Ghostbusters (2016); Or Safety Lights are for Dudes


Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Family Friendly Friday, where we look at films that are fun for the whole family! You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, as they strap on their proton packs and suit up for a reported disturbance in NYC.

Today’s film offering: Ghostbusters (2016)

Andy: How could we not do Hallowfest this year without touching on one of the biggest and most weirdly controversial movies of the year? But before we begin, let me make a few things clear:

1) We liked this movie. A lot.

2) We liked the original a lot too. Probably not as much as many people, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

3) There is no point getting angry about remakes.

Anyway, with that out of the way, onto the movie itself!

Lilly: Unless this review is going to ruin your childhood, too.

Excuse me, I’ll be right back, I just need to fetch my eyes that rolled clear out of my head.

Andy: The plot concerns one Erin Gilbert, a physics professor desperate to achieve tenure at Columbia University, and tries to cover up her past as one of those weird paranormal researchers you see on covers in that section of the bookshop.

Unfortunately for her, though, her partner Abby and past come a-callin’, and before you know it she’s out on the street out of a job. Cue teaming up with her ex-partner, her wacky engineering friend and streetwise subway worker, and, well, who ya gonna call?

Lilly: Besides your friends so you can complain about why women don’t NEED to be Ghostbusters, and LOOK, they are making a sex object out of Chris Hemsworth, and GOSH this is the WORST.

Okay, but seriously. Go on.

Andy: It’s worth noting that even with the comedic talents of Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy (who we are fans of, to be clear), Kate McKinnon as Holtzmann doesn’t so much steal the film as chloroform it in a dark alley and demand a ransom. Like I said, we like this movie a lot, but she is the only thing to completely come out of the shadow of the original.

Part of this is due to the nature of a remake though. It is inevitable that with the plot requiring a team be set up, many of the same plot beats will be hit, and story-wise there’s not a huge amount of originality here, but it’s not really where the heart lies – it lies in letting the comedic actresses do their thing.

The film is at its best when it focuses down on this – Melissa McCarthy’s endless running feud with the delivery boy downstairs is wonderful, Kristen Wiig’s awkward flirting with an oblivious Chris Hemsworth is amazing and creepy and funny as hell, and Kate McKinnon – well, we’ve already covered her. Rounding out the quartet is Leslie Jones, who manages to be boisterous, knowledgeable within her area, and very, very genre savvy. She skirts the line of being a stereotype on occasion, but that’s forgivable when she’s this charismatic.

Lilly: And going back to something I said earlier (obviously I haven’t been listening to Andy, I’ve just been waiting to say things), re: Chris Hemsworth’s character and the aforementioned flirting Wiig does, she is doing the thing male characters typically do to ‘secretary roles’, throwing flirtatious lines out, ha ha, and it’s like okay, fair turn! Fair turn, there should be a female character who gets to do that. Ladies get to ghost bust AND make unwanted advances, DAMN IT. The difference was, Chris Hemsworth had a character who was fleshed out past a ‘Oh stop!’ and giggle most of those female equivalent characters get. He had a shitty acting career and idiocy that topped most, not to mention his actions in the second act! Plus, at the end of the film, they didn’t somehow end up hooking up even if her lines had consisted of ‘Oh you!’, ‘Oh stop!’, and ‘Phonecall for you, sir–why yes, this IS a new blouse!’

Ghostbusters works to make something accessible to another HALF of the population, and I appreciate that ever so much. At Party City, seeing the fact that the female ghostbuster jumpsuits (not the sexy ones with cleavage on the go and thighs for days, but the actual jumpsuits) were sold out while the male ones weren’t just made my tiny black heart flutter because yes. Yes. Women should get to dress up as any occupation they damn well please, including fictional ones. And that’s the point of the film. Women should get to pretend they are whatever they want to be, because that’s the wonder of imagination, and maybe someday, reality will follow suit so we can be whatever we want. Including Ghostbusters. I’d say I’d sign up, but I’m more a secretary, not going to lie.

Anyway, back to the film as a film, not a social movement.

