Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: LOST GIRLS & LOVE HOTELS

Harsh critics of Lost In Translation: “What the fuck? Nothing happens in this movie!!!” LOST GIRLS & LOVE HOTELS: “Hold my beer.” This new movie, which was filmed back in 2017 but is finally getting distributed, wasn’t supposed to come to streaming platforms till 9/18. Apparently VUDU didn’t get that memo. To be fair, September 4th was its original release but I think it got delayed because it didn’t want to compete with Tenet, Mulan, New Mutants, & the beginning of The Boys Season 2 for your attention (even though you probably have no clue what this film even is), so they moved it to a date where nothing new comes into theaters. I’m guessing that VUDU didn’t change the film’s date…probably because who’s ever in charge with programming on the website, again, doesn’t even know what this fucking film is to care. It stars Baywatch’s, True Detective Season One Episode Two’s, and Percy’s Jackson’s Alexandra Daddario and if I had to describe it without any details of a plot it would be: Lost In Translation meets a softer core version of 50 Shades of Grey. And literally almost nothing happens in the movie. Well, stuff happens, but I didn’t get anything out of it like I did Lost In Translation. I ended up just buying this on VUDU really quick and watching it, because neither of my boss’s are here at work today (Labor Day weekend), and I’ve already done what I needed to get done work load wise. I bought instead of rented, because I had a $3 VUDU credit, and to own this was only $3 more than rental. Plus, I mean…Daddario does get nude in it (hardly though, lower your expectations), which is her first time since her um…debut…in True Detective Season One Episode Two. You know that scene. In fact, I’m calling it now: #ReleaseTheDaddarioDDCut, because this film is so choppy, meaning it’s editing is a bit much in some scenes, that it seems like all the sex parts were cut for content. Possibly at Daddario’s shy request? I doubt we will ever find out.

But let me get to the positives. First off, this movie isn’t terrible. Alexandra Daddario easily gives the best performance of her career in it. This is the first film I didn’t just see her as “Alexandra Daddario.” To me, that’s a huge accomplishment. In fact, all the acting is pretty damn decent. The film also has some gorgeous shots and cinematography. And some of the situational narrative elements work, but only some. And that’s pretty much it. If you are coming for a decent story to go along with the acting and imagery, look far far elsewhere. In terms of story…whoa…IMDB has a long summary for this, so I’m just going to use that because it would take me about three paragraphs to describe anything of value that happens in this movie and I’d end up just spoiling it: “Margaret (Alexandra Daddario) finds herself in the glittering labyrinth of Tokyo by night and as a respected English teacher of a Japanese flight attendant academy by day. With little life direction, Margaret searches for meaning with fellow ex-pats (Carice Van Houten) in a Japanese dive bar, drinking to remember to forget and losing herself in love hotel encounters with men who satisfy a fleeting craving. When Margaret crosses paths with a dashing Yakuza, Kazu (Takehiro Hira), she falls in love with him despite the danger and tradition that hinders their chances of being together. We follow Margaret through the dark and light of love and what it means to find oneself abroad with a youthful abandon. Helmed by award winning director William Olsson (Reliance), and written by Catherine Hanrahan, Adapted from her acclaimed novel; Lost Girls and Love Hotels.”

Has anyone even heard of this novel? I think its Canadian. I had no idea the author adapted the screenplay from her own book until I just looked it up, but even if she wasn’t, I can probably guarantee you the book is better, because it probably has more what’s and why’s of the inner turmoil of the main character. I felt her plight in this, but I wasn’t convinced by it, if that makes any sense. She just goes and has a lot of dark bondage sex with random Japanese men but I don’t feel that her depression is quite earned in this movie, she needed more of a backstory. We get some, but it’s fleeting and it doesn’t much explain why she does what she does. Unless I missed something. There is some narration at the beginning, parts of the middle, and end of the movie, and I feel as though the movie should’ve been either narrated completely throughout it, or we should’ve gotten a couple of flashbacks to fit more narrative pieces of the puzzle together. This isn’t supposed to be Tenet for God’s sake. Oh well look-e-here…doing some research on the novel, THERE ARE FLASHBACKS IN IT!!! And the flashbacks explain her depression and deep dives into the reasoning of her dark sides of life. WHY WEREN’T THESE INCLUDED IN THE MOVIE?!? Budget perhaps? Even so, if these scenes were filmed and cut…why? If they weren’t…WHY? This would’ve made me more emotionally invested in everything, the “plot,” the characters…I don’t understand what went wrong here. When this movie is officially released, I have a feeling a lot of other critics that watch this will have the same pros and cons as I. The movie is shot well, the acting is solid, the chemistry between Daddario and Takehiro Hira is solid as well, but the movie’s substance is very lacking, making it seem like not much takes place, except for one little minor scuffle at the end. I wanted to love this movie…but most of its structure was…pun intended…lost in translation for me.

