Pet Sematary, 2019 – ★★★★½ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

I really liked this movie for its creepiness and it scariness. Hear my podcast on it here: thedrpodcast.com/pet-sematary-2019/

Although the clown monster hit “It” may end up grossing more box office dollars, this is a better horror movie in my perspective. The creepiness permeates and paves the way for a quaint yet terrifying tale of one family and a mystic pet sematary just behind their house.

have observed modern horror includes both remakes of past hits as well as re imaginings. These span from “Friday the 13th” to “The Fly” and beyond. Here we have a remake with a slight re imagining element. Pet Sematary revitalizes the beloved 80’s film by Stephen King and respectively repackages it into a film that is more artful, more creepy, and more thought provoking than the original. This isn’t just a jump-scare film either, though it has some of that. It is a horror film through and through creepiness and dark, misty atmosphere included.

Quaint may not be the best adjective for this tale in that it has elements of horror and gore interspersed with a simple story about a quaint family in an all-American home. I think it’s important to note however that getting a story across should have simple pillars. I think the clown film “It” gets way into the complicated zone and for me this detracts from the power of the story. This film indeed has a quaint, or simple, story that is tastefully told using horror elements that accentuate instead of blot it out.

Another benefit of this simplicity is that entry level horror fans can have better access to it. Walking into a haunted house, the riff raff gets sorted out pretty quickly. By that I mean: they do not continue. If it’s a more mild form of scare, they may come through and enjoy the whole attraction. That happened with my youngest daughter, age 11. She’s not into horror yet but she really wanted to see this movie. She ended up loving it. She’s still not claiming to be a horror fan but I would say this film has that “entry level horror” quality to it.

The trailer is not “entry level” sounding, let’s listen to it now …

At the get go I want to address the direction “team.” Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer. This film plays like a film that people cared for over a long time. There are no accidents. It all works perfectly too. These directors are behind “Starry Eyes.” This goes to show you they had a value for graphic horror in this film. “Starry Eyes” is one of those films where you relate because it looks like it could be happening in your own home or apartment. In fact, as the body count rises, you start thinking about how you will need to hide the evidence. These two can make the film personal and bring the creepiness home to the horror fan. Since “Pet Sematary” takes place with a family in a home and builds its horror moments between family members, Kolsch was a perfect choice. You feel that creepy atmosphere and personal discomfort. I think I’ve discovered a new favorite director team. You can bet I’ll be watching everything they do. I also applaud the producers here for supporting these two on this project. I can only dream of what they COULD have done with “It.” As it is, I am not a huge fan.

A shout out must go to Matt Greenburg for crafting the screenplay. He did Reign of Fire which I really enjoyed. He has some other films under his belt he’s done that are quite impressive: “Seventh Son” and “Halloween H20.” Clearly this project required a talented writer. I loved some of the carefully made changes. They are actually more nods to the original film rather than just detail changes. Here at the beginning, let’s take a look at this cast and see how it stacks up to horror. Jason Clark plays the father/husband in this. He does a pretty good job overall. How do I say this respectfully and delicately? Clark lacks the range in my opinion to play what this role requires. When he is tender with his wife and family his face looks exactly the same as when he is obsessing. There are a couple scenes where it’s hard to know if he is a secretive killer (even though most people know the character he playing well from the book from the prior film). I saw an interview with Clark where he spoke about (in his thick Australian accent) how his personal focus in the role was to show people his fatherly, loving relationship with his daughter, wife and son, and then let them react to what happens bad in the movie. I think he said the right things but his facial expressions and demeanor never really changed it seems and it did seem out of place when he did the things he did before and then later in the film as well.

An actor with a somewhat more calming and happy countenance might have improved the role I think. It’s important we really identify and like the protagonist in this story. I feel Clark is miscast in this role.

Amy Seimetz is a better casting choice. She plays the cuddling wife that truly relies on her husband. She is recovering from the trauma of the death of her sister and this weighs heavy on her moods and most importantly, prevents her from finding peace in her life. I think her character shows the largest moral in this story. When we lose a pet or a loved one, the natural course of grieving should eventually allow them to “rest in peace.” The inability to let them go interrupts that process and people get, well “strange.” They can, in fact, go mad. This is where Stephen King’s phrase “Sometimes dead is better.” fits in nicely to the main idea of the movie: Let the dead go! BUt Seimetz is a fresh place of relief in this movie. She represents more innocence than anyone, even though she feels so guilty for Zelda’s death.

