Glass

Surprise, its M. Night Shyamalan! He has been on a bit of an upswing lately. After he did The Visit, which was better than expected. And after he did Split, which was really great thanks to acting performances and of course, a surprise sequel.

Now, with Glass, we find ourselves with a trilogy no one would have expected a few years ago. Split works really well as a sequel to Unbreakable, maybe more so because no one expected it to be a sequel.

Unbreakable still holds up today, as a slow origin story and realizing that one might be something greater than everyone else around him. With Glass he has quite a task. Can he fully combine these two films, and bring about some sort of resolution? Because I don’t think anyone is expecting it to continue after Glass, into some just Shyamalan franchise of supers. An update is what we want, not a never ending story.

But hey, I am willing to change my mind should this be awesome.

Door
“Yo lady. Check that door. It’s glass, isn’t it?”

It turns out, that the more I talk about really what goes on in this movie, the more I might accidentally give away in terms of it its plot. As of now, Kevin Crumb and company (James McAvoy) have created the Beast and are causing havok, doing their own thing. Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) is returning to her regular life, and is in a better home situation.

Dunn (Bruce Willis) runs his own security business, while also spending time looking for people to help, and right now, The Beast. His son (Spencer Treat Clark) is now grown up, but still on his side and his “tech base guy”.

Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) has been in a mental hospital for some time, and his mom (Charlayne Woodard) is still alive! And we also have Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) as a psychiatrist, who has a very specific niche.

Also starring Luke Kirby and Adam David Thompson as workers.

Ceiling
What a climatic battle of super people! Wait

First of all, I think general audiences are going to HATE Glass. We have the potential ending of a franchise, two superhuman forces coming to collide. Is it going to be an epic game of cat and mouse? Is it going to be a huge brawl after huge brawl? How is he going to make it feel realistic like Unbreakable?

No, nothing like that. Instead, most of what I imagine people will suspect is going to happen really quickly, and the other 85% of the movie will be something you did not expect. I know I didn’t, but I didn’t see a trailer and so went in with my own regular expectations.

Now I am not saying where it went was bad, it was just extremely weird and unexpected. Specifically, Paulson’s character I really hated, and yet, we were supposed to hate her. There was just other things off with it. The situation she was in, her conversations, they didn’t feel natural so it took me out of the realism they were going for.

This is a lot more than anyone bargained for. And for a lot of the film, I was still sort of digging it. I didn’t think the direction was bad. But the ending. The ending is a mess of “twists” and what felt like a never ending movie. This movie at 129 minutes feels like its three hours. It is very slow paced, and feels like there are multiple regular ending spots.

McAvoy is still fan-fucking-tastic. What we wanted was to see more of his sides, and I lost count, but I think we get to see the rest of his many faces. We get a lot of long shots of him going between his voices, and it is great to see the many transformations.

Samuel L. Jackson is not utilized enough, Bruce Willis looks great (and old) but is too quiet and also under utilized. We need more updates, damn it. It was great to see Clark and Woodward back after so long, replacing them would have been lame.

And finally, I am pretty sure the timing is really off in the movie. It sounds like they said it took place only 3 weeks after Split. Did it? No idea. But if so, then all this talk of 19 years is bullshit, unless Split took place in the future compared to when it came out. And if Glass is only 3 weeks later, from a few years ago, some of the references made don’t make sense. Damn it, I hate it when timelines are confusing and characters can reference songs that aren’t out yet.

Let’s end the review on this note. Again, Glass is weird, it tries to do something different. It succeeded at being different. And I don’t think people will be happy with that difference.

2 out of 4.

Thoroughbreds

I tried to watch Thoroughbreds when it was still in theaters, but a lot of things got in my way. The screening was during the day. Then I got free tickets to the Alamo over spring break, but couldn’t fit it in with three other movies I was watching during that week. And after those two attempts, I knew I had to wait.

Critic friends gave me lackluster reasons to go out of my way as well.

But I still knew I had to see it. The cast was too potentially good. And I have loved plenty of films that others have not.

Entry
Now watch as I refuse to type the title, as it gives me too many spelling anxieties.

Amanda (Olivia Cooke) and Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) are not really friends. They are studying together, they are rich, but they have very different interests. They used to be friends, but things change over time. So why is Lily tutoring Amanda? To rekindle their friendship? To be nice?

