Damsel – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2024 film Damsel.

Story

A touch of Epic Fantasy and a whole lot of survival horror. The movie tries too hard not to be confusing, and by doing that, it ruins any drama or empathy for the pseudo-twist. The entire first part of the movie, a prologue that over-explains, should have been cut. Everything after that would have flowed and had better emotional impact.

The story is bare-bones and could have pushed harder on the psychological horror. They also introduced the main character’s love of labyrinths which didn’t really lead anywhere.

Score:

Characters

The wet noodle prince, domineering queen, and weird cult like people were okay. Again, if you hadn’t been told what was coming, it could have been eerie.

The movie really survives on the charisma and acting ability of the lead, who is excellent. Special shout out to the step-mother who seriously rocks in her love for her step-daughters.

The dragon was brilliantly voiced.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This was mostly generic fantasy language.

It really shines when the damsel and the dragon are talking at the end, when the damsel is on her own, or whenever the dragon talks.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The dragon design was impressive, a few obvious CGI moments but overall well done. The camera angles, and frantic cuts worked well for the horror style.

The music was good.

Score: 1

Fun

The actress did a great job and despite being predictable, it was fun. I was annoyed by how much the story structure was designed for the reveal that had been blatantly stated at the beginning.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie mixes fantasy and horror but tries too hard not offend fans of either. Because of that, the horror is tame and doesn’t get the chance to really sink in, and the fantasy is pretty bland. If it wasn’t for the quality of the acting, the movie would be bad. As it is, it’s an okay romp with a cool dragon.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

The Faculty – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1998 film The Faculty.

Story

The story of a bunch of outcasts and how they save their school, and the world. It’s not original, not even for its time. The characters make leaps that don’t make sense, there’s a lot of silly science mistakes (No one felt it worth correcting “diuretic” for “desiccant”? Not to mention that the whole “Kill the queen” thing is weird and doesn’t work that way with most insects.

Score: 0

Characters

I liked the range of characters and I’m impressed with the depth of them considering the short amount of screentime they each get.

The movie is a parade of actors that would hit it big or who would go on to do a whole lot of other shows. It’s interesting to see them all together.

Robert Patrick was so good.

Score: 1

Dialogue

All the science was bunk and a lot of it contradictory. The dialogue was hokey most of the time but every once in a while it was really good. The speeches about belonging almost made the bad guys seem reasonable.

I am annoyed at the “sci-fi nerd” getting the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers wrong. If they were going to use the ending from one of the movies, they shouldn’t have had her talking about the book.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The cinematography was good, a few odd choices and hints at the start of shaky cam but overall okay. The rest of the film is very much recognizable as the late 90’s.

The music was awesome. The score was okay but the songs were great.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie had a certain nostalgia, but the piss poor story and the inconsistent science was more frustrating than fun.

I did love seeing all the actors and there were some moments of real quality.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a movie that puts all its quality in its actors and characters. The plot is flimsy and mediocre, and the science/resolution is just bad. That being said, the characters, music, and acting are far better than the script deserved. Worth it for the nostalgia but nothing special.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Black Friday (2021) – JenEric Movie Review

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Black Friday.

Story

A very standard zombie movie with a dash of alien invasion. The progression is so predictable I was almost bored. Thankfully there were a lot of shopping jokes.

Score: 0

Characters

The usual rag-tag group of misfits fighting zombies and barely (or not) surviving. Some of the actors were pretty good and some not great. There’s some impressive character moments where they rush through their trauma (from before the events) but it feels forced and is played for laughs.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The jokes about feral customers, retail hell, and consumerism sent me back to my days working in a convenience store. The writers had definitely experienced the existential horror of retail work.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals were creepy and well done. Lots of flash and violence.

The music was better than the movie deserved. The original Christmas song was well done.

Score: 1

Fun

There were parts that bored me, but overall I had fun. It was exactly what it said it was and didn’t try to be anything more.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a horror movie that wouldn’t stand up without it’s gimmick, but the gimmick is so well done that you don’t care. It’s violent, gory, and will give you flashbacks to working retail.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

The Babysitter: Killer Queen – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film The Babysitter: Killer Queen.

Story

I’m impressed with the continuity of feel from the first one. The story is fairly linear and is more of a chase situation, but everything is well set up and a little surreal like the first.

Score: 1

Characters

I love that my complaints from the first one were dealt with in this one. If it was set up the whole time I’m impressed and if not, I’m more impressed because they must have taken audience feedback.

I found the main guy a little whiny and annoying until he took things into his own hands. The new girl felt very much like a tough on the outside girl with a hard past. She played it well and was surprisingly charismatic.