Jeté Laurence is a ray of sunshine in this. She already has a lot of acting work on her resume The Snowman (2017), The Americans (2013) and Jessica Jones (2015). This young one has been listening to the grownups! She has some acting chops that are devastatingly sharp. Not only is she very cute but she knows how to play ugly too. She plays a much deeper and wider role in this than the actor plays in the original.

Follow me on Letterboxd https://letterboxd.com/rileyonfilm/film/pet-sematary-2019/

Podcast: Pet Sematary (2019)

Although the clown monster hit “It” may end up grossing more box office dollars, this is a better horror movie in my perspective. The creepiness permeates and paves the way for a quaint yet terrifying tale of one family and a mystic pet sematary just behind their house.

I have observed modern horror includes both remakes of past hits as well as re imaginings. These span from “Friday the 13th” to “The Fly” and beyond. Here we have a remake with a slight re imagining element. Pet Sematary revitalizes the beloved 80’s film by Stephen King and respectively repackages it into a film that is more artful, more creepy, and more thought provoking than the original. This isn’t just a jump-scare film either, though it has some of that. It is a horror film through and through creepiness and dark, misty atmosphere included.

Quaint may not be the best adjective for this tale in that it has elements of horror and gore interspersed with a simple story about a quaint family in an all-American home. I think it’s important to note however that getting a story across should have simple pillars. I think the clown film “It” gets way into the complicated zone and for me this detracts from the power of the story. This film indeed has a quaint, or simple, story that is tastefully told using horror elements that accentuate instead of blot it out.

Another benefit of this simplicity is that entry level horror fans can have better access to it. Walking into a haunted house, the riff raff gets sorted out pretty quickly. By that I mean: they do not continue. If it’s a more mild form of scare, they may come through and enjoy the whole attraction. That happened with my youngest daughter, age 11. She’s not into horror yet but she really wanted to see this movie. She ended up loving it. She’s still not claiming to be a horror fan but I would say this film has that “entry level horror” quality to it.

The trailer is not “entry level” sounding, let’s listen to it now …

At the get go I want to address the direction “team.” Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer. This film plays like a film that people cared for over a long time. There are no accidents. It all works perfectly too. These directors are behind “Starry Eyes.” This goes to show you they had a value for graphic horror in this film. “Starry Eyes” is one of those films where you relate because it looks like it could be happening in your own home or apartment. In fact, as the body count rises, you start thinking about how you will need to hide the evidence. These two can make the film personal and bring the creepiness home to the horror fan. Since “Pet Sematary” takes place with a family in a home and builds its horror moments between family members, Kolsch was a perfect choice. You feel that creepy atmosphere and personal discomfort. I think I’ve discovered a new favorite director team. You can bet I’ll be watching everything they do. I also applaud the producers here for supporting these two on this project. I can only dream of what they COULD have done with “It.” As it is, I am not a huge fan.

A shout out must go to Matt Greenburg for crafting the screenplay. He did Reign of Fire which I really enjoyed. He has some other films under his belt he’s done that are quite impressive: “Seventh Son” and “Halloween H20.” Clearly this project required a talented writer. I loved some of the carefully made changes. They are actually more nods to the original film rather than just detail changes. Here at the beginning, let’s take a look at this cast and see how it stacks up to horror. Jason Clark plays the father/husband in this. He does a pretty good job overall. How do I say this respectfully and delicately? Clark lacks the range in my opinion to play what this role requires. When he is tender with his wife and family his face looks exactly the same as when he is obsessing. There are a couple scenes where it’s hard to know if he is a secretive killer (even though most people know the character he playing well from the book from the prior film). I saw an interview with Clark where he spoke about (in his thick Australian accent) how his personal focus in the role was to show people his fatherly, loving relationship with his daughter, wife and son, and then let them react to what happens bad in the movie. I think he said the right things but his facial expressions and demeanor never really changed it seems and it did seem out of place when he did the things he did before and then later in the film as well.

An actor with a somewhat more calming and happy countenance might have improved the role I think. It’s important we really identify and like the protagonist in this story. I feel Clark is miscast in this role.

