Scream (Movie Review)

This is a horror franchise I didn’t get much into other than the first movie. I remember watching this film back in the late 90s maybe once or twice but that’s it. I haven’t watched it since then nor have I seen any of the sequels. It’s time to rectify that and I plan to watch all of them before the new one comes out or I can get to watch it.

Scream (1996)

Scream is a 1996 American slasher film[5] directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson. The film stars David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, and Drew Barrymore. Released on December 20, it follows the character of Sidney Prescott (Campbell), a high school student in the fictional town of Woodsboro, California, who becomes the target of a mysterious killer in a Halloween costume known as Ghostface. The film combines black comedy and “whodunit” mystery with the violence of the slasher genre to satirize the clich√©s of the horror movie genre popularized in films such as Halloween (1978 ), Friday the 13th (1980) and Craven’s own A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Scream was considered unique at the time of its release for featuring characters who were aware of real-world horror films and openly discussed the clich√©s that the film attempted to subvert.

High school student¬†Casey Becker¬†receives a flirty phone call from an¬†unknown person, during which they discuss horror movies. However, the caller turns sadistic and threatens her life. He reveals that her boyfriend¬†Steve Orth¬†is being held hostage and demands she answer questions about horror films. After Casey gets one wrong, Steve is murdered. When Casey refuses to answer more questions, she is murdered by a masked killer as her parents come home. Shortly after, they find her corpse hanging from a tree. The following day, the¬†news media¬†descend on the town and a police investigation begins. Meanwhile,¬†Sidney Prescott¬†struggles with the impending first anniversary of her mother,¬†Maureen’s, murder by her lover¬†Cotton Weary. While waiting at home for her friend¬†Tatum Riley, Sidney receives a threatening phone call. After she hangs up, she is attacked by the killer but evades them. Sidney’s boyfriend¬†Billy Loomis¬†arrives shortly after, but after he drops his cell phone, Sidney suspects him of making the call and flees. Billy is arrested and Sidney spends the night at Tatum’s house, where she receives another threatening call.

The next day, Billy is released and suspicion shifts to Sidney’s father¬†Neil Prescott, as the calls have been traced to his phone. School is suspended in the wake of the murders. After the students have left the school, the killer stabs¬†Principal Himbry¬†to death in his office. Tatum’s boyfriend¬†Stu Macher¬†throws a party to celebrate the school’s closure. The party is attended by Sidney, Tatum, their friend¬†Randy Meeks, and many other students. Reporter¬†Gale Weathers¬†attends uninvited to cover the situation, as she expects the killer to strike. Tatum’s brother¬†deputy sheriff¬†Dewey Riley¬†also looks out for the murderer at the party. The killer corners Tatum in the garage and murders her by crushing her neck with the garage door. Billy arrives to speak to Sidney privately and the two ultimately consummate their relationship, while Dewey and Gale investigate a nearby abandoned car. Many party attendees are drawn away after hearing news of Himbry’s death, leaving only Sidney, Billy, Randy, Stu, and Gale’s cameraman¬†Kenny. Gale and Dewey, having discovered that the car belongs to Neil Prescott, return to the house.

After having sex, Sidney and Billy are attacked by the killer, who ostensibly kills Billy. Sidney narrowly escapes from the house and seeks help from Kenny, but the killer slashes his throat; Sidney then flees again. Gale and Dewey believe Neil is the killer and has come to the party to continue his spree. Gale tries to escape in her van but drives off the road to avoid hitting Sidney and crashes. Meanwhile, Dewey is stabbed in the back while investigating in the house, and Sidney takes his gun. Stu and Randy appear and accuse each other of being the killer. Sidney retreats into the house, where she finds Billy wounded but still alive. She gives Billy the gun; he lets Randy into the house and shoots him. Billy reveals that he feigned his injuries and is actually the killer, with Stu as his accomplice.

