Cutting Room
March 2016

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 SECTION:

The Awakening (2011)
Jack's Score: 4 repressed childhood memories

Full disclosure: I watched this in the background while I was catching up on work. This is a period piece, set in England in the 20’s. It follows a paranormal debunker for the police as she gets emotionally manipulated into solving ghost problems at an orphanage. I think some other things happen. I know at one point the protagonist peeps through a hole in the wall on some guy hanging dong. The pacing seemed a little off, but that may have been my having it on in the background. You see the reveal during the climax coming from a mile away, but the end is left ambiguous. Overall, if you like period pieces, you'll like this, but otherwise it probably won't do too much for you.

 


JAKE'S SECTION:

Dark Was The Night (2015)
Jake's Score: 6 cans of chew

I loved the premise of Dark Was The Night. Indie monster movie that dips into the oft neglected treasure trove of native american folklore for its creature? I was in. Kevin Durand turns in an incredible performance in this one as the sheriff of a small town in upstate New York. It might actually be because of how good he is in the role that there are some jarring elements to the film for me. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in the way a few scenes were handled or plot points developed. That being said, the movie does a great job of building tension and only offering the audience glimpses of what the creature is as it churns towards its ballsy coda. If you’re into the creature feature sub-genre this isn’t one to miss. If not, then I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly, but it has its moments.

 

The Nightmare (2015)
Jake's Score: 4 static monsters

I went into this one with high hopes. A horror documentary based on a subject that I personally relate to; sleep paralysis. I’ve experienced the phenomenon a few times in my life, and was expecting a deep dive into the science behind what causes it as it follows along with eight people who have suffered it in some way in their lives. I was a bit disappointed in the final product, as it didn’t really offer anything I look for from a documentary. Some of the stories were intriguing, but I couldn’t help but feel like there was some empty space that needed filling. Not that it was a bad watch, but it was missing some essential trappings of a good documentary.

 


MARK'S SECTION:

The VVitch (2016)
Mark's Score: 6 Children of Sin

I’m actually pretty conflicted about how to rate this film. The score is blistering, shrill, and perfect. Seriously, I can’t speak highly enough of the sound design. It’s an 11 out of 10. The acting, despite featuring three different child actors with lines, is fantastic. The mise-en-scene, particularly the lighting, was extremely well executed and led to a great sense of immersion. The writing was solid, though a bit hamstrung by the fact that it’s a period piece. Since every line is in Old English the dialogue is a bit hard to follow at times, an issue that’s compounded by the father’s gravel voice. The movie had one of the single most disturbing scenes I’ve seen in a movie, though it only lasted maybe one or two seconds. Outside of that scene though, I just didn’t find this movie scary. Maybe it’s just that the theme doesn’t particularly resonate with me. The scenes where I was supposed to feel dread were intense (thanks mainly to the score), but just didn’t inspire that familiar gut-wrenching feeling. I can’t really put my finger on why, but this one seems to have turned out as much less than the sum of its individually phenomenal parts.

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Mark's Score: 8 Skateboards

The first scene in the movie depicts a man driving home during the daytime with a cat. What followed was a wildly entertaining romp into the world of an Iranian (Californian?) vampire. Before going in, I was loosely aware of this movie and its concept. I knew it was shot in black and white, the script was in persian, and well... vampires. In any case, this movie ended up catching me totally off guard with its score and style. The film has some genuinely creepy moments, but in general I have to knock it a bit for not being particularly scary. It’s possible that this one just hit me in the right way at the right time, but I thought the soundtrack was extremely charming. Couple that with a surprisingly intriguing portrayal of the vampire, and you get a movie that is great to curl up and watch on a Friday night.

 

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015) 
Mark's Score: 4 Technobabbly Magical Cameras

I love Paranormal Activity. Even the worst entries into the series are still pretty great. Not number 4 though. PA4 was hot garbage. Understandably, the sequels have all suffered a bit from having to expand upon the original mythos of a movie that was absolutely not written to have 5+ sequels. Each getting more and more ridiculous and less and less relate-able. Perhaps someday we’ll circle back and review the series as a whole, but for now this little blurb will have to suffice.  As far as this movie is concerned, I felt the first three quarters of the movie were actually decent. The new camera gimmick was unexplained and silly, and it didn't really bring a whole lot new to the table, scare-wise, but if that’s the hardest I have to work to like the movie I’m okay with that. Anyway, then the ending happened. Heavy on the CGI and light on the creativity, this one is probably the new standard for terrible endings. This is slated to be the last film in the franchise, so unfortunately this is how it ends: not with a bang, but with me pretending they ended on the 3rd one.