There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
2020 Netflix Halloween Countdown
As crazy as it is to believe, it is already October 2020—it has been a bizarre year, for sure. For the past three years, I have been spending October watching and reviewing some of the spooky, scary, gory, chilling, and horror-themed movies on Netflix. With each review, I will include a table that ranks these movies from best to worst. This year will be my fourth year doing this, and I plan on publishing a new review each day. Some will be from movies that I have reviewed before, but there will be some new movies on here is well. So if you are looking to get in the Halloween spirit by watching some Halloween-style movies, then these articles are for you!
Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald Burlingame (Bruce Greenwood) are married, but their sex life has hit a bit of a rough patch. Gerald is getting older and is having difficulty getting "excited". This has caused tension in their marriage, so they decide to go away for the weekend in the hopes of spicing things up. They go to a remote house in the woods (with no one nearby), get settled, and get started.
Gerald's fantasy includes handcuffing Jessie's wrists to the reinforced bed posts and having his way with her. Unfortunately for him, Jessie is not into that sort of thing, and after a heated argument on the matter Gerald ends up having a heart attack. There is no one nearby for miles, Jessie's phone is just out of reach, the nearest glass of water is just out of reach as well, and (in the couples excitement) they mistakenly left the front door wide open. Stuck, handcuffed to the bed with seemingly no way of escape an no way to call for help, Jessie will need to be smart and will need to take drastic measures to ensure her survival before she goes mad from hunger and dehydration.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Dog (+5pts)
Carla Gugino & Bruce Greenwood (+6pts)
Moonlight Man (-5pts)
Pro: Water (+8pts)
The glass of water was such a great concept for this movie. Jessie was handcuffed to the bed with no way out. Naturally, she would eventually need water. Even though there was a glass of water in her hand, she cannot drink it, due to the handcuffs. As close as the glass of water was, "it might as well have been on Mars", which was a line that the movie focused on.
What was so fascinating about this was that it kind of applied to the movie as a whole. Even though she was in a nice bed, and in a nice house, she might as well have been on Mars because she had seemingly no way of getting out of this situation alive. The premise is the best part of this film, and the glass of water (in addition to her phone) symbolizes that. She is so close to the things she needs, but has seemingly no way of reaching them.
Con: Ghosts (-3pts)
Shortly after the passing of her husband, Jessie began seeing (and talking to) her husband. Was this all in her head, or had her husband turned into a ghost? You will have to see the movie to find out, but this was a Stephen King story so it really could have gone either way. Regardless of which it was, she soon began seeing other "entities" as well. They would be walking around the room, arguing with each other and trying to persuade Jessie to make certain decisions. This was clearly done to make the story less boring. One woman, handcuffed to a bed for an entire film could get boring, so the author added some ghosts or visions to give Jessie something to interact with.
However, rather than seeing the character weighing certain possible choices, we saw her either agreeing with or disagreeing with various entities. They essentially told her everything she needed to do; she just had to decide if she should listen to them or not. I am sure that these decisions were properly fleshed out in the novel. I am sure the novel fleshed out these entities while also fleshing out the weight of each decision that the main character had to make. The film simply did not have enough time to do both. Instead, we got entities force feeding solutions to Jessie, rather than having the filmmakers focus on making a compelling story where the main character had to make tough decisions.
Pro: The Dog (+5pts)
The dog was an interesting part of this story. It was simple, but it provided some gruesome moments for Jessie. It also symbolized that an animal, in desperate situations, will do anything to survive. This applies to Jessie in this story. The dog seemed so innocent (and I think a lot of viewers will like the dog anyway), but the dog would do what it needed to in order to survive, which meant doing some things that Jessie would not be a fan of. The symbolism and message were both fine, but this dog simply made for some of the more entertaining scenes in the movie. Jessie had to witness some pretty horrific moments and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop it. Could she close her eyes? Sure, but she could still here what was, and believe me, that would be gruesome enough.
