Rosemary’s Baby is Throwin’ Up the Horns

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary’s Baby comes from a tiny, self-generated time period where Satanic horror flicks were considered pretty in-fashion and thus deserved a nice cast and crew. It tells a tale of an innocent Catholic girl who moves into an apartment with a dark past, and slowly descends into a conspiracy against God and humanity. That sounds pretty epic, I’m sure, but the story progresses cautiously, giving you time to notice the oddities and signs that lead to the Devil. I like the acting, I like the setting, I like the film. Let’s roll.

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse are a young married couple looking to rent an apartment in Manhattan. Guy’s looking to secure a better career as an actor, but his luck isn’t doing much for him. Rosemary’s a child of strict Catholic upbringing, estranged from her parents due to their detesting Guy’s mixed Jewish/Protestant upbringing. She is satisfied to be a housewife to her husband.

Rosemary's BabyGuy’s career takes off when his rival suddenly goes blind, a very spontaneous misfortune indeed. With his future growing brighter, he decides to ask Rosemary to have a baby. Hence the movie’s title. Apparently having had studies Rosemary’s ovulation cycle, he holds a “baby night.” On that very night, Minnie Castevet, an older woman met earlier on, brings over a chocolate mousse for the two to eat. Rosemary doesn’t like it because of a chalky undertaste, and Guy gets pissy at her for being ungrateful. She eats what she can and dumps the rest.

Enter the dream sequence. You see a lot of things here, like the Pope, Rosemary sans some clothes, a Satanic ritual, and Satan getting funky with the poor, drugged lass, and a bunch of old yet familiar people standing around and watching. One could infer that the perceived events are false, but this is a Satanic horror movie. Anything that would make the main character look “crazy” is obviously real.

The pregnancy doesn’t go well. Rosemary experiences excruciating pains, but her doctor (recommended to her by Roman and Minnie Castevet, their nosy neighbors) says that it is normal. Fearing for her baby’s well-being, she invites a bunch of her young friends over for a small party to get their opinions on the matter. They immediately show concern and practically order Rosemary to stop seeing the quack and get a second opinion. Once the party is over, Guy is particularly vehement that Rosemary sticks with her current doctor. Right as she’s about to shout him into a corner, the pain stops.

Rosemary's BabyIt isn’t quite all well and good from that point, though. Signs of a Satanic cult begin to pop up, centering around a strange book that hints at a plethora of anagrams. Suddenly, Roman Castevet’s name begins to ring quite a different bell. But I’d rather not spoil the end of the movie for you.

After doing a bit of reading on the film, the entire plot could very well be an analogy for Rosemary’s discomfort with marrying a man who wasn’t Catholic born and raised. Think about that. Marrying a Jewish/Protestant man to a very devout Catholic might make her associate him with the Devil. But that’s just fan speculation, so don’t put too much faith in it. No pun intended.

Drew Morton of Pajiba points out that Rosemary’s Baby is more of a religious psychological thriller than a horror movie, since elements like visual terror and startle factor are completely absent. As it were, the film itself is almost a word-by-word cinematic adaptation of the novel of the same name by Ira Levin. Very rarely do you see such fantastic book to movie transitions, so even if you haven’t read the book, Rosemary’s Baby is probably worth the watch. And, as I mentioned, Mia Farrow is cute as hell. Gander hither: http://www.pajiba.com/film_reviews/rosemarys-baby-review.php

The Afflicted, Bible Thumping Bad

The Afflicted

I’ve never seen a movie about child abuse until now, and I don’t really see how it makes for good entertainment. The Afflicted is one of those “based on a true story” movies where they take the Hollywood approach and make everything as extreme and emotional as possible. I suppose the only draw is that you can use this movie to fuel your hatred of rednecks or child abusers, but that’s not exactly the healthiest thing to do.

