Friday, May 26, 2017

What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows is a fun movie. It’s a movie that’s unlikely to be remembered in twenty years as the state of the genre advances. But, if nothing else, it is fun.

The movie is a vampire comedy. It’s not exactly a biting satire, nor a genius character piece. The basic joke of monsters living in a flat in modern day New Zealand isn’t some great new innovation. Nor is the decision to present it as a mockumentary. Basically, we get The Munsters meets This is Spinal Tap.

This is a movie that doesn’t work on paper, but is somehow made to work by the talent of the people behind it. We have and hour and a half to follow these characters, five vampires a two humans. At times the story does seem a bit stretched, and I get the impression this would likely have worked better as several episodes of a mini-series. However, somehow the actors make it work and drive home every moment they’re on screen.

The movie starts with several vampires living as flatmates. The oldest is Petyr (Ben Fransham), an 8,000-year-old vampire with a Count Orlok look, who mostly keeps to himself and remains quiet. Viago (Taika Watiti) is an 18th-century dandy who came to New Zealand from Europe pursuing a human woman, who eventually fell in love with someone else. Vladislav (Jermaine Clement) is a former master hypnotist and shape shifter who, while much younger than Petyr, seems to be a bit past his sell-by date, and is uncomfortable about his failing abilities. The youngest of the group, Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), is a former Nazi and a complete slob.

To the extend that the film even has a plot it revolves around Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer). Nick is brought into the house by Deacon’s human “familiar” Jackie (Jackie Van Beek), who mistakes him for a virgin. Running from the upstairs vampires, he accidentally stumbles across Petyr and finds himself turned into a vampire.

Nick’s presence is something of a mixed blessing to the group. On the one hand, Nick is a blithering idiot who proudly announces he’s a vampire to the world (the irony that the others would complain about this, while letting a documentary film crew follow them around, is acknowledged). However, he also brings his human friend Stu (Stu Rutherford) into the house, who introduces the vampires to modern technology, and quickly becomes more popular than Nick himself.

The remaining relevant threads are Jackie’s attempt to persuade Deacon to make her a vampire (it’s implied vampires regularly lie to their familiars to keep them enthralled, when they have no intentions of turning them), the buildup to an annual masquerade of supernatural creatures, and a vampire hunter killing Petyr because of Nick’s stupidity. If these threads feel like they have nothing to do with each other, that’s because they have absolutely nothing to do with each other. The movie mostly functions as a slice-of-life. Most of the plot-points are eventually resolved, but those resolutions usually take mere moments.

Overall, this is a movie worth watching once. I don’t see myself coming back to it, but I laughed at the jokes. They’re not cutting-edge humor, but they were delivered with the wit and energy necessary to make me enjoy them anyway. Honestly, I’d kind of like to see a sequel, just to revisit these characters.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

I find myself struggling to identify why I liked the previous movies in this series, but didn’t this one. It’s tempting to just say that the formula was stale by this point, but I feel it was something more than that. I suppose if I had to give an explanation it would be that he film was unfocused. It seemed to feel that it had no requirements beyond reviving Jason and having him kill whoever happens to be in his path.

The plot of this film is that Jason (Ted White) wakes up in a hospital and kills some people, then goes back down to the lake to kill some people, then goes to a house where teens are having a party and kills yet some more people. I think by this point in the series we should have been exploring either new premises, or at least more original locations. The hospital is the only time when I felt that the atmosphere was noticeably different from the preceding films, and that atmosphere seemed ripped right out of Halloween II, which did the “killer in a hospital” set-up better, and three years earlier.

Beyond that, the movie seems to just throw characters at us for Jason to kill. In the first two entries Jason was attacking camp councilors, in the third he was attacking a bunch of pot-smoking teens on a farm. In this movie, Jason just kind of wanders around and kills whoever he happens to come across without any real rhyme or reason.

And then, of course, we have Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman). The young brother of our resident Final Girl Trish (Kimberly Beck). Tommy is one of the few recurring characters in this series, and will be present for the next two films. He’s definitely the strongest character in this film, but in an odd way that actually causes him to fail at his intended purpose as a character.

From the beginning the intention was to make Tommy a young Jason, with the implication that he would eventually turn into a killer himself. However, while it might relate to my own autism, Tommy comes across as a mildly autistic, but well-adjusted kid. He makes masks and plays video games because they interest him, and he may somewhat relate to Jason as an outsider.

