Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is surprisingly frightening (Movie Review)

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Illustration by Stephen Gammell

As you’re nervously walking around the scholastic fair; you stumble upon a book that captures your eyes. The cover is a clown with a gruesome grin. Even doe you’re scared,  it doesn’t stop you from opening it and flipping thru the pages.  You see a child with a sad expression digging in his garden. Suddenly he finds a toe. The child brings it to the house, thinking it’s a plum and eats it with his stew. It’s late at night and his parents are sleeping but he’s wide awake. “Then he hears footsteps and the creature comes into his room and yells at him saying “Where is my to-o-o-o-o-e?!“. Frighten,  you quickly throw the book away and leave the fair. The memory is ingrained in your memory until now.Resultado de imagen para scary stories to tell in the dark movie

Director André Øvredal and Producer Guillermo Del Toro brings your nightmares back to life with the film adaptation of Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.  The story takes back in 1968 America. Stella, a girl obsessed with monsters, and her friends for Halloween night they go to the abandon mansion of the Bellow family. They say that the house is haunted by Sarah Bellow. A girl who turned her misery into scary stories. But, who would have thought they could come to life?

Evil Dead, Oculus, Drag me to Hell; It’s a common trope within horror to use curse objects as the main theme. It certainly not an original story and we have seen it before but the director explores this element in certain ways. Being that the main source of inspiration is a children’s horror book, you’ll think that the film would have been made as an anthology ( such as the Twilight zone movie or VHS). But, they created a story wherein a clever way incorporated these shorts stories. The way that the story was told was not through adults but children as the main victims. Putting them in horrific situations.Imagen relacionada

The script was created by Del Toro and Dan & Kevin Hageman. Being that the film is based on a children’s book, they don’t dumb down the story to the viewers.  It’s creepy and disturbing when it needs to. With the help of the director, Øvredal captures the dark and eerie feeling that Del Toro wanted on the big screen. However, being that the characters are children, the dialogue felt cheesy at times.  On top of that, the pacing of the story was a little off. Mostly because we get an amount of character buildup and side story before the actual “scary parts” happen.

The highlights of the film were when scary stories come to life. The build-up and the payoff of the scenes were well executed by creating tension when was needed. On the other hand, you’ll recognize some of the childhood stories such as The Big toe, Harold the scarecrow, and others. Seeing the creatures on the big screen you can feel the essence of Guillermo del Toro all over it. Capturing the details of the once black and white illustrations and turning them into real-life gruesomeness.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a fun creepy movie. Even doe it’s a formula that we have seen before, its a solid story with unsettling creatures. It’s a perfect movie for young (and adults ) cinephiles who aren’t too keen on scary films but want to slowly introduce themselves to the horror genre.

I Give this movie 3 / 5 toes on a stew.

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Midsommar: Movie Review

Director Ari Aster earned a lot of attention in 2018 with his film Hereditary; a story about the deterioration of a family after a gruesome tragedy. Getting the most deserve praised by critics and the film community. After his debut film, he announced his next project Midsommar. It’s no surprise to be one of the most anticipated films of 2019.

The movie stars Florence Pugh as Dani. After a horrific tragedy, she becomes emotionally unstable and tries to find comfort from her emotionally distant boyfriend, Christian played by Jack Reynor. Dani learns that her boyfriend and his three buddies made plans to attend a festival in Sweden where it’s only celebrated once every 90 years and thus tagging along with them.Imagen relacionada

when it comes to writing a story, Ari Aster main focus is grief/trauma. Telling it in the most disturbing and horrific way possible. Ari continues to explore this on Midsommar with Florence pugh character as she tries to handle her emotions after her traumatic event. Showing instances of her having anxiety, panic attacks, and disassociation through the film. Ari also opens up a conversation about toxic relationships and how it can affect the psyche of a person.  How she was constantly sorry about her actions, always taking his side and being a victim of pure pressure. Watching this character struggle is not a good sight to see and makes you almost sympathetic.

On the visual aspect of this movie, it focuses on the senses. Beautiful bright colors, a lot of wides shots to show the scenery and the use of nature. One of the most interesting things about this film is the high contrast of colors with the actual story. Being such a dark narrative but using such vivid colors gives it such a twisted undertone to it that just makes you uncomfortable.

