The Night House (2020)

Quick Synopsis: Beth (Rebecca Hall) is trying to recover from her husband’s suicide but her progress is halted by discovering thousands of images on his phone of women who look like her, and that he built an exact copy of their house.

This is an interesting film. In some films, you’re a passive viewer, aware that you’re watching films on a two-dimensional screen. Then there are films like this, films which feel like they surround you like you’re a part of the world the film takes place in, making you feel like you’ve been sucked into the screen. Part of that is the sound, the mixing job for this is superb, it really helps place you in the world.

The script itself is pretty intense too. It’s one of those films where even if I didn’t watch the film I’d want to know the story. So like if it turned out that the director was actually a terrible person and I couldn’t justify paying to watch the film, I would still read the story synopsis to see what happens. The trailer was just that intriguing. I was curious as to how it would end and what would happen. Thankfully it doesn’t disappoint. The way you see it unravel is marvellous and you’re hooked from the first moment. It’s a satisfying mystery, one that you as an audience member WANT to get to the bottom of, one that actively engages you. It helps that the conclusion is satisfying, it’s something that’s hinted at so makes sense, and also redeems someone but not really.

On the downside, it is all predicated on deliberately vague instructions. When her husband committed suicide he left a note that said “There is nothing. Nothing is after you”. Now, spoilers, “nothing” is the name of a demon that is after the main character. There must have been a clearer way of saying that and it feels like it was only written for the “reveal”. I mean, it is still satisfying to watch but it is a bit weird.

There are two people responsible for this film working. The first one is obviously Rebecca Hall, who has always had a lot of promise but somehow manages to find slightly disappointing roles (Iron Man 3, Godzilla Vs. Kong, Dorian Gray), in this she lives up to the potential you always knew she had. She plays a character dealing with intense personal loss, and that loss is written through every fibre of her performance. So even in the horror moments, you are always fully aware that this is a character tinged with sadness and regret. It’s the kind of performance that would be talked about for oscar nominations if they didn’t hate horror movies for some reason.

The other person: David Bruckner. He’s mainly known for doing segments in films such as VHS (where he directed Amateur Night), The Signal, and Southbound. This is actually only his second feature-length. His first was The Ritual, which was a cracking piece of cinema and I always assumed was directed by a Brit. His directing carries the air of someone who has been doing this for decades. The wonderful thing about his style is he doesn’t direct them through the frame of traditional horror with the focus on scares, he treats them first and foremost as cinema. So he uses colours and shapes to create shots which are basically paintings, using space and darkness not to create fear, but to tell you a story about the characters. His films are the kind of ones you want to pause and analyse and discuss every detail. This means that when he does get to the horror moments, they’re impactful because they don’t feel like they take place in a horror movie, they feel like they take place in a standard drama, so the horror has kind of invaded the drama universe. This is how horror works in reality, scary things happen in ordinary lives, and it’s the ordinary which makes the horror scarier.

So yeah, I would highly recommend watching this film. I sadly missed the chance to see this at the cinema, but it is available on Disney+ weirdly enough and is well worth checking out.

Musings On Marvel: Day 9 (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)

Directors: Russo Brothers (Captain America: Civil War, Arrested Development pilot, Community pilot)

