It’s time for another Wednesday Watching, woo! If y’all are following this series, you’ll know I’m attempting to record every movie I watch this year on my Letterboxd account (and something I’m already failing at!). Nonetheless, I’ve picked out my three for this month that fit into the following categories: ‘The Hollywood’ – a film of the moment, ‘The Horrific’ – one that you may potentially dislike (if you have the same taste as me!) and a ‘Hidden Gem’, a movie you might not have considered.
A Quiet Place
As soon as I saw the trailer for this sensory delight, I was itching to see it, but like always, had my reservations. There are so many movies in current pop culture that just don’t measure up, and I was worried this sneak peek reel would open up to a cinematic disaster on release. I’ve never been so glad to be wrong…
A Quiet Place is stunning. It took my breath away (no doubt from all the gasping) and I’ve never experienced such an eerily reticent cinema audience, like ever. I can’t begin to describe the awe I felt from beginning to end. At the helm of the nail-biting, stomach-churning, worryingly silent horror, sees couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski as Evelyn and Lee, who live in a new world that’s overrun with blind aliens that seek out humans through sound alone.
The movie brilliantly toys with and destroys the well-known saying ‘peace and quiet’, instead the silence is a necessity and leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the family functioning in their everyday lives. What I loved most about the story though, was the fact that it didn’t try too hard, as a lot of horrors do. There wasn’t a cramming of jump scares, but the story was carried by individual characters’ turmoils.
A Quiet Place takes horror to new heights, and (lack of) sounds. Of course we’ve seen this before in Don’t Breathe (2016), but this delivers so much more than a blind man with ridiculous hearing – and is sure to have your heart pumping from beginning to end. The fact that the movie has made history in the horror genre for being one of the biggest domestic grossers (USA) in it’s opening weekend speaks for itself really (pardon.the.pun).
You know the one thing you need on a long haul flight? Distractions. Left, right and centre – you want to forget the fact that you’re in a tiny tin box hurtling through the sky. In-flight entertainment is a gem of a thing, but when the movies don’t measure up it’s pure disaster and that’s where this long, convoluted story actually becomes relevant. I basically watched The House on a flight (well, ⅔ of The House) and I thought it was pure trash and I’ve never been so disappointed by Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell to be honest.
There have only ever been a handful of films I felt were this weak – and this one is kind of an example of what I was expecting from A Quiet Place above. Hollywood is conveyor belt of heavily-funded, sparsely-creative-driven media; we’re consumerists looking for something fresh and inspiring – quality of pictures have gone down, yet our attention span for them is also going down – something’s got to give. What initially begins as a stand-up idea, soon falls flat with lack of storyline, and too many money-driven decisions.
What starts as a story of normal parents who get into the illegal gambling business to help fund their daughter’s college fees, soon descends into farce, but not in the good way. This isn’t your standard Dumb and Dumber silliness – this is a combination weakly written material and a poor performance by the cast that makes it the recipe for cinematic disaster. AVOID LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
The Hidden Gem
At first glance, Annihilation is a stunning sci-fi nightmare – the story of a group of women who embark into an ever-increasing, mutating wilderness, to find the cause of the phenomenon. But look deeper, and you’ll find a spectrum of provocative symbols and messages for the modern age.
Let’s get into the story first though – Natalie Portman is Lena, a biologist who ventures into ‘the shimmer’ after her soldier husband returns from it, seemingly not himself. Bizarre mutated creatures await, with physical and psychological effects occurring to the all-women group who trek into the unknown.
The foundations of the film are firmly rooted in traditional cinematic tropes – a specific group are being picked off by a malevolent force and one must stop it. Look beyond that, and Annihilation is bringing something pure and fresh to the table. It’s intrepid team are women, something rarely seen in this genre. The story is emotional, without a sentimentality, we’re invested in the characters without sacrificing viewing time for in-depth backstories, and tense scenes are never inserted at the expense of the storyline.
The shimmer itself is a beautiful nightmare. A place that plays with body horror in gorgeous majesty. The beauty of death and mutation is mesmerising, with the rainbow spectrum a symbol throughout that speaks for the complexity of the force engulfing the land. Originally planned for cinematic release, Annihilation is now available to stream on Netflix, much to the surprise of many. The Guardian reported that Paramount had been seemingly spooked by initial viewings of the film claiming it was too ‘intellectual’ and ‘complicated’ – perhaps they were scared after the flop of mother! (a movie I LOVED btw, I reviewed it here).
For me the magic of Annihilation lies in it’s seamless execution and it’s make-of-it-what-you-will attitude. You could easily watch this without a second thought, or like me, keep pondering it’s meanings. I disagree it’s an audience-unfriendly movie, and it’s well worth a watch for it’s stunning visuals alone.