I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House

31 Days of Horror #18 – I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016) – The Main Damie

Oz Perkins has four features to his name so far, this his second effort after the generally well received The Blackcoat’s Daughter. While I appreciated the atmosphere and look and idea of that film, I felt that it lacks scares, direction, and it failed to have the impact on me that it did on others. In I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House, I can essentially copy and paste those exact comments and be done with the review. I write more than is necessary though, so here we go.

The film has something of a dual narrative, but mostly follows the experiences of a live-in nurse who stays in a grand old house to attend to the palliative care of an elderly horror writer suffering from dementia. The nurse, Lily, is an odd one; prone to flights of fancy, talking to herself, and with an aversion to anything spooky. In haunted house fashion, strange things start happening. In horror movie fashion, the protagonist does nothing about it.

Meanwhile we learn that Iris, the writer, wrote a story about a man who murders his wife and buries her in the walls of the house. So far, so Poe. Iris refers to Lily by the name of the murdered wife, Lily begins to notice mould on one of the walls of the house, and… well, you see where this is going.

I’ve no idea if the movie was supposed to be so telegraphed or if the ending was intended to be a surprise. In any case, none of what happens is a surprise, even as details are drip-fed and we crawl backwards at the inevitable conclusion. I didn’t have issues with the glacial pace, but the lack of scares, of tension, and the abundance of emptiness suggests that the film would have been much more suited to being part of an anthology or a TV episode rather than a feature. It’s a story which will be familiar to every horror fan, and if it’s horror fans that the movie is targeted at then the lack of scares and pacing will likely frustrate.

As interesting as it was to see Paula Prentiss back on screen, Ruth Wilson is horribly miscast, the incessant mumbling and whispering becomes irritating very quickly, and by the time the 30 minute mark ticks around and you’ve worked out both the tricks and the conclusion of the story, you’ll spend the remaining time clock-watching. The initial gloss and beauty of the film is rotted by the director’s pretensions, the atmosphere set up for a tension between threat and loss acquiesces into monotony, and the early promise of an interesting setting and hope for a modern take on an old-fashioned ghost story fades as quickly as my interest in whatever Perkins does next.

Let us know in the comments what you think of I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House.

After Midnight

After Midnight On Shudder- The Perfect Valentine's Horror Movie - Signal  Horizon

I’m such a man; a beer-swilling, football-watching, chair-sitting man with an unnecessary amount of body hair for the most enlightened primate species. It’s my natural inclination to run aghast from any romance-oriented media. Romantic Comedies are all but banned in my house and as a child whenever Blind Date came on the TV, I would go outside and murder tramps instead.

Every so often though, I’ll be in the mood for something a little kissy, huggy, or heartbreaky, but which doesn’t involve sticking your fist down your trousers. You won’t find me reaching for a Diane Keaton flick, or whatever the modern counterpart is (presumably an older Diane Keaton), but if the film has some sort of supernatural or sci-fi slant I’ll begrudgingly give it a go. After Midnight is one such instance.

I picked After Midnight primarily because of the talent involved, my general positive experiences of their previous work, and the fact that the cast and crew always try something different. Plus, it has the same name as one of my favourite Horror Anthologies. Jeremy Gardner directed the delightful The Battery, and writes, stars, and directs here. Brea Grant has been in a tonne of cult shows and movies over the years, and Producers Benson and Moorehead have been involved in the V/H/S series, The Endless, and one of my favourite movies of 2014 – Spring – which is even more of a love story than this!

The story unfolds in a scattered fashion, from present day to various points in the past, as we follow Jeremy Gardner’s Hank who seems to be battling both booze and something creepy in the dark. In between beers, he reminisces about his past love Abby, who has apparently left him for reasons unknown. By day, he sits in his giant yet barren and unkempt house or travels in to town to barely reconnect with friends, all the while drinking, all the time remembering Abby. By night, he is seemingly stalked by a creature which is either trying to get into his house, or to get him. Is it a figment of his imagination or his booze-fuelled haze? Are the locals messing with him? What happened to Abby? Why do I enjoy it when the description presented above makes it sound a bit shit?

