Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Tag, or: Pens Before Men(s)

This month on the Collab promises to be full of May…hem?  Eh eh?  Dad jokes aside, we will be fully embracing  films that, in the grand tradition of the blog, are more than a little strange, surreal, nonsensical, or odd.  As always,  there’s plenty of room for us to do whatever the fucking fuck we feel like unless, like the characters in this week’s film, destiny is playing a much stronger hand than we realize.

The Film:

Tag (2015)

The Premise:

A teen girl in Japan finds herself surrounded by horrifically gory, surreal murders as she experiences several dreams, realities, and/or versions of herself.

The Ramble:

On their merry way for a weekend trip, an all-girls school in Japan is in high spirits.  Singing, pillow fighting, and engaging in light-hearted mischief, things seem to be off to a great start.

The trip takes a very dark turn, however, when an accident kills all but one of the girls–rather gorily shearing almost all of them in half.  Mitsuko, the only survivor, was saved as she had knelt down to retrieve a pen knocked from her hands by a classmate.

a teenage girl sitting in the central aisle of a schoolbus holds a pen, looking around at the bodies of her classmates, suddenly missing the upper half of their bodies
See what you get for messing with my pens, bitches.

Though she has survived the accident, Mitsuko isn’t in the clear yet as the whole ordeal seems to have been caused by…a murder wind?  I guess if Evil Dead can do it, why not this film?  Mitsuko does eventually escape to the woods, but not before the wind catches up with some unlucky joggers and bicyclists.  It just goes to show that absolutely no one can stand a bicyclist.

Stumbling across what seems to be another massacre at a river, Mitsuko shakily washes off the blood spatters and changes clothes.  She then comes across another school, where the students know her and believe she has a severe case of amnesia.  Luckily, her bff Aki explains who everyone is in their friend group and shows her where her classes are.

four teenage girls in school uniform look nervously at a pond in the woods
Scenes from a horror film or a Behind the Music episode about a teen girl group?

Since Mitsuko is still terrified of the wind and incredibly confused, Aki and the 2 other girls in the friend group cut class to hang out by the river.  When they hear about Mitsuko’s earlier “dream,” the girls jokingly dismiss it–except for Sur, the vaguely punk rebel of the group, of course.  Sur insists it’s possible that the dream really happened and Mitsuko is experiencing one of many alternate realities.  It gets super philosophical here, but I feel the big takeaway is that fate can only be tricked with something dramatically and unexpectedly out of character.

When the girls return to school, terror strikes again when the enraged teachers suddenly open fire on the students, sending Mitsuko running for her life again.  She finds a police station and realizes she has transformed into Keiko, a 25-year-old woman on the way to her wedding.  Help arrives in the form of Aki, who seems to be completely off her rocker when she starts killing all bridesmaids in sight.  It’s clear Keiko and Aki are going to have to fight their way out of this one.

a group of women laugh around a horrified woman in a wedding dress who is facing her groom, a man with a boar's head
We’ve all been to one of those weddings…

Having escaped the wedding, Mitsuko takes on another form, Izumi.  She finds herself in the middle of a race, running to the finish line yet seemingly trapped in another scenario that ends with everyone around her dead.

Is there no escape for Mitsuko from this horror show?  And who is she, anyway–Mitsuko, Keiko, or Izumi?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I don’t know what a fair rating for this one is as I’m still puzzling over it and (spoiler/not really a spoiler) I would’ve really liked a bit more clarity in the end.  But honestly, despite a lack of understanding, I had a lot of fun watching this.  It does sometimes beat us over the head with its message about destiny, control, and the surrealism of reality.  What saved this one for me was a willingness to counteract a serious message with fun B horror tropes and an improbable amount of gore.

The film is grounded by Mitsuko and Aki’s bond and the genuine affection between them as besties.  There is a hint of romance between the 2 girls, but the film leaves this open to interpretation for the aromantic among us.

In the end, the message of the film is surprisingly feminist as the nature of Mitsuko’s existence is revealed.  Big shocker–men are just the absolute worst.

Did Christa get on board with this girl gang or would she kick it back to another reality?  Read her review here to find out!

a bee uses a device for collecting pollen from a pink flower
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Bee Movie, or: Not the Bee Puns

Wrapping up our first free-for-all of 2018 is a first for our Blog Collab:  a dive into the world of animation!  Will we immediately regret stepping outside of our usual sharks, demons, and killer mermaid territory?  I mean, probably.