Towards the end of the film Tommy shaves his head to distract Jason by looking more like him, and then, after Jason is put temporarily down, Tommy hits him repeatedly with his own machete to make sure he doesn’t get back up. This is treated as proof that Tommy has a violent opposed to Tommy being the only one smart enough to make sure that Jason is dead. Tommy isn’t going to turn into a slasher, he’s just not going to die by one either.

I don’t have much else to say about this film, honestly. I have no idea why it was marketed as a finale, when it ends with Jason being no more definitively dead than he was at the end of the previous movie. I accept it as the end of this sub-series not because it completed a story, but because the next film picks up years later.

Would I recommend it? Honestly, not really. I wish they would bring Tommy Jarvis back for future entries, but this is among the least memorable F13 films. For a finale he truly falls short. It’s neither trashy enough to be a true exploitation film, nor does it yet treat Jason with the awe of an iconic character. If anything, I felt less awe than in the previous entry.

To end on a fun trivia note: I was mentally reviewing the F13 movies the other day, and I realized that all parodies are actually spoofing this movie. It’s the only one that has all the pop-culture traits: Jason is the killer (he isn’t in I and V), he wears his hockey mask from the beginning (he doesn’t have it in II and gains it part-way through III), and he isn’t yet overtly supernatural (VI+). Just a weird little bit of fanboying.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday the 13th Part III

(No, I don’t understand the sudden change to Roman Numerals either.)

I wonder why no one ever parodies the cliché of old people dying first. It doesn’t happen in every horror movie, but right off the top of my head” this film, Halloween 2, Halloween 5, and You’re Next all feature one or more old people who appear for a scene or two at the beginning, and then get axed so the killer can stalk the sexy young cast. I kind of wish someone would do a subversion, where the older couple survives and fights the killer after the sexy young people have been sliced up.

The legacy of Jason Vorhees is really the legacy of this film. I remember being in High School when this movie came up in conversation during a math class, and the teacher excitedly recounted his viewing of this film in his youth. It wasn’t considered scandalous or racy that he was talking about this movie. It was as much as part of American culture as Easy Rider.

The first reaction is to say that it’s legacy comes from the hockey mask. This is the movie where Jason finally puts it on, and assumes his iconic look. However, I’m not convinced that the mask is a cause and not an effect. Sure, I doubt any film could have made Jason’s baghead look from Part 2 timeless. However, I also feel that the hockey mask would have been forgotten as well if it was in a more forgettable movie.

Above all, my theory is that this is the film in which the lunatics were officially running the asylum. It was only two years after the first film, so there certainly wasn’t time for a generation to grow up on Jason Vorhees. However, this was a film made for young people, by young people (director Steve Miner was 31 at the time of this film’s release). I feel like the talent behind the movie recognized the zeitgeist of the era they were entering, and they weren’t prepared to short change it.

Does that mean this is a “good” move? Hell no. Rather, it’s a movie that’s good at being what it is. The actors are charismatic, sexy, and seem to be speaking up to make sure the audience can hear them spout exposition. The scares are built up for a time, we get a few false scares, and then the blood comes. The music is both relaxing and haunting in a weird mix. While the movie makes no effort to be realistic, it also never attempts to wink at itself.

The characters, for the most part, fulfill their roles. You have the nice guys, the jerks, a desperate virgin (Larry Zerner), and we get an angry gang of bikers thrown in to give Jason a few more assholes to kill.

It also doesn’t hurt that the setting is very slightly altered. Jason leaves the lake, and journeys to a farm nearby where a group of teenagers are spending some time smoking pot and doing very brief periods of work. While I saw the film in 2D, many of the scenes likely intended to highlight the 3D actually ended up being more memorable precisely because of how weird they seemed for a group of random young people on a farm. We have a guy who walks to the kitchen on his hands, a scene of juggling, and a scene in which a hippie tries to catch popping popcorn in his mouth, just to name a few. Are we suddenly in the circus? Realistic or not, though, you remember it.

Jason in this film seems to overcome his relative weakness from the previous film. This movie treats him with nothing but awe. While Jason’s face is kept mostly obscured for much of the movie, even after the reveal of his mask, Richard Brooker’s body language exudes confidence. He isn’t invincible. One scene has him jump out of the way of a van, and a few moments after that his arms are trapped in the van window, but even then he seems more inconvenienced than afraid or angry. Most of his kills are straight-forward, bloody, and effective for the audience. You could argue that this persona is too fast, smart, and confident to be the tragic Jason who lost his mother, but I’d say this is definitely a persona people remember.

