Welcome to the Deets and Geets Newsletter: He Said, She Said for October 2021. This month brings mostly spooky content with a bit of relationship drama. Below are the offerings, broken down by streaming service.
He Said: Continuing our horror movie bingefest of late, we rented the latest entry in the Candyman series. I remember being terrified of the original film as urban legends in general creeped me out and the idea of saying something in the mirror and getting subsequently hemmed up seemed like bad medicine to me. The remake is essentially a slasher film with obvious social commentary, which may be a pro or con depending on what one considers horror. For me, such heavy focus on the social horror and gentrification detracted from the lore and gravitas of the Candyman. Definitely worth a watch and better than many so-called horror movies these days.
She Said: I haven’t seen the original Candyman yet, so I might need to reserve judgment until after that, to understand what was updated or subverted or whatnot. On its own, I thought it was fine—the premise is definitely horrific and the lore is interesting, but it seemed like something deeper was missing.
FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), FRIDAY THE 13TH Part II (1981), and FRIDAY THE 13TH (Remake / 2009)
He Said of All: Watching the series again after so many years made me realize how much of a hillbilly Jason is. Viewing the early films and the remake through that lens brings a little more clarity to the lore as he’s more of a sadistic, backwoods berserker in a burlap sack rather than the single-minded stalker in a hockey mask he came to be as the series progressed. If you like slasher movies with gratuitous nudity, and where people die by blade, arrow, axe, machete, brutal melee, or various environmental hazards, I recommend the franchise as Jason is one of most iconic fictional killers. If you like good acting and deep plot lines, however, I do not recommend any of the Fridays ever.
She Said of Friday the 13th (1980): There was a decent twist at the end of this original story setting up the hockey-masked serial-killing Jason, but as might be apparent from my takes on the Halloween movies, I think slasher movies overall are kind of boring.
She Said of Friday the 13th (1981): We get a more proper introduction to Jason in this movie, but still no hockey mask! It didn’t hold my curiosity well enough to make me watch more in the series, so I opted to skip to the 2009 version.
She Said of Friday the 13th (2009): This retcon takes places decades after the original Friday the 13th. A group of teen friends visits Camp Crystal Lake , and they all go missing—about a month later, the brother of one of them comes and meets up with another group of teens in search of his sister. Much slaughter ensues. It was cool to watch this movie right after watching the original and part two since it incorporated several elements of both. Really, though, if I want to watch a movie about some deranged territorial dude named Jason or Freddy or Michael going around killing people, I can just turn on the news or read American history. I like my horror to be more clever.
He Said: I was on the fence about this horror/thriller as well, but the advertising made me curious enough to check it out. LRK and I have been on a horror movie kick lately and have developed higher standards for our dark villains. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say this one fell short. Worth a watch overall for some of the action scenes and effects as well as the twist that will make you laugh, even if not in the good way. Given that this film is from the makers of the Insidious franchise, which has a bit of humor thrown in with the horror, I would recommend looking at the film through that lens rather than with expectations of straight horror.
She Said: I was bored during a good chunk of this horror movie about a woman who mysteriously seems to keep remotely seeing horrifying things while they are actually happening elsewhere—and then the last 30 minutes or so got really interesting. You might be able to form a partial theory of what’s going on, but you probably wouldn’t ever predict the execution. If you’re looking for something entertaining and lowkey spooky that will make you go “lol, whaaat did I just watch,” check it out.
THE BURARI DEATHS
He Said: Very creepy true-life crime mystery about the deaths of eleven family members of the Bhatia family from Burari, Delhi. On 1 July 2018, ten of the family members were found hanged and the matriarch was strangled. The mystery surrounding the deaths is whether or not they were a suicides or homicides or somehow both. The story itself is pretty upsetting and learning more details about the family life leading up to the event makes the situation even more eerie. I watch a moderate amount of action and horror and gore, but this one disturbed me a bit due to the real-life aspect, and seeing what seems like a normal, thriving family gone in one night in a tragic way. The interviews presented are conducted by documentary team and also taken from news footage. A good watch, but may leave a shiver up the spine, so be prepared.
She Said: The Burari Deaths is a horrific and haunting three-part docu-series about a household of 11 family members who were found hanging inside their Delhi home in 2018. The series contains photos and video footage of the family while they were living their seemingly normal lives, interspersed with photos of the crime scene and interviews of friends, police, and media members more recently speculating on what happened. The documentary walks us through a likely theory about the deadly combination of patriarchy, superstition, and stigma over mental illness. It’s a well-made series, but not an easy watch.
