The best (and scariest!!) show on TV: American Horror Story

Hello my lovelies!!

I want to talk to you all about my favourite show, American Horror Story.  It is one of a very few shows I follow, and the ONLY ONE that I watch on a weekly basis (instead of waiting for the season to be done to watch it all).

It’s currently on season two, and I’m finding it just as awesome as the first one.  It’s set up to essentially be a mini-series, in that each season has different characters and nothing to do with the last plot.  It’s kind of hard to talk about without giving too much away, but I’ll do my best.

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“Cabin in the Woods”: Joss Whedon’s still working his magic.

To continue my trend of talking about new movies I’ve watched a week after I’ve watched them, last weekend (well, 10 days ago) I went to watch the horror film “The Cabin In The Woods.”  All I knew about the movie was what I’d seen in the trailers, although to be honest, that’s quite a lot of the whole story.  And still, there were a few surprises.

The creepy-looking cabin is much more than it appears. © 2012 - Lionsgate, Inc.

There will be spoilers here.  You have been warned.

Written by Joss Whedon (who also wrote the amazing-ness that was “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Firefly“, and “Dollhouse”) and directed by Drew Goddard (“Cloverfield”), it stars Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”, “The Avengers”), Fran Kranz (“Dollhouse,” Joss Whedon’s upcoming “Much Ado About Nothing”), Jesse Williams (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Kristen Connolly, and Anna Hutchinson as the five college students who are spending the weekend at the isolated cabin.  It also features Richard Jenkins (“The Rum Diary”, “Dear John”), Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”) as the hilarious control-room techs, and Amy Acker (“Angel,” Joss Whedon’s upcoming “Much Ado About Nothing”) as one of the chemists.

Now, I love horror movies.  Loooooove horror.  And I love anything Joss Whedon writes.  So I went in expecting to love the movie, love the characters, and love the dialogue.

I was not disappointed.

The movie was not what I was expecting. I mean, I knew what it was about, basically, but still it was surprising.  I expected a fairly-standard (although well-written and with awesome dialogue) slasher-style movie, with some sort of creepy voyeurs paying to watch the kids die.  That was not it at all.

(L-R) Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Anna Hutchinson, Fran Kranz, and Kristen Connolly. Photo by Diyah Pera – © 2011 - Lionsgate, Inc.

What I got instead was, in my opinion, an incredibly entertaining, smart, funny movie.  Not comedy haha, and not even shitty horror movie haha, just the smart, witty, fairly self-deprecating dialogue that Joss Whedon is known for.

Although the movie did have its stereotypes, like the outside boob scene (’cause I would so not call it a sex scene) and the ‘let’s split up’ idea, they are obviously manipulated in and done purposely.  It seemed, at least to me, to be almost like a parody at times.

I loved that it had the typical horror movie characters: the alpha male jock, the blonde bimbo slut, the smart guy, the stoner, and the virgin.  In fact, they went out of their way to let us know how they’d altered the kids to make them into the stereotype we were seeing them as.  In fact, the dumb blonde is a nursing student who wasn’t actually a blonde — she’d dyed her hair with a dye that, although she didn’t know, was treated by the chem department specifically to make her dumb.  To get the stereotypical sex scene outside, the ‘puppeteers,’ as Marty the stoner calls them, fill the air with hormones, turn up the heat, and lighten the forest.

Richard Jenkins stands in front of the list of all the monsters and which departments bet on them. © 2011 - Lionsgate, Inc.

The techs who worked to create the cabin of horrors were also pretty awesome.  Their rapport is hilarious, and although it seemed weird at first that this is clearly just another weekend for them, they’re very vested in the outcome.  They all bet on which of the horrors are going to be unleashed by the kids in the cabin, and all the men gather to watch, hopefully, the possible sex scene.  It’s also shown that similar scenarios are being run all over the world, and the competition between all of them is pretty funny.  And to be honest, the scenario run by Japan, which is shown a few times, is hilarious and totally stereotypical of Japaneses horror movies: young girls are tormented by the spirit of a young girl.  In typical Whendon-style and true to the parody angle of the movie, the Japanese fail, and the school girls are shown singing a friendship song while the spirit is destroyed and the Americans wonder “How hard is it to kill nine-year-old girls?”