I’m not entirely sure what Jason is at this point in the series. I’m somewhat glad that Part VI made him explicitly undead, although that leads to great confusion about what he was before if he didn’t die from drowning, hanging, or taking an ax to the face. He certainly doesn’t seem like a traditional human.

This is the first time we get a final girl (Dana Kimmell) who was attacked by Jason prior to the film. Chris had moved away from the area after the attack, and she returns with her boyfriend and other friends in something of a show of bravado to prove to herself that she’s no longer afraid. It’s a motivation that makes her likable and understandable. She also gets points for fighting Jason in an almost exclusively physical manner. She never needs to invoke his mother to throw him off like our previous Final Girl did. Chris is just badass.

The film ends with an inversion of the original: when Chris attempts to escape Jason on the Lake, she’s attacked by the zombified Pamela Vorhees pulling her into the lake. I honestly take this to be a hallucination, since Pamela Vorhees being a zombie isn’t a continuing part of the franchise, although I have no idea what the filmmakers intended when the movie was released. We’re shown Jason apparently still dead at the end, why the cops just left his body there after escorting Chris away I don’t know.

If you’re going to watch only a single Friday the 13th film, I would say it should be either this one or Freddy vs Jason. The lore really starts here. It’s a fun, stupid, bloody movie. It may not be “good,” but it’s good at being bad.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday the 13th Part 2

(Note: I don’t feel like tackling all of this series in one go, so I decided to count the first four as a sub-series. I’ve already tackled Part 1, so here we go.)

The original Friday the 13th has, at this point, been largely reduced to a trivia question. “Who was the killer?” Friday the 13th Part 2 has it even worse, having been reduced to the entry in the series that just flat-out didn't happen as far as pop culture is concerned. In our collective unconscious Mrs. Vorhees (Betsy Palmer) was killed, and Jason immediately rose from Crystal Lake in his hockey mask to seek vengeance.

This movie feels a bit like a stumbling block as the series goes. It isn't really bad, but it's a bit weak and uneven. Jason (Warrington Gillette) was an icon that had to be developed bit-by-bit. This film lacks any real sense of awe in regards to Jason. As far as the filmmakers knew, Jason coming out of the lake to attack the final survivor of his mother's rampage at the end of the last film was merely intended to be a one-off jump-scare, and his use was actually mandated by executives who were turned off by the idea of an outright anthology series.

The result is a Jason who's something of a work-in-progress. While the premise that Jason kills out of anger at the death of his mother continues, to one degree or another, for the remainder of the series, this film seems to much more heavily paint Jason mentally as an angry child lashing out. He's still a killing machine, but many scenes make him out to be downright vulnerable, and even show him in physical pain.

The movie starts by tying up loose ends from it's predecessor. Jason, despite having the mentality of a child, is somehow able to track down Alice (Adrienne King), the girl who killed his mother, and kill her in her home. The scene isn't scary by any means, but it does it's job. This is a movie about dead young people, and it opens by killing off a young person. Specifically, it kills off a young person dealing with a deep trauma from the previous movie's rampage, freeing us to follow a new set of young people with no PTSD to work through. We get a death, the audience cheers, and the movie moves on.

I'm not quite sure how a man with Jason's level of deformity was supposed to have walked into the middle of a suburb without comment. We're not shown his face in this scene, so perhaps he wore a mask...which would seem just as strange. However, we do see him walking down the street unmolested, and I supposed this is far less unbelievable than his ability to track down Alice at all while completely cut-off from human civilization, and any source of information that might have aided him in the task. It's not like Jason had money to hire a Private Detective.

We then cut to five years later (I'm uncertain if this means the original film happened four years before it's production in, 1976, or if this film takes place four years after in 1985). The remainder of the film has the same basic setting as the original: a summer camp, but the kids haven't arrived yet, and the counselors are prepping. A man named Paul Holt (John Furey) set up this new Camp on the same lake as two previous massacres, just a few miles away from the original Camp.

Alice's story of being attacked by Jason in the lake has now become something of an urban legend, and Paul uses it as a ghost story around the camp fire. The urban legend status is convenient for avoiding all the logical problems that come from Jason's presence. Is he undead (a status he doesn't officially take on for four more movies)? If so, what revived him? Did he not actually drown? Then why didn't he return to his mother? And how did a small child grow up surviving in the wilderness all this time anyway?

