Censor (2021)

Quick Synopsis: A film censor (Niamh Algar) is convinced a horror movie she is watching is linked to the disappearance of her sister in this throwback horror directed and written by Prano Bailey-Bond

This is a strange film. It’s essentially a love letter to 80s horror movies of a specific type, the ones with gore so exaggerated it was obviously fake. The way it’s done is masterful, it would have been okay if they told this like a modern film, and made it feel like a 2021 film, it still would have worked. But the fact that the director used film-making techniques to make it FEEL like it was from the 80s REALLY helped it. It sets it’s tone very early, using low-tech dated logos. Changing the logos can be a great way to get people IN early, it allows you to set the tone immediately and I wish more films did it as it seems like the only genres that do are comedies, occasionally horrors do but not often.

That feeling permeates the entire film. It feels like it’s not just from the 80s, but from a very specific time in the 80s, when video nasties were a concern and horror had an underground boom, where cheaply made slashers were everywhere and being sold in weird video shops. It brings to mind not only the time, but also those films. I mentioned this was done by the way it looked, but the sound also helped. It has a weird lo-fi soundtrack that really suits it.

The whole thing just FEELS like it’s from another time. Even the script feels like a throwback. In a modern film it would have been death throughout. This is more about setting a tone, all building up to a murderous scene of carnage and horror. And WHAT an ending, it plays with reality beautifully and ends in a way that’s both beautiful and bloody. This is a horror based around the characters, the scenes on their own don’t mean much. But because you’ve grown to love these characters, know their backstories etc, you GET the ending. You get why it happened and what it means, and why it hits as horrifyingly and beautifully as it does.

It’s not just the directing etc, the performances are great too. Niahm Algar looks broken throughout and it’s amazing to watch. Even when she’s saying things she’s certain about, her face still seems unsure. It’s perfect for the character and I want to see her in more stuff. She’s backed up by a group of performers who are more known among British sitcom fans, featuring stars of The Thick Of It, Nathan Barley, and Alan Partridge. It’s definitely a showcase for the talent of Algar though. Occasionally you get a performer who you truly feel is representing the directors vision, and I feel Algar is doing this for Bailey-Bond. Her performance feels like it suits the character, the film, everything about it. I really hope the two of them work together in the future as they compliment each other wonderfully.

I also want to see more from Bailey-Bond. This is her debut feature film and it’s incredibly strong. It’s like the work of someone who’s three or four films into their career. She’s done a few shorts which are now on my list to watch. (Man Vs. Sand, The Trip, and Nasty). The best parts of this film are due to her, and I’m glad that unique voices like hers are finally being amplified.

It’s hard to discuss this movie and why you should watch it without spoiling moments of it. I normally have no objections to spoiling plot points, but I feel I can’t for this as it will severely impact your viewing experience. This is a film that needs to be watched as blind as possible. You need it to unfold as you watch it and “enjoy”.

Candyman (2021)

Quick Synopsis: An artist delves into the Candyman mythos and it starts to slowly take over his life.

I will freely admit, I haven’t seen any of the original Candyman films, so I am going into this mostly blind. Pretty much all I know is the basic plot, and that Tony Todd is in it (or to give him his full name: Tony Freaking Todd). That might have made it harder for me to enjoy this film as there are quite a few returning characters who I just didn’t get. On the other hand, if I did know, then it might have ruined one of the “twists” as it would have been obvious what had really happened, so it would have been only an internal reveal, the audience already aware.

I’m not really sure who this was aimed at, the lengths they go to to include all those references to the original make me think it’s aimed at seasoned fans of the franchise. But the fact it was advertised based on creating something new, that it didn’t talk about a “return” made it seem new, even the name made it seem like a new start and a reboot. Compare this to Halloween. Which firmly established itself as a sequel that ignored all but the first film. I also hadn’t seen any Halloween films before I saw that one, but that did a much better job of establishing who the character is, and what he does. This doesn’t really do a good job of establishing what it is the character can actually do. It focuses a lot on “say his name and he’ll appear”, but it doesn’t establish whether he feels physical pain, whether he can be reasoned with, or even deal that much with the mirrors. The character mostly exists in mirrors, unable to be seen in the real world. This means that the film is missing that core aspect of a horror film: the fightback. At no point does any character even begin to look like they can fight back, there’s no “will they survive” to any of the deaths as you know they won’t. So there’s no tension, every death is the equivalent of a train approaching somebody tied to a railway track, you know they’re going to die so the slow nature of it just draws out the inevitable.

It’s not as though the film itself is slow and drawn out, there are moments where it’s painfully rushed. 90 minutes is not long enough to tell a story like this. The film has to do A LOT. It has to introduce the main character in his normal life, then introduce the lore, have the character be uncertain then be presented with evidence, then research it more etc. You need to do a lot for a film like this, and that requires time, and this film just doesn’t have it.

