Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Llamageddon, or: Spit Happens

Whatever your stereotypes about librarians are, please update them to include fans of alien llama horror comedies. This week’s film came back onto my radar courtesy of a library conference & at the suggestion of a fellow horror librarian. The horribly punny title doesn’t hurt either.

The Film:



Howie Dewin

The Premise:

An alien llama arrives on Earth, seemingly with the sole purpose of causing as much murder and destruction as possible.

The Ramble:

When an alien that physically resemble a llama lands on Earth, the unsuspecting locals of a small farm town are in grave danger. Though the alien looks relatively benign (minus the glowing red eyes), it has a number of destructive abilities and chooses violence every time.

Following the death of their grandparents, siblings Mel and Floyd agree to stay in the house until it sells…because convenient plot device? As party girl Mel pinky promises not to throw a party and trash the place, anxious Floyd frets over the animal attacks reported nearby.

Of course, Mel immediately throws a party, which is also an opportunity to wingman her own brother. Gross. Floyd’s relatable reaction to the party is “When can we make everyone go home?” Unfortunately, there are partygoers leaving, never to return…because they’ve encountered the alien llama. In addition to laser eyes, the llama can apparently rip out human hearts, as well as “fistfight” with its hooves. All of these deaths are done with great schlock, including sprays of blood and llama hooves attacking unconvincingly.

In B horror, it never pays to be the stoner–the very stoned guy who encounters the llama and then warns the others only receives mockery. The partygoers continue to enjoy the evening, moving proceedings into the hot tub. With a surprisingly good grasp of electricity for a space llama, the alien manages to take advantage of this situation when it discovers a stereo resting on the edge of the tub.

Dramatically(?) revealing yet another villainous power, the llama spits acid at Mel’s boyfriend Trent, transforming him into a llama/human hybrid. Fleeing into the woods for whatever reason, the survivors ditch Trent, who begins to lay mysterious eggs. After finally deciding to call for help, Mel and Floyd attempt to contact their father, who has been spending time with sex workers rather than attending the funeral. Can the siblings rely on their dad to save them from their greatest prob-llama yet?

The Rating:

2.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

It seems unfair to give this one anything above a 2.5 as it’s transparently low-budget with extremely silly effects and uncommitted acting. However, for whatever low bar it’s worth, this is far from the worst film we’ve watched on the blog. To be honest, we’ve watched professional productions 10x worse than this.

There are elements of a coherent plot largely overwhelmed by nonsense, so this never really overcomes the feeling of being a film concept cooked up while extremely high. One presumes. Some of the humor genuinely did make me laugh, in particular a rallying speech given by one of the characters just before being killed by llama laser eyes, as well as the llama “fistfights.” With some polishing, I think the plot could have actually made (some) sense, and the characters may have been more interesting. Really the only character that’s fun in any way is the llama, so it’s not particularly heartbreaking when the bodies start piling up.

Would my blog wife take this one to our leader or ‘paca her bags? Find out in her review!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Bones and All, or: Let’s Mullet over

I’m beginning to realize that artsy cannibalistic films are extremely my genre. Some of my favorite films on the Collab have been very heavy on the flesh-consuming and/or cheap zombie thrills. I’ve also long suspected I may be a cat, so I do relate to the urge to bite people. Another story for another day.

It can’t be surprising to reader(s?) of this blog that a cannibal/zombie plot could only be elevated by the addition of Timothée Chalamet. In the late ’80s with the pink mullet.

The Film:

Bones and All


Luca Guadagnino

The Premise:

A young woman who has zombie impulses travels across the country to meet her mother, encountering zombie friend and foe along the way.

The Ramble:

New in town Maren is a high school student seeking friendship but afraid to open up. As it turns out, this is probably a wise choice, as occasionally she has the uncontrollable impulse to consume human flesh. Sneaking out despite her father’s strict rules, Maren is so close to having a normal night at a party…until she goes full zombie mode.

Shortly after, Maren’s father leaves her on her own in a new town, feeling he has done all he can for her. With only the clue of her birth certificate, Maren is determined to track down her mother in smalltown Minnesota.

Making her way across the country, Maren encounters another zombie for the first time in her life. Unsettlingly, this man claims to be able to smell other zombies & teaches her to recognize the scent. The man, Sully, says he never kills, only eats the dying. As Sully has led Maren to the home of a dying woman, the two eat her flesh.

