The Most Assassinated Woman in the World (Film) Review

Or La femme la plus assassinée du monde (original title)

Not much preamble today but I will say this. This film is very French and very confusing. Beautiful though.

*Minor spoilers*

The Most Assassinated Woman in the World (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Paula Maxa is the Parisian Grand Guignol Theatre’s leading lady, famous for being murdered on stage every day. But is there a link between the theatre and a series of gruesome real-life murders?

My Review

Um. Let’s not rely on anything I say here in this review, I may well have the wrong end of the stick. Paula Maxa (Anna Mouglalis) is a beloved by some, hated by a lot actress at the Grand Guignol Theatre in good old gay Paree. She’s been slaughtered on stage more times that she’s had hot dinners and relies on stage-hand Paul (Jean-Michel Balthazar) to make it look as real as possible.

The theatre itself is run by some right oddballs who seem to have a very bizarre arrangement in place. Although the shows they put on nightly seem to do alright there is a very real threat on the horizon: the birth of cinema.

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Rattle dem bones

When journalist Jean (Niels Schneider) arrives to interview Paula, a friendship is formed and there’s possibly something more a-brewing, though our girl is rather closed off. Via Paula’s own mouth we learn about the terrible secret that haunts her – the very driving force that keeps her screaming night in, night out. Meanwhile, there seems to be a plot to turn Paula over for real to a mysterious gentleman who might have a connection to her past… What the devil is that all about?

TMAWITW is gorgeous looking. It seems to capture the time period perfectly. All the costuming is wonderful and Paula’s supporting actresses are a lot of fun. Mouglalis is soulful as Paula, a haunted woman with a sad story, one that revolves around the death of her sister at the hands of a very bad man – and her inability to do anything to save her.

Guilt is a powerful emotion and it eats at Paula, who stays at the theatre as some sort of penance. Here she can scream as much as she likes, something she failed to do to save her sister’s life. When Jean arrives to offer her a way out, she’s torn. Can she leave this place and make it in Hollywood?

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Oggly boggly

The ending is a little bit confusing, I won’t lie. But it doesn’t really matter. It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this movie, which has some suspenseful moments and really is wonderfully OTT. The murders on stage are gloriously bat-shit and the audience laps it up. They come complete with bibs to capture the splashes of blood that coats everything around them.

Ooh la la!

My Rating

3/5.

What does my leading lady think of this one? Would she beg it for an encore or slit its throat? Find out here.

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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 – 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 – 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”.

3 Witchy Horrors

None of these are really horror movies and one of them is pretty much a kids movie – but you can always argue that they contain horror themes and that’s enough for me.

I bet you all thought I’d choose Hocus Pocus for this list, didn’t you? I totally nearly did but young Michelle Pfeiffer pipped it to the post. I’ve no regrets.

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Relatable AF

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Men are such cocksuckers aren’t they? You don’t have to answer that. It’s true. They’re scared. Their dicks get limp when confronted by a woman of obvious power and what do they do about it? Call them witches, burn them, torture them, until every woman is afraid. Afraid of herself… afraid of men… and all for what? Fear of losing their hard-on. ~ Daryl Van Horne

What do you get when you put three of the hottest women of all time together, and then add Jack Nicholson? You get this charming film about a trio of witches who discover their hidden powers (and sexuality) when the devil comes to town.

There’s just something so delicious about The Witches of Eastwick. I feel as though it really captures a moment in time, the zeitgeist of the eighties. By casting the hottest actresses onscreen at that time, it’s a snap shot of a bygone era of film and I couldn’t love it more. It’s witty, grotesque and it also has a lot to say about grabbing life by the balls, even if the balls are attached to a very bad man indeed. Or indeed are a metaphor for something so much more fulfilling.

I can’t choose my favourite of the three, they’re all so gorgeous in their own ways; Suki (Pfeiffer) is the earth mother, Alex (Cher), the artistic hippy and Jane (Sarandon), the secretly sexual sex kitten music teacher. But together they’re a force to be reckoned with and what’s more satisfying than that?

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Resting Witch Faces

The Craft (1996)

We are the weirdos, mister. ~ Nancy

This is such a bitchy film and I was obsessed with it when it was first released, not least because I was ‘of an age’ (or maybe just a little bit older) that it all made sense. Especially the outcast aspect of the movie which fuels the narrative.

Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle (Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True) are three ordinary girls who aren’t particularly successful or significant in the high-school hierarchy. When Sarah (Robin Tunney) comes to town, she seems to be the perfect fourth pillar of the group. A group that needs things a certain way in order to make things happen. Magic things.

Well, it’s all a lesson in being careful what you wish for. After all, with power comes a fuck ton of responsibility and teenage girls aren’t always the most reliable, especially when they can make their bully’s hair fall out with a simple spell.

As things begin to spiral out of control and our friends begin to change (not for the better), one of them has to the tow the line before everything is lost forever. Can she? Also: Oh hi, Skeet Ulrich*swoon*

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The girls’ Bake Off showstopper was going well

Practical Magic (1998)

There’s a little witch in all of us. ~ Aunt Jet Owens

I guess you could say this is a Vintage edition of witch movies since none of them are from this millennium. *Shrug* – I love what I love and that’s that.

