Nov 212016

It is a familiar story. A mom is having troubles with her daughter. Things get creepy and she turns to a young priest for help. The young priest has his own issues with faith and realizes he is out of his league. He turns to an older priest who has seen some shit. The two priests work together and try to get a demon out of a young woman.

So far, so good. The show feels like a modern remake of the Exorcist movie and that isn’t a bad thing.

But other elements start butting in. The Pope is coming for a visit to the city. The rich and powerful are attending seminars on all of the great things Lucifer has done for society. A gang murders every resident on a street and harvests the organs. Conspiracy nuts whisper about horrible portents.

Now it feels like a remake with elements of other movies thrown in. There is some Rosemary’s Baby. There is some Omen. There is bits and pieces of every story of the satanic panic of the 70’s and 80’s.

Then some familiar music plays and an old character appears and you find out that the Exorcist TV show is not a remake, it is a sequel.

As you might guess, I like this show a lot. It goes big. It escalates. The best compliment I can give it is that it feels like the show is written by role-players from the horror rpg community. It has conspiracies. It has mysteries. It has interesting demons that feel like someone has a monster manual somewhere. There are some themes of the lack of women in the Catholic church and how that colors their perceptions.

In short, you need to see it.

Sep 242016

My brother and I never had much in common. Even when we liked the same things we liked them for entirely different reasons. he was rarely intellectually curious and didn’t like to read. In a lot of ways I felt like he was my complete opposite.

But one day he came over and wanted to tell me about this weird thing he found. It was a movie that might be real, and there was all sorts f evidence on the internet that said it was real and a bunch that said it wasn’t. It was called the Blair Witch Project and he was fascinated by it.

I too liked the Blair Witch Project. I liked the mystery and I loved the attempt to create an authentic artifact of a fictional horror movie. I wasn’t as enamored of the internet clues and ambiguity of whether it was real or not like my brother, but I related to his thirst for answers. As a kid that grew up with In Search Of, UFO books and Bigfoot sightings, I understood my brother’s passion. On this one subject, I felt like me and him were alike.

So when Blair Witch came out, there was no doubt that I would see it. I saw it because I am a fan of the original but I also saw it for him since he passed away a few years ago.  I wanted to see if he would have liked it.

I think he would. The new movie is good. A  video is uploaded to the internet that maybe shows one of the characters from the first movie. The character’s brother gets a group together to go into the woods to see if his sister is still there. Creepy things happen. The stick figure art installations are back. Strange sounds haunt the group. They get fucking lost. They find the house. Things get terribly, inevitably worse.

My brother knew a lot of the fan theories about the first movie. There was a theory on time travel that my brother loved that I thought was unlikely. No spoilers but time becomes a big part of the story and I smiled because my brother would have felt so redeemed to see his theory validated.

My wife and I saw the movie on a Thursday afternoon in an empty theater. At  first it was great because we could make jokes without fear of annoying anyone. As the horror escalated though, that big empty theater became less friendly. Shadows moved in the corner of my eyes. My wife got closer and closer to me. Near the end, my heart was thumping and I was genuinely scared in that delicious rare way that you get from haunted fun houses. Even though the movies follows most of the beats of the first film, the inevitability becomes part of the terror and despair. You know what is going to happen because you have seen it before but it is innovative and interesting enough that the familiarity doesn’t become boring.


Aug 222016

watchingThey’re Watching is a found footage horror movie about a cable home improvement show doing a followup on a pottery artist who bought a decrepit house in Moldovia. Did I mention that the house used to belong to a witch who was burned at the stake less than a hundred years ago? Did I mention that the villagers are superstitious and unfriendly? Did I mention that the home improvement show crew pretty much hates each other? As you can imagine, scary things ensue.

A lot of people don’t like Found Footage movies so I feel compelled to tell you upfront that there is a welcome lack of shaky cameras and a lot of stable shots as we see things from the cameras set up around the former witch’s house. I also need to tell you that unlike most movies of this genre, this movie has a REALLY conclusive ending.

I enjoyed this movie a lot. It is one big long tease of making the viewer wonder if there really is a witch, or if the villager’s hostile fear will get people murdered with or without a witch. Someone’s getting murdered and though it take awhile to get the first body, once the bodies start dropping, things go quick. Even if you get bored with the movie, stick around for the last thirty minutes because holy crap, that is thirty minutes of holy crap.

My wife hated the film crew more than I did but they do have their issues. The host of the show if a self-centered drama queen, the sound guy is a wise-cracking asshole, the camera guy is a Handsome Guy with a Troubled Past and the POV character is a college graduate who can almost be likable if she didn’t engage so much in making fun of the villagers. Luckily we have the real-estate agent who is a lovable criminal conman who you have seen a thousand times on real travel shows. Him and the mysterious homeowner are a hundred times more interesting and really save the movie when they appear.

It is currently on Netflix in America and I suggest you check it out.