Beware: There are some spoilers about Scream (2022) This is not a complete scene by scene direction but there will be talk about specific deaths
A hard legacy to uphold
Even, in my opinion, I know a lot of horror fans would agree that Ws Craven is the best horror movie director of all time. Not to disparage names like Hooper, Romero, or Carpenter, but Wes Craven is my fave horror director. He directed some underrated films like ‘The People Under the Stairs’, ‘Deadly Friend’, and ‘Shocker’ (a personal favorite). He also started not one, but two legendary slasher franchises. The main difference in one aspect between ‘Scream’ and ‘NOES’ is that Wes directed the prior four in this franchise. So many people, myself included, were a bit hesitant when Radio Silence was tasked to direct this installment.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with them as directors. In fact, I rather enjoyed ‘Ready or Not’. So with them attached, I did feel better. Plus they did say they would try to honor his legacy. And after getting a chance to see it…they did honor his legacy. It was nice to see that you can see their own touches and spin on it, but with enough there from movies past to show the love and respect.
Even for me, high school was not this scary.
There is so much good about this movie to talk about. First off we have to talk about the new cast. They all felt new without just taking the place of past tropes or characters from the other movies. To be fair, other than Jack Quaid (who I love in The Boys), I was not familiar with them as much, which worked in their favor with me. To me, it made them all feel equal in danger and made me wonder if they would survive from one attack to the next. It made for some harrowing moments, especially at the climax.
Another thing the cast was able to do was to carry the majority of the movie by themselves. With the exception of Dewey, the rest of the legacy trio was not there for a good chunk of the movie. Other than small cameos at the start, we did not see Gale until about halfway through and Sidney wasn’t even there until the third act. So with what the cast was able to do on their own, it makes me want to see them more if the powers that be decide to go ahead with further sequels.
Speaking of possible sequels, the movie was able to end in a way that makes it possible for more. On the other hand, I think that Scream can go on with no other sequels and I would be ok. With no spoilers, the movie was able to leave it open as well as to tie up any loose ends. We shall see how they go.
The first cut may be the deepest, but the rest hurt just as bad.
However, the motive behind why the killers…killed was probably the weakest out of the trilogy. There were a lot of logic leaps and plot holes to get to that point. It was almost illogical in times. It came across mainly as ‘4chan and Reddit made me do it’, which came across as something of a cop-out. And even for the killers to meet, a lot of suspending disbelief and head-scratching had to happen.
An issue I see arising for any possible future sequels is the lack of motive. Every movie had one based in movie culture, including this one. Between horror movies in general, sequels, trilogies, remakes, and now the concept of ‘re-quels’, there seems to be a lack of theories to be used without recycling. Toxic fandom was even touched on, so scratch that off the list as well.
One other big thing that held the movie back in parts was the reliance on relatives. Nearly everyone was related somehow to a character in the original ‘Scream’. It was nice to see mentions of past characters or even a few cameos of characters past, there was an overreliance of relatives. It is hard to make your own mark as original people if everyone is connected to the past. Maybe one or two would have made that more impactful, but as many as the movie had watered down that concept.
MAJOR SPOILERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
In the lead-up to the release of the movie, I was talking to a close friend of mine and fellow horror nerd about the big three legacy characters, Gale, Sid, and Dewey. We both agreed that one of them had to die. I forgot who he mentioned, but I did say I thought Sidney had to die. After surviving 4 movies, one or more had to die to get that unkillable aura around them. That role unfortunately had to fall on Dewey. While I had initially had picked the wrong one, the right choice was made.
Out of the three legacy characters, Dewey had the most growth and was the most three-dimensional out of all of them. Hell, you could argue that Sidney was the same character with no change, while Gale did have some minor changes. Dewey became the heart and soul of the franchise. He was a bumbling fool in the first who wasn’t even supposed to survive. By the time this installment came around, he was the antithesis of who he was. He became the most valuable one of the trio. I feel if one of the two women had died, it would not have changed feelings much. However, with Dewey sacrificing himself at the hospital, it made you think that maybe one of the other two might not make it. So in that way, Dewey had to die.
