Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Resurrección, or: No Mo’ Poe

This week takes us back in time again to another, er, true event(?).  True in the sense it was a real historical event…except with demons.

The Film:

Resurrección

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Uncondensed Version:

It’s 1871 Argentina, and the Catholic Church is strong but so is the outbreak of yellow fever, the worst in the history of Buenos Aires.  After having visions of the plague, a young priest decides it’s God’s will that he head to BA and help the sick.  But not before stabbing himself in the hands with a cross, which is pretty gross honestly.  But not as gross as it’s going to get with all of the vomiting that happens in this film.

Before going into the city, the priest makes a pit stop at the family estate, where his brother and family live (I don’t remember him ever having a name, but I also have a notoriously bad memory for character names).

What is meant to be a fond family reunion quickly devolves (don’t they always) when the priest learns his brother Edgardo is gravely ill with yellow fever, and his wife is holed up in the chapel with their daughter, Remedios.  She will neither let anyone enter or leave, though Remedios expresses her desire to leave.

1.png
U ok, bro?

When a man who is essentially a faith healer shows up, the priest insists he leave and stop taking advantage of desperate people.  The healer answers that he has the power to cure the priest’s faith problem, blah di blah, but leaves.  Maybe the family should have taken the healer up on his offer, as Edgardo is in pretty bad shape—sweating, talking nonsense, and vomiting up black blood.  Btw, I looked it up, and the black blood really was a symptom during this outbreak, and people even referred to the fever as the black vomit.  Suffice it to say it looks really fucking unpleasant.

Just before dying, Edgardo gives his brother a journal that will explain everything because of course he does.  Oh, and also takes one last stab at the conviction of his brother’s faith.

The only conclusion the priest can make is some weird shit is going on, since obviously the journal goes missing before he can read it.  He senses there is something sinister that his brother feared more than his illness and death and is determined to get to the bottom of it, but first on his to-do list is helping Remedios escape the chapel.

4.png
Despite what Pinterest suggests, you CAN have too many candles.

All of this is thrown off track, however, when the priest comes down with yellow fever too.  This means a series of trippy, surreal dream sequences that look cool but are confusing AF.

After waking up from his nightmarish sleep, the priest learns a shocking truth from Quispe, who has served the family for years:  the priest’s sister-in-law, Lucia, killed Remedios and herself overnight.  The priest refuses to believe this and is determined to find out what really happened.

It goes a bit off the rails from here on out, with Quispe going off on a tangent about how much of a dick his dad was, and then the priest’s dad was also a dick but at least he watched him die (!?!?!).  Quispe doesn’t pull any punches, telling the priest if he vomits black blood, he’ll be dead within a day.  Great?

6.png
“Hand me the keys, you fairy godmother!”

As he becomes more seriously ill, the priest finds Lucia and Remedios alive, though Quispe insists this is a delusion.  The priest finally breaks down and calls for the faith healer, abandoning his Catholic faith and putting his trust in…I don’t know, something that looks like a tiny carved bone?  You do you.

This of course isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the priest immediately regrets his decision when the Catholic guilt returns with a vengeance.  The ending is straight out of Poe, except without the suspense, emotional punch, and the feeling of everything all clicking into place.  Just leave Poe alone, sir.

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

I really wanted to go with 3, but there’s too little going on here to merit that extra PPH.  Guess how much fun it is to watch a feverish Argentine priest stumble around for an hour and a half with complete conviction that what he’s doing is important and makes sense.

There is virtually no suspense as it’s impossible to care about the characters and their motives.  I still don’t understand why the priest cared so much about Remedios.  Ok, she was his niece, but you’re going to have to do better than that to tell a good story.  This goes against everything I’ve ever said about movies, but you know what this could have used more of?  Some goddamn flashbacks to establish the fucking character relationships.  Without that anchor, this film is emotionally empty.

Based on the trailer, this looked like a shitty version of Guillermo del Toro…which is pretty accurate, honestly.  The del Toro tribute just feels like a rip-off, though, from the Gothic vibe to the haunting narration at the end (which is almost a paraphrase of the conclusion of Devil’s Backbone, but just falls flat here).

Every time someone tells me they’ve never seen Devil’s Backbone, I lose 6 months of my life, so do us both a favor and watch that instead.