I’m so glad they brought back the old group of killers. They were so entertaining and Robbie Amell was wonderful again. The younger killers were pretty forgettable and didn’t have the charisma or interest of the others.

The dads were just annoying and I could have done without them.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Lots of surreal cheesyness but nothing particularly great. Again Amell had the best lines.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The location shooting was great. The desert is always a great place to highten the weird. As a person who’s grown up around lakes and rivers, seeing a river in a desert was unerving.

I liked that continuity of using Queen for the babysitter and the music was well done overall.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie was fun. Once they got to the first twist it was a lot of fun. I think I like it better than the first. The sex scene was weird. I’m glad I wasn’t watching it with anyone who I’d have to explain that it was a metaphor for sex.

Score: 1

Overall

This was an excellent slasher but an even better sequel. The gore is higher, the twists more twisted, and the surreal action more entertaining. If you liked the first one, this is great.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The Babysitter – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2017 film The Babysitter.

Story

I like the reversal of the slasher story, making the group of teens the villains and the bullied kid the hero. I also like that despite that reversal, he still takes them out one by one.

Score: 1

Characters

I liked most of the characters. The main was a little whiny and his parents just weird. The villains were pretty bland except for the babysitter and the jock.

The talk at the end between the babysitter and the main character is interesting and hints at her having done this for a long time. This shows how she still feels like that kid despite years of deals with the devil. I’d love to see a retro prequel.

The true scene stealer was the jock. He took genuine glee in murder and his interactions with the main character are closer to a big brother than attempted murderer. It was fun and ridiculous in the best way.

The parents, bully, and girl next door all act a little over the top. Something that works for the killers but makes the world feel dream like and a little silly when it comes from the regular world characters.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

There’s a lot of cheese and a lot of stilted dialogue. It’s most apparent with the bullies and parents. It’s a combination of weird and surreal that works for the rest of the movie but not the “real life” parts.

I’m not a fan of the girl next door’s seeming indifference to what’s happening. She’s sympathetic but doesn’t seem to process the horror of what’s going on, going straight from sympathy to hornyness without being afraid or worried.

That being said, there’s some funny dialogue and good quips.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The filming is well done and the special effects, despite being low budget, are quite good. I like the framing and cuts but there’s nothing special overall and I feel like it could have paid better homage to cinematography of horror movies past.

The music was effective but not amazing.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This is a fun movie. Being the only horror fan in the family I watched this alone. I enjoyed it.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun and silly horror which plays with the usual tropes and has some amazing banter and some excellent scenes. It’s mostly hurt by extending the weird surreal feel to the regular world characters and not contrasting them to the killers.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Anna and the Apocalypse – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2017 film Anna and the Apocalypse.

Story

I have a massive soft spot for musicals and I’m not a huge fan of zombie movies, so this was interesting. The story itself is cookie cutter zombie genre with nothing new to add other than the music.

Score: 0

Characters

The final girl, the best friend, the overbearing dad, the bad boy, the lesbian, the smoochie couple, and the maniacal . It’s a buffet of zombie, YA, and horror tropes.

They might be tropes, but the actors and writers did a great job and managed to balance the psychological horror of zombie with the almost sillness of a musical.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Vacillating from corny to deep and touching, the dialogue does a great job in understanding the characters. There’s more than a few good quips too.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The cinematography in general was okay, the choreography was acceptable, and the gore was well done. My favourite scene happens when the main character doesn’t know there’s been a full apocalypse and is dancing and singing on her way to school with total carnage happening behind her.

The music is excellent and I’ll be humming, “Hollywood Ending” for a long time. Great harmonies, fun numbers, and they work both for a zombie movie or just a high school movie.

Score: 1

Fun

I loved the music, the characters were great, and I enjoyed the movie, but there’s a nihilism to zombie films that just isn’t fun. Nailing the ending to have a little hope but still be dour is hard. There was no hope left in this one.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A fun film with some excellent musical numbers and great acting, but in the end it’s just another zombie movie with nothing new to add.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Prey – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Prey.

Story

The story is fairly simple and predictable but extremely satisfying. Everything is set up and everything pays off perfectly.

There are some excellent emotional moments and I am impressed with how tight the script was.

Score: 1

Characters

The main character is awesome. She is the perfect underdog in this sort of story and she kicks a lot of ass. I loved her brother. Their individual arcs and their sibling arc were wonderful.

I was impressed with how accurate the French was for the time period.

I’m a little sad I didn’t know there was a full Comanchi version before I watched.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue was well done. In the version I watched, they transitioned from Comanchi to English and it worked well. I liked the nods to previous Predator movies.

The main character’s body language helped with the intensity of the movie. She reacts realistically and viscerally to the horror.