Well, it’s all very intriguing. It also has one of the best written and acted scenes I’ve seen in recent years, as Jeremy Gardner and Brea Grant sit and drink and ponder their past, their future, and what lurks beyond. The story unfolds without a care in the world and rather than being a study in romance or an outright horror movie, it feels much more like a paranoid character study using a monster as a metaphor for the outside forces and feelings which surround the maelstrom of any relationship and what can happen if you fail to address them. Slamming the door shut won’t make them go away, yet confronting them may cut you to shreds. Grant and Gardner have a wonderful, realistic chemistry and will dialogue and performances sometimes touch on the mumblecore side of things, everything feels as close to the bone as the jaws of a beast on your arm. It’s not going to be for everyone; if you’re a hairy horror boy like me, you might be dismayed by the lack of scares or the pace. If you’re looking for a happy romance, you’ve come to the wrong house. If you want an honest and forthright glimpse into messy relationship woes with a touch of Jaws thrown in, then perhaps After Midnight is something you’ll love.

Let us know in the comments what you think of After Midnight!

The Clovehitch Killer

Horror Movie Review: The Clovehitch Killer (2018) - Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life

Society has always had this bizarre obsession with serial killers, with murder in general. Is it some primal curiosity or survival instinct – we’re happy we were not the ones involved, or we want to get close enough to the fire without getting burned? Is it more morbid than that – do we want to understand how and why these people exist and if they live next door? Or do we want to feel sympathy for the victims and those left behind? Whatever the reason, TV, Books, Music, and Movies have shared and perpetuated this obsession from day 1 and I am not susceptible from going down this rabbit hole on occasion, especially if presented as an engaging and interesting story.

The Clovehitch Killer is viewed from the eyes of a teenager called Tyler, a typical kid in a typical Christian American town where the hierarchy of life roughly follows God>Church>Father>Family>Work>Guns>everything else. The town harbours a dark past – the mystery of the Clovehitch Killer who murdered 10 women in living memory and was never caught. In his father’s truck on a perfect innocent date, the girl Tyler is interested in finds a violent bondage photograph and accuses him of being a weirdo, a fetishist, an other who must be shamed and ignored. This quickly spreads through church and town and Tyler finds himself a pariah, with only his family to support him even as they have their own questions. Tyler has questions too, knowing the photograph isn’t his but not knowing why it was in his dad’s truck, his dad the respected community leader and All American Scout Dude.

Tyler teams up with another teen outcast called Kassi to investigate the history of the Clovehitch Killer and the fact that he may still be lurking in the town, waiting to strike again, or to prove that he never went away at all and has simply been better at covering his tracks. All evidence points towards Tyler’s dad, but could he too be an innocent victim?

The film isn’t as gory or exploitative as some, instead focusing on the teen crime-fighting elements and on the different characters of the town which may look familiar to anyone who doesn’t live in a big city. The film racks up the tension in the final act, and although it is light on twists and the truth is revealed well before the end, it’s how we tie up the loose ends (pun intended) which holds our interest. It’s always a treat for me to see Samantha Mathis in anything, and both Charlie Plummer and Madisen Beaty are good as Tyler and Kassi. But it’s Dylan McDermott’s film, giving a performance which veers between perfect dad, to creepy, to hilarious fluidly. It’s not a film with anything big to say about the nature of killers or small town society, but it’s a worthy addition to the canon of both themes and is worth anyone’s time when you fancy a taste of morbid curiosity.

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Clovehitch Killer!

I’m Not A Serial Killer

I Am Not a Serial Killer' Has a Refreshing Moral Center | Cinema Faith

A delightful little movie which came from nowhere and remains underseen and under valued even six years after its release, I’m Not A Serial Killer is an adaptation of the first book in the John Cleaver series by Dan Wells, and follows a teenager with sociopathic tendencies who is self-aware enough to understand that he holds many of the same traits of the serial killers he is obsessed with as he battles his own demons and investigates a series of murders in his hometown. It’s like Dexter, if Dexter was interesting.

Max Records is fantastic in the lead role of John, an atypical disaffected youth who lives with his mother in a funeral home which he uses to both live out and restrain himself from his growing urges. After witnessing some weird shit at a murder scene and learning about an identical murder shortly after, John suspects the town is housing a serial killer and believes this killer to be his elderly neighbour Bill Crowley, played with relish by Christopher Lloyd. As John becomes more obsessed he begins to infiltrate Crowley’s life more, and the line between killer and hunter is blurred.

