Eat Local; or No Fangs, Please, We’re British

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another #ThrowforwardThursday, where we sit down to watch something not only new to us, but new to the cinemas! Your join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, as they sit down with some very old friends to discuss new business.

Today’s Film Offering: Eat Local

Lilly: It’s a vampire film, it’s a vampire film!

Andy: We’ve review vampire films before–last year’s Thursday theme was vampire films!

Lilly: Whatever, it feels like a century since we’ve talked vampires!

Andy: You wrote about Nosferatu earlier this month…

Lilly: Yeah, well, Hallowfest doesn’t really cover vamp…

Andy: And we did a whole day of vampire movies last year.

Lilly: ANYWAY.

images (3).jpgEat Local is the story of the vampire council of the UK getting together (as they do every fifty years) to go over old and new business alike, such as if anyone is going over their quota of kills each year, or if they desire to bring a new member into the fold. But they aren’t the only ones out in the middle of the countryside. A group of soldiers (plus one priest) have gathered in an attempt to rid the church of those turbulent bloodsuckers.

Andy: Of course, all this isn’t immediately spelled out for you. The genius and quite a lot of the comedy comes from how muted everything is. A lesser film, for example, would awkwardly exposit who was in charge. Here, it’s all in how the characters interact.

As you can guess, the dialogue is razor tight. There is, for example, a disagreement about ‘territories’. Do we find out where all these territories are? Not explicitly, because it’s not necessary that we know. Anyone interested in writing, specifically how much you can strip out of a screenplay, should check this out.

Lilly: You get a lot of information via implication in this film, definitely. Even with the use of a human character to explain vampire issues and limitations that can easily be overused, a lot of what we learn about the vampires comes from either their conversations with each other or just seeing what happens when, for instance, one is staked. Not everything gets explained–like the territories, as Andy mentioned, nor why the council was ‘always’ eight–but who cares!

I loved a lot about the film. The acting was fantastic (but look at the cast!), the premise was intriguing (but look at the monsters featured!), and it had something for us both to enjoy (sexy vampire politics AND soldier stuff for Andy). I don’t want to spoil things, since I want people to go and watch it and discuss, so to use a comparison it is like Dog Soldiers if you got to see the werewolves’ side of things.

Andy: That’s an excellent comparison! Also, props to this movie for having a positive ‘gypsy’ (Romani) character–one of the most hated demographics in the UK!

Lilly: Seriously, that was one of the most supernatural things about this vampire film, the more than two-dimensional depiction of a Romani. Good job, writers!

Andy: All in all, I really enjoyed this one. It’s rarely laugh out loud funny, and there are definitely horror comedies I like more, but this is a fun little addition to the genre.

Lilly: It brings a vampire house siege council meeting to the table of the horror comedies, and hey, that’s not something I’ve seen in action before, so why not! You know, frankly, more countries should get in on the new horror comedy vampire film wave! We have New Zealand’s What We Do in the Shadows, we now have the UK throwing in with Eat Local…Come on!

It’s a recommendation from us! Go and check it out and let us know what you think!


Gerald’s Game; or Best Day Ever, Signed Dog

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another #ThrowForwardThursday, where we check out what’s new and scary. You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, as they consider what is scarier–facing the fact of a fading marriage that was never that passionate to begin with or a murderous figure looming over you in the middle of the night, eyes shining in the moonlight.

Today’s Film Offering: Gerald’s Game

Geralds-Game-movie-posterAndy: Whatever else, this has one of the best setups for a horror/thriller I have seen in awhile. You’re handcuffed to a bed in the middle of nowhere – what do you do to escape?

Lilly: Scream! Twist around a lot! Cry!

Andy: Hypothetical.

Lilly: Say ‘Beetlejuice’ three tim–oh. Hypothetical.

Andy: Anyway. That’s the situation facing Jessie after, on a romantic weekend away, her husband Gerald’s ill-advised sex game goes wrong after he suffers a fatal heart attack.

Lilly: Hate it when that happens.

Andy: Painfully limited in her movement, Jessie has to think her way through a situation where even the bathroom sink might as well be in Central Asia, and it’s one of those fun “what would I do” movies, apart from anything else.

Lilly: Which I’m here to tell you, Andy loves. He’s the guy who holds his breath during underwater scenes in films to see if he could hold his breath as a long as the character on screen.

Andy: Yeah, The World Is Not Enough was a challenge.

Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood play Jessie and Gerald, in a spot of ideal casting, as well as the idealised versions of themselves that appear as hallucinations – remarkably, Jessie is pretty much the only ‘real’ character in the movie: the only other players are a dog that comes in and starts snacking on Gerald (you can almost hear the “Sweet! Free food!”). Oh, and a large, deformed man who lurks in the corner at night and who Head!Gerald describes as “death”. So that’s nice.

Apart from the surface issues, Jessie’s predicament represents deeper forces at bay – her marriage to Gerald had chained her down a long time before the handcuffs came along – and you can read all sorts of interesting stuff into it about the nature of the traps we build into our own lives. And if you don’t want to do that, it’s a really good thriller.

