There’s Someone Inside Your House (Netflix movie)

There's Someone Inside Your House (film) - Wikipedia

Everyone has a secret to die for.

When I heard about this becoming a movie, I was cautiously excited. The book was written by Stephanie Perkins a few years ago and I read it back then. I didn’t think it was a stellar book, but Stephanie and her husband Jarod are obsessed with horror movies and I thought it would translate well to the screen. I just had to wait for a weekend when my boyfriend could watch it with me because I wasn’t sure this was something I could watch by myself.

Makani Young has moved to a small Nebraska town to live with her grandmother and finish high school. But what should have been an exciting senior year turns into terror as someone begins killing off seniors and exposing their dark secrets. The killer is terrorizing their victims with masks of their faces. Makani and her friends need to find out who the killer is before their own secrets make them the next targets.

I want to make a disclaimer first and say that I don’t generally watch horror movies. I don’t really know anything about their clichés or tropes.

But that said, I kind of liked this. It’d been long enough that I didn’t remember fully the plot of the book or who the murderer was. So those were nice surprises. I thought the acting was fairly decent. I didn’t feel like anyone was over the top in their portrayal of being scared or anything. And I really liked that there was a lead of color.

As my boyfriend pointed out as we watched, there are some pretty obvious red herrings in the movie, where it wants you to believe it’s someone that it’s clearly not. Those maybe weren’t the most impressive parts, but I thought Makani’s flashbacks revealing her own secrets were well done, tantalizing enough to give you enough information to know something happened without giving you nearly enough to figure it out. The story unfolded fairly well, really hyping up the terror of the moments, even if there were times it was predictable.

As someone who doesn’t like gore very much, there were definitely moments that were waaaaay to gross for me. There were some…inventive killings. There were times blood spurts everywhere. Some murders I could watch, others I flinched hard and looked away so I can’t tell you exactly what those looked like. But I will say the deaths felt weirdly satisfying in how they were committed? That feels weird to say, but it is a slasher flick, so…

The last thing I really want to say about this is that this is definitely for mature audiences. If it was rated, it would be R. There’s profanity all the time, characters smoke pot and drink and generally engage in fairly typical teenage behavior that just happens to get a harsher rating. I thought the way it was played felt very real to high school (I heard all those words in the halls, I know people did those drugs, etc.). But I know that’s hard for some people to stomach and I wanted you to know it was there.

Anyway, I rather enjoyed it. And it actually isn’t “scary” in the way I thought it would be. It could be because I didn’t watch it alone, but I definitely didn’t feel creeped out afterward like I was expecting.

The Prom (Netflix)

The Prom (film) - Wikipedia

Everyone deserves a chance to celebrate.

I’m a big fan of musicals. Most people who know me know that. I heard about The Prom a few years ago during the Tony season and the performance during the Macy’s Thanksgiving’s Day Parade. So I found the soundtrack and kinda sorta started learning the music. However, I wasn’t won over by it just from the soundtrack. Let’s see what I thought of the movie.

If you’ve never heard of this musical/movie, basically you have four mostly washed-up Broadway actors (Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, and Andrew Rannells) who can’t hold a steady job looking for a good PR stunt. They see on Twitter that a girl in Indiana (Jo Ellen Pellman) is fighting to be allowed to bring her girlfriend to prom. They decide to swoop in and join the fight.

This is a star-studded cast, if you missed that. We’ve got the four big ones I previously mentioned, along with Kerry Washington, who plays the president of the PTA who are telling Emma that she can’t bring her girlfriend to prom, and Keegan-Michael Key, who plays the school principal who is trying to help Emma. There’s also a small part played by Tracey Ullman, which was kind of a weird bit. Oh, and Emma’s girlfriend is played by Ariana DeBose, who played The Bullet in Hamilton.

Ok, let me get out of the way the biggest thing that bothers me about this musical: they really think very little of people from Indiana. I mean, this is my home state. They have lines like, “We’re going down to where the necks are red and lack of dentistry thrives…[those] cousin-humping, cow-tipping…losers and their inbred wives.” Like…wow. This was really off-putting when I was simply listening to the soundtrack. This is kind of a constant theme in the first act. (Honestly, setting this in Indiana was really confusing for me, since the whole thing is apparently based on something that happened in Mississippi. But I have a theory that it was being written while Indiana was going through the RFRA crisis under then-governor Mike Pence, and let’s just say that was a massive black eye for the state.)

