Watch This, Not That: His House vs. Things Heard and Seen

For the most part, the people in horror movies don’t have it so bad, with the exception of whatever’s trying to kill them. Whether they’re being chased by zombies, serial killers, or whatever demonic spirit they’ve let inhabit a doll, their story usually starts off in a nice house with a nice family and everyone including the toddlers have high-paying jobs. (No wonder the rest of the world hates us). So when Netflix released His House, a horror/drama hybrid, I was pleasantly surprised, and impressed.

His House tells the story of a couple seeking refuge after fleeing their native country: the war-torn South Sudan. They survive the horrendous ordeal and arrive in Britain, eventually receiving housing on the outskirts of London. But it’s not just a regular family home like all of the houses in Insidious. It’s a run down apartment that looks like it’s haunted by the last meth head that lived in it.

Meth head ghosts are the least of their concerns, though. Demons are what they’re fighting, and not just to save themselves but to save what they sacrificed everything for. What kind of demons are they? Who wins? You’ll have to watch this week’s Watch This to find out. Netflix’s His House will mess with your head, which I think we all can agree is the best when it comes to horror.

What isn’t the best is when you have a horror movie figured out in the first 10 minutes and then you have nothing to do for the remainder of the 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours. This week’s Not That was stretched 110 minutes too long and I sat through all of them. Netflix’s Things Heard and Seen features Amanda Seyfried who plays Catherine, a wife who’s given up her life to support the ambitions of her douche husband.

Right off the bat, we’re given insight that there’s something wrong in their marriage: Catherine has an eating disorder. That revelation is immediately followed by another one: Catherine’s husband George (James Norton) has a wandering eye.

Pretty soon, haunted things start happening. A rocking chair moves on its own. Their daughter sees a ghost lady. Catherine smells gas fumes. All of this freaks Catherine out, but then her husband’s colleague explains that it’s NBD, just a woman ghost who’s got her back. Empowered by her supernatural backup, she starts to make her way out of her shitty marriage. During the time she’s getting her groove back, she discovers that her husband is a liar, stole his cousin’s identity, is a cheater, and then also he commits a bunch of murder.

But, surprise!, the ghost men of the house are shit too. Just as Catherine learns everything that’s bad about George and is about to make her move, George drugs her. And, surprise again!, the lady ghost (whose real/ghost name is Ella) can’t help her because of her dick ex-husband ghost. So George kills Catherine. Then he gets away with it because he’s a man. But then he rides off into the ocean and gets killed by the devil? I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter.

What does matter is I sat on my couch rolling my eyes for 2 hours proving that good horror movies are hard to come by, disproving that your eyes will get stuck that way. If you want to try it for yourself then watch Things Heard and Seen. Not responsible for loss of vision or interest.

Photo by screenrant.com

Watch This, Not That: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel vs. Demonic

According to Google, the definition of ‘horror’ is “an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust” which simultaneously explains, and somehow does not explain, why there are so many shitty movies lumped into this genre on Netflix. It’s tough to find good horror these days, at least something that’s not brought to us by the news anyway. It just so happens I do not watch the news. It also just so happens that the news watches me because this week’s Watch This is a documentary on a story that made national headlines.

This past week, Netflix released a 4-part documentary called Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel which detailed the disappearance of a young tourist named Elisa Lam. I’d actually heard of this case before, not from the news (thank God) but from my favorite YouTube channel, Top5s. About 6 years ago, one of their videos featured the footage of Elisa Lam in an elevator that shocked the interwebs. When I first saw it, it creeped me out. You see, Elisa Lam was a woman who traveled from Canada to L.A., found herself staying at the infamous Cecil Hotel which is where she was last seen. After she was reported missing, video surveillance captured Elisa in one of the elevators looking paranoid and frightened. That was the last anyone saw her until she was discovered more than 2 weeks later in one of the hotel’s water tanks.

Prior to the discovery of what actually happened to her (she climbed in herself which was most likely brought on by her mental illness), the story itself was something out of a true horror film. In fact, some people compared it to the 2005 film Dark Water. Those people would be conspiracy theorists who decided it was their job to find out (i.e. make up) what happened to Elisa Lam. They would also be the same people who helped pin it on someone who’d never even met Elisa Lam, causing that individual to basically give up a part of his life because of the harassment, helping this documentary land in the ‘horror’ genre thanks to that one tidbit of this story being absolutely disgusting. In fact, the scariest part of this documentary is the incredible amount of people who could afford to spend countless hours investigating Elisa Lam’s case, making it difficult at times for actual investigators to do actual investigating.

