Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Life After Beth – Better After Some Thought

Runtime: 89 minutes
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Rating: R
Director: Jeff Baena

Zach doesn't know quite what to do with himself after learning that his girlfriend Beth died. While trying to cope with her passing, he starts spending a lot of time with her parents Maury and Geenie. They play games, talk about Beth, and generally just try to be there for each other. When he goes over to their house one day, he finds the door locked and they won't answer it even though he can see them. After gaining access to their home, he discovers that Beth is alive again.

Instead of her parents faking her death, he learns that Beth actually came back from the dead. Unfortunately, Beth thinks everything is fine and has no idea that she died, nor does she know that they actually broke up before her death. Zach tries to pretend that everything is fine between them, even as Beth goes off the deep end. She constantly tries to have sex with him, breaks through walls and exhibits other types of super strength, and even sets fire to a lifeguard stand at one time. Since he can't tell anyone that she's back from the dead, he has to find a way to play nice with his dead girlfriend at the same time that his own parents attempt to set him up with the pretty girl next door.

Life After Beth is a good movie, but only after you step back and give it some thought. When we first watched it, we all sat there for awhile with our WTF faces on. None of us were particularly fond of it, which was odd because we all love Aubrey Plaza. I turned all my friends onto Parks and Recreation, and I think I'm the only person who actually enjoyed the first season. After a few weeks though, we realized that we were constantly quoting the movie and bringing up scenes to make each other laugh.

The sad thing is that this is definitely a Plaza movie, but Plaza really isn't that funny in this one. The exception are the scenes at the very end when she's strapped to an oven and trying to walk, but you can see those moments in the trailer. The real standouts are all the background characters.

Molly Shannon is hysterical as Beth's mom, especially towards the end when she has no clue what is going on around here. John C. Reilly is also pretty damn funny as Beth's dad. Then you have Cheryl Hines and Paul Resier as Zach's parents. It's always nice to see Reiser pop up in something and actually get a few good lines.

I was also a big fan of Matthew Gray Gubler. He plays Zach's older brother who is obsessed with following the laws and keeping people safe. When he joins the local group tasked with stopping the zombie invasion, I couldn't stop laughing. Plus we get a fun little cameo from Gary Marshall when he comes back from the dead. Even Anna Kendrick turns up as the girl dating Zach. One of the best moments comes when Zach is trying to talk about Beth and she gets super confused because she thought his girlfriend was dead.

Life After Beth is a smart comedy/horror film, and I think it's the type of movie that requires multiple viewings.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Town That Dreaded Sundown – Damn You, Leonard!

Runtime: 86 minutes
Release Date: October 17, 2014
Rating: R
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Jami and Corey are two hot kids at the local drive-in to see The Town That Dreaded Sundown, which in a meta twist was based on an actual series of murders that happened in their town. After making it clear that she isn't into horror movies, he drives her out to the old lovers lane. Before they can get too far into it, a man in a sack mask who looks just like the original killer, shows up. He drags them both out of the car, makes Jami turn away, and kills Corey. She runs into the woods, and while he finds her, he lets her go after giving her a warning to pass on.

A few days pass before the killer strikes again. It's just enough time for Corey's funeral and for her grandmother to deny that she remembers the original murders. It's also enough time for Jami to start her own investigation. The killer next targets a young woman and her military boyfriend home on leave. After decapitating the boyfriend and slamming his head against the hotel room window, he chases her outside and brutally kills her in her own car. The killer continues on his spree all the while coming back to urge Jami to make others remember what happened in the past.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a movie that I actually enjoyed. I love that they did the meta thing. Not only do they set it up that this was the town where the original was filmed, but they also keep showing scenes from the original and harkening back to the original. I think I squealed when the killer brought out the trombone for one scene, but the friends I watched it with had no clue what was going on. I also liked seeing Dennis O'Hare. He's been so good in the past seasons of American Horror Story, especially the first season, that I loved seeing him here. He plays the son of the original director and is just the perfect character. He's a little strange, suspicious, and kind of loveable all at the same time.

Speaking of people I loved seeing, this movie was a who is who. Addison Timlin, who was so great as Stormy in Odd Thomas, plays Jami. Gary Cole pops up as the chief of the small town police department and has one of the most memorable scenes in the entire film. I don't want to give it away, but something a little unusual happens while he's getting a blow job. Edward Herrmann, who I admittedly only know as the grandfather on Gilmore Girls, turns up as the local pastor who thinks the killer came back because the town is full of sin. We even get Anthony Anderson as a Texas Ranger who rolls into town to solve the mystery. Did I mention Josh Leonard from The Blair Witch Project is in it too? It's nice to see him in a horror movie rather than that piece of crap If I Stay I was forced to sit through a few months ago.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown is my favorite horror movie of the month and maybe the last few months. The acting was good, and it had some great death scenes too. There's the two young gay men who get attacked before they get to their good stuff, a body left chopped into pieces on the railroad tracks, and a poor little old lady stabbed/slashed in the throat. What more could you ask for?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Jessabelle Movie Review -From the Writer of Hell Baby

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: November 7, 2014
Rating: PG-13
Director: Kevin Greutert

Jessie has everything she could want, including a hot fiance helping her move into his house. Not long after leaving her old apartment, a truck comes out of nowhere and hits her side of the car. She wakes up in the hospital to learn that she lost both her fiance and her baby and that she broke her legs so severely that she won't be able to walk for a few months.

A few months later, she learns that she needs serious help. Her mother died, she has no friends, and the only person who might help is her father. When she was a baby, her mom died of cancer and her father gave her to her aunt to raise. She makes the call, and he surprisingly comes to get her and moves her into his home in the bayou, even letting her stay in her mother's old room.

While going through her mom's dresser, she finds videotapes that her mother left for her. The first tape shows her mom reading a set of tarot cards to determine her future. She suddenly gets worried and says that Jessie isn't alone in the house. The second tape is fairly similar, but in the middle, her father comes in and sees her. He flips out and breaks the tape before grabbing her wheelchair and throwing it in the swamp.

After catching her with yet another tape, her father takes the remaining tapes outside and screams at her that her mother had brain tumors and didn't know what she was talking about. As she's stuck in her wheelchair, she can only watch as he tosses the tapes in a barrel and starts to light the tapes on fire. Unable to get a fire going, he rushes into his shed, only to see the door slam and lock behind him as the shed goes up in flames. Jessie can only watch and listen as her father burns to death.

At his funeral, she encounters her old high school boyfriend Preston. Before they can form much of a connection, she sees a black man with a burn on his face, which causes her to pass out. She wakes up back in her father's home with Preston watching over her. He offers to get the tapes for her, but once she watches them, she and Preston both realize that there is something more unusual happening in her old family home.

Jessabelle looked good from the trailer, started off with a bang, and ended with one of those scenes that left us all with a WTF face firmly in place. The ending was so confusing that I had to go to Wikipedia in the hopes of it making some sense in my mind. It turns out that the ending involved something that I never saw in the film. I don't know if it was a cut scene or a scene that I somehow missed, but once I read it, it totally made sense.

The ending really was the worst thing about Jessabelle. The film had some really strong moments. A girl trapped in a wheelchair stuck in a house in the middle of the Louisiana bayou, how could that not be creepy? Add in some scenes of creaking noises upstairs, where she can't go, and a hand trying to reach through a curtain to touch her face, and I'm on the edge of my seat. I just wish the ending made more sense.