Synopsis: While holidaying in Berlin, Australian photographer, Clare, meets Andi, a charismatic local man and there is an instant attraction between them. A night of passion ensues. But what initially appears to be the start of a romance, takes an unexpected and sinister turn when Clare wakes the following morning to discover Andi has left for work and locked her in his apartment. An easy mistake to make, of course, except Andi has no intention of letting her go again. Ever.
I was always taught to be careful when traveling alone whether you're going to a new country or simply a new city. Clare is a tourist who obviously didn't get that memo. She's a photographer wanting to take photos of architecture. She travels to Berlin from Australia and quickly lets it be known to a stranger that she is exactly that...alone. This probably isn't the best way to go about things even though he is someone she finds attractive.
Andi is an English teacher who seems to live a normal life. He works, visits his father and takes Clare out. Soon, it's time for Clare to leave and head to the next stop on her trip. Andi doesn't seem very happy with this. Luckily for him, she changes her mind and goes to find him. This leads to a night of passion. The next morning, she finds herself locked in his apartment with no way out. The movie starts to pick up here. Why has he kept her locked in? Is she the first woman he's kidnapped?
The screenwriter chooses not to flesh out either character too much. We know vague things about each person's past. Clare's mother is awaiting back in Australia. Andi's mother abandoned him when he was young. As time passes, Andi treats keeping Clare kidnapped as if nothing is wrong. He brings her flowers even when she tries to escape. He likes to tie her down and take strange Polaroids of her. How long can he keep her hidden? Her mother hasn't had any contact with her aside from the texts he sends with her stolen sim card.
It's certainly a situation where she is ultimately powerless. Eventually, stockholm syndrome begins to kick in. She starts cooking and cleaning for him as well as having sex with him willingly. There were plenty of questions for me that slowly got answered. How were there no neighbors? This is explained by the fact that Andi is renovating the building that he lives in. Why does no one go looking for Clare? A missing tourist probably doesn't matter in the long run.
In the end, it's the psychological damage done to Clare that makes this movie work. Teresa Palmer plays the wide-eyed victim quite well. It's possibly her best role to date. There were a few times when I wanted to shake her and scream at her to fight harder. The ending was definitely the most frustrating. I wanted some concrete evidence that she would be safe. What happened to her after the climax? We're meant to imagine it instead.
Synopsis: Gerald Burlingame and his wife Jessie attempt to rekindle the flames of their marriage with a retreat to their remote lake house. But when a dangerous sex game accidentally kills Gerald and leaves Jessie handcuffed to the bed, the latter is forced to overcome panic and hallucinations if she wants to escape.
Adaptations of Stephen King novels have been hit or miss. There have been at least 58 of them with more in the works like the sequel to the latest IT movie, plus Hulu's Castle Rock series. For every good one, there are at least a dozen that are barely watchable. There's little wonder in whether it's the source material being hard to adapt or merely someone unable to bring the master of horror's vision to life. There are many reasons why these adaptations can go so wrong, but we won't get into those here.
Gerald's Game begins with Gerald and Jessie trying to rekindle the passion in their marriage. The attraction between them has faded. Gerald decides to handcuff Jessie to the bed and play out a rape fantasy. This goes bad very quickly with Gerald dying of a heart attack. Jessie is left trapped and trying to find a way to escape with little success. There are more horrors than just being trapped such as a stray dog searching for food, traumas from her past and a nightmarish man hiding in the shadows.
Jessie's ordeal is harrowing to watch. Will she manage to escape? She begins to hallucinate and relive pieces of her past that she'd tried to forget. Did her past put her on the path to her current situation? These are questions that do get answered in my opinion by the end of the film. There is a scene that will be talked about for quite awhile after this movie ends. It is gruesome to watch but well worth it.
There could have been many ways this could have fallen flat. Mike Flanagan has previously proven that he can craft horror in ways that others haven't. Oculus and Hush were both successful. He does very well with the material. However, it's Carla Gugino's performance that elevates the adaptation. She's fantastic as both the panic-stricken wife and the empowered survivor.
People might complain about the last ten minutes since so many were polarized by the end of the novel. I believe that the final scenes are what really tie together Jessie's journey and her road to the future. The real horrors come from the people she has encountered and the trauma she endured. There is no supernatural element here. For me, that's what makes it truly unsettling.
