The Day Trip That Didn’t Happen And The Resulting Horror Movie Marathon

Originally, I was supposed to go to Toronto this weekend for a one day trip.  Unfortunately, the protests in Belleville meant that my train was cancelled.  And since I was not the only once scrambling to find alternate means of transportation to Toronto, I just wasn’t fast enough to secure anything that would have gotten me there on time and/or in my price range.

I do not blame the protesters as I understand why they have set up the blockade, but I am angry at Via Rail.  Given that they knew about the blockade on the tracks the day before my train was scheduled to depart, it was frustrating that I didn’t receive any alerts about the issue until what was essentially the last minute.  And even then, passengers were still told that the train was going to be running and that it would just be delayed.  It was even more frustrating that when they eventually decided to cancel the train, there were no alternate means of transportation provided, despite the fact that they had known the day before that they were probably going to have to cancel trains.

So, I’m stuck in Ottawa when I’m supposed to be partying in Toronto, I’m angry at Via Rail…  It’s time for a two-day horror movie marathon!  And since I recently made a guest appearance on the Dead Talks podcast, I’m in the mood to talk about the horror films I’m watching.  Without further ado, here are the movies:

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Dead Silence (2007): If an unmarked package arrives at your home containing a ventriloquist’s dummy, burn it. Unfortunately, the protagonists of this James Wan film keep the doll and horror ensues.  The dialogue, acting, and story could be campy and predictable at times, but this supernatural horror flick delivered some pretty decent scares.  I even got chills.  There was even a bit of a twist ending which, although not too shocking or surprising, was still pretty well executed. And even though the story wasn’t all that sophisticated, the cinematography was gorgeous.  Everything was dark and tinted blue, so the many red accents scattered throughout the film really popped.  My favourite part: the reference to another James Wan horror film – Saw.  In a couple of scenes, when the set is littered with creepy dolls and ventriloquist’s dummies, the Jigsaw doll is sitting on the ground. My “yelling at the tv” moment: “That’s a really suspicious package… How are you not weirded out by this? Why are you keeping that in your house?! Burn it!”

I Spit on Your Grave (2010): This movie keeps popping up in my Netflix recommendations, so I figured I’d give it a try.  I didn’t realize this version was a remake, but this really isn’t my kind of horror so I doubt I’ll watch the original.  The horror was very horrific and made me feel uncomfortable, but in all other aspects it felt like a pretty weak movie overall.  There’s not really much of a plot or any character development.  I prefer horror films that have a bit more of a story and this just didn’t have enough.  Apart from the moments of horror, this film was a slow burn and it bored me.  I was really hoping that the majority of the film would feature the female lead getting revenge on her attackers, but the revenge part of the “plot” was squeezed in to the last half hour and I really wish there had been more. My “yelling at the tv” moment: “You let your child wander off with a stranger?! Your husband’s a cop – you should know better!”

The Last House on the Left (2009): Although I was a little underwhelmed with this one, I still want to watch the original.  The horror is understated, and the style of horror kept changing.  After the initial assault and torment of the victims, it turns into more of a mystery thriller; we know who the bad guys are and the tension lies in waiting to see when and how the other characters will figure it out.  And when they do, it turns into one of those “what would you do to keep your family safe” kind of horror films.  Although it’s not a bad story, I’m wondering if maybe this is just a bad remake.  Mostly, it was the camera work that bothered me.  The majority of the shots range from extreme close-up, to close-up, to medium close-up, to medium shot.  I just wished the camera would take a step back and give me some breathing room. My “yelling at the tv” moment: During the final scene – “Oh!” (intrigued) “Oh!” (Amused) “OOOHHH!!!” (Disgusted and impressed).

Jigsaw (2017): I love Saw so I couldn’t resist this when it popped up on Netflix.  In the case of most horror movies, the first film is usually the best and sequels/remakes don’t always measure up, so I was prepared for the fact that this might not be as good as the original.  In the case of Saw, nothing could measure up to the original, but this was still a fun slasher movie.  The gore and special effects were well done, as was expected, and the story contained many of the classic and expected tropes of a Saw film.  But that was also one of the weak points; everything was just a little too expected.  I had a feeling going into this that there would be some sort of twist ending.  There was, but I could see it coming a mile away.  It was obvious who the killer was, so the twist really wasn’t surprising. My “yelling at the tv” moment: “There’s no way he’s really dead! It’s so obvious!”

Happy Death Day (2017): When I saw the trailer, I was really excited to see this movie.  Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting into it. It’s not a bad movie at all, I just really didn’t like the sorority girls.  And that’s the point; the girls are so awful in the beginning of the film that it sets the stage for this to be the horror equivalent of Groundhog Day.  If Tree only changed her ways, she wouldn’t keep getting killed.  In fact, I loved that they explicitly mentioned Groundhog Day. But until the action really got rolling, I kept having to pause because I just really couldn’t stand the characters.  Once I got halfway through, however, I started to enjoy it more. It was predictable, yet fun.  Although, the last 15 minutes of the film actually did surprise me. I liked the fact that the solution was never as simple as it seemed. My “yelling at the tv” moment: “Shut uuuuup!” *My eyes rolled to the back of my head every time the head Kappa spoke.*

Happy Death Day 2U (2019): I was interested to see how they were going to continue the story from the first film and, initially, I was impressed.  I had already grown attached to the characters from the first film, and there were fewer scenes focused on annoying sorority girls, so I didn’t have a hard time getting into the story like I did with the first film.  However, as this horror comedy progressed, there was a lot more comedy than horror.  In fact, there was a whole lot more sci-fi than horror.  As much as I love sci-fi, I was hoping for more murder an mayhem in this movie.  And then the further the story progressed, the more it started to bore me. The plot of the first film was simple, yet effective.  This plot became unnecessarily convoluted at times and it was even more predictable than the first film. My “yelling at the tv” moment: Seriously, who thought that was a good mascot for a school?”

Jacob’s Ladder (1990): I was a little disappointed by how tame it felt at times.  Perhaps this would have felt more intense around the time when it was released, or perhaps I’ve numbed myself with too many horror movies.  The demonic special effects and prosthetics were interesting, but I wish there would have been more. And at times the camera movements and lighting during the traumatic moments and memory flashbacks made it hard for me to watch.  Additionally, although the first half of the movie intrigued me as it focuses on Jacob’s issues in coping with two different traumas, it began to bore me after a while. I didn’t get the sense that there was an actual story until about half way into the film. And soon after, it actually started to feel more like a horror thriller. The ending was both satisfying and frustrating. My “yelling at the tv” moment: “Wow! That’s how it ends?! That’s almost as bad as saying it was all a dream.”

Jacob’s Ladder (2019): This remake certainly took inspiration from the original, but took the story in a new direction.  There were less horror effects and more of a mystery.  Whereas the original had me wondering what was real and what was not, this remake didn’t really achieve that. I was worried that knowing the ending of the original would spoil the ending of this film and that it wouldn’t be a surprise.  Luckily, since the story went in a different direction, I didn’t have to worry about that.  (Spoilers) The original film was simply an analysis of Jacob’s mental state in his dying moments, but this remake turned the imagined conspiracy into a real event.  Because of that change, the twist in this movie actually did catch me by surprise, although I had started to suspect it part way through the film.  In terms of pacing, I’d say I preferred the remake, but I preferred the aesthetic style of the original. My “yelling at the tv” moment: “Oh no…  It’s not his baby!”

Scariest Movie of the Weekend: Dead Silence – Don’t mess with ventriloquists or creepy old ladies

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