Did Christa put her faith in this one or remain a critical skeptic?  Find out here!

Advertisements
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews, Uncategorized

Backtrack, or: I Do Nazi the Point of This Movie

So maybe you’ve thought off-hand that you must have done something terrible in a past life to deserve a series of lamentable circumstances in the present.  Like…the global political climate, for example.  Perhaps as you’ve considered this possibility, you’ve used a series of clichéd expressions and non-sequiturs to frame what is already something of a cliché.  That’s this film in a nutshell…with Nazis.  And, coincidentally, we must have all offended the forces of the universe to deserve this movie.

The Film:

Backtrack:  Nazi Regression

Where to Watch:

Amazon Prime (US)

The Premise:

What’s more fun than a walking holiday with your partner and two of your closest friends?  Exploring a possible Nazi past life through hypnotism while your girlfriend hooks up with your friend’s boyfriend and a deranged kidnapper stalks you.

The Uncondensed Version:

Claudia has an incredibly vague and convenient talent for looking into the past and future.  While on a walking holiday with her friends seems to be the perfect opportunity to test out her abilities.  Specifically, to explore the secret Nazi life of friend Ralph.  Learning about his past life is…important?  For some reason?  As it turns out, Ralph had a Nazi family in his past life, and something bad seems to have happened to them.

1.png
A fun hobby to try explaining during interviews.

Meanwhile, Andrea and Lucas (who looks 12), the respective partners of Ralph and Claudia are fine with this turn of events as they’re off having sex constantly and/or complaining about all the walking…ON A WALKING HOLIDAY.  Too tired to deal with this shit, Andrea and Lucas go off to find the local pub.  Once there, they are greeted by an incredibly creepy bartender.  I kind of expected him to get along well with Lucas because they are both so fucking sleazy.

4.png
Is he reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally old enough to be in a bar, though?  Is he REALLY?

Later, as Andrea and Lucas have yet another weirdly shot sex scene, a mysterious figure who we’ve heard talking to himself throughout the entire movie approaches their tent.  He hits Lucas and ties up both parties.  Whoa.  Is that where this film is heading, i.e. torture porn territory?  Apparently so.  There are some absolutely disgusting scenes that feel endless where this guy burns his victims with a lot of camera close-ups.  I hope you realize I don’t say that lightly given the massive number of B horror movies featured in this blog collab.

After being asked once, Andrea immediately reveals where the other two have gone.  Look, I’m not saying I’d do any better if a creepy kidnapper started asking me questions, but come on.

Btw, did I mention all of this is happening in broad daylight?  And he moves his victims in the back of a tractor wagon?  Super inconspicuous.

Conveniently, when Claudia and Ralph return to the campsite, Claudia senses that Andrea and Lucas were abducted after the odd camera angles of their sex scene.  The answer to all of their questions is supposedly to do another Nazi past life regression.  This is interrupted by the most unintentionally hilarious attempted abduction scene in film, in which the creepy shadowy dude tries to basically tow their tent with his tractor.  Unsurprisingly, they can get out of that one pretty easily.

5.png
IDK if I should really be laughing so hard about kidnapping.

However, when he does catch up with Claudia and Ralph, he is intent on exacting revenge for some unknown offense.  You’ll have to watch to see what happens, why, and if you even fucking care by the time any of this happens.  But honestly, if you ask nicely, I’ll probably just tell you how it ends.

Top 5 Lines of Dialogue:

5. “It’s better to know than not know.”

4. Andrea: A man hit you, tied us up, and brought us here.

Lucas (outraged): WHY?!

3. Julian Glover (dramatically, to a grave): You shall be avenged!

2. “If you untie us now and let us go, we’ll be on our way and the whole thing won’t be mentioned.”

1. “I’ve lived before…even if I was a Nazi.”

The Rating:

1/5 Angry PPHs

So bad, guys.  So, so bad.

I tried to think of small things about this film that could be changed to improve it, and I drew a blank.  On the bright side, the scenery is pretty?   Fucking hell, though, those burn scenes are vile.  And though as viewers we are obviously supposed to hate the cheaters and like the other two characters, they are all sooooooooooooooooooo bland.  Sub-par, even for a Nazi B movie.

Would Christa go along with this one or roll on out of the tent ASAP?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews, Uncategorized

The Veil, or: Don’t Drink the…Poison Cubes?

