Posted in Other Media

Countdown to October: Movies 16–18

Coherence

Year: 2013
Runtime: 1h 29m
Rated: Not Rated

Director: James Ward Byrkit

Writers: James Ward Byrkit, Alex Manugian

Stars: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon

Initial: I’ve considered this movie many times for various horror movie watch-a-thons, but I wondered if it was “horror” enough.

Production Notes: Micro-budget. Filming took place over five nights in Byrkit’s home with minimal crew, a primary cast of eight, and pretty much no set script. Despite the intricacy of the plot, dialog was improvised.

What Did I Think:
Coherence is light on traditional horror elements (and traditional science-fiction elements as well). As a comet passes close to earth, strange phenomena occur, that we experience via a group of old friends at a dinner party. Coherence has fun with notions of the uncanny, which can be a little disturbing. Honestly, it could have gone a little harder toward the end.

Does it play fair with its twisty plot? Does the puzzle have an actual solution? I don’t know, I kind of went along for the ride. I did like the naturalness of the characters—that all their conclusions and solutions were not the smartest things, but actually seem like a good idea to them at the time.


We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

Year: 2021
Runtime: not rated
Rated: 1h 26m

Director: Jane Schoenbrun

Writers: Jane Schoenbrun

Stars: Anna Cobb, Michael J Rogers

Initial: I knew very little about this film, but have an interest in horror films that are incorporating online culture.

Production Notes: Feature debut for both Jane Schoenbrun and Anna Cobb.

What Did I Think:
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is very impressionistic. Scenes play out and are not given much context. That’s just fine; this type of storytelling work very well considering the subject matter. Casey, our protagonist, decides to take part in the World’s Fair Challenge, which seems to be part internet challenge, part horror ARG (alternate reality game). There is a lot of ambiguity in the plot. Are strange things happening to Casey (and other players), or is she just playing along? Other filmmakers would probably opt for jump scares, but Schoenbrun sticks to reality.

Unfortunately, this movie gave me an incredible headache. Many of the scenes are posts by Casey, meaning shaky, blurry, hand-held, and slipping in and out of focus. Casey also watches an ASMR video during the film. I knew nothing about ASMR before this movie and as far as I can tell, my reaction to such things are the exact opposite of the pleasant sensations intended. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair includes many ASMR techniques and I only found them physically uncomfortable.


All My Friends Hate Me

Year: 2021
Runtime: 1h 33m
Rated: R

Director: Andrew Gaynord

Writers: Tom Palmer, Tom Stourton

Stars: Tom Stourton, Dustin Demri-Burns, Graham Dickson

Initial: Again, I wasn’t sure how “horror” this movie was going to be, but I figured with a party of friends and a long title it was the perfect third movie for this post.

What Did I Think:
You know the term “gas lighting?” It get misused a lot. It doesn’t mean just lying. It means lying in a way that causes someone to doubt their sanity. Viewed one way, All My Friends Hate Me could be a masterful story of gaslighting.

Pete (Tom Stourton) isn’t a bad guy, but he’s neurotic and kind of a knob. He’s not sure (and we’re not sure) if he’s completely misremembering things or if his friends are lying to him about everything all the time. Will some “accident” befall Pete before the week is out? Will his relationship with his current girlfriend be ruined? Someone is definitely keeping a secret, but who?

This was a mostly entertaining film, though light on horror elements and uncomfortable if you feel embarrassment vicariously.