This leads us into the section of the movie in which the characters must do two things to properly merit their deaths: be idiots and have sex. So, a boy named Jeff (Bill Randolph), in an effort to get laid, agrees to stupidly go to the site of Mrs. Vorhees massacre, with a scantily-dressed girl named Sandra (Marta Kober). Before Jason can kill them, however, a local police officer (Jack Marks) finds them and takes them back to Paul. The officer returns to the woods and is dispatched by Jason with a hammer a few scenes later.

Back at Camp, Paul decides to allow the counselors, minus the two runaways, to have a “last night on the town,” isolating the few who remain at the camp. At this point you have the basic idea. The formula of the slasher film was quick to form, apparently even quicker than Jason as a horror icon. So, we have had a series of false scares, interspersed with various sins, and eventually we get to some actual kills. For a period the film continues to follow the formula of both the first film and the opening scene, not showing us Jason.

The reveal might be called sudden, but for someone used to this series, the sight of a large man attacking people isn't really surprising. Paul and Ginny (Amy Steel) return to camp early, and find that everyone left behind is dead. They're attacked by Jason, a burlap sack covering his face, using a spear instead of his later machete.

And so, we have our main characters by process of elimination. The remainder of this film really differs from the series, to the point that anyone being shown the scenes out of context would likely assume it was a rip-off instead of an official entry in the series. Aside from the Burlap sack, Paul and Ginny are able to momentarily overpower Jason on a number of occasions.

The film ends exactly as expected: Jason seems to be dead, his sack is removed, and then a few scenes later he attacks again. Another notable difference from later movies is that Jason seems to have far more hair. It seems that half his head is bald, while the other half appears to have long hair, and even a beard. A bearded Jason is just weird to me.

The film ends more-or-less as the previous film did, with our female protagonist confused and in medical care. Ginny is knocked unconscious during Jason's final attack, and wakes up being loaded into an ambulance, with neither Jason nor Paul visible. Now, however, any ambiguity about Jason's existence has been removed.

This movie is far too often discarded as an entry. I think it's likely we would have continued to see Jason with a wide variety of looks and masks if the following film, which introduced the hockey mask, hadn't been such a break-out success with it's use of 3D. Don't get me wrong, this is a long way from my favorite entry, and Jason isn't nearly as interesting when he's this vulnerable, but this is a film that played with the formula, and eventually led us to the Jason we know and love.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Area 51

If there's ever been a film that represented the true bottom of the barrel for Found Footage, it's Area 51. Oren Peli apparently felt that if the style worked for his first film, it could work for his second as well. However, this is not even remotely the same type of story as Paranormal Activity. A Found Footage film about simple alien abduction might have worked, but when you're dealing with the infiltration of Area 51 you've taken on an entirely different beast.

The film might have worked if we had some truly compelling characters. However, most of the actors spend the movie sounding bored. Our lead character, Reid (Reid Warner, yes characters and actors share names again) is abducted by aliens at a party. He then becomes a conspiracy theorist obsessed with aliens, and tries to talk his friends Ben and Darrin (Ben Rovner and Darrin Bragg) into coming with him on his dangerous mission.

Along the way they pick up Jelena (Jelena Nik), a young woman whose late father worked in Area 51. After his death Jelena kept many of his files in secret, and is prepared to go with them. She believes her father was murdered for asking too many questions.

The only remotely compelling character is Ben, who we gradually learn only went along with the plan because he believed Reid would get over the idea. He has to struggle with the question of whether or not to continue, and ultimately decides that he will drive them, but will not enter the base himself.

The preparation scenes would have been interesting with better characters. I can believe that these are the kinds of preparations you might make when planning to break into a Top Secret Air Force Base, however none of the characters ever seem obsessed enough to go to the lengths we're being shown. Reid in particular should be a loose-canon if he's been so truly affected by his abduction, but he always seems to be just going along with the plan as much as anyone else. I never believe that anyone involved has the level of determination to really make this happen.

Once they're in the base the movie continues to fall apart. Bad CGI is still bad CGI, even if the camera is shaking a bit. We see all the amazing alien technology, and they even get a nice chase scene when one of the captured aliens is set free.

My best guess at explaining the ending of the film is that the aliens intended Reid to break into the base and free their imprisoned companions. Why such advanced aliens needed human help I don't claim to know. The film ends with all of our protagonists abducted, and apparently brainwashed. However, the aliens decide to leave lots of footage, including footage taken aboard their ship, while abducting the human witnesses. “Keep the humans, but throw out their recording device fully intact!”