Budget: $170million

Box Office: $714million

  • Why does Captain America need to jog? Isn’t his strength and fitness derived from the serum so he doesn’t need to exercise at all. Unless he’s just bored, in which case, go fight bad guys or something.
  • Wait, he’s got “Thai food” on the list of things to research? Dude, just go eat Thai Food. Done.
  • And Sean Connery? Not a list of films he’s in, or anything like that. Just Sean Connery in general?
  • The Captain America plan to getting into a building:
    1. Stealthy stealthy stealthy
    2. Flippy flippy flippy
    3. Loud noise! Throw shield into room so everyone knows you’re there.
  • Isn’t Captain super strong etc? I mean, he went toe to toe with Iron Man in Avengers, now a regular bearded dude troubles him?
  • “last time I trusted someone I lost an eye”, I know, people always say “I’ll tap your head a second before” but they never do.
  • “agent Romanov is comfortable with everything”, so that’s why you make her wear that skintight costume.
  • Fury gives a detailed nostalgic history of himself, he’s going to get shot.
  • “greatest generation, you guys did some nasty stuff” “for freedom!”. Random fact: the Nazi party got their influence for their eugenics programme from a programme in California. U S A! U S A! U S A!
  • Why does his friend have his own exhibit at the museum? There’s nothing about Churchill’s bff at the war museum.
  • How did he find out where she lived?
  • “I thought I could throw myself back in, serve in the army again”. You barely served in the Army. You spent most of your time doing theatre.
  • “you saved the world”. I mean, yeah, it’s a shame that Captain America doesn’t exist in real life so Germany won the war and the world has been destroyed. That sucked when the world was destroyed. I hadn’t even finished paying off my sofa.
  • Why holograms? Why not just skype? This is literally just technological dick measuring. And just as messy.
  • This film continues the MCU tradition of hoping that merely mentioning the other Marvel characters will stop us wondering why they never turn up to help each other.
  • “he has to socialise”. You want Iron Man to socialise at a kids birthday party? He’ll probably try to fuck the mother and get the kid drunk.
  • Holograms on the car window now? That’s not just pointless, that’s also highly distracting and possibly illegal.
  • I would question how they think they could stage a police attack then remembered that Nick Fury is black so they’d just need to say he littered so they had to shoot him.
  • “to build a better world we need to destroy the old one”. Wow, I wonder if this guy’s evil.
  • This fight would be over in about 5 seconds if they used the paralysing technology from Iron Man 1.
  • F*ck off can he fall that far and be okay. Super soldier or not, he still has to obey the laws of physics.
  • “he refused to share information” so you kill him? Surely one of the people working there realises that’s unfair justice.
  • “two dozen assassinations in over 50 years” That’s really not many at all. That’s like one every two years. That’s nowhere near enough to have that big a file. I mean, if I get a few more I’ve beaten that record.
  • Oh please. As if Captain America knows about function overrides on computers.
  • “if you guys need anything. I’ve been Aaron” so who are you now?
  • He didn’t eject it properly! That flash drive is going to crash.
  • That just says which buttons are pressed. Not in which order.
  • Wait, he’s seen War Games but not Star Wars or any of the Rocky albums?
  • Wait, so THIS is the guy they decide to save his brain? He’s quite useless.
  • “if you try to take freedom, they resist”. Really?  No shit.
  • How did they get such high-quality footage on a green and black monitor? This would be like watching TV on an old Game Boy. Which you can’t do.
  • So the lesson is, don’t trust Swiss people?
  • So they blew that building up, and all that data, just to kill two people?
  • “seem pretty chipper for a guy who died for nothing”. Well, you know, except Nazi’s.
  • Oh, so we can’t get Iron Man or anything, but don’t worry, we’ve got the senator from Iron Man 2 in here.
  • So Falcon has never been seen in any of these films? He wasn’t called to save the president in Iron Man 3, or to save New York in Avengers?
  • Rolling out of a car at that speed would cut your skin up so you looked like a kebab.
  • For two super cool assassins, their aim sure is terrible.
  • Winter soldier destroys a strangers car. More like Winter So-D’ya Have To Be So Rude?
  • Superhero landing!
  • They keep shooting at his shield instead of his legs.
  • Surprise! Except it’s totally not a surprise. It’s really obvious so why did they leave it so long?
  • By the way, this scene should totally have an 80’s power ballad playing over it.
  • How did they decide to use this a hiding space? “We need to think of a hiding space, any idea where?” “damn” “perfect!”
  • “about damn time”. Yeah, you should have got shot earlier, damn you ScarJo.
  • Wait, I’m fairly certain Zola was on the same train that Bucky fell off, and was captured almost immediately after. So he could not have been there when he woke up. No, no, no, nothing about this makes sense at all, and horses can’t talk!.
  • Wait, first Aldrich loses his arm in a battle in Iron Man 3, then Loki chops off Thors arm in The Dark World, now Bucky last an arm too? Marvel hates arms.
  • Awesome, a scene to show a friendship we already knew existed. Great.
  • People think that Chris Evans transformation to Captain America was well done, but Sebastian Stans transformation from Bucky to the Winter Soldier is a lot better. He’s almost unrecognisable.
  • Hey it’s Abed. Hey Abed.
  • That actually makes sense, the directors for this were hired due to their work on the paintball episodes of Community. That’s the good thing about the MCU, they’ve taken risks with new directors from different genres. Doctor Strange is being directed by Scott Derrickson, who’s known mainly for horror. They’re not sticking with established directors, in fact, the most well known one they had was Kenneth Branagh. And even that was a risk.
  • “what if Pakistan invaded Mumbai and you knew they were going to drag your daughters into a soccer stadium”. Football! Not soccer. That’s probably the most evil thing he’s done.
  • They never use this disguise technology again.
  • “are you sure you’re ready for the world to see you as you really are?” with how tight her clothes are, we already know.
  • They fired like 8 missiles at one person. No wonder the US military spend so much with that kind of wastage.
  • Even Michael Bay thinks these explosions are “a bit much”
  • “it’s trending”. Wait, I pretty much used that exact line the year before in a film. Bastards!
  • “unless you want a hole in your sternum”. 1) that’s not where the sternum is. 2) couldn’t you have done that earlier when she was hitting people?
  • “order only comes through pain” kinky.
  • Does Captain America really need to attempt to sacrifice himself? HYDRA has been exposed,  and the missiles aren’t aimed at cities anymore so everyone’s safe. And we’ve already seen he can jump from great heights and be completely okay for some reason.
  • Captain drops his one of a kind shield out of the flying vehicle, yet somehow you know he’ll find it again.
  • “there’s nothing more horrifying than a miracle” I dunno, genocide?
  • Are supposed to be surprised Bucky is alive? I mean, we saw him walk away, this scene literally serves no purpose.

