First of all, the prize for the greatest movie title goes to this pick, which was mine sort of but more Jillian’s because Netflix kindly released it just in time for Halloween and she’s been so looking forward to it. It was therefore a no-brainer that this would be our last Halloween movie of the month!
(I’ve a feeling we might stretch this a bit, so sue us).
A little info about the movie: IATPTTLITH is a 2016 American-Canadian horror film which premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. It’s so far been received quite well with comparisons drawn to Shirley Jackson’s work (tone I think more than specific material), as well as Roman Polanski, Kubrick and David Lynch (all influences I picked up during my viewing, more below).
As I typed that last paragraph and remembered a particular scene, I felt a chill run up my spine which is an excellent sign I would say. To the film!
IMDB Synopsis: A young nurse takes care of an elderly author who lives in a haunted house.
A nervy nurse called Lily (Wilson) arrives at the home of successful horror novelist Iris Blum (Prentiss), who is now bedridden and requires live-in care. Iris has no family or friends to speak of and talks only rarely. Lily herself is getting over a broken engagement so is almost grateful for the quiet afforded to her by the big empty house.
On the first night however, she gets freaked out by unfamiliar sounds and an incident that she manages to explain away easily, putting it down to first night nerves. (I’d have been out of there as quickly as my little trotters could carry me, so she’s braver than me).
What Lily thinks will be a short stay ends up being eleven months and counting. During this time her only contact with the outside world is with Iris’ estate manager, Mr Waxcap (Balaban) who doesn’t give much away. When Lily asks him to look at an ever-spreading patch of damp in the hallway, there’s a long conversation about whether it’s really necessary given the fact Iris is dying. His general demeanor is brusque and to the point.
During the same visit, Lily asks Mr Waxcap who Polly is, as Iris often calls out for a Polly and calls Iris by that name. Mr Waxcap doesn’t really know the answer but refers Lily to Iris’ most successful novel, The Lady in the Walls, the main character of which is named Polly. He looks shifty at this point I think, and buggers off soon after the topic of Polly comes up.
Well, Lily is a pussy (again, she’s definitely a better woman than I) and not at all down with reading any of Iris’ work but she hasn’t much choice if she wants to unravel the story and find out more about Polly. As this slowly plays out, the damp keeps spreading, it keeps raining outside and things go bump in the night.
Lily has a feeling that the story of the lady in the walls is based on the house and piece by piece, concludes that something horrifying happened there. We, the viewer, get an insight into what that was – AKA. what became of Polly (Boynton) – via the medium of flashback. We also get a glimpse of the young novelist Iris, who’s cool as fuck.
This film does have a shock ending, which we already have a fair idea of, as Lily herself tells us in her opening monologue. I won’t spoil it for you but I will say it’s spooky af and rather sad.
Notice I’ve done away with the questions section? There aren’t many left here at the end as it’s quite a well rounded conclusion but it does make you think: What is the moral of the story? I think it’s about not allowing yourself to dwell on the past or you’ll rot away. Ooooooo!
It may seem as though nothing much happens and it would be accurate to describe this as a slow burner, however it’s so atmospheric and genuinely chilling that to have approached it in any other way would surely have lost it its nuance. From the first spooky scene, which occurs as Lily talks on the phone with her friend, to the conclusion, I had goosebumps.
Dat phone cord scene though…
I was also very happy to be viewing something so old-school and rich in 2016 (with shades of good Hammer Horror). Not to say there aren’t truly brilliant, gorgeous ghost/horror stories made today, they just seem so few and far between.
There are a few cheap thrills that you can see coming but they’re executed in such a way that I didn’t really mind. I love the concept of your imagination fucking with you and there’s a particular scene, after Lily reads a few pages of Iris’ book and then stares into a darkened doorway that reminded me of how I felt when I read The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters on my honeymoon.
During one scene I got a distinct The Shining vibe and, although the old house is fresher than a Polanksi setting it has the same historic feel, as though the walls have eyes that watch every move. Ruth Wilson is very good as is the beautiful Paula Prentiss who plays the older Iris Blum.
A really interesting, and intelligent literary flavoured film.
My Rating: 4/5. Genuinely eery and recalls a simpler time when horror was very imagination driven, though it doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to shocking either. Loved it.