One of the best things for me was that in the end, it was only the stoner kid that was aware enough to figure it all out.  They go out of their way to show you that he’s incredibly stoned all the time — from the moment he arrives in a smoke-filled car and proceeds to lock the door and check it but forgets to close the window to the final scene where he lights up — and yet he’s the only one unaffected by anything that’s being put in to influence them.  Unfortunately, he’s too stoned to make enough sense or insist something’s wrong, and since he’s so stoned, no one listens to his paranoia.

Fran Krantz's Marty wields his extend-a-bong to save the girl from the zombies. © 2011 - Lionsgate, Inc.

So he figures it all out and manages to save the girl before she becomes zombie food (or whatever they do) by beating the zombie with his extend-a-bong.  Yes, a giant bong.  Although it’s an awesome idea, a travel mug that extends to become a bong, the fact that he uses it as a weapon on more than one occasion is kinda really freaking awesome.  Then he takes Dana, the now-saved virgin, to the elevator he’s found when he massacred a zombie (although the audience believed he was the one killed), and they decide to see where it goes.

Now, this scene was my favourite.  At first, they’re surrounded by darkness.  Then they come upon the monsters first monsters– a werewolf, a ballerina with nothing but teeth for a face, a ghost, an über scary-looking guy with blades through his head — and after being terrified, they see that they are just one box in a sea of monster-filled boxes.  Just that idea is terrifying!!  Boxes and boxes and hundreds more boxes of monsters that could be brought out at any time.  Terrifying!!

Kristen Connolly screams as she looks at a monster through the glass. © 2011 - Lionsgate, Inc.

And then the elevator arrives at the same building that the puppeteers are in.  When Marty and Dana are confronted by a SWAT team, they run into a room and find the incredibly convenient yet totally unrealistic PURGE ALL button.  And so every monster is released, slowly in groups of six (or maybe eight, I can’t remember), and they proceed to massacre EVERYONE.

In the end, they’re informed by the Director (Sigourney Weaver) that they’re all being used as part of a yearly sacrifice to Gods known as the ‘Ancient Ones.’  If the ritual is not complete, they will rise up and destroy the world.

How does it end, you ask??  Well, let me tell you:  in typical Joss Whedon fashion, Marty and Dana (after Marty kills the director and Dana is attacked by a werewolf) light up a joint and wait for dawn.  As the sun rises, a giant hand comes out and destroys the facility and the cabin.

But yes, I loved it.  I’d recommend it to anyone.  I find it’s not really a horror, just a smart and funny thriller.

You have no idea how excited I am for Joss Whedon’s next movies: The Avengers and Much Ado About Nothing.  And I may go and watch Buffy again.  Right now.

Joss Whedon wins in my books, every time.

 

City of Clockwork?? Let’s talk about my newfound love for Cassandra Clare.

Cover of "City of Bones (Mortal Instrumen...

Cover via Amazon

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been reading a lot lately.  I found a bunch of reading challenges, and I’m determined to do all of them.  And if I finish, then to just keep reading as much as I can.

Two of the books that were on my list to read were by the same author, Cassandra Clare.  I saw the two books and though, “Oh, great.  If I hate them, I’m stuck going through two of them!!”  But then I decided to just suck it up and read them.

And wow, did I love them.  Two days later, I’d read through all six books.  Two days!!

Cover of "City of Ashes (Mortal Instrumen...

Cover of City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments)

So far, there are six books in the two series.  Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince are the two books in the Infernal Devices trilogy, with Clockwork Princess coming out in December.  In the Mortal Instruments, there is City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, and City of Fallen Angels.  City of Lost Souls will be out May 8th (thankfully, it’s soon!!) and City of Heavenly Fire will be out in March 2014 (really sucks that it’s like two years!!).  There will soon be another series, The Dark Artifices, coming out soon.

