Pacific Rim

When giant monsters from another dimension pop out of a hole in the middle of the Pacific, humanity finds itself on the brink of extinction. But just when it seems all hope is lost, mankind finds itself united in this fight against a common, alien foe. And the fighting is being done with a bunch of giant robots…in Pacific Rim.


Directed and co-written by Guillermo del Toro, Pacific Rim is a love-letter to classic Japanese movies, comics, and cartoons. In fact, the only thing truly missing from Pacific Rim are men in molded rubber suits crashing about a miniature replica of the various cities destroyed over the course of the movie. But while those lumbering costumes are replaced with CGI, they fortunately retain a lot of the weight and force that those classic practical effects provided. However, the overall look of the special effects in this movie are a lot more in line with animated series like Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion–bright, colorful, and not at all realistic by design. And given the campy nature and spirit of the film, the film’s visual design is consistent with everything else.

That said, I’m not sure that’s entirely a good thing.

Pacific Rim is colorful, kinetic movie with lots of fun, exciting set pieces. There’s a lot there for fans and non-fans of the various geeky toy boxes Pacific Rim draws its ideas from to enjoy. This is a film that actively appeals to children and the child in all of us. Everything is big, melodramatic action and monologuing. Lots of posturing. Lots of on-the-nose dialog that sounds clunky and as if it were written by someone who only reads old comic books. Lots of two-dimensional archetypes walking about, talking and acting like they’re following old, worn out paths. Lots of little moments that make little sense and are intended to serve the action or comedy or melodrama at the expense of a more coherent, engaging narrative and characters.

Anime and manga have their charms, their strengths as mediums and styles that make them unique in the world of pop-culture. But they also often come with a lot of tired, dated issues that are a continued detriment. And Pacific Rim is such a perfectly crafted piecemeal adaptation of del Toro’s favorites that it retains both the good and the bad. It’s true to the spirit of the original material, which is all sorts of fun in and of itself. This is a very watchable and enjoyable movie on the whole. But it comes with these weird little moments that feel a little left of normal. These little moments that break the immersion for those who aren’t necessarily fans of or overly familiar with the sort of style del Toro is playing with. Little moments that would have been better executed in–or even cut out of–a better movie.

For example, there’s a moment in the movie where one of the giant robots is at the mercy of one of the giant monsters. And during this fight, a new weapon is introduced that allows the robot and its two pilots to turn the tide in their favor. In fact, the movie stops itself to acknowledge that this is coming out of nowhere with the intent to surprise both the characters and us, the audience.

And it does make for a fun moment. But it’s also a bit weird. It raises all sorts of questions that the movie outright refuses to properly answer. Why wasn’t this secret weapon used until it was almost too late, rather than making use of it earlier in the fight? Why would such a thing be kept a secret from one of the two pilots of the giant robot? You can keep it a secret from the audience, as we don’t have to see every little thing. But not the characters. Not when the movie constantly reminds us that teamwork, coordination, and trust is the most important things in these sorts of situations.

Well in Japanese anime and manga, such a moment is fairly common. Deus ex machina runs rampant. Sometimes it’s used to elicit a strong but brief emotional response from the audience. And maybe that’s the intended purpose in Pacific Rim. But it comes across more like someone wrote themselves out of a corner. Worse, it feels like a wasted opportunity to create a very different sort of fight from the slow, heavy brawling and wrestling we see for much of the movie. In short, this moment–and similar ones throughout the movie–feel like a forced wink and a nod to the source material rather than something organic. A brief flash of fan-service rather than something meaningful.

A big part of the movie is the way the monsters somehow adapt to the various efforts of the humans. An in turn, the humans have to adapt to continue surviving this unending war. Had the moment with the secret weapon been presented as perhaps a surprise reveal that the humans are actually and finally ahead of the curve, there would be a long-running impact. It’d be a pivotal moment in the film itself. But as it is, it’s just a fun little throwaway that never comes up again.

But, again, that’s not the way of Japanese anime and manga. Thus, it’s not the way of Pacific Rim.


And this approach unfortunately results in the aforementioned flat characters, many of whom lack any sort of charm or screen presence as a result. Like exposition and deus ex machina plot twists, archetype characters are prolific in anime and manga. There’s the powerful leader with a heart of gold he hides behind a stoic attitude who doesn’t really grow or change. There’s the generic, blank-slate hero who never really grows or changes. And then there’s the troubled rookie (a young Japanese woman named Mako Mori, played here by Rinko Kikuchi) who has a vendetta against the bad guys and never really grows or changes.

Aside from a powerful rallying speech, Idris Elba is ultimately wasted in the role of a prominent military leader when all he really does is mug and growl for the camera. Charlie Hunnam is boring to watch as a stoic, yet broody partner to the stoic, yet broody rookie who replaces his dead, yet somewhat charming brother. And given how fun and silly every other aspect of the movie is, it’s a surprise to find the actors and their characters are the only ones acting like everything is so serious.

And because so many characters are flat, overly-serious archetypes, performances from actors like Charlie Day and Ron Perlman stand out like a sore thumb. They’re colorful, over-the-top, very loud characters. They’re clearly the comic relief. But it’s such a drastic shift, such a stark contrast with the rest of the characters that it’s hard to not wonder why everyone else is such a stick in the mud. Day and Perlman are second only to the big monster fights as far as entertainment value go. Their characters are likable, flawed, and wholly entertaining.


And that really does sum up all of Pacific Rim. There is so much fun, so much color, so much silliness, so much excitement to be found in this movie. But much of it is floating brightly in a dark sea of uninteresting blah–lifeless characters, lifeless dialog, lots of explaining rather than showing, lots of detours and tangents. The highs are high, but the lows are very low. It’s an uneven tone that has the movie resetting itself scene after scene. It’s hard to become invested in a story and movie that doesn’t know if it’s supposed to be somewhat serious or embrace its wacky cartoon roots. The best anime and manga know to pick one or the other as their foundation. But del Toro and company tried to split the difference, and it doesn’t work out for the best.

Pacific Rim is not del Toro’s best movie, not even close. But it is easily his most fun. It doesn’t quite live up to the best of the various movies and cartoons that it attempts to emulate, but it does rightfully earn its place on someone’s “Best of” list of such things. And for fans of such things, Pacific Rim is a definite CHILL. But for those who don’t care for things like Godzilla, Ultraman, or even Power Rangers, Pacific Rim might not be the first or second thing to consider for your next movie night.

Pan’s Labyrinth


Groove Grove Nasty Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Pan’s Labyrinth features Ivana Baquero as Ofelia, a young girl living in post-Civil War Spain. And when Ofelia’s mother remarries a military officer, the two travel to the countryside where her new stepfather is currently assigned to hunt down a group of rebels. But as her new stepfather’s violent crusade tears their family apart, Ofelia escapes deeper and deeper into a strange fantasy world that might be a whole lot more real than it seems.


Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth arguably remains his finest work. Several years before Tim Burton would share his own dark, twisted wonderland, del Toro presents a hauntingly beautiful fairy tale of a young girl escaping the woes of her life by way of an oddly colored fantasy world. But whereas Lewis Carrol’s classic story is a whimsical look at logic and the lack thereof, del Toro’s is a somber, introspective look at how a young girl copes with the chaos and death that surrounds her.

Every aspect of this movie oozes with del Toro’s trademark style. The visuals are dark, moody, and haunting, with brief moments of warmth and color. The design of the world and its various creatures are organic yet also unnatural, beautiful yet somehow wicked. It’s all pulled out from something not quite a dream, not quite a nightmare.

And the story is much the same way, with it never clear one way or the other if Ofelia’s fantasy is intended to be taken as a frightened child’s escape or something more real. And this isn’t just some half-hearted attempt at ambiguity. If anything, Pan’s Labyrinth might be one of the best examples of ambiguity in all of cinema. The film is designed from top to bottom to not focus on whether or not this fantasy might be real. Instead, everything is overtly surreal–the costumes, the sets, the props. Ofelia is already living in a fantasy world and living out a fairy tale before she ever sees anything fantastical. But every care in the world went into ensuring that in spite of how much we’re aware of this is all a movie, we’ll still be desperately wishing and hoping that this little girl might secretly be a princess who gets her happily ever after. It’s beautiful, classic storytelling executed flawlessly.


And this gorgeous, intoxicating production is only accentuated further by the performances of its cast. It’s well-documented how challenging it can be to work with child actors. And it’s not hard to see why the acting talent of most actors that young will struggle with the demands of more serious material. Acting is a craft that takes years and years of experience to truly come close to mastering, after all.

Yet Ivana Baquero handles the transition from tortured young girl to wide-eyed, hopeful child with grace. She’s a young girl caught in a nightmare she can’t wake up from. She charms the camera effortlessly, vulnerable yet strong. She’s the hero of her own story, but not some Disney-like princess who can never truly be hurt or stopped.

And while this might come across like some purple prose way of gushing about Baquero’s performance, it’s a sincere opinion on the matter. Baquero is in the unfair position to carry the full weight of the movie’s emotionally-draining story on her young shoulders. And that gamble could have easily failed if she weren’t wholly up to the task. Pan’s Labyrinth would not be the cinematic masterpiece that it is if not for Baquero’s ability to navigate the emotional roller coaster the role takes her through. The highs are highs, the lows are low. And it all twists and turns on a dime. It’s a fascinating story to watch unfold clear through to the end. But that performance is what makes ties it all together.

As for the rest of the cast…

Well, at this point it almost goes without saying that Doug Jones brings an unearthly charm to his portrayals of both the mysterious Faun and the nightmarish Pale Man.