Billy and Stu discuss their plan to kill Sidney and frame the murder spree on her father, whom they have taken hostage. The pair also reveal that they murdered her mother and framed Cotton for it, as she was having an affair with Billy’s father, which drove his mother away. Gale, who survived the crash, intervenes, and Sidney takes advantage of this to turn the tables on her attackers, knocking out Billy and dropping a television set on Stu’s head; Billy then awakens and attacks Sidney, but Gale shoots him. Randy is revealed to be wounded but alive, and remarks that the killer always resurfaces for one last scare. Sidney takes the gun and shoots Billy in the head, killing him for good. As the sun rises and police arrive, Dewey, badly injured, is taken away by ambulance and Gale makes an impromptu news report about the night’s events.

Made on a budget of around $15 million the movie made $173 million at the box office and has had a huge run at cable tv channels and dvd/bluray sales. It has also spawned 3 sequels and 4th one in production. It has also stood the test of time and I found it mostly enjoyable. I give it 7.5 outta 10!

Brahms: The Boy II

Brahms: The Boy II is a 2020 American supernatural horror film starring Katie Holmes, Ralph Ineson, and Owain Yeoman. A stand-alone sequel to the 2016 film The Boy, it is directed by William Brent Bell and written by Stacey Menear, the respective director and writer of the original film. The plot follows a young boy who, after moving into a mansion with his parents following a traumatizing incident, finds a lifelike doll he becomes attached to.

A home invasion leaves Liza with a head injury and her son Jude traumatized and silent for months. Along with Sean, Liza’s husband and Jude’s father, they move across country to the Heelshires’ property. While exploring the woods, Jude finds a porcelain doll buried in a shallow grave in the ground and dusts off the dirt before deciding to take him home. Liza and Sean believe he is using the doll to express his feelings but it becomes more sinister with the doll laying down his rules. Jude becomes withdrawn in his room, carrying the doll with him wherever he goes. The parents soon learn the evil history of the doll, with all the killings and suicides. More unusual incidents happen, like the dining room table collapsing when Jude warns his mother not to make the doll angry. Liza also sees horrific and violent drawings in Jude’s notepad.

Jude’s Uncle Liam, Aunt Mary, cousins Will and Sophie visit. Jude, Will and Sophie go play outside and Will starts taunting Jude about both his psychological issues and the doll. As the two boys get into a fight, Will falls backwards and impales himself onto a broken croquet peg. After the badly injured boy is rushed to the hospital, Groundskeeper Joseph enters the house, aiming a shotgun at Liza. He begins telling the story of how Brahms asked him to put him back together, making Jude an easy target for the doll as he was not strong-willed. He then tells her that Brahms will take Jude away forever. Liza attacks Joseph with the shotgun, before beginning to search for her son. She goes into the basement and finds Jude in a trance-like state, ready to sacrifice himself with the doll. Liza manages to convince Jude that they will take Brahms home and become a family, without seeing Sean come in and break Brahms’ head with a croquet mallet before Joseph comes running in.

Brahms’ head shatters, revealing a demonic doll underneath, more sinister than the porcelain innocent face. Brahms then kills Joseph without hesitation. Jude picks Brahms up, convincing him they will be fine before tossing the doll into the fire. The family embrace and return to their home, living happily as before the home invasion incident. At night, Jude puts on his Brahms face mask, looking at his reflection in the mirror, and ensuring Brahms that “they’ll be happy here” assuming his parents “learn the rules”.

Brahms: The Boy II was released in the United States by STX Entertainment on February 7, 2020, and was heavily panned by critics. The film grossed $20 million worldwide. It wasn’t interesting enough as a movie, although I was intrigued by the story. Acting performances also fail to imspire. A 6.5 outta 10!

Fantasy Island

Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island (or simply Fantasy Island) is a 2020 American supernatural horror film directed and co-written by Jeff Wadlow. A horror reimagining and prequel to ABC’s 1977 television series of the same name, it stars Michael Pe√Īa, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Portia Doubleday, Jimmy O. Yang, Ryan Hansen, and Michael Rooker. Produced by Wadlow and Marc Toberoff, as well as Jason Blum through his Blumhouse Productions banner, the plot follows five people who visit the eponymous island, discovering that their dream fantasies brought to life begin to turn into horrific living nightmares they must try to survive.

