Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Jennifer’s Body, or: Would You Hold It Against Me? (Sorry/Not Sorry)

High school month continues, which I promise will feature at least one cheesy throwback teen rom-com.  Prepare yourself, Christa.  For now, teen horror comedies abound!

The Film:

Jennifer’s Body

Where to Watch:

Figure it out

The Premise:

A high school teen’s best friend experiences a transformation into a bloodthirsty demon, causing a rift to develop between the two.

The Uncondensed Version:

Memorably, Amanda Seyfried tells us “Hell is a teenage girl.”  No argument here—except perhaps hell is being a teenage girl.

In the present, Amanda aka Needy has been institutionalized for reasons as yet unknown.  All we know is she has amassed a fan following that sends her letters, and she frequently has to be placed in solitary confinement for her violent outbursts.

A teen wearing glasses with long blonde hair faces the camera, unsmiling.
Oddly, images this week from the Jennifer’s Body Wiki.  For real.

Before all of this, though, Needy was just an ordinary nerd whose BFF was gorgeous cheerleader Jennifer.  They have a somewhat uneven friendship, as Needy has to constantly overanalyze what she’ll wear so she looks cool but not better than Jennifer.  Needy’s boyfriend Chip notices the weird connection between the 2 girls and the way Needy follows everything she says.

A teen holds fingers up to her lips, facing another teen girl.
It’s science that you’re more likely to do things pretty people ask of you.  Or something.

Jennifer and Needy go to pretty much a dive to see a band led by Goth Adam Brody (say what).  Though Jennifer jokes about becoming a groupie, at some point she seems to become literally hypnotized by the band.  Also a fire breaks out, which the girls manage to escape, but others are not so lucky.  The band appears to do nothing to help and, in fact, seems pretty set on getting Jen into their van.  Obv Needy has a very bad feeling about this, but she can’t dissuade Jen from getting into the van.

Is this the last of Jen?  Of course not.  Just when Needy thinks she must be gone for good, Jen shows up at her house, looking all scary and blood-soaked.  She eats a chicken, vomits blood and needles, and leaves.

Two teens crouch in the dark in front of an open refrigerator; the girl nearest the fridge has food wrappers around her and is covered in blood.
Just another girls’ night…

The next day at school, Jen returns and is completely normal by all appearances.  However, it becomes clear pretty early on that she hungers for flesh.  Specifically, she’s pretty intent on murdering and disemboweling high school boys.

Needy becomes increasingly disturbed until Jen finally crosses the line by murdering Needy’s Goth friend Colin.  Jen does explain that on the night of the fire the band members sacrificed her to Satan in an effort to make it big as an indie band, instilling in her a thirst for blood.

After doing some trusty library research, Needy discovers how to destroy demons and warns him the dance will be a feast for the band and Jen.  Chip, of course, doesn’t believe her and only cares that he’s already bought the corsage and everything.

A teen in a school's library furrows her brow as she reads a book.
School libraries:  an unexpected hotbed of occult research.

You know for certain some Carrie­-level shit is going down at prom.

The Critique:

Better than expected in the beginning with slightly more depth than the average teen horror comedy.  I thought this could either be the greatest or a complete disaster, with no room in between.  I wouldn’t call this a great film, but it was entertaining and surprisingly feminist(ish).

There is quite a bit of exploration concerning friendship between high school girls and the darkness that can creep into those relationships.  It doesn’t work as well as Ginger Snaps, though, and frequently feels like a watered-down version of that film albeit with demons instead of werewolves.

Being a teen movie, stereotypes abound regarding each of the cliques.  Stereotypes aside, this is one of the more realistic approaches to high school dynamics I can think of—Needy has friends in many different cliques rather than being friends only with nerds.

Though the relationship between Needy and Jen is well-defined, the other characters fall flat.  Chris Pratt makes a brief appearance, and JK Simmons with hair is in this (which is weird).  Chip gets quite a lot of screen time, which is unfortunate as he’s a pretty forgettable character and I gave zero fucks about him.  Plus I feel Chip is an acceptable name only for a chipmunk.  Or, like, a Chippendales dancer.

Not destined to be a classic, but not a terrible way to spend an hour and a half either.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Is Christa BFFs with this one or would she slowly rip out its intestines, Satan possession or no?  Find out in her review here!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

88, or: They Call Me Flamingo

After a brief interruption (caused by an absolutely vile stomach bug), Blog Free or Die Harder is back with a vengeance!