Con: Flashbacks (-6pts)
This was where I thought that the filmmakers started to lose momentum. It was also another example of something that probably worked in the book, but failed to translate (effectively) to the screen. As Jessie was stuck in her comfortable prison, she experienced flashbacks to her childhood. Each flashback brought her closer to a moment that explained (to the audience) her behavior earlier on in the story. The only thing was that I could not imagine anyone who needed that behavior explained. First, her behavior was pretty normal, so did not need any explanation. Second, I do not think anyone would care anyway.
In the book, these flashbacks probably worked well. If the book put extra emphasis on her actions, there would have been a need for those actions to be explained. The book would also have had plenty of time to squeeze those flashbacks into long chapters. In the movie, however, these flashbacks did nothing, but annoy the viewer and disrupt the pacing of the present day story. The flashbacks were so irritating because they took up screen time and ultimately did not add anything to this story.
Pro: Carla Gugino & Bruce Greenwood (+6pts)
These two actors carried this movie. With such a simple plot, one could be forgiven for thinking this would be a boring movie. The main character did not leave the bed for the majority of the movie. Could that be entertaining for an entire film? Well, you would need to great performers to pull it off. Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood were those performers.
Carla Gugino played the insanity and the desperation, while Bruce Greenwood was able to complement her well with attitude and even a little comedy. The movie really centered around Carla Gugino's character, and she did a fantastic job on her own. On top of that, her interactions with Bruce Greenwood were pretty entertaining as well. Due to their performances, and their on-screen chemistry, these two actors managed to maintain my interest for the duration of the movie.
Con: Moonlight Man (-5pts)
I think this may be a third example of something that probably worked in the book, but did not work in this film. What on earth was with the Moonlight Man? As Jessie really started to go insane, she saw this figure (which Gerald told her was the Moonlight Man) standing in the shadow of the corner of the room. The figure was tall, its face was disfigured, and it was staring at Jessie as she was trapped on the bed.
I do not want to say too much more about this character (other than the fact that the ending to this entity's role was a bit too ridiculous for this movie), but I thought this character was a distraction from the more compelling aspects of this story. This could (and should) have been a fascinating survival story, but the Moonlight Man took focus away from that. Stephen King is a great writer, but his stories are very elaborate and dense. As a result, filmmakers have consistently made the mistake of trying to cram everything into the short duration of a film. In trying to adapt a Stephen King novel, you have to pick and choose which strange elements from the book to should be included in the movie, but there simply will not be enough screen-time to include everything. Could the Moonlight Man have worked well? Sure, but this entity definitely needed more time to be developed and that was time that this film did not have.
Grade: B- (80pts)
I think this ended up being a barely good movie. It had a very interesting premise, as it was a survival story where the main character was trapped in bed. Yet, despite how "comfortable" she may have been, she still ran into the same issues that any character would run into in a survival scenario like this one. What made this a bit more fascinating than other survival stories, was that she was just barely out of arms reach from everything she needed.
It was a compelling premise, but there were a few parts of this story that were not so compelling. One example were the flashbacks. Every time Jessie fell asleep, we got a flashback to her childhood. Each flashback brought the audience one step closer to discovering something about the character that we did not need to discover, which made these scenes feel like a waste of screen time. Another issue with the film was the Moonlight Man, which was an entity that visited Jessie a few times throughout the movie and it basically represents her imminent death, but ultimately distracted from the movie's interesting premise. It was a movie with flaws, but it had a really strong premise, and the two lead actors were able to maintain my interest in that premise.
Train to Busan
In the Tall Grass
The Babysitter: Killer Queen
Hold the Dark
Would You Rather
The Open House
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House
Movie Beasts (author) from MA on October 17, 2020:
Thanks for the comment! Unfortunately, yes it definitely could have.
Nicholas W King on October 17, 2020:
I enjoyed reading your review. Sounds like it could have been a better movie overall.