An Evening with Aubrey Plaza ūüíú

This week we hosted movie night at our place and the title of choice was the long-awaited (by us),¬†An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn.¬†We had James and Gary over because the three of us went to a Q&A session with the film’s director¬†Jim Hosking back when he released his first feature, The Greasy Strangler¬†so it’s fast becoming a tradition of ours.

The film itself was wonderful and weird but my main takeaway is how bloody fit Aubrey Plaza is. So this is my tribute post to the woman herself (and of course the sublime style of her BLL character, Lulu Danger). 

My favourite AP moments to date:

Child’s Play (2019)

The CP franchise is one of my all-time favourite things and the original Chucky is my homeboy – so I’m in two minds about next year’s reboot. HOWEVER, it does feature Miss Plaza and also¬†Brian Tyree Henry¬†so I am going to remain open-minded.¬†

I haven’t seen too much by way of teaser images from the movie yet but what I have seen snatched from behind-the-scenes looks positive. AP plays a young mother who gives her son a cute doll for is birthday and absolutely nothing whatsoever goes wrong. Ever.

Ingrid Goes West (2017)

IGW is one of the bleakest movies I’ve seen in recent times wrapped in the perfect Instagram filter. AP is the titular Ingrid, a troubled woman with a tendency to stalk her prey relentlessly. When she stumbles across Insta famous Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), she is no exception. Ingrid moves to Cali to befriend her and will stop at nothing to get the girl. With consequences.¬†

Well, this might so far be Plaza’s best role as she unravels before our very eyes, a grieving messed up protagonist who makes you assess your own social behaviours and never really learns her lesson. I actually feel like watching this again today (and I probably will) but it is very far from a feel-good movie and not the Christmas classic I had envisioned for my afternoon of present wrapping.¬†

*Shrug*

Legion (2017-2019)

Don’t expect me to explain any of this show to anyone at any point because I don’t think I really understood it but Lenny Busker (Plaza) is my stand-out.

BFF of lead character David Haller (Dan Stevens), A LOT of shit goes down for her and I haven’t seen Season 2 yet so there’s a heap I still don’t know. All I know is that when AP is onscreen, I don’t really care about anyone else – and that’s a super power in itself.¬†

An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn (2018)

Lulu Danger is dead pan AF but underneath her stony exterior lies a woman on a mission. A mission to get back to her former lover, the mysterious Beverly Luff Linn (Craig Robinson). Teaming up with love-sick Colin (Jemaine Clement), Lulu runs away from her horrible husband Shane (Emile Hirsch) to track down and confront BLL, a man presumed dead years before. 

Lulu isn’t particularly pleasant to anybody but she rocks the dopest outfits and has a heart underneath it all. Will she end up with her former beau Beverly, return to her douche bag husband or start a new life with a new prospect? All that matters is Plaza tbh but the film is hilarious, treading a very fine line between oddball and hysterical.¬†

Cue the slideshow, bitches.

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What are your favourite Plaza moments?

Girl Gang: Christmas Edition

Inspired as always by my girl, it’s your festive edition of the Girl Gang series. Obviously.

Barb, Black Christmas (1974)

Oh, why don’t you go find a wall socket and stick your tongue in it. That’ll give you a charge.

I have a real soft spot for the festive sub genre of Christmas horror movies and Black Christmas is no exception. While it offers up a traditional slasher narrative, it is also very sad. I also love it for the progressive tackling of its abortion story line and its delivery of super messed up characters, particularly Barb (played by the late, great Margot Kidder).

By rights I suppose Jess (Olivia Hussey) should be the standout for this gang, given her position as the level-headed Final Girl but Barb pips her to the post and I’ll tell you why. Sure, she’d be quite the challenge as an actual friend, her drinking is very damaging but the girl needs help damn it. She’s sassy, she’s mean (but funny) and she’s also quick-witted AF (particularly when snarking out an obscene telephone caller).

Every GG need a blunt and dynamic member and Barb’s our girl, though maybe someone needs to have a word with her about getting kids drunk. I hate that Barb isn’t the sole survivor of Billy and his murderous tendencies but if you’re going to go out, why not take death by crystal unicorn? ICONIC.

Let’s be honest that Den Mother, Mrs Mac (Marian Waldman) totally has an open-ended invite to join this group too – what a dame. You can read my review of Black Christmas here.

Bridget Jones, Bridget Jone’s Diary (2001)

Wait a minute… nice boys don’t kiss like that.

Inviting Bridge to the party seems like a pretty obvious move and I’m not sorry. BJ is a sweary hot mess who makes poor decisions and messes up a lot but she also takes risks and isn’t afraid to make a tit of herself. I can honestly say that there is nothing more appealing to me than a person who can embrace their goofy side (my friend Heather is a shining example of this).