And Sergi Lopez makes for the perfect troubled villain in his role as Ofelia’s stepfather, Vidal. The character is a man of contradiction. He’s a cruel, violent man to his enemies and often cold and distant to those closest to him. But Vidal infuses this seemingly heartless man with a soul. He’s not just some ruthless killer who deserves swift, divine justice. This isn’t a man who doesn’t understand love and affection. Instead, Lopez presents Vidal as a man who been consumed by his duties, too hardened and calloused to feel such vulnerable emotions.


The only remotely reasonable issue someone might have with the film is that it’s best enjoyed in its native Spanish, thus requiring a grasp of that language or the use of subtitles. But this isn’t just one of del Toro’s best films, it’s also one of the most beautiful movies period. And because this, just a few moments taking in the sights and sounds of what the film has to offer should be more than enough to convince even the most stubborn rejector of all things subtitled to CHILL with Pan’s Labyrinth.

The Shape of Water


Groove Grove Nasty Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

A top secret government facility. A pretty, mute janitor. And the mysterious merman who proves to be more than just a kindred spirit. All of this and more comes together for one the most beautiful, dark fairy tales you’ll ever see…in The Shape of Water.


Directed and co-written by Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water is a gorgeous, captivating movie that, while not necessarily his best story, is very easily his best production to date.
The film is simply beautiful to look at. The set design, the costumes. The color pallet. The haunting, moody lighting. Everything seamlessly shifts to accentuate whatever emotion a scene requires, from lonely to passionate; cold to warm; hopeless to hopeful.

For example, Elisa Esposito, the lonely, mute janitor played by the absolutely charming Sally Hawkins, lives in a rundown, sparsely furnished apartment above a noisy, struggling movie theater. For much of the movie, it’s dark, cold, and dusty. The wallpaper is peeled and torn. The roof leaks in the rain. It feels eternally lonely. But her neighbor, Giles (played here by Richard Jenkins), lives next door in an always warm, sunlit apartment filled with furniture and decorations. It’s inviting and lived-in. It’s a home.

The music and sound design are just as lovely, fluid, and pin-point accurate, and all while never failing to be subtle.

The casting is practically flawless. Aside from a few, though not glaring exceptions, nearly every performance is charming and memorable. Hawkins is silent for much of the movie, but her facial expressions and body language are big, sweeping gestures when they need to be, while also delicate and subtle when the camera is pulled close. Jenkins, meanwhile, is every friend we wish we had. Doug Jones brings humanity to a wholly inhuman entity despite an utter lack of dialog or human facial expressions. And Michael Shannon is easily the most human Disney villain despite this not being a Disney production.


If there’s any issue to be found in The Shape of Water, it would be how the movie is about as deep as the movies that inspired it. This is a movie heavily influenced not only by Universal’s classic line of monster movies, but also Disney’s classic animated fairy tales. Every character gets just the right amount of screentime, depth, and growth the movie requires of them. But the story itself isn’t much deeper than a typical fairy tale. The characters are largely restricted to fixed, key roles that never diverge from expectation. And as a result, the central love story doesn’t net a lot of attention. It’s the same sort of puppy-dog affection depicted in classic stories like Romeo and Juliet. There’s more context and work put into the ambiance surrounding it rather than portraying anything close to a realistic or meaningful relationship. It’s a cute, whimsical love affair for sure. And it works in the context of the film. But del Toro does ask the audience to accept more than a small leap in logic in order to rationalize a silent, expedited human-merfolk romance. If you thought the romance in Disney’s The Little Mermaid was underdeveloped, Shape of Water is somehow even more so.

But again, in the context of what the movie is, this is the best of whatever sort of movie The Shape of Water set out to be. If the goal was to create a hauntingly beautiful fairy tale about loneliness and affection, then del Toro and company succeeded in every conceivable fashion. There is no wasted effort. No wasted dialog or moments or scenes. No unnecessary plot threads or characters. Everything hits the right notes with the right timing. The execution is as flawless as they come.

If you’re looking for something with a bit more depth to its characters, romance, and story, then The Shape of Water might leave you wanting to a fair degree. But if beautiful filmmaking blended with a touching story and charming characters is what you’re looking, then I highly suggest you CHILL with The Shape of Water.



RetroFuture Nasty Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

A strange, unexplained light only known as “The Shimmer” has swallowed a small corner of the United States, spreading slowly each day, threatening to engulf the entire country and beyond. And after her husband disappears inside The Shimmer while on exploratory mission for the army only to suddenly return home one year later with a fatal condition, a soldier-turned-biologist volunteers to venture into The Shimmer in the hopes of finding a cure…in Annihilation.


Written and directed by Alex Garland, the man behind 2014’s hit sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, Annihilation shares only a passing resemblance to the award-winning novel it was adapted from. In fact, the movie isn’t so much an adaptation as it is a re-imagination of the same basic premise.

The most apparent alteration Garland made to the story is the biologist’s motivation for venturing into The Shimmer. In Garland’s version, the biologist, Lena–played here by Natalie Portman (and unnamed in the book)–is attempting to save her husband’s life. However, in the book, her husband dies of cancer before she joins the latest research team.

And while this might seem like a relatively minor change, it ultimately makes a huge impact on the overall plot and structure of the movie. Because instead of being a fairly straightforward, unsettling journey into the unknown by a woman struggling to cope with the death of her husband, Garland’s movie is a sloppy mess that cuts back and forth between a half-baked subplot about Lena’s apparently rocky marriage and a cliche, incredibly predictable horror movie that you’ve definitely seen a hundred times before.


The simple truth about Annihilation is that while Garland manages to bring the same beautiful visual style to this movie as he did to Ex Machina, the story and overall experience is fairly lifeless, unoriginal, and shallow. There’s no time given to properly fleshing out the relationship between Lena and her husband, which not only negates the impact of the few flashbacks we get, but also cuts into time that could have been spent developing the mystery, allure, and danger of The Shimmer itself. Because we don’t get this dark, mysterious journey into some alien-but-familiar world. Instead, we get cliche, uninteresting characters bickering in cliche, uninteresting ways as they occasionally find something interesting but wholly pointless to look at. And then, it eventually and mercifully ends with a sloppy wink at the camera.

For example: the four explorers in the book are slowly broken down emotionally and physically by the nightmarish world they find themselves in and an unknown-to-them conspiracy set against them. In the movie, no such conspiracy exists. Nor do any of the characters organically breakdown over the course of the movie. Instead, the four characters are reduced to horror movie cliches–the main character, the nice one, the tough one, and the manipulator. And they’re all slowly moved around and removed from the board as you might expect from such a lazy set up, such as the “tough one” eventually snapping under the pressure and turning on her teammates.

And that would be fine, if incredibly predictable had Garland given us any reason to care about the team and their plight. This is a team of strangers, to each other and to us. And by the time it ends, they remain that way. There’s simply no reason to care about any of them. No time is dedicated to making us care.

Things certainly aren’t helped any by the painfully dull performances from Portman and her supporting cast. While Portman has given a number of delightful, subtle performances throughout her career–such as in her role as Mathilda in Leon: the Professional or Nina in Black Swan–her turn as Lena has all the nuance and depth as her performance as Padme in the various Star Wars prequels. She and the rest of the cast come across as if they were all heavily sedated during production. Nobody talks above a loud whisper for much of the movie. Nobody talks in a natural cadence, nor with much of any emotion. Nobody talks or converses like normal human beings–the dialog is all exposition or robotic, unnatural movie-speak. And nobody is believable as either a scientist or a soldier.


The end result is a movie that is most definitely a beautiful audio-visual experience, but also one that isn’t really worth watching. Nor does it seem all too interested in convincing you otherwise. The characters aren’t interesting or engaging. The conflict isn’t compelling. The mystery is as ultimately pointless as it is disappointing. And while there are a few moments where Garland truly and gracefully nails the tension and horror the movie promises, such moments are buried deep in a pile of cinematic tripe.

If the worth of a film were found solely in its ability to consistently deliver beautiful visuals, haunting sound design, and general tone, Annihilation would be worth its weight in gold. But movies are more than just visuals or basic story structure. It’s also in the presentation of such things. In its ability to engage and manipulate the audiences into caring for even the most impossible moments or unlikable characters. Garland managed such things with his tale of a robot wishing it were a real girl. But he ultimately fails when it comes to this movie about a deeply-troubled woman volunteering for what amounts to a suicide mission.

Unless you’ve read the original novel and are dying to see someone else’s visual-stunning but emotionally lacking interpretation, Annihilation is a NO CHILL.

Fullmetal Alchemist


RetroFuture Nasty Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

When their mother suddenly passes away, two young brothers attempt and fail to resurrect her using the power of alchemy. Now left horrifically disfigured and scarred, the two begin their search for the legendary Philosopher’s Stone in the hope of obtaining the power they need to make things right…in Fullmetal Alchemist.


Directed by Fumihiko Sori, Fullmetal Alchemist is the live-action adaptation of the massively popular comic and animated series from Japan. And fans of the series are likely to be fairly impressed with the level of accuracy in the various locations, costumes, and flashy magical powers. The movie contains a number of nearly 1:1 visual replications, which is incredibly rare for any live-action adaptation.

That said, there’s a very good reason why such strict visual recreations are often avoided when adapting any cartoon or comicbook. Because what works in animation or on the printed page typically doesn’t work well in real life.

For one, the costumes–while accurate in their appearance–look nothing like real clothes. Instead, every bit of clothing in the movie looks like high-end versions of the sorts of costumes you’d see at your local comic book convention. Like the sets, they’re far too clean and artificial looking. There’s no stains, no wear and tear. Nothing looks like people use or live in it. Nearly every actor in this movie is sporting a laughably bad wig or bad dye job.