Both series are related – they’re both about a group of people, called Shadowhunters, who essentially police the world we don’t see, full of demons and werewolves and vampire and faeries that live all around us, and destroy demons who threaten our existence.  The Infernal Devices are set in Victorian London, while the Mortal Instruments are set in present-day Manhattan.  The Dark Artifices will be set in present-day Los Angeles.

That may sound a little out there, but honestly, they are incredible books.

Cover of "City of Glass (Mortal Instrumen...

The characters are some of the best I’ve come across in a while, and I find myself thirsting for more stories of the happenings in their lives.

Simon is another character I’m a huge fan of.  His humour is fantastic, and often plays off Jace’s remarks.  His quick acceptance of things, his comparisons to DND, his quirky questions, and his ability to help out the gifted and trained Shadowhunters makes him one of my favourites.

I like Clary too.  I think what I like best about her is her loyalty and devotion to those she loves.  The lengths she goes to for Simon, her mom, and Jace are pretty incredible.  I mean, I love my best friend, but would I go into a vampire lair to save them??  I’m not so sure.

City of Fallen Angels

Magnus Bane is also incredibly entertaining.  He’s in all the books so far, and I love reading about him.  His penchant for rainbow coloured clothing is amazing.  I do hope he’ll be in the rest of the books, and maybe even in the new series!!

I think that part of the reasons I love these books so much is the simple fact that Clary is a regular, everyday girl, until the day she accidentally stumbles across the three Shadownhunters: Jace, Alec, and Isabelle.  And suddenly, she’s involved in a world that she should have belonged in but had no idea existed.  I mean, who doesn’t wish that it turned out that really, their life is supposed to be much more interesting and exiting that it is??  I think the answer is no one. Secretly, everyone wishes it.

Cover of "Clockwork Angel (The Infernal D...

I also love the idea that all this is happening around us, but we can’t see it.  It would explain a lot of things, don’t you think??

The Infernal Devices are also pretty good.  They’re set in Victorian London, but honestly, sometimes I’ll be reading it and forget they’re supposed to be in the past until they mention something, like having to use candles.  The characters in this one are also pretty appealing.

Will Herondale is pretty freaking awesome, and I don’t care who it hurts or how it happens, but I really hope he gets the girl.  Jem is pretty good, but I’d push him aside for Will any day.  Tessa is pretty cool too.  Henry and Magnus are the two spots of comic relief in this one, although Will is pretty good at being entertaining as well.

You should all check out her books!!  I promise, they’re addicting.  She’s also got some extras on her site, so after you’re done reading, head on over and take a look.

You won’t regret it.  I promise!!

So I finally saw the Hunger Games…

In the month or so I’ve been gone, I’ve been doing a lot of reading.  A lot.  And one of the books I read (well, set of books, I guess) was the Hunger Games trilogy.  Now, I don’t want to ruin them for anyone, so I will warn you that there are spoilers.  Although if you haven’t read them, what are you waiting for?!?!  Really.

I really enjoyed the books.  They were fairly fast-paced, the characters were likeable, and it introduced an interesting possible future.  It  also created an incredibly vivid picture in my head and made me not want to put it down.  I had a great time reading them.

No lie, Peeta was my favourite.  I liked Gale enough, but he was so pushy and demanding.  Peeta made no demands on Katniss, he expected nothing from her; and still, he did everything for her.  He was super likeable and sweet and charming and no matter what he did, I just wanted to cheer for him.  Now, I’m not saying a push-over guy is great, or that a guy should do all he can for his girl with no regard to what that means for him, his life, or his future, but still.  I loved him.

So of course, like most fans of the books, I was über excited for the movie.  I didn’t watch it on opening weekend ’cause it seemed crazy, and I was waiting for my boyfriend to finish reading them.  So off we went the following weekend.

I hated it.

