Annihilation Review

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Annihilation is a 2018 sci-fi/horror film about an unexplainable event called the “shimmer” taking place near the southern coast of the US.  After multiple investigations into the effected area yield no results, a team consisting of five women with various specialties is sent into the shimmer to find out its cause.  Inside they find horrors that challenge everything they’ve ever known about life.

Spoilers

Annihilation has a few good things going for it, but they’re undone by the bad parts.  The cast is excellent, the visuals are amazing, and the atmosphere is great.  For me though, the writing just wasn’t up to par with everything else.  The visuals in this movie look amazing.  The shimmer is being caused by a meteorite that crashed into the area.  As a result all surrounding life begins to be mutated, both plants and animals.  As explained by a member of the team, it has effects similar to a prism, except it refracts everything, including DNA.   This leads to some pretty great scenery and designs.  The group encounters strange sights ranging from an alligator with shark-like features to plants that take the shape of a human.  My favorite effect caused by the shimmer was the zombie bear that captured the voices of those it killed.  After it attacked one of the ladies, it lures the other women to it when it screams for help in her dying voice, tricking them into believing she’s still alive.   annihilation-2018-monster-bear-review-600x300

The weakest part of this movie was the writing.  Even though this is an unexplainable, alien event there’s a lot of things that happen that really make no sense.  There are far too many moments where common sense and logic are absent when these people are supposed to be smart, on paper.  Towards the beginning its shows that the military has been sending teams into the shimmer for a few years and none of them have ever returned.  So what do they do?  Continue to do the exact same thing for years, producing the same “results,” letting them learn nothing about this thing.  When Oscar Isaacs character is shown to be the only person who’s ever returned from the shimmer he begins to spasm and cough up blood hes quarantined immediately as his health starts to fail.  The very next group that gets sent into the shimmer goes in without so much as a dust mask on with only one having prior combat training.  Obviously something inside caused him to have that reaction just as something else claimed the lives of every group sent in before yet there’s no further preparation, not steps taken to do anything different to get results.

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Some of these girls are pretty dumb.  They have a paramedic among them and when the group sees a video from a previous group, they see a soldier with his insides squirming and moving under his skin as though his intestines are alive.  The paramedic says it’s just a trick of the light and everyone looks at her like she’s an idiot.  Another scene that makes you scratch your head is when the group is attacked by the mutated alligator at the edge of the swamp.  This is a giant alligator, roughly thirty feet, highly aggressive and really strong.  They manage to kill it, and the next scene shows them in tiny boats traveling through the swamp.  I guess they were taking the risk that was the only alligator in the entire area.  At night they hole up in a facility and station someone at a guard shack to keep watch.  The facility their sleeping in is a large tower and the guard shack is roughly three hundred feet from it.  So obviously the person in the guard shack gets attacked and killed and no one even sees what happened or what did it because it was so far away.

ENDING

The ending is…… it’s so weird that a description really cant’ do it any justice, but here goes.  Portman gets to the initial crash site of the meteor and finds Leigh there who vomits out a rainbow rock, which transforms into a humanoid shape.  This humanoid shape proves impervious to harm when Portman shoots at it, then it chases her culminating in a weird scene of mimicry and hugging before it turns into a copy of Portman.  The ending is left open-ended as to whether the person we see outside in the real world is actually Portman or the alien thing.

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Overall, this is a movie that had great potential but ultimately fell on its face.  I liked it for the fact that it’s the closet to a modern adaptation of one of my favorite stories, The Colour out of Space and its interesting to see such a similar concept on-screen.  Other than that, this movie is ultimately brought down by the poor writing and sheer dumbness of the plot.  Basically this movie is dumb and made no sense, but it was amazing to look at.

5/10

-Andre’

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The Endless

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The Endless is a 2017 horror movie following two brothers a decade after they escaped what they described as a UFO death cult.  The two brothers struggle to adjust to a normal life.  Justin, the elder wants to continue to try and fit in while his younger brother Aaron longs to return to the cult where he had a sense of belonging.  Once they return they come to realize that things aren’t all lies and brainwashing as they’d previously believed.

Spoilers

The Endless is a strange movie.  Its portrayed in a realistic way yet manages to portray this otherworldly weirdness at the same time.  The plot is unique, well written, and well paced.  The movie starts with more subtle strangeness, giving you the feeling that things aren’t right here then it escalates the weirdness as the movie progresses.  From the beginning you notice how Justin and Aaron look around the same age as everyone at the camp, despite them having been kids and everyone else adults when they left ten years ago.  We find out that the “leader” of the group rescued the two from a car crash that the boys lost their parents in years ago.  Once the movie hits the midpoint, that’s when whats really going on becomes more clear.  The camp is under watch by an ancient entity that can manipulate space and time.  This entity has trapped everyone in the vicinity in time bubbles that repeat ad nauseum.  Camp Arcadia is trapped in a bubble that repeats every ten years, ending with the entity consuming them only to bring them back to repeat the cycle over again.  As such the camp members don’t actually worship the entity as a cult would, they realize that they’re trapped there and they accept it as they try to live as best as they can, forever.

