The Monster 2016 Quick Review

The Monster 2016 Quick Review

The Monster Poster Image
A struggling mother battling her inner monsters. A young daughter who has been forced to grow up way too soon. On road trip they encounter a monster when their car breaks down on deserted road in the woods.

I’m going to try and make this a quick review. It’s going to be difficult because this movies deserves so much more time than I can afford to take a the moment. The cast of The Monster amazing. Some of the best performances you will see in a horror movie. The storytelling is so well done. The story itself has beed done before. An accident on a road trip, the car breaks down on a deserted road and then there’s a monster, creature, bad guys, pick your poison. The story’s been done before. What makes this different is the story telling. I expected a creature feature when I started watching. I got so much more than that.

The acting is what stands out the most so I will start there. Zoe Kazan is so amazing and so real in the movie. Most of all, she is completely believable. She plays a way too young mother struggling with bad relationships and alcohol. There wasn’t a moment in the film when I didn’t completely believe her. Then there’s young woman who plays her daughter. Played with equal brilliance by Ella Ballentine. The same can be said about her performance. A young pee-teen girl who loves her mother so much but has been forced to become the parent in the relationship. Ella Ballentine already has some credits to her name and I have no doubt she will become a household name over the next few years.

Zoe Kazan The Monster Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you!!!

“‘Fuck You! Fuck You!’ this scene was so brutal and so honest it game the chills, I literally cringed.”

Now before I continue with all the love I have for The Monster, I just want to critique a few things that bothered me. There’s a couple of things that bothered me. First up. After the crash/car breakdown, mom let’s the daughter out of the car on a rainy night to go talk the tow truck who is working on their car. Not only does she let her do this. It was mom’s idea. She tells her daughter to go do it. Not a good idea. It’s a horror movie. Tow truck driver just happens to show up? Just not a good idea. I’m sure the writer would give the excuse that mom is dependent on the daughter. That mom doesn’t even recognize the level of her dependency or some other psychological excuse. Though that may in fact be the case, it didn’t play that way to me. It just played out as mom is an idiot. And, she’s not an idiot. Like most addicts, she’s self absorbed. A person that can’t get past her own struggles to see all that she actually has right in front her. Mom loves her daughter and I just don’t think in this situation she would have daughter do this as casually as she would ask her to grab her another beer from the fridge.

Second issue, I can’t get into too much detail about because I don’t want to spoil it. So bare with me here as I try to explain, while being a vague as possible about the actual circumstances. At one point, one of the characters, gives up. Thinks there’s no way out of the situation. This just after discovering a useful tool for protection, a tool that gives them hope for survivial. Their survival is just a few hours away. All they have to do is wait it out. It won’t be easy but they now have some protection, they can survive this. It’s so obvious they can survive this situation. But no, instead, a ridiculous plan is hatched. It’s supposed to be a moment of realization and clarity for a character, I get that. Again, it doesn’t play that way. It plays as if the character is an idiot.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way. Let me tell you all about the writing and directing and that makes The Monster one of the best creature features you are likely to see for a while. The writing. I know, I just shit on a few things the writer did in this story. But, that was it. The rest of the story had so much depth. I truly mean that. This isn’t one of those Syfi originals. This is a well made movie with rich, fully developed characters.

The story goes from present day to flashbacks. We get to see the relationship develop between mother and daughter. The things that led them to where they are emotionally. It was such a pleasant surprise. You just don’t expect that kind of depth in a movie like this. It made the movie that much more interesting and entertaining.

Then there’s direction. Well thought out camera angles. The suspense so is so well down. I don’t know how much of it is direction or the cinematography? So just in case, let me say this, Julie Kirkwood was the cinematographer on this film. Brilliant!

Cinematographer - Julie Kirkwood

My favorite thing about this film is the practical effects. If you’ve read any of my reviews or rants you know that I think CGI is overrated. It has it’s place. But, a good creature feature doesn’t rely on CGI it’s monsters are real. The Monster delivers a real monster that is terrifying! What’s great about the design is the believability. It could be a monster but it could also be some kind of deformed or mutilated creature, like a bear. It makes you wonder, “What is it?!” and that is exactly what a good creature feature does. Practical effects when done right add a sense of realism you just don’t always get with CGI. Sure, if you have a Jurassic World budget but even they still use practical effects.