Well, it was okay.  It was done well, it was fairly close to the story, and the characters looked like what I’d pictured.  The problem is that the violence was toned down enough to be almost non-existent, which I guess was to get a kid-friendly rating.  If it wasn’t really suitable for someone who’s, say, 9 years old, it was removed or severely edited. The Hunger Games themselves seemed like a big game or afternoon in the park. There was no suspense, no action, and the kids seemed like it was just another day in the park for them. The camera spends way too much time being shaky, and the acting is not very good.

The problem with this is that if you’ve read the books, you know just how brutal, violent, and crazy the games can be. I mean, it’s 24 kids in a fight to the death.  Some of them are trained for this!!  Some are brutal, some a manipulative, some are opportunists – but all are killers.

I expected at least most of that craziness, which for me is what made it so vivid and disturbing. Sadly, I was very disappointed.

Even worse, the characters were pretty sucky and flat. Katniss, who in the book comes off as an actual competitor in the games seems incredibly flat and boring, with almost no emotion. Peeta, who in the books is sweet, incredibly likeable, and yet a smooth-talker comes off as a wimpy, pathetic, useless boy that you don’t really care about. Cinna is not nearly as awesome as I was expecting, which is sad, because Lenny Kravitz did an awesome job for the short amount of screen time he had. Haymitch is not nearly as drunk and funny as he should have been, and all his drunken antics, like vomiting everywhere and then not noticing as he’s covered in it, were removed. Effie is not nearly as ridiculous-yet-lovable, just kinda superficial and silly.

The movie also leaves out anything that could be considered violent or questionable behaviour: Katniss nearly dehydrating herself to death is cut out, the hallucinations are cut down to almost nothing (no melting skin or crawling insects). Peeta’s gangrene-infected leg wound is really just a scartch (so no, there’s no scene where pus is being removed). Katniss doesn’t drug Peeta so she can get to the banquet, he’s just sleeping.  The cut she gets from fighting Clove is just a scratch, so Peeta doesn’t wake up to her laying in a pool of her own blood.  Cato only suffers for a few minutes, not hours, and at the end, Peeta is perfectly fine, not bleeding to death and losing a leg.

Yeah, can you see why I was bored??

Not to mention, I didn’t really feel a connection to Rue.  I mean, I did, ’cause I read the book, but the movie didn’t really make me care about her at all.  District 11 never even sends the bread!!  To me, this was an important event for Katniss, and it’s kinda important to the second book.  And Katniss giving Peeta the berries??  It seems way more calculated here than it should have been.  And at no point do you realize that their romance is fake.  My bf, who hadn’t read the books, had no idea.

In fact, when we left the theater, I had to explain a bunch of things to him that were either not explained because they assumed we’d already know (asshole move, btw), or because they seemed odd.

I really did like the little snippets we got into the outside world while the games were on.  That doesn’t happen in the book.  Watching Haymitch deal with sponsors and Gale watching Katniss and Peeta on the screen was a bonus.

In the end, I really should have stayed home and re-read the books.  My bf could have done almost anything else with the money spent (although I love that you took me!!) and we could have rented it.

Will I watch the next two??  Probably.  But I may wait until they’re on DVD to do it.

If only “Immortals” was as epic as it promised to be.

I love action movies.  I love fight scenes, and explosions, and cool-looking effect. And I love the hot guys that usually star in those, too.  I find that when you have all of those things together, with not a lot of gore (I am still a girl, you know), it makes for a really awesome movie.

Immortals” seemed to me like it would fit all of these requirements.  There were hot guys aplenty (Henry Cavill, Stephen Dorff, Kellan Lutz, Luke Evans), hot girls (Freida Pinto and the Oracle attendants), fights, and incredible visuals.

But overall, I kinda wish I’d had my two hours back.

I like to think I’m pretty good at following movies, even where there is some complexity to them.  But for some reason, I spent the first half hour or so of this movie feeling like I’d missed the previous episode.  I’m not sure why, it’s not like the plot is overly complicated.  Maybe I just didn’t care enough??  Either way, I felt lost.  I had to keep clarifying things and I’m sure I was driving my bf crazy with questions.

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