REVIEW: PEARL (2022)

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PEARL (2022)

Prequel to Ti West’s X tells the background story of that film’s horny, homicidal spinster Pearl (Mia Goth). It takes place in 1918 with young Pearl on the farm tending to her ailing father (Matthew Sunderland) while under the strict and watchful eye of her overbearing mother (Tandi Wright), when she’s not sneaking off to the local movie theater. Her husband Howard (Alistair Sewell) is away at war and Pearl sees her dreams of being a dancer fading away. Her frustrations come to a boil when she meets a handsome projectionist (David Corenswet) at the local theater and soon Pearl will do anything to see her dreams come true…even murder.

Pearl is directed by West from a script by he and star Mia Goth and is filmed like one of those old-fashioned technicolor movies of yesteryear about a young girl wanting to be a star…only this one is homicidal. There are some disturbing sequences and some gory violence when things get going. The film is also set during the Influenza epidemic and thus makes plenty of COVID era commentary about masks and paranoia. What holds the film back from being an equal to its predecessor is a very slow pace and long dramatic dialogue sequences between the good parts. It’s a somber and dreary film despite the candy-colored cinematography and it gets tedious in parts till Pearl starts to pursue her dreams with a vengeance and slaughters anyone that gets in the way or makes her angry. These moments do their job, but it’s the in-between melodrama that slows things down and interrupts the more devious tone these scenes have. It doesn’t quite have the sense of naughty fun like X did, though there are some sequences that elicit an uncomfortable giggle like Pearl’s rendezvous with a scarecrow. It’s a decent enough prequel, overall, but not quite the bloody good time X was.

Mia Goth is wonderful as the sweet yet demented Pearl. She lets us know from the very beginning that something is already not right with Pearl. Then she gleefully takes us from girl with stars in her eyes to woman with bloodlust in her heart. She’s like a demented Snow White who has a friendship with all the farm animals, including the local gator. If anything gives this film a pulse and some life, it’s her. Tandi Wright is good as her oppressive, religious German mother Ruth. She is a strong woman whose own dreams where shattered as she now must take care of a sick husband and manage their slowly dying farm. Matthew Sunderland does good work as the very sick and silent father. He communicates much only with his eyes and minimal body language and does it quite well. David Corenswet is solid as the handsome projectionist who sets a fire under Pearl’s dreams and in her married loins. Emma Jenkins-Purro is good as Pearl’s sister-in-law Mitzy and Alistair Sewell appears briefly as Pearl’s soldier husband.

Overall, this prequel had its moments, but despite some disturbing sequences and gory violence, it’s far drearier and more somber than the deviously naughty X. Mia Goth is exceptional as Pearl and the technicolor cinematography makes the carnage quite colorful, but a slow pace and some more tedious sequences between the scenes of mayhem and murder make this flick a lesser prequel to one of the best horror films of the year.

-MonsterZero NJ

  Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) axes.

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“X” PREQUEL “PEARL” GETS A POSTER AND TRAILER!

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“X” PREQUEL “PEARL” GETS A POSTER AND TRAILER!

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Fans of Ti West’s latest horror X were pleased to discover a prequel called Pearl was filmed along with it. The film is obviously an origin story for Mia Goth’s Pearl. Now from A24 comes the official poster and trailer. The film, which is set to release in theaters on 9/16/22*, is again written and directed by Ti West with Mia Goth reprising her role as Pearl!

*Release date via Bloody-Disgusting.com

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MonsterZero NJ

Source/photos: A24

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RANDOM NONSENSE: X AND THE BATMAN ARRIVE ON BLU-RAY!

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X AND THE BATMAN ARRIVE ON BLU-RAY!

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Photo on 5-24-22 at 7.42 PM

Good things came from Amazon yesterday! Two of my favorite movies arrived on Blu-ray. X is simply my favorite horror so far this year and a film I find gets better with repeat viewings. The Batman which has many horror film elements and even starts out on Halloween night!

 

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MonsterZero NJ

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TI WEST’S HORROR FLICK “X” IS COMING TO BLU-RAY and DVD!

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TI WEST’S HORROR FLICK “X” IS COMING TO BLU-RAY and DVD!

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Indie director Ti West’s (House of the Devil, Innkeepers) new film horror film X has already set a release date for Blu-ray and DVD! The film will arrive on home media on 5/24/22 and is already available for pre-order on Amazon! The flick stars Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, and Scott Mescudi!
“In 1979, a group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in rural Texas, but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives.”

