I Think We’re Alone Now
Runtime: 1h 39m
Director: Reed Morano
Writers: Mike Makowsky
Stars: Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Paul Giamatti
Initial: I didn’t know the release date of this film when I watched it. I thought for sure it was a pandemic film, considering the very small cast and subject matter. It is not. It’s was released in 2018.
What Did I Think:
I don’t believe in the paranormal, so it seems rather incongruous that one of my favorite genres is horror, especially ghosts stories. The problem is, supernatural horror is such a good canvas for telling stories that I am more than willing to suspend my disbelief for the sake of the tale. The post-apocalypse can be a great canvases too, but I find that often those stories end up being too big, too inclined to satire. I Think We’re Alone Now is mostly a small, subtle post-apocalyptic story.
We’re not burdened with the “why” of the apocalypse: seemingly a majority of people simply died one Tuesday morning. I’m not sure if Del (Peter Dinklage) really believes he’s the last man on earth, but telling thing is that he doesn’t endeavor to find out and is befuddled by Grace’s appearance. It’s also pretty telling about me that I saw him living in the library and thought, “That’s the perfect way to spend an apocalypse!” How he and Grace (Elle Fanning) interact is absolutely the best thing about this film.
The third act widens the plot, but really only in a way that explains some of the mysteries surrounding both Grace and Del. Thankfully, the story stay too long away from our main characters.
Runtime: 2h 1m
Director: David Bruckner
Writers: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski, David S. Goyer
Stars: Odessa A’zion, Jamie Clayton, Adam Faison
Initial: This is a reboot and I have Hulu. Sure, why not?
What Did I Think:
Despite its many flaws, the original Hellraiser (1987) is one of my favorite horror films. In fact, I seem to like all the (3) movies that Clive Barker has directed. He has a very particular view that comes through in his films. I watched Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) and it was fine, but I jumped off the franchise that sequel. The story seemed to be headed in an overly baroque direction.
There are many things about this Hellraiser reboot are well done. Odessa A’zion’s Riley is good character and well-acted. The set and character design is wonderful. Voight’s boxed-in mansion is an image right up there with the new cenobite designs in memorable visuals. Jamie Clayton’s Pinhead/Priest is menacing, but also tempting.
This Hellraiser is also unfortunately rather tidy. Yes, I am complaining about a coherent story and explained lore, both of which feel out of place in this franchise. But also, the story and design are not gooey or grimy. The story shifts the focus from mostly transgressive characters (much of the first film’s runtime was spent with Frank and Julia) to a firm protagonist in A’zion’s Riley. We do see more of the cenobites, but they’re less villains and more like the inevitable curse that will catch up with you.
Still, Hellraiser (2022) is worthwhile viewing for spooky season. As with Prey (2022), I’m surprised there was no plan for any theatrical release, especially considering the recent success of other R-rated horror movies (notably, Smile and Barbarian).
Shadow in the Cloud
Runtime: 1h 23m
Director: Roseanne Liang
Writers: Roseanne Liang, Max Landis
Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Beulah Koale
Initial: My sister recommended this movie to me ages ago! Mostly, because she knows I love movies with anachronistic synth soundtracks.
Production Notes: The script was rewritten somewhat after Max Landis was booted from the project. As far as I can tell from perusing an online version of Landis’s script, the bones of the action remained the same, but there was definitely some switch in focus.
What Did I Think:
You know the song “Princes of the Universe” by Queen? You know, the theme from Highlander (1986, 1992–1998 on TV)? I’ve linked it there if you’re unfamiliar with the whole track, and if you know it from Highlander, you might not be familiar with the whole track. Because “Princes of the Universe” is a great half of a song. It’s so epic that at the 1:40 mark there is no where to go with it.
Shadow in the Cloud is a great half of a movie. It’s stylish with a pretty rad soundtrack. We know something is up with Maude and her package, but we don’t know what. It’s pretty heartbreaking listening to the rest of the crew, all men, deride her, especially when enemy planes and actual gremlins come on the scene. It’s claustrophobic in more ways than one. I was getting strong Pontypool (2008) vibes. But, dang it, I wish this movie could have found some other ending. There’s a twist and I didn’t care for it. I also wasn’t a fan of the super-heroics, some of which made the trailer.
But the first half? Great half of a movie.