Throwback Thursday: Cruel Intentions

Fun fact: the first time I watched this film it was at an outdoor theatre sponsored by my local church (that year we had a hot young monk helping with the church’s fundraising and somehow got away with showing this film, The Ninth Gate, and Final Destination). Having said that, this movie was considered the hottest teen film at the time, as well as having one of the best soundtracks after Romeo + Juliet (and that one was hard to beat!).

The movie is a modern adaptation of the French novel, Dangerous Liaisons (a film was made in 1988 and now Starz recently did a series). So instead of being at a French court, Cruel Intentions bases itself on the lives of rich Manhattan kids, focusing on step-siblings Kathryn and Sebastian.

Kathryn is pissed off because her ex dumped her over the 4th of July weekend for a naive virgin, deeming her too “slutty” for him, and wants Sebastian to help her destroy her ex by corrupting his current girlfriend Cecile. But Sebastian, notorious for ruining the lives of young girls with his charm and sociopathic ways has his eyes set on virginal Annette. Kathryn wagers that he cannot seduce Annette and if she wins, she will get his retro Jaguar, however, if she were to lose, she alludes that she would be down to have anal sex – and thus the bet is made.

The movie opens with Placebo’s Every You, Every Me – and with lyrics such as, “Sucker love, I always find someone to bruise and leave behind,” it quickly captures the mood of this movie. Now, upon this second viewing (I never rewatched it after that time from the outdoor theatre) it’s pretty evident that Sarah Michelle Gellar (who played the manipulative Kathryn) essentially carried the movie with her boss girl ways, cold cruelty, and sensuality. Although every gal viewing this movie couldn’t help but to fall for Ryan Phillippe’s charming take on Sebastian. Rewatching the movie, I was quickly reminded of why at the time I didn’t find his character charming, and I soon realized upon my second viewing that the actor looked very similar to this guy from school (who yes was cute) but had this knack for always trying to pick me up or find ways to touch me that at the time I found annoying and borderline harassing.

The movie was massively successful, it earned $75 million out of a $10 million budget and at the time was one of the raciest teen films. Nowadays, we’re more used to series like Euphoria, so Cruel Intentions seems very tame in comparison, but overall, it’s still a fun movie and that’s mostly because of its talented cast and cool soundtrack (the best use of Bittersweet Symphony you’ll ever see onscreen). Some things are dated (such as gay shaming), but some things still speak true today (such as Kathryn’s frustration with having to keep up a fake facade in order to be liked because women get a bad rep when they admit to liking sex). Despite all the flashy fun that the movie delivers, it goes without saying that there are problematic moments such as homophobia, racial insensitivity, and downplaying sexual assault. It was a product of its time, but we shouldn’t overlook some of its problematic issues.

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3 Symbols in NOPE and What They Mean

The upright shoe.

When child star Jupe was on set for the sitcom Gordy’s Home, the titular chimp went berserk when a balloon pops causing havoc on set, killing and mauling the actors and staff from the show. During Gordy’s violent moment, Jupe and the camera focus on a white shoe that belonged to Jupe’s TV sister, standing upright with a tiny spot of blood. Later in life, we notice that he keeps this shoe in a memorabilia room. Some have mentioned that the upright shoe could be a manifestation of a bad miracle. However, I think the upright shoe is a symbol for the saying, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop,” and in a way, Jupe has lived his whole life waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when it does drop, this time he isn’t so lucky as he was in ’98.

Animal Abuse in the Film Industry.

The theme of animal abuse in Nope was extraordinarily evident from the very beginning when the movie starts with sound footage of a chimp, Gordy becoming violent during a filmed sitcom episode. Soon after, we notice the film industry being just as careless with the horse Lucky, on the set of a commercial, despite OJ basically begging the white cast and crew to be mindful of the animal and not to do anything that may startle it. But they didn’t listen to him, thus resulting in Lucky kicking out – and the director firing both the horse and his handler OJ. The film in a way wanted to show what happens when humans try to tame animals that aren’t meant to be tamed, and that in the end, their true nature will come out and the humans will suffer for their arrogance.

The Meaning behind FE1111.

Angel’s truck has a sticker with FE (standing for Fry’s Electronics) while 1111 is a reference to Jeremiah 11:11 famously referenced in Jordan Peele’s sophomore film US. The biblical reference is, “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.’” Meaning that God has no intention of saving man for something they brought upon themselves (usually caused by the human obsession with greed and power).

