Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Girls with Balls, or: Bump, Set, (Steel) Spike

One day you’re spiking balls and serving up aces, and the next day you’re dodging bullets and weird dudes who hide speakers in the woods. This week’s film reminds us of that simple time in our lives when we were innocent young teenagers; JK, high school is awful.

The Film:

Girls with Balls

The Premise:

The girls of a high school volleyball team lost in the woods must defend themselves against a group of dirtbag men out to kill them.

The Ramble:

According to our narrator and folksy French singing cowboy, the girls of the Falcons volleyball team are a tough bunch; unfortunately, they are also slated to die by the end of the film. Spoiler alert?

Although the team is great at volleyball, the girls aren’t always as wonderful about caring for and supporting each other, as their coach laments. Good thing the trip back home will give the girls plenty of opportunity to bond as they drive along the countryside in a janky RV.

The girls run the full gamut of high school stereotypes: Hazuki, team captain; Morgane, the bitchy yet insecure queen bee; M.A., the timid and, er, fat(?) one; lesbian supercouple Dany and Tatiana; Jeanne, the modest overachiever, and her bff, Lise.

When it becomes clear that the team is no longer on the right track for home, the group stops at the world’s creepiest house, complete with many taxidermy animals ornamenting the walls and sinisterly silent bartender.

After he actually licks one of the girl’s faces, a fight erupts and the team leaves rather quickly. Opting to drive on and then stop to camp out for the night proves to be a fatal mistake (though it looks downright cozy): our head creep returns with a tiny dog and a mob of murderous henchmen. Forced to run, the girls split up as coach leaves them high and dry.

As the girls dodge murder, they have another danger to face: that of their past misdeeds and personal drama bubbling up. While the bodies pile up, so do the resentments. After many of the girls are captured or killed, it comes down to three remaining heroines to rescue them all. But will they even care about helping their teammates after all of the teenage drama they’ve suffered at their hands?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

I give this film most credit for the final scene, honestly. Spoiler alert: I would so watch a sequel about the remaining volleyball team girls going around and beating up dirtbag dudes.

Most of the (admittedly short) runtime here just served to remind me how gross it is that so many films fetishize teenage girls. There’s a scene in which Morgane does a completely unnecessary table dance that made me so uncomfortable.

I did like some of the dynamics between the girls, but they spend so much of the film being incredibly awful to each other that it’s a bit difficult to stomach. A lot of the humor here just does not work; Lise does a striptease that isn’t intended to be sexy, though it is meant to be funny and is not at all. I wish the humor here had let us in on the joke instead of making me feel like this is the work of a misogynist making fun of (while also being turned on by) a bunch of high school girls.

Would my rugged blog wife save this one from a band of creeps or leave it to its horrible fate? Read her review here to find out!

Advertisements
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Handsome Devil, or: Rugby, Bloody Rugby

I’m not going to lie: I watched season 2 of Derry Girls way too quickly and have so many regrets. Where will I get my fix of lovely Irish accents and teenage hijinks now??? Luckily, it’s free for all month on the Blog Collab, and this week’s film checks all of those boxes and then some. Including rugby…?

The Film:

Handsome Devil

The Premise:

As seemingly the only boy at his school not obsessed with rugby, Ned is a loner who definitely doesn’t care to befriend his new roommate, transfer student and team captain Connor.

The Ramble:

The new school year is beginning at an elite Irish boarding school, and loner Ned is less than thrilled. Openly gay and openly not a fan of rugby, Ned has very few fans and quite a few bullies. Though clever, Ned chooses a quiet life of underachieving rather than expending much effort in class. Instead of writing personal poems for class, he opts for using lyrics from ’70s and ’80s alternative rock songs his stuffy English teacher will never recognize.

Things are looking up when Ned surprisingly gets his own room for the year; however, it’s not long before transfer student Connor becomes his roomie. Expelled from his previous school for fighting and immediately crowned rugby captain of the new school, it seems Connor and Ned will never get along, let alone become friends. Ned decides to preempt any rejection from Connor by putting up a wall dividing their two sides of the room.

When a new English teacher Mr. Sherry (played by Andrew Scott, Moriarty from Sherlock, Sexy Priest from Fleabag, and Irish dreamboat) arrives at the school, he brings some big changes. Taking no shit, Mr. Sherry makes it clear bullying and homophobia will not be tolerated–nor will Ned’s habit of using others’ voices instead of his own.

