Mikey and I completed our month of horror movies. Below is our very lengthy wrap-up discussion. It is doubling as my first 2016 Gratitude post for November because the thing I am most grateful for in my whole life is that I managed to find my soul mate among the billions of people who share this space rock. He challenges me to new heights, supports me in my lows, and – as cheesy as it is – genuinely inspires me to be the very best me that is possible. My life is greatly improved with his presence, and the fact that we can entertain ourselves for hours just by hanging out in the same GoogleDoc is just one reason for that. Today, and every day, I am grateful for my Mikey.
For my Gratitude Song List: Becky G’s Shower.
Enough smooshy stuff! Here’s the Horror Movie Marathon wrap-up. Enjoy!
Solee: It is November. We’re officially through the month of scary and into the month of food. I want to start by saying I’m super proud of us for sticking to the schedule so well. I think there was only one day that I didn’t get a post up, and that was because I forgot to automate it, not because it wasn’t written. We did very well. Go, us!
Mikey: It may be the first year I didn’t have any mishaps with the watching or posting, actually. Usually I’m either a movie or two short, or I go a few days into November. What a team.
Solee: Before we get into the analysis of the movies, I also want to say that I really enjoyed doing this with you. It was fun to have something entertaining, but also “required” to do together so we couldn’t end up just doing nothing. I am already looking forward to our plans for next year.
Mikey: I find having to do something that the “public” will see (all 3 of the people who read this!) really makes all the difference in staying motivated. But really this was just for us, to have some fun. I like doing these kinds of projects, but I will also say I am glad we’re done. It’s amazing how much of your day can be eaten up with watching a movie and writing a review of it (and posting the review). Not even counting extraneous time-wastage, that adds up to 3 hours and 15 minutes by itself, 7 days a week.
Solee: And when you add in drawing the picture…
Mikey: I did forget about the drawing – that was on you this year, and it certainly took a long time each day too. I appreciated it! So enough of our woes as such put-upon laborers… let’s get to the movies!
I took the time to do my mostest favoritestest activity of all this month: creating a spreadsheet of the movies, with all kinds of statistics and even tagging each movie with specific tags like Cheese, Ghost, and Found Footage. It wouldn’t be a spreadsheet without calculations, so it also calculated averages of ratings and things, and added up how often each tag appeared. Just to quickly cover the most basic and useless stats:
On average, we watched movies from the year 2010.1 which were 93.81 minutes long.
Solee: According to my calculations, the median year of our movie selections was 2014. We watched 10 movies from 2015!
Mikey: Making that Pi A La Mode! Our movies altogether earned an average rating of 5.6/10 on IMDB.
On Metacritic, the average was 53/100, though 13 of the movies were not listed on Metacritic.
Rotten Tomatoes critics gave our movies a 57% average, except 9 movies they didn’t cover.
The much pickier Rotten Tomatoes audience had a 44% average, and the only movie they didn’t cover was Sympathy, Said The Shark. Guess that one was super indie! To be fair, the 8 movies they rated that critics didn’t were probably terrible, so that brings the average down.
Speaking of picky, on average I rated movies 3.05, and you rated them 3.21, so I guess I am the more picky audience (but still kinder than Rotten Tomatoes people!).
Solee: I’m surprised by that. I went into this thinking you would rate things much higher than me, but now that we’ve done it, I can see that you like to hate your horror. The worse it is, the more fun you have watching it.
Mikey: I’m not sure about that final conclusion, but I agree with the surprise. I thought I would be dragging you through movies you were going to loathe, but you had a good time all the way through. Was there a worst experience for you? I mean, I know which movie was the worst one, since it’s the only one we both gave a big fat ZERO rating (#Horror), but in terms of having to watch actual horror, was there another you wish you could have avoided?
Solee: I can honestly say, no. Each one, even the ones that I hated, had something interesting about them that I’d be sad to have missed. There are plenty of them I wouldn’t want to watch again, though! What about you?