There was talk of not doing another Scream movie after the passing of Wes Craven, which I fully supported at the time. He was the glue and brought everything together, However, I was glad this was made. You could tell the directors respected Wes’s legacy and made the best movie they could. Even with the missteps the movie had, the positives far outweighed it. If this is the end, bravo. However, I would like to see more of the characters. If you are a fan of the franchise, I highly recommend this movie. If the original movie was Iron Man, this one is Avengers: Endgame. (4.5 / 5)
Shutter Island (2010): Review
Leonardo Dicaprio’s films rarely disappoint. It was interesting to see him flex different acting muscles in this psychological thriller Shutter Island alongside Mark Ruffalo and Michelle Williams. When I say that I was not expecting such a turn in the story, I mean that my jaw was pretty much on the floor the entire time. Without any further ado, let’s dive into its mastery, shall we?
A cliché setup done right
We have been here before a million times. A character stumbles into a scene to solve a mystery. Everyone is acting just the right amount of suspicion to make you wonder. Dicaprio’s Edward ‘Teddy’ travels to an extremely remote island where a woman goes missing from a psychiatric institution. He’s experiencing migraines and flashbacks to his murdered wife while receiving little to no help from the hospital staff.
Teddy soon suspects that the hospital is experimenting on patients which fuels his theories on what happened to the missing woman. Things take even more of a turn when his partner also disappears. Unsurprisingly, everyone insists Teddy came to the island alone. Feeling like he’s losing his mind, our protagonist finds out that this is exactly the case. He is a patient in the hospital and the entire investigation is an attempt to get him to understand the truth.
While the whole ‘it was all in your head’ trope has a bad rep for the fans of any genre, this film uses it masterfully. Watching it for the first time not knowing what to expect is obviously a shock and then watching it again, looking at all the clues that were the which you missed – that’s a treat on its own. After all, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using cliches if they are done the right way.
Things that go bump in our minds
A huge part of this movie’s storyline is Andrew’s inability to process the truth. The roots for it stretch far beyond the plot twist. Andrew is unable to acknowledge that his wife is mentally ill and believes that moving them to the countryside will fix everything. After she murders their children, he is further pushed into the world of delusion, convincing himself to be a hero because he couldn’t save his own family.
It’s interesting to note that in his delusion, Andrew is the one who set fire to their house. Is this a little sliver of his mind whispering the truth to him? Is it his subconscious villainizing himself out of contempt, searching for answers that are never going to come? Andrew’s psychiatrist pointed out that his moment of clarity has happened before, only to be undone quite quickly. Perhaps it was easier for Andrew to shut it off rather than live with the knowledge that he could’ve done something to prevent a terrible tragedy.
Shutter Island is a movie that provides both the entertainment value you would expect from a suspense thriller and a deeper layer of thought. Coated with a perfect atmosphere and amazing acting, it’s a piece that will definitely hold the test of time. (4.5 / 5)
Wheel of Time, Daughter of The Night
We’ve reached episode four of Wheel of Time, which means we’re halfway through the season. While it doesn’t seem like much has happened so far, this is the episode where things start heating up.
We begin this episode with a flashback. Ishamael is raising something dark and twisted. As we watch, it takes the shape of a woman.
More on that in a bit.
Meanwhile, Nynaeve is healing from her time in the arches. She is quiet and withdrawn. She’s also awkward and uncomfortable around Egwene now that she’s initiated and Egwene is not. Her new friendship with Elayne isn’t helping.
But the three girls come together when Liandrin tells Nynaeve that Perrin has been captured by the Seanchan.
However, Perrin is no longer in the clutches of the Seanchan. He was rescued by Elyas and a pack of beautiful wolves. Beautiful and deadly AF by the way. If you have any fear of dogs, this episode might not help that.
Elyas explains to Perrin that he is a Wolf Brother. This means that he can communicate with the wolves, and eventually will gain some of their abilities. While Perrin and Elyas don’t exactly get off on the right foot, he does find a fast friendship with one specific wolf. After a time, he introduces himself by showing Perrin an image of himself jumping up and down. From this, Perrin assumes his name is Hopper.
Finally, we return to Rand. He and Selene have been off in the mountains. They haven’t done much more than each other so far.
And that’s exactly what it appears they’re about to do when Moiraine bursts into the cottage and cuts Selene’s throat.
Rand is surprised and furious until Moiraine explains that the woman he knows as Selene is the Dark Friend Lanfear. With this shocking revelation, the two run off into the night.
It should be a surprise to no one that I loved the wolves in this episode. Hopper himself was worth an extra Cthulhu. But this is not just because dogs are cute. It’s also because the dog playing Hopper just does a great job.
On a more serious note, I loved how Nynaeve responded upon coming back to the real world. She isn’t okay.