Worse still is how none of the actors manage a half-way decent performance. Now, it is true the actors manage to properly replicate the tone and mannerisms of their animated counterparts. But such things come across as wooden or clownish when done by a real actor on a real set. Nobody in this movie walks, talks, looks, or acts like a real person.

And as a result, Fullmetal Alchemist comes across less like a movie and more like some high-budget stage performance. One that, much like the costumes, would be more at home at a comic convention. And at least a fan production could be forgiven for any lack of professional cinematic flair or talent.


Of course, none of this even begins to touch upon the lazy, exposition-heavy dialog that sounds as if it were written by a middle schooler. The movie and its less-than-two dimensional characters are constantly telling us what’s going on, how they’re feeling, and even what’s happening on screen at that very moment.

In fact, there is more time given to characters detailing every aspect of this movie than there is time dedicated to fleshing out the characters themselves, their world, or even the stripped down plot. The comic and TV series were both fairly long. And rather than attempt to kick off a series of films, Fullmetal Alchemist instead tries to cram everything into a single movie. This results in a movie with half-a-dozen plots going at once, no development of any of them, nor even any real attempt to tie them all together. Things just happen. Characters literally pop up and introduce themselves without context or even a purpose.

For example: Tsubasa Honda’s Winry is the childhood best friend of both Ryosuke Yamada’s Edward and Atom Mizuishi’s Alphonse. However, we’re never actually shown this. She suddenly appears in the movie as a young woman despite scenes existing with the two brothers at a younger age in their rural hometown. And when she does show up, it’s without a reason or purpose. In the original manga and TV series, she’s an engineering prodigy who designed and built Edward’s artificial, mechanical limbs. But in this movie, she literally pops up screaming like we’re supposed to know who she is. And then she proceeds to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the movie.

In fact, her only purpose in this movie seems to be acting as a stand-in for the mostly CGI Alphonse, who after losing his physical body as a boy had his soul bonded to a large suit of armor. Any scene where it should be Edward and Alphonse sharing a quiet moment and talking with one another, it’s often instead Edward and Winry. Al’s CGI construct is so incredibly limited in appearance that it might have been better to simply write him off altogether for how little he gets to say or do.


And then there’s the issue of Sori’s directing, which consists of some impressively bad shot composition, framing, and pacing. Despite having several feature films under his belt before working on Fullmetal Alchemist, Sori seemingly hasn’t the faintest grasp of even the most basic filmmaking fundamentals. Actors are consistently out of frame. There’s no energy or motion to be found in his shots, even when they’re filled with chaos and fighting. Even if the actors weren’t dressed in cheap costumes, holding plastic proper, or mugging and vamping for the camera, there’d still be no dramatic weight to any shot or moment because of how bad everything is framed and cut together.

And on top of all of this, Sori’s directorial failings are somehow even more impressive once you realize that he had the original comic, two animated TV series, and several animated feature films to refer to while working on his.


How a compelling story with a unique visual flair and style was turned into such a lackluster mess of a film is shocking to say the least. Nothing in this movie was done well or right in any objective way. Fullmetal Alchemist looks bad, is acted bad, and is put together in arguably the worst way possible. There’s no respect present for the source material that was plundered for the sake of this adaptation. There’s no respect for the craft of acting, or filmmaking in general. And there’s certainly no respect for the audience this movie was clearly intended for, let alone a general audience who might accidentally waste their time with it.

The guiding law of alchemy is supposed to be that of “equivalent exchange.” To obtain one thing, something of equal value must be given. Fullmetal Alchemist offers nothing as a cinematic experience. And because of that, it is most definitely not worth offering your time or money to watch.

Fullmetal Alchemist is, without question, a NO CHILL.

The Emoji Movie


RetroFuture Nasty Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

When a malfunctioning emoji by the name of Gene is threatened with deletion, he’ll venture off into the unknown in the hope of getting himself reprogrammed…in The Emoji Movie.


Directed and co-written by Tony Leonidas, the plain truth about The Emoji Movie is that it is one of the most cynical and insulting movies–animated or otherwise–ever released.

In a world where, as of the writing of this review, there are already five live-action Transformers movies and several Lego movies, The Emoji Movie somehow has even more shameless, lazy product placement. Worse, it doesn’t even attempt to hide its not-so secret identity as a commercial for a number of services or games, such as Dropbox, Spotify, or Candy Crush.

There are two major stories and a number of minor ones mixed into the whole thing, but none of it ultimately matters. Nor is it likely anyone watching the movie will care about any of it.

And it’s not as if there isn’t material worth mining in whatever passed for this film’s script. There’s a cute little story of a young man struggling to find the courage and just the right way to speak with a pretty girl. There’s multiple similar threads about identity and finding one’s place in the world, of rejecting the roles society forces on us and embracing who we really are inside. The Emoji Movie is surprisingly ripe with great ideas that could have truly resonated with audiences in the same way as 2014’s The Lego Movie, another film every bit as earnest and successful in its storytelling as it is in its blatant product placement.

But it doesn’t seem as if Leonidas or anyone else involved with the making of the movie genuinely cared about what they were making and selling tickets for. There are simply far too many serious issues with the film for anyone to have worked on it, edited it, and viewed it and thought it was worth anyone’s money. There’s no attempt at logic or reason in any corner of the movie, meaning things–plot beats, attempts at jokes, emotional arcs–happen for no reason. Worse, the movie will actually stop itself to spell everything out. And it’s not that anything is difficult to follow or understand. Instead, it’s a matter of the movie simply refusing to actually show anything that would make us care for fear of wasting valuable ad space.


One glaring example of this is actually the main plot thread of the movie–Gene’s malfunction that allows him to express more than a singular emotion.

The point is constantly hammered home that emojis are programmed with a singular purpose in life, be it to express one face, thought, or anything else. Perhaps this is a happy face, a Christmas tree, or, as in the case of Gene, an unimpressed “Meh.” We’re told that Gene’s journey is spurred by the other emojis rejecting Gene’s more emotive nature and his perceived refusal to properly integrate himself in his singular role for life. But nearly every emoji we meet is either an outcast looking for their place in the world or looking to somehow change their place in it. Nobody is as they’re supposedly programmed to be.

So why then is Gene special in any way? Why are we watching his story play out in any way? He’s forced on this journey because the script demands it. As does everything else that gives the movie any semblance of structure or purpose or direction.


And for as much as the movie refuses to stop telling us answers to questions we never asked, it never answers any of the questions it presents to us.

Why are the emojis presented as sentient beings that seem to know about and care about the young boy who owns the phone they exist within when the movie isn’t some Toy Story-esque tale of love and attachment? Why are these entirely artificial, digital creatures given wholly biological qualities, such as the ability and desire to procreate or even eat? How or why would there be protocols to delete a malfunctioning emoji without the phone’s user being directly involved or even aware it’s happening? Why did nobody involved with the movie understand how technology works or how children use phones these days?

There are so many legitimately interesting questions presented, such as how does free will exist in a world where every single entity is literally programmed by some literal creator with an implicit purpose for their existence? And yet The Emoji Movie isn’t interested in anything other than being a billboard for whatever bit of software cut the biggest check. To hell with any pretense this movie was intended to serve as entertainment. This is a nearly ninety-minute commercial people paid to sit through with either their hard-earned money or nonrefundable time.

It’s mostly true that nobody ever sets out to make a bad movie. But it might be safe to say that everyone involved with The Emoji Movie did it for the money and with little care about the final product, for better or for worse.

The Emoji Movie isn’t a movie for anyone. It isn’t a movie with a point or message. It exists as a grotesque monument to laziness, greed, and pride. And because of this–and much more–The Emoji Movie is also a NO CHILL.

Black Panther


RetroFuture Nasty Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

In the follow-up to Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther sees the return of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, the newly crowned king of the highly advanced–and equally isolated–African nation of Wakanda. But as T’Challa struggles with the loss of his father and his new role as a king, Michael B. Jordan’s Eric Killmonger is looking to settle a decade’s old blood feud.


Directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther reminds me of 2017’s Wonder Woman. Because much like Wonder Woman, Black Panther is most certainly a notable cultural milestone of American cinema. But also like Wonder Woman, despite its many interesting characters, strong performances, fun set pieces, and thematic elements not usually found in these sorts of films, Black Panther is not a very good movie. It’s not outright bad, but it’s not great either.

The core issue with Black Panther as a film is that there is simply too much to see, too much do, and not enough time for any of it. This results in a movie that is almost shockingly shallow despite a host of deep character motivations, struggles, and themes. Make no mistakes, this is an action movie first and foremost. So, at best, what truly makes the movie so interesting are token gestures rather than anything of substance. At worst–and sadly, far too often–we’re told much more than we’re actually shown.

Now, the action sequences are most definitely fun and exciting to watch. And the world of Wakanda–it’s people, it’s culture–is lovingly crafted. The soundtrack is a delight to hear.

But the characters are the most interesting thing about the entire movie. T’Challa is a young man struggling with the loss of his father, the moral and ethical struggles that come with the duties of being a leader. Eric Killmonger is young man filled with hate and anger at a kingdom and world that turned its back on not just him, but so many others like him.

Even the secondary and tertiary characters are absolutely engaging, whether it’s Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s genius sister Shuri or Daniel Kaluuya’s W’Kabi, a man torn between his duty to Wakanda and a lifetime of well-founded resentment he holds against the Kings who have failed him and his family.


And because the movie is so poorly structured, it fails to properly service any of its characters or their individual arcs. It takes far too long for the meat of the plot to get going. The first act is a bit overstuffed. The second act goes on for far too long, which in turn results in a third act that makes the movie feel like some strange hybrid of a three-act and fiveact structure.

