Movie Review- Horns (2014)

I enjoyed this movie thoroughly, more than I was prepared to, in fact. The trailers had looked amusing, but it’s short theatrical release and mixed reviews prevented me from giving this one a fair shake. It turned out to be a bizarre, twisted whodunit. Very stylish, sort of Brick meets “Supernatural”.

Iggy Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) is suspected of murder after the love of his life is found murdered. The town and even his own family turn against him. He loses faith in God, and after a drunken bender that sets him pissing on religious artifacts, he sprouts horns. Far from just head gear, those around him start confessing to their deepest -and sometimes darkest- thoughts to him, and caving into their desires at his mere suggestion. Ig uses this to his advantage to punish those who seek to exploit Merrin’s death, and to seek out her true killer.

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This film is based on a novel by Joe Hill who wrote the graphic novel series “Locke and Key” and enough short stories to rival his father, Stephen King.

The characters themselves are wonderful, the truth is revealed in bits and pieces. But as always in media, certain tropes are prevalent. The male characters exist in many shades of gray. Radcliffe’s Ig is a mess following the death of his one true love Merrin (Juno Temple), he’s drunk and dirty and hanging by a thread. All understandable, but even in flashbacks, we see that he was never the most capable of his friends -Lee fixes Merrin’s cross necklace that Ig then returns for he appreciation, he nearly drowns on a dare. As an adult, he doesn’t seem to have much going on outside of Merrin. Ig’s brother, Terry (Joe Anderson) is a drug addicted musician, he lies to his brother and he didn’t even try to save Ig when he nearly drowned as a kid. Terry is somewhat of a coward. Lee was always the good friend, the attorney who vows to protect Ig, the friend who saved him from drowning, who stayed friends even after Ig gave him a defective cherry bomb that disfigured his hand. But Lee always coveted Merrin.

The women, however, fit another pattern all together. Glenna is promiscuous and viewed by the town as “trash” -she’s also the only person who truly reaches out to Ig, but this is somewhat overlooked. She could have played a more central role, but instead, Iggy encourages her to but the town in her rearviews and start over. Veronica (Heather Graham) lies about seeing Iggy chasing down Merrin and threatening her on the night she was killed so that she can get attention and see herself on magazine covers. She’s vain and vile. A liar. She has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But Merrin? Merrin is pure, Merrin flirts via morse code and always wears a cross, she’s shown in beautiful dresses, sunlight radiating off her skin. Even in flashback, Lee points out that “Merrin is different from other girls” and he mentions how trashy Glenna is, and that the older boys only keep Glenna around because she’ll give them handjobs. And like all “perfect” women? Merrin dies. And worse? She dies for it.

And that’s why the whole town is angry, why Ig’s mother wishes he wasn’t her son, why his father thinks that Merrin was the best thing about Iggy. Because she was so pure.

Merrin, the mythical “perfect” woman is missed by everyone in a way that causes unending venom to be spewed at Iggy Perrish while Glenna does a Courtney Love impersonation and vain Veronica has seemingly no morals whatsoever.

But after all that, this is a very good flick.

Iggy brings out the worst in people. They delvolve, their deepest, darkest thoughts are acted upon before his eyes once he turns his back on God and grows horns. But he’s not a personification of evil. That’s hard to understand at first. He claims his innocence while turning into a devil. But he’s presented as a fallen angel and Merrin as an angel. Once he realizes how “persuasive” he is, he starts following leads and interrogating townspeople to find the truth. While the audience discovers that Merrin had a secret of her own. And Iggy must decide who is to blame and if his humanity can be saved.

Great effects, solid plot, consistent rules, unique storyline.

twothumbs

 

Movie Review: Burke and Hare (2010)

This is a horror-comedy directed by John Landis (no one does this genre better) and starring Simon Pegg (who has found his forte in horror comedy, as well). It’s set in Victorian London, a setting that has found recent popularity again in the genre with NBC’s “Dracula”, Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” …but this is more reminiscent of Sweeney Todd than any classic monster mash.

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Burke (Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Fantastic Fear of Everything) and Hare (Andy Serkis, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) are two Irish immigrants living in London who can not find suitable work. They stumble on a profitable venture after trying to dispose of the corpse of another resident at their rooming house and they find that selling cadavers to a medical school could be quite profitable. Only, a good corpse is hard to find, and they become increasingly more desperate and ridiculous in their venture. Burke, for his part, isn’t that gung-ho about their scheme until he meets Ginny Hawkins (Isla Fisher) -a former sex worker looking for financial backing for an all women production of Macbeth.

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Burke becomes taken with her and their increasingly bizarre killing spree ramps up.

The find themselves in danger when the corpses become recognizable and the medical professor is confronted.

Some of this is based on a 16 victim killing spree in West Port in the 19th century, that much is true. The real story is much more macabre, Burke and Hare were found out and turned in by Burke’s lover, the duo found lure people in, get them drunk and suffocate them.

