Pet Sematary (2019): A Strange but Effective Adaptation

Pet Sematary (2019): A Strange but Effective Adaptation

Reviewed by Simon Johnston for 

(Editor’s note: One day before attending the screening for this film, critic Simon Johnston was kicked in the head by a rogue mule during a family farm outing. Keep this in mind when reading the following review.)

Adaptation is a fickle art form; delicate in its intricacies, and merciless in its ability to expose the film’s every flaw. Most adaptations fail … miserably. Adaptations of beloved best-sellers have an even lower batting average. And Stephen King adaptations almost always suck. The problem with adapting any popular work is that there are no rules, no guidelines, no lifeguards on duty to warn screenwriters away from treacherous waters. Therefore, I tend to be as openminded as possible when reviewing adaptations, particularly when considering films that already occupy exalted status in the popular culture. And for Pet Sematary this is doubly true, as the ’80s have already gifted us with a popular and beloved novel and a film adaptation whose status among horror fans continues to not only endure but flourish. So this 2019 version of Pet Sematary has to slake the thirst of moviegoers as both an adaptation of classic novel and as remake of a classic horror film. Or is this actually a reboot? A soft reboot? Don’t know, don’t care. What I do know for sure is this is one of the strangest, most liberal interpretations of known material I’ve ever seen. These filmmakers really went out on a limb with this one.

As most of you know, Pet Sematary is based on the 1983 Stephen King classic novel Christine, only this time, instead of a 1958 Plymouth Fury, Christine is a big ole 18-wheeler with an appetite for human flesh. The story begins when the Creed family leaves the hustle and bustle of Boston for the fresh air, quiet, and low-stress environment of the Maine countryside. But things aren’t as bucolic as they seem. Christine, now a massive truck, regularly terrorizes the backroads of this quaint little New England town, looking for fresh victims to run over and then somehow bring back as zombies or something … I think in this version Christine is a Native American spirit that buries dead pets (and, unfortunately, people) somewhere spooky, then they come back as killer trucks, too. Something like that. Anyway, it’s nothing like the Stephen King novel or the original film directed by John Carpenter, which took a more traditional approach to adaptation, casting Christine as a killer car and leaving the Creed family out of the story altogether.

But, as weird as it may be, Pet Sematary is still a really strong movie in its own way. Jason Clarke does a fine job in a dual role as Louis Creed and as Christine. Amy Seimetz also makes a stellar impression in her dual role as Rachel Creed (Louis’s scaredy-cat wife) and as the woman who sold me a Coke. But it’s newcomer John Lithgow who steals the show, playing the nicotine-stained denim enthusiast Jud Crandall as well as giving life to the role of Winston Churchill, the family cat (a role he’d already played to perfection on the Netflix series The Crown). There’s also a little girl who does some stuff, but her character is ultimately unimportant to the overall plot. And then there’s a little boy who just wandered onto the set by accident and for some reason they made him the Creed’s son, Gage.

Speaking of the plot: it’s a hot mess. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some really good stuff here. I was enthralled with everything concerning Winston Churchill (they call him Church, for some reason) becoming a serial killer. Every scene that focuses on Church as he selects, stalks, tortures, and eventually kills his many victims (he kills 431 people and one big-ass rat in this film) is riveting. But these scenes are also absurdly gratuitous. For example, in one sequence Church decapitates a hitchhiker with a chainsaw, then we watch as he methodically skins his victim, filets his flesh, and meticulously prepares the corpse for his dinner—which we then watch him eat. In its entirety! None of this is necessary. There are also entirely too many fart jokes. In my humble opinion, horror and fart jokes are not compatible. There’s an actual scene in which Ellie (Louis and Rachel’s daughter) farts on Church, who in turn vomits on Gage, who in turn vomits on Jud, who already has diarrhea, so he poops his pants, which make louis sick, which makes Ellie laugh so hard she farts on Church again. Is this supposed to be scary? Funny? To be honest, at this point in the film I zoned out for a while and focused my attention on an order of concessions-stand nachos. I flat-out destroyed those bitches, then hit the bathroom for some sweet relief.

When I returned to the theater, the film had undergone a serious plot twist. Louis was now a man in a red suit with a lightning bolt on it who calls himself Shazooki or something. Gage was now a paraplegic teenager who regards his father more like a friend than a parent. The whole thing was so incredibly confusing I had to consider that I may have walked into the wrong theater after leaving the bathroom. Either way, there was still just way, way too much farting.

