Movie Review: The Ritual

Netflix recently released their first horror movie of the year. The film is called The Ritual, which is loosely based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Adam Nevill. I watched the trailer for it last month and it definitely drew me in. Horror movies are my favorite so I’m always open to new ones especially when it looks as if it has the potential to be decent.

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Luke, Dom, Phil and Hutch are four college friends that reunite to pay tribute to a friend by taking a trip. The group embarks on a hiking trip in Sweden. One of them gets injured, which slows them down so they mutually decide to take a rest stop until the daylight. As they look for somewhere to rest, they come across a vacant cabin that will accommodate them. As they settle into the cabin, they discover some eerie relics within it as well some odd things surrounding the cabin like a deer cut open and hanging from a tree. Despite everyone being spooked they still decide to spend the night there, but when they wake up they are never the same again.

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I particularly enjoyed how the writers included Norse mythology and tied it into an evil, sacrificial thing. I think it’s always interesting when there’s a little truth to the creepiness. It was mentioned in the film that the evil that is being worshipped is a “jötunn” which is basically Swedish for a God or entity. One of the people that lived in the village where Luke and Dom were held captive explains that she and the people there worship a bastard god-spawn of Loki, but they cannot utter his name. She also says that from worshipping and making sacrifices they are granted an extended life.

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The film initially gave me a Hostel feel in the beginning because the characters’ naiveness felt so familiar. They literally went into the woods with an old fashioned compass and thought that they would make it to the lodge within in a day, but they were already somewhat lost along with the fact that had no clue about the area they were in.

The group’s trip into the wilderness made them face their fears especially the character, Luke. Luke was struggling with his guilt for not intervening in a robbery that could have prevented his late friend’s death. Throughout the duration of the film, he had dreams about it, but I believe that it was the entity preying on his weakness.

The ending disappointed me. As the movie was wrapping up the smoke cleared and it was becoming laughable rather than giving off its initial creepiness. I felt like the ending had much more potential and could have went in any direction, but instead it was just like ehh. I will still say the movie is worth watching. It’s interesting and refreshing to have a new horror movie in Netflix’s catalogue.

Check out the trailer below

My Black History Month TV Show & Movie List

Pariah (2011)

Alike, a 17-year-old girl living in Brooklyn, lives a double life because she has been hiding her sexuality from her overly religious mother and absentee father. She is an aspiring poet who is devoted to her academics, but is struggling to keep up with the façade she puts on for family as she is learning about herself and her sexuality identity.

The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

Jessica is a young black woman who is the embodiment of eccentric and colorful. She is a struggling playwright living in NYC who’s going through a recent breakup and trying to move forward with her life. While dating she finds an unlikely love interest who has her smitten and rethinking some of the things in her life.

Mudbound (2017)

 

Set in 1945 shortly after World War II in rural Mississippi, a time and place where Jim Crow laws were alive and well. The film focuses on the of lives of two families who coexist on the McAllan family’s farmland. Jamie and Ronsel come back home from the war to face the life they left behind.

Fruitvale Station (2013)

22-year-old Oscar Grant was in the process of getting back on his feet to support his family when his life took a turn for the worse. Fruitvale station recounts the days leading up to the night that Oscar Grant was involved in an altercation with police on New Year’s Eve that ultimately ended in tragedy.

She’s Gotta Have It (2017- Present)

Spike’s Lee movie turned TV series is about Nola Darling, a black artist who lives a liberating yet complicated life all while juggling multiple lovers. The series touches many of the current issues that are faced in today’s society especially in the black community.

Fences (2016)

Fences was originally written as a play by playwright, August Wilson in 1985. 30 years later, the  play was transformed into a film that depicted the lives of a black family in Pittsburgh who are battling race, mental illness, infidelity and dysfunction between their relationships.

Dayveon (2017)

Dayveon is struggling to cope with his brother’s death. He spends his days roaming the streets of his rural town in Arkansas. With no real guidance or parental figures in his life, he succumbs to his environment and joins the life of violence.

Insecure (2016- Present)

This series is partially based Issa Rae’s web series, Awkward Black Girl. Issa and Molly are best friends who face their flaws and insecurities head on in a series of uncomfortable situations and encounters. They constantly reflect on their morals and beliefs as they work to overcome hardships in their personal and work lives.