But as I watched the movie…I kind of came to understand it more. The lines I mentioned come from the four out-of-touch actors. We watch them arrive in Indiana and become the biggest fish out of water you’ve ever seen. They just have no concept of what the Midwest is like (despite at least two of them growing up in Pennsylvania and Ohio?). So we basically learn that these are the stereotypes they think they know about Indiana and they learn from that the longer they’re there. The only character I allow to bash Indiana is Emma, who is not being accepted by anyone and is really struggling.

Oh gosh, I got on a tangent there. Ok, let’s talk about the story and the acting.

The story: I think the concept pretty cool and relevant. Emma really just wants to find acceptance. She just wants to go to the prom like everyone else, but when the PTA finds out she wants to bring a girl as her date, they cancel prom altogether. Emma’s story is, sadly, not unique. Throwing in a bunch of flamboyant, exuberant Broadway actors is a new twist and it brings a lot of new personalities to the story. They have very interesting personalities that invigorate the story. However, the energy does dip a little in the middle. There are some scenes that I think maybe make more sense on stage than they do in the movie. Like there’s this budding friendship/romance between Dee Dee Allen (Streep) and Tom (Key). (In case you were wondering, she’s 22 years older than him. I was curious.) I just thought the whole thing played weirdly in a movie about a girl trying to go to prom.

The acting: The lead girls, Pellman and DeBose, were excellent. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. They were fantastic. It’s ironically the stars who sometimes struggled–and I like all of them individually. Nicole Kidman’s Angie is kind of boring and doesn’t bring much to the story. Her one individual number–“Zazz”–is a snooze. Andrew Rannells does pull off his role well, a character who’s meant to be obnoxious. Streep is obviously a great actress and she sounded pretty good in this as well, it’s just that some scenes felt out of place. She’s also another character meant to be over the top and annoying.

But let’s talk about James Corden. Look, the guy shows up in just about every musical adaptation. Part of that is because he really is a gifted singer and actor, but now I feel like he’s getting these jobs because of his name. He plays Barry, a flamboyantly gay narcissistic actor. I thought Corden brought a lot of heart to the movie. However, he’s gotten a lot of backlash for being a straight man in a gay role, and I get that. I feel like it could have had even more heart if the actor had also struggled with the same things Barry does. But he gets a lot of flack for playing into gay stereotypes and yeah, that sucks, but I have to wonder how much of that is how the character is written? How much of that is really Corden’s interpretation? I can’t answer that.

It’s an upbeat, poppy musical with a lot of fun personalities and some real heart at its core. It reminds me of Hairspray, honestly. I was looking for a musical that would be cute and easy to watch, and that’s what I got. Don’t take it too seriously and you’ll probably enjoy it.

Let It Snow (Netflix movie)

Image result for let it snow netflix posterWith the Christmas season quickly approaching (my tree and decorations are already up thanks to a snow day last week), I wanted to see what this movie had to offer.  I read the book years ago (so I don’t remember it incredibly well at all) and I was ready to see how it compared to other Christmas movies.

This movie follows 8 different teenagers on a snowy Christmas Eve in their tiny small town.  There’s Tobin who has a crush on his best friend, Julie and Stuart who just met on a train, Dorrie whose crush just walked into the restaurant where she works, and Addie whose boyfriend appears to be cheating on her.  A snowstorm brings all of them together.

This was super cute.  And, from what I remember, very different from the book.  I remember the book being somewhat crude and oddball (what did you expect from John Green and Maureen Johnson?) and this is definitely toned down from that.  But that doesn’t mean there’s not a fair share of teenage awkwardness.  It still has that in spades and it’s hilarious.

Someone on Twitter called this a teenage version of Love, Actually but with people of color and they’re not wrong.  It’s basically a movie of vignettes, where we keep following these stories that at first seem to have little in common and slowly become intertwined.  That is always fun to watch, trying to find those links.