Musings On Marvel: Day Seven (Iron Man 3)

Director: Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lethal Weapon 2)

Budget: $200million

Box Office: $1.215billion

  • Even in 1999 that hairstyle wasn’t good. Do film-makers not remember the 90’s? They should do, they were there. Ok, most of them were on cocaine at the time but still.
  • This song was released in January 1999 and annoyed people immensely by February 1999. So by December 31st I imagine just hearing it would be enough to make people want to go self harm.
  • Hey, it’s the guy from the cave in the first movie. Well played Mr. Director.
  • “The old days, never thought they’d come back to bite me”. Really? Wasn’t that the entire point of the second movie?
  • Tony Stark needs rockets even to dress himself, but wasn’t the thing in the Avengers movie that assembled itself in mid air as he was falling from a building  good enough?
  • Obvious CGI is obvious. Seriously hollywood, either actually knock Robert Downey Jr. with a piece of metal that makes him flip, or do the CGI well enough that we don’t notice.
  • “Some people call me a terrorist”, some call him the gangster of love.
  • “I consider myself a teacher”, wow, and I thought my teachers were strict.
  • Were these videos released on their own for promotion? They so should have.
  • That thing he mentioned about America attacking a defenceless tribe? That really happened. In response the American government set up a treaty which gave the Indians free reign of the land to the south of the Arkansas River and promised them cash and more land in the future. Less than two years later the American government ripped up this treaty and ignored it. Seriously, America, what the holy f*ck?
  • Soldiers wouldn’t really have their family with them in such a volatile area, to stop things like this happening.
  • Hey, it’s Iron Captain America.
  • “How did you get out of the wormhole?” He fell, dumbass.
  • See, this I like. The continuation of the character, he would be haunted by what happened in Avengers. Shame they didn’t take it further, this would have been a great way to introduce the characters alcoholism, which is really not been dealt with in the movies, ok, they’ve shown him drinking, but they haven’t shown him struggling with the addiction. I suppose it’s because the world doesn’t want flawed heroes, they want “flawed” heroes, which means they’re rich, sexy and smart, but they occasionally fall over.
  • No way would the photo he took be clear enough to recognise that number plate.
  • Discount Hitman gives something to Discount Ethan Hawke.
  • Shane Black sets a lot of movies at Christmas and nearly all of them are violent. He must be harbouring violent tendencies towards the season for some reason. Did he catch daddy kissing santa claus?
  • “This is just good old fashioned revenge”. Is Tony Stark basically cutting a wrestling promo here?
  • So Tony Stark, international weapons manufacturer and superhero, his entire security consists of “a front door”.
  • Iron Man eats gluten free waffles. On its own there’s nothing wrong with that, but considering he drank chlorophyll in the second movie to help cure him makes me assume he’s just doing it as a fad diet.
  • Where are the rest of the Avengers? I mean, Tony Starks house is being attacked and Nick Fury is just sitting about eating cheese by the block.
  • Wilhelm!
  • Wow, the guy at the start who was wronged turned out to be the bad guy, what a massive surprise.
  • A kid gives Tony Stark anxiety attacks, they have the same effect on me.
  • Let’s say Tony Stark is ridonkulously, like, David Beckham famous in this universe. Would putting on a baseball cap mean that nobody recognises him?
  • This woman is an idiot, unless she kills absolutely everybody, she’s going to leave witnesses so the top secret weapon will no longer be top secret.
