Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2 or The Best Nanny Ever

SPOILERS AHEAD: This post is rife with spoilers since we discuss our thoughts on everything in this film. If you want to be surprised when watching the movie for the first time, stop reading now.

Bloody Blondes: Quick synopsis - Paranormal Activity 2 takes place a few weeks before the events of the original Paranormal Activity. We are introduced to the Reys family. The wife is the sister to Katie from the original PA. The Reys have a new baby boy in the family and strange things begin to occur around him. After the home is wrecked in what appears to be a break-in, the family installs surveillance cameras around the house. These cameras, along with a handheld to chronicle the milestones of the baby, capture the strange occurrences around the home.

Kelly: I thought Paranormal Activity 2 was a good solid movie and managed not to be a total rip off of the original. Granted, you're going to have a general repetition of themes and actions, given that it's basically an origin story, but it still managed to stand on its own for the most part.

Patrice: Going into this movie I did not know it was a prequel to the other story until they showed Micah “days before his death". I did not immediately figure out how the Part 2 story was going to join up with the previous story in Part 1. I had heard it was good without knowing anything about the story line at all, because I did not want to know before seeing it. I was expecting it to feel similar, and it certainly did have that same waiting, waiting, waiting vibe. 

Kelly: I had read the spoilers ahead of time, but it still managed to scare me, even knowing what was coming. Without a soundtrack to clue you in that something's about to jump, and even having read ahead of time about certain things, it still managed to be creepy.

Patrice: I liked the wider camera angles they were able to get with the security camera premise. I did the same thing in the second one that I did in the first one, which is that I kept searching the screen top to bottom, trying to catch a glimpse of whatever was happening. The slow pace, that waiting that made it stretch out into agonizing anticipation really works for me. No doubt why I also like Asian horror so much - it's not about the action so much as the waiting, build-up, and tension!

Kelly: You know what was one of the best examples of that? The very end, when the screen was blank. You just sat there, afraid to look at the screen because you were sure something was going to pop up. People in our theater were getting all antsy and there was nervous laughing. No one was moving because they didn't want to miss anything, so we all sat there staring at a giant black screen.

Patrice: I thought the same thing.... it's like, it can't just end... something else has to happen. Unfortunately for us, the theater we went to was nearly empty. Of course this was a Sunday at dinner time, so...

Patrice: I have some random thoughts and questions: I get that this couple, the Reys, is a second family situation - that is, the father was married to someone else and they had the older girl, and Kristi is the second wife who has the baby with him. So was that a plot point just so that the teenager would be old enough to research the step mom and babysit and all that? Seems rather... contrived.

Kelly: My best guess is yeah, pretty much.

Patrice: Well, I guess I'll give 'em credit for figuring out how to blend those things together.

Kelly: That was the only thing about the movie that I didn't like, that the step daughter managed to figure out the whole first-born-son's-soul-goes-to-the-devil pact and all. It was overly convenient, but I guess you have to throw that in there to keep a big gaping plot hole from being created.

Patrice: Yeah, simply because she was curious and looked it up on line. The story itself was never gonna be able to cover that. 

Kelly: That was really the only thing that was flimsy for me. Other than that, I appreciated the fact that it wasn't a step by step repeat of what happened in the first one. There were only a couple of the same noises, the train-like sounds, that were done in this film and they didn't redo the whole standing and staring by the bed bit. This one had its own creeptastic events. Like the pool cleaner. I caught that immediately. I leaned over to my husband and asked "Is he taking the pool cleaner out or what?"

Patrice: I know! I said from the beginning, WTF? Has no one noticed that every morning the pool vacuum is out of the pool? And then they almost tried to get us to believe that the dog might have been dragging it out. Yeah, I totally caught that right away.

Kelly: Damn we're awesome.

Patrice: I loved the scene where the dad figured out how to get the thing to pop up out of the pool and scared the shit out of the wife and daughter.