The third act in particular really suffers from the rushed nature. The third act reveal could really work, and the concept itself is exciting and could lead to a great sequel. But the way it’s handled in this is shockingly bad, with REALLY important details rushed over in a sentence or two, so the true implications of the reveal don’t have time to breathe. I’m not asking for a five hour horror film, just another 15 minutes or so would have really helped this.

Now onto the good, it looks amazing. Nia DaCosta is lined up to do The Marvels film, and I’m really excited about what she could bring visually to it. There’s some very cool concepts in this, the idea of the shadow puppets being used to tell some of the stories is interesting, bringing to mind the works of Lotte Reiniger. Her use of angles too are interesting, making even standard scenes have a sense of dread. It’s also suitably gory, and the score is pretty damn intense too. Would I recommend this? It’s hard to say, I feel if you go see a few films a year, maybe skip it. If you want to just sit and be scared, go see it. Also, if you’re interested in film-making I’d go to see it purely so you can study the techniques they use. I’d say it’s more important than it is good.

It did give me one of the stupidest comments I’ve seen on film twitter though:

Yeah, stupid woke Hollywood, taking a story about a former slaves son who was lynched and tortured for falling in love with a white woman, and somehow making it about race. What’s next? Making a film where we actually are supposed to sympathise with the creature in Frankenstein? Or a Nightmare On Elm Street film where it turns out Freddy Krueger is actually the villain just because he kills people? Snowflakes!

Dark Night: Episode 1

This isn’t just for reviews, I occasionally post my writing, and if you hadn’t guessed I’m going to be doing that again today. Yet another new project to add to the continuing of Headlines, Headspace, Superlee, and Nightmare On Elm Street (as well as a few I haven’t posted on here). This is my current project though and it comes from a facebook conversation, about how superhero movies need to move into other genres, specifically how cool it would be to see a Batman-themed horror film. Hence this, a short series of horror scripts set in the Batman universe.

Here’s the opening to the first episode:

So yeah, a Saw movie with the Joker as the villain. I know the obvious choice would be the Riddler but I’m having one of the characters be a massive Joker fan, someone who worships him and sees him as actually a good guy, like his craziness is to be looked up to. Because that’s what people actually think. Look online and you will see people saying how they agree with the character and he’s actually a hero, forgetting that he’s a sociopathic rapist and murderer. Riddler doesn’t have that sort of fanbase in real life, so it wouldn’t be as effective. It had to be Joker, and I have to make him as cruel as possible for this story to work, to remind people about who he really is. That’s also going to be difficult, to make him an actual villain and not worthy of worship. Considering that on the next page I show him shooting two toddlers just to prove a point, I think I’ve done that pretty well.

Few things I need to change, one of which is I need to figure out who one of the characters is. Done about 40 pages (this is just the opening) and there’s one who I still haven’t really established so I need to do that, then go back and change them. I’m also working on a sub-plot involving the police searching for victims in other similar rooms around the city. I’ve done parts of that (and it involves a simply BRUTAL death for someone which I’m looking forward to showing people) but it’s difficult to slot them into this narrative without it seeming like it’s disrupting the flow.

Also I definitely need better puzzles, I haven’t got too much experience in escape rooms and I think that shows.

Other than that, I feel confident that I can finish this script and make it a satisfying read. I’ve placed enough subtle clues as to where things are going that I hope will provide satisfying resolutions. I just need to actually settle down and do it now. I’m also very excited by other possible episodes as they will allow me to do different kinds of horror. I’m thinking the Poison Ivy episode will basically be a zombie movie, Scarecrow will be akin to Nightmare On Elm Street, and I definitely need to do one set in Arkham. Other than that, not sure yet. Let’s wait and see.

Normal reviews will be back on Friday, with either Sweat or People Just Do Nothing, only saw those films yesterday so haven’t had time to do a review yet, spoilers, they’re getting good ones,

12 Hour Shift (2020)

Quick Synopsis: A drug-addicted nurse needs to find a spare kidney to stop her sister being killed.

By all rights I should have loved this. It’s an interesting plot, bloody, funny, and it has Mick Foley. For some reason it inspired no bigger reaction than “it was alright”. It was good, but it never felt better than that to me. It never fully grabbed me like I needed it to. I’m not sure why, the performances are great, I’ve only seen Angela Bettis in the 2002 version of Carrie, a film which had many problems but she was not one of them. I think its an issue of the film over-reaching, it attempts a lot more than it needs to. It has so many plates spinning in the air that it never spins them quickly enough. If it cut down some of the unnecessary characters I feel it would be stronger. Because it has so much going on it never really gathers enough momentum to be truly satisfying.

It’s written and directed by Brea Grant, who also gave us Lucky, which was more disappointing but probably had more potential. It’s a shame because she’s obviously really good, it’s just her stuff seems more like stuff I’d see shorts of than features. Not to say this film is bad though, like I said the performances are great, and it’s really really funny when it needs to be.