As with the Paranormal Activity films it's clear this movie lacks any real sense of an in-universe editor. In one scene the characters film a group of strippers without their knowledge or consent. Why would an editor include that footage? Not only does it add nothing to the alien storyline, it opens him up to a massive lawsuit for distributing the footage! In the real world an editor would have, at best, acknowledged via text or voice over that the footage existed, while refusing to show it to the audience for liability reasons.

As for the usual complaint of “why are they still filming?” At one point a character continues to hold his camera at eye level while a soldier points a gun at him and demands he put his hands over his head. Apparently we as an audience are too dumb to figure out what's going on if the camera is pointed at the ceiling for a few moments.

This film is just uninteresting. Try as I might, I find nothing compelling to recommend it. It uses a genre intended to evoke realism, while utterly failing to make anything seem the slightest bit real.

Friday, April 21, 2017


Looking back at my original review of Krampus, it's amazing how little has actually changed in my opinion. I no longer dread the movie starting, I'm now filled with excitement. However, most of my major thoughts are still in my original review. I still think the movie is, in an odd way, fully a Christmas film. I also still think the visuals are stunning.

That said, I've now watched the film with a friend who has far more extensively studied folklore. The experience was interesting, because while she enjoyed the movie, she found herself horrified by how much the source material had been altered. She felt that this movie heavily conflates the legend of Krampus with the Wild Hunt. This is an interesting perspective, and I can certainly see her point, however I feel that these are legends that fit together far better than one would expect.

I still love the family. They're all fundamentally good people, who are driven apart by wildly different values. Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell) is a brutally-honest alcoholic who drives the rest of the family crazy with her lack of tact. Uncle Howard (David Koechner) and his brother-in-law Tom (Adam Scott) have a passive-aggressive relationship based on their wildly different values. Their wives, Linda (Allison Tolman) and Sarah (Toni Collette) are the very picture of sibling rivalry, constantly trying to be polite, while bitterness from years past keeps bubbling to the surface.

Our main character, Max (Emjay Anthony) finds himself the target of bullying from his cousins Stevie and Jordan (Lolo Owen and Queenie Samuel). The whole family relationship is captured in a microcosm there: Max, being an only child, has no understanding of his cousins' teasing as anything other than cruelty. The two of them seem to see Max as a surrogate sibling who they can play their usual games with.

During all of this hostility, Max's sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) and his German Grandmother Omi (Beth Engel) try to keep the peace. His remaining cousin, Howie Jr. (Maverick Flack) is kind of just there...Also, there's a baby (Sage Hunefeld).

It's this family rivalry that eventually leads Max to tear up his letter to Santa, and throw it out the window. With that, Krampus comes, and they begin to get picked off. The action scenes are, for the most part, awesome, and the visuals remain stunning in their use of practical effects. Every character gets at least something interesting to do, and kudos to them for finally making Krampus deal with the situation personally, after his minions have been defeated.

The big reveal of the movie is that Omi had been visited by Krampus previously as a child. I'm curious if this means that Krampus has a particular interest in Max's bloodline, or if it was just an amazing coincidence. The flashback, told as either CGI or stop-motion (I'm still not sure) is stunning, mixing Rankin/Bass with shadow imagery that reminds me of the ‘Tale of the Three Brothers’ from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.

The plan, apparently, was to leave Max behind as a reminder to keep the Christmas spirit, as Krampus took all the others to the Underworld. However, Max eventually begs Krampus to take him instead, and the entire family appears to wake up in Max's home on Christmas Day, with their spirit newly restored. The final shot of the movie makes it ambiguous if Krampus is still watching them, or if they're now trapped in a snow globe, but I lean towards the former interpretation.

This movie is a new classic. It should be watched every Christmas with the same regularity as It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. Krampus is a great character, intimidating and mysterious, but also complex. I really hope he gets to meet Sam someday.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Knock Knock

(Author’s Note: I wrote this review before listening to Eli Roth’s commentary on the film. I feel that Roth does not understand his own movie, and his belief that this is a movie about cheating rather than rape horrifies me. That said, I decided not to update my review, because my feelings are still mostly sincere.)

Knock Knock is a film that makes me happy for my lack of star ratings. It's a film that needs to exist, and tries to exist in the most boundary-pushing manner that our culture will allow. That does not make the viewing of this film a pleasant experience. Furthermore, it says a lot that even a director as sick as Eli Roth was unable to get through this entire movie without coping out.

