The Unborn (2009)


Jumby Wants to be Born Now.

My coworker Shannon seems to be a horror movie aficionado.  I’m fairly sure she has seen every horror movie Netflix has to offer.  So when October comes around, I have come to rely on her for at least one solid recommendation.  She seems to be a nice person so I always have to remind her first that I don’t necessarily want a fun movie, but want to MAKE FUN OF a movie because she always leads with something good, but once you get past that she can deliver the good stuff.  Or the bad stuff.  So she claimed today’s movie would be good to make fun of, but then I saw it was written and directed by David S. Goyer, who wrote the Nolan Batman trilogy and Dark City.  This can’t be right!  This is supposed to be a bad movie!  Then I saw he also wrote Batman v. Superman and BOTH Ghost Rider movies.  …This has potential…  And if nothing else, the poster for the movie was mainly just a hot chick’s butt, so it’s got that going for it.  This movie is The Unborn, written and directed by David S. Goyer, and starring Odette Yustman, Meagan Good, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, Jane Alexander, James Remar, and Idris Elba.

A super-hot lady named Casey (Yustman) starts going crazy and having strange visions of dogs wearing masks and mittens.  Then a little boy smashes a mirror on her face and makes her eye change color.  Somehow, this leads her to find out she was to be a twin but her brother didn’t survive.  She finds her Auschwitz survivor grandma (Alexander) who was also a twin, but Nazi’s made her brother into a babadook.  …No wait, it’s a dybbuk.  And that’s a Jewish demon, so her brother starts acting like a real dyb-bag until she kills him.  The evil demon thingie wanted to be reborn as Casey’s brother but was instead unborn.  Now it’s after her.

Shannon comes through again!  I wouldn’t say this was necessarily a bad movie, but it certainly wasn’t good.  I wasn’t pained by watching it, but I feel like I spent most of it fairly confused.  The movie contained a lot of superstitions that it just acted like everyone knew and were totally normal.  Did you know that newborns aren’t supposed to see their own reflections or they’ll die?  Yeah, me neither.  Nor, I assume, did millions of parents who don’t go around smashing every mirror in their house when they get the plus sign on that pregnancy test.  Want to know what else isn’t a thing?  The name “Jumby.”  Right before he smashes Casey in the face with a mirror, the creepy little kid tells her that “Jumby wants to be born now.”  I would then say that I hope that “Jumby” is never born because he won’t last long with a name like that.  And then Casey finds out that that’s the nickname her parents gave her twin brother and she somehow didn’t stop in the middle of her freak out to say, “I can’t believe you never told me I had a twin…wait…Jumby?  Did he die in utero because of all the drugs you guys were doing during the pregnancy to come up with that name?”  And what sort of drugs was her grandma on when she said, “What is a twin but another kind of mirror?”  …Well, grandma, a twin is lots of things.  A person. One that shares a lot of your genetic code.  Of all the things a twin could be, a reflective piece of glass would not make my list.  I kind of get what you’re saying because they may look alike, but not all twins do look alike and even the ones that do are not mirrors.  But I guess old grandma didn’t get herself in an old folk’s home by having full control of her faculties.  Anyway, the movie ends with an exorcism that goes poorly.  The dybbuk shows up and starts slinging people around the room like a little hurricane.  At this point, I agree with Casey when she says they have to finish the ceremony.  I don’t really understand her luck that the first piece of paper she grabbed at her feet as the book was blowing around the room just happened to be the page she needed.  This movie wouldn’t have happened if she was prone to such good fortune.