It was funny! Having heard not too much in praise of it, I was surprised by how much I was laughing. And the cameos! Like seriously, how can you claim to know what is best for a franchise, saying women can’t do it, when all of the cast who could return were there! Even a bust of Harold Ramis showed up! And then there was Charles Dance, and Andy Garcia (yelling ‘Never compare me to the mayor in ‘Jaws’’ which was PERFECT)! Like Andy said, Kate McKinnon definitely stole the show (and my heart) but the cast was still so talented, I was delighted by all of them. I mean, the one odd casting job was the villain of the piece, but. Not to spoil it, that didn’t really make too much of a deal in the long run.

Thinking of it in the realm of family friendly, I did think the ghosts were a bit too scary looking–but then, I’m a known and admitted scaredy cat. If your kids are watching the original, they should be able to take this one, but I’d definitely take a look at the ghosts first to be sure.

So, that’s a definite go, watch, and enjoy from us! Give it a go, and who knows–you might like it more than the original!

Hahaha okay, I’ll stop trying to anger internet people now. But seriously. Go, watch, and enjoy!


An American Werewolf in Paris; or Reports of My Lycanthropy Have Been Greatly Exaggerated


Hello and Hallo-welcome to another Sequel Sunday, where we take a second look at second (and third) films! You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, as they pack their bags and brush up on their handy foreign phrases (‘êtes-vous un loup-garou?’ for instance).

Today’s film offering: An American Werewolf in Paris

Andy: Good Lord, there was a lot of crappy movies in the late nineties. We’re probably the only generation that can add the phrase “Thank God” to the end of “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

An American Werewolf in London was a fantastic example of something lots of movies try and very few are completely successful at – it was a loving pastiche of its genre, as well as being a very effective member of it. Paris is … less successful. It’s a lot less witty, has fewer likeable characters and a more incoherent plot. It also has literally no connection to the previous film other than the title.

Still, we musn’t be mean to the little darling, I mean, London is one of the greatest werewolf movies ever made, and we didn’t give Alien 3 as much schtick for not being Alien.

Lilly: Actually I liked Alien 3 more than Alien…

Andy: I, uh, well. We’re all entitled to our opinions, I guess.

So, An American Werewolf in Paris concerns three teenage lads on a trip to Paris who discover a secret party for wolfmeat young go getters like them and are respectively devoured, captured by an evil – coven? pack?

Lilly: Pack. They’re like dogs or, hey, wolves, so pack. Or gaggle, because hilarious. Gaggle of werewolves!

Andy: …Pack of werewolves who seem to think that eugenics is a fun and useful idea in modern society and bitten but rescued by the beautiful but mysterious Serafine, herself a werewolf but not associated with the werewolves who are also Nazis.

Lilly: Yeah, #notallwerewolves.

Paris is not a film about the torturous adjusting to the monster inside so much as a ‘Yes, they are also Nazi-like, keep up!’ action thriller type film. There is little subtlety, and what actual exploration there is of the lycanthropy of this film is thrown into maybe five minutes of movie science-ing (which, for those of you just tuning in, I hate). The film seems more concerned with really making the point that not all werewolves are dangerous if they take precautions and take their medication–man, so many metaphors there. So many. Can we have a reboot of werewolf films as a thing? We can all apologize for 2010’s The Wolfman and just embrace all the things being a werewolf can symbolize. Come on!

The two main problems with Paris were that, as Andy mentioned, I didn’t really like anyone involved and the film didn’t really grab me. I mean, for starters, screw you, Andy (from the film, main character was called Andy, to be clear), maybe she doesn’t want your help, that poor sad French woman, but that is her business. What she chooses to do with her body is her business! Even in a film where the once a month her body turns on her schtick is in play! Second of all, the guys were going around, illegally jumping off buildings for fun, and that just rubs me the wrong way. Then there was the throw backs to London like the dead bothering the living after being killed by a werewolf that only served to remind me of a better film. Then there was the fact that it felt like a made for tv movie with the low quality it had, but a tv movie made for a channel that showed breasts.

Andy: Yeah, it’s just not very good.

Lilly: There you have it, ladies and gents. Our first non-go, watch enjoy of the year! Don’t bother. Just. Watch another werewolf film. Go watch Ginger Snaps or Teen Wolf. Or, actually, watch An American Werewolf in London because that is an enjoyable, interesting film to enjoy!