There’s a lot to enjoy and unpack in I’m Not A Serial Killer, beyond its performances and central idea. The film takes on an unexpected supernatural slant early on which some people may be put off by, but while it may be unnecessary it personally enhanced an already gripping premise. It’s a film which chews on its contradictions and doesn’t mind where your allegiances lie. Both John and Crowley are fascinating characters and you get the impression that their story could just as effectively been developed over the course of a six episode series as in a sub 2 hour movie. It’s self aware, funny, and suitably tense and grim. It doesn’t take the subject matter lightly, yet doesn’t treat things as anything other than thought-provoking entertainment. It’s a shame the film hasn’t done as well as it deserves, it’s a shame that it did not grow into a series considering the number of books there are, and it’s a shame that Max Records gives a star-making performance but hasn’t made another film since.

Let us know in the comments what you think of I’m Not A Serial Killer!

She Dies Tomorrow

She Dies Tomorrow (2020) - Projected Figures

I try to watch as many Indie/under the wire horror movies as I can get my hands on as that’s often where the most innovation and passion can be found. The Evil Dead? Halloween? Night Of The Living Dead? I have faith that the next classic could be right around the corner, being made by some unknown team. Trawling through a load of Indie films also comes with its risks – many of them are absolute dreck, badly made, badly acted, and with an unfortunate focus on bad special effects and make-up. Those are of course the extreme edges of the spectrum, with the vast majority of the films I’ve seen lurking somewhere in between, mainly ranging from inoffensively forgettable to great ideas lacking in the final execution. She Dies Tomorrow falls squarely in the middle of this category.

There is a great idea at the centre of She Dies Tomorrow – that of a woman who suddenly acquires the crystal clarity knowledge that she is absolutely going to die tomorrow. The kicker is that, when you express this knowledge to someone you pass it on to them. It has loose connotations to Rimgu, It Follows, and Pontypool. It’s a great group to be part of, and it’s a great idea with a hundred different ways to possible tell that story. The problem is, we take a decidedly arthouse approach and don’t really tell any sort of story. It’s not a horror movie by any stretch and instead revels in a stasis of naval gazing and half monotonous adventures. It’s partly amusing to see these generally irritating characters’ non interactions, the ‘disease’ being passed on, and their reactions. But it serves little purpose, not from a plot perspective and seemingly not from any wider social context. At a stretch you could argue it’s about mental health – but what’s the message? Talking about your depression makes others depressed? That everything is pointless? That we shouldn’t worry so much? That death is horrible? That filmmakers shouldn’t be left to their own devices if this is the end result?

It’s certainly a slow watch, and right or wrong the film is being promoted as something it’s not to an audience who will likely despise it both for what it is and for this trick of marketing. It’s worth a watch for those who like to ponder, and there are a few laughs and decent performances, but it’s so hollow that you think it’s the sort of film that anybody could have made with any set of actors – there’s no voice in front or behind the camera discernible through the thoughtless-provoking meandering.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of She Dies Tomorrow!

Signs

Why Signs is the ultimate alien invasion film for the Trump era - Little White Lies

Greetings, Glancers! I’m confused; I know M. Night Shyamalan is a bit of a meme – his movies are typically horror, they typically have a twist, his career has gone down the shitter multiple times due to some apparently awful films and decisions. I’m confused because I’d always believed that Signs was one of the movies he made before he became the meme, before his career went down the shitter only to bounce back with Split. I knew The Sixth Sense was both a major commercial and critical success – I liked it. I knew Unbreakable was more of a sleeper success – I love it. I believed Signs was seen as a return to horror and was generally better received than Unbreakable, and that many people had heralded it for its scares, for devastating emotional beats and an unnerving atmosphere. But I’m confused; It’s…. it’s clearly, clearly a comedy, right? This is absolutely, 100% not a Horror movie. It can’t be. Can it?

As of 2021, I had never seen Signs. As of 2022, I now have. I had already seen The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable at release. I saw Split when it came out. I saw The Happening a couple of years after its release. I’ve seen The Visit. I have not yet seen The Village, The Lady In The Lake, Glass, or Old. Or After Earth. Signs was free on streaming, so I thought I would plug that gap and at the very least enjoy an alien movie with hopefully a few chills, maybe a couple of good scares. Instead what I got was basically a precursor to The Happening – a movie rightly ripped for its weird tone, camp performances, and lack of horror. Look, I enjoyed The Happening. It was clear it was a nonsense – that was clearly the point. Signs is clearly too trying to be a joke, but for whatever reason critics and fans have entirely missed this and somehow believe it is a straight Sci Fi Horror for reasons I am entirely unable to fathom.