It’s still weird to see Mick Foley drop the f-bomb considering I always assumed he was allergic. It also looks great, has a kind of washed out greyness too it that really suits the tone. Praise must also go to the uniqueness of the the film. It’s hard to compare it anything because there’s really not much else like this. There’s not nearly enough horror films set in a hospital, especially not one over the course of a nightshift, which is weird as that kind of thing is ripe for horror movie fodder. I feel that may also slightly work against this film, you get the feeling that it’s not quite making the most of the setting and timing. There doesn’t seem to be much in this film that couldn’t be accomplished over the course of a few nights instead of just one. It doesn’t have that race against time that would be great for a film like this. It does seem to do a lot with the location, there are few places this could take place in other than a hospital, although again, it doesn’t make the most of the fact that it’s a night shift. Compare this to something like The Power, which made the most of the creepy nature of hospitals late at night.

Maybe that’s my issue, it doesn’t feel like a horror movie full of darkness and creepiness, it feels a bit like a cheap slasher movie, but the story doesn’t lend itself to that so there’s a real disconnect between tone and story. Also it feels a little too polished for such a scuzzy tale. It needs to feel dirty, but it comes off just a bit too clean. Overall the film suffers a real struggle for tone throughout, and that really hurts it.

This is a film I feel I will like a lot more on a second watch, and I will watch it again someday, just not for a while. Worth checking out though.

Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Nicholas Cage beats up animatronic creatures alongside a group of teens.

Bit weird. That’s an understatement, I mean, just look at that synopsis and tell me there’s a way to make it normal. It’s every bit as strange as that makes it sound. It’s like Five Nights At Freddy’s as a horror movie (a bit like the Banana Splits movie which I still need to see). It probably helped that Nicolas Cage is in it, which allowed it more casual eyes than it would have had otherwise. The script grabbed his attention when he read it on the blood list, and he helped produce it too.

Cage is weird, he is occasionally awful, not just in performances but also in the films he picks (Wicker Man comes to mind), but then he picks something like this and knocks it out the park. That’s all the more impressive when you realise he doesn’t utter a single word in the film. That’s incredibly hard to do, especially in a way that feels natural. But it’s done so well that it’s possible you might not notice. There’s not a moment where you sit there thinking “why doesn’t he just say something?”, he gets his character over so well wordlessly. This is possibly one of his best performances, and to be honest it’s kind of frustrating that he is capable of this, but then makes terrible choices in other films. Either he’s very lazy at times, or he has an evil twin who can’t act.

The other performances are good too. Beth Grant continues to do her usual, but her usual is so damn impressive that it works. Emily Tosta co-anchors the film alongside Cage, and easily matches him in performance levels.

The others are good, but aren’t in it long enough. It’s a shame as they’re good characters with individual motivations. So it’s a shame to see them go so soon when they all had so much potential for their own plot points. The 88 minute runtime slightly hinders it in that aspect, if you added half an hour and spread the characters around you could add more depth to the film whilst also (hopefully) not upsetting the pace too much.

The other main weakness is the animatronic characters themselves. Sometimes they look fine but in some of the more intense sequences they do just look a bit silly. Ozzie Ostrich in particular doesn’t look good when it moves. When that kind of thing happens it can be a bit distracting and take you out of the film. It’s a shame as the general look of the film is good. It has a weird neon look to it. Kevin Lewis has a great sense of light and dark, using the intense brightness among the night-look to create a stunningly unique look.

Now onto the plot, the plot doesn’t need to be this good. It doesn’t need to be as disturbing as it does. It could get away with no explanation, just have it as a schlocky horror. The fact it does is to be commended. The plot is as disturbing as the images, and the images are pretty damn disturbing. This film actually has the balls to kill kids. That doesn’t happen in horror films often enough, usually they’re spared because it would be too disturbing (as if that’s not the point of horror films).

So in summary, see this. But don’t see it alone. Get people around, get drunk and watch it while making stupid jokes.

Freaky (2020)

Quick Plot Summary: A serial killer (Vince Vaughn) bodyswaps with a teenage girl (Kathryn Newton).

I went into this with high expectations. It was recommended for me, and it was directed (and written) by Christopher Landon, who was responsible for Happy Death Day and it’s sequel, both of which I absolutely loved. On the downside, he also made Scouts Guide To Zombie Apocalypse, which was not great. And a lot of the joy of Happy Death Day was around the character, so there was a chance that without Jessica Rothe this film would be weaker.

My worries were heightened by the complete lack of information I saw. I didn’t see any trailers for it, didn’t see any posters outside. All I saw was one small poster inside the cinema. The only things that gave me hope were:

  • As I said, someone recommending it to me
  • It was covered in a Kill Count video, and I trust that guys judgement.
  • It was delayed. The fact it was delayed, this shows the studio had some faith in it, otherwise they would have just thrown it straight to VOD. This film was shown more faith than Wonder Woman 1984.

