Pinkie and I decided to do something very Springy and Eastery this past week and hit up our local theatre for a double-feature movie night! What movies did we see? Well, what else should you go watch this time of year?
That’s right: HORROR MOVIES!
I mean, let’s face it, horror movies aren’t October-only, and even some actually good horror movies can come out during the other months of the year (except February…that’s where most movies go to die…).
Surprisingly enough, there are two horror movies out now that Pinkie and I were looking forward to: The Curse of La Llorona and Jordan Peele’s Us. It would be disingenuous of me to say that we were looking forward to these films for the same reasons, but we were looking forward to them nonetheless!
I’ve been a fan of the Conjuring series since I saw the first film in theatres, and Pinkie has seen every Conjuring film to date now. We’re also familiar with the titular ghostie, La Llorona, thanks to J. H. Williams and W. Hayden Blackman’s Batwoman, who also uses this urban legend to great effect. And Jordon Peele’s Us was pegged as a must-see by us months ago. After the great success of Get Out, it’s safe to say that Jordan Peele is a name that will denote quality for a while, and I adore Lupita Nyong’o and will watch her in basically anything.
We were excited!
To be fair, we both assumed going in that Us was going to be better than The Curse of La Llorona (we figured La Llorona was going to be bad after we saw the first poster which spoils the ghostie’s face…jinkies), but, as with all movies, we expected to at least have fun.
Well…here we are.
And we’re going to review both films here. We’ll give them grades and everything, but I’m going to keep the individual reviews pretty short and concise. I won’t give away too many details (at least for Us) and I’ll just explain our viewing experience with you all.
Without further ado, let’s get on with it, shall we?
The Curse of La Llorona
It would seem that, unless James Wan is directly working on this series, the movies don’t turn out so good.
Well…Annabelle: Creation withstanding.
Like…this was almost Slender Man bad. Almost. At least the effects were a teensy bit better and the ghostie abided by the laws established in the film. Other than that, The Curse of La Llorona has almost all the same problems that Slender Man had.
Crap plot, crap characters, crap scares. And the last one is especially painful. This was seriously the first time I’ve been to a horror movie in theatres and heard the entire audience (sparse as it may have been) laughing at the scares. I was worried Pinkie and I were being jerks by chuckling it up, then we got a “BOOGAH BOOGAH” jumpscare and literally everyone cracked up. Usually there’s at least one person in the audience who is terrified and screechy no matter what, but not this time.
There was really only one genuinely spooky moment in the film, where the filmmakers remembered that ambiance and subtlety are best suited for the genre. Everything else was loud noises and closeups of La Llorona’s face, which was just a bad rip off of The Nun’s makeup. Seriously, it’s practically identical, except now the ghost cries black, and her black and gold eyes are big and doe-like. Cos that’s really what I think of when I think “horror monster”. Big, cutesey eyes like Alita…
Oh yeah, and they did that horribly clichéd early 2000s horror movie thing where you CGI the mouth to open ever so slightly wider than normal and making it pitch black.
Oooh. Sooooo scaryyyyyy…
Yeah, sorry. Pinkie and I were not at all impressed. We just don’t find women in wedding gowns who screech a lot all that intimidating.
There was actually one scene where La Llorona wasn’t a hideous monster. Part of her history was that she was once an extraordinarily beautiful woman who was shunned by God and cursed after she, in a jealous rage, killed her two children and then herself when she discovered her husband with a younger woman. And there’s one scene where she is depicted as her beautiful self again and she tries to lure the children closer to her. THAT was scarier than anything else in the fucking movie, and she didn’t have spooky makeup or bad CGI effects to make her scary. She just looked like a sad and beautiful woman. The context made it nerve-wracking. I wish there had been more scenes like that.
The acting wasn’t…terrible, I guess? It’s kind of difficult to tell whether or not the acting is bad when it’s basically just, “Look scared, k?”, but I suppose the kids and Velma from the live-action Scooby Doo movies were fine.
