Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Bingo Hell, or: Bingo Is Other People

Apocalyptic events caused by aliens, bingo nights that involve the loss of one’s soul…par for the course in B horror land. However, it may not bode well when a major horror studio attempts to make a formula of B films somewhat halfheartedly. All I’m saying is this film would struggle to compete in terms of action and thrills when compared with an actual night of bingo.

The Film:

Bingo Hell


Gigi Saul Guerrero

The Premise:

Following the opening of a new neighborhood bingo hall, the residents of a community begin to realize there are extra strings attached to the games.

The Ramble:

In a tight-knit neighborhood, busybody Lupita’s guard is up when she hears car enthusiast Mario has missed an appointment for one of his beloved vehicles. She may be onto something, as the nature of Mario’s disappearance is much more disturbing (and green ooze-filled) than expected.

Lupita is tough as nails, a proper neighborhood matriarch. From her son’s struggles with addiction to her husband’s recent death–no to mention those damn hipsters–Lupita has a lot to be angry about. She usually ends up being right, though her bluntness has caused rifts in some friendships.

Noticing a flashy car hanging around and flyers promoting a neon-lit new bingo hall (previously owned by Mario), Lupita’s feathers are further ruffled. Confronting the new owner’s attempts at gentrification, Lupita’s plan to present a united front backfires when Mr. Big (seriously) can offer to make the bingo players’ dreams come true.

Even as things get twisted in a monkey’s paw kind of way, more and more bingo players return to make a deal with the sketchy owner/manager. After Lupita uncovers the truth about Mario’s disappearance, she decides one final confrontation is in order. But who will call bingo first?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Talk about a shaky house built on shaky foundations. The plot is flimsy, and the silly B-movie title and premise don’t even try to live up to the levels of schlock we should get. This feels at best like an episode of Goosebumps, at worst an after school special about the evils of gentrification. Which, by the way, Lupita seems to backtrack on & take away the message that you should just give up and move as long as your community leaves with you?

Most disappointing and glaringly obvious to me is the lack of a compelling, menacing, or even just over-the-top villain. Mr. Big is super boring, and I still don’t understand at all what he was doing and why. It was implied he was running some kind of deal with the devil, but was he the devil? Was he working for the devil? Are there not less convoluted ways to harvest souls?!?!

Lupita was cool as hell, but fairly one-note. Spoiler if you care–when she learns of her son’s death, the film gives her about 10 seconds to process this. Effectively, it feels like she has no emotional reaction whatsoever to this news.

I will say the quality of the set design and acting is above average for a B horror. And I do appreciate that the definition of community in the movie is essentially fist fighting a demon together. However, we don’t get enough demons, enough Lupita badassery, or even enough bingo when all is said and done.

As I have to remind myself frequently, they can’t all be Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark.

Would my blog wife gamble her soul away with this one or leave it to deteriorate into green goo? Read her review to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Spring, or: Squid Game

At last, a thoroughly appropriate pick to round out this month’s spring theme. Maybe a little too on the nose, this week’s film is…Spring. And it’s also the last film of the month where we’ve finally gotten the hang of the theme thing. As usual, I have no regrets about our consistently creative interpretations. Which I’m pretty sure our film’s protagonists would support.

The Film:



Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

The Premise:

With no ties keeping him in the States, a young man travels to Italy and is intrigued by a woman with a twisted secret.

The Ramble:

Following the death of his mother and last living family member to cancer, Evan finds himself alone, unhappy personally and professionally. After a stranger picks a fight with him at the bar where he works, Evan seems on a perpetual downward spiral. Losing his job and worried the cops or the stranger will come after him, Evan decides to make use of his neglected passport and travel the world. And where do white people want to go if not Italy?

Meeting a couple of drunken Brits on his first night abroad, Evan impulsively joins them on their drive along the coast. Honestly, I got very sidetracked by my anxiety about Evan’s complete absence of a vacation plan at this point, but I powered through it. While in a small coastal town, Evan locks eyes with a gorgeous woman in a red dress and takes it as something of a sign when he encounters her again.

Working up the nerve to ask the woman, Louise, on a date, Evan is invited back to her place as she explains she doesn’t date. Evan’s too intrigued just to hook up and never see her again; when the Brits decide to move on, Evan hangs around, responding to a sign offering a room in exchange for farm work. Shockingly, the elderly farmer living alone in the Italian countryside doesn’t give off serial murderer vibes.

When Evan runs into Louise again, he asks one more time for a date, and the two end up spending the day together exploring a museum and enjoying the fresh air. Louise is a student of evolutionary genetics and knows a suspicious amount about fertility scenes in ancient art, but that doesn’t seem like a deal breaker…right?

After the two spend a night together, strange things happen to Louise’s appearance, and dead things begin turning up around the town. Catching Louise injecting herself with needles, Evan becomes concerned she’s using drugs…though the truth turns out to be much more troubling. As Evan falls for Louise, it’s clear she’s holding onto a major secret. How much longer can Evan continue to lead his Italian fantasy life?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Though I do think some of the earlier scenes involving Evan’s life in the States are unnecessary & mopey, the build-up to our twist works so well. There’s seriously so much of the film dedicated to establishing what a nice guy Evan is, and honestly he’s pretty bland and boring.