It took longer than it should have done for this film to win over my doubts. It’s nowhere near as sharp as Death Day was. There’s a few moments here which could have been cut, and there are also a few things missing. One of which is we don’t really get that much on Vince Vaughn’s character, so when the body swap happens it’s not quite as effective. It works for Vince Vaughn, as we got introduced to Newton’s character and saw a lot of her, so we recognise her personality when Vaughn plays it. But we never get that the other way around. We see him kill a group of teens, but we don’t see him talk to anybody, so we don’t get his personality really. There’s nothing to ground the character personalities so we recognise them after the swap.

We get to see a lot of Vaughn as Vaughn at the very end though, but that’s too late really. Plus, the ending was the weakest part of the film for me. The bodies get swapped back to normal, and he gets put in an ambulance and taken away, but it shows signs that he’s going to recover. THAT’S how it should end. It’s a logical closing point. But the film then continues for another unnecessary scene. It’s a good scene, but it disrupted the flow and would have been better as an ending to a sequel.

Now onto the good, and there’s A LOT of good here. It’s stylish as hell with a unique look that showcases a real love for classic slasher flicks. The dialogue is hilarious, with one exception where a guy responds to “that seems kinda rapey” with “good”. Kind of uncomfortable dialogue, and it makes the character hard to like. No matter what the character does, you can’t unknow what he said. Everyone else is great though, and they’re performed wonderfully. Vaughn plays a great teenage girl, he could be slightly better at mimicking Newton specifically but otherwise he nails it. The real star of the show is Newton, I know her better from Blockers and Detective Pikachu. This is a completely different performance from her. Well it’s two performances really as she’s playing her original character, and Vaughn’s character. She does both great, the insecure teen, and the Myers-esque killer. It’s when she’s the killer where she really shines, giving the character a coldness and determination that is chilling in how effective it is.

There’s one area where this film is clearly superior to Death Day: the kills. It’s MUCH bloodier, it’s aimed at an older audience which allows it to go further with how gory it gets. It also allows it go further with the sex, that’s something that only happens once really, but the way it’s edited is glorious. They cut to the sex scene straight after a death, but it doesn’t feel gratuitous, the way they match-cut them between the two is brilliant and I love it, really shows a proficiency in film-making that I love to see.

So overall, you definitely should see it. It’s fun, slick, and a hell of a watch.

Army Of The Dead (2021)

So this film happened. This may surprise you but I actually haven’t seen that many zombie movies. Well, not the original ones anyway. Most of the ones I’ve seen have been modern zombie movies, ones which are self-aware and have already shown knowledge of the genre (with the exception of I Walked With A Zombie). So I have certain things I expect from the genre, most importantly you have to be bringing something new to the table. Sometimes that is just something as simple as making it incredibly slick. I feel that’s what they were going for here, they were going for a cinematic slickness which, combined with the heist aspect, would create something new.

The heist aspect never really comes off though. A good heist movie involves the main characters outsmarting people or tricking technology, neither of which occur in this. There’s the obvious double cross, but it occurs VERY early on, and the person hides their true nature for the rest of the film, so when they then turn on everybody else, it’s not a surprise as you knew he was going to do that. So it’s a heist movie without surprises, and really, without an antagonist. Because of this it doesn’t really work as a heist movie.

It has some nice ideas though, the opening credits are great (and very reminiscent of Zombieland), but even that has a downside if you think about it for a few minutes. Like there’s a scene where a Liberace-like character is getting ready to play piano as chaos unfolds behind him. Music is being played over this scene, and it has to be because if there wasn’t and you played it as a standard scene, you’d be able to hear the chaos behind him, which means you know that HE’D be able to hear it. That’s the problem with Snyder, he is so dedicated to getting THE SHOT that it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense. Also the film has decaying zombie boobs, because it’s clear his core audience is 14 year old boys.

Oh, and the zombies roar. Because they’re supposed to be seen as not human. BUT, they’re shown to be smart, they plan, they plot etc. And there is an element of humanity to them, they clearly understand the concepts of betrayal and negotiation, and they mourn the dead. The large setpiece at the end is brought about when the head zombie finds his dead partner was pregnant with a zombie fetus. There is enough information in that short sentence that means you could be mistaken for thinking this film has good ideas, but it does nothing with them. The ideas are woefully underused, and it’s a massive disappointment. I mean, there’s a moment where they talk about the rain bringing certain zombies back to life. The film then proceeds to not rain. Then why mention it? The film constantly talks about delicious steaks, then serves us cold porridge when it knows we’re hungry.

The characters……they are not good characters. Everybody is just different degrees of either shitty or forgettable. They’re not helped by the dialogue though, most of it is just generic shit.