No, Amanada’s mom paid Lily to do it. But they eventually found things to talk about, like Amanda’s past with potential animal abuse and the fact that Amanda is a sociopath. Fake emotions, no heart, what have you.

It turns out that Lily has the need of someone with her talents. She is fine with her mom, but her step dad (Paul Sparks) is a bit stranger. He isn’t abusive to her, but he does make her feel uncomfortable. It also turns out that he is going to put her in a boarding school that isn’t fun and kick her out. Things have got to change.

They have got to kill him.

Also starring Anton Yelchin, Francie Swift, and Kaili Vernoff.

Couch
There is so much distance between them. Physically, and emotionally.

Thoroughbreds was about two leads who were particularly unlikable. After all, one was a sociopath whose identity in this film was entirely based upon her relationship with the other. And the other is some sort of epitome of first world problems. Some of them are more relevant, but a lot of them just stem from being incredibly rich and lonely.

This is potentially the final new film that will be released with Yelchin in it. I have no idea, because I didn’t know he was in the film until I finally saw it. It wasn’t his best work and he had a small role, so it is going to be a forgettable one if it ends up being his final film.

When it comes to acting, since our main characters are already so emotionless, there isn’t a lot going on there. Cooke is really type casted into these quirky and darker roles, so it isn’t something we haven’t seen before. Taylor-Joy has certainly been better in her other recent genre roles of Split and The Witch.

Overall, this is a film that could have had a lot of potential, but really felt like it dragged due to the longer takes of scenes and build up of suspense. I did enjoy the ending though, and can’t find too many other faults in the film itself.

2 out of 4.

Split

Guess what? I liked The Visit. It creeped me out a bit, had some humor, but overall was a good balance and a decent story. It had a twist, but didn’t really make or break the movie on the twist, so it didn’t get hated for it either.

And that is what M. Night needed to do. He needed to take the twists focus away from his film, because they lived and died by how good the twist became. He can still do twists, but he had to make sure he had a great film regardless of twist.

I was looking forward to see Split. I didn’t see any trailer, any synopsis, just a director and the main actor in a poster. I was excited because I wanted to believe.

I was excited to see M. Night finally kick some ass again.

Hedwig
I was basically as giddy as a school girl, like this little boy here!

Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) is your regular, average, teenage girl. Well, except she has black hair, so that makes her moody. She goes to detention a lot, has unreliable parenting, has run away before and is a person who likes to keep to herself. But she was invited to a classmate’s party, because it would be weird to invite everyone BUT her. After everyone else had left, Casey’s ride isn’t there, so she gets a ride home with the birthday girl, (Haley Lu Richardson), her other friend (Jessica Sula), and the dad.

But the dad doesn’t get in the driver’s seat. Next thing the girls know, they wake up in a locked room underground, and this creepy guy, Dennis (James McAvoy) is talking strangely and threatening them. There is talk about…a beast?

Long story short, turns out that Dennis is more than Dennis. He is Patricia. He is Hedwig. He has 23 different personalities. He has been mostly non threatening, sees a shrink (Betty Buckley) and everything, but it looks like some of his personalities have taken over and have other plans. The girls are going to have to work with their kidnapper if they hope to escape their kidnapper.

Also featuring some flashbacks with young Casey (Izzie Coffey) and her dad (Sebastian Arcelus) and uncle (Brad William Henke) out hunting.

Dennis
Dennis is super cereal all the time, and also enjoys young girls dancing for him. Your average joe.

I ended up really enjoying Split. Like, like liking Split. It just shocked the hell out of me.

First of all, it is a very strange movie. I am not going to say that it is accurate scientifically or anything, but based on the universe M. Night created, it totally fits and is plausible. But it is still very weird, while keeping the aura of mystery and thrills, all wrapped up in a psychotic bow.

A lot of cool things happen along the way thanks to the story, but in all honesty it is just McAvoy and Taylor-Joy carrying it. The other two girls are forgettable characters because they are to the side. The psychiatrist is interesting, but not the best. The flashbacks serve a purpose, but don’t end too shockingly. But McAvoy playing the many different roles pulls it off flawlessly. He saw what Tom Hardy did in Legend and thought he would try and 22 up it.