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5 Horror Movies featuring Female Villains

There’s a special place in Hell for those who scorn women or find themselves on the receiving end of female fury. Here are 5 horror movies with female villains that are just as beautiful as they are deadly.

JENNIFER’S BODY

When a demon takes possession of her, high-school hottie Jennifer (Megan Fox) turns a hungry eye on guys who never stood a chance with her before. While evil Jennifer satisfies her appetite for human flesh with the school’s male population, her nerdy friend, Needy (Amanda Seyfried), learns what’s happening and vows to put an end to the carnage.

TEETH

Dawn (Jess Weixler) is an active member of her high-school chastity club but, when she meets Tobey (Hale Appleman), nature takes its course, and the pair answer the call. They suddenly learn she is a living example of the vagina dentata myth, when the encounter takes a grisly turn.

AUDITION

This disturbing Japanese thriller follows Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), a widower who decides to start dating again. Aided by a film-producer friend (Miyuki Matsuda), Aoyama uses auditions for a fake production to function as a dating service. When Aoyama becomes intrigued by the withdrawn, gorgeous Asami (Eihi Shiina), they begin a relationship. However, he begins to realize that Asami isn’t as reserved as she appears to be, leading to gradually increased tension and a harrowing climax.

THE LOVED ONES

Hell hath no fury like a prom queen scorned. When Brent rejects Lola’s invitation to prom, he sets off a chain of events that leave him the victim of her twisted revenge. Now, the only guest at Lola’s terrifying and demented prom, he must fight to survive what could be his final dance. Will Brent withstand this nightmare of drills, nails, glitter and syringes, or become one of Lola’s “loved ones”?

THE RING

It sounds like just another urban legend — a videotape filled with nightmarish images leads to a phone call foretelling the viewer’s death in exactly seven days. Newspaper reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) is skeptical of the story until four teenagers all die mysteriously exactly one week after watching just such a tape. Allowing her investigative curiosity to get the better of her, Rachel tracks down the video and watches it. Now she has just seven days to unravel the mystery.

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Book Review: Pieces of Me by Kate McLaughlin

It must be nice to live in a world where you don’t see the darkness in people.

PLOT SUMMARY:

When eighteen-year-old Dylan wakes up, she’s in an apartment she doesn’t recognize. The other people there seem to know her, but she doesn’t know them – not even the pretty, chiseled boy who tells her his name is Connor. A voice inside her head keeps saying that everything is okay, but Dylan can’t help but freak out. Especially when she borrows Connor’s phone to call home and realizes she’s been missing for three days.

Dylan has lost time before, but never like this.

Soon after, Dylan is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, and must grapple not only with the many people currently crammed inside her head, but that a secret from her past so terrible she’s blocked it out has put them there. Her only distraction is a budding new relationship with Connor. But as she gets closer to finding out the truth, Dylan wonders: will it heal her or fracture her further?

GRADE: B+

REVIEW:

I’ve enjoyed this author’s previous books and overall this book was also enjoyable to read. The book quickly begins in a rush of events – kickstarting the protagonist Dylan’s journey. Dylan has DID but she doesn’t know it at first and loses track of time and wakes up in an unfamiliar location. Overall, I really enjoyed the novel because it was interesting to see how Dylan dealt with both this new diagnosis and how she dealt with her past trauma that caused her personality to split. My only issue was that everyone in Dylan’s life was so supportive of her and her condition – her mother, her best friend, her new boyfriend, and even her stepmom and dad. The only person who wasn’t as supportive right away was her twin brother. Now, I haven’t met anyone with DID so I don’t know how accurate the portrayal was – however the fact that everyone quickly accepted, and she faced no struggles felt a little unrealistic. But I could suspend belief for the sake of the story because I really did enjoy the narrative and the characters we got to meet – especially all of Dylan’s alters.

I recommend this book for those who have an interest in DID that isn’t in a horror setting (as it often is used).

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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10 New Horror Movies to Check out During Spooky Season

From Torn Hearts

2021-2022 have been filled with so many thrilling new horrors. From creepy child abductors, to finding strange large eggs in the middle of the woods or trying to escape crazed killers wielding chainsaws yet again, here are a few of my favorite new horror movies that I enjoyed that will get you in the mood for Halloween!

