FlixChatter Review – THE WRETCHED (2020)

Written and Directed by: Brett Pierce, Drew T. Pierce

In The Wretched, 17-year-old Ben (John-Paul Howard) goes to stay with his father (Jamison Jones) in the small summer vacation town where he works. He notices their neighbor, Abbie (Zara Mahler), acting strangely, and soon discovers that she has been inhabited by a witch who preys on children. Along with his new friend Mallory (Piper Curda), Ben fights to defeat this ancient evil being.

Like many teen horror movies, The Wretched is pretty underwhelming. There’s nothing particularly inspired about the cinematography or direction, the characters feel like cliches, and melodramatic music nearly always plays right before the unimpressive jump scares (although there was one really good jump scare involving a baby toy that actually got me). The dialogue feels like most teen horror movie dialogue written between 1999 and now, although the actors mostly make it work.

That said, it’s not a bad movie. The special effects are pretty good, mostly practical and not over-reliant on CGI, and I really liked the creepy, saggy skin makeup for the witch. It was refreshing watching a movie with a unique antagonist (not that there aren’t other horror movies with witches, obviously, but this movie has its own interesting interpretation). As I mentioned before, the acting is pretty good, and there are some surprisingly talented kid actors in the cast. And the twist near the end genuinely surprised me without feeling like it was unearned; there’s some decent foreshadowing leading up to it.

While The Wretched isn’t an amazing horror film, it’s still entertaining enough, and at a little over an hour and a half run time, it’s a relatively quick, easy watch. If you like horror, are easily scared, and this happens to be on a streaming service you have, you might enjoy this movie.

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Have you seen THE WRETCHED? Let us know what you think!

FlixChatter Review – IN FABRIC (2019)

Written and Directed by: Peter Strickland
Starring: Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Fatma Mohamed, Gwendoline Christie

In Fabric is a twisted, highly stylized horror/dark comedy film. It follows a cursed dress’ journey as it leaves a department store and travels from person to person, wreaking havoc at every turn. Director Peter Strickland‘s love of 1970’s and 80s  exploitation films is no secret. His nuanced style reads like a highly abstract study of color, light and texture. I appreciate his attention to small details, such as the title sequences and soundtrack. The pops of red used throughout the film, whether from dresses, nail color, lipstick or blood is the same oversaturated color.  Which creates surrealist dream-like state with its vibrancy. 

Highly derivative, In Fabric takes hugely from the Italian Giallo genre, especially Argento’s Suspiria. Strickland has stated that this was unintentional as he was initially inspired by the haunting of clothes through the lingering of other people’s bodily secretions and the fact that buying second hand clothes taps into the idea of clothes that have survived through many other people’s lives. He has also said the highly tactile experience of old school department stores, in his youth, and their thin papered, extremely glossy catalogs were a huge inspiration for this work.

The store the dress is initially purchased from has a hypnotic power over people. This power is portrayed in its  advertisements, the strange rituals its sales people practice and the deranged way customers stream through shrieking, not dissimilar from black Friday shoppers. Although many elements seem exaggerated to the point of absurdity, the stilted interactions between Sheila (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) and the salesperson Miss Luckmoore (Fatma Mohamed) are funny because the forcefulness and awkwardness of retail exchange is very real.

Fatma Mohamed + Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Luckmoore serves as the film’s Madame Blanche, a malevolent female spirit. Somehow this character takes the trope to the next level and if possible is even more mysterious and bizarre. Speaking indecipherable lines such as “Did the transaction validate your paradigm of consumerism?” and “The hesitation in your voice, soon to be an echo in the recess in the spheres of retail,” she serves as a scathing satire of retail exchange while also offering levity.

Overall, I liked the modern take on the Giallo genre, a welcome mix of  horror, comedy and shock eroticism. I especially liked the way Strickland made the genre his own adding mysticism and drawing from British humour and culture. The structuring of the film, however, made it a difficult watch and left me uncertain through much of its content.

– Review by Jessie Zumeta


Have you seen IN FABRIC? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review – IT Chapter Two (2019)

Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Written by: Gary Dauberman

It Chapter 2 takes place 27 years after the first film. When children again start mysteriously dying in Derry, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls his childhood friends (James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough, Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh, Bill Hader as Richie Tozier, Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom, James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak, and Andy Bean as Stanley Uris), to return to their hometown and finally defeat the fear-hungry entity that terrorized them in the form of Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgard) all those years ago.

The highlight of this movie is absolutely its stellar cast. Everyone has excellent chemistry and genuinely feel like lifelong friends, especially Bill Hader and James Ransone. The actors clearly studied their younger counterparts thoroughly, because past just looking similar to them, their mannerisms mirror those of their younger counterparts incredibly well; my cousin pointed out that James McAvoy is slightly duck-footed when he walks, the same way young Bill (Jaeden Martell) is. All of the actors give impressive performances, but Bill Hader is the stand-out; while he’s as hilarious in this movie as anyone who has seen him on SNL would expect, he also gives an absolutely heartbreaking performance toward the end.

