Jaws, 1975 – ★★★★½

Jaws is increasingly dated in a handful of its special effects and corny characters but it’s an otherwise entirely gripping adventure within a non-linear Spielberg depiction of a world of three dimensional people acting like they might actually do in the grips of absurd situations.

The music is surprisingly joyful at times, lulling you into many moments of danger like a gently tip-toeing pied piper. This is also mirrored by regular satisfying moments of companionship and humorous displays of humanity that cleanse your emotional palette and force you to drop your guard til the next moment of peril breaches the atmosphere.

The actors put on a convincing show portraying each of their nuanced caricatures with enough humanity that you can understand their potential to be strangers, enemies, and friends in the same day.

The tendency of characters to speak over each other up to the scale of small crowds creates an almost documentary level of realism-through-chaos to many settings that somehow makes the main characters shine through due to your need to focus harder on them in the anarchy.

The editing from start to finish achieves a sense of presence and pacing that builds up to cuts that verge on comedic timing at its most obvious, without being jarring.

There’s so much more that could be said but it bottles down to this being ‘Classic Spielberg’ that you should watch if you haven’t seen it ever or recently.

I will say that perhaps 1/2 a star could be due to nostalgia but 4 feels a little cold blooded.

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Gerald’s Game, 2017 – ★★★★

At its very worst, it’s a little bit tacky and there are brief moments of cheesy soap opera twinklings, but Gerald’s Game mostly maintains a good deal of suspense and emotional intensity from start to finish.

It’s somewhat more of a buffet of genres than I expected – in a good way.

It’s definitely a film I’m glad I went into knowing next to nothing about so I will not describe it any more in case my favourite moments become your expected lulls.

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They Live, 1988 – ★★★★

They Live is surprisingly multi-faceted, for what is – on the surface – a somewhat-dated action thriller.

Some of the special effects are amateurish but the cinematography is striking, thoughtful, and artful where it counts. It’s about 50/50 Naked Gun/Original Twilight Zone.

Roddy Piper’s origins in wrestling seep through into his physical manner of acting, however, he doesn’t disappoint in the context of an 80’s action hero. His line readings sometimes feel wooden when heard alongside Keith David’s delivery but they cram in enough cheesy one-liners that it feels about-right to have him be a somewhat-cheesy unreal persona.

The gradual build of paranoia and discovery makes for a great conspiratorial movie and the traction of the movie doesn’t give up until the (somewhat boring) finale.

The soundtrack is Carpenter crafted and therefore somewhere between competent driving modern themes and minimalist lift muzak.

Lots of fun with a relevant-yet-paranoid message.

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Rogue, 2007 – ★★½

Rogue, in all areas (CGI, acting, character development, plot, cinematography) hits as often as it misses, resulting in a movie somewhere between a good Anaconda and a bad Jurassic Park.

It does well in frights and gore but the people and villain are, on balance, a bit dumb.

I don’t think I watched this in the right mood to not be bored by the predictability. With friends and over some beers this would probably be an easy 3 1/2.

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Hush, 2016 – ★★★½

A fun short popcorn horror with a few twists on the Scream formula and a deliberately limited focal point that played around with the senses – although less than I’d hoped.

The cast of characters served their purposes perfectly and strayed just outside of being one-dimensional enough to not feel like b-movie fodder.

It definitely had my heightened attention throughout.

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It, 2017 – ★★★★

My biggest takeaways from IT were:

1) I was regularly excited for – then thrilled by (70-80% of the time) – the next scene of peril or horror. I was never scared but I think this is more a result of my jaded brain – I can totally see it terrifying me rigid a few years ago.

2) I think this film is perfect for the age group the certification just about bars from the cinema. When this hits streaming / DVD I think it’s going to blow up again with teenagers; it’s genuinely a shame some of them wont get to see this in the cinema.

Enough about takeaways!

Much like The (American) Ring, Paranormal Activity, and Final Destination, IT sets itself up with a scenario in which it can regular surprise the audience with an unfurling variety of of horror magic tricks.

However, due to IT equally being a coming of age 80s nostalgia Speilbergian adventure, you don’t often feel like everything is a means to a gruesome end; what could be a series of jump-scares are instead more grounded and personal events share by the characters that reverberate throughout their story.

The kids are great; the clowns great; persons float – what more do you want?

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