It Follows: New Horror or Love Story?

When It Follows came out, I was excited. EW gave it rave reviews as a great horror movie. Scary even. Audiences loved it. It won multiple awards at film festivals. The hype made me want to see it even more. This week, I watched it and came to this conclusion: It’s not a horror movie.

Here’s why: (contains spoilers)

It’s a twisted love story, not horror.
It Follows is no more of a horror movie than Warm Bodies, which is listed as comedy, romance, horror. IMDB lists It Follows as horror, mystery, thriller, but I can’t figure out why. Just because you have horror/supernatural elements, it doesn’t make it a horror movie. The main character and her “Duckie” end up together after struggles and hardships. He has to prove his love to her, and she has to accept it. I interpreted the ending as they commit to one another to destroy the curse, or at least find an escape. They don’t live happily ever after, but they find love and acceptance.

If it’s not a love story, it’s a coming-of-age movie.
This movie focuses on the main character’s self-esteem and coming to terms with who she is. She starts out dreamy and vibrant, and throughout the movie, the curse tries to destroy her. Sure, it comes after her in a physical sense, but it also mentally forces her to deal with her decisions. She’s 19 but seems disconnected from the world. Once her friends and family become involved, the film evolves into a strange adventure. Through her experiences and trials, she grows up, and almost everyone survives. She learns to love someone, accept herself, and carry on.

It wasn’t scary.
I read many reviews about the fear factor. Reviewers and websites called it “different and scary.” Different, yes. Scary, no. If you’re scared of catching an STD, it may scare you. If you’re safe, then it’s “scariness” is lame and nonexistent. I’ve scared myself more hearing a weird noise at home. The movie lacks eeriness, suspense, mystery, jump scenes and build up. The basics of an effective horror movie are absent or barely touched upon.

Only one person dies.
Ok, I know horror doesn’t have to be all blood and gore, but it does help if people die. I understand the psychological horror, however you’d think a curse stalking people would kill its prey. The one guy who dies goes quickly – in a sick way – but all you see is his blue, lifeless face. Also, there’s no blood. The movie does pay homage to many old-school horror movies, but the absence of blood makes it stick out. Old-school horror movies loved blood and guts, so if a movie pays homage to them, it should too.

Additional Notes:
With all that said, I did enjoy the movie. It was shot extremely well. The director did a fantastic job of combining art with film without feeling artsy. I loved Yara (Olivia Luccardi), the odd best friend who gets shot and just sits there and takes it. She was the best character in the movie, and she added a fun element. There were several plot holes, and at times it was confusing, but I’m glad I saw it. It Follows is worth a watch if you want to stay current, but if you want a good horror movie, skip this one.

We welcome a good debate, so if you feel it is a horror movie, feel free to share your comments below!

The Evil that is Trophy Hunting: Remembering Cecil the Lion

Infinitely more majestic and compassionate than the killer who ended his life.

This week a beautiful, long-lived, and non-threatening lion was murdered in Africa. A lot has been said already about it but everyone needs an outlet and this struck a chord with me so hard the strings broke.

Hunting has been a part of human culture, likely since before we developed tools. Man is nature, and nature is a place where a balance of creatures that consume other creatures to survive is good for the ecosystem. So, despite the fact that there are problems with the conditions in which some food animals are kept, people eating animals is natural. I’m not from a culture of hunters or farmers so the idea of killing something myself to eat it sounds horrific, but I can respect, just like the wolf eats a deer, that it is done for the purposes of survival. I’m not going into the vegetarian vs omnivore argument too much here, just pointing out that an excuse can be made for some hunting.