So I cam in expecting a horror, but instead I got nonsensical asides to faith and believe, a twist which amounts to ‘ah ha! God set all this up all along’ while ignoring the logical extrapolation that suggest such a God must be a psychotic maniac to kill your wife, make you lose your faith, have a clearly troubling relationship with the remainder of your family, launch an alien invasion, make your son a future right wing conspiracy theorist nutbag, make your daughter have undiagnosed psychological trauma highlighted by a fear of germs – setting up all of these things in order just so a preacher can regain the faith which you caused him to lose in the first place? What. The. Fuck.

Beyond that nonsense, beyond the horrible CG, beyond the bizarre comedy tone and dialogue and camera panning, beyond the hammy performances, it’s simply not scary. There’s a famous jump scare which is basically a piece of found footage. The scare happened – I was unaware and thought the actual scare was leading up to a genuine unexpected jump scare – and the movie went on. The scare amounts to an alien walking past a bush. I assumed something cool was going to happen, like that was the set up scare, something like the kids scream after seeing the alien, turn around to run away and the same alien is standing in the room with them. A light scare followed by a biggie. No…. no, that was the biggie. And that’s the whole movie. There’s a bit with a shadow on a roof, a bit with clicky noises in the corn fields, a bit with a hand under a door, in a basement, reflection on a TV, but these were equally non eventual. It’s not that I am trying to make a point that this scary movie didn’t scare me – I’m a horror fan and I love to be scared. I simply, genuinely do not see how any of this can claimed to be scary, how the movie can be claimed to be anything other than a parody. It’s not a film about God, or family, or grief, or guilt. It’s a joke. It is, without a doubt, a comedy – a Shyamalan experiment to see how gullible the audience is. Unfortunately, the conclusion of that experiment was already written in the stars and there is no twist ending – you are gullible. You fell for it.

Let us know what you think of Signs in the comments!

Pyewacket

FrightFest Glasgow review – Pyewacket | The Kim Newman Web Site

Greetings, Glancers! I’ve come to understand something, a duality of sorts, a conundrum even. Films involving Witches and Witchcraft are rarely my favourites and in the Horror genre I’ll reach for zombies, vampires, general splatter, slashers, and the paranormal before I ever go for witches. However! I find witch movies to be the ones which most frequently creep me out, genuinely get under my skin, and chill and haunt me like other sub genres do not.

What does this mean? Why do I feel this way? I honestly don’t know. It’s not because I find these films to be better made, acted, directed. It’s not because of some spiritual reason like ‘ooh, this could be real’, given that I’m atheist to the extent of simply not caring in any concept of a God or afterlife. Is it because Witches are untapped when viewed alongside the other monsters I’ve mentioned, and when a good movie comes along it seems more effective? Is it because, when I’m alone at night (and admittedly this goes back to childhood), and I’m heading up the stairs in the dark by myself if I happen to imagine a hand reaching out to grab me by the ankle and drag me into the void, or imagine something chasing me up the stairs with murderous intent, it’s not some masked killer or fanged beast or flesh-horny undead fiend I envisage, no; it’s always, always a wizened old crone, screeching with increasing pitch and volume. Am I… am I scared of women?

Pyewacket is mostly a story about women. It’s about grief too, and witchcraft, but mostly it’s about the relationship between a mother (Laurie Holden) and daughter (Nicole Munoz) in the aftermath of daddy dying. It likely would have been a step too trope trodden to have made Mummy a Step-Mummy instead, but that’s the vibe we get from the film. Things are not great between them – there is distance, distrust, and bubbling anger fuelled on either side by booze, hormones, absence, and resentment. Daughter Leah is enamoured with the dark arts, but it seems to be more than justice your typical adolescent rebellious phase nonsense. Her mother forces her to upend to her life and move to a cabin in the woods. It’s remote, she doesn’t know anyone, and her friends are left behind. After a particularly heated argument, Leah packs her bag, heads into the woods behind her new home, and performs a ritual to summon a demon/witch/familiar called Pyewacket, and requests that it kills her mother. Two minutes later, Leah and her mum make up and begin fixing their relationship – but the creature begins to stir. Oopsy. Seeing signs that this thing is coming for her mother, Leah tries to undo the ritual before it’s too late.