The Film:

Bee Movie

The Premise:

Jerry Seinfeld made a children’s movie with a vaguely environmental message as an excuse to write a lot of cringeworthy bee puns.

The Ramble:

This should come with a warning label for the number of bee puns that are likely to induce physical pain.  I was ok with the first few, but slight amusement and eyerolls quickly transformed into resentment that made a movie less than 90 minutes long feel endless at times.

If you aren’t dissuaded, let’s continue.

Barry is a young worker bee who has just graduated from the equivalent of bee university and is now facing the prospect of choosing a career.  Or, rather, a mindless repetitive task he’ll complete every day until he dies.  This really begs the question of why bees even need to attend university and what they’ve even been studying if they have no idea what they’ll do for their short lives (AND other bees later reveal there are certain roles bees are bred to perform)…but, if like me, you think about this one too hard, your brain will implode.

a group of smiling bees wearing hard hats sits in a tram, facing forward
The longer you look at this image, the more convinced you become their eyes are moving.

Because the survival of the hive seems to be rather terribly planned out, the graduates have just one chance to pick the job they’ll do for the rest of their lives.  Unable to decide, Barry jumps at the opportunity to go out gathering nectar with the pollen jocks.  The pollen jocks are an oddly militaristic group of bees with nectar guns and a cartoon stereotype of a general as their leader.  Can I point out that the queen would really be their leader, and I can’t remember anyone mentioning the queen even once?!?!?  Does no one else find that bizarre?

To move on to the actual plot of the film (I’ll do my best not to analyze every single logical misstep in this movie from here on out), Barry manages to survive an unlikely number of obstacles when he is separated from the group.  While dodging rain drops, Barry finds shelter in an apartment belonging to Vanessa, a florist.  After she saves him from meeting the business end of a shoe, Barry decides he must thank her even though talking to a human is strictly against bee law (can I just point out that 1. this film spends more time on that over the fact that bees in the US magically speak English despite never talking to humans and 2. the highly important rule against talking to humans becomes nothing more than a vague recommendation after this moment).

a woman dressed in a pink sweater talks to a bee standing on a kitchen counter
Love at first questioning one’s own mental well-being?

Upon meeting Vanessa, Barry instantly falls in love with her (what) and she seems to reciprocate?  Or at least their relationship is significant enough that Vanessa eventually breaks off her engagement.  FOR REAL.

Now that Barry gives zero fucks about humans learning bees can talk, he and Vanessa spend their days together out and about in New York City (btw, Vanessa can somehow afford an apartment mere blocks from Central Park).  When the two visit a grocery store and Barry sees the amount of honey harvested from bees, he uncovers the truth that humans have been stealing from bees for centuries.  Determined to right this wrong, Barry decides to sue humanity–representing himself because who the fuck would represent a bee in court.

a bee in court presents evidence as the judge looks on
WHY IS BARRY WEARING A BLAZER, TIE, AND SHOES, BUT NO PANTS.

In a not-so-shocking turn of events, Barry wins the case.  Bees now own all of the honey they produce, begging the question of what bees would even do with money.  And there’s still half an hour left(???).  After the bees no longer have to work hard to make honey, they stop pollinating flowers and everything dies.  How can Barry possibly restore the balance again?  Will it somehow involve an unlikely scenario in which he has to land a fucking plane?

Yes.  Yes, it will.

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

I tried so hard to remember this is a children’s movie and is going to rely on imagination over logic in its storytelling, but the logical leaps are really difficult to overcome.  The message about bees contributing to the hive by completing boring, meaningless work until they die seems rather dystopian for a children’s movie.  At one point, a bee even points out how every job matters, no matter how small, which would have been a much better message if this film were going to choose one.  I don’t know what this movie was trying to say.  Yield to the inevitable, perhaps?

It’s also really difficult to believe that an adult human woman would put her entire life on hold to help a bee win a court case–a bee she may or may not be in love with.  And, honestly, what is the lifespan of a bee?  Spoiler:  Vanessa and Barry are in business together by the end of the film.  How long is that going to last and will it really all have been worth it???  Am I giving this film way more credit than it deserves as a philosophical reflection?