And a lot of the structural issues are tied directly into the way Jordan’s Killmonger is utilized in the film. In theory, he should be Chadwick Boseman’s costar and equal. The entire plot and story revolve around a Shakespearean tale of two men with two opposing ideals of how to rule a nation and their people. Unfortunately, Jordan’s Eric shows up too late, is given too little screen time, and as a result isn’t as developed or present as he needs to be. He feels like an afterthought and a plot device more than a fully realized character even though he is absolutely integral to the film as a whole.

And that’s the movie in a nutshell. A number of beautiful ideas and images that represent something greater. But it’s a 2D world with 2D characters trying their hardest but ultimately failing to hold up the illusion that there’s any depth to be found in it.


Of course, none of this is helped any by the equally subpar cinematography, odd sound design, or how the lighting in every single day scene in an external setting is absolutely awful–overlit, unnatural, and constantly distracting. Even worse, Black Panther has some of the worst CGI and composition found in a Marvel movie, often falling to the sort of quality seen in films from the early 2000s.

And all that could have been mostly overlooked had the characters and their stories been properly handled. But that’s simply not the case here. Because while Ryan Coogler absolutely nails the tone required for the material present, his overall direction and vision for the movie falls flat. And the final result is a movie that is one of the most underwhelming viewing experiences from Marvel to date.

Black Panther is far from bad, but it is disappointing. It’s a step back when it should be a massive leap forward. In some ways, it still is a move forward. But in almost every way that matters, it falls short as a piece of filmmaking.

Of course, also like Wonder Woman, I suspect that despite numerous shortcomings that should otherwise cause negative critical feedback, Black Panther will be upheld entirely due to what it represents rather than what it really is.

That all said, Black Panther is most certainly watchable. It’s still highly enjoyable for a variety of reasons–it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s incredibly creative and rich in ideas and concepts and themes. Black Panther may be far from Marvel’s best movie, but it is still one worth CHILLING with the first chance you get.

Mom and Dad


Groove Grove Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Mom and Dad features Nicholas Cage and Selma Blair as Brent and Kendall Ryan, a pair of upper middle-class yuppies bored and frustrated with their lives, career paths, and two children–Carly and Josh. But when a mysterious signal is sent out across all radios, televisions, and various digital devices, Brent, Kendall, and every other parent in the world find themselves consumed by an intense desire to kill their own children.


Written and directed by Brian Taylor–the man behind films such as Gamer, Crank, and Ghost Rider: Spirit of VengeanceMom and Dad is easily one of the most entertaining horror films in decades.

The film showcases Taylor’s chaotic, high-energy, tongue-in-cheek style but does so with a sense of refinement not entirely present in his earlier works. Because whereas a movie like Crank starts in a twisted world of action movie cliches only to burst out of the gate at top speed until everything reaches a logical yet absurd conclusion, Mom and Dad is instead a slow burn.

The first third of the movie highlights the frustratingly dull existence of the suburbs these characters occupy. A father who hates his job and the constant noise of his home. A housewife who resents her choice to give up a career to raise her children. And two children who refuse to act their age and are almost eager to take cheap shots at their parents.
That said, Taylor does all he can possible do to make such a dull, day-to-day grind a kinetic, tense viewing experience.

His stylistic use of quick cuts makes even a typical morning drive to school almost fun to watch on its own. Every scene and dialog exchange hammers home and escalates a lingering sense of frustration, resentment, and simmering anger. And the sound design and music provide a steady, quick tempo that sounds and feels like an elevated heart-rate.

It’s like watching a lit trail of gunpowder burn and hiss its way beneath this soul-crushingly mundane surface, guiding us towards some massive mountain of TNT these characters have been stockpiling for years. We know the explosion is coming. The movie knows it. But the characters are blissfully unaware their perfect, boring little world is about to be blown sky high.

By the time the movie unleashes chaos upon its hapless characters, it feels earned. It feels welcomed. It feels as if this world and its characters almost deserve it.


Strangely enough, once the proverbial shit hits the fan and parents are shown brutally chasing, attacking, and killing their children, there’s very little in the way of actual on-screen violence. The movie certainly earns its R-rating, but Taylor makes heavy use of cutaways that imply more violence than is actually shown.

And I suspect that this may be the biggest issue some might have with Mom and Dad. The movie is fun, frantic, uncomfortable, and exciting. But for some, the constant build-up towards yet more implied violence might be more frustrating than fun. Because when a movie sells itself on its premise alone, the expectation of the audience is that the movie intends to deliver on its promise of parents brutally murdering their children in stylized fashion.

And for others, such as myself, the promise of Nicholas Cage being unleashed in a role he was born to play was a big selling point of the film. But the reality is that while Cage is easily the best part of the movie for all the right reasons, his overall screen time is rather limited. And the time he’s allowed to display his unique brand of fiercely dedicated over-the-top acting is even more limited.


That all said, what we get with Mom and Dad is good–very good. But it feels like we could have gotten more of everything. It feels like it all could have been a little better. More chaos. More crazy. More on-screen violence.

Perhaps it was a matter of budget. Perhaps its was a matter of cutting back to ensure the movie didn’t struggle to receive an R-rating from the MPAA, especially with children being the primary victims in this film. Or maybe it was all exactly as Taylor envisioned for the film, and any perceived shortcomings are little more than a matter of personal taste clashing with self-created high expectations.

And all things considered, Mom and Dad feels like it’s the movie it needs to be–quick-paced, crazy, fun, and leaving you wanting more. And all without feeling like it overstayed its welcome.

Mom and Dad is a definite CHILL.


On this episode of The Nightly Chill, we look at Netflix Original blockbuster, Bright (directed by David Ayer and written by Max Landis)!

Bright is a strange movie in that it presents a great basic concept but has absolutely no interest in presenting any of its ideas or themes in a convincing manner. It’s a deadly serious movie that constantly trips over itself with terrible attempts at jokes that it thinks are witty. It’s a movie that flashes its racial themes from the very start only to abandon such things almost entirely about halfway through. And despite the ever-present fantasy elements of orcs, faeries, and elves, the movie never really does much with them.


Directed by David Ayer and based on a screenplay by Max Landis, Bright feels as unoriginal as it is. Because despite the genre mash-up, the movie itself is little more than a by-the-numbers cop drama.

Nick Jakoby, played here by Joel Edgerton, is rookie police officer and a Tolkien-styled Orc treated by humans and elves as nothing more than some poor, violent creature despite his efforts to rise above the stereotypes applied to his entire race for two-thousand years. He’s acclimated to whatever passes for general human culture. He does not act or talk like a stereotypical Orc. He doesn’t even partake in deep-rooted cultural traditions in the hopes of being better accepted by humans. But the police force, including his partner Daryl Ward (Will Smith), want him gone. Not for anything he’s done wrong, of course. Jakoby being an orc is simply bad enough.

But by becoming a cop, he’s also seen as a race-traitor by other Orcs, specifically those who live down to the same generic stereotypes usually associated with black and Latino gangs in Los Angeles

This all eventually leads to a confrontation with some corrupt cops who will do anything to see Jakoby removed from his position on the force, including having his partner kill and frame him for a crime he didn’t commit.

But when Ward puts honor and pride above deep-rooted racism, he finds a target on his own back. And now he and Jakoby must evade capture while also trying to figure a way to clear their names.

There’s also something about a cult, an ancient prophecy, and a magic wand. But none of this really matters or amounts to much outside of two key scenes.


And this really does summarize everything wrong with Bright: it’s formulaic and uninterested in being interesting.

The first half of the film is all about racism in American society by way of Los Angeles. But then the movie decides it’d rather focus on police corruption by way of cliche 80s action movies. And then, in a few places, it instead becomes about some pointless ancient prophecy and other fantasy nonsense.

In the end, the movie isn’t about anything. There’s no story. The characters are little more than placeholders playing out a generic plot with a fantasy twist. And its serious, weighty themes are just an excuse to provide a thin, pretentious veneer on a shallow cliche with nothing of value to say.

But worst of all, the movie doesn’t care.

At best, the racism simply reinforces old fantasy tropes of Elves being beautiful and good, Orcs ugly and evil, and humans being somewhere in-between. At worst, it’s a lazy plot device. There’s no attempt at commentary or playing with expectations. In fact, Jakoby and his struggle is hardly the focus here. Will Smith is front and center as a racist police officer who reluctantly becomes a little less racist as the movie drags on.

The drama of two police officers struggling to survive in Los Angeles with gangs, a cult, and the entire police department after them lacks any degree of tension. It never feels like our leads are in real danger. Every scene feels like its impatiently trying to rush to the next. And Jakoby and Ward never feel like they’re bonding through any of it.

And the movie’s few action sequences are just as formulaic and unexciting. There’s a bland car chase. A bland shootout at a nightclub. And a couple of brief, bland magical showdowns that exist just to remind us that we’re watching a genre mash-up.


The movie isn’t hard to watch. And it’s far from the being the worst movie of 2017. It’s not even the worst movie carrying the “Netflix Original” branding this year.

That said, Bright is an underwhelming, disappointing mess of a movie that completely squanders every idea (and dollar) it attempts to juggle. There is no nuance. No subtlety. And despite marketing to the contrary, this is not a blockbuster-caliber experience. In fact, the movie doesn’t even attempt to reach mock-buster levels of spectacle.

I’m sure there will be some misguided audience that will find enjoyment in the fact that this movie exists. But unless you’re desperate for a lazy attempt to blend Training Day with Lord of the Rings, your time will be better spent elsewhere. (Oddly enough, I think it’s worth noting that had Ayer used movies like Lethal Weapon or Beverly Hills Cop as reference rather than more serious fare, Bright might have actually stood a chance. Maybe.)

Bright is easily a NO CHILL.