Mikey: I agree with that. There are lots of movies in general I’m glad I watched that I don’t need to ever repeat. You know… other than the fact that it was fun to see James Marsters do something, I really didn’t need to ever see Shadow Puppets. I think that was the movie that felt the most like a waste of my time (even though we saw Behemoth!). But then again, there was the mean girl in there with the faces she made…
Solee: Yeah… we had very different opinions about Shadow Puppets. You gave it 1.5 and I gave it a 3. At this moment I can’t remember a single things about Behemoth… so maybe that is one I didn’t need to see.
Mikey: Oh come on, there was Zoe and her romance with the Cigarette-Smoking Man…
Solee: OOOHH. Right. I choose that one as my Didn’t Need To See. In fact, I’d recommend #Horror before it, if only because you can’t really understand that level of bad that #Horror is without actually experiencing it.
Mikey: Wow. That’s true, but it’s like saying you don’t know how bad waterboarding is until you try it. I’ll take other peoples’ word for it.
Solee: Obviously, I’m someone who sniffs the milk, gags at how sour it is, and then immediately hands it to whomever is standing near. “Smell this!” Misery loves company!
Mikey: I can verify that you are that person. Now what I found interesting is that Shadow Puppets isn’t our biggest rating discrepancy: The VVitch is, with my 2.5 to your 4.5. What happened there?
Solee: Whoa. I don’t know. After looking back at our review, I see that it was one of our earlier reviews where we did separate interviews, as was Shadow Puppets. I wonder if we influenced one another less through that format. Anyway, I gave it a lot of credit for being well done, beautiful to look at, and thought provoking. My main problem with The VVitch was that it had one more scene than I needed at the end. I wanted it to remain open ended. Do you remember why you rated it so low?
Mikey: I was definitely one of those True Horror Fans who felt betrayed and angry at the hype – the trailers make this movie look like the scariest thing in the world, and it is very very far from it, so failed expectations is a part of it. I also made note in my review of how un-fun it was to see. Despite my discussion earlier this month about how I enjoy grim, grey, slow movies (like The Sixth Sense), this movie was really nothing but a celebration of how awful the characters had it. Let’s just wallow in misery. I guess sometimes that’s the movie I want, but maybe only if a ghost is involved (or more importantly, a twist).
I do feel like the joint interviews gave us both a chance to reflect, and probably get influenced by the other. I really liked it though! I noticed many times where your ideas gave me a new appreciation for what I had seen.
Solee: I’m pretty awesome. Just kidding. I liked the joint interviews better, too. They provided for much deeper discussions I think. Going back to the idea of grim, grey movies, I think that’s something that generally appeals to critics and the folks who hand out awards. It’s almost as though they feel you deserve higher praise if your movies looks like it has suffered. And on the flip side of that coin, they tear you apart like savage dogs if you look like you had too much fun making your movie, as shown by the reception of House of 1000 Corpses within the critical world.
Mikey: Which perfectly brings me to my next statistic! I calculated the difference between the average of our ratings, and how the critics rated each movie… I can tell you that the movies we disagreed with the critics the most on were #Horror (we rated 41/100 lower than they did… but to be fair, most critics aren’t allowed a zero rating), and actually several others we rated much much higher than critics: No Tell Motel and House of 1000 Corpses were the biggest offenders where we averaged 63/100 higher than the critics. That makes sense to me.
Solee: Yep. House of 1000 Corpses was just amazing. It was Art with a capital A, and I think any critic that didn’t recognize that should have his or her credentials stripped. No Tell Motel had the SBIG bump to carry it. It was classically bad in a way that is SO fun to watch. (Sorry, TJ!)
Mikey: Critics never appreciate bad movies for some reason. Looking at my discrepancy ratings, it’s actually pretty amazing… there are only 5 movies we rated worse than the critics. All the rest, we rated higher than critics, many many of them by a huge margin. I think the biggest reason is that we were saying “5/5 is a perfect horror movie” where critics were saying it’s not this deep meaningful movie in general, even if it’s really good horror.
