Desiree Akhavan is a force to be reckoned with and has been super impressive in front of and behind the camera with Appropriate Behaviour (which she wrote, directed AND starred in), Girls and The Miseducation of Cameron Post to name but a few. So imagine my delight when she also appeared in the much-awaited sequel to one of my favorite movies, the sleeper hit Creep.
Sara is a videographer and student with a sideline YouTube channel called Encounters, in which she meets up with strangers who leave bizarre ads on Craiglist. Her numbers aren’t setting the world alight and she’s about to call it a day when she stumbles across an ad that really sparks her curiosity.
Aaron (Mark Duplass) is offering $1,000 to a filmmaker willing to document him for an entire day, as long as they don’t scare easily. Figuring she can go out with a bang following a brilliant finale, Sara digs in. She might live to regret her decision though, particularly when Aaron reveals he’s a serial killer.
The Final Girl
Sara is an interesting character. She’s self-motivated and very much doing all of this for the sake of her passion project. She’s also not afraid to use her feminine wiles to get what she wants, including getting in the hot tub with Aaron when he loses interest in their join venture and wants to kick her out. At one point Aaron also suggests they get the issue of wondering what the other looks like naked out of the way by… getting naked.
Sara outwardly is unflappable, though we realise quickly she’s giving herself pep talks in the loo. And also, for the most part she doesn’t believe what Aaron is telling her.
When it clicks, and she realises she might be in danger after all, she has the cunning to outsmart Aaron – and that’s the main quality required in any good final girl.
Sara was the perfect foil for Aaron, a serial killer just turning 40 and losing his desire to murder anymore. When she arrives, she mixes things up and not only does she ignite a new energy in Aaron, she also keeps the second film in this soon-to-be trilogy fresh and exciting. Where Creep had the real Aaron (Patrick Brice) play alongside Josef (who changes his name to Aaron for Creep 2, keep up), Sara bounces off Aaron (Josef) in a whole new way. And that ending!
They say they don’t make horror like they used to and it is true that, of all the genres, this one seems to be the hardest to get right. But occasionally it is possible, even in this day and age. Here are a couple of my favourites, just in time for Halloween.
During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel’s haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay.
I’m quite a lover of Ti West‘s films, and I was going to choose House of the Devil for the purposes of this post because it is really good. However, I also really like The Innkeepers and it’s my blog, so nurr.
Sometimes I’m not even that sure why I like it so much – I think public opinion is quite split on it. I don’t care though, I like it and it could be because of the slight homage it pays to The Shining, it could be Kelly McGillis as a washed up actress – all I know is that I like the concept and it leaves me feeling pretty creeped out. At the same time, it’s having a laugh and the effects seem deliberately schlocky which only adds to the vibe.
There’s also a sadness that permeates the narrative, the ending is tragic and there’s a thread about an old man who has haunted me ever since.
When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of the victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.
You’re Next isn’t exactly reinventing the horror wheel but it is seriously ace with an awesome final girl to boot. I’m going to write more about Erin later on in #blogtober but for now know that this survivalist is not about to sit down and accept a premature death any time soon.
Full of twists and a lot of gore, this film takes on the traditional home invasion trope and runs with it. Proof that isolation with your family in the woods is pretty much the worst. Coincidentally, Ti West actually stars in this movie as one of the girls’ boyfriends and I think is the first person in the house to die.
A young videographer answers an online ad for a one-day job in a remote town to record the last messages of a dying man. When he notices the man’s odd behavior, he starts to question his intentions.
Hands down one of the most effective thriller/horrors I’ve ever seen, I pretty much recommend this to everyone all the time. Mark Duplass plays the oddly vulnerable Josef, a lonely man with a lot of baggage – and he plays him very, very well.
Honestly, all I can say is watch this, ask no more questions. Then watch the sequel because that’s good too – the third film in the trilogy is currently in production.
It truly is the most wonderful time of the year – and I’m sad that it’s coming to an end for now. I’ve been having a blast watching horror movies, playing dress up, stuffing myself with sweets (though this is an evergreen activity tbf) – and wearing dark lipstick.