The Disaster Artist

On this episode of The Nightly Chill, we look at James Franco’s The Disaster Artist!

The Disaster Artist is a strange movie about some strange people making one of the world’s strangest movies–Tommy Wiseau’s so-bad-it’s-fascinating 2003 feature film, The Room.


At time’s the movie is uncomfortable. Other times it’s laugh-out-loud funny. But, most impressively, The Disaster Artist is consistently a sincere look at two men whose friendship allowed them both to live out their dream of being actors and making a movie that people love.

Based on the book of the same name, The Disaster Artist not only sees James Franco in the director seat but also features him as the perpetually mysterious actor/writer/director Tommy Wiseau. His brother Dave Franco, meanwhile, features as Greg Sestero, the writer of the aforementioned book and Wiseau’s best friend and co-star in The Room.

And while it might be easy to find yourself entertained by just the sheer amount of comedic talent present in the movie–a roster of notable actors that could easily rival that of 2013’s This is the End. While that alone might sell a lot of tickets, the movie’s greatest strength isn’t in the comedy but in the care Franco takes to present a sincere tale about friendship.


Despite being based on true events, Wiseau’s very real, very odd personality can easily be mistaken as a farce. He could have easily been presented as this over-the-top eccentric. And it would have worked just as well. The movie in fact, may have made for a more hilarious, slapstick experience in line with the sort of projects one usually associates with talent like Franco and Seth Rogen.

But this isn’t a movie aimed at having a laugh at Wiseau’s expense. The intentional grounding of everything results in a movie that, while comedic, is equally dramatic and touching.

Franco never makes light of Wiseau’s eccentric personality. At times, the intent is clearly to get audience’s to laugh at Wiseau–such as Wiseau’s super-melodramatic approach to acting. But at the same time, even scenes like this, are an insight into the man’s personality. He never does anything half-assed, or what he at least perceives as such. And, as a result, there are time where you will–by design–feel guilty for having laughed at all.

And as we see throughout the film–through the general playing out of scenes, but primarily through Franco’s eerily on-point portrayal of Wiseau–Wiseau’s behavior is not coming from a place of comedic arrogance and hubris. It’s that of a man who is strange, yes, but fiercely dedicated to his passions.

He loves his new friend Greg, to the point that he invites Greg to live with him the moment Greg earnestly displays his passion for acting. Tommy moves them both to Los Angeles so that they can both live out their dreams. And, ultimately, he doesn’t hesitate to foot the massive bill–rumored to be in excess of $6 million–to produce The Room–a labor of love intended to catapult both their careers.


Logical questions that should arise from watching the movie, such as who Tommy really is and how he can afford such things, are touched upon in the movie just as they were in real life–it simply doesn’t matter.

The mystery of who Tommy Wiseau is or might be isn’t the story here. Instead, it’s about a deep friendship between two very different men. Tommy is a man who is unintentionally abusive and cold when all he ever wants to do is make those around him happy. Greg, meanwhile, is a young man whisked away from home at the young age of 19 who does all he can to mitigate the damage Tommy unintentionally causes around him.

The Disaster Artist, on the surface, is a great comedy about the making of a bad drama. But beyond that, it’s a touching drama about two brothers struggling to live out their dream. One doesn’t need to have seen Wiseau’s The Room to fully appreciate The Disaster Artist, but it certainly helps. And as a companion piece to The Room, it highlights precisely why that movie transcends it’s own numerous shortcomings–shortcomings that would have been a death sentence to any other film and those involved with it.

Funny, heartwarming, introspective, weird, and inspiring. All words that easily describe nearly every frame of this movie as well as the two men at the center of it all.

The Disaster Artist–even more so than the cult favorite movie that inspired it–is a definite CHILL.

Justice League (2017)

On this episode of The Nightly Chill, we look at Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ surprisingly fun Justice League!

An ancient evil from beyond the stars has come to Earth to reclaim an ancient cube with the power to reshape and destroy worlds. And the only thing standing in the way of the death and destruction of everything, is a Caped Crusader, a Goddess, an Atlantean, the Fastest Man Alive, and a Cyborg…in Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ Justice League.

Originally helmed by Zack Synder and completed by Joss Whedon, Justice League brings together some of the greatest pop culture icons in modern American history for a movie that is, unfortunately, not very good. On a technical level, on a structural level, on just about every basic, fundamental filmmaking level, Justice League is, at best, subpar.

Visually speaking, the movie is all over the place. The color palette doesn’t match the production in any way, and is likely the result of Whedon’s drastic reshoots and alterations to the work already completed by Synder.

The saturation and brightness levels were clearly adjusted in post-production to move away from Snyder’s usual desatured, dark visuals. And in and of itself, these changes are likely going to be a welcomed change for many. Mature dramatics is one thing to want in a superhero movie. But drab, lifeless worlds and characters with no sense of enjoyment to any of it is a whole other thing.

However, these adjustments make every set, prop, costume, and clearly green-screen backdrops stand out in the worst way possible. The movie never looks like a cohesive, believable production. Ever. It’s always obvious that what we are seeing was done in a studio and on a computer.

In fact, this is only made worse by CGI reminiscent of the work seen in movies from the early 2000s. At times the movie actually dives right to “Scorpion King” levels of bad, as in the CGI monstrosity featured in Universal’s The Mummy 2, which infamously featured a monster that was the fusion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and a giant scorpion.

And to further compound this visual mess, the compositing work is somehow worse than the CGI itself. The effects never blend seamlessly with physical reality. This ranges from issues like shots of the island of Themyscira looking like it was ripped right out of a decade-old video game to the movie’s CGI baddies–the bug-like Parademons and the big, bad Steppenwolf–interacting less believably with the movie’s flesh-and-blood cast than the toons featured in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

In a world where giant alien robots from the planet Cybertron and a humanoid raccoon and tree can believably stand-by-side with living, breathing people, there is no excuse for this level of bad CGI from a major studio and a massive budget.


Of course, none of this even begins to touch upon the issues with everything else.

The plot of Justice League is little more a single thread that rationalizes everything on screen. There’s not much actually happening. Nor does what little we get actually ever mean anything. There’s no story. No heart. No character arcs. No emotional depth or dramatic weight anywhere for anything, even when certain scenes actually demand it.

And given how much material this movie lifts from actual stories featured in the pages of the comics, where such moments and images and stories are actually pulled off with some respective degree of emotional relevance, it’s shocking how hollow everything in Justice League really is.

One of the most glaring example–but certainly not the biggest offender–is when the team finally do overcome Steppenwolf and his army. This moment is a given. This is a Hollywood blockbuster after all. We expect the heroes to win. But in a good movie, that moment would come across as the single greatest thing we’ve ever witnessed…even if only for that singular instant in history.

We feel it when The Nazis die a ghastly death at the end of Raiders of the Lost Arc. We feel it when The Avengers defeat Loki and his own alien army–specifically when Hulk finally gives Loki the beating he deserves.

But we don’t feel that here. There’s a big fight, and that final giant action set piece really is fun if not exceptionally creative or well-presented. But then it just kind of ends. Not unceremoniously. It’s certainly shown in such a way where the movie wants you to feel the same thing you might feel when the Luke blows up the Death Star. But that’s not what it will make you feel.

Instead, it’s just a sign that the movie is about to wrap things up.

Part of this has to do with the way everything is presented visually. It’s just not that exciting to watch. Fun, yes. Entertaining, yes. We get a good sense of everything that’s happening. We get the idea of what’s being given to us. This is a big fight where colorful and stupidly powered cartoon characters are fighting other stupidly powerful cartoon characters. Batman does this. Superman does that. And Wonder Woman is mixed in there too. And then it just sort of ends.

But this isn’t a cartoon. It shouldn’t have to meet the dramatic depth requirements of an old Saturday morning cartoon. It needs to be able to resonate with a general audience. It needs to make use of its massive budget and all the Hollywood magic that it can buy.

And in that same vein, the characters in the very big Hollywood blockbuster shouldn’t speak as if they’ve been pulled out of an old cartoon. Unless it’s one of the movie’s many wonderful small character moments–such as the bizarre, alpha-male bromance between Aquaman and Bruce Wayne of all things–the majority of the dialog is utterly insipid and heavily reliant on exposition.

This exposition, however, is required to explain the simple yet somehow purposely convoluted plot thread. Unlike the one glowing cube in The Avengers, this movie has three glowing cubes. And an unbelievable amount of time is spent on just trying to rationalize the existence of three cubes instead of one.

This means that rather than getting this emotionally powerful moment where Victor Stone confronts his father about his fears of being this inhuman fusion of flesh and alien technology. Rather than getting this, we get the two talking vaguely at each other about the stupid glowing cube. This scene between father and physically and mentally scarred son is instead just about a box. Hide the box. Steal the box. Take the box back.

Because these three Mother Boxes are the central focus of the movie rather than the actual, very straightforward danger that they represent, the movie has to constantly reinforce their existence at all times. This isn’t just a movie about the end of the world. No, it’s a movie about why these three boxes are so important.


Now, that all having been said.

It still doesn’t yet begin to cover why the action is about as exciting as the various cartoons featuring these same characters. It doesn’t feel like a comic panel brought to three dimensions. Instead, it feels like it’s being replicated in yet another 2D plane. Again, it’s actually fun to watch. That’s very true. But it never feels like there’s any depth to it. There’s nothing there that you haven’t seen before in some fashion. It’s all paint-by-numbers, generic, uninteresting action by and large. All made worse by bad framing, questionable editing, and lackluster choreography. And that ever-present bad CGI and green screen.


Now all of that having been said. In spite of all that I’ve previously stated. In spite of all of that, Justice League is shockingly easy to watch. It’s much more often than not–again, almost shockingly so–fun to watch.