The film starts off on a nice note with Carla’s 16th birthday, where she receives golden butterfly earrings from some televangelist called Cowboy Bishop. Things quickly sour as Maggie’s husband Hank leaves in the middle of the night to hook up with another woman. Maggie beats him over the head with a bat until he dies, then hides him in shed near their home. That’s when she starts drinking, reading the Bible like an angry nun, and torturing her children.

The AfflictedBill, Carla, Cathy, and Grace are the children to be abused. It begins on a rather tame note, with belting and slapping, then leads into force-feeding, paddling, and then shooting. Knifing is in there too. It’s quite possible that several of these events were just made up for the sake of shock value, but who can say? It’s “based on a true story.”

I suppose it would be proper to inform you that I’ve already forgotten the order of events, as I tend to look for meaning in plot, not just increasing levels of “oh my gosh did she actually just do that.” The only things I distinctly remember are when Maggie kills someone, or when someone dies. Or the arbitrary topless scene with someone not even involved with the film. I can tell you what happens, though. Cathy tries to get help from her school counselor, but Cowboy Bishop shows up to vouch for Maggie. Maggie responds to this by pulling her kids from school.

The first victim is Cathy, who is shot in the upper torso area and then handcuffed to the shower. Carla, the 16 year old, is ordered to become a prostitute by her mother, and then Maggie kills Cathy by “surgically” removing the bullet. Soon after, Carla is beaten to death by her siblings after she tries to escape and stumbles upon the corpse of her father. Bill drives her out into the middle of nowhere and burns her.

The AfflictedThen Cowboy Bishop discovers the body while driving back from the arbitrary stripclub and realizes that Maggie is a terrible person and goes to save the day. Such a shame, because Grace has already stabbed everyone and is putting a gun to her head. A little game of Russian roulette later, and Cowboy Bishop is the last remaining main character in the movie. Then it ends.

That about covers it, I think. Not surprising that the “based on a true story” ploy fails yet again to make a movie good. I do not advise anyone to see this movie, because even if you want to see it for comedic reasons, there are very many superior alternatives. Let’s get the alternate review in so I can stop talking about The Afflicted.

FisterRoboto (quite a name) of LefHandHorror says that The Afflicted is a risky case of horror movie alchemy, the formula being: Based on a true story plus religion plus mental illness. A dangerous combination indeed, because in this case the movie is absolutely terrible. Since my review was a little scatterbrained, perhaps you would prefer a more comprehensive take? Viola: http://lefthandhorror.com/2012/10/06/the-afflicted-2010-movie-review/

The Island: Sci-Fi Made Easy and Dumb

The IslandHere’s a movie that thinks itself a statement about control, wealth, and morality. It comes relatively close as well, although at times it may get a little pretentious. I’m actually watching it right now, and the two leads are “learning how to make out” and are soon going to be having a gratuitous sex montage. Right after a daring chase scene ending in a clever deception. Yes, it’s that kind of movie. Aren’t you excited? Don’t be. This futuristic action thriller is riddled with clichés and irritating nuances that’ll twitch your eyebrows or slightly clench your fist.

Let’s get on with this, shall we? The Island is initially set in a cloning facility hidden away beneath an old military bunker. The clones are imprinted with the thought that they want to go to a special place known as the Island, which is actually the company’s euphemism for death. All the little copy-kids are told that they were saved from a global contamination and placed inside the facility for safekeeping. They are slowly taught rudimentary English and motor skills, and are then integrated into the false society. And, when their buyer requires parts from them, (skin, organs, a baby), the clones automatically win the Lottery and are sent to The Island.

The IslandLinkin Six Echo is the guy, and he’s very curious about things. Jordan Two Delta is the cute, empathic, and somewhat clueless girl. They like interacting a lot, which already clues you in to future scenes. So, Linkin sneaks around and witnesses one of the subjects being terminated after giving birth. When Jordan is selected to win the Lottery, Linkin quickly connects the fact that subjects who are to achieve motherhood automatically win. He intervenes to save Jordan, and with help from an outside friend, they manage to locate Linkin’s sponsor.