Pet Sematary may not be the scariest movie you see this year. That is all.

I give Pet Sematary 4.683 out of 10. I would’ve rated the film higher, but there’s just so much farting. I mean, really, people. Come on.

(Pet Sematary is rate R for adult language, graphic violence, graphic depiction of surgery, fish taunting, unsupervised tire swinging, threatening weather, superfluous gasoline usage, and one fart joke after another until you just want to smack someone.)

It (2017): A Review or Whatever

It (2017): A Review or Whatever

Reviewed by Janelle Palmer for

(Editor’s note: Janelle Palmer, a 17-year-old high school senior, is filling in for her mother, Janette, one of our resident film critics, who is currently recovering from a mild case of amoebic dysentery.)

Okay … so … anyway … I got stuck reviewing this movie because my mother’s sick or whatever, so just, ya’ know, bear with me and whatnot, ’cuz I haven’t reviewed a movie since I did The Shallows, like ten million years ago, so try not to be dicks about this, okay?

So, anyway … About five days ago my mother tells me that I have to review this clown movie or something called It. So I say fine, whatevs. But get this: my mother suggests that I read the novel they based the movie on before I see the movie, as, like, preparation or something. But the book is, like, a gazillion pages or something, so I was like, “No, thank you,” and my mom was all, “That’s not very professional” or something, and so I was like, “I’m not a professional, you are,” and then she was all, “I give up” and then she walked off in a huff. So I didn’t read that stupid book, which was written by that old guy who wrote that thing about the ugly chick with spooky powers who totally trashed the prom. I looked him up online. That dude’s written, like, a thousand books or something, including that one where there’s a creepy cemetery where, like, the animals bury their owners and whatnot … and the other one where the hotel makes people hit stuff with axes or something. Anyway, he writes a lot, so … Nerd Alert! Am I right?

So, anyway … It is about this evil clown thingy with gross hair that, like, totally hates kids and is super hungry and decides to, like, kill two birds with one stone and eat the kids that he hates so much. The clown thingy, btdubs, is called Pennywise, and for some reason he digs hangin’ out in the disgusting sewer. It turns out that Pennywise is an alien from some other country or something. I guess that’s really important. I mean, I think the whole “alien” thing is meant to be, like, some kind of metaphor about immigration or something. (See—I can think of cool, critic-y things to write, too, so suck it!)

The rest of the movie is about Pennywise totes screwing with this group of kids who refer to themselves as The Losers Club—which is the perfect name for this collection of kids, btdubs. I mean, they’re not very cool, they have zero—and I mean zero—fashion sense, and they ride around on bikes—bikes! I mean, why not just draw a big nerd target on your back already? I mean, ever hear of Uber or Lyft? How losery are the parents that brought these sad sacks into the world? I saw this movie with my friend Taylor, and she said that these kids are so uncool that she could actually feel herself getting less cool the longer she had to watch them. Preach on, sister. I can’t speak for most people, but I was totes rooting for Pennywise to eat these A-hole kids already so I could get over to Pinkberry for a smoothie before they closed—I know, I know, smoothies have, like, a ton of sugar in them and stuff, but it was my cheat day, so I’m allowed to have a G-D smoothie! Get off my back, already!

I’ve been told not to, like, give away the ending or reveal any spoilers or anything like that, so I won’t. But I will say that everybody dies—just kidding. I honestly don’t even know how the movie ends ’cuz I started talking with this lady who was sitting next to me who was wearing, like, the cutest top I’ve ever seen. Her name is Deandra, so … shout out to Deandra! She’s super cool. Love her. You should see her nails—per-fec-tion.

Okay, back to the movie. All in all, I guess I would say this movie gargles balls. I suppose if you like the idea of an ugly sewer clown terrorizing weird, bike-riding kids in the stupid ’80s, then It is gonna totes light your fire. But, if you don’t completely suck as a human being, you’ll find this movie as turdish as I do. So, in conclusion, clowns suck, kids are A-holes, sewers are gross, bikes are uncool, and Pinkberry rocks.

There … Happy now, Mom?