Businesswoman Gwen Olsen, former police officer Patrick Sullivan, step-brothers J. D. and Brax Weaver, and disturbed Melanie Cole win a contest to visit Fantasy Island, a tropical resort where fantasies apparently come true. Upon arrival, they meet the island’s “keeper”, Mr. Roarke, and are taken to their fantasies: J. D. and Brax enter a¬†rave¬†at a mansion; Patrick enlists in a war in honor of his late father; Melanie decides to take revenge on a bully; and Gwen accepts her boyfriend Alan’s¬†marriage proposal¬†she rejected many years ago. Patrick is captured by a group of American soldiers and discovers that their commander is his father on his last mission before dying, while Melanie enters an underground room where she tortures her bully, Sloane Maddison, by uploading an online video of her¬†cheating on her husband.

However, another video reveals that Sloane was kidnapped and taken to the island to perform the fantasy against her will. Melanie saves her from a masked surgeon whom she recognizes as Dr. Torture, a¬†fictional character¬†she had designed as a child, and they run away. As night falls, both are attacked again by Dr. Torture before he is killed by Damon, a private investigator living on the island. Damon takes them to a cave, where he explains that the fantasies are created by the¬†spring water¬†under the island’s “heart”: a glowing rock that shows a person’s deepest desires. After revealing that Roarke mixed the water with his guests’ drinks, Damon explains that he came to the island to investigate until Roarke offered him a wish to see his deceased daughter. Unfortunately, his fantasy turned into a living nightmare that trapped him on the island after he rejected it. The trio collect some spring water and continue to the resort to find a phone.

Gwen wakes up in the present to discover that she has a daughter with Alan. When she is reluctant to continue, Roarke appears and reveals that he has his own fantasy, which is to be with his deceased wife, and it will be fulfilled as long as he grants his guests their fantasies. Gwen manages to convince Roarke to change her fantasy by persuading him that he will continue to see his wife. However, Fantasy Island begins to turn the other fantasies into living nightmares as J. D. and Brax are attacked by a¬†drug cartel¬†associated with the mansion’s owner, while Gwen is taken to the night she accidentally caused a fire that killed her neighbor Nick Taylor. She tries to rescue Nick, but falls unconscious in the fire, only to be rescued by Roarke’s personal assistant, Julia. Gwen also realizes that all the other guests, except Melanie, were there that same night.

At the same time, Patrick attempts to leave the island with his father, but he is called to rescue some hostages, who turn out to be J. D. and Brax in the mansion. The soldiers kill the cartel, but they reanimate as¬†zombies¬†and murder J. D. and the rest of the soldiers. Patrick’s father sacrifices himself so that his son and Brax can escape back to the resort. Melanie and Sloane are ambushed by a now-zombified Dr. Torture, until Damon leaps over a cliff with him, killing them both. Arriving at the resort, Sloane calls her husband and convinces him to call Damon’s military associates. The remaining survivors regroup at the resort, but are cornered by Roarke, who reveals that the guests are part of someone else’s fantasy in which they are all killed.

ealizing that everyone was involved in Nick’s death, the guests deduce that this is Julia’s fantasy, believing that she was Nick’s mother. The guests escape to the dock to be rescued by a plane sent by Damon’s associates, only for it to be shot down by the cartel. The group runs to the cave to destroy the glowing rock with a grenade that Brax is carrying. While searching, the survivors are confronted by manifestations of their personal demons, but they regroup and find the rock. Suddenly, Melanie stabs and wounds Patrick before taking Sloane as a hostage. Melanie reveals that this is her true fantasy, having orchestrated everyone’s arrival to seek revenge on them for the death of Nick, with whom she was supposed to have a date on the night he died; it is also revealed that Julia is actually Roarke’s wife, reappearing without knowing him as part of his fantasy, and that if he did not fulfil each guest’s fantasy, including Melanie’s, he would lose her again.

Julia begins to die once again, but before disappearing, recognising him, she convinces Roarke to let her go and help his guests to escape from the island. Reminded by Roarke that she can have a fantasy fulfilled, Sloane fantasizes Melanie being together with Nick. This causes Melanie to be attacked by Nick’s zombified corpse, which drags her into the water. Before drowning, she detonates the grenade against the survivors, but Patrick sacrifices himself by falling on it to protect the others. The fantasy concludes, and Gwen, Sloane, and Brax wake up at the resort, discovering that Patrick died as a hero, while a now-purified Roarke finally agrees to let them go.