As you may have guessed, there are a few narrative issues with the film. Namely, the relationship between mother and daughter never feels too strained. If things were so bad that you would wish death, genuinely wish death on someone, I assume a hug and a cupcake would not miraculously improve matters. That’s no fault of Munoz or Holden – both are committed to their roles and are believable. I don’t think this was a case of making the ritual out to being some adolescent over reaction and exposing how seriously teens can take trivial matters; this is a family who is meant to be grieving, not coping, and that side of the story is not explored with enough clarity and purpose. It would be more believable if we spent more time on how daddy’s death affected everyone, how mum and daughter were irreconcilable but still loved each other, and then show Pyewacket’s power earlier in the movie motivating Leah to realise that the ritual was a step too far. The beats are there, they’re simply out of time and not loud enough.

The film is evenly paced, but horror fans are likely to say it’s a slow burn. It is, and the scares feel left entirely until the closing parts of the movie. It’s a low budget movie, but there could have been earlier and more frequent pay-offs for the atmosphere which is admirably built. Once the scares do come – I suspect they won’t be as effective to others as they were for me, after all, I’m apparently scared of women. But the notion of this thing stalking you, taking on different forms, relentless in its thirst, that’s the stuff I respond to. It’s just a pity there wasn’t much of it.

Finally, and I’m hoping to avoid as many spoilers as I can, but the film ends with what I think was supposed to be a shock ending or a twist of sorts? Doesn’t work. Not for me at least, because it seemed so obvious to me what was happening. As the final act of violence occurs, I had to shake my head and say ‘that’s not the direction they decided to go, seriously?’. There are so many alternative, more satisfying ways this story could have ended – and could have still ended with a twist, but they went for the one that is least believable. It’s set up well in advance and is telegraphed, but still I can’t believe that certain characters would have behaved the way they do.

Still, as a whole I enjoyed the movie. There’s a sense of lore, I enjoyed the atmosphere and the dedication to making things otherworldly. I think the director has a clear voice, the film looks great, the performances are solid, and the handful of scares are well executed and creepy. More witch movies, please!

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Pyewacket!

The Predator

The Predator (2018) Original One-Sheet Movie Poster - Original Film Art - Vintage Movie Posters

John McTiernan’s 1987 classic, Predator, is one of my favourite movies of all time. I don’t say that lightly; I mean, it’s in my personal Top Ten. It’s a perfect movie for me, not only because I’ve seen it countless times and have an unholy amount of nostalgia attached to it, but because it really is a flawless mixture of action and suspense, violence, fun, and casting. Like many original movies from the 1980s, it spawned a franchise which never lived up to the original. However, the Predator franchise has not been overly milked, has not relied on a single star, and has more hits than misses. When reviews for this fourth mainstream entry began to appear, they were fairly savage – even subsequent fan reviews were not positive. Plus, there was all that stuff about that guy and those scenes being cut. A film a dearly wanted to see upon release passed me by, and it wasn’t until a few years after that I finally sat down ready to be disappointed.

You know what? It’s not that bad. It’s the funniest Predator movie by some stretch, and I’ll gladly watch anything written or directed by Shane Black. He’s a Predator original, but he’s consistently one of Hollywood’s most entertaining writers. I wouldn’t go as far as saying this is a family oriented Predator movie, and it does have a strange balance of tone, but as someone who first saw Predator before I was 10, I was more than happy to see some of this movie’s more juvenile aspects.

Look, the autism stuff is ridiculous. It’s by far not the first time such a trope has been abused in media – it’s a trope after all – but it is a little tone-impaired in this day and age. Moreover, it’s entirely inconsequential to the story. Rather than making the lead character’s son (played well as always by Jacob Tremblay) be autistic, why not just make him a child genius? He can be smart and still hit the beats of being bullied/socially awkward/whatever else you want to add to make him more interesting. The key point is that the kid is intellectually gifted and seems to be able to figure out Alien technology.

We come in as a US sniper (McKenna) and his team are in the midst of a hostage retrieval mission. A Predator is there, for reasons we discover later, and it wipes out almost everyone before McKenna is able to knock it out. He steals some of its weaponry and armour and posts it home, before some shady Government officials turn up and take both McKenna and The Predator to some Area 51 type place. It turns out that the Government has known about this race of aliens (and others…) for decades, and their experiments discover that this particular alien somehow contains human DNA.

