Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Influence (La Influencia)

La Influencia (2019)
Manuela Vellés, Alain Hernández, Claudia Placer, Maggie Civantos, Emma Suárez, Daniela Rubio, Marta Castellote
Directed by: Denis Rovira van Boekholt

Oh, Netflix. Why you do this to me? Why do you make a blurb for a film look so bloody good, and then the movie so bloody bad?There is not one thing about this film that I liked. In fact, I stopped it at one point to see how long I had left (I thought it was almost done), and became so bummed out when I saw that I was only halfway that I almost didn’t start it up again. But I figured I’d finish it since I started it. I should have left it be.

HERE BE SPOILERS

The Influence is a Spanish language film made in Spain (don’t look at me like that, lots of countries speak Spanish), based on the novel of the same name by Ramsay Campbell. Wikipedia says it’s pretty faithful to the book, save some changes in the third act. I’d be interested in reading the book, since the story itself is interesting. Alicia is a nurse who comes home to take care of her dying mother (who she hates). As the film goes on we learn that the mother is a witch who used her children in all sorts of rituals. Now it seems that she’s controlling Alicia’s daughter Nora from her coma, wanting to transfer her soul into a young vessel. Hijinks, of course, ensue.

In the end, though, wasted potential is all this film is. It’s boring, most of the acting is bad, even the makeup effects are pretty crappy. And that ending… The showdown with the witch, which ends with her back in a coma all sliced up, Alicia and her husband broken and bleeding, and young Nora being tossed out the window. The film then ends with them in the hospital, locking the mother away in a room, and Nora recovering, then them driving off as a family, away from the cursed house. Now I can suspend all kinds of disbelief for a horror film. But are we supposed to believe that the cops wouldn’t get involved here? What did they tell them? That coma lady did it? That a 10 year old girl did it? I mean come on. All in all, this is a right turd of a film, and I want my hour and 45 minutes back. 2/10

M.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: Eli

Eli (2019)
Charlie Shotwell, Kelly Reilly, Lili Taylor, Max Martini, Sadie Sink, Deneen Tyler, Katia Gomez
Directed by: Ciarán Foy

When I first saw the trailer for this on Netflix, I was immediately interested, and put it in my watchlist. And forgot about it, like so many others. Last night, while flipping through for something to watch, I saw this again, and decided to give it a shot. I’d seen mixed reviews about it, some people loved it, others hated it. But thankfully no one spoiled the ending for me, which was great, since it really is something. I was going to include spoilers in this review, but I’ve decided against it.

Eli starts out as a rather generic, but well done, haunted house flick. Eli is an 11 year old boy suffering from a debilitating auto-immune disease. He’s basically, as one character puts it, “allergic to the world”. He and his family drive cross country to the home/hospital of Dr Horn, an immunologist, who says she can cure him. But almost as soon as Eli and his family arrive, strange things begin to happen to Eli. He sees shadows, hears breathing, and, soon enough, starts to see ghost children. Dr Horn tries to assure him that it’s only hallucinations brought on by the treatments, but he’s having none of it.

All of the haunted house tropes are there, creepy ghosts, creepy music, parents that don’t believe the kids. But it was just interesting enough with the auto-immune disease that I kept watching, and boy am I glad I did. The final payoff is ridiculous. Ridiculous good, not ridiculous stupid. The acting is mostly good all around, with young Charlie Shotwell holding his own against the adults. I’d been looking for something really scary to watch last night, and while this isn’t, it’s still very much worth your time. A very good 8.5/10 from me.

As a side note, my boyfriend, who generally doesn’t like horror films, liked this one. So I should probably have given it a higher score, just for that, hehe.

M.

Top 8 Onscreen Demons

Movies featuring demons are numerous, but there’s really only a small amount of them that are good. With such a high schlock content, a lot of films about or starring demons are awful, either being boring or stupid, or even both. But when done right, they can be downright terrifying.

I’ll only be including films in which the demon has a physical body, so no possession films. I’ll do another post dedicated to that sub-genre, since there are so many. So without any further ado, let’s get this show on the road. Oh, and spoiler alert, as usual.

 

NUMBER EIGHT

 Dogma

“No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater… than central air.”

Name: Azrael
From What?: Dogma
Played by: Jason Lee
Scary or sexy: Sexy-ish (he was kinda cute back in the day, hehe)
His Goal: To negate all of existence. Apparently hell is awful.
Alive at the end?: No
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: Silent Bob killed him with a golf club that had been blessed by a priest.