Kelly: That was funny, but I couldn't tell if they were trying to show us that the pool cleaner really wasn't the demon, it was just a fluke, another thing to lead the father down the path of doubting Thomas, since he was able to manipulate it himself so easily.

Patrice: I think it was misdirection, like the dog, since the video clearly showed it climbing out of the pool unassisted. 

Kelly: Never have pool supplies been so creepy.

Patrice: Ha ha! Okay, so a couple of other things....The teenager/boyfriend/Ouija thing - any significance at all? Were we to believe it made any difference, other than the fact that it started to spell out "Hunter"?

Kelly: I think maybe that was to help the step daughter figure out the whole first born son connection. That way, when she did her searching, she could put two and two together.

Patrice: Any idea what happened to Kristi in the basement? What was with the scratchings on the door? Did she do it? They never said what it might have spelled out, or if Kristi even did it. She just had a bite mark and then she was possessed.... And my friend Johnny had one good question: if Kristi was possessed by the demon, why didn't she just take off with the baby right then? I was trying to think of a reason why she just sort of went into a trance and the demon didn't act until it was transferred to Katie. Which leads me to my question, arguably the biggest question I have about the movie, and that is: What the fuck was going on in the basement?

Kelly: I think they just did that because there was no camera in the basement, so shit had to go down in there, gotta leave something for the imagination. As for the possession, in the first movie, Katie would stand by the bed for long stints over a couple of days, so her possession took a little bit to take hold, it wasn't immediate, either.

Patrice: I mean, it was just some crashing around, and you see the kid toddling around, and then afterward, what's-his-name burns the photo of Katie. I was thinking that there was some sort of ritual, based on whatever the nanny told him.

Kelly: Maybe we're supposed to take from it that the demon has to learn to be comfortable in the skin and get itself situated before it starts stealing babies? That was a little bit weak for me, but it wasn't too over the top unbelievable, and given that it’s trying to be its own movie while riding the wave of the original, it worked well enough.

Patrice: That was kind of my thought, getting comfortable in the skin first - either that or it couldn't act in the body of the kid's own mother. But that doesn't really make sense either, as it could have just as easily jumped anyone else who was in the house. And going back to the nanny - what was her name again? Since when do you trust a life/death demon situation on a random Mexican nanny? I just thought that was a little bit odd. What was her name?

Kelly: Martine?

Patrice: Why would you not call an expert in demonology, if you really believed that was going on? I'm not saying any of this took away from the movie; I didn't really care how hole-y the plot was.

Kelly: I got a kick out of the fact that in the original, you had paranormal experts that ran kicking and screaming out of there, but here you have a woman who's maybe making minimum wage watching after your rug rat who is willing to risk life and limb to rid your house of demons and you toss her out to the curb!

Patrice: Yeah, especially considering how hard it is to find a good nanny! He changed his tune with quickness when he realized that she was right. Johnny and I were flexing our high school Spanish to translate as they went along... "Oh, she said that they're HERE" "He said we don't BELIEVE", etc. Dorks!

Kelly: So they were regurgitating Poltergeist?

Patrice: Well no, but you know it was pretty much the same convo repeated in English.

Patrice: I had no idea until the credits that Oren Peli didn't do the sequel, which I guess is a compliment for this crew. So, what else about this movie?

Kelly: It gave me nightmares! When the movie was over, I knew it had creeped me out, but I didn't think it had really scared me. However, that night, I kept waking up, seeing Katie's freaky face. And I kept having to check on my baby to make sure no demons had snatched her up.

Patrice: Weird. I got a satisfactory amount of surprise while watching it. I get really emotionally involved when I watch a movie. My pal, on the other hand, never flinched, which is so annoying. With so few people in the theater, you couldn't hear anyone else really gasping or whatever. I'm totally reactionary in movies. I was getting into all the damn previews.

Kelly: We saw it with an interactive audience. The hubby hates that, but I love it for horror movies. "Girl, don't go in the basement, girl!"

Patrice: Oh no, I can only take so much of that. That kind of thing breaks the mood for me.

