Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Lady of the Manor, or: Things Went South

Put Melanie Lynskey in a silly comedy & we’re in. At least, mostly in. Halfway?

If we can fast-forward through all non-Lynskey scenes next time around, then we’re definitely in. Otherwise, bring on I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore 2 because (spoiler)…this week’s pick is not it.

The Film:

Lady of the Manor


Christian & Justin Long

The Premise:

When she gets a job as a tour guide in a historic manor, laid-back slacker Hannah begins receiving unsolicited advice from the ghost of a murdered Southern belle.

The Ramble:

Following an argument over the inheritance of her property, Southern belle Lady Wadsworth meets with an unfortunate accident in the mid-1800s. Surprise/not really a surprise, the obvious suspect in her not-so-accidental death is her husband. As a Southern gentleman, everyone basically takes him at his word that Lady Wadsworth tripped and fell because patriarchy/misogyny/sexism.

Years later, couch potato Hannah lounges about watching true crime until she’s reluctantly called to do her job. Her work? Delivering drugs on behalf of a startup-type company in Georgia. We’re talking weed & gummies here, but even so…I’m pretty sure Georgia is among the states unfriendly to recreational marijuana. A little strange then that Hannah doesn’t even attempt to text in code about the nature of her activities.

In a comedic(?) scene that’s just kind of uncomfortable & full of awkward jokes about underage sex, Hannah is busted by an undercover cop, charged with drug violations and solicitation of a minor. Though her boyfriend helps negotiate a plea deal for Hannah’s release, he breaks up with her, leaving her with no income and nowhere to go.

Enter conveniently timed bar sleaze Tanner Wadsworth, entitled Wadsworth descendant. After firing the previous tour guide of the manor, Tanner hires Hannah immediately. Of course, Hannah has zero interest in history; instead of remembering accurate details, she invents stories for her tour groups. This works surprisingly well until a history professor with a PhD from Harvard interrupts a tour, upset with the invented truths. Because this film can’t pick a genre, misunderstanding yields to a connection pretty lacking in chemistry.

Wasting her time with walking red flag Tanner, Hannah is interrupted one evening by the ghost of Lady Wadsworth. Not really clear why Lady W chooses this particular moment to appear except for comic effect. Also not really clear why she chooses to appear at all; you’d think she’d be motivated by revenge or seeing her will carried out as intended. Instead, she decides to haunt Hannah for…not being particularly ladylike by 19th-century standards. Rather conveniently, Lady W is not at all racist and has a Black friend to prove it. Btw, a Black “friend” who was her maid, and we never get into any discussion of whether or not she was an enslaved friend.

Anyway. Even though Max, the disgruntled history professor, studies history, Hannah consults with him on the occult. Convenient plot device is rather pointless as Lady W ultimately just tells Hannah what it will take for her to stop haunting the manor.

But as she gets to know Lady W and her story, will Hannah begin to seek out the truth behind her new friend’s demise?

The Rating:

2.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Because of Melanie Lynskey’s involvement with this film, I cannot possibly justify a lower rating than that of Llamageddon. Our girl ML is as charming as ever. However, I will say that amount of enjoyment per dollar falls squarely in the llama’s court. The cast & production values are significantly better, but the level of script coherence for a greenlit film is infuriating. Worse–the humor almost never lands in a COMEDY movie.

For a film that’s supposed to be silly fun, I got bored. I couldn’t at all understand what the film was going for; the rom-com element didn’t work for me at all, the buddy comedy piece fell flat, and the history’s wrongs being set right theme wasn’t particularly well done. For real, we’re going to set a film in Civil War-era Georgia and just ignore slavery? I get that this was a comedy, but Lady W would’ve come back spouting way more racist nonsense than she did here. It’s odd to me as well that Hannah was the character who needed to swoop in and solve the mystery of Lady W’s death. She didn’t have any emotional connection to the murder, and things get uncomfortably white savior-y.

Also, genuine points of confusion: was Lady W somehow a member of the aristocracy? Because being rich and from the South does not magically mean you have a title. And, btw, one of the “skills” of being a lady according to Lady W is making bread…? I don’t believe a woman in her position would have ever set foot in the kitchen except to yell at people. And legitimately, THIS is how you’d choose to spend your ghostly afterlife???