Though Sully offers Maren a place to stay, she feels compelled to continue her journey. After she is nearly caught shoplifting, a young man causes a distraction by picking a fight with a drunk man in the store. Sensing a fellow zombie, Maren catches up with him after he has killed and eaten the man. As her new acquaintance, Lee, steals the dead man’s truck, they drive on.

While continuing to travel, Maren and Lee encounter other zombies and learn about each other’s troubled pasts. Things seem to be going well until Maren feels compelled to feed, and Lee targets a sketchy carnival game operator. When it turns out their victim had a wife and child at home, Maren is extremely upset, blaming Lee for the horrific murder. And things only get worse when Maren finally meets her mother, and things do not go particularly well.

It seems a bit too convenient when Sully, from several states back, shows up right when Maren is on her own. With seemingly no one to trust, where will Maren go, and who will she turn to?

The Rating:

4.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

IDK if this film deserves such a high rating considering the lack of pacing & coherent plot, but I found this one absorbing. Based on the zombie element, this has almost an apocalyptic road movie feel. And even though my darling blog wife has heard me complain endlessly about horrible romantic plots, this one worked for me. The two leads have chemistry, but the romance isn’t the entire purpose of the film or of these characters’ lives. This film is moody AF, always taking the beauty and the grotesque to extremes in its scenes.

Even though the metaphorical elements of the film do feel overdone at a certain point, I do appreciate the film’s layers here. The clear connection is between the uncontrolled zombie impulse & addiction; both are presented as inherited traits that can be destructive and at times almost impossible to manage. There are also some parallels to sexuality & gender identity, as these are also traits people are born with and frequently stigmatized.

I will grant that your enjoyment of this film may hinge on your opinions of Timothée Chalamet’s pink mullet & overall hipster fever dream look. I feel the most connected to Gen Z when it comes to our opinions of Timothée Chalamet, honestly. My god, the charisma, the screen presence, the success in wearing a pair of impractically ripped jeans.

Would my blog wife murder a minor creep for this one or refuse to get her mane of hair all bloody? Read her review to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Nanny, or: Siren Song

We’re kicking off March with…what else? Horror. The best kind of horror, as it’s unexpected mermaid horror. Not quite in the tradition of Killer Mermaid, however. Think elevated horror drawing on West African folklore, with plenty of commentary on the immigrant experience thrown in.

The Film:



Nikyatu Jusu

The Premise:

A young Senegalese woman works as a nanny for a wealthy family in NYC, ignoring some rather ominous signs as she saves for the airfare that will reunite her with her son.

The Ramble:

After leaving Senegal, Aisha arrives in New York City in search of work. Her options are limited as an undocumented immigrant, though her French skills and teaching experience are in demand for a job as a nanny. As Aisha raises Rose, the daughter of a wealthy couple, she keeps her goal in mind: to earn enough money to pay for her young son’s journey to join her.

Aisha doesn’t particularly get along with her employer, Amy, but manages to charm picky eater Rose with Senegalese cooking. When Amy’s husband Adam returns home after a long trip abroad, it becomes immediately clear that there are reasons he stays away. The marriage is extremely strained, not helped by Adam’s obvious affairs, including an interest in Aisha.

While Aisha increasingly stays late and even overnight to care for Rose, she begins to miss many of the daily calls from her son. At the same time, she begins seeing the building doorman, Malik, who has a son close in age to hers.

Unfortunately, Aisha also begins to experience disturbingly ominous visions, including Anansi the spider’s legs, the siren Mami Wata, and waves of water drowning her. Malik’s mother warns Aisha not to ignore these, as these symbols of survival are likely intended to guide her. Pointedly, she asks Aisha, “How do you use your rage?”

Aisha appears to take this lesson to heart in her next interaction with Amy, who has not paid Aisha for weeks of overtime. During this period, Aisha has been buying or making food for Rose with her own money–which upsets Amy because the food must be too spicy for her daughter. Even after this confrontation, Amy asks Aisha to stay over the next evening to care for Rose.

Shortly after, Aisha finally has the money to bring her cousin and son to the States. But like so much of Aisha’s experiences as an immigrant, the journey involves some dark turns.

