I’m slowly coming back from an unintentional hiatus. Our blog has seen little activity in the past couple weeks, largely because I have been dealing with one of the most horrifying plagues: The Pink Eye. The Pink Eye took over my life; I became a feared specimen (even more so than usual) at the workplace, my swollen eyes streaming with tears and getting pretty much nothing done since it hurt to read and type on a computer screen for my job or for this blog. I was such a terrible sight that I was told I could “work” the rest of the week at home, but most of that time was spent napping and watching tv and movies. That’s right; typing and reading on a computer screen hurt, but dammit I had to stare at a screen to watch videos at the lowest possible brightness. Priorities.
Anyway, I had been planning on writing reviews of horror movies that I’ve enjoyed this year in celebration of Halloween. Most of these movies didn’t come out this year; I just finally happened to see them. But with my laziness, sickness and strange priorities, I have spent more time with old seasons of AHS and catching up on Project Runway than (re-)watching the movies I was planning to write about. I’m sure after finding about my recent condition you can’t wait to find out my thoughts about some random horror movies, so here it goes.
Don’t trust the internet. I approached this movie after learning that many people at this year’s Sundance film festival lost their minds (and their lunches) once they saw its shocking conclusion. This is a French film about a vegetarian who goes to school to become a veterinarian only to learn that she loves to eat people. It’s kinda hard to shock with that sort of a premise, and though I did find the conclusion interesting, my mind and even my lunch remained in place.
Having said that, this is still a movie worth seeing, especially at this time of year. As you probably already gathered from its theme of cannibalism, it’s disgusting, full of blood and guts. If you’re into that sort of thing, as I am for some reason, there’s plenty of it to enjoy. But there’s more to it than gore. The frequent partying at the college, the bursts of bright colors, the slow pacing, the electronic soundtrack—these stylistic choices give this film an effortlessly cool vibe. Plus, the style and the gore are clearly working together to explore excess. “Raw” of course refers to the protagonist’s eating habits, but it also suggests that this film is uncovering something dark about human nature, as if we all naturally indulge in hurting and using each other. Overall, it’s a well-executed horror flick, but maybe not as horrific as the internet wants you to believe.
Cake Rating: How about some meat pies? You know, like the ones from Sweeney Todd?
Here’s another well-executed horror flick. When the film first started, I rolled my eyes a little bit. How many times have we seen a scantily clad girl running away from something in a quiet suburban neighborhood? But the scene continues all in one shot, and we never see what is making the girl run. A couple shots later, the girl’s body is mangled on the ground. An overdone horror trope is made fresh right from the start, and the slow pacing and mystery of this first scene define the movie (at least the first half). Between the ambiguous title (because “It” isn’t some spider from another dimension that took the form of a terrifying clown in this film) and the mysterious opening, I was hooked; I had to know what the hell killed that girl.
Turns out “it” is. . . well I still don’t know because I didn’t finish the film. In my attempts to be a good blogger and actually watch the film I thought I might write about, I only halfway achieved my goal. After watching some sort of murderous thing that takes the form of different people slowly follow a sexually active teenager for fifty minutes, I was too scared to continue. Yep, I watched an entire film about a cannibal but a grandmother walking slowly towards a girl in a high school? Couldn’t handle it. And I guess that’s what makes the film great; its simplicity packs a lot of fright. (Plus I’m a wimp, but I still think my previous point is valid.) Maybe I’ll finish it eventually; I still want to know what this monster is, though not as much as when I started the film because I’m just too much of a weenie. And it’s interesting that “it” is spread almost like an STD, with each teenager passing “it” on to the next person they have sex with in order to get rid of “it.” I have a feeling the second half doesn’t disappoint. I know, I’m the best movie reviewer.
Cake Rating: Considering I only made it through half the movie, I only deserve half a pie.
This movie’s okay. A gross fish monster that results from waste in the Han River kidnaps a lazy kiosk manager’s daughter. The film follows the fish monster’s havoc as well as the family’s struggle to escape being quarantined in a hospital by health and safety officials in order to save the young girl, who we find is highly resilient in her own plans to thwart the monster. This film is probably most interesting for fans of Bong Joon Ho, the director of Snowpiercer and Okja. Throughout his filmology, Bong Joon Ho has challenged the binary of art and propaganda with the overt environmentalist themes of all three films, as well as the theme of classism in Snowpiercer in particular. Additionally, each film features unexpected heroes prevailing over large corporations or the medical industrial complex. Snowpiercer is one of my favorite films of 2013—actually, maybe of all time. Okja, though with its problems, has frequently been lauded as Netflix’s best original film. The Host features many of the qualities that both films have been known for, but it falls short in special effects because, quite frankly, a Korean film made by a Korean studio isn’t likely to have the budget of a film in the English language made with the help of American studios and Western actors. The fish monster just isn’t convincing, and this takes away from a film that could’ve been extremely suspenseful. Still, it explores interesting themes and character development and provides insight into the arc of a visionary filmmaker.
Cake Rating: I’ve heard great things about fish cakes, so I’ll try that. As long as the fish isn’t toxic or anything.
Train to Busan
Another South Korean film, this one centers on a divorced father who tries to win over his daughter by taking her on a train to Busan (I know, it’s the most original title). But it turns out there is some sort of zombie plague sweeping the nation, so the passengers attempt to get through the zombie-infested train and find somewhere safe. This is easily my favorite film of the bunch because it balances everything so perfectly. A zombie film has to have gore and violence, and this movie has large doses of both. However, it’s so much more than just another fun, gross zombie film. It manages to be both heartwarming and heartbreaking as we watch the protagonist and several other characters try and often fail to protect their loved ones from becoming another brain-eater. Of course there are also some shitty rich people who try to stay locked up in their compartment to protect themselves from zombies rather than save people who are trying to escape zombies. Trains always have to include some themes about classism (cough cough Snowpiercer). For me, not a scary film, but immensely suspenseful.
Cake Rating: Not gonna lie, I definitely cried a couple times watching this, so I’ll need all the sweets to feel better again.