Friday, September 13, 2019
Count to one hundred Mississippi's while I find a neat little place to tuck myself in. Which is exactly what I did a few weeks later than intended and certainly a bit more lonelier than I expected. But with an early bird ticket at the local theater, I found myself alone in an empty theater as the music played and the credits rolled- and I fucking loved this movie!
Firstly, let's get the preliminaries out of the way. Grace (Samara Weaving) is set to marry into the incredibly wealthy Le Domas Family "Dominion" by marrying younger son Alex (Mark O'Brien). It's the event of the season and the whole family is there to celebrate the nuptials. Alcoholic brother, Daniel (Adam Brody) seems to be the only family member still on speaking terms with the rebellious Alex. Mother (Andie MacDowell) is just happy to have her son back and the rest of the family is eager to start the evening's festivities which always includes a game to be played whenever someone marries into the family. The game is never planned in advance and Grace must pick a card from a mysterious box, and when she pulls "Hide and Seek" the world might as well have dropped out on her.
You see, the Le Domas family has a secret pact with a mysterious being and picking THAT card means that she has to hide while the rest of the family tries to hunt her down and kill her. And while it may be cliche to say, hilarity does ensue. When a maid is accidentally killed, it tips off the bride to the truth and her husband fills her in on the rest of the details as he tries to get her out of the house and to relative safety. (Pun intended) But all is not a clear cut path for our lovers, as revelations expose more family secrets and consequences for both wife and husband.
Samara Weaving OWNS the screen from start to finish. She's working up quite the genre resume the past few years and is no less astounding and downright charming in this story. Which is good, because we really need to cheer for Grace throughout the film. But we also wind up cheering for one other character, Adam Brody instills pathos and depth to Daniel, giving us a brilliantly layered performance throughout the film. He could have just coasted on one-liners and odd jabs here and there, but this is the one Le Domas family member who truly seems to understand Grace's humanity and the lack of that humanity in the rest of the family.
10 out of 10, a perfect film for me with great energy throughout.
Sunday, September 8, 2019
Pennywise returns and the brings the gang all back together. It's been 27 years since the "Losers Club" had defeated Pennywise, but the evil clown returns to wreak more chaos. So the calls go out and the children, now all growed up, return to their hometown and prepare to do battle once more with the terrifying entity that lurks beneath the cursed town. And while the events of the previous film may still hin bright in my mind, the minds of the other "Losers' don't have the same luxury as most don't even know why they feel such a compulsion to return. They've all (With the exception of Mike Hanlon) forgotten many of the events of the previous film and must now recall those events in order to stand a chance against the evil clown.
But Pennywise hasn't forgotten them. In fact, he's eager for their return and spends the rest of the film reminding them just why they should be terrified. Bill Skarsgard is still chilling and creepy as the monstrous clown. But he's also licking his wounds from that previous loss and the gloves are coming off this time. He doesn't waste much time in peppering his meals with fear, and goes for the gruesome horror with a vicious thirst for carnage. He opens the film with a brutal killing after picking an already brutalized victim- CRUNCH!!! He devours the poor victim with glee as he forces someone else to watch, completely helpless.
We receive several flashbacks featuring new scenes with the older cast, but that often serves to confuse the current story and undermines the stakes. And, with the exception of Hayder, Chastain, and James Ransone, the rest of the cast don't really succeed in capturing the same camaraderie that made the first film so successful. James McAvoy doesn't really capture the spirit of the original film's "Bill" and seems less charismatic and connected with the rest of the cast. It's a small downbeat, however as the direction and storytelling is pure nightmare fuel.
But the film does a truly terrific job in reflecting the most horrible of terrors- that there's no going back. That once innocence is gone, it is gone forever. It was the major underlying theme of the original novel and the film reflects that theme beautifully. The now adult members of the Club face that reality as they wander the town and face their previous traumas and the terrors they thought they'd left behind.
Let's get to the elephant in the room- the film opens with a moment that seems to be causing a bit of a ruckus on social media and includes a subtle change to one of the films' main protagonists. This opening and the character alteration are gaining some steam with the LGBTQ community with accusations of homophobia and bigotry. For what it's worth? I'm not member of that community and can't speak to the offensive nature of the material- what I can say is that I thought the opening scene was horrific and spoke to real life terror that community may face. I felt the change was subtle and built a tasteful arc for the character, though probably wasn't a necessary change when all was said and done.
There is, however, an even deeper change that troubled me in the film's final narrative. One of the Losers is unable to make the reunion and leaves a letter- the letter offers an explanation that undermines the lingering terror IT leaves behind. It was a little frustrating to have the post script, but it made sense with the ending that the director likely intended.
9 out of 10 and a definite recommend.