Solee: Right. I know I was using a very skewed scale to rate these movies. If we were rating on the Every Movie Ever Made scale, many of them would have been lower. I also know that my rating scale is very subjective. If I had fun watching the movie, it got a higher rating whether it was “good” or not.
Mikey: If I were having to rate these movies officially, for good, there would definitely be a lot fewer 5s. I’m happy to dish out the 5s during October, it’s all about asking the question “should other people see this movie?” If the answer is absolutely they should, that’s a 5. And I’m a pop-culture guy, not a high art guy. I don’t want to see boring German expressionism, I wanna see 1000 corpses, all in a house.
I ran a similar statistic – comparing our ratings to the Rotten Tomatoes audience ratings. I thought we’d be much more in line with them, since they’re our buddies, but it turns out it’s only slightly different than the critic situation. In this case, Intruders is the movie where we’re most off the norm – we rated that movie 72/100 higher than the general audience! That messes me up. People are dumb.
Solee: I had a moment of “Oh, geez, was I influenced by the fact that I knew someone involved was reading the review” when you said that… but NO. It was a damn good movie. I honestly can’t guess why people wouldn’t like it. So I continue to stand by my 5. People SHOULD watch that movie.
Mikey: Yes, they gave it 28/100. That’s crazy. I have more I want to say about that movie and a couple related others in a minute. But about these discrepancies, our #Horror rating fares much better against the audience – we were only 9/100 off on that. Humans knew to flee the theater on that one.
Solee: Sooooooooo bad.
Mikey: So, on the topic of Intruders, as well as House of 1000 Corpses and Green Room, the thing these movies had in common, which netted all of them 5s from both of us, is that they were something totally new. Each one of them completely failed to meet our expectations, time and again throughout the movie, so we were constantly surprised. They didn’t follow movie conventions and that made them fresh and inventive. It seems like the general audience doesn’t agree – they want to be spoonfed the same old pablum (though Green Room was pretty well appreciated across the board).
Solee: Ooh! Pablum! You’re breaking out the big vocabulary!
I agree, and it reminds me of something I was saying prior to starting this record of our discussion: Horror is much like comedy in its subjectivity and its reliance on context and timing. I’m not surprised that we don’t agree with the general public regarding which horror movies are worth watching. We are Firefly fans. We’re eternally doomed to falling in love with things that aren’t popular enough to continue to exist.
Mikey: We are Firefly fans! So I want to point out one more brief statistic: We had two movies with a Zoe in them (both obnoxious), one movie that had both a Malcolm and a Zoe, and one movie with a Firefly family. So that sums up the Firefly connections for the year.
Solee: We also came across several Leverage connections, and we ended up seeing quite a bit of Ryan Reynolds.
Mikey: And one case of Sir Patrick Stewart.
Back to the deep stuff you were saying, horror is very subjective. Even to the point of what is or isn’t horror. It’s a major reason The Witch made me mad (now there’s a movie that didn’t meet expectations, but I didn’t approve). We watched 2 movies this month that I tagged “Thriller” because I think they weren’t really horror movies (this happens every year to varying degrees): Sympathy, Said The Shark and Green Room. There was also one tagged Comedy without the accompanying Horror tag: The Final Girls. Some might argue that, but to me it is clearly a comedy movie about horror, not a horror-comedy, since it makes not even a moment’s effort to scare you.
Solee: One of the ways horror is similar to comedy is that context thing. We are a pretty jaded society at this point. We (well, most of us) have a pretty decent understanding of how our environment – weather, celestial beings, etc – work. We’ve traveled far enough into space and the depths of the ocean and the far corners of the earth for fewer of us to accept “Here Be Monsters” without evidence of some kind. We’ve also grown more accustomed to how movie magic is done. So horror movies have to work a lot harder to actually be scary. There were very few movies that truly SCARED me, and none that left me afraid to walk into a dark room at night.