Beetlejuice; or Careful, That’s Already Once…


Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Family Friendly Friday, where the films are meant to be enjoyed with your little boyles and ghouls! You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, as they leaf through the pages of their handbook and try and make sense of this whole afterlife gig.

Today’s Film Offering: Beetlejuice (That’s twice!)

Lilly: Tim Burton is at his most Burton-y in this 1988 cult classic telling the story of a couple (played by young, hot Alec Baldwin and young, hot Geena Davis) who just want to haunt their house in peace when a family from New York shows up to ruin their afterlives.

Andy: Not to mention trash their house.

Lilly: Enter the titular ghost with the most, who wants to help by using his skills as a ‘bio exorcist’ to scare off the Deetz family (including young, hot Winona Ryder–we all had a crush on her back then, get over it). The film features some stop motion monsters that would later show to be a Burton thing in films like A Nightmare Before Christmas, and it had such excellent and creative character designs that it won an Academy Award for best makeup. It was such a hit, it spurned a cartoon that ran in the early nineties (and captured the attention of one little goth girl at the very least, hello), and there was talks of a sequel. Which never happened. Oh well.

A film that is actually a watered down version of the original script, what we have here is a PG film that features a teenage girl being forced to marry a demon, loads of perverted gropes and grabs, and the allusion to conception problems within the first ten minutes. Then there is the topic of suicide and the afterlife, and well, you definitely got yourself some interesting conversations to have with your kids after viewing if you haven’t yet approached all that. Coming from the angle of this being a family movie night choice, well–depending on how old your kids are, there is a lot to unpack. I actually don’t remember seeing this film for the first time as a kid, but by the time I did, I had seen the cartoon, so it was almost like something I liked was made more adult, and what kid doesn’t like that?

As an adult, though, there is something very appealing about this film. From the joke that those who commit suicide become civil servants in the afterlife to the actual depiction of the offices and existence of those who pass over, I just eat it all up with a spoon. It’s fun, it’s quirky, and it’s imaginative. Right down the Handbook for the Recently Deceased reading like a manual for a VCR–it’s the little thoughts and details that went into the creation of the world that really speak to me. Of course, if it isn’t already clear, I’m a lifelong fan of all this, so maybe my bias is showing. No maybe, actually. It is.

Andy: Hm. I’ve been keeping quiet so far because this is a film Lilly likes a lot more than I do, and I’ve never been able to unpack the reasons why. It’s good, and you should watch it for all the reasons Lilly said. I guess my problem is less with the movie, and more with Tim Burton.

Lilly: Whaaaaaaaaat.

Andy: He has a reputation as a dark director, but all of his movies are almost all gaudily colourful or monochrome (in the case of half of Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie). I don’t think I know of another director that has shown such a limited range in his catalogue.

So I guess I don’t dislike Beetl


Andy: …The film that won’t be named again, but I dislike the fact that Tim Burton has been essentially making the same film again and again and again since 1988. The only thing this one lacks is Johnny Depp. Having said that, it is fun. And I really, really like the depiction of the afterlife as a relentless bureaucracy.

Lilly: Now that Andy’s tossed himself to the wolves that are Tim Burton’s fans…As far as the family friendly aspect of this film goes, it’s really up to you, but as someone who has loved this film since she was a tiny, likely age-inappropriate viewer, I say go, watch, and enjoy!

The Haunting (1963) & The Haunting (1999) Double Bill; or Hill House Ain’t Having It


Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Twofer Tuesday, where we offer up two films for the price of one, like it or not! You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, as they take a leisurely drive in the countryside, only to stumble upon a house that doesn’t quite have the right angles, does it…

Today’s Film Offerings: The Haunting (1963) & The Haunting (1999)

Andy: It’s a strange situation that, despite the fact that everyone can draw a ghost from the age of five up, the best ghost stories hardly have any ghosts in them at all. The works of M. R. James, The Turn of the Screw, The Woman in Black, and of course, The Haunting of Hill House by the brilliant agoraphobe Shirley Jackson. The weird, bewitching tale of young Eleanor drawn into a house that at first seems welcoming, and yet malevolent has been adapted to film twice – once in 1963, and then again 1999.