I give It one star out of a possible of, like, a gazillion stars. And the one star is for Deandra with the cute top, not for the stupid movie. Even the title of this movie blows serious chunks. How lame is It for a movie title? Why not call this movie The or An or To? Here’s the title I would’ve chosen: Why?

(It is rated R for, like, super-gross clown violence and bad language and stuff. The clown drool is gross enough to get an R all by itself. I mean, what’s the deal with the drooling? Ever hear of a bib? Or how about just closing your mouth, moron. You’re supposed to be this all-powerful being from another dimension and you can’t even go, like, five seconds without drooling all over the place. Pa-the-tic.)

Five Things You Couldn’t Possibly Know About Alien (1979)

Five Things You Couldn’t Possibly Know About Alien (1979)

By Henry Bernice for

(Editor’s note: Film critic/historian Henry Bernice has been struck by lightning seven times. Keep this in mind when reading the following article.)

In the almost four decades since its release, Ridley Scott’s Alien has become an indispensable classic for movie lovers around the globe. The film’s seamless melding of classic science fiction and horror narratives set a new standard for genre filmmaking and made virtually every monster movie that existed before it look silly by comparison. But, of course, film fans already know that. So, here are five things even the most ardent cineaste couldn’t possibly know about Alien.

(1) Though the role of Dallas, captain of the Nostromo, would eventually be played to perfection by Tom Skerritt, the part was initially offered to (and accepted by) legendary character actor William Bookshank. In fact, Bookshank worked for approximately six weeks on the film before his untimely death sent the production into a tailspin. Director Ridley Scott was so desperate to stay on schedule that he initially decided not to recast the role and continued on with Bookshank’s corpse. “For the first day or so, it actually seemed to be working,” Scott said in a 1980 interview for FilmMag. “Even in death, Bookshank brought a certain gravitas to the role that most living actors couldn’t accomplish on their best day.” Scott soldiered on with Bookshank’s rapidly deteriorating corpse for the next six weeks. “But eventually,” Scott said, “the dialogue scenes proved to be a bit too much of a challenge, even for the corpse of a great actor.” The production shut down for a week while casting sessions resumed. Soon Skerritt was brought on board and Bookshank’s scenes were reshot. (For the record, the cause of Bookshank’s demise was officially documented as an “accidental death by falling anvil,” but years of rumors suggesting that Bookshank had hidden a bizarre, possibly even sexual affinity for anvils has created serious doubt as to just how accidental this accident really was.)

(2) In the original script, the now-iconic “chestburster” scene, in which the alien (or Xenomorph) tears through John Hurt’s torso and emerges amid a tangle of bloody T-shirt and torn flesh before dashing away to the darkest corners of the Nostromo, was significantly different. As strange as it may seem now, the story initially called for the alien to be an executive officer on the Nostromo crew, and for John Hurt’s Kane character to burst out of the alien creature’s chest. Years later in an interview for Good Morning, Galveston, Sigourney Weaver would say: “We shot the scene several times with Kane bursting out of the alien’s chest and then running out of sight, screaming. But it just wasn’t working. It just wasn’t scary. We could all feel that something was just off.” After sharing her concerns with an equally troubled Scott, the film was promptly rewritten, allowing for Hurt and the alien to switch roles. “Thank God we made those changes,” said Scott. “I just don’t think the film would’ve been as scary had we stayed with the idea of John Hurt stalking and killing the Nostromo crew. Don’t get me wrong, John’s a great actor, but … come on!”

(3) Jerry Goldsmith’s haunting score was initially recorded by an orchestra consisting almost entirely of kazoos and slide whistles. “I felt the tone of the film should reflect a carnival-style atmosphere,” Goldsmith said at a Knights of Columbus Wacky Waffle Wednesday in 1982. “That’s why I decided to load the orchestra with 135 kazoo players, 21 slide whistle players, and a single tambourine. The sole tambourine was meant to represent the loneliness one experiences in the vastness of space, and the kazoos and slide whistles were meant to conjure images of circus clowns and shit. I’m really proud of that version of the score, but the so-called ‘producers’ didn’t appreciate what I was going for and decided to play it safe.” Oddly, Ridley Scott agreed completely with Goldsmith’s concept. “I totally dug the whole carnival theme,” Scott said in a Pork Futures Today article. “Carnivals remind me of clowns, and clowns are scary as balls.” Scott recently announced plans to release a new blu-ray version of Alien with the original carnival-themed score. “I think the hardcore fans will buy just about anything we slap together at this point, so why not make some more money on this bee-otch,” he said.

