Godzilla vs. Kong vs. My Internal Composure: A Movie Review

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Godzilla vs. Kong (CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures/YouTube Screenshot)

Starring: Godzilla, King Kong, Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Lance Reddick, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Mechagodzilla

Director: Adam Wingard

Running Time: 113 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: March 31, 2021

What if it were Godzilla vs. Kong vs. … jmunney? Does the latest no-holds cinematic brawl between these two iconic behemoths make me want to join the fight? Hey man, I’m a pacifist! But entering their domain in some capacity might be fun. They seem like good company.  Kong is certainly a clown. And sensitive, to boot! Godzilla’s harder to peg, but I’d be willing to put in the emotional groundwork to make the connection. What’s Mechagodzilla’s deal, though? He sure comes out of nowhere. Does he even have a soul?!

Grade: 5 Podcasts of 10 ASLs

This Is a Movie Review: Blair Witch

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blair-witch

Alas, Blair Witch does not reinvent the found-footage wheel. But perhaps it was unfair for me to ever expect it to. Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett’s previous genre-bending work on You’re Next and The Guest primed me to think it would, as did the hot buzz from early screenings. But nothing about the film itself ever made such a promise. The lack of that particular ambition may hold it back from being a masterpiece, but I cannot fairly call it a failing. What Blair Witch actually cares to do, it mostly does well. It has a fine grip on temporal and spatial disorientation, plus a killer sequence involving claustrophobia. But ultimately, the arrangement of scares is too haphazard for a film that really could have benefited from an overarching through line. It flirts with a summary thesis on terror, but it does not quite get there.

I give Blair Witch 3 Witchy Pranks out of 5 Circular Walks.

You’re Next Review

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You’re Next starts off slow, almost to the point that I worried it was going to lose its target audience entirely. Luckily, there is something going on, just not what is to be expected based on the gore-heavy (nearly gore-exclusive) trailers. An upper-middle-class family reunites in a Mansion in the Woods, and the barely hidden tension comes out in supremely bitchy fashion. It’s basically (and here’s your pull quote right here) a comedy of manners interrupted by a horror movie.

Erin (played by Step Up 3D‘s Sharni Vinson), a girlfriend meeting the family, turns out to be unexpectedly equipped to respond to the home invasion. The explanation for this characterization is both logical and timely. As the buzz indicates, You’re Next is heavily subversive of the home invasion genre. Whenever a trope is subverted, a logical explanation is provided for why it is subverted, and whenever a trope is played straight, a logical explanation is provided for why it is played straight.

(GENERALLY SPOILER-ISH INFORMATION IN THIS PARAGRAPH. I’m not giving anything completely away, but this is information I’m glad I didn’t know beforehand.)  In the last 30 minutes or so, as Erin really doubles down in her fighting back, You’re Next decides to travel back to the 80’s with an awesome John Carpenter-style synth score. Interestingly enough, You’re Next may owe less to something like The Strangers than it does to a certain crime movie from the 40’s (quite possibly the best crime movie of all time – or at least the best noir crime movie of all time). You know how I said it’s a comedy of manners interrupted by a horror movie? Well, it’s really more of a crime movie disguised as horror. And the twists keep on coming right through to the end. There’s almost a final twist that would have been a little too bleak for most audiences’ tastes, but that is quickly averted by a different, not quite as bleak, twist. And all these final twists are punctuated by perfect pitch-black humor, particularly Erin’s recapping of the details of her fighting back. (END SPOILERS)

The cast is mostly made up of your favorite indie filmmakers (Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Amy Seimetz in a role quite different than Upstream Color), several of whom my brother knows, and the aforementioned Sharni Vinson. Now, I unabashedly love Step Up 3D, but that’s because of the dancing and the 3D, and in spite of the acting. The acting in Step Up 3D could have been worse, but it was unimpressive enough to make me worry that Sharni might be a liability to You’re Next. Well, I owe her an apology, because she rightfully deserves a place among Heather Langenkamp and Sigourney Weaver as one of the best horror heroines who fight back of all time. A