After a brief hiatus, the blog collab is back with a vengeance.  Specifically, the kind of vengeance only provided by horror (very loosely) based on the Jonestown mass murder/suicide.  I’m probably being surveilled now based on my recent search history as I fact checked this film.  Word of caution:  if you are into the historical angle of this film, maybe just watch a documentary?  The one from 2006 that aired on PBS is really interesting.

The Film:

The Veil

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Uncondensed Version:

So Heaven’s Veil is the Jonestown of this film, and like its real-life inspiration, was the site of a religious cult’s mass murder/suicide.  This film seeks a supernatural explanation of the events of Jonestown and asks the (highly original) question—What if a fringe religious group really did find the secret to resurrection and eternal life promised in Christianity?

As our film opens, we discover there was one survivor, Sarah Hope, who was found creepily sitting amongst the dead and insisting “he” will bring them back.  Shudder.  With no idea of her biological parents or birth name, all members of known immediate and extended family dead, and being raised in foster care, it’s safe to say Sarah had a pretty shitty childhood.

25 years after the fact, Sarah receives an offer from Jessica Alba, aka Maggie, amateur filmmaker with a secret haunted past that we discover after about 10 minutes.  As it turns out, Maggie’s family was destroyed by the events at Heaven’s Veil after her father, the lead FBI investigator, killed himself several months later (though there are some really BS-y moments wherein she conflates the experience of her father’s suicide with Sarah’s experience as the sole survivor of the mass murder/suicide of her community).

2.png
Scooby and the gang.

Maggie has somehow uncovered a major detail that no one has noticed before:  there were reels of films made and stored somewhere in the Heaven’s Veil commune, and if she and her crew can finally locate these films, she will finally learn the truth.  Or you could just watch the Jonestown documentary, honestly.  It really is done extremely well.

Things begin to go badly right away, as one of the crew goes missing with the van only to turn up dead.

Via flashbacks, we learn that Jim Jacobs seemed to have an ability to heal and even separate his spirit and go body hopping.  By injecting himself with highly toxic venom and delaying use of the antidote for as long as possible, he’s brought closer to death, thus enhancing his powers.  B/c…you know.  Obviously it does.

4.png
Aviators are next to godliness.

While two of the other crew members go for help, the rest of the team searches for the films.  Unluckily enough, Sarah stumbles upon a body inside the super secret house only she can find.  As we learn later, this is the body of a close follower of JJ, a nurse who helped with his venom experiments, and none other than Sarah’s biological mother.  I wonder who the baby daddy is, you may be thinking to yourself.  If you’ve never seen a movie before.   Believe that you know the answer to this because you do.

While the crew finds and watches the film reels, more and more of the team members are picked off yet eerily return.

3.png
Creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy!

As JJ explains to his followers, death is the only way to be reborn…which they will all accomplish and then release all other humans from life.  It turns out leading the FBI raid on the complex was a dick move on the part of Maggie’s dad, who prevented all of these people from receiving the antidote and being resurrected.  I guess?

So this explains why the Heaven’s Veilers decided to kill themselves, though it still leaves many opportunities for questions, confusion, and considerable general gaps in logic.

Armed with the truth at last, does it even fucking matter when the crew is stuck in horror cliché hell?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Almost went with 3/5 b/c Jim Jacobs is so much fun to watch, but the rest of the film is almost deliberately forgettable.  Thomas Jane is believable as the charismatic yet psychotic Jim Jacobs, and seems to truly relish playing the role.

One major sticking point for me towards the end:  I was really annoyed with Maggie’s repeated apologies on behalf of her father.  1.  She was in no way responsible for his actions.  2.  He didn’t force anyone to drink the Kool Aid, as it were (in this case they are poison cubes [sadly not Rubik’s cubes of doom a la Hellraiser]).  3.  The goal of the mass murder/suicide was to return and KILL EVERYONE with their rebirth superpowers.  There’s literally no reason to apologize here.

The twist of Sarah not being quite as innocent as we’re led to believe is nicely done, but every other moment feels straight out of the horror handbook.  With the added insult of an interesting premise that had a lot of potential, this is an extra disappointing feature.  Once again, the lesson we can learn here is to always lower your expectations.

Would Christa follow this one to the commune or give it her share of poison cube?  Find out here!