Of the two, the 1963 one is more subtle and faithful to the source material. Directed by Robert Wise, bizarrely in between The Sound of Music and West Side Story, the tale concerns Eleanor Vance, a woman who has recently been, er, ‘liberated’ from the demands of caring for her invalid and deeply unpleasant mother. Striking out for the first time, she answers an advert for an experiment at an old house, specifically for those who have displayed some latent psychokinetic ability, which she did as a child.

Joining her is fellow subject Theodora, an exuberant and coded lesbian character, Luke, the prospective heir to Hill House, and Dr Markway, the kindly man running the experiment as a cover into investigating the paranormal.

The trouble is, of course, that when the paranormal does hit Hill House, it’s not obvious whether it is being orchestrated consciously or unconsciously by Eleanor herself. Because, as becomes apparent, years of mistreatment have rendered her a deeply emotionally damaged woman.

This is a great film, one that is best watched alone with the lights off to let it affect you. It has one of the best uses of sound in a movie (which makes sense, given Wise’s penchant for musicals) and offers no easy answers to the mysteries of the house. Awesome.

And there is the terrible beating heart of the movie. Is Eleanor doing this with her mind? Or has the House found the weakest member cracking and started worming its way into widen it? Thoughtful, shuddery stuff.

Lilly: Then there is 1999’s The Haunting.


Screw your subtleties, stuff your ambiguity, Hill House is definitely haunted in this remake. In fact, forget the book’s claustrophobic build up, the doubt of your narrator, all of that, because 1999 was not a time for thinking, it was a time of doing and casting Owen Wilson while you were at it. The Haunting is an horror thriller, and the thriller part takes front seat as you are made to be terrified, damn it, so stop thinking about the implications of a house that picks at your own mental cracks and instead be afraid of a ruddy big statue coming to life, watch out!

This film is not a thinking man’s horror. It strips the basics of the story by Shirley Jackson and slips them into a heavy handed haunted house film. There are ghosts, you are in danger, and just help us, Eleanor, help us, this is not the story Jackson wrote at all.

That said, it’s fun!

So, do you hold a film tight to the material it is remaking or do you accept some oddities if you are over all entertained? Question for the ages right there. Because if we are talking about a film adaptation of Jackson’s novel, then this is awful. It misses the point of the tale while it  takes out the spookiness of not knowing whether it is the people or the house or both that are making the supernatural events occur. Ooooo is it Liam Nee–No, it’s not Liam Neeson, there is clearly a ghost. That bed just attacked them. It’s a ghost.

But. Again. It’s fun.

As someone who hates when people compare books to films (so naturally just did that, hypocrite), I guess I just have to go with comparing the two films. And hoo boy, are they different. But I’ll watch and enjoy them both.

You know why you should watch this film? Because a bed attacks someone. A statue attacks someone. There is a scene involving the fireplace that is magnificent. Hill House means business, and as haunted houses go, this is a heck of a ride. The backstory created about Hugh Crain is pulpy and deliciously evil, the effects are creepy, and Liam Neeson is in it. It’s one of those films you watch with friends and a big bowl of popcorn, and there is nothing wrong with that. So go, watch, don’t take too seriously, and enjoy!

Monster High: Haunted; or Ghoulfriend’s Boo-vie Night


Hello and Hallo-welcome to Family Friendly Fridays, where our bloggers look at films fit for the whole family to enjoy. You join our reviewer, Lilly (with her special guest, Livi), as they get ready to go back to school, even if it is a bit spookier than she remembers.

Today’s film offering: Monster High: Haunted

Lilly: For those of you not in the know, Monster High is the creation of the Mattel toy company that features a series of dolls that had a web series and now have full length feature films documenting the adventures of Draculaura, Clawdeen, and Frankie, who, along with their friends, are just too GHOUL for school.

That was a tester pun. Because if you couldn’t handle that, then Monster High is just not for you. It’s not. It is full of puns, including and not limited to:

Ghoulfriend, Las Plagues (instead of Las Vegas), Ghostoevsky, hall moanitors, unboo-lievable, hauntdog day, ectonomics, paintergeist.