In conclusion, this is a must see. Great acting, strong characters, great special effects and directions all wrapped up in a story that brings you in and let’s you care about the people you see on the screen. Just a good solid film. I think even those that don’t normally enjoy “horror” movies would enjoy this for the mother daughter story alone. The story between the mother and daughter is very real and can be hard to watch at times but it is written and played with such brutal honesty that it forces you to care about these these two.

Side note, I failed. Not a quick review. My bad.

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Stranger Things 2016 Quick Review

Stranger Things 2016 Quick Review

Stranger Things Poster | Bad Horror Moves

Stranger Things is a Netflix original series centering around a middle school boy who goes missing on his way home after seeing something monstrous and sinister up head of on the road. There’s young mysterious girl on the run and a government agency conducting some very dark experiments. This is all takes place in a small town in Indiana back in 1983.

I only heard about Netflix’s Stranger Things a few weeks ago. It was released on July 15th according to the poster and the first season contains 8 episodes. From the moment I heard about this I was interested in it. However, I put off seeing it because I just don’t like soap opera’s and any TV show that doesn’t end it’s story in one or two episodes is a soap opera. If I am going to watch a soap opera, it really has to interest me. Further more, if I am actually going to like a soap opera, it better wrap itself up by season’s end. Thankfully, Stranger Things, did all of that. There were a few things it did that I didn’t like but nothing to the point of frustration. Just minor things I will discus later.

As the story goes, it’s in many very similar to the book I’ve written. Small town, strange things happening, a cop trying to figure out what’s going on, a group of friends, a mysterious lab. A mysterious girl. Thankfully, aside from that, the stories are completely different. And, thankfully, should I ever be able to afford an editor for my book and it gets made into an series, my book is registered so I can prove that I didn’t copy anything from Stranger Things.

Now that I have got that out of the way. Almost everything about season 1 of Stranger Things is great. The acting is phenomenal. The special effects, are great most of the time. A couple of CGI monster issues once or twice but the rest of it was simply spectacular looking. The writing was really good. There were a few times some characters did some really stupid things but I never found what they did to be so significantly stupid that it made want to root against them. And, if you’re on of my 2.5 readers you know once a character does something so stupid, I start rooting for the bad guy. Thankfully, there’s none of that in Stranger Things.

Talking about the acting, the stand out role to me is that of the character Eleven played so perfectly by Milli Brown. I couldn’t take my eyes off this kid. I don’t think she says more than 20 words in the entire first season and yet, her facial expression are so enthralling, so hypnotic. She can go from scared and helpless to “I’m about to fuck you up.” in a heartbeat. I mean I’m a grown a ass man I do not ever want to be on the receiving end of one of her glares. Damn! She reminded so much of a young Natalie Portman in The Professional. She has that same type of innocence and intensity. There’s no way she’s not going to be every bit as successful as Portman. Milli Brown is amazing.

Also it was good to see Winona Ryder again. I have loved her since Heather’s. I thought she was also excellent in this. She played being, timid and strong with such believability. There comes a time when no believes her character. I wanted to be mad. I hate it when one of our hero’s is telling the truth and no one believes them. But, under the circumstances, how could anyone. She was saying some crazy things, she was acting crazy. So well played. I could see the people around her wanting to believe her but at the same time, just knowing she’s a grieving mom and needs help. The denial of others never became so frustrating that it takes you out of the story. And, I think that has a lot to do with Winona’s acting skills. I felt for her character every second she was on the screen.

Stranger Things Kids | Bad Horror Movies

Also the group of middle school kids, they were amazing. I knew kids like that. I was probably like that. Never was a D&D player but mad props for their taste in movie posters and choices in horror movies. Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin and Gaten Matarazzo as the the missing boy’s best friends were so good. They had a good vibe together and reminiscent of great movies like Goonies or Explorers but with a Stephen King kinda feel to it.

Then there was the feel of the 80’s. They managed to make it actually feel like the 80’s without going over the top in pop culture references and clothing. They kept it all confined into 1983 or prior for the most part and as someone that grew up in the 1980’s I would have noticed any huge inaccurate. The only thing that really stood out as an error was the choice of music they used to end episode two. Hazy Shade of Winter by the Bengals wasn’t released until 1985. But, in the series defense, the music was playing over the end credits, it wasn’t part of the story. Still it was enough to make me think, “Wait, that song wasn’t even out yet.”

Also, the score to Stranger Things. Brilliant! Once again Stranger Things managed to capture the feel and the sound of the 80’s. That low synth sound took me right into every early 80’s movie and TV show when it blended with the screen title, Stranger Things, and it’s design of glowing read boldface. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought that I was watching an early 80’s suspense or horror thriller like The Thing or Cujo or Christine.

