Tom Chick

Worst thing you’ll see all month: Psychopaths

, | Movie reviews

Mickey Keating wants us to know he’s seen Taxi Driver. Well, at least the shoot out at the end. In Psychopaths, a new low for the most uninteresting horror director working today, he restages a snippet of the brothel shootout, shot for shot. He also wants us to know he’s seen Audition. Well, at least the torture scene at the end. But Martin Scorsese and Takashi Miike understand that something needs context to be truly horrific. The ends of Taxi Driver and Audition wouldn’t be nearly as powerful without the rest of the movie laying the groundwork. Which is why those scenes are at the end and not merely edited in at some random spot. Keating apes, without understanding, to such a degree that his movie is barely even a movie.

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Kingdom Death: Monster: some assembly required

, | Game diaries

Jason and Ian are both like little devils on my shoulder. They’re not doing it right. Isn’t one of them supposed to be the angel? They’re telling me about this super expensive game that I had already heard of, but had zero interest in playing. Especially once I found out that you have to glue together the stupid miniatures yourself. Ugh. Who has the time? It’s not my job to put together a game the designer couldn’t be bothered to put together himself. Besides, I did my term of service gluing stuff together when I was 14 and getting gluey fingerprints all over Revell models of B-17s. But they’re each telling me things about the game that make me think there’s more to this thing than I knew. Ian has it and he’s clearly enamoured of it. Or at least invested in it. Jason doesn’t have it, but he wishes he did. He seems to admire it from afar.

They keep talking. Their words are cackles and pricking pitchforks and the lash of tiny barbed tails at the back of my neck. But I’m strong. They can’t do their work on me. It won’t work. It won’t work.

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In Deep Sixed, no one can hear you scream at things that break at the worst time

, | Game reviews

Dark Star was John Carpenter’s 1974 riff on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Imagine 2001 without Kubrick’s visionary serenity, where the astronauts are the hippies, stoners, and surfers a USC film school student would have known in 1974. That’s screenwriter Dan O’Bannon in the foreground as Pinback. To release a planet-busting bomb, he twists his arms inward to grasp two dials or levers. It doesn’t look very comfortable. He holds it for the countdown from 10, and then for the release, he sharply rotates his hands outward. It’s the gesture a magician would do to reveal which hand the quarter is in.

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The Thunderbirds boardgame to the rescue in a post-Pandemic world!

, | Game reviews

The boardgame renaissance began about ten years ago when humankind finally invented good boardgame design. It had taken centuries. Previously, we had a bunch of roll-and-move junk, nerdyman wargames no one cared about, and old chestnuts like chess, Monopoly, and Settlers of Catan. Things like worker placement, deck building, and traitor mechanics hadn’t been invented yet. It was a dark time.

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Qt3 Movie Podcast: The Cloverfield Paradox

, | Movie podcasts

So that’s why Netflix stealth released it.

Next week: Black Panther. Also, our Make Us Watch Whatever You Want 2018 Fund Drive is officially underway! For every dollar you contribute to our PayPal account at 3×[email protected], you get a vote for the drawing to be held at midnight Pacific on March 11 to determine which movie we’re doing for the March 18 podcast.

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Not the worst thing you’ll see all week: The Ritual

, | Movie reviews

There’s only so much you can do with characters lost in the woods stalked by a malicious supernatural presence. At some point, the presence is just going to kill them or drive them mad. Now the story is over. GG.

But Adam Neville’s novel, The Ritual, realizes this. So after subjecting its lost characters to brutality, exhaustion, and terror, it does something different and a little silly. It goes from scarily horrific to absurdly horrific. If you were to turn it into a movie, it would feel like two different movies. Maybe even a bait and switch. Which explains why the adaptation of The Ritual, just released on Netflix, is completely uninterested in the second half of Neville’s novel. What’s left is competent, but mostly unremarkable. There’s only so much you can do with characters lost in the woods stalked by a malicious presense.

The script leans a little too hard into exploring the main character’s psyche, which is problematic when he’s the least interesting character. At least Rafe Spall is pretty good at doing least interesting. And director David Bruckner visually manifests his psyche in some strange set pieces. If you look at The Ritual as a creature feature, it does what it needs to do, despite a forced attempt to live up to the title. But if you’re looking for a lively twist or an unexpected payoff, you’re just going to have to read Neville’s book. The woods in this adaptation are well trodden and entirely familiar.