Resultado de imagen para midsommar horror Since the beginning until the end of the movie, you’re in this journey with these characters. Never knowing what’s gonna happen next. One of the tropes that help incite the state of confusion was flipped over shots, long shots, and wide shots. Another way was how they incorporated the theme of drugs within the story. How the characters where mostly drugged through the film. Enhancing the state of confusion by showing their psychedelic trips and incorporating it on the shots; using distorted images, brights colors and hallucinations.

Strangely enough, being a horror movie, it has funny moments. Will Poulter’s character is the comedic relief of this gruesome story. Personally, I didn’t felt that the jokes were forced, rather I was surprised by some of the actions and they even referenced a film for a punchline. On the other hand, Florence Pugh acting stands out by delivering the emotional punches of the movie. However, there were some characters that were just there without any resolve nor development. It felt that they were put in the story to help progress the plot.

Midsommar relies on disturbing imagery and an eerie score to provide tension. What I like about Ari as a director he discards the classics horror tropes and gives us an original way to make our skin crawl. He doesn’t shy away in showing us very graphic and gory scenarios to get a reaction out of the audience. If you’re a fan of horror you don’t wanna miss this out.

I give this movie 4 / 5 flower crowns.

TRIGGER WARNING: This movie contains themes such as suicide, substance abuse, and body gore.

Here’s my Hereditary movie review 

 

 

 

 

 

Mis dos granos de arroz sobre el documental After María

Al descubrir que el streaming service numero uno, Netflix, iba a tener un documental sobre el huracán María me tomo por sorpresa.  Finalmente, una oportunidad para compartir la lucha que los puertorriqueños tuvieron ante María. Pero al ver el documental, no puede evitar sentir emociones mixtas. After Maria , cuenta la historia de dos familias puertorriqueñas que se mudaron al Bronx con la ayuda de FEMA. Tocando el tema de la diáspora puertorriqueña a consecuencia del huracán María y como les afecta a estas mujeres. Ahora, al sentarme y analizar este documental ¿Qué podemos decir?

Claramente este documental le falta información y contexto. Raspando solamente la superficie de los eventos ocurridos. Claro, no podemos descartar que el documental si enseña la falta de servicio que FEMA les dio a estas familias. Pero, tenemos que aclarar que la culpa de que estas insatisfecho con el documental no lo tiene las familias. Hermanos, hay que recordar que también ellos fueron victimas del huracán. Ellos perdieron familiares y sus casas.  Cada cual tuvo su experiencia y el documental esta contando la realidad de estas familias.

Ahora, hay dos lados en la moneda. Mis emociones mixtas vienen de la falta de representación de quien nos quedamos aquí. El documental tuvo una gran oportunidad de presentar lo que vivimos, luchamos y perdimos, a cientos de personas que no tienen la mínima idea que paso en nuestra islita. Los meses que estuvimos sin luz y sin agua. Las veces que muchas personas pasaron hambre por que nada mas podían comer una vez al día.Las filas de mas de 3 horas para coger una bolsa de hielo, solamente para que se derritiera al día siguiente. Los cientos de personas que perdieron sus casas. Las casas que en el día de hoy todavía están decoradas en azul. Como las plantas eléctricas eran nuestro nuevo despertador. Ellos nunca van a saber que es “bañarse a cubito”. Donde pacientes murieron en los hospitales por falta de energía eléctrica y la cifra de muertos fueron más de 2,900.  Como un rollo de papel tolla fue un símbolo de denigración y burla.

El problema que tiene el documental es que carece del otro lado de la historia. Los que nos quedamos y la pasamos de caín. Es esa oportunidad de enseñar lo que verdaderamente paso en nuestra islita y no la aprovecharon. Solamente enseñando una porción pequeña de un grave problema. Sin embargo, les recuerdo que no podemos menospreciar la historia de estas mujeres solamente por que fueron diferente a lo nuestro ya que cada cual carga con su propia experiencia. El documental perdió una gran oportunidad de enseñar la realidad que nosotros vivimos. Solamente mostrando un lado de la moneda.

 

Aquí le adjunto un blog post sobre mi experiencia en el Huracán María : Click Here 

 

“Al otro Lado” Photography project

         “Al otro lado” es una colección de 10 fotos en la cual el enfoque principal son los puentes de Puerto Rico. Ya sean puentes modernos, colgantes o escondidos por la naturaleza. Cada uno tiene una estructura diferente que los hace único. Las fotos fueron tomadas en diferentes pueblos de nuestra islita; desde Quebradilla, Ciales, Caguas, Trujillo Alto y Bayamón.  La mayoría de las fotos fueron tomadas frontalmente para poder destacar la profundidad de campo y las líneas. Además, poder señalar la repetición de líneas en su estructura y su simetría.