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Wow, this is a bleak story (spoiler/not really a spoiler). It’s powerful, yet extremely frustrating at times. There are several flashbacks that are unclear, and it takes time watching these scenes to understand where we are in the story…but in a way that’s confusing & doesn’t necessarily feel intentional. There are almost two distinct films here, as the majority of the film is a realistic story of living as an undocumented immigrant, and is such a slow burn on the horror front as to not fall into the genre well. The last third of the film draws much more on horror elements, though I would have probably been annoyed if I’d expected full-on horror here.

The feeling of being haunted is effective, and Aisha herself seems rather ghost-like until the end. It’s irritating to see Aisha finally stand up for herself and use her rage only to accomplish frustratingly little. The conclusion of the film is jarring too, as we go through tragedy after tragedy only to resolve things on a hopeful note. With so many feelings to process as the film wraps up, the ending feels somewhat hollow.

Another critique: the only fully realized character is Aisha, with the supporting characters all seeming rather flat. I like Malik as a sort of character outline, but he comes across as one-dimensional, so easy-going and caring that he seems unreal.

I did really enjoy the concept, however–in particular the West African traditions both guiding and terrifying Aisha. The last chunk of the film was well done, and enough to bump things up to a 3.5 on the PPH scale.

Would my blog wife make jollof rice for this one or let a spider crawl into its mouth while sleeping? Find out in her review!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Hatching, or: The Crows Have Eyes (and Teeth)

Shocker: the open-ended theme of this February has evolved into weird horror selections. And evolved may be an unintentionally appropriate word choice, as the creature in this week’s pick has almost certainly never before appeared on the evolutionary timeline.

The Film:



Hanna Bergholm

The Premise:

An unusual creature emerges from an egg, disrupting the facade of perfection in a suburban household.

The Ramble:

Tinja lives with her perfect family in a perfect house in a perfect little suburb in Finland…at least according to the video blog her mother keeps. It’s not long before the calm is shattered literally when a crow flies into the family room, smashing delicately arranged crystalware with unusual strength. When Tinja manages to catch the bird in a blanket, she intends to set it free, though her mother has other plans to ensure no further disruptions.

Meanwhile, a new neighbor has moved in next door, hoping to befriend Tinja. When it turns out her neighbor is a rival for a spot in the gymnastics team’s upcoming competition, Tinja’s mother insists she practice instead of being distracted by making friends.

Tinja very transparently has no love of gymnastics, though she keeps this a secret from her mother. This isn’t the only secret between them, as, shortly after the crowening, Tinja discovers the wounded crow in the woods. Killing the crow to end its suffering, she finds an egg and takes it home to care for it.

While not filming their Instagram-worthy life, Tinja’s mother also has a secret–she’s having an affair. Taking frequent business trips, Tinja’s mother maintains the charade despite her daughter and very possibly her husband being quite aware of the nature of these trips.

When the egg finally hatches, a massive bird/human hybrid emerges. Though rather disturbing to look at, the creature thinks of Tinja as its mother. Too bad the baby bird has an large appetite to go along with its frame, and doesn’t distinguish between pet and prey. RIP neighbor’s dog.

As the bird ages, she increasingly begins to resemble a human, though it takes a while to shake the habit of eating food regurgitated by her mother. She also seems to share a connection with Tinja in which they feel each other’s pain. Concerning, perhaps.

Baby bird, who seems to christen herself Alli, isn’t bound by a lot of societal conventions. As a result, screaming, attacking people, and severing human limbs are all reasonable actions. When Tinja realizes the extent of Alli’s violent impulses, she’ll have to find a way to control this behavior, particularly when Alli’s human form takes an extremely familiar shape…

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

This is by no means a bad film, and I will credit the originality of the premise. However, the film doesn’t quite deliver on what it set up in the beginning, as it loses steam around halfway through.

I don’t entirely understand the focus of the film, which largely follows Tinja’s perspective. Admittedly, her mother’s perspective would be…a lot…but I also think the horror is most keenly felt by her. Plus this could help tie in some of the unnecessary elements, like the affair subplot.

