Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HIS HOUSE (Netflix)

HIS HOUSE is an expertly made decent one time watch new original horror/thriller from Netflix. Possibly their best unless someone can name another? One of their highest rated ones on Rotten Tomatoes too. IMDB describes the film with the following: “A refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but then they struggle to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.” In essence, it’s a haunted house movie and said house is filled with the “demons” of their past. Not that we haven’t seen something like that before, but the movie makes it fresh with the refugee angle and the mythology folklore story from their culture. Writer/director Remi Weekes captures the effective and earned jump scares with veteran precision, making it seem like he’s been in the business for years when this is actually his first full length feature. It doesn’t really star anyone you know, unless you are a Doctor Who fan, and even then, Matt Smith maybe has less than ten minutes of screen time in its nice and tight hour and thirty three minute runtime. The acting is solid, the movie has some twists and turns that I didn’t quite see coming, and I jumped on my couch quite a bit from whenever the movie switched to “scare ya mode.” So why am I not singing its praises? Probably because the film didn’t quite earn the character arcs of the refugee couple for me.

And that’s probably because they didn’t show much of their war-torn South Sudan plight. With the tight yet short run time, the movie only shows one desperate live or die situation to convey their hardship, and that’s right before their escape. With all that, it was hard for me to invest in their emotions and plight when the place they are in starts to haunt the shit out of them. Which in turn took away from the big reveal near the end, and so on and so forth. Hard to explain without spoilers, but when the emotional climax finally comes to pass, I uttered, “oh that’s interesting” when I should’ve been, “OHHHHHHH damn, now that’s an ending!” The ending is satisfying, but if another, say, twenty minutes would’ve been added onto the movie, with more of their daily life struggles in South Sudan, maybe even showing some of their early life, His House would’ve been quite masterful. But this a bad film by any means, it’s just not a repeat view for me, because I got everything I needed to get out of it when I watched it on Halloween night. I completely recommend His House, because even though I wanted more, it might be enough for you to invest more into it, especially when the scares are quite great, with an ending that fits with the rest of the film, even if the rest of the film needed to have more meat on its bones. This is a perfect little horror film for direct to streaming, especially when most of them have been overrated this pandemic year, such as Relic. Or ones that hit theaters earlier this year before COVID, such as The Grudge, that ended up being complete and utter shit. Or ones that were supposed to have hit theaters but ended up getting sent straight to streaming, such as You Should Have Left, that were disappointingly dull. Coincidental that those three I just listed are basically all haunted house movies, wouldn’t you say? His House, his unique rules.

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Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: COME PLAY

COME PLAY really works because it isn’t just a cheap jump scare horror movie. It is one of the rare ones that has a deeper emotional core at its center than others in the genre and the jump scares aren’t cheap at all, they are well shot, well choreographed, and well earned. This movie is also rated PG-13 surprisingly…I can’t remember one in quite awhile that worked, especially this shitty year. And this film is surprisingly really entertaining from start to finish. Interested? Wondering how you can watch it? Well, you are going to have to not be a pussy and go to a theater right now unless you wait several months for it to hit video. And this movie does deserve to be watched on the biggest screen possible. Doing so makes the scares that much more effective and the movie is so well shot that you are probably going to have a hard time appreciating it on a device that you can hide in your bra and/or shove up your ass. The emotional core and really good message in this film’s heart I really want to talk about, but in doing so ruins much of the film, so instead I’ll just mention that I appreciated what ideas Come Play tried and successfully, to me anyway, brought up, and leave it at that. What’s even more bewildering is that it did it all in just an hour and thirty six minutes. Usually films tend to be a bit longer when it is more than just trying to scare tweens the dumbest and stupidest way possible. IMDB describes Come Play with the following, “A long-limbed monster named Larry targets Oliver, a┬ánon-verbal autistic young boy along with his family, friends, and classmates by manifesting through their smart phones, computers, television screens and other electronic devices.” Well…based on that description the jig is probably up on the message I was trying to leave vague huh?

