Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE (Shudder)

Probably the last thing I’ll ever watch on the Shudder streaming service (yet you know me, don’t quote me on that), RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE had at least somewhat of an interesting well rounded idea, some awesome gory, disturbing special effects, and a solid ending. Too bad most of the execution leading to said ending was botched to shit by co-writer/director/co-star Jay Baruchel. I don’t get why this project wasn’t handed to someone with better experience. It’s a short (1 hr and 21 minutes) and watchable film, but I don’t have any desire to ever watch it again because the execution of everything wasn’t very memorable. IMDB describes the film with the following: “A pair of comic book writers begin to notice scary similarities between the character they created and horrific real-life events.” The entire film’s message is about the glorification of violence and criticizes how the depiction of it and the glamorization of serial killers in media can often negatively impact an audience when in reality they are just twisted people driven by no logical motives. That message is very unfocused, blurry yet somehow ham-fisted until the film’s last ten minutes. The other hour and ten minutes is filled with underdeveloped and unlikable characters, and some cringe worthy dialogue. Whoever was responsible for all the blood, guts, and glorious practical effects in this movie deserves a raise and better projects to work on, as some of those images were some of the most realistically disturbing I have seen since last year’s Midsommar.

Recognizable faces Jessie Williams, Jordana Brewster, and Jay Baruchel star in this movie and while Jessie Williams does a decent job with his underdeveloped protagonist, unfortunately for Jordana Brewster, who has always been nice on the eyes and always seems like she wants to be in the movies she’s in, her dialogue makes her performance hammy and too unrealistic, and Jay Baruchel is completely wasted here, playing yet another just depiction of himself. I’m sorry, but other than having a great voice for the lead in the How To Train Your Dragon series, Baruchel is not a great actor, and after this, Goon, and Goon 2, he isn’t a very good writer or director either. I would only want to recommend this movie to you if practical effects and some realistic disturbing images and violence are your jam. One guy gets stabbed about thirty times during the movie and it actually showed each and every jab of the knife into his torso and I cringed every time before impact. I’ll even recommend it to you if you want a decent ending with a decent message of the glorification of violence, but other than that, you are better off watching something else on the streaming service, such as Host or Spiral (NOT Saw 9). This movie is based on a graphic novel, but I have a feeling if a complete rewrite of the script were to have happened, maybe a bit longer with more developed and likable characters, and a bigger yet subtle focus on the film’s messages, there could’ve been something great here. I have a feeling though that Baruchel was just out of his league with this one, throwing random shit on the wall just to see what would stick.

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Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: FILMS I COULDN’T FINISH IN BUTTFUCKING 2020

UPDATED 10/6/2020. If you are seeing this, congratulations, you are one of the few that liked my page on Facebook that gives a damn about reading these. Or you follow this blog on WordPress. From now on they are going to be all different. No hashtags. No tags. No shares. Nothing. If you don’t see it on the Zach’s Zany Movie Review page on Facebook or if you aren’t following my blog on WordPress, then I don’t give a fuck, because you obviously don’t. 2020 has been the worst year of my life, and I blame it entirely on three things: 1. Movie Studios For Delaying Films 2. The Governors of States such as New York, California, and New Mexico that have opened gyms, restaurants and indoor dining, but not movie theaters and 3. CUNT BUTTFUCKING ASSHOLE COVID-19. But there is a secret fourth thing I blame this shitty year on: you. Yes, that’s right…YOU. Well some of you. The pussies and cowards out there that won’t go to a theater because they don’t think it is “safe” right now. Even though there HAS NOT BEEN ONE FUCKING POSITIVE CASE OF COVID-19 TO COME OUT OF A FUCKING MOVIE THEATER SINCE THEY REOPENED IN LATE JUNE.

I’m past the point of caring how some of you feel. The lot of you that didn’t go to a theater and see something like Tenet, Broken Hearts Gallery, Unhinged, or even New Mutants, you are partly to blame why theaters are shutting back down and why we are getting these stupid fucking piece of shit straight to streaming/PVOD movies that I can’t get an acquired taste for. So fuck you, pussy. But alas, I’ve calmed down just a little bit to keep doing these reviews how & where I see fit. So with nothing to really review until Adam Sandler’s shitty new Netflix original movie Hubie Halloween on Wednesday, I came up with something a little…zanier. I’m going to briefly talk about three movies I couldn’t even fucking finish they were so terrible that came out this year 2020. And for the rest of the year, I will just keep adding on to this list if I can’t finish anything else, so check back I’d say once a week, just in case. These will not be on my Top 10 Shittiest Films of the year list. My rule is, if I can’t finish a movie/TV series, I can’t review it fully or put it on a list at years end. That’s the tea, bitch. So let’s just get to it shall we before I start to go off into another rant.