Now onto the look. Normally with a Snyder film you know at the very least it’s going to look incredible. Well, not so much with this. This is going to be a personal preference but I HATED the way most of this looked. The way they filmed it in very high definition and the way they handled the cinematography made everything look fake. Specifically everything looked like scale models. So even though it’s all real, nothing looked like it. Perfect example here:

There’s also one shot choice which I personally found weird but you can disagree. There’s a moment where someone is talking “I’m definitely more important than that guy, oh. didn’t know you were listening. Okay, I’m definitely more important than that guy” whilst pointing at some people. Now, the camera never cuts away from this person, so we never see who they’re pointing at. Surely that’s just begging for a reaction shot of the people she’s talking about? If we don’t see the reaction shots, and we also don’t know who they’re even talking about, then what was the point of that piece of dialogue?

On the plus side: like I said, it had some good ideas, some of the performances are good, and it is good to see something new. Some of the deaths are damn brutal and I love them. Plus it has a zombie tiger. And I will always appreciate a film using Thea Gilmore’s cover of Bad Moon Rising.

Maybe it would have been better if the film wasn’t set so late after the zombie outbreak happens. If you hear “zombies in Las Vegas” you think of bright lights, you don’t think of abandoned buildings. With the exception of the sublime opening, the film never makes use of it being in Las Vegas. I get it, destroyed buildings and silence can add to a zombie movies tone to highlight the difference between before and after, but that normally happens with places we recognise, either in cities we know all the sights of, or in locations very generic which we’ve all been to (malls etc). There’s a reason the posters all highlighted the neon look, because that’s what you think of when you think of this location. You don’t think of various browns. There’s no reason this film is in vegas, and now I think about it, it would have made a lot more sense if it was set in Iraq or Afghanistan. Not just for the visuals, but also the militaristic nature of the survivors, and the willingness to nuke it and pretend it doesn’t exist.

So yeah, maybe see it, but not if you’re busy. Or just watch Zombieland instead.

Underwater (2020)

The opening for this had me very excited. Mainly because they set up the story through the opening credits. They told you there’s a deep drilling operation going on, and that there are rumours of strange sightings nearby. It also points out the normal hazards so that you know that even without the “strange sighting” they are still in danger. It’s a fantastic use of the opening credits and is a great example of effectively maximising time to tell a story.

The music is good too, it’s like a synth Jaws. Creepy and claustrophobic, it will haunt your mind while you listen to it. It gets better once the film starts because you have this intense creepy music, and then….silence, nothing, playing over a shot of empty rooms. It’s really creepy and meant I was fully on board for this film and ready for greatness.

Then it started, and I was disappointed. For a film that did so much in the opening credits, the film itself took forever to do nothing. It’s trying to be a mix of a disaster movie and Alien, and it fails to do either. They’re two genres which are really hard to pull off, because Alien is a very specific subgenre of sci-fi/horror. It’s one which is dependent on the use of silence and tension to effectively affect you. Whereas a disaster movie is built on noise and spectacle. So for this film to work it would need to be a loud impressive spectacle movie with great use of silence. You can see why that be difficult to do properly, and this doesn’t. Also, just a personal choice, I didn’t like the amount of shakey-cam in it. I found it nauseating. I was watching it on a small screen so I imagine it would have been even worse in cinema. It wasn’t during intense action scenes, just standard walking scenes would have it, and it just put me off.

I mean, the performances are good, Kristen Stewart is shaking off her cinematic demons with aplomb, Vincent Cassel is also good in it, it’s a shame that TJ Miller just seems to play himself though, especially considering that who he is is someone who would phone in a fake bomb threat.

Oh, also this is a Cthulhu film, this is discovered near the end and doesn’t effect the film at all. It could just be a random beast and it would have made no difference. Having it be tied to that mythology is a waste and makes it look like they were trying too hard. Also, they kill it with an explosion, Cthulhu don’t go down like that.

So yeah, stay for the opening credits, then leave.

Spree (2020)

This was potentially a dangerous watch for me. It’s about a guy who livestreams a killing spree for attention because he livestreams and has zero followers and wants attention. A guy putting his heart out there for the world to see and yet still struggling to get enough views on his content is something I personally relate to, to the point where I did wonder if I was mentally strong enough to watch this film. Luckily for me this film doesn’t have the emotional core to really effect you, and this is obvious from the opening.

The opening doesn’t really grab you. There are moments where the situations were funny but for whatever reason I didn’t laugh, they just weren’t directed well. I think it’s because they were shot like a youtube video, and were edited as such too. That “youtube jump-cut” style of editing doesn’t sit well with the style of humour they were attempting, the jokes need to percolate and have time to hit, but the rapid-style editing means they’re unable to do that. Also, he’s talking to himself/an audience which isn’t there for a lot of the film, so he has nobody to bounce off. Comedy is hard to do when you can’t show reactions, and this just shows it. It gets funnier when he picks up his first passenger who immediately questions all the cameras. But after stating “but what if I’m not okay with it?” he then just accepts “they’re for protection” without argument. I feel this is a waste of a potentially very awkward and funny scene of him arguing about not wanting to be on camera during a livestream. It could lead to the first murder too, have it mid argument or something. Although this does lead to something great where the guy he’s picking up is so mildly racist. Talking about IQ studies on different races. “you’re okay for a libtard”. I’m so glad that shit is hopefully dying soon. Much like the racist, who drinks poisoned water. Kind of annoying writing, he’s racist so it’s okay he died. But the water was poisoned and offered to him before we found that out, so it’s not really a good death in terms of intention. He didn’t intend to kill a racist, he killed someone who turned out to be racist. So it doesn’t really work for me in terms of making him a sympathetic character. Also, the main character wasn’t broken down enough to the point where it seemed like a logical step. There’s no inciting incident which you feel drives him to that point. You don’t really feel his desperation that much, I think part of that is because we only see him as a livestreamer, we don’t know what he’s like when he’s not “on” so we are always aware that the personality we see will be an exaggerated version of what he’s like, and we never see the real him.