The movie was clearly a salvage job. And as bad as the movie is, it clearly could have been much worse. And the clumsy, quick pace doesn’t allow the bad and boring moments to linger. The movie–forced as it may have been–benefits from the hatchet job that resulted in a final cut that’s well-under two hours. The fun stuff is constantly coming at you, making you almost forget entirely about the rest.

More so, the movie is elevated by the performances of its cast. Nobody drops the balls. Everyone is at the top of their game, even when they’re reciting dialog that sounds as if it were written by a middle-school student. As bad as the stuff that comes out of their mouth might sound to the human ear, every actor brings out the best in their respective Leaguer. They live up to the iconic imagery of their characters. And they deserve all the credit in the world for even attempting to make up for the terrible presentation of it all.


Had this exact movie been released 10 or 15 years ago, it would have easily been an impressive, respectable feat.

Unfortunately, Justice League is incredibly late to the party. And it shows. The bar has been raised time and again–not just in superhero movies, but in blockbusters in general. And the movie we get doesn’t hold up in any notable way in 2017.

Making a Justice League movie should not be hard after such things have been done elsewhere better and with none of the issues Warner Bros. has continued to have. It shouldn’t be hard when DC Comics itself has managed to do it very well in animation, especially with projects like Justice League: The New Frontier (a much watch if you’ve been curious how DC should be handling their properties in live-action).

Justice League has more in common with the Transformers film franchise (especially the sequels) than it does anything from Marvel. The look, the immaturity (poorly) masquerading as something mature, the suspect storytelling, the generally bad dialog and character work.

But despite being very stupid, despite being bad on a basic fundamental filmmaking level…Justice League is still fun and entertaining. Not good, but not terrible either.
You certainly won’t feel like you wasted your time by watching it. And, after the shortfalls we’ve seen with Warner and DC’s previous movies, I guess this is a good thing. Justice League, like Wonder Woman–another deeply flawed but watchable movie–is a step in the right direction.

Let’s just hope a competent filmmaker is leading things when the next step is taken.

Surprisingly and happily, I suggest you CHILL with Justice League.

Thor: Ragnarok

On this episode of The Nightly Chill, we look at the most colorful, campiest Marvel movie to date, Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok!

When they discover their long-lost sister is also the Goddess of Death, Thor and Loki will have to work together to save the Nine Realms from total destruction in Thor: Ragnarok.


Director Taika Waititi presents us with what is arguably Marvel’s most ambitious production yet.

And it’s rather fitting, really. Thor’s first cinematic outing was also the riskiest of Marvel’s first phase of movies. That movie took audiences away from the relatively grounded world of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and even Captain America. It exposed audiences to Marvel’s larger, stranger concepts of magic, super-science, gods, and the greater cosmic landscape.

Now, those first two entries in the Thor series of films may not have been the most successful for Marvel Studios. Nor were they the best received, especially Thor: The Dark World.

Both movies were criticized by many for a variety of reasons. The first was too focused on an expected but not entirely welcomed romantic subplot and lacked the sort of scope fans were expecting, with little of the mystical realm of Asgard being shown. And in the case of The Dark World, the movie was plagued by an incredibly underwhelming villain and under-cooked story.


That said, both movies have their fair share of fans. And even if The Dark World is largely considered to be the closest thing Marvel Studios has made to a cinematic misfire, it’s still a watchable and enjoyable movie. It simply pales in comparison to its abundant sister films.

More so, both films were and still are some of Marvel’s most ambitious, riskiest movies. Even long after fans have been exposed to the colorful cast and many worlds seen in Gunn’s pair of Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

Because while many fans might be turned off by Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster and the love story between her and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, it remained a welcome change of pace to the usual mix of overtly macho stories presented in Marvel’s other movies. They were the closest thing the studio had made to a traditional Rom-Com.

And Thor: Ragnarok is no different in that regard. But rather than being a romantic-comedy that also happens to feature colorful superheroes and villains, Ragnarok is the closest thing Marvel has made to a traditional buddy comedy.

No matter what is happening on screen, the movie is constantly cracking jokes. Whether it’s a callback to previous movies, some shenanigans between Thor and Loki, or Jeff Goldblum stealing the show with his scene-chewing as Grandmaster, the not-so benevolent ruler of a planet inhabited by the castoffs of the universe and gamemaster of the gladitorial-like Contest of Champions.

And while Thor: Ragnarok obviously lifts some visual cues from James Gunn’s work on Guardians of the Galaxy, the movie also maintains its own personal style. Of course, that style is very close to those seen in movies like Flash Gordon and Heavy Metal, with this emphasis on camp, humor, and the strangest, coolest art and music design seen and heard in a major Hollywood blockbuster.


That said, failing to be wholly original might be the only thing Thor: Ragnarok fails at.
Because compared to its sister films, Waititi infuses the black sheep of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with some much needed structure, character work, and fun.

There is no romantic subplot. There is no moment where the jokes and action fail to shine. The main villain, Hela, is not only developed just enough but also brought to life by Cate Blanchett’s insane desire to be the MCU’s most dangerous and alluring foe to date. She even manages to give Goldblum a run for his money when it comes to chewing the scenery–and I do mean that in the best way possible.

And Karl Urban’s sympathetic not-quite a villain, Scourge–Hela’s hand-picked lackey looking for a chance to prove his worth to somebody, anybody–is proof that even smaller roles are better fleshed out than anything seen in the previous two movies.


More so, it also opens up Marvel’s approach to movies in a way it has yet to do.

The humor isn’t new. Nor is the color palette. But Thor: Ragnarok does show that Marvel is now opening itself up to the idea that these movies don’t need some major crossover event to bring in other notable characters, even if only for a few brief scenes.

More than ever, you don’t need to have seen either The Incredible Hulk or Doctor Strange to understand who they are or why they appear in this movie. Knowing they exist at all certainly helps, but it’s not necessary to enjoy their scenes or contributions to the rest of the movie.

Now, could Thor: Ragnarok have done without Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange? Yes, and easily so. But his appearance also doesn’t feel forced. Instead, it’s a nice way to show that these characters do know each other, that they and their worlds do collide–that such a thing can happen at any time for any reason. And, more importantly, this can be done without derailing the film.

A major complaint by even the biggest fans of Marvel’s movies (and their comics) has often been the logical issue of this world of interconnected superheroes who never show up to help or even fight their friends outside of The Avengers or Captain America: Civil War.

Sure, characters like Tony Stark have appeared in movies like Spider-Man: Homecoming. But he also served a major, recurring role within the context of that film. He was important to the development of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker.

But in Thor: Ragnarok, Dr. Strange pops up to help drive the plot forward, and then just as quickly takes his leave. He’s treated like any other ancillary role might be in any other movie. But because we do know the character–because the character has had his own movie at some point–what might have been an unimportant, forgettable role is instead greatly improved. And on the same note, fans no longer have to wonder why these characters fail to cross paths more frequently.


Now, the movie isn’t without its faults. The most glaring of which is how its apocalyptic scenario is undercut by the movie’s emphasis on humor over dramatics.

There are, of course, some deadly serious moments to be found in the movie, but they feel less impactful–even if intentionally so–than they could have been. “Ragnarok” should conjure up images of death and destruction on a cosmic scale, and the movie does give us as much. But it will likely ring a bit hollow for some.

The movie, in a way, does make light of things like dictators, violent fights to the death, and, yes, the end of the world itself. All these things are present in this film. But they’re presented in a comedic light. Again, Thor: Ragnarok is a comedy first and anything else a distant second.

For some, this might prove to be a disconnect that is difficult or even impossible to overcome. It might taint any fun that might be had with the movie.

But for those looking to escape the world for two hours and go on a colorful, hilarious ride across the cosmos that also features some great visuals and action scenes, Thor: Ragnarok is more than worthy of your time.

I definitely suggest you CHILL with Thor: Ragnarok.

Pulse (aka Kairo)


RetroFuture Nasty Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Pulse, from writer-director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, sees the dead rising to haunt and prey on the living. But this isn’t a case of the living dead. These aren’t ghouls literally rising from their grave. No, these are the spirits–the ghosts–of the deceased crossing over into the waking world. And the doorway from the other side? It’s the internet itself.


Many people might recognize the name and idea of this movie from the American feature film of the same name. That movie came out in 2006 and featured Kristen Bell. But that surprisingly faithful adaptation came five years after this 2001 bit of classic Japanese horror, which might better be known to some by its original name, “Kairo“.

The movie itself consists of two intertwining stories. In one, Kumiko Aso is front-and-center as Michi, a young woman who attempts to uncover the mystery of her coworkers suicide. And in the other, Haruhiko Kato’s Ryosuke is a college student who discovers his recent computer issues are just the beginning of a supernatural doomsday.

And these two stories come together to form one of the greatest horror movies to blow up in notoriety during the glut of imports and remakes following the success of (The) Ring. In fact, Pulse might very well be the best modern Japanese horror film period. The acting, the cinematography, the pacing, the concept and thematic elements–everything about this movie is pitch perfect. There isn’t a blemish to be found.


Of course, many might prefer the American remake not just for the notable faces and language but also because of that movie’s larger-than-life feel. And that is a fair point. The American version of Pulse is bigger, bolder, and more eager to let you know when to feel bigger, badder feelings. It’s a solid movie in its own right, in its own style. And I’d highly recommend that movie to anyone looking for such things.

But it’s the smaller, intimate nature that is this movie’s greatest strength. And it’s ultimately why the original Japanese movie is superior to its American remake despite lacking a larger budget or being a more exciting movie.