He Said: I didn’t know what to make of this series, judging from the trailer, but it managed to be a decent slow-burn with enough twists to keep it interesting. The title is apt by the way because it explores how we can be misled even in the information age. I liked that it was not only set in Oakland, but filmed there as well (with some fictionalization). That said, if I hadn’t watched it with LRK, I wouldn’t have finished it…
She Said: What an aptly named show! The first episode sets up a “what happened/whodunit” situation, and * spoiler * none of the episodes until the last one is really necessary to answer those questions. My sister and brother-in-law managed to avoid being baited into any of the middle episodes and they were fully able to understand the last one. I watched the whole thing and I enjoyed the clickbaity ride along the way! I don’t think I ever could have predicted the answers.
He Said: The source material for this film is both manga and anime, which usually spells trouble for the production values. This one has some talent and star-power behind it (Willem Defoe and Lakeith Stanfield), which doesn’t make the film stellar by any means, but helps to bring viewers into this comically macabre world. LRK and I recently revisited the anime and found the film glosses over what makes the anime compelling—the relationship between Light and Ryuk. This is one of those cases where making a limited series would trump making a film. I understand there may not be funding or time for that, but speaking strictly on ways to let the story breathe, that would be my take.
She Said: Based on a Japanese manga series, this thriller film about a teenager who gets his hands on a book where he can write anyone’s name and cause them to die held my attention, but several things seemed too abrupt and underdeveloped. Super Star Agni later showed me glimpses of an anime adaptation of the same material which was a full 37 episodes long, and indeed, way too much got lost in the American film adaptation. I think there are better thrills out there.
He Said: Another Kate Siegel (actor) / Mike Flanagan (director) collaboration. This husband and wife duo have churned out some quality binge material over the years, which LRK and I have consumed in mass quantities. This film bucks convention and manages to be a decent home invasion film, showing the vulnerabilities of technological dependence as well as how hard people can fight in their darkest hour. Poor, infuriating choices by the protagonist make the film longer than it needs to be, however. One Easter egg I’ll spoil is the Midnight Mass book the author protagonist has written.
She Said: This home invasion thriller which all occurs in one setting and only has four people in the entire movie is very well made. Kate Siegel plays a deaf writer and the occupant of the home that is invaded, and the movie is directed by her husband, Mike Flanagan. I’m decidedly a fan of their collabos, which also include The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Midnight Mass.
LITTLE THINGS: SEASON FOUR
He said nothing.
She Said: I’m really glad this season was the final one because though they and their “little things” felt fresh and cute in the first season or two. I don’t think I would be able to watch another season of Dhruv and Kavya continuing further in their cycles of being together and apart, sullen and manic, and vowing to “figure it out” and having cliché epiphanies. It was sweet enough with nice cinematography and it ended at the right time.
He Said: Good show, but the protagonist makes infuriating choices. I know I say that a lot, but, damn it! “I have gotten lucky, but, oh no! I will forget my dire straits and piss it all away by doing the precarious thing again!” I know this sort of thing happens in real life and being poor can beget more poverty. I have been there. But watching it on screen is not always enjoyable. Luckily, the series has some great acting that makes you care about the struggle and appreciate the victories.
She Said: Featuring an actual mother-daughter pair of actors, Maid is a drama series about a broke young mother who abruptly leaves her emotionally abusive boyfriend in the middle of the night and tries to navigate many broken support systems (including that ex) to make things work for her daughter and herself. We accompany our protagonist through the huge bummer of a situation that a domestic violence survivor finds herself in when she attempts the brave step of leaving. Despite all of the despair and frustration that process entails, the show overall manages not to feel too heavy—it thoughtfully packs in a lot of realistic dynamics without feeling academic.
He Said: Midnight Mass! As mentioned above, this project has been in the works for a few years before finally coming out. For readers who haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil the reveal, but by the time you realize what may be afoot, you will most likely be right, and that’s not a bad thing because the show is very compelling. Predictable in all the usual places, but still compelling. One thing that I found slightly over-the-top is how no one can answer a simple question. Character ONE could ask Character Two what they had for dinner and Character Two would monologue for three minutes about the best dinner they had as a kid on the lake with the fragrance of roasted meat emanating, and fireflies lighting up the night sky, before their drunk uncle kicks dirt on the meat and smashes the fireflies to bits while revealing HE was the one who failed to save the dog during the kayaking trip! And, therefore, Character Two did not feel like eating dinner.
