Movie Review: Innocence (2014)

(No Spoilers)This movie, officially released on 9/5, is much better than I thought it would be.

I know that’s vague.

This is a film for the Twilight, Vampire Academy, Beautiful Creatures crowd. And it starts out similarly to many other YA novels and flicks with a Plain Jane (in this case the “Jane” is Beckett Warner played by the adorable Sophie Curtis), a family tragedy (fridged parents everywhere!) and a move. It’s even raining in the first scene -there was no way not to think of Forks! 

As the movie progresses, Beckett remains reserved- logical for a teen who just experienced tragedy, but instead of being angsty and laying around in the grass; she makes friends with the snarky Jen (Sarah Sutherland, yes she is Kiefer’s daughter) and cute skater boy, Tobey (Graham Phillips). Beckett has friends! A girl who is a friend! She doesn’t just have haters that she’s better than! This is a bizarre thing to be excited about but it is actually very rare!

But things get strange for Beckett right off the bat. The school’s lavishly dressed staff and alumni all seem to rally around Beckett, either to help with her issues after her mother’s death or to hit on her father. Then she catches resident mean girl, Sunday, cutting herself and then Beckett almost gets squished during Sunday’s apparent suicide. After that, Beckett starts having nightmares and seeing ghosts. Her visions alert her to previous student deaths leading her to believe that there is more going on behind closed doors than “alumni book club”. Beckett becomes conflicted and doesn’t know who to trust. Meanwhile, the school nurse (Kelly Reilly, “Black Box”, Sherlock Holmes films) is lounging sexily around her apartment and adults everywhere are trying to keep her away from her new crush. 

This film is not without plotholes. You have to suspend disbelief to make it fit, but it’s good. Beckett isn’t socially awkward to the point of nonsense like Bella, she allows herself to be young and lash out unlike Katniss, her friends don’t just jump in and believe the crazy stuff she tells them like Clary’s friends. It’s like she’s a real teenager. She pursues Tobey. She even breaks into his house. Which I still don’t recommend, but it’s still less creepy than Edward watching Bella sleep. There’s no love triangle. The girls’ uniforms aren’t sexed up like the girls from Vampire Academy:

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or the Coven Clique from The Craft

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Beckett and Jen look and act like regular teenage girls without being reduced to boy crazy day dreamers or willed into impossibly cool and bad ass crime fighters. They share headphones, they make mistakes, their parents are clueless obstacles that have no idea what they are going through, they pierce each other. It actually had a little in common with Thirteen that way. And there is no “slut shaming“! There is a genuine teenage feel to this. And if you are into that sort of thing, you’ll dig it. 

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The film sets up for a while that Beckett’s problems might be in her head, it’s not till fairly late in the film that the sinister secrets are revealed. There’s a few clues here and there. It’s also a good metaphor about adults, envious of youth, setting unrealistic expectations but then coveting their potential. It’s good. 

It made me interested in the novel as well, I would love to get more into Beckett’s headspace. At just an hour and a half the film is really quick and there’s not as much time for suspicious suicide pacts and exposition. The audience also doesn’t get to know why (if any reason) Beckett gets an elaborate grooming while others had not. I would be interested to see if Jane Mendelsohn dove further into those aspects when writing the original novel. It’s not a series, which is too bad, really.

3.75 plaid skirts!

Ms. Marvel #2

Kamala is disoriented and still in a mist, she keeps flashing between looking like herself and looking like Carol Danvers. She hears 2 of her classmates drunkenly getting out of hand. Kamala hides and inadvertently makes herself small. But when self absorbed bully Zoe falls into the lake, Kamala thinks of a passage in the Qur’an and rushes in to help. She transforms into Captain Marvel and grows her arm large to scoop the girl up from the bottom of the lake (Zoe also says that she’ll never get wasted again). 

Kamala is still getting the hang of it. She runs off when she can’t figure out how to get her arm small and once she figures out that she can reverse the effects she runs for home. Where she gets busted. And her parents fuss that she is untrustworthy and they tell her that they are disappointed. Her brother offers to pray for her. She also finds out that her friend called them -broke the code and ratted her out! 