(4) Mercifully, a terribly ill-conceived product placement sequence was cut from the final edit of the film. “We shot a scene where the characters take a lunch break at McDonald’s after stumbling upon the space jockey,” Scott told a Furniture Times reporter. “We thought it might make a nice commentary on the long-reaching tentacles of commercialism to suggest that even on the remote planetoid of LV-426 you couldn’t escape the golden arches of McDonald’s. What the hell—it was the age of movie marketing run amok. Just look at the way Star Wars was selling merch, like action figures and all that crap. They had ties to McDonald’s, too, ya’ know. So don’t look at me like I just pooped in your ice cream. The idea wasn’t that crazy.”

(5) An early test screening of the film proved disastrous for the PR department of 20th Century Fox when a sizable collection of Xenomorphic Americans picketed outside the theater. “They were a real pain in the butt,” said Sigourney Weaver after six Michelob Ultras at a tractor pull outside of Waco, Texas in 1981. “I explained to them that the film wasn’t trying to suggest that all Xenomorphs are psychotic killers, just this one particular Xenomorph. But the protest leader just wasn’t willing to hear our side of the story. I know that things got ugly after I walked the red carpet. A few people were cocooned, a few more were forcibly implanted by facehuggers … but, hey, nothing ever goes as smoothly as you’d like. And nothing happened to anyone inside the theater that night, thank God. So, you know, overall it was mostly good stuff.”

So, there you have it, Alien fans. I hope you all learned something. See ya’ next time.

Annabelle: Creation is Really … um … Good?

Annabelle: Creation is Really … um … Good?

Reviewed by Adam Trolley Bing for

(Editor’s note: Film critic Adam Trolley Bing has admitted to not actually seeing Annabelle: Creation before posting the following review.)

Annabelle: Creation … Wow. I mean, where do I even begin? This is one of those movies where I really don’t want to say too much and give away anything important. That would be irresponsible criticism.

I will say that this movie is nothing if not professionally made. For example, the cinematography is extraordinary. The film was obviously shot with professional-grade cameras, the kind only true pros would bother to use. And boy does it pay off, because the movie is almost always in focus and every frame makes visual sense. Like, when the camera is pointing at a person or something really scary or a piece of furniture or something, you totally believe what you’re seeing on the screen. You just don’t see that kind of technical wizardry every day in Hollywood films.

And don’t even get me started on the sound design. This film is just jam-packed with all sorts of sounds. I consider myself a bit of a “sound aficionado,” so believe me when I say that the scope, diversity, and quality of sounds in this movie is absolutely mind blowing. Trust me, you’ll be black and blue from pinching yourself in disbelief at how realistic some of these sounds are. I can’t even remember how many times I said to myself “Oh yeah, I recognize that sound.” And if it’s realism you crave, wait until you see the costume design.

The women’s costumes in the film are astounding. They really look like the kind of stuff these particular characters would have in their closets. The same can pretty much be said for all the male characters as well. There is one male character in particular whose choice of pants really speaks volumes about who he is as a person, where he’s been, and where he wants to go. All of his hopes and dreams are right there on display in the face of his belt buckle, and the way in which the fabric fades a little near his pockets suggests an unfulfilled longing that hits me right in my gut even now, long after seeing the film. But let’s not forget that these amazing costumes are just empty vessels without talented actors to inhabit them and allow them to realize their full potential.

Luckily, this movie is defined by great performances. According to Wikipedia—I mean according to the credits, which I sat and watched in their entirety, the movie stars Stephanie Sigman as Sister Charlotte. And, oh, man, does she ever give a whopper of a performance. I’m sure nuns are going to see this and say “She totally nailed us.” And then there’s Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto as a married couple. Let me tell ya’, there isn’t one second of film where you don’t believe that these two are married. They play a married couple so well that I’d be shocked if their real-life spouses didn’t crap their pants out of sheer jealousy. Years from now, people will look back on these performances in history classes to study the way married people used to behave.

So … is Annabelle: Creation scary? I would have to say … uh … yeah, pretty much, sure. I mean, if you like atmospheric ghost stories with great acting, professional camera work, seamless editing, a believable sound design, and character-defining costumes, all set to a score that just really utilizes the perfect number of musical instruments, then Annabelle: Creation is probably for you. But what’s really fun about a movie like this is the debate that I’m sure people will be having in the days and weeks to come over the film’s various uses of all kinds of really interesting themes, motifs, and metaphors and whatnot.