 

Here’s the link to the Amazon pre-order page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VJDBF1V/ref=ox_sc_saved_image_1?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

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-MonsterZero NJ

Source: Joblo.com; Amazon

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REVIEW: X (2022)

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X (2022)

Latest indie horror from A24 takes place in 1979 and finds sleazy Texas producer Wayne (Martin Henderson) setting out to make a porn film with stars Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow), Maxine (Mia Goth), and Jackson (Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi) along with their two-person film crew RJ (Owen Campbell) and his girlfriend Lorraine (Jenna Ortega). They travel to the remote farm of strange, elderly couple Howard (Stephen Ure) and Pearl (also Mia Goth), who turn out not to be the harmless old folks they seem, and the porn film soon turns into a horror movie…for real.

X is written and directed by Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) and is basically The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Debbie Does Dallas. It is a good, old-fashioned, grindhouse style flick with lots of sex, gore and flesh crawling moments. X starts out like most of West’s flicks with a slow burn, but one where we start to feel from the very start that something is not right. This prevailing sense of dread builds as things get weirder and weirder and West makes us constantly feel that a threat is soon to emerge, no better symbolized then by the gators lurking about the couple’s property. When the blood finally starts to flow, it’s prosthetic gore and there are some nasty kills to characters we’ve gotten to know and like. Even sleazy Wayne has a good-ole-boy charm that’s hard not to endear to. This makes it all the more impactful when the film crew starts to fall to various sharp objects, shotguns and the before mentioned gators. It’s scary, nasty and in between the violent moments, there are some that will certainly make your skin crawl. The sexual, undercurrent the film has also gets very disturbing…and that’s by design. This is simply West’s best horror since The House of The Devil, and one of the best horrors so far this year. It’s sexy. sleazy, scary and gory…what more do you want from a horror flick!?

Director West has a good cast in support. Henderson gives Wayne a charming appeal that despite his sleazy nature and willingness to exploit his girlfriend, Maxine, makes him a likable rogue. As Maxine, Mia Goth deftly balances a young woman with both a strong sexuality and a gentle sweetness that really makes her character work. Snow is delightfully sassy as Southern belle and porn star Bobby-Lynne, who is no dumb blonde. She’s using her natural talents to make a better life for herself. Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi is also solid as ex-Marine and war veteran turned porn star Jackson. He’s fun and has a nice heroic side. Jenna Ortega is once again impressive as “church mouse” Lorraine who seems sweet and virginal but may not be as innocent as she appears. Owen is likable as filmmaker wannabe RJ, and Stephen Ure and Mia Goth are very creepy—especially Mia Goth—as the elderly Howard and Pearl. A good cast.

Overall, this is one of West’s best films and a refreshingly, old-fashioned horror that leaves all the overdone meta/retconning crap behind. It’s scary, gory and has some moments and kills that will legitimately make your flesh crawl. It has a sexual undercurrent that goes from sexy to disturbing and pays homage to the classic grindhouse era horrors of the 70s, while yet being its own thing. Definitely one of the best horror flicks to come out so far in 2022 and one of West’s most effective horror flicks yet. Stay through the credits!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) knives!

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NEW TI WEST FLICK “X” GETS A POSTER AND TRAILER!

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NEW TI WEST FLICK “X” GETS A POSTER AND TRAILER!

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Indie director Ti West (House of the Devil, Innkeepers) has a new film coming out and now we have a trailer and poster! It looks like Boogie Nights meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre and we couldn’t be more excited! The flick opens on March 18th, 2022, and stars Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, and Scott Mescudi!

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-MonsterZero NJ

Source: A24; Youtube

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SUSPIRIA (2018)

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SUSPIRIA (2018)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Film is a remake…of sorts…of Dario Argento’s classic 1977 horror of the same name. It uses the very basic plot framework of a coven of witches in a German dance academy, along with a few character names, but otherwise is it’s own thing. This re-imagining takes place in 1977 West Berlin during the Lufthansa Flight 181 hostage crisis. A former Mennonite from Ohio, Susie Bannion (Dakatoa Johnson) comes to study dance at the Markos Dance Academy. There is, as with Argento’s version, something very sinister going on at the academy and headmistress Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) may have plans for the pretty new student.

