It's the middle of the month, and you know what that means! It's time for the Cutting Room! CR 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? Plus, this month, you're getting a lot of the residue from our respective October horror binges. Except for Jack...
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. Let us know if you have some thoughts on any of these movies, and check out past Cutting Rooms in the "More Horror" section up above!
2 CGI Shit Piles
Look. This movie is awful. It's almost watchable on the backs of the talent starring in it, but it doesn't quite clear that bar. The writing is some of the laziest I've seen in some time, and I'm quite convinced it was put together by no fewer than 8 different overpaid writers. The CGI (of which there is plenty) is distractingly bad. Comically bad. It looks like The Mummy Returns. There's no explanation whatsoever about why some ghosts are slime, some are dragons, and others are giants. I know that Aykroyd was like a maniac in that first one and got way too deep into the mythos, but fuck, you need some of that. This builds literally no world whatsoever.
Under The Shadow (2016)
7 Workout Tapes
Before seeing this movie I heard/read some comparisons to The Babadook. And after sitting down and watching it, I can’t say I disagree with those comparisons too wholeheartedly. However, I also think making a determination on whether to watch this movie based on said comparisons would be a big mistake. I found the comparisons to be mostly skin-deep. Under the Shadow has an entirely different engine that it uses to deliver on its story, and it is a complex one, rooted in real, historical fears from 1980’s Iran. Admittedly, some (most) of this is lost on an American millennial like myself, but there is definitely an honestly to that undercurrent that helps you identify with the characters. Under the Shadow is extremely well made and though I have some qualms with the execution of its scares and resolution, it is absolutely worth a watch, and will be one of the most unique movies you watch this year.
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
7 Brit Rock Classics
Let me start by saying this a good movie. It is excellently directed and shot, and it delivers charming performances by great actors. I tried my best with this one not to compare it to the original Conjuring because to do so would introduce a bias that inevitably hurt my viewing experience. Let’s face it. This was never going to live up to the original. It ended up being mostly what I expected; a big budget horror flick with myriad effects and high drama set pieces. I enjoyed the experience, and will continue to watch whatever Conjuring canon Wan chooses to spit out, but I generally find a more subtle, realistic approach to horror to be more impactful.
The Triangle (2016)
8 Naked Asses
Sleeper. Hit. I loved this movie. When I mentioned a more subtle, realistic approach above, see this example. The Triangle is a found-footage flick focusing on some very California guys who are invited via cryptic note to meet up their long lost friend in Montana. At first, you expect this to be The Sacrament, but what it delivers is so much different and refreshing than that. Fans of resolution might not love this movie, but it had me wanting to go back to the beginning with pen and paper in hand. I love movies that stick with you like that.
The Innkeepers (2011)
5.5 Cans of Schlitz
Speaking of The Sacrament, here is another Ti West flick. Baed on a real, supposedly haunted hotel in Connecticut, this is basically just a simple, ghost hunting story. Bored innkeepers (hence the name) decide to investigate the hotel in its final days before permanently closing its doors. There is a lot of dumb humor in this one, mixed with an ending that I did not see coming and don’t fully understand. It made for an odd mixture of sensations that ultimately left me feeling very “meh” about the whole thing. Not bad for Halloween-time, which is when I watched it.
Winners Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story (2016)
5 VHS Tapes
As industry people (hahahahahaha), we sometimes get the chance to screen flicks that are sent to us. Naturally, the results of these invitations vary wildly. We first took a look at Winners Tape all back in the March Horror Release Roundup. Time has passed since then, and this low-budget mockumentary has taken its time to arrive, but we finally got a chance to see it. What I will say is that, if the trailer appeals to you, you will likely get something out of watching this movie. I liked the approach; a shitty public access story on brothers from West Virginia who made horror movies. It’s simple, and it weaves in a lot of satire on horror fandom and the slasher genre. I thought parts of this thing fucking hilarious, but ultimately, I don’t know if it needed to be a feature length. There just isn’t enough going on here to prop it up for its entire runtime.
I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016)
6.5 Spilled Blackberries
Now, this is a polarizing one. I’ve read praise for how “unique” this movie is, and I’ve seen it put on blast for how “unique” it is. Ultimately, I think I’m somehow down the middle. What it has going for it is an eerie, confined feeling that got under my skin a bit. It drones on, and though I’ve heard it called boring, I personally thought it helped the movie overall in creating a all-around strange vibe. I’ll also praise it for the non-linear (sort of, I think...) storyline that provided some effective commentary on life, death and the dying process. Yes, the movie was a bit slow. Yes, there were some rather inexplicable inclusions that, sans any explanation, hurt the movie more than helped it. However, I will say that I was entertained enough by the picture it painted, art for art’s sake be damned, to like it on a purely black & white spectrum… I guess that hurts the “polarizing” argument, doesn’t it? Oh well, fuck it. I’m done here.
Scream: Season 2 (2016)
6.5 Security Cameras
Scream season 1 was an eerily enjoyable experience. I haven’t been that compelled to binge watch something in a long while. Lo and behold Scream season 2 was put up about two weeks after we finished the first. Although I think there was a definitive drop-off in the intrigue associated with whodunit, and the required addition of a few sacrificial characters to fill out the bodycount added nothing to character development, it was still an overall well put together experience. Best horror TV show I’ve seen.
Slasher: Season 1 (2016)
5 Poorly Located Art Galleries
Where Scream seems to be a show that was much more focused on who was behind the mask, Slasher is a show that focuses much more on who the mask’s next victim is going to be. It relies on some serious gore to get things going, and mostly keeps that tone throughout the season. There’s one death that is just (minor spoiler) somebody getting poisoned, but aside from that misfire all of the others are pretty grotesque. The show does some new things, but also relies on the old “kill people according to the seven deadly sins” routine. It’s a short season - only 8 episodes long - but it still drags a bit at points. If it were longer I would be inclined to lean less in favor of it, but who doesn’t have time to fit a spare 8 episode season of an hour long show into their daily routines?
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
6.5 Reel-to-Reel Tapes
This is a tilt down from what the movie is in a vacuum. Realistically this is a very good horror movie, but I can’t help but feel that’s it’s fighting below it’s weight class a little bit. Is that grading on a curve? Yes, but I don’t see why I shouldn’t be. The Conjuring 1 was a masterpiece of modern horror. The Conjuring 2 was a competently made, but ultimately pales in comparison to its predecessor. I just really really wish the demon nun wasn’t a weird dragon monster.
The Purge: Election Year (2016)
6 Candy Bars
When we did this one on HRR I think we were all a little concerned that this was going to be more of an action movie than a horror movie. Although there are certainly a lot of bang-bang shoot-em-up scenes I assure you there is plenty of horror content to go around. Call it a 70/30 action to horror ratio. Some jump scares here and there. Some torture porn sprinkled in. All with some seriously fucked up set designs piled on for good measure. This is not the most traditional horror fodder, but hey it’s election season.
I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016)
3 Paperback Books You Bought at the Airport
So apparently Jake and I just decided to pile on a few of the same movies this month. I tell you what you try and be proactive and the world just goes and takes a dump right on your noggin. Well fuck you, world, I’m reviewing this thing anyway. This film is arthouse drenched in drama class. I actually want to give it bonus points for not being presented to us in black and white, because I am sure that one of the producers suggested that unironically somewhere along the way. This is a movie that unironically has a chair hung upside down from the dining room wall as one of its place settings. It’s all sauce and no meatball. There’s some eerie and creepy shit here, but there’s just no payoff.