Slapstick murder, increasingly wild schemes and cover ups, naive lovers and neighbors, and a soundtrack and costuming that doesn’t try too hard at realism and atmosphere. It’s nearly perfect and I’m not sure why this film isn’t more popular.

That being said: all the women are side characters or motivation for the men. Not that they are quite 2-D… but they are not much more and there are virtually no PoC characters even in the background.

4/5

Under the Dome: Season 2 episodes 1, 2 &3

Episode 1- This one is written by the man himself, Stephen King. And there are so many preposterous things that occur. We lose and gain characters. But we begin our episode with Dale Barbara at the gallows as Julia drops the egg in the lake. Suddenly most of the gathered crowd collapses as a bright light shines across the dome and a mysterious girl appears in the lake. And from there on we have a typical UtD chain of nonsensical and frustrating events.

Julia jumps in the lake to save the drowning girl. She’s shot in the shoulder, so it seems unlikely that she’d be a strong swimmer at that particular moment. A man runs out of a house and helps Julia do CPR, then he asks her if she can walk. Umm.. she’s shot in the upper body and playing life guard. That made no sense. Junior poises himself to be a hero and refuses to hang Barbie. Linda threatens to shoot Big Jim, which is good since she’s the law and Jim is framing a man and publicly executing him. Very reasonable.

The four go investigate at “the dome” (which is making a perimeter around the whole town… it’s not one spot) where Linda dies saving Barbie. Anyone other than Junior, Big Jim or Barbie would have been reasonable. Her oath was to protect and serve, but another woman being cannon fodder, being a reason for male characters to have a change of heart. Boooo Barbie and Big Jim tussle and he runs off to steal a car from local Science teacher Rebecca Pine, another WoC who will probably have a short life span given this show’s track record of repeatedly victimizing women.

Julia and Junior’s uncle Sam tend to the alien who escapes and Angie, Joe and Norrie save Carolyn from flying kitchen accessories while Big Jim hallucinates Dodee telling him off again. Shortly after, Angie and Junior resolve to kill Big Jim. But then they collapse during a magnetic wave. Ms Pine creates a way to offset the magnetic charge. Barbie and Julia reunite and make out around an ocean of collapsed townsfolk. Big Jim finds Junior collapsed and freaks out, then he hallucinates Linda while Junior has a coma dream about his mom. Stricken with fear and concern for his son, Big Jim decides to hang himself but he can’t pull the lever. Julia says that she’ll do it but immediately has a change of heart. So he stomps on the trapdoor and Julia with lightning fast reflexes has a knife open in her hand and cuts the rope. 

Julia and Rebecca immediately quibble over whether magic or science stopped the dome’s nefarious magnetism. Because women can never be friends on TV.

Big Jim tells Phil that Barbie didn’t kill Dodee, then he invites Carolyn, Norrie, Joe and Angie to stay at his house. Yeah, that’s a safe place for Angie in particular… Norrie is prepared to tell him to fuck off but Carolyn says to keep your enemies closer. Angie still wants Jim dead. Good for her. Sam, Junior’s Uncle shows up at the diner, Big Jim is not pleased. Angie closes up the diner alone, she’s taking out rubbish when she sees that alien girl that Julia saved go into the school. Angie follows her but the other girl runs off. Angie sees that her locker is open and the gets an axe to the back. Welp, 2 deaths + 2 replacements + another straight white male added to the main cast. Fuck. Add to that the waffling that the characters do about killing Big Jim… dude’s crazy and a murderer. And now Junior being on board and Angie commending Junior for having her back after keeping her chained up (“to protect her”) last season… oh fuck that. Abuser turned hero is the worst trope.

Episode 2-

Ms Pine wants to reopen the school, Big Jim sets Junior off to check out the school where he finds dead Angie. At the diner Rebecca Pine tells Jim that butterflies are munching their crops. And Barbie and Jim speculate about who would do this. Phil is there and still suspicious of Barbie. They find a bloody shoeprint. Jim thinks it’s Junior, Junior thinks it’s Big Jim. Norrie and Joe are off in the woods oblivious when they find the mysterious girl from the lake. They pass by the school and Joe whose stages of grief are acceptance and anger. Barbie and Julia are discussing the new girl when they see a fire. Rebecca is burning the crops. Joe is upset and Norrie tries to comfort him to little avail. Norrie expresses the same suspicion that Barbie has about the girl from the lake. Because women on this show all hate each other on sight. Rebecca says that she burned the wheat to stop the caterpillars from infesting other crops.Big Jim decides that “this is a test for him”

Barbie’s like: Big Jim’s like, “This plague was sent as a test for me, Barbie.”