Can we please agree that this week is over, though?  It’s been a rough one.  Let’s all just give up and stay home tomorrow.  I will if you will.

This week is Christa’s pick, so I’ll try not to be rude about it.  But I’ll probably be at least a bit sarcastic.

The Film:

88

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Katharine Isabelle swears vengeance on Christopher Lloyd but is a bit fuzzy on the details.

The Uncondensed Version:

Ugh, I don’t know where to start, you guys.  This film is ambitious enough to claim it’s a mix between Memento and Kill Bill on its promo poster, when it’s really more in the vein of Hobo with a Shotgun.  Without the hobo.

As the film opens, Katharine Isabelle (Gwen), is having horrible flashbacks in a diner but no recollection of the precise unfolding of events nor how she got there.  Her hand is bandaged and bleeding for unknown reasons, and she is visibly shaken when she sees cops sitting in a corner booth.  She draws attention to herself when the contents of her backpack go flying:  gumballs, gun, and all.  Oops.

I admittedly understand very little about firearms or the impulse to use them, but basics:  don’t put your finger on the trigger unless you want to shoot someone.  Don’t fucking do it.

Guess what Gwen does.  Just try.

She accidentally shoots a waitress BECAUSE SHE HAS HER FINGER ON THE FUCKING TRIGGER.  Gwen feels really bad about this obv, but still.  Easily preventable death that makes Katharine Isabelle do this horrible doe-eyed guilt thing for a large chunk of this film.  I much prefer to see her killing remorselessly.

a woman wearing a black shirt looks at herself in the mirror of a public bathroom

All of this results in Gwen going on the run from the cops and, as it turns out, Thug Christopher Lloyd.

BUT WAIT—there’s more.  This film’s end game is to come full-circle, so we have two timelines:  the present, in which Gwen is trying to remember what happened, and the past, which unfolds shortly before Gwen lost her memory.  It’s basically scared Gwen vs. sexy Gwen.  Ginger pre- and post-snap.

In the past, sexy Gwen collapses by the side of the road until some poor unfortunate dude with hillbilly facial hair stops.  She kills him in a very Ginger Snaps­-y kind of way (get used to the questionable Ginger Snaps references b/c they’re not going away).

a woman with a gun stands next to the of a deceased man; she is facing a red sports car parked on the side of the road

There are also flashbacks to Gwen with some bearded hipster dude.  Unsurprisingly, the revenge part of this film comes from someone (Christopher Lloyd) killing this guy.  I think this speaks more to the state of revenge films than my own twisted psyche, but I kept waiting for there to be a better reason for Gwen to seek vengeance.  Christopher Lloyd only killed one person you love and that’s enough for you to go on a violent shooting rampage?  You have to at least decimate someone’s village to make a meaningful revenge film any more.  Also I just sort of hated the love of Gwen’s life because (a) everyone kept calling him the love of her life, and (b) he reminded me of that awful lumberjack love interest of Sarah’s in Orphan Black.

So anyway.  Let’s pick up the pace, shall we, or we’ll be here all night.  Gwen recalls that Christopher Lloyd (Cyrus) didn’t handle it well when she broke the news that she was leaving with her lover, Aster.  Cyrus, in fact, flipped a lid and killed Aster before the two could escape.

Swearing vengeance, Gwen, aka Flamingo (seriously), teamed up with this really annoying guy to kill Cyrus.  Apparently Cyrus killed this guy’s sister, which has not improved his personality.  He’s kind of like if Aziz Ansari fell flat with every single joke and also killed people.

a woman crouches over an injured man, who is sitting against a white car

However, shit keeps getting in the way of their plan for revenge:  Gwen forgetting everything, Gwen getting arrested, and this guy (so annoying I can’t even remember his name) getting shot in the chest.  I was pissed at this point because he made the most irritating dying sounds I’ve ever heard but I thought, “Well, at least that’s the last we’ve heard from him.”  NO.  WRONG.  The fucked timelines of this film meant this dude could come back and talk even after dying.

From this point out, there is a lot of back and forth between past and present as the two timelines merge.  Gwen goes to Flamingos, we discover what Flamingos is, why there is so much sexy milk in this film, and what happened when Gwen confronted Cyrus at the bowling alley.  Gwen also eats a lot of burgers and breakfast foods.

a woman standing in the aisle of a convenience store drinks milk from the bottle

I don’t want to give too much away regarding the ending (even though I think the plot twist is more WTF in more of a The Village way rather than an Inception way).  We’ll just say there’s a final confrontation between Gwen and Cyrus b/c this is a revenge flick, for fuck’s sake.