(L-R) Isaiah Mustafa, Bill Hader, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan

My main complaint with this movie has to do with its length. It’s nearly three hours long, and while the first one was pretty long too-about two and a half hours-this one felt much more padded. There were several flashbacks to the kids having additional encounters with It, and while the scenes were mostly well-done, and it was nice having more screen time with the talented young actors, it felt like the filmmakers were just trying to squeeze in more scares. This is especially frustrating when the time focused on unnecessary flashbacks could have been used to flesh out parts that were mostly glazed over-Bill’s relationship with his actor wife Audra (Jess Weixler), Bev’s struggles with her abusive husband Tom (Will Beinbrink), and pretty much all of Mike’s background.

One of my main problems with the first movie was how little development they gave to Mike, and I had hoped that would change in the sequel, since he’s the only member of the friend group who stayed in Derry and is responsible for bringing them back, but he’s once again sidelined; I’m pretty sure we go nearly an hour without seeing him onscreen after the group’s reunion. Even his big scene from the book with former school bully/current psychiatric hospital escapee Henry Bowers (Teach Grant) is cut very short.

That last bit brings me to my other big complaint about the movie: there are several parts played for laughs that shouldn’t have been, especially most of the scenes with Bowers. His brief attack on Mike is handled more seriously, but the majority of his scenes, as bloody as they are, have this weird comedic tone that doesn’t mesh with this character that has been established as a genuinely intimidating figure. It’s not like this movie lacks for comedy-as scary as it is, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments-so I’m not sure why the filmmakers felt the need to inject humor into non-humorous situations.

While I have my issues with trying to pack in extra scares in this movie, I did still enjoy them. There are plenty of slow burning, suspenseful scenes, jump-out-of-your-seat moments, and creative and unsettling imagery. The famous fortune cookie scene is frenetic and terrifying, Bev’s unnerving encounter with the strange old woman (Joan Gregson) in her old apartment is exquisitely tense, and there’s a moment toward the end involving young Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff) that really made me shudder.

Despite my complaints, I still really enjoyed It Chapter 2. It’s scary, funny, heartfelt, and well-acted. While I think the first movie is a little better (or at least more succinct), the second movie is a satisfying follow-up and a wonderful conclusion to a great horror story.

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Have you seen IT Chapter Two? Let us know what you think!

FlixChatter Review – Ready Or Not (2019)

Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Written by: Guy Busick, Ryan Murphy

Whenever I finally tie the knot, there are a few things I know I absolutely want in my wedding: a tea-length dress, lilacs and lilies of the valley in my bouquet, my little sister as maid of honor. And there are things I absolutely do not want: a veil, people clinking their glasses to get my husband and me to kiss every other minute during dinner, and a game of hide and seek where my in-laws try to murder me as part of a ritual sacrifice. That last one should probably go without saying, but the bride in Ready or Not might have appreciated it being brought up during the wedding planning process.

Ready or Not follows a new bride, Grace (Samara Weaving), as she tries to fit in with her husband Alex’s (Mark O’Brien) rich and eccentric family by participating in a post-wedding tradition of playing a game. Unfortunately, the game chosen is a version of hide and seek where, if Grace is found, she’s sacrificially killed as part of a dark and mysterious pact the family made long ago.

This is one of the most fun movies I’ve seen this year. It’s a great balance of horror and comedy; the suspense is high all the way through, keeping you guessing the whole time, and the performances had me cracking up, thanks to a stellar cast. Samara Weaving, who’s already made a name for herself in horror through the Showtime series Ash Vs Evil Dead and the Netflix movie The Babysitter, is a great final girl, and she shows some fantastic emotional range in this role. Melanie Scrofano as Alex’s sister Emilie and Kristian Brunn as her husband are especially hilarious (no surprise for anyone who’s watched him in Orphan Black). John Ralston as the butler, Stevens, is simultaneously funny and terrifying. And Nicky Guadagni as the cartoonishly villainous Aunt Helene is an absolute delight.

This movie has a lot going for it visually as well. There’s this yellow-ish gold filter that gives the film this gorgeous vintage vibe. The hair, makeup, and costumes are beautiful overall, but the standouts are Grace’s romantic, lacy wedding gown and simple braided updo, Alex’s cold and cunning sister-in-law Charity’s (Elyse Levesque) glittery evening gown, and Aunt Helene’s deep purple blazer, short, spiky, white hair, and dark makeup. Still, this is a horror movie, and despite all the pretty bits, there is plenty of blood–not gratuitously so, but definitely enough to satisfy fans of the genre, so if you’re squeamish, be prepared for that–especially toward the end.