It seems that Tinja has to be sacrificed to her mother’s vanity, and that doesn’t make for a satisfying story. Alternately, the ending could be the revelation of Tinja’s “true” nature with her mother’s final acceptance of imperfection. This isn’t the happy story it sounds like, as Tinja has to die for this to happen.

I’m going to be real–I’m tired, so this isn’t going to be the deepest dive analysis ever posted here. I did enjoy this, imperfections and all.

Would my blog wife care for this one like an injured baby bird or smash it to a feathery pulp? Read her review to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Piggy, or: The Slain in Spain Hang Mainly from the Chain

Believe it or not, this week’s pick is our first horror of 2023! With the exception of The Menu, possibly, depending on how you think of that film genre-wise. Interestingly, both titles feature food and murder, though there are significantly fewer things served au jus this week. Unless you go with a very gruesome interpretation of au jus.

The Film:



Carlota Pereda

The Premise:

A teen who witnesses the abduction of her bullies decides to keep quiet as a dangerous stranger lurks around her small town.

The Ramble:

If you decide to watch this film, you have to be pretty comfortable with seeing how the sausage gets made–literally. Sara is a quiet young woman who works in the family butcher shop, constantly listening to music and chewing on her hair. Though she does her best to steer clear of bullies, Sara being awkward, fat, and associated with pigs makes for easy pickings.

Things don’t look much better at home, where Sara’s mother is quick to anger and her father imagines a good day hunting is enough to ease any troubles. Pushed by her mother to leave the house on a hot summer day, Sara goes swimming at the public pool when she notices a stranger lurking around. The small Spanish town is already on edge as a couple of mysterious disappearances have occurred recently, though Sara doesn’t have much time to consider this. Tormented by Maca, Roci, and her former friend Claudia, Sara is left without her phone and clothes, and comes close to drowning.

On her return walk home, Sara is harassed and chased by some of the local boys. She unknowingly walks into a crime scene when she notices the stranger from the pool…driving a van where her bullies are trapped. The stranger leaves a towel for her, and motivated partly by fear and partly by vengeance, Sara says nothing as the van drives away.

The following day, things look even more harrowing when the police discover the body of a missing waitress weighed down at the bottom of the pool. Questioned about anything suspicious she may have noticed while at the pool, Sara denies that she was ever there on the prior day.

Rousing the suspicions of many a local, Sara’s goal now is to retrieve her phone before her mother notices it’s missing. When a fight breaks out and Sara’s lies are brought to the surface, the police demand answers. Returning home with her mother after being questioned, a surprise visitor is waiting for them. Attacking both Sara’s mother and father, the stranger silently insists Sara must leave with him. What will be waiting in the mysterious hideout in the woods? And will it matter to Sara if a horrible fate has befallen her bullies?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I like the concept of this film and appreciate its feminist messaging. However, there’s not enough going on to keep proceedings interesting, even with a relatively short run time. There’s much more commentary than empowerment, which is fine if not completely satisfactory.

Sara isn’t the most likeable person–and not in the compelling ways of some of our favorite horror film protagonists. She’s a victim of bullying and certainly doesn’t deserve this, but as a result is almost devoid of identity. Awkward and rather depressed, Sara tends to wallow rather than act for most of the film. I even found a major turning point near the end of the film to lack suspense and conviction, and it was difficult to understand what was going on in her mind. The failure to give Sara much interiority seems like a way to create suspense, but it mostly makes her seem shallow and severely lacking any kind of internal compass. One of the elements of suspense is created by whether Sara will help her bullies…or run away with an actual serial killer because he’s the only man who has ever been nice to her(?!?!). I can’t believe that’s a sentence I have to type unironically.

The movie posters and promotion promise significantly more badassery than we get, honestly.

Would my blog wife show mercy for old times’ sake or just crank up the volume on her headphones to drown out the screams? Find out in her review!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Banshees of Inisherin, or: We Are Not A-mulesed

Even though, as usual, this year’s Oscar nominations reflect some bullshit, there are always a few films genuinely worthy of recognition. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Everything Everywhere All at Once to go home with as many awards as it can…though I won’t be too upset if this week’s film picks up some wins.

The Film:

The Banshees of Inisherin


Martin McDonagh

The Premise:

Following years of friendship, a man living on a small Irish island finds his world rocked when his best friend abruptly decides to end their relationship.