For the record, I hope my analysis hasn’t gone too deep, and that I haven’t ruined the film for anyone. Any spoilers present in this review are completely accidental, I promise.

I give Annabelle: Creation 5 question marks (?????) out of a possible 5.

(Annabelle: Creation is rated R for any number of vague, adult-type things and situations that are not easily described but that people under 17 really shouldn’t see. I mean, the MPAA has a tough job, so who am I to question their criteria for rating a movie like this. Now, I can’t say for sure that I would have given this film an R, but my opinion doesn’t matter. Although, now that I think about it, I probably wouldn’t take my children to see this film. Of course, I don’t have children, but that’s hardly the fault of Annabelle: Creation or the MPAA.)

The Dark Tower is a Real Buzzer Beater

The Dark Tower is a Real Buzzer Beater

Reviewed by Annie Poppler for

(Editor’s note: Film critic Annie Poppler is a sports novice who has recently begun dating a sport’s writer. Keep this in mind when reading the following review, which is for entertainment purposes only.)

The latest Stephen King adaptation to totally body-slam multiplexes around the globe, The Dark Tower, is a stunning achievement, combining the majesty and power of a LaBron James slam dunk, the silky smoothness of a Steph Curry 3-bomb, and the looming terror of Dennis Rodman doing just about anything. The film, which seamlessly combines genre elements of horror, westerns, action, and fantasy, is directed with a sense of confidence and surehandedness of something akin to Bill Belichick leading his New England Patriots onto the field of battle in pursuit of yet another Super Bowl victory.

The film stars Idris Elba as Roland, a gunslinger on a mission to save his world from extinction while being pursued by a ruthless horde of creatures hell-bent on stopping him. These villains are headlined by Matthew McConaughey as Walter o’Dim (a.k.a. The Man in Black, a.k.a a few other names I don’t remember). Both Elba and McConaughey are perfectly cast. Elba’s gunslinger reminds me of Joe Montana, the legendary 49ers QB who earned the nickname “Joe Cool” due to his ability to never be rattled in the face of adversity. (By the way, Montana also boasts a career touchdown to interception ratio that is absolutely ridonkulous. This may not be relevant to my review, but it’s just one of those things that we sports fanatics can’t help but notice whenever we think about Joe Montana—which is, like, a million times every day. Am I right?) And McConaughey plays The Man in Black with the ticking-time-bomb intensity of a young John Daly in the tee box in that critical moment just after one final puff on his cigarette before he totally punishes the poor golf ball with a 5 wood. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if McConaughey were to publicly acknowledge drawing inspiration from Daly’s legendary tee shots—it’s just so obvious in the performance.

So anyway, the Gunslinger and The Man in Black begin this whole Magic Johnson-Larry Bird-style rivalry that can best be described as the cinematic version of a Conor McGregor back kick to the balls. It’s just that powerful. The chase scenes bring to mind the best of the storied history of the Daytona 500. The fight sequences are every bit as harrowing as Ali-Frazier 3. Watching Elba do his thing as the Gunslinger is like watching Mario Lemieux terrorize St. Louis Blues goaltender Rick Wamsley on his way to a hat trick (he actually scored 4 goals; one more than necessary for a hat trick) on New Year’s Eve in 1985. This is one of those movies that is best enjoyed with a Dodger Dog (mustard only) and a cold one … and maybe some nachos. The action is just that awesome. Of course, to be completely honest, I missed a good bit of this film because I was busy checking the day’s baseball scores on my phone. No need to worry; the Dodgers won.

About an hour into the film I settled back in my seat, tore open a pouch of Red Man Chew (I prefer the Golden Blend), and basked in the brilliant glow of men shooting at each other while I occasionally scratched my groin area and spat into a half-empty cup of Diet Dr. Pepper.

Now that’s a great time at the movies!

I give The Dark Tower three gold medals and half a bronze out of a possible 4.

(The Dark Tower is rated PG-13 for some kick-ass stunt work by some amazing athletes who are totally ripped, graphic locker room talk, sporadic taunting, and extended depiction of untended wounds.)