All of this I would consider overlooking if it weren’t for the fucking bee puns.  The bee puns, OH GOD, THE BEE PUNS.  I’ll give you just one terrible pun so you can feel my pain:  Sting testifies at the trial.  I could’ve forgiven this film for a lot, but I can’t fucking forgive that.

Overall, the plot is horrifically nonsensical, there’s no identifiable message, and I really don’t understand who the target audience for most of the humor was.  I’m bumping the rating up slightly as I am proud that we’ve gained admission to the exclusive(?) Bee Movie club, but I’m ready to return my membership card.

Would my blog wife defend this one in court or introduce it to the bottom of a large boot?  Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Nightbreed, or: Button Eyes Will Haunt Your Dreams

I was excited about this hidden Clive Barker classic, which fits in perfectly with our theme this month.  Turns out there’s a reason this is a fairly obscure Clive Barker film.  It’s definitely no Hellraiser, but it’s so very Clive Barker-y.

The Film:

Nightbreed

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

???  A young man seeks out Midian, a world that haunts his dreams, while a serial killer with button eyes commits a string of seemingly random murders.

The Uncondensed Version:

Aaron is a troubled soul, haunted by terrifying nightmares that have become better with the help of a psychologist, Dr. Decker.  I think it’s worth noting that Aaron is majorly channeling Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing through all of this, leather jacket and casually swept back hair included.

Meanwhile, a killer in a mask with creepy button eyes seems to be targeting families at random.  Aaron’s sessions with Decker come back to bite him since some of the terrible dreams he had involved very specific houses and faces…those of the killer’s victims! Could Aaron somehow be the murderer without even knowing?

A man swings a large knife, wearing a mask that fits his face closely and has buttons sewn over the eyes.
That just cannot be a very practical mask for slashing people.

Decker gives Aaron some mystery pills (which turn out to be hallucinogens), which leads him to show up at the bar where his girlfriend Lori is singing a pretty terrible song about codependency.  He ends up in the hospital after walking directly into the path of a semi.  At the hospital, Aaron meets a man referencing Midian, a place he becomes determined to find.  Unfortunately, before he reveals the secret location of Midian, he stabs himself in the face and tears his own scalp off.

This gives Aaron a chance to escape the police and his psychologist, fleeing to a graveyard that just happens to be (you guessed it) the secret location of Midian.  Night falls and he is confronted by inhabitants of Midian, who threaten him with death and also bite him.  Though Aaron escapes these creatures, he is shot by the police when Decker erroneously tells them Aaron is armed.

A man sits at the end of a table, with many knives lined up along its sides.
Having a few friends around for dinner…

Lori is devastated and keeps seeing ghost Aaron everywhere.  She’s convinced he’s still alive or at least believes there are extremely shady circumstances surrounding his death.  I (very wrongly) believed she was going to investigate the graveyard with the Julia of this film, Sheryl, who she meets in a women’s bathroom at a bar.  God, she’s fucking fabulous but, alas, not long for this world.

Two women with big hair stand in front of the mirror of a public bathroom; one is wearing large earrings and denim.
I didn’t get a good shot of it, but Sheryl is wearing AN ALL-DENIM OUTFIT here.

Meanwhile, Aaron is in Midian, joining the titular Nightbreed in a somewhat bizarre ritual.  The Nightbreed are an ancient group of shapeshifters, driven mostly to extinction as a result of relentless persecution throughout history.  Most of the Nightbreed are pretty pleased about Aaron’s status as one of them, with the exception of the guy who bit Aaron and his spiky conspirator/girlfriend.

Lori is determined to find Aaron, and receives some unexpected help from one of the Nightbreed after saving her child.

A man in a leather jacket and swept back hair walks in a graveyard.
Ok, but you get the Patrick Swayze vibe here, right?

Surprising no one, Decker is the button face killer, targeting the last of the Nightbreed for some reason or another.  He goes after Lori, which draws Aaron out of hiding.

Aaron is eventually arrested again, and it turns out the sheriff is a complete dickbag (but the police force here is mostly made up of assholes who do absolutely nothing to help seriously injured Nightbreed).  It just gets way more convoluted from here, and ultimately comes down to a battle between cops and demons (or whatever the fuck the Nightbreed are.  Shapeshifters, fine).

