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.

Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith

First Lines: The day had finally arrived. The party was about to begin and we still couldn’t say whether we were more excited or nervous for what was going to unfold.

I don’t often talk too much about nonfiction in this blog, partly because I don’t read it often and partly because what I do choose to read tends to be biographies of George Washington or really niche historical things. But in early 2020, I got swept up in the show Love is Blind, like a lot of people did. And I loved Lauren and Cameron. So one day while I was walking through the library and saw this on the shelf, I had to pick it up.

For those unfamiliar with the show, the idea was that singles would talk to each other through walls and would not see each other for the first time until they became engaged. Lauren and Cameron were two of those contestants. While neither of them truly expected to find love on the show, they are committed to making their marriage work. This book has them telling us our side of the story, from how they got involved with the show to their whirlwind romance to the issues they’ve faced in the early days of their marriage.

I really liked this. Then again, I really liked Lauren and Cameron on the show and every reunion episode since. They always seemed like they had the strongest and best relationship.

This book mostly unfolds as Lauren and Cameron having long-form conversations with us, the readers. In the beginning, they have entire chapters to say their backgrounds and what brought them to the show. But as their stories intertwine, they begin flipping back and forth within the chapter. Sometimes it’s a few paragraphs before the switch, sometimes it’s a few pages.

Lauren and Cameron talk about everything from how to make a connection with people to how to impress the prospective in-laws. They give some behind the scenes details about the show and how they stayed true to themselves throughout the process. I thought it was a really well done combination of reality TV expose and an almost self-help book on relationships while being autobiographical.

These two are just super cute and it’s so cool to read about how their relationship blossomed–and how it all works out day after day.

Top Ten Books I Wish Were Adapted by Netflix

Oooooooh boy do I have a list for this one! Like, when don’t we want our favorite stories adapted for TV or movies?

Although, on second thought…more than one book has been ruined by this. So, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that they are able to do these stories justice. These are the stories I’d most love to see on the small screen.

Top Ten Books I Wish Were Adapted by Netflix

1. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

This was absolutely the first book I thought of and I think it would be perfect for Netflix. It’s creepy and snarky with interesting characters. We all know slasher/horror movies are super popular, especially with young people, so I feel like this makes business sense.

2. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

This book has been around for, geez, something like 17 years? God, I feel old. But the point is that it’s got a large following and, with its theme of friendship and the magical twist, it would make for a good series. Factor in the setting of 1899 England at an all-girls boarding school and Gemma’s connection to India and Indian culture, and you have appeal.

3. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Netflix keeps making all these dating movies and reality shows (not that I’m mad about this), but wouldn’t it just be so much cooler if the other person was a literal god? Kate is put in an impossible position and is forced to accept a six month stay in the Underworld in order to keep her mom alive as the cancer ravages her body. I mean, tell me that wouldn’t make a good movie.

4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I’m not going to lie, I’m actually surprised this one hasn’t been made into a movie yet. This book took the book world by storm when it came out–and for good reason. It’s engrossing and you relate to the characters and it fits really well into nerd culture as we know it–which is hot right now. I just saw an ad for a CW show about a gamer girl. This would fit into that kind of demographic easily.

5. My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Maybe it’s because this series has always felt like a movie in my head, but I think it would be a super cool TV show. With seven books, it would be easy to turn it into the next Buffy-type show. (In fact, the book references Buffy a lot.) It would be awesome to see how their CGI department handled showing souls and how the actress handled Kaylee’s banshee traits.

6. Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Ok, ditto what I said above. I really just want to see how they battle soul zombies on TV.

7. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

I want to make sure I share some love with YA contemporary romance as well. This has long been one of my favorite Dessen novels. I adore Dexter and I love the element of having Remy be the subject of this incredible one-hit wonder of a song. I think it’s a mature story that can still be funny and cute. And maybe there’s a way to bring it into 2020 that adds something interesting to the story.

8. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Speaking of YA contemp, I would absolutely adore seeing a TV show or movie about a girl who plays football. There are so many stories where the girl is a tomboy until she befriends some girls and then she discovers her feminine side, but Jordan is not like that. And I’d like to see her stay tough.

9. The Taking by Kimberly Derting

I will be the first to tell you that anything about aliens usually gets a groan from me, but I think this would work super well as a one season TV show. In this story, a girl has been missing for like 3 years. To her, no time has passed. To everyone else, she looks exactly the same as the day she left while they’ve all aged. Her world isn’t the same anymore and she finds herself relating more to her ex-boyfriend’s younger brother…who is the same age she is now. It’s funky, but it would be easy to turn into a show.