Then there’s the former GM of the hotel who gives off serious American Horror Story: Hotel vibes – she plays a great villain. The entire documentary is weird and while it’s definitely a shocker of a story, it’s more tragic than anything. The Cecil Hotel is worth Googling as it’s actually pretty disturbing. However, the only reason you should watch the documentary is to understand what mental illness can do to a person as well as understand how much of a tool you’ll look like if you spread conspiracy theories – particularly ones you made up – about a subject matter that effects millions of people.

Coincidentally, this week’s “don’t watch” is a movie based on demonic possession which some are more than ok with classifying as mental illness. Demonic is about a bunch of amateur ghost hunters (what else?) attempt to become professional ghost hunters by venturing into a house where a mass murder took place with a goal of raising the dead. As you may have figured out, the majority of them die because one of them gets possessed but actually he’s dead and it’s his girlfriend who is possessed but not for real her, her baby is possessed.

Other than that stellar description I just provided, here’s why you shouldn’t watch it: as with most terrible horror films, we’re never told or given any sort of inclination as to what and/or who is possessing people. It could be the devil. It could be something pretending to be the devil. It could be a picture frame. Who knows? Not the screenplay writer, that’s for sure. I give it one star and that’s only because Dustin Milligan, AKA Ted from Schitt’s Creek, is in it.

Watch This, Not That: Mercy Black vs. Our House

I like to consider myself a horror enthusiast, a horror snob if you will. When it comes time to pick the movies I’m going to watch for this column, I can barely get through the horror movie section of Netflix without making a sarcastic remark to myself. I’m very witty. Who decides this belongs in horror?, I always think to myself. I should be getting paid to decide what goes in the horror genre. Amateurs, all of them.

Then I watched a movie titled Mercy Black and what the fuck? First off, Mercy Black is a Blumhouse Productions movie – the people who gave us Insidious – so I should’ve known it wouldn’t be too terrible because Blumhouse can do no wrong, ever, not even if they tried.

Mercy Black is about a woman who is returning home after having spent 15 years locked in a mental institution for assisting in the attempted murder of her friend – very Slender Man. Upon her return she has to deal with visions of the past, weird occurrences in the home, and then, her nephew acting like a murderous weird-ass just like she did when she was a kid.

She sets out to help him by trying to figure out if the thing that made her try to kill is real – AKA Mercy Black – or if she made it up. The more she looks into her past, the more it comes back to haunt her (obviously). But not like regular haunt. Like, fucked up haunt. Like people getting stabbed in the eyeballs haunt. I had to watch a couple of episodes of Schitt’s Creek to come down off what I saw. I’m not saying this will give you nightmares but any movie that makes me go “the fuck just happened?” is worth a watch.

What’s not worth a watch is Our House. Our House is about a teen, Ethan, who has to leave college to care for his brother and sister after their parents are killed in a car crash. During the day he does the adult thing (job, taking and picking up the kids from school, etc.) but at night, he works on a project: a machine that he hopes will generate wireless electricity.

As you’ve probably guessed, it does not generate electricity; it generates ghosts, two of which are believed the be their parents. At first you’re like, ok, he brought his parents back and now the kids can live with their parents’ ghosts, super cool. But then the little sister starts talking about a little girl ghost she’s been talking to and then the neighbor’s dead wife comes back but in a black shadow/murderous form and then it turns out that the little girl ghost had been killed by her step-father in that house oh and also the parents’ ghosts are not actually their parents but something evil duh.

SOOOO, we’ve established that the ghosts are not the Casper-kind and eventually so does Ethan, but when he tries to get rid of them the neighbor is like “don’t make my ghost wife go away” even though she’s trying to fucking kill everyone and also she looks like what a 1st grader would draw as their interpretation of a scary ghost. Anyway, before all of the ghosts can kill the family, Ethan smashes his machine and the ghosts are gone and then they move out of the house and also it wasn’t actually the house that was causing the problem it was Ethan and his spirit summoner because the ghosts were fine until his wind machine irritated them. So it shouldn’t have been called Our House, it should’ve been called Ethan Fucking Around With Shit He Shouldn’t.

I probably made it sound cooler than it is. Look, it’s a movie about a homebuilt machine that conjures up murder-y ghosts instead of conjuring up electricity or my recommendation.

Watch This, Not That: Delirium vs. The Open House

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Watch This, Not That: Halloween Edition. I’m your host, Typical Jenn, and I believe my taste to be better than the know-nothing movie critics that panned the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose, one of the best possession movies of all time – FACT. Anyway, I spent my weekend watching horror movies that, for the most part, aren’t well-known so I could report back and give you something to watch this delightful Halloween season.

Let’s begin with my recommendation. If you’re looking for a movie to get into this weekend, I suggest watching Delirium on Netflix. Delirium stars Topher Grace (from That 70s Show which I’ll admit, set my expectations pretty low) who plays Tom Walker, a man who was just released from a mental institution after 20 years. He’s placed on house arrest and sent to live at his father’s house who has since passed away. 

