Thursday, October 30, 2014

Best Scary Movies of All Time -- Of ALL Time. (Part 2)

Well, I hope you made it through the beginner movies, kids, because horror movies these days are a bit more of a step up. As I stated in my last post, I'm not big on gore (which is even more gross these days) so I am not a fan of the Saw series or Hostel or any of those gross-for-gross'-sake movies/franchises. That said, I now present to you the scariest movies from 1990 onward.

(PART 2)

1. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
One of the best horror films of all time, I've seen this one for countless film classes and still love it. The story follows Clarice Starling, a student at the FBI Academy who becomes a key piece in solving the abduction of a state senator's daughter, whom the police believe was taken by serial killer Buffalo Bill. Enlisting the help of a convicted serial killer named Hannibal Lector, Clarice needs to find the missing girl before it's too late. The only major American horror movie to win an Oscar for Best Picture, the way that it's edited, acted, and executed is really just impeccable. Might be a little too intense for some, but the perfect scary movie.

2. Scream (1996)
Classic slasher film that brings all the unspoken tropes of horror movies to the surface. Teen Sydney (worst name ever) is a student at a local high school where her friends have mysteriously started being murdered by a man wearing a mask. Tongue-in-cheek but still pretty scary, this film is great for horror movie fans and newbies alike.

3. Blair Witch Project (1999)
The one that started the found-footage trend. A troop of college kids are making a documentary about a local witch and hike into the woods to get footage of some local stories. They soon lose their map, get disoriented, and start to find and hear strange things around their camp sites. Wierd bundles of sticks and circles of rocks might seem relatively nonthreatening, but added to the tension and hopelessness of being lost in the woods, this movie has you on edge throughout. Still one of the best found-footage movies out there.

(Embedding was disabled on the clips I found, for a scary scene go here)

4. The Sixth Sense (1999)
The original DAFUQ!? plot twist ending, this movie follows a psychologist as he attempts to help a kid who tells him he can "see dead people." (Come on, had to put that in there.) Some seriously jumpy scenes, and the plot is sewn up so tightly that you have to watch it a few times to really appreciate it. The best ever from M. Night Shamalan (although I wanted to put Signs on here and everyone at my office got belligerent at me...still think it's pretty good, but that's apparently just me...).

5. The Ring (2002)
The first terrifying movie I can recall having seen, I'm pretty sure I watched the bulk of this from underneath a blanket. A weird video tape has been circulating and once you watch it you only have seven days to give it to someone else -- or else you die. When a reporter tries to get to the bottom of these seemingly mysterious deaths, she discovers the disturbing story behind the tape and tries to figure out how to stop them. Based off of the original Ringu, The Ring is still plenty terrifying.

6. The Grudge (2004)
Ahhhhhh, that creepy girl and her child and those noises that they make with their mouths!! Help! Another based on an Asian original (in this case, Ju-On), The Grudge actually takes us over to Japan where a young American woman is studying and living with her boyfriend. After becoming an in-house caretaker for an old woman, she begins to feel like she's being followed by something sinister, as are those around her. The Asians really have a way with the supernatural and this remake is pretty near to the original in its scary originality. These aren't your evil, grinning spirits, but tangible, blue things that pop up out of NOWHERE. Still scares me. (Disclaimer: if you thought you could hide from ghosts in your bed, this movie will destroy you. See above scene.)

7. The Descent (2005)
AWESOME creature feature, and very original. Instead of zombies, ghosts, and werewolves, The Descent rigs up some original and pretty scary cave creatures. After a group of thrill-seeking girls decides to take on an uncharted cave, they are unpleasantly surprised when they are met with a small population of cave-people that slowly pick them off, one by one. The central character is a total bad-ass, and it's one of the (SPOILER ALERT) few scary movies that ends with closure (depending on which ending ends up being used. I've seen both and I much prefer one over the other.).