So. Good. I love puns, so this whole franchise is up my alley, plus it has characters of all shades of supernatural, including and not limited to the daughters and sons of:

Frankenstein’s creation, Dracula, the wolf man, the creature from the Black Lagoon, a banshee, a skeleton, Dr.Jekyll/Mr.Hyde, a zombie, a siren, gargoyles, and lesser knowns like the noppera-bō, or a Japanese spirit otherwise known as the faceless ghost.

Seriously? Sign me up! Twice.

So for this first edition of Family Friendly Friday, we thought it might be nice to actually get someone who this film was aimed at to weigh in on if it was really worth wailing home about (practice pun, I’ll get better). So I’m joined by our friend, Livi, who has not only excellent taste in films but is a friend’s five year old who definitely knows what is entertaining for those under (mumble our ages mumble). To start off, Livi summed up our film choice’s plot:

Livi: I want to watch 13 Wishes.

Lilly: Wait, no, she summed up the fact that Haunted was not her first choice, and in fact, she’d rather watch the film where one of them (BOO knows who) wishes to be popular and drama ensues with a Djinn. Cue a long discussion about how Haunted had ghosts so it was a bit more Halloween-y, which completely was ignored because 13 Wishes.

We eventually settled in to watch, and while the puns were cracking me up (as well as the school’s swim coach being the creature from the Black Lagoon, one of my favs), the physical comedy had Livi laughing. Not only was she laughing, but she was following the plot, and so was I, because, gosh darn it, a good mystery was brewing. Yes, there were a few weird little sub-plots like the resident Gossip Ghost (aha) learning gossip hurts and a gargoyle who longed to swim, but most importantly, Draculaura was being frightened by a ghost haunting her! Oooooo.

Of course, as an adult watching this, I was confused as to how she was scared by a ghost when she goes to class with a banshee and a spectre, but okay. Maybe it was the stranger element of it, not just the ghost part. Maybe.

Anyway, as we watched, questions were asked of Livi, and she easily answered them, the plot not too murky for HER to work out, even if I was surprised by certain things, such as Serena being a SIREN. GET IT.

As we went along, Livi helpfully explained things (see: spoilers abound for we were all innocent once), laughed at some of the jokes (yet didn’t think the puns were as funny as I did for some reason), and pointed out her favourites (Clawdeen, Frankie, and Draculaura, in that order). It was actually really fun to see the monsters from movies I love being adapted and made accessible to younger audiences, as I have no problem with the gentrification of monsters that were fading into the distant past for the profit of a toy company. I mean, when they turned into ghosts (I spoil things, too) I know that Mattel was behind that plot point, rubbing their hands with glee over how much money the new line of dolls could get. New outfits! Fierce new looks! Buy your kid a second Clawdeen doll at full price because she has different teensy clothes! Well played, Mattel.

While Livi liked it, I really enjoyed it, too. It was not only full of puns, but was surprisingly deep at times–it even used themes that Charles Dickens used in A Christmas Carol, like a representation of the burden of punishment for misdeeds with chains in the afterlife. Shut up, Monster High. Shut up. You got me impressed already with your Japanese faceless ghosts but to be using the chains of punishment that made A Christmas Carol super depressing for old Scrooge? Come on.

So this first family friendly Friday was a success, in my opinion. I laughed, Livi laughed, and even Andy, who was barely watching, laughed. What more could you want from a film that was rated G? More puns? More puns. So settle in, relax, and let the play on words wash over you. Mmmm spooktacular. Enjoy!




We Are Still Here; or Why Moving Can Be Stressful

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Shut-In Sunday, where horror doesn’t go far from home! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, who think full disclosure should be well enforced in real estate agents, especially when houses are haunted.

Today’s film offering: We Are Still Here

Which is why we are not there.
Which is why we are not there.

Andy: Moving house is stressful. Especially when your wife is deeply depressed because your son’s been hit by a car and killed. What you probably need then is a house deep in rural New England. Of course, the real estate agent hasn’t let them know that owners of this particular house don’t tend to, y’know, ‘stay’ very long.

Lilly: Which I feel like is illegal, but you know. Our first sign of evil, that.

Andy: Directed by Ted Geoghegan, whose resume includes a lot of B-Movie writer and producer credits – this is the first time we’ve come across him – this film does have a bit of geek cred in casting Barbara Frampton of ReAnimator fame, as well as a visual aesthetic inspired by the Italian horror legend Lucio Fulci.