The battle goes on forever and has a somewhat shocking twist at the end.  Sort of.  If you actually care about any of the characters by then.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Look, I kept watching this and I genuinely did want to know where this was all heading.  There’s just way too much going on for any of the characters to be interesting or for any of this to be coherent, frankly.

It’s quite an ambitious film on many levels and (could be completely off on this) I saw the Nightbreed as a representation of LGBT people, especially in the wake of the AIDS crisis.  It can’t be a mistake that Decker is a psychologist and tries to vilify and kill Aaron as part of this “other” group of people who have been persecuted throughout history.  The police are complicit in this, as is organized religion to a certain degree.  Aaron has to make sacrifices in order to embrace his identity, and he still can’t go out during the day or ever return to the life he had before.

That being said, there needed to be a Julia in this who was just unapologetically and fantastically evil.  A good old-fashioned shoulder pad never hurts either.  Decker is close to this role, but with very little exploration of his motivations, he just doesn’t hold a candle to Julia.

This may also be one of the tamest R movies I’ve seen?  Ok, there are boobs, but they are the least sexualized boobs I’ve ever seen except maybe in a morgue scene.  The face ripping part was gross, but there was nothing else I can remember being quite as gross/gory.  However, this could be a sad reflection of my own desensitization.  The f bomb is thrown around a few times, but by no means is this The Departed.  Visual effects are somewhat dated, but pretty flipping creative at times.

Would Christa bite this and make it one of our own or send it back to hell (wrong Clive Barker film)?  Find out in her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Tenant, or: Please Don’t Make Poles Talk About Feelings

This is easily our classiest horror-themed month for the Blog Collab, so of course we’re working in a…classic…Polanski film?

The Film:

The Tenant

Where to Watch:

Reasonably challenging to find (at least for free)–good luck!

The Uncondensed Version:

Trelkovsky is a Pole looking for an apartment in Paris.  He asks the concierge to show him the apartment, but she is rather unwelcoming and initially dismissive until bribed.  Her dog isn’t any friendlier and tries to bite him in a scene reminiscent of The Pink Panther Strikes Again (which coincidentally[?] was released the same year).

a man recoils from a small dog sitting on a plush chair
“Does your dog bite?”

The concierge reveals the previous tenant threw herself out of the window, and shows Trelkovsky the glass that needs to be repaired below.  She rather cryptically explains that the previous tenant isn’t dead, but won’t be returning to the apartment and laughs rather sinisterly.  There is also no bathroom in the apartment.  Even so, apartments are hard to come by in Paris, so Trelkovsky eagerly snatches the place up (I can relate even in Dayton).

Out of curiosity, Trelkovsky tracks down the previous tenant in the hospital, Simone Choule.  Simone has just woken from a coma and is in a full body cast, but it doesn’t stop her from producing absolutely horrific screams when she sees Trelkovsky, her friend Stella, or perhaps all of the above.

a man in a suit stands next to a woman wearing a scarf, colorful necklace, and fur-lined jacket
So much ’70s chic happening in this still.

Perhaps to seem a bit less of a creep, Trelkovsky pretends to be a friend of Simone’s, which gets him a drink and a semi-drunken grope at the movies with Stella.

Trelkovsky invites a few people over to celebrate his new place and in general goes about having a normal life, but there is a vague sense that all is not well when increasingly surreal incidents begin happening.  First, he finds a human tooth in a hole in the wall.  Then, he is confronted by a woman and her young daughter about a noise complaint he allegedly made about them.  In turn, he is on the receiving end of several noise complaints.  He also sees people just silently standing unmoving in the toilet for hours.

Further complications arise when one of Simone’s friends visits the apartment and reveals he was in love with her.  Once he starts crying, he can’t stop and (like a true Pole), Trelkovsky becomes incredibly uncomfortable in the face of emotions.

a man rests his head on his hands at a bar, seated next to another man
I’ve seen 127 Hours…there’s only one way this can end.

The turning point seems to be when Trelkovsky’s apartment is robbed and, rather than looking out for him, the neighbors and landlord continue to harangue him about how much noise he makes.  Trelkovsky, quite patient up to this point, becomes irritable, paranoid, and quite unhinged.

