Tuesday, January 9, 2018
I was pretty done with the ABBA-ish title track of Arcade Fire's 2017 album "Everything Now"... until I heard Bomba Estéreo's wild, fun, loose, danceable, party-ready, and altogether wonderful remix. It goes right to the top of my "Top songs I've heard in 2018 so far" list (the remix came out last year), which is admittedly still quite short. Other early 2018 standouts include the Decemberists' "Ben Franklin's Song" and the Lana Del Rey/BØRNS collaboration "God Save Our Young Blood."
Saturday, December 30, 2017
On Netflix alone, there's also the "documentary/horror" film "The Nightmare," which has a solid Rotten Tomatoes rating and looks well worth exploring; and the much less promising-looking "Dead Awake," starring highbrow scream queen Jocelin Donahue (from "House of the Devil" and the superior "Father's Day" segment of the otherwise forgettable "Holidays" anthology film). Vimeo offers another docu-horror hybrid, "Devil in the Room," so far unwatched by me.
For those seeking to write some kind of master's thesis on the subject, or simply for completists, there's "Be Afraid," the Maggie Q-starring "Slumber," and the probably abysmal "Sleep Paralysis," whose absurdly uncreative title hints at deeper creative voids within. There's also the "Dear David" Twitter thread, which apparently emerged quite recently and may still be making waves. Whaddaya wanna bet a "Dear David" movie hits sometime in 2019, with David F. Sandberg directing?
So why did it take filmmakers, especially in the horror genre, so long to seize on an actual condition that 1) paralyzes you, and 2) can subject you to terrifying hallucinations? I may need to do a little digging to find out why sleep paralysis seems suddenly to have become the genre's fright du jour. Maybe an increase in research on the subject has increased knowledge, and media coverage has placed the condition more squarely within mainstream cultural consciousness?
According to Google Scholar, fully 12.5 percent of published research on sleep paralysis has occurred since 2013. Consider that Scholar lists articles going back to the beginning of the 18th century, and you get a sense of how hot a topic it seems to be in the last five years or so.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
What "GP" lacks, to its serious detriment, is likable characters. Retreat center co-founder Antoine may be the series' closest thing to a hero, and that shows you how dire the situation is. Sure, Antoine killed a dude once, but that dude was a murderous homophobe, and Antoine practically killed him in self-defense. Not surprisingly, Antoine's commitment to nonviolence and serenity breaks down just as easily in the presence of the titular guilty party, a group of onetime camp counselors who return to the scene of a crime -- now the site of the commune-like retreat center -- to bury their big secret once and for all.
Most slasher films deliver gory comeuppance to characters in an as-you-sow-so-shall-you-reap, Old Testament kind of way. Antoine pays for knocking off a gay-bashing asshole and concealing evidence of another crime he didn't commit by ... getting drilled alive, chopped into pieces, and stowed in the same trunk where he had stashed that evidence? C'mon. It seems even less fair when Gene, the grumpy but otherwise reasonable snowmobile driver who escorts the ex-counselors to the retreat center, gets chainsawed in half at the start of the whole bloody story.
"The Executioner" satisfyingly combined the typical slasher morality play with the engaging puzzle of figuring out whose sins were bad enough and biblical enough to get them splattered. "GP" may be trying to say something grim and unpleasant about human nature, or an uncaring universe -- or something -- by making some kills so random and awful, but Lord knows what. After watching several of the ex-counselors suffer excruciating fates, I'm actually rooting for the remaining amoral bastards to escape with their lives, so that at least the whole damn season isn't red-smeared nihilism writ large. I definitely have "Slasher" fatigue.
Overall, "Guilty Party" and "HDD" are quite the study in contrasts. The latter, with its goofy day-on-repeat premise and sweet romantic subplot, succeeds in being undeniably fun. "GP" engages some serious ideas and themes, like homophobia and rape, but considering its lack of a moral center, I don't know that it earns the right to do so. Season one of "Slasher" had plucky Sarah and genial real estate agent Robin, and it riffed on religious themes about as skillfully as season six of "Dexter." In "GP," there's no true protagonist. "HDD," for its part, is fashioned around Tree's gradual transformation from insufferable queen bee to empowered, relatively humble quasi-feminist. Thanks to Rothe's talent and likability, Tree's journey of self-discovery feels real.