8. [REC] (2007)
Best. Zombie. Movie. I've. Ever. Seen. This Spanish horror movie is much better than the American remake (Quarantine) and much more unsettling. A reporter is covering a local apartment building when all of a sudden the building is quarantined. But one by one, each of the residents of the building starts turning into zombies. Just wait for the scene with the little girl. And the end scene. Scary stuff.

9. Paranormal Activity (2007)
Um, yeah. The first time I saw this movie, I was so on edge that I had to sleep over my friend's house. With the lights on. And I was 19 years old. Another successful found footage movie, this one will either bore you to death or scare the shit out of you. Something deeply disturbing about being stalked by the intangible, and everything seems SO normal in this that it's even more unsettling when things start to happen to this couple. If you like this one, be sure to catch the second and third ones, not bad considering they're sequels.

10. Orphan (2009)
Okay, I hear you laughing, but Orphan is a pretty well executed horror flick and the first time I saw it, I didn't anticipate the ending at all. Originality in scary movies is always delightfully welcomed (there are only so many movies that you can make about serial killers and zombies) and this one is a unique spin on the usual "bad seed" kind of films. After a couple is still reeling from having a relatively recent stillborn baby, they decide to adopt from a local orphanage. Seeing something special in a little girl who is a bit apart from the others, they decide to take her in. But Esther proves to be quite the sadistic daughter; torturing her siblings and giving due payback to bullies at school. Great character development for a horror movie, especially from the ever classy Vera Farmiga. Good ending and pretty creepy how well she knows how to torture her new family.

11. Insidious (2010)
The notorious. Some love this one and some don't, but I still love Insidious, stylistically and plot-wise. A boy falls off a ladder one night and then never wakes up the next day. His parents find out that (SPOILER ALERT) he is gifted at astral projection, or projecting his soul outside of his body. Ghosts, demons, and everything in between then show up, seeking to possess the kid's body for themselves. Notable soundtrack ups the creep factor tenfold for Insidious, which has jumps, creeps, and a unique plot. What more can you ask for?

12. The Innkeepers (2011)
While I'm not a huge fan of Ti West's other horror film House of the Devil (really sharp esthetically but just takes to long to get moving), The Innkeepers was freakin' terrifying. Another case of "Everything is normal -- NO IT'S NOT!! -- Okay, now it's normal again...Or is it?" West takes his time delivering the scares, and by the ending you're jumping out of your seat. Help.

13. The Possession (2012)
Another interesting spin on a typical plot, The Possession is basically a Jewish spin on the traditional possession tale. A little girl finds a mysterious box at a garage sale and accidentally opens it up. Insatiable hunger, aggression, and an uncanny ability to move things with her mind alert her parents that something may be wrong with the girl. An interesting casting choice with Matisyahu as the rabbi that tries to help the girl, the rest of the cast delivers a pretty believable film.

14. The Woman in Black (2012)
Okay, ignore Harry Potter up in here, but this movie is chilling. A woman in black haunts the house isolated at the end of a swamp and picks off little children in the village below. Trying to crack the case is a young lawyer, who is met by more than one instance of inexplicable phenomena. Scary stuff and lots of jumps.

15. Cabin in the Woods (2012)
In the same sort of wheelhouse as Scream, Cabin in the Woods pokes fun at the stereotypical horror genre. A group of teens decide to vacation at (you guessed it) a cabin in the woods, but the longer they're there, the more differently they begin to act. As they begin to morph into the stereotypical horror movie roles (jock, nerd, slut, stoner, and virgin), we begin to learn more about why they're changing and what the bigger picture is behind all the horrific things they see throughout the night. Scary enough but also really great fun! (See: the merman.)

16. Mama (2013)
Two baby girls find themselves alone in an abandoned house in the woods, but are astonishingly discovered there years later and restored to their existing guardians. But they are far from normal. Growing up far from socialization, the girls are taciturn and skittish. As they begin to warm up to their new "parents," the thing that took care of them in the woods isn't too happy at being replaced. Despite "showing the monster," I still really like the bulk of this movie. And seeing Jessica Chastain as a punk rock chick is pretty interesting in its own right.