As always, a horror movie not making a lot of sense isn’t my top concern so long as they can make that up by being scary.  Unfortunately, this movie didn’t really do that either.  Mostly clichés and jump scares.  I guess I should’ve guessed it would be cliché from the thumbnail, but I kept getting distracted by Odette Yustman’s butt and couldn’t see the rest of the picture.  But she was standing in front of a bathroom vanity mirror that had her reflection and another mirror… sorry, her twin (I get those confused all the time).  But isn’t the bathroom vanity mirror in a horror movie one of the most played out and cliché things ever at this point?  You know exactly what they’re going to do with it eventually so the only suspense involved with it is wondering when.  I guess you could say they broke from cliché a little in the movie in that the black friend of Casey was not the first one to die, but I also felt no remorse for her when she did.  She’s supposed to be really superstitious but then she’s at home all alone and the power goes off and she hears a knock at the door but can’t see anyone when she looks outside so she opens the damned door?  She deserved to get stabbed by that little kid for that.  Also, you can’t take a little kid in a fight?  Maybe she’s just too nice, but I wish that little kid would try to stab me.  I would whoop that ass so hard!  Even if he did stab me in the gut first, I still think I could lay a beating on a little kid.  One thing I would say for this movie in the scares department is a good amount of the creatures they had were pretty creepy.  The dog with the mask or its head turned upside down and the old man later were both pretty well done.  And then I also have a burning question that this movie left me with: if an infant dies do the paramedics really bring in the full-sized human stretcher to bring it out?  I’m not suggesting they use a shoe box or something, but it seems like a waste of space.

The performances were pretty hit-and-miss in this movie.  The most surprising ones were Gary Oldman, Idris Elba, and Carla Gugino.  Not because they put on their career-defining, tour-de-force performances in this movie by a long shot, but more that they agreed to do the movie AND seemed to actually give about 10% more effort than the paycheck was probably worth.  Odette Yustman was the star of the movie in that she got the most screen time, and she did exactly what she needed to.  She was hot, she walked around in her underwear and made sure no one left this movie without knowing she has a nice butt.  And she screamed occasionally.  Otherwise, her performance and a lot of the other ones in the movie were good sometimes and very bad on others.  She probably did about as good as she could with the material, I suppose.  I mean, her character was written to make a really big deal about getting hit in the face by a kid with a mirror when talking to her friends, but never really bothered to bring up that she hatched an icky-looking bug out of an egg that morning.  I mean, shitty little kids hit people with things all the time.  It’s not every day that something other than egg comes out of an egg.  I also found it curious how profusely she thanked her boyfriend for accompanying her to the doctor.  She only had a minor scratch on her face really, but she WAS hit in the face so hard with a mirror that her eye was changing color.  Feels like going to the doctor with her would just be part of being a concerned boyfriend.  As I mentioned before, I did not get why she was so freaked out that she had a twin that died in utero.  Granted, it wouldn’t be great that the parents never thought to mention it, but I still feel like my reaction as an adult to receiving that information would be more along the lines of, “Oh…that’s interesting, I guess…”  I also wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that losing this twin was the reason my mom killed herself.  I mean, it was probably quite the bummer at first, but this movie showed that the mom killed herself when Casey was at least 9 or 10.  Seems like she probably would’ve moved past that by then.  I would at least give this movie credit that it seemed to write the character of the super-hot chick well on a couple of occasions.  Like when she took that book to Gary Oldman and asked if he could translate it for her.  …You want me to translate a thousand page religious manuscript for you?  “Could you?  That’d be great!  You’re such a sweetheart!”  That seems like a hot chick thing to do.  …I’d probably have done it for her too…  It also seems like a hot chick thing to do that when she’s told what to do to take the dybbuk’s power away, she only half-asses it.  Your grandma told you to break the mirrors in your house, burn the pieces, and bury them.  Why do all the mirrors in your house still have shards around the edges and pieces in a pile under them on the mantle?  Good enough, eh?

The Unborn was not particularly well-written and didn’t often stand up to logic, the performances were pretty hit-and-miss, and it was more cliché than it was scary.  The best parts of it are a couple of the creepy creatures and Odette Yustman’s butt. But I feel like you can get every piece of the enjoyment of those things from the movie poster I am attaching to this review.  So there’s not going to be much enjoyment to be gotten out of this movie, but I would say this would be a good candidate to watch at home with friends just to make fun of.  The Unborn gets “It’s not safe to be around me” out of “Am I going to be falling forever?”

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Django Unchained (2012)


Kill White People and Get Paid for it? What’s Not to Like?