After Ned and Connor bond over their shared interest in music, Ned takes the wall down. The two finally become friends when Mr Sherry encourages them to enter a talent show. However, guitar practice begins to interfere with rugby practice, which does not please the team.

The distraction isn’t enough to set the team back, and the lads all go out for celebratory drinks after a win. Hoping to surprise Connor with his interest in the rugby team’s victory, Ned glimpses his roomie entering a gay bar. There, Connor runs into none other than Mr. Sherry cozying up with his partner. Mr. Sherry becomes something of a sounding board for Connor, and the relationship between the two is quite sweet.

The school’s homophobic rugby coach is none too happy about all of this distracting Connor from his commitment to the team. As Connor is very much in the closet, coach (I can’t be bothered to look up his name) depends on his anxiety about being associated with his gay roomie in order to drive them apart. Connor leaves Ned hanging before their talent show performance, and thus shots are fired.

All of this changes during a pep rally in which Ned is targeted by the rugby team to cheer. Angry with Connor and the entire team, Ned outs his roommate to the whole school at this point.

After this incident, Ned is expelled and Connor goes missing. Is there any way for the friendship between these two roomies to bounce back after this?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

This is quite a sweet addition to the LGBTQ high school genre. I really appreciate that the message is about friendship and acceptance rather than the only two gay kids in school magically being perfect soulmates. Ned and Connor are great friends, but there is never a sense that being gay and roommates means they’re meant to be romantically involved.

I also appreciate the way the film handles multiple identities and the ways we belong to different groups because of and in spite of them. Sometimes opting out because your group, team, community is imperfect robs you of the opportunity to enjoy and improve them. And the teachers in this film have things to learn from their students, without (all of them) coming across as completely incompetent.

The oddness of the film is that it’s told from Ned’s perspective even though the story is mostly about Connor. This has potential as Ned is a cute ginger and certainly grows as a character throughout the course of the film; however, Connor comes through all of this looking much better and acting like less of a jerk. I don’t feel that Ned’s outing of Connor is set up well enough in the film, so Ned ultimately looks very petty and vindictive. Not okay to out someone, and especially not out of malice.

I think it goes without saying that Andrew Scott is great in this, though our two young leads deserve a lot of credit. BTW, Roose Bolton is in this, being appropriately scummy as the rugby-obsessed headmaster determined to recapture his youth. Just in case that convinces you to watch (or not watch).

Would my dream roomie sing a duet with this one or tackle it immediately? Find out in her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Falling Inn Love, or: A Home Where the Kiwis Roam

I love a good theme month, but after some challenging themes lately, nothing feels better than picking whatever films catch our fancy. That’s right–September is another month where we just do what we want on the Blog Collab. Face it: some of our picks are going to be cheesy as a French grocery store, like this week’s petit slice of fromage.

The Film:

Falling Inn Love

The Premise:

After winning a New Zealand inn through an online contest, career woman Gabriela has her work cut out for her as she renovates the building.

The Ramble:

Gabriela is a driven, career-oriented San Franciscan determined to save the planet. Despite being a member of the soulless corporate world, she is committed to projects that move forward green, sustainable housing. Though in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend, Dean, he is unwilling to settle down or even leave some of his clothes at Gabriela’s place.

Her life changes dramatically when her company fails and she finally pulls the plug on her stale relationship. After impulsively entering a contest to win a small-town New Zealand inn, Gabriela is set to make her dream of a fully sustainable residence a reality.

Like other recent events in Gabriela’s life, this is going to be more difficult than it first appears. After arriving in rural New Zealand by bus, Gabriela searches for cell phone reception to call for a ride. Unfortunately, she loses control of her suitcase, which is set for a collision with a stranger’s 4-wheel drive. Though the kiwi is friendly and offers Gabriela a ride into town, she is having none of it.

The inn is, of course, nothing like Gabriela anticipated. Once a beautiful building, it has fallen into a state of disrepair (complete with unwelcome resident goat) and requires some major renovation work. Passive-aggressive Charlotte, owner of the town’s only operating B&B, is more than willing to swoop in and buy the property, but Gabriela is determined to see the project through.

