It's the middle of the month, and Cutting Room for May 2017 is here! CR is a monthly post where we all do short, single-person reviews for movies we’ve watched on our own.
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 posts in the "More Horror" section up above!
5 Maggots in... Places
This movie is raw body horror. Nothing more, and nothing less. And we’re not talking gateway body horror here, we’re talking proper body horror for the already initiated. It certainly isn’t the best body horror available, but it’s a solid entry in the genre. There just isn’t all that much to say about this; if you like body horror, this will be right up your alley, if you don’t, it will not. I will say that, unlike many of its counterparts, this is trying to do something deeper than raw shock value, and that’s refreshing. But then on the other side, there’s all that negative business about some of the advertising equating rape with “a one-night stand.” Yikes. And also the movie does have some less than stellar expressions of homosexuality. So that’s not great.
Tell Me How I Die (2016)
3 Syringes of Bio-Techno-Babble-Nonsense
So I had to watch this one because I lost a bet over on the podcast. It wasn’t terrible, but fuck me it was generic and boring. Saying too much more about why will give a little more away than I’m comfortable in case you want to watch this thing, but maybe I’m being too cautious because I cannot in good conscience recommend it. The acting was surprisingly decent, if betrayed by an increasingly thin plot. Overall, I would say give this one a pass, but for losing a bet, I could have done much, much worse.
The Watcher (2016)
5 Homemade Cookies
Cards on the table: this is a PG-13 horror movie. No, I don’t just mean that it was rated PG-13. I mean that every fucking aspect of this movie screams generic PG-13 horror. That’s certainly not a bad thing, and it absolutely has its time and place, but you should know what you’re getting. The reason this one intrigued me is because it’s based on that really fucked up thing that forced the family in New Jersey to move from a few years back. As soon as I read that story, I wanted to see that fucking movie. Now, I have, and while I’m not outrageously impressed, I’m not disappointed either. The acting is actually great in this one (for the most part), and it does a good job of blending creepiness with jump scares. Given that it’s currently on Netflix streaming, I’d give this one a watch . . . er.
I’m going to neatly place this flick on the dividing line because I can really see it going any amount of ways for the viewer. It’s a Spanish-language film so if you don’t like subtitles, you’re shit out of luck. It’s also very washed out, at times approaching full black & white, so keep in mind that it’s going to have a very specific feel. The easiest way to break this down for someone who may be torn on whether to make the jump is that it feels EXACTLY like an episode of The Twilight Zone, stretched into a feature film. Chances are, if you are a fan of that series, you’ll find enough to like here. If not, you can probably give it a pass. The only extra bit of caution I’d give to the potentially interested is that this movie feels like it would have been better suited for the length of a Twilight Zone episode, as well. It gets pretty sloggy.
The Eyes of My Mother (2016)
7 Barns You Should Never Go Into. Ever.
Hey, look, another black and white movie! Hey look, another movie that spends a significant amount of its runtime in another language (this time it’s Portuguese)... and that’s where the similarities with the above end. Holy mackerel, this one hit me way harder than I expected. This is a mean, dark, joyless film. I’m having a hard time commenting on what I liked about this flick without feeling a little weird about my mental state. It is fucked up and very, very violent. That being said, I really enjoyed its ability to leave certain things up to the imagination of the viewer separating it from other, more torture-porny films out there. There is a lot of art going on here, but it works in the movie’s favor for the most part.
There’s very little I can say about this big time release that hasn’t already been said. I know it caught some serious flack for its portrayal of Dissociative Identity Disorder, which I can’t disagree with. What I will say is that it is extremely well shot by M. Night Shyamalan and masterfully acted by James McAvoy. I have zero qualms there and would give this a solid recommend based solely on those qualities. I just couldn’t get behind where this story was going, and of course, M. Night couldn’t get out of its own way from a writing standpoint. Ultimately, it left me with a sour taste in my mouth, but not so much so that I found it to be a waste of my time.
8 Withheld Beers
Remember when I waxed poetic about Spring a few months ago? Probably not... So, I waxed poetic about a movie called Spring a couple months ago… That’s the second movie by Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead, and this was their first flick. While it’s a very different movie, the main thing that makes Spring great was on full display in this one as well. That thing is a heart and level of real, human emotion that comes through in the relationships between the characters. It’s probably great writing, and it’s definitely good acting, but together, these qualities coalesce into a really arresting ride to the climax. These two just do it better than anyone else I can think of in the genre right now. I cannot wait to see The Endless, the third film coming out by these two, which is making waves on the festival circuit at the time of this post.
The Exorcism of Anna Ecklund (2016)
3 Recycled Homophobic Insults
I watched this movie because I lost a bet on the podcast. Let’s be clear about that. I do not care for exorcism movies, and this was the exorcism tale du jour way back in April of 2016. Damn, we’ve been doing those for awhile… Anyway, there is nothing remotely new going on here. It’s like one of those bowls of wax fruit; there’s nothing you haven’t seen before in there, and if you dig in, it's just going to taste bland, flavorless and generally unfit for human consumption. Add to the generally uninspired nature of the film that you step into the proceedings when the titular Anna Ecklund is already fucking possessed, and I just cannot even begin to care. The only thing I do like about exorcism movies is the character traits of the person who becomes possessed and how those are suppressed and overpowered by the invading force. There is no frame of reference here, so fuck it. The only thing keeping this from being a lower score is that, in doing the exorcism thing by the book, it manages to keep itself just above totally unwatchable. Remember… A bowl of wax fruit.