There was just so much to enjoy about this.  I loved all of the characters, who I felt like we got to know pretty well even with their limited screen time.  I felt like a little of each of them.  Tobin’s charm comes from being awkward and sensitive.  Duke’s is from being strong and adventurous.  Addie is anxious and Dorrie is confident and Julie is guarded and Stuart is sweet and so many other things could describe these characters.  They were all really well done, from a writing and an acting standpoint.

But one of the best characters is our narrator, played by Joan Cusack who wears a literal tinfoil hat as she drives a tow truck through town.  Oh. My. God.  It was the thing I didn’t know I needed.

The only thing that even semi-bothered me was that because there are so many stories we’re following, they’re very simplistic.  Problems are overcome very quickly because there isn’t time to dwell on them.  I tend to like a little more complexity in my stories, but I understand the limitations here.

It was super cute and if you haven’t watched it yet, make sure you add it to your Christmas to-watch list.  It’ll make your heart happy.

The Host (2013 movie)

Image result for the host movieChoose your destiny.

I just realized I’ve never done a review for this movie.  I saw this movie a few years ago for the first time (probably within a couple years of it coming out), but lately it sounded good again.  I pretty much forgot what was in the movie, but the book is one of my favorites and I certainly didn’t forget the plot.

In case you don’t know the story, a parasitic race of aliens has taken over Earth.  They claim to bring peace to the planet, but the few remaining humans are fighting to retain their minds.  Melanie Stryder is part of the resistance until she’s captured and a soul (the name the aliens call themselves) named Wanderer bonds with her.  But Melanie won’t go without a fight and it isn’t long before Melanie and Wanderer realize they need each other to find the family Melanie can’t forget about and Wanderer wants.

That was a really crappy synopsis, but I truly do love the book so much that if I don’t stop myself there, I’m going to end up saying things I shouldn’t.

First of all, this movie just fanned the flame.  I desperately want to reread this book again now, which sucks because I don’t have time for that.  But I’ll get to it again eventually.  It hits me right in the feels each time and I’m so mad about how underappreciated this book actually is.  That’s another topic for another time.

As for the movie itself, it does a pretty decent job of staying true to the original story.  It actually pulls off the dialogue between Melanie and Wanderer really well.  (Melanie and Wanderer are basically the same person, so it’s a fine like to walk to make sure audiences are always aware of who is speaking.)  But the book is something like 600 pages long and this movie is about 2 hours, so obviously a lot is shortened or missing completely.

That does, unfortunately, make the movie feel less cohesive.  The bonds between the characters aren’t as obvious.  It sometimes doesn’t make sense that a character would risk so much to save another when they’ve barely spent five minutes on screen together.  Having read the book multiple times, I completely understand what’s going on and why.  But I don’t think non-readers would get it as well.

I remember thinking this the last time I watched this and I definitely thought it this time: the guys all look so ridiculously similar that I literally can’t tell them apart.  It was like the casting agent called for all hot guys with chiseled cheekbones and cast them all.  I kept confusing one character for another because they just looked so alike.  It’s kind of hilarious.  The only one I didn’t struggle with was Ian (played by Jake Abel) because A) I know him from Supernatural and B) he was skinny while all the other guys were bulky.

It’s not that the acting was bad either, but everyone was virtually the same in this.  And, ok, I will admit that the acting isn’t the best at times.  Sometimes it seems really awkwardly played.  However, there are moments where I could tell the actors totally got their characters.  Uncle Jeb (played by William Hurt) was one of those.  He walked that line between madness and wisdom like a champ, which is why I love Uncle Jeb.

I do love this story and I think, if you don’t have time to read the book, this is a good enough version.  But, once again, the book is way better.


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Image result for the crimes of grindelwaldWho will change the future?

Hey guys!  So I checked this movie out from the library a few weeks ago because I hadn’t watched it yet…and I let it sit by my TV for weeks.  I just wasn’t in the mood for it, you know?  (I got hooked on the show Lucifer…)  But last night, I finally felt like I was looking for a little magic.