I have now seen Taylor-Joy in only two films, The Witch being the other one, and it amazes me how well she plays a struggling but capable female victim lead. Her roles have not been screaming girl who somehow survives, they have depth to them, fears, and presence.

Split delivered something I hope to see in every movie I watch. It gave me something unique. It gave me a film full of its own mythos. It gave me performances I want to see again and again. And it gave me hope. Not hope for mankind or anything. But just hope in films, because when the credits rolled, I found myself even giddier than when I originally walked to my seat.

4 out of 4.

The Witch

According to some people, there is only allowed to be one good horror movie a year. Something that is clearly leagues above the rest in terms of story, production value, acting, and whatever. Last year it was It Follows, the year before that The Babadook. In 2013 we had The Conjuring, and if I can plug my own favorite for 2012, I’d say Sinister.

Without watching The Witch, you can tell it is the type of movie that would love that distinction. Hell, it was a horror movie that played in festivals. That is a rarity.

It also very early in the year, most of the best films have come out in the second half (except for It Follows). All I can really say about 2016 before this movie is that it surely isn’t The Forest and it definitely isn’t The Final Project.

Family
Creepy mood lighting: Perfect for scary hiding witches.

In the early 1600’s, America was a scary place. You lived on the plantation with other settlers, you did what you were told, you survived attacks from the natives, and you struggled to survive. To be banished would be akin to death. But for one family, they accepted banishment. The patriarch, William (Ralph Ineson), was a devoutly Christian man and he was upset with the plantation church. He disagreed with them on the book of God, and so he accepted the banishment because he knew the Lord would provide for his faithful family.

So he took his wife (Kate Dickie), oldest daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), slightly teenager son Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), and young twins Mercy and Jonas (Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson), on a cart into the world to find their new home.

Well after a few months they have a sizable farm. A house, a barn, some sheds. They have grown corn, have some goats and chickens and are surviving. Oh, and the wife gave birth to a baby boy, Samuel. Oh, but the corn crops have developed a rot and most of it isn’t edible. And while Thomasin was playing peek-a-boo with Samuel, Samuel disappeared. They can’t find him and assumed a wolf took him. But maybe it was something sinister? Maybe a witch?

These are only the first of their many problems. Distrust, poorness, hunger. And maybe a witch is causing tiny issues to grow their family apart. Maybe it is all just their own religious fears and puritan values causing the anger. But bad auras are afoot, and no one can save them now.

Also featuring Bathsheba Garnett and Sarah Stephens.

Girl
This is a scariest forest than the forest in The Forest.

The Witch was directed and written by Robert Eggers, a man who clearly loves his job. The level of realism in this movie is incredible. From the outfits, to the language, to their principals and actions, everything just seems to make sense. I didn’t find myself shaking my head, wondering why a character did something. No. They all have their reasons and make perfectly logical decisions for their character based on the events unfolding around them. It is fantastic.

You might be wondering if I am actually saying that this is a “horror” movie with great acting, and I totally am. They all sound like they have been speaking that dialect their entire life. Admittedly, the dialogue at times is hard to understand and I don’t pick up every important word. But the point is still made and that point is authentic as fuck.

I wouldn’t describe The Witch as the scariest movie ever, but it is definitely extremely unsettling and it feels downright evil. This is a slow burn horror film. You are frightened because you are living in a Puritan family’s world, facing their real fears and taking on the world as they see it. It is very religious based, and that type of horror can affect someone on the psychological level.

For those who aren’t familiar, one big aspect of the Puritan Christianity is they believed that when they were born, they were pre-selected for Heaven or Hell. Most people were selected for Hell and there is nothing they could do to change their outcome in life. Clearly those meant for Heaven would do great things, and everyone else would have faults and be bad. But they couldn’t help it. So succumbing to your fate and living in constant worry was just some of the many things you would do during this time period.

The witches they show in this film also feel authentic. Eggers based everything on this film on primary sources of the time and it just adds to the downright creepy realism. I should also add the score created great tension with heavy violin play, and allowed the audience to get frightened without any cheap jump scares.

The Witch is hard to watch, frightful, and it is clear that everyone involved put everything they had into it. It is the type of horror film I could see myself watching again and again, just needing a few months or years of downtime in between.

Go home 2016, this is probably the best horror film of the year and one of the best films of the year.

4 out of 4.