Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Halloweenie Review: Orphan (2009)

When I thought up the ‘Halloweenie’ idea for this blog over October, I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have so far. Really, I was just looking for an excuse to watch It Follows and The Babadook without having to try and write a proper review for them, but having knocked those two out of the park early on, I found myself on Sunday night actively looking for another good Horror movie to watch. That’s how I came across Orphan (2009). I came across a list of ‘The 25 Best Horror Films of the 21st Century so far’ and didn’t get any further than the first one on the list.

“An original chiller co-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio”
“...it ramps up to a rare (and essentially unguessable) twist”
Oh, I’m sold.

The orphan in question is a young girl named Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), who is adopted by troubled parents Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard) who already have 2 children younger than Esther, one of which is deaf. I’m still not sure why, or how that’s important to the plot, but okay. At least it made me keep my eyes on the screen to read the subtitles whenever she was signing.


It’s quite a long movie, but it never really dragged. The characters are all well introduced, we learn about the struggles Kate and John have had, Kate’s drinking problem, John’s infidelity, their miscarriage. I question whether it’s the right time for them to adopt, but then so did they, so I can accept that. Esther is an instantly likeable character, she’s quiet and doesn’t like like to play with the other children at the home, but she enjoys music and art, and she’s very smart. She’s a little odd, with her dress sense, ribbons and the way she talks, and that only gets worse as the movie goes on.

Esther quickly takes a liking to her new younger sister and her new father, but doesn’t like Kate much at all. She manipulates the whole family in such a way it’s frustrating to watch at times. I haven’t seen many of Peter Sarsgaard’s movies but I always find his character unlikeable, and I can’t explain why. I couldn’t stand him in this either. Would you really trust the word of your newly adopted and down right weird daughter over your wife?


I’ll keep this post spoiler free for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie yet, but I can’t argue with the second point that sold the movie to me in the first place. I did NOT see that plot twist coming. Personally, I try not to work it out anyway, because I love the thrill of the twist when it comes, but I couldn’t help but laugh at this one. I mean, really?!

I feel so conflicted. The movie felt well written (almost), well made, well acted, but so much made so little sense. It felt like so many details were thrown in to throw the audience off the scent, but really, the clues were there from the very beginning. I’m going to have to mull over this one for a while I think!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Describe Yourself in 3 Fictional Characters

A few weeks ago, our Twitter feed and my own personal Facebook feed was full of these ‘Describe Yourself in 3 Fictional Characters’ posts. Now, I take my lists seriously, and so whilst making sure I chose my 3 characters perfectly, I kind of missed the boat. This isn’t going round anymore. But perhaps you missed it, too? Either way, I need a break from terrorising myself with horror movies, and this seemed like a great chance.

Originally, all 3 of my picks were from TV Shows. It wasn’t deliberate, but when you dedicate years to a TV series you really get to know the characters and empathise with them, but I wanted to give myself at least one pick from movies. So, here we go!


Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
Have you ever watched a show and just felt the need to point at a particular character and shout ‘that’s me!’ over and over again? Man, I don’t know how anyone puts up with me when 30 Rock is on the TV. I’m not a girly girl in the slightest, I’m far happier in my joggers at home with a big bag of snacks on a Saturday night than out clubbing in high heels. I have no idea what I’m doing with my life half of the time, I tend to just stumble into everything. In fact, I could really do with a Jack Donaghy in my life to mentor me. Liz Lemon, you are my spirit animal!

Hermione Granger, Harry Potter
Yeah, I kind of cheated here considering how many Harry Potter movies there are. Hermione Granger is the character that everyone else thinks I’m most like. My brother still tags me in things on Facebook on a regular basis. I’d like to think it’s because everything thinks I’m pretty and intelligent, but deep down I know it’s because I’m a complete teacher’s pet, I’m bossy, and I like to correct people on the correct way to say things. Not that my grammar and spelling is perfect of course, but I want to scream when I see someone type ‘could of’ instead of ‘could have’. And you know, it’s levi-O-sa, not levios-A.

Winston Bishop, New Girl
I know, I’m not a man, trust me, but I have such a connection to Winston! To me, New Girl feels like the new age of Friends, where everyone can relate to at least one of the characters (I’m Monica apparently, as much as I’d like to be a Phoebe). Winston has that never ending optimism that I try to channel as much as I can, and hey, it turns out that there is someone out there who loves cats and bubble baths just as much as me! 