The result is a film which is visually one of the most stunning haunted house movies we’ve seen in a good long while. The whole thing is stylishly shot, extremely creepy, but also really, brutally violent. These ghosts aren’t the kind of passive ‘point-at-where-the-bad-thing-happened’ ghosts. These spirits are pissed.

Lilly: I’ve never seen such a good use of angles as I did in this film. Every shot was lined up artfully to an effect, which is long, tiresome work and careful consideration on the part of the director, and I’m really impressed. It made the whole film feel tense, like something was about to happen, so that, by the time something did, your nerves were shot anyway.

I was also really creeped out by the design of the ghosts in this film. You get glimpses in the trailer, but these ghosts are made of ash and fire, and for some reason, that makes them come across as far more sinister than your average haunting. When you start to learn the background of the house, it gets all the spookier, and you are left feeling on edge because you are hit with the fact that these ghosts, as Andy mentioned, are supernaturally pissed.

Andy: Not to mention that the locals are either completely unfriendly or a little too friendly, and you have a recipe for being creeped right out of your seat.

Lilly: Then there are their weird friends who are invited over to try and help sort this out. It’s sort of tragic to learn that the are recent friends made after the death of the couple’s son, but then, when better than to befriend those who believe they can contact those who had passed? You get an excellent reasoning for the couple staying in the house with the mother’s desperate hopes that one of the ghosts might be her child, or might know how to get in touch with him, and as it all comes to a head, you are stuck hoping with her, that it will all be worth it in the end.

Sometimes, when watching a horror film, you can see what is coming, you can figure out the rhythm of the film, can find some comfort, but this film did not have that. I was pleasantly surprised, I was spooked, and there were times we both said “nope!” which is a rare one, since Andy can read a film and prepare himself more often than I can. This one caught us both off guard.

Andy: Pretty much. This film never really lets up – the creepy things happening may change, but there’s no moment where the sun comes up and you know you can relax for a few minutes. It’s not overly intense, but it is relentless in its dread.

Lilly: And, unlike some other films I’ve seen, it really works with the tragic background of the characters. There are lazy writers out there who would just have the son’s death be something you were told once and then it was used again once more near the end of the film, but this film is absolutely steeped in mourning, where the two stories of ghosts who haunt us metaphorically and physically are both given time to really get to the viewer.

Andy: We don’t really want to give too much more away on – the joy is in trying to parse out the plot yourself – but it is good, and we do recommend it.

Mirrors; or You Thought Bloody Mary Was Your Biggest Problem

Hello and Hallow-welcome to another Straight-up Scary Saturday!  Good to see you’ve survived the hostile Hostels and haunting Eel Marsh House! Luckily, so did your brave bloggers, Andy and Lilly, who aren’t shivering with fear, it’s just cold in here!

Today’s film offering: Mirrors

This film has only one Kiefer Sutherland. False advertising.
This film has only one Kiefer Sutherland. False advertising.

Lilly: This film stars Kiefer Sutherland. I open with that because that is exactly the reason I watched it in the first place. It was back in the heady days of 2008, when Kiefer was on 24. Mirrors came and went in theatres, and I missed it. However, HMV had a sale on DVDs months later after it was released and I got it for $5. True story. Blog done.

Andy: Hey! Wait a second. Come back here!

Lilly: Kidding! This isn’t a blog to talk about my DVD purchasing! It’s about how, one night, in my room, I ended up counting how many mirrors I owned after watching this film. 

Andy: The answer is too damn many.

Lilly: Mirrors is a film about a man who ‘needs this job’, as often is the case in horror films, or why would they stick around for the menacing to follow? Former cop-turned-violent-alcoholic Ben Carson (Kiefer, in case you didn’t guess), just wants to kick his drug habit (which he has to stop his drinking habit?) and be a good husband/father again. He takes on the job of nightwatchman for a magnificently huge/creepy department store which was burned down five years prior, leaving a burnt out wasteland to wander through with a flashlight every few hours to make sure no one is in there, I don’t know, stealing melted mannequins or vandalizing the burnt rubble. 

Andy: Yeah. his job seems kind of pointless. There is almost nothing of value in this burnt out wreckage, and its sealed off. I guess people could come in and steal the copper pipes. Also, if all of the money’s tied up in a messy insurance case, who the hell’s paying him?

