There’s been a really worrying trend in the horror genre these days. Really well-made movies that almost seem like they are embarrassed to be horror movies. Movies where they have a horror premise and then do nothing with it. There might be one scare or something in the entire enterprise. They call it “elevated” horror and it’s kinda crap. They usually sit at a level of basic mediocrity. Never truly offensive because they try so hard not to swing for the fences that you can’t get any real energy going either defending it or hating it.
“Raw” is one of those movies. It introduces the idea of a passed down family trait of cannibalism and then does nothing with it. It’s there. There are scenes of the main girl eating stuff that are maybe kind of gross. There’s a “shocking” death at the end that is there, happening off screen. And like many of these “elevated” horror movies, it has a theme that it introduces early on and then repeats the same idea the entire run time and doesn’t do much with it. Basically, it’s a short that is stretched out to feature length.
Also, the ideas it goes with use the cannibalism thing as a metaphor for awakening sexuality/coming into your own in college. Yet it feels weird to make that connection since it is basically saying that women with their own autonomy are monsters. The movie is well made and it would be nice to see this female director take on a project with a real script. But as a character study, it’s kind of limp and confused in its ideas, while as a genre film it is severely lacking in genre elements.
4. The Square
People like to describe this movie as a cringe comedy. Really? That seems a bit generous in both descriptions. It’s not really cringe-inducing, just annoying. And a comedy indicates that laughs would be a part of the package, but the laughs are sparse.
Mainly because this movie solidifies a longstanding argument is that comedies should not be longer than two hours. This movie is quite longer than that and it feels it. Every minute of it. As an indictment on the art world and those kinds of people in it that claim to be about free speech but are actually fussy little bitches, it’s fine.
Again, the length works against it. There’s a lethargy that sets in with this movie. It tries to do that thing of having scenes run so long that they go from funny to unfunny back to funny again. Any claims of this being a masterpiece are misguided at best, misrepresentative back patting at its worst. There’s good stuff in here, but it feels like a rough cut that needed to be whittled down to an ingestible run time.
This movie wasn’t going to be on this list initially as it felt like it wasn’t well received when it came out. But looking upon the trusty little guide called Rotten Tomatoes (aka fanboy’s worst goddamn enemy) shows that it’s at 84 percent with critics and 80 percent with audiences. How? This is a really not a good movie.
A movie that feels fine in the moment, nothing great and nothing too bad, but festers over time. The more you think about it, the worse it gets. Because it’s a movie that starts in a place that feels like it’s going to be an ensemble piece about the Detroit riots that jumps around town to show different elements of it. But then it shrinks down to a torture porn movie for like 45 minutes just to show how cops brutalize black folk. That’s it. Nothing more to it other than showing that cops can be really bad and racist.
In a world where cameras are literally everywhere and police brutality can be its own weekly YouTube show, this feels bizarrely undercooked and misguided. There’s nothing in its mind. It just thinks by showing these things that it’s teaching people a lesson. But who is this for? Black people already get this as it is the reality they live with. White people? Even white people hear about these stories all the time, and the ones who are open to the idea of cops being bad have already gotten better written and well thought out stories about this idea.
And as a movie, it is structured like crap. The beginning sets up something it doesn’t become, then there’s the hotel torture stuff, and then it becomes a courtroom drama that is like a prequel that shows how every cop gets away with this stuff today including the tried and true “well, he did a crime in the past so obviously he’s bad” defense. It’s just so half formed, which is annoying because the technical merits are so strong. Kathryn Bigelow is a strong director in that regard, but her prowess for narratives can be kinda weak. This might be her weakest in a long time.
2. The Beguiled
Sofia Coppola is a very specific taste. She has her own mode of cinema and it’s not one for everybody. There’s a cold and distanced and slow style in her work that won’t grab mainstream audiences. She is interested in the lifestyles of the rich and the famous, as that is the only world she’s known. Niche is a good word. But she’s never took those interests and gone into the genre field with them, so her remaking a Clint Eastwood movie from the 70s has some automatic interest in it. But sadly, she was not primed for this kind of narrative.
The movie seems to not understand the narrative it’s trying to adapt. Whereas the narrative is supposed to paint everyone as wrong-headed and dysfunctional assholes, this doesn’t do that. It tries to make it like an accident of manners but it confuses everything. It manages to have Coppola’s trademark slow and moody tone for the first 7/8ths of the movie, and then fast forward through the entire climax so that none of it lands. So by the time we get to the genre stuff, she shows how this genre stuff is really not in her wheelhouse.
Most bafflingly is how kind of bad it is shot. The look of the movie when there is sunlight is pretty striking and pretty. But then when it’s nighttime, it’s almost unwatchable. There are scenes where there’s even no candlelight and it is literally unwatchable. Just blobs in the darkness. It’s wild. It’s a really not very good movie. This isn’t a case of the movie being okay and getting overpraised. This movie is actually not good. It has too many flaws for it to be anything other than a well meaning but ultimately failed experiment.
This movie is literally atrocious. It is the most amateurish and insulting brain-dead movie not made by Colin Trevorrow in the year of our lord 2017. Darren Aronofsky was once one of our most interesting and ballsy filmmakers working in the field. Then he decided to become interested in theology and disappeared up his own ass. This and “Noah” were horrible. But this is worse because it is so literal that there is nothing to it. There’s nothing to dig into and parse the meaning.
The movie has two possible meanings to it and they are both so loud and in your face that it is grating. They are also so simple that you can’t help but think that Aronofsky is super proud of these not really profound ideas he’s chasing. The smug levels in this movie are off the charts, and the whole package is so grating and irritatingly theme-based that it feels like it’s five hours long.
The movie is only interested in theme and not having everything fit together cohesively to bring the themes out naturally. There’s no subtext. It’s just text. What we get is so one-note, irritating and stupid that you spend more time wondering how this film student got a budget to trick some A-list actors to give some really bad performances in a shockingly pretentious package. Sadly, I think we lost Darren to his own ego.