  • So the heat thingy can melt handcuffs but doesn’t damage clothes? Clearly they get their clothes from the same place as The Hulk.
  • Wait, did Tony hand a weapon to a child? And yet I’m not trusted with a crossbow.
  • This is kid is annoying, manipulative and strange. Basically, he’s a very well written child character.
  • “we can’t allow terrorists to dictate what we do”, yeah, imagine having an open dialogue with people where you talk and work your way through to a sensible compromise, the horror!
  • “last time I went missing you came looking for me” No, you’re thinking of Terrence Howard, this is Don Cheadle.
  • Tattoo of Tony Stark’s face on his arm, because that’s not creepy. Actually that’s an odd subplot that they’ve never really gone into, the cult of celebrity and how it would get in the way of them doing their job. Basically, the superheroes would need a PR team.
  • Two female characters talking about science. Holy crapy a Marvel film beats the Bechdel test.
  • Literally all he did was enter the building. That’s not exactly “saving the day”, it makes no difference.
  • Explosive Christmas tree decoration. Why does Shane Black hate Christmas? Did he want a white Christmas when he was a kid and all he got was a black one?
  • See, a lot of people hate this twist but I like it. It would be quite hard to do this character and have it not be ever so mildly racist. Plus let’s face it, NOBODY saw this coming, but it makes sense. The idea is logical, and fits into the themes of modern vilains.
  • Did that guy need to put his hand on Tony Starks chest just then? Seemed a little lovey.
  • Wait, so they’re surprised the drug addict, to whom they’re giving drugs, isn’t behving responsibly?
  • Ben Kingsley did this well, but you know who would have done a lot better? Either Peter Cook or Dudley Moore
  • 1200cc. That’s about 1.2 litres, there’s no way there was that much in that tiny syringe.
  • “you’re ziptied to a bed”, we’ve all been there.
  • He breathes fire, does he ever do this again?
  • “honestly, I hate working here, they are so weird”. That is almost exactly what I’d be like if I was a henchman.
  • This football match actually happened in May. And yet they expect us to take this movie seriously. Honestly, what’s next? Pretending something that happened on a Thursday actually happened on a Wednesday?
  • No way would a real Englishman drink Budweiser.
  • Oh, so the evil looking guy from Hot Shots: Part Deux is actually organising it. What a surprise.
  • Wouldn’t Air Force One have bulletproof windows?
  • The president has been kidnapped, and yet still no Captain America.
  • They just descended 8,000 feet in about three seconds, surely that’s not possible?
  • “chunky monkey, let’s get her”. Great, so not only did she nearly die, she also got called fat.
  • “they’ve got him strung up over the oil tankers, they’re going to light him up”, so the plan is; tie him up, light him up, inhale, exhale?
  • I’ve figured out why these blogs get progressively worse the longer they go on. The movies are way too f*cking long so by the final third I’ve kind of stopped paying attention.
  • Wait, did Gwyneth Paltrow just save the day? F*ck this movie.
  • Tony Stark throws his chestplate into the river, I assume he no longer gives a damn about being environmentally friendly.
  • Wait, this music isn’t AC/DC
  • Post credits scene with Incredible Hulk seems like a poor excuse for having constant narration throughout it.
  • Banner fell asleep during that story. Understandable, I nearly did too.
  • Wait, since when was he a trained therapist? And shouldn’t S.H.I.E.L.D have someone who’s entire job it is to be a post-traumatic stress councillor for heroes etc? Someone like Idris Elba, his calm soothing voice will make you think everything’s okay.

