thirty one days of horror part 2


October 3rd: A Nightmare Before Christmas. An all-ages-adored classic, need I say any more? Absolutely recommended – 1993; Netflix

October 4th: The Presence. German-language haunted house found-footage film in which the guys are jerks and the girl ends up with the shrapnel from them.  Is that enough sub-genres for you, by the by? – 2014; Netflix

October 5th: Out of the Dark. Billed as a horror movie, but in the same way that dark Baltic films about forced teenage prostitution brothels are categorized as “horror.” Keep your grim realities with linear causes, effects, and scientific explanations out of my dark twisted jump fantasies. Honestly, couldn’t get into the movie, and lost interest halfway through in favor of talking over the TV to my sister (faithful 31 days of horror companion) about anything and everything else. – 2014; Julia Stiles; Netflix

October 6th: Scary Movie 2. The first time I’d actually seen this movie. I heartily enjoyed it. This Scary Movie spoofs haunted houses/haunted house movies in general, leveraging the horror insta-classic The Haunting as both a rich field for satire and primary skeleton for plot. David Cross pre-Arrested Development is neurotic, delightful: in short, hasn’t yet become overdone. Recommended  – 2001; David Cross; Netflix




SHOULD I? STATUS: Meeehhhhh-commend

Available on American Airlines Flights (I know, right? Super bougie)

Based on a true hoax story


  • Mod-to-high jump scares
  • Haunted house/family genre
  • Dat Vera Farmiga


I admit that maybe I’m approaching this franchise from the wrong end, having not actually seen either The Conjuring or Annabelle (look, they make horror movies about living dolls for a reason, they’re fucking creepy), but you know what? It wasn’t so painful coming up the ass. Sorry, am I being crude? I didn’t realize horror fans were so sensitive.

Taken as it was, I have to say, The Conjuring 2 offers a solid specimen from the “haunted house” genre, although I would honestly argue this fits more into the “haunted person” arena as opposed to an actual “haunted house.” It’s typical poltergeist sort of fare, based on a “true story” from when “true poltergeist stories” were all the fashion – the early ‘70s. Any movie that can claim to be based on a true story does elicit just that extra inch or so more of thrill.

If you’re a fan of Poltergeist or similar, The Conjuring 2 will appeal to you because that’s what the story really is, though the film’s justification for its events is about as thick as the first early December sheet of ice overlaying some given neighborhood’s decorative, man-made pond. That is to say, there is an explanation and it holds just so long as no one steps on it, or tries to challenge it with the throw of a few fist-sized rocks. The film gives its audience just enough rationale for why this haunting? now? that probably no one walked out of the theater complaining of plot holes. However, like an appetizer may stave off true hunger, it doesn’t fully satisfy. It just puts off, enough.

While we’re talking about small-to-moderate flaws, while there’s an extensive cast of characters, if the film passes Bechdel, it does so narrowly. Mom’s acting starts off poor and, ultimately, hits only uneven success. Several short scenes feel auxiliary and maybe needless in retrospective examination. If a director’s ability is truly demonstrated by unbroken shots, The Conjuring 2 doesn’t say anything favorable about its dude-behind-the-cameras-in-charge. But does it have to?

The Conjuring 2 is one of those films with good enough star power and decent funding which ultimately delivers exactly what it promises but not one whit past that. It won’t enrage you or leave you disappointed. Neither will it excite you or make you think. Sometimes, with horror movies (as with most things in life), even I admit – mindless entertainment can be all you want or need.



SHOULD I? STATUS: Official Red Flag

Available on Netflix (Netflix Original) 

The good news? Only idiots and invalids are susceptible to specters in this flick.

The bad news? Now you have to watch it. 


  • Subgenre: Haunted House; Paranormal Activity
  • What the fuck era is this in? Some ancient one
  • Low on story, low on scares, low on everything
  • See In Real Life: Bechdel pass not actual indicator of quality


Wow, I hated this movie. I hated this movie so much I turned it off halfway in and was going to “let it rot” (a phrase the film repeats over and over) forever.. Then, after a day and half’s worth of levelheaded thought I realized I hated PYT (as the movie shall be dismissively termed henceforth in this review) so much that a) I had an obligation to the public to save them, and b) I had a lot to say about it. Very heatedly. That, in itself, merited a review. On a side note, you should see my notes for this movie. They’re hilarious, or, at least, hilariously frustrated.