I do appreciate that Melanie Lynskey apparently accepted this role for the prospective of lounging around and acting high for the entire film. There are worse motivations, honestly.

Would my blog wife knead bread dough with this one or exorcise its unholy presence? Read her review to find out!

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

The Wonder, or: Crimea River

In a free for all month on the Collab, some of the tonal shifts can be…jarring. This week’s film is one of our more extreme examples, veering from campy ’80s slasher to moody Irish period drama. What can I say? We’re a partnership with eclectic tastes.

The Film:

The Wonder


Sebastián Lelio

The Premise:

An English nurse takes a job in rural 19th-century Ireland, caring for a child who claims she no longer eats but instead survives miraculously on manna.

The Ramble:

Arriving on Irish shores just a few years after the potato famine, English nurse Elizabeth Wright fully anticipates the rather chilly welcome she receives. What comes as a surprise is the nature of the well-paid assignment she has accepted; rather than provide medical care, Mrs. Wright will be one of two “watchers” overseeing a unique case. Following reports of an 11-year-old girl who claims to live on manna from heaven rather than food, Elizabeth (Lib to her friends) brings a medical perspective; the other watcher is a nun, Sister Michael.

Taking a scientific approach to things, Lib immediately suspects the girl, Anna, of inventing stories. After all, it’s medically impossible for anyone to keep in such good health without eating for months. During their time together, Lib remains skeptical but begins to seek answers elsewhere as Anna truly believes she is experiencing a miracle. Who might have something to gain from the attention: the local officials, Anna’s doctor, her own family?

While Lib begins to unravel the mystery, she encounters a significant amount of sorrow, including her own. Anna’s brother died young, and his presence is very much haunting the family (though not in the literal horror movie way typical for this blog). The trauma of recent (and upcoming) Irish history looms large, as well as the legacy of colonialism across the globe. Closer to home, how much grief is Lib herself holding onto as she was a nurse in the Crimean War, now a widow, and keeps a hidden stash of laudanum to help her sleep at night.

Though Lib initially scorns journalist William’s investigation of the story, their conversations help her to process her theories. Suspecting that Anna’s mother secretly gives food to her child, Lib bans the family from visiting. As Anna’s health deteriorates quickly, it seems Lib is onto something–but whose convictions will prevail in this battle of wills?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

It’s no secret that I love a period drama, and this one is done very well. In addition to the beautiful landscapes and social commentary I’d expect from a quality entry in the genre, there are some careful details that elevate this film. One: most of the characters have ONE outfit–which, as much as a I love a period costume, tracks. Lib’s dress in particular shows wear and tear, and the hem is always covered in mud.

The pace is deliberately slow and reflective, uncovering some of the deep sadness of Irish history and the characters we follow. I appreciate that some of the themes addressed here aren’t typical for a period drama, particularly the contemporary reflection on colonialism and the trauma behind Anna’s self-imposed starvation. No spoilers for this, but it’s quite tragic.

Not to say this is a miserable film devoid of joy; it’s actually quite hopeful in places. Florence Pugh, as always, is best when scheming, but she delivers a compelling performance throughout.

As far as criticism goes, I do find the opening and closing scenes reminding us this is a film rather pretentious and unnecessary. There are also SO MANY scenes of Lib eating in contrast to Anna’s fasting that it occasionally borders on parody. And, if I’m being honest, William comes across as more prop than human. However, these are fairly minor complaints in a film that tells its story well.

Would my blog wife wander the bogs with this one or secretly slip it some laudanum? Read her review to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Blood Rage, or: Not Cranberry Sauce

Look, Thanksgiving horror is an extremely tiny subgenre. Which, honestly, when you consider the history of the holiday & all of the associated colonization and genocide, is a bit surprising. Thank god for ’80s slasher weirdos then, as this week’s film, set primarily on turkey day, could only come from those minds.

The Film:

Blood Rage


John Grissmer

The Premise:

Though one twin brother was institutionalized for murder 10 years ago, it’s the other twin who is the real killer & on a murderous rampage again.