 

NUMBER SEVEN

HellBoy

“In the dark I heard your voice, what did you say?”
“I said, ‘Hey, you, on the other side – let her go. Because for her I will cross over, and then you’ll be sorry!'”

Name: Hellboy
From What?: Hellboy
Played by: Ron Perlman
Scary or sexy: Neither, really. Liz digs it, though, hehe.
His Goal: To stop the incoming Apocalypse and save his lady love.
Alive at the end?: Yes
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: N/A

 

NUMBER SIX

Sinister

“The symbol is associated with a Pagan deity named Bughuul. He consumes the souls of human children. The ancient church believed that Bughuul actually lived in the images themselves and that they were gateways into his realm. Children exposed to these images were especially vulnerable to Bughuul’s abductions.”

Name: Bughuul
From What?: Sinister
Played by: Nick King
Scary or sexy: Scary
His Goal: Infecting a child so that he/she kills their whole family, then he abducts the child.
Alive at the end?: Yes
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: N/A

 

NUMBER FIVE

Constantine

“Word is you’re on your way down. Fresh meat. Finger lickin’ good.”

Name: Balthazar
From What?: Constantine
Played by: Gavin Rossdale
Scary or sexy: Sexy (at least until John melts his skin with holy water)
His Goal: The usual demon stuff, plus mess with John as much as he can
Alive at the end?: Yes, but is sent back to hell.
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: N/A

 

NUMBER FOUR

Buffy

“You don’t know how to kill this thing?”
“I thought I might try violence.”

Name: Der Kindestod
From What?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Played by: James Jude Courtney
Scary or sexy: Very, very scary
His Goal: Feeding on the life essence of children in a hospital.
Alive at the end?: No
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: Buffy killed it by snapping its neck.

 

NUMBER THREE

Angel

“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. That was… you were so… brave!”
“You think you could say that again without so much shock in your voice? You’re stepping on my moment of manliness here.”
Name: Doyle
From What?: Angel
Played by: Glenn Quinn
Scary or sexy: Sexy (until the demon comes out)
His Goal: To help Angel save people using his visions from the “powers-that-be”.
Alive at the end?: No
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: He sacrifices himself to turn off a device that would kill a lot of humans (and I cried like a baby).

NUMBER TWO
Conjuring 2
“Your name gives me dominion over you, demon, and I do know your name! You are Valak! The defiler! The profane, the marquis of snakes! In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I condemn you back to hell!”

Name: Valak
From What?: The Conjuring 2 / The Nun
Played by: Bonnie Aarons
Scary or sexy: Very, very scary. Omg, did this thing give me the absolute heeb.
His Goal: To kill Ed Warren via a haunting he’s investigating in England.
Alive at the end?: Yes, but is banished back to hell by Lorraine.
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: N/A

NUMBER ONE


“Easy, love. If you remember our time in Mesopotamia the way I do, you know I’m a lover, not a fighter.”

Name: Various, there are so many demons in this world, with Crowley being the most important.
From What?: Supernatural
Played by: Various, but Mark Sheppard plays Crowley
Scary or sexy: Both
His Goal: Again, various things. Crowley wants to be the King of Hell, Lilith wants to start Armageddon, etc.
Alive at the end?: Both
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?:  Those that are killed are usually done so by Sam or Dean with their special knife or gun.

And that’s it for the demons. Who (or what) are your favourites? let me know in the comments, and I’ll see you next time!

M.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Invoking

The Invoking (2013) (aka Sader Ridge)
Trin Miller, D’Angelo Midili, Brandon Anthony, Andi Norris, and Josh Truax

So I’m not entirely sure what I just watched. By its title alone, The Invoking sounds like a supernatural horror movie. Possession, witches, demons, something in that vein. There were none of those in the film. It was also super low budget, it looked like it was filmed on one of those little camcorders. The acting was mostly awful, with perhaps only D’Angelo’s character Eric, the weird (but strangely hot) caretaker, a bit better than the rest.

HERE BE SPOILERS

The story centres around Sam, a young university student who inherits a house from an aunt she never knew. As soon as she arrives, she starts having nightmares, both while awake and asleep. She sees visions of her friends but they don’t seem to be themselves. Then the caretaker starts offing the friends, using Sam’s nightmares to make it seem like they’re killing themselves / each other… maybe? I’m not sure. I pretty much got the gist, though, that Sam and Eric are siblings, and something horrible happened to them as children. Then it ends with a cop coming to the door asking about a few kids that went missing, and we see Sam’s name, aged 14 years. Eric says no, never seen them. Cop leaves, Eric goes back inside where Sam is, and they kiss. Ew? And that’s it. The end.