The film also has difficulty showing us funny. Like there’s a part where he’s scrolling through an instagram of a comedian and watching some of her stuff, it’s just a mash of punchlines without setups and setups without punchlines. So we don’t really get her character, it would have helped if they showed her doing some one-liners or a whole joke. It’s like the writers couldn’t think of any full jokes so just did those and hoped we’d fill in the gaps. The film also doesn’t lean fully into the gimmick. It’s mostly done via livestream so we can see comments and reactions, but then there’s a lot of moments when it’s not, and they’re some of the most interesting moments where you want to see peoples reactions. I think with a film like this you either need to go super dark and disturbing, or just embrace the insanity and be as off the wall as possible, this doesn’t feel like it wants to fully go either way and feels less because of it.

Overall, what does it have to say? “the internet is numbing us to real tragedy”, well, obviously. You need to go deeper, and this just doesn’t have the intelligence. Also it provides no alternative viewpoint, at no point does anyone point out that this is fucking insane. The film shows us how the internet is a cold unfeeling place, but then also seems to say that it’s the most important thing in the world. This won’t change how you view the world, and it’s just not entertaining enough to make up for it.

On the plus side the central performance is great. Joe Keery is not given a good a character to do, but he plays him very well. Also the general concept is brilliant, it just doesn’t make the most of it.

The Final Word: Day 5 (Final Destination 5)

This is the most expensive blog I have ever done. Time to delve into my personal life for a second here, I’m currently getting kitchen refitted, and during the course of doing this my electrics got shorted, this ended up frying my Xbox, which I use as dvd player. Now I had actually prepared for this blog by putting the dvd in there ready. So I had to buy a new xbox (well, second hand), and then get a paper clip to get the old dvd out. But then the new old Xbox didn’t work, so I had to get another one delivered. Hence, this being later than usual. Also, I know I’ve made some typos in some of the previous posts, and no, I don’t spell-check these. The point of these are that the comments and opinions are off-the-cuff. I watch the film with the IMDB trivia page open, and make comments as I go along, referencing the trivia page if I find something interesting. If I started going over what I’d done I’d start deleting EVERYTHING for not being perfect. Anyway, with that over, let’s do this.