The office has been awash with Halloween goodness, skeletons are dripping from every surface and we dressed up for my first work party on Friday night, which was lovely. Tonight I’m with my brother and sister-in-law at another party and I can’t think of a holiday season I enjoy more. It’s so perfect and so AUTUMN.
Here’s what I’m digging this week, in addition to all the socialising.
This is a classic part of the Halloween season as far as I’m concerned and the horror anthology is a huge part of the horror genre too. While this might not be in the same league as Creepshow (1982) and pals, as a contemporary piece I think it works well. It has a sense of humour that I enjoy.
A series of small vignettes splice together to bring us a satisfyingly gory Halloween treat. A reluctant Halloween participant, a bus full of doomed children, a sexy Red Riding Hood and her friends on a unique night out, a sack headed loner kid and a vindictive single dad – there’s something here for every horror fan and I enjoy it more every time I watch it.
There’s still time to enjoy this before the month is out, just sayin’.
A seasoned horror filmmaker and his camera crew meet up with a man who claims there is a whole metropolis of monsters living beneath the ground, in a parallel world just like ours, called The Marrow. Initially deeply cynical, despite the desire to believe, the crew are delighted to discover their new friend AIN’T LYING.
UGH. This film is so beautiful in terms of the monster work. I’m so surprised I haven’t seen or heard of it before now. As a whole piece, I really liked it.
I love pumpkin carving – it’s too much fun. The smell, the feels of the innards are they ooze through your fingers – the opportunity to create something wonderful and terrifying. Or in my case, pretty damn cute actually.
A developmentally delayed 40-year-old man named Shonzi is sent to live with his brother Todd. But when Shonzi develops a crush on Todd’s new girlfriend Lindsay, he threatens to reveal past secrets that could ultimately tear the couple apart.
Shonzi (Linas Phillips) is a 40-year-old man obsessed with The Fonz, big-breasted blonde women and film-making, in no particular order. He is also developmentally challenged which poses various challenges for his loved ones too, and mostly his brother, Todd (Timm Sharp).
After his father suffers a heart attack, Shonzi goes to stay with Todd and his girlfriend Lindsay (our girl) with mixed results. A little background before we get to that though.
Shonzi has an interesting attitude towards women and sex, which sometimes leads him into awkward scenarios. It would be fair to say he has an unhealthy fixation with the ladies, though perhaps unhealthy isn’t the word. It’s more misguided. As we get to know the brothers better, it soon becomes clear that there’s a secret between them, and one that Lindsay might not be overjoyed to discover, if indeed she ever does. Will she? *She finds out, obvs*.
It turns out – SPOILER – that Shonzi likes to watch and Todd hasn’t exactly been shy about keeping his sex life separate from his brother’s curious eyes in the past. So understandably, when he starts to bring his new(ish) love Lindsay around, Shonzi expects things to stay the same.
But things ain’t gonna be the same here, Shonzi because Lindsay is staunchly against pornography and she’s not super chuffed when she finds out (before the Big Secret Reveal) that Shonzi has taken a compromising video of her and Todd together (a swiftly interrupted BJ). Particularly when Todd seems so turned on by the thought of having an audience.
I’m not going to spoiler this too much but I will say that Lindsay is a goddamn saint and I can’t imagine that I would be as patient in the same circumstances. Her well of kindness towards Shonzi appears bottomless and she is a wonderfully engaged, smart and loving person. Todd does not deserve her and actually, I really disliked him. The whole situation left me feeling very uncomfortable, which is how I know this film should have been made.
I genuinely struggled with it in places, and it’s hard for me to put my finger on why. Maybe it was the general creepiness of the set up, which believe it or not does come from a good place (honestly, you’ll see). However, there are some incredibly real and interesting themes examined here and I really appreciate that.
Rainbow Time shines a light on disability, familial responsibility, guilt and sexuality, and the fact it makes you (me) feel uncomfortable is probably a good thing. Shonzi has a hyper sexualised view of the opposite sex and finds it very hard to be interested in women who don’t fit his ideal (boy, have I met A LOT of men with the same outlook).
