The Epitaph

Horror movie roundup

By Avalon Allen and Luka Maeda

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Muschietti makes a riveting adaptation of Stephen King’s iconic novel  

Amazing acting and incredible visuals define this popular horror film

As many know, “It” was originally created by the popular horror novelist Stephen King in 1986. The plot was centered on a group of outcasted children being terrorized by Pennywise, a sinister shape-shifting clown that takes the form of his victim’s worst fears.

Being one of his most famous works, the popular thriller novel was adapted into a miniseries four years after its publication. Unfortunately, this 1990 adaption of the book would fail to impress many, earning a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes with critics claiming its only remarkable quality was Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise.

However, the newest version of “It”, released on September 8, 2017, not only has a notably sensational portrayal of Pennywise by Swedish actor and model, Bill Skarsgård, but also incredible child actors, a good atmosphere, creative scares and an excellent soundtrack.

The incredibly adept cast of child actors give a genuine depiction of childhood grief and isolation while showing as much skill as educated professionals. At no point throughout the film did poor acting or stunted dialogue pull me out of the story, and I found myself truly becoming attached even to characters who only appeared for short amounts of screen times

The fine-tuned details seen throughout “It” only increased my appreciation for the movie. Amongst the background, eagle-eyed viewers could find a deadly easter egg hunt, creepy library patrons skulking in the background and a motif of lurking red balloons.

It’s clear this film was made with painstaking focus on the visuals, every scene using lighting, proper set decor and a detailed costumes to create an atmosphere that emotionally adds to the situation and characters.

However, while what scares someone is different for all individuals, I personally found the jumps in “It” to be predictable and cheesy, with an overuse of imagery that was noticeably computer generated. The film’s noticeable lack of any ambiguity or suspense also ruined the scariness of the story.

Pennywise defies the common trend in horror films of keeping the main monster a mystery in appearance. Most of it’s entrances are rather extravagant ordeals (Pennywise even frantically dancing in one of them) that ruin all chance of tension.

Though “It” is full of creepy, innovative visuals, it doesn’t have an eerie tone or any real terrors to make this a truly frightful movie. Honestly, “It” fits in more of a coming-of-age, fantasy genre due to the film’s occasionally choppy comedic exchanges, focus on childhood drama, extravagant visuals and ultimately heart-warming ending.

However, these flaws don’t make “It” any less of a well-done, intriguing movie. Even with a running time of of two hours and 15 minutes, it’s impossible not to be hooked on this adrenaline-rushing, surprisingly poignant film.

A prequel that upstages its predecessor

Despite “Annabelle”’s flaws, its prequel, “Annabelle: Creation”, is a riveting watch.

“Annabelle,” a branch of “The Conjuring” franchise, was the over-hyped horror movie of 2014 that was expected to be as well-done and original as it’s companion films. Ultimately, it failed to meet such hopes due to its dullness, predictability and lack of genuine frights.

Despite such poor reviews, the financial success resulted in an initially unwanted prequel: “Annabelle: Creation,” which most expected to be just as unoriginal and boring as its predecessor.

“Creation” focuses on a nun and six orphaned girls being housed by a former toy-making couple who’ve lost their six-year-old daughter, Annabelle.

To everyone’s shock, “Annabelle: Creation” proved itself to be an incredibly frightful film, full of intense and creative jumpscares.

However, this movie certainly isn’t intellectually or emotionally profound. It’s not going to make you contemplate any philosophical issue, but innovative scares make up for all of the film’s flaws. The director of the movie, David F. Sandberg, is merciless in his attempts to terrify you.

By not holding back on suspense, and cunningly using common fears, such as the dark, scarecrows and creepy dolls, he delivers a petrifying film.

Fans of the “Conjuring” series will definitely enjoy this latest installment, which features several easter eggs. Some of them including Valek (the malevolent villain of “The Conjuring 2”), a brief appearance of the original Annabelle doll that the movie is based off of, multiple post-credits scenes and an ending that cleverly ties in with the original film.

“Annabelle: Creation” is a worthy prequel and a frightful delight for both regular viewers and fans of “The Conjuring” series that I would thoroughly recommend for anyone hoping to be scared out of their mind.