       Esta colección de fotos toma un aspecto diferente sobre estás infraestructuras que nos han ayudado a movernos de un lado al otro. Sin ellos, nosotros tuviéramos un obstáculo grande en trata de llegar a nuestro destino. Es la simpleza de su función principal que contribuye en el desarrollo de nuestra economía y la sociedad. Estas infraestructuras se han entrelazado en nuestra vida cotidiana.  

 

 

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Fotos tomadas por Ana Sofia Cintron Mediavilla

Detective Pikachu: Movie review

When It comes to anime / videogame live-action films I’m always hesitant in seeing it because of the bad history and backlash they had within the community. Soo, when I heard that there was going to be a Pokémon movie I was lost for words.  Leaving me asking a lot of questions such as, How are they gonna bring this world into reality? What about the character designs?  What’s the story even going to be about? Nevertheless, I went to the theaters with an open mind and a touch of curiosity. Resultado de imagen para detective pikachu movie

Detective Pikachu is directed by Rob Letterman (2015 Goosebumps ) and it starts Justice Smith has Tim Goodman, a former pokemon enthusiast. After his dad was in an accident, Tim has to go to Ryme City, a metropolis were humans and pokémon coexist. He meets his dad’s former pokemon, Pikachu voiced by Ryan Reynolds. But, it wasn’t just a normal accident and it’s up to them to investigate.

The setting of Ryme City felt something straight of an anime. Using a variety of bright colors and neon-lit to set the environment.  The city wouldn’t be as it is without the pokémon; putting one in every corner. Seeing pokémon’s of the first generation until the recent one, these little CGI monsters were fun to watch come to life. A movie that was shot in a 35mm can’t help but look stunning.

Resultado de imagen para detective pikachu movie review The movie was consistently entertaining and funny because of Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu itself. Making jokes throughout the whole movie . Also giving us interesting chemistry between him and Tim. But at times,  when the dialogue became simple or flat, Pikachu came and saved the day.

The movie is a simple yet solid story. Yes, Sometimes it gave us cliché tropes but it was balanced between funny and dramatic moments. Detective Pikachu is a film that fans from the franchise would love and an introduction to the world of pokemon for the younger audience.  It’s a goofy, lighthearted comedy that everyone can enjoy. I mean, Who wouldn’t love to see their favorite pokémon come to life?

I give this movie 3/5 Pokeballs

 

 

 

 

 

Extremely wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile: Movie Review

On this day and age, true crime cases have been a popular theme within the entertainment business. Streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix aren’t new in this subject. Launching several documentaries, mini-series, movies, and so on. It’s not surprising that sooner or later there was gonna be one related to America’s most famous serial killer, Ted Bundy.  Early in the year, Netflix came out with a  four-part documentary series called Conversations With a Killer: the Ted Bundy Tapes. After the success of this mini-series, the creator, Joe Berlinger, announced his next movie called Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. A film about …you guessed it; Ted Bundy.Resultado de imagen para extremely wicked

After the announcement of this such film, many questions came up. How are they gonna portray this? What specific event is it gonna partake on? Are they gonna romanticize this evil man? Is the movie gonna make us sympathize with him? All of these questions were valid and reasonable.

The film focuses on the relationship of Ted Bundy and his girlfriend, Liz Kendall played by Lilly Collins. How they met and became a family; all leading up to the murder trials. The movie is told throughout her point of view. The director doesn’t glamorize the killer but rather sympathizes with the girlfriend. Showing us how slowly her mental health is deteriorating and helping us understand why it took her soo long to get out of his control. Resultado de imagen para extremely wicked

On the other side of the Story, there is Ted Bundy played by Zac Efron. The film portrays him as the documentaries and papers stated him to be; a manipulative and an arrogant person that charmed his way into peoples lives.  The film didn’t need to show us the murders for us to get this unnerving and creepy vibe from it. Zac Efron’s performance was really great in this film and I could even say it’s his best role yet. There were some scenes were his acting really stand out such as Ted Bundy’s indictment and court scene. Where he meticulously recreated his actions and speeches.