Because the original Pulse is a movie that lets the mystery simmer. It allows the characters to be front and center while the supernatural stuff builds to a more haunting, personally resonating climax and conclusion. This is not a disaster movie, with chaos being a big focus. Kurosawa instead focuses on meaning, on empathy and understanding of what is actually happening to the characters and the rest of the world. His movie isn’t about the end of the world but the emotional it takes on those caught up in the middle of a new kind of Hell.


Pulse is a movie that will stay with you, haunt you in its own way. It’s not the most exciting movie. It isn’t the most frightening either, not in the way you’d expect at least. Though, it does have some incredibly haunting and disturbing moments.

But that’s the key word here: haunting. This movie will linger about like one of the dark specters in the film itself. And if you’re in the mood to feel a bit stranger, a bit darker, a bit heavier, then Pulse is a movie definitely worth CHILLING with. (But for those looking for something a bit more fun, a bit more traditional in its flash and scares, there’s always the American remake.)

Found Footage 3D

*31 Nights of Horror (#15) | 2017*

On this episode of The Nightly Chill:

Cinematico Magnifico continues his search for late-night scares beyond the walls of the Video Store With No Name, aka The Last Video Store on Earth. Tonight, we look at the found-footage horror flick about the making of a found-footage horror flick, Found Footage 3D!

Carter Roy and Alena von Storheim are Derek and Amy, a married couple on the outs producing a found-footage horror movie about a married couple on the outs producing a found-footage horror movie.

What we see, however, is all told from the perspective of Chris O’Brien’s Mark, who also happens to be Derek’s brother in charge of documenting the making of the movie-within-a-movie…and who also happens to be very much in love with his brother’s would-be ex-wife.

And what plays out is exactly what you might expect in the umpteenth Blair Witch Project knockoff that is Found Footage 3D.


The debut feature film by writer-director Steven DeGennaro, Found Footage 3D is incredibly impressive for someone with far more experience on the audio side of productions. And it’s a much better movie than one with such an uncreative premise and name has any right to be.

Aside from some solid audio work, the visuals are spot on, the film is well paced, and the characters are fairly layered if not all equally interesting.

In fact, a few questionable moments not withstanding, the performances are all spot-on. Scott Allen Perry in particular, as audio-guy Carl, steals the show with both his performance and a number of great lines.

(The audio-guy writing the movie gives the audio-guy all the best lines and small scenes. Isn’t that neat?)


Now, that having been said…

Found Footage 3D suffers greatly from being utterly predictable in regards to its story and plot. Because if you’ve seen the Blair Witch or any of its many other blatant knock-offs, you’ll know exactly how this all plays out, from start to finish.

DeGennaro presents some great characters, pulls out great performances from his actors, and has written some solid dialog for them. But the movie they’re in isn’t as smart or clever as it thinks it is. And it’s almost cynical levels of self-awareness–as funny as some of the jokes are–can’t compensate for or mask just how boring and predictable everything else is. The characters and humor are the best aspect of the material, and it all deserves to be in a much more inspired, original movie.


Now, that having been said…

Found Footage 3D is still a surprisingly fun, enjoyable watch. It’s a bit predictable to the point of annoyance at times. And the meta-humor is simultaneously unnecessary and a saving grace of what could have otherwise been a very well produced but otherwise insipid found-footage horror movie. But it’s not hard to sit through and enjoy on some level, even if you are going to figure out how everything plays out far ahead of schedule.

The movie is boring only because it’s so unoriginal. But the overall quality of everything else–the directing, the acting–really does make up for a lot. Not everything, but just enough.

If you’re a fan of found-footage horror movies or if something more fun than it is fresh is fine with you, then Found Footage 3D is certainly worth CHILLING with.

The House by the Cemetery

*31 Nights of Horror (#14) | 2017*

On this episode of The Nightly Chill:

Cinematico Magnifico continues his search for late-night scares beyond the walls of The Last Video Store on Earth. Tonight, we look at the third and final entry in Lucio Fulci’s “Gates of Hell” Trilogy, The House by the Cemetery!

When the Boyle family moves to a quaint New England town, the last thing they expected to find were graves in the basement of the new house. But just when they thought that was the only dark secret haunting their home, a series of mysterious, grisly murders begin in The House by the Cemetery.


The House by the Cemetery, by horror icon Lucio Fulci, is the third and final movie in his unofficial “Gates of Hell” trilogy.

And the short of it is that The House by the Cemetery is not much more than a typical haunted house movie. There is some dark, sinister force haunting the new home of an unsuspecting family. A number of people die grisly deaths. And instead of running at the first sign of trouble, the family sticks around until the bitter, confusing end.

The House by the Cemetery is the most intimate yet least stylized movie in Fulci’s unofficial trilogy of films. There’s little in the way of that Italian horror flair present in Fulci’s other movies. The music is loud and omnipresent, but is easily forgettable. There’s not much in the way of special effects or interesting lighting and framing. The story is easily the most straightforward and functional from start to finish. But it’s also the least interesting. Whereas City of the Living Dead and The Beyond played with big, wild ideas, The Last House on the Cemetery really is a by-the-numbers haunted house movie.

This isn’t to say that the movie is necessarily bad or unenjoyable. Or that it’s forgettable. Instead, it’s simply and plainly uninspired. In fact, the only thing that could have possibly made this movie even more cliche and unoriginal would be if it started on a dark and stormy night.


The movie is certainly strange enough. It’s certainly a decent viewing in and of itself. And the focus on a small family of three rather than an entire town or multiple groups of people is a welcomed change of pace.

But, in the end, The House by the Cemetery feels incredibly safe, especially in comparison to Fulci’s own filmography. And while safe isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s never a good thing either. Especially when fans have so many more options available to them.

So if for no other reason than there are far too many better, creative movies you can choose to watch in it’s place (even if they’re not quite as well-made), The House by the Cemetery is, unfortunately, a NO CHILL.

Blood Harvest

*31 Nights of Horror (#13) | 2017*

On this episode of The Nightly Chill:

Cinematico Magnifico continues his search for late-night scares beyond the walls of the Video Store With No Name, aka The Last Video Store on Earth. Tonight, we look at the uncomfortably bad slasher movie featuring Tiny Tim, Blood Harvest (aka Nightmare).

NOTE: All movies reviewed for “31 Nights of Horror” are currently available to stream in the US via Shudder, a horror-centric streaming service.

Itonia Salchek stars as Jill, a young woman returning to her small, rural hometown only to discover her family missing, their house in ruins, and their once sleepy little town at the mercy of a serial killer in Blood Harvest.

Blood Harvest, from Bill Rebane, is a movie most notable for featuring Tiny Tim as Mervo the Clown. There is nothing else worth noting about Blood Harvest. Not really. It is so frustratingly benign. It’s bad for sure. But there is nothing to be mad about, even after having wasted 90 minutes of my life with it.

This is a movie that doesn’t hide how bad it is. The director doesn’t care to direct. The actors never act. Tiny Tim is the only sign of human life on camera.

Even the most uncomfortable to watch rape scene–a very matter-of-fact, entirely nonjudgmental rape scene with no attempt to artsy-it-up or sexualize it. None if seemed to register any sort of emotion. The actors simply looked bored. It’s uncomfortable in how uncomfortable it isn’t.

I just don’t care. The movie starts showcasing how much it just doesn’t care. It signals you to turn it off and ask for a refund.

To speak ill of the movie outright would be as if to proclaim a school play as some no-budget, unprofessional tripe. It’s acute, harmless little thing that’s meant to be enjoyed as a testament to how anyone can get a film made, no matter how talentless everyone involved in the production truly were. You watch it in support of those involved, but you’re not going to ruin their evening by criticizing. It’s their night, not yours.

I suspect there’s some small minority of horror fans out there, perhaps even some deranged completionist who wants to watch this movie from beginning to end. And in that case, please, by all means please do.

But for anyone looking for anything more than background noise–or that lone wolf hardcore Tiny Tim fan–Blood Harvest is a NO CHILL.

The Beyond

*31 Nights of Horror (#12) | 2017*

On this episode of The Nightly Chill:

Cinematico Magnifico continues his search for late-night scares beyond the walls of the Video Store With No Name, aka The Last Video Store on Earth. Tonight, we look at Italian horror classic, The Beyond (the second entry in the unofficial “Gates of Hell” trilogy)!

NOTE: All movies reviewed for “31 Nights of Horror” are currently available to stream in the US via Shudder, a horror-centric streaming service.

Catriona MacColl is Liza, a young woman who has recently inherited an old hotel in the heart of New Orleans. But as she attempts to restore the hotel and carry on its legacy, a frightening series of events soon reveals that the hotel was built atop the gates of Hell. And the gate, of course, is now wide open in The Beyond.


The Beyond, from iconic horror director Lucio Fulci, is the second movie in the unofficial “Gates of Hell” trilogy. And, as might be expected, it suffers greatly from middle-child syndrome.

City of the Living Dead dealt with the dead rising from the grave, starting as a small-scale series of events and turning into a large-scale uprising. The House by the Cemetery is, at its core, an intimate tale of a family living in a haunted house.

The Beyond, meanwhile, is a series of loosely connected stories. Each story follows one of several group of characters who all have some connection to a hotel that rests above a literal gate of hell.


Unfortunately, none of the many different roads the movie follows feels grand nor intimate. They all just sort of drift about in the middle.

We never spend enough time with the woman who owns the hotel nor the family of the man who initially dies at it. Nor do we get to see the sheer scale of the chaos surrounding any of this. And as result, aside from some key special effects shots, nothing about The Beyond is all that interesting. The story and the characters are just sort of there. There’s never enough tension or drama. Things just sort of happen but hardly ever build to anything.

And the strange thing is that everything that plays out is fascinating in concept. I just never felt like I cared about any of it. 87 minutes is just not enough time to show us everything that plays out in the movie and make us care.