Score:

Visuals and Music

The great plains are a great backdrop for something so epic. The wild is just so big and the predator is so much more terrifying in comparison to the bears and mountain lions. They are also beautiful.

The camera work is clean and lets us see the impressive fighting.

The music was understated but effective.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie didn’t grab my attention right away and could have used a little more action right at the beginning but I think that’s because I was expecting an action movie not a horror.

Overall it was a lot of fun though.

Score: 1

Overall

An intense action horror with enough references to make Predator fans happy but not so much as to make it unwatchable on it’s own.

The action is amazing, the acting is fantastic, and I want a whole series of kick ass woman throughout history fighting off predators.

Final Score: 5 Stars out of 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

The Final Girls – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2015 film The Final Girls.

Story

Inventive and heartwrenching while still staying true to what a slasher film is all about. The start is a little slow but necessary and the rest just zooms by delightfully.

Score: 1

Characters

The main character is a little dispondant for most of the movie and that means the rest of the cast have to bring the personality until they die. That dynamic could have made us not care for her but the writers made sure to add enough developement and emotional moments to make her taking control of the narrative to feel deserved and exciting.

The rest of the cast is a wonderful mix of tropes and works really well.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The movie was at it’s best when it leaned into the emotional moments or the slasher tropes. The rest of movie’s dialogue feels like it was trying too hard to be normal.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The slasher moments are extremely well done considering it’s PG and the camera work is amazing. The final confrontation scene is spectacular and wonderfully stylistic.

The diegetic music was used with great effect and emotion while the soundtrack was a little bland but worked really well.

Score: 1

Fun

I object to this being considered a timeloop movie since it’s not really a big part of it but more of a short gag.

That being said, this is an extremely fun movie that did a great job pulling at my heartstrings.

Score: 1

Overall

A true love letter to the spirit of slasher films with a fun twist. The slasher aspects are extremely well done and managed to still have effect despite being PG. The true joy of the movie is the emotional heart and journey of mourning a parent.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Ready or Not – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 film Ready or Not.

Story

This was meant as a dark comedy but came off more as a survival horror with incompetent, if better equipped, enemies. There were a lot of jump scares that doubled as attempts at humour, but overall it missed the mark almost completely.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters were interesting. A wonderful assortment of terrible rich people. Unfortunately, they were built up and almost all of them had unsatisfying deaths.

The bride played it like a horror action movie while the direction played it like a survival movie and the difference was a little jarring. She was an excellent actress and I would have liked to see the movie she was acting for rather then what they cut together.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The snippy rich family is an old trope but fun to watch. The dialogue between them was entertaining and the crazed aunt had some great lines.

The bride also had some excellent one liners.

However, the switching between whiny rich people and murderous devil worshipers was a little bland.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The music was okay if expected. Creepy old-timey music is really overdone and has been done better.

The visuals were appropriately gory and the special effects were excellent.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie starts quickly and the intro is done well, but after that it gets a little repetitive. The twists are predictable and honestly I just kept looking forward to the bride snapping and taking initiative to fight back.

I spent most of this movie planning a better version.

Score: 0

Overall

A wonderful premise and excellent actress wasted on a mediocre and repetitive story. The action and special effects are great but everything else has been done better.

Final Score: 1.5 Stars out of 5

Going Home in a Writer Sort of Way

Hello Readers,

I’ve started re-reading The Copper Tarnish. I started the novel in November 2016 and took several breaks from working on it. I’ve finished six books since then. I’ve worked on it a little here and there, but it stalled when Pegasus was born and I devoted myself to finishing The Mystery of the Dancing Lights (Elizabeth book 4, coming this fall.)

The big issue with not touching a book for nearly three years (whoa Pegasus is going to be 4 soon!) is that I forgot the story, the characters and the voices.

That meant I needed to read the unfinished book, something I’m not good at. I haven’t been reading very much lately, mostly because it’s hard on my arms, but my wonderful wife inspired me. I loaded the document in Word and used the feature where it reads it to me. I set it to fast and read along. It’s really helpful and I think it’s helping me to re-connect with the story and characters.

I’m also really liking the story and the pure snark of the characters.

The Copper Tarnish is my attempt at a monster movie style story. It’s also a little more personal, being about a bisexual in Northern Ontario. Although I never had to deal with zombie people, green goo, aliens, or rogue goverment agents.

A lot of the book is set in a fictional town that’s an amalgam of the towns where I grew up, and re-reading feels a little like going home. Everything feels smaller and doesn’t fit right.

It’s weird reading something I wrote and it feels like someone else did it. I think once I get back into it I’ll feel like it’s mine again.

I’m hoping to be done writing this by the end of summer (more realistically the end of year) so I can submit it to my publisher. I only have about 20 thousand words left to write.

Thanks for reading,

Éric