Kelly: I love watching horror movies in Atlanta! I love that sort of audience, as long its genuine, you know?
It has to be a genuine from the gut reaction, not someone spouting to hear themselves. Toward the end of the movie, there was a lot of that going on and it was hysterical. I was even doing it!

Patrice: I just don't want people talking to the screen - the gasping, squealing, whatever is to be expected, you know, the actual noises you make when startled or scared, but not commentary. Makes me crazy!

Kelly: Final verdict for me - I really liked it. It was worth the money for an evening showing, and being that I'm pretty damn cheap, that's saying a lot.

Patrice: I got exactly what I expected from it, too. It was scary, and creepy, and not completely predictable for me. I had an idea what the deal was, but was not sure how the story would play out. Perhaps a third installment? A franchise?

Kelly: Hmm, I don't know about that. I think the only thing they could do at this point would be to follow the step-daughter or see what actually happens to the baby. But I can't figure out how you'd do that with surveillance and hand held cameras, so that would need to be done in a different format from the original, as in Blair Witch 2, and we know how well that worked out...

Patrice: I was thinking that maybe they could have other families experience the demon thing, but with some different story lines - the same phenomenon, but unrelated to the original family. If there could be multiple Freddies, Jasons, Michael Meyerses, Chuckies, etc., why not?

Kelly: But then the amount of movies would be endless. Great for potential earnings, but as far as the storyline goes, I don't think that would entice me.

Patrice: If they could continue being good... hard to say.

Bloody Blondes: Good movie, good scares, good times. Go see it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Muppets get a monstrous makeover

Creep Machine is currently featuring prints from the "Of Fur and Felt" series by artist Rhys Cooper, where he has reimagined our favorite Muppets as more than a little on the freaky side. Cookie Monster's eyes now look quite soulless. Head over to Creep Machine to get the full scoop on how you can order your own prints.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

17 minute behind-the-scenes clip of The Walking Dead

I just watched this 17 minute behind-the-scenes clip on The Walking Dead, which is set to premiere on AMC on Halloween. I am so very excited for this show. It combines two of my favorite things: Zombies and Atlanta. The A-T-L, representin'! Okay, I'm done, just enjoy the clip.

Things I need to buy: dragon and flamingo skeletons

Street Anatomy dropped some pretty awesome items into my Google Reader this morning. First up is the art of Alex CF. This gentlemen creates cadavers of mythical and fantastical creatures for your home study or the baby's room, whatever your preference. Each creature comes with a very interesting back story and can be purchased at his site. Here are just a couple (there are many) that are featured on his site:

Next, a little less detailed but still very cool are the skeletal lawn flamingos. Street Anatomy provides a link to Amazon where you can purchase your very own. My garden is seriously lacking and these would do the trick!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rewind Review: House of the Devil (2009)

Just because we've been remiss in posting doesn't mean we haven't been watching horror movies. Hell no. We've just been really slack about reviewing them, see? But, since we hate to waste perfectly good snarkiness, we're going to post some "Rewind Reviews" of these movies that are no longer current, but are still worth telling you about. They're good, they're bad - and some are so bad they're good. 

House of the Devil (2009)

This movie was released on October 30 of 2009. The debut was at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC, and after that it had limited release in the US before it was released on DVD in February of 2010.

I had seen promo trailers on IFC and was looking forward to this film being more interesting than the usual crop of modern horror films. The fact that it was purposely styled like an old 70s film look was appealing. I was a kid in the 70s and all the great horror films that had a lasting impact on me came from the 70s. The first Halloween movie (1978) was ground-breaking in many ways and remains one of the best  movie theater experiences of my life. So it was with some anticipation that I sat down to watch this offering.

The opening of the film has the feel of a 70s movie (in the extra features on the DVD, the director says that he was going for the 80s, but this is most definitely 70s) and right off you might think it's some kind of spoof because it's done in such a way that it's clearly emulating a style from another time. That is to say it's cheesy as hell. Freeze frames, old style titling - worse than Starsky and Hutch.