Horror/Scary films are made or broken by their scares. Plain and simple. If a horror movie doesn’t scare you, bother you a little, or doesn’t make you feel dread a bit when thinking about it afterward, it isn’t doing its job. I’m kind of numb to horror movies after so many years of watching so many of them, so for me, these films need to have that little extra something if they don’t manage to scare me at all. Which is why I was surprised when Come Play caught me off guard by not only making me jump in my seat, but tear up with its deeper meanings near the end of the film. The acting in this also works, especially when it relies mostly on young child actors reacting to things that definitely aren’t there in the real world. Azhy Robertson as the protagonist autistic Oliver is fantastic here and so is Winslow Fegley as Bryon, his old friend/new bully whose complicated friendship is part of the films special core I’ve been talking about. The two main adults in the film, Community’s Gillian Jacobs and 10 Cloverfield Lane’s John Gallagher Jr. also do a pretty good job, especially the former, who shed her Britta Perry vibes from the moment she comes on screen. I do wish they would’ve given her more screen time and maybe fleshed out Gallagher’s character more, they play Oliver’s mother and father going through a divorce. Their emotional arcs were still earned but just barely. This is writer/director Jacob Chase’s first foray into a theatrical spooky feature. I hope his career gains traction and he keeps getting better like Ari Aster, James Wan or Jordan Peele. He could end up being a master in the genre. If it wasn’t for this stupid fucking year and stupid fucking virus. Anyway, need something spooky to watch today on Halloween or possibly as soon as you have time and you are willing to come to a movie theater right now (especially when going to the gym and/or grocery store is a hundred times worse), then you’ll definitely want to come and play with Come Play.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: A BABYSITTER’S GUIDE TO MONSTER HUNTING (Netflix)

Whoa, Harry Potter is going to sue somebody! Well…probably just the opening credits at least (the way they come at you, the actual font might be where Tim Burton enters the lawsuit), but then again, this movie does have similar beats to Sorcerer’s Stone, but then yet again, an unrecognizable Tom Felton is in this (he played Draco Malfoy), so maybe he got the okay from Rowling and Warner Bros.? I’m just kidding, I just thought that would be an interesting review starter to get you to read my critique on Netflix’s new original family film that just released today. A BABYSITTER’S GUIDE TO MONSTER HUNTING is what Hubie Halloween should’ve been: a fun and adventurous yet spooky Halloween family film that could end up being something you watch every year with your loved ones alongside Hocus Pocus and the Harry Potter films. Or is Harry Potter a more Thanksgiving and/or Christmas time series? Doesn’t matter, this is Netflix’s closest thing it will ever get to trying to recreate the feeling of what we all feel while watching Hocus Pocus 27 years later. Go in completely dark, don’t even watch a trailer to this, as I didn’t, and my expectations were so so low due to the title and the fact that it is a Netflix original, but I was slapping myself for being a precognitive Negative Nancy by minute twenty. This movie is just delightful, with top notch child performances, Tom Felton’s best performance to date (but who are we kidding, how hard was that?), and decent creature feature CGI effects that make whatever was in Disney+’s Secret Society Of Second Born Royals look like it was created by Woody Woodpecker using computers. This is the Halloween film getaway treat you were looking for, so please, don’t even start Hubie Halloween or if you are in the middle of it, abandon it completely, and knock on this other door, I promise you it is no trick.

IMDB describes A Babysitter’s Guide To monster Hunting with the following: “A babysitter embarks on a mission to save a child who’s been abducted by monsters.” What that premise doesn’t tell you is that this movie is Harry Potter-esque, as there is a coven, legion, group, what have you of babysitter’s that fight these said monsters all the time. They have a meet up laboratory with monster fighting gadgets and gizmos, a giant book filled with information on all the different creatures within this world, and even apprentices looking to join said group. Tom Felton plays a boogey man named Grand Guigol that wants to make a legion of nightmares and monsters come to life to overtake our world so he can rule it. The child he kidnaps is the key to making this happen, and his babysitter named Kelly, who had a run in with Guigol when she was young, must stop it before it is too late. This movie thankfully isn’t convoluted, does the “keep it simple, stupid” film making mindset, yet also incorporates some brilliant set ups and pay offs required so that both adults and their kids can enjoy it, without either getting bored or falling asleep. Tamara Smart plays Kelly (she was also in this year’s straight to streaming on Disney+’s Artemis Fowl, which should’ve been something like this movie but was too dumb downed and convoluted) and Oona Laurence plays the veteran babysitter already in the legion trying to help Kelly out. They both do a fantastic acting job in regards to mostly reacting to CGI special effects to make you think they are real. There is a couple of shaky CGI moments, such as the little different colored minion monsters and such but anything involving Tom Felton or Shadow Tentacle Monsters in the dark are quite realistic and spooky at times.