This leads to an agonising exchange (and one of my favourites) between Shonzi and Todd’s neighbour Justine (Artemis Pebdani). Justine seems quite interested in Shonzi despite the blunt delivery of his feelings towards her. I wonder if this will lead anywhere?
I also love the segment in which Lindsay tries to educate Shonzi on catcalling, even taking him out on the streets to gain soundbites from women on their experiences. Shonzi is fully on board how wrong and offensive this practice is, yet finds it hard to reconcile it with some of his own behaviours (telling women they’re pretty, being a little too handsy). It’s very well done.
Later, Shonzi is placed in a situation in which he feels forced to protect a young female family member and the outcome is harsh and also, gave me massive feels. So, despite the fact I didn’t love this film, there are parts that really work.
The question is, how’re things going to turn out for Shonzi, who’s convinced he’ll never have for himself what Todd has with Lindsay? And will the couple even make it through themselves?
Well, guys if you don’t know the drill by now then I don’t think I can help you.
2.5/5. Not the greatest execution but I appreciate certain elements. Also, ML is magical, as always.
What did my sweetest baboo make of this one? Would she like to co-star with it in an action movie, or call the cops on its sorry arse? Find out here.
I had a One That Got Away for years. In my more retrospective moments, I would think about what had happened to him, and what life would have been like if we had acted on our desires and gotten it on (We both had partners, alas. Mine was a raging fuck head).
Luckily for me, fate decided to throw me a bone and we found each other again (thank you Facebook). Now I spend my days with the One Who Came Back and I couldn’t be happier. I think what I’m trying to get at is, sometimes love and happiness has everything to do with timing, and had we got together back then, I doubt we would have what we have now, which is Heaven in two and a half rooms (thank you Chicago).
This film is about love and loss and closure and second chances and very bad rapping onto cassettes. It’s not film noir, nor is it a Christmas movie. It is hopeful and sentimental though, with a leading lady you can’t take your eyes off, so I think this pick more than holds up the ideals of this month’s theme.
Meeting by chance when they return to their tiny California hometown, two former high-school sweethearts reflect on their shared past.
Jim (Duplass) and Amanda (Paulson) were childhood sweethearts. As with many relationships of this ilk (I never had one), the couple eventually grew up, grew apart and moved on with their lives separately. A chance meeting in a supermarket in their hometown, however, brings the former lovers back together and churns up all sorts of historic emotion.
Amanda, it seems, has it all together. She’s happily married now with two step sons and an idyllic life. Jim, not so much. He’s having a hard time as he explains to Amanda, once the initial awkwardness of their meeting has subsided. He’s just lost his mum and is between jobs and places. He’s considering moving back to their tiny Californian hometown, maybe moving into his Mum’s house once he’s renovated it.
The two stop for coffee, which leads to a mini-walk down memory lane. Which leads to something much deeper – a wistful look back at the memorabilia of their old life together. At songs they loved, long discarded love letters and recorded tapes containing all their desires and dreams, a hint at what could have been and what they let go of.
When Amanda opens up about her own woes and reveals her doubts about life, it evens the playing field a little, though who’s keeping count? The question here seems to be: Are the wounds of this lost love deeper than they (and we) originally thought? Can Jim and Amanda simply go back to their lives now or is there more to be said between them?
This might be the shortest review I’ve ever posted in the Collab series but that’s because I’m being respectful of the movie. I want you to watch it.
To say this is an action packed thrill-fest would be a blatant untruth. It’s beautiful looking and very much a ‘talking’ movie with nuanced performances from two of the most current and talented actors around.
Duplass is the King of Mumblecore let us not forget and wasn’t about to crack open anything out of the ordinary for this tale. That’s not a criticism, this is Duplass at his best. The dialogue is intimate and sweet, both characters are lovely. I can’t tell you how you’ll feel about them but I flip-flopped between wanting closure for them and wanting them (Amanda) to risk it all to get back together.
What does become apparent as the film progresses is that the grown up life the lovers pictured for themselves (as teenagers they loved to pretend to be old marrieds with kids in college) became too real, too quickly and neither were ready.