So what the hell happened? Here’s what I think. I think it’s one of those “it’s all in her head” things. Her “friends” are actually her father and other siblings (or father, mother, brother, I’m not sure), and Eric and Sam killed them when they were kids, as seen in Sam’s nightmares. It doesn’t explain the incest, but I think it explains everything else.

After all that, did I like it? Not really. Did I hate it? Not really. It’s one of those generic films that you see, shrug off, and forget 5 minutes after it’s done. It gets a very “meh” 4/10 from me.

M.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Martian

The Martian
(2015) Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Sean Bean, Kristen Wiig, Aksel Hennie, Benedict Wong, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis

martian

So I went to see The Martian at the cinema tonight. I was hopeful yet wary at the same time. The book was so amazing, and I know how Hollywood loves to change things up, so I was a little scared. I also was iffy about the casting of Matt Damon. I thought he might be too “big” for the role, too good looking. Mark Watney was described as being a little geeky, and Matt’s not the first name to come to mind when I hear “geeky”. But my fears were all unfounded, this was a great piece of film. Matt easily pulled off Mark’s geeky charm and sense of humour, but was also there when he needed to be serious and more dramatic. There was a lot missing from the film that was in the book, but that’s to be expected, there’s no way to fit everything, but everything important was there, and they didn’t add any useless Hollywoodized crap. There was just one thing that pissed me off a little, and that was that they changed a character’s race and first name. In the book, one of the NASA people is called Venket Kapoor, and he’s Indian. In the film they made him black and changed his name to Vincent. The rest of the racially diverse cast is right, so why change that one? It’s ridiculous. But that’s really the only bad thing I have to say about the film. Everything was great, good acting all round, great story, nice visuals, even the usually annoying 3D was alright. And so it gets an almost perfect 9.5/10 from me!

M.

Mel’s 10 Things About… Poltergeist

Poltergeist
(2015) Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kennedi Clements, Jared Harris, Kyle Catlett, Jane Adams, Saxon Sharbino, Susan Heyward, Nicholas Braun

poltergiest-2015

 

{SPOILERS INCOMING}
1. The beginning was really slow, and really boring. *yawn*
2. There were one or two good scenes, but on the whole the acting was pretty terrible.
3. Are we meant to believe that a poor family, with neither parent working, can buy a house? Especially one of that size? “Bad neighbourhood” my ass! Film-makers seem to have no concept of what bad neighbourhoods really look like. Poor people don’t buy big houses, they get crappy little apartments. Why make them poor, anyways? It added nothing to the story.
4. The film got better as time went one, but really, that’s not saying much.
5. There was also nothing scary about the film. Every time they tried to scare, I found it funny.
6. The only part that was even a little scary was the toy clown scene. Cause yeah, I hate clowns.
7. Considering that almost everything else is identical, why change the family’s names? Oh, cause the kids had to have “cool” modern names like Madison and Griffin. Ugh.
8. The only thing remotely interesting in the film was the depiction of the “other side”, even though the bad CGI made it look like a video game.
9. Carrigan’s last moments and sacrifice were made meaningless by the fact that he didn’t stay dead, which they said many times during the film would happen should anyone living go to the light.
10. Now to compare it to the original for a bit. The story was all there, but it simply didn’t have the interest-holding power of the original. The family was so obnoxious that I really didn’t care what happened to them. Why did they turn Tangina into a dude?? I think this pissed me off the most, even though I generally do like Jared Harris. And making him a ghost hunter on tv just added to the level of obnoxiousness that was already pretty high. So… no, I didn’t like this film.

3/10

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Hunt for the I-5 Killer

The Hunt for the I-5 Killer
(2011) John Corbett, Sara Canning, Tygh Runyan, Andrew Wheeler, Matt Bellefleur, Mike Dopud, Kirsten Robek, Garry Chalk, Bo Derek

i5-killer

This movie has been on my pvr for probably over a year, so I finally decided to watch it. I was a little leery (ok, a lot leery) at first because it’s an IFC film, and those tend to be pretty awful, but I do love me a good serial killer film, so I decided to give it a go. And I was pleasantly surprised. It was so much better than I’d been expecting. The acting was pretty good all round, Corbett doing a great job as the harried detective in charge of the case, and the killer, who was surprising when we found out who he was, was suitably creepy. I’ll be curious now to read up on the case now (it was a true story), since at the end there was a disclaimer that said some things were fictionalized, to find out what actually happened. Maybe it wasn’t so bad in real life..? No, I guess that’s just me dreaming again. I’m really glad that the cops were finally able to nail the fucker who did it to the wall though. Sicko. All in all, a pretty entertaining true crime film. I just wish it wasn’t on IFC. I hate bloody commercials…

7.5/10

This film isn’t currently on Netflix, but if you can find it, it’s worth your time 🙂

M.