Blair Witch

Blair Witch Casts a Spell of Dazzling Originality

Reviewed by Joshua Champlain for

(Editor’s note: Film critic Joshua Champlain has recently awakened from a blair_witch_2016_poster27-year coma. Please keep this in mind when reading the following review.)

It’s easy for film critics to be cynical. So many movies completely lack originality and artistic integrity. So many movies are nothing more than the generic repackaging of well-worn filmic tropes, clichéd storylines, and established pop-culture brands. So many movies are clearly molded by the greedy hooves of capitalist swine in search of a quick buck without having to innovate or bear the burden of any creative risk. So many movies rely solely on storytelling gimmicks and archetypal characters to shamelessly pander to a well-established target demographic in order to put butts in seats on opening weekend. So many movies are so insultingly predictable, so reliant upon this paint-by-numbers philosophy of filmmaking that you just can’t blame critics for the unmistakable air of frustration so prevalent in their reviews.

Which is why I’m so pleased to report that I’ve just seen Blair Witch, a film so startling in its originality that I’m shocked it was allowed to be produced at all, let alone publicly exhibited.

First and foremost, Blair Witch is a horror movie—but not just any horror movie. It will likely be remembered as the single greatest achievement in the hallowed history of horror. The basic story involves a collection of millennials coming face-to-face with unspeakable terrors in the deep, dark woods. And why exactly are these youngsters trudging through the woods? Because the main character, James Donahue, decides it’s time to search for the sister he lost in these very woods 22 years ago, when she led her own expedition of intrepid youngsters on a search for the mysterious Blair Witch, a terrifying apparition with a reputation for disappearing local townsfolk, even children. That alone permits this film to stake its claim as one of the most innovative horror stories of all time. I mean, come on … Good-looking young people killed off in a forest—genius! From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Vertigo Entertainment and Lionsgate for having the balls to tell such an imaginative story. But that’s just the beginning. Check this out: The story is conveyed through a narrative device in which the characters record their own experiences. That footage is then assembled by someone else and presented to the movie-going public as a kind pseudo-documentary. What! Who could have ever imagined such an ingenious method of presenting a story? Only superhuman mega-geniuses, that’s who.

I don’t want to give away any of the surprises (and, trust me, there are just so, so many really startling revelations in this movie), so I won’t say any more about the story or how it is told. However, I would like to say that I am just so proud of you, Hollywood, for respecting ticket-buying audiences (who often have to shell out as much as $20 or more per ticket) for not simply regurgitating the stinking pile of inept, infantile, brain cell-destroying eye cancer you normally fart onto movie screens each weekend. Not this time. No, this time you delivered Blair Witch, rather than insult film fans with yet another half-cocked prequel, sequel, or reboot featuring a gaggle of cardboard characters heedlessly meandering through a mind-numbing cinematic wasteland of cheap set-ups, clunky expositional dialogue, and poorly executed jump scares. So, again, thank you. You had the courage to respect both your craft and the fans by releasing … Blair Witch.

So … I humbly doff my cap to you, mainstream Hollywood. Your integrity and inventiveness know no bounds.

I give Blair Witch a 10 out of 10, and I wait with bated breath to see what glorious creations Hollywood has in store for the future. May God bless this movie and all who see it.

(Blair Witch is rated R for adult language, violence, nudity, and for being such a pioneering, groundbreaking work of art that younger, less-experienced viewers’ minds would implode should their eyes gaze upon its brilliance.)

Don’t Breathe

Don’t Breathe; Moreover, Don’t Buy a Ticket to This Dreck

Reviewed by Doris Goldfarb for

(Editor’s note: Film critic Doris Goldfarb is an octogenarian who rarely sees Don't_Breathe_(2016_film)modern films. Keep this mind when reading the following review.)

Don’t even get me started! Oy gevalt, what a terrible movie Don’t Breathe is. I mean, my God, with the violence and the potty mouth … What the hell happened to movies anyway? This one is even worse than that disaster with the foul-mouthed cartoon hot dog. Ah, the whole thing’s a shanda, I tell ya’. If my Irving—God rest his soul—had seen this movie, he would’ve plotzed, hand to God. Now, I may just be a yenta who loves to kvetch, but I’m sorry, this movie caused me great tsoriss, and I want restitution. Thank God I didn’t have to pay for my ticket. But thirteen dollars for popcorn and a Coke! Thirteen dollars it cost, hand to God. For a nosh? Are you kidding? What am I, made of gelt? Ah, the whole system’s fercockt.