Good thing she already knows a guy who is a contractor, Jake; bad thing he’s the guy whose car she hit with her suitcase. Embarrassed by their first meeting and ready to prove she doesn’t need help from anyone, Gabriela decides to fix up the inn all by herself.

In the mean time, Gabriela manages to befriend the married coffee shop owners, Peter and Anaaki, as well as Shelley, who runs the gardening center. After falling ill with a cold, Gabriela learns how quickly gossip spreads in the town, and that her business is everyone’s business. Her new friends, along with Jake, arrive to take care of her and complete some of the much-needed DIY work for the inn.

Recognizing the extent to which team work makes the dream work (ugh), Gabriela partners with Jake to rehab the inn and sell it, sharing the profits. As she gets to know Jake, Gabriela realizes he’s a gentle soul with a tragic past, and the two share a bond.

However, as the renovation is close to complete, Charlotte seizes an opportunity to get Gabriela out of the picture and claim the inn for herself. When she secretly invites Dean to New Zealand, he brings along a surprise: an Australian real estate agent interested in the property. Is this still the way Gabriela wants the story to end?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

This film is predictable to a fault and painfully sweet at times; truly, the Netflix version of a Hallmark Channel original movie. But the likeability of our leads, particularly Christina Milian as Gabriela, elevates this from a dull slog to a charming (if forgettable) feature. Gabriela as a character manages to be the stereotypically uptight rom-com lead without being so completely rigid as to be a caricature. She also has the power to experience growth, though her journey doesn’t focus on how finding a man has changed her life utterly (thank GOD).

The quirks of small-town New Zealand also help, as well as its friendly, untroubled residents (and their accents!). In other contexts, the environment could feel like Pleasantville, with darkness hiding under all of the sunny smiles, but the celebration of small-town life seems genuine here. The film is so in love with New Zealand and its cute little towns that it felt at times like one long commercial to draw tourists to the area. And, you know, I’m not mad about it.

There are certainly subplots that are unnecessary, like the WWI-era letters Gabriela and Jake find hidden in the inn’s walls. And it’s ridiculous that Jake is not only a contractor, but also the chief of the volunteer firefighter crew (and former coach for the children’s rugby team). The only way he could have been more fully the poster boy for rugged masculinity is if he also carved chainsaw sculptures in his spare time or smoked his own penguin jerky over an open fire.

Does my darling blog wife believe all this one needs is a fresh coat of paint or is a complete demolition in order? Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Pad Man, or: Bloody Men

As a Blog Collab that relies heavily on 90-minute B films, Bollywood Month has been a struggle. But guess what: we made it despite most of our picks this month clocking in at 2+ hours. For our final pick this month, we have the added bonus of a feminist theme that discusses menstruation repeatedly without making it a joke(!).

The Film:

Pad Man

The Premise:

Based on a true story, a man concerned for his wife in a rural village makes it his mission to produce cheaply made sanitary pads for women.

The Ramble:

Lakshmi and Gayatri enter into an arranged marriage, which quickly develops into romantic love. The unconventional Lakshmi may never be wealthy, but he is a devoted husband determined to care for his wife. For better or worse, he seems to take this duty a bit too far for Gayatri’s tastes and decides to do something about her reproductive health.

In the village the couple calls home (and in many rural parts of India), women who are menstruating are consigned to a screened-in part of the house so they will avoid making the rest of the residence impure. Women may lose two months of their lives every year, not to mention putting their lives at risk by using the same rag repeatedly to absorb menstrual blood.

Simple solution? Pads. Major complication? A single pack of pads is a luxury item, costing as much as 55 rupees. Lakshmi presents Gayatri with possibly the most romantic gift possible, a pack of sanitary pads; however, Gayatri is deeply ashamed that he has spent so much money, not to mention that he seems utterly fixated on her menstrual cycle. But Lakshmi’s gift does come in handy when someone is injured at work–instead of soiled rag, clean cotton fibers to the rescue!

Rejuvenated from the idea he’s on the right track re: pads, Lakshmi decides the best way to get his wife to use them is to make a low-cost alternative. Scraping together a small amount of cotton and muslin, he folds a pad of his own creation. Though Gayatri uses the pads, they are not absorbent enough, and a night of scrubbing blood from her sari puts her off for good.