Meanwhile, McKenna’s booty ends up at his home where his young son begins experiments of his own on them, inadvertently triggering some sort of tracking device alerting the species to his location. The lab Predator escapes, McKenna finds himself leader of a new crew of misfits, and an even greater Predator threat heads to Earth. Groups collide and carnage ensues.

There’s probably one of two ideas too many in the script – even that brief synopsis is a mess. Predator succeeded partly due to its simplicity – a group of soldiers on a jungle mission are pitted against a powerful, almost invisible killer. Done. Each idea is fine in principle – the government stuff clearly there to set up further Aliens crossovers, the DNA stuff enhances the lore, the family stuff is good for character building and humour, and the ‘super’ Predator vs regular Predator thread furthers some of the mythology uncovered in Predators. Thrown altogether, along with the various different characters and it’s a boiling stew too hot for anyone to handle.

It’s a bit of a shame, because Dekker and Black’s writing elsewhere is on point – the usual snappy dialogue and free-wheeling insults we expect. Good cast too – Holbrook is good in everything, but is a little wooden here, Munn is an appropriately sassy foil, Sterling Brown literally chews the scenery, and we have Alfie Allen, Yvonne Strahovski, Thomas Jane, and Trevante Rhodes are fun alongside others. The cast, and the group we see in Predator is another reason for its long-lasting success. We like these guys, we like spending a couple of hours with them, and we’d like to know more about their past escapades. Black knows this, and while his attempts to mould a similar group are a little too reliant on quirks and humour, it’s a good stab at pulling together a diverse group all fighting the same cause. We even get cast nods to previous films, with Jake Busey as the son of Gary Busey’s character from Predator 2, and Francoise Yip from Aliens Vs Predator Requiem. Nothing of consequence, but fun additions.

In terms of action and violence, there are plenty of entertaining scenes and set pieces. I wish they would stop trying to make Alien dogs a thing, but elsewhere we are treated to suburban and jungle based mayhem between man and alien peppered with blood and energy. The best moment is of course when Jacob Tremblay gets hilarious bloody revenge on a couple of bullies. The climax is fun, even if most of the cast are dispatched with too quickly instead of more evenly through the run time, and we’re left with a controversial final scene where we learn what the regular Predator’s purpose was in coming to Earth. It doesn’t make a lot of sense considering we first see the Predator killing a bunch of humans when it seemingly came to help us. Script re-writes and re-shoots decidedly harmed a more cohesive final product.

Apparently there were several attempts at an ending, each hoping to set up various sequels, from Arnie’s Dutch appearing and announcing there’s a looming war between humans and Predators, to Ripley and Newt somehow showing up. Personally, I like the idea of having Dutch come back as that way you could also have tied in the survivors from Predators and even Danny Glover from Predator 2. In any case, any and all sequels are likely dead in the water, especially after Prey’s release has taken the franchise in a different direction.

So, The Predator didn’t deserve its negative reaction, at least not all of it. It’s far from a perfect movie, but when placed alongside other deep-cut entries of long-lasting franchises it’s a hell of a lot more entertaining than the fourth Die Hard, the fourth Alien, etc. It’s fun enough more most of the cracks to be covered in a first watch and it’s loyal to the franchise rules and expectations even if it likely didn’t turn out to be the story the writers originally hoped for.

Let us know your thoughts on The Predator in the comments!

Movie Review Update

About: Breaking fingers simulator (Google Play version) | | Apptopia

Greetings, Glancers! So I’ve kind of given up on writing movie reviews on the blog. I’m aware that this is akin to shooting myself in the nuts given this was one of the main reasons I started a blog in the first place, and that the vast majority of traffic I get (or used to) came specifically for my movie reviews. Those review posts – many from my first year of starting the blog, and many which I wrote when I was still a teenager 20 plus years ago – still get plenty of views. My Oscars posts do too (I’m still plugging away at those), and my Favourite Movies/Least Favourite Movies of the year posts similarly get more attention that my flights of fancy and music based posts. So why am I doing everything I can to alienate the few of you who still come here?

Like anything, there are several reasons. I’m still watching movies – my love for watching and talking about movies will never go away (I hope), but I’ve felt less of a need to write about them. Writing a blog has always felt somewhat egotistical to me – I’m literally nobody so why should anyone be interested in anything I have to say? But then I remember that most people with blogs and most movie fans and reviewers are equal to me in nobody ranking terms (no offence), so if those guys can do it, then I can too. Free world and all that.

