When Jordan Peele, writer and director of Get Out and Us, comes out with a new horror project, it is certain that movie enthusiasts of all kinds will flock to the theater. With a $44 million opening weekend, Nope is currently number one in the box office. Its elements of cosmic horror, neo-Western themes and monstrous aliens make this UFO thriller strange, absurd and terrifying.
WARNING: CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS
Bad Miracles in Nope
Nope begins with a dark screen and the audio of a man and woman talking, their jokes supported by a laughing audience. We are listening to a sitcom recording. Suddenly a balloon pops, and everyone nervously laughs before their joy is drowned out with haunting screams and a howling. The camera takes us to the stage: a chimp named Gordy is sitting quietly on the floor of a TV studio stage. He is wearing dark pants, a yellow long sleeve shirt and a birthday hat. His breath is heavy, his body leaning heavily against a couch. A woman lays on the floor behind him, and he is covered in her blood.
There is a lot to take in with this opening scene, as the trailer for Nope did a good job making the plot as obscure as possible. It also sets the tone for the rest of the movie, where violence, suffering and death are inevitable. (Bearing in mind that the chimp is CGI and it’s screams are stock sound,) this is one of the most terrifying scenes in Nope and it is just the beginning.
History in the Making
Enter animal trainers Otis Haywood Senior (Keith David) and his children Otis “OJ” Haywood Junior (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald “Em” Haywood (Keke Palmer). After Otis Sr. has a tragic accident, OJ takes over his father’s ranch and business, Haywood Hollywood Horses, the latter of which Em occasionally helps out with. When the siblings travel back to the ranch after a long day of work in Hollywood, they notice strange things happening with the horses. It doesn’t take long for them to conclude that extraterrestrial forces might be to blame.
A critical theme in Nope is America’s centuries-long practice of excluding Black history and accomplishments. Em tells a small film crew that the “very first assembly of photographs to create a motion picture was a Black man on a horse” and that man was her great, great, great grandfather. His name is not mentioned, because the name of the jockey on the horse in the clip is unknown.
As with all works of fiction, Peele slightly alters these bits of history in Nope. What is most important is how he hones in on the true fact that Black people have had their accomplishments erased and uncredited throughout American history, whether it is in art, science or the history of horse riding. The importance of this becomes evident later in the movie when OJ and Em work hard to capture a UFO on film. The “Oprah shot” can not only preserve the Haywood legacy, but possibly change the the state of the world as we know it.
Overall, Nope is a simple tale of two siblings working to capture a UFO on film. But beneath the surface, there is a smorgasbord of layers that work and other components that do not. One of my favorite scenes is when the UFO abducts Ricky Park and his family and audience. We see a small gruesome glimpse of what happens to the abductees, and it is chilling.
Every actor, from the extras to the main cast, put on an incredible performance in Nope. Kaluuya and Palmer especially steal the show, with Steven Yeun (playing theme park owner and child actor Ricky “Jupe” Park) and Brandon Perea (playing tech salesman Angel Torres) providing excellent and comedic support. Their acting and the IMAX filming bring the story to life, even in moments when the story falters.
At the end of Nope, when the UFO takes on a different form, the CGI and filming is exquisite. It is also near this scene where the story becomes a bit lackluster. The movie ends with Em finally getting the “Oprah shot.” This scene mirrors previous figurative and literal shots in the film; Palmer carries these last few . But while Nope’s actors and cinematography are profound during these moments, the overall conclusion is ultimately unsatisfying.
And yet, Peele does well in making sure the stories he writes do not dependent on its ending. The strong world building, gorgeous film score and impressive wide shots make Nope engaging from beginning to end, even if the final scenes are not as exciting as they could have been.
Horror Meets IMAX
Nope‘s cinematography is beautiful. Peele’s used large format IMAX cameras, whose high resolution capabilities allowed for an immersive, transformative viewing experience. This, coupled with the expansive and color-contrasting desert landscape, added a unique neo-Western aura to the film. When the camera captures the spaceship creeping out of a cloud in the sky, or when blood pours on the Haywood home, it feels as if we are right there with the Haywood siblings, escaping the hungry monster in the sky.