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Honestly, it would’ve been 1 except for Katharine Isabelle.  I don’t know if this film was supposed to be funny or not?  That’s always the most painful kind of film to watch.

And Christopher Lloyd was not a particularly believable thug.  I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

Is Christa swearing revenge on this film or would she join forces with it to take down shady thugs?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

American Mary, or: Murder > Student Loans

Another week, another blog collab! Part who is even counting of Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab! This week was Christa’s choice, American Mary. Check out her review here.

The Film:

American Mary

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Premise:

A struggling med. school student begins performing body modification surgeries for the extra monies.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

Word of caution: you probably don’t want to eat anything while you’re watching this movie. I was unwinding with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, which I regretted almost immediately b/c the first scene of this film is Mary practicing surgery techniques on a raw turkey. This is perhaps the most disgusting scene in the entire movie (admittedly, I have a particularly strong aversion to raw meat; objectively, some of the later surgery scenes are pretty gross).

a young woman in a lab holds the body of a raw turkey
Thank me for sparing you all of the really disgusting raw turkey screencaps. You’re welcome.

All discussions of raw meat aside, our story focuses on Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle of Ginger Snaps fame), med. student whose ambitions are high but funding is low. Her creditors are harassing her, her professor is harassing her, and she’s trying to sound sane and normal to her Hungarian grandmother.

It kind of seems like this story is about to take a Lifetime movie twist when Mary applies to work for a shady strip club owner, Billy (played by Marco from Bomb Girls, Italian object of my affections). Mary kind of sucks at the whole sexy routine, but Billy offers her $5,000 to perform an off the books surgery in the seedy basement.

The next day, Mary gets a call from a lady named Beatrice, who has had many surgeries to look like Betty Boop. She has a friend who wants to talk to Mary about an operation, which is essentially to finish the process of making her a real-life doll. Including in terms of anatomy. Catch my drift? No? Am I being too vague again? Okay, she basically doesn’t want to have nipples or a vaginal opening anymore.

a woman with short dark hair and facial features that imitate Betty Boop smiles to a figure off-camera
Easily my favorite character in this movie.

Mary gets $12,000 to do the surgery, which I admit would be extremely difficult to turn down. All I can say is there’s a very good reason I’m not a doctor. I mean, besides all of that math and science.

Meanwhile, ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL of the doctors are shady as shit, including and especially her professor. She gets invited to a party with all of the doctors, which lead to a solid 10 minutes of me cringing because it becomes really obvious just how creepy her professor is. You know what I mean.

After the events at the party, Mary quits med. school and gets a new patient in the form of her creepy predator professor. Let’s just say he undergoes a few body modification procedures. She also starts a clinic of sorts for people into body modification, which involves more willing patients but is still illegal as fuck.

Billy keeps having fantasies about Mary, whose sudden transformation is marked by red lipstick (obviously). His fantasies are equal parts hilarious and bizarre, pretty much always involving a sexy dance and blood.

a man with dark hair is seated at a booth
Sir? Sir? I’m going to have to ask you to take your fantasy life elsewhere.

Based on her work for the doll lady, Mary gets attention from twins who run a body mod website/mag, who pay her a visit. They’re German (please, please don’t let this become Human Centipede) and ask Mary to switch their left arms and deepen their connection, whatever the fuck that means. IDK, maybe they’re switching vaginas. It’s unclear what exactly the procedure involves beyond arm switching.

Apparently Mary’s creepy prof is still alive, hanging from hooks in the basement, all limbs amputated, mouth sewn shut. Unfortunately, a cop discovers Mary’s activities, leading to his untimely demise. Billy has decided to take out the doctor who tipped off the police that Mary might be a suspect.

Following all of this, her grandmother dies. We’re rapidly approaching Shakespearean numbers with our body count.

The next time Mary sees Billy, he confesses he may have had something to do with that doctor disappearing. He asks her to go to LA with him for a few weeks, and though she seems interested in him, she is the master of bored facial expressions.

a woman with dark hair looks off to the left in a dimly lit room
I’m sorry, Katharine Isabelle. You are better than this screencap.

When she gets home, Mary gets a call from Beatrice, who has been attacked and left to die. It turns out the doll lady’s husband does not appreciate her body mods, and is after Mary for revenge.

What will happen next???

I don’t know, I kind of like leaving cliff hanger endings. This may be the new normal, guys.