Detroit (2017)

This film goes back in time to 1967 to depict the events that occurred in the Algiers Motel in Detroit, Michigan. During that time, there had been numerous riots in Detroit that had vandalized the city so as a result the city was heavily patrolled especially at night. Two friends decide to stay at a motel for the night instead of attempting to make their way home through the heavily patrolled city. Their night goes awry when they’re hanging out with two white women at the motel and a gun goes off. The film depicts the hours the people in the motel spent being interrogated and beaten by the police for a confession.

13th (2016)

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay takes an in depth look into the history of racial inequality in the United Stated by focusing on the nation’s prisons that are disproportionately filled with African Americans.

12 Years a Slave (2013) 

 

Solomon Northup is a free black man from upstate New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south. Northup endures the cruelty of slavery at the hands of his malicious owner, but also finds kindness as he struggles to maintain his dignity as a slave who was once a free man. His life changes forever during the 12th year when he encounters an abolitionist from Canada.

Selma (2014)

 

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act legally desegregated the South. However, despite the Civil Rights Act many black people still faced discrimination in certain areas, which made it difficult for black people to register to vote. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers embarked on an historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. King and his followers’ effort ultimately led to President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Loving (2016)

Loving tells the story of interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving who went up against the Supreme Court in 1967. The two fell in love and married in 1958. They spent most of their lives in Central Point, which is a small town in Virginia. However, in the state of Virginia their interracial marriage was considered illegal and ultimately led to their incarceration at one point. The Loving family temporarily relocates in Washington, D.C., but ultimately tries to find their way back to their hometown. The couple’s strife led to the Supreme Court’s decision of invalidating the prohibition of interracial marriage in the state of Virginia.

Black-ish (2014-Present)

Dre Johnson seems to have it all as he has a great job, a beautiful wife, four kids and a big home in a nice neighborhood, but he starts to questions whether his success as a black man has created some distance between himself and black culture. Dre makes it his mission to create a sense of ethnic identity for his family members that will allow them to honor and acknowledge their identity as black people

Imitation of Life (1959) 

 

Lora Meredith is a single white mother who by chance encounters Annie Johnson, a black widow. Annie eventually becomes the caretaker for Lora’s daughter, Suzie while Lora pursues her dream of being on Broadway. Lora and Annie both face the difficulties of single motherhood. Lora struggles to maintain a relationship with Suzie as she strives for her Broadway career while Annie’s fair skinned daughter struggles with her black identity.

Moonlight (2016)

 

The film is told in three parts that shows Chiron’s life as a youth, an adolescent and as a young adult. Chiron spends most of his life growing up in Liberty City, Miami. Throughout his life, he faces many hardships such as, depression, struggling with his sexual identity all while trying to live with his mother as she battles her drug addiction.

The Butler (2013)

After leaving the South, Cecil Gaines is given the opportunity of a lifetime when he is hired as a butler at the White House. Throughout his thirty years as a butler, Cecil has been able to see history and the inner workings of the Oval Office unfold firsthand during historical events like the Civil Rights Movement. However, his commitment to the first family leads to complications with his family at home which ultimately puts a strain on the relationship he has with his wife and son.

Southside with You (2016)


In 1989, former President Barack Obama was a law student working as a summer associate at law firm in Chicago. Obama tries to win the heart of Michelle Robinson, a young lawyer and his supervisor at the law firm.

Queen Sugar (2016- Present)

Estranged Bordelon siblings, Nova, Charley and Ralph Angel must come together in Louisiana to make decisions in regards to their father’s sugar cane farm after his death. Nova is a journalist and an activist; Charley is the wife and manager of an NBA player while Ralph Angel who was recently released from jail is trying to get his life together for his son. The three siblings who live completely different lives and have experienced different things throughout their lives must put their differences aside for the betterment of their family’s legacy.

Dear White People (2014)

A campus culture war between black students and white students at a predominantly white school arises when the staff of a humor magazine stages an offensive Halloween party where many of the white students in attendance were in blackface. The film explores racial identity from the viewpoint of four black students attending a predominantly white school.

Celia (2015)

Celia tells the story of Afro-Latina music legend, Celia Cruz. The telenovela highlights the beginning of Cruz’s career where she developed her passion for singing in the 1950s along with her recognition as being the most pivotal singer of La Sonora Matancera. It shows how throughout the years, Celia Cruz was able to leave Cuba and conquer Latin music which led to her being one of the most recognized Salsa singers.