Can't even bring myself to inflict the red trailer upon you all...

17. Evil Dead (2013)
HAVE A DRINK HANDY WHEN THIS ONE ENDS. I was so shaken up after seeing this in theaters that I came home and had a whiskey. A group of teenagers go to a cabin in the woods to help their friend go through detox. After discovering a basement full of dead cats, one of them discovers a book wrapped in garbage bags and barbed wire (clearly just screaming "READ ME!") and -- get this -- reads from it. Unleashing the EVIL DEAD (see what I did there?), the girl starts acting crazy weird. Thinking that she's just going through detox, her friends don't worry seriously at first...until the blood starts to flow. Good god. This movie is (and I say this in all seriousness) horrifying. Gore, gore, gore, gore, gore. Far less cheesy than the original, this one had me INCREDIBLY on edge.

18. The Conjuring (2013)
THIS ONE TOO. One of the best formulated scary movies I have seen in years, The Conjuring features a family of girls who have moved into a new house that doesn't want them there. After being tormented in innumerable ways by the spirits that infest the house, the family enlists the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren, two mediums who try to cleanse the house. But this exorcism is far from easy, and as the group wanders deeper into the mystery of the spirits of the house, things get more and more extreme. This movie has all the things that scare you: murder, ghosts, possession, demons, and a nostalgic set that hearkens back to the 1970s. Well acted and well executed, The Conjuring is a new classic.

Honorable Mention:

Signs (2002) I don't care what you say, I like this movie so shut up.

The Others (2001) Great plot twist at the end still keeps this one pretty fresh. And those pale children that can't go outside and talk to the disembodied Victor? Um yes, still super creepy.

28 Days Later (2002) Great zombie movie but I got REALLY annoyed with two things that happen in this: that drop of damn zombie blood falling in that poor man's eye and the weird thing that happens with the soldiers at the camp. Other than that we good, 28 Days Later. You do you.

An American Haunting (2005) This one, to be perfectly honest, isn't incredibly scary, but it has a few moments that stick with me. There aren't a ton of scary movies that take place in colonial America (which, quite frankly, is a bit surprising because being in an undeveloped country actually sounds pretty unnerving if you ask me...). Scary scenes get a little blurred by the ending, which isn't my favorite, but up until that part seeing this poor girl get tortured by the intangible is creepy enough.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Best Scary Movies of All Time -- Of ALL Time. (Part 1)

Norman, I'ma let you finish, but...

Taking note of this year's severe lack of scary films that actually look worthwhile, I've decided to compile a list of my favorites of all time. Now, I use the term "scary" pretty loosely. These are thrillers, slasher flicks, campy horror, creepy classics, and regular ole scary movies.

This started off as one list, but there are so many good ones that I wanted to include (and since imbedded YouTube videos can make the page lag pretty bad), I split it up into two lists organized by year. This list rightchere is the best horror flicks up until 1990.

SO! Here we go!


1. Cat People (1942)
Had to watch this one for my first film class in college and it still sticks out as one of the best examples of Don't-Show-the-Monster, possibly leading the forefront behind this kind of shadowy suspenseful editing. The story follows an American guy who marries a Serbian girl only to find out that she is terrified of a family curse that causes all of the women to be jealous ladies who can turn into (you guessed it) Cat People. It sounds cheesy, and it's admittedly pretty dated, but watch it to see the earliest examples of sharp editing creating suspense. I still find the pool scene pretty creepy (yes they had pool scenes even in the scary movies of the 1940s).

(Cue the hokey old trailer)

2. The Uninvited (1944)
Probably one of the first scary movies that I've ever seen. I don't know when renting movies from the library became gauche, but in our family The Uninvited was a damn staple and the local library had the only copy that I have ever seen. Seriously, I've actually never heard anything about this movie ever again and find it hard to believe that more people haven't seen it. Might've been the crappy quality of VHS tapes, but I vividly remember thinking "Holy crap, for the 1940's, that ghost looks REAL." Pretty creepy, even for the 1940s, and definitely an underrated horror flick.

3. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
I haven't seen any of the remakes of this one, but the original I found to be pretty good, enough to not explore the other ones. In a small town, a raving lunatic (presumably) is picked up off of the streets for ranting about aliens. Telling his tale to the police, the movie unravels and we learn that he was a doctor, and that he uncovered a bunch of different patients who came to him seeing changes in the ones closest to them. While nothing was ever clearly wrong, they were noting that their loved ones seemed distant, and blank. After a time, the doctor uncovers the reason: aliens have been making copies of people, growing them in pods, and doing away with the originals. Be careful; they come for you when you're sleeping.

4. Psycho (1960)
One of the best early examples of effective psychologically-imbalanced-people horror, we follow Norman Bates and his murder of a young woman at his family hotel. Still creepy even now, the black and white creates a high contrast backdrop for the multiple good vs. evil battles highlighted in the film. Still unnerving to see Norman run into the basement dressed as his mama in the final scene. And the above scene still seriously gives me the chills. The direct eyeline into the camera. Good job, Hitchcock.

5. The Birds (1963)
This was another library staple (why did we rent so many old, old scary movies when I was little...?). The special effects, the character development (that's Jessica Tandy as Mitch's mom, btw), and of course, the man with the pecked-out eyes. Pretty visceral stuff for the 1960s, and what's scarier than getting attacked by a gigantic flock of birds? I freak out when a pigeon flies too close to my head; the nightmare of them intentionally flying at me (see: the phone booth scene) is damn scary.

6. Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Oh nbd, you're just pregnant and your baby happens to be a demon. This one is particularly scary for women; new moms might want to stay away. Rosemary's just moved into a lovely NY apartment with her new husband and shortly thereafter finds herself pregnant. But her pregnancy is going rather strange. She's in nearly constant pain, looks awful, can't sleep, and is developing some bizarre eating habits... The neighbors across the hall aren't helping much either, giving her strange herbs and shakes and being a bit more concerned about the baby than they should. Creepfest in the extreme, especially if you're seeing it for the first time. Sharp editing and multiple twists keep it a classic.

(NSFW, as if you needed warning.)

7. The Exorcist (1973)
Well duh. Only (arguably) the scariest movie ever made. Some of the special effects are a bit dated, but damn. This one still terrifies me. Regan and her mother are in London for her mother's acting career when the little girl starts acting weird. Weird being the understatement of the century. I'm not going to go on about everything that happens in this movie because you've probably heard it already, but rest assured it's still super-effectively horrifying.

(Not for the faint of heart.)

8. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Gross. Ah. Help. My sister and I rented this YEARS ago and the image of Leatherface hanging a perfectly fine, conscious person on a meathook by her back still gives me the chills. The terrifying thing about this movie is actually the way that it's edited. Not a ton of closeups or unrealistic blood spurts, this seems horrifyingly realistic. I'd never want to see it again (not a fan of torture movies) but that only stands testament as to how incredibly terrifying this movie is.

9. Jaws (1975)
Don't go into the water!! Oof, born and raised in a coastal town, this one just hits a little too close to home. Not so scary now, as it's a little dated, but this age-old tale of a town terrorized by a giant great white is still enough to make me a little skiddish about swimming in the ocean. And it's Spielberg. So that.

10. Carrie (1976)
This movie has it all: a psychotically religious mom, telepathy, and pigs blood. Carrie's the school nerd that everyone hates for no reason. A quiet kid, she comes under the scrutiny of her classmates after they get in trouble for aggressively bullying her. Things come to a head at the notorious prom. A good look at the consequences of bullying and of having a freakin' insane mom (really, when you think about it, it's a wonder that Carrie ends up as normal as she is before the prom scene). Skip the remake and watch the original.

(Couldn't find a good scene that didn't give something away, so this dated trailer will have to do.)