The Ramble:

What’s a single mom to do when a babysitter’s not an option for date night? Bring the twins along to nap at the drive-in while you make out in the front seat…clearly. Taking an extremely Oedipal approach to the slasher, it appears evil twin Terry’s violent urges are brought to the surface when witnessing his mother’s romantic pursuits. Sneaking out of the car, Terry finds an axe(?), uses it to murder an unsuspecting teen(?!), and frame his twin, Todd.

Following the trauma of witnessing the murder, Todd is left without any memory of the incident & thus cannot even proclaim his innocence. Until 10 years later, when psychiatrist Dr. Berman makes a breakthrough with the institutionalized Todd, who begins to realize it’s Terry who is the killer. The twins’ mother, Maddy, refuses to accept the possibility that the wrong son has been institutionalized all of this time and just kind of ignores professional psychiatric advice.

Of course, it’s around this time that Terry’s blood lust begins to reawaken. Upon the announcement of Maddy’s engagement at Thanksgiving, Terry feels the urge to kill…basically everyone, honestly. When the news breaks that Todd has escaped the institution, Terry has the perfect opportunity to once again go on a killing spree and frame his brother.

Friends, neighbors, love interests…no one is safe. And no one is more in denial or better supplied with alcohol than Maddy. Will she or anyone else realize which twin is the true killer before it’s too late?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

This film rivals the most melodramatic soap operas with the evil twins, love triangles, Oedipal complexes, and mistaken identities. I appreciate this so much as it elevates what would otherwise be a very standard story and somewhat nonsensical plot.

The justification for Terry’s behavior is extremely flimsy–it seems to be some combination of Oedipal jealousy when his mother is romantically engaged plus the classic slasher he’s “just a psycho” logic. The tone of the film helps us not question this too much, as the filmmakers are clearly having some fun with the genre. Terry’s wild energy is quite fun onscreen, and his rather creative kills with over-the-top effects are entertaining. The death of his future stepfather stands out as he meets his doom while listening to Christian radio, severed hand still firmly clutching a beer as his fingers twitch.

Even though Maddy is painfully unwilling to recognize the truth or give Todd the benefit of the doubt (for whatever reason???), she’s still rather fun to watch onscreen. Maddy has perhaps the most realistic reaction to a supposed murderer being on the loose: i.e., drinking wine constantly, stress eating Thanksgiving leftovers while sitting on the floor, and furiously scrubbing the oven.

I also live for the dramatic ’80s horror score and adore the final scene, featuring some rather unhinged looks and quite dark implications.

Would my blog wife chase this one down with an axe or pour it another generous glass of wine? Find out in her review!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Old People, or: White-Haired Wedding

In an attempt to blog authentically, this post will be written in character as a grumpy & antisocial person who doesn’t particularly want to be at a wedding. Not that much of a stretch? Ok, in my heart I’m a cranky old soul, though thankfully not afflicted by any sort of zombie illness. It’s probably for the best that my disgust with flesh & blood outweighs my disgust for humanity. Can the subjects of this week’s film say the same thing?

The Film:

Old People


Andy Fetscher

The Premise:

While attending a family wedding in a small town, a woman and her children must dodge violent attacks perpetrated by the elderly population.

The Ramble:

Visiting a crumbling retirement home in a small German village, a young nurse expects a routine check-up. However, things are a bit suspicious when she arrives and finds the patient’s door slightly ajar with no sign of the elderly man she cares for. Seemingly in bad shape, the man asks for her help before violently attacking and murdering her. Ominous.

Happily (for now), Ella and her children are unaware of these sinister goings-on as she prepares for her younger sister’s wedding. Though it’s a little odd that the only people around are elderly folks staring in a zombie-like trance, Ella attributes this to the small-town location that has few opportunities for young people.

When the family goes to pick up Ella’s father from the retirement home, the building seems in disarray, which could be explained by chronic underfunding and understaffing. …In any other movie. Thinking little of it, Ella’s day gets a bit more uncomfortable as she encounters nurse Kim, aka her ex-husband’s girlfriend/breaker-upper of their marriage (implicitly & somewhat patriarchally, anyway).

Even with the high risk of family drama, the wedding goes off without a hitch, and all can enjoy the celebrations. Little does anyone know, they are being watched…by zombie old people. Who are surprisingly fast and strong, interested in biting, cutting throats, and vomiting on people. Not 100% on the how, where, and why, but it’s really only important that they are violent, murderously inventive, and…OLD. People.