I’m impressed with how many genres this film pulls from and manages to blend them together fairly seamlessly. As is well established on the Collab, romantic films are never our top pick, but the romance works well here. While the twist is very much classic horror, its dramatic revelation doesn’t go in the direction I expected. There are some surprisingly funny observations (Louise and Evan dissecting classic art is a favorite for me) and quite a few more philosophical discussion than I’d associate with horror (or romance for that matter). We’re considering the breezy questions only; what does it mean to live, to die, to be successful?

Would my blog wife appreciate Italian sunsets with this one or make it into calamari? Read her review to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Family Dinner, or: Filippin’ Out

*Spoilers follow*

This week’s spring brings us to the festive horror land of Easter. Surprisingly, this holiday hasn’t made much headway into the genre, despite the obvious rising from the dead Jesus. And this film’s take on enjoying a meal as a family; I mean, if you regularly eat the body of Christ to begin with, what’s the logical next step?

The Film:

Family Dinner


Peter Hengl

The Premise:

A teenager focused on losing weight visits her nutritionist aunt’s isolated home in the countryside for a memorable Easter celebration.

The Ramble:

It’s off to the Austrian countryside for the holidays! However, not in a breezy, golden fields in the Swiss alps, Sound of Music kind of way. Visiting her divorced aunt for Easter after many years, teenager Simi has a secret agenda: convince the once-popular celebrity chef & nutritionist to put Simi on the path to dramatic weight loss.

Following a miscommunication, it appears Simi will be leaving early on Good Friday, rather than on Easter Monday as she’d expected. Quite severely, her aunt Claudia insists that Easter is an extremely private holiday for the family. Surely there’s nothing suspicious going on here. *shrug*

Because you can never have just one weirdo alone in Austria, the household also includes Simi’s cousin, Filipp, a sullen and sickly teenager who manages to concentrate any remaining energy on being an asshole. Though there’s clearly an odd dynamic between mother and son, with Claudia cutting up his food, tucking him into bed, and monitoring his phone, it’s difficult to feel much sympathy. Filipp is awkward, rude, and constantly ridiculing Simi’s weight.

Meanwhile, Claudia’s partner Stefan is a fitness enthusiast frequently doing push-ups and walking around shirtless. Though he and Claudia are both fasting ahead of Easter, Stefan isn’t as keen on this, sneaking food every now and then. While out jogging, Simi encounters a pyre set up for a bonfire, which he casually explains is for Easter. And I did have to Google it, but this is apparently just a normal day of Easter festivities in Austria, even in non-horror scenarios.

Eventually, Claudia changes her mind and agrees to help Simi lose weight. The approach? Yeah, just don’t eat. At all. For five days, until breaking the fast on Easter. The fact that Simi proceeds to do this without once getting hangry is the least realistic part of the film.

Though it’s increasingly obvious aunt Claudia has some strange, pagan-adjacent beliefs, Simi is willing to overlook these if she can achieve her weight loss goals. Filipp acts more and more erratically, repeatedly running away and insisting that his mother is planning something awful for him. Simi ignores a lot of warning signs, which is kind of understandable when the alternative is listening to her horrible cousin.

As Easter approaches, what exactly will the special family observance entail?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I enjoy the setup of this film, and the ending is great. Fittingly, absolutely everything is dull, ominous, and gray. However, there are so many moments that create more questions than the film is willing to answer–largely because it hasn’t filled in a lot of the details. There is very little we understand about Aunt Claudia’s pagan beliefs, and why they involve specifically eating her own child. Is it because Filipp is seen as soft and not worthy of participating in the ritual? Has the ritual happened before & he threatens to reveal the truth?

It’s also really unclear where Claudia’s beliefs come from; she appears to have just spontaneously committed herself to a pagan practice within the last few years. The implication seems to be that her dedication follows major disappointments: her divorce, the failure of her career to sustain. Not a great look from a feminism angle, particularly the divorced middle-aged woman losing touch with reality. I also 1000% do not get Claudia’s partner Stefan, who doesn’t seem to believe any of the things she does, but is willing to go with the flow to the point that he’s ok with the whole cannibalism of it all???

Not helping with matters–Simi herself is a bit boring as a protagonist. She never has the realization that starving yourself to lose weight is bullshit or has any kind of body positive or even body neutral acceptance. It’s frustrating. She is also in denial about so many red flags around her all because she wants to meet a weight loss goal with help from her aunt. In the end, Simi is surprisingly resourceful, but it takes a ton of acting clueless to get there.

Honestly, it’s really the pacing problems & lack of believable character motivations that make this one just ok. And one of the major twists is quite predictable, even from the title.

Would my blog wife tuck in to whatever this one is serving or go vegan permanently? 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

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 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!

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!