11. Alien (1979)
You're trapped in space with an aggressive alien that you can't kill. Scary? Um, yes. This is where it all began. While the effects are (to use the word again) a bit dated, the suspense of not knowing where the alien is coupled with the two big plot twists are enough to allow this one to stand the test of time. To be honest, I like the effects in the second one better, but it becomes (as most sequels do) a bit of a caricature of the first one (especially with the addition of the stereotypical soldier people. yawn.)

12. The Shining (1980)
Creep, creep, creepy. A man takes his wife and clairvoyant son to become the grounds keeper at an isolated Colorado hotel for the entire winter. Is it the isolation driving him crazy or is there something seriously wrong with this hotel? Kubrick delivers an unsettling film with an even eerier soundtrack. Not downright terrifying, but definitely delivers an unrest that stays with you for a little while. (If you like the movie, try reading the book. Excellently written and, in my opinion, even scarier than the movie.)

13. Poltergeist (1982)
"It knows what scares you. It's known since the beginning." I would argue that Poltergeist is one of the best executed scary movies. Even if you take out all of the scary bits, the acting in it can stand by itself. One of my biggest qualms with the horror genre in general is that characters are consistently underdeveloped and unrealistic. In Poltergeist, the family reacts understandably when their house turns on them and abducts their youngest daughter. Not just scary, but incredibly well edited and acted, I still think that Poltergeist is one of my favorites. (And seriously, if that clown scene doesn't freak you out, there's something wrong with you.)

14. The Thing (1982)
Along the same vein as movies like Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, The Thing follows an arctic expedition camp who have uncovered a strange creature. As it begins picking off members of the team, they begin to realize that not only does it kill these people, but it assumes their identities. Scary in the "I don't know who my enemy is" sense, The Thing is eery beyond all reason. Perfect example of well-executed practical effects as well. (CGI be damned!)

15. Hellraiser (1987)
A man opens a puzzle box and all hell breaks loose. Literally. After summoning the Cenobites, Frank is literally torn apart in a weird sadomasochistic labyrinth of chains and hooks. But after discovering that blood will ressurrect him, Frank employs his former lover (who's sporting some of the most hilariously awful makeup I've ever seen) to kill randos on his behalf. The only person who can stop him is his neice. Some really incredible practical effects. Big fan, very creepy even now.

(Ones I Didn't Include, And Why)

Halloween (1978) I'm sorry, but I can never get into it. I've tried to watch it several times and walk away kind of like "Meh." I get more annoyed with all the characters that can't outrun Michael than scared about how he's stalking them. I dunno. Say what you will. It's too slow and it doesn't hold up with dis critic. Sorryyyyyy.

Suspiria (1977) This one was mentioned on several lists I found, but I've seen it and I'm just not a fan. Anyone who reads this thing with any regularity will also know that post-dubbed sound drive me nuts.

Don't Look Now (1977) Another critically acclaimed horror movie that I just didn't get. Full reason why located here.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Kudos for a scary plot (you're not safe when you sleep, etc.) but I just hate the main character way too much in this. She's so incredibly annoying. Honorable mention for special effects though.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Annabelle: Possessed Doll Disappoints in Latest Horror Movie Let-Down

For some reason the association that the movie has with The Conjuring was enough to draw me in for this one. It's hard to find a well-made horror movie these days, and this actually looked intriguing -- especially building off of the character of Annabelle from The Conjuring, which was damn scary. But, after walking out of the theater, it became clear that this was just a regular movie about a possessed doll, and the fact that it was associated with The Conjuring was mere coincidence. $18 later.

Disregard "The Conjuring" part.

Annabelle begins in the California suburbs with a young couple who are about to have a baby. Mia and John are as happy as can be -- until two cultists come along and murder their neighbors and try to stab Mia in the stomach. In the haze following this hubbub, one of the serial killers shuts herself in their baby's soon-to-be nursery and kills herself while holdling the Annabelle doll. After the couple returns to the house, weird things (of course) start happening. When a minor fire forces Mia into labor, the baby is born and things are looking up when they move to a new home. But the weird things aren't stopping, and they're getting more serious. Can Mia save the life of her baby before it's too late?

