MOVIE REVIEW: LIGHTS OUT (David Sandberg, 2016)

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My notes on Lights Out:

1. Whenever I watch a horror flick, I feel like I work in Monsters Inc. (“We scare because we care!”) because I find glee in hearing the screams of the audience. The more frightened they are, the louder their cries (to the point of being annoying), the noisier the theater, the more I enjoy it. Sometimes I even end up liking that experience more than the actual movie.

2. If you still haven’t seen the short film that this was based on, here’s the link: https://youtu.be/-fDzdDfviLI. It’s only three minutes, it’s free, and it’s infinitely better than the full-length feature. (I liked the cameo of Lotta Losten, though. She was the star of the short and played the assistant during the opening sequence.)

3. The basic premise of the movie hinged on the flicking of light switches. But really, if you saw a strange figure standing in the dark, would you still turn the lights off (then on and off and on and off) again just to check if it was just your imagination?

That was exactly what the people here did the entire time. Characters entered rooms without bothering to turn on the lights. Their idea of safeguarding a haunted house was placing tape on the switches (because they never heard of power fluctuations and blackouts) and lighting candles (because an open flame would never get blown out by the softest fart).

4. In one scene, the boyfriend of Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) left a used sock in her drawer as a sign of taking their relationship to the next level. The fact that she was still able to locate that hidden sock meant that it must have smelled really bad and I was surprised that she didn’t break up with him right there and then.

5. If there was one thing that creeped me out here, it was when the mother (Maria Bello) was talking to something (someone?) in her room and kept using the pronoun “we” in her questions (“Did we wake you?”). I wish they were able to develop this mental illness plot further and gone The Babadook route. Monsters could be lurking under the bed, but I was more scared of the ones inside our heads.

6. Martin (Gabriel Bateman) was one brave kid. The door (with a creepy shadow behind it) slammed shut on him and he just calmly walked down with his backpack, all prepared for a slumber party with his sister (I did chuckle a bit when he said, “Ready!”). If that happened to me, I probably would have peed my pants and let out the loudest non-human shriek.

7. Where could I buy that wind-up rechargeable flashlight? I laughed so hard in that scene because someone loudly said, “Ay ang taray!”.

8. Should we blame Sadako for starting this trend of ghosts with broken bones? It just wouldn’t be as scary unless they were all hunched up and dragging their feet, right?

9. “There’s no you without me.” These hugot lines are basically everywhere.

10. I couldn’t wait for a local rip-off (“Brownout”?) where the climax would be the mother (preferably Lotlot de Leon) shining brightly and killing the darkness monster because she’s the…Ilaw ng Tahanan. Whee!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: THE 5TH WAVE (J Blakeson, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The 5th Wave:

1. Why are aliens always portrayed as dimwits in alien invasion movies? For a supposedly more advanced species that can create a now identified flying object, they don’t seem to have any good battle strategy and always lose in the end. I guess they have never played Clash of Clans.

In this one, their idea of going into war was a 5-step plan that included an electro-magnetic pulse, tsunamis, mutated bird flu, humans against humans, and basically training an army of kids to work for them. It took months of hovering over the planet to see their brilliant idea self-destruct because they forgot the strongest weapon of all: LOVE.

Cue maniacal laughter.

2. The movie started off fine with our plucky heroine (aren’t they all?) basically narrating all the events ever since the invasion started. It felt like the usual apocalypse survival movie (planes crashing from the skies, huge waves wiping out Thailand, pestilence spreading everywhere) and it was engaging and interesting. But then the movie got sidetracked by a developing love story (and you know that since this was based on a young adult novel, it would be a love triangle) that didn’t serve much purpose except to show a topless tampisaw sa batis scene with our lucky (I mean, lovely) heroine ogling her eyes out.

3. There was also a huge chunk of filler scenes involving a Quantico-style training school with the hopes that this movie would merit a sequel (uhh, I don’t think so).

4. I loved the school’s dedication to continue holding classes even with a huge UFO floating above the building. This should be a lesson for all kids (and parents) eagerly awaiting the announcement on cancellation of classes as soon as it starts drizzling. I remember as a kid waking up at 4am just to listen to the news on the radio. The words “Signal Number 3 in Metro Manila” made me feel like it was Christmas in July.

5. Crocs (yup, the awesome-looking footwear) are very much like cockroaches that can survive a nuclear explosion. Don’t forget to stock up in time for the next end of the world prophesy.

6. I really felt bad for the good actors trapped in this inferior movie. Liev Schreiber didn’t do much except bark orders, Maria Bello was made to look like a rotting corpse, Ron Livingston was tasked to keep making his eyes look big, and of course the talented Chloe Grace Moretz was given a scene where she searches a bag screaming “Where’s my gun? Where’s my gun??” just in case the audience was too dense to know that she was looking for her gun. (FYI, she also had a slow motion run in the woods because, well, the director wanted a slow motion sequence.)

7. I couldn’t believe that this was written by Akiva Goldsman and Susannah Grant (the same people behind A Beautiful Mind and Erin Brockovich). Can someone check if there are alien bugs controlling their brains?

8. “Love’s not a trick, it’s real. I know now because of you.” I suddenly wished that I was one of those people killed by the bird flu.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