What did my wifey, The Pretty Thing That Lives in Her House think? Was she haunted by this movie or did it leave her colder than an empty damp dwelling? Find out here.
I stole this idea from last month’s Cosmopolitan, not going to lie. It was lying around in the gym last night and I take my inspiration where I can get it. Cosmo’s version has more of a single girl flavour though, choosing to celebrate the solo babes of cinema in line with the release of Bridget Jone’s Baby.
I’m just picking the 8 movie women I’d most like to hang with and why, because why wouldn’t I? It’s an awesome plan.
In no particular order:
Who? Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) Why? Look, Lisbeth isn’t exactly warm and fluffy, I know this. Hugs might be a little light on the ground but when it comes to loyalty, there’s nobody more so. I’m all about that and appreciate it in friends. Plus, if I accidentally ever send a dodgy email to somebody, who better than Lisbeth to intercept it before it gets read? What she’d teach me: How to actually use my laptop for more than just streaming Netflix and buying toot.
Who? Beatrix Kiddo AKA The Bride (Uma Thurman, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2) Why? She’s just very cool and focused. I could use inspiration like that in my life. She also has the whole revenge thing down pat so I know, if anyone ever really hurt me, she’d have some tips on how to deal. What she’d teach me: How to be handy with the Japanese steel, or failing that, a stick from the park.
Who? Alabama Worley, née Whitman (Patricia Arquette, True Romance) Why? Alabama is sweetness personified with, like me, a love of martial art movies and pie. She also believes in true love and girl, you got me there. Love is the only thing that really matters in life as far as I’m concerned, be it romantic, parental, whatever – there’s a reason it makes the world go round. What she’d teach me: How to be creative and strong in a fight, whilst rocking the shit out of leopard print and candy-coloured Lycra.
Who? Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle, American Mary) Why? Mary would be the hot friend I had a bit of a thing for. She’s an academic but she’s also open to trying new and bizarre things. The desire to accompany her on these adventures would hopefully rub off on me. She’d likely be the most open-minded of the gang and ferociously feminist, which is fine by me. What she’d teach me: To express myself better. How to be braver when I get piercings.
Who? Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy, Ghostbusters) Why? She’s so fun and smart, and rocks a boiler suit like nobody’s business. She’s also not afraid to fight for what she believes in (ghosts), even when the rest of the world is rolling their eyes at her and her team. She’d probably make me look cleverer just by association. What she’d teach me: Sciencey shit and how to wield a proton pack (like I wouldn’t ask to try it).
Who? Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop, Gilmore Girls) Why? Not technically a ‘big screen’ character but Emily stays. (She was in Dirty Dancing and a load of other films, what more do you want from me?). Em might seem like a controversial choice with a few decades on the rest of us but man is she good fun. Appreciates a damn good drink, always comes through for her loved ones and is the sassiest person in the Stars Hollow area (yes I know she’s a way out of town). You’d always be drunk and/or laughing your arse off round Emily’s. What she’d teach me: How to burn my haters with the flick of my tongue (not like that, you pervs).
Who? Margaret (Lisa Haas, The Foxy Merkins) Why? Why not? She’s so adorable. A bit bumbling but then so am I. She’s a hooker in the loosest sense of the word and one could argue, the worst of all time which just makes her more endearing. Margaret would most certainly be the ‘Bad Sex’ storyteller of the group. TBH I’ve just been reminded of the single best quote in cinematic history, uttered by Margaret about her plus size vagina to “The Mumbling Erotic Accessory Salesman” trying to sell her a merkin. What she’d teach me: How to be resourceful when I’m down and out.
Who? Barb Holland (Shannon Purser, Stranger Things) Why? Barb’s another small screen sensation but I was hardly going to exclude her from my dream girl gang, was I? Every squad needs a sensible type and Barb’s not a great drinker, is the designated driver and will worry about my morals for me (although p. sure that ship has sailed and circled the globe several times already). I’d keep her away from pools and beer cans though, she’s a bit of a liability. What she’d teach me: To make the right decisions. Maybe. Probably not. But she’d try.
If you were to direct a horror movie, what sub-genre would it be part of?
I love horror-comedy when it’s done properly. Good examples are Evil Dead II (1987), Drag Me to Hell (2009) and The People Under the Stairs (1991), so I would like to think I would contribute to that tricky sub-genre. However, if not comedy, a damn good ghost story.