As with most of Peele’s works, Nope is riddled with an array of interpretations and hidden meanings. The UFO blockbuster is a large pivot from his previous works, thus illustrating just how wide of a range the writer and director has when working with horror. Nope is a strange and enthralling UFO summer movie worth watching. And whether or not this specific niche of film is your cup of tea, there is no denying that Peele continues to make history in the beloved, under-appreciated genre that is horror. (4 / 5)
Movies n TV
Scary Fairy Godmother YouTube Channel
Youtube is a great place for those of us who like a spooky story. There we can find a mixture of true tales and cutting-edge fiction. These range everywhere from amateur footage to professionally crafted videos.
Today, we’re talking about a hidden YouTube gem, Scary Fairy Godmother.
The channel launched in December 2014. Since its birth, there has been just one topic of discussion. The fey is not to be trusted, and in fact, is something to be feared.
Some of the stories on this channel are fiction. But some are claimed as first-hand accounts of dangerous interactions with fairies.
Now, whether or not we believe in fairies isn’t the point of this review. I am only here to talk about the level of entertainment to be found on this YouTube channel.
A recent video titled Melsh Dick (don’t laugh) was a common fairy tale. A girl is lured away from her friends by a boy who claims to be her cousin. He doesn’t give her a name, they never do. Fortunately, the girl escapes. Others haven’t been so lucky.
A favorite video of mine, being a city dweller, was Urban Fairies. This video consisted of eight encounters with fairies in an urban setting. Many of these encounters are nice. There’s a beautiful swirl of lights seen out of an apartment window. A person is lured into a city park by a lovely young woman who might or might not have been human. And another person receives some personal and sage advice from what looks to be a homeless man while she’s out walking her dog. All of these stories were delightful, reminding us that magic can be found in any setting.
For creepier encounters, we turn to the video House Fairy Horrors. Warning, you might not be as thrilled about the Elf on a Shelf after this one.
In this video we hear the tale of a goblin that took over one room of a person’s house, chasing out anyone who tried to go in. A young child sings to scare sprites out of their home, only to have them hold a grudge and return years later. There’s even a shadow man who seems to encourage a vegan lifestyle.
Some of the videos have themes, like frost fairies or encounters with fairy royalty. Some are eerie tales plucked from Reddit, real life or imagined.
Of course, the creepiest tales are those where people are lured into the forest by the fey. You’ll find several of these stories on Scary Fairy Godmother. It always seems to be in good fun, until one finds themselves lost.
These stories might not seem very scary to us. The tellers of these tales come away without a scratch after all. But consider this. The only time we’d hear about a fairy abduction is if it fails. We do not know what happens to the others, only that they’re not around to tell us.
How many people went missing in your town last year?
From what we can gather from these videos, we are never safe from the fey. They can reside in our homes, our cities, and our parks. They can even reach us in our dreams. What they want with us may vary. Perhaps it’s just to give us a scare. Maybe they enjoy playing tricks on us. Or maybe they’re vengeful, angry at the disrespect mankind has shown to the environment, and eager to punish us for our abuses. Whatever the reasons, it’s probably best if we steer clear.
The Scary Fairy Godmother YouTube channel is one with staying power. The fan base is small, but it’s growing. It’s a great one to throw on while your hands are busy, or if you just want a soothing voice to tell you a scary story. So if you’re a fan of the creepier side of life, do yourself a favor and check it out.(3.5 / 5)
The Last of Us: Episodes 8 and 9: The End
Sometimes life gets in the way. Maybe you watched the episodes the nights they came out, but then you got your stomach tattooed so you didn’t have the energy to type on your computer, and then you had to work nonstop for six days straight and housesit 20 miles out of town, and then you got into a hit-and-run car accident with your boyfriend (luckily you’re both okay but really very angry at the asshole that just drove away), etc. etc.. March has been a lot, but I finally rolled up my sleeves, made time for my computer and stopped procrastinating the job of writing my final review on HBO’s The Last of Us.