  • I love these opening credits. The music is suitably creepy, it’s the first time it’s seemed like the music has been made for a horror movie rather than just generic rock music. The visuals show things smashing through windows and exploding, so gives you an idea of what to expect, without spoiling everything.
  • It’s a sales retreat for a company named Presage. I don’t need to tell you why that’s significant as I’m sure you’re already aware what that means. But in case you need help explaining it to your stupider relatives, it means “A sign or warning that something, typically something bad, will happen, an omen or portent.”.
  • We meet who I assume are the core group of the film. Peter, the manager of Presage, played by not-Dave Franco actor Miles Fisher. Seriously, google Miles Fisher and then Dave Franco.
  • Sam, played by Nicholas D’Agosto, Peter’s friend/employee.
  • Molly, Sam’s ex, very recent ex, she dumped him like 5 seconds ago. A note about that scene, the backgrounds seem weirdly disconnected, like they used a green screen for some reason.
  • Peters girlfriend Candice, who works as an intern for Peter’s company. Bit weird.
  • Olivia, who wears glasses and is introduced having slept with someone in a band, she then strips to her underwear because this franchise cannot write female characters.
  • Isaac, who creepily hits on Molly in a way that he can conceivably deny when HR pulls him up on it.
  • Dennis, played by David Koechner, who is introduced bitching at Sam for correcting him when he got Sams name wrong.
  • Nathan, who gets pulled away from his job for this retreat, which annoys people he works with for some reason.
  • Sam has been offered a job in Paris. Trips to Paris ALWAYS work out great in this franchise.
  • He’s creeped out by a sign on the bus saying “Watch your step”. Why? Why is that creepy? That’s standard.
  • On that note, anybody else remember when bus’s made you climb like a foot of stairs before getting on the bus? They just really hated disabled people didn’t they?
  • They get on the bus, in a scene which really should have been the opening. Having them waiting for the bus gave nothing. Could have had it start here and talk there, have them drive past more foreboding stuff.
  • Hey, a log truck. Those things are super scary now.
  • Now we’re shown the only thing scarier in this franchise than log trucks: wind!
  • The wind causes the bridge to collapse, somehow. Once it starts collapsing, everybody stands there watching it, instead of, you know, running away.
  • Candice falls off the bridge and lands on the mast of a boat sailing underneath. I don’t think it was safe for that boat to be sailing in that weather, but what do I know?
  • Isaac dies next, he stayed in the bus as he was in the bathroom phoning a “lady friend”.
  • Olivia loses her glasses, didn’t see that coming.
  • She dies, in a way that her losing her glasses didn’t effect at all, a car fell on her.
  • Nathan gets whacked off, and not in a sexy way.
  • The support bars start coming off the bridge, snapping off elastically.
  • Dennis dies next, being covered in hot oil. Again, not in a sexy way. It’s actually pretty horrific to see.
  • Peter dies next, a pole impaling his face in a really bad special effect.
  • And then Sam dies, obviously. Handy thing about this film is that he was in a position to actually see all the deaths so know which order they took place in.
  • But not really as that was a vision, shocking!
  • He immediately gets everybody off the bus, well, all the named characters anyway. What a crazy coincidence.
  • “How did you know? You said you saw it happen, that sounds premeditated to me”. You think he controls the wind? How does he look guilty at all considering it was clearly wind?
  • “Tell me about the break-up, was he upset?” He got dumped that morning, a few minutes before getting on the bus. You think he was able to somehow organise a bridge collapse in four minutes and without actually going to the bridge?
  • 86 people died in the bridge, the news calling it an accident caused by high winds exacerbated by construction work weakening the structure. If that’s the case, then the construction company and whoever approved the construction are at fault, surely? They should have closed the bridge whilst construction was going on.
  • Weird how this is a prequel (oh, this is a prequel btw, but you never find out until the end), and yet this disaster was never mentioned again in the series. Almost like they were making it up as they went along.
  • A mass funeral for the employees, oh that’s grim.
  • Hey, it’s Tony Todd again, being creepy and foreboding. That dude gets everywhere.
  • We now find out why Molly dumped Sam. He got offered a job placement in Paris and didn’t take it as it would mean leaving Molly, she thinks he should have taken the job as it would be better for him. So yeah, we have actual character motivations in this film.
  • Oh damn this death is early. It’s the death of Candice, and is probably the best known death from this film. She’s doing flippy-shit style gymnastic stuff, but it’s not in the Tokyo Dome so won’t earn 5 stars.
  • Lots of fake-outs, and they’re actually well done as we’re not certain about how she’s going to die so you don’t already know to ignore everything irrelevant. There’s a loose nail on a balance beam which is anxiety inducing to see someone work on it. An electric cable laying water looking dodgy.
  • She gets off the balance beam, without stepping on the nail. Is just about to get electrocuted but she stops that by putting a towel on the water running towards her. She didn’t think to notify anybody about the water-logged electrics causing sparks.
  • But nope she dies on the bars when someone else steps on the nail (why she didn’t check and clear the beam off before is lost on me), falls off and knocks that weird white chalk that gymnasts use into Candice’s face, causing her to fly off the bars and land on her neck, her body almost bent over itself. It’s gross, it’s impactful, and I love it (title of my sex tape).
  • Sam comforts Peter about the death of his girlfriend. “I came as soon as I heard”, you have gross fetishes, dude.
  • Olivia’s response to Candice’s death “We should have seen it coming. You’ve seen the crazy shit they do, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often.” So kind and thoughtful.
  • Isaac is going through a woman’s desk at work and stealing her shit, and being creepy. He goes through someone elses desk and steals a gift certificate for a spa.
  • Peter brings alcohol to work “if I drink it alone, that would just be sad”. Wait, you guys don’t do that?
  • Isaac tries to use his gift certificate at a massage parlour. Asking for a happy ending and refusing to back down when he’s told that’s not happening.
  • His response to an Asian masseuse walking past him? “Yum yum dim sum”. Well that’s racist.
