What’s happening readers! On Tuesday night I attended an early screening of The Black Phone, the latest horror thriller from Blumhouse Productions. In this film a small town in Colorado is being plagued by a serial killer dubbed “The Grabber”, who abducts and murders boys. 5 boys have been abducted already and when Finney encounters The Grabber he ends up drugged and locked in a basement. Finney’s sister Gwen starts to have dreams that could help but the visions are quick flashes and she isn’t taken seriously until the police realize Gwen isn’t making up stories. Finney’s future is looking grim however he receives a call from a disconnected phone that may prove to be his salvation.
I liked The Black Phone. It didn’t knock me out of my seat but the story is chilling and the leads did a good job. Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw are impressive as Finney and Gwen. Gwen is tough and steals the scene a couple of times. Ethan Hawke is super creepy as The Grabber. Those eerie masks he wears added to the horror of the character. The Black Phone gave me Stephen King vibes and it was amusing to find out King’s son Joe Hill wrote the short story of the same name. I recommend checking this film, especially if you are a fan of the supernatural. Go on discount day. The screening was a good time but you don’t need to spend more than 8 bucks on this one.
I’ve been a fan of A24 and their films since 2015 when I saw Ex Machina in the theater. Since then, I’ve hit the theater to watch a few of their releases and even added some A24 films to my collection. When I saw the trailer for X, I was in. It looked creepy and I liked the old school grindhouse style it was shot in. I hit AMC to check out X last Thursday. I was a tad disappointed once the credits started rolling but we’ll come back to that…..
The film follows a small production crew who are using an elderly couple’s farmhouse to film an adult movie. Wayne, the film’s producer, thinks this movie will take the home video market by storm and make millions. The owner of the farmhouse does not like this group of strangers using his place, but he needs the money, and he tells the crew they better not bother his wife. Filming commences and things seems to be going well but the crew doesn’t know that they are being watched and when the sun goes down things turn for the worse. It gets bloody. Super bloody. The question is who will make it through the night? DUN DUNN DUNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!
When the film was finished I looked at a buddy of mine who was with me and said “All that happened because of THAT? BOOOOOOOO!!” We laughed. This doesn’t mean I didn’t like the film. I thought each cast member played their part well on screen and it’s cool to see Jenna Ortega becoming a “Scream Queen” (she also stars in Scream (2022) and Studio 666). I appreciated the filming style. It looked like a movie that was shot in the late 70s. The gore…..on point for the most part. There was a death scene that I found to be silly and predictable but other death scenes made me say “DANNNNNNGGGGG”. The story/plot really didn’t move me though. I thought the motivation behind the killings was ridiculous. So ridiculous to the point that it made me chuckle. X was cool enough but not a movie I’ll rush to see again. More of a one and done as far as watching in the theater. I don’t see myself buying a copy either. I was talking to someone about not liking the story and his response was “I probably won’t see it now.” DON’T BE LIKE THAT!! I NEVER tell anyone not to see a movie. I will say if you are interested in seeing X and you haven’t yet then see it on discount day. If you don’t use a theater subscription service you don’t need to pay more than 7 bucks to see this film.
What’s happening readers! My first early screening of 2022 is in the books and it was a fun one!! Johnny Knoxville, Steve-0, and the rest of the Jackass gang are back at it and it’s been almost 20 years since the original Jackass movie. I was fresh out of high school when that hit theaters in 2002 and the antics were much crazier than what could be shown on the tv show. I remember laughing, cringing, and gagging. Then they made more movies and pushed the craziness and disgusting acts further. I recently bought the Jackass collection so I revisited 1-3 before I went to the screening of Forever. I forgot about some of those scenes……WHHHHEEEEWWW!!! I understand doing stupid things with your friends but snorting wasabi….NOPE! Purposely inflicting pain to my junk….NOPE! The port-o-potty sling slot….OH HECK NO!!!!!! It’s crazy to watch though. Either you’re a Jackass fan or you’re not. If you are then Forever will be a good time and there are some new faces to the bunch. The old timers did them dirty in some of these scenes! There wasn’t a lot of people in the screening audience but we laughed together and “OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH’D” together. I heard some gagging as well. Forever dialed down the nastiness compared to the previous entries but there’s plenty of bodily fluids flying around and one scene really grossed me out. I was eating trail mix and I had to stop for a few seconds. Like this guy really did that. EWWWW!!! Forever featured A LOT of junk. Full frontal junk. If you’ve seen any of the Jackass films then you know the guys use their privates for gags and Steve-O does something INSANE in Forever. I was bug eyed watching that scene. Forever gave me that nostalgic feeling and it’s wild because with every Jackass movie you can feel the hurt and see the disgust but the cast always has good time. This is definitely fan service for all of us who been there since the beginning. Check it out on a discount day if you have theaters open in your area.