Lilly: It’s a really gripping watch, no matter what angle you look at it. From the point of view of purely ‘How is she getting out of this?’, you had me at ‘Hello, I’m handcuffed in the middle of no where and oh, we left the door open so stray dogs can come in (among other things)’. As the film goes along, and more and more mental traps are sprung as Jessie’s mind starts to fizzle from the predicament she is in, it is almost as if you are being told by the film over and over ‘but it could always be worse’. And to watch as Jessie tries to prove to herself (literally, since she imagines herself speaking to her) she can persevere is nail-bitingly good.

Also, as an exploration of character, it was well done. It explored an angle of abuse and survival that isn’t as overt as some films, which I was…well, it is hard to put a word to it, but it is good to see that ‘the worst’ we can imagine in human nature isn’t the only form of abuse shown to be damaging, and how just denying someone the truth of their reality can mentally scar them.

Andy: This was adapted from a Stephen King novel, and mostly confirms in my head that his stories are most effective onscreen if they are these smaller, personal stories. There’s echoes of Misery in here, and while we’ve given positive reviews to both IT and The Shining this year, the first works by cutting half of the story out, and the other is far more Kubrick’s beast than King’s. This one is very faithful, and definitely worth your time. Recommend from me!

Lilly: It’s a definite recommend from me–see how we didn’t spoil it?

Andy: Who is this ‘we’?

Lilly: That is how much we want you to go and watch it.

Andy: Also, as a fan of The Dark Tower series of books, hearing Gerald say “All things serve the Beam” made my little nerd heart sing. Yes, it was fanservice-y, but meh, a little bit of that every now and again never hurt anyone.


Get Out; or You Think Your In-Laws Are Bad?

Hello and Hallo-Welcome to our second #ThrowForwardThursday, where new horror gets the old Hallowfest treatment. You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, as they watch with growing horror as casual racism builds to a crescendo of race-based violence and mistreatment in the world, leading to pain, sadness, and untimely deaths–and after they finish with the evening news, they put on a film.

Today’s Film Offering: Get Out

Lilly: Sometimes you watch a horror film from a decade or two ago and you get this feeling that you’re missing something, you know? Like you had to have been there, had to have felt the environment in which the work was created, to really get the horror of it and to get what the filmmaker was trying to say.

Andy: What Lilly is trying to say is that Get Out has 2017 written all over it.

We watch a lot of horror here at Hallowfest (you don’t say) and there are a couple of movies that we have to let sit for a couple of days before we decide if we’re going to recommend them. That’s not to say they’re bad, but sometimes movies hide their lights (or we’re tired and slow that day) and it takes us a while to catch on.

Get Out is not one of those movies. It is one of those rare exceptions that is so obviously good, from the first few frames to the credits, that I’m going to say straight up here that we wholeheartedly recommend this one. If you want to stop reading the review right here and take it as a given, we’d be OK with that.

Still here? OK.

get-out-2017-2-862x1366Lilly: Get Out is the story of young love. Well, it’s the story of young love being taken home to meet the parents. Well, it’s the story of young love being taken home to meet the parents when the daughter is white (Rose) and the boyfriend is black (Chris). Enter the Armitage family, by all accounts an open minded, liberal couple. Sure, they have a groundskeeper and a housekeeper who both happen to be black but that’s just because they used to work for their parents, and when they passed, they were practically part of the family and mumble mumble reasoning reasoning.

And if that isn’t awkward enough for you, the Armitage’s have a bit of a secret. They are batshit and just a bit evil. Surprise!

But they said they loved Obama! How could they?

To say anymore would be to spoil it, and this is one we really don’t want to do this with. It’s important you are surprised and pulled along with Chris as he gets to know the Armitage family–part of Get Out’s appeal is how it forces you past where empathy would naturally take you and into the position of doubting your imagination’s capabilities because you just keep getting gut punched.

Andy: It’s fantastic.

A side note, if I may be indulged. Some people may watch this and think that the politics is a little on the nose, especially in a Black Lives Matter era of America. Firstly, I would like to point you attention to our Night of the Living Dead review that we did earlier in the month, another film with explicit racial tensions from the middle of the civil rights era. Then I would like to direct your attention to literally any other horror movie. A movie can no more be apolitical than I can swim in a pool and not get wet, and horror movies are particularly susceptible to this due to reflecting many of the tensions and fears of the time in which they are made. Torture Porn, much derided, appeared in the aftermath of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. Ronald Reagan’s Focus on the Family appeared at the same time that promiscuity in horror equalled death. Godzilla and Hiroshima are intimately linked. The list is endless and exhaustive.

So if you watch a movie like Get Out and feel challenged or uncomfortable, or feel it is overstepping its mark, it’s important to ask yourself why, instead of dismissing it as propaganda. Which is a shame anyway, because this, even stripped of any political context, is a cracking good movie. It’s witty, funny, tense and a joy to watch, but it is still a horror movie, through and through.