So I’m still watching movies, but I don’t feel like writing about them. Partly that’s because the majority of the movies I’ve watched recently don’t really need to be written about, some of these movies already have countless thousands of reviews out there so why bother chucking my thoughts out into the void, especially as I tend to watch things months or years after everyone else has already seen and reviewed them? I’ve watched a lot recently that I simply didn’t care about. Some were bad, but not offensive enough to warrant a rant, and some have been good but didn’t inspire me to the extent that I wanted to type 500 words on them.

As my movie review output has gone done, my musical output has gone up. For me, writing about movies has always been easy. I can knock something together covering what I liked and didn’t like in a few minutes, with minimal effort or thought. If I have something more to say, then I’ll put in more effort to create a post approaching some sort of value. With my music posts though, I put more effort in, especially recently. Not with respect to my writing, God no, but more in terms of effort in advance of putting finger to keyboard. I’ll watch a new movie once, then write about it. For music, specifically albums, that doesn’t work for me. You’ve seen my first time listening posts – and in those instances where I type my immediate thoughts as I listen for the first time, and then post – the results are crap. I usually don’t like or love an album, any album on my first listen, so my stream of consciousness first time reaction posts just don’t work. The writing is repetitive too, not that I care as much about that as I’m well aware most people only visit the blog to read a specific post and then run into the night never to return (hence Glancers), rather than coming and reading through every post I have on an artist or in a series.

While I watch a movie once, I listen to each album a minimum of three times before posting. In most cases it’s a minimum of five times, and in the case of my Marillion posts it’s double figures minimum. I listen one time purely for initial enjoyment and almost never write any notes. Second listen I’ll jot down keywords or random thoughts. Third time I’ll probably read the lyrics along with the music. Fourth time I’ll have an idea on my feelings and be able to write a shell of a post. I typically don’t rewrite or do drafts, but I’ll usually write some shell, not listen to the album for a while, then come back for a fifth time and see if the time away has generated any fondness or disdain before cleaning up and finalizing the post. With a movie post, I’ve never done this. For new movies, it’s watch, then write. For old movies I don’t even need to watch them again – they’re part of me, they’re probably beloved or hated in my mind and I don’t need to see them to write about them.

So there’s a lot more effort in writing about music than movies. Why then isn’t it as easy to write about movies? Surely if music is more effort, I should be able to knock out movie reviews more regularly. Well, yes. But the key thing about any of my writing, is inspiration. I have to want to write. If it feels like a job, I’ll avoid doing it. If it feels like love, I’ll wrap my arms around it. As much as the musical stuff takes considerably more effort, I’m enjoying that currently. Or I was. It’s starting to wane a little and now I can feel the weathercock spinning back towards movies. Heh, cock.

I always ‘work’ in fits of inspiration. Something piques my fancy and I wring it dry and move on to the next thing. Music and movies are two of my biggest, longest lasting loves and I’ll never tire of boring the ear off anyone who happens to be passing by with my opinions on both. Sometimes it takes a specific idea or album or movie to get me back into the groove. I haven’t had such a movie recently, but I have started to grow sick of writing music stuff. I just need that final kick up the arse to get me committed again. I have hundreds of unpublished (on this blog at least) movie reviews from my younger days. I could simply paste those and publish – but they’re dreadful. I could re-write them, but by and large they’re movies I’ve already mentioned in either my Oscars or my lists posts and a full review would feel redundant. So that leaves me with writing about my recent first time watches or movies I haven’t talked about before. Or maybe I push ahead with one of my many unpublished other movie-oriented ideas I have been drafting in the background. These are not reviews, more like concepts for series, but at this point I think they have been more for my amusement and not the sort of thing anyone else would be interested in reading. Plus I’d be exposing my inner nerd in shameful ways. Who knows.