10. Splintered by A.G. Howard

I’m maybe reaching a little with this one, but I have this love of all things Alice in Wonderland and I think a modern twist on it wouldn’t go amiss. Especially since the story involves unconventional characters and skate parks and madness and a freaking crazy world. But yeah, lots of CGI necessary.

Excuse me, why is ACOTAR not on this list? Ok, I feel like I have to defend myself a little here. With this story, I think I have such a strong image in my head of what Rhys looks like and what Feyre looks like and what Tamlin looks like and what their worlds look like that anything short of that would be a disappointment. Also, Feyre is so in her head and descriptive about her feelings toward people and things and places that I feel like a lot of that would be lost translating it from the page to the screen. This is one story that I’m just not sure anyone could really do justice to and I don’t necessarily want them to try.

Top Ten What I’ve Been Watching In Lockdown

Hey everyone! I’ll have some more reviews soon, but I’m also in the middle of reading something that’s not YA and I want to make sure I still have stuff to post while I read it! This week’s Top Ten is a freebie, so why not jump over to other kinds of recommendations?

As some of us maybe live in places where we’re either still kind of in the quarantine/lockdown paralysis or maybe your area is about to reenter it, I thought it might be fun to talk about what I’ve been watching lately.

Top Ten What I’ve Been Watching in Lockdown

1. Hamilton (Disney+)

Let’s not pretend I didn’t jump on that. I’ve had the soundtrack memorized for 3 years. I definitely wanted to see it. Bonus: I got to introduce my boyfriend to it and he enjoyed it.

2. Psych (Amazon Prime)

This is like comfort food on this list. I’ve seen the early seasons of Psych multiple times. I think I’ve made it to season 4 or 5 before it was taken off of Netflix or something. Anyway, I found it on Prime and when I need something funny that I don’t really have to pay attention to (yet), I turn this on.

3. Unsolved Mysteries (Netflix)

Ok, this requires a little backstory. So I do like real-life mysteries, but I’ve recently been listening to a true crime podcast (Crime Junkie) on my daily walks and, while it’s so good, I end up spending most of the night paranoid that someone’s about to break into my house and kidnap me. Unsolved Mysteries seemed like it was only going to make that worse. I watched the first episode and then immediately watched 2 episodes of Psych. The next episode I watched with my boyfriend. The third episode I watched in the middle of the afternoon. So it’s good, but like…I definitely need to be in the right mood.

4. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (Netflix)

This movie is so funny. With Will Ferrell, I wasn’t sure what kind of comedy I was going to get. Would it be smart and funny (like Elf–I know that’s a controversial statement) or funny but pretty stupid (like Talledega Nights)? This actually ended up being a heartfelt, adorable comedy. Rachel McAdams absolutely steals the entire movie. The great music is just a bonus.

5. Indian Matchmaking (Netflix)

I have a habit of falling in love with Netflix reality dating shows (The Circle, Love is Blind, etc.) and this was something I turned on because I was tired of mysteries. It’s so fascinating. I’ve learned so much about Indian culture from this already and it’s so interesting to see these dates. The people are what sell the show. I like to say this is Love is Blind and Crazy Rich Asians mixed with When Harry Met Sally. I really enjoy this. HOWEVER, I felt there was little to no resolution at the end of the show/season, so that rather sucked.

6. Feel the Beat (Netflix)

This dance movie is just so cute. It’s a family movie, easily. Like the main actress was in The Descendants or whatever? Anyway, the story is generally that she wants to be a Broadway star but she ends up getting blacklisted and has to return home to Wisconsin, where she ends up teaching dance at the old studio she used to go to as she tries to find a new way to break into Broadway. It’s cute and funny and heartfelt. I liked it.

7. Community (Netflix)

This whole lockdown, my boyfriend and I have been working our way through Community. It’s so weird and surreal that it almost feels more real than what’s going on outside, you know? It’s always funny and offbeat and weird, but I love it.

8. The Trail to Oregon (YouTube)

Speaking of offbeat and weird, this is a musical by Starkid, the same group that did A Very Potter Musical if you know anything about that. This is their musical adaptation of the old Oregon Trail game. It’s got a skeleton cast of like 6 people who play multiple roles. It’s so bizarre and odd, but the actors sell it and it was definitely funny. But you have to really enjoy weird stuff to like this, I’m just saying.

9. Coffee With My Ex (YouTube)

This is a podcast, but I’ve been watching the YouTube version every day while I eat lunch. It’s a podcast by Caleb Marshall and Haley Jordan, most well known for the channel The Fitness Marshall, which does dance workout videos. Anyway, I was doing a lot of those dance videos and decided to check out the podcast. It’s good. Not every episode is great, but they’re funny and sometimes they cover some really interesting stuff.