Mikey: I’m worried about my level of jade in my bloodstream. I remember in earlier years of these reviews having some nights where I’d finish my movie and go out to feed the dogs and really have a lot of nervous thoughts as I wandered out into the dark. I think that is a question of becoming jaded moreso than the movies getting less scary, and that’s a sad thing to see. I wish I could still be so affected.
Solee: With age comes wisdom…
Mikey: Wisdom is laaaame pbblblblltltbbtltt.
Solee: Accepted. I, personally, am always more terrified by the thriller/social commentary aspect of horror movies anyway. And we had some pretty horrific movies in that regard: Green Room, The Invitation, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, to name a few.
Mikey: Man, I think The Invitation might have been the most unsettling thing we watched this month. Is there a moment in the whole month that you remember as your biggest actual scare? What made you jump out of your seat?
Solee: I feel like I’m forgetting a more recent movie that made me jump… but the one I do remember is [*REC]. I definitely jumped – and possibly even squealed a little – near the end of that movie. What about you?
Mikey: I wanna give some shout-outs to a couple movies… first is my answer to this question: as far as I can remember, the time I most was shaken up was the one I commented on in The Pact – when the ghost loomed out of the black doorway and suddenly turned. That just got me.
But in honorable mentions, I feel like The Canal was a very effective horror movie. The latter half of that movie was full of some really creepy moments.
Mikey: Ouija is another I wanted to award in that way. It’s sad now, looking back, to realize we didn’t watch a single Asian movie this month, which is something I think I’ve done in all previous years. I wonder if the reason these particular ones felt so creepy was their use of Asian-style ghosts, and as a result, the creepiness comes from unfamiliarity. It’s a chance to sneak around our jaded brains by showing us something we haven’t seen in 100 movies already.
Solee: Yes, we talked about that during our review of The Uninvited. When I think of the scariest movies I’ve seen in the past, I always think of Ringu (the inspiration for the American remake, The Ring) and the woman’s ghost corpse crawling out of the well. shudder
Mikey: I have reviewed many movies of that genetic line over the years and they are so very creepy. There was one I loved, Pulse, which was clearly very allegorical about life in Japan, where people would one by one vanish, fading into the wallpaper and leaving a black smudge behind, until eventually our hero was the only person left. There’s some disturbing stuff coming from across the sea!
Solee: So let’s talk about characters a little. Who was most annoying?
Mikey: The obvious answer is Zoe (your choice!), but that is misleading, because while we had double the Zoe annoyance, the entire cast of Hollows Grove was actually infinitely more obnoxious! At least the two guys who ran the SPIT show were awful human beings, and so grating to watch.
Solee: Most Annoying goes to the girls of #Horror for me.
Mikey: OH NO I had wiped them from my mind! AUUUUGHGHHHHH. Okay, while I recover from the memories, why don’t you tell me who you think was the smartest character we met this month?
Solee: Oh, that’s tough. So many horror characters are dumb as posts. I think Smartest goes jointly to Perry and JP of Intruders. They were the only “victims” to think logically about how to escape instead of just flailing around like Kermit.
Mikey: I think we saw more like that in other movies… the Green Room guys were planning things pretty well, the girl in The Pact was doing her thing (when she wasn’t in slow motion), and I feel like the people of Ouija didn’t get a lot of chance to show off their brains but didn’t make overtly terrible choices. Maybe. There was also a lot of fake-smart like Butch in Leprechaun In The Hood and the entire cast of Beacon 77 but I don’t count fake-smart. I guess… I’m going to be sneaky and rate the smartest as the psychotic girl in The Uninvited. She had a plan and she made it work, all the way.
Solee: Wow. I didn’t expect that. Huh. Okay… so who was the character you’d most want to hang out with?
Mikey: Hmm. I looked at our list and came up with two answers which are both horrible people who wouldn’t even be pleasant. But they’re … likeable? Gal from Kill List, and Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses. They are both really abrasive, but funny and friendly at the same time. And both murderers.