What else? I feel, not guilty, but frustrated when I start a series and don’t complete or progress it. I have a load of musical series I want to complete and I have a tonne of music I want to listen to. Marillion. The Beatles solo stuff. The Iron Maiden solo stuff. 1966. Best Metal albums ever. Top 1000 Albums Ever. Bowie. The Stones. 2020 Series. All of those and probably others. I never feel like I’m making any progress on any of them, but I don’t like sticking to one thing. For my sanity, I have to be constantly jumping from one thing to the next, which certainly doesn’t help with the progress. But I’ve reached the point again where I need a break from music writing. There are plenty of posts I haven’t yet published, so expect those to come regularly. I’ll keep up with the Marillon stuff obviously – the BYAMPOD guys have a framework I can adhere to, so I follow their lead. If I’m still sick of movie writing – well, there’s always more lists, TV, videogames, books – the stuff I tend to not write much about. My loves are myriad. There’s also the pure nonsensical AI stuff.

So what was the purpose of this post? Just to give an update on where I am, I suppose. I’m busy in the real world too, so that is having an impact on new posts. Music again is easy, because I can listen to music when I’m working, running, driving etc – the ideas form in my brain and I can recall them and put them to paper once I get home. For anyone worried that I haven’t been writing about movies as much, this post is a reassurance that I’ll get back to it. I think I just need to force myself into writing the first review and the rest will either follow or fall flat – that will tell me whether I’m ready or not. But they’ll be coming again, don’t worry. For now – why not listen to the albums I’m writing about? I’ll keep posting the Oscars stuff and my other lists and hopefully that will keep a few of you content.

A Wish For Christmas

Watch A Wish for Christmas | Netflix

It’s that time of the year again. What time of the year, you ask? Lacey time! Yes, each Christmas my wife and I sit down with various bottles of booze and watch a succession of Lacey Chabert festive movies between all the traditional TV treats. This year it has been difficult to find time to do this, between work and daughters who want to stay up and play Roblox in the same room, and a son who refuses to sleep. I’m sure a few of you regulars will have noticed my movie review output has been decreased recently – my music content too. In truth, I haven’t felt much desire to write about anything in the last few months, but that happens me every so often. It’s not the end of the blog or anything, just more important stuff has taken precedent, and few of the movies I’ve watched have interested me enough to write a full blown post about them. Before we get to Lacey, here’s a snapshot of what I’ve been watching recently:

Doctor Sleep

Hide And Seek (Korean)

Castlevania Season 3

You Season something or other (wife likes it)

Tiger King Season 2

Thirteen Ghosts

Doctor Strange

Crawl

The Promised Neverland

The Devil Next Door

Get Back

Hopefully I’ll get my mojo back next year, but I don’t have any push to write anything about anything above. On the other hand, I’ll always gladly write about any Lacey Christmas movie because they’re easy to talk about, easy to enjoy, easy to ridicule. And they’re just as much a festive tradition as avoiding your family, getting drunk and falling on your ass, and buying all of your presents in the Pharmacy on Christmas Eve.

Lacey is a single woman with some sort of big city career – she’s a web designer, maybe? What’s important is that she is somewhat timid, a bit of an overly kind pushover who allows herself to be trampled on by friends and co-workers alike. Yet she’s full of ideas and hopes and dreams, without the knack for putting those across to the boys up the ladder. When her latest idea is stolen by her boss, who then gets public credit, attention, and plaudits for it, she throws in the towel and storms out of her office’s Christmas party. Fortuitously, jolly old Saint Santa has been observing all of this and allows her to make a special wish (which will only last a few days). She wishes that she could be brave, confident, and just like that she sasses her way back into the party, confronts her boss about his IP theft, and mic drops her ass outta there. All of this makes an impression on the Company Director and the two embark on a cross country jaunt of self discovery and forgiveness while trying to secure some business deal and maybe, just maybe falling in love.

Like Lacey’s other Christmas movies, this is silly throwaway stuff with an extra side of forced giggles on her character’s part, but it’s also perfectly pleasant and charming. There are even some genuine laughs to be found, as Lacey’s amusing attempts to assert herself are part Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, part Housewives Of Some Shitty City, and part The Standup Comedy Stylings Of Lacey Chabert. The rest of the cast are largely insignificant – there to do a job, do it well, and go off to the next thing, but even with that there are some unusual attempts at creating humour – the dude with the mistletoe – and some interesting veterans and unfamiliar faces, from Mark Brandon to Donna Benedicto.

It’s not going to change your world. It isn’t going to interest your friends. You’re not going to watch it again. But it might help get you in the Christmas spirit and it might warm your cockles if watched with a like mind and a couple of bubbly drinks while the snow threatens to swarm outside the window.