Lilly: Good point. Scratch the set up. Of course, one must remember in the opening scene how a man’s reflection killed him, or so the film makes you remember as shiny mirror after mirror is found in the store–turns out the guy we see killed in the first five minutes was the old night watchman who was obsessed with the mirrors! Fancy that! Mirrors! Like it is the title or something!

I kid, I kid. And even if I was serious in my eye-rolling, the first night Ben works at the burnt-out building is enough to snap me back to attention. Mirrors is definitely a horror film, tension being built, falsely released, and shattered in some excellent moments. I do think it might have done it too quickly–Ben might ‘need this job’, but after the first night he had, there was literally so many reasons he should just go and work at McDonald’s or something rather than go back again. There were hints that the mirrors had some power over the last guy, but Ben was new. Not obsessed, just an idiot.

Andy: It’s worth pointing out at this point, that the department store set is MAGNIFICENT. Seriously, of all the burnt out department stores we’ve seen, this one looks the best. It’s huge, echoey, blackened, and emanates an air of sadness as well as terror in a way all of the best haunted houses do. Shirley Jackson describes the titular building in The Haunting of Hill House thusly:

“No Human eye can isolate the unhappy coincidence of line and place which suggests evil in the face of a house, and yet somehow a maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turned Hill House into a place of despair.”

That is exactly the vibe I get from this place. The film suffers every time they move away from it.

Lilly: What I liked about this film was that Ben was actually treated like he was going mad in a way that was realistic. It wasn’t at the ‘ignore him’ end of the spectrum you get where the world seems even more mad than the guy going nuts because they ignore him, nor was it the ‘LOCK HIM UP’ end where, all of a sudden, they want to put the guy in an asylum because he says he saw a weird thing once.

Andy: That happens far too often in this kind of thing.

Lilly:  I was also  impressed by how his addiction was treated–how it had shifted pre-film from alcohol to pills, then from the pills to the obsession with the mirrors and finding Esseker–which, on a side note, was a super let down–why wouldn’t it be a name that was backwards? I mean. So you could read it only in the mirror. Get it? Anyway, Ben Carson’s addictive personality is a steadily followed plot in the film, and not ditched halfway through, as can be the case.

Andy: It’s an interesting arc. Do haunted houses attract damaged people intentionally? How much is in his head, and quite frankly, why SHOULD anyone believe him when he starts hallucinating fire in a burned out building?

Lilly: I thought Kiefer Sutherland acted his heart out in this film, even with everyone else phoning it in–did the child who played his son ever change his expression? I felt extremely bad when no one believed him, and when he was allowed to see (spoiler) his mutilated sister’s body, well. Poor guy, is all I’m saying. And I actually felt that. It wasn’t a case of trumped up emotions due to movie manipulation. He brought his A-game to this, and I appreciated that. 

Andy: To be fair, when the next most prominent star is probably Amy Smart, Kiefer’s going to come out of it looking like Laurence Olivier.

Lilly: Uh, Jason Flemying is in this. You don’t trust the role of Dr.Jekyll/Mr.Hyde in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman to someone lesser than Amy Smart, okay?

Andy: Cameos don’t count.

Lilly: He was in two scenes that were very relevant! Very relevant! He gave Ben no info on Esseker, but tried to find some! He was who Ben was calling in other points of the film! Super. Relevant.

Andy: ANYWAY the film does suffer from a recurring problem in these sorts of films though, a term I think of as “The Third Act Problem”. Simply put, creepy events require an explanation, but as soon as one is provided, a lot of menace is lost in the process. The situation becomes a problem to be solved, rather than a horrifying nightmare. This happens A LOT in horror films, and Mirrors is a textbook example. Sinister stuff should be sprinkled throughout, not front loaded into the first 45 minutes.

Anyway, it’s not a bad movie, but for me there are other films that do a lot of this stuff better.

Lilly: I would suggest this film for a bit of fun. It has some good scares, some creepy moments, and some really good character development for the protagonist. Recommend from me!

Andy: I would recommend it for one of the best horror sets I’ve ever seen, and for fans of Kiefer Sutherland. Other than that, it’s just kind of average.