Tag Archives: 2004

Thank a Veteran.

Speaking of veterans today, I’d like to mention that our own little online circle is honored to have one among us.  Blog Correspondent Pete Harrison is not only our expert on all things horror-related, but also someone who has served his country with distinction.

Pictured below before an HH-60G PAVEHAWK are members of the United States Air Force 55th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, in the summer of 2004, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Pete is first left in the top row, with his arms folded.

If you enjoy the movies, books and comics that we chat about here at the blog or on Facebook, then thank a guy like Pete or one of his colleagues.  Constitutional freedoms of Speech and Press would be absent without those to defend them — not to mention our lives and our safety.

Thanks, Petey!

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A quick review of “The Visit” (2015)

I quite liked M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Visit” (2015); I’d give it an 8 out of 10.  It is by no means a perfect movie.  But it has all of the elements of Shyamalan’s work that I love: it’s beautifully shot; it has a fresh, creative story; it’s suspenseful; it’s atmospheric, and it has well drawn, likeable protagonists.

I am an unashamed Shyamalan fan.  I love all his horror-thriller movies, even the one or two in which I can guess Shyamalan’s trademark “twist” in advance.  Yes, I even liked “The Village” (2004).  And I liked “The Happening” (2006) a hell of lot too.

This movie indeed has said twist.  I thought I guessed what it was in the opening minutes.  I was wrong, and when the real twist was revealed, it was pretty damn effective.  For a moment, I was as dumbfounded as the characters on screen.  This was despite the fact that all the clues had been right there in front of me, and seem obvious in retrospect.

And it is scary in places.  A scene beneath the house comes first to mind.  So does the “oven” bit that we see in the trailer.  The cast is uniformly good.  The standout was a fantastic performance by Deanna Dunagan as “Nana.”

A couple of things nudged this movie just slightly left of the “great” category, into the “good but not great” category.  For one, I think this could have been a short film, and didn’t need more than 40 minutes or an hour to tell its story.  The pacing seems to suffer a little because of that.  For the first hour, we keep revisiting the same arc in tension: a grandparent behaves strangely, a grandchild queries them, and then the behavior subsides.

Character choices are also implausible.  These are bright, savvy kids, who are either oblivious to or cavalier about obvious signs of danger.  I think any person in real life would be too frightened to remain in the house where “The Visit” takes place.  Later, certain things change a little too conveniently after the twist is revealed.

The rapid change in tone after the story’s conclusion was a little heavy-handed.  I thought the story’s final minutes were nice, but maybe a little too much.  (I am being intentionally vague here to avoid spoilers.)

Still, I’d recommend this.  If you can overlook the movie’s faults here and there, you’ll enjoy a damn creepy modern fairytale.

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Catch “Cooties” (2015) — you’ll like it.

And I am certain I am the only filmgoer who has come up with that clever headline.

This was fun, though — I’d give it an 8 out of 10.  It isn’t quite the instant classic you might expect from the trailer, but it’s an engaging horror comedy that made me laugh.

The running jokes connected with Elijah Wood’s straight man and Jorge Garcia (HURLEY!!!) ran thin early on.  (The former is an obsessed would-be author, that latter is a drug-addled security guard.)  Far funnier was an unrecognizable Rainn Wilson as the boorish gym teacher, and the pretty Nasim Pedrad as the paranoid aggressive.  The nod to The Lord of the Rings was especially nice.

Upstaging the entire rest of the cast, however, was a surprise comedic performance by the screenwriter himself, Leigh Whannell, as the office weirdo.  Whannell wrote this film along with other great horror movies like “SAW” (2004), and the “Insidious” films.  I had no idea that he could be so damn hilarious; he’s a talented guy.

If you like horror-comedies, check this out!

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