It just gets more confusing when he is asked to sign a petition complaining about tenants he has never met, buys a wig, slaps a random child (I mean, who hasn’t had that impulse?), and witnesses a very strange ritual in the streets.  As he unravels completely, Trelkovsky insists that “they” drove Simone to suicide, and they are trying to do the same with him.  I say this rhetorically but also in hopes of an answer—what the actual fuck is going on with this film?

an older man holding a baguette gestures to another man standing in the hallway of an apartment building
I walk around with a baguette since I am stereotypical French landlord.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

If this weren’t for the blog, I probably would’ve given up on this one.  It’s a solid 2 hours and only gets more incomprehensible as the time goes on.

What I do like about this one is the commentary on city life and living amongst strangers.  Trelkovsky tries to keep to himself as advised, but he is still on the receiving end of noise complaints and interference from nosy neighbors.  There is an absurdity to the entire situation—no matter how quietly he lives, his neighbors find fault and want him to essentially cease to exist.  The landlord suggests he wear slippers, and the police even intervene when they receive multiple noise complaints about Trelkovsky.

Ironically, everyone (including those dispensing unwanted advice) tells Trelkovsky to mind his own business to solve his neighbor problems.  (And we all remember how well that worked for Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window.)  This further antagonizes him, making him even more isolated and paranoid.

The ending reminds me so much of Rosemary’s Baby, with Trelkovsky becoming cornered and trapped just as much as Rosemary by dark and perhaps evil forces (Rosemary’s Baby is so much better, though).  As with every Roman Polanski movie, this just sort of makes me want to watch Chinatown again.  Or maybe I should just…leave it (sorry [no, I’m not]).

Would Christa have a drink and uncomfortable cry with this film or start a petition to get this one out of her neighborhood?  Find out by reading her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Silenced, or: Ghost Super Soldiers

October in blogland at last!  You already know this month’s theme.  We’re into hauntings, unexplained disturbances, and creepiness in general, aka Paranormal Blogtivity (admittedly a title that needs work).

The Film:

The Silenced

The Premise:

Disappearances and creepy goings-on plague a Korean girls’ school conveniently in the middle of nowhere.

The Uncondensed Version:

Bit of background:  it’s Japanese-occupied Korea, just before the outbreak of WWII.  As it goes with empires, everyone wants to go to Japan since it can provide a better education and more opportunities for young people.  This is especially true for the girls in this film, who are competing for one of two coveted spots to go to Tokyo for school.

Shizuko is a transfer student to a school that is also a sanitorium(?) in the Korean countryside that seems to specialize in embroidery and vaulting.  Seriously, they are in a traditional classroom once in this entire movie.  Though Shizuko is very ill, she starts to get better with the help of the headmistress and some very experimental treatments.  She also makes a friend, Yeon-deok, and develops romantic feelings for her.

a girl in an austere school uniform embroiders a cherry blossom design
You know what they say about girls who know their way around embroidery cherry blossoms… (Actually, I have no idea what that even means)

Meanwhile, all kinds of creepy shit keeps happening.  There are events that seem to be tied to a ghost or some other supernatural presence—girls choking, seemingly victims of possession, and becoming very violent.  Petty high school things also happen as one girl in particular seems to have it in for Shizuko and does crazy shit like leave a dying bird in her locker and spreading rumors that she has TB.  In part, they’re uncomfortable because a girl named Shizuko disappeared before this new girl with the same name arrived.  Spooky, eh?  Sort of?

a teen girl in a school uniform looks in horror at her blood-covered hands
Mandatory staring at hands in horror scene.

As Shizuko recovers, she becomes inhumanely strong, which is bad news for the girls bullying her.  You’d better believe she’ll get her Carrie moment.  What kind of medical experimentation is really going on with these girls?  And what’s up with the nearby Japanese army base?  Super sketchy shit, guys.  Super.  Sketchy.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Really brief plot summary reflects my inability to follow this very easily.  The chronology is confusing as fuck, and I never quite knew what the intent of this film is.  It begins as a ghost story, but shifts rather abruptly to a story about medical experimentation.  Make up your goddamn mind—is this a ghost story?  Forbidden schoolgirl romance?  Conspiracy?  Sociopolitical commentary?  Please pick one or two themes and develop them further.

This had a lot of promise at the beginning, and there were elements that were a bit like Guillermo del Toro’s Spanish-language films.  There’s even a really beautiful but despicable character who you are just waiting to see die violently.

a woman sits in a dimly lit office, a teapot on her desk
THE WORST.