Django Unchained (2012)It’s a heavy spoiler for this review that today’s movie made it into my top films of 2012, but I still feel obligated to give it the full review it never received. Near the end of the year, I was trying so hard to review as many movies from 2012 as I could that I pushed this one off so much that I didn’t feel like the memory was fresh enough to still write the review for it. I knew it was only a matter of time until I got around to reviewing it because there was no way that I wouldn’t be picking it up on BluRay the day it released. Well the time finally came that I could present you with my review of Django Unchained, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Don Johnson, James Remar, Tom Wopat, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, Zoë Bell, and Jonah Hill.

A group of slaves is being driven by the Speck Brothers until they’re stopped by a German dentist named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who stops them looking to purchase one of their slaves named Django (Jamie Foxx). When the Speck Brothers decline, Schultz guns them down. Schultz reveals himself to be a bounty hunter who needs Django to identify the Brittle Brothers, who Schultz has a bounty for. After dealing with the Brittle Brothers, Django reveals that he’s been separated from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), and Schultz decides to help reunite them, taking Django on as an apprentice bounty hunter until they get a chance to free Broomhilda from the slave owner Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

This movie is awesome, but I don’t even know how comfortable I’d be in saying that it’s Tarantino’s best movie to date. And that is a huge compliment. When your movie is potentially coming in third to Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, you know you’re doing alright in your career. And Django does not disappoint Tarantino fans, at least not this one. It’s far more fun than you’d expect a movie about slavery to be. Tarantino takes what could be a really heavy premise and injects it with his particular brand of humor, which you can see all over the place, such as Don Johnson’s character telling one of his slaves to not be so hasty when jumping to the conclusion that she should treat Django like a white man when he suggested to treat him better than she’d treat other slaves. Even though the scene could’ve technically been left out of the movie, I also enjoyed the scene where the racists were preparing to lynch Django and got into a discussion about the eyeholes on their hoods because it was pretty damned funny. Of course, Tarantino usually writes some funny and/or compelling dialogue, my favorite in this movie being between Django and Schultz more often than not. I guess the dialogue did seem a bit off in their unrealistically low use of the N-word for a movie taking place in the South, but I’ll let that slide as well. The only thing I took issue with in the whole story was the plan to rescue Broomhilda. They determined that they couldn’t just offer to buy her, and they also couldn’t offer to buy one of Candie’s fighters unless they came at him with a ridiculous sum of money, so they had to come up with this big ploy to offer the money and ask to take Broomhilda as a signing bonus. I don’t know why they didn’t just offer a crazy sum of money for Broomhilda in the first place. I suppose part of their idea was to only pay $2,000 for her and act like they’d come back with the rest later, but if they’d just offered $5,000, Django would’ve been good for it. It’s not like he didn’t help him raise at least that much money, thusly earning it for himself. And it’s not like he had anything else he wanted, so he could drop all that money to get his wife back. It’s a major point in the story, but a minor qualm from me. I got over it.

The action in this movie was over the top, but always in a fun way. It was like the Expendables in that when someone gets shot, they are sent flying in an explosion of red mist. But unlike the Expendables, this movie was good. And watching Django go into Candieland and fuck shit up was fantastic. The only real problem I had with the look in the movie was having to see someone’s hairy black nutsack, up close and personal.

The biggest sell of this movie had to be the performances. Everyone in this movie put on a clinic for amazing performances. Jamie Foxx started off pretty meek, but quickly turned into a badass. We already knew he had the comedy chops, but I don’t really recall seeing him as a badass action hero that often in the past. He wears it well. Christoph Waltz cannot seem to go wrong when pairing up with Tarantino. Waltz is great in everything I’ve seen him do, but he’s magic with Tarantino. My mom tried to get me to describe what it is about him that makes everyone talk about him with such reverence. I don’t really have the words. After more than 450 reviews, I still don’t know how to put what I think of Waltz into words. But I also can’t tell my mom to watch the movies to see him in action because my mom can’t handle violence, and his two best performances that I’ve seen were in movies lousy with violence. I think you just haveta see him to believe him. Leonardo DiCaprio is also fantastic in this movie, playing Candie as very charming but believably sadistic. Samuel L. Jackson is awesome in this movie as well as the racist asshole slave, and it was also the first time I’ve ever seen Jackson allow himself to look closer to his age. He’s 64 years old! Black don’t crack. Speaking of racist things, Walton Goggins is also in this movie. I’m not saying he’s actually a racist, but he does give good racism. He’s really good at saying the N-word. Speaking of which, I think that must be tough for all non-racist white people in this movie, as I’m sure all of them were. If I were in this movie and I had to sling the N-word around like that, I’d be ruining every take by yelling, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, everybody! Alright, back into the scene.”