Just like Hocus Pocus, this movie rides the line of being too scary for younger children, but thankfully it rides that line well, where they won’t be hiding under the covers, but may sit next to you and lean their head on mommy or daddy’s head, still with their eyes glued to the screen, until the next scene comes along. I haven’t read the book that this movie is based off of, but I have a feeling the reason why it is so good is because the author wrote the screenplay, making sure he got the essence of his beloved novel just right. The director Rachel Talalay, is no stranger to spooky kooky films, as she’s directed episodes of Riverdale, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, BBC’s Sherlock, and her first feature film was even Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. She does an adequate job here, the action plain as day to see with no shaky came and shots that make the monsters scarier than they were probably meant to be. She seems like she had fun directing it (and Ghostbuster’s director Ivan Reitman even produced this, he must’ve saw something in it). The best thing about this film is surprisingly Tom Felton as boogeyman Grand Guigol, as they made him look like a zombie Sirius Black and acts like an evil Jack Sparrow with Voldemort motivations. I had a fun time watching his performance. Other than a couple of weird moments, obligatory sequel set ups and pacing issues in the finale, this new movie should be a fun little addition to your Halloween queue. Stop the hunting for something good and new Halloween feature wise. You’ve found it.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: NOCTURNE (Amazon Prime)

NOCTURNE is just a rip off of Black Swan, just replace the ballerina horror aspects of the latter film with piano playing and you get the former. Blumhouse productions is very frustrating in general. Only one in twenty of their films produced by mastermind Jason Blum is worth anything to write home about, and that one in twenty usually debuts in a theater. The other nineteen are usually direct to streaming (with one or two somehow getting theatrical distribution), cheap little projects, and it shows. Most of these Blumhouse produced films range from being only okay to down right fucking abysmal. The Amazon Prime exclusive ones, these newly introduced ‘Welcome To The Blumhouse’ ones, where they will put out 4 films in one month every several months, are the only okay ones. The Hulu exclusive ones, the one film per month going on two years now, labeled the “Into The Dark’ series, are the abysmal ones. So it is really not that all surprising that Nocturne is in the only okay category. However, while it might be in the only okay category when talking about its overall execution, the thought of it being beat by beat (literally, even the ending) of a much superior film makes you want to fit it right next to the abysmal file. Don’t get me wrong, it is very admirable if you are able to green light and make a motion picture on a small budget, but if you are a production company that mass produces them to no end, kind of like how author James Patterson is able to release 10 books all in the span of a year (I stopped reading his schlock awhile ago), then most of your content is just going to be bland, no excitement or surprises. IMDB describes Nocturne with the following: “An incredibly gifted pianist makes a Faustian bargain to overtake her older sister at a prestigious institution for classical musicians.” Don’t get me wrong, the movie is certainly watchable, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre table.

The definition of nocturne is “is a musical composition that is inspired by, or evocative of, the night.” Night equals dark. A dark movie usually doesn’t have a happy ending. Remember how I said this movie is a rip off of Black Swan? Has the dawn of light risen in your thoughts in what I’m trying to get you to see? Yeah, thought so. The movie is way too predictable and even if Black Swan hadn’t come before it, the very beginning of the film shows the entire story’s hand. There are several chances the film has to surprise viewers and flip all preconceived notions on their heads, but the film doesn’t take any of them. There are two things that are good in the movie, and only two: 1. The cinematography and shots are impressive and 2. The leads Sydney Sweeney and Madison Iseman give impressive performances. Although I would’ve like to see Sweeney play the sister and Iseman play the gifted pianist that made a Faustian bargain. Sydney Sweeney hasn’t really ever played (from what I’ve seen) the wholesome good girl, and while she is fine here, her transformation from a righteous yet shy girl into a jealous sort holding contempt for everyone wasn’t quite as day and night as I would’ve liked it to be. Madison Iseman has played both the good and bad girl (The Fuck It List/Jumanji) in different projects and I think maybe if they had switched roles, their character arcs would’ve been more clear. And don’t go in expecting a full on horror movie. There are absolutely no jump scares or tension, and it is definitely less artsy fartsy (the good kind for me) than Black Swan was. It’s more psychological. But due to the fact that there are no surprises in writer/director Zu Quirke‘s screenplay (she should maybe only stick to directing next time), the only deep rooted question you should be asking your id is why you decided to press play on this title in the first place.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BOOKS OF BLOOD (Hulu)

BOOKS OF BLOOD, a Hulu Original Movie that released a couple of days ago, is just generic and bland horror, plain and simple. There are a couple of good yet cheap jump scares and a couple of neat bloody visual shots, but for the most part it is all uninteresting, schlocky cheap, not frightening, and the intertwining of the three stories near the end left a lot to be desired. IMDB describes the movie with the following: “A journey into uncharted and forbidden territory through three tales tangled in space and time. Based on the Books of Blood, a series of horror fiction collections written by the British author Clive Barker, Books of Blood adapts Clive Barker’s framing device story from his novels but also includes brand new stories written for this film that Barker was involved in creating.” In essence, this is a sequel to the much superior film Book of Blood (they went with just an S here, like Aliens did), released in 2009, but more of a reboot/remake as the main story that binds the other two together is the same from the 11 year old film, just rewritten with different story elements and plot twists. Other than a couple of good scares and some neat bloody visuals. the only other compliment I could give it is that it has two decent performances from Britt Robertson and Anna Friel. Other than that, if Clive Barker did help coming up with these brand new stories, which is kind of confusing because the screenplay is credited by two others, then he is truly out of his game, and hasn’t been relevant since his decent novels, stories, and filmography of the mid 80s to early 90s.