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

IDK, y’all. It could be the time change/unrelenting dark/constant nightmare landscape that is our news cycle. For whatever reason, I was not feeling this film and honestly got a bit bored watching it. Unfortunately, there were times that the overly dramatic stares were unintentionally hilarious. There was a heavy-handed attempt to give meaning to the plot by connecting the neglect & isolation of the elderly to their outbreak of zombie violence, but this doesn’t help a pretty incoherent mess make sense.

The mythology of the zombies in this film is sparse, though admittedly I wasn’t paying the most attention. It seems like some of the afflicted are in control of their actions, some aren’t; some want to eat flesh, some just want to murder. I also find it unsatisfying that there’s really no rhyme or reason for the zombie plague and its only impacting the elderly. Or some of the elderly anyway. Don’t even get me started on the film’s tacked-on message about love conquering all. Does it conquer a zombie chomping on your leg???

It’s a problem that I can’t particularly root for our protagonists either. They’re really fucking boring, honestly. Perhaps the only interesting moment anyone has is when nurse Kim does something rather morally reprehensible, but then ruins this by making a martyr of herself. I strongly disliked the way the two women involved with annoying Lukas were rivals throughout, fighting over a mediocre man even when fucking zombie old people are after them.

At this point, old people zombie plague feels like it would only make the world about 3% worse.

Would my blog wife stay forever young with this one or cut its throat without hesitation? Read her review to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Hellraiser, or: Flay Me Once, Shame on You

Horror Month may be over, but what is the Blog Collab if not one extended Halloween experience? Especially when UK streaming platforms finally catch up with a horror reboot just in time for…Election Day. I would consider the kind of deal with demonic forces in this week’s film if I could never hear another campaign attack ad again.

The Film:

Hellraiser (2022)


David Bruckner

The Premise:

After stealing a mysterious puzzle box, a young woman discovers she has unwittingly become part of a demonic scheme that requires human sacrifice.

The Ramble:

When you’re a reclusive millionaire, what are you going to do with your resources if not host orgies and dabble with demonic entities? Roland Voight has no qualms about seeking favors from demons, especially when the best way to do this is through murdering unsuspecting party guests in rather S&M-inspired ways. Shockingly, not all goes to plan when Voight messes with a demon Rubik’s Cube and begins making demands of the mysterious Leviathan.

Several years later, Riley lives with her protective brother Matt and his boyfriend, while she actively dodges the L word with Trevor, a sobriety buddy from her 12-step program. Matt is rather stern with Riley as she struggles to get her shit together, making demands for her to find a better job and stop seeing Trevor…in sibling speak basically guaranteeing she will do the opposite.

One night, Riley hears about a scheme from Trevor to break into a shipping container and steal its contents. The container apparently belongs to a rich asshole who has so much money he’ll never notice when all of the black market goods inside go missing. Inevitably, the only thing inside the container turns out to be the demon Rubik’s Cube/puzzle box, which has some strange effects on Riley.

When Riley comes home, appearing to be drunk, Matt snaps and tells her to leave and never return, effectively. Having hit rock bottom, Riley pops some pills and works on the puzzle box, inadvertently summoning those demons we know and love, the Cenobites. And if Riley won’t go with them, they demand an alternate human sacrifice.

That sacrifice seems to be Matt, who has vanished after going looking for Riley. Searching for answers, Riley eventually learns that the cube takes the shape of six different configurations. When someone solves the puzzle, a blade emerges that draws blood, marking the unlucky for the Cenobites.

In order to uncover the truth, all roads lead to Voight’s creepy old mansion, which hosts a crowd very into the human leather scene.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

This film makes us wait soooooooooo long for a Pinhead appearance, and I do not forgive this. Not only this, but Pinhead and all of the Cenobites have a weirdly sleek & stylish look rather than the gruesome appearance they sport in the OG franchise. It feels like all of the human skin leather was tanned and polished by expert leather makers rather than the DIY skin suits of old. This, along with some of the understated performances of the Cenobites and implied rather than onscreen gore, makes this edition of these demons less than terrifying. As worrying as it may sound, I prefer it when Pinhead & co. delight in human suffering; the Cenobites here go about the business of torture with a disappointingly detached professionalism.