If you could erase one horror flick from your mind, what would it be?
I’m going to say Hostel (2005) for being so awful and disappointing. It plays like soft porn and is completely gratuitous, all the characters are horrific and I just didn’t give a shit about any of them.
Do you have a problem with nudity or sex in horror films?
I don’t have a problem with nudity or sex in any film if it’s not just there to titillate the audience. Too often it feels like it’s only there to appeal to a certain type of audience member, and has nothing to do with the character, the story, etc. At least try and work it into the storyline, yo.
I like to think we’re moving away from the ‘slutty/busty co-ed shags her boyfriend in her parents bed, then gets slaughtered’ trope and we should go with it. Besides, sexy can be done in a white vest and jeans (Eliza Dushku, Wrong Turn) if you can’t bear to have your characters all buttoned up.
Do you have a favourite music score from a horror film? Anything by John Carpenter of course. He’s the King of the Movie Score and a master of manipulating the hairs on the back of your neck.
If you were to write or direct a horror, what would you change or put in to refresh the genre?
I don’t exactly know but I would love to take the concept of the Final Girl (which I blogged about yesterday) and play with that. Whatever happened it would be a very feminist horror film!
Which scary film gave you the most nightmares?
I tend to get more disturbed by realism than horror. Things like The Others (2001) stop me being able to go to the loo alone. Martyrs (2008) was a tough one because the ending shocked me so much.
Would you count horror as one of your favourite movie genres?
It is my favourite, hands down.
Thanks to Vinnieh for the horror questionnaire. You can read my answers to the first one here.
I hope you’re all having a positively spooky Halloween month. Mwahahahahah! 🎃
I thought I would try to tattoo myself recently because honestly, why not? Stick and poke has become super popular, even more so than it was back when I got my first, administered with a needle tied to a piece of bamboo in Thailand.
So, as with many things over the years, I thought I’d give it a go myself. Like singing and stand-up comedy, there’s always something that makes me wonder whether this new thing, whatever it is, could be my thing.
This time it isn’t but it’s still good to try, right? Turns out stick and poke tattoos are hard to master. Who knew?
My first was quite ambitious. I chose a Beyoncé lyric because why wouldn’t you? And then I just went for it.
DISCLAIMER: I should note here that I bought proper tattoo needles and ink and then did a shitload of research on poking your own skin (which meant watching a ton of horrible amateur videos). I made sure my ‘station’ was cleaner than Rory Gilmore’s mind and that, my friends is all I can tell you.
You can argue that my first tattoo didn’t turn out that great. The reality is that I got bored and uncomfortable in the position I was hunched in. I used a very thin needle (3s), which made it harder to punch the ink into my skin.
It stung a bit but it wasn’t bad. I was more paranoid about cleanliness. I think I’ll definitely go back for another go, why not? I’ve since been given a bit of advice by a tattooist on needle size (start with 7s) and he thinks this will clean up quite nicely.
Maybe I’ll share the results, who knows? Not so bad for a first attempt though, right? Plus, Queen B always.
I’ve wanted tattooed cuticles for TIME and that is the main reason I bought the needles.
I love how these have turned out but I suppose it would be very difficult to fuck up what is essentially just a full stop. They took forever but I am so happy with them. It also feels kind of badass rocking my own ink, administered by me.
I’m not sure this is the secret new career for me. Gone are the very brief dreams of me discovering a (deeply) hidden talent and rising through the ranks to become the finest stick and poke tattooist in the land, revered by all, feared by many. Or something.
I’ve been asked by a couple of friends to do some dots on them though.
You might have noticed that I failed to post yesterday and am making up for it today with a 2 for the price of 1 deal. I guess it doesn’t matter as long as there are 31 published posts by the end of October, roughly one a day, right?
This barely counts as a post but I thought I’d share. I got this tattoo this afternoon by an artist I’ve been admiring for a while on Instagram. He was very lovely and I’m in love with it.
I got another but I’ll share that for Halloween as it’s fitting.
I think I’ll also take some time in the last week of Blogtober 2016 to talk about my relationship with tattoos. Consider me inspired by my old mucker Meghan Lightle. It’s a topic I find endlessly interesting. Maybe you guys will too.
Happy Sunday all, hope it’s been a wild one (or, like mine, not) ❤