How to Get Away with Murder (2014)

Annalise Keating is a brilliant professor of defense law and teaches a course called How to Get Away with Murder. Keating is also a criminal defense attorney. She handpicks a group of students that she considers to be the best and the brightest. The group that handpicks assists her with her cases alongside her employees, Frank and Bonnie. Life changing situations arise that reveal dark secrets and will ultimately test the students’ wit and loyalty.

Chewing Gum (2015)

This British series follows the everyday shenanigans of Tracey Gordon. Tracey is a religious, Beyoncé-obsessed 24-year-old whose unusual and naïve outlook on life always gets her into trouble, but she seems to learn a little about the way the world works as time goes on.

Atlanta (2016)

Up and coming rapper, Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles is trying to find middle ground with street life and real life while developing his rap career. His cousin, Earn has returned to Atlanta and is now his manager. Earn devotes most of his time to getting his cousin’s rap career to the next level. Alfred spends most his time with his right hand man, Darius. When Earn isn’t busy managing his cousin he’s preoccupied with his daughter and his complicated with relationship with her mother, Vanessa who is also his best friend.

Time: The Kalief Browder Story (2017)

 

At just 16 years old, Kalief Browder spent three years in Rikers Island awaiting trial. Browder spent two of those three years in solitary confinement. He was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack. The case was never prosecuted and the charges were ultimately dropped. In 2015, Kalief Browder committed suicide two years after his release from jail. The six-part series delves into Browder’s life through first person accounts, archival footage and recreations of key points in his life. The series also includes a wide range of people who are connected to his story.

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

In this documentary, Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished back in 1987. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project that would go unfinished. Baldwin started a book called “Remember This House.” The book was set to be revolutionary and historical. In it he would recall his personal accounts of the lives and ultimately the assassinations of three of his close friends who were Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Daughters of the Dust (1991)

 

Set in 1902, a family of former West African slaves living in the Gullah community of the coastal South Carolina suffers a generational split. The film is narrated by the unborn daughter of Eli and Eula who tells the stories of her ancestors who strive to maintain their family’s legacy and culture in the Gullah community while some want to move onto the mainland for a modern way of life.

 

Movie Review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Over the holiday weekend, I went to go see the new Jumanji film. I was a little apprehensive because this film took a different approach to the original fantasy adventure film that was based on a board game.

The original film made its debut in 1995 and was based on the 1981 children’s book of the same name. The film featured stars like the late Robin Williams, David Alan Grier, Kirsten Dunst and more.

Fast forward to 2017, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is set in current day. The nerds and popular kids are put together due to detention, but find themselves working together to free themselves from the video game version of Jumanji.

The film was better than I thought it was going to be. Kevin Hart and Jack Black’s humor complimented the quirkiness of their counterparts. The Rock did pretty good with playing the avatar of a nerdy teen.

One thing that was interesting to me is that the backstory for Jumanji was completely different from the original film. There was no mention of the other characters or the origin. The writers chose to give it a different starting point with a different character who was stuck in the game for 20 years.

It’s definitely worth seeing especially with your family.

Stephen King Brought his Creepy Novella, 1922 to Life on Netflix

I was on Netflix looking for something new to watch and came across Stephen King’s film, 1922. 1922 is kind of a horror/thriller drama that chronicles the life of Wilfred James after he murders his wife, Arlette with help from his son, Henry.

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Wilfred comes off as a simple man who lives on a farm with his wife and son. Arlette has inherited the land that they currently live on from her father who recently died. She expressed to Wilfred that she would like to sell her father’s land and collect the money so that the family can move to Omaha. The family is at odds because they both have opposing views on the fate of the farm. Wilfred is dead set on keeping Arlette’s farm so he conspires to kill her and gets his son to assist him.

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Wilfred’s life after murdering Arlette is basically in shambles figuratively and literally. Everyday he must endure the guilt and hauntings his dead wife. Her death seems to plague the home he once shared with his family along with the crops.

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Wilfred’s life goes downhill really fast even though it initially seemed to be working out. He thought his plan to kill his wife and make it seem as if she had run off without him would be seamless in such a slow and small town. However, awhile, the farm falls apart, the house falls apart, money is low and Henry leaves him behind for a forbidden love. Arlette’s grotesque body followed by a swarm of rats haunts Wilfred by telling him things only a dead woman would know that disturbs him and leaves him miserable wishing to die.

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This movie is the embodiment of creepy, bizarre and depressing.

Initially I expected this be a horror film, but it was more of a thriller to me. There were some spooky moments, but it was more of a thriller with gross scenes. Wilfred and Henry’s lives were never the same after they executed their plan to kill Arlette.