After failing to recruit patients, medical students, and his own niece, Lakshmi is out of ideas for customers. Finally, Lakshmi decides to test the product himself with the help of the local butcher. Confident to a fault, he conducts the test while wearing light-colored pants with disastrous results. Jumping into the river to clean off the blood, he has made the water impure and is considered a pervert by many in the community.

Before Lakshmi can bring any more shame to the family, Gayatri’s brothers take her away to live with them. With nothing left to lose, Lakshmi pursues his dream full-time, working for a college professor and hoping to receive answers in exchange. Though the professor is pretty useless and discouraging AF, Lakshmi does learn about a supposedly low-cost machine that makes pads for women in low-income areas. The device costs millions of dollars, but Lakshmi is undeterred: he will simply build his own.

Feeling confident with his invention after much trial and error, Lakshmi still encounters the same problem that has plagued him constantly: women are much too ashamed about their periods to talk to a strange man about sanitary pads.

Luckily, a performer in town for a music festival is in need of a pad long after all of the drug stores have closed for the night. Lakshmi, sensing an opportunity, gives her one of his homemade pads to try. When he tracks her down for feedback, musician Pari is confused yet replies honestly: the pad was fine.

As it turns out, Pari is working on an MBA and is a perfect ally for Lakshmi. She encourages him to enter an innovation competition, where he wins the president’s award. Once he receives recognition, it doesn’t take long for Lakshmi’s invention to take off as he hires women to make and sell pads.

Developing feelings for Lakshmi and hoping for his success, Pari encourages him to patent his invention so he can make money from his idea. Lakshmi is so not on board for this as the machine’s purpose is to make a difference in the lives of women, who need only pay 2 rupees per pad. Besides this, he has yet to make an impact on the life of his own wife; can Lakshmi live with himself knowing he’s helped many women, but not the one he set out to help?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I truly enjoyed this film, and I’m not even mad about the underwhelming song and dance numbers. The lyrics to the song “Pad Man” are everything–and I sincerely hope the real-life Pad Man feels the song is the icing on the cake in consideration of all of his accomplishments. This film is an unapologetically feel-good piece telling the story of a real-life hero, and I’m so on board for that.

My biggest complaint is the love triangle, which is just completely unnecessary. I really enjoyed the relationship between Lakshmi and Pari but did it HAVE to be romantic? It all felt gross to me considering Lakshmi is married the whole time and still seems devoted to his wife.

Also it takes Lakshmi a RIDICULOUSLY long time to realize he should have women talking to other women about periods instead of him. Bloody men, eh?

Would my darling blog wife give this one the president’s award of her heart or toss it out like a soiled sanitary pad? Find out in her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, or: The Play’s The Thing

Bollywood. Lesbians. Elaborate stage productions. Bit of a spoiler there, but I can’t imagine viewers who seek out this film are overly committed to a heteronormative love story. If you are…eh, watch The Notebook again I guess?

The Film:

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (How I Felt When I Saw That Girl)

The Premise:

A playwright pursues a young woman with a secret: she is in love with another woman.

The Ramble:

Sweety’s family is a lively bunch, as evidenced by their joyful celebrations at a wedding all attend. In contrast, Sweety herself is rather quiet and reserved, shying away from the spotlight. Now that she has graduated from university, there seems to be only one expectation for her: find a husband and settle down. When a potential suitor at the wedding expresses interest with the help of his wingman sister, Sweety perks up–so why is she still in the small Punjabi town of Moga one year later when he has moved to London?

Practically under house arrest because of her brother Babloo’s disapproval, Sweety is determined to escape to London. She is eager to attend art school…but also plans to start a life there with her lover. Fate takes an unexpected turn when Sweety hides from her brother in the audience of a theatrical rehearsal. Catching the attention of the playwright Sahil, Sweety bluntly tells him the play is terrible; it’s clear the writer has never been in love.

Unfortunately, Babloo chooses this moment to interrupt, even getting into a fistfight with Sahil on a train car. Booked at the police station, Sahil uses the opportunity to gather some details–like where the siblings live.

WHAT IS THIS PLAY.

Sweety lives with her family in a beautiful house. Her father owns a garment factory, making him one of the wealthiest people in Moga–though his real passion is cooking. Angry with Sweety’s reckless actions that may bring shame to the family, Babloo tells his father that Sweety is dating a Muslim man in secret. The truth is there is no Muslim man; in fact, there is no man at all, but a woman. Even this comparably minor revelation causes upheaval in the household, and her father forbids the match.