I guess the only things I didn’t like about it was that at times I felt like it ran a little slow. But, it was never not interesting. I planned on watching the first episode yesterday just to see if I liked it. Four episodes later I turned it off to get some sleep. I tossed and turned. Then started watching the next episode on my tablet while in bed. After about 13 minutes into the fifth episode I said, “Screw it!” and got up and spent the rest of the night watching the final four episodes.

Then there was the older teen’s story-lines. Natalia Dyer played Nancy Wheeler, the older sister of Mike Wheeler, one of the missing kids best friends. Charlie Heaton played Jonathan Byers, the older brother of the missing kid gone missing, Will Byers. It would have been far more enjoyable seeing what these two would have done if they only could have come together sooner. More adventures, more monster hunting. Instead too much time is wasted on the love the triangle. Natalia’s badassery was simply wasted on the triangle story-line.

Stranger Things Teens | bad Horror Movies

The love triangle was just more of a distraction then an interesting part of the story. I will say that the “triangle” had a nice twist to it concerning the stereo-typical douchebag boyfriend but all that took away from the adventures that Natalia Dyer’s character could have had with Charlie Heaton’s character. This is a real shame because it slowed the pace down. I’m not saying the triangle didn’t need to be there. I’m just saying too much time was devoted to it.

If you were around in the 80’s I think the only thing that will disappoint you is that Stranger Things almost felt at times there wasn’t enough 80’s stuff in it. But, that’s also what made it so great. It wasn’t over done. It wasn’t filled with a ton of references that only 80’s kids would get. But, I did love the shout out Dan O’Bannon for example, just a small character named after real writer and sometimes director of such greats as Alien (writer) and The Return of the Living Dead (director). I am sure there were more shout outs that I didn’t catch because I was so into the story.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this. It’s fun, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but at the same time it’s no joke. There are some top notch performances here. A more than descent story, good music, creepy monster and some really beautifully shot scenes. It’s well worth your time.

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Bite 2015 Quick Review

Bite 2015 Quick Review

Bite 2015 Poster | Bad Horror Movies
Bite 2015 centers around the aftermath of a bachelorette trip getaway. Casey, the bride to be is bitten by an insect during the trip and also has maybe a little too much fun during the trip that has left feeling more than a little bit guilty but also increasingly sicker as time goes by.

Bite is a movie I have been wanting to see for a while now. Not knowing what it’s about and only going by what the poster suggests, I’m thinking, creepy, yet oddly hot zombie girl and a fun time. There’s a more good to say about this movie than there is bad. The acting is also more than adequate. The makeup and special effects for the most part a pretty damn good. However, some of the makeup effects I think were blown. But, before we dive into the makeup effects let’s talk about the acting and the story first.

I thought the acting was just fine. Some of the dialog could have been a little better. I don’t care how good an actor you are, if the dialog isn’t great, no amount of acting can save it. An example of what I am talking about takes place towards the beginning of Bite. Jill, played by Annette Wozniak almost snaps at Casey, the bride to be, while on vacation. My first reaction was, “Damn girl, you pretty much just told one of your best friends that you want to bang her man.” I felt in that moment, the dialog was maybe giving away something to look out for later in the film. And, I was right. I think it would have played better if it were subtler.

That moment shouldn’t have been as obvious in my opinion. It’s that kind of obviousness that keeps Bite from being the completely fun, gross and an overall cool film that it should have been. Obviousness is actually the key problem with Bite. Almost everything about this movie is Obvious to everyone but the characters and that’s the real shame here.

While on vacation we know Casey gets bit by something. Shortly after arriving home she’s showing some irritation at the site of the bite mark. At first, I’m like okay that she’s ignoring the bite mark. However, all too soon that shit starts spreading and oozing and she does absolutely nothing about it. I mean, it was so obvious that she needed to seek medical attention. What does Casey do? Take a hot bath.

Bite Elma Begovic | Bad Horror Movies

Look I’m a creepy old man, I’ll take a cute, hot chick in the bath all day. Throw some gratuitous boobies at me, totally fine with that. But, we don’t even get that. So, she’s taking a hot bath hoping that’s going to help the bubbling infected growth on her? So instead of thinking, hot girl, bath, boobs, best movie ever! We are forced to focus on the fact that she is too stupid to seek medical attention.