The acting is done surprisingly well for a low-budget indie film.  None of the actors are even b-listers but they play their roles well.  My favorite was Carl, he provides more of a comedy relief aspect because he’s so over being this entities plaything.  He’s constantly agitated and yelling off in the distance at the entity how much he hates it, only for the entity to make things worse for him.  He was crazy before being trapped by the entity, and hes even worse after, but hes funny.

I really like the portrayal of cosmic horror in this movie.  The characters try their hardest to overcome something they have no idea how to understand.  They’ve been at it for decades yet nothings changed for them.  Everyone struggles to live their lives while realizing that they’re mere playthings for this unknown entity that has them in an eternal prison.  We’re led to believe that the two brothers manage to escape before the time loop resets, trapping them in Camp Arcadia, but there’s subtle things in the film that would lead to other conclusions.

Overall, The Endless albeit a low-budget indie film is actually a pretty good horror movie.  I find myself enjoying the indie horror movies a lot more than the big studio productions.  The Endless does its own thing and builds off of its own ideas to make it a unique film.  It’s a weird movie, but in a good way.  I can’t wait to see what the director puts out for the third installation of this series.

8/10

-Andre

Mandy Review

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Mandy is a 2018 action/horror film starring Nic Cage and Andrea Riseborough.  Nic Cage is Red, a logger living in the wilderness with Riseborough who plays Mandy.  They live a good life until one day Mandy catches the eye of a psychotic cult leader, setting in motion a gruesome revenge story as Red rampages through the cult.

Spoilers

The acting in Mandy is excellent.  There are no cheesy or over the top performances in this one.  My favorite performances are those of Cage and Roache, who plays the cult leader Jeremiah Sand.  Cage delivers a solid performance as he portrays a broken man consumed by a hunger for revenge as he slaughters hellish demon bikers and crazed cult members to avenge his wife Mandy.  There was one scene that takes place in a bathroom that can best be summed up as “classic cage.”  Roache on the opposite end portrays Sand as a manipulative, psychotic fanatic who I’m pretty sure is on LSD the entire time.  He manages to control everyone under him through intense psychological manipulation to the point where they would die for him or sacrifice each other at his will.  He’s also a failed musician who doesn’t take too kindly to criticism, hence his reaction to Mandy laughing when he plays his music as he tries to impress her.

The presentation of the movie is excellent.  Sound is slowed down, distorted and manipulated to help lend to the sinister feel of the person speaking or the events taking place.  For some characters their speech comes off as though they were underwater or as if it were coming from all around you.  The cinematography of this movie is amazing.  Scenes look like something painted by a skilled artist.  The use of color and combined with blackness in certain scenes gives more of a feel for whats going on rather than the actual spoken lines.  The movie also uses good-looking psychedelic animation when showing what a character is dreaming about.  This movie is all over the place artistically but in a good way.

The story is a fairly predictable revenge movie.  Red violently carves his way though all obstacles to get revenge on the man responsible for Mandys death.  There were a couple of more unique parts to the story though.  For instance, the biker gang that kidnapped them for the Sand.  They were supposed to be demons I guess.  They looked like cenobites from Hellraiser and I wish there had been a bit more focus on them as they were pretty interesting.  The movie also had an amazing fight scene with two guys battling it out with chainsaws of all things.  Also towards the end we see imagery indicating that the events occurring aren’t taking place on earth.  Perhaps Red died or he’s hallucinating everything taking place, we did see him use LSD earlier in the movie.

Overall Mandy is a great movie, for certain people.  Its one of those rare really artsy horror films that’s an homage to eighties b-movies.  The story is a predictable revenge flick, there’s nothing surprising about it but the way its told is what makes it special.  The unoriginal story is more than made up for by excellent production and great acting.  Mandy is one of the best horror movies released this year and it’s definitely worth a watch.

9/10

-Andre

Happy Halloween Playlist!

Cupcake by Lynnette H.

Here are 10 random songs that have been stuck in my head today! Happy Halloween!

1. This Is Halloween – Marilyn Manson version

2. Burn the Witch – Queens of the Stone Age

3.  I Put a Spell on You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

4.  Devil With a Blue Dress On – Shorty Long (original)

5. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon

6. Ghost Town – The Specials

7. Psycho Killer – The Talking Heads

8.  Devil Inside – INXS

9. Living Dead Girl – Rob Zombie

10. Everyday Is Halloween – Ministry

-Sabrina S.