Unpopped Kernels: The Babysitter (2017)

The allure of the babysitter has transcended different genres of films. There’s the seductive thrillers a la The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, or the tortured victim as part of horrors, stalked by a ghoulish entity. They are usually dippy young girls thrust into Final Girl mode as they romp over the screen, trying desperately to save the kid, save themselves…or have sex with the Dad.

Anyway, horror film The Babysitter is an entertaining piece of horror action.

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The Babysitter revolves around 12 year-old Cole. He’s your atypical nerdy kid who is bullied at school and has exactly one friend. Well, two, if you include his babysitter Bee. Despite his age, and being the only child in his school still in need of one, Cole is happy that Bee is there. The two are massive cinema nerds and have a special kindred friendship. She is also super-hot and popular, which makes everyone somewhat jealous of Cole’s time with her. On the suggestion of his friend Melanie, Cole wants to figure out exactly what happens when he goes to bed…only to discover that Bee is part of a satanic cult and has been sacrificing people in the dead of night. Now Cole has to stop her before things get seriously out of hand.

Everyone’s obsession with the 80’s has really over-boiled to the point where it has become somewhat a bit tasteless. Whether it is a shrewd imitation of the tropes of eighties flicks or utilising synth scores and the era’s aesthetics, hungry, addicted fans can’t get enough of an era where shoulder pads were actually a thing.

The Babysitter certainly borrows from these recent obsession in it’s satire of 80s horror films and usage of ultra-violet colour and gaming visuals. However, director McG has amplified these tropes in a gleefully bloody and cheeky way. The film is over-the-top and with a sexual, seductive wink to the camera, it knows it. With no genuine frights, McGee relies on the splattering of bloody red stuff as really as some pretty humorous dialogue in a feverishly fast and enjoyable ride.

What makes The Babysitter so much fun is how briliant lead actress Samara Weaving is. Like, you can completely understand why Cole would want her around as a Babysitter. Heck, I’m 28 and I want her as a babysitter. She is impossible smart, witty, and quotes The Godfather, for christ’s sake. She is every 12 year old boys dream. Whilst that may be a fault: an extension of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, Weaving those a great job to play her with an assured depth. Opposite her is the young Judah Lewis who is terrific. He has to play complete nerd whilst also levelling up to hero status as he defeats, in particular gory fashion, the college kids turned satanic cult. They have bouts of chemistry as a friendship gone sour and it’s intriguing to watch this twist into prey and predator.
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A mix between The Final Girls and Stranger Things, The Babysitter may tire of the recent nostalgia resurgence and stumble half-way through, it is still a pleasurable and blood-splattering effort. A wildly entertaining film that will make for a perfect Halloween viewing this weekend or upcoming frightful Tuesday.

Happy Halloween! 

The Horror Twist: Why Ghost Ship Had One Of The Most Inventive Scenes in Modern Horrors

Yes there are spoilers. Massive ones. Walk away before it’s too late, save yourself.

It’s safe to say that some guilty pleasure movies need constant talking about. They need their fans to climb to the highest level of buildings and proclaim their love, the awfulness and the good stuff. They need cheerleaders chanting about how bloody brilliant it is while elbowing out of the way the detractors. Movies like these, they need someone to lend them a helping hand, to guide people away from all the bad stuff within the movie and say things like “yes, however, look at who great this is.” Sometimes, stale treats need constant attention.

So yes, this is why I am talking about Ghost Ship.

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While I don’t want to go into too much detail about the movie because we have done that before. It basically follows sea scavengers (and no, that is not another term for pirates, they salvage shipwrecks,) who are lured into an infamous ship, Antonia Graza, which disappeared many years before. While on-board the ship, they soon realise that there are devilish reasons for the ships disappearance and that there may be spirits floating about. As their team start to get picked off one by one, Maureen Epps must discover the truth about the Antonia Graza before it is too late. Starring Gabriel Byrne, Karl Urban, Emily Browning, and Julianna Margulies, this is a cheesy but still excellent film.

Like I said, there is no point in going through what’s good and bad about it. What I will do is talk about the most important, iconic and unforgettable scene. Now, it is very hard to implement twists into horror movies without the audience guessing it. After all, there has been so many different endings. There have been dreams, mothers, fat girls, ugly girls, ugly men, gorgeous men, children, paintings, cars, religion, dogs and much much more that turn out to be the shocking killer. In ghost stories, it’s not much different and you always end up seeing what happens without. Predictable, cheesy…yawn.

