Hard Candy (2005)
Starring: Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson. Sandra Oh, Odessa Rae
Budget $950,000 Box Office $8.3M
This is a film about a fourteen-year-old girl who calls herself Haley, that plots and carries out a revenge plan against an adult male she suspects of being a sexual predator. The best thing about this movie is that this girl does what most people dream of doing to these monsters when we see them on the news or in crime shows.
She starts out by luring him to a coffee shop to meet FTF (that’s face to face for us older peeps who don’t speak in anagrams). When they do finally meet, she slyly tricks him into taking her to his house. He may think it is HIS idea but, it’s really HERS, it’s part of her plan.
When they get there, like any sexual predator, there’s some light flirting, some drinks are made, he shows her around his house while talking about his profession as a photographer, trying to impress her. But, when he hands her the drink, she says that it’s not a good idea to drink something you didn’t mix yourself. He agrees and says they can go back in the kitchen and she can watch him make the drink but, instead, she takes charge and says SHE’LL mix some drinks…screwdrivers.
She brings the drinks out and then starts slowing pushing him to drink his cocktail, faster and faster, saying that he’s falling behind and needs to be able to keep up with a teen girl. Appealing to his ego, which works, and he continues to drink the screwdriver she made for him. What he doesn’t know is that she put something in the drink to drug him. And it works.
She gets him tied to a chair, bound well with nylon ropes. And from that point on SHE is in control. And she has a purpose. She wants to get a confession out of him. A confession about a missing girl named Donna Mauer, who he admits he met for coffee.
Throughout the film we see the two of them play mind games back and forth. Haley claims to be an honor student and very bright. And she seems to live up to the claim. Jeff, the adult male predator, claims he’s not a pedophile, which in my opinion is a matter of semantics.
Quick lesson: The term pedophile gets thrown around to encapsulate ALL sex offenders that prey on minors. This is NOT accurate and is very misleading. A pedophile is a predator that preys on pre-pubescent children, usually the law says twelve and under. After that they are labeled sexual predator. Or rapist.
She finds all kinds of hidden secrets in his house and she toys with him like a cat with a mouse. Eventually, Haley sets Jeff up for an ultimatum. And it comes down to him making a choice. It will be a life changing choice either way he goes. And that’s her intent. She’s going to change his life. And his will.
I loved this movie. Haley is played by Ellen Page and she’s awesome in this film. She is excellent at the cold-hearted attitude this kind of person must have to do the things to Jeff that this girl does. The funny thing about this movie is that we go along through the whole movie believing Haley from the start. Jeff seems like a perv. And even if he isn’t the exact predator she thinks he is, because he continuously claims he’s not, he’s a predator in her mind, nonetheless. And for that, the ends justify the means. I guess in some cases it’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. But, then again, she’s not really worried about forgiveness.
What strikes me is that she’s a fourteen-year-old girl and she’s doing things that an adult wouldn’t be able to handle. She’s quite the thinker, definitely living up to her claim as an honor student. She definitely has a level of sarcasm and dark humor that I can appreciate, although her victim didn’t seem to find anything funny at all. Can you believe that? Not one thing. No sense of humor.
I have watched this film three or four times before I decided to write a review on it. I was originally watching it because I found it psychologically interesting. This is definitely a psychological thriller. At least in my opinion. I mean, this girl plays with this guy’s mind in every way possible making him almost crazy with fear and anger and anxiety. The mind games and psychological torture she puts this guy through is pretty impressive for a fourteen-year-old. I mean, she comes up with things that NORMAL teenage girls wouldn’t, couldn’t even imagine. She’s also very good at planning ahead, her ability for foresight is astounding. She’s quick thinking and fast on feet. It’s almost like this guy Jeff doesn’t seem to stand a chance against her, and she’s just a kid.
But, then again, this film is a good example of how much we underestimate our youth of today. They aren’t the same. Fourteen years old in 2020 is not the same as fourteen years old in 1994. We’re talking a completely different generation, with a completely different upbringing and a completely different mindset. These kids aren’t kids anymore. They grow up faster, they experience more earlier in life and they don’t do the things we did at that age. Yes, the general stuff about being a teenager, all the angst and awkwardness and such is still there. That’s just biology and natural and that will never change. But attitudes and maturity do change. And things are different now. Oddly enough, this film reminded me of just that.
There’s no blood, no gore. No slasher scenes and no chases of big breasted blondes running from madmen with big bladed weapons. This is altogether a different kind of thriller and it’s a good one at that.