Django Unchained is awesome. Excellent story with great –and often hilarious – dialogue that I’ve come to expect from Tarantino. The action is lots of fun and every performance in the movie is what other actors should study for their own betterment. This movie is easily in Tarantino’s top three best movies, which is the best compliment I can give with an already illustrious career. This is a movie you should’ve seen when it was in theaters, but if that time is passed then you should go buy it right now. Django Unchained gets “Our mutual friend has a flair for the dramatic” out of “I like the way you die, boy.”

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RED (2010)


I Am Getting the Pig!

I vaguely remember someone I work with suggesting that I watch today’s movie, but I don’t really remember who.  I think it may have been Eric.  Who suggested it was fairly irrelevant to me because I’m always down to check this movie out.  I don’t remember the circumstances that first lead to me watching this movie.  There’s a possibility that I randomly purchased the movie without having seen it; something that is a rarity for me to do.  I may also have RedBox’d the movie and liked it so much that I immediately purchased it.  Either way, to fulfill this mystery request today, I needed only to walk to my DVD shelves and grab the BluRay.  Doing so brings us up to speed, so let’s review RED, loosely based on a comic book series created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer, written by Erich Hoeber, directed by Robert Schwentke, and starring Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Julian McMahon, Richard Dreyfuss, Karl Urban, Brian Cox, James Remar, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ernest Borgnine, and Audrey Wasilewski.

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) leads a pretty boring life in his retirement.  So boring, it seems, that he entertains himself by tearing up his pension checks so that he can call Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a customer service agent at the pension office, and talk with her for a bit.  The hum-drum life he leads is interrupted when one day he goes downstairs and a hit squad appear to attack him.  He kills the bejesus out of them with extreme prejudice and sets off for Kansas City.  CIA agent William Cooper (Karl Urban) is tapped to hunt down Moses and kill him.  It turns out Frank is no ordinary bald dude, but he’s a former black-ops CIA agent who has been tagged “R.E.D.”, or Retired, Extremely Dangerous.  Frank is forced to kidnap Sarah for her own safety and the two set out to get the band back together and find out what’s happening.  With the help of other RED agents – Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox), and Victoria (Helen Mirren) – they find out that their deaths are part of a cover up for the CIA involving people high up on the ladder.  They will most likely kill the shit out of them too.

I really dig this movie.  It suffers a bit from a pretty predictable and familiar story, but saves itself from being too much of the same by telling it in a different and superior way.  The action is over the top and awesome, the movie is a lot of fun for something that’s basically about killing, the performances are delivered by people way over-qualified for such a movie, and the dialogue is very charming.  The action in this movie is a lot of fun.  It’s pretty much all over the top and exciting, and usually framed with some funny dialogue.  I really like the scene you probably saw in the trailer for this movie when Bruce Willis steps out of a spinning cop car and starts firing at Karl Urban, Willis’ legs narrowly being missed by the back of the spinning car.  John Malkovich also shoots a rocket out of mid-air, causing it to explode backwards and kill the person firing it.  I’m sure the Mythbusters would wipe their ass with this notion, but I thought it was awesome, so who cares if it makes sense?  The movie ends on a 20 minute or more action scene of the RED people doing a heist of sorts, but I never got sick of the action because it went on too long.  The movie also had a very satisfying ending.  The throwdown between Willis and Urban in Urban’s office served no purpose to the plot and also seemed a bit out of character for Moses to jeopardize the mission to show Urban that he was better than him, but it was a pretty awesome UFC style throwdown that was amped up by Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle”.  Pointless, but awesome.  Part of what made this movie work for me was the way it was filmed.  They used lots of creative camera angles and cool transitions to make it a very stylized movie, setting itself apart from other action movies.  These were small things that you might not necessarily pay attention to, but subconsciously stick in your mind.  Things like Bruce Willis’ eye transitioning into a bullet in the opening of the movie and John Malkovich flipping off a satellite, transitioning into Karl Urban watching the monitors.  I also liked the postcard things they used to show that we were switching locations.