A two hour movie might have been able to pull that off, it might have been able to flesh out everything just enough to give some sort of meaning to it all. Or it might have been squandered on simply following even more characters and even more half-hearted stories.

But all we have is this 87-minute movie that overwhelms and underwhelms in almost equal measure.


This is one of those rare instances where I want to somehow defend my loving of the movie strictly for the concept alone. The actual movie itself isn’t very good because it feels half
there. But what’s there is still an enjoyable if not necessarily fun watch.

And as a result The Beyond is certainly worth CHILLING with. Just don’t be so sure you’ll feel that way immediately after having done so.


*31 Nights of Horror (#11) | 2017*

On this episode of The Nightly Chill:

Cinematico Magnifico continues his search for late-night scares beyond the walls of the Video Store With No Name, aka The Last Video Store on Earth. Tonight, we look at Italian sci-fi horror flick, Contamination!

NOTE: All movies reviewed for “31 Nights of Horror” are currently available to stream in the US via Shudder, a horror-centric streaming service.

When a transport ship carrying otherworldly cargo arrives in New York–its crew somehow mysteriously dead–it’ll take a government agent and a local police officer to get to the heart of this deadly mystery in Contamination.

Contamination, from writer-director Luigi Cozzi, is a fairly odd bit of sci-fi horror. The movie itself is fairly innocuous. In fact, it’s largely forgettable.

It’s a sci-fi movie that isn’t all that interested in delivering a science-fiction narrative. It’s a horror movie that isn’t all that interested in delivering on scares or even a general sense of dread or uneasiness. And unlike many other Italian horror films of the era, it’s not very stylish outside a few key shots.

Though like many Italian horror movies, Contamination doesn’t have so much a story as it does a paper-thin plot that rationalizes a series of loosely connected scenes that play out in a longer, slower fashion than necessary.


That said, Cozzi’s slow-burn mystery that actually unfolds in its entirety is a much welcome change of pace from the non-mysteries that plague Italian horror films.

The mystery of the alien cargo–which is incredibly ridiculous in presentation, danger, and purpose–is at the heart of the movie. The movie opens with it, the main characters focus on it, and it keeps the movie trotting slowly but steadily forward until the main characters–and us, the audience–get the answers we’ve been searching and waiting for.

Now, stating that a movie has a respectable purpose and direction seems like faint praise–and in most cases, it would be. But in the style and genre that Contamination belongs to, such things are a rarity. And, as a result, such a clear, well-developed framework is much appreciated.

The movie does, unfortunately, steer into territory worn-out even by 1980, reducing even its few redeeming factors to token alterations to a tired formula.

There’s the one man, one woman pair of leads forced to solve a mysterious threat that sort of unfolds and solves itself. The rare use of special effects is highlighted with odd, questionable stylistic choices, such as extended slow-motion shots. And, of course, the barely there story abruptly concludes with little sense of closure.

But if Contamination‘s real issues can be boiled down to just one glaring fault, it’d be that the movie is simply not that interesting. The premise it sets up–this deadly alien threat that literally just appears seemingly out of nowhere and casually makes its way into one of the most densely populated cities in the world–is incredibly interesting. There’s a lot of dread and paranoia to cultivate. There’s plenty of mileage to get out of this–either in the small scale or the large.

But Cozzi didn’t seem to have much left in the tank after he got through with the premise and inciting incident. Because no one in this movie seems concerned or scared, even in the face of death. There’s no tension. There’s no real emotion to find in the movie whatsoever.

Bad acting, bad dialog, and suspect direction are a prolific aspect of Italian horror. It often provides a lot of the charm in such movies. But, in the case of Contamination, it’s simply flat across the board. It’s as if no one, Cozzi included, cared about the final results.

It really feels as if everyone involved with the movie were satisfied with phoning in a day’s work–all day, every day. And it’s a shame, because there’s a good core to be found at the heart of Contamination. But unless you’re running low on options, you’d be fine skipping this one.

Contamination is a NO CHILL

Night of the Creeps

31 Nights of Horror (#10) | 2017

On this episode of The Nightly Chill:

Cinematico Magnifico continues his search for late-night scares beyond the walls of The Last Video Store on Earth. Tonight, we look at 80s teen comedy turned retro monster movie, Night of the Creeps!

NOTE: All movies reviewed for “31 Nights of Horror” are currently available to stream in the US via Shudder, a horror-centric streaming service.

When slug-like alien parasites are accidentally unleashed on small-town America, it’ll be up to some plucky college kids and a heroic cop to save the world in Night of the Creeps.


Night of the Creeps is brought to us by writer-director Fred Dekker–who many might know better for his work on yet another cult-classic, The Monster Squad.

And much like The Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps takes classic horror staples like aliens and zombies and sets them loose in small-town America with a more light-hearted twist. The movie never takes itself too seriously. This is very much an 80s version of matinee sci-fi b-films from the 1950s. In fact, the movie initially opens in the 1950s before quickly jumping ahead thirty years. The college kids are very much the sort of bright, stereotypical go-getters found in those earlier movies. The police officer is an unfaltering hero of the people. And the monsters are never, ever intended to seriously disturb so much as they’re intend to illicit a cheap, but fun scare. The slug-like creatures are very unsettling and will be sure to cause many to squirm in their seats as they wriggle about, in and out of their victims.

Simply put, Night of the Creeps is likely what we would have got if John Hughes had written and directed a horror movie. It’s Weird Science meets Them!


But, despite being a well-written, well-directed, and well-acted bit of comedy and horror, the movie’s light-hearted tone and material is likely to leave some fans rather disappointed.

Because if you want something much more scary than it is funny, Night of the Creeps is not the movie for you. There’s some certainly great effects on display and some creatively violent moments to be found. But it is not looking to give anyone nightmares so much as it is eager to offer you a fun time.

Horror is an incredibly flexible approach to material more so than it is an easily defined genre. There are key elements and twists that can be added to any story to turn even a teen comedy into a horror movie.

And it’s this variety found in horror stories that provide us–and especially those who might not normally like horror movies– such fun experiences as Night of the Creeps. Because for every scare the movie sacrifices, it more than makes up for it in jokes, gags, and simply playing about with a classic style and staple of American cinema.

And it never passes up an opportunity to do either. Because while many similar movies might do different, Night of the Creeps paces itself like few others. It’s never too long before there’s another joke or monster popping about on screen. The characters constantly have something to stay and do. There’s no wasted time or effort.


This isn’t to say the movie is somehow flawless, because it’s not. As fun as the movie is, it’s not nearly as memorable as many other comedic horror films of that era. Its jokes are about as cutting or as clever as its scares are intense. The overall experience is fairly mild, fairly safe.

But for a movie that’s very much taking up the legacy of horror movies that were intended to be fairly mild, fairly safe, isn’t that sort of the point? And in that case, doesn’t that make it a great continuation of that legacy?

Now, whether you answer yes or no to these questions will determine the mileage you’ll get from Night of the Creeps.

But in either case: if you are looking for a good time with a bit of a morbid twist, be sure to CHILL with Night of the Creeps.


31 Nights of Horror (#9) | 2017

On this episode of The Nightly Chill:

Cinematico Magnifico continues his search for late-night scares beyond the walls of The Last Video Store on Earth. Tonight, we look at underappreciated 80s comedy horror flick, House!

NOTE: All movies reviewed for “31 Nights of Horror” are currently available to stream in the US via Shudder, a horror-centric streaming service.

Haunted by the disappearance of his son and his memories of Vietnam, a struggling writer moves into his childhood home following the untimely death of his aunt. But as he attempts to use this as an opportunity to work on his latest novel, this would-be Stephen King will also have to face some very real personal demons in House.


House, from director Steve Miner, is–despite the rather bleak and grim subject matter–actually more comedy than it is horror.

Not too much time ever goes by without some visual gag or joke being thrown at an unsuspecting audience. But, at the same time, not too many minutes pass without some eerie
ghoul looking to give William Katt’s Roger (or the audience) a good scare.

Quite frankly, given the the subject matter on display, it’s likely that House benefits by leaning on comedy more than anything else. If Miner had taken a more straightforward approach to the script, the final result might have been unbearably depressing.

Because despite the movie’s more often than not lighthearted tone, House covers things like suicide, child abduction, divorce, and even war-induced PTSD. It never makes light of any of this, fortunately. Instead, Miner chooses to use both comedy and horror as a way to present
such serious material in a more digestible manner.

Just when it seems the movie is going to get too serious– with Katt’s soldier-turned-horror novelist left to stew in his isolation, depression, and seemingly endless amount of guilt–Miner inserts some much needed levity. Sometimes this comes in the form of TV’s George Wendt popping over for an awkward bit of neighborly snooping. Other times it comes in the form of some incredible monster designs.


And it’s because the movie is a comedy that the monsters and other bits of horror manage to work so well. In a more straight-faced horror movie, the special effects in House–as well done as they might be–might not have worked. Their use is minimal. And the budget was clearly tight.

But, most of all, it would have been lost on an audience watching a Vietnam vet slowly fall apart as everything good in his life is taken away from him. The very real, grounded horror story playing out on screen would have totally overshadowed what amounts to some creepy looking foam rubber.

Overall, Miner manages a beautiful balancing act. The comedy makes the very real horror digestible and allows the fictional stuff flourish. The real horror adds some much needed gravitas to a genre that is often far allowed to be shallow. And the fun horror stuff helps visualize the internal struggle going on in our lead character.

Half the time you’ll likely be laughing. The rest of the time you’ll be fidgeting uncomfortably in your seat. But the entire time you’ll be cheering on our beaten-but-not-broken hero.

And, in the end, you’ll be glad you chose to CHILL with House.