Love is hard, isn’t it? It’s difficult to still love somebody but know you have to walk away. Is there ever a good enough reason to give up on the one you’re in love with? I used to think the answer was no, but sometimes you have to put other things ahead of that, even yourself.
Sometimes you make mistakes, or the wrong decision. Sometimes you say things that can never be taken back, or fail to act in the only moment that matters.
Is it too late? In the end I feel like we’re left to make up our own minds about what happens next and I still don’t know what’s best for them. I just know what I want.
Ps. The last thing I saw Duplass in was Creep (for the second time), and I thought I might never be able to watch him in anything ever again. I was wrong, he’s adorable.
My Rating: 4.5/5. Dreamy. Sad though and it might make you think about past relationships (this is not a problem for me as I haven’t got any really great ones to ruminate upon, just car crashes). It will most likely also make you really want to be best friends with the smiliest woman on the planet, Ms Paulson. Seriously, she’s perfect.
What did Wifey think? Did she think it was as whack as Amanda’s white girl rhymes, or as lustrous as Jim’s beard? Find out here. ❤
Confession: I’d already seen this film a few weeks before Jillian picked it for our collaboration. Confession #2: I didn’t really get it the first time around. So I was quite pleased to get a second chance at it because it’s a very interesting look at modern relationships (with a sci-fi seasoning).
I’m really going to try not to bang on too much as I do recommend you watch this movie. My mum recently revealed that she’s been reading my reviews and sometimes I spoil plot lines for her by being revealing too much. So I will try to hold back a bit.
IMDB Synopsis: Struggling with a marriage on the brink of falling apart, a couple escapes for a weekend in pursuit of their better selves, only to discover an unusual dilemma that awaits them.
I keep wondering how to review this without giving too much away and also, how will I do its complex plot proper justice? However, now I’ve viewed it for a second time, I think I’ve got this. Here’s the set up:
Ethan and Sophie are in couples therapy, opening up their relationship woes to a silvery Ted Danson. Their problems seems to revolve around something Ethan did and although it is referred to as “What I did”, it is not made clear at this point. We can all sort of imagine. It’s worse than him leaving his crusty socks on the kitchen floor, put it that way (GLYNN).
The couple are trying to fan the flames of a love that took just half an hour to ignite the night they met. It’s not really working, which is weird, you’d think plinkety-plinking at the same time on a piano would fix them right up. Ted recommends that they visit a retreat he knows of, just the two of them. It comes with rave reviews, all the couples who have previously visited have come back “renewed”.
So off they pop.
On the first night in their new idyllic setting, Ethan and Soph enjoyed a languorous meal with wine and pot. Things are good. Sophie tells Ethan he looks hot without glasses (he looks hot every which way, girl, you nuts?). After dinner, while Ethan clears up, Soph explores the grounds and happens upon the guest house Ethan had previously told her about. She has a little poke about and plays with some Russian dolls.
Ethan comes to find her and they do it, after making a pact to try new things. Ethan persuades Sophie to stay in there overnight so she pops back to the main hour to get some pajamas. Back there, she wonders how Ethan got back home so quickly, as he’s napping on the couch when she gets there. She assumes he’s winding her up but gets pissed off when he ‘pretends’ to forget they had sex, minutes earlier. She does what any self-respecting wife would do and stomps off to bed.
Confuddled, Ethan wanders off to the guest house and goes to sleep on the sofa. Soon Sophie joins him and they fall asleep together, amidst mutual apologies. In the morning, Sophie is cooking breakfast in the kitchen, and seems brighter.
Ethan, however, gets even more confused that she seems to be totally over their argument the previous night. She thinks they should put it down to a wild night and forget about it. She’s also cooking bacon, which makes him suspicious, as it’s something she doesn’t like him eating.
It’s here that we start to work out what’s happening, though I have to say, if G started acting weird my immediate thought wouldn’t necessarily be PARALLEL UNIVERSE or COSMIC ABERRATION, but that’s me. Perhaps I’m not complex enough. Still, Ethan returns to the house where Sophie is and drags her to the guest cottage, telling her to go inside. Sophie is starting to get pissed off and scared, but she enters to find Ethan working out in the living room. This backs up his theory that there’s some “Twilight Zone shit” going down. The Ethan she’s just seen you see, can’t possibly be the same Ethan as he’s like, fitter and doesn’t wear glasses, you know?
