I missed the press screening of this movie, and figured I wouldn’t see it. Yet before the screening of another movie last week, three critics I respect (Kevin Finnerty, James Jay Edwards, and Rhonda ‘Ro’ Moore) were all saying they liked it. That was good enough for me.
Now, before another movie, my wife and I snuck in and saw 30 minutes of it. A young actor we love (Jacob Tremblay of Good Boys, Wonder, and Room), was kidnapped, tortured, and killed. The idea of watching children being tortured so a cult called the True Knot could vape their souls…just wasn’t appealing to her. She also made the same observation I was thinking about the scene before this. People in the stands of a Little League game were talking about how this kid knows what pitch is going to be thrown, and that’s why he’s so good (implying to the audience that his psychic ability lets him read the mind of the pitcher). The problem is…10-old-boys don’t have a curveball, knuckleball, fastball, etc. They’re just trying to throw the rock over the plate. But that’s the least of my complaints about this movie.
A few days later, I called my horror movie buddy Wendi Graves to go see it with me (perfect name, considering the “Graves” part, and a character is named Wendy). The day we were set to go, she got sick. So it wasn’t until this weekend we finally got a chance to see it.
As I waited for her to show up, I watched as a couple brought their baby into the theatre. I merely shook my head. What is wrong with people?
As trailers started, there was one for an interesting looking horror flick from Guillermo del Toro. A guy with long white hair who was walking down the stairs, stopped and grabbed my arm. He looked at the screen and said, “Did the movie already start?”
I had to explain to him what trailers were, and how they often match trailers with the genre of film that’s being shown.
When Wendi finally showed up, we went to sit down, and that same guy was in our seats with his wife. I mentioned they were our seats (I wouldn’t have cared, but I love choosing the seats with a rail in front of them so I can stretch my legs out). They apologized and moved to the seats behind us. Well, I should have known it wasn’t the baby that would be a disruption, but this couple. More about them later. Let me get to the review.
The movie opens in 1980, the year The Shining took place. The actress playing Wendy (Alexandra Essoe) looked enough like Shelley Duvall and sounded just like her. The actor playing Dick Hallorann (Carl Lumbly), looked enough like Scatman Crothers; that’s good, since he was in a lot of the movie, offering advice to Danny (Ewan McGregor as the older version). I did have a problem with the young Danny (Roger Dale Floyd). He was a freckle-faced kid that, aside from the haircut, didn’t look like the original boy. But that’s small potatoes.
The movie is both an adaptation of Stephen King’s 2013 novel of the same name, and a sequel to the Kubrick epic The Shining (let’s all forget about the awful TV version of The Shining that King gave us in the mid-90s).
Watching the older Danny deal with alcoholism and a temper, was mildly interesting. Mostly because we get to watch McGregor (and yes, just like 85% of the movies these days, there’s a barfing scene).
It’s also mildly interesting to watch this motley crew of gypsies (King loves writing about these types). They reminded me of Fleetwood Mac and their road crew circa 1977, with Rose the Hat (the beautiful and creepy Rebecca Ferguson) being Stevie Nicks. When they open the movie with them kidnapping Violet (who in real life is also named Violet), the visual is perfect. Rose the Hat is showing her magic tricks with said hat, and you see one person in the Knot appear near a tree. Violet seems concerned. Rose continues with the trick, and a few more suddenly appear. Just as the visual of the weird looking folks in Midsommar created a creepy vibe, so did this bizarre troop.
It’s disappointing that a lot of this movie had elements that started out interesting, but petered out. For example, Snakebite Andi (Emily Alyn Lind) uses her power to meet older men on the internet, put them to sleep in a movie theatre, and boost their wallet. But not before scaring their face with a knife, making it look like rattlesnake bites. Those concepts were done better in The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo and Hard Candy (Ellen Page). And they didn’t do enough with it here.
Danny’s turning to drugs and booze to stop the ghosts in his head…has been done better elsewhere as well.
The idea of an orderly, who uses his powers to help people go to the other side, was kind of sweet. It reminded me of Robert Redford doing something similar in an episode of The Twilight Zone in the early ‘60s.
I also kind of liked how they introduced a new character, Abra (Kyleigh Curran), who busts the chops of a magician at a kids birthday party, and becomes psychic pen pals with Danny.
There are a few touches of humor, but not nearly enough. One example is when the Johnny Depp looking member of the Knot talks about how modern society (cell phones, video games), has ruined the psychic power of kids that they need to feast on.
Now, during the entire first hour, the older couple behind me kept talking, making noise fumbling with things, and kicking our chairs. At one point I turned around and looked at them, to which the guy said to his wife, “We should be quieter.”
When she started talking a bit louder 10 minutes later, he got up and sat somewhere else. Smart move, dude [side note: are you allowed to do that when your wife is bugging you?].
The problem though, was that she just kept talking to herself. And this was all after they each, at different times, got up to leave the theatre before stumbling back to their seats.
I turned around and told her to be quiet, and she said in a really loud, drunken voice, “But don’t you think that girl is so creepy?”
I looked at Wendy and said, “Stay here. I’m going to get this drunk loser thrown out of here.”
As I was walking down the stairs, the woman started loudly rambling something incoherently.
A movie theatre employee came in to remove her, and she just started yelling crazy stuff. Her husband, realizing what was happening, now left his other seat and went up to her. He apologized, saying “I’ll take her out of here.”
She screamed, “No you won’t! I’ll punch you in the head.”
You could hear her then yell, “Stop grabbing my arm. You’re hurting me!”
At this point, the entire theatre was yelling at this woman, and yelling for them to turn on the lights. Another employee, who looked like a 100 pound, 15-year-old boy with acne, came in to help. Finally, two other employees (one looking like a manager), came in. It took them about 20 minutes to pry her from her seat. And at one point, she plopped down in my old seat, next to Wendi. The lights were turned on, but the movie kept playing. I wasn’t sure what was scarier.
The group of people carrying her down the stairs, and she fighting the whole time.
Wendi said, “Would it be bad if I took out my phone and filmed this?”
A few in the crowd said they wanted the movie to be rewound 20 minutes. An employee said they couldn’t do that, to a chorus of boos. Another yelled out that we should all get free popcorn (that was a protest I could get behind).
Finally, the manager said after they got her out, “Okay, we will rewind the movie. And if you want your money back, you can come up to the front.”
Applause broke out. But the problem was…I was kind of watching the movie as it played during all this, and it wasn’t impressing me much. The coolest thing was the score, which had this loud, eerie heartbeat in it.
It wasn’t all that scary, as a horror film; and as a story, it wasn’t all that interesting.
Wendi wasn’t digging it all that much either. It was a two and a half hour movie, and now we’d have to be there 30 minutes longer, watching a lot of what I was watching as this pandemonium went down. So we decided to leave.
That means this is a rather incomplete review, but…I give the movie 2 stars out of 5. The fight though, ranks among the best drunken disruptions I’ve ever witnessed. 5 stars for that.