The cast of this movie is probably the whole reason I went to see it in the first place.  There are so many big names and diverse actors in this thing that I just had to see how it worked out.  Well it worked out amazingly well and impressed me more when I saw who else was in this that was not top-billed.  Bruce Willis is one of the biggest action stars in the world, but he is aging a little by now, making him perfect for this movie.  He didn’t play it like a super-badass action hero, even while he was doing super-badass action things.  He played it more like a quiet, shy dude that was crushing on a girl he met on the phone … oh yeah, and also I’m a total badass.  I didn’t really know who Mary-Louise Parker was before going into this movie because most of her film credits are movies I would not be interested in, and also I never saw Weeds, but she could not have been cuter in this movie, both in looks and in personality.  She was totally fish out of water amongst the crowd Willis gets her involved with, but she had a lot of sass to her and I really dug her in this movie.  As much as I liked her, she had the misfortune of going up against John Malkovich as Marvin Boggs, and she could not compete with that character.  I don’t know that I had ever seen Malkovich do comedy before I saw this, but that dude was great.  He was so awesome and hilarious as the uber-paranoid Marvin.  He was crazy and paranoid so people rarely took what he said seriously, even though he turned out to be right more often than not.  He was the one throwing in the most jokes in the action situations, and if he wasn’t actually saying them, he was making me laugh by being downtrodden in the background holding a pink, stuffed pig.  Morgan Freeman was fairly underused in the movie, but was great in the parts he was in.  He was the one that had the part that bummed me out in the middle of the movie, but I got through it.  I don’t care how old Helen Mirren is, I think I would still throw down with her if she wanted.  Something about that lady is just sexy, especially if you have her shooting a 50-calibur machine gun wearing a white gown.  Karl Urban has played a badass before, but didn’t really go above that character to impress too much.  But I guess he was the bad guy for the most part, so you don’t want him to be too charming.

I dig RED a lot.  It’s not the smartest movie you can watch, and you won’t learn anything from it, but you will watch a stylishly-filmed movie with great performances, charming characters, funny dialogue, and over the top, fantastic action.  However I came to see this movie the first time is irrelevant.  I liked it enough to immediately purchase it on BluRay, and I feel comfortable saying you’ll have fun renting it.  SO DO IT!  RED gets “You guys want to get pancakes?” out of “I trained Kordeski.”

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Psycho (1998)


12 Cabins, 12 Vacancies

I feel like I’ve made a mistake that I can’t rectify now. I probably should have watched the original of this movie before watching the remake, but I didn’t and I doubt I’ll be able to by the time this review comes out. Today’s movie is a remake of a classic Alfred Hitchcock movie, and I’ve never seen a Hitchcock movie before. Calm down, everybody! It wasn’t like I refused to watch them, it just never came up. And once I had started today’s movie, I started realizing that I should’ve watched the original first. But, in my defense, this movie could potentially have been hurt by everybody comparing it to the original, and I’m going in unbiased. Yeah, that’s a good excuse. I win. … The movie is Psycho, this version written by Joseph Stefano, directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Viggo Mortensen, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Philip Baker Hall, Anne Haney, James Remar, Rita Wilson, James LeGros, Flea, and Robert Forster.

Marion Crane (Anne Heche) has a fantastic boyfriend named Sam Loomis (Viggo Mortensen), who is married and in debt. What makes him fantastic? He is Viggo! You are like the buzzing of flies to him! Psst. I WILL make that joke for every Viggo Mortensen performance I review. You’ve been warned. Anyways, Marion works at some job that I never really figured out. Realty, I think? Anyways, she steals $400,000 from a guy who came in to talk with her boss and pay for something in cash. She takes it to get her boyfriend out of debt. She starts driving to California to see him. A cop wakes her up as she sleeps on the side of the road in her car and her skittish demeanor makes him suspicious, so he follows her. She trades her car in for a new one to lose him (even though she knows he’s parked across the street), and even though he comes up, sees her take the new car, and probably talks with the salesperson about her paying in cash, he does not follow. … Whatever, we just need her to get to the Motel, right? She gets caught in a rainstorm and pulls off at the Bates Motel. She meets Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn), who owns the place. He has plenty of rooms because no one ever comes by. He apparently lives there with his mother, who is crazy. He seems nice enough until she suggests putting his mother in an institution, and he gets very upset. She goes to her room, where she decides to return the money the next day, and then goes to take a shower. Do I really haveta tell you how that shower ends?