Remake is directed by Luca Guadagnino from a script by David Kajganich based on the original screenplay by Argento and Daria Nicolodi and does involve Argento’s “Three Mothers”. It’s an intriguing film to be sure and is far more art house than grind house. It is also, however, a bit of a meandering film at 150 minutes long. It takes an hour longer to tell the story and that wouldn’t be a bad thing, if that story was expanded, gave the characters more depth, or added emotional resonance…and there is the film’s major problem. Despite adding a lot of details to Argento’s simple tale, such as Susie’s Mennonite past, the hostage crisis occurring at the same time, or the sub-plot of a German Doctor (also Swinton, billed as Lutz Ebersdorf) who lost his wife during the war, none of it really adds anything to the story or enhances the characters. It simply just makes the movie longer, but not especially richer. There is some feminist and social commentary, but it’s not enough to really resonate or make this any more relevant than it’s predecessor. What the remake does have in it’s favor, is that there are a lot of disturbing and unsettling moments and the movie can get quite grotesque, especially in the last act when all hell breaks loose, quite literally. We are treated to some creepy dream sequences and some squirm inducing moments, such as when dancer Olga (Elena Fokina) learns the hard way that leaving the academy is not so easy. The sequences in the witches’ lair behind the academy walls are also quite effective and the film can be very atmospheric when it wants to be…though in contrast, some of the earlier moments are a bit bland to be honest. It takes a while to get going and that’s when the atmosphere starts to kick in. With all the subtext and subplots, Guadagnino does avoid outright pretension and that helps keep the film from imploding from taking itself too seriously, which some may feel it does. The cinematography is quite the opposite of Argento’s vibrantly colored set pieces, with the colors here being muted and the set and costume design far more grounded till things start to delve into the supernatural in the last act.

The cast is another plus. Johnson is good as Susie. She is a bit more mysterious than Argento’s heroine and the actress again shows she is fine with daring roles. Thankfully here she is given more to work with than those awful Shades of Grey movies. Tilda Swinton is mesmerizing both as Madame Blanc and in a very impressive performance as Dr. Josef Klemperer. Unfortunately, Klemperer’s character and subplot could have been removed completely and not done harm to the story, though it would have robbed us of seeing Swinton in a very unconventional part. In support we have a solid performance by Chloe Grace Moretz as a student that alerts Dr. Klemperer to the shady goings on at the academy and a likable Mia Goth as Sara, a student who befriends Susie. The rest of the cast are fine and do efficient work as minor supporting and background characters.

This remake does enough of it’s own thing to not fall under the unnecessary banner. There are some gruesome and grotesque moments and some disturbing and unsetting scenes that effectively chill. The cast do very good work, especially Swinton and the flick can be atmospheric at times. What keeps this from really being something special is that there are a lot of details added to what was a simple story and they don’t really enhance that story or add any depth or resonance. The film can be bland at times, when not focusing on the supernatural elements and some of the detailed subplots simply make the film longer and not necessarily better. Intriguing and worth watching once, but not something one feels the need to revisit again like Argento’s film. Keep an eye out for original star Jessica Harper in a cameo and stay through the credits for one last bit of spookiness.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 broken bones…you’ll know the scene when you see it. OUCH!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: MARROWBONE (2017)

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MARROWBONE (2017)

Film takes place in the late 60s and finds an ailing mother (Nicola Harrison) traveling, with her four children, to the United States to her ancestral home to escape her husband. When the mother dies, eldest son Jack (George MacKay) decides to hide her death till he turns twenty-one and can take custody of his three siblings (Matthew Stagg, Charlie Heaton and Mia Goth). Now alone in the house, the four must deal with something that dwells in the abandoned home with them…is it something supernatural, or a dark secret that has taken a life of it’s own.

Written and directed by Sergio G. Sánchez this is an atmospheric mystery/thriller in the spirit of flicks like The Others and The Orphanage. We know something isn’t right in the house as the kids cover up mirrors and little Sam (Stagg) is convinced it is the ghost of their father, a cruel man who they say is now dead. We also have seen enough flicks like this to have our own suspicions, as to who or what lurks in the bricked-up attic. Once the credits role and the secrets are revealed, it is effective, though we have already figured out parts of it and aren’t exactly surprised at the rest. The very ending itself also doesn’t quite sit well, either, as we question a certain character’s choices. An atmospheric mystery, though one that doesn’t quite take us by surprise as we would have liked and does leave some questions as it concludes. Also stars Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) as pretty neighbor, Allie, who takes in interest in Jack.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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