Bridge is somewhat normal and when I’m hanging out with girls I want to feel comfortable and never judged about my own dubious choices. BJ would never shame me and she’d be down for whatever, ride or die to the end.¬†I think she’s inspirational too in so many ways, while she’s fucking up she does also learn and eventually realises her worth isn’t dependent on validation from Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant).

If we were friends though I would have to have a very stern chat with her about her constant diet talk and calorie counting – do it on your own watch, Miss Jones for the love of God.

Iris, The Holiday (2006)

I’m looking for corny in my life.

Oh, Iris, let me count the ways in which I love you.

The Holiday, I would say is on par with Love Actually it terms of quality but that’s not to say I don’t fucking adore it. But, while¬†Cameron Diaz¬†skips through snowy fields with¬†Jude Law, I’m always dying to get back to Iris¬†(Kate Winslet) in the city of Angels.

Iris is a perpetual romantic with her heart set on the ultimate bad boy (Rufus Sewell) – been there, done that. The thing is, she’s just about done with his games and her apartment swap is the first step in a long journey to getting the fuck over it. Step in Jack Black and arguably the much more important leading man, Arthur (Eli Wallach).

Iris is a good, kind woman and she’s a laugh. She’s into movies and she’s into banter and I want to have a drink with her in a bar so bad – and then I want to go home and watch old videos with her into the early hours and laugh about all the rat bastards that have ever broken our hearts.

Selina Kyle, Batman Returns (1992)

Honey, I’m home. Oh, I forgot. I’m not married.

Sure, lonely but lovely Miss Kyle becomes one of Gotham’s greatest villains/heroes of all time following a terrible ‘accident’ at the hands of her boss Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) – but even before that she was an interesting person and I want Selina on my team.

While she’s¬†portrayed as a bit of a door mat, I don’t see her that way. Selina’s ambitious and damn good at her job. While the men around her only see her as a lowly secretary, the woman holds everything together (familiar?). Our girl is gorgeous and sweet – and what’s more, nothing can keep her down. Not even death and certainly not Batman or Shreck – or the pervy Penguin.

Selina evolves from self-deprecating loser to mischievous minx to the sassiest adversary Gotham’s dark knight has ever seen and the arc is beautiful. PLUS, I want her apartment and her entire wardrobe SO BAD. SUE ME.

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Selina Kyle: so good she deserves her own slideshow…

Who’s in your gang?

Final Girl Friday: Laurie Strode, Rob Zombie’s Halloween I & II

Lots of horror fans refuse to acknowledge Rob Zombie‘s place in Halloween history. Lots of people are torn about the man himself and honestly, I really get it. Personally, I’m a fan and have loved most of his movies. While Halloween & Halloween II don’t really work the way John Carpenter‘s original did*, they do at least try to explore the story from a fresh angle and I appreciate that.

This week I thought I’d pay tribute to the second most famous Laurie Strode in cinematic history, played by¬†Scout Taylor-Compton, an actress with a couple of cool roles under her belt.

*Spoilers ‚Äď beware!*

The Girl

Laurie, Halloween (2007), Halloween II (2009)

The Situation

This one probably doesn’t need much of an introduction. The character of Laurie Strode is probably one of, if not THE most famous final girl of all time. But just in case, Laurie is the adopted daughter of The Strodes. She is also the baby sister of serial killer Michael Myers who killed their elder sister Judith when he was six years old.

In this version, we meet a young Michael Myers who on the night he kills his sister, also kills her boyfriend and his mum’s horrible boyfriend. This isn’t really in keeping with the original story but never mind. He’s also ten when he commits these atrocities. Anyway, Laurie is really Angel Myers but she doesn’t know it (yet). |Her secret history is just dying to creep out and slap her around the face, thus changing her life forever. How will she handle it?

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In less stabby times

The Final Girl

This Laurie is cool because she takes on all the characteristics of the original character but she also has to deal with the aftermath of the loss of her adoptive parents, after Michael slaughters them. She’s super young and has dealt with so much, having lost most of her friends, the only parents she’s ever known and now, some of her marbles.

Halloween does what is says on the tin (with a little embellishment here and there, including more focus on Deborah Myers (Sheri Moon Zombie), mother of Michael), but Halloween II examines Laurie’s PTSD in more detail. Following the events of that first night, Laurie now lives with Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) and his daughter Annie, who is Laurie’s BFF. The two girls have barely made it out alive but here they are and their relationship is shaky at best. Laurie finds it hard to look at her friend’s badly scarred face without recounting that night and that is driving a wedge between them.

