Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Horror Movie Mini-Reviews: Joshua, The Girl on the Train, and Exists

* Joshua

Joshua is a precocious little boy who becomes distressed when his parents Brad and Abby have a new baby. He subtly begins to make his family's life hell for his own reasons. I enjoy children as villains especially when they are as superbly acted as Joshua. He is a cold, calculated child that excels in school and at playing the piano. I work with children as a teacher and his behavior towards others feels so unnatural. Because of lessons at school, he becomes fascinated with ancient Egyptian religion and rituals. Joshua is different than Rhoda in that he targets his own family. He systematically tears his family apart by exploiting their weaknesses, using their past against them, and discrediting them.

This film has an air of unease all about it that put me on the edge of my seat. One particularly eerie scene was at Joshua's recital performance. He played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but used a dissonant melody and threw creepy glances at his parents all the while. So much of the horrific things happen off screen, but the aftermath is frightening enough. Vera Farmiga and San Rockwell play sympathetic, sweet parents. By the end, you hardly recognize them because of how their son has manipulated them. I enjoyed the nods to The Bad Seed, the original evil child film that is well worth your time. It also has a lot in common with We Need to Talk About Kevin.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

* The Girl on the Train

Rachel pretends to go to work every day to appease her roommate, but she actually takes the train back and forth while drinking and drawing. She sees a perfect couple every time she passes by their house, but trouble comes in when she sees the woman cheat on her husband. When that woman goes missing, Rachel can't remember that night and fears she had something to do with the disappearance.

The film is a fairly faithful and streamlined adaptation of the book. It was well acted and directed. It ran a little long and the pacing dragged a bit. The problem I have with it (and with the book) is that information is doled out so deliberately that the mystery can't really be solved until the very end of the film. The villain is so cartoonish that it's unbelievable. No one in the film is remotely a good person (except Rachel's roommate), but I actually enjoyed that aspect. All people are imperfect and these were just more so. The ending was pretty awesome and had a gruesome and unintentionally funny moment that was the best of the whole film. Overall, it was just ok. Worth a watch, but not a repeat viewing.

My rating: 2.5/5 fishmuffins

* Exists

A group of annoying teens go into the woods and stay in a cabin to party and look for Bigfoot. I seriously hated this movie. I toughed it out to the end, but it was painful. Not only are the characters the worst people on the planet, but the camera work was shaky to the point of nausea. The only good part in the first half was how the creature was never fully shown. We always imagine better and more terrible things than we are shown. The latter half of the film has it everywhere and ruins the previous effect. I had no sympathy for the characters and I thought they lived for far too long.

My rating: 1/5 fishmuffins

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