Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Idris Elba, Ali Larter, Beyonce Knowles, Jerry O’Connell, Christine Lahti, Bruce McGill, Scout Taylor-Compton
Directed by Steve Shill
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
This movie should have been called Single White She-Devil.
Obsessed is the ultimate revenge fantasy thriller for every African-American woman sick of seeing white women taking their finest Nubian men. A crazy white woman is trying to seduce and ruin the marriage of a successful, happily married black family man, and only his sassy, no-nonsense ebony goddess of a wife can put a stop to this home-wrecking honkette. I originally saw Obsessed when it opened in theaters, and when it was over there was a smattering of applause, and you better believe everyone clapping looked like Oprah. Can’t say this movie doesn’t know whom it’s catering to.
Or how about calling it Tyler Perry’s Fatal Attraction since there’s so much talk about the importance of a stable black family and every white person is in some way a detriment to the black man.
Speaking of which, never hire Scout Taylor-Compton as your babysitter; not only is she terrible at her job, the girl is a psycho magnet.
Obsessed makes for a very bad urban thriller, the script playing like it started out as a made-for-DVD sequel to that Lara Flynn Boyle psycho secretary movie The Temp that got rewritten to include less murderousness (one dead body in the whole film and you better believe it belongs to a skinny white blonde) and more questionable racial dynamics. Honestly, reverse the races and ask yourself if this movie would ever get made today.
But as an unintentional comedy it can be quite amusing if you’re in the mood for such. Just hearing Idris Elba yell “Breathe, bitch!” while performing CPR on Ali Larter after she intentionally overdoses in his bed makes it worth watching. Only the bloated 108-minute running time and the PG-13 rating truly prevent it from fully achieving its destiny as trash cinema gold. Too much Lifetime Network melodrama, catfighting women with barely any profanities hurled, a lack of dead bodies (Jerry O’Connell does not get killed – boo!), a chandelier impaling that lacks an impaling, and no nudity even during scenes that practically beg for it. Ali Larter drugs and appears to rape Idris Elba, but she doesn’t get naked and the next morning he wakes up fully clothed as well, so what exactly did she do to him? It’s next to impossible to recommend this movie, but I can’t be a total hater because portions of it entertained me for all the wrong reasons.
Derek Charles (“The Wire”‘s Idris Elba, the only one escaping this nonsense with any dignity still intact) is an executive vice president at a Fortune 500 company in Los Angeles with the most successful modern black family life since the Huxtables. He, his wife Sharon, and his baby have just moved into a fancy new two-story home, as seen during the opening credits when they’re shown strolling through their new house celebrating their life together.
In one of the most obvious moments of foreshadowing I have ever seen, they walk into the attic and discover a soft spot one could fall through and then back out of the room. Believe me, you don’t want to fall through that spot because if you do it’s a surprisingly long straight shot to the very large glass table they’ve conveniently placed right underneath that area, and the only thing that might save you is grabbing hold of the giant chandelier assuming it’s strong enough to support the weight of a shapely blonde clad only in a throwback jersey. The inexplicably vast spatial dimensions of the interior of this two-story house leads me to conclude Dr. Who was their architect.
Now we know Derek is a happily married man because he’s constantly telling us he’s happily married. Co-worker Jerry O’Connell has tickets to the Lakers game and tells Derek to lie to his wife about having to work late so they can go: “No. My wife would kill me. I love my wife. Don’t want to ruin my marriage.” Later O’Connell suggests they go get some lap dances: “I’m married now. I love my wife. I’d never do anything to hurt her.” He tries to avoid drinking alcohol, is constantly slipping off to call his wife, still sends her roses every Monday, and constantly reminds us that he’s happily married, loves his wife and child, and would never do anything to hurt them. You could ask this guy what time it is or if he has change for a dollar, and he’d probably reject your request with a line about how much he loves his wife and baby and would never do anything to hurt them. You can make a drinking game out of it.