I didn’t really like this movie, and that proves to me that I also won’t like the original. I HAVE SPOKEN! Even though I’ve never seen the original, I feel like I pretty much know it by heart because of parodies and just seeing scenes from it everywhere. I know the whole mother surprise, I know the shower scene, I know Norman looking through the hole in the wall, I don’t remember him masturbating as he did it, and I’ve actually been to the damned Motel on the Universal lot. That being the case, I feel like this movie stuck so close to the original (or at least what I know about it) that there really wasn’t any reason to make it. The only difference is that it’s in color and stars people I know. And if you aren’t going to add to it (but may potentially subtract from it) there’s no reason to do it. I did not, however, know there was a second half of this movie. I don’t know how I thought this movie worked out, being an entire movie leading up to a murder in a shower and cross-dressing revealed in the last 5 minutes, but I did. So it was interesting to find out what happened in the second half. I wish I had ever figured out what time this movie was supposed to take place in though. I thought they replicated this movie so much that they even set it in the 60s, especially when William H. Macy showed up. Macy acted like a pretty typical 60s cop, and then Julianne Moore walks in wearing a Walkman, for no apparent reason other than to say “PSYCH … O!” There were a bunch of things that didn’t work in this movie, the biggest of which was the music. I know it was a nod to Hitchcock, but I found it kind of tedious and adding to tension that wasn’t there. They would have really tense driving music when Heche was driving in her car. COME ON! She WAS getting herself all worried by having a really annoying interior monologue of people talking about her and figuring out what she’d done, but SHE was worried, not me. I was bored. You don’t need to lay everything flat on the table for the audience, we can figure some things out. But they do that again at the very end of the movie, where the psychologist that talks to Norman lays out exactly what he did and why he did it for about 5 minutes and I was thinking “Yeah, I know. I figured it out when I saw him in the wig.”

The performances were fine in this movie. Not spectacular, but mostly not horrible. Vince Vaughn was kind of like other Vince Vaughn characters, but more creepy, shy, and nervous. Anne Heche looked, and acted, pretty good in this. Her performance in the shower scene seemed a little off, but I think she was trying to do a remake of the performance from the original. Otherwise her reaction to being stabbed was perhaps a bit strange. I had no idea that Viggo Mortensen, Julianne Moore, or William H. Macy were even in this, but I was happy to see they got a pretty descent cast for a movie that didn’t need to happen. I thought Macy’s performance was strange when I started to figure out that this was supposed to be happening in the 80s, but it wasn’t off-putting. The thing that WAS off-putting was how bad his death was. It wasn’t his fault, but I forgot to put it in the last paragraph and I ain’t goin all the way up there to add it. He “falls” down the stairs, but it’s fairly obvious that the “down the stairs” part is green screen and he’s just standing in front of it flailing.

Based on what I know, this seems like a shot for shot remake of a movie regarded as a classic, but I found it to be very boring. Judging by the other reviews for the two movies, my guess is they did a poor job trying to remake the original, which probably didn’t need to be remade. The performances were mostly okay, but the movie didn’t really need to be made. We’ll see if neither movie needed to be made if I ever get around to the original. In the meantime, you don’t really need to watch this one. The remake of Psycho gets “We all go a little mad sometimes” out of “A son is a poor substitute for a lover”.

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What Lies Beneath (2000)


You Stole the Dead Woman’s Shoe?

With October Horror-thon coming to a close, I picked an odd movie that I now feel barely qualifies as a horror movie.  It has a ghost thing going on, but not a super strong one.  But it was on the top of the pile I pulled of horror movies and so it’s happening.  The movie is called What Lies Beneath, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Harrison Ford, Amber Valletta, Miranda Otto, James Remar, Diana Scarwid, and Joe Morton.

Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her husband Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford) send their daughter off to college, leaving Claire all mopey about it.  One night, the Spencers hear their new neighbors, Mary (Miranda Otto) and Warren (James Remar) Feur, have a big argument.  Claire decides to get all Rear Window about it and spies on them through binoculars.  One night, she sees Warren dragging a big bag into the trunk of his car.  Being that there is no other, logical explanation, Claire decides Warren killed Mary.  Claire starts having some strange occurrences that lead her to believe that Mary is haunting her.  Claire has a seance to contact Mary and the Ouija board starts to move from M to F.  Obviously, this means it’s Mary.  She goes to her husband at work and gets all worked up when he tries to tell her that she’s overreacting.  To show just how much she’s not overreacting, she accuses Warren to his face until Mary joins in on the conversation.  Claire temporarily lets the situation go until she finds a newspaper clipping about a missing girl named Madison Elizabeth Frank.  She performs a ritual with a braid of Madison’s hair she steals from Madison’s mother that causes Claire to be temporarily possessed by Madison.  Claire must find out what the connection is between Madison and her family and why she’s been haunting them.

As I said in the prologue, I wasn’t really feeling like this movie would qualify as a horror movie through the first part of it, but it kind of brought it home in the end.  It did pull off some good startles and some suspense as well, but without any gore or confirmed supernatural occurrences, I became worried that I would have to watch ANOTHER movie before going to bed because this one wouldn’t count towards the arbitrary rule I set on myself for doing all horror movies.  I thought that Pfeiffer was only imagining ghosts because she had been in a car accident that caused her to forget certain things she saw before the accident and the “ghost” thing was just the way her memories were returning, but thankfully, near the end of the movie, things were revealed that actually had ghosts so it justified it.

I do actually kind of dig this movie.  It pulls off the suspense it goes after for the most part.  I feel like part of my enjoyment might have been because it was Robert Zemeckis, who I will eternally love for Back to the Future, but I didn’t know it was him until I started writing the review.  The movie is a little slow to start and it does feel like the whole misdirection thing involving their neighbors was a waste of time, but it was still pretty entertaining, and that’s all I really require out of a movie when push comes to shove.  I hadn’t thought about it until just now, but since the ghost had nothing to do with the neighbors, that was probably 45 minutes of unnecessary stuff in the movie.  But it turns out in the end that the ghost’s problem isn’t even with Pfeiffer, so what the hell?  Why’re you haunting her when one could assume you have the power to go after the person you actually have the problem with just as easily?

The acting is pretty good.  Pfeiffer had to pull off two distinct performances at times in this movie.  When she was Claire her stress levels were slowly climbing to a boiling point as the movie progressed, took a bit of a lull in the lower half of the movie, and then popped right back up to where they were pretty quickly.  Then she also played the much more confident, pushy, and seductive ghost-possessed Claire and the performance really showed a range for Pfeiffer.  Not a range that I didn’t already know she had though.  She did the same kind of thing in Batman Returns, technically.  Selina Kyle starts off nerdy and timid until she gets thrown out of a window by Christopher Walken.  Then Catwoman comes in all sexy and sassy.  Same principle, less leather.  Harrison Ford had an interesting performance as well.  For the first 2/3 of the movie, he really doesn’t make much of an impression, but shows up in the last third.  He’s technically present for it, but it’s more about Pfeiffer at that point.  When it’s his turn and the back story is being revealed, you kind of feel bad for him for a while.  He messed up, but he seems to deeply regret it.  And by the very end of the movie, you don’t feel as bad for him anymore.  There were very few other people in this movie so I don’t really know what else to say about their performances.  It was mainly Catwoman and Han Solo.

The movie only barely manages to qualify as a horror movie, so I would avoid going into it expecting one.  Instead, go in expecting a suspense movie with a bit of a slow start but some solid performances and you should say this movie is thoroughly okay.  And that’s what I have done.  I have decided it is okay, but thoroughly so!  And I will give this movie “Claire’s hearing things” out of “Forbidden fruit.”

Hey, peeps.  Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh?  And tell your friends!  Let’s make me famous!