The Critique:

There are certain parts of this movie that worked very well, but many WTF moments too. In terms of plot the movie kind of fell apart, but Katherine Isabelle was great, especially when she was being sarcastic and dark. It was certainly entertaining and went by quickly, but there were times I felt mesmerized in the same way as someone watching a train wreck.

And this is just who I am as a person—looking for meaning where there is none, analyzing everything to death—but what the fuck is an American Mary? Does that mean something I’m not aware of? Or is American just used in the way it’s basically used in all titles to warn the audience that satire may be involved in this production?

I also kind of wanted to see more of Beatrice/the doll lady, which I wouldn’t have expected since I was kind of freaked out by the doll lady. I mean, do what you want to do with your body, but I’m probably going to be at least a little creeped out if you look like a doll.

After this movie, I do admit I sort of want horns or at least Vulcan ears.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I was thinking about 3.5, but then I remembered Antonio Cupo (Billy) doesn’t take his shirt off even once. (Have I ever claimed that I’m not the shallowest of critics? Because if I have, that’s a lie.)

On the bright side, this movie gave me very strange dreams involving Lena Dunham and Antonio Cupo filming a movie together in Italy. I think it was a series of vignettes like Paris Je T’aime except all starring Lena Dunham (because of course they do). In the part I can still remember, Lena Dunham was playing a ‘60s tennis star with a blonde wig who went around looking dramatic on speedboats and trying to impress her benefactor, who I’m 95% sure was Helen Mirren.

Read Christa’s review here for her take on the film!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Ginger Snaps: Great (Voluptuous) Minds Think Alike

Prepare yourself for this blog’s first official collaborative film review experience.

I have teamed up with the fabulous Christa of A Voluptuous Mind for a virtual movie date/critique of Ginger Snaps. Be afraid, blogging community—I have a co-conspirator. Double the posts, double the snark (or, more accurately, snark squared).

Check out her post here. Here goes mine:

The Film:

Ginger Snaps

Where to Watch:

Hulu; Youtube; UK Netflix, apparently

The Premise:

Two sisters who have vowed to die by age 16 must change their plans when one is attacked by a werewolf.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

Someone or something has been terrorizing the small Canadian suburb where sisters Brigitte and Ginger (B+G) live. As our film opens, the neighbor is screaming that the creature has killed her dog…and basically no one cares.

B+G continue to go about their normal activities: staging their own deaths in dramatic photos, reminding each other of their pact to kill themselves before they reach 16, and rocking the ‘90s Goth look.

The sisters share their project with the class, and everyone is pretty into it except, of course, for the teacher (played by Ranger Gord from The Red Green Show [after all, this is a Canadian production]).

a teenage girl holds a bone-shaped ben in class, staring ahead with a frustrated and bored expression
I love that Brigitte has a bone pen. And excellent bored teen facial expressions.

As we get a glimpse of B+G’s high school existence, it becomes obvious Ginger is the hot sister who won’t put up with your bullshit (especially not from the douchey jock who keeps hitting on her), while Brigitte is the quiet nerd who tries to be as inconspicuous as possible. Trina, the cheerleader who takes pleasure in torturing Brigitte, pushes her into the corpse of another dead dog that’s lying in the field. Brigitte pukes, and Ginger starts attacking Trina, threatening to kill her. As part of a really creepy revenge plot, B+G decide to kill Trina’s dog.

That evening, Ginger makes the mistake of complaining about her aching back during dinner. Her mom enthusiastically tells her she’s getting her period, which dismays both B+G. When they sneak away that night to carry out their revenge plot, they encounter…A WEREWOLF (please at least pretend to be surprised). The wolf attacks Ginger and drags her away. (Women, fucked over by their periods yet again.) Brigitte runs after Ginger and helps her escape, but Ginger has already been mauled pretty severely. The werewolf runs after them, but is hit by a van. Coincidentally, the driver, Sam, is the guy who hooks all the high school kids up with drugs and has a thing for Brigitte (I have no idea how old he’s supposed to be b/c he looks MAYBE a year or two older, but Ginger later calls him out for being a creep).

When B+G make it home, Ginger’s wounds are already healing, so she manages to convince Brigitte not to call 911. Ginger now has to suffer through the agony of her first period while simultaneously transforming into a werewolf. When B+G try to explain her symptoms to the school nurse, she just says it’s a normal period and gives them condoms (remember—this is Canada).

The creepy jock guy tells Ginger getting high will take the edge off, so she lights up with him and some other dudes in Sam’s van. This leads to a major falling out between the formerly inseparable sisters (sounding a little familiar, eh, Disney? Ginger suddenly sprouts white streaks in her hair as well. WHAT).