I dunno, probs.

So. Okay. As previously stated, I had high hopes for this one. It's not that Annabelle is bad, it just tends towards other mediocre horror movies more than I would like. For example, things getting really blurry about what/who is actually possessing the doll. Is it the serial killer? Is it a demon? Is the serial killer now a demon? Why does the serial killer keep showing up? Where'd she go? Who's this new demon guy you're showing us? What's going on? As stupid as it seems to pick apart the logistics of a supernatural movie -- come on. Either simplify your plot or make the complicated-ness airtight so that people later can go over it and figure it out, instead of going over it and thinking "wait...what?"

The main characters were also disappointing. While Annabelle Wallis (hilariously, this is the actual name of the actress that plays Mia) holds her own pretty well, her scenes with John read pretty stiff. For a young, married couple in love, they have almost zero chemistry. And John also fulfills that age-old, B-horror movie role of guy-who-thinks-everything-is-fine-and-his-wife's-crazy to an annoying degree.

"Everything is fine, my wife is just hysterical. Let's give her 
a tranquilizer. It's the 60s."

(Parenthetically, Annabelle Wallis also looks and talks a LOT like Dianna Agron, and I spent half the film trying to figure out whether it was actually her or not.)

But the film's not ALL bad.

For one, it's interesting to see another horror movie that plays itself out in the past. Set in the 1960s, Annabelle has some amazing sets that really suck you in. I don't know if it's the similarities between Annabelle and Rosemary's Baby but the dilapidated apartment building that they move into seems appropriately creepy. Not bad.

Also, I'd be lying if I said I didn't jump out of my skin a fair amount of times. This isn't the kind of movie that's going to leave you deeply unsettled, but it is successful in delivering a number of jumps and screams. While I'm very much against the fact that they decided to "show the monster demon," I ended up jumping out of my seat (against my will) every time he showed up. However, I do think that they could've picked some scarier effects to their advantage. Like simply having the doll possessed by a serial killer a-la Chucky and leaving the demon bit out of it. Or even something as simple as making the doll itself move a little bit more; isn't that fundamentally what makes Annabelle so creepy in the first place??

You have this creepy doll!! At least make it move its head or something!!!

5 outa 10. All said, it's not bad. But if you go in expecting a film as polished as The Conjuring, you're going to be disappointed.

(Disclaimer: Most of the scary bits are in this trailer)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Best Shorts of the Ottawa International Animation Festival

I've gotta say, I totally slacked off on my coverage of the Ottawa International Animation Festival. But better late than never right?!

Here are a few of my favorite shorts from Short Film Competition 5 at the Ottawa International Animation Festival:

1. Butter Ya'Self (Julian Petschek): Of all the things that I was expecting from these shorts, I was actually surprised by this stand-out piece. A stop-motion music video that also featured food as the artists and subjects was not something I was expecting to see -- or to like either, for that matter. Still, Butter Ya'Self creates a hilarious, and surprisingly catchy, music video that mimics and parodies legit rap videos. "We on a roll...bitch, I am a roll."

2. 365 (The Brothers McLeod): This short was like nothing my brain has ever had to process before. Each day of the year 2013, The Brothers McLeod made one second of animation to reflect something about the day, whether an event, a dream, or something random. Consequently, the short moves so quickly and so that it's like nothing that you've ever seen before. While it takes a bit for your brain to adjust as the animation zips along, it's a pretty cool project, and definitely something I had never seen before. (Actual short unavailable, but here's a taste.)

3. The Terror Pulse (Christopher Mills): While this short is technically a music video, and not really my favorite kind of music, I liked how multi-media the animation is in this. Mills employs stop motion, pastels, CGI, and even a live action overlay. Points for creating an interesting story with a lot of different animation techniques. Very cool.