This is a movie about rape. Let's get that out of the way upfront. Our main character, Evan (Keanu Reeves), is both physically tortured, and sexually violated by two women for sick thrills. I'm glad that this is a subject that can, for the most part, be taken seriously in this movie. That said, I really want to know why this movie is labeled as an “Erotic Thriller.” I don't know what anyone could find to turn them on in this movie, past perhaps the first half hour.

The movie is set in the kind of idyllic family life that absolutely no one can relate to. Evan is a wealthy architect, married to a successful artist (Ignacia Allamand), with two children (Dan and Megan Baily, who I assume are siblings in real life, but can find no confirmation of that). They live in a large, gorgeous home, and the closest thing to conflict in Evan's life is going without sex for the last few weeks because of their busy schedules.

Evan, in a tragic irony, has to stay home and work while his family goes on a Father's Day vacation. That night two girls named Genesis and Bell (Lorenzo Izzo and Ana de Armas) show up on his doorstep, soaked from the rain and claiming to be lost. Evan, being a gentleman, agrees to let them come and until he can call them a car.

Credit to the movie for not projecting the girls as evil upfront. Their introduction comes across as innocent fun. They ask to throw their clothes in the dryer, and Evan is decent enough to provide them with robes. They put on some music, dance, and wish our hero a happy Father's Day, but Evan is careful to maintain his boundaries.

The turn comes when the girls lure Evan into the bathroom, and make an explicit effort to seduce him. The scene is one of several points in the film where I'm not sure how Roth intends for us to interpret Evan. Evan tells them “no” repeatedly, and only gives in when they begin sucking him off without his consent.

The next morning the girls completely change their tones. They vary between hostility and seductiveness apparently based on nothing more than what they think will annoy Evan the most. When Evan threatens to call the police, the girls claim to be fifteen, and threaten him with statutory rape charges. Eventually, after they've made a mess of his kitchen, and drawn on his wife's statue, Evan drives the girls to a suburb they claim as their home, and leaves them.

Of course, the girls break into his home again, knock him out, and tie him up. The remainder of the film is variations of torture and build-up. The girls repeatedly accuse Evan of being a cheater, a bad father, and a pedophile. There are two sequences that I think are worthy of specific commenting.

Firstly, there's a far more explicit rape scene, which is actually quite hard to watch. Bel puts on Evan's daughter's school uniform, and forces Evan to have sex with her in it while she calls him Daddy and apparently relives her own molestation by her father. Not only is Evan tied to the bed, but the girls force him to be an active participant by threatening to show his children video if he doesn’t go along with it. This particularly sequence is really the heart of the movie, putting on display just how sick these women are, and how utterly victimized Evan is.

The other sequence I need to comment on is notable for the opposite reason: how quickly it seems to be forgotten. Karen's assistant, Louis (Aaron Burns) comes over to pick up a statue. He's able to see through the girl's act, and finds Evan tied up, but for some reason decides to fight with the girls over their attempts to destroy a statue, rather than freeing Evan and calling the police. The idiot dies when Genesis steals his asthma inhaler, and he falls over and hits his head trying to get it back. The girls dispose of his body, and his presence in the movie is forgotten.

This is a major flaw, as it's the only time in the film that the girls actually cause a death. It puts them well beyond the point of sympathy, but somehow the movie continues to play with the idea that they're somehow “punishing” Evan for giving into them. In fact, the ending seems to make this idea explicit, completely forgetting that the girls committed a murder.

Specifically, the film ends when the girls getting tired of their games, and leaving Evan buried up to his neck in the back yard, a video of him having sex with Bel now on Facebook, and his wife coming home to find the house trashed. The scene plays almost like a raunchy comedy, rather than the truly disturbing film it's been until this point. The final line of the film is Evan's son saying “Daddy had a party.”

This stands in stark contrast to the original, now deleted ending, available on the DVD. Never have I seen such a blatant example of a film chickening out. In the original version, the movie closes when Evan knocks on the door of Bel and Genesis' next victim. The implication is clear: while we won't be shown it, a gender flipped I Spit On Your Grave is about to take place.

But, apparently Hollywood's fear of showing a man as justified in hurting women is truly unbreakable. Instead, we're left with a mostly positive film that ends with a truly out-of-place joke. Are we really supposed to assume that Evan's wife will blame him for being raped? Even accepting that the first encounter was cheating, there's no evidence of that left. Apparently we're just supposed to accept that an erection is consent.

I don't want to comment on whether or not I recommend the film. My feelings are so mixed that saying yes or no to that question seems like missing the point. I definitely want to see the movie Death Game, which was the basis of this movie, at some point. I'm curious how the 70s might have dealt with this concept differently.