Laurie seeks out faster friends, alcohol and drugs like any normal teen would. But she’s a fighter still and although she’s haunted by the truth once it’s outed, she comes out kicking. Michael’s MO is to find Angel and rejoin his mother in the afterlife, a fucked-up family for all eternity. But you didn’t think it would be that easy did you, Mikey?

The ending of HII suggests that Laurie has completely lost it (and perhaps compelled to take on Michael’s role) as she ends up in an institution but I feel as though there is more to her story. I don’t think of her as the same girl played by Jamie Lee. She’s a contemporary anti-victim and a pretty good FG too. A terrible screamer though.

Final Girl Rating

3/5. I like everything but the scream. 

*For the record I think these movies are too gory (I know, right?) and they take away the things that made the first so iconic. We’re not supposed to know anything about MM, that’s the point. He’s evil personified and we don’t really know what’s going on in his head. But they are kind of fun too.

Final Girl Friday: Sara, Creep 2

Desiree Akhavan is a force to be reckoned with and has been super impressive in front of and behind the camera with Appropriate Behaviour (which she wrote, directed AND starred in), Girls and The Miseducation of Cameron Post to name but a few. So imagine my delight when she also appeared in the much-awaited sequel to one of my favorite movies, the sleeper hit Creep.

And now she’s the star of this week’s FGF!

*Spoilers ‚Äď beware!*

The Girl

Sara, Creep 2 (2017)

The Situation

Sara is a videographer and student with a sideline YouTube channel called Encounters, in which she meets up with strangers who leave bizarre ads on Craiglist. Her numbers aren’t setting the world alight and she’s about to call it a day when she stumbles across an ad that really sparks her curiosity.

Aaron (Mark Duplass) is offering $1,000 to a filmmaker willing to document him for an entire day, as long as they don’t scare easily. Figuring she can go out with a bang following a brilliant finale, Sara digs in. She might live to regret her decision though, particularly when Aaron reveals he’s a serial killer.

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Nice wallpaper

The Final Girl

Sara is an interesting character. She’s self-motivated and very much doing all of this for the sake of her passion project. She’s also not afraid to use her feminine wiles to get what she wants, including getting in the hot tub with Aaron when he loses interest in their join venture and wants to kick her out. At one point Aaron also suggests they get the issue of wondering what the other looks like naked out of the way by… getting naked.

Sara outwardly is unflappable, though we realise quickly she’s giving herself pep talks in the loo. And also, for the most part she doesn’t believe what Aaron is telling her.
When it clicks, and she realises she might be in danger after all, she has the cunning to outsmart Aaron – and that’s the main quality required in any good final girl.

Sara was the perfect foil for Aaron, a serial killer just turning 40 and losing his desire to murder anymore. When she arrives, she mixes things up and not only does she ignite a new energy in Aaron, she also keeps the second film in this soon-to-be trilogy fresh and exciting. Where Creep had the real Aaron (Patrick Brice) play alongside Josef (who changes his name to Aaron for Creep 2, keep up), Sara bounces off Aaron (Josef) in a whole new way. And that ending!

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Final Girl Rating

4/5. I would watch the shit out of “Encounters”.

Final Girl Friday: Helen Lyle, Candyman (1992)

We reanimate FGF this Halloween with one of the greatest horror heroines of all time, and my personal favourite: Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen).

*Spoilers ‚Äď beware!*

The Girl

Helen Lyle, Candyman (1992)

The Situation

Helen is a grad student researching urban legends for her thesis on… urban legends. One day, along with her BFF Bernadette (Kasi Lemmons), she learns about some local folklore that focuses on one individual – The Candyman. Connected supposedly to a murder committed in the housing projects of Cabrini Green, our gal is eager to high tail it over there and snoop about – and work out how a myth can have such a hold on the crumbling community. But is it really fiction?

Things take a terrible turn when Helen completes the Candyman incantation in her own bathroom mirror – and receives a visit from the old pal she didn’t even know she had. I wouldn’t even write it down here in this post to be honest, but I think you might know it by now. It goes: Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, etc.

Meanwhile, she’s forced to confront her cheating husband and his new (younger) girlfriend, take on the angry residents of Cabrini, and try and keep out of prison/the mental hospital at the same time. Give her a goddamn break, guys.

madsen

The Final Girl

First off, Helen is a classy dame and cut from Old Hollywood cloth. She’s all enormous green eyes, blonde pin curls and milky skin. You’re damn right I have a crush on her and you can’t blame The CM for wanting a piece too. Unfortunately, our antagonist could do with a lesson in consent and when he takes everything from her and tells her that all she has left is his desire for her, I had to scoff. FUCK YOU BUDDY.