List of Must See Horror Movies

Halloween is coming up and I think it’s necessary to compile a list of horror movies to watch for when you’re laid up with bae or having a movie night with friends.

I feel like it’s so cliché to include Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th which are all cult classics, but there are plenty of slept on movies out here. Check out my list below

The Strangers (2008) – Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) are expecting a relaxing weekend at a family vacation home in a woodsy and secluded area, but their stay turns out to be the opposite. A mysterious woman arrives the vacation knocking on the door relentlessly looking for someone they don’t know. A series of strange things happen as the couple is forced to fight for their lives as a group of masked and sadistic people taunt and torture them.

V/H/S (2012) – crooks who are hired to steal a rare VHS tape from a remote house. Once getting to the house they find cryptic footage, old TVs and a dead body.

Evil Dead (2013) – The remake of the original 1981 film is about Mia (Jane Levy), a drug addict who is determined to kick the habit. In effort to become drug free she asks her brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) along with their friends. They all go to Mia and David’s family forest cabin. One of their friends, Eric discovers a book called the Book of the Dead that he reads aloud and awaken an ancient demon.

The Serbian Film (2010)– An old Serbian porn star (Srdjan Todorovic) who’s struggling to make ends meet for his family decides to do one last film for a large lump some of money. Unfortunately and unknowingly, he agrees to do an adult film that contains pedophilia, necrophilia and death.

28 Days Later (2003) – A group of misguided animal rights activists free a caged chimp infected with the “Rage” virus from a medical research lab. London bike courier, Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma a month after the activists freed the infected chimps. After leaving the very hospital, he finds the city stranded and lifeless. While running away from zombies he bumps into a group of suvivors, Selena (Naomie Harris) and cab driver, Frank (Brendan Gleeson). Jim joins them on an uncertain journey to safety.

Darkness (2004) – Paul (Stephan Enquist) and his older sister, Regina (Anna Paquin), unpack and settle into their new country home with their parents. The morale in the house slowly becomes dark and tense. Strange things start to happen in the house. Supernatural occurrences began happening more regularly. As Regina digs into the dark history of her family’s home she struggles to uncover the reasoning behind the macabre presence. As the supernatural occurrences get more intense and threatening, Regina looks into the house’s dark history and struggles to uncover the reason behind the grim presence. This one of my favorite movies that delves deep into dark magic and cults.

Dark Skies (2013) – Lacy (Keri Russell) and Daniel Barrett (Josh Hamilton) live in the suburbs with their sons, Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and Sam (Kadan Rockett). However, that peace soon shatters with a series of disturbing events that escalate. When it becomes clear that their family is being targeted by an unimaginably terrifying, deadly — and possibly alien — threat, Daniel and Lacy draw on their courage and determination to protect their family and identify what is after them. I was so paranoid after watching this movie. I kept checking behind my ears.

Drag Me To Hell (2009) – Christine has a loving boyfriend (Justin Long) and a great job at a Los Angeles bank, but her heavenly life becomes hellish when she doesn’t grant a gypsy woman’s request. In an effort to impress her boss Christine denies the woman’s request and in retaliation the woman places a curse on her. Christine attempts to get help from a psychic in order to break the curse, but the price may be too steep. This movie made me be more conscious of how I treat people.

V/H/S (2012) – crooks who are hired to steal a rare VHS tape from a remote house. Once getting to the house they find cryptic footage, old TVs and a dead body.

Human Centipede (2009) – A deranged surgeon (Dieter Laser) drugs and sutures three unsuspecting tourists together through their gastric systems for his sick and twisted experiment. If you’re squeamish don’t watch this. This movie is not for the weak hearted.

The Descent (2005)–  Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) goes to North Carolina to spend some time exploring caves with her friends after experiencing some emotional trauma. After Sarah and her friends descend underground and into the caves, they discover strange cave paintings and evidence of an earlier expedition. They soon learn they are not alone in the cave as they encounter the underground predators who inhabit the cave.

Skeleton Key (2005) – Caroline Ellis (Kate Hudson) is a nurse living in New Orleans who quits her job at a hospice to work for an elderly woman, Violet Devereaux (Gena Rowlands) whose husband, Ben (John Hurt) is in poor health after having a stroke. Caroline starts to explore the couple’s Bayou mansion and she discovers some strange things that opens the door for her to learn about the house’s mysterious past. Caroline soon learns about the sinister secret that Violet has been keeping from her.