Now. Trophy hunting is evil. It is something that wealthy Westerners have been doing for entertainment in the Africa, often exploiting the desperate poverty of its people, for centuries. This is something that is not for food, not for safety, and not for population control (though admittedly in the US the reason we have to hunt animals like deer for population control is because our American ancestors killed all the natural predators…I’ve seen the payments for wolf pelts from the 18th and 19th Centuries…). Trophy hunting is so a person can, in the safety of a controlled environment, slaughter what is basically a helpless animal for ENTERTAINMENT. Ending a life, not for any viable purpose, but just because they get a gruesome thrill from it. It’s the kind of thing that, if you did it in a neighborhood, ambushing the local dogs and cats, would get you arrested by the police and probably killed by your pet-friendly neighbors.

Cecil was a lovely lion who never caused harm and helped researchers learn more about how lions live. His death has shed light on this issue because he was a bit of a celebrity. The sociopath who killed him said he “didn’t know the lion was known.” My argument: who cares if he was known? You killed another living being, dismembered it and attempted to take part of him back to hang on your wall. You lured him out of his home with food, hid in all the safety that $55,000 could buy, maimed him with an arrow, causing him to suffer for nearly two days before approaching him with a high-powered rifle and killing him in an even more helpless state. Anyone who cherishes life should grieve for Cecil. But I think we should grieve for every helpless animal murdered by some power-hungry killer. Celebrity or not. “Big Game” or not. What the vicious killer did to Cecil is the rich person’s version of kids pulling wings off of flies. And it’s done for the same reason; because they get a rush from harming others and the ones they harm are incapable of reciprocating.

The only punishment fit for people like this is to find a General Zaroff’s Chateau and let them experience the pain and fear they have caused on the creatures they’ve hunted. Though even Rainsford was given a fighting chance…

If there is a positive that comes out of this it will be that nearly every common-sense outlet has been united in the horrific, senseless, and likely criminal killing of Cecil the Lion. And those of us who care about the future of the natural world can only hope that Cecil’s Legacy helps save the lives of other animals endangered by the cruel selfishness of some of the humans who share their planet.

RazCat

This is Raz cat, who like every other cat, Rawrs for Cecil. If anyone ever tried to harm him or ANY other animal in my presence we’d see who ends up helpless and hunted without remorse…

 

Age of Sigmar and the Fear of Change

This past month Games Workshop tore down the Old World and built in its place the Age of Sigmar.  The venerable old fantasy game as we all knew and loved died, replaced by something a bit different and a bit less complex.

During the End Times range lots of fans got excited about the fresh content and the progress of the world.  Let’s face it the old world had terrific lore and amazing depth but was based in the typical world of fantasy dwarfs, elves, ogres environment.  Which isn’t bad, it’s classic for a reason, and certainly the old world took it to new places, but clearly the market was speaking against fantasy.

To start with I never intended to get involved with fantasy, but I ended up loving it.  All the complex movement reminded me of Napoleonic warfare, with wheeling and marching.  The battle resolution took some time to get used to but made for some close fights and satisfying combat even when on the losing end.  But in a world where 40k rules the table, fantasy has a heavy bar of entrance.  Especially when the number of models used to play it is factored in compared to GW’s sci-fi flagship.

So GW tore it down.  And replaced it with Age of Sigmar a new game built on the remnants of the old world but infused with new rules and a new, faster, more simplistic game play style.  I’ll start by saying I haven’t played an AoS game, just watched them being played.  And then viewed the rabid hate from fans on forums and comments.  And I have to say…I really don’t get it.

Before End Times what I saw the most on fantasy comments was a desire for updated rules.  Even from Tomb King and High Elf players.  Hell I started with Skaven and Beastmen, we’re still in softcover books with the Bretonnians!  I saw a lot of complaints about balance, how it was broken, some factions were useless, some were absurdly overpowered.  The convoluted systems and complex special rules.  So many people begging for a revamp of the game.  So GW completely revamps everything about the game and the comments are worse than ever before.  It’s a game for kids, the new special rules have proven how stupid it is, it’s far too simple and far too dumbed down…