Helen is a great final girl because she’s been fucked over so many times but still does the right thing. Where a lot of other people would give up, she keeps on keeping on because she’s a good person. Me? I’d be torn between embracing padded cell life and going on a final bloody rampage because fuck everybody who doubted me.

Our girl’s been framed for dog murder, the murder of her own best friend (devastating) – and baby kidnapping. She’s been cheated on, institutionalised (not to mention had her beloved fags confiscated) and stalked by an admittedly buff but relentless hook-handed suitor. She’d be forgiven for succumbing to the madness but she doesn’t, she carries on and saves the day.

When it comes to the classic Final Girl trope it is often said that she doesn’t always survive and sometimes has to push moral boundaries. Helen is a smart cookie and a generally good person, however she becomes something quite different at the end of this movie. She may go out of her way to save the baby and destroy Candyman, thus freeing the residents of Cabrini from his evil lore – but she’s also not afraid to take some cheeky revenge for herself. You can decide if Trevor’s punishment matches his crimes.

Final Girl Rating

5/5. The yardstick by which all wannabe Final Girls should be measured. 

You can read my review of Candyman here, if you fancy.

3 Contemporary Horrors

They say they don’t make horror like they used to and it is true that, of all the genres, this one seems to be the hardest to get right. But occasionally it is possible, even in this day and age. Here are a couple of my favourites, just in time for Halloween.

The-Innkeepers

The Innkeepers (2011)

During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel’s haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay.

I’m quite a lover of Ti West‘s films, and I was going to choose House of the Devil for the purposes of this post because it is really good. However, I also really like The Innkeepers and it’s my blog, so nurr.

Sometimes I’m not even that sure why I like it so much – I think public opinion is quite split on it. I don’t care though, I like it and it could be because of the slight homage it pays to The Shining, it could be Kelly McGillis as a washed up actress – all I know is that I like the concept and it leaves me feeling pretty creeped out. At the same time, it’s having a laugh and the effects seem deliberately schlocky which only adds to the vibe.

There’s also a sadness that permeates the narrative, the ending is tragic and there’s a thread about an old man who has haunted me ever since.

Untitled

You’re Next (2011)

When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of the victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.

You’re Next isn’t exactly reinventing the horror wheel but it is seriously ace with an awesome final girl to boot. I’m going to write more about Erin later on in #blogtober but for now know that this survivalist is not about to sit down and accept a premature death any time soon.

Full of twists and a lot of gore, this film takes on the traditional home invasion trope and runs with it. Proof that isolation with your family in the woods is pretty much the worst. Coincidentally, Ti West actually stars in this movie as one of the girls’ boyfriends and I think is the first person in the house to die.

Enjoy!

creep3

Creep (2014)

A young videographer answers an online ad for a one-day job in a remote town to record the last messages of a dying man. When he notices the man’s odd behavior, he starts to question his intentions.

Hands down one of the most effective thriller/horrors I’ve ever seen,¬†I pretty much recommend this¬†to everyone all the time.¬†Mark Duplass¬†plays the oddly vulnerable Josef, a lonely man with a lot of baggage – and he plays him very, very well.

Honestly, all I can say is watch this, ask no more questions. Then watch the sequel because that’s good too – the third film in the trilogy is currently in production.

What are you watching this Halloween?

Final Girl (Film) Review

Week 2 of Films That Remind Us of Each Other and Jill chose this. Which I was kind of excited about – my girl gets me.

Men suck and some even more than others. Predatory men for instance, which is all too topical at the moment. That makes this an interesting pick for reasons beyond me being into the Final Girl Trope. But is it good though? Find out below!

*Spoilers*

Final Girl (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

A man teaches a young woman how to become a complete weapon. Later she is approached by a group of sadistic teens who kill blonde women for unknown reasons. The hunting season begins.

My Review

Veronica is five when her parents pass away. It’s at this age that she meets a mysterious (creepy) man called William. When he questions her about their deaths, her pragmatic approach impresses him. When she displays total recall memory skills during a couple of tests, he recruits her for a special project for a special person. He also reveals that his own family were killed by a Very Bad Man, which one would assume is his¬†raison d’√™tre though it is never mentioned again so who knows, eh?

It’s all very enigmatic (and creepy, did I say creepy?).

Fast forward 12 years and Veronica is now a young woman with an impressive collection of prom style dresses. She’s also in love with William but we’ll come back to that later (boy will we). There are a handful of training montages which are somewhat satisfying as I live for a training montage.