This makes for some chaotic mistaken identity scenarios when Sahil arrives in town with aspiring actress Chatro to teach acting classes, clearly a front for spending time with Sweety. Believing the man in the kitchen to be the family’s cook, Sahil asks Sweety’s father Babil to deliver a letter to her.

After finally receiving Sahil’s messages, Sweety joins his acting class along with her grandmother. Both Sahil and Chatro are invited to the family’s house party. Balbir is instantly smitten when he meets Chatro, who runs a catering business and cooks divinely.

Meanwhile, Sahil gets drunk as family members push a host of suitors towards Sweety. Fed up when Sahil declares he’d like to marry her, Sweety reveals the truth at last–she won’t marry any man because she’s in love with a woman. Sahil very rudely laughs out loud…but don’t worry, he’ll stop being an asshole pretty quickly. The next day, Sweety meets Sahil and explains in detail the bullying and self-loathing she experienced as a child. Now a lovely and supportive bestie, Sahil is determined to help her.

Meanwhile, Balbir’s modern girlfriend opens up his mind with new ideas; perhaps Sweety marrying a Muslim man wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all. Balbir gives his blessing for Sweety and Sahil’s marriage, which is now the last thing either party wants. However, Sweety is tired of disappointing her family and agrees to go along with it. But don’t worry–there are schemes.

As the most self-indulgent playwright ever, Sahil convinces Balbir to sponsor a play that will also promote the company’s new fashions. The play will teach the audience to accept love in all its forms, rather unsubtly starring Sweety and her girlfriend Kuhu, the woman from the earlier wedding.

Everything seems to be going to plan–that is, until Babloo recognizes Kuhu and reveals Sweety’s shocking secret. The family will never be the same; can they learn to love and accept each other as they are?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I’m an inherently biased reviewer as I am always on board for a lesbian romance film. However, I’ll start with some critiques: this isn’t necessarily as fun as I expected, the pacing is quite uneven (the first half is pretty boring, honestly), and the dance numbers don’t stack up when compared with some other Bollywood offerings. It’s also really difficult to watch Sweety very passively accept terrible things for most of the film; GIRL, stand up for yourself! And OF COURSE we never get a kiss between our two leads, whereas I’m positive a hetero couple would’ve gotten more onscreen action.

I do enjoy the minor characters and members of Sweety’s family (except Babloo) who feel real with all of their quirks. I’m officially obsessed with Anil Kapoor (Kartar in last week’s pick), who is apparently Sweety’s father IRL??!?!

While the message isn’t subtle and feels a bit after-school special at times, this film’s strength is its heart. The film is firmly rooted in its beliefs and uses them to share an activist message about the acceptance of LGBTQ people. Sahil is such a good friend and I love that he becomes such a wonderful ally. The relationship between Sweety and her father is so lovely in the end (spoiler?), and I adore the way compassion and acceptance drive his actions. I DARE you to tell me you didn’t at least tear up in the last few scenes.

The people have spoken, Bollywood: give us more lesbian romance!

Would my gorgeous blog wife shout her love for this film from the rooftops or keep it secret forever? Find out in her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Mubarakan, or: Wife Swap

I’m unemployed and don’t have a place to live beyond mid-August; what I mean to say here is that, rather than host a pity party, it’s the perfect time for impeccably choreographed dance numbers, glittering costumes, and a dizzying number of love triangles. That’s right—it’s the first ever Bollywood month on the Blog Collab!

The Film:

Mubarakan

The Premise:

Identical twin brothers raised separately plan to marry their girlfriends despite family disapproval and the disastrous attempts of their uncle to help.

The Ramble:

On a dark night in England in 1990, twin babies Charan and Karan survive a car crash that kills both of their parents. Their uncle Kartar is guardian of the two boys…until he realizes the whole parenting thing isn’t really his cup of tea. The boys go their separate ways; Karan to be raised by his aunt Jeeto in London, and Charan in Punjab by his uncle Baldev.

From even our opening song-and-dance number, it’s clear that Charan is the good Punjabi boy (and devout Sikh), while Karan is the flashy bad boy. Though far apart in location and in personality, the now grown twins are on the same page when it comes to settling down. Karan is ready to marry his girlfriend of two years, Sweety. Unfortunately, Sweety makes a dismally poor impression when meeting Aunt Jeeto, and Karan decides to hold off on his news.