All is well in the pussywhipped life of Derek Charles until the day the white she-devil arrives, Lisa Sheridan (“Heroes”‘ Ali Larter, vamping it up like a Susan Lucci wannabe), an office temp who puts the temp in temptress and is highly efficient at her job – extreme efficiency is a surefire sign of evil in movies such as this. Derek’s the first person that she meets, and Lisa immediately sets her sights on him. O’Connell even tells him early on about how a lot of gals like her “view the office as hunting grounds for single successful men and I think she just put you in the crosshairs”, cocking his finger at Derek like a gun, which the director shoots in the most ominous manner possible with threatening music and everything.
Derek may flirt with her a little, but he has no intention of getting involved with Lisa because, after all, he loves his wife and baby and would never do anything to hurt them. Then Lisa attempts to jump his bones in the men’s room stall at the office’s “No Spouses Allowed” Christmas party, followed by a half-naked seduction in his car. Lisa quits her temp gig to devote herself full-time to stalking Derek. There is no explanation behind her sudden psychosis other than the age old adage “once you go black you never go back to being sane”.
Yet, crazy horny Lisa still seems a better option than the banshee of a wife he claims to love so much. Lisa may be insane, but at least she’s not the raging bitch wife Sharon is. Kind of hard to feel completely sorry for Derek because he keeps making the wrong move every step of the way, but it’s impossible not to feel for the guy because this wife that he loves so much and would never do anything to hurt won’t even give him a chance to explain his side of the story when she finally finds out what’s been going on, instantly believing he’s been having an affair and kicking him out of the house. “Get out of my house!” she yells at him even though she’s a stay-at-home mom and he pays all the bills. The poor bastard barely gets a word in edge-wise and is forced to come crawling back begging for forgiveness even though he never did anything to hurt his wife and baby whom he loves so much. Worst for him, he damn near gets kicked out of the movie.
Obsessed is the Beyonce Knowles show from here on out. Imagine Fatal Attraction if two thirds of the way in Michael Douglas got tossed to the sidelines so that Anne Archer could completely dominate the movie. Sharon doesn’t need her husband or the cops to help her when it comes time for her to take off her earrings and behave like a pissed-off Jerry Springer guest charging after the woman that’s been trying to steal her man. The final shot of the film is a freeze of Sharon and Derek embracing but framed like a bad photograph; Elba’s head is cut off from the chin up just to ensure Beyonce’s face fills the screen and reminds everyone who the true star of this film was.
Beyonce Knowles really wants to be a major movie star, an Oscar winner even more so. Remember Dreamgirls? That was supposed to be her Oscar, not Jennifer Hudson’s. Obsessed will not win her any Oscars, but her Sasha Fierce-ly bad performance might win her a Razzie. Just try not laughing at her when she undergoes her metamorphosis during the finale into a street-talkin’ hood rat living out the ultimate black woman’s fantasy of beating the crap out of a skinny blonde white chick: dragging Ali Larter by her hair while yelling “I’m gonna drag your skinny white ass all over my floor!” or punching the white she-devil in her face and declaring “This is for my husband!” before punching her again and screeching “This is for touching my child!”
But then what would you expect from an urban thriller whose original working title was Oh No She Didn’t.
The DVD and the Blu-ray share the same scant featurettes — three of them in total clocking in around ten minutes each. They are all pretty vapid, kind of like the movie only in controlled bursts. I don’t think I need to mention that the picture and sound quality on the BD is superior to that of the DVD. You should all expect that by now. I doubt you’ll be watching anyway.
2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review
Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne
Directed by Charles Martin Smith
I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.
Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.
Now let’s get to it.
First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.
Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.
I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.
Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.
It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!
And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.
Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.
This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.
And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.
Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!
In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?
That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.
Rockstar lighting for days.
Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.
Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.
More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.
Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcorn, and if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.
Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.
All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!
Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!
Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.
AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters
Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill
Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk
** NO SPOILERS **
It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.
To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.
That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.
Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.
Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.
Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.
Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.
But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.
But let’s backtrack a bit here.
Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).
And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.
Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.
With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.
Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.
I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.
Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!
Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.
Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?
On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.
That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.
In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.
While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.
Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.
Bring on season 12.
The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.
The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror
Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro
Directed by Nicholas Woods
The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).
The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.
The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.
The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.
The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.
The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.
- Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
- Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
- If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
- “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
- The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
- As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
- “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
- The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
- Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.
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