Ophelia has already done a quick little review of this movie, so I figured I'd throw in a short opinion of it as well. Originally, I was going to watch this low grade horror on Netflix, but I ended up catching it on TV and finding a little bit of humor out of it. Granted the humor was not intentional, I'm sure. The premise had some potential to be entertaining, but a lot of the time I was nervous that something risque might pop up and a parental figure would appear with all of Nurse Abby's breathy delivery and occasional lack of clothing in the kitchen...a couple times at least. As a villain I couldn't take her seriously as a threat, because of her acting. Everything that happened just seemed to conveniently work in her favor and the story just seemed silly overall.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016, UK) | Rating: 4/5
Remember me mentioning that I've been watching bad horror movies on purpose for some amusement this year? Yeah, I'm still doing that and I'll probably keep mentioning it in future reviews. So, this was one that I felt might be one of the bad ones, but surprisingly was very good. This is the best result I can get from things that look questionable or not of good quality. While I admit this movie isn't perfect with its storytelling, it does enough to get its point across and be perfectly suspenseful. The movie didn't rely on jump scares too much and mainly focused on atmosphere and the unknown. You know, when you know something's out there or behind the door and you can only hear it. That can be scary. Watching these two characters dissect our Jane Doe felt immersive like I was in the same room as them, which makes for an effective horror movie.
XX (2017, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5
Similar to ABCs of Death, this movie is a compilation of four female directors creating some horror themed shorts that star female characters. Hearing this concept made me excited to check out more lady horror directors, especially after seeing the Soska Sisters' American Mary and their survival horror game show, Hellevator. I first about it from Nightmare Maven and immediately stopped it when potential spoilers were going to be included in her review. After I watched it, I returned to her review for her thoughts and there was something I didn't realize that she pointed out, which was that most of the stories revolve around mother figures. I wasn't too bothered by it, but I do agree that there should've been more variety of character choices for our actresses. I don't want to give anything away, since each selection is fairly short and easy to spoil, so I'll be vague with my opinions. Similar to ABCs of Death, there were one or two that I wish had a full movie as the story was very interesting. "The Box" and "The Birthday Party" were my favorites. I loved the weirdness "The Box" gave me and it kept me thinking of what could've affected this family the way it did. Pretty much, it left me wanting more. "The Birthday Party" was darkly humorous to me and it mostly felt complete, but I wouldn't mind seeing a little more. "Don't Fall" was probably my least favorite as I thought it was a little confusing with its mythology, execution, and rules. It wasn't terrible, but the characters didn't interest me as much as "The Box" and "The Birthday Party". "Her Only Living Son" fell in the middle. It was interesting, but most of the time I was kinda confused what was going on or why what was happening was happening. Overall, I did enjoy the whole anthology and hope they put together another one.
The Entity (2015, Peru) | Rating: 3.5/5
Another one of those movies that looked bad, but ended up being...alright, actually. The thing that surprised me about this movie was that it was found footage, which is usually a turn off. I just haven't had the best of luck with the genre, but this one ended up being fairly entertaining. It does have its silly moments and times where it doesn't seem believable that any of the characters filmed parts, but for the most part I enjoyed following this little demonic investigation and watching them connect the pieces. There a couple somewhat creepy moments, but a lot of it is by the books for possession and found footage movies. Nonetheless, I wasn't bored and the characters were interesting enough to care about. Their dynamics really worked for me and kept me hooked into the movie.
3 Beauties (2014, Venezuela) | Rating: 3/5
More Spanish representation in this post! From my understanding from reading the back of the box was that this wouldn't have a "horror" element to it, but lots of drama. While I wouldn't completely put this in the horror genre, it definitely does slowly take a turn in a way of thriller aspects, I suppose. I'm not completely sure how to word it. I guess I can say that this movie takes sibling rivalry to a somewhat different level. The feud between sisters for their mother's affection (or really attention) is a slowing burning rage that eventually goes over the top. It's kinda unexpected...at least, I wasn't expecting it to turn out the way it did. In some ways, their rivalry can be quite amusing until that jealousy boils over. Not sure if I was supposed to find humor in some of their actions or not, but then again, I kinda have a dark sense of humor sometimes.
Well, another October has come and I'm still trying to challenge myself with reviews. I know I failed last year to meet my quota, but I have a bit of a head start this year. I'm trying my best to be a little more consistent here, especially with some big upcoming plans looming in the horizon. Anyway, the challenge is the same as last year's: review 31 horror related items (movies, manga, anime, tv shows, etc.). I'm feeling very optimistic about this and maybe I'll do some streaming on Rabbit with you guys as well. Let's give it a go!