So, anyway, Don’t Breathe tells the story of a troubled shiksa named Rocky (what a pretty name for a girl, am I right?) whose parents neglect her and her baby sister. So now Rocky wants to run away with her sister, but she needs money. By the way, what is it with these young girls today? Rocky dresses like a real nafka, always with the shirts that expose her pupik and the tight pants that highlight the roundness of her tuches. And don’t even get me started on the tattoos. Hand to God, these girls today look like walking comic strips. These little pishers should show off their healthy skin while they have it, not hide it beneath a layer of vulgar graffiti hastily carved into their hides by a bunch of derelicts with electric needles. But I digress.

In order to get the money she needs to run away, Rocky commiserates with her boyfriend, a real shmegegge named—get this—Money. Anyway, Money’s brilliant idea is to break into the house of a blind man who, rumor has it, has a safe just waiting to be burgled. So, with the help of Money’s friend Alex (a total schlemiel, hand to God), Rocky and Money set out to steal their fortune. One problem: the broken-down blind man they’re supposed to steal from is no shmendrick. He may be old and blind, but he’s tough as balls and steady as a moyl at the moment of truth. Soon these ungrateful little bastards are running for their pathetic little lives from this blind gonif with a pair of balls like a Holstein bull and the shvantz of a Triple Crown winner. Sure he may be a violent psychopath, but he doesn’t take crap from teens and he doesn’t sweat the small stuff, and that’s a nice way to live. Good for him.

So, anyway, there’s really no reason for anyone to sit through this whole megillah. It’s really nothing but potty-mouthed kids and violence, and I can see plenty of that any day of the week on the D train, and for free. Bottom line, Don’t Breathe stinks like my friend Gerda’s water closet after a brisket-and-beets lunch from Katz Deli—you know, the one on 53rd across from that place that makes all the pies. Anyway, my point is, don’t bother wasting your time and your money on Don’t Breathe. Just thinking about this movie makes me grepse.

I give Don’t Breathe zero stars, and may it bring shame to those who aided in its creation.

(Don’t Breathe is rated R for just horrible language and some of the most ridiculous violence I’ve seen. Is this really the kind of thing people find entertaining? If so, it’s time for me shuffle off this mortal coil and be with my Irving, hand to God.)

Lights Out

Lights Out: A Scary Movie for People Who Suck

Reviewed by Shirley Franks for DecimalPointless and Lights_Out_2016_poster

(Editor’s note: Film critic Shirley Franks is an insanely busy soccer mom who hasn’t had a vacation in more than three years.)

     Lights Out is a sometimes-clever, often-spooky horror film that absolutely drips with atmosphere. It’s the kind of shriek-fest that I would’ve loved 15 years ago, back in those halcyon days before I met my ass-bag husband and started pumping out ungrateful children by the bucket load. However, now that life has crapped on my dreams, blackened my heart, and shriveled my once-beautiful body, I find this movie endlessly annoying and relentlessly un-scary.

The story of Lights Out concerns a mysterious ghost-lady with Medusa hair and terrible posture who appears in the dark and disappears in the light. Oooh, I’m sooooooo scared! Shadowy ghost bitches aren’t scary … Five kids and 1 bathroom—now that’s scary. The appearance of varicose veins at 35—now that’s scary. Working 40 hours a week reviewing idiotic movies aimed at mouth-breathing teenagers, only to come home to a filthy house where I’m greeted by a sea of dirt-smudged faces screaming, “What’s for dinner?”—now that’s scary.

Teresa Palmer stars as the film’s sweet little cutie, who always looks daisy-fresh and is decades from worrying about stretch marks and episiotomies. So, basically … UP YOURS, TERESA! Enjoy that tight body and that silky-smooth skin while you can, sweetheart, because one day—maybe even soon—you’re gonna wake up in a bed filled with potato chip crumbs, next to a snoring, wheezing, ass clown that tricked you into getting married and then effectively stole every ounce of your youth, beauty, and zest for life, leaving you a soulless husk with prematurely gray hair and the disposition of a demon in church.