Hostel (2005) – Best friends Josh (Derek Richardson) and Paxton (Jay Hernandez) go backpackingg across Europe after graduating from college.The pair stop in Amsterdam to indulge in sex and drugs where they Oli, a tourist from Iceland. The three hang out together and look into the rumors of an enticing Slovakian hostel full of lusty women, but find themselves drawn into a deadly game instead.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) – Four friends are driving down a dark road and accidentally hit a fisherman. They realize they killed the fisherman so they dump his body. A year later of them receives a letter letting them know that they witnessed the crime. From that point on, the friends are stalked by a killer with a hook. This movie is one of my favorites from the 90s.

Wrong Turn (2003) – A Group of friends are traveling through West Virginia when they start to have car trouble. They’re stranded and soon discover that they’re being stalked by backwoods cannibals. This movie confirmed my feelings and notions about WV.

High Tension/Haute Tension (2005) A young French woman, Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco), travels out to the country to visit her family and she her friend, brings Marie (Cécile de France) with her. Shortly after they get settled in, Alex’s parents are brutally attacked by a truck driver who breaks into the home. The killer proceeds to stalk the women as well. The killer kidnaps Alex so Marie hides in the back of the truck to save her friend not knowing the horror that is to come.

Movie Review: The Incredible Jessica James

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I’m really starting to appreciate Netflix’s original series and movies more. One of my most recent favorites is The Incredible Jessica James (2017). The film stars Jessica Williams, Lakeith Stanfield and Chris O’Dowd.

The film is about Jessica, a young black woman who is the embodiment of eccentric and colorful. Jessica is a struggling playwright living in NYC . She’s going through a recent breakup and trying to navigate through life. While dating she finds an unlikely love interest who has her smitten and rethinking some of the things in her life.

I feel like this particular film is something that was much needed because it focused on the life of an artistic, black woman rather than the typical movie about the quirky white girl next door. Another thing that I like about the movie is that it was realistic. Jessica didn’t have a ton of friends, she was awkward and funny instead of being portrayed as a hyper sexualized woman who couldn’t get her life together. It also focused on the struggle of getting over an ex and eventually making amends which I like because people shouldn’t have to feel so toxic and torn after a breakup.

Despite the good things, I did not like that Jessica’s love interest which was a white collar white man who just came into her life via a blind date that her friend sent her on. He miraculously swept her off her feet like she was damsel in distress and he was her knight in shining armor. In the movie industry, it’s so cliche to have a black woman play a conflicted character who is trying to figure it all out with the help of her white friend who makes snarky comments or she has a white love interest who is coming into her life as a savior to give her clarity and solutions to all her problems.

The movie was really dope despite the white savior aspect. Jessica James was living her best life not knowing what was next for her or what was the right way to cope after a break up. I was happy to see a black girl be at the forefront of a film all about her and her life.

Movie Review: IT

It is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, which released on September 8, 2017. Prior to this film there was a mini series that aired in 1990.

The film follows a group of 13 year old misfits that are labeled as the “Losers Club” and live in Derry, Maine. After a significant amount of missing children reports, Bill, who is apart of the Losers Club, has a little brother that has mysteriously gone missing. He uses the little bit of courage that he can muster up along with the help of his friends to figure out what is causing the children in their town to go missing. As he and his friends dig deep and uncover secrets of their seemingly quaint town they soon realize they must fight against their deepest fears along with fighting the thing that lives and thrives off their fears.

If you’ve seen the movie then you’ve noticed in the end credits it said “chapter 1”, which hints at there being a sequel coming soon. *Spoiler not but really a spoiler* In Stephen King’s novel and in the film, the protagonists made a blood oath to return to Derry and fight off It/Pennywise and the gang inevitably return to Derry as adults to face him Pennywise once again.

I think this movie initially wasn’t highly anticipated, but it grabbed the interest of people once the release date neared. It was a smash at the box office with an estimated $60 million haul, which made it the highest grossing September release ever.

I would definitely say that It has Annabelle: Creation beat. This film was one of the scariest movies of 2017. It wasn’t that eerie but it’s as close as the horror genre is going to get these days. There was a scene where one of the kids in the Loser’s Club is at the library and is possibly uncovering the origin of Pennywise which could give the second film the opportunity to delve into where It came from. There weren’t any cheesy attempts to spook you with a sound effect or ominous music. The directors and producers really relied on making the creepiness of Pennywise come to life in the film based on the text. I would give this film a 4.5/5