The Black Phone (Peacock)

X (Showtime)

Fresh (Hulu)

Hatching (Hulu)

Orphan: First Kill (Paramount +)

The Sadness (Shudder)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 (Netflix)

The Yellow Wallpaper (Prime Video)

Hellraiser 2022 (Hulu)

Torn Hearts (Epix)

From Hatching
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Film Review: Luckiest Girl Alive

Full disclosure, when I started reading the novel, I struggled with the first chapters because I found present Ani to be too fixated on looks and appearances, especially when it came to clothes and her views on marriage (when I read the book I was still unmarried and was annoyed that the character could be so judgmental on what was the perfect age to be married by). It wasn’t until we got to meet teen Ani (then known as TifAni) that I warmed up to the character and could feel like we actually had more in common than I would’ve anticipated. Having said this, at the time I really enjoyed the novel so when the film hit Netflix last week I quickly viewed it.

Maybe because the author, Jessica Knoll has written three books since Luckiest Girl Alive, but I felt like the screenplay for the film (also written by the author) managed to convey a powerful punch to the gut, in a way that the book didn’t (I much prefer the film’s ending than the book ending). The writing was raw, sharp, and went for the jugular, in other words, it doesn’t aim to please, rather it aims to seize what is rightfully theirs, without shame.

The movie, much like the book has us meet present Ani – who seems to have it all, impressive journalist career, rich fiancé, and is on her way to becoming an editor for The New York Times. And yet, she’s plagued by an incident from her past that’s linked to personal trauma as well as collective trauma. Mila Kunis skillfully brings this complex character to life in the present timeline, while Chiara Aurelia portrays teen Ani is a stark contrast to her present self, as teen Ani is curvaceous with unruly hair who desperately wishes to be accepted by her blue blood rich classmates at her posh private High School. Present Ani is impeccable in looks, but when her fiancé Luke steps away from the table at the restaurant, we see her scarf down two slices of pizza with a hunger that the viewer knows that there’s something brewing instead of Ani that wishes to unleash itself. That she isn’t being her authentic self because present Ani thinks the only way she can move on from her past is to deny everything she was as a teen.

This is a very harrowing yet powerful movie, and if you’re a woman it’s one you don’t want to miss because finally there’s a character that is both complex and messy and yet manages to honor her younger self in the end by doing something that her teenage self would’ve approved of. The way in which Mila Kunis delivers the most eloquent fuck you in the final scene will make you think that that fuck you is one that many women can stand behind

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3 Realistic Horror Movies That Will Give You Nightmares

Sure, ghosts and demons can be very frightening, but what are the chances that they will happen to us in our lifetime? Some horror movies are scary because the chances that they could actually happen are high. Here are three realistic horrors that will chill you to the core.

THE STRANGERS

Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) are expecting a relaxing weekend at a family vacation home, but their stay turns out to be anything but peaceful. First, a mysterious and dangerous woman arrives at the door while James is out on an errand. When he returns, he accidentally kills his friend Mike (Glenn Howerton), mistaking him for an intruder. And then real danger does show up — in the form of three masked torturers, leaving Kristen and James struggling for survival.

Scare Factor: 10/10 Home invasions are scary, and sadly very probable!

SPEAK NO EVIL

On a vacation in Toscana, a Danish family instantly becomes friends with a Dutch family. Months later, the Danish couple receives an unexpected invitation. It doesn’t take long before the joy of reunion is replaced with misunderstandings.

Scare Factor: 9.5 – strangers that turn out to be crazier than anticipated is very frightening and makes you understand why summer friends should never be seen outside of holidays.

WOLF CREEK

A chilling, factually based story of three road-trippers in remote Australia who are plunged into danger when they accept help from a friendly local. Kristy, Ben and Liz are three friends in their twenties who set out to hike through the scenic Wolf Creek National Park in the Australian Outback. The trouble begins when they find that their car won’t start and they run into a local bushman named Mick Taylor.

Scare Factor: 10/10 Who doesn’t like to hike? And who doesn’t find themselves enthralled by the help of friendly strangers? This movie will make you wary of strangers forever.