Julia goes to talk to Sam to find out is he’s holding anything back about the new girl and he finds out what’s happened to Angie, Julia finds out that Sam is Big Jim’s brother in law. Sam comes to examine Angie’s body for evidence and Junior reveals that he got blackout drunk because the vision of his mom threw him off guard. But he doesn’t think he would have hurt Angie. Barbie and Jim decide to rain pesticides on the remaining crops and they quibble over who will fly the plane and get the credit. Should they let Barbie- the former military pilot!? tough choice. Joe and Norrie bring weird girl’s shoe to Phil and it’s a match, Julia is pissed that they’re holding her… ummm… it seems reasonable. Less reasonable is hung over and emotional Junior switching gears from looking for something damning on Big Jim to wanting to kill the new girl in the span of 30 seconds.

Barbie damages the wing of the plane on the dome, he thinks he’ll run out of gas but Big Jim had a spare tank. Julia and Sam “clear” the girl from the woods when they find a man sized handprint on Angie. Umm… two people working together is a thing. And Julia and Sam go to free her while Joe points a gun at her. Julia and Barbie recap their day’s event and Julia goes on and on about Rebecca and how she’s too Team Big Jim and that Rebecca “doesn’t know everything about the dome.” Newsflash: no one does, at least she’s doing things that will help Chester’s Mill residents. But the fact that Rebecca was in Barbie’s proximity makes Julia see her as a threat… when she was with Sam all day and Barbie didn’t tee off like a 15 year old… makes female characters look dumb as hell. Angie’s funeral is the following day –it’s majorly inappropriate that Big Jim gives the Eulogy, mind you. She wanted him dead, he’d threatened her before. Really any other person was a better choice. Right before, Joe has a melt down while he’s looking for her bracelet, Barbie consoles him and then Junior finds that he has the bracelet and heads to Sam’s to confess that he thinks he did it.

Episode 3

Barbie and Julia are sheltering the young alien girl and Barbie catches her going through his things. She asks him where he is from and he asks her where she is from. Julia accuses him of interrogating her. Oookay.

Big Jim goes to get a haircut and some cologne from Dwight Yoakam. who is a religious nut bag… but that comes later.

Ms Pine decides to get all the teenagers together to help build a windmill. Joe still has the specifications on his school tablet. Norrie and the new alien aren’t exempt from this task. Julia tries to get new girl out of it, but the mystery girl says she would like to help. Norrie is not amused. And this time I don’t blame her. She didn’t get to be sheltered, she’s been through a lot with losing her mom and was never into the school thing. Now she’s being forced into educational activities and the chipper goody two shoes that she thinks may have killed HER FRIEND ANGIE (even though they don’t allow Norrie any time to grieve). 

They head off to the school to get the tablet, Junior is already there after talking to Sam about his blackout and Sam says that his mom used to go into fugue states but that sometimes if she tried to retrace her steps she would start to remember.

It starts raining what looks like blood but is really a chemical/algae rain that burns people’s skin. That might be worse than blood. Lyle (Dwight Yoakam) and Rebecca face off over religion and science.

The school has wifi again somehow and they have gotten messages from the outside. Including a message to Joe from his dad: his parents miss him, “now he’s the man of the house, take care of Angie” WTFF? Joe is the YOUNGER brother. Angie had lived on her own and is an adult. What kind of patriarchal BS… *sigh* Joe starts crying, worried what he’ll tell his parents, worried that they’ll all die in the dome… and he’s comforted by the new girl. Norrie hates it. She gives Junior her tablet and  stomps off. Junior has a message that says “I can help you James” (which is how so many emails in my spam box begin), and he finds a video by his mother. She confesses that she’s alive and tells him that Lyle has answers.

Then alien girl knows Angie’s locker combo… turns out she had the same locker in 1988! There’s no way schools keep records of that for that long. There’s no way that the combos weren’t changed. It’s so fucking pointless.

Meanwhile Rebecca and Big Jim head out to treat the water and stop the red rain. Suddenly a figure blocks the road and Jim crashes to avoid him, the disoriented Jim is tossed from the car and Rebecca is abducted by Lyle. Jim radios for help. Rebecca gets tortured. Barbie, Junior and Julia bust in to save Rebecca (except Junior who is looking for answers from Lyle). Lyle like Julia because she believes in the higherpower of the dome instead of science and she nearly talks him into letting Rebecca go. Rebecca doesn’t wait, she douses Lyle with the acid rain. Julia exclaims “Why did you do that?” Let me answer… she’s been caused pain and forced to fear for her life at Lyle’s hands all day. It’s obvious.

Anyway, Rebecca fixes the water. Lyle goes to jail, Junior lets him out. And Rebecca goes back to the crazy talk about “thinning the herd.” Maybe in time it would be necessary,  the acid rain killed some pigs, butterflies destroyed some plants but it’s been less than 3 weeks. And a bunch of people have already died anyway. Julia gets to be self righteous and outraged. Rebecca gives no fucks.