The rift between B+G means Ginger gives into her sudden uncontrollable sexual appetite and hooks up with that jock asshole, while Brigitte reads up on lycanthropy (seriously, I think performing dramatic secret research is a requirement for all werewolf movies). Sam continues to be really into Brigitte, but when your sister is turning into a werewolf, you don’t have time for that shit.

two teenage girls face each other with tense stares
“No, I don’t want to build a fucking snowman.”

Ginger finally turns to Brigitte for help when she starts growing a tail and tries to eat the creepy jock. Brigitte tells her to say the same thing about him if he starts spreading rumors about her, but Ginger tells her it doesn’t work like that (TRUTH). It’s really hard not to take Ginger’s side in all of this; she’s such a fucking badass. In an effort to control her transformation, Brigitte pierces Ginger’s bellybutton with a silver ring in a scene that is the most disgusting in the entire movie (if you’re me, anyway).

Sam shows up at the high school because he’s trying to help Brigitte (who told him she was the one who was attacked), but she blows him off when Ginger gets jealous (God help the mister who comes between me and my sister).

That night, Trina comes to B+G’s house and demands they give her dog back. Ginger attacks her, and Trina dies when she hits her head on a kitchen counter. They hide the body in the freezer.

Ginger realizes that her sexual urges are actually urges to kill (a problem we can all relate to), and she only feels better when she’s ripping someone’s face apart. Brigitte tells her there’s an herbal remedy they can try and locks Ginger in the bathroom while she enlists Sam’s help.

I don’t know if the drug-making scene is supposed to be sexy or what, but it kind of is. Just so we’re clear, kiddies, I don’t condone drug use except when it can cure lycanthropy.

a teen girl looks on as a teen boy melts a substance over a candle
I think it’s the ’90s hair and mood lighting that does it for me.

Meanwhile, Ginger escapes and flashes some dudes at school; Ranger Gord sees this and instructs her to come to his office. She kills him and then kills the janitor.

It becomes apparent that Ginger passed on the werewolf disease to the jock, whose, ahem, red pen exploded in his pants (yeah, he’s totally peeing blood).  Brigitte goes to school to find Ginger and encounters the infected jock guy, who attacks her. She injects him with the antidote, and he is cured. Problem solved, yay! Except now she’s out of the antidote, boo.

When Brigitte finds Ginger, they have (another) major falling out. Ginger decides to seduce/kill Sam (most likely both). She breaks his arm, but Brigitte shows up to stop her. To prove that Ginger is still her top priority, Brigitte cuts their hands and they make a blood pact. As they leave, Sam hits Ginger with a shovel because he didn’t realize Brigitte was luring Ginger back to the house for more of the antidote (men, ruining everything since always).

Brigitte and Sam manage to get Ginger into the back of the van, but when they arrive at the house, she is awake and even more werewolf-y than ever. She escapes into the house, while Brigitte and Sam make more of the antidote. It basically looks like they’re cooking up meth, I think. I still haven’t watched any of Breaking Bad, so I don’t really know. Best guess.

Sam tells Brigitte he’ll give the antidote to Ginger, but she attacks him immediately and drags him to the basement. As she follows Ginger, Brigitte drops the syringe down the basement stairs. Fuck.

a werewolf with shiny, plastic-y skin snarls
For whatever reason, Ginger in full werewolf form kind of reminds me of ET?

Ginger, having completed her transformation is there, standing over dying Sam. She starts eating his flesh, and Brigitte tries to join in as a show of solidarity. However, Brigitte can’t handle how disgusting all of this is and throws up. In response, Ginger kills Sam. Brigitte tells Ginger she won’t die with her, and Ginger attacks. Brigitte stabs her, then hugs werewolf Ginger’s body as she dies.

THE END.

The Critique:

God, I love werewolf movies. I will NEVER stop watching/reviewing them. I also have a soft spot for teen movies, esp. those dripping with sarcasm and laden with dramatic eye-rolls. I just can’t get over how perfect the werewolf/menstruation metaphor is.

I believe I watched this movie in high school and liked it but was traumatized that both Ginger and Sam died (still am). At least Ginger is back in the sequels, which I really need to watch. Honestly, this film doesn’t need to be almost two hours long, but it’s so darkly funny that I forgive it.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I love this movie, but I’m really reluctant to give anything a 5.

This blog collab has been so much fun already.

I look forward to our next virtual date!