Being a movie about real-life events, they withhold a lot of information that happened. Only getting glimpses of it by using flashback narration. But, the movie at first felt too fast paced and a little slow on the third act. Sometimes it concentrated way too much on certain events and it became a little repetitive. The movie tried to cram up a series of events that happened for more than 10 years into an hour and forty minutes runtime. But nevertheless, they tried their best to highlight the important events to build a solid story.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is a film that doesn’t glorify the killer. It didn’t need to show us the grotesque side of the story to give us the viewers an uneasy vibe. It’s a solid movie with great performances from Zac Efron and Lilly Collins. 

I give this movie 3.5/5

 

 

 

 

 

Shoplifters : Reseña

A veces, el vínculo familiar no se define por sangre, sino por amor. El cineasta Hirozaku Kore-eda una vez más, regresa a la pantalla grande con sus temas emblemáticos; explorando la naturaleza, vínculo de familia y la sociedad japonesa. En su nueva historia, escrita y dirigida por él mismo, narra sobre una familia que se dedica a robar para poder sobrevivir. Un día, después de robar un supermercado, se encuentran con una niña hambrienta, llevándosela a su casa. Pero, cuando descubren que es maltratada,la adoptan como uno de ellos.Resultado de imagen para shoplifters

A lo largo de la historia, Kore-eda nos conmueve con la relación de los personajes y poco a poco nos encariñamos con esta familia. Son esos pequeños momentos que nos muestras esa dulzura y amor entre ellos mismos; especialmente los niños, que como la audiencia nos ablanda el corazón. Sin embargo, no todo es color de rosas. Incluso, aunque vemos lo bonito también esta el problema que lo que hicieron fue ilegal, ellos secuestraron a esta niña y le enseñaron a robar. Aquí es donde la película empieza a cuestionar nuestra moralidad. Sabes que lo que hizo fue ilegal, pero, aunque ellos no son sus padres biológicos la aman y la tratan mejor que sus propios padres. Ellos roban para poder vivir. La audiencia, subconscientemente, empezamos a justificar las decisiones de los personajes y estar de su parte. El director definitivamente supo definir su tema y capturar nuestras emociones.

Por otro lado, el director nos enseña el tema social de la película. Mostrándonos una familia de clase y recursos bajos; un aspecto que no se habla mucho en el cine japonés y a través de esta película se logro capturar. ¿Cómo? Hay que destacar las localizaciones y el diseño de producción de la película. La mayoría de la trama se desenvuelve en la casa de la familia. Vemos como la casa esta en su decadencia, baños descuidados, comida en las mesas y la acumulación de objetos en la casa; un símbolo del miedo de perder mas de lo que no tienen. El aspecto de deterioro de la casa y el cuarto nos deja ver la condición económica y la forma en que viven los  personajes. En si, esta película cuenta con un diseño de producción lleno de detalles interesantes que aumenta la calidad visual al filme.Resultado de imagen para shoplifters

Otra manera que podemos expresar las emociones es a través de tiros de cámaras. Shoplifters esta acompañado por una cinematografía espectacular gracias a Kondo Ryuto. La película esta compuesta de varios tiros para complementar las emociones a través de la cinematografía. Pero, hay dos tiros y escenas que tenemos que destacar. La primera es un simple tiro de plano general que nos mostraba el cuarto donde ocurría la mayoría de la interacción de los personajes. Ellos sentados mientras comían en el tatami o simplemente teniendo una conversación entre ellos mismos. Además, con el con el tiro plano general podíamos ver el ambiente en la casa y como era su estatus social sin tener que decirlo en voz alta. El segundo tiro es acompañado por una de las escenas más cruciales de la película. Uno de los personajes es intervenido y con una actuación espectacular puedes ver en la cara como su mundo se va deslizando de sus manos. Esta escena crucial es complementada con un tiro con de plano mediano con una duración de más de un minuto. Creando un ambiente emocional que hará la audiencia simpatizar con el personaje.

Shoplifters es una película que parte con premisas que cuestiona moralidades. ¿Qué significa familia? ¿Tu naces con ella o escoges tu propia familia? Son temas que el director Kore-eda planta en la pantalla sutilmente a través de este drama familiar. Enseñándolo por medios simple gestos de amor que los personajes se hacen con uno al otro. Plasmando que el acto de “elegir a alguien” como tu familia puede crear un vínculo más poderoso que simplemente nacer en ella. Tu escoges quien tu quieres que entre en tu vida y a veces una persona quien conoces en un solo día puede ser mas familia que una que nació con el titulo.