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3 Horror Movies I Can’t Wait to See

Spooky season is almost upon us and there are already a few movies coming out prior to October. Here are my top three that I can’t wait to see!

PEARL

If you haven’t checked out X yet, then do it now! Pearl is a prequel to X and explores the titular villain from the first film. Set in 1918 during the era of the Spanish Flu pandemic and World War I. The events take place prior to the previous film and explore how the cabin where the massacre of X takes place was once used as a boarding house during the war. Pearl feels trapped at the isolated family farm, and she’s tasked with attending to her comatose father and dealing with her cruel mother. But she lusts after a glamorous life she’s seen depicted in Hollywood movies, and her yearning sets off some devastating events.

TERRIFIER 2

The first movie was deliciously gory in all the best ways possible! After mutilating sole survivor Victoria Heyes and committing suicide upon police confrontation. Art is resurrected by a sinister being a year later and begins to hunt for two unsuspecting siblings on Halloween night.

MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM

I loooove Grady Hendrix novels because they’re both terrifying and hilarious. One can already see from the trailers that the movie is gonna be faithful to the book as much as possible and I’m here for it. The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act…different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries-and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

What movies are you looking forward to?

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Film Review: The Immaculate Room

Typically, it’s always a challenge to have a movie with only two actors carrying the film for a good portion of it, especially when the setting doesn’t change. From the very beginning, a couple, Kate (Kate Bosworth) and Mikey (Emile Hirsch) are contestants in a strange game in which they agree to spend 50 days living in a white room. If they manage to do that, the couple will win $5 million dollars, if for some reason one of them chooses to leave the room prior to 50 days, the prize money drops to $1 million.

The room has the chilly aesthetic of a chic art gallery, and with no form of entertainment whatsoever, the couple must learn to live with boredom for 50 days. We soon learn that Kate views the money as a means to put her mind at ease after spending a life worrying about her finances, while Mikey comes from a wealthy family and it’s still unclear why the money would mean much to him other than to be supportive of his girlfriend. For most pre-lockdown people, staying in a room for 50 days would’ve seemed like an easy feat, but as lockdown made us all realize, being confined is actually much harder than it looks.

Hirsch is animated as Mikey, as he explains what he would do with the money if he were to win, or how to kill boredom he begins to read the tag on his shirt in different accents. Bosworth’s performance is more contained as her character Kate tries to keep herself together with daily affirmations. It isn’t until the addition of external people that she gets triggered and her balance begins to tilt. The couple’s shut-in world begins to shake the moment Simone (Ashley Greene Khoury) enters the room, which sparks jealousy and tension to rise between the couple. It doesn’t take long for the ugly emotions to surface for it to bring things to a head.

The film begins with a study on boredom and if it’s possible to be driven mad by it, but it quickly devolves into the malice of greed and how far would one go to keep the prize in question. Again, for being a film that focuses mostly on two characters and one location, the script was interesting, although this film is less Squid Games than I had anticipated and ends on a positive note.

The movie is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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3 Campy Horror Films to Watch When Sick

Whenever I was little my go-to whenever I was sick was Gatorade, saltines, chamomile tea, Archie Comics, and campy horror movies. My parents would always rent me some new campy horrors and buy me new comics, and I’d always feel marginally better afterward. So, if you ever find yourself stuck in bed and need a way to kill a few horrors with some campy horrors, don’t worry! I have you covered.

PSYCHO GOREMAN

Intergalactic assassins converge on a small town after two siblings unwittingly resurrect an ancient alien overlord.

EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN

The second of three films in the Evil Dead series is part horror, part comedy, with Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) once again battling horrifying demons at a secluded cabin in the woods. After discovering an audiotape left by a college professor that contains voices reading from the Book of the Dead, Ash’s girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) becomes possessed by evil spirits that are awakened by the voices on the tape. Ash soon discovers there is no escaping the woods.

AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS

A group of carousing American tourists is taking in the cultural landmarks of Paris when a chance encounter results in sightseer Andy McDermott (Tom Everett Scott) saving the life of Parisian Serafine Pigot (Julie Delpy). While on a date at a nightclub with Serafine, Andy is suddenly attacked and bitten by a werewolf. The next day he discovers that Serafine is also a lycanthrope, and that he is beginning his own grueling, hirsute transformation into one of the fanged beasts.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVE CAMPY HORRORS?

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