Anck-Su-Namun was fucking hilarious though. Not that she was supposed to be, but if you want to see some serious over-acting, you have to watch her scenes from this movie. It was ridiculous. She started out perfectly fine, I guess. She was just playing a sort of wacko mother character, but then as soon as her kids died the gloves were OFF. And I really don’t think it was Patricia Velásquez’s fault. The character was fucking ridiculous and poorly written. She did have probably the creepiest scene in the whole movie, which was this ominous montage with a Spanish lullaby playing in the background, but the actual setup and payoff for that scene made zero sense and got a gun involved for literally no reason…
The best actor in the film, though, has to be Raymond Cruz, playing a jaded ex-priest who helps out the cursed family. He was so deadpan and had a couple of good one-liners. Maybe it was just wishful thinking by this point in the movie, but it seemed to me that he was somewhat self-aware of the kind of movie he was in so was just kind of taking the piss, as the British like to say. He didn’t seem to take things too seriously, and I kinda just wish the whole movie was centred around him instead of the family.
The only other thing I can really say about the movie is that we were both disappointed in the filmmakers. I mean, y’all had a blank slate and a cool and potentially sympathetic monster to work with and you shit out this tired, boring, unfrightening, painfully bland thing. There’s plenty more that we could say about it, but we’re sharing this review with someone else, so I should just move on.
I doubt any of you would mind skipping out on another 2000 words about why this movie sucked.
Story – C-
Music – D+
Acting – B-
Visuals – D
Now this one was fucking cool.
I think this section is probably going to end up being very short, since I don’t want to say too too much about this movie. It’s something that really ought to be experienced for yourself, and that’s both a good and a bad thing about this movie.
Don’t get me wrong, Pinkie and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Both of us were on the edge of our seats the whole time. The music, the atmosphere, the acting, and the camerawork worked together to create this beautifully stressful film and I adored every second of it.
However, the story itself does kind of focus more on spectacle thansense, as Pinkie noticed. There are a few things about the plot that are…messy, to say the least. Not that you’re thinking about that at all when you’re watching the movie, but afterwards it does kind of nag at you. Small plot holes and the like just kind of make you pause after the thrill from the cinematic experience is gone, but it hardly ruins the movie.
It’s not like Bladerunner 2049.
Yes. Shade thrown at one of the so-called “best movies” of 2017, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Us was just kind of the perfect horror experience. The plot didn’t necessarily make 100% perfect sense, but the thrills and chills and nail-biting and spooks happened, and they shook me. Even Pinkie, who doesn’t really feel emotions like fear as the rest of us do, found himself unsettled by the film – mostly thanks to the absolutely incredible score by Michael Abels.
Seriously, the music is by far the best part of the film.
Second best part would definitely be the acting. The child actors and adult actors all did a fantastic job playing not only themselves but also their shadows. The absolutely disturbing and unsettling performances for the doppelgängers was perfection, especially Lupita Nyong’o’s character of Red, who had this absolutely haunting, gravelly voice that I’m sure meant she needed lemon tea, like, every day on set.
The family dynamic felt genuine, the terror felt genuine, the different body language between the regular family and the mirror family really added to the surreal feeling haunting this movie.
There was also just some really masterful camerawork on display. Jordan Peele really knows his way around a camera and there were some straight up beautiful shots in the introduction of the movie. Probably my favourite part of the movie was this scene filmed in a room of mirrors and I just can’t believe how cool it looked and how absolutely terrifying it was!
Unfortunately, I really can’t go into any further details, since I really encourage you all to just go out and watch it. Even if you don’t like horror movies, as long as you’re ok with an episode of Game of Thrones you’ll be fine. There really aren’t any cheap jumpscares or super loud noises or anything like that. The scares come from exactly where they’re supposed to come from – from slowly built-up tension and a desire to see likable characters make it out of horrible situations alive.
Honestly, go see this movie.
And get the soundtrack.
Story – B
Music – A+
Acting – A+
Visuals – A+
I know these reviews weren’t terribly in depth, or anything, but I hope you found some value in them anyway.
Pinkie and I will, in all likelihood, return to both of these films in the future to talk about them some more. Pinkie is pretty traumatised by La Llorona (seriously, he wanted to legit WALK OUT of the theatre, even though we unfortunately paid IMAX prices to see it) and he’s been ranting about it for days, and I wouldn’t mind taking a closer look at Us and maybe analyse the story some more.
That won’t be for a while, however, and I need to get back on top of my writing schedule! I’ve been neglecting all of you, and I’ve got some serious catch up to do. Not only have Pinkie and I been seeing movies over the last few months, we’ve also been reading comics, books, and I’ve got some episodes of The Promised Neverland to catch up on.
The next article will be coming soon, and I hope you like what we have coming in the future.
Until next time.