The Ramble:

Pádraic is a happy, laid-back fellow content to lead a rather routine existence on a small island off the coast of Ireland. Though it’s 1923 and we’ve really only scratched the surface on all of the horrors unfolding in 20th century Ireland, life on the island seems so removed, wrapped up in its own everyday affairs.

While not renowned for his smarts (and frequently responding to questions with a clueless “Huh?”), Pádraic considers his reputation for being a nice guy more important. This makes it all the more shocking when, out of the blue, his best friend Colm upends their friendship by deciding it’s no longer worth his time. Perhaps equally upsetting, he disrupts their long-observed tradition of heading to the pub for a 2:00 drink.

For quite a while, Pádraic refuses to believe Colm is entirely serious, or that this matter can’t be resolved. After all, the two have always gotten along well despite their different personalities, and there’s no identifiable disagreement that has come between them. Pádraic’s sister Siobhán assures her brother the two bffs will patch things up, even temporarily overlooking Pádraic’s insistence on allowing their donkey, Jenny, inside the house for a cuddle.

As Inisherin is a tiny island, everyone knows everything going on–and has an opinion on it. The bartender at the local pub sympathizes, while scary old woman in a cloak Mrs. McCormick (my favorite character, honestly) offers only vaguely menacing predictions. With Colm no longer his friend, Pádraic has only police officer’s son Dominic to pal around with, despite him being somewhat of a creep.

Pádraic even goes so far as to encourage the local priest to intervene, leading to a memorable scene in which he refuses to absolve Colm following confession. From this point on, things really escalate as Colm puts down a hard boundary: any time Pádraic talks to him, Colm will cut off one of his own fingers and send it to him. Counterintuitively, this seems to be the only way for Colm to ensure he has the time to create a legacy: the fiddle music he will compose.

As the two men stubbornly draw their battle lines, their feud ripples across the island in unexpected ways, causing irreversible changes…and even death.

The Rating:

4.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

For such a sad story that in many ways stands in for the Irish Civil War, this is a surprisingly funny film–admittedly very darkly funny. There’s some excellent dialogue here, which more often than not reveals the absurdity of small-town life in Inisherin. I genuinely laughed at some of Pádraic’s interactions with Mrs. McCormick, and a scene where he convinces a student of Colm’s that a bread van has left his father in critical condition that is hilarious…if mean-spirited.

Both of our protagonists are vividly drawn, and despite their reputations undergo a tragic sort of reversal. Pádraic’s existence as a nice person who wants to quietly maintain the status quo is upended as he becomes cruelly calculating. Meanwhile, Colm’s standing as one of the island’s cleverest is questionable as he self-sabotages his plan for posthumous renown through song composition what with the finger severing. In exchanges with Siobhán, Colm also proves himself not to be as insightful or well-read as others on the island may believe.

It does hit close to home to imagine being confronted with the horrible reality that, all along, those closest to you can’t stand you. As much as I feel for Colin Farrell’s Pádraic with his big, sad eyebrows, Colm’s preference for something truthful and long-lasting over the status quo rings true as well. It does seem tragic that the answers lie somewhere in the middle, and there are some moments of tension when it seems things could be resolved. Yet both men ultimately take an extreme stance from which they will not budge.

As much as I enjoyed this one, though, I could have happily watched a movie exclusively focused on Jenny the donkey.

Would my blog wife cuddle this one like an indoor donkey or refuse to even sit in the same pub? Read her review to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Emergency, or: White Girl Wasted

Though I don’t typically watch the Oscars, or even a significant number of the nominees, awards season still brings its own sort of fun. On the Blog Collab, it’s a time to revisit the films we meant to cross off the list, as well as those we’re surprised didn’t receive wider recognition. This week’s film falls into the latter category…though it’s not actually too shocking this one was largely ignored by critics. Do I need to say it at this point? #OscarsSoWhite

The Film:



Carey Williams

The Premise:

Hoping to make history with an epic night out, college seniors experience unexpected detours when they find a girl passed out in their living room.

The Ramble:

Sean and Kunle, college seniors with just a few months left to party, intend to go out in style. Black students attending a primarily white institution, the two are determined to make a name for themselves on the wall of Black firsts for the school. Never before accomplished? The completion of a legendary tour, going to seven different frat parties in one night.