*Potential Fantastic Beasts Spoilers Ahead*

Grindelwald is amassing followers.  Worried about what may happen if this continues, Albus Dumbledore enlists the help of Newt Scamander to go to Paris and do what he can to stop Grindelwald.  Newt doesn’t want to pick sides in this fight, preferring to be with his beasts, but Grindelwald is striking close to Newt–and Newt may not be able to stay indifferent for long.

Ok, let’s start with the obvious here.  Jo wrote this and, like the Harry Potter books, you can feel her storytelling in it.  It’s thorough, the characters are interesting, and there are fascinating twists.  There are obvious parallels to the world we live in and that’s always disturbing/fascinating to see.

I mean, I loved seeing a young Dumbledore.  Jude Law did an excellent job with him.  He still feels like Dumbledore, even though we’re seeing him decades before Harry meets him.  I appreciated what Law brought to the screen with his performance because, like Jo says in some of the bonus features, Dumbledore is such an amazing character.  Love him or hate him, he’s fascinating.

But, as I was watching the movie…I was bored.  I kept looking at the clock to figure out how much longer until it was over.

Let me see if I can try to describe this.  I found the plot overall to be slow moving and too broken up between the many narrators.  We’re constantly seeing things from Newt, Dumbledore, Tina, Queenie, Jacob, Credence, and a few others.  Trying to keep all of those straight and look for clues to the ending was tedious.  Especially since what I loved most about the first movie (the beasts and the friendships) weren’t as prevalent this time around.

I do like Newt.  I think Eddie Redmayne plays him marvelously.  He’s strange and quirky, but he doesn’t care a bit what anyone thinks of him so long as he can protect his beasts.  And that is…oddly refreshing.

I just didn’t think this was particularly fun or interesting to watch.  It started off well, but it lost me as it continued on.

Finding Neverland

Image result for finding neverlandHey!  So I’m definitely late to this party, since this movie came out in 2004, but better late than never, right?  I found this at the library and I decided it was worth a try.  Johnny Depp?  Kate Winslet?  And about J.M. Barrie writing Peter Pan?  Yeah, sounded good.

Basically, this story is about J.M. Barrie, failing playwright, trying to write something that’ll do well.  One day, he meets a widowed mother and her four sons in the park and begins a friendship with them.  With the boys, he plays games of pretend and lets them be children.  But one of the boys, Peter, sees through all of the pretend to the realities of the world around them.  Can Barrie get through to the boy, to make him see that the world can be incredible if you just believe?

I thought this was really cute!  It took me by surprise initially when Depp busted out in a pretty good Scottish accent.  Depp is kind of in his element with this movie because he gets to play all of these different pretend characters, like an Indian chief, a pirate, and more.  The movie plays to his strengths as being an eccentric, so that was fun to see, even as he was a tight-laced playwright at the same time.

I also thought this was really cool how it showed the writing process in so many different ways.  Barrie is struggling to find inspiration for his next play.  This new friendship with the Davies family lets him have some fun and spend time with people who actually make him feel good about himself.  So he starts writing down some of the games they play and slowly that starts morphing into Neverland.  We get to see him stuck, writing random notes, and how the play came together.  I appreciated that they showed how challenging writing can be.  And how it can impact those around you as well.

The plot was cute.  There were definitely a few times I knew what was coming next, but I really enjoyed just sitting back and watching it.  And it threw a sucker-punch to the feels, so there was that too.  Even when I knew it was coming, it hurt.  It’s been a while since a movie made me cry, so I appreciated that it had the ability to do that.

The overall acting was really good.  Kate Winslet plays a devoted mother and she was very good about playing that line between single mother and friend to her boys.  She didn’t always understand them, but she always cared and wanted the best for them.  And a shout-out to Freddie Highmore, the boy who plays Peter Davies.  I was sitting there the whole time going, “God, this kid looks familiar.  What else has he been in?”  E v e r y t h i n g.  That’s what.  The kid’s been everything in everything from Depp’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to The Good Doctor and Bates Motel.  I mean, this kid was awesome at like 10 or whatever he was when this was filmed, so it makes sense his career took off as he got older.

This is cute family fun.  It’s exciting, interesting, and constantly bounces between Reality and Pretend.  I liked that a lot, as someone who frequently lives in her own head.  It’s nice to see that it’s appreciated and not just me.