Friday, 21 October 2016

Review: Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

I’ll give any movie a try, within reason. I don’t listen to critic reviews, but I place a lot of faith into bloggers’ opinions. Bloggers review movies for fun in their spare time, you know you’re going to get nothing but their own opinions from their reviews. Hunt for the Wilderpeople only came into my radar a few weeks ago, and every blog review I read had nothing but praise for it. That was enough to convince me to add it to my watch list, but once I realised that it’s directed by Taika Waititi, the genius behind What We Do in the Shadows, I made it my mission to watch it as soon as possible.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is based off a book by Barry Crump called Wild Pork and Watercress. It has that book-adaptation feel to it (don’t ask me to explain that feeling - I can’t) anyway, and it’s broken up into Chapters which sum up the ongoings well. In fact, I’d really love to give the book a go, I hope it’s as funny as the movie.

Ricky (Julian Dennison) is a troubled young boy, moving around different foster homes. He’s dropped out at the farm belonging to Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (Sam Neill) as a last chance. If he screws this up, he’s going to end up in Juvy. Ricky struggles to settle in his new home, despite the love and attention given to him by Bella, and so he runs away into the bush. Hec goes out to find him, and the result is a national manhunt for the pair as it appears that Hec has kidnapped Ricky.

It’s a funny coincidence that I watched this in the same week as Swiss Army Man, because they both have a lot of similarities!


Waititi’s style is clear in this movie. It’s got that same sense of humour as What We Do in the Shadows, and it’s quirky from start to finish. Julian Dennison absolutely shines as the child star of the movie, and his delivery of the witty lines is perfect. He’s just like a lot of other 13 year olds, thinking he’s a gangster because he’s shoplifted a chocolate bar, played GTA and listens to rap music. Yet he’s such a likeable character!

Every time I watch a movie set in New Zealand, I’m taken back by the beauty of the country. I’m sure a lot of work went into the cinematography, but honestly, the setting does half the work itself, it’s gorgeous to look at.


The movie walks that line of Comedy and Drama perfectly without throwing the tone all over the place. It has some horrendously sad moments that had me sobbing quite openly, although I won’t discuss why because of spoilers, but it’s also one of the funniest movies I’ve seen all year. The dialogue is brilliant, thanks in part to the chemistry Julian Dennison and Sam Neill share. 

I’ve been trying to balance this review out with a few negatives to warrant the 9/10 score I wanted to give it, but I’m really struggling. Originally I thought the roles of the Child Protection Officer and her Policeman companion were too campy, but actually, they fit the overall feel of the movie perfectly, especially when I try to compare it to What We Do in the Shadows. I very rarely give perfect marks to any movie, I think there’s always room for improvement, but I can’t find it here!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Halloweenie Review: Krampus (2015)

October is Halloweenie month here at Flick Chicks, the month that Jenna and I put on our big girl pants and force ourselves to sit through a few horror movies. You can read more about it in our announcement post here!

Upon realising that Jenna and I don’t live close enough to watch every single scary movie together, I think I fell into my comfort zone a bit, Christmas movies! Krampus (2015) was originally going to be the movie of choice for my family’s annual ‘weekend before Christmas’ cinema trip, until I managed to convince them it was by no means a movie for children, and hey, perhaps we should see The Force Awakens instead?! I have since happily reported back to my Mum she would not have survived this movie.

Krampus is exactly what you think it is. One Christmas Eve, a young boy has a hard time understanding why his family have to get together every year when they clearly can’t stand each other, and in his anger, he accidentally summons a horde of Christmas demons to his home, led by none other than Krampus himself.

The opening scene to this movie might just be my favourite of any festive films I’ve seen. The contrast of the beautiful music “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” with the chaotic, hellish scenes of the rush before the big day, screaming children sat on the laps of miserable mall Santas, people barging others out of the way to finish their shopping, it was so well done. The movie also stars some of my favourite faces from TV, Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), Allison Tolman (Fargo) and David Koechner (The Office) so I had plenty to look forward to.