The main character, a college student named Samantha, is desperately trying to find a place to live off-campus because she has a skanky roommate who does nothing all day but sleep and fuck her boyfriend in the dorm room that she supposedly shares with Samantha. I empathized with her immediately on this. Nothing worse than coming back to your dorm room after class, hoping to chill out and maybe take a nap, only to find your roommate and her fixture of a bf holed up in her bed. It's not bad enough that you have no privacy in those horrid little cells they call rooms without having to put up with a roommate and her boyfriend who also has nothing better to do all day than stink up your room.

So perky Samantha (who reminded me of Karen Carpenter in a knit hat) goes looking for a place to rent and finds one that seems perfect. The landlady, played by Dee Wallace, is a huge nod to the 70s. She tells Samantha she has "a good feeling about her," as she reminds her of her own daughter. Fantastic. The only problem now is that poor Samantha is broke and can't possibly pay rent til she can make some money.

As if by magic she spots a sign advertising a need for a babysitter. She calls from a payphone outside the dorm and leaves a message along with her phone number at the dorm and somehow the dude calls her back at the payphone moments later (there was no caller id back then). They arrange to meet up, but the guy doesn't show. Later, he calls her back at the dorm, offers to pay her double and tells her to come to his house.

I give Samantha a little credit for telling her friend Megan about the babysitting gig and having her drive to the house with her and go in to meet the people. Always a good idea not to just go off to meet strangers alone. Megan doesn't stick around though; she's supposed to come back later to pick up Samantha when she's done for the night. Oh well. You'll see how well that works out.

Turns out the house is old and creepy, and the people are weird and creepy. Mr. Ullman is a tall, somber guy (Tom Noonan) with an annoyingly soft way of speaking like some kind of cult leader. His wife is played by a very Joan-Crawfordesque Mary Woronov (who I contend has never gotten enough acting roles and I just don't understand why not).  Once they get Samantha in the house, the Ullmans confess that they have no children, but they need someone to stay there with Mr. Ullman's mother who can't be left alone while they go out. Theys also seem to be very interested in the impending lunar eclipse that is about to happen and keep going on about it in a way that you might suspect foreshadows things that are going to get both ridiculous and freaky.  Most people probably would have said, "Eh, nevermind" but not Samantha, no.  She's so desperate for money that she won't be put off by any of it.

Without telling you the whole plot of the movie and ruining it for you, suffice to say that it gets both ridiculous and freaky.

There are scenes in this movie that made me laugh or scratch my head, and I never could figure out if they were just paying homage to horror films of the 70s (I know they say 80s, but trust me, that's not what the 80s looked like and just shoving a few 80s songs in there won't make it so) or if this movie was just a little bit shitty. Samantha is a girl who can't just sit still and watch tv - she'd rather put on her headphones and dance around the house like some kind of reject from Fame (or Glee for you youngsters). She also has a curiosity that leads her to start exploring the house room by room and rifling through closets. Okay, maybe that's not completely unbelievable, but it's at least bad form. I did a lot of babysitting in my day, and I can honestly say I never pawed through anyone's personal belongings while I was being paid to care for their children. Then again, it is all designed to get you from point A to point B in the plot.

It gets pretty weird, too. The swelling violin music, narrow stairways to who-knows-where, disturbing clumps of hair in the bathtub, pentagrams in blood, and someone in a white van who seems to be lurking around the property.... all these things that lead up to the big climatic scenes at the end when they finally get around to "what the fuck is going on here" are pretty trippy. Rent it for yourself to see what happens. Netflix has it. Really, it's fun.

As mentioned, the DVD does have some extra features, including an interview with the writer/director. That's always fun. Also, the credits were amusing to me, since they basically thanked everyone who ever loaned them a pen or held open an elevator door. I mean eBay is even on the list. Then again, so is Barbizon. Isn't that the famous school of modeling?? Perhaps that's where they found some of the fine acting talent.