  1. SCARE PACKAGE

SCARE PACKAGE is about to be available to regular rent & buy in a week or two, after premiering on the Shudder app months ago. When I signed up for the 7 day free trial to specifically watch Host (which was half way decent) I didn’t want my free trial to go to waste, so I saw that Scare Package had released this year, and clicked the play button because the description seemed interesting in that it was basically a mini horror movie anthology wrapped around a centralized plot. Kind of like V/H/S or even the Twilight Zone movie. IMDB describes Scare Package with the following: “Chad, the owner of Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium, recounts a series of bone-chilling, blood-splattered tales to illustrate the rules of the horror genre to his newest employee.”

GOD AWFUL. I think I shut it off around minute 30-35, can’t exactly remember as it was a couple of months ago. The tales were stupid, too over-the-top, not scary, not realistic, just dumb dumb dumb fucking schlock. I think at the time I stopped it at, I got through maybe 3 to 4 tales? There was no way it was going to get any better. One of Rian Johnson’s right hand mans, Noah Segan, is in one of these and I think even wrote/directed his segment, but maybe he should just stick to do little side gigs in Johnson’s movies, because he didn’t cut it even close here quality wise (Rian’s other right hand man is Joseph Gordon-Levitt). But yeah. There isn’t much to say because I couldn’t even make it half way to the 1 hr and 47 minute run time. There was one tale with potential with trapped teenagers in a basement where the killer just won’t die and has everybody turn on one another, but the execution of it is botched horribly. I don’t even think this is one of those so bad its good films that you can make fun of during and have a good time with friends with. It was THAT bad.

2. IMPRACTICAL JOKERS: THE MOVIE

Absolutely unwatchable unless you suck the regular show’s dick on TruTV for some reason. IMPRACTICAL JOKERS: THE MOVIE should’ve been a television special film for TruTV, there is no way this should’ve been released in theaters right before COVID-19 fucked up this world. I got through about 20-25 minutes of this drivel with a short run time of an 1 hr and 32 minutes. Usually comedies are really funny at the beginning but start to peter off a little bit after the half way point. This was crickets minute one. Per IMDB, it describes this film with the following: “The story of a humiliating high school mishap from 1992 that sends the Impractical Jokers on the road competing in hidden-camera challenges for the chance to turn back the clock and redeem three of the four Jokers.”

As you can probably tell, this is like a really, really shitty, dumbed down, PG-13 version of any of the Jackass Movies or hell, even Jackass: Bad Grandpa, the former that tried to tie some kind of fake plot with the real jokes and shenanigans. With this IJ movie, I only got to one hidden-camera segment, and a third of the movie was already almost up. One of them dressed like Santa in a mall, they had an ear piece in his ear, telling him to say a bunch of goofy and weird stuff to the kids, all of it lame, none of it controversial or trying to push any boundaries, and there were absolutely no chuckles out of me. And the real life “plot” that is supposed to intersect all of these real camera jokes and shenanigans is so fucking dumb and boring, something to do with Paula Abdul and going back stage to one of her new concerts, giving them another chance after they ruined her concert in 1992? And it’s been 28 years later and she looks the exact same, no computer enhancements? Please. This was ‘shoot myself in the head to make it end’ boring and awful.

3. DOWNHILL

Was there even a script to this remake of a very popular international film that I never saw called Force Majeure? DOWNHILL is the perfect title for this film. Because even from minute one, the comedy, plot, and characters started going downhill, and kept going before I finally turned it off minute 25 out of a very short hour and 26 minute runtime. IMDB describes the film with the following: “Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other.” This is supposed to be a dark comedy…sort of…and even though I only got through the first third of the movie, I did not laugh or chuckle once, I hated the characters, the inciting incident made no sense, and it just seemed like it was all improv comedy, with no script, just an outline of scenes of what is supposed to happen, and I usually hate shit like that.

If you couldn’t stand Will Ferrell is Eurovision this year, he should probably get an Oscar for that performance as here he is unbearable, bad and boring. Just a dumb, boring, and stupid character. Julia Louis-Dreyfus isn’t any better. She looks exhausted from finishing Veep and just did this for the paycheck. She looks bored as hell here and I usually think she’s a comedic genius. Will Ferrell used to be good back in the 90s/early 2000s. The real problem with what I saw was the “script” by ACADEMY AWARD WINNERS Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, which just goes to show you that the Oscar probably should’ve went solely to Alexander Payne for The Descendants, with the other two just getting a participation pat on the back. Anybody who actually finished this movie, I feel sympathy for you.

