Among the many movies based on Stephen King books, The Langoliers has a reputation for being kind of silly.
This is entirely unfair. I mean, it wasn’t a scary movie, exactly. Not in a bloody, gory, jump scare sort of way. It was scary in more of real life, time not on our side allegory sort of way.
Based on a novella, this three-hour-long movie came out as a miniseries in 1995. Proving that even Stephen King isn’t long enough for some people.
If you haven’t heard the story before, here are the basics. A group of people on a plane somehow get phased out of time and, for lack of a better term, left behind.
The cast is exactly what you’d expect in a Stephen King cast. I swear you could pop these people out and put them right into any other story. The strong men in charge, Captain Brian Engle and Nick Hopewell. The mentally handicapped, I mean crippled, I mean a blind child with magic powers, Dinah. The clever old man, who also happens to be the writer, Bob Jenkins. And, of course, the lovely strong woman who nevertheless takes a backseat and lets the men handle things, Laurel Stevenson.
These characters aren’t cookie-cutter, but they are exactly the same people King always writes. They’re the cast of The Stand all over again. The only real unique character is the antagonist, Mr. Toomey.
He was fun. A high-strung type A who always feels like he’s behind. Even better, he’s always behind because of everybody else holding him back. As a child, his twisted father told him about creatures called The Langoliers who ate up lazy children.
Now, the fact that most of the characters are typecast doesn’t matter. Because they’re just there to move through this weird world outside of time. A world where everything feels stale. The food is tasteless. Matches don’t light. The air feels like you’re standing in a room no living being has been in in years.
All that aside, the characters have free reign of the airport. And that’s always a fun premise. I think everyone has fantasies of being alone in a big public place like an airport, a mall or a library. The atmosphere is both fascinating and skin crawling.
The movie would have been a straight SciFi, if not for Mr. Toomey. He is, without a doubt, one of the creepiest King antagonists ever. He is behind time, late in the worst sense. And he’s developing all kinds of weird ticks. Like slowly ripping paper into thin strips. Or brutally murdering his fellow passengers.
There’s this great analogy in this movie, about a whale who lives its whole life at the bottom of the sea. It’s lived all its life with the pressure of all of that water on it. So much so that if this whale should ever be brought to the surface, its body wouldn’t survive. But in the moments before death, what a relief it must be to have all that pressure gone. That’s one of the moments that sticks out the most when I think of this movie.
The other thing that sticks out is the reprehensible cocoa puffs with teeth that are the langoliers. If this movie suffered from anything, it is poor special effects. These langoliers were bad, they were just bad. There have been two horror movies that have made me laugh out loud when I saw the monsters. This is one of them.
Not enough could ever be said about how laughable these creatures were. I don’t know how they could have been done better. But I know that if Night of the Living Dead could scare the hell out of me on the budget it had, someone could have done a lot better with this.
All that being said, The Langoliers is a decent movie. If you saw it when you were younger and it didn’t grab you, try it again. I honestly think it’s a horror movie for grownups only. And if you’ve never seen it, there’s no better time than now.
Horror Noire, a Film Review
Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”
Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.
As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.
The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.
What I Like
Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.
My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.
However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.
What I Dislike
As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.
Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.
Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
(3.5 / 5)
Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.
And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.
Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.
Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship.
Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.
Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar.
At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.
Then, of course, things go bad.
One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.
If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.
This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today.(5 / 5)
Mandrake, a Film Review
Mandrake is a 2022 supernatural horror directed by Lynne Davison and written by Matt Harvey, starring Deirdre Mullins and Derbhle Crotty.
Mandrake is a 2022 supernatural horror directed by Lynne Davison and written by Matt Harvey. This film boasts a cast that includes Deirdre Mullins, Derbhle Crotty, and Paul Kennedy. It is currently available for subscribers in DirectTV, Shudder, Amazon Prime, or AMC+.
Cathy Madden (Deirdre Mullins) is a probation officer tasked with the most vilified case in her town, Mary Laidlaw (Derbhle Crotty). When a child goes missing, all eyes turn to the infamous Bloody Mary. Cathy, always believing in the best of people, tries to protect Mary. But evidence begins to mount, and Cathy finds herself in increasing danger.
What I Like
Deirdre Mullins and Derbhle Crotty add weight to the film in their performances. Cathy proves resilient against the challenges she faces, while Mary can make any actions intimidating.
To not spoil anything, the ending is bittersweet in the best of ways, showing Cathy grow and mend relationships.
The atmosphere around Mary Laidlaw brings about the intimidation that earns the nickname Bloody Mary. It becomes easier to see why a town would fear this woman as we find her motives sinister.
What I Dislike
While there may be external magical elements, I found people obeyed Mary Laidlaw a little too easily for a vilified woman. There wasn’t enough for me to be convinced she intimidated them to action or magically charmed them. Or perhaps the performances felt underwhelmingly passive?
There was an irritating moment where a stalker helped save the day. The assistance is minor, but it still irritates me.
The daytime scenes of the film are bland. Perhaps it’s intentional, but the night scenes are stunning, making the contrast greater. While this film focuses on its night scenes, I couldn’t understand why it looked so bland, and sometimes poor quality, in the day.
Mandrake can be a frightful enjoyment, especially when set at night where the details work. However, many elements left me wanting more or better. If you’re looking for a witchy tale, I’d say there are better options, but Mandrake can keep you entertained.
(2.5 / 5)