Here we will cover the final events of Joel and Ellie’s saga. Both episodes were directed by Ali Abassi and written by Craig Mazin and, in episode 9, Neil Druckmann. The adaptation continued to cover the story elements of the game, leaving out and/or changing most of the fighting and action scenes. This change is especially noticeable in episode 9, “Look for the Light,” but we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s first do a recap of episode 8, “When We Are in Need.”
“When We Are in Need”
Ellie is on the hunt for food and comes across a deer, which she shoots down almost effortlessly. It is in this moment that she meets a preacher named David (Scott Shepherd) and his partner, James (Troy Baker, (Joel’s voice actor in the video games)). After a moment of hostility towards the stranger, Ellie agrees to give the deer to David in exchange for penicillin. Shortly after giving Joel the medication, Ellie has to leave again to deter David’s religious crew from hunting her and Joel. It turns out Joel killed a few of David’s men, and the preacher is out for revenge.
The religious group captures Ellie and puts her in a cell, where she discovers David has been feed them human remains. Meanwhile, Joel finally awakes and is stable enough to escape the house and search for Ellie. He tortures two men into disclosing her location, but he is almost too late. David places Ellie on a butcher block and is just about to chop her up when she narrowly escapes. The two fight until she finally has the advantage and takes him down, bludgeoning him to death with an insurmountable fury of vengeance.
“Look for the Light”
Episode 9 begins with a flashback of Ellie’s pregnant mother, Anna (Ashley Johnson, (Ellie’s voice actor in the video games). An infected bit Anna just moments before she gave birth to Ellie. Moments pass, and Marlene finds the two in a pool of blood. She is forced to take the baby and kill her friend. Fast forward 14 years, and Joel and Ellie are almost done with their journey. They finally made it to Utah. Ellie, still processing everything that happened with David, is sad and somber. Joel tries his best to cheer her up, but nothing seems to work.
Suddenly, the youth sees something and runs off to get a better look. Joel chases her until he stops and stares in awe. The camera pans from him to Ellie inches away from a giraffe. She is her old self again, cracking jokes and asking a myriad of questions. Later on, when Joel reveals that he tried to kill himself after Sarah’s death, Ellie provides him as much comfort as she can. But the fact that Joel can trust her enough to reveal such a secret means is a comfort on its own. He asks Ellie to read some puns to lighten the mood, but his moment is interrupted when a group of Fireflies knock them out.
Joel wakes up in a hospital to see Marleen, who informs him that the doctors are preparing Ellie for surgery to remove the part of her brain that makes her immune. This procedure, however, will result in Ellie’s death. No matter how hard Joel fights, Marlene won’t budge. She instead has two Firefly soldiers escort Joel out of the hospital, but he kills them and everyone else until he finds the surgery room, where he murders the doctor in cold blood. He escapes with an unconscious Ellie and makes it as far as the parking garage until Marlene stops them. The camera cuts to Joel driving a car with Ellie in the backseat.
Ellie wakes up and asks Joel what happens. While he lies to her that there is no cure, the camera flickers back to the parking garage scene with Marlene. He shoots her once. After listening to her begs and pleas, he kills her with a final shot.
The duo have to walk the last few miles to Tommy’s town. At the top of a waterfall, they get a spectacular view of their new home, their new futures. Before making the final trek, Ellie tells Joel about her past and how she saw her best friend die. This lead to watching Tess, Sam and Henry die because of the disease. The fact that they all had to go through such gruesome deaths, only for there not to be a cure, is too much for Ellie to handle. She makes Joel swear that he is telling the truth, and in a beat, he does.
HBO’s The Last of Us is a remarkable video game adaptation that deserves all the high praise it has received the past few months. From the set design and effects to the filming, screenwriting and acting, the show is a peak example of how to do an adaptation well. It is heart-throbbing and terrifying.
A few issues with HBO’s adaptation is how much they excluded the game play scenes. Despite the world being filled with infected, they were rarely on screen. This is disappointing, especially because it increases the stakes and so much of Joel and Ellie’s relationship builds in these fight scenes. The biggest disappointment was in episode 9, in which the show completely cut out the game’s highway scene. Furthermore, there are numerous creative weapons the show could have included to illustrate Joel and Ellie’s means of survival, from molotov cocktails and nail bombs to the beloved shotgun and its shorty companion.