He’s enjoying his newfound semi-freedom for about 7 minutes when shit starts to go down. It starts out with the usual: noises, he starts seeing things. Then, pieces of his past start to manifest like his brother, who’s the reason he ended up in an institution in the first place. The thing is though, he’s a bit mental. So, is he really seeing these things or is it all in his head? My favorite thing about this movie is every time I thought I knew what was going on, I didn’t. It’s not without a few cheesy parts but the twists and turns make up for it – I think you’ll like it.

The next movie I watched was The Open House, also on Netflix. It made approximately zero sense. The Open House is about a mother and son who are forced to move into a relative’s home after their husband/father passes away. The house is up for sale so the deal is they have to be out of the house every Sunday from 10AM to 5PM. 

Weird things happen from the moment they move in. They meet a weird ass lady who is not pertinent to the story whatsoever but keeps making cameos.   More weird things happen in the house like items disappearing and sounds and the hot water keeps going out. Then one night, shit goes from amateur to slasher-ish? Some dude whose face we never see breaks into the house and kills a friend of the mom’s and then tortures the mom and then the son helps her escape but then the guy finds her and just when she gets away again the son accidentally kills her. And then the son escapes but the guy catches him and kills him and then it ends with a car driving to the Open House. 

I don’t know if the open house was how this guy found his victims or if he’d been following them all along. Why didn’t he kill the family who owned it before?! At first I thought it was the town that was fucked up but nope. Listen, I dig movies that make me think one thing and then go in a surprising but even better direction (i.e. Delirium), but this? I just didn’t know what was going on. I don’t think the actors did either, or the directors, or whoever wrote this. I give it negative 134 stars because that’s the exact number of minutes I wasted on this film.

Before that movie I tried watching All Lights Will End. I got about 20 minutes into it and turned it off. I couldn’t get past the terrible acting. Don’t watch that either. Even if it’s the only thing on TV forever there’s absolutely nothing else on it’s either static or this movie – don’t watch it. Carve a pumpkin, take a nap, learn to churn butter. Anything else would be better.

And that’s it for this edition of Watch This, Not That: Halloween Edition.

Photo by: Netflix.com 

Watch This, Not That: Malevolent vs. The Final Wish

Not that October (or any month over the last few years for that matter) is normally filled with new horror releases but thanks to the ‘rona, there are now zero. But like everything else, I’m making the most of it: I’m watching horror movies I’ve never heard of and letting you guys know if they’re worth the watch. You’re welcome.

First up: Malevolent. Malevolent is a British horror film that can be found on Netflix and, for being low budget, is pretty good. The plot: a brother (Jackson played by Ben Lloyd-Hughes) and sister (Angela played by Florence Pugh) run a fake paranormal hunting operation in which they con people into believing they’re speaking to their deceased loved ones and helping them crossover. It’s basically like every ghost hunters/psychic show that’s on TV now.

Angela wants out of the paranormal game but after Jackson gets in deep with some loan sharks, she agrees to take on one final case to help him pay off his debts however, this isn’t like any other case they’ve taken on.

The duo and their team have been asked to help an elderly woman rid her home that’s occupied by several spirits that torment her daily. They accept the job and get to work however, they soon discover that the spirits are just one of many problems they’re about to encounter as the case quickly turns into a fight for their lives.

Do they survive? Only one way to find out: add this to your weekend horror movie viewing list.

Next up: The Final Wish. The only reason I watched this movie is because it features the woman who’s in all the horror movies. You know, Lin Shaye: she’s in almost all the Insidious movies, she was in Nightmare on Elm Street and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Anyway, I figured since she was in it, it might have a decent storyline. It did not. It was as B-movie as they come.

In addition to Lin, the guy from Twilight is in it. No not that one; he’s filming Batman. No, not that one either, although it’s been a minute since he’s been in anything so this type of movie is probably not far off. No, it was that guy that liked Bella and was in the background pretty much all the time. Him. He (Michael Welch) plays Aaron, an aspiring, down-on-his-luck lawyer who heads home following the death of his father. His plan is to help his mom manage his dad’s belongings except, she didn’t ask him to do that and it’s just one more thing he does wrong.

The other thing was finding an urn that grants wishes but also has a devil figurine as its top. And the problem with that is? As you can imagine everything goes to shit including the acting, the plot, and my interest. Basically, everyone dies thanks to his selfish inability to quit wishing for things and then he fixes it by making a final wish: that he die in the car accident that occurred earlier in the movie. But, Uh Oh! He made another wish – what could happen next? He’s dead and everyone else is back alive but something has to happen because of his wish! Hopefully, it’s not a part 2.

I do not recommend unless… no, I do not recommend.

See you next time for Watch This Not That: Halloween Edition.

Photo: heavenofhorror.com