Like other notable horror-comedies (e.g., "Tucker and Dale vs. Evil" and "Cabin in the Woods"), "HDD" flips the script on some horror tropes while employing others to delightful effect. This film loves slasher movies, college flicks, and movies in general. The inevitable, "Groundhog Day"-inspired sequence in which Tree parlays the lessons of repeated death and revival into a personal campaign to be a better person, set to Mother Mother's irresistible "Love Stuck," works like an IV drip of unfiltered sunshine. I couldn't help but grin.
Some of the finest horror films out there ("28 Days Later" and "Let the Right One In" come to mind) deal frankly and unabashedly in emotion. You gotta have heart if your movie is gonna stick with viewers; ripping characters' hearts out of their chests ain't enough.
Friday, December 22, 2017
- "Adore" by Amy Shark*
- "Love" by Lana Del Rey
- "Whiteout Conditions" by The New Pornographers
- "Total Entertainment Forever" by Father John Misty
- "In Cold Blood" by alt-J
- "Offering" by Cults
- "The Gold" by Manchester Orchestra
- "It Ain’t Me" by Kygo & Selena Gomez
- "Tread Carefully" by Elizabeth and The Catapult
- "Do I Have to Talk You Into It" by Spoon
- "Love Stuck" by Mother Mother
- "Stone Age" by David Ramirez
- "Los Ageless" by St. Vincent
- "Spent the Day in Bed" by Morrissey
- "Revolution" by Van William feat. First Aid Kit
- "Golden Dandelions" by Barns Courtney
- "Remember That Night" by Grouplove
- "Carin at the Liquor Store" by The National
- "Put Your Money On Me" by Arcade Fire
- "Feel It Still" by Portugal. The Man
- "Hard Times" by Paramore
- "They Put A Body In The Bayou" by The Orwells
- "Pleader" by alt-J feat. The Age of L.U.N.A (Mr. Jukes Remix)
- "Love Is Mystical" by Cold War Kids
- "Trump's Private Pilot" by Father John Misty
- "Shine" by Mondo Cozmo
- "Daisy" by Goodbye June
- "Mea Culpa" by Elizabeth and The Catapult
- "Two High" by Moon Taxi
- "Fire" by Beth Ditto
- "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness" by The National
- "No Roots" by Alice Merton
Monday, December 11, 2017
To the 53 people who've watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?— Netflix US (@netflix) December 11, 2017
Words can't describe how bad #AChristmasPrince is. Words also can't describe how good it is.— Tony Daussat (@TonyDaussat) December 5, 2017
I'm watching #AChristmasPrince and I don't think I've ever gotten Stockholm Syndrome this badly for a movie this terrible— Hawk the Herald Ripjaw Sings (@realHawkRipjaw) December 4, 2017
'Now come on, we'd better get these in the oven'— Gabrielle Leimon (@GabrielleLeimon) December 7, 2017
BITCH YOU MADE TWO COOKIES #AChristmasPrince 🎄
Writer 1: shit we need a coronation ceremony speech— A Christmas Prince #1 Fan (@JennaGuillaume) December 5, 2017
Writer 2: just use wedding vows, but like instead of marrying a woman he's marrying the country
Writer 1: nailed it #achristmasprince
Thursday, December 7, 2017
Nonetheless, it's the twisty, turn-y plot that done hooked me, and that's as it should be. "Slasher" is the TV equivalent of an airport paperback thriller, and as such it delivers generously. Other series might have called it good at the close of the season's penultimate episode, when the serial killer is revealed and a courageous survivor vows revenge. "Slasher," to its credit, instead adds a meaty epilogue that proves much more exciting, and interesting, than the usual victim-takes-down-killer slasher movie denouement tends to be. More than halfway through the episode, it hit me: I do care who lives and dies, and I do want the killer stopped, one way or another. I'm more emotionally invested than I expected to be, and probably more than "Slasher" deserves.
All in all, this scrappy, semi-trashy show (with, it must be said, impressive special effects throughout) ended up showing more humor, and more genre savvy, than I anticipated. Even though season two's "I Know What You Did Last Summer"-esque premise doesn't intrigue me per se, I'll give it a try. After all, season one is considerably more than the sum of its parts -- no pun intended.