Todd Phillips and Scott Silver
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix
Budget $55-70M Box Office $1.067Billion
IMDb 8.7/10 Rotten Tomatoes 69% Fandango 88% Metacritic 59/100
So, right up front I am going to tell you some things that don’t seem to be very popular in this day and age.
First and foremost, I have always felt VERY strongly that, in Hollywood, there is, was and always will be only one of each of the following:
One Superman: Christopher Reeve
One Batman: Michael Keaton
And ONE Joker: Jack Nicholson
I have felt this way since I was a small child, growing up watching the movies of these incredible men doing unthinkable things. So the idea of ANYONE else playing The Joker is almost offensive to my sensibilities.
Next, I am not a Heath Ledger fan. Yes, I realize the young man has passed on and that his death was a heart wrenching tragedy. But, his death has absolutely nothing to do with his acting ability. Yes, I saw him in A Knight’s Tale and it was a pretty good movie. I wasn’t big on the love story aspect but hey, I know they have to throw that in there, I mean hello??? The story involves knights, there has to be a fair maiden with whom he falls in love. Not having the love story in that movie would have been like making that movie without horses. But, I’m getting sidetracked. I admit I refused to see Ledger’s performance of the Joker. Having seen this film, I feel it will be necessary at this point in order to accurately compare all of the Joker performances I’ve seen. But, at the time, I had no interest in seeing Ledger play Joker.
Joaquin Phoenix on the other hand, he has a natural creep factor on screen that is just cosmically mesmerizing. I mean, even in Gladiator he was a creepy, wretched little man who wanted to sleep with his sister and rule the kingdom. No, not incredibly narcissistic , delusional or oedipal at all. Not at all. So, we’ve see that, even without the Joker makeup, Phoenix can portray quite a shady and suspicious creature.
One thing to keep in mind is that this particular Joker movie is an origin story. This is where we learn how and why the Joker became the cold, heartless villain that he is.
Now, because this film was only release about two and a half months ago, I’m going to avoid spoiling anything for you. So, here are my thoughts on the film, WITHOUT giving you the whole film summary. I think saying it’s an origin story is pretty clear enough
I actually really liked this film. I found myself truly empathizing with Joker as the movie went on. It is also an excellent example of how people with ANY sort of mental illness, big or small, are treated like some kind of pariah. As is mental illness is contagious. It truly left the film surrounded in a deep darkness, a loneliness and a feeling of despair. There’s not a whole lot of comedy in this film although there is some, it’s required seeing how it’s a movie about the Joker. But, think about this…we (the audience) have known for a long time that Joker has some serious issues, that he’s not playing with a full deck of trick cards, that he’s not really there mentally or emotionally like the average human being. But in this film, we find out why.
And Joaquin Phoenix…wow! I have to admit, as far as the new generations of Jokers go, Phoenix is the one that really has it down. He feels who the Joker really is. And he played the creepiness to the hilt. I mean, perfectly. It was truly an amazing performance.
I also like that Phoenix was the lead in this film. I think he is very talented and sometimes gets overlooked when he’s playing the support roles. But he really put it all out there for this film and it really came together in such a fantastic way that, once it was over, I wanted to watch it again. I used to really be a Batman fan. Michael Keaton was a hero when I was a kid. But after watching this origin film, I really feel like I have switched over to the “dark side” and become a Joker fan. He’s a very complex character. Batman really isn’t. But, the Joker, he’s got layers…like an onion.
So, if you get a chance to watch this, it is an absolute must. It’s a different kind of Superhero/Villain movie. Not a lot of action, very up close and personal on Joker and some things slid in there to make you think…if you catch them. So, enjoy the birth of this villain, because he’s like no other before or since him.
The Crazies (2010)
Scott Kosar, Ray Wright
Starring: Timothy Oylphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker
Budget $20M Box Office $55M
IMDb 6.5/10 Rotten Tomatoes 71% Metacritic 55/100
Ahhh The Crazies. I saw this cover and thought “Oh, my people! Is this a home video?!” Just kidding. I am a little nuts though. Lol. No, not really. Okay, maybe a little. Anyways, I had tried to watch this movie once before and only got through about the first fifteen minutes. So, I wanted to give it another shot. I couldn’t believe how much money it made when I looked it up before I watched it. To me that is usually a good sign on a horror flick.
In this film, “the crazies” are people that have been infected by some virus. At first, it makes them stand there all blank and wide-eyed, looking totally creepy, if I do say so myself. It truly is this weird zombie like effect but without the standard hunger for brains.