4. BLACK IS KING

We have a record low for how long I put up with something before completely abandoning it: 8 minutes. I lasted through Beyonce’s Disney+ exclusive Black Is King for 8 excruciating minutes. IMDB’s description for this is very simple: “Visual album from Beyoncé inspired by ‘The Lion King’.” I would probably add the words self indulgent and self fulfilling before the words visual here. For the 8 weird minutes that I saw it seemed to be random colorful images of different landscapes, people, and of course, her and it was all a very off key (not singing, film wise), off plot, off centered (not the frame, the message), horribly too expressionistic and a horribly too experimental take on The Lion King. It’s so unfocused, confusing, and awkward that if you were to put someone in front of their tv to watch this and didn’t tell them shit about it, they probably wouldn’t even figure out that it was inspired by The Lion King. Instead when her husband Jay-Z shows up (I didn’t see this part, just read about it) the person watching would probably just roll their eyes and tell Beyonce to just stick to writing and singing original songs and quit this garbage. I’m doing two paragraphs with each review but with only 8 minutes, I can no longer talk about it. Nor do I want to talk about it anymore anyway.

5. SCARE ME

Oh look at what we have here, yet another Shudder original film. I think after this last 7 day free trial go around (this is my 4th), I think I’m done with Shudder. If anything were to ever be critically acclaimed and there is talk about a project possibly getting big award nominations at the end of the year, I know that after 6 months it will be rent-able and not just exclusive to the app. I stopped this right at minute 35 and what frustrates me so much is that it had so much potential in it. IMDB describes the film with the following: “During a power outage, two strangers tell scary stories. The more Fred and Fanny commit to their tales, the more the stories come to life in their Catskills cabin. The horrors of reality manifest when Fred confronts his ultimate fear.” It stars Aya Cash, who many of you know as Stormfront in Season 2 of the boys, writer/director (who’s to blame here) Josh Ruben from You’re The Worst (Aya Cash was also in that series, so I see how he probably easily roped her into this), and Chris Redd from Saturday Night Live (I did not get to Chris Redd entering the frame, but apparently he shows up an hour in). What sucks is that the stories really don’t come to life. “But Zach, how would you know this seeing as you only watched 35 minutes of the hour and 42 minute movie?” It’s because I went to an ‘Endings Explained’ website and I read what happened from when I stopped watching all the way to the end credits.

Nothing really happens until the last 20 minutes of the movie and what does happen is just slasher film cliched bullshit wrapped around and obscuring an interesting message about feminism vs. masculinity. The whole film is either Fred telling un-scary tales to Fanny, while she’s just looking at him making facial expressions and interjecting how his stories don’t make any sense and he is up on his feet doing motions and making some cool sound effects. Then when she’s telling her tales, it’s just vice versa. What the movie really needed was A. A MUCH Bigger Budget and B. Scenes that SHOW the tales the characters are telling. Again, this is a tell and no show problem. Always show, not tell, and when your budget is limited to telling, maybe turn your screenplay into a short story or novel instead. Sure, when he’s telling his werewolf story it shows a cool and creepy werewolf hand outstretched in the shadows (that’s about it visually with showing any of the monsters in their stories) and the film’s sound effects are tight. And sure, Aya Cash tries to liven up her tales with her lively personality (she is absolutely not at fault here), but without scenes edited into their narration showing what they are telling, actually making a scary anthology movie type thing…the interesting message that lay at the heart of the movie (which again, I didn’t get to it, I just read about it) isn’t earned in the slightest.

