Movie Review- Found (2014)

Based on Tom Rigney’s 2004 novel of the same title, Found has won big on the film festival circuit. 40 Official Selection awards, 15 best picture awards and 8 best actor awards. It’s a dark coming of age story that follows Marty (Gavin Brown), a bullied young boy who spend his free time watching horror flicks and creating graphic novels… and sneaking peeks at the decapitated heads inside of his older brother’s bowling ball bag.

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He knows his brother Steve (Ethan Philbeck) is a serial killer but he still wishes that they were closer like the old days. Their mother is clueless, or at least seems to be from Marty’s point of view, and their father is a racist and an asshole.

I can tell without looking that the Best Actor awards went only to Gavin Brown, because no one else there was doing any good acting. Ethan Philbeck delivers his lines in a bizarre manner, and audio quality and editing seem to make the other’s seem jerky and unsure. Everyone else looks like they are acting.

This film really could have gone places for me. It’s doing something really rare in horror, focussing on the emotion not of the tortured but on that of someone just on the outside. Following a family living in suburban paradise, a family who has secrets. Marty has an all too common real world problem, he’s bullied by classmates until his own friends turn on him. And a dysfunctional older brother who loves him. He thinks his parents are out of touch and he doesn’t understand what is happening around him. Steve takes revenge on Marty’s bully and Marty threatens a friend who turns on him that Steve will kill him… a stunt that he wonders if Steve will turn on him for.

And it would all be so perfect. So perfect.

Except that there is a movie within the movie, called “Headless” (which you can watch in full on the DVD) which involves a serial killer who hacks women to bits and then fucks the decapitated heads. Not to mention that Steve’s killings are racially motivated. Why? We were going along so well without racism, And needless skullfucking. And uncomfortable to watch scene of eyeballs being eaten and regurgitated (although that one by itself isn’t a deal breaker). But after following horror nerd Marty around and people thinking he’s weird for liking pretty much all the shit that I like and having him misunderstood by peers -it seems thrown away to have Steve motivated by a horror VHS that he stole from the video store.

And I hate everything where there is rape or incest portrayed just to have it there. Because the heads in the bowling bags didn’t indicate that Steve was a bad guy or anything by themselves… right?

So it starts out rather poetic and then gets too weird at the end for me to have loved it the way that I would have without those troubling elements. Sadly, I feel like the purpose or moral of this story is thrown out nearly entirely by the break down of Steve’s character. It could have been so much more. But sadly, 2/5 stars.

Book Review #30- Iron Night

Oh man. Since the first in this series was so good that i had to start a blog because of it my expectation for book 2 may have been higher than average, but it lived up in nearly every way. There is no way to replicate that feeling of something new and glorious, but ML Brennan skillfully avoids a slump while the nerdy and impoverished Fortitude Scott gets in over his head (again) in a supernatural plot that runs deeper than he could ever imagine (…again). Suzume Hollis, ‘co-main character’ and kitsune is still more kick ass than Fort. She has his back, consistently, even though she likes to give him a hard time. Parts are genuinely sweet, but don’t linger too long in the sap as they attempt to track down those responsible for the murder of Fort’s roommate. 

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They uncover a plot by elves to create less human purebloods and preserve the bloodlines through incest and magic. It’s incredibly messed up. To say the least. Fort meets a girl, and Brennan does the right thing here and makes Lilah the elf capable, caring and on their side. fort has every reason to fall for a girl with a peculiar upbringing -he himself was raised mostly in solitude under crazy freaky family rules (Fort’s still drinking his mother’s blood, consuming fluids from your mother in your 20s is hella bizarre). He can sympathize with a character who knows it’s wrong that she went to prom with her cousin, who is embroiled in her family’s crazy and criminal behavior against her will. She likens her upbringing to being raised in a cult. 

So the elves, growingly discontent with low birth rates and dwindling numbers and watered down powerless too-human children get crazy like the ancient royals and start breeding anyone that will make a viable elf child… no matter how young or closely related. If that wasn’t gross enough, the plot also involves a hyper-violent skinwalker and magical roofies.

Fort’s still trying to keep himself human, but he has to team up with his VERY vampiric sister, Prudence while his dashing brother is tending to his wife. Fort’s also terrified of Prudence. And with good reason. Torture is her cup of tea. She waffles between “antagonist” and “ally” as she herself becomes concerned that their family is weakening with this more human approach to raising Fort. The pure elves “Themselves” are willing to do ANYTHING to elevate their elite status.. and so is Prudence.

There’s more! Fort’s human father figure gets caught up in the mix and he has to make hard choices about where his allegiances lie. He still tries to make it to his shifts at a high end restaurant with an egomaniacal chef and he still buys his clothes at Ocean State Job Lot. Suzume still just about steals every page for me, although she wasn’t as focussed on as in the last book. Suzume is still all about playing pranks and showing Fort up, but she’s sweet when he needs her. She’s an awesome *friend* ..even if she might have set up book 3 with a strange new roommate for Fort. There’s a ton going on in just 305 pages. There were some interactions that made me crack up with laughter and ones that broke my heart. 

ML Brennan presents vampires as apex predators (which I think is awesome, because it shouldn’t be easy to make a vampire: there would be vampires everywhere. And if they say ‘immortality is a curse’ and that why they don’t turn anyone, I will hate that book) and in this one she makes a real monster out of the skinwalker (with it’s own powerset outside of those presented by Patricia Briggs or shown in TrueBlood) and concocts an intricate elf hierarchy system. It’s fabulously detailed. There’s also close relation between personalities and their species/customs. Lilah is meek from being sheltered by her family. These creepy things start out as the norm until she sees how deep it runs, but until Fort’s arrival calls attention, she would never have questioned. Fort is rebellious because he was at one point raised human, he is quite literally not like his family. Suzume is a frigging badass because she was raised in a matriarchal society by women who don’t take husbands and she needs to support herself in every way. It’s not just random traits. They were born and raised to be what they are. Personalities develop around experiences and there aren’t any shortcuts taken in the backstories.

This is really better than I could explain. 5 out of 5. Throw down you $8 and get pumped for book #3 out in November.

I would recommend this series for anyone who’s an urban fantasy fan, those looking to get beyond supernatural YA fare (it’s grown up, sans-smut) and.. well, anyone who daydreams about going on crazy adventures while they’re working their crap-job. Fort’s a good hero while still acknowledging that he’s in over his head, Suzume is a good friend without becoming an insta-love interest. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the characters progress.