Ranking The Marvel Cinematic Universe Films (so far)

So yeah, Captain America: Civil War is out in 14 days. There’s 12 films, you know what that means? Yup, it’s time for the as-yet-untitled Marvel Version of my hugely unsuccessful Nightmare A Day series. What, you don’t remember that? Don’t worry, shall all be explained tomorrow. But until then, I still have to blog today, so what will today’s be? Simple, this will be my last normal blog until Civil War is released, so is really my last chance to do this and make it relevant. So here goes, all opinions are my own, but if you disagree you are wrong.

12. Thor: The Dark World

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I saw this film at the cinema and yet can barely remember anything about it. The trouble was that it’s kinda dull and doesn’t fit in with the rest. Plus by this point it was obvious that the character of Thor isn’t as interesting as his own villain. Loki dominates this film, just as he did the previous film, only this time it’s a lot more clunky in terms of why he’s there. It also completely wastes Christopher Ecclestone. The first film to really be skippable.

11. The Incredible Hulk

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A film that only ranks so low because it doesn’t really mesh with the others. The only thing tying this into to the rest is the cameo of Tony Stark. If it wasn’t for that, (and if it was released first instead of second) then they could just ignore it and pretend it never happened, like the world does with Godfather III.

10. Thor

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Yeah, maybe my personal bias is showing, I don’t like Thor. Mainly because the rest of the MCU tries really hard to be realistic and scientific, and then suddenly this guy shows up and smashes that to pieces. Also I feel his character just displays wasted opportunities. They have a character who is a God, they could do films based on how the world reacts to this, how does religion react to the existence of A God, but not Their God? None of this is shown, at all. Oh, and Natalie Portman’s character has all the background and charisma of a see through piece of tissue paper. Oh, and they wasted Idris Elba. Plus, Thor basically tried to kill Captain America in Avengers movie. Yes, the shield stopped him from being smashed with a hammer, but Thor didn’t know that would happen! From his perspective he just jumped at someone and tried to smash their face in with an unbeatable weapon. That would be like me launching nuclear weapons at a school but it turns out it’s okay as Fuzzy Felt stops explosions (it doesn’t by the way, I can 100% confirm this, sorry Nagasaki).

9. Avengers: Age Of Ultron. 

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This film highlighted a problem with a lot of modern super hero movies: pointless fight scenes and action sequences. Not just that, but poorly made action sequences too. There’s so many moments in this where action sequences just happen for no reason other than the studio thought “Action sequence goes here!”. Which is a shame as other than those it’s actually an okay story. I mean, the trailer did that annoying thing where it showed an awful thing that turned out to be a dream sequence. If it wasn’t for those two things it would be rated much higher (probably top five).