P.S. I saw all of these at home, but if I were to pay to watch them in a theater, I would’ve probably walked out, these were THAT bad. I hardly ever stop watching or walk out of anything…I guess 2020 has changed me in that regard with all the bullshit we’ve gotten this year. Anyway, I’ll add to the list if there are anymore. Check back, but I wouldn’t say check back often.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SPIRAL (Shudder)

First of all, no, this is not Saw 9. This new movie exclusively streaming on Shudder just happens to have the same title of Saw 9, that was supposed to come out in May but due to COVID-19 got delayed till NEXT May 2021. If I were to describe this SPIRAL, it would be Get Out, but with homosexual couples (the title should’ve been Get Out Of The Closet). And a much different story and third act. You’ll see. I promised myself I wouldn’t do another free trial of Shudder on one of my many different e-mails, but this film has gained so much traction in my neck of the woods the past several weeks that I just had to do another 7 day-er and check this out. And I’m glad I did, as out of the three whole Shudder exclusive movies I’ve watched, this is by far the best one, even though the more I think about Host, the more I respect it (both definitely better than the mind-numbing Beach House movie on the app). Per IMDB, it describes Spiral as: “A same-sex couple move to a small town so they can enjoy a better quality of life and raise their 16 year-old daughter with the best social values. But nothing is as it seems in their picturesque neighborhood. And when Malik sees the folks next door throwing a very strange party, something shocking has got to give.” The movie takes place in the year 1995, so it’s kind of at the height of the 90s gay panic if you think about it. The movie works with only a few well earned jump scares because it’s mostly a psychological horror film, filled more with dread and unease than it is meant to be just cheap jump scare plus a lot of gore schlock (although there is one pretty gruesome and emotional earned shot/scene here).

There isn’t really a recognizable face here except for Loclyn Munro, you’ll basically just point him out in the movie and say, “that’s the dude from Scary Movie/Freddy Vs. Jason/etc. The main protagonist here, played by Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Unreal) is fantastic here. He plays one part of the male gay couple and the film focuses primarily on him. He gets the paranoia, fear, and anger down pat and needed in order to sell the story. I’m not familiar with the writers or director of this, but needless to say the movie works very well within the parameters of what it’s trying to say about fear. There is an exchange of dialogue inside a jail cell near the end of the film that was haunting to think about even after the last word was spoken. Also, this is a movie with an epilogue that actually made the whole movie even better than it already was. Wow, I am at a loss for words and don’t know much more to say about this film to make it a meaty second conclusive paragraph do I? Anything I really say about the story is a spoiler in itself so I can’t get into too much detail. If I had a complaint about the movie is that the male protagonist probably shouldn’t have hid the hatred they receive from the get go, should’ve revealed all and maybe there would’ve been a different conclusion. But if the protagonist didn’t hold things back, there might not have been a movie, so my complaint is moot. So if you have the Shudder app, definitely check this out. Or if you want to do a 7 day free trail thing, check out this and Host, but make sure to cancel before it charges you for a whole month. To me the app isn’t worth it, just like Quibi.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HOST (Shudder)

Does it really count as a feature length film if the movie is only 58 minutes long? I’m thinking more like a short film, right? But when looking it up (funny how I haven’t done that until now), HOST, a new 58 minute Shudder original movie, does in fact count as a “feature length film.” The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the American Film Institute, and the British Film Institute all define a feature as a film with a running time of 2,400 seconds (i.e. 40 minutes) or longer. Who’d have thunk that huh? With the movie having a surprising short as shit runtime, my review will probably also be short as shit, because if I talk about it a lot, I’ll end up ruining the scares and surprises. One surprise I can ruin, because it has nothing to do with the plot or twists, is that Host was actually just filmed a couple of months ago during the pandemic and lock down phase of it. Which was itself kind of cool that they were able to produce a half way decent film with all the limitations and time constraints. Per IMDB, it describes HOST as: “Six friends hire a medium to hold a séance via Zoom during lock down – but they get far more than they bargained for as things quickly go wrong. When an evil spirit starts invading their homes, they begin to realize they might not survive the night.” So essentially yes, it is another “desktop/laptop thriller” in the realm of other movies such as Unfriended, Unfriended: Dark Web, Searching, etc. Searching easily being the best of those. HOST ultimately works because of its very effective scares during the 2nd half hour of the film, although fans of this genre, like me, still kind of groan at the set up we have to endure before said scares.