And she makes a decision. If they can’t understand why she wanted to go to a party, they aren’t going to understand that she has superpowers. 

G. Willow Wilson nails Kamala’s reactions, from confusion to panic… from being overwhelmed to solving a problem. Adrian Alphona brings these emotions to life, the scenes are vague and distorted by the mist which fits with the narrative that Kamala has no idea what is at play. She catches a glimpse of a person flying through the air. Is it a hero? An Avenger? ..or will it be a villain?

 What I enjoy is that this book is diverse. It deals directly with Kamala being bullied for being Pakistani and Muslim, Zoe comes by and says awful white-centric remarks.. Kamala is a first generation American, she has an identity that is not mine.. but much in the way that one can still listen to Against Me’s trans dysphoria blues without being trans… most can relate to a time when they felt like an outcast. In this case most people can remember when they did something that they weren’t sure was the right thing to impress their friends and had to live with the consequences. Most people can remember a time that they felt like their parents didn’t understand them. And it’s great to see this told from a perspective that I don’t have by an author who is drawing upon her own life experience.

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It’s wonderful. If you like teenage supes and/or appreciate diversity in your media you’ve got to grab this.

Review! IN THE DARK a Horror Anthology

Drawn from a wide range of inspirations, stories reminiscent of childhood campfire tales, or Lovecraft-esque, or teenage action influenced and featuring creepy kids, self-sacrifice, monster hunters, petty revenge or something more existential, good people going bad, and bad kids going good from the tampering of horrific entities. What if the reason that jerk always checks his phone so much is that he needs to know when he’s going to change into a horrific beast? Nothing is as it seems here IN THE DARK.

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Among my faves:

The Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley penned story Guilloteens a punk rock Buffy homage with a Scooby gang monsterhunters and on one night they find a house being used by were-wizards for nefarious reasons. Were-wizards. So cool. Cute characters and extra blood spatters made awesome by artist Christian Wildgoose.

All Things Through Me by Mike Oliveri, artist Mike Henderson follows the son of a fallen priest who can communicate with the dead and has a knack for possession on a house call in a small town and stumbles on something local law enforcement would rather he hadn’t.

When the Rain Comes by Steve Niles is a creepfest about repercussions of fearing what you don’t understand. Damien Worm’s super creepy art is killer here, cloudy scratches, scribbled silhouettes capture the essence of the mysterious creatures that come forth to a farmhouse after a flood.

The Body by Tim Seeley, art by Stephen Green, mixes urban violence with a supernatural avenger.

Final Meal by Christopher Sebela and Zack Soto makes me glad to be vegan after reading this eerie tale about feeling like a God on the top of the food chain following a sad character who can’t get enough of sucking life from between his teeth.

The One That Got Away, written by Scott Snyder (who, y’know, writes both metropolis and Gotham’s heroic dudes) plays off our expectations when a young boy is approached by a knife wielding character.

Brian Keene’s The Lost Valley of the Dead is set in a wild West zombie plague. Tadd Galusha brings it with well drawn zombie animals sporting dripping fangs and exposed ribs. In trying to escape the disease they find a hidden entrance to a world of dinosaurs ..things get even crazier when the T-Rex ingests the zombie coyotes. Zombie freaking dinosaurs.

Swan Song by Rachel Deering takes a break from the plethora of werewolves and features a gorgeous vampire and the dashing would be hero who unknowingly unleashes a monster.

Extra treats- faux vintage ads and page 185’s horror trivia crossword! I’m thinking about sending $3.25 to get my “Creature in a Crate”.

Whether you like your villains internal, supernatural or humanly homicidal and your main characters twisted, teenaged, tragic or triumphant and your settings futuristic, realistic or rustic IN THE DARK has something for you. If you didn’t get in on the ground floor for this one order one from your local comic shop, IDW is printing and shipping this rad compilation soon.