Madness Condensed Into One Movie

Mother! delivers a high-intensity, fast paced thriller, feeding fans satisfaction

Gut-wrenching barely scratches the surface for “Mother!” as it displays gunshots of sickening emotions and a whole new definition of violence.

The film features two nameless couples, the first played by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, and the second being two strangers played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris. Their meeting triggers a massive wave of commotion that spirals out of control.

I’ve waited for this film for months. Director Darren Aronofsky managed to gorge out every bit of sanity my mind was capable of holding in “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Black Swan” and I did not expect any less from “Mother!”.

Though I have to admit, this film left me confused when I first stumbled out of the theater. Copious amounts of vague symbolism were smashed into this two-hour flick and it left me with a sense of hesitation towards “Mother!” and regretfully, Aronofsky.

After putting more thought into the movie and digesting explanations from Aronofsky, I realize that this film isn’t meant to be simple at all. This is very complicated, very deranged and very outstanding.

The biggest highlight from the film was Jennifer Lawrence’s exceptional performance. She illustrated a radiating goddess on one end and a hysteric slasher soaked in blood on the other end.

This paired with the “soundtrack” really hit the spot for me. One Skeeter Davis cover of “The End of The World” by Patti Smith was layered on top of the ending credits, but no other soundtrack was present throughout the film.

What they did instead was exaggerate every sound in the film; the fly buzzing outside, Lawrence picking up a glass of water, sliding her hands against the table. All emphasized more than it needs to, luring the audience in and forcing them to pay closer to details. The lack of any soundtrack was almost a soundtrack itself.

I personally highly appreciated “Mother!” from beginning to end, but the movie isn’t for everyone. It’s difficult to recommend this to all, because it can really twist your emotional and mental limits. But if you’re seeking for something to stir and crush you inside out while being able to stomach gore, this might be the film you’ve been looking for.

Oplev’s Downfall

Horror film remake brings disappointment to the table

Nials Arden Oplev, genius creator of film “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “Dead Man Down,” etches disappointment into the audiences’ minds with his recent remake of “Flatliners.” Pointless and monotonous, “Flatliners” was able to do just one thing: flatline me to boredom.

I won’t lie ; the mid-summer release of the first trailer snapped my attention with an intriguing concept: medical students playing with science and temporarily stopping beating hearts to see what’s beyond death.

Ellen Page’s appearance as Courtney definitely contributed to my decision to watch this film. Her performance in “Juno” was in-character and left me in silent awe. I was a little skeptical on this one though —  “Flatliners” would be too serious for her usual childish and reckless personality in movies.

I was right. Page’s acting fell short but didn’t lack as much as the other major roles in the film. Kiersey Clemons (as Sophia) and James Norton (as Jamie) were exceptionally forgettable characters, bundled there to only exaggerate the plotline. Nina Dobrev (as Marlo) was also extremely unnecessary, with facial expression fruitless as ever.  Page just shouldn’t work for thriller films.

That wasn’t the tipping point for me though. What really irked me was the amateurish editing and the choppy transitions.

The messy color gradation and the absent blend between computer graphics and actor was simply rushed and unprofessional. Careless, silly plot holes were peppered throughout the film. Unfitting soundtracks were dispersed in the worst possible moments. Their $19 million budget could’ve gone to much better use.

Ben Ripley, writer of “Flatliners,” is clearly ill-knowledgeable in comedy and romance. Even the serious romantic wedge of the film was utterly spoiled by a dialogue between Ray (played by Diego Luna) and Marlo: “What do you see in me?” “You’re hot.” Try going on a date or two, Ripley.

Plain and simple: “Flatliners” is merely about oblivious rich kids that open unnecessary amounts of bottled wine and are too self-centered for their greater good to mourn for their friend’s death, all accompanied by one-toned jump scares. Cheap and pathetic, “Flatliners”  deserves the 2 percent it got on Rotten Tomatoes.


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About the Writer
Luka Maeda, Reporter
Luka is a senior at Homestead but this is her first year as an Epitaph staff. She occasionally writes and watches films in her free time. Her favorite film is It’s Such a Beautiful Day by Don Hertzfeldt. Related
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