This film isn’t written or directed by anyone you know, and it doesn’t star anyone you know. The acting though is very believable for its genre. The only thing that you’ll have to suspend your belief on is when the six friends either take their phone or laptop around their room and/or house when shit starts going down. Thankfully though, when they end up doing that, the scares are so damn effective that you completely forget about that little detail. The only real problem I had with the film is that none of these films, other than Searching, produce a great hook of a set up to get us engaged at the very beginning. It took be approximately about 15 – 20 minutes to me to get into these kinds of movies. Yeah, I understand that it is supposed to feel real, with these friends hooking up via Zoom one by one and spouting off stupid normal life shit that doesn’t really interest us, there’s just gotta be a more interesting way to do it. Other than that little nitpick, past the 15-20 minute mark, everything is smooth sailing. The scares that hit, they hit hard, and don’t ever let up, even when the end of the film has an actual fucking countdown to the end of the Zoom meeting (and you can easily guess what goes down when it hits :00, still made me jump though). To be honest, I maybe would’ve liked to see about 20-25 more minutes of added on effective scares like they had in the film, but then again, its runtime is about perfect, and adding anything else might have lessened the impact of the other frights. Considering I didn’t like Shudder’s other original film, The Beach House, and turned off Scare Package before that film’s half way mark, Host is the best thing Shudder has to offer right now. A decent one time watch. Still not enough to get me to pay past a free week trial though. Having to pay $5 a month for this service gives me the shivers in general.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE BEACH HOUSE (Shudder)

So THE BEACH HOUSE is the first Shudder Original Film that has been making waves across all social media as actually being quite a decent little horror flick. Not only for the streaming service but as a film in general. So what do I do? My cheap ass signs up for the 7 day free trial, downloads the app, then cancels the membership immediately so it doesn’t charge me $5 a month when I forget about it in a week, watch only this film, and then delete the app and get it out of my life until the next buzzed about film comes out. Then I’ll just use a different e-mail to sign up. It’s in the 70 something percent range in Rotten Tomatoes so I thought people could’ve been right, then again, the horror film Relic released last week to rave reviews, and I didn’t care much for it. So what about The Beach House? I’ll answer that question with a question. Is it just me, or is everybody kind of tired of pandemic ‘horror’ films right now due to the situation we are in? If not, I certainly am. While the film is very adequately made, a half way decent slow burn, and makes good use of practical effects for once, when the end credits rolled, an “eh” escaped from my lips. While it is better than this past weekend’s Relic, I think I just am not into ‘pandemic like’ films right now, especially horror ones. Will it stay that way once this is all over? Right now, my gut tells me yes.

And that feeling is honestly being a little unfair to this movie. It was made long before COVID-19. It’s decent. And I’m going to go ahead and give it a recommendation to you, my zany readers, because it is more ambitious than the other shit I saw offered on Shudder as I scrolled around its library. And the practical effects, in the big pay off second half of the film, were very well done. Also this film has some gorgeous cinematography and shots. But kind of like, fuck, maybe almost exactly like Color Out Of Space, I didn’t really care for the characters and their plight, the dialogue, there was not enough that was explained, it didn’t have a clear set of rules, and the slow burn was a little too…well…”slow burn-y”? I definitely will not recommend that you watch this while eating or have just eaten. And I definitely will not recommend this to you if you in any way, shap, or form are either A. Squemish (especially right now with COVID-19) or B. Just tired of the pandemic so much that anything remotely even possibly relating to it will dig up bad memories for you. Other than that, if this description from IMDB peaks your interest, I will tell you to go ahead and give it a gander: “A romantic getaway for two troubled college sweethearts turns into a struggle for survival when unexpected guests – and the surrounding environment – exhibit signs of a mysterious infection.”Although I didn’t care for the characters, the actors were halfway decent, especially the lead girl, played by Liana Liberato. This would be director Jeffrey A. Brown’s first big break, as he’s directed only two other short films and has been a part of Location Management in big films like Spider-Man 3. He proves he has learned a lot being a part of the miscellaneous crew in a ton of other stuff as well. He definitely has an eye behind the camera.

But his screenplay writing, again, just like the duo that wrote Relic, needs a bit of work. On the other hand, maybe he wrote based off of budget, and if given a bigger budget before writing down the road, could do more unique things. Shit doesn’t finally start to go down until a little before half way through the film, and by then the ‘slow burn’ felt kind of tiresome, especially when the 45 minute set up didn’t have much in the way of character development to get you to care for anyone. And the pay offs were okay but not of the caliber that they needed to be. They needed more information and a grounded set of ‘virus’ narrative rules to function. If I were to watch this movie again it would only be for technical analysis and merit. And it isn’t like I don’t care for David Cronenberg-esque body horror, John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of my favorite films of all time, I just think right now isn’t the best time for me…or any one for that matter to be watching a film like this. Even though the body horror is nice and subtle, and it is only used when needed in its tight 87 minute run time. It doesn’t over do it. It’s a solid and noble effort, but just watching a film of that stature is not in my best interest based on how grumpy I have been since March of 2020. Fuck, even though I love the films Outbreak and Contagion, the only thing I can think about if I were to watch them right now is how badly I would want to throw something very, very hard at my television screen.