The problem is that there’s no emotional resonance, which is a pretty terrible crime for a film that deals thematically with coming of age, first love, abuse, and the devastation of war.  I can’t say any of the characters felt especially three-dimensional or interesting.

I’m not crazy about revenge films, but this one may have been better off with that focus as the last 10 mins were so fucking badass.

Not a terrible film, but somewhat aimless and confusing.

Did Christa think this one made a miraculous discovery or would she rather it simply disappeared?  Find out by reading her review here!

A teenage girl with dark hair and red lipstick holds a black and white cat in a blanket
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

All Cheerleaders Die, or: Do They?

School is still in session in this blog as we’ve chose a high school movie theme for this month.  It’s my pick this week, which I’d like to preface by saying (a) I thought it would be way better and (b) it wasn’t as bad as Monkey’s Paw.  Nothing can possibly be worse than Monkey’s Paw.

The Film:

All Cheerleaders Die

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Cheerleaders killed in a terrible accident return from the dead seeking vengeance.  With a witch thrown in there for good measure.

The Uncondensed Version:

Lexi is a cheerleader very much looking forward to senior year, as she explains to amateur filmmaker Maddy.  She tells us cheerleading is a dangerous sport and cheerleaders are much more likely to suffer injuries than football players…just before she performs a flip that goes horribly wrong.  Right, it’s that kind of movie.

Fast forward a bit, and the squad is holding tryouts for Lexi’s spot.  In an unexpected move (almost as unexpected as the Spanish Inquisition), Maddy tries out and earns a place amongst high school royalty.  However, for reasons unknown to us, Maddy reveals to her video blog (not using the word “vlog”) that this is all part of some elaborate plot to ruin senior year for all of the cheerleaders.  Because that’s what you do in high school instead of read, write super emotional entries in your journal, and fear the day you’ll be called on to participate in class.  Or so I’ve been told.

Complication to Maddy’s plan is Lena, a really needy Wiccan who has named a cat after Maddy and doesn’t understand why they broke up.  Lena walks away angry and upset, which is probably not the best.

Outside of a house at night, 2 teenage girls talk, facing each other. One of them holds a large shiny handbag, while the other holds a black and white cat.
Cat!

The new head cheerleader Tracy is now dating Terry, Lexi’s ex-boyfriend.  Terry is a huge douche and cheating on Tracy, which Maddy uses to drive a wedge between them and date Tracy herself.  When Terry figures this out, he’s extremely pissed off and ends up ruining a cemetery party.  Honestly, dude.

Coincidentally, Lena is sitting in a dark corner near the party casting spells, tossing runes around, and doing general witchy stuff.  But really this is just an excuse to stalk Maddy, who is busy making out with Tracy.

But back to Terry, who picks a fight, punches Tracy, and begins a high speed chase between the football players and cheerleaders.  We get a classic afterschool special scenario in which irresponsible drinking and driving leads off a cliff into the river below.  The football players come out of this unscathed, of course, and just sort of quietly slink away.

four teenage girls in the woods at night stand facing the camera
Seriously, bro?

Lena has seen everything and drags all of the girls out of the river in the hopes of saving Maddy.  She’s too late, but does this really bizarre ritual that makes a sort of blood snake and draws some sort of life essence into stones that each of the girls absorb.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense, you guys.

The next morning, the cheerleaders wake up in Lena’s room, which is exciting because (a) Maddy is alive and (b) Lena’s weird witchcraft thing actually works.  However, for some reason this also means that the girls have to drain the spirit from living humans and they also have a sort of psychic connection through the stones.  I just…don’t follow.  At all.

a group of four cheerleaders walks down the hallway of a high school
You know you’re undead when you have red lips and a pleather cheerleading outfit.

This goes on for a bit until there’s some typical high school drama, of which I will spare you the details.  Then, of course, things take a turn for the worse when Terry realizes he can absorb the stones, which make him sort of all-powerful?  I think?  And all of this means a showdown in the cemetery where some will live, some will die, and some will…remain undead I guess?  If that’s what they are?