While studious Kunle, child of immigrants, cares for his lab specimens and plans to begin a PhD program at Princeton after graduating, free-spirited Sean only takes partying seriously. Both frequently experience being the only students of color in class, keeping quiet when professors use trigger warnings as a blanket excuse for using racist language and then asking for Black student perspectives.

Despite the everyday experiences of racism on campus, Sean and Kunle are eager for the night out, though their gamer geek roomie Carlos is very much not invited. However, before the evening can even get started, Sean and Kunle find an extremely drunk white girl passed out on their floor. Carlos, obliviously gaming the whole time, has no clue how to explain the situation either. The only thing the group knows is that calling the police will result in more questions they can’t answer, and very likely put them in danger.

After some persuasion, Sean convinces Kunle and Carlos of their best course of action: find the closest frat party and leave the girl, Emma, there to be found. When this plan backfires, the three are left with the extremely suspicious circumstances of driving around with an unconscious girl in their car and a busted tail light. Attempting to switch cars, keep Emma hydrated, and make their way to the hospital, the group encounters obstacles consistently.

Meanwhile, a group led by Emma’s sister attempts to track her down based on the cell phone hidden in her dress. It seems inevitable that a major misunderstanding will occur when the two groups finally meet; will Sean and Kunle have a chance to explain before anyone else is hurt?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

This is billed as a comedy, and there are genuinely funny moments and lines of dialogue (the detail where residents of a white neighborhood threaten to call the police on the “suspicious” group while a BLM sign stands on their lawn; likewise, the nice touch that someone on the wall of fame is recognized as the “first Black man to 3D print”). However, the themes are quite serious, investigating police violence, respectability politics, and the racism of liberal white spaces. The film’s uneven tone, and the plot that is stretched a bit thin at times, are most likely why it didn’t receive more critical attention. I would be shocked if we don’t see even better work from director Carey Williams in the future.

There’s a lot to like here that’s worthy of recognition. It’s an original story, somewhere between Get Out and Dear White People. The differences between Sean and Kunle’s experiences with race are explored well, as Sean’s childhood while growing up poor and with significant police interaction diverges from Kunle’s as a child of immigrant doctors. Kunle himself is actually quite uncomfortable with Sean’s cousins, as he has internalized the mentality that distinguishing himself as not like other Black people will protect him. In the film’s conclusion, Kunle directly encounters a terrifying challenge to this assumption.

Shout out to Carlos, who makes time to call out sexist usage of the words pussy and bitch even during a highly stressful situation.

Would my blog wife offer this one a granola bar or throw up all over its original hardwood floors? Find out in her review!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Causeway, or: I’ll Stand Bayou

Ahead of the Oscars, we’re crossing off some of the nominees this January–along with a few films that failed to secure a nomination. Not for lack of trying in some cases. Always a promising sign when you have a young Oscar winner, a story of a soldier returning to civilian life, and critical reviews that praise the understated performances…much like this week’s pick.

The Film:



Lila Neugebauer

The Premise:

Struggling to return to life in New Orleans following a traumatic brain injury, a soldier focuses on being cleared for redeployment as quickly as possible.

The Ramble:

Following an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan, soldier Lynsey returns home with major trauma–physical, mental, and emotional. Her recovery is slow, as she is initially unable to walk, get dressed, or brush her teeth without assistance. On top of this, Lynsey has trouble with her memory, forgetting details from her childhood and having difficulty recalling new information.

Moving back in with her mother in New Orleans is…difficult. Lynsey’s mother was never the most responsible person, and her shortcomings seem even more glaringly obvious in the present. Telling herself it’s only short-term helps Lynsey cope; she’s determined to recover as quickly as possible for redeployment.

In the mean time, Lynsey finds work as a pool cleaner. As she’s dealing with an unreliable old truck to get around, she also makes friends with car mechanic James. A fellow born and raised New Orleanian, James has his own troubled past to contend with.

As Lynsey struggles to grapple with traumas both old and new, she becomes increasingly impatient to get the all-clear from a doctor for redeployment, despite the risk to her mental health in particular. But Lynsey’s narrow focus on this goal causes harm to those around her, especially James. Will Lynsey

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

As a slow-paced character study, this film is interested in examining the impacts of different types of trauma. It’s very much a showcase for Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry as our leads, who both do fantastic work.