Happy 2022 readers!! 2021 has come to an end but it was a fun cinematic year for me. I was in the theater close to 90 times this past year and for the most part the theaters were empty. I visited Washington State for the first time and watched a couple of movies out there. Fun times! The early screenings slowed down because of covid but I still was able to hit up a few earlier in the year. I saw my top film of the year at an early Dolby screening. More on that in a few. I went to a 24 hour “horrorthon” in Phoenixville, PA. That was a first and a great experience. I’ll drop some more details on that event and another event I attended but first…..My Top Ten of 2021!
1) Summer Of Soul: This documentary highlights the Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969. The footage had been sitting on ice for over 50 years but thanks to artist Questlove (making his directorial debut) and a few others it was brought to life. I loved it! I got to screen the film in Dolby Cinema and that music hit! I was dancing in my seat throughout the film. The opening performance by Stevie Wonder was WOW!! The culture, the music, the unity and the love was beautiful. Several artists that performed there are still alive so to hear their accounts put a smile on my face. This film is streaming on Hulu. Check it out! You won’t be disappointed. See my live review here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CQr9CZdHH4O/
2) Judas And The Black Messiah: The final years of Fred Hampton, a young leader of a Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party, were chronicled in this film. Hampton became a target of a FBI smear campaign and they also recruited thief turned informant William O’Neal to infiltrate the Panther’s ranks. O’Neal ended up working closely with Hampton before Hampton was murdered in a raid led by the FBI and local law enforcement in 1969. He was only 21. I knew some information about Hampton going into this film but what I learned was harrowing. Hampton succeeded at creating unity among Chicago street gangs but his activism was portrayed as a threat. It’s an eye opening movie with strong performances. Daniel Kayuula won an Oscar for his portrayal as Fred Hampton.
3) Raya And The Last Dragon: This beautifully animated action adventure follows Raya, a young warrior who is trying to undo a curse that plagued her homeland and turned people into stone. In order to do that she has to find the last dragon Sisu, who holds the mystical power that can break the curse. I really enjoyed this movie. The story had a great message about trust and Raya goes super hard!! You don’t want to make her mad. It was a fun time in the theater and eye popping in Dolby Cinema. Some of those scenes looked real! I loved Raya’s dragon sword! Check this one out on Disney+
4) Spider-Man: No Way Home: The latest Spidey flick is killing the box office!! One of the few flicks from this year where the theater was packed. This movie starts right where Far From Home ends and Spidey has to figure out how to navigate life as a super-hero and a high school senior after Mysterio revealed his identity to the world. When Peter goes to Doc Strange for help things get…..complicated. This was an awesome shared experience in the theater. We cheered together! We were sad together! Last time I felt that was Avengers: Endgame. The action is on point and Tom Holland has really come into his own as Spidey. The nostalgia made me cheer! I’ve seen this movie 4 times and I recommend seeing it in premium format if you haven’t done so already. I’ll be putting together a full review on this film so stay tuned for that.
5) One Night In Miami: Regina King’s fantastic directorial debut was adapted from the play of the same name. It had a limited released at the end of 2020 but the wide streaming release was January 2021 so I counted it here. In this film Malcolm X, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke, and Muhammad Ali meet after Ali became the world heavyweight boxing champ in 1964. The meeting was fictionalized but these men all knew each other. I appreciated the dialogue and the acting from the four leads. Leslie Odom’s performance as Sam Cooke was the standout for me. It’s streaming on Amazon Prime. Check it out if you have the opportunity.
6) Justice League: The Snyder Cut: It’s crazy how the Snyder Cut went from a rumor to a hash tagged movement to a 4K in my collection. People subscribed to HBOMAX solely for this film! It was wild. I didn’t hate the 2017 cut but it was disappointing. That cgi on Cavill’s face…BIG WOOF!!! I do have the steelbook of the 2017 version because the case design is awesome. HAHA. I’m glad the money and time was put into restoring Snyder’s original vision for this movie. The humor was toned down and the story was thorough. Steppenwolf looked much better than he did in 2017 and Darkseid was scary!! I didn’t think this needed to be 15 hours (kidding) but I was impressed with the final product. I still want to see a solo Ben Affleck Batman film….