I do really like Riley as a flawed protagonist and genuinely rooted for her to figure things out and best the demons. I can remember zero personality traits of Kirsty from the 1987 version, and on this Blog Collab we are actively team Julia. However, Riley takes an extremely long time to connect the dots, and she doesn’t get to perform many acts of badassery. Though she starts out strong, Riley is a bit of a side character in the film’s most dramatic scenes. I’m also not sure how we’re supposed to feel about Trevor as an audience, but he’s pretty boring IMO.

Some credit for this film: it does set up an interesting villain for a possible sequel (though as great as Julia??? Probably not), and Riley could very easily become a Hellraiser final girl. I also appreciate how there’s a lot of care taken to explain the origins of the puzzle box and the mythology behind it; as much as I enjoy the original film, it does kind of throw us into the fray with very little context.

This is so far from being the most torturous Hellraiser, but it doesn’t seem to savor the camp elements in the way that others in the franchise do. Overly long and without many cool scenes for either Riley or Pinhead, I sadly found this installment just ok.

Would my blog wife help this one clean all of those bloody whips and chains or go vegan? Find out in her review!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

She Will, or: In Cold Mud

Believe it or not, this week’s pick is the first witch film of Horror Month 2022! I feel we’re merely at the beginning of a witch Renaissance in horror, so fingers crossed for next year’s Halloween theme. Dare I hope Horror Month may eventually transform into Witch Month?

The Film:

She Will


Charlotte Colbert

The Premise:

While recovering from surgery at an estate where witches were executed en masse, a retired actor connects with the land and its vengeful spirit.

The Ramble:

Following major surgery, former film star Veronica Ghent retreats to the Scottish countryside. She hopes to find quiet as she recovers, and above all to be left alone. But this is horror world, so chances are pretty slim.

Veronica is haunted by memories of working with a renowned film director, now honored with a lifetime achievement award of some description. According to rather vague accounts, the director approached film-making intensely, to the point of unethical and even abusive. It seems unjust that, as the director is being celebrated, Veronica is suffering from illness and chronic pain.

Good thing Veronica has a nurse, Desi, to manage pain and ensure a healthy recovery…or not. While Desi does her best to help, Veronica disdainfully rejects her advice. Making matters worse, the solitude Veronica hoped for isn’t meant to be as there are other guests at the Scottish retreat, some of whom recognize her. The eccentric artist who owns the retreat (Rupert Everett!) insists on some bullshit rich people activities that you could do at home for $10,000 less, I’m assuming.

As Veronica settles into the cottage, she feels haunted by another presence. Could this feeling be connected to the thousands of witches burned on this site in the 18th century? I mean, yeah. There are creepy effects for days, particularly the ashes and mud that seemingly come to life with the spirits of vengeful witches.

Increasingly, Veronica develops strange habits and powers, connected to the rage in the past and in the landscape itself. In possibly my favorite moment of the film, she manages to light a misogynist’s hand on fire with her mind, and things only escalate from there.

If the synopsis so far doesn’t immediately bump this film up in your queue, I’m not sure this blog has much to offer you.

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

It’s been a love it or hate it month in many ways, and this film fits in well. This is a fairly slow build, though Veronica’s simmering anger makes things compelling from the beginning, setting up a conclusion that’s extremely gratifying. The themes and messaging of the film are not subtle at all, but in the best possible way.

From the old-fashioned train cars to the rustic and secluded estate, the film has a feeling of disconnection from any specific time–appropriately for themes of patriarchal control and the power of women’s rage, which really aren’t confined by time. The connection to the physical elements of the land, particularly the mud and ashes, does the effective work of underlining the physical transformation of people and places by trauma. On the other hand, this visceral connection to the past allows Veronica to draw on the power and experiences of those before her.

I am tired and not playing my A game in analysis, though I did very much appreciate this film. It’s pure wish fulfillment, honestly. Retreat to a secluded Scottish estate and develop witchy revenge powers? Yes, please.

Would my blog wife join this one for outdoor mud painting or burn it all down? Find out in her review!