Sisters (1972)

directed by brian de palma
pressman-williams enterprises

I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a film buff, so all Brian De Palma’s tedious re-creations of vintage Alfred Hitchcock themes and scenes do for me is make me think that he should try writing his own material once in a while. Seriously, man, making movies to show off your fascination with your own taste in movies does not impress me. (Ahem, Tarantino, cough.) Neither am I much taken with utilizing the cinematic medium to heavy-hand some tendentious social theory of your own device – or perhaps to encourage navel-gazing critics to make the argument for you, so powerful is your erudite composition. This picture is a murder mystery of sorts, except that we know who the culprit is all along, and much of it comprises escapades that wouldn’t pass muster for a cop-show farce. Margot Kidder’s convincing as the primary sibling and Jennifer Salt plays the uppity early-’70s New Career Woman to the hilt. The remainder is mostly balderdash that you literally have seen before.

why did i watch this movie?

As a “horror-movie critic,” I was duty-bound. And Jennifer Salt played Eunice Tate on Soap.


should you watch this movie?

That might depend on how you feel about De Palma’s work. I wouldn’t regard this one as any sort of necessity, frankly.

highlight and low point

Kidder’s outredgeous Frunch acksont is fascinating, accomplished and musical, and Salt portrays her character’s frustrations believably. (“Are you on diet pills again?” her mother inquires at one point.) Many of the other characters strive to attain replacement level, and the plot is at once intricately detailed and slipshod, painstaking to a degree yet managing to trail off anyway. The extended scene containing the bulk of the revelations is protracted, tedious and silly.

rating from outer space: C

We Summon the Darkness (2019)

directed by marc meyers
fyzz pictures/common enemy/nightshade entertainment

I’m not sure it makes any sense that this film is set in “1988,” at least not for contemporary viewers who don’t remember the era. The “Satanic Panic” that gripped media and for a time engulfed the practitioners and fans of heavy metal isn’t really represented here, and hardly any attention is paid to the actual sights and sounds of the moment, either. So what you have is a story that primes the audience for what it hopes is an unexpected reveal, and after that it becomes just another survival saga. The setup: three chicks head to a metal concert (where a band pretends they’re performing “Black Funeral” by Mercyful Fate), meet three dudes, and proceed to a big house for an afterparty. But someone’s been ritually slaughtering people, oh no. Elements of humor suggest themselves but don’t really go anywhere, and if you cannot predict several of the events in this flick … Hey! Welcome to the world of horror cinema!

why did i watch this movie?

I hadn’t been too interested, but positive acclaim persisted.


should you watch this movie?

The female trio consists of Texas Chainsaw 3D‘s Alexandra Daddario, Maddie Hasson from God Bless America (not that I recognized her), and Amy Forsyth from Hell Fest, which yet awaits its own compelling campaign to stoke enough
interest in me.

highlight and low point

Once the maleficent plan starts to leak and burn oil, it should probably be a lot funnier than it is. Once the grand scheme is revealed, you will likely not be surprised to hear, it contains some serious gaps in logic. A key moment from the conclusion also beggars belief. This is not a retro ’80s picture; it’s just (nominally) set then.

rating from outer space: C

Apartment 212 (2017)

directed by haylar garcia
unreal media/wrecking ball pictures

Originally titled “Gnaw,” this indie flick had me wondering for much of its first hour or so if it was actually a parable about domestic violence. Whatever the case, the last 40-odd minutes took it into supernatural horror territory and were quite fraught with tension, although also quite evocative of The Babadook. That connection was only strengthened for this reviewer by its oddly casual, offbeat resolution, which interjects a cutesy element to the proceedings along with a tinge of humor. Indeed, after all the buildup, the way our heroine ultimately triumphs over the totemic manifestation of her adversities is completely anticlimactic – cleverly acknowledged onscreen by the character’s reaction. This production doesn’t seem quite sure how to blend its disparate elements; it also verges on clumsiness at times.  Additionally, some of its generic characterizations seem little more than ciphers. Overall, though, I usually tend to champion efforts of this sort, which both show ambition and demonstrate a level of skill to match. A bit more deftness in future endeavors, and this director may really have something. A touch more originality wouldn’t hurt, either.

why did i watch this movie?

At the very moment I was browsing for some title or another, I noticed this festival-circuit breakout coincidentally enjoying a limited theatrical run.

should you watch this movie?

It’s available on all kinds of streaming platforms at this very moment.

highlight and low point

A few minor subtleties in this film provoke a splendid sense of heartrending empathy, and a couple of the key roles are performed with real depth. A certain level of ambiguity in the ending is unfortunate, the soundtrack is misplaced (and atrocious), and a montage runs way long.

rating from outer space: B+