Age of Sigmar is a HUGE gamble.  I’m currently building and painting Ultramarines so I can’t invest in the new factions…but here’s the thing…  If I wanted to play AoS with my Skaven or Beastmen or Ogres I could.  For free.  All the army books have rules.  The basic rules are posted.  All on the site.  All in PDF.  All free.  Strangely I’ve heard very little positive about that (maybe I’m visiting the wrong sites…) but there they are.  I’ve already dl’d every ruleset I might ever want (and Queek is there!) in case I want to bust into the game at any time.  But it’s accessible.  That in itself is a big change for GW who has recently been pretty litigious about it’s IPs, which probably has more than a little to do with the world/faction reset in general.

At it’s heart I have a feeling that those who hate GW do so because it’s popular to do so.  Like all those people who announced they were boycotting Modern Warfare 2 then turned around and pre-ordered it, a lot of fans just like to complain.  A company could give an individual everything they asked for and a part of the population will claim the company is pandering.  I have no love for, nor feel the need to defend a multi-million dollar company.  It’s more a desire for fans to act like fans and less like entitled kids.  Especially when, in my experience, the GW company has been pretty good to work with.  When my subscriptions had problems a simple email contact got new issues FEDEXED to me overnight.  And they still sent the back issues they missed after the fact.  When one of my kits (Marneus Calgar and Honour Guard, purchased at an independent retailer no less) was missing a part, they sent a replacement, and let me keep the duplicate parts (which included the champion figure); and when an accidental duplicate Sgt Harker was sent instead of Castellan Creed they Fed Exed the right figure and let me keep the dupe.  Yes one could say that that’s actually three mistakes the company has made over the past 6 years of Warhammering, but I’d assert that is WAY more cooperation I’ve ever gotten from Microsoft, Sony, and god help me Comcast and I’ve had way more problems with them over that same timeframe.

Furthermore this is a game company.  That makes a series of rules for fighting tiny battles with toy soldiers.  Reading the goofier AoS rules I can’t help but feel a spirit of fun is being injected into Warhammer.  Like a lot of board games, they are incorporating fully optional systems that allow a player to made a fool of themselves, give their mates a chuckle, and get a couple of bonuses if they act out, or dare I say role play, some of their characters.  That’s NOT a bad thing.  If players think it is that may be taking their toy soldiering a bit too seriously.

warhammer-aos-ogre-kingdoms-en_Page_03

Do you see this? You can try to bribe your opponent. With anything! Yes. That’s silly and yes it’s in the name of fun.

More than anything I’m the kind who doesn’t want to hate change because it’s change.  The rules may be simpler and the battles smaller, but the biggest complaints about fantasy have been they cost barrier to entry and the difficult rules.  It also seems these rules permit a scaling up, if you want to bigger battles.  AND most importantly, no one from Nottingham came around to all our houses and took out WFB 8th edition books away.  That’s right, you can still play your favorite version to your hearts content.

Once I have some cash I’d like to invest in AoS just to see the new factions.  The models look like a bridge between 40k and fantasy, probably to lure the die hard sci-fi gamers who think fantasy is too la-dee-da for them.  The factions are interesting to say the least (ogres “ogors” with orcs or “orrucks” whatever, yes please) and the new system is different from anything I’ve played so far.

So once again I think it works to appeal for calm and maybe focus more on the positives.  Less game snobbery the better (let’s face it, we’re model wargamers…it’s a stretch to say that a slightly different kind of model wargame is “beneath” us).  More inclusiveness the better.  If you like the system, good for you enjoy.  If you don’t, fine enjoy the games you do like.  But let’s see where this goes, maybe it’ll be like New Coke and will result in an amazing return of the old world.  Maybe it’ll supplant 40k in popularity (I doubt it but it is possible). Let’s not fear change, and let’s not hate those who adapt to it faster than we do.  We’re gamers so I say we game.  Tabletop games are special this way, as once you have them you can play them forever.  Remember: no one can kill the games you love except for you!