Meanwhile, Uncle Baldev has arranged an engagement for Karan to Binkle, the daughter of a influential man. Determined to get out of the arrangement, Karan suggests it’s his brother Charan who should marry Binkle. Complications abound as Charan himself is eager to marry his girlfriend Nafisa, a Muslim woman he fears the family won’t accept.

After arriving at Uncle Kartar’s extravagant Mini Punjab in England, Charan does little to hide his dismay at his impending engagement. Due to the influential nature of Binkle’s family, Charan cannot back out of the arrangement; however, Kartar helps his nephew scheme to meet with disapproval. Kartar’s best plan is for Charan to pretend to be a drug addict. Of course, nothing could possibly go wrong here.

When Charan meets Binkle, she’s a total sweetheart and he’s instantly smitten. Though he changes his mind on his uncle’s questionable plans, it’s too late–when Binkle’s brother accuses Charan of drug abuse, a major dispute erupts, pitting the twins’ families against each other. To save face, Baldev vows he will see Charan married within one month, even if the engagement to Binkle has fallen through.

Now that Baldev is determined to make such a quick engagement, the time seems right for him to coincidentally meet Nafisa. If she charms Charan’s uncle, it should be easy for the two to become engaged. However, Baldev mistakes Nafisa for Karan’s girlfriend and, besides, is less than dazzled by her personality. Rather than Nafisa, Baldev has another young lady in mind for Charan…none other than Sweety! More than a little irked with Karan, Sweety agrees to the engagement. Just like that, not one, but TWO weddings are in the works, set for December 25th in London.

Please share my confusion over this dance number featuring a group of back-up dancers dressed in LA Lakers jerseys…?

What follows is scheme after scheme, each one ending in its own spectacular disaster. With the weddings fast approaching, the only option left seems to be elopement. Kartar is all for this until he is haunted by a dream of his late brother, who reminds him of the shame this will bring to the family. Done with elaborate plans, Kartar insists the young couples leave their fate in God’s hands. Will divine intervention bring about a happy end where mortal means have failed?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Oh my GOD, this film did not need to be 2 1/2 hours. After a while, all of the schemes feel repetitive and–sorry for the spoiler–the ending of the film doesn’t exactly defy expectations. Also, the potential for comedic mistaken identity is grossly underutilized considering our main characters are IDENTICAL TWINS.

I will concede that the cast here is great. Anil Kapoor as Kartar is a standout, and I love that he’s basically living the dream that I imagine all people of nations colonized by white people share: lavishing in a country estate with a white servant at his beck and call. Arjun Kapoor is also impressive considering he plays both main roles in this lengthy feature, quite often conversing with himself and occasionally mirroring his own dance moves.

Fun fact for my fellow clueless white people: there is a LOT of English in this film, with actors switching back and forth between Hindi, Punjabi, and English within the same sentence. I had to Google this, but it’s apparently a thing in a lot of Bollywood films since English is such a ubiquitous and, er, cool(?) language.

One of the few Bollywood films I’ve seen is Bride & Prejudice, and this film reminded me of why the Bollywood adaptation of Austen worked so well (see also: colonization. Again). Mubarakan, like much of Austen, is very much a comedy of manners, responding to rather strict expectations surrounding marriage and the discouragement of openly discussing romantic love. The couples in this film balance their feelings of love with the conflicting demands of family, duty, and restraint–plus there’s more dancing than you can shake a stick at.

Would my lovely blog wife accept a proposal from our film or shun it for the shame it has brought upon the family? Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Secret Obsession, or: Pics or It Didn’t Happen?

Sometimes we celebrate freaks and weirdos on the blog. At other times, we wait for them to die. In this week’s film, the latter is appropriate for our stalker, murderer, and buyer of lye in bulk.

The Film:

Secret Obsession

The Premise:

After an accident wipes out her memories, Jennifer returns to her life as a newlywed with her husband…or at least the man who claims to be her husband.

The Ramble:

Running in terror from an unknown assailant, Jennifer is hit by a car when she runs out onto a dark and stormy road. After being rushed to the hospital, a man who claims to be her husband arrives, waiting for news on her condition. Conveniently, everyone just believes him and never asks for proof of his identity (beyond knowing Jennifer’s name and her tattoos???).