We witness several hardcore exercises William puts his protégé through in order to mold her into the ultimate killing machine. In the last test, he injects her with a truth serum/DMT cocktail that reveals her darkest fears. Her nightmare turns out to be letting down William by not being good enough. Aw and also Grrr.

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Training to be a Badass 101: How to look good in questionable headgear

Done with training and finally ready for action, William and Veronica rock up in a small town where some teenage turds have been ‘hunting’ women in the woods. You may wonder how the fuck they know this is going down but let’s suspend our disbelief for the sake of this review for a moment.

Before we go into all that though, I need to mention the icky atmosphere between V and William. In a hotel room before the action gets started, V asks if she can lie on the bed next to him (she’s wearing a towel, he’s being all brooding). William says no until he begrudgingly (but with little persuasion) says yes and might I remind everyone that that the girl was five when they first met.

WEIRD and FUCKING CREEPY.

Back in small town America, and gang ringleader¬†Jameson and his fuckhead buddies Daniel, Nelson and Shane are luring pretty blond girls into the woods and then hunting them down. Each of these heinous douche bags are literally the worst and you will hate them with the fire of a thousand suns and it’s okay – they won’t last long.

Veronica, predictably, goes down like pizza on a Monday night with the boys and arranges a date with Jameson for the following evening. He tells her to wash her hair and wear red lipstick. How she refrains from stabbing him in the neck right here is beyond me.

V also finds time to meet Shane’s girlfriend at the diner, a sad brunette who she really seems to bond with. The two discuss love and relationships over vanilla milkshakes.¬†Alas, this might be a film with a Girl Power-esque message but, apart from a very brief chat between the two women,¬† Veronica never interacts with any other live female (maybe a waitress). I wish that had been different.

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Toot toot, all aboard the dickhead mobile!

Anyway, the rest you can imagine, I’m sure. Veronica is driven out to the woods by Jameson and his dick swinging pals and even though she knows full well what they have planned for her, it is very uncomfortable to watch. I felt protective of V despite the fact I already knew she could kill a man with her bare hands – these bastards!

Once the group gets to the woods, they play Truth or Dare and enjoy a beverage, thoughtfully provided by V. Jameson refrains from partaking as designated driver. T&D is a tiresome affair with no surprises – but after a couple of rounds the real games begin.

One by one the tables are turned on each of the boys, as it becomes clear they’ve ingested the very concoction Veronica herself has previously taken (SHOCKER). Each of their worst nightmares come to life and it doesn’t end well for any of them. They have underestimated the power of a small blond girl and that is their ultimate downfall. Oooooooooh!

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Axe yourself if this is where you want to be on a Saturday night, V

Until the very final battle between V and Jameson, there is very little to note about these scenes. It looks pretty, as does V but it’s a very by the numbers ‘thriller’ without the thrills.¬†As Veronica and Jameson square up to each other for the climactic scene, it seems each has met their match.

Will Veronica complete her mission and get justice for all the dead girls, despite this not really seeming to be her main objective? Or will she join the ghosts of the deceased right there in the woods?

You know what to do.

What’s black & white and creepy all over?

My Thoughts

I really did find the so-called sexual tension between William and Veronica weird. Although William didn’t make moves on her, he definitely didn’t put up barriers between them and that’s icky. In the final scene (*Spoiler*) it feels like something shifts between them, suggesting that they do move their relationship forward. EW.

Everything that he has done to her over the years, the robbing her of a fucking childhood and life of her own is repugnant and at no point do I truly believe in either of them. If it had been for something, some dramatic yet justified cause then maybe, but it is not enough for them just to be adopting the vigilante lifestyle because they lost people once.¬†V lost her parents in sad but a non-suspicious way, while William alludes to the bad man but never elaborates on it ever again. So I’m at a loss to understand or care about their motivations.

It’s a misogynistic film that tries to pull out the strong female lead card which is all well and good, but not really when she’s been groomed from such an early age to be just some dude’s machine. Like Jill said in a message to me, it would of been good if she’d turned around and killed William, finally freeing herself. I’d have been pleased if she’d followed that by running off with Jennifer, the girl from the diner truth be told.

The film itself is nice looking but the plot is so full of holes I can’t take it seriously. It’s deeply disappointing as in the right hands, under the right circumstances this premise could’ve been great. I can’t look beyond the cringe of it all.

Abigail Breslin was okay but not great. And that’s about it.

FUCK THE FUCKING PATRIACHY

My Rating

2.5/5. Nope. Not much to write home about.

What did my Final Girl Jillian think of this one? Would she chase it through the woods or kicks everyone’s arse to save it? Find out here, yo.