4. Somewhere (Nicolas Menard): Between the animation style and the sound editing, this short really creates a sad and haunting tale in a matter of a few minutes. An armless astronaut lost in space and the woman he's left at home become realer than real without help from any dialogue.

5. Supervenus (Frederic Doazan): A disturbing look at how women are pressed to alter their bodies (with horifying results). Wish the below video were in better focus, but...damn. Effective. 

6. Stop the Show (Max Hattler): I mean, really. It speaks for itself.

7. Crazy Little Thing (Onohana): Creepy, creepy vignette of a little girl who kills her father. But interesting mystical realism with the tree, and I like the pencil-drawn animation.

8. A Tale of Momentum and Inertia (Kameron Gates and Kirk Kelley): A much-needed playful short after a handful of scary ones. This was short and sweet. Really nice CGI as well; very finely detailed.

Gone Girl: Woah.

It's hard to make a movie that's as good as a book. Books rely on our imaginations and so it can be hard to see something on screen translated differently than the way you saw it in your mind.

Such is not the case with Gone Girl.

I can't remember the last time I saw a movie and thought "Wow, this is better than the book," but I found myself thinking that through this whole film.

The plot centers around Amy Dunne and her husband, Nick. Amy has gone missing and Nick has no idea what has happened to her. As more and more evidence comes to light about the nature of their unraveling marriage, things are looking grim for Nick. Seemingly cold about the disappearance of his wife, he is not gaining any popularity. But as the plot unfolds, we begin to question whether maybe we're wrong about Nick's character after all. Maybe Amy's disappearance isn't what the public thinks it is. And maybe nothing is as it originally seemed after all. Prepare yourselves for some shocks and thrills, kids.

Oh she's gone, girl.

This is a hard review to write if you haven't read the book, but here goes nothing:

The acting in this is insane. For a story that relies 1000% on character development, Affleck and Pike do not disappoint as the mesmerizing Nick and Amy. I've got to be honest: I don't usually like Ben Affleck. He's never struck me as a very poised actor before. Most of the roles that he plays are very average-Joe ish and I never really buy his emotions. That being said, Affleck is absolutely stellar in this role. For a character who you aren't sure whether to trust, Affleck is amazing. Seriously. We're talking Oscar-worthy. The same can be said of Rosamund Pike's portrayal of Amy. While I've only seen her in a few films, she's incredible in this. The way that she captures Amy's incredibly complex character is damn impressive. And that's not something I say lightly. I think I liked their screen counterparts better than the characters written on the page.

The other thing that I love about Gone Girl is its aesthetic, and really its feel in general. From cinematography to soundtrack to sets, this is an extremely well-polished piece of work. Crisp images of suburban normalcy pop out of the screen and fluctuate between the gray, well-decorated interiors of the Dunne house and the bright green-and-blue wilderness of the outside. There's something about the cinematography that makes you totally uneasy, as well. Flipping back and forth between the present reality of Amy's disappearance and her past journal entries (as happens in the book), things happening in the present seem too quiet set against their original, whirlwind romance. The soundtrack has that dichotomy too. Always sweeping, emotive songs, but with minor notes lurking underneath creating slight disharmony. Very well done, and very subtle.

In terms of the actual story, I was shocked at how much remains unchanged in this movie adaptation. There were hardly any characters cut out of the script and next to no scene is cut out. Maybe (dare I say it) to its detriment. While allll of the tiny details of the book remain intact (and really, I mean, the structure of the story itself leaves little room for edits), the only bad thing i would have to say about Gone Girl is that it's long. Especially since I had read the book and knew how it was going to end, I spent the last 20 minutes of the movie tapping my foot waiting for the damn crash-bang conclusion. If you can hold out for the length of the movie, the climax towards the end is pretty damn crazy. But I wouldn't step into this theater running on less than 8 hours of sleep.

Really excellently executed. I'd say 9 outa 10.

(I'm sure you've all seen this trailer by now, but just for good measure..)