The Pink Panther Snipes Again

Bad Movie Reviews with a Touch of Snark


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Christine, or: Chickens vs. Serial Killers

Gorgeous Ladies of the Blog Collab takes an unexpectedly dark turn this week.  Chickens, mental health, and sensationalizing local news are all wrapped up neatly (or not so neatly) by Rebecca Hall.

The Film:

Christine (2016)

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Uncondensed Version:

Right from the start, it’s clear that Christine is a brilliant yet deeply self-critical and complex young woman.  In both her personal life and professional career as a local TV news reporter, she frequently second-guesses herself and looks for opportunities to confirm her flaws in the eyes of others.

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“I can’t help feeling you’re a bit detached for this interview…”

After a year working for a Sarasota Springs station, Christine is ready for the next move in her career.  Having a non-existent sex life, her mother as a roommate, and an impending 30th birthday only make it clearer that she’s much in need of change.

When the opportunity arises for a promotion that will take her to Baltimore, Christine is eager to prove she’s up for the challenge.  However, this won’t be easy as the new marching orders from the station execs are to cover sensational, violent stories over the thoughtful human interest pieces Christine favors.  Her work crush, Dexter George, agrees with her objections, but it’s not long before the reporters are tripping over themselves to get in line with the changes.

Meanwhile, Christine has been experiencing major stomach pains that she shrugs off as stress-related.  I’m apparently way more of a wimp than Christine because I’d be at the doctor’s so quickly or at least popping more than the recommended dose of Extra Strength Advil 24/7.

These factors seem to be creating the perfect storm for Christine to suffer a repeat of Boston, which her mother mysteriously alludes to.  The mother/daughter relationship is volatile to say the least; Christine reacts very badly to change and seems to be threatened by her mother’s series of unsuccessful relationships.  There’s so much to unpack here that their relationship doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other facets of Christine’s life, but I would have loved to see more.

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For once, I have nothing cynical to say.

The stress begins to wear at Christine as it turns out the stomach pains are more serious than initially thought and may impact her ability to have children.  After receiving the news, she has a bit of a melt-down at work.  It’s frustrating to see self-care as a continuously low priority for Christine, though of course there are mental health and other issues at play too.  However, even when her sole work friend Jean suggests they take the rest of the day of and eat ice cream, Christine insists on pressing on.

Later, she does an ill-advised piece on a gun enthusiast who warns her that threats are everywhere.  He encourages her to carry around a gun for a few weeks to see if it makes her feel different and more in control.  Seems like…maybe not the best idea?

Though Christine tries to tow the new party line, her ideas are constantly shut down and she is usually at odds with her boss.  Finally, she is forced to take time off when she’s sent home early after an especially tense disagreement.

Just as her professional life is falling apart, Christine’s personal life seems to be lining up for once.  George asks her out to dinner, which is a major breakthrough as she seems to be convinced they have a future together…or at least the possibility of Christine’s first sexual relationship.  At the same time, George has some important news to share—news that will prove deeply upsetting to Christine.

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I’ll give you 3 tries to guess the number of murders I’ve committed.

If you are familiar with the story of Christine Chubbuck, there will be no surprises for you here.  I was not and didn’t expect the ending at all…though it does have a sad logic that made me think I should have seen it coming.  Much like the real story I imagine.

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I’m not sure I’d want to revisit this one, but it definitely earned at least a solid 4.  Infinite PPHs for Rebecca Hall’s performance, as she manages to portray mental health issues with such a depth and range of emotion without becoming melodramatic.  Christine comes across as extremely bold and intelligent while pulling back a few layers to reveal the pain of living with undiagnosed bipolar disorder and a devastating lack of confidence.  It’s time for Rebecca Hall to be a household name–she’s so talented.

Special shout-out to Christine’s closest work friend, Jean, and chicken lady, who I didn’t give a lot of attention here but who also deserve recognition.

Did this one hold Christa’s interest or was it too sensational?  Find out here!


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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).

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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.

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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.

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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!