Despite these small quibbles, the show is arguably one of the best American video game adaptations out there. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey were the perfect casting choices for Joel and Ellie, as was the casting for all the other characters.
It will be exciting to see where Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin take The Last of Us 2. I hope they will include more gameplay (aka a little more violence), more screen time for infected, and some creative liberties with the original story while also sticking to the heart of it. We will just have to wait and see what they come up with. Until we meet again, don’t forgot to read about the other shows and games we’re loving here at HauntedMTL.
(4 / 5)
Movies n TV
Let the Wrong One In, a Film Review
Let the Wrong One In is a horror comedy directed and written by Conor McMahon, starring Karl Rice, Eoin Duffy, and Anthony Head.
Let the Wrong One In is a 2021 horror comedy directed and written by Conor McMahon, starring Karl Rice, Eoin Duffy, and Anthony Head. This film is currently available per subscription to Amazon Prime (through Shudder) or Shudder directly.
Matt (Karl Rice) and Deco (Eoin Duffy) are estranged brothers, but when Deco finds himself strangely ill, he seeks his brother out. Through obvious signs and tropable behaviors, the brothers realize Deco is a vampire. What follows spirals into a plot of brotherly guilt, passive aggression, and bloody retribution.
What I Like
With the titular reference to Let the Right One In, the idea interested me. After the trailer, I realized this film doesn’t relate to or parody the novel or film aside from being about vampires. As a fan of the franchise, it would have been interesting to find a subversion. However, the film can charm a viewer at certain points, receiving a few laughs from me.
Either Let the Wrong One In is a micro budget film or imitates such films. The special effects ensure you know this as intended, if perhaps out of necessity. If you can accept these points, the film might be an entertaining viewing experience.
The chemistry between the two leads is where the film shines. Both Karl Rice and Eoin Duffy feel like bickering brothers. With Deco’s performance as an addict, the film even ties into elements that family members of addicts know all too well.
Anthony Head (of Buffy fame) also plays his campy and ridiculous vampire hunter role to perfection, even seeming competent in the profession despite the character being more of a joke. Anthony Head can chew a scene, becoming an easy highlight of the film.
I like how vampires are named vampires without the cliche attempt to figure out what they are. It seems to be a rare thing to see on film. When this standard of logic does appear, it helps me believe the characters a little more. Though Let the Wrong One In doesn’t care if you believe in its characters.
Potential Trigger Warnings or Tired Tropes
The film is a collection of tropes wrapped around a campy and zany direction. I wouldn’t particularly say they are tired or are different enough to have a pass, but one goes into a film like this with these expectations. Don’t expect unique and refreshing subversions.
Addiction plays a role in the film, including the emotional manipulation addicts deploy to control others. The film doesn’t depict these elements effectively or abhorrently, existing as a plot point first and foremost. If this plotline upsets you, perhaps give this film a skip.
There is a point where implied violence occurs on an animal, but it certainly doesn’t take this idea too seriously. In fact, the creature gets a few shining moments. Still, I understand some get squirmy at this.
What I Dislike
Let the Wrong One In falls under the “so bad it’s good” category, though purposely done to be so. It’s a campy and dumb movie for those interested in passing the time. There is nothing wrong with satisfying this niche, but it’s not an enjoyable time for all.
The brotherly relationship should be the center of the film, which might have focused the film more. However, the film has a big bad that feels somewhat out of place and unnecessary. It also adds to the runtime, which isn’t long at 1 hour and 40 minutes. But it feels too long for this plot.
Again, I wonder why Let the Right One In exists as the film’s namesake as it has no notable connection to the franchise, even in parody.
While I must admit that more jokes landed with me than I expected, most of the zany humor falls flops. This film seems to be a Shaun of the Dead clone but falls far from the other’s success, lacking the focus of its predecessor.
As mentioned, if you want a horror comedy to turn your brain off to, Let the Wrong One In can certainly be that film. However, there are better examples to pull from. The lack of direction and comparisons to greater options makes this fall even further on the recommendation list. One additional point in the film’s favor is that you will likely know if the film is for you within the first few minutes of viewing.
(1.5 / 5)