7) King Richard: I’m expecting Will Smith to be back in Oscar contention for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father and coach of Venus and Serena Williams. This film highlights the beginning of the Williams’ journey into becoming 2 of thee best tennis players…EVER!! Richard was fully dedicated to his daughters and didn’t back down in the face of adversity and people telling him 2 black girls from Compton wouldn’t make it in the tennis world. It was cool seeing the 90s recreated. I grew up in that time so the nostalgia was fun. Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton were amazing as Venus and Serena. Both actresses played their roles well and it was quite heartwarming. My favorite line from this film is when Richard told Serena that Venus would become the best tennis player in the world. Then he told Serena that she would be the G.O.A.T….greatest of all time. He didn’t lie!
8) A Quiet Place Part II: This chilling thrill ride takes place right where the first ends and we see the surviving members of the Abbott family seeking new shelter to hide from the monsters that hunt by sound. This movie brought large numbers of people to the theater and the shared silence was a fun experience. I liked the addition of Cillian Murphy to the cast and how the story reveals some new information even though it didn’t hit me as hard as the original. That opening flashback scene was INSANE!!
9) Psycho Goreman: I have to thank my pals at the Quality Time Podcast for this recommendation. Psycho Goreman is what you get when you put Power Rangers and horror movie gore in a blender. This movie was a trip! I loved how silly and super bloody it is. In one scene a sword was made out of body parts. Gotta love it!!
10) Candyman (2021): I wasn’t a huge fan of the original Candyman movie growing up. I love the horror genre but Candyman didn’t resonate with me like some of the other popular slashers did. My interest sparked when I heard about this new film so I went back and watched the previous Candyman entries so I could have the story and lore fresh in my head. Candyman 2021 is a direct sequel to the original film so it doesn’t regard the Candyman sequels Farewell To The Flesh (good flick) and Day Of The Dead (not a good flick). In this movie an artist/photographer named Anthony finds out about the Candyman story after taking photos of the old Cabrini-Green projects and becomes obsessed. His obsession opens the door for Candyman to return and that’s when people who know Anthony get killed….HORRIBLY! The thrills and gore in this movie are awesome! I enjoyed the social implications of the story and how the history of Candyman was opened up. BRAVO BRAVO to Nia DaCosta on being the first black female director to have a film take the number 1 spot on opening weekend. Hoping to see a follow up in the near future.
Even though these films didn’t make my Top Ten I highly recommend them: Nobody, Zola, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, The Suicide Squad, Harder They Fall, Coming 2 America, Batman: The Long Halloween, Paw Patrol: The Movie, The Fear Street Trilogy, Malignant, Free Guy, Encanto, Cop Shop
These films were entertaining but didn’t knock me out my seat: Batman: Soul Of The Dragon, The Forever Purge, Black Widow, Boss Level, Godzilla vs Kong, Mortal Kombat, Wrath of Man, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Halloween Kills, The Matrix Resurrections, Last Night in Soho, Don’t Look Up, Bruised, No Time To Die
These films were okay: The Marksman, Willy’s Wonderland, Justice Society: WWII, Eternals, Don’t Breathe 2, Death Rider In The House Of Vampires, Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City, The Last Duel, Injustice, Antlers, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, The King’s Man
Disappointing: The Little Things, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (I need to rewatch this), Prisoners Of The Ghostland, Home Sweet Home Alone, In The Earth
Classics I revisited in the theater: Evil Dead, Scream, Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm, Return Of The Living Dead, A Christmas Story, Stripes.
Films from 2021 I still need to see: Nezha, The Green Knight, West Side Story, Pig, 8-Bit Christmas, Sing 2
Major shout out to The Mahoning Drive In and The Colonial Theatre!! Check them out on social media. The Mahoning hosted Freddy Fest 3 and the second day of the Fest took place on my birthday. I got to watch Nightmare on Elm Street 3 on a drive-in screen. That was awesome!! Nightmare 3 is my fav of the series. Thank you to the lovely ladies Jeanna and Rita for spoiling me on my birthday. The Colonial hosted Horrorthon 14, which was 24 hours (15 films) of horror and macabre!! It was a fantastic experience. Big ups to Brandon, Madison, and Scott!! We came, we saw, we survived!!!
In closing 2021 was a wild cinematic year. Between the theater and at home I watched over 700 films and I had great experiences with family and friends. I want to send a HUGE thank you to all the fans and followers of the Movies With Migs pages on Facebook and IG. I appreciate your continued support and cinematic discussions. Mad love to the entire Defy Life family/network!!! Thank you for the platform and all the support! Here’s to a great 2022!!