Unfortunately, films where the performances are the focus aren’t always my jam. There’s not much happening in terms of plot, and some of the dramatic reveals are done in a way that I don’t find effective. What’s especially challenging about this as a character study is that our protagonists, given their trauma, are quite aloof. I don’t know that I empathized with the two as much as I expected to as I didn’t get to appreciate their inner workings. Particularly since James is such a good friend, while Lynsey seems to take him for granted, I found it difficult to invest in their friendship, which is very much at the core of the film.

The performances of our leads are compelling, though, and the film’s refusal to wrap things up neatly is appreciated.

Would my blog wife buy this one a sno-ball or leave it alone to clean rich people’s pools? Read her review to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Menu, or: Rich the Eats

Is there any way to kick off a new year than with a dark comedy/horror/satire that doesn’t fit well into any one genre? First film of the week, month, and year brings us all of these elements, and gives us the eating our veggies feeling of crossing off a resolution. Sort of. We’re dedicating the month to films with awards buzz before the season begins properly, so we can at least sound extremely sophisticated when people ask for film recommendations at parties. You know–at all of those parties we attend.

The Film:

The Menu


Mark Mylod

The Premise:

A group of wealthy diners look forward to an evening at a highly exclusive restaurant, though its head chef has more sinister intentions.

The Ramble:

If you’re obscenely wealthy, sailing to a private island with no cell phone reception just seems like a necessary part of a luxury dining experience, and not at all like a horror setup. Margot and her date Tyler are two of the lucky twelve set to savor a dinner at the exclusive Hawthorn, where the meal is prepared specifically for the guests in attendance and will cost upwards of $1,000 each.

Just like the high school clique breakdown, you’ve got your classic rich people crowds: the rich older couple, the food critics, the business bros, and the former Hollywood A-lister. Margot seems to be the only member of the party not familiar with how the other half lives, though she plays it cool as…an oyster with lemon caviar. She’s also the only one not particularly impressed with the prestige of the head chef and his highly conceptual dishes.

Following a tour of the island where all of the staff live and work (in a setting that feels very much like a penitentiary), the guests look forward to their meal. Tyler is among the most insufferable of the bunch, which is a tall order. He takes so much pride in being a true appreciator of Chef Slowik that he feels the need to show off and gain the chef’s approval. Naturally, the chef instinctively disdains Tyler–though he shows similar levels of condescension to all of the guests.

Starting things off with the mean but hilarious breadless bread plate, Chef Slowik’s only remaining joy seems to be disappointing and belittling his guests. The chef is keenly aware of all requests and every criticism, taking an inquisitor’s delight in responding quite sadistically.

If you’ve seen any promotions for this film, it’s perhaps not shocking when it turns out the chef’s intentions to torture his guests move far beyond cutting words. How many of those on the island will live to see the dessert course?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Given the timing of this film, The Menu has gotten a lot of comparisons to Glass Onion. Some of these are valid, though I would argue The Menu is significantly darker. In my personal opinion, this also makes it a bit more fun to watch–though admittedly Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes, and Nicholas Hoult is dream casting and a major reason the film works. Any time Ralph Fiennes smiles and calmly explains something, I am terrified. Nicholas Hoult’s Tyler is by far the most insufferable of our leading characters, however.

What I appreciate about this is that, like Glass Onion, it does draw some inspiration from Agatha Christie; I’m reminded in particular of And Then There Were None. Except in this update, we know quite early on who the murderer is and are eagerly awaiting quite a few of the deaths. The importance of etiquette carries over too, as if from a bygone era–and it sort of is. While the kitchen is rather autocratic and cultish, so too is the behavior of the guests, who even pay their checks after an evening of psychological and physical torture.

The humor is pitch black, and I laughed out loud pretty consistently. Some of my favorite quotes out of context:

“I usually don’t like foam, but…”

“The memory of your face in that film…haunts me.”

“As Dr. King said, ‘We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.'”

I will say some of the elements do come together a bit too conveniently, particularly for our girl Margot, but this isn’t enough to lessen my enjoyment of the film.

Would my blog wife savor this like a deconstructed taco complete with blackmail tortilla or flip the table following the breadless bread plate? Find out in her review!