The Suggestion Box #43: Ghosts, and Zombies, and Stalkers, Oh My!

Wondering what to do with your upcoming free time? Good thing we have some suggestions for what you should be watching, playing, reading, listening to, etc.

Ben’s Movie Pick: AnacondaAs the horror flick that drew me towards what is now my favorite film genre, the 1997 schlockbuster Anaconda will always hold a special place in my heart. It certainly isn’t the outstanding, tense, and terrifying movie that I touted it as when I was a kid, but it’s still a whole lot of dumb fun with the occasional scare here and there. The ensemble cast, which includes Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Jonathan Hyde, and Owen Wilson, delivers exceptionally campy performances that make even the movie’s weakest moments fairly entertaining. Also, aside from a few CGI shots, most of the visual effects behind the killer snake hold up pretty darn well, as the shockingly strong soundtrack plays over the action. If you go in hoping to see a genuinely great horror film you’re probably going to be disappointed, but if you’re looking for a lively, check-your-brain-at-the-door monster movie, then you’ll most likely be pleased with Anaconda.

Ben’s Movie Pick: Crimson Peak I hadn’t seen Guillermo del Toro’s gothic romance since it was in theaters, and that’s a damn shame because it’s practically a work of art. Allerdalle Hall, where most of the film takes place, is one of the most visually impressive haunted houses I’ve seen, both unsettling and darkly beautiful. Fernando Velázquez’ score is pitch perfect, adding so much more feeling to the moments of romance and sequences of terror. Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska are genuinely great, Jessica Chastain is out of this freaking world, and the ghosts are as terrifying as you’d expect something born from del Toro’s mind to be. With everyone and everything oozing atmosphere, Crimson Peak sucks you in and keeps you enthralled until the credits roll. As of now I’d probably put this in my top three GdT films; no offense, Hellboy II.

Ben’s Movie Pick: Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula At first glance, this bombastic sequel seems like a fairly different beast than its predecessor. Peninsula is much more of an action horror than Train to Busan, and it even has a few humorous beats thrown in as well. However, it still mostly succeeds in doing what made me love the original so much: creating memorable, endearing characters that you actually want to live through the movie. Peninsula features a whole new cast, and almost all of them get a moment or two to stand out. The human villains are good too, though underdeveloped, and the zombies are still super freaky. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching them pile up on each other while chasing someone. Peninsula isn’t quite as emotionally impactful as TtB (I teared up, but there wasn’t any ugly crying this time around) but it’s still a unique and entertaining follow-up to one of the best zombie movies of all time.

Ben’s Movie Pick: Zombieland: Double Tap I never would’ve thought I’d end up liking this long-belated sequel even more than the first. It feels like director Ruben Fleischer and his writing crew turned the already great humor up to 11, and the script really makes the most out of the outstanding ensemble cast. Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg get to play to their natural, witty, sarcastic strengths so much more here, and like almost everything else I’ve seen her in, Zoey Deutch steals the show by being absolutely hysterical. Those three were honestly all I needed, but Woody Harrelson is still terrific, and throwing in Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, and Thomas Middleditch was just icing on an already awesome cake. Abigail Breslin, one of the four stars from the original, doesn’t get much to do, but that’s really the only issue I have with the movie. Otherwise, it’s a bloody, funny time throughout.

Lauren’s TV Pick: The Haunting of Bly ManorI’m gonna say it up top because it seems to be the main “detracting” point of contention I’ve seen about The Haunting of Bly Manor: it is not as scary as its spiritual predecessor The Haunting of Hill House (though it does have one of the best jump scares I’ve seen in a long time). The thing is, it’s not trying to be. The show even says at one point: Bly Manor isn’t a ghost story, at least not in the more obvious sense of the word, it’s a love story. And it’s those stories of love, the relationships we form and love we’re willing to use to attach ourselves to others, as well as the past actions and decisions we make that haunt us. Those are the ghosts that lurk in the shadows at night, encroaching on the rooms and halls that form the setting of this story of a family who has been through so much, doing their best to survive it all. The performances by the entire cast are phenomenally moving (seriously though, I love everyone. Even ET’s BFF Henry Thomas), and though there is a through line that gets lost part way through, and the flow of the series is a bit disjointed thanks to what my friend likes to call “detour episodes” as the histories of the manor and those who call it home are elaborated on to further weave this beautiful canvas together, Bly Manor will easily be one of my favorite things to come out of 2020.

Lauren’s TV Pick: YouI’m not gonna lie, I have had zero interest in this show since it was initially released, but post Bly Manor I’ve been feeling a mighty need for more content from all of those involved, so here I am discovering quite the guilty pleasure of a show thanks to Victoria Pedretti. You (or what I like to call (500) Days of Summer if JGL’s character was a psycho) follows Penn Badgley’s disturbed stalker of a character as he obsesses over one woman per season, and had it not been for the VO from his perspective that gives us a glimpse into his delusional, bent views tilted towards seeing himself as the hero of his obsession’s narrative I prob wouldn’t have found much enjoyment in the first season, as he stumbles upward in his endeavors to be the perfect man for a woman who even season 2 takes a jab at by correctly stating “Gwenevere Beck was unspecial and mediocre.” I didn’t expect to stay onboard after the first season’s finale, but somehow season 2 adapts by shifting further into its Dexter comparable elements as it attempts to make Joe a character to root for somehow, and dammit if I wasn’t manipulated as Joe becomes more self aware of his behavior. I don’t know what that says about me seeing as Joe is still far from a good guy (and no amount of flashbacks will change my opinion of him), so I’m just going to blame Pedretti. She’s amazing as season 2’s love interest, and if seeing her character happy means cheering Joe on to truly become a better person instead of seeing him punished then I guess I’m team Joe now? It’s complicated, to say the least.

So what do you think about these picks? What content did we miss over the past two weeks while we were spending time with these? Be sure to leave a comment below letting us know about everything (both current and simply new to you) you’ve been consuming lately!

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