Solee: Oh, totally Captain Spaulding. He’d make me VERY uncomfortable at first… and then again when I found out he was a serial killer, but in between, he’d be great fun to talk to. I would also like to hang out with the kids of Ain’t Right, the punk band from Green Room.
Mikey: That floppy hand would freak me out. Oh wait, you know who was a cool guy? The sheriff from Needful Things. Okay, putting aside having to interact with them, which character did we see that was the most well-realized all month? Who was a real person up on screen?
Solee: Whoo… I have to think about this one for a minute… I’m not sure I can narrow it down to just one. There were several who stand out to me as “real” people: Jerry from The Voices, Thomasin from The Witch, and Omar from JeruZalem. There were layers to them that made them feel authentic. I was pleased with the multi-faceted characters in The Amityville Horrors and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, as well.
Mikey: Well with that big list, I just want to toss in a few other ones of note: Everybody but the lawyer and Conrad in Intruders was a real live human being. Everybody but possibly the cultists in The Invitation. Keeping that trend going, everybody but the cultists in Kill List. Kill List began with some amazing human stuff before it got weird. And Green Room, which was so real I spent the whole time thinking of the real people it reminded me of. Seems like we didn’t watch enough groups of teenagers get murdered in the woods this month, with so many good characters!
Solee: Not for lack of trying! But it does seem as though we landed on some very well-written characters. I’m sure that influenced my scores for the better. I like good characters. So let’s wrap up this segment with one last superlative pair: the Nicest and the Meanest characters of the month!
Mikey: Mmm… I think the nicest character is pretty easily Jerry from The Voices, I mean if you don’t mind getting killed. But the meanest, that can be tricky with horror movies. Oh wait, I group nominate all the girls from #Horror. A movie entirely about being mean.
Solee: I am completely with you on the #Horror gals being the meanest. They were just awful, and made even more awful by being around one another. For nicest, I think Jerry is a good choice, but I’m going to reach deep into the characters we met and pull out a side character! I nominate Emily Rose’s boyfriend. That guy not only stuck by his girlfriend when she lost her mind, but also stood by the priest on trial for killing her. He was a very patient fella.
Mikey: That’s some deep cuts! He was a good guy, that we only saw for about 2 minutes.
Solee: Well, you took my first answer! I guess I could also nominate Anna from Intruders, but she was so emotionally crippled it was hard to see whether she was really a good person under it all… or if she was really a serial killer like her brother.
Mikey: I’d be concerned that any kindness she showed was more weakness than kindness. She seems dangerous.
So in addition to a lack of teenagers chopped to bits, another big thing we missed this month was twists! I tagged two of our movies with the “Twist” tag: The Canal and The Uninvited (and I thought I was being generous with The Canal). My favorite thing in all of movie-dom is a huge plot twist that completely redefines everything you’ve seen beforehand. Did M. Night Shyamalan spoil me for twists just like I am spoiled for scares, or did we really see a lot of straightforward narratives? (Honorable mention: there were some twists in Holidays between all the various stories)
Solee: I feel like we saw a lot of very uninspiring plots this month. There were very few surprises and I pretty much knew how things would turn out based on the IMDB description most of the time.
Mikey: We did have that group of movies that were very surprising we mentioned before, but they weren’t “twists” where everything changes, just unexpected events along the way to an expected conclusion. I really appreciated those, but I do miss having my mind blown apart.
Solee: I think we’re more likely to get that mind-blowing twist from movies that are labeled “thriller” than from “horror” these days, especially since anything that strays from the standard “horror” fare gets panned by the critics.
Mikey: You’re right about that. Psychological Thriller November? Maybe later when we’ve had time to recover from this month of not getting anything real done.
Just to wrap up with a few random notes from the tags I made:
- We saw 5 movies that took place during Christmas time. Popular for horror, I guess!
- No fewer than 11 movies earned my coveted “Driven” tag, which means they featured people being driven insane by ghosts. Very common idea.
- We saw 7 movies which earned the Cheese tag.
