Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Movie Review: Apparition (2019)

Sometimes, an awful movie can be saved by an excellent ending. Conversely, an excellent movie can be ruined by an awful ending. Apparition (2019) is neither awful or excellent, but it does fit into the latter category.

I wasn't sure we were watching the right movie when Apparition started. I'd read the synopsis (a group of friends use an app to connect with ghosts and are led to an abandoned castle) and was expecting something totally different than we got for the first, oh, third of the movie. Eventually, it got into the story I was expecting and became more engaging. I'm normally the first one to complain if there isn't enough backstory but, in this case, they lingered a little too long over it, for what we got from it.

Okay, backstory is important. So important. But the right backstory is more important. There's a lot of focus on Simon Lathrop's Jeremy and his kid brother (I don't think he's ever named) so you're expecting the story to circle back to Jeremy's brother but it never does. You also learn that Mena Suvari's Anna is essentially being held prisoner by her baby daddy but never learn why she allows herself to stay in that situation or what the nature of their relationship is. Then, there's Officer King (Jake Jacobson), who only mentions his baby daughter right before he's murdered.


I applaud any movie that takes the time to create backstory but half-assed backstory isn't good enough. Do the work. I'd rather watch a longer movie that uses backstory well, then one that makes it nothing more than a blunt plot tool.

Yeah, pet peeve. I know.

Anyway, the acting is good in Apparition. Kevin Pollak is hateful as Warden White, which is exactly what you want in a good villain. (And something Pollak does exceptionally well.) My favourite performance was delivered by Grayson Russell, who played Warden White's son, Sam. I love Sam. He's this adorable, awkward nerd who steals every scene he's in. You get the feeling Sam's on the spectrum but the movie never clarifies.

Sam is also the reason Apparition left a bad taste in my mouth. The ending was absolutely perfect--right up to the point where they went for the cheap jump and ruined it all. What a waste.

I will give Apparition this, though: it almost never did what I expected.

Between us, Jay and I have seen just about every horror movie there is to see (Unless you've sat through Attack of the Killer Refrigerator, don't come at me.) so we usually have a pretty good idea of what's going to happen, and where. Apparition shied away from the obvious, for which I give it major credit.

Apparition also stayed away from the riskier special effects that sometimes make a good ghost story cringe-worthy. There were a few good jumps (Jay rates a horror movie by how many times I jumped. Apparently, Apparition earned two Wondra Shit Herselves.) and the child ghosts were suitably creepy. It was atmospheric where it needed to be and grungy where it needed to be.

If we're looking for a horror movie to watch, we're fairly predictable. Jay will usually go for the zombie/infection movie while I lean toward religious (ironic, I know) movies and ghost stories. Part of what made me pick Apparition was the whole Millennial thing in the synopsis. (Yes, I'm a Millennial and I'm not ashamed of that.) Also, the fact that there's an app at the centre of the story. I'm a sucker for techno-haunting fusions.

What kept my attention was that Apparition isn't just another app-gone-wrong-boo-technology story. The app works just fine. It does what it's supposed to do. I love that technology fits so smoothly into a timeless ghost story, rather than technology being the bad guy. More of this, please!

While we're talking about the synopsis, though, let's not use the word "castle" when we don't mean "castle." Some of us live near them. 🙄 The movie is based on The Preston School of Industry, which was called Preston Castle. Not the same, yo. Still, it's filmed at the actual place where it all went down, so props to the film crew and actors for that one.

Okay. So... verdict? I enjoyed this one.

Until I didn't.

All I can say is don't go for the cheap-ass jump (which was disappointing, rather than surprising) and ruin a good movie. Hit me up if you disagree.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

13 Fucking New Year's Resolutions for 2020

I don't normally make resolutions because I think you're just setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized there are some things I am absolutely determined to do this year. What are they? Well...

1. I WILL reclaim my space. 
I'm tired of constantly trying to dodge other people or make myself smaller. Where does this idea come from that fat people should be ashamed of taking up space. Fuck that. This is my space and I'm taking it back.

2. I WILL challenge manspalining. 
If I don't ASK for your advice, don't fucking give it. Don't assume - and I'm talking to fuckboys who think I can't know enough about things like Star Wars and comic books to be a "real" fan - that I don't know what I'm talking about. I DO, and I won't hesitate to teach YOU a thing or two.