The couple freak the fuck out, pack up and blow that popsicle stand as quickly as their legs can carry them. At the local diner, the couple discuss what this could all mean and whether they should just never talk about it again (I’m a great fan of this particular method of dealing). Yet, they can’t stop thinking about it and curiosity gets the better of them so they agree to return.
Ethan isn’t cool with the fact that Sophie has boffed another man, even though that man is technically another version of him (or is he?). So they come up with a plan that goes a little something like this: alternating shifts of approx. 15 minutes at a time with the ‘other’ partner, no intimacy, no sex – only honesty. Sophie pretty much breaks the intimacy rule within 45 seconds, accepting a massage from Ethan Mark II (who can blame her?).
This is where I back off a little. You get from the lead in that the guest cottage hosts a pair of Ethan/Sophie doppelgängers. The pair take their turns in the cottage, while Sophie seems more into the experience than Ethan. Eventually, somehow, Mark II Sophie and Ethan meet the originals and then things get confusing.
Who is real, what’s it all about and why did Ted Danson send them there? Basically, it’s all his fault and he’s nowhere to be found. TYPICAL.
To the multiple question portion of this review. What’s going to happen when it comes time for Sophie and Ethan to leave the retreat? Is Sophie still in love with Ethan or has she got stronger feelings for the 2.0 version? Can’t she just muss up original Ethan’s hair and remove his glasses, or are the issues deeper than that? Have I got the ingredients in my flat to make my own Mimosa (answer: OBVIOUSLY NOT)?
The ending is great and a very interesting view on relationships on the whole and what people want from a life partner. I think I would even go so far as to say that it will remain with you long after Netflix has booted you off.
If you’re down for something fresh and more cerebral than your average rom-com, then this could be the one for you.
I really liked it. I did have to go onto the internet to work out a few things but I think I’m comfortable with my view on what it all means. This is a film that doesn’t partonisingly lay it all out for you and once the credits have finished rolling it’s down to you to decide how you feel.
I didn’t feel disappointed with the ending and I liked how it left me slapping my forehead and saying “Wow” to myself. This wow took on the gradual shape of a “Woah” and then I had to make a cup of tea to process the rest. Which I would say is a pretty successful climax.
I also love the cast, of whom there are only really two, the couple themselves. However, Mr Danson takes on a sinister character via his elusiveness and you are left wondering what his involvement is really all about. Why does he facilitate this cray set up?
Elizabeth Moss is pretty damn adorable, isn’t she? I’ve seen her in little but I understand that she’s the beating heart of Mad Men (a show I am desperate to see but haven’t yet). She’s a fantastic actress and I really felt for her, particularly when discussing the very hurtful reasoning behind ‘What Ethan did’.
As for Mark Duplass, well he’s a dream. I’ve a real soft spot for his work both in front of and behind the camera on films such as Humpday (2009), Your Sister’s Sister (2011) and Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011). In fact, he’s pretty big shit all round the mumblecore scene. He’s great here as both versions of Ethan, one cautious and guilty, the other ‘beachy’ and open to new experiences. He makes you hope for a happy ending for the original couple, and also creeps you out when you learn the objective of Mark II.
So, I was very glad to see this a second time; to really concentrate and grasp it this time. I would highly recommend this trippy love story to anyone. Even G enjoyed it and that’s saying something since it’s got love and romance in it.
4.5/5 (aka. Pretty bloody good)
I also threatened last week to start looking at pod casting. I’m obviously not very good at all (yet) but I thought I’d give it a go for this review (my official introduction will come in a few days). I sing in this ‘companion cast’, sorry about that. I also forget to talk about why I liked the film, so that’s helpful. Next time I’ll write a list of things to talk about, like a teenage girl talking to the boy she likes on the phone.
Also, please excuse the siren going off in the background, it wasn’t for me.
What does my lovely film reviewing partner Jillian make of The One I Love? Find out here.