And it’s a good thing that she isn’t. Too often in fiction we don’t see the fallout of emotional damage. Hell, we don’t usually see realistic fallout from physical damage.
But she is hurt by what she experienced. And you can tell. That’s realistic character building, and we don’t see that enough.
I also really appreciate the special effects in this episode. The first time we see Lanfear, she’s eerie. She’s frightening. Part of this is thanks to Natasha O’Keeffe, who does a great job. But the effects are what really sells this.
What didn’t work
If Wheel of Time has any fault, it’s that there is far too much sitting about and talking about things. In this case, there’s a lot of standing about and talking about things. Some of this was necessary, and some of it could have been done better. Honestly, there just has to be a better way to convey that characters are struggling.
This was most apparent with Rand and Selene/Lanfear. Honestly, anytime the two of them were on screen it was a great time for me to catch up on Instagram.
This might come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t read the books, but Rand is supposed to be the main character. And here we are, four episodes into an eight-episode season, and so far all he’s done is mess about with his emo girlfriend!
That being said, the story is starting to pick up. With four episodes left, I can’t wait to see how far we go.
(3 / 5)
Elevator Game, a Film Review
Elevator Game (2023) is directed by Rebekah McKendry and is the first feature-length production of Fearworks.
Elevator Game (2023) is directed by Rebekah McKendry and is the first feature-length production of Fearworks. It adapts the supernatural myth and creepypasta of the same name while providing an original plot. This unrated Shudder exclusive stars Gino Anania, Samantha Halas, and Verity Marks. In full disclosure, I had the opportunity to interview Gino Anania and Stefan Brunner about the film.
Ryan seeks to find answers to his sister’s mysterious disappearance. To do this, he infiltrates a myth-busting web series that seems to have some ties to her final confirmed moments. Desperate to force a confrontation, he encourages them to play the elevator game. Unfortunately, there seems to be more truth to the myth than expected.
What I Like about Elevator Game & as an Adaptation
I am lucky to have additional insight into the development hell this movie overcame due to COVID. It’s commendable that the film manages to make it of that, even if it requires a lengthy delay of the film.
Usually, I provide a separate section for adaptation quality. However, the source material remains the ritual, which Elevator Game performs accurately. While the myth inspires many creepypastas, Elevator Game doesn’t directly take or adapt any of these works from what I’ve seen. Instead, it makes its own film based on the legend.
As the Fifth Floor Woman, Samantha Halas creates an eerie and disturbing character. While I won’t go so far as to say terrifying, she certainly makes an impression. The revelation that the stunts and performance are all her, as an actual contortionist, I give her more credit.
Gino Anania, given a more complex role than most of his cast members, really does bring a strong performance that creates either friction or synergy with his cast members. I suppose I wanted more of these interactions as some cut sooner than appreciated.
Another amusing element is that the entire motivation for the plot to follow is a forced advertisement from an investor. Something about the chaos being a product of appeasing some investors feels uncomfortably real.
The alternate reality remains surprisingly effective. To be clear, it’s not impressively realistic but stylistic. It genuinely seems like an alternate world with a skewered impression.
Tired Tropes or Trigger Warning
I feel weird mentioning this, but endangering a sister’s life to push the brother’s story forward seems a common trend beyond one form of media.
No discredit to the actors, but the romance feels rushed and unnecessary. Without going into too much detail, to avoid spoilers, there is synergy between the actors but little chemistry in the plot.
What I Dislike or Considerations
Elevator Game remains set in providing a B-movie experience. Its tight budget leaves little room to surprise the viewer visually. While I am surprised at what it accomplishes, it’s far from overwhelming. This film also remains the first production of Fearworks, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. I’m interested in the future, but Elevator Game leaves much to grow from.
Rebekah McKendry may have a directorial style that influences dialogue, but the line delivery evokes an overexpression that’s common in Lovecraftian films. I say this not as a direct negative, but it remains a required taste best known before viewing. As this isn’t Lovecraftian, I fear it removes some of the reality and tension of those haunting elements.
Many of the characters feel underdeveloped, making me wonder if cutting these roles might lead to more invested characters. While the performances hit their marks, a tighter cast might give each role more to work toward. As this is a tight cast already, it seems an odd issue to rectify.
Elevator Game provides an interesting B-movie experience for those who know the legend. For those expecting something different, this film may not work for you. This film overcame a lot to exist but doesn’t break the mold. While I am excited to see Fearworks pursue further ventures toward its ambitious mission statement, I find Elevator Game falling short of its goal.
(2 / 5)