Monday, July 3, 2017

Horror Movie Mini-Reviews: The Blackcoat's Daughter and The Bad Batch

* The Blackcoat's Daughter

February rolls around at a Catholic all girls boarding school and parents are set to pick up their kids. All except Rose and Kat whose miscommunication with their parents left them stranded at the practically deserted school. Rose is dealing with her own pregnancy scare drama while Kat's behavior becomes increasingly erratic as time goes on.

The Blackcoat's Daughter is a beautiful film with good performances and a decent twist. So many of the scenes and camera angles are striking and the main strength of the film. Oftentimes, the scenes are monochromatic with a splash of color. The performances are spot on. Kiernan Shipka stands out as deteriorating Kat, showing that she can be incredibly eerie. Emma Roberts delivers an unexpectedly subtle performance. Lucy Boynton's performance as Rose is more straight forward and conventional than the others, but it's important to have a character for the audience to relate to. The ending is the best part as something gruesome and shocking actually happens.

The film's flaws are in the slow pacing and the parallel story lines. I don't mind slow pacing, but it took until the very very ending for anything remotely exciting to happen. The atmosphere held up and the plot didn't. It stagnated somewhere in the middle and lost me. Both stories had a similar interesting ending with a long, boring build up. The Blackcoat's Daughter is worth a watch, but it's very light on plot and goes a long way with no payoff to speak of. Much like I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House, it's a beautiful, well acted, atmospheric film with not much substance.

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

* The Bad Batch

Arlen is tattooed with a number and dropped in the desert outside Texas that lies outside of the United States and all its laws. She is captured by cannibals, who eat her arm and leg, but she manages to escape with the help of a strange drifter to safe haven Comfort. From there she gets into so much trouble of her own making that it's ridiculous. The beginning sets up the world and has the best parts of action and horror. Criminals of all types are thrown into a lawless wasteland outside the US instead of being jailed. We are never told why and never see what the US looks like in this world, which would have been interesting. The cannibal society that captured Arlen seems to be made up of mostly body builders. The only sympathetic cannibals are Miami Man played by Jason Mamoa and his adorable daughter Honey, who are just trying to make their way in life by eating tons of other people. Miami Man provides the most horrific scene when he kills and butchers a pleading woman, which was probably my favorite. He is the  most sympathetic and dimensional characters in the film with both his ferocious, violent side and his artistic, caring side portrayed.

The rest of the film shows Arlen's moronic antics and unnecessarily drawn out scenes. Arlen still manages to be worse than cannibals by constantly wandering out into the desert with absolutely no supplies. While she does this, she happens to stumble on people all the time even though it looks like a giant wasteland with no landmarks to speak of. It's way too convenient for these people with close ties to be finding each other as often as they do. Then she kills a woman in front of her daughter Honey, takes Honey to Comfort, and then completely forgets about her until Miami Man shows up to find her. I don't think Arlen ever makes good decisions as if she's allergic to them and her attitude brings to mind pouty children. Many scenes are way too long and don't bring anything to the story, for instance the extensive drug trip scene, Keanu's lengthy speech on shit, and lingering shots on pretty much every actor no matter the situation. These scenes and practices made the film seem so much longer than it was and made the pacing terrible. I had high expectations since I enjoyed Ana Lily Amirpour's debut A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The Bad Batch a messy, unfocused film with a terrible main character. A lot of the concepts have promise, but the execution left a boring, drawn out plot with a plot hole-filled happy ending.

My rating: 1.5/5 fishmuffins

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