Practical Magic is adorable, hopeful and has a banging 90’s soundtrack – so as far as I’m concerned it’s up there with the best of them. Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian Owens (Nicole Kidman) are sisters who come from a long line of witches. Including Aunt Frances (Stockard Channing) and Aunt Jet (Dianne Wiest).

They’re very different people. Sally is a homebody while Gillian is a free spirit with a tendency to disappear for long stretches, usually with strange, sexy men in tow. When Sally loses the love of her life in a tragic accident, she is beside herself with grief and Gillian comes home to be with her and her children, in the house they all share with the Aunts.

Little does Sally know there’s an ulterior motive and the sisters bite off almost more than they can chew when they re-animate Gillian’s latest lover – the abusive and accidentally dead Jimmy (Goran Visnjic) – using old school magique. Shame that neither got the memo that what is dead should probably stay dead, eh? Bit of a pisser too that the cop (Aidan Quinn) who turns up to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Jimmy, also happens to be connected to a very specific spell cast by Sally…

God I adore this movie. Both leads are dreamy as fuck and the Stevie Nicks heavy soundtrack will always have a place on my (outdated) iPod shuffle. *Sigh*

So yes, I could of chosen The Witch, The Blair Witch Project, The Lords of Salem – even The Love Witch for this list – and they are all fine movies – but these are the ones I want to pay tribute to today. Sue me.

What are your favourites?

Scream Queen Girl Gang (Modern Edition)

These are the actresses I’d most like to have a pint and share eyeliner with because they seem cool. And you know, if we ever happened to get into any trouble, then I’d be confident in their ability to help me fight to the death – which is a pretty good quality to pick in a friend. Just saying.

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Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)

Katharine Isabelle

Horror CV: Ginger Snaps, Carrie (TV Movie), Freddy vs. Jason, American Mary, Torment, Hannibal (TV Series)

I adore Miss Isabelle, not least because she’s the lead in a couple of my favourites (Ginger Snaps, American Mary). She’s Canadian (like me) and she’s lovely – and I just think we’d get along.

According to IMDB there was friction on set between her and the director of Freddy Vs. Jason because she refuses to do nudity – and I like that she’s not afraid to stick to her guns. You do you, boo. I just wish she was in way more – my favourite modern-day Scream Queen 4 lyfe.

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Don’t Breathe (2016)

Jane Levy

Horror CV: Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe, Castle Rock (TV Series)

Jane Levy first popped up in Suburgatory and was the best thing in it. Then the remake of Evil Dead came along and she was brilliant. Genuinely. The film itself took fresh liberties with the story which kept it modern and set it apart from the originals (which are amazing) – plus she was the final girl!

Jane herself has gone on to star in Don’t Breathe, a film I wish I liked more and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, which is a GREAT movie that also stars one of the other members of this gang (see below). They incidentally also star together in Stephen King inspired TV series, Castle Rock.

I don’t know, I just think she’s cool and hopefully as sarcastic as some of the characters she’s played. Sarcastic is good.

Brittany Snow stars in Screen Gems' thriller PROM NIGHT.
Prom Night (2008)

Brittany Snow

Horror CV: Prom Night, Would You Rather

I feel sometimes like the world needs a doe eyed Brittany to keep things on an even keel – and without Brittany Murphy (RIP), the crown fell naturally to my girl. This Brittany has done the rounds as a teen icon but she’s so much more than that. She’s so convincing in Would You Rather than I often think about that film and how I’d fare in the same situation. She can also tow the line between popcorn movies (the Pitch Perfect trilogy) and lesser appreciated indies (Bushwick).

Brittany has been quite open about her struggle with depression and self-harm in the past and in 2010 she started the Love is Louder movement to support anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone – which is awesome.

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Melanie Lynskey

Horror CV: Rose Red (TV Mini-Series), XX (segment “The Birthday Party”), Castle Rock (TV Series)

I love Mel, the Indie Sweetheart. Jill and I are such fans we enjoyed a Melanie Lynskey month on the Blog Collab in 2017 – spurred on by the aforementioned I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. We both heavily related to her seriously pissed off character Ruth who is driven to drastic action when she’s let down by the feds following a burglary.

Imagine my delight then when she popped up as Mary in the St. Vincent directed segment of XXX called Birthday Cake. Now she’s rocking her part in Castle Rock alongside Jane Levy – and even though I’ve been quite slow on the uptake, I’m enjoying her very much in it.

Melanie is my age so she’d get my pop culture references and she looks like a laugh so I’m confident we’d be the best of all BFFs.

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American Horror Story: Cult (2017)

Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson would be our mate from out of town who pops up occasionally to hang out. I don’t need to go into why she’s great as I’ve been banging on a lot about American Horror Story lately, she just is.

And that, my friends is my Scream Queen Girl Gang.

Who would you choose?

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 – 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.

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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.