As the survivors board a plane to leave the now-purified Fantasy Island, Brax wishes for J. D. to come back to life and go home. Roarke explains that Brax must remain on the island for this fantasy to come true. As Gwen, Sloane, and J. D. depart on the plane, Roarke asks Brax to be his new personal assistant and to take on a nickname. Remembering a nickname that his brother gave him at school, Brax chooses to call himself Tattoo,¬†initiating the 1977 television series’ events.

I think the movie would have better if they stuck to mostly one genre – horror rather than a mix of horror, fantasty and supernatural. It was entertaining but it did feel like it lacked a cohesive direction. 7.5 outta 10!

Why X-Files Will Always Remain The Greatest Sci-Fi Drama Of All Time

From 1993 to 2002, the main bulk of the X-Files episodes were broadcast. If we forget the more recent revisit to the X-Files world, the 1990s were full of the greatest sci-fi drama ever made. With discrete tales of bigfoot, walk-ins, ghosts, monsters, and aliens, there was also a larger story-arc that allowed the X-Files to delve into the more emotional side of relationships, love and trust. With the two main protagonists of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, the believer and the sceptic, two opposing views of all things that appear paranormal were formed. What makes X-Files so special is that the relationship between this pair was constantly tested to its limits, and yet they were always there to support one another.

X-Files began when Dana Scully was sent undercover to spy on ‚Äėspooky‚Äô Mulder. However, the pilot episode quickly established a great partnership where Scully was the perfect voice of reason to Mulder‚Äôs more extreme ideas and theories. With Comic-Con attendees still dressing up as there favorite X-Files characters, it is clear to see that this is a series that transcends generations.

Stories

The X-Files covered a whole host of stories and concepts, many of which were rooted in real-life. The Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot were explored alongside more fanciful creations. Who can forget Toombs, the guy who came out of hibernation every few decades, didn’t age, and fed on the livers of human beings to create his nest of bile. Oh, and don’t forget, he could stretch through the tiniest of spaces and attacked Scully nearly making her his final victim. While many of the monsters were scary, they were also rooted in a more human existence. Very rarely did the X-Files go toward the Star Trek-style monster costumes РX-Files monsters were believable and lifelike.

Ghosts

Some of the more fascinating episodes told more ghostly stories. Taking their inspiration from The Fox Sisters, who were seen as the founders of modern spiritualism, Season 6‚Äôs episode, ‚ÄėHow the Ghosts stole Christmas‚Äô shows the more emotional tale of being a lonely ghost in a haunted house during the festive period. The loneliness of these ghouls transcends to the real world and Mulder and Scully are drawn into their quest for companionship.

In the poltergeist episode ‚ÄėShadows‚Äô of season 1, terrifying apparitions take place after a man was killed by his so-called friend after they covered up selling technology to a terrorist group. This man comes back in a ghoul-like form to seek justice. While ghostly episodes weren‚Äôt the bread and butter of X-Files, they were some of the best.

Mulder

Fox Mulder was the character that really held the series together. It was his quest to locate his missing sister that allowed the X-Files to become so emotional. Viewers became invested in Mulder and his need to find out what happened to his sister. Scully was passionate about helping him discover the truth too. Skinner, his boss, was the foil to his crazy theories. And the Cigarette Smoking Man was always in the background trying to prevent Mulder from finding out the truth.

There were many red herrings along the way but the story arc eventually came to a conclusion. Was she abducted by aliens? Was she kidnapped? Or did she run away? Mulder was adamant that she was abducted given his memory of bright lights and his sister floating out of the window of their home when they were children. His entire quest with the X-Files was to locate his sister, Samantha.

Humor

Another strong aspect of X-Files was the writing. As the seasons developed there was a Mulder and Scully will-they, won’t they story arc. They did eventually with William being born adding another level of complexity to the X-Files. However, a key facet of the writing that kept people hooked was the writing. There were many discretely humorous episodes, but there was also nuances in the writing that were laugh out loud funny. Scully began to tease Mulder every so often. They would share in-jokes as they became closer, and as Scully slowly turned from cynic to believer over the years, Mulder would cheekily make quips at Scully’s expense.

