365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


It Follows (2015)

Total creep fest. 2015 was looking for a legitimate horror. While this movie has completely flown under the radar for the general public, word of mouth has allowed the independent It Follows to quickly become a cult classic. Not only is this the best horror movie of 2015, it is the best horror movie in years. Honestly, the feeling that I got while watching this movie was what I expected to feel in, perhaps, the most over-hyped horror movie of all-time, 1999's The Blair Witch Project. I think when I saw The Blair Witch Project in the theater, I was expecting to be scared in ways that I had never been scared before. I know that a few of the friends that I went with were completely freaked out and I was wondering if we had just watched the same movie. The Blair Witch Project is a different type of horror than, say, A Nightmare on Elm Street. I think that perhaps as a 23-year-old, I hadn't yet adapted the idea that what you might imagine could be more terrifying than what you actually see. I've mentioned on this blog a couple of times that I need to go back and watch The Blair Witch Project just to see if I view it the same way that I did 16 years ago. By looking at its 87% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, I'm willing to admit that I am probably missing something when I give it a grade of a D-. But this is neither here nor there. This about It Follows, which is much more like The Blair Witch Project than it is A Nightmare on Elm Street. It's 96% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes is very much on par to my view of the movie. It Follows is an instant horror classic.


Crimson Peak (2015)

Guillermo del Toro. Some people love the movies he has directed. Some people don't love them. I think I am starting to land in the second group. I know he found his early cult following with movies like Hellboy and Hellboy II while also receiving critical accolades for movies like The Orphanage and Pan's Labyrinth. For me, his movies aren't much watch (I've had Pan's Labyrinth on my list of movies to watch for years, but each time I think I might want to watch it, I put something else on instead). Hellboy and The Orphanage were both okay, but del Toro is no early M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs). While Crimson Peak has had mostly positive reviews (69% on Rotten Tomatoes), it hasn't hit home with audiences. An inability to really categorize it as a humor, mystery, suspense, romance, and/or drama has hurt its marketing campaign. This movie attracted del Toro's best ever cast ensemble (Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston), but with an estimated budget of $50 million and only half of that amount accumulated in revenue from the first two weekends, Crimson Peak might barely break even. This movie is by no means great. It was an okay watch, but my life certainly would not have been altered had I not of seen it. I absolutely will never watch this movie again. It certainly is not a horror film so even though the previews look scary and it is categorized as horror, you're not going to be scared at all. If you like del Toro's other movies, I don't think you'll be disappointed by this one. If you've never seen one of his movies before (other than maybe Pacific Rim), I'd suggest watching either The Orphanage or Pan's Labyrinth at home and base your decision on your fondness of either of those movies.


The Visit (2015)

M. Night Shyamalan (Signs, The Sixth Sense) is no longer the master of terror. He seems to get progressively worse with each film. There are exceptions for some people I think. For example, I liked The Village more than I did Unbreakable and while other people panned The Happening, I thought it was okay. However, there is no denying that the man is a fraction of his former self. While he no longer deems it necessary to have a twist in every single movie, his last few movies, especially Lady in the Water, The Last Airbender, and After Earth have been absolutely dreadful. With The Visit, a movie he both wrote and directed, he tries something new. It fails. Miserably. At least for me it did. Their is an audience for it as evidenced by its $25 million in its opening weekend alone and has a 59% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But those who remember the masterful Shyamalan from 1999-2002 are not the same people who are going to enjoy this. The Visit seems to be some sort of mixture between The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, Funny Games, The Strangers, and Goosebumps. I'll admit that this was the second movie of a Bryan Buser double and that it was the only movie that matched up when my first movie ended. I saw the movie by default and I was totally prepared to walk out at any point. In fact I anticipated it. However, there was something about it early on that kept me interested. And then when I looked at my watch and I was already 30 minutes into a 90 minute movie, I knew I would stick it out.


The Harvest (2015)

It's never really a good thing when your movie is released on Video on Demand the same day it is released in the theater. This is slowly changing. It is becoming a more accepted practice and helping some of these independent movies earn more money. However, it still means that regardless of how good a movie is (in any category), it is not eligible for Academy Award nomination consideration. So if it is a movie that you think is going to be really, really great, you wouldn't allow it to be released on InDemand until after he exits the theaters. With that said, I think that all those involved with this movie (regardless if you loved it or hated it) knew that it was never going to be in contention for an Oscar awards. This is a movie I would not have seen in the theater and, had it not been released on InDemand at the same time it was released in the theater, it might have been a movie that I would have missed altogether. Their release plan was a good one. The movie, on the other hand, was meh. 


Mama (2013)

Mama was, by all accounts, supposed to be THE horror movie of 2013. The various trailers with the two little girls and the long stringy hair covering their faces walking up and down walls, sleeping underneath their beds, and basically possessing the characteristics a wild animal was sure to get the hairs on the back of your neck up. Attaching Guillermo del Toro's name to the credits as a producer doesn't hurt the scare factor either. This was another movie that forced me to buy into the hype. It looked like my kind of movie. It had the name credential is del Toro, it had one of my favorite new actresses in Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Help), and it, appeared to be, freaky. This movie looked like a winner. It also didn't hurt when my high school students said, after opening weekend, that it was both "good" and "scary". Well...the movie wasn't good, but it did have its share of scary moments. There wasn't anything totally unexpected, but there were still moments when you felt like you were sitting on pins and needles. Off of the top of my head, I'm not sure what the scariest movie of 2013 was, but it certainly was not Mama.