harping on how much I despise zombie films while continuously binging zombie films like some kind of weird addict. I’ll admit my problem. It’s an important step in the recovery process. That being said, I think there is something else here that prompted his recommendation. I’ve definitely never seen a zombie movie with less zombies and humans in it. The story essentially just follows three survivors as they do survivor things, and dives deep into their personal backstories (to be expected). I enjoyed the relative emptiness and isolation that results, but it’s a movie that I think I’ll have a hard time recalling from the numerous entries in the subgenre in even just the past couple years.


MARK'S SECTION

The Gift (2015)
5.5 Monkey Masks

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I found out after watching this movie that it was a Blumhouse joint. Is there anything that they don’t do? They’ve somehow made everything the last few years. I honestly wouldn’t be all that surprised if it came out that they’ve actually been making all the marvel movies as well. Anyway, the gift is not a happy schmappy fun time horror movie. It’s relatively unique in its story progression as we initially meet Joel Edgerton and find out that he and Jason Bateman knew each other in high school. Yada yada yada, gifts ensue. This is a self-fulfilling horror movie. It’s scary because you go in knowing it’s a thriller so all the scenes of high tension feel much more dreadful. If you went in and didn’t know this was supposed to be scary I’m honestly not sure you would even put it in the thriller genre, let alone horror. If the makers of the movie wanted you to be scared by it, then they probably also wanted you to know that you were supposed to be scared watching it. The one question I was left asking though is this: Is Jason Bateman just an incredible asshole in real life or does he just like playing them?

Veronica (2017)
6.5 Viking Protection Amulets

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Man, everyone went fucking bananas for this thing when it first dropped on Netflix and I can’t really see why. Don’t get me wrong, Veronica is a good movie, but I don’t know what set it apart so much that it randomly had a must-see-on-Netflix moment. People were saying that the movie was literally too scary to watch. It had its moments, and the visuals are truly stellar, but otherwise I didn’t see much here that should’ve separated it significantly from the pack. Viral trends are just weird I guess. See? Now I’ve spent the first half of this blurb making it seem like I didn’t enjoy the movie, which is wrong. I enjoyed this one a lot, but going in with the amount of hype that this had surrounding it kinda put me in the wrong state of mind. You know what? The moment has sorta died off, so I’m just going to leave it as is. Forget everything I’ve said. Watch this movie if you like blind nuns, wolves, or that Simon light pattern game from 25 years ago.

The Shape of Water (2017)
6 Bathtubs

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This one turned out to not really be much of a horror movie, but we all had it as our top 1 for the month it came out. Oh well, it’s close enough to the Creature from the Black Lagoon to count. For what it’s worth there actually are a few horror moments scattered throughout and some pretty solid gore. You know what, maybe this is horror? A horror romance drama musical… something along those lines. Also Guillermo del Toro won best director for this and why would you not want to support that guy? Hell, maybe this means he’ll have even more leverage over production of that Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie that is supposedly happening. Look, it won Best Picture of 2017… just inject some fish-sex flavored variety into your life and watch this thing already.

They Look Like People (2015)
7 Nail Guns

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I watched this one because Jack wouldn’t shut up about it for a solid few months last year, and then he started bringing it up again on a recent podcast. I had no idea what it was before watching aside from the fact that Jack had described it as “psychological.” If you don’t listen to the podcast (shame on you, you should) you should know that that means almost nothing as far as sub-genres go. Anyway, turns out he was actually literally right in this case. TLLP is a movie about either having Schizoaffective Disorder, or being communicated with by a secret member of the resistance because mankind is slowly being taken over by a species of body snatchers. That’s as much as I’m willing to discuss the story because I have a feeling that they’re listening. Overall I really only have one true complaint about this one: Mara’s dub track is bad for the whole movie. Very bad. I don’t know how they recorded her, but it’s not right. She sounds like they used a mic from the 1970s and then forgot to synchronize it with her mouth.

The Den (2013)
3.5 Randomized Chat Apps

So this movie starts off by introducing us to Elizabeth Benton, a PhD candidate studying ChatRoulette for some reason. There is literally two separate lines of dialogue about “building corruption baseline tables” and “temporal hinting reconstruction” so that’s roughly the level of intellectual rigor you’re getting from this one. I had seen this movie mentioned once or twice over on the horror subreddit as one to see in the found footage genre, so I jumped on it when I noticed that it was freely available on netflix. I would love to know which cast member these people were a relative of. I would be more annoyed about this wasting my time, but The Den clocks in at a tight 76 minutes so it’s not like I really lost out on much. I will, however, give it some minor props for doing the Unfriended found-footage-via-computer-program thing first, so there’s that.

A Quiet Place (2018)
8 Rockets

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This should hopefully mark the last time for a few months that I am contractually obligated to mention that I picked this as my most anticipated movie of 2018 and that I am a genius. A Quiet Place was just as entertaining as I expected, but what I found surprising was how interesting it was. You throw sound-hunting monsters built like Venom from Spiderman at me in a trailer and I’m going to expect a half-horror half-action type movie. This is only sort of that… maybe like a 85-15 split or so? As a result of not really being able to have any dialogue (see earlier sound-hunting monsters comment) this film does an incredible amount of visual storytelling and world building. To take a step back from the hype for a moment though, I feel like this movie is ripe for being made fun of in certain ways. For example, there is a whole room of their house that is dedicated to hamfisted exposition. I don’t think you necessarily need to see this one in theaters unless your home life is particularly cacophonous, but you should make every effort to see this one eventually in whatever format you prefer.

Mayhem (2017)
5 Red Eyes

This was another HRR top 1 from a few months ago that turned out to not really be a horror movie. But if it’s not horror I’m not totally certain what to call it. I guess you could just lean on the generic “action move” tag, but that doesn’t seem to really do it enough service. When we weighed in on the trailer we all made the comparison to The Belko Experiment. Makes sense… a bunch of business professionals going nucking futs on their coworkers because of outside pressures. But where TBE had an unseen malevolent voice that stripped everyone of their own agency, this one has a very well understood virus that still more or less allows you to make your own decisions. Just doesn’t wind up having that right type of horror je ne sais quoi. If you are particularly susceptible to violence and gore you will likely disagree with me on this point. One more note: Samara Weaving should be in literally every movie made from now on.

Shock Waves (1977)
 4 UV Protection Goggles

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The loyal reader will recall I’m watching one “classic horror blindspot” every month this year. This time around I snuck it in late. Shock Waves is 1977’s entry into the aquatic zombie massacre on a deserted jungle island subgenre. Do I really need to say more? It’s the 70s so you’re going to get some iffy sound quality and some surprisingly iffy film quality (film movies usually translate better than this one did to HD), but you’re getting an aquatic zombie massacre on a deserted jungle island. Life is full of trade offs. At the time of writing there is a version that is freely available with Amazon Prime, so if this sounds interesting to you there is a low barrier to entry.