By the time Casey does decide to seek medical attention it’s like way past when any of us would have gone to the emergency room. Instead, she talks to a doctor by phone and he suggests some antibiotic type creams. I mean come on! It’s these kinds of things that just begin to piss us off after a while. They aren’t enough so far to make me give up on the movie. There is, after all, the story behind the bite wound, the guilt she has over cheating on her fiancé during the trip and having little to no memory of it at all.

There’s a side story about the apartment manager, who is also a real bitch and her soon to be mother-in-law. There’s the fiancé who is completely oblivious to the bitch that his mother and that is really frustrating. Then add to it that none of these are ever properly resolved. They do get resolved but they are unfulfilling. Kinda like when there’s that bad guy in the movie and you just can’t wait for him or her to get what’s coming to them. But, when they do, it’s just not good enough, that’s kinda of what happens here.

Then there’s the makeup effects. Most of them are really pretty good. However, they missed the mark a couple of times and I think it became the biggest reason this movie didn’t become a smash success. The first example of this is the final makeup we see our lovely bite victim Casey in. It’s got some problems. It has the potential to look so cool! But, it just misses the mark. The color, the texture is all amazing. The eyes, but then you look at Casey and she’s get this shit on chin that looks like an overgrown soul patch. I’m guessing it’s supposed to like the dried version of the shit she keeps spitting up. But, it just makes her look she’s sporting facial hair and it’s just not working.

The makeup’s not bad, but the rest of the makeup we see as she walks down the hall in that hoodie is just stunning! I mean it’s near perfection but that soul patch, make her look like dark orange Lurch from the Adam’s Family.

Bite Elma Begovic Makeup | Bad Horror Movies

There’s also Casey’s fingernails or fingers as she continues to evolve. They just look bad. The color changes abruptly on them and they just look like tiny cones stuck on her fingertips. It doesn’t ruin the makeup but it doesn’t it help it either. It could have been a nice effect but it gets muddied and looks more silly than scary.

Then it happens, she takes off the hoodie and sadly I almost laughed. Instead of making her fully bald or making what’s left of her hair do something cool, like a Mohawk or something, they go for a bald spot with long hair on the sides. It made her look like an old man. She went from creepy hot, to looking like a decayed, hippie Bernie Sanders. All she was missing was his glasses. It just ruined the whole look. I mean it was dazzling, even with the soul patch thing but that hair, it just ruined it. I wanted to be more into the ending but I couldn’t take my eyes off that bald spot and hair.

The story is decent. It’s interesting for sure. It starts off slower than I would have liked and I wish it dealt better with situations Casey was going through. There was just too much confusion going on here. Casey at times seems like she has already made up her mind, that she wants to break up with her fiancé. Then moments later she wants it to work. Then she’s unsure? I understand that she could be having doubts but it didn’t play like that. It should have played like she was just confused about what to do. Instead it played like there were multiple people writing the love story and each one wanted their version to play out and were completely oblivious as to what the others had written.

Also I would like to have seen an interest from Casey as to what the fuck was happening to her. I mean we have to accept that she’s dumb enough to not go to an emergency and has no interest in learning about what is happening to her. Not one Google search on bug bites from exotic locals? All that time alone in her apartment and she’s the least bit interested in figuring out why she’s turning into a bug? Really?

Now, on to the good stuff. For the most part the acting is fine and there’s just something about the actress who plays Casey. Elma Begovic is wonderful in the role. She plays it well, despite her character being forced to do some really stupid things. I found her to be almost hypnotic. She carries the film well. Her two friends Jill and Kirsten played by Annette Wozniak and Denise Yuen are delights as well. Another stand out is the soon to be mother-in-law, Mrs. Kennedy, played by Lawrene Denkers. She played the bitch role of the mother-in-law to perfection. I loved to hate her.

Bite Lawrene Denkers | Bad Horror Movies

In conclusion, the movie isn’t bad, it’s a great date night movie, it’s got the gross out moments for sure and if you can get past the stupid stuff Casey does. Then it’s a good time to be had. Overall I am on the bubble with this one. I can’t fully recommend it but I do believe it is worth seeing if you’re a true horror fan or just looking for a decent gross out movie. It does start off slow and it starts off as if it’s a found footage film, it’s not. The video works as both flashback and memory for Casey. The video tells the story in many ways. But it’s not a found footage movie so don’t let that scare you off.

I’ve added the link below to The Bite on Amazon Prime. Check it out and let me know what you think.

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