The characters within X-Files were beautifully written and it was a unique concept at the time. While many series have tried to emulate its success, they have inevitably failed. X-Files was a product of its time and has aged particularly well. If you have never seen an episode of X-Files, watch the pilot today. You’ll be hooked.

Sea Fever

Sea Fever is a 2019 science fiction thriller film written and directed by Neasa Hardiman, starring Hermione Corfield, Dougray Scott and Connie Nielsen. The film follows the crew of a marooned fishing trawler, who find themselves threatened by a parasitic infection.

Siobhan, a scientist studying faunal behavioral patterns, purchases a place on the fishing¬†trawler¬†the Niamh Cinn √ďir, manned by a crew of six:¬†skipper¬†Gerard, his wife Freya, ship’s engineer Omid, Johnny, Ciara, and Sudi. As they set off, they are warned by the¬†Coast Guard¬†that their planned destination, which is rich with fish, is in an¬†exclusion zone. Gerard, unbeknownst to the others, takes them into the zone, because he needs a large haul of fish on this outing to keep the ship. As they travel through the zone, the ship runs into an unknown,¬†shoal-like object which stops the boat. Omid discovers strange breaches in the hull which exude a blue-green slime. The crew suspects barnacles, and as Siobhan possesses the only¬†diving gear¬†onboard, Gerard sends her armed with a knife to cut the boat free. Underwater, she discovers the tentacles of an enormous bio-luminescent organism far below adhering to the boat.

Thinking it may be a newly-discovered form of¬†giant squid, the crew attempt to capture it with their¬†net, but the creature proves too heavy. While releasing the net, Johnny cuts his hand on the rope, which is covered in the same slime. The crew sees another ship on the horizon, and Gerard, Johnny, and Siobhan row to it to seek help. Once onboard they find the entire crew dead from suicide inside the cabin, with one of the men appearing to have had his eyes scooped out. Gerard instructs the others not to speak of this discovery, calling it¬†“sea fever”¬†and insisting the other crew merely went mad. Upon their return to their own ship, they discover that the creature has released them. Lowering their nets, they make large catch of fish, and the crew is in high spirits.

That night, Johnny begins to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior, including wanting to go for a swim. Suspecting a fever, Siobhan performs a¬†medical diagnosis¬†on him and discovers movement in his¬†retinas. As he is washing his face, Johnny suddenly goes blind and his eyes burst, releasing minuscule organisms that slither down the drain and enter the ship’s water system. The crew rushes to save Sudi, who is taking a shower. Sudi suffers numerous cuts over his body as the waterborne creatures bite him, and Johnny dies from his injuries. Checking their water filtration system the crew find that their entire water supply has been contaminated by the small creatures, who Siobhan realizes are larvae of the larger creature. Gerard pilots the ship towards home as quickly as possible.

Disinfectant and¬†UV¬†light both fail to kill the larvae in the ship’s water. As a last ditch effort, Siobhan and Omid electrocute the trawler using the ship’s¬†arc welder, apparently sterilizing the boat’s water supply and preventing further infection. However, Siobhan insists that when they arrive at port, they self-quarantine on the trawler for a further 36 hours before returning to shore: if any of them have already been infected, they risk introducing the infection to the public. When Sudi dies from the infection, and the crew refuses to quarantine, Siobhan disables the trawler by entangling the propeller.

The crew checks their eyes for the parasites. Siobhan, Omid, Freya, and Ciara show no signs of infection, but Gerard is clearly infected, and after a heartfelt goodbye Freya mercy kills him by slicing his throat. Ciara goes insane and attacks Siobhan, only to fall to her death. As Ciara dies, a parasite emerges from her eye, revealing her to have been infected. Now with only Freya, Siobhan, and Omid remaining, Freya decides to take the rowboat and try to make it to shore to double their chances of being found.

Siobhan and Omid discover that one of the larvae in the ship’s water tank survived and has become a larger creature, which eats through the ship’s hull to return to the ocean. The trawler begins to sink. Siobhan and Omid use alcohol to ignite a fire on the Niamh Cinn √ďir and then abandon it on an inflatable boat. Omid, who cannot swim, falls overboard, and as he thrashes he is seized by the adult creature. Siobhan rescues him, but cuts her bare hand on the creature’s tendril, becoming infected. As a rescue helicopter, alerted by the fire, approaches, Siobhan dives into the water, swimming down towards the¬†bioluminescent¬†creature.