8. Iron Man 2

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Mickey Rourke is good in this, as is Downey Jr. But that’s kind of the biggest problem too. It’s so heavily dependent on performance, that it forgets to carve a good enough story. The villain is too similar to the first one (although don’t get me wrong he is better). The scene where Tony Stark is called into congress to explain himself is fantastic and says a lot about the nature of heroes, but then it just dissolves into casual action fare. Plus it’s hard to imagine THIS Tony Stark being the same one who (maybe, if they go close to the source material) advocates government registration of superheroes.

7. Iron Man

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Ok now we’re getting into awesome stuff. This is the film that launched not only the MCU, but superhero movies being fun again. After Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy it looked like all future superhero movies would just be fifty shades of grey and dark blues (and just as painful as that sounds). A great origin story, brilliantly directed by Jon Favreau, and the casting of Robert Downey Jr. was a master stroke. It was a risky decision but one that paid off.

6. Ant-Man

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Very, very fun. Paul Rudd is very funny. Yes, it would have been better if Edgar Wright stayed on but still. I saw this soon after Age Of Ultron, and the action set pieces in this were a lot better, featuring the best use of Thomas The Tank Engine I’ve ever seen in film.

5. Iron Man 3

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F*ck you I liked it. I know a lot of people don’t, and I understand why. But this was the first time the series tricked me. I’m a pretentious film student so I recognise plot twists early, but this one genuinely came out of left field, but in a way that made sense, it wasn’t one of those “and the killer turned out to be the goldfish all along!”. Yes, it still sucks that Iron Man films have had the worst villains so far but meh. This one also should be commended for actually showing character growth, Tony Stark is haunted by the actions of the Avengers movie, he’s basically suffering PTSD, sadly this was pretty much forgotten about by Age Of Ultron, very disappointing.

4. Avengers Assemble

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I rate this higher than the second one only because the action sequences aren’t as long, and at the time it was new. Plus it resurrected The Hulk as a character after two previous attempts to make a live action film about the character. This film established Loki as THE best villain in the Marvel Universe, which counts both for and against it. For because in this film he’s a charismatic, logical villain. Against because they can never hope to do that again.

3. Captain America: The First Avenger

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Yes, other films have been better, but this was the moment where the series grew from “action fare” to “cinematic genius”. The first (and best) use of cinematic emotion in the series. Usually when people say “Superhero movies are grown up and mature” they show things like Deadpool etc, things which are “adult”, but not “mature” (and yes, there is a difference). This would be a better option, exploring themes of identity, loss, and the commercialisation of war heroes to raise money instead of winning the war. The casting of Tommy Lee Jones in it added authenticity to the film, oh, and Hayley Atwell is superb. This is the first time they went beyond the “superhero saves world” story and focused on the hero themselves, a truly touching tale that was a worthy introduction to the character.

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Probably the best example of a comic book movie transcending the genre. This film is almost like a cold-war era spy movie. Has the best plot of any of the films, fantastic characterisation, and is just all round brilliant. Amazing but not too comical, this film is not “look at this ooooo moment”, it’s not spectacle, but it is spectacular.

1. Guardians Of The Galaxy

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A part of this is because everybody expected it to fail. When it was announced people were certain this would be the biggest flop in Marvel history, more so than SuperLee, a superhero who fights crime with sarcasm and bitterness, which was invented by me, in my head, just now. But this film is amazing, it’s funny, smart and perfectly acted. It’s odd that Marvel has made better characters from a tree that only says three words than a lot of films manage with entire monologues. A space opera which is definitely the most fun film from all of them, and overall that’s what films should be: fun. It’s not the film with the best story, or the best acting, but it is definitely the one you’ll want to watch the most.