Meanwhile, the Allstate guy plays a detective sent to investigate Jennifer’s accident (perhaps appropriately as the face of an insurance company?). Because his daughter disappeared at the age of 10, Detective Frank is determined to solve Jennifer’s case(?). Yeah, I’m not seeing the connection either, TBH.

When it becomes clear that Jennifer’s head trauma has affected her memory, it’s up to husband Russell to fill in the gaps. Or, conveniently, for an impostor to plant a bunch of fake memories in her brain. Don’t worry, though–he has the pictures to back it up. According to Russell, he and Jennifer are newlyweds who have recently moved to a remote cabin. Her parents died a couple of years ago in a fire, and Jennifer has quit her job to start a family with Russell…leaving no connections left in the world.

After making enough progress to return home, Jennifer discovers their house is not even remotely ADA compliant and struggles to get around with a healing leg. Russell is ever so nicely willing to help her get around, carrying her up to their room while leaving her without a wheelchair.

Discovering a witness (or something?) trying to contact Jennifer, Russell makes the obvious next move of following and killing this dude (even though I honestly don’t understand who he is or why he’s around). Of course, this leaves Russell with a body to bury…and he naturally chooses the backyard. Suspicious when she spots him digging around the garden late at night, Jennifer starts investigating.

What she uncovers is a bunch of Photoshopped pictures–in fact, all of the images in their wedding album have been altered. On top of this, Jennifer has a flashback while in bed with Russell, so she pumps the brakes on rekindling their relationship. Losing his temper, Russell reveals his dark and creepy side (or, rather, yet another dark and creepy side).

When we catch up with Detective Frank, we discover that (shocker) Russell provided a fake address to the police. Frank also connects the dots on a white pick-up truck that was spotted at the scene of the accident…and security footage of Russell arriving at the hospital in a white pick-up truck. After identifying Jennifer’s back tattoo as some sort of symbol for the name Allen(?!??!?!?!), Frank is able to locate her parents’ home. Surprise surprise, the occupants of the home are no longer in this world and have been mummified or something? They didn’t have pleasant deaths is the moral of the story. (Which surely would merit, IDK, having more than ONE dude investigating this shit???)

As it turns out, Russell is really Jennifer’s coworker Ryan, who was obsessed with her. After years of yearning for Jennifer from afar, it’s Russell who pulls off the office romance and marries her. On the night of Jennifer’s accident, Ryan attacked the newlyweds, killing Russell and terrorizing Jennifer.

Realizing how fucking creepy her so-called husband is, Jennifer tries to leave the house, but Ryan is one step ahead of her. When Frank manages to track Ryan down, he is caught off-guard with this psycho’s signature move: whacking people in the back of the head. To be fair, it’s a pretty solid choice for a stalker and murderer.

Will Jennifer and Frank be able to take down the unhinged Ryan before he can make use of all of that lye he bought on sale?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

JFC, this film is bland and not at all suspenseful. It’s very PG-13 for a film dealing with such a horrific concept, and conveniently ignores reality whenever it moves the plot along. For example, neither the hospital nor the police seem too concerned with verifying shit like people’s names and addresses. For fuck’s sake, I have to show my ID to pick up mail–there’s no way Ryan is skating through so many offices without having to prove his identity.

I feel for Jennifer, of course, but she’s so completely devoid of personality that it’s difficult to care about her a whole lot beyond just generally taking a feminist stance against, you know, stalking and murdering people. It may have helped to get more glimpses into her life before the accident, but IDK…Jennifer was probably boring then too.

The most offensive part of this film to me is the absolute pointlessness of Frank’s story. His fictional daughter’s kidnapping has nothing to do with this case, and it’s a major stretch to connect these two events. If you follow the thriller formula, Frank’s daughter should have been murdered by Ryan or at the very least Frank should have known Jennifer in some way. Beyond that, Frank is just a cop doing his job, and that doesn’t make for a good story.

The “closure” that Jennifer gets at the end (and Frank for that matter) is absolute garbage too. I wanted a more badass ending for her, but we were never going to get that. This is the ending of a TV movie that doesn’t lean into its trashiness–and all I ask from a TV movie is for it to embrace its own nonsense.

Would my 100% real and unedited blog wife follow this one to the ends of the earth or push it in front of a fast-moving vehicle? Find out in her review here!