Another odd mix of releases this week and again I haven’t received all of them yet. I’ll start with the biggest release I did get, The House With a Clock in Its Walls. I respect what it was trying to do and I was having fun with it for a lot of the movie, but ultimately it left me a little disappointed. I love the idea of bringing back kid based horror flicks like what I grew up with. Movies like The Monster Squad, The Gate, and Gremlins were a good way to introduce horror to a younger crowd. I liked them and grew to like horror because of it. Hopefully this movie inspires some youngsters to get into Stephen King and even Director Eli Roth’s more adult flicks! This movie is at its best when it focuses on the young boy Lewis. His parents are killed and he must move into his Uncle Jonathan’s (Jack Black) weird house that seems to be alive and is full of clocks. He has to go to a new school and meet new kids. All of this feels like a great kids movie with Lewis struggling to make friends and understand his new surroundings. Unfortunately the movie goes into a lot of backstory between Jonathan and Kyle MacLachlan’s bad guy character. The story becomes about Jonathan, his past, trying to find the clock and stopping MacLachlan’s plan. They even threw in some backstory to Cate Blanchett’s character. When the movie is about Lewis learning magic from his uncle and Blanchett and going to school trying to fit in, it is classic storytelling. It’s charming and cute, but the movie focuses too much time on backstory and the ending doesn’t make a ton of sense. If they stuck to it being about Lewis, maybe you have the next Harry Potter franchise.
Sticking with kids based horror, next is Bloody Birthday. This early 1980’s flick gets a new 2K restored Blu-ray package. I actually hadn’t seen it before, but it’s pretty cool. Three kids are born during an eclipse and ten years later they start killing people. Anytime you have killer kids I’ll watch your movie. It’s not a classic like Children of the Corn, but I can see a lot of people having fond memories of it. It’s a mix of goofy and slasher and overall I dug it. It checkmarks most of what I want in 80’s slasher, nudity, kills, gore, people you root for to die and creepy kids. Seriously these kids are really odd and it works because of it. My biggest issue is the revolver the one kid uses. A 10-year-old would never be able to fire it with one hand, heck he might not be able to with 2 hands at that size. But other than that, no real complaints. It’s not an all-time classic, but it looks good restored and comes with new commentaries, interviews and more. If you are a fan you’ll like this release for sure.
Third we have An Afghan Love Story which was Afghanistan’s Submission for Best Foreign Language Film in 2014. This being the type of foreign film Hollywood loves makes 100% perfect sense. It’s about a young woman, Wajma, who falls in love and gets pregnant. Of course it being in Afghanistan that goes against their entire culture. She’s not married, she can’t have sex and be pregnant! The father goes crazy and gets abusive. The mother and grandmother try to protect her. The father tells her she’s cursed the family and all that. I watched the movie and got the exact opposite response of Hollywood. We can’t hate people and can’t hate other cultures, but how can anyone watch this movie and accept this behavior? Yes the movie is supposed to open eyes and expose how bad it is for women still, but if you say anything bad against this same culture you’re a bad person. But I’ll get off my soapbox. The lead actress is good, but it’s not something I’d have to watch again.
Next is Coby, a documentary about a transgender person. I’m not familiar with the person but watching it they made online posts so maybe they had a following before the documentary was made. It follows Coby who transitioned from female to male in Ohio. It shows old pictures and online posts along with current footage to show how Coby transitioned, became an EMT, got a girlfriend and how the family responded. The mother says they were open minded and accepting, but she certainly didn’t come across that way. Although the girlfriend rubbed me the wrong way more. She seemed super pushy about everything and told a story about a cashier looking at Coby’s ID and having an issue. I doubt that happened, but people love to make up stories nowadays. If you want to watch a documentary on transitioning this is pretty straight forward.
Out this week is the second Retro Afrika Collection of 3 Restored Apartheid-Era Sollywood films. If you aren’t familiar with this genre of film, they are independent films shot in South Africa with actors and directors you’ve never heard of and are films that by today’s standards are laughably bad. They are the definition of independent film. I had a ton of fun with Charlie Steel. A woman is kidnapped and held for ransom and Charlie Steel is hired to find her. He’s recognized by an old friend, but fights to complete the job. Think Shaft made by the guys who did Scary Movie, but with no budget. My favorite of the three. Revenge is a Western type with a man wanting revenge on the men who killed his family. He is badly beaten but survives thanks to a gunslinger who trains him so he can get his revenge. It’s definitely laughably bad, but I give them credit for trying to make a Western and having a story that’s pretty universal. I genuinely laughed at The Comedians, not with it, but at it. It involved two friends, a magic ring and one friend trying to steal it from the other friend. Of course it all backfires because anytime magic and wishes are involved you never truly get what you wish for. It’s the worst of the three films, but it’s good for a laugh.
Last we have Snowflake which according to the press release came out earlier in the month but I didn’t get my copy until the end of last week. I liked half of the movie and didn’t understand the other half. It’s an interconnecting story with two guys seeking revenge on the politician that got their father killed in a sort of post-apocalypse Germany. Along the way they killed a woman’s parents who now wants revenge on them. There’s someone trying to protect people in Berlin by using electricity as a superpower. There’s also the singer Snowflake who the 2 guys think is their guardian angel. That’s not the confusing part. The confusing part is there is a dentist who’s writing a screenplay that happens to be about all of this. The 2 guys find the screenplay and hunt down the dentist to see how he knows what’s happening. They think it’s black magic and even the dentist doesn’t understand what’s happening. The action and normal story are great and I dug that part of the movie. Unfortunately they never explain the dentist screenplay part and you’re left wondering what that was all about. Which is a shame because the movie could be really great if it made sense. It has quality kills, the acting is good, the storylines connect well, I just wish the screenplay part either didn’t exist or was explained properly! But you should still enjoy it overall because I did.