Midsommar

Midsommar is a 2019 folk horror film written and directed by Ari Aster and starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe, and Will Poulter. It follows a group of friends who travel to Sweden for a festival that occurs once every 90 years, only to find themselves in the clutches of a pagan cult.

Psychology student Dani Ardor is traumatized after her sister Terri kills herself and their parents by filling their home with¬†carbon monoxide. The incident strains Dani’s relationship with her emotionally distant boyfriend,¬†cultural anthropology¬†student Christian Hughes. She later learns that Christian and his friends Mark and Josh have been invited by their mutual Swedish friend Pelle to attend a¬†midsummer¬†celebration at Pelle’s ancestral commune, the H√•rga, in¬†H√§lsingland. The celebration occurs only once every 90 years and Josh, also an anthropology student, wants to write his thesis on it. Christian had hidden the trip from Dani, wanting to break up with her before leaving, but invites her along after she finds out about it.

The group flies to Sweden and arrives at the commune, where they meet Simon and Connie, an English couple from¬†London¬†who were invited by Pelle’s communal brother Ingemar. He offers the group¬†psychedelic mushrooms, and Dani has hallucinations of Terri while under the drug’s influence. Tensions rise after the group witnesses an¬†√§ttestupa, a tradition which sees two commune elders killing themselves by leaping from a cliff onto a rock. When one of the elders survives the fall, the commune members mimic his wails of agony and crush his skull with a mallet, while commune elder Siv attempts to calm Dani and her friends by explaining that this is a normal thing every member does when they reach the age of 72. The scene disturbs the group but they decide to stay long enough for Josh to finish his thesis, while Simon and Connie decide to leave. An elder tells Connie that Simon has already left without her. Confused and suspicious, Connie decides to leave on her own; later, a woman’s wail is heard in the distance.

Christian also decides to write his thesis on the H√•rga, creating a rift between him and Josh, who accuses him of copying his idea. Meanwhile, Dani’s already weak mental state deteriorates, exacerbated by her decision to leave her supply of the anti-anxiety medication¬†Ativan¬†at home. After Mark unwittingly urinates on an ancestral tree and incites the fury of the commune, he is lured away during dinner by a female member who feigns interest in him. That night, Josh sneaks into the temple to take a photograph of the commune’s sacred¬†runic¬†text, which an elder had previously forbidden him from doing. He sees a nude man wearing Mark’s skinned face and is hit over the head, after which his body is dragged away.

The next day, Dani is coerced into taking more psychedelic drugs and ends up winning a¬†maypole¬†dancing competition, subsequently being crowned¬†May Queen. At the same time, Christian is given more drugs before being coerced into a sex ritual designed to impregnate one of the female members, Maja, while older naked female members watch. After discovering Christian and Maja having sex, Dani has a panic attack, during which the commune’s younger women surround her and mimic her cries. After the ritual, Christian comes to his senses and tries to run away, but he instead discovers Josh’s leg planted in a flowerbed and Simon’s body (which has been turned into a¬†blood eagle) in a barn. Christian is then paralyzed by an elder.

The commune leaders explain to Dani that, to purge the commune of its evil, nine human sacrifices must be offered. The first four victims are outsiders (Mark, Josh, Simon, and Connie) lured to them by Pelle and Ingemar, while the next four victims are commune members (the two elders sacrificed during the √§ttestupa and two volunteers from the commune in the form of Ingemar and Ulf). As May Queen, Dani must choose either Christian or a local villager to be the ninth and final victim. She chooses to sacrifice Christian, who is stuffed into a disemboweled¬†brown bear’s body and placed in a small wooden temple alongside the other live sacrifices and corpses. The temple is set on fire and the commune members celebrate by mimicking the screams and wails of those being burned alive. Dani initially sobs in horror, but gradually begins smiling with a distant look in her eye.

This is a mind fuck for the most part. Tons of symbolism and messages in the film. 7.5 outta 10!