  • He makes comments about the staff at the building, I know this film is set in the early 2000’s but even then that shit wasn’t okay was it?
  • Who am I kidding, if businesses refused a customer just because they were sexually harassing staff members then bars would have no male customers.
  • “I’m sorry, do you come with subtitles?” Super fucking racist.
  • “What happened to the younger version of you?” Only semi racist, an improvement.
  • He essentially gets beaten up by an elderly chinese lady, in possibly the only thing he doesn’t find erotic.
  • Back with the main group still at the office, Peter is moping, as is his right. “Peter, there wasn’t anything you could have done”, I dunno, he could have cleared the nail off the beam.
  • Dennis calls the cop from earlier, explaining that he just saw Peter throw a glass at a wall. I’m fairly certain this scene only exists so we can show the cop at the site of Candice’s death. After hanging up, the cop is somehow freaked out by dripping water and a fan, I don’t know why.
  • And back with the sex pest, boooooo. Getting elbowed in the crotch, yaaaay. He’s about to get acupuncture needles jabbed in him, refuses, and then changes his mind, saying “two billion people can’t be Wong”. He then explains the joke. I highly recommend annoying someone who is about to stick needles inside you. Always works well.
  • Smash cut to him with more needles in, looking like a low-budget pinhead.
  • “now go to sleep for 30 minutes and you’ll feel fine”. It takes me longer than that just to fall asleep.
  • He falls off the table, then has a statue lands on his head. Killing him, ah well. I feel we should have had a shot of the staff there reacting to his death, would have made it feel more real. At the moment we only focus on the main characters so it never really feels real.
  • The group finds out about his death. “who dies during a massage?” Well I experienced le petite mort after one once.
  • That’s a very good joke by the way, you may not get it, but rest assured it’s fucking brilliant.
  • Tony Todd shows up, explaining that this has happened before, people survive a disaster then slowly die one by one. We assume he’s talking about the previous films, because we don’t know this is a prequel yet. But he’s not, so that’s ANOTHER disaster that is never referenced in this series. Damnit, are we going to have to have a prequel of the very first time this happened and find out it took place in Ancient Rome or some shit?
  • He explains you can cheat death by murdering someone, then their life gets added to yours. Wouldn’t that make you a shingami?
  • Interesting plot point though,
  • Olivia goes to get laser eye surgery, throwing her glasses away before the procedure. A little presumptuous don’t you think?
  • They show her being prepped for the procedure, her eyes being forced open, and they do not spare the details, it’s super intense and disturbing.
  • The eye-surgeon person (would it be doctor or optician?) leaves the room, because that’s professional. Whilst he’s out, the machine overheats, and she accidentally turns it on (I’ve had that happen to me before too), the superpowered laser starts burning her eye, and causees severe burns on her hand when she tries to protect it. Why does that laser go that powerful? Do eye-surgeons regularly need lasers they can use as weapons?
  • She struggles off the chair and slips on a teddy bear eye that she tore off earlier, then falls through the window and lands on a car (as opposed to her original death, where a car landed on her). In a nice touch, a car runs over he detached eye. Well, I say “nice”.
  • Nathan accidentally kills someone he works with in an argument, pushing him into the way of a hook that falls through the floor and through his neck. So he should be safe for a while, Nathan, not the dead guy.
  • Peter goes to see Dennis, Peter is going crazy talking about “kill or be killed”. Personally I don’t think this works for his character, it would have made more sense for Dennis to be the character that does that.
  • Dennis turns up in the warehouse, and asks “who wants to be the first to tell me what happened?” to the group of people that don’t work in the warehouse and where most of them weren’t there. Would have made more sense for him to go up to the people that worked in the warehouse, but what do I know?
  • He dies, gets hit in the face by a wrench, killing him, and showing why he will never be a champion dodgeball player.
  • Sam goes back to work, seeing potential death everywhere. I know someone who works in McDonalds and she sees the same things.
  • Seriously though, this kitchen lacks basic health and safety protocols. People walk around with sharp objects facing out.
  • Peter arrives and tells a story about how he almost killed a stranger to get their life, but then realised he couldn’t. So instead he is going to kill Molly.
  • He says he’s not going to kill Sam as he’s about to die soon anyway so he wouldn’t gain anything. Typical selfish person, only killing for his own benefit, what happened to killing for the art?
  • He shoots the cop who has been chasing them throughout, and has added nothing. But then gets stabbed by Sam, giving a nice happy ending to this film.
  • We then get the twist, and it’s a fucking good one. It’s the characters from the first film being dragged off the flight. Yup, we’re on the plane crash. We’ve already seen this but it’s worse now we know more about these characters. It’s fucking heartbreaking to see them get thrown off, and knowing what will happen to these characters, it just fucking breaks you man. It also breaks the franchise as nobody ever mentions “these characters cheated death, and then died in mysterious ways” from this film.
  • Back with Nathan in a bar, where he finds out the guy he accidentally killed was due to die soon anyway, at which point the plane engine crashes through the roof and kills him. I get why they did this, but I feel the deaths of Sam and Molly were so heartbreaking that adding a death after that kind of cheapens it.
  • We then get a montage of deaths from the franchise, set to AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood”. Look, I love that song, but that’s not how you end this film. That’s a “fuck yeah!” song, and everybody in this film is dead, that’s not a fuck yeah moment. It should have ended with Sam and Molly dying, then a slow fade to black and credits over near silence. It would have allowed actual emotion into this franchise.

So yeah, that’s it. This was a lot better than than the previous one, the tone was perfect for it and it was much more of a horror movie than the last few. I’m kind of sad this franchise is over, I think a new one was in development before the plague hit, so I’m hoping they continue it. It’s a unique franchise that feels unfinished, we still have questions we need answers to that aren’t just theories and guesswork. But until that happens, we’ll have to end it with this one.