I’m just going to list a one sentence little log line in my own words for each story:

  1. The first story involves a professional killer whose latest assignment clues him in on a priceless book, called The Book of Blood, that may allow him and his wife to permanently retire.
  2. The second story involves Jenna, a depressed and hypersensitive girl who suffers from ‘misphonia’ (an abhorrence of sound), and as she learns her mother is about to send her back to the psyche ward, she steals her cash and sets out for Los Angeles and may or may not end up at the BnB from hell.
  3. The last story involves Mary, a psychologist who has gained fame as a skeptic that debunks all theories or beliefs that are not solely scientifically based after she lost her 7-year-old son to leukemia and then met Simon, a potential medium.

The way the stories are linked together before the end credits and the content in them individually are anemic and clumsy. Frustrating too because all the stories show potential but they back off before that potential is fully realized. There are not any likable characters among them all. The best story of the three is the 2nd one which stares Britt Robertson. Even though all the characters are a bit flat, her performance, and along with Anna Friel, who plays Mary in the third story I mentioned, clearly showed that they tried with what they were poorly given. The stories don’t “tangle” organically, as you can tell that a couple of threads were thought up of last minute to try and make the viewer exclaim, “oh so that’s what that was!” I’d like to think that people are smarter than that and also answered with, “Nah, we ain’t buyin’ it.” One of the teleplay writers hasn’t done much, wrote the mediocre The Haunting In Connecticut, and wrote the abysmal Carnosaur and Snoop Dogg’s 2001 horror film, Bones, so with Adam Simon, you get what you pay for. However, the other teleplay writer, Brannon Braga (who also directed), should know better, as he has written some great episodes of television, such as 24, The Orville, Cosmos, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. It doesn’t even seem to be as if he’s trying here. The only thing this movie made me want to do is go out and search for Clive Barker’s 6 ‘Books of Blood’ that were published in 1984 and 1985 and read those. I bet they would make for a great Halloween treat. This ‘book’ I threw after slamming down the back cover in angry angst, hoping that I could draw blood from it.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HUBIE HALLOWEEN (Netflix)

Holy shit, Sandler went full gibberish! HUBIE HALLOWEEN is the 2nd worst thing to happen to Americans in 2020. Stuck between a virus and a copter crash. On one hand, it is probably Sandler’s most tolerable Netflix original film to date. On the other hand, if you watch this, and actually laugh and enjoy it, then you might want to see someone, as you’re probably on the spectrum. Right at the very beginning of this film I moaned out, “oh no” as Ben Stiller shows up in a cameo as his awful orderly character from Happy Gilmore. Not too far after, there was another “oh no” out of me as there is a kid named O’Doyle that likes to pick on Sandler’s dumb character and after a prank yells out…you guessed it…”O’Doyle rules!” The man has run out of jokes and can’t come up with anything new that he has lowered himself to constantly bringing back and referencing his two most popular films from the 90s. Here’s a decent question: Why is it that Sandler has to come up with these stupid characters with jibberish names (Bobby Bouche in Waterboy, in this it’s Hubie Dubois) that almost speak literal jibberish because of his fast talking fucking annoying accents? Why does he keep using cheap, over-used physical bodily pain comedy that died over two decades ago? Why? I’m just so fucking tired of it. Aren’t you? And you know what the scariest thing about this absolutely non-frightening new Halloween film from the asshats at Happy Madison Productions? The scariest thing is that this is NOT the “worst film ever made” that Sandler promised us if he didn’t get nominated for an Oscar for the masterful Uncut Gems. No, this film was made last year before this year’s nominations were even announced. The horror. The horror of what’s to come.