10. The local news (uh…local channels?)

I feel like I need to give a shout out to the local news on this list because it’s probably easily what I’ve devoted the most hours toward on this list. And also, local news doesn’t get enough respect. They do so much and get so little recognition. I have relied on them so much through all this, not just for COVID updates, but also for what’s good in the community. I mean, they tell us about what’s reopening and what events are going on. I need them.

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.

Why I Can’t Watch Netflix’s Mr. Iglesias–Even Though I Want To

Image result for mr. iglesias show

Ok, I have to do this.  This is one of my pet peeves.

When I saw that Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias was getting a sitcom, I was stoked.  My family is a huge fan of Gabriel.  We quote him all the time.  (“HEY!…’Mere.”)  I think his jokes are on point, he’s got a good heart, and he’s just entertaining.

And I was so excited that his show was going to be about a history teacher.  Immediately, I started wondering what kind of history jokes he’d make, which are some of my favorite jokes of all time.  History + Comedy = Nerdy Fun.

…and then I watched the first episode.

Look, I think the show has a good heart.  It’s following kids who normally don’t do well in school.  Your slackers, your kids who have to work to support their families, your kids who simply struggle with school.  I love that, since those are the most like my students.  And being a comedy, I knew it would have heart while still being funny about it, which I appreciate.  (The really serious teacher movies like Dead Poets Society are great, but I can’t watch them often.)

But my God, this show plays into all the stupid–an inaccurate–teacher tropes.

Let me go through a few of them.

1. The principal gave the teachers an assignment on their hour long lunch break.

I literally almost laughed out loud when I heard that.  First of all, my lunch is 30 minutes at best, just like the kids.  If I need to make a call or run copies, that means I’m usually eating my lunch in about 15 minutes.  And also, if your principal is at all respectful, they’re not going to give you an assignment over lunch.  Most of the time, they give you longer than your lunch break to complete something unless someone screwed up.

2. Their “last day of school” was way more chill than I’ve ever seen.

The first episode takes place on the last day of school–which makes the rest of the plot that much more unbelievable.  On the last day of school, no one is just calmly walking around like that or even talking about school.   There were no finals, lockers were still full of books, and teachers didn’t look like they were about to die.  Clearly, none of the writers have been in school for a while (a point that was abundantly obvious).

3. Teachers were in the “break room” more often than their classrooms.

This irks me so much.  As a teacher, I rarely have any time to go to the bathroom.  Yeah, I said it.  So the fact that they’re all just standing around singing songs, making coffee, chit chatting, etc., it’s ridiculous.  We’re all frantically running around trying to get things done before the next class comes in in 4-7 minutes, depending on the length of your passing period.  Only one of your class periods is open as your prep, and more often than not, you have planning to do during that time.  That’s it.

4. PUBLIC SCHOOLS CANNOT COUNSEL ANYONE OUT.

Ok, let me pull in my rage here a little.  The entire crux of the show is that the principal and the guidance counselor are trying to “get rid” of the lowest performing students to boost the school’s numbers.  They delivered letters to those students via their lockers (um…unprofessional much?) and let the kids know they’d basically been “let go.”  Private schools can do that.  A student of mine came to my school from a private school because she broke dress code too many times.  Public schools are required to take everyone.  This is why public schools often have lower test scores.  By law, they are required to take anyone who comes to them.  We can expel kids for serious infractions, like drugs or weapons on school grounds.  Sometimes even bullying or fighting can result in that.  But let me tell you, even that doesn’t guarantee an expulsion.  One of my kids last year was so violent that we knew he was going to go off and hurt someone–an adult had to shadow him all day long.  But we couldn’t do much because he had an IEP–an Individualized Education Plan.  He had emotional issues that meant he was quick to anger, like trigger-quick.  We had to wait for the parents to pull him after he was suspended more often than not.

Excuse my language, but public schools get so much shit because we can’t help what we are.  All these politicians who keep saying public schools are failing (including John Delaney on the first Democratic Debate) simply fail to understand how public schools work.  They keep pushing for all schools to be charter/private schools.  But guess what?  If you’re going to make it mandatory that every child be in a school–and you do away with public schools–then your private schools are going to turn into public schools.  Someone has to take those students.

The fact that this show played it up like public schools could just “let go” of poorly performing students was insulting and severely misinformed.  I get that the point of the show is that Gabriel is trying to nurture those students, but this?  No.  Sorry, school doesn’t work this way.  And it’s just feeding the perceptions people have about public schools that are grossly misleading or plainly false.

*****

I think what the show is trying to do is good.  And Gabriel’s history jokes were so funny.  But I can’t watch a show that so inaccurately represents my profession and that of so many of my friends at a time when our jobs are being attacked on virtually every front.  I take so much crap for it and I’m tired.  I’m tired of defending myself and my students from outsiders.