She Said: I loved this suspenseful series about a preacher on an island who seems to bring the miracle of an angel with him. It’s hard to say too much without getting into spoiler territory, but I will say that this show could have gotten really campy really fast, and it’s a true testament to the great writing, acting, and directing that it remained thoughtful, thrilling, and somber.
RUROUNI KENSHIN: THE BEGINNINGS
He Said: As with Death Note, I’m not too familiar with the manga and anime this film was based on, so I can’t say how true to the source material it is. I can say, however, that I was surprised by how furious the swordplay can be and how nice the quiet moments are. Usually, anime- or manga-based films are poorly made and acted. Not saying they aren’t enjoyable (looking at you Full Metal Alchemist and Gintama), but this is definitely one of the better iterations. Gory, to be sure, but that’s par for the course with sword fighting films. I read that this the penultimate film, but also the series prequel, as the title denotes. The final film is on Netflix as well, but I will hold off watching it until I can see the other films in the series for continuity sake. Looking forward to them as they are reportedly good watches.
She Said nothing.
He Said: I wasn’t sold on this one until my brother-in-law said it was all the rage with his seventh-grade students. I initially thought it was some derivative Hunger Games, so bypassed it every time Netflix recommended it. I’ll admit, I was wrong. Beyond the gore and violence is a compelling story of people trying to reverse horrible financial situations or life choices and, in most cases, make things right with their families. Actually, duty to family is a major theme. The ending is predictable, however, and a bit of a letdown.
She Said: Squid Game is worth the hype! This South Korean drama series about people who find themselves so entangled in debt that they would literally be willing to wager their lives playing a set of children’s games is dark, gory, riveting, and meme-worthy. There only are a couple of people you really root for and it’s a real punch in the gut when they <spoiler> lose. The ending definitely teases another season.
YOU: SEASON THREE
He said nothing.
She Said: I was so looking forward to the third season of this crazy show which totally glorifies and makes weirdly likeable and relatable this mass-murdering stalker white boy. It was OK. I could have done without the flashbacks to his childhood. The best character this season was the mom-fluencer played by Shalita Grant, who played Dory’s lawyer on Search Party. There’s a set-up for a next season and I will watch it, but I am not going to be constantly searching for the expected release date like I did for this season.
EVIL: SEASON TWO
He Said: This show has the same quirky essence as The Good Fight and it works, especially with the is it supernatural or is it scientific angle. I don’t know how long they can keep it going since they have committed to a few plot lines they hinted at in the first season. Once they do that (purposely being vague), the end is usually near. That said, it’s been a good horror/comedy ride so far. If next season is the last, I trust it will be good.
She Said: This season about a preacher, a psychologist, and a contractor working for the church to see if people are possessed or not did not give a lingering creepy feeling the way the first season did, especially with the daughters’ storylines — but it still held up as a very creative and creepy look into various ways that evil or just weirdness culminating into the resemblance of evil can manifest. I like that we got more Ben this season and he got many scares of his own.
He Said: What the hell even is Michael Myers? That is what the film skates around. The characters don’t know. The writers don’t know. The franchise has been retconned so only the 1978, 2018, and 2021 films are cannon, which leaves a huuuuge time gap with room for lore, but we get nothing but Mikey is evil incarnate that can only be hurt and maybe die? Okay, but to what end? He chooses to kill most people, but not all. Why? Don’t have homeboy driving cars in the broad daylight, following traffic laws if he’s evil incarnate. If he’s just a dude, how can he get shot up, beaten, and stabbed, and get right back up after taking a breather? Choose one! On slasher ambience, this franchise is awesome, but the storytelling is subpar.
She Said: In our September newsletter, I said I was not expecting much more than a murderously hollow affair from Halloween Kills—and it delivered just that. The “direct sequel” that came out in 2018 asked us to ignore everything that had happened in the intervening movies, and Halloween Kills, which is the direct sequel to the 2018 movie, effectively asks us even to ignore whatever we might have thought we learned from that. Like, after all this time, there is no cognizable motive, lore, or backstory to whatever the hell Michael is. How frustrating! Well, Halloween Ends is set to come out next year. I will watch it with the hope that at least the ending will really be the ending and give us some kind of answers!