“Happy Death Day”

A macabre title for a blog post, I’ll admit – but, don’t worry, it’s a happy story.

It also kind of reinforces the point I’ll make here – you may have had a lot of preconceptions of this from the title, but it’s different from what you think…

In my last post I spoke about how disappointment can strike at any time. Such as walking through London only to find a massive statue of Jeff Goldblum isn’t there…

… but here I’m talking about the other kind of surprise. The good one.

So let me set the scene. It’s a Tuesday night. It’s too hot to sleep. I’m alone in my room with the sounds of London drifting through the cracked window. A candle flickers atop of a cabinet in the corner and I’m scrolling through Now TV to find something to watch.

Does anyone else find that, while these streaming services give us a plethora of choices, they also make us incredibly indecisive?

At least back in the day when TV schedules reigned supreme it took away hours of fruitless flicking and soulless scrolling.

I narrowed my choices down to some of the shorter films and found one that ran for an hour and a half. The title was ‘Happy Death Day’ – which, in my humble opinion, is a terrible title.

I was about to flick past it when something about the synopsis caught my eye. Apparently it was like Groundhog Dog meets Friday the 13th.

Now, Groundhog Day is a great movie… but I’m no slasher film fan. Yet still, against my better judgement I gave it a go.

The opening titles rolled and… within seconds I was hooked!

Against all the odds it was good. and deserves its 7/10 rating on IMDB.

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(Look out for a great lead performance by Jessica Rothe, who you may recognise from La La Land)

Who knew, though?

Everything about it made me want to skip it, but curiosity got the better of me and I’m glad it did. That age old saying ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ held true.

Although, I do think they need to reconsider that title – I recommended it to a friend and when I mentioned the title his first comment was; ‘sounds grim’.

How would I market it?

Maybe Groundhog Dog meets Alfred Hitchcock.

It takes away the stigma we have around slasher films, yet also hints that viewers will be in for some killer scenes.

Check it out!

by Ashley Brown

featured photo: looper.com

other image: Business Insider

Whyididntwritetoday @ the movies: IT (2017)

I think that life can be very hard for the horror genre. Especially when it comes to the general public. Whenever a horror film appears in the cinema the audience will instantly scrutinise it…is it scary? No…is it actually scary? Is it cheesy? Does it make sense?

What’s more, horror has a kind of a stigma attached to it. I mean, how many genuienly world class horror films are there out there? How many mainstream awards ceremonies would consider a horror film? And, how many big name actors would actually agree to star in one?

So, when I heard that Stephen King’s ‘IT’ was being given the big screen treatment I didn’t know what to expect. As you might recall from a blog a few months back I’d only just read the book and, on the whole, enjoyed it.

So anyway, when time allowed, I dragged my girlfriend to see it one Saturday night. The reviews I’d seen had been fairly positive – so my hopes were high.

I’m pleased to say that it was well worth my £12 ticket.
(…remember when it was about £3 for a ticket? I was clearing out some old receipts the other day and saw a ticket for 2 Fast 2 Furious {2003} and it was a mere £3!)

In a day and age where we’re almost desensitised to things it’s hard to truly be scary, but at many points throughout, ‘IT’ manages to spook the viewer. Sure, as with most horror flicks, there were a few ‘jump scares’ but there was also an underlying sense of dread that threaded through most of the scenes and, even though I roughly knew what was happening, left me on edge.

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(photo: IndieWire)

In terms of true horror no punches are pulled. Right from the word go one of the local children is dispatched by the titular clown character and the pace doesn’t really slow down from there.

There are certainly a lot of differences from the book, but it’s the same story and I think the main child actors do a fantastic job of bringing their characters to life. The casting is nigh on perfect and the kids who play Richie and Eddie steal the show in many scenes.

While Tim Curry will always be famous for playing Pennywise the clown in the TV mini-series, Bill Skarsgård does a more than capable job here. I liked the fact that, rather than copy Curry’s fantastic display, he goes his own way and comes up with some very credible results.

There’s a scene right at the start where he goes from laughing to scowling within a matter of seconds and I felt goosebumps prickle all over me.

5/5 for me and a must-see for anyone who hasn’t already, whether you’re a Stephen King fan or not.

This film focuses solely on one half of the book, which depicts the main characters’ childhood struggles – there’s a sequel coming and it’ll tell the story of their adulthood.

I’m looking forward to it, and I’m also intrigued as to who will play them as adults. Here’s a speculative article I found which whets the whistle of anticipation:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danidiplacido/2017/09/15/who-should-play-the-losers-club-in-the-sequel-to-stephen-kings-it/

 

 

 

Why I didn’t write today @ the movies: The Limehouse Golem

It’s been a long time since I’ve been involved in the theatre. But I can still remember it well. The tension, the glimpses of the crowd behind the curtains before things kick off and then the feeling of getting a line wrong…only to realise the crowd don’t even have the script to berate you about it, let alone notice.

‘The Limehouse Golem’ takes us back to the musical theatre scene in Victorian London. A time before the cinema, when everyone who was anyone would pay a premium for entertainment.

The Limehouse Golem is certainly not a musical though, far from it. The theatre serves as a backdrop for a series of grisly murders. At the start of the film a minor playwright is found dead, it could be suicide…but the Victorian authorities are keen to pin it on his wife, Lizzie (Olivia Cooke) – who is one of the biggest names in the theatre at the time.

As Lizzie awaits trial we’re introduced to the sassy, ageing Inspector Kildare (Bill Nighy) of Scotland Yard. He’s never handled a murder case before, and then all of a sudden the case of Lizzie’s husband falls into his lap.

As the investigation moves on, it becomes more and more apparent that it could be connected to a serial killer dubbed ‘the Limehouse Golem’. I believe this story (based on Peter Ackroyd’s 1994 novel ‘Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem’, was set just before ‘Jack the Ripper’ came to prominence – but there’s certainly a Ripper feel here.

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(how creepy is this poster? Source: bloody-disgusting)

The director Juan Carlos Medina dubs this as a ‘horror-thriller’, but I’m not so sure. Watching it, in a darkened cinema, it felt more like an atmospheric mismatch of genres – mostly melodrama (a genre all too forgotten now) with parts of police procedural, killer thriller and a touch of musical thrown in for good measure.

A lot of the tale is told in flashback – mostly about Lizzie’s life as a young woman in Victorian England. And how she rose up against an awful lot of adversity to become successful. The flashback narrative works well for the majority of the piece, although it does lead to it being a little disjointed from time to time…but perhaps that adds to the effect of the unhinged killer who stalks the East End throughout.

Daniel Mays gives a great supporting performance as Kildare’s police partner, and Douglas Booth takes a great turn as Dan Leno – a drag queen who works closely with Lizzie. While Olivia Cooke displays a tour-de-force or emotions as the bold Lizzie, Bill Nighy steals this for me in terms of his performance – it’s great to see him still looking so well, and able to command the lead as the pained Inspector Kildare.

All in all this is a 4/5 for me and I’d recommend it to you. It’s grim, it’s grisly but it’s without moments of humour. However, the mishmash of genres lets it down at times and I couldn’t quite get over the feeling that it didn’t know what it wanted to be when it grew up…so, it depends really on whether or not you appreciate an artistic narrative over a more straightlaced yarn.

by Ashley Brown