Mel’s 10 Things About… The Calling

The Calling
(2014) Susan Sarandon, Gil Bellows, Topher Grace, Christopher Heyerdahl, Ellen Burstyn, Donald Sutherland, Kristin Booth, Kevin Parent

140883_bf

 

{SPOILERS AHEAD}
1. Acting ranges from mediocre to good.
2. The main character, Hazel, is thoroughly unlikable, so it’s hard to care when stuff happens to her.
3. Super intriguing story, unfortunately delivered poorly.
4. There were some really good scenes, but they were surrounded by ultra boring filler.
5. The ex-husband sub-plot was completely pointless, it does nothing but make us like Hazel even less.
6. The very last scene is eye-roll inducing. Are we supposed to believe that the spell actually worked, in a film that had nothing supernatural in it till that point?
7. Was hoping to see some change in Hazel at the end, after what she went through, but when presented with booze at the hospital she just quips about not having ice and glasses. Her plea for a second chance? Wasted 3 seconds later.
8. Was expecting a whole lot more from such a cast. Sarandon, Sutherland, Heyerdahl, even Topher Grace for heaven’s sake! Totally wasted on this film.
9. The killer was nice and creepy though. I’ll give the film that much.
10. A minor quibble, but the title seems wrong to me. Simon wasn’t following some “higher calling”, he was trying to work a religious spell. The Disciples would have been better, or… well anything but The Calling, really.

4.5/10

Review Club #9 – The Theory of Everything

theory of everything

First up is my DH Francois, from over at FrankishNet:

I was actually very surprised by the twist of the movie. It really is about Jane, rather than Stephen. A very deep and emotional discovery of their relationship, and the constant struggle.

She signed for a 2 years trip, and the trip lasted so much longer. They present the duality of her feelings in a stunningly well played manner. On one side, she loves him and is incredibly happy that his life goes on. On the other side, she is consumed by needs and dreams she cannot live with Stephen, and the caring for him is draining.

Jonathan, Stephen, Jane, they were all very well played. Great acting!

It really was not the sort of movie I expected to see when sitting down for a movie about Hawking, especially with the name “The Theory of Everything”, but that is simply because I had not read the synopsis, and assumed it was like “Hawking”.

I really enjoyed it.

Up next is Rob, from over at MovieRob:

Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are both amazing in this movie as Hawking and his wife. Their performances alone make this movie a must see.

I personally wasn’t even remotely aware of most of the history told here and it was great learning about their troubled lives and how they both worked together to realize his dreams despite his debilitating disease.

Excellent acting by the two leads elevates a good story to something even better. Very informative and eye opening biopic.

Redmayne truly deserved his Best Oscar win last year for this amazing and challenging role.

And finally, here’s mine:

Mel’s 10 Things About… The Theory of Everything
(2014) Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Harry Lloyd, David Thewlis, Maxine Peake, Christian McKay

everything_a

1. Absolutely superb acting, the two leads were amazing.
2. The film really captured the helplessness of a disease like this, and it hit a little too close to home for me in some parts. Even though my illness isn’t nearly as bad as Hawking’s, it’s still debilitating, and so it touched me greatly.
3. The film also captures very well the torment of loving two people at the same time. Easy, it’s not.
4. I was really hoping for more science in the film, and a little less drama. Was slightly disappointing on that end.
5. How hot is Harry Lloyd?? I mean really now! *fans self*
6. They captured Hawking’s wit wonderfully.
7. I can’t imagine being that smart, and being stuck inside your body like that. It must be absolutely horrible.
8. Hawking is such an inspiration to me. This film just cemented it even more. I mean if he can, in his state, become a world famous bestselling author, not to mention everything else he is, then I can certainly do something with my life!
9. Jane was an absolutely wonderful human being, sacrificing so much of herself to support and care for her husband. Not many people are so generous.
10. In the end, it was quite a lovely film, but I have to admit to like Hawking, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, better. Its focus was more on the science, and I enjoyed it immensely.

And that’s it! Stay tuned for next time, when we review Out of the Dark! 🙂