About 25 minutes into this obnoxious teen spookshow, I realized that I was still wearing my slippers and a pair of sweatpants dotted with scores of oozy, drippy stains whose origins are as mysterious and frightening as the identity of Jack the Ripper. Not to mention the fact that my ass-bag husband (in fact, let’s just refer to him as Ass Bag from here on out) forgot to fill the station wagon with gas, so I basically coasted to my critics’ screening of this film on fumes. Thanks, Ass Bag. Love Ya’. Oh, and I haven’t slept more than two hours straight in about six months. And I’m supposed to find this movie scary? Really? Give me a freakin’ break, Hollywood!

The only truly positive thing I can say about Lights Out is that I fell asleep for about a third of the film and woke up feeling more refreshed than I’ve felt in weeks. Not refreshed enough to recommend this garbage movie, mind you, but refreshed nonetheless. So, in conclusion, if you’re under 40, single, and childless, I’m just certain you’ll love Lights Out. Why the hell wouldn’t you? Life is a parade for you people. Every movie is a celebration. Every breath is a joy. You people make me sick. So, go ahead, see Lights Out and have a ball—and then choke on it.

I give Lights Out one stink-filled diaper out of four and every ounce of bile my liver can produce.

(Lights Out is rated PG-13 for “adult” language and “adult” situations … As if these people have any idea what it means to be an adult. It also contains prancing nubile bodies, the overt flaunting of youth, and the potential to induce rage in anyone with a pulse and half a brain.)


The Purge: Election Year

The Purge: Election Year: Absolutely the Greatest Movie Ever

Reviewed by Marcus Wells for DecimalPointless and

(Editor’s note: Film critic Marcus Wells is an insufferably sarcastic man whose The_Purge_Election_Yearfather donates a lot of money to DecimalPointless.)

I was soooooo thrilled when I heard there was going to be another Purge film. Who wouldn’t be? After all, how could any cinephile possibly resist the opportunity to sit through another 105 minutes of completely gratuitous violence, infantile dialogue, and shot after ever-loving shot of psychos in stupid masks brandishing weapons as they cock their heads to one side in an attempt to appear more menacing? Not me. That’s for sure. And that brilliant storyline—you know the one. The one where all crime is legal for one full night. Genius!!! A story like this is in no way gimmicky or stupid at all, and it clearly possesses the narrative heft to accommodate multiple sequels. I wasn’t surprised at all to learn that Michael Bay—the creative mastermind behind Transformer and Bad Boys—is one of the producers of this masterpiece. And let’s not forget to give a shout-out to everybody at Platinum Dunes, the production company that just never ever stops innovating and creating original, groundbreaking movies. Let’s see … so far this collection of Rhodes scholars has produced such original classics as the remake of Friday the 13th, the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, the remake of Carrie, the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Ouija, a movie based on a board game from the good folks at Hasbro. So, with this group of cinematic/storytelling pioneers in charge, there’s just no way that The Purge: Election Year could be anything other than an all-time champ of a movie. Right?

Well, there’s no need to worry. I’m here to tell ya’ that this movie is—and I say this without hyperbole—the greatest, most important work of art ever rendered by any living organism in any solar system since the Big Bang started this whole crazy mess. This time around, the story turns on a senator whose entire family was killed during a previous Purge. Anyway, the senator is now running for president, and the largest plank in her platform just happens to be doing away with the annual Purge. But guess what? Some people don’t like her. Bet ya’ didn’t see that mind-blowing twist coming.

From that point onward, we are treated (and, man do I mean treated) to a dystopian nightmare of extreme violence that just doesn’t ever seem to end. And when the credits do finally roll, we walk out of the theater feeling refreshed and alive, secure in the belief that all people are psychopaths who relish every opportunity to inflict violence upon those who can’t protect themselves, and for nothing more than shits and giggles and financial gain. And isn’t that the perfect message to convey to audiences in these times of political divisiveness, overt bigotry, and fear. You bet it is! Nice job, Platinum Dunes. You’re a real class act!

I give The Purge: Election Year an A+++, and I can’t wait to see who’ll be senselessly slaughtered during next year’s Purge. Just terrific!

(The Purge: Election Year is rated R, but, for the life of me, I can’t understand why. This film should be seen—and celebrated—by people of all ages. It should be shown in grade schools and taught in film schools. Simply put, we are a better species for this film’s existence. So take the whole family and have a ball. I’m sure you won’t regret it.)