The Stepfather ~ TubiTv

⭐⭐⭐

The Stepfather was one of my favorite scary movies in my early teenage years. Terry O’Quinn (Lost) plays such a creepy guy, desperately searching for his “perfect” family. When his family disappoints him, they are brutally murdered & he moves onto the next unsuspecting divorcee or widow.

The film begins with Terry O’Quinn changing up his appearance & leaving his brutally butchered family behind. We fast forward a year later and we meet a new family, Susan & her teenage daughter, Stephanie, and the newest member of the family, the stepfather, Jerry Blake. Stephanie, of course, wants nothing to do with her new stepfather & acts out in defiance. She becomes suspicious of him after seeing his reaction to an article in the paper about the manhunt for Henry Morrison, the stepfather that murdered his family. Once Jerry gets wind that he is about to be found out, he abruptly quits his job & begins preparing a new life in another town as Bill Hodgkins. He plans to rid himself of Susan & Stephanie & they are left to try to survive his brutal attacks.

The movie is a great 80s slasher type film, but certain aspects of Jerry’s attempts at creating new identities only hold up because the internet doesn’t exist. For example, when Stephanie suspects Jerry is really Henry Morrison, she writes a letter to the newspaper to request a picture of him. Said picture is mailed to her house, which Jerry is able to intercept & he switches out his photo. Stephanie is none the wiser. A simple Google search would have easily pulled up Henry’s photo, especially considering he only moves a quick ferry ride over to a new town. The guy doesn’t even try for a different state. That would never be able to happen today.

Terry O’Quinn is what makes this movie. He is utterly charming and creepy all at the same time. His goal of having the “perfect” family & witnessing the rage inside him when the family disappoints him is quite scary. I considered binging all the sequels as well, but then I remembered how terrible they were.

#31DaysofHorror Reviews: Eli & Gothika

Eli ~ Netflix

⭐⭐⭐

Eli is a new Netflix movie released a few weeks ago. It has a horrible score, 43%, on Rotten Tomatoes. But, I oddly enjoyed this movie. There’s a lot going on in this film. One minute it’s a haunted house, the next it’s mad scientist experiments & then, totally out of left field is… well, I won’t spoil it.

The plot is about a boy, Eli, that is allergic to everything, air, water, pretty much everything. The family has resorted to an experimental treatment to try to cure Eli of his genetic disorder that is causing him to live in the plastic bubble & go outside in Hazmat suits. They find a promise of a cure through Dr. Isabella Horn, who has apparently cured other children afflicted with similar illnesses. Once Eli & his family arrive at the super creepy house /medical facility, things start going downhill rather fast. Eli starts seeing ghosts, which, naturally, are dismissed by the doctor & his parents as a side effect of his medications. Eli progressively gets worse, hence the mad scientist & weird experiments part. Then the movie just goes off the rails.

It’s a fun movie to watch. It isn’t great, or super scary, but I was entertained enough the entire film. There are some good jump scares & I totally did not have any idea the movie would end the way it did. So that is a bonus in my book.

Gothika ~ Amazon Prime

⭐⭐

I used to love this movie. I don’t know why anymore. This is the first time I have watched it again in years. And it is just bad. A suspension of disbelief is always required when watching horror films, but the plot holes in this movie are just beyond plausible. The acting, is also terribly disappointing from such a fantastic cast. Halle Berry, Robert Downey, Jr., Penelope Cruz are just bad in this movie.

Trigger warning: Below are spoilers of the film that depict rape & abuse.

I gave two stars because I really like the story. A highly respected criminal psychologist, Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) treats dangerous & mentally ill patients at the Woodward Penitentiary for Women. Her husband is also the warden of the prison. One patient is spotlighted, Chloe (Penelope Cruz), who claims she is being raped by the devil in her cell & her pleas are dismissed as paranoid delusions. After an intense encounter with Chloe, Miranda heads home only to almost run into a nude woman standing in the middle of the road. She gets out of the car to help & the next thing she knows she is in the very penitentiary that she works in. And she awakens days later to find out that her husband has been brutally murdered & she is the prime suspect. And of course she has no memory of it at all.

