GHOST STORIES – When Revelation Undercuts Execution

Spoilers ahead for the 2017 film Ghost Stories, as well as a handful other films that share its big twist.

I can’t remember the last time a plot twist in a short story, film, television series or novel truly startled me. The ones that come to mind at the moment are from Unbreakable and Fallen, but both of those are from before I even reached drinking age. The final twist of Us also stood out to me, but just made me think, “Oh, okay,” rather than, “Holy shit! Didn’t see that coming.” Surely some other “unpredictable” twist must have had an impact on me in the last fifteen years of movie watching, but I can’t think of one at the moment. I’ve enjoyed–even loved–plenty of other movies that featured a twist, but the twist is rarely near the top of the reasons why most stories stand out to me. That leaves me to believe that the plot twist, one of the most deliciously irresistible devices available in any writer’s toolbox, is somewhat overrated. Not bad, just not the thing that ought to be the most important element of a story in most cases. read more

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DeQueue Reviews: HEARTS BEAT LOUD

My queues across various streaming services are out of control. Starting this summer I’m going to put a dent in these queues and review the movies that I think are worth writing about.

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As long as it’s executed at least fairly well, I’m a sucker for a sweet, sentimental story. I have been for just about all of my adult life, I think. Asian action flicks, ghost stories and small, well-acted pictures with big, warm hearts; those all probably have the shortest distance to travel to get on my good side. read more

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DeQueue Reviews: AMSTERDAMNED

My queues across various streaming services are out of control. Starting this summer I’m going to put a dent in these queues and review the movies that I think are worth writing about.

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For a little over an hour, Amsterdamned is a very competent, above-average little-seen slasher. More watchable and creative than many other largely unknown horror flicks, it is the kind of film that die hard genre fans would be happy to find, although it doesn’t quite rise to “hidden gem” status. read more

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DeQueue Reviews: ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE

My queues across various streaming services are out of control. Starting this summer I’m going to put a dent in these queues and review the movies that I think are worth writing about.

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Movies like Always Be My Maybe are an example of why I’ve eschewed a proper rating system. No stars,  no letter grades, no score, just thoughts captured in paragraphs eventually leading to a summation. If I had to rely on a rating I’d be dissatisfied with however many stars or points or thumbs that I “awarded” to Always Be My Maybe. I can’t think of a grade I could give it that wouldn’t be too high or too low or both. What’s the ideal score for a romantic comedy that is exceptionally funny, not really romantic, repeatedly stumbles when it comes to characterization and drama, but nonetheless features exceedingly likable actors who make the characters acceptable when they shouldn’t be? read more

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DeQueue Reviews: WHISPERING CORRIDORS

My queues across various streaming services are out of control. Starting this summer I’m going to put a dent in these queues and review the movies that I think are worth writing about.

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My oh my, what a strange delight is Whispering Corridors, a movie that haunted my recommendations across multiple online platforms for years. I am so glad, at long last, to have taken time to watch it.

Why I didn’t ever give it a chance until now, I cannot say. I’ve taken a chance on movies with worse reviews, worse looking covers, less interesting blurbs, so on and so forth. For some reason I just left Whispering Corridors behind, stuck in my “Eh, I’ll get around to it eventually” bin. This weekend I finally did indeed get around to it. read more

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DeQueue Reviews: THE GRAPES OF DEATH

Welcome to “DeQueue Reviews“. My queues across various streaming services are out of control. Starting this summer I’m going to put a dent in these queues and review the movies that I think are worth writing about.

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Le Raisins de la mort (translation: The Grapes of Death) turns out to be a pretty blunt title for a movie that I’ve seen described as “surrealistic” from a director whose calling card was, arguably, surrealism. I suppose one could cook up some kind of symbolic meaning behind the title if so inclined, but in the end this is a zombie a movie in which literal grapes are the source of literal death, and the unimaginative title is reflected in a surprisingly unimaginative movie. read more

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DeQueue Reviews: WE GO ON

Welcome to “DeQueue Reviews“. My queues across various streaming services are out of control. Starting this summer I’m going to put a dent in these queues and review the movies that I think are worth writing about.

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$30,000 for proof of the afterlife seems like an underpayment, but when it’s all the payer can afford I suppose you can’t say that he’s a cheapskate. Anyway, that’s the general premise of We Go On, a decent little horror flick with some quite-qualified actors available on Shudder. read more

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DeQueue Reviews: YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY

Welcome to “DeQueue Reviews“. My queues across various streaming services are out of control. Starting this summer I’m going to put a dent in these queues and review the movies that I think are worth writing about.

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Exchange the word “vice” for “love”, frame the second clause with parentheses, and Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I have the Key would be a fitting title for a mid-70’s, quiet storm R&B song. I can absolutely hear Michael Henderson or Ronald Isley singing those words in a chorus that concludes by pushing the metaphor to the brink of literality. That title is the primary reason why I added it to my Amazon Prime queue in the first place, read more

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Us: “Obvious” Twist Beats “Cheap” Twist

I have a lot of thoughts about Jordan Peele’s Us, about 95% of which are positive (with the remaining 5% being “less positive,” though not outright negative), which should make it  difficult to pin down the one thing related to it that I most urgently want to blog about. Fortunately, all the lines on my multi-track mind occasionally get switched over to a single track with no bottlenecking, so here I am, ready to devote several hundred words or more to the movie’s twist ending, as it relates to twist endings in general. read more

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‘Greta’, ‘Ma’, and the Return of the ‘Psycho-biddy’

Bette Davis was only 54 when she starred as the titular character in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Joan Crawford was 58. Two middle-aged women helped kick off a sub-genre of horror ostensibly about “old” women who are either themselves imperiled, or are the source of the peril, or both. The genre’s most commonly known as “psycho-biddy,” but is alternatively known as “hagsploitation” or “Grand Dame Guignol.” I prefer the latter, being a fan of the word ‘grand,’ the Grand Guignol, and pronouncing the word “dame” as “dahm.” read more

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