The Rating:

First of all, this was a bit of a trainwreck in terms of plot and explanation of supernatural elements.  Witchcraft brought the cheerleaders back from the dead, gave them a psychic connection, made them thirst for human energy, and switch 2 of their bodies???  Are they witches or zombies or all of the above?  There was a further plot twist at the end that made even less sense.

Also towards the end, the writers tack on a rape revenge story, which I hate hate hate so much because it’s focused on having a really creepy voyeuristic murder scene that’s portrayed like a rape scene.  And it spends way more time on that scene than anything resembling female empowerment.

Besides that, the character motivations made no sense—it was unclear to me why Maddy wanted revenge against the entire cheerleading squad when she really had a bone to pick with one particular sleazeball.

This one wanted to be The Craft but also a zombie movie while providing biting social commentary, so it made little to no sense.

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Because there were witches, guys.  Witches and I didn’t even care.

Would Christa bring this one back to life or run it off a cliff?  Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Feminist February: I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing

Feminist February is off with a bang!  Or quite possibly a whimper.  It’s my pick this time around, chosen primarily because this film was written, directed, and produced by women.  Plus there’s that T.S. Eliot reference in the title.

I don’t know how to react to this one, but Christa might.  She usually does.

The Film:

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

A perpetual temp with a photography hobby takes a job working for a curator with somewhat bizarre results.

The Uncondensed Version:

Polly, aforementioned temp, is way ahead of her time as evidenced by the format of this film:  1980s video diary.  She was a vlogger (sorry, Christa) before vlogging was a thing.

A woman in a videorecording poses in front of a wall of photos.
I’m done using the word “vlog” in this post now.

It’s pretty clear that Polly doesn’t quite have her shit together, but her house is a hipster’s dream complete with darkroom to develop the photos she takes around the city.  Oddly, the darkroom seems to function as living quarters for plants…so I’m not sure those plants will be alive for long unless they need little to no sunlight.  Too nitpicky?  Too nitpicky.

A woman bicycles through a parking lot.
She even rides a bicycle everywhere.

So Polly lives alone with a cat and a goldfish that lives in a huge jar.  Again, surprised that it’s alive.  Polly considers herself a spinster at the age of 31??!?!?  I almost spat out my tea at that.

To return to the (admittedly somewhat thin) plot, Polly takes a temp job as a secretary for a French gallery owner/curator, Gabrielle.

Polly seems to have a pretty big crush on Gabrielle, who is gorgeous and sophisticated in an Ingrid Bergman-esque kind of way.  Okay, I’m sorry, all women with vaguely European accents—I have probably compared you to Ingrid Bergman at some point.

Anyway, Polly seems hopeful about their relationship and, confusingly, they do go to a Japanese restaurant for squid.  Is it a date?  Is it dinner?  Is it all of the above?  Unclear, but when Gabrielle offers Polly a permanent position, she eagerly agrees.

Two women sit across from each other on the floor of a Japanese-style room; they are both unfolding small hand towels.
Hand towel struggles.

Everything seems to be going quite swimmingly until Gabrielle’s ex, Mary, rolls into town.  Gabrielle and Mary become an item again, which makes Polly super jealous and have very odd dreams/fantasies.  Though Polly is invited over to hang out with the two, she becomes something of a third wheel as she’s not sophisticated/hipster/chic enough to stay on their level.

Two women sit next to each other, both wearing headbands.
Damnit, I left my headband at home.  Now I’ll never fit in!

And, as it turns out, Gabrielle gets into heavy existential shit when she’s drunk.  I mean, she is French.   Gabrielle feels like she has no talent and is wasting her life, unable to create anything of beauty or significance.  In an effort to make Gabrielle feel better, Polly asks to see her work.  It’s so beautiful that Polly decides to hang it in the gallery.  Plus it prob wouldn’t hurt her chances with Gabrielle.  But does it help?  As it turns out, the work isn’t really Gabrielle’s.  And, even worse, Gabrielle insults Polly’s photos.  Not cool, Gabrielle.

Let’s just say this film goes super dark and bizarre when Polly discovers the truth about who created the paintings.  Seriously, it’s pretty fucked up.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

That’s the last time I pick a film based on T.S. Eliot references in the title.  I was left wondering what exactly the point was, and I feel the ending came out of nowhere.  Polly is pretty adorable, though.  She’s kind of like a neurotic Molly Ringwald.

Did Christa hear the mermaids singing?  Read her review here to find out!