Not with Ghost Ship. In fact, written by John Pogue (who directed, more recently,The Quiet Ones) and Mark Hanlon, directed by Steve Beck, they manage to implement such a corking twist that it actually brings Ghost Ship up from the usual yarn. Ok. So we all knew that Ferrimen (the guy who directed the crew to the abandoned ship,) was a bit dodgy but would you have guessed he was a demon, charged with collecting a quota of souls so he can be redeems from his sins? No. Me neither.

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But what’s more, you find out the massive twist in the film in an execution that, to my eyes, is damn flawless. It is told in flashback form, a trope so tiresomely used before. Set perfectly to Gabriel Mann’s “My Little Box,” the ghost girl that has been stalking Epps takes you on the harrowing true store of the fate of the passengers on the ship. Much more gruesome than the opening wire slicing scene, Katie (the girl,) sees the ship dissolve into madness. And the truth is? Ferrimen has been using people. In a hierarchy of blackmail, he seduces people into murdering over gold because he can claim them for hell.

It is a genius move for the writing team. It adds a new dimension to the film. It an incredibly creepy scene that show cases how greed can change a man. Of course, there are lots of gruesome deaths but the team behind this horror movie make you care about some of them. This mixture of emotions, fear and confusion makes your pulse beat and your hairs stand on end. A perfectly organised moment makes it utterly compelling in a truly horrific way.

Ghost Ship is one of those movies that proves the importance of music. “My Little Box” is timed evocatively well, able to add a layer of creepiness to the film. Not only is the sheer desolation of the scene scary and horrifying but Gabriel Mann’s haunting alternative melody makes your stomach turn. It is the perfect tune for an impeccable scene and it twists alongside the actions of the population of the ship. Innocence and guilty, criminals and victims, blood and gore, all combine for a shocking scene. And Desmond Harrington is the perfect charming villain as Ferriman.

This scene alone should tether Ghost Ship to the cult classic. The scene. That flipping scene. That’s how good it is. And need I say anymore. Take a gander at it, it is brilliant.

Happy Halloween! 

A Silent Voice – Review

Please allow me to preface this review with the fact that I am not an Anime buff. I went in cold to this movie, so here’s my outsider perspective on the latest Anime to hit the screen.

A Silent Voice follows our antihero, Shoya Ishida, a former junior school bully who was once so cruel to deaf student Shoko Nishimiya that she had to change schools. Ishida’s single working mum had to pay for her broken hearing aid, and then Nishimiya’s mum beat up her and it was a whole thing.

Flash forward to high school and Ishida has lost all his friends, worked a part time job until he could pay his mum back for the expensive hearing aid, learned sign language in order to find and apologise to Nishimya – all in preparation for his imminent suicide.

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However, his encounter with Nishimya goes a lot better than he expected; he finds the two of them becoming friends. After a talk with his mother in which she begs him not to kill himself, he continues his high school career, occasionally meeting with Nishimya and watching their friendship blossom.

Sounds quite touching so far, right? Well it kind of is; but that’s just the first fifteen minutes of the film. From that point the storyline becomes so convoluted and melodramatic that I could feel the visceral sounds of collective eye-rolls from the audience.

One teen who was Ishida’s friend, and then wasn’t, and then was, and then wasn’t – I don’t know – had shrieking breakdowns at every little thing he said that she didn’t agree with. One character was just an awful bitch for no real reason. The entire script felt like it had been pulled directly from the diary of an over-dramatic teenager. Granted, it made a very realistic pass at how important teenagers think everything is, unable to see the rest of their lives ahead of them – but it went a step to far in expecting adult audiences to sympathise with these problems, and take them as seriously as the aforementioned teens.

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The story, comprising nonsensical twists and turns, dramatised the very mundane (bickering among friends over some name-calling) and completely overlooked the deeper discussions (Ishida’s depression, his mum’s struggle to raise two kids and a granddaughter whilst running a business). Overall, both the story and script felt juvenile and listless (again, I’m an anime novice, so I don’t know if this might be something that got lost in translation?).

Character development-wise, the group of teenagers were shallow and unsympathetic. Sure, they were likable (mostly) but very difficult to care about. Their problems were minor, their arguments pointless. It felt long and arduous to watch them bicker for two hours.

Animation-wise I got the same feeling – that the creators had tried incredibly hard to create something artsy and moving but ultimately missed the mark, on a knife’s edge between beautiful and tacky.

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Plus points – Ishida’s niece, Maria, is my new favourite character in anything and is totally adorable. Sadly, she couldn’t save the rest of the movie.

Ultimately, A Silent Voice felt like a story that didn’t need to be told; the woe-is-me attitude of the emotional teenager dressed up to be something it wasn’t – deep and artful. It watched like a first draft, with the somewhat unneeded in-between scenes left in and the aspects that could have made a touching film left unexplored.

A Silent Voice is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!