The story itself is not terrible. It is a good thriller with a supernatural twist. Spoilers ahead: Halle Berry’s character is tormented by a ghost that was also raped & tortured same as Chloe. However, it is the implausible plot holes, which includes time jumps where major events that should happen that are not even mentioned & just really bad dialogue throughout that make the film just terrible. I’m sad that I once paid for & owned this movie on DVD.

Mother! ~ Hulu

My initial thoughts after watching this film: 1) Ed Harris is usually a bad omen in movies. 2) WTF did I just watch?

I do not have any words to describe the plot of this movie other than Jennifer Lawrence plays the new wife/love/girlfriend of a famous poet suffering from writer’s block. He is unable to write due to the death of his wife and/or family during a fire in the home that they are rebuilding? *This is a very confusing movie, so my question marks are my interpretation of what I think the plot is, but not entirely sure because it’s a weird movie.* Ed Harris, a fan of the poet, shows up at their house in the middle of nowhere seeking refuge. And then his wife, Michelle Pfeiffer, shows up as we find out that despite Jennifer Lawrence’s pleas to kick out Ed Harris, he is dying of cancer, so poet husband invites him & his wife to stay to live out his dying days. Then their kids show up & family drama ensues. Then more uninvited people show up. And Jennifer Lawrence just screams all the time at people to get out of her house.

If what you just read seems like a weird stream of consciousness, it is on purpose. The plot of this movie is literally just that… a random stream of things happening that even in the end only kind of made of sense.

What I thought was seriously a horror movie about an endless stream of people showing up at your house, uninvited, when it isn’t clean, or in the middle of renovating and no food in the house (I mean, this is my personal recurring nightmare scenario) ends up just getting weird. It turns from a horror/thriller to WTF did I just watch.

My end thoughts… I don’t get it. The critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, “There’s no denying that mother! is the thought-provoking product of a singularly ambitious artistic vision, though it may be too unwieldy for mainstream tastes. ” Apparently, the film is too unwieldy for my taste.

Annihilation ~ Hulu

⭐⭐⭐

I am kicking myself for watching this movie before reading the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, the series for which the movie is based. But, to be honest, it is so far down my “want to read” list I may be 80 before I get to it & I really wanted to watched this movie. And it wasn’t too bad.

Natalie Portman plays Lena, a biologist that is pulled into an expedition with four other women into Area X, an area of land that is preceded by a shimmering “wall” & the laws of nature do not apply. Lena & the rest of the team are investigating what happened to her husband & his team inside Area X.

It’s a science fiction film, so it isn’t scary in the classic horror sense, but the mutated landscape they discover is unnerving & the creatures they encounter are terrifying. The creature that resembles something of a bear is serious nightmare fuel. That will be my only spoiler.

Annihilation was entertaining & the world beyond the shimmer was beautiful in an unsettling way. It isn’t the greatest movie, but it did keep me off my phone, so that deserves a solid rating from me.

Evil Dead ~ Hulu

⭐⭐⭐

Evil Dead is the cult classic horror film that has spawned multiple movies & the TV series, Ash vs Evil Dead. Evil Dead films are the quintessential movies of horror-comedy genre. I’ve seen it best described as “slapstick gore.”

So, like most horror movie plots of the 70s & 80s, Evil Dead follows the same plot line of a group of teenagers/young adult partying it up in a cabin in the woods & everyone dies (spoilers I guess) except the one with common sense… the lone survivor. However, Evil Dead isn’t a slasher film of the 80s, but demons & demonic possession.

There are good horror movies & there are bad horror movies. Bad horror movies, to me, are the ones that try way too hard to be edgy & gory. But then there are the ones that are bad on purpose. And that is Evil Dead.

I enjoy all horror from the scary AF to the cheesy B movies that are straight to VHS/DVD. If you are a fan of the cheesy, not taking itself too seriously horror films, you will enjoy Evil Dead. And all the rest of them.