Amy Seimetz is a better casting choice. She plays the cuddling wife that truly relies on her husband. She is recovering from the trauma of the death of her sister and this weighs heavy on her moods and most importantly, prevents her from finding peace in her life. I think her character shows the largest moral in this story. When we lose a pet or a loved one, the natural course of grieving should eventually allow them to “rest in peace.” The inability to let them go interrupts that process and people get, well “strange.” They can, in fact, go mad. This is where Stephen King’s phrase “Sometimes dead is better.” fits in nicely to the main idea of the movie: Let the dead go! BUt Seimetz is a fresh place of relief in this movie. She represents more innocence than anyone, even though she feels so guilty for Zelda’s death.

Jeté Laurence is a ray of sunshine in this. She already has a lot of acting work on her resume The Snowman (2017), The Americans (2013) and Jessica Jones (2015). This young one has been listening to the grownups! She has some acting chops that are devastatingly sharp. Not only is she very cute but she knows how to play ugly too. She plays a much deeper and wider role in this than the actor plays in the original.

The Exploding Girl

College can be a rough time, even for those who are 100% healthy. In this case, we have a protagonist with epilepsy. She’s trying to find love that eludes her time and time again.

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I like films like this that look almost like hidden camera footage. When a girl and her roommate stay up watching TV, hanging off the couch talking about life, you are among them. It’s really a hard time when you’re out of high school in your early years of adulthood. You want the job, the enjoyment, and the love that culture promises and yet, it doesn’t translate that way.

We see a girl who is stuck in unrequited love, trying to improve a relationship tat is sadly one-sided. When one is new at love, there is so much that has to be learned the hard way. Then, there is the “Ducky” type of friend who shares her apartment. Is their friendship destined to stay platonic or will it grow into a sexual thing.

Thes are the basic elements of this film. My wife thought it dragged on a bit. I, on the other hand, liked the mysterious ether-like feeling of the film. For me, it was a peering into the life of a brave young girl with no answers. I found it inspiring in an odd way. Maybe because I don’t yet have the answers and I felt for her in that stage of life. I recommend it as a thoughtful romantic drama.

4.

The Edge of Seventeen

This film was marketed incorrectly and that’s too bad. I think some will pass on it because it looks like Emma Stone getting an easy a or some derivative of a party and sex themed high school movie. It’s not like that at all.

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This film is about real people going through changes in life. It has dark segments and dark comedy as well. There are elements of the high school comedy but they only serve to drive the depth of the story. It is all interwoven especially well.

This film shows what its film-making generation can do at a pristine level. Instead of relying on recycled paradigms of successful party films.

The acting is great. I’d say her brother is too huge and too buff. I might have opted for a more “Ducky” sort.

Other than his though, which is only just less than perfect, all the performances are fantastic.

One topic delved into is the mental-health topic of depression. With high schoolers, it can be hard to draw a clear line between regular growing pains and depression. This films shows the blurred line and then lets the audience draw its own distinction.

The protagonist is beautiful, I hope to see her in more films. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I recommend it to all, preteens through adults.

Snowden

I’ve seen paranoia around the ideas of NSA among friends and co-workers. I thought most of it was unfounded until I saw this film, Snowden. I’ll modify what I just said just a hair, I’ll replace the word “paranoia with “awareness.” People need to be aware of the surveillance going on in our private lives.

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Snowden is quite a character. I really enjoyed watching this movie. I can’t say I would give up a posh home in Hawaii and a romantic lover just to inform the press about the snooping the government does. That’s just what he did though. Furthermore, he’s given up any chance of walking down Central Park or swimming at the California beaches. He did it for “us?”

Most of us know our employers monitor our internet use along with things like keystrokes on our work computers. They could have cameras everywhere and often do because they are your employer and they’ll fire us if we don’t like it. What I didn’t know until I saw this enlightening true story is that they have access to our wi-fi and other monitoring mechanisms in our homes. They monitor the world in hopes of preventing terrorism. I guess it’s working pretty well right? There hasn’t been another 9-11?

We see Snowden rise up in the ranks of the FBI and reveal for us the many ways the NSA peers into our private lives. It’s fairly well done. The way one reacts to is will depend on ones political sensitivities. Snowden is a real guy. You can Google him. AS a movie this is pretty good. It’s the subject matter that truly makes it worth the watch. But as you do, just remember, they may be watching you. You might ask yourself, as I did, if Snowden is a hero or just a guy who had enough. I recommend it for fans of the drama and mystery genres as well as those interested in the subject of internet privacy.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hands on activities are always better for kids. Getting away from a desk and into the wilderness would be an effective way to foster problem solving skills in a child. What’s more, real life problems yield better solutions than ones in book at a desk in a public school. These are ideals I agree with, even as a public school teacher myself.