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Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS

Alexandra Daddario…if you haven’t watched the first season of True Detective, or fuck it, if you have, she’s the ‘big moment’ of episode two. That’s all I need to say. She’s been getting a bunch of roles since that big moment (she still considers it the smartest career move she’s ever made btw), some high profile movies such as the underwhelming Baywatch and the “better than it had any right to be” San Andreas. Recently she’s been getting into indie fare again, with a really small supporting role in Lost Transmissions with Simon Pegg, and now this devilish and twisty take on the Satanic Cult movie called WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS. I’m warning you now, there is no other way to describe this movie without comparing it to another movie, which would basically give everything away if you’ve seen this other movie. So with my next paragraph, I’m going to put a **possible spoilers** warning to those not wanting to read about the film that I compare this one to and then put two and two together to guess what happens. After saying that, I really, really enjoyed We Summon The Darkness, and I’m really hoping that films like these set the tone for indie streaming content in the next several months…because having to endure mediocre underwhelming films like Swallow and Vivarium because of COVID-19 Quarantine will not leave me in a happy mood once we are allowed to go back into theaters again.

************************POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR A COMPARISON TO ANOTHER MOVIE QUICK PARAGRAPH BEGINS NOW****************************** If I had to describe WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS I would say that it is basically the ‘Better Watch Out’ of Satanic Cult murder films. If you’ve seen Better Watch Out, you know that it is a twist on the home invasion thriller. If you know what the twist is, once I describe IMDB.com’s log line in my next non spoiler paragraph, you can probably guess the first big act twist very early on like I did (I guess the title of this film is a big dead giveaway as well if you think about it). I still very much prefer Better Watch Out, one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time now, but We Summon The Darkness is the closest any movie has had the balls to pull of something this bold and twisty, and I just wish other films would take note and try to pull these kind of fun spins on other genres, such as comedy or drama. I get that the horror/thriller is the easiest to do without everything feeling forced, but there’s gotta be a way to make this kind of twisty storytelling work in a completely different and opposite context. If you want a really good twisty thriller/horror trilogy mini marathon for your quarantine parties right now, I would put this film, Better Watch Out, and then The Cabin In The Woods on at home. Can’t get twistier than that during these twisty times.**************************END OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR A COMPARISON TO ANOTHER MOVIE QUICK PARAGRAPH***********************************

Again, and probably a lot now, probably going to be borrowing IMDB.com’s log line because they are usually good at describing a movie without giving away any spoilers. IMDB describes We Summon The Darkness as “On the way to a heavy metal concert, Alexis (Alexandra Daddario) and two girlfriends hear a news report of a local murder believed to be tied to a series of satanic killings. After the show, the girls invite three guys to join them at the Alexis’ estate. What starts as a party and should be a night of fun and youthful debauchery instead turns dark and deadly. The acting is pretty good for a small indie movie such as this, but if I had to switch roles, I probably would of Daddario and one of her friends played by Amy Forsyth. I can’t really say why I would because that could get into spoilers, but if you’ve seen some roles of Daddario’s past and have seen some projects with Amy Forsyth in them, you could probably see why. The film is set in the 80s and the 80s music accompanied by a cool and clear original score that sounds like it’s all techno keyboard acoustic stuff makes everything feel right at home for the decade. The clothes, atmosphere, and other do dads bring a fantastic 80’s vibe as well. The film is a nice and tight 95 minutes, with no fluff or filler and a good lead up to some horrifying happenings.

The direction is quite good too. I have never seen any of the director’s (Marc Meyers) other stuff, but I feel like I should check out his other film that just came out called Human Capital and then his other I’ve heard of, My Friend Dahmer, which came out several years ago. He has a good eye and doesn’t resort to cheap tricks such as doing a bunch shaky cam to try and hide poorly shot scuffles in post production. All of the framing is excellent and I could always tell where and what a certain character was doing at a certain time. It’s one of the better looking straight on demand movies I have seen in quite some time. The point is, the film captured my attention right from the get go and didn’t end until the credits came across my screen. The best way I know how to recommend this to you is if you like home invasion thrillers with a bit of blood and gore with some decent acting, dialogue, and a couple of groovy twists, then I’d say this is right up your alley. If not, look elsewhere. Do me a favor though and don’t watch a trailer. While it doesn’t give anything away per say, the context clues will probably make you figure things out fast. Oh, I forgot, a certain Jackass alum (the first one that probably comes to mind for you) is in the film as well and he does a decent job for probably only one day of work he had to do on the film. Just sit back and enjoy this one, don’t over think it, and maybe it could summon some entertainment and enjoyment out of you in these dark and depressing times.