- Only 5 of our movies got a Gore tag, but I was pretty picky about that – they had to really focus on gore, not just have one really bloody thing.
- 5 serial killers, 7 demons, 12 ghosts, 3 cults, 2 “monsters” (the Behemoth and the Shadow Puppets monster), only 2 zombies, and just one witch.
- Only 4 found footage movies! Sad.
- Four comedies (or attempted comedies)
- Four Sci-Fi movies
- Surprisingly only 3 movies which featured a pregnant woman. Seems like I flipped past a hundred of those while searching for movies.
- Even more surprising that we got two first-person view movies! The first two I’ve ever seen.
- Four foreign movies: Irish, Spanish, Israeli, and British
- Only 3 movies earned the coveted Insane tag for being totally insane.
- Unsurprisingly, only one courtroom drama!
Solee: To be accurate, there were only three movies with pregnant women, but one of those movies was Holidays, which had several different pregnancy related stories.
Mikey: Yes, well we also had a lot more than 2 zombies, but I’m just counting up how many movies featured them!
Solee: I have two questions before we bring this monster discussion to a close. First, do you think you chose different movies because I was participating with you?
Mikey: I think there was an influence. One thing I didn’t do was spend the entire afternoon flipping through movies to find just the perfect one, because that drives you insane!
Solee: Wait. You DIDN’T do that???
Mikey: It’s so much worse when you’re not looking. I think I also semi-consciously tried to find “good” movies (which worked!). On my own, I would plow through a lot more found footage garbage.
Solee: And weird mutant creature combinations?
Mikey: Nah, I don’t really go for those in the marathon (at least not in large numbers). That’s more for watching with my sister! Oh, I also avoided foreign movies more because subtitles can be difficult when somebody is half-blind from laser beams.
Solee: I am honestly disappointed by how much this stupid eye thing affected our movie watching. I would have enjoyed more foreign films. Next year!
Mikey: The gears are already turning…
Solee: And my last question: What did you think of my drawings? Favorite? Least favorite?
Mikey: Oh the drawings!! My favorite thing about this month was having somebody else be the one spending all this time on arts and crafts instead of me! The drawings were awesome. Let’s see…
- Best Picture 2016:
- Oh there’s so many others…
Anyway, on to my least favorite even though I surely loved them all with all my heart: I think The Final Girls.
It’s an ugly house regardless of how you draw it. It even looked weird in the movie!
Solee: Yes. I think that Final Girls was one of the first ones post-surgery. My heart definitely wasn’t in it. Ouija and Beacon are pretty bad. And Witch was a total cop-out. I’m disappointed that I went that the tracing route, even once.
Mikey: Witch would be super impressive if I didn’t know you cheated. It’s a good way to learn, though!
Solee: I was quite proud of the wine glass from The Invitation because I traced it first and then drew it all over again on my own. Learning!
Mikey: Honorable mentions to [REC*] because of how fun it is and how much you hate it.
Solee: I do hate those stick figures. I think my overall favorite was the shotgun from i-LIVED. That turned out WAY better than I expected.
Mikey: That’s why it won Best Picture! So… anything else we need to know about this awesome month of awesome movies? And terrible ones?
Solee: I think that pretty much wraps it up. And it only took us… 2.5 hours and 11 pages! Special props to anyone who managed to read to this point.
Mikey: I don’t even care if anybody reads it, this was just all fun for me. I had the best time.
Solee: Ditto. Now… let’s have lunch. And maybe watch Cabin in the Woods because it’s the BEST Halloween movie ever! (Yes, it’s actually Oct 31 as we’re writing this…)
Mikey: It is Halloween tradition! I hope no kids show up so I can eat all the candy we got.
Solee: Except the mini Butterfingers. Those are mine.
Mikey: All the time (see I rhymed, right?).
Solee: Better than a leprechaun!
_ _ _ _ _
Addendum: In the course of our discussion, we completely failed to mention the following movies at all… Paranormal Activity: the Ghost Dimension, Dead Room and The Legend of Hell House. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about what that means.