Have you ever wondered what Merry from the LotR trilogy did after he successfully beat back the evil forces of Mordor? Well if Pet is any indication things got pretty dark for him. This is a movie about a guy who falls in love with a girl from afar and then kidnaps her in order to I’m not really sure. This movie has had some positive buzz floating around it since its release a few months ago, and I think I can see why. There are some twists and turns, and the acting is solid enough to carry the movie. Ultimately though this thing is a bit of chore to get through. I like horror movies because they can be really fun to watch, and although this one is well made and focuses on a relatively unique premise it is severely lacking in the “fun” category. I’d give this a tenuous recommend if you are in the mood for something more on the serious side.
Are you sitting down? Because I’m about to crack a nostalgia egg over your head. You remember that MTV reality show where they send a bunch of idiotic twenty-somethings into various haunted locales and then get them to do weird dares for virtually no money? Of course you do. It was called Fear and it’s all available for free on youtube. Everything from the Godsmack intro to the dumbass kids trying to justify that ghosts could totally be real and just be, like, energy. Realistically this isn’t something to take seriously, but if you remember this show as being amazing I assure you that you will not be disappointed going back and re-watching. Hell, it’s worth a watch just to see the CRT computer screen give ridiculous orders. Oh, also, there’s a significant amount of Lorraine Warren in the second episode.
Yoga Hosers (2016)
3 Artisinal Syrup Jugs
Oh my god, these are the worst actresses in all of Canada. Hey speaking of which, did you know that this was a Canadian movie? This is a Canadian movie. THIS IS A CANADIAN MOVIE! AREN”T CANADIANS FUNNY? CANADA IS SO FUNNY. ALSO MILLENIALS AND STUFF. Holy shit this movie lays it on thick. This movie seems like someone mainlined Gillmore Girls and tried to lazily replicate the already lazy humor schtick of that show. It’s upsetting to see people who are actually good actors that I like, such as Justin Long and Tony Hale, wasting their time on pitiful contrivances like this one. Why the fuck does Stan Lee have a cameo? Still, it has its charms. Every once in a while there is actually a funny exchange. Principal Invincible is a good character. Also, the twist in the middle is actually pretty solid. And then the Nazis happen and it becomes utterly unwatchable. Fuck it. You feel like watching this? Watch Tusk instead. It’s better. THERE ISN’T EVEN A GUITARIST IN THEIR BAND.
I sought this one out because it’s considered one of the best found footage movies, and I hadn’t yet crossed it off my list. I have a lot of blindspots, okay? The problem with this one is I had seen Quarantine, the 2008 American remake. Turns out, up until the last scene Quarantine is basically a shot-for-shot remake of Rec. Usually, with Americanized remakes, they change something. Well, that’s not the case here until you reach the very end. This is my jingoism showing, but I think I was more of a fan of Quarantine than of Rec. Now, granted, Rec really gets all the points for creativity since it did it first, but still seeing them in the order I did left a lot to be desired. If you haven’t already seen either movie, give Rec a watch and buckle up. If you missed Rec when it got a very limited release, but then saw Quarantine when it got a relatively wide release then you are probably okay to skip this one unless you really supremely enjoyed Quarantine.
The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)
9 Hannibal Lecter Masks
This is basically as close to a The Last of Us movie any of us are going to get. And I mean that in a very, very good way. This movie is poignant, well acted, well shot, and interesting. Beyond that, it gets a bump in the X-factor category by having one of the best soundscapes I’ve heard in a movie. It’s a bit atypical so I honestly understand if the score ends up rubbing you the wrong way, but loved what they did with it. I’m honestly struggling to come up with reasons not to give this a 10. Here’s the best I can do: it’s a little long and it’s not fun. The movie clocks in at about 110 minutes, and it’s the exact opposite of a romp. This is a movie about realistic people in a really shitty situation. There aren’t any bad guys. You aren’t rooting for people to die. You don’t get any levity. This is nearly two hours of levitiless (definitely a word) drama. It’s great as a film, but it’s not great as something that you can lightheartedly put on. This movie requires effort on the part of the viewer, but it’s totally worth it.
The Bye Bye Man (2016)
I was really ready to dislike The Bye Bye Man based on its name alone. The actual reaction I had was not the one I was expecting. At the very least I can say that this movie is not as stupid as its name would make it out to be. TBBM was not nearly generic as I was expecting it to be. It actually had its moments where it pulled together moderately unique concepts and executed them well. But then it also had its moments with laughably terrible acting and writing contrivances. They also manage to include a number of motifs (like a train, for instance) that just goes bafflingly unexplained. On top of that, I can’t explain the magnitude with which the visual effects suck. I mean, they’re just awful. In a word, it’s insulting. If you can get past the pedestrian performance and utterly terrible effects, then I give this one a recommend based on the few notable and unique scares that it cobbled together. I’ll just add here that this film is based off a chapter titled “The Bridge to Body Island” in a book by Robert Damon Schneck. That means that a group of professionals got together and workshopped their way from “Bridge to Body Island” all the way to “The Bye Bye Man.” Good work team. Really stellar stuff.