Lilly: A short review because we want you to experience it–but if you have any thoughts on it afterward, why not check out our facebook page, or find us on twitter (@hallowoctobfilm) and let us know what you think!

IT; or Beep Beep, Richie!

Hello and Hallo-welcome to Throw Forward Thursday, where the films are new and the reviews even newer! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, as they face the reality of the terror of childhood fading away into memory, where what was once important and life-altering becomes nothing but a hazy idea of an experience had.

Today’s Film Offering: IT

Lilly: Before we get into this, there WILL be spoilers, and no, I’ve not read the book yet, and actually, I haven’t seen the television version either, sooo Andy will be your guide in any and all comparisons made–though hey, why don’t you just enjoy something for what it is, not what it was, readers? Why don’t you? Huh?

Andy: Exactly! So a few opening comparisons just to get everyone on the same page. This is based on Stephen King’s whopping 1,138 page epic of the same name from 1986 (only The Stand edges it out in terms of length), and in 1990 was adapted into a TV miniseries with Tim Curry in the title role. So in some ways, this is the third version of the story.

Two important changes have happened to the plot. The first is that the movie only really tells half of the story – a second, concurrent story following the characters 27 years later may be in a sequel but is entirely absent here, and the setting has been moved from 1958 to 1988. A cynical man could say that that’s because 80s nostalgia is more in fashion these days than 50s Americana (cough Stranger Things cough), but the result is a surprisingly tight and engaging narrative extracted from a book you could hollow out and live in, in a pinch.

Other than that, I’m going to try and leave the comparisons alone.

download.jpgLilly: IT is the story of a band of nerds and geeks known as The Losers Club, and one horrible year of their lives in 1988-89. The town they live in has a strange rash of missing children and an even stranger phenomenon of the townspeople just sort of accepting that it happens. Also, there is a clown wandering around, showing people their fears and eating kids, so. There’s that.

Andy: The movie essentially plays on your fears on two levels. First off is the obvious – the demon clown aiming to devour children. The second is subtler and somehow worse: these kids live in a world in which adults are not only passively useless but are somehow actively disengaged. One kid seems to be developing into a full-grown psychopath, and nobody in a position of authority seems to have noticed.

The kids who decide to confront it are heroic to be sure, but they’re also so terribly, terribly young. Bill’s bravery is a wafer thin front hiding unprocessed anger and grief his parents have just left him with. Richie’s vulgarity is endearing because of how juvenile it is. Eddie’s mother clearly projects all of her anxieties onto her tiny son, and the pharmacist indulges but also provides placebos which is surely the worst response in that situation.

In fact, the only adult who shows even a shred of moral fibre at all is Mike’s grandfather, who gives advice that actually turns out to be useful and relevant. It may be unintentional, but he’s also probably the character that lives furthest out of town, and furthest from IT’s influence.

As someone who was bullied as a kid, and witnessed first hand the uselessness and turpitude of some adults in that kind of situation, this struck a deep chord with me.

Lilly: The monstrous realities the children all seem to face are as if we are watching the Greatest Hits of Stressful and Awful Childhoods, from being the New Kid to the darkness of Bev’s homelife, and when you realize it is part of what life is in Derry, there is a moment of ‘shoot, what are the other kids dealing with?’ that makes the whole thing that much more chilling. Especially when you stop and think they think it is normal. No one questions it all–as Andy mentioned, everyone is complicit, so the fact the kids still fight when IT comes to town becomes all the more thrilling. You want them to win because finally, someone is doing something.

Now, let’s talk imagery!

First off, let’s get it out there: I loved Pennywise and his drooling. Loved it. He was terrifying with his bulging eyes and sharp grin, and I’m not afraid of clowns. However, he was also a bit fun–you got that Georgie would laugh when he was first talking with him because hey, he was funny. Sure, reach for that boat, what could go wrong! It was a fine line, but it was there, and I was delighted.

Meanwhile, can we talk about flute lady? Flute lady was Stan’s fear, and I died when I was informed that Flute Lady and the ghost of Mama from Mama were played by the same person because of course they were and nope. She was all misshapen and weird and who has a painting like that in his office! Rabbi, I got questions. That said, all the kids had amazing sequences where their fear was rubbed in their faces. Well, except for one.

Beep Beep, I wasn’t overly impressed with Richie’s. It was sort of too little, too late for me. His came relatively late in the game, and by then, we’d seen a lot of horrific stuff, so it was almost as if you were standing in a tornado and someone turned a fan on. Not much to add to the whirlwind, you know?

Andy: Overall, though, this is a really, really solid movie, and deserves some credit for being a straight up horror movie that also manage to be a summer blockbuster. I exaggerate, but that hasn’t happened since Jaws. We’d tell you to go see it, but if box office numbers are anything to go by, you probably already have – but if you haven’t, we’ll feel like most people will enjoy this one. Go see it! Now!

After all folks, you’ll float down here.