My one gripe with this movie is that the relationship between Grace and Alex isn’t very well-developed. I can partially understand this, because it’s established early on that they’ve only been together for a year and a half, but showing a little more interaction between the newlyweds throughout the movie would have made a particular important moment toward the end either make a little more sense or be a more interesting twist.

Despite that one complaint, I genuinely enjoyed this movie and would love to watch it again. Maybe I’ll suggest it to my boyfriend for our next date night. Then again, if I hope for him to eventually to pop the question, this might not be the best movie to show him.

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Have you seen READY OR NOT? Let us know what you think!

FlixChatter Review: The Curse of La Llorona (2019)

Review by Vitali Gueron

From producers James Wan, Gary Dauberman & Emile Gladstone and director Michael Chaves, comes the latest movie in The Conjuring franchise. Taking place in early 1970s Los Angeles, La Llorona (meaning The Weeping Woman) stars Linda Cardellini as Anna Tate-Garcia, a mother of two children, and a social worker who investigates child abuse cases for the city of Los Angeles. While investigating the disappearance of the two children of Patricia Alvarez (played by Patricia Velásquez), Anna finds Patricia’s children locked inside a closet with a large pad lock keeping them inside.

With help from the police, Anna finds the key to the locked door and find Patricia’s two sons inside. They are scared and tell Anna to keep them in the room so they’re safe. Ignoring their pleas, Anna takes the boys to the police for safety. While at a child services shelter, the two boys Carlos and Tomas sleep walk through multiple corridors until one stops, stares and points to a small mirror in the corner where both see La Llorona. La Llorona disappears from the mirror (which cracks) and then she reappears, grabbing Carlos. That night, Anna learns of the deaths of the two boys, who have been found drowned in a nearby river.

The significance of two boys drowned in a nearby river is that towards the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to a couple who are playing with their children in a field in 1673 Mexico. It is in that scene that we are shown that one of the boys sees his mother drowning his brother in a stream. The boy tries to run away but his mother catches him and appears to drown him too. Back in present early 1970s Los Angeles, Anna takes her two children, son Chris (Roman Christou) and daughter Sam (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen), with her to the murder scene as she is a single mother and has no one to watch them. It is there that Anna sees and hears Patricia scream at her, accusing Anna of her boys’ deaths.

While the confrontation between Anna and Patricia is going on, Anna’s son Chris decides to leave their family car and investigate the crime scene. Chris hears a faint sound of weeping, as if a woman is crying behind him. As he turns around, he sees the woman, La Llorona, in a white dress approaching him. She grabs him and leaves burn marks on his wrist. Luckily Chris rushes back to the car and prevents La Llorona from reaching him inside the car before his mother comes back to drive them home. The next day we learn that La Llorona has travelled along with Anna, Chris and Sam to their house and she is now haunting them through various way; once when Sam takes a bath, the other time when Sam is walking outside by their pool.

Anna takes drastic measures and rushes, along with her kids, to church to see Father Perez (Tony Amendola), who relates the case to his previous experiences with his involvement in the case of the Annabelle doll (from the 2014 movie Annabelle which is also part of The Conjuring franchise) Father Perez says that while the church can’t help them in this case, he does refer them to a former priest named Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz) to help them get rid of the hauntings. With Rafael’s help, Anna and her children prep the house with candles and other holy items, but La Llorona attacks the family and attempts to drown Anna and Sam in the pool. Rafael creates a holy barrier at the doors to protect the family, but Patricia finds Anna’s house and while blaming Anna for her sons’ deaths, she breaks the holy barrier, allowing La Llorona back inside the house.

Sam and Chris flee to the attic while Anna is trapped in the basement. Chris tried to push back at La Llorona by displaying her a necklace that Anna took off La Llorona, which makes La Llorona briefly assume her human appearance (and we see the same woman from 1673 Mexico, who drowned her own sons in the river.) With Patricia’s change of heart, she helps Anna find her children in the attic and La Llorona’s spirit is defeated when Anna stabs her through the chest with a cross made from a Fire Tree (the one that grew by the river where La Llorona drowned her children.) Although we do see that Anna is successful in destroying her spirit, we never quite get the sense that there aren’t any more spirits around and that they could come back at any time.

While The Curse of La Llorona is one of the “middle of the road” films in The Conjuring franchise. It lacks the star power of Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) but it also has that haunted house feel we love to see in paranormal movies. While most of the jumps scares are predictable, and sometimes even funny, Linda Cardellini’s performance rises above the rest and makes for one enjoyable fright. Michael Chaves uses the unstable camera to his advantage, making his audience feel ever so uncomfortable, especially in places that are meant to make you comfortable, such as the bathtub. Overall, while The Curse of La Llorona isn’t perfect, it makes adequate connection to The Conjuring Universe’s fine collection of paranormal haunting films.