IMDB describes Hubie Halloween with the following: “Despite his devotion to his hometown of Salem (and its Halloween celebration), Hubie Dubois is a figure of mockery for kids and adults alike. But this year, something is going bump in the night, and it’s up to Hubie to save Halloween.” Don’t be fooled by the rip off plot set up of a Michael Myers type escaping a mental institution to wreck havoc on Salem, the whole plot is a giant red herring and the reveal near the end is so unbelievably stupid and unbelievably unbelievable that you’ll laugh just at the fact that the movie tried to pull THAT rug out from under you. I’ve mentioned being frustrated by a film’s potential this year before, and again I am frustrated, because I’ll even admit it, there is a decent film in here somewhere. Turn Sandler into a normal nice guy that gets picked on by the town for no reason at all, a character without the jibberish talk and dumb childlike innocence, wrap him up in a people missing/getting “killed” murder plot, actually ADVANCE said plot instead of it just being skit scenes of Sandler being picked on by the town, HAVE NONE OF HIS FUCKING STUPID SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE FRIENDS IN IT, create a different inciting incident other than just another mental institution break out, completely change the “gotcha” ending, make it somewhat scary and you might have yourself another family friendly Halloween classic that you watch every year other than just Hocus Pocus. I know that seems like a lot to ask, but that’s all they had to do. But nope, it’s just been there, done that before, cheap and crude potty humor with no frights. There’s a boner joke throughout the movie that starts beating a dead horse the moment it is introduced, and don’t get me started on Hubie’s dumb fucking Swiss Army Thermos the film desperately wants the audience to think is funny.

You know what the sad part about this is? If you loved this year’s The Wrong Missy, also made by Happy Madison Productions, your dumb ass will probably love this more. Which goes to show you, you are the reason that blockbuster films are being delayed this year other than the virus, as your dumb fucking ass eating these shitty made “comfort food” movies, making them popular along with your overrated sports to where you don’t need to go to a theater, you’ve gotten pussified, lazy and pathetic. Why doesn’t Netflix hold Sandler accountable for the shit films he makes with his shitty contract with them? Oh, it’s because you fucking idiots watch his bullshit over and over and over again on the streaming platform, and they only have hearts made out of dollar signs. The only other positive thing I have to say about this film, other than that there is a decent movie in here somewhere, other than that there was no shameless product placement like in Sandler’s other films, and other than the only two things that made me chuckle were Kenan Thompson’s facial expressions to some tomfoolery and a Kevin James Muppet joke, was that the movie actually looked like a movie. Meaning the production design and direction were decent for what it was. It actually looked like a town that really enjoys Halloween. Gotta give the director Steven Brill, who also directed Sandler in Little Nicky and Mr. Deeds, but also directed him in Netflix’s The Do-Over and Sandy Wexler, yet gets a free pass from me for directing one of my favorites, Heavyweights, some kind of credit. Him and the crew actually tried to make everything around the mediocre story and Sandler look look legit. I desperately wanted to add this film to my recent review list of movies that I couldn’t finish in buttfucking 2020, but I also wanted to watch the whole thing just so I could tear it a new one in this review.

Every year Netflix still manages to have me place a new Sandler film in my worst of lists. Last year Sandler surprisingly had a movie on both my worst and near the top of my favorite lists. That’s likely never to happen again though. It’s just a fast, who gives a fuck, script to get Sandler and friends some kind of paycheck, so they can buy more expensive and useless shit in their regular lives. At least this time the plot wasn’t set on some exotic locale just for an excuse to give Sandler, family, and friends a vacation along with a paycheck…although Sandler’s wife and his kids of course show up in cameos in this. Almost forgot to mention, the film has an interesting side plot with one of Julie Bowen’s character’s kids (Will from Stranger Things) having interest in a girl a little older than him. But once that girl shows interest in him too, the side plot is over, as there is no conflict thrown into the ring to make it a little more interesting, not even a cliched “she already has a boyfriend” predicament! Sandler looks bored even though he tries to look lively with his dumb shenanigans, Julie Bowen looks like she really misses Modern Family, wondering why the fuck she’s in a movie like this and why her character would have any interest in Hubie in real life, Kevin James is annoyingly stupid and awful in this, Steve Buscemi is embarassing, Shaq shows up in a dumb and tired scene that’s ultimately embarassing too, and even Sandler’s other SNL friends seem dumb downed and desperate here, including, but not limited to: Maya Rudolph, Rob Schneider, and Tim Meadows. We have to make this shit stop, so please do not watch this like I did. I only watched this to warn all of you to stay far, far away. It already makes me sad that Halloween this year is probably already ruined because some dumb ass Chinese guy ate an under cooked bat, but now Adam Sandler has thrown his hat into the ring to ruin it further. This film will make you wish you were in the same universe as his Click movie, with a remote control to fast forward all of us to whenever this depressing shit ends.