As funny as it was, the first chunk of the movie felt like a poor man’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but nonetheless, I enjoyed it. I’m a sucker for a cheesy festive flick. It’s actually easy to forget that you’re watching a horror, that it, until a once hopeful letter to Santa gets torn up and thrown out of the window. From there, it’s a fast paced, adrenaline fuelled ride to hell. It’s quite jumpy in parts, especially the scenes outside in the blizzard, but I got used to it after a while. Watching the movie through a layer of cardigan sure helps.

I do have a few issues with Krampus. It’s described as a Horror Comedy, but it doesn’t blend the two genres well at all. The first half is pure comedy, the second part is pure horror, but that cheesy kind of horror that makes you laugh because it’s a bit well, bad. Perhaps that’s what the team was going for, but it felt off to me. The characters were scary enough, that’s for sure. It’ll be a while before I forget that teddy bear’s face!


If you can see past the corny one liners, Krampus is actually quite enjoyable. It also has quite a sentimental lesson behind it, and although it felt rushed, I enjoyed the ending. It wasn’t as ‘happily ever after’ as I expected it to be. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

My Favourite 'Halloween Special' TV Episodes

Until now, I never really got into Halloween in the movie sense, I was too much of a wuss. For the record, I still am, but I’m doing it for the blog this year! Anyway, what I always look forward to in October is the Halloween Specials that my most loved TV Shows air. So, to take my mind off the Babadook, and that creepy teddy from Krampus (he was in my dream last night) I thought I would take the opportunity to share some of my favourite Halloween Specials!


Costume Contest (The Office US, Season 7, Episode 8)
You could always count on The Office to put on a good Halloween episode, I could have dedicated the whole post to them, but my favourite of them all has to be Costume Contest from Season 7. Gabe dressed as Lady Gaga was absolutely hilarious, but in another beautiful moment from one of my favorite TV couples, Jim finally gives in to his hatred of ‘couple costumes’ and turns up with baby Cece, dressed as Popeye and Swee’Pea to match Pam dressed at Olive Oyl.


Halloween (New Girl, Season 2, Episode 6)
So, perhaps not the most exciting name for a Halloween episode, but Season 2 brought a fantastic haunted house themed episode. Jess is working the night shift at a haunted house nearby, and the gang thinks she looks like a zombie Woody Allen. I’m sure my fellow movie bloggers appreciated the impressions that followed. This episode also features one of my favorite Winston moments that I’m still not convinced was scripted, “Shelby you made me so mad my mustache is coming off!”.


Halloween I, II & III (Brooklyn Nine Nine)
Oh boy, okay I’m breaking my own rules now. So far, every year Brooklyn Nine Nine features a Halloween special that gets bigger and better every year. It started in Season 1 where Jake makes a bet with Captain Holt that he can steal his Medal of Valor before the night is over. In Season 2, Jake steps up his game and bets that he can steal Captain Holt’s watch from his very own wrist. Last year the whole precinct was divided into two teams to see who can steal a crown from the interrogation room. I really hope this theme continues into the latest season!


Epidemiology (Community, Season 2, Episode 6)
Ah, why did I give up on Community? It was such a brilliant show in the early seasons. Anyway! Epidemiology kicks off with Dean Pelton dressed as Lady Gaga (is there a theme here!?) for the annual Greendale Halloween Party. There’s something wrong with the food, which it turns out the Dean bought on the cheap from an army surplus store. The catastrophic result is that the entire college gets put on lockdown as what seems like a zombie outbreak occurs.


Two Guys, a Girl and a Psycho Halloween (Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, Season 2, Episode 6)
You know it took over 10 years for the UK to get this show on DVD? A crime, I say! Hilarious to watch if you’re a fan of either Ryan Reynolds or Nathan Fillion, by the way. Anyway, Two Guys, a Girl and a Psycho Halloween was a really clever episode, where a psycho version of Berg shows up and goes on a murderous rampage. At a costume party, his friends have no idea that this isn’t the Berg that they know and love, until they come across the real Berg. The episode comes to a close in the pizza place (of course) as they attempt to work out which Berg is real.

I could honestly talk (type) all day about Halloween specials, so I should leave it there. I’m so looking forward to seeing what my current TV shows come up with for 2016! What’s your favourite Halloween Special? I’d love to know!