The first to notice the odd behavior of the townspeople of Ogden Marsh, Iowa is the sheriff David, played by Timothy Olyphant, and his pregnant wife Judy (Radha Mitchell). David and his deputy then try to find the reason for the newfound virus that seems to be infecting the township at an alarming rate.
David and his deputy soon find that a military aircraft has crashed nearby and that it was carrying some sort of cargo containing a pathogen, which has now infected their own water supply for the town. On top of that, since it WAS a military aircraft that crashed, the town soon comes until military control. The town is hoarded into holding centers and tested for this virus. If they pass, they are taken to one area of the quarantine station and if they test infected, they are taken to another area. Unfortunately, David passes the infection test but, his wife, Judy, does not, and she and David are split up.
Now, remember, the town is under military control, so it is now like a police state. (I know some of the people out there think this is the way we should actually be living but, [I pause while I catch my breath from laughing my ass off] there is NO WAY anyone in their right mind would be okay with MPs (military police) coming into their homes and tearing their families apart just because they MIGHT be sick. All roads in and out of town are blocked off, no one is to come in or leave until the problem has been resolved.
The resolution? The military has been ordered to destroy all human beings in the town. Eradicate them. Kill them. Yes, kill them. Everyone. Every single person in the town. Every single living being in the town. Men. Women. Children. Even the family pets. All are to be dead before the military leaves the area. So, in order to survive, David must figure out a way to escape quarantine, find his wife, develop a plan to leave the full quarantine area AND get out of the town, ALL without getting caught and killed or infected by this strange virus.
So, do they escape? And what about Judy? Will she and the baby survive? Will the baby be affected by all this in any way? And where will they go if they do make it out alive?
Watch and find out.
So, as far as horror movies go, this wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a zombie film, as these infected people are not actually ever coming back from the dead. But I will say that the way they stand and stare is creepy as hell. It reminds me of all those K2 videos that the news stations were playing for a while where the people were using K2 or Spice or whatever and walking around like drooling zombies, standing on the sidewalk with their eyes barely open like a heroin addict that just lit up a vein. This was very reminiscent of those images. And I have to be honest, that kind of thing really gives me an uneasy feeling. It’s not that it scares me so much, even creeps me out isn’t really the right description. It’s unsettling. That’s what it is. And it’s because that look, that behavior, that blank stare and emptiness and absence of soul, it’s just unnatural.
Now, the whole police state idea…that scares the shit out of me. I grew up in a second-generation military family and my father was a cop for my young childhood. From a very young age I was taught about my rights as not only an American citizen but, as a human being. I was regaled with spirited talks from my father on the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, on their meaning, the spirit behind their conception and what IDEALS this country strives for and to represent. So, the idea of a bunch of our own soldiers (all of whom I appreciate, support and defend by the way) coming into my town, seizing control of the town’s authority, bursting into homes and dragging us out, taking us and stuffing us all into containment areas with the sole purpose of complete genocide, yeah that tends to make me a little jumpy and paranoid. That is just way too similar to events like what Hitler did during WWII or the millions of lives Joseph Stalin snuffed out.
Interestingly, I think while most people are going to be focused on these infected people, I’m one of the odd balls that just couldn’t seem to get past the whole police state and quarantine factor. Even now as I write this, it makes the hairs on my forearms stand up. And to try to escape from a scenario like that? THAT is scary stuff. I mean, these soldiers are trained to kill and here these people are trying to run away…and runners are the enemy. Plain and simple.
I will say that while I couldn’t get into this movie the first time I tried to watch it, this time I actually did like it. Now, it won’t be one that I’m going to grab as one of my favorites on a dark night with a cup of hot cocoa and a fire to curl up and watch in the shadows of my living room. However, it was certainly worth seeing and I do believe I will be watching it again at some point. I happen to like Timothy Olyphant. I like his sarcasm and he has this way with his delivery that’s like it makes him slightly arrogant but, you can’t help but like him, ya know? (Personally, I thought he was perfect for the role he played in Scream 2.)
I did like the violent scenes in this film. The kill scenes were good and the gore was fun. Nothing looked cheap although, to be honest, this is probably a B-Rate horror film. At the top level of B-Rate but, B-Rate nonetheless. Which is totally fine. Most horror films don’t make it to A-List ya know. But this one was definitely worth the watch. I mean, at least once. If for no other reason than to see the gory kill scenes.
So, I hope you do take the time to chill out with some popcorn, soda, milk duds (whatever blows your skirt up) and sit back a relax. Keep in mind this is NOT Oscar material. But if you are a horror lover, this will be a decent flick for you.