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This is a quirky and strange movie if you don’t pour some sort of meaning into it. Early on, I had a meaning I got from it and that’s why I think I enjoyed it so much. I’ll tell you what it was, as long as you remember that movies are like all art: you get out what you perceive from it.

The evil social worker lady represented the restrictive educational policies of George Bush. They were called. as most will recall, “No Child Left Behind.” She in fact repeats this phrase many times as her battle cry to find the protagonist. It’s also derived from the bumper sticker wisdom: “All who wander are not lost.”

This film looks a lot like Moonrise Kingdom in its silliness and campy presentation. Some will find humor in that alone. A preteen juvenile delinquent keeps escaping from school and eventually, after his caretaker aunt dies, he goes on a wilderness expedition with his “step-uncle.” A bunch of stuff happens, some interesting, some funny, some dull. At any rate, it becomes another aphorism: “Life is a journey.” It’s made to show how much more this child gets out of surviving with his uncle than he would in public school, or the juvenile correctional system anyway. The actors are all speaking in australian accents which makes it seem like an independent film (which in fact it is).

If you’re willing to sit through a whole movie of goofiness to see this director’s point about open and unbridled education, you’ll probably laugh a lot. I’ve seen better quirkiness like this in the film Nacho Libre. That’s also about an underdog who emerges victorious … and the jokes are funny. I’d recommend this film for fans of understated humor and who don’t agree with restrictive educational policies. I’d say it will be liked six and one half-dozen the other by the general public.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Asking me to rate a Harry Potter spinoff/prequel is a lot like asking a mean old man in the mid 1950’s to rate a Beatles album. To him it’s shit. To me this is shit. I was twisting and turning in my seat the entire time. I related with very little, which is an important feature for me in a film.

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I had some interest in the Harry Potter films, emphasize SOME, but this new film has just enough in it to keep the die-hard-trekkie types reeled in. I even saw a compatriot teacher I recognized dressed in a Harry Potter hooded witch costume, replete with wand and glasses. That’s when I knew I really shouldn’t have come.

I won’t waste your time saying much about this film, I’m simply not qualified due to my lack of interest in Harry Potter films. The beasts are as cool as to be expected. J.K Rowling is a billionaire from her many Harry exploits so it stands to reason she would spare no expense in creating cool CGI beasts. The trouble is, you don’t see them much. In fact, you have to wait very long before you get to gaze upon them for any length of time. I loved some of these beasts. They should have had them gracing the screen much more than they did.

I won’t attempt to give you the story line here because it isn’t interesting and this film really didn’t resonate with me enough to care to do that. I usually give a summary, here I won’t it isn’t worth your time. I haven’t walked out of a film in several years. The last one I recall walking out on was The Passion of the Christ (2004). I’ve actually never reviewed that film and for good reason. It falls into the Mel Gibson line of beating the hell out of the protagonist. I guess I wasnt in the mood that day.

Eddie Redmayne was just ok in this. I wanted to slap him he mumbled so much. I wasn’t impressed by his wand either. Why is Ezra Miller in this? I usually like him too but all I could think about when seeing him was: “Oh crap, another big name actor that will merit making a backstory thereby making this film longer.”

I could go on but I won’t.

The only people I can recommend this for are those with Harry Potter action figures and costumery. They are so starved for a new film, they may enjoy this one. As for me? I’m glad I walked out and went through the mall to buy my wife See’s caramels instead.

Vote for My Pick: Movie of the Month ‘A Christmas Story’ at the LAMB

Hey friends! I need your help. I really want to win this and I know you’ll agree it’s the best Christmas film on the LAMB list. Head over there and vote for the ultra amazing and classic A Christmas Story. It’s already playing traditionally in our house. Vote today!

Head over there and vote for the ultra amazing and classic A Christmas Story.

Ed Gein, 2000 – ★★½

My review of Ed Gein, 2000 – ★★½

A documentary that works also as a horror movie. Very disgusting guy. The more you understand, the more you cringe. A bit on the low budget side but overall worth a watch.

Follow me on Letterboxd https://letterboxd.com/rileyonfilm/film/ed-gein/