3. I WILL NOT pretend to laugh at cruel, insensitive, sexist, racist, ageist jokes. 
How many times, as a woman, have you laughed at a terrible joke, just to "be polite?" WHY? Why should we laugh at impolite jokes that THEY shouldn't be making? Let's stop.

4. I WILL lift other women up. 
Gurl, you are fucking amazing. Don't let TV, magazines, society, men or anything else tell you otherwise. In the past, I think too many of us have allowed ourselves to believe that if we're better than other women, the men will think more of us. Well, guess what. They won't. We have to stop arguing amongst ourselves. When we lift another woman up, we lift all women up.

5. I WILL keep fighting.
Trump, Boris, Brexit, Republicans, bigotry, double-standards, pay gaps, etc. etc. etc. It's fucking exhausting. While it's tempting to give up, stay quiet, and ride it out, we CAN'T. We have to keep fighting because it you stop, you lose. And we can't afford to lose.

6. I WILL stand up for ME. 
When I'm being put down or attacked by the people who are supposed to care for me, I often just shut down. The nail that sticks out gets hammered, right? Fuck that. I'm gonna be that nail protruding on the stair that brings bastards to their knees in horror movies. I am worth fighting for. Watch me prove it.

7. I WILL take care of me.
Mental illness keeps you from performing the most basic of self-care. You know what else does? Being a woman. We're taught from a young age that we have to put everyone and everything before ourselves. Gods forbid WE make time for US. The house will collapse. The family will fall apart. The world will stop spinning!

No, it won't.

Everyone and everything else will be fine while you take care of yourself. And if they can't? It's about fucking time they learned.

8. I WILL NOT say "sorry" if I don't mean it.
I don't know about you, but my first instinct is to apologize for things I'm not responsible for. You're tired because you stayed up too late? I'm sorry! Dinner's cold because you didn't say you'd be late? Sorry! Know what? I'm NOT sorry. If I'm not directly responsible for something, I will NOT apologize for it. I WILL take responsibility for my actions - and ONLY my actions.

9. I WILL be magickal. 
You gotta work, witch. I never seem to make enough time to be as witchy as I want to be. It leads to my being out of touch with the energies around me and feeling... wrong, which doesn't help my mental health. If other things have to slide for me to grow my inner witch, so be it.

10. I WILL chase my dreams. 
Back to mental illness, right? I want to be a successful author but I might go weeks without picking up a (proverbial) pen because it's just too exhausting. I'll go weeks without submitting because the fear of rejection cripples me. Time for change.

Will I absolutely write every day? No. Will I absolutely make every submission deadline? No. That mental illness isn't going away. But I will try my damnedest.

11. I WILL NOT be manipulated.
Fuck off with your mind games, manipulation, and gaslighting. I can see them for what they are - so why have I let you use them against me for so long? Because I was afraid. Because it was easier. Well, okay. It's going to be hard to call you on it. It's going to be scary to stand up for myself. But I won't let that stop me.

We - men and women alike - have to stop letting this happen, whether it's your parents, partner, or president doing it. It's abuse and it stops now.

12. I WILL NOT let other people control MY mind.
When you suffer from mental illness, you have to put up with people telling you that you don't know what you think or feel. Fuck. That. I know what I think. I know what I feel. My reactions might not be appropriate. Hell, my feelings might not be appropriate - but they're MINE. I'm the one who has to live with the consequences so I'm the one who gets to own feelings, thoughts, and emotions that drive them.

13. I WILL NOT compensate for fragile male egos.
Tell me WHY we do it. Why do we make ourselves seem weaker to suit men? Why do we make ourselves appear dumber? Helpless? Fragile? Because THEY need to be needed. Because they're so weak they have to put us down to lift themselves up. Fuck them. If they want to be smarter, stronger, more powerful, fine. Fucking work for it. I'm not giving it to you.

Where are the "I'm going to exercise more" resolutions? "I'm going to lose weight!" "Stop drinking." "Be healthier." Blah, blah, blah. Those are the resolutions I don't believe in. I won't make a resolution about changing myself in any superficial way, to fit into societal standards. (And you shouldn't either.) I won't change. I'll be the same old bitch, just badder.

Waiting For...