The CEO doesn’t like this, though, so he sends a crew of mercenaries to wipe the two escapees out. What he doesn’t realize is that, like the clones, the lead merc is also branded with a mark that signifies that he is less than human. It’s the deus ex machina that causes him to switch sides even after Linkin and Jordan kill many of his men throughout each and every one of the long and dramatic chase scenes.

Oh, and here’s a fun little bit of bonus deus ex machina for your consideration. Part of it makes sense. Linkin starts gaining memories from his sponsor, Tom Linkin, and he subsequently learns how to ride hovercycles, cars, boats, and everything else he would need to perform well in epic chase scenes. Ever witnessed a three year old clone do aerial flips on a hoverbike from vague motor memories alone? I would assume not. I should be more lenient because of the nature of the movie, but there’s only so much deus ex machina a guy can handle.

The IslandSkipping ahead a little bit, every single clone is released into the world. That’s around one thousand clones just let loose in the middle of the desert, while Linkin and Jordan escape on their boat to paradise. So they get to live while all the other clones starve to death. What an epic conclusion.

In short, this isn’t exactly the best movie. It’s got its good parts, some of the technology is actually pretty badass. The effects are nice. The main problem is the lack of sci-fi realism. I mean, sci-fi is supposed to be a realistic form of fantasy, so you can’t just throw the plot in there willy-nilly then not expect the awesome tech to generate any holes. Still. It looks good.

Inception vs Shutter Island: Same Protagonist, Almost Different Plot

InceptionYou’re lucky I decided to be mature about this and title it the way I did. If I hadn’t had that moment of clarity, the title would be “Incraption vs Shitter Island.” But it’s Inception vs Shutter Island, so yeah.

I think it was definitely a mistake to see Shutter Island before seeing Inception. Maybe seeing both of them was a mistake in itself. A lot of people say Leonardo DiCaprio is an excellent actor, but these two movies sorta sucked the agreement out of me. While it is true that these are the only Leo DiCaprio movies I’ve seen and my perspective is rather limited, I do believe I’m justified when I say he plays the same character in both. Tweaks and twists here and there, but overall annoyingly similar.

Shutter Island: Leo plays a delusional mental patient who thinks he’s a detective investigating an institution for the absence of another patient. He keeps hallucinating and seeing his wife, his children, and other horrifying images on the hunt, but keeps these things to himself. He starts to catch on to a self-made conspiracy in which he’s part of a big experimental brain surgery scandal, only to find out that it was just the head psychiatrist trying to make him confront reality be seeing the falsehood in his own delusions. It turns out his wife was crazy and killed his kids, then he went crazy and killed her. Kind of a let-down ending. I’m not spoiling anything important.

InceptionInception: Leo plays a man who’s wanted for the murder of his own wife because she went crazy and set it up to look like he did it. As it turns out, he actually did. He used Inception and dream-sharing to plant an idea in her head that her world wasn’t real, and she needed to kill herself to wake up. He did this to get the both of them out of subconsciousness, which was a good reason enough, but he sort of botched it. Anyway, throughout the movie, projections of his wife constantly appear and ruin all the plans he tries to make because he’s in denial and wracked with guilt. Sound similar? Yeah. You bet it does. In the conclusion, he has a catharsis and admits to the projected her what he did. And she gets mad, he still feels bad about it, and the ending is ambiguous.

You see the point I’m trying to make, though, right? That Inception and Shutter Island are basically two movies in which Leo plays a crazy, haunted fella who accidentally kills his crazy wife? Because it’s a little obnoxious to have to listen to him bitch and moan about his dark and brooding past, or have it bitched and moaned to him. Redundant, don’t you know.

The sci-fi aspect of Inception was rather intriguing, though, as were the musical scores used throughout. I must admit, I was both pleased and disappointed with the ways they bent and shaped the subconscious. I know Leo is used to playing in rather realistic movies, so throwing in anything truly subconscious, namely flight, really strange images, weapons, whatever, wouldn’t exactly be up his alley. Which is a shame, because if you think about it, using the dreaming mind to its fullest, nonrealistic extent would have made the movie so much more interesting.