Have you seen The Curse of La Llorona? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review – HALLOWEEN (2018)

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Directed by: David Gordon Green

2018’s Halloween follows Final Girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) 40 years after her traumatic run-in with Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle) during his Halloween night killing spree. Now an agoraphobic survivalist, she prepares for Michael’s inevitable return, putting a strain on her relationship with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). When Michael does escape during a transfer to a different prison, Laurie fights to protect her family and end things once and for all.

This is easily the best Halloween sequel in the franchise. It’s only really a sequel to the first film, thankfully ignoring the following 7. It feels nostalgic with plenty of little nods to the original film (including liberal use of the iconic score, which I love; it’s basically the soundtrack to the Halloween season, not just the movie). Even some of the lighting choices have a 70’s vibe. It’s still a classic slasher film that keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through, but it doesn’t feel like a rehash of the first movie. It’s definitely bloody, but it doesn’t feel excessively gory, keeping a surprising amount of the actual kills offscreen and keeping the ones that are shown pretty quick and straightforward, although there is one notable and horrifying exception toward the end of the film that makes me question the durability of the human skull.

Acting-wise, this movie has a strong cast. Jamie Lee Curtis is excellent as always, striking a good balance between hardened survivor and emotional victim. Judy Greer is delightful in everything she’s in, and this is no exception. Newcomer Andi Matichak gives a solid, likable performance. Despite not getting tons of screen time, Karen’s husband Ray (Toby Huss) has some funny moments. The supporting cast is good but not necessarily stand-out, with the exception of Jibrail Nantambu as Julian, the baby-sitting charge of Allyson’s friend Vicky (Virginia Gardner). This kid is hilarious and one of the best parts of the movie. Hopefully we’ll see more of this young actor in the future.

As with any movie, Halloween isn’t perfect. There are some questionable editing choices that don’t match the tone of the movie that they really only use in the first half. There are some weird character choices that don’t feel fully developed and don’t really go anywhere, especially with true crime podcasters Dana Haines (Rhian Rees) and Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall), Allyson’s boyfriend Cameron (Dylan Arnold), and Michael’s doctor/Dr. Loomis’s replacement, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer).

Overall, though, Halloween is an excellent addition to the franchise and a great horror movie overall. I would absolutely recommend checking it out if you’re looking for something spooky to watch for the Halloween season.

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Have you seen the latest HALLOWEEN? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review – The Nun (2018)

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While I’m a fan of horror in general, I prefer the supernatural/paranormal sub-genre, and The Conjuring film series is easily one of my favorites out of the more recent paranormal horror movies. I always try to go into screenings with an open mind, but I couldn’t help having high expectations with The Nun.

The Nun follows Father Burke (Demian Bichir), a priest who specializes in paranormal investigation, and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), a novitiate about to take her final vows, to an isolated convent in Romania to look into the death of a nun. Joined by Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), the French-Canadian expatriate who discovered the corpse, the investigators discover an ancient and dangerous force of evil that manifests itself in the form of a demonic nun.

While The Nun is certainly a lot of fun, it’s hardly the best out of The Conjuring series. The biggest problem with it is its heavy reliance on CGI. While all the films in the series use CGI to an extent, they mostly achieve their scares through strategically shadowy shots and tense pacing. While they still utilize that method here, they place more focus on special effects to the point where it packs less of a punch. The demonic nun’s CGI face is especially silly.

The Nun also makes the mistake of beginning and ending with scenes from the first Conjuring movie, which just feels clumsy. Despite the films being connected, the scenes don’t blend well with the overall movie, and it’s confusing for people who haven’t seen the first film; the friend I attended the screening with had never seen the other movies and had to ask me what the scenes were about afterward. People who have seen the first movie would have still been able to appreciate the connection between the movies without having the scenes included, so there really is no good reason for having them there.

All that said, The Nun is still an enjoyable horror movie. A crumbling convent in the middle of a Romanian forest is the perfect setting for a story like this, providing a rich, dark atmosphere. Despite the cheesy CGI, there are still plenty of well-done and unpredictable jump scares. Lastly, the cast is excellent. Taissa Farmiga (sister of The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 lead Vera Farmiga) is no horror novice herself, and she shines in the role of Sister Irene, giving a likable and compelling performance. Jonas Bloquet is entertaining as Frenchie, providing enough levity without being just comedic relief, managing to portray a genuine, sympathetic character. Demian Bichir is fine as Father Burke; he’s not bad, but he’s not exactly memorable either, besides an unintentionally hilarious entrance in a flashback scene that cracked up my friend and me.

While The Nun isn’t necessarily going to be a horror classic, it’s still a decent addition to The Conjuring series, and seeing it is a nice way of kicking off the Halloween season.

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Have you seen ‘THE NUN’? Well, what did you think?