I’m disappointed. With its arsenal of wildly popular original productions, Netflix should be able to churn out at least an average horror movie. Instead, someone somewhere greenlit a script which features a protagonist who, at one point, is too scared to learn more about her slightly spooky living situations to read a book that would explain them. If that weren’t enraging enough, the fact is that the only character “development” the film exhibits, in any way, is the development of a living character into a dead one. I guess not everyone was paying attention in 6th grade Reading class when we learned about dynamic characters and story progression.

This is a film that focuses on two characters who are so alone that, when they die, it is weeks before anyone thinks to check on them. If no one in the movie cares about the two main characters, why in God’s name would the audience? PYT asks us to care but gives us nothing to care about.

To get real honest, right from the start there’s no reason for us, the audience, to hear the story PYT churns out. We open with a first-person monologue told by a woman who, it’s established, is too afraid to read a book; leave her job; leave the house, even; or do anything. Why would this frightened creature talk to us? Are we in her house? What’s prompting her to speak to an audience?

And even if PYT offered some frail explanation for all of this, which it doesn’t – why would we, the audience, decide to listen? There is nothing compelling on sale.

Not only is our main character boring, she is dumb. She is reportedly uneasy living in the house but she never tries to leave it. Books are so frightening she would rather be scared and ignorant in real life than attempt to learn more about her situation. She had paranormal visions but does not acknowledge them. Things happen around her and over and over again she does nothing.

Even if this might be realistic, in that there may be a person out there like this idiot, that does not make it interesting, and in order for a movie to succeed it is more important it be interesting than believable.

For the sake of my time wasted, please – don’t waste yours.

Everything I Love That PYT Ruins (Special Closing Feature):

– Haunted house genre

– Minimalist script (2 MCs, 3 characters total, limited setting)

– Feminist horror genre



Available on Amazon Prime through a Shudder add-on subscription (free trial period).


  • Status: Recommend
  • Stars: 7/10
  • Horror Category: Haunted House; Suspense
  • Low on Jumps and Cheap Tricks, Low on Gore, Moderate on CGI
  • High on Cinematography, Twists


It’s actually very hard for me to sit down and write a review of the Last Will & Testament of Rosamund Leigh(henceforward, LW&T). But I’ll start at the start, and with the high points, and I guess we can break it down from there.

From the start it’s very obvious that the cinematography of this movie is both beautiful and skilled. We start the movie with tons of constantly moving shots, which cause the tension to build and keep our attention engaged even when there is no one in them. In fact, there is only one actor present during the entire movie (one could snarkily posit the rest of the budget for actors was spent on CGI instead, though let us be very honest: there is no preponderance of CGI, just a smattering which is required by the plot, not dashed on to ‘enhance’ the film because ‘Hey look we can afford magic monsters!’).

The disappointment I feel lies in the plot, which begins off very promisingly and in fact continues that way for a good 3/4 of the movie. Let me reiterate: for the first 3/4 of the movie, the plot promises, promises, and promises. Sometimes it hints, sometimes it implies, sometimes it suggests. But it never gets right the fuck out there and says.

By the time I hit the end of the plot I had come up with a half dozen explanations that were more interesting and elaborate than what the plot ended up handing over, which frankly – for me at least – was a steaming half-baked, “Huh? What happened?” In addition, all this beautiful wrought, suspenseful ambiguity ends up dragging as we see the camera pan across an elaborate angle for the 40th time or what-have-you.

TW&T is really interesting for a lot of its existence. It’s original enough, it doesn’t cheapen itself with needless jumps or CGI…but these are basic requirements I seek in most horror movies. I really wish it had done more with what it had. This doesn’t seem, as PONTYPOOL was, a case of “great original idea, nothing to back it up with,” but rather…a souffle that went too long and collapsed out of neglect, or something. Clumsy metaphor…but better than a clumsy movie, right? At least it’s two hours shorter.

Til next time.