InceptionYes, they were trying to be convincingly realistic to a guy so they could break into his mind and do some Inception. But as Eames so indelicately put it, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger.” In context, he was talking about his grenade launcher versus Arthur’s classy assault rifle, but my point still stands. They could have had laser guns. Just saying. Just saying that the movie came off as an action thriller with some vague aspects of subconsciousness in it. Kinda like the dreaming part was essential though still thrown in there to make everything fancier.

Well, Shutter Island sure ate up a fair bit of this review. I think it’s safe to say that those looking to be impressed (or the easily impressed) will be impressed by both of these movies. Inception more so than Shutter Island, because the latter has a bit of an anti-climactic ending, though I personally found it to be rather satisfying. You can watch them if you want, but for the love of everything, only watch one. If you see both, you’ll be plagued by the exact same general disliking of Leo DiCaprio that I’ve described.

Changeling: Fact Over Fiction

ChangelingNormally, I don’t care too much for Angelina Jolie. Most of the time, I don’t care too much about historical movies. Almost never do I find myself enjoying a “based off a true story” movie. Changeling? The ultimate exception, and I’ll tell you why. It’s all the emotion packed in there. Love and loss, fear, justice, desire for power and control, frustration; it’s more emotionally dynamic than a soap opera. Well, I’ve heard they can be rather emotional. I don’t watch them. They come off as rather boring and petty. But I digress.

The Hollywood interpretation of the story of Christine and Walter Collins was, to my great surprise, not far from the real events. Minimal Hollywood polishing! I know it’s not directly related to the quality of the movie, but the idea of a movie portraying events exactly as they are is unheard of. It deserved mention and a bit of respect, I believe.

ChangelingThis sad, desolate, yet hopeful little tale takes place in the 1920’s, revolving around the aforementioned mother and child, Christine and Walter Collins. One day after staying late at work, Christine comes home to find her son gone. Her neighbors are clueless, and the police are about as concerned as a dead guy. They give her twenty four hours before they start searching, but manage to find him in five months.

Mr. J.J. Jones gladly returns the boy to her, only to discover that, uh oh, it’s the wrong kid. But he’s in the big league, working for the (painfully corrupt) LAPD, and he’s not looking to be embarrassed. Following her denial of the kid being her son and her agreement to take him home on a trial basis, things really start to escalate.

After witnessing that “Walter” was circumcised, something that her son was not, and discovering that the imposter is three inches shorter, she approached Jones again. Jones was less than receptive to her troubles. His “help” this time around is offering to send a doctor over to review “Walter’s” condition. Under Jones’s orders, the doc explains that the drifter “Walter” was found with may have circumcised him for whatever reason, and that the trauma from the whole incident may have caused his spine to shrink. Hahah. No really. That’s what they said. Amazing what you could get away with back then.

ChangelingThe battle between Christine Collins and the LAPD rages on, while a seemingly unrelated deportation operation lands a detective headfirst into one of the most brutal crimes in the history of Las Angeles. The mystery of Walter’s disappearance begins to grow clearer and clearer as the detective pieces together one related event after another. … That was… kind of like reading the back of the DVD box of a mystery thriller. But don’t worry, it’s related. I can’t really say more, considering it’s sort of plot-essential and most definitely a spoiler.

You can’t go wrong with Changeling, really. It’s a lovely bit of nostalgic cinematic gold, offering satisfaction at the dissolution of the lies of the LAPD. As a movie with a gloomy tone, the end provides a powerful feel-good sense brought about by justice. And the smaller feel-good bit for wise-asses who realize the irony in the justice being brought to the justice system. You can ignore that last bit if you want. My final statement about this somber movie is that it is definitely worth seeing. Might be unpleasant due to the drawn-out injustice against Christine Collins, but worth it in the end. Go see it, get mad, get happy. Freak out. It’s awesome.