Film Review: The Addams Family (1991) & Addams Family Values (1993)

For some reason, I’ve always thought I’d seen the whole Addams Family movie from the 90s, but watching it this Hallowe’en, I found that I didn’t remember any of it! Oh my gosh, though, it’s cracking good fun. I’d stick it up there in the same category of Beetlejuice (1988) and Hocus Pocus (1993). Fun, crazy, spooky goodness. (I also have a post about horror-comedy here.)

The films follow Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandmama, Lurch, Thing, Cousin Itt and Margaret, members of the gothic, macabre Addams family. The film is based on the 1930s comic by Charles Addams. The family delight in all things death, darkness, despair and woe. But they’re a very, very loving family who care about each other’s happiness.

What I love about the storylines is just how whacky and fun they are. I like movies that aren’t afraid to be crazy or over the top or goofy. This is goofy with a side of goth wrapped in a wholesome, if macabre, family that loves each other.

The second one had me laughing just as much. Where the first film follows the storyline of Whatever happened to Fester Addams? which is neatly wrapped up at the end, the second film centres around the arrival of a nanny who sends the elder children off to summer camp so that they can’t uncover her plans to marry Fester and steal his fortune. As she woos Fester, with Gomez and Morticia playing matchmakers, Wednesday and Pugsley are forced to endure a militantly perky camp that refuses to allow anyone to deviate from what they perceive as enforceable fun. Wednesday, of course, revolts:

Honestly, the 90s were such a good era of kids movies and these are two gems. Also, I loved seeing so many actors that I recognise outside of the central characters. My partner and I kept going, ‘Wait, they’re in it, too?!’ So, awesome cameos are a plus. But honestly, for two films centred around a family obsessed with death, these movies are quiet uplifting and lighthearted.

Film Review: His House (2020)

Heart-punching horror is a hard one to watch. Especially when so much of it is grounded in real events. And so begins His House, a horror film set in modern England that follows a couple from South Sudan, Bol (Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku), who have just gained a house and some small amount of freedom outside of the detention centre for refugees. They’re to get less than £80 a week (total), are not allowed to work to supplement this income, are not allowed to have parties or even have candles in their home. And the home they are given, even before you realise that it’s haunted, is filled with bugs, rubbish and the door is not even hanging in there.

The treatment of refugees is front and centre in this film and is utterly depressing and haunting. One of the rare nice moments happens when a local member of a church gives Bol a box of food and supplies, but few of their neighbours are kind and welcoming. And, very quickly, the problems with the house multiply and the unexplained horrors add to the couple’s already tough predicament.

This is a very important commentary about the hurdles and discrimination refugees face wrapped up in a horror story that focuses as much on the reality of immigration as on the paranormal.

Film Review: Final Destination (2000)

Ah, a classic horror at this point. I feel like everyone of my generation saw this one growing up. It’s definitely one of the most memorable and has some big names: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Seann William Scott, etc.

The film follows a group teens after they manage to cheat death. It all starts when the group are getting ready to head to Paris for a school trip. Alex, the leader character, has a horrible nightmare where everyone dies and after freaking out, is escorted off the plane. A few other students are taken off with him and are forced to stay behind, along with one of their teachers. Turns out, Alex was completely right. And no one is comfortable with the implication.

Carter, who has a chip on his shoulder about Alex’s entire existence, it seems, blames him for getting them into trouble and for having the dream and then for being right. Carter even confronts him later at the funeral. Some students, like Billy, are convinced Alex is psychic and ask him questions about the future. The teacher, too, is freaked out by his vision and is cruel to Alex for having the premonition. Slowly, though, the survivors realise that they aren’t safe and didn’t escape.

Overall, this is a film that will make you walk on egg shells for the rest of your life and, as a result, it makes for a solid horror movie. Everything will make you jump and start after you watch this!

Did anyone else watch this growing up? Favourite childhood spooky movie?

Film Review: The Skeleton Key (2005)

I’m a huge fan of Southern Gothic as a genre, although I actually only learned today that the name for the genre started out as an insult. Ellen Glasgow was criticising Erskine Caldwell and William Faulkner and labelled them as ‘Southern Gothic’ and the name stuck. This was in 1935. But I really like the tone of Southern Gothic literature and cinema. True Blood (2008) and The Gift (2000) are the first things that usually spring to mind when I think of the genre, although I feel like Justified (2010) has some Southern Gothic vibes. If there’s such a thing as Modern Western Gothic, I’d put Justified in that category!

Continuing on with my October horror movie marathon, I picked up The Skeleton Key. The film follows a hospice nurse who quits her job because she finds that not enough people care about the patients, and takes a month-long job in the bayou at an old plantation house, caring for the ailing owner. She’s brought in by the estate agent, much to the wife’s frustration, but decides to stick it out.

Things are instantly eventful. There are no mirrors in the house, leading to a sense of foreboding, and the old man seems to be trying to communicate with Caroline, the nurse. As time goes on, more and more strange things start to happen. And then Violet, the wife, tells Caroline about the house’s history and the horrible things done by the previous owners.

You can see where this is going.

I’m not sure that angle really worked for me. It just made me really sad. Plantations hold devastating histories and having that incorporated into the storyline left me gloomy. I did think the actors did a good job, and I certainly didn’t see the ending coming, but overall this movie wasn’t for me.

Mini Reviews: The Possession (2012) & It (2017)

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I’ve been on something of an Exorcist themed kick after watching the television show. I’m currently reading the book for the first time, which I’m really enjoying so far, but I’m also checking out movies of the like. The Possession was pretty good!

The Possession tells the story of Clyde and Stephanie, who are recently divorced and sharing custody of their kids, Emily and Hannah. When Clyde brings their daughters to a yard sale, Emily picks up an old wooden box with Hebrew writing on it. Little does she know the box is haunted by a dybbuk. Emily begins to act stranger and stranger — moths gather in her room, raw meat is consumed, she gets more and more withdrawn. Clyde realises something isn’t right with his daughter and sets out to help her.

What I really appreciated about this movie was that the characters turned to a Hasidic Jew for help with the exorcism, which is something I haven’t come across much in exorcism plots before. Instead of Latin, there’s Hebrew. It was really nice to see and I liked the different take on an exorcism. Apparently it’s based on a true story as well. CREEPY.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan was, as usual, wonderful in this. Really, the whole cast was great. The actress who played Emily (Natasha Calis) did an especially brilliant job!

I’d definitely recommend this to fans of horror!

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I followed my watch of The Possession with It. I don’t even think I could attempt to review It with anything coherent because Pennywise is going to be haunting my dreams for eternity. But it was definitely all levels of YIKES. Really well acted, though. Very impressed! I really did forget the entire plot outside of evil clown. The only thing I did remember was the sink scene and the new version is the stuff of nightmares.

Thanks, Stephen King, I won’t be sleeping for a month.