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Halloween / Dia de muertos weekend 2020 - Day 1: Spell (2020), Tremors (1990), The Maid (2020) and comments about Black Water: Abyss (2020), The Turning (2020) and It Chapter Two (2019)

As tradition dictates nothing will stop me from holding my yearly ritual, which is watching as many horror films I can in one sitting. Or technically, in one weekend. No apocalyptic pandemic is going to ruin that for me. That being said I wish everyone a very Happy Halloween. Let the fun begin!


Spell (2020)

Honestly I was bracing myself for the worst. However the trailer surely looked intriguing. Sure enough it delivered that and then some.

Spell is about a man who has fled his hometown and state because of his abusive father. He has made quite a life for himself but perhaps is a little too accepting when it comes to his spoiled kids. Then he receives a phone call and is told his father has passed away. The wife then convinces her husband he should go there for closure. Without hesitation the whole family fly in their plane to the far countryside where soon after disaster strikes. I am not going to reveal what will happen after. But the whole journey until the credits roll is definitely worth it. 

Of course one could be overly critical and say that this film is not breaking new ground. Then again why would that even matter if every second is thrilling. Spell certainly is not playing it safe. It has no problems grossing you out with blood, gore and other vile things. So refreshing to have a horror film not subject itself to a PG rating. And all those people saying it's bad, sorry to say but those people don't know anything. 

Tremors (1990)

Since I wanted to keep things fun I interchanged serious creepy horror with some comedic antics. Tremors: Shrieker Island seemed to be the ideal film for that. However my friend who had joined the Halloween weekend hadn't seen the original yet. So I decided to watch that one first.

Even after having seen this film several times I am happy to report that Tremors stills hold up. I was forgotten that it also contained genuine thrills next to funny moments. Plus the fact that the graboids learn from their mistakes and adapt themselves so they continue to be a threat is a very strong and compelling element. It's easy to understand that it has spun off so many sequels. And yet I have never seen any of them. At least not that I can remember. Well, that is about to change for sure.


The Maid (2020)

The Maid is an example of a film that plays around with expectations and convention by giving you exactly what you think it's going to be to then change up things. Not that it's entirely unpredictable. Actually if you are paying attention enough you will be able to see where the film is heading. But I have to give the film credit for making you think anything could happen.

Misdirection is key. There are moments when the horror is too on the nose and then there are moments that simply are too subtle. However it's these moments that are the creepiest. While most of these moments seem bad they do seem to have a purpose and therefore are intentional. As is the use of the setting and the surrealistic characters. Had they not shown electrical ovens and smartphones they could have fooled me by thinking this film took place around the Fifties. Femme fatale Uma played by the gorgeous Sawika Chaiyadech basically sits around being pretty. I mean she is real good at it. She definitely draws all attention to her. It's as if the film is trying to tell us there is more to her than we realize. Her character even tells us in her opening dialogue. 

Another good character is Joy played by Ploy Sornarin. Another example of misdirection done right. Her innocence is convincing as you do feel like you have to root for her. But you really shouldn't as you can tell at times there is something off about her. It's obvious Ploy Sornarin had fun and to be honest it is fun to watch her in action. Most of the cast do a good job selling you the plot and surrealism even if at times events are too pretentious for their own good. The film has a fresh and clever take on horror only it's not nearly as clever as it thinks it is. Yet I enjoyed it immensely and is definitely one I can recommend!

While I had anticipated to watch more old age took me hostage. I had to take a nap. But unfortunately forgot to set my alarm only to find myself waking up the next morning. This does make me determined to do better today. Before I forget. I want to add my thoughts on Black Water: Abyss (2020), The Turning (2020) and It Chapter Two (2019). I watched this on Friday night but forgot to write reviews for.

Honestly for what it offers it's quite decent. The monster is not some omnipotent being who would do extraordinary things beyond it's capabilities. However the adventurers who cross it's path do make it very easy to target them. If you are in an area where people pass through constantly and you are being missed very easily then perhaps it would be understandable. But they are literally in the middle of nowhere with no one to guide them or to call in help if necessary. Would that really destroy the sense of adventure? Even if it did. Wasn't the purpose of the trip to explore the area to see if they could turn it into a profitable tourist attraction? Not exactly good business to get killed yourself before you can enjoy the fruits of your labour now is it? Even when the characters are irresponsible and bland I didn't want to see them get hurt. They were just likable enough.  Still the film is a pretty forgettable. 

The Turning is a pretty solid horror film until the ending. The ending is so bad that it completely ruins the overall viewing experience since you realize you wasted precious minutes. I am aware that the the story is based on the original he Turn of the Screw. But without having read it I doubt that it slapped on the ending like this adaptation did. It comes out of nowhere and doesn't give you much to think about. If you are going to be ambiguous you at least have to make either solutions seem real and viable. Plus it needs to motivate you to watch the film again in order to make sure you didn't miss something essential. The only thing I was motivated to do was to put on another horror film. 

In this case It Chapter Two. And I was prepared for this to be bad. But this bad? The original was already a total crapfest. Surely that can't be possible can it? I gave it a shot for at least one hour until I couldn't take it anymore. I was bored out of my mind. Is it fair of me to judge a two and half hour film on that one hour? Probably not. Then again if you can't manage to grab your viewer in the first hour chances are you won't be able do anything beyond either. 

12 november 2020:

So I gave the film another shot. And I think my exhaustion actually helped me appreciate a little better than I should have. Because now watching the remaining hour and a half more or less well rested made it clear to me that It Chapter Two is easily one of the worst films ever made. It doesn't work as a horror, nor as a psychological thriller, nor as a fantasy drama and not even as a comedy. That is almost an accomplishment in itself since this second part is a sum of ludicrous scenes which are never creepy, scary or thrilling. CGI Pennywise simply is not menacing. There is one moment probably stolen from The Thing where something interesting happens with a character's head. In The Thing this was one of the scariest WTF moments in film history. Here in It Chapter Two it was the exact opposite. 

The real horror is that quite a few people think this film is excellent. Even if you solely would view this as a film about friendship it lacks every fundamental element to make you care for the main characters. Only in a few scenes towards the end do you get to witness touching moments. But it's far too late.

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