Life hack: if you can’t handle scary movies, just read their plot summaries. They’ll probably still give you nightmares!
Story by Kaci Pelias
I wish I liked scary movies, honestly. People who not only enjoy but seek out horror films seem more interesting than the average folk. They live on the edge, treating even entertainment as an opportunity for an adrenaline rush. Unfortunately, I cried while watching “Independence Day” (not even a horror film) because of an alien jump scare, and I’ve only seen about three scary movies since then. However, being the extremely curious and prone-to-pop-culture-FOMO person that I am, I simply have to know what’s going on with the horror genre somehow.
Cue Wikipedia plot summaries. Thanks to this free, online encyclopedia and its surprisingly comprehensive summaries, I know enough about these movies to write qualified reviews on all of them. Truthfully, I could probably tell you more about them than if I had seen them in theatres, since my eyes would’ve been closed the whole time anyway.
*Warning: Spoilers Ahead*
I actually really wanted to see “Hereditary,” and I still hope that I will someday. A24 has only disappointed me once before (sorry, Jonah Hill) and I hear that Toni Collette gives a fantastic performance in this film. The Wikipedia summary begins by describing her character as a “miniatures artist,” which seems unnecessary but quirky. As I read through the plot, I almost immediately started crying out of fear. Charlie, Toni Collette’s daughter, is decapitated? Did I read that right? Yes, unfortunately — and it’s all her son’s fault. Toni Collette’s mom dies at the beginning of the movie, a fact that seems completely overshadowed by the fact that this girl Charlie gets decapitated! The rest of the movie seems to be a lot of possessions and blood on the wall — your typical horror film stuff, I think.
Finally, we’re in the attic for some reason, which has a bunch of cult imagery on the walls that seem to suggest that Toni Collette’s mom was in a cult. Toni Collette snaps and beheads herself with a piano wire, and her son falls out of the window. I’m not sure if it was on purpose or not, but either way, he floats up to a treehouse, where a bunch of headless corpses tell him that the spirit of Charlie — his decapitated sister — was using him as a host, and now she’s free to lead the cult within her new male body.
I think this movie relies too much on Toni Collette and the concept of decapitation, and doesn’t spend enough time interrogating the cult subplot; there are too many holes in that narrative! However, I loved the use of decapitation as a metaphor for women feeling powerless and — in Toni Collette’s case — how they can take back their own power by slicing off their own head. My rating? Four Toni Collette miniatures out of five.
“Pet Sematary” (2019)
Okay, from the movie poster I feel like this is just a live-action “Frankenweenie” (2012), but apparently people were really excited for this film. A doctor named Louis, and his family move to a small, woodsy Maine town, where Louis’ daughter sees a creepy group of kids taking a dead dog to a “Pet Sematary,” as labeled by the wooden sign marking the land. The family’s new neighbor, Jud, warns them not to “go beyond.”
Beyond what? The “Sematary,” perhaps? The family cat, Church, gets hit by a truck on Halloween (bad omen) and Jud takes his corpse to an ancient burial ground (bad omen), which seems like “beyond” to me. Church comes back to life and is a lot more aggressive, obviously, so Louis sets him free in the woods.
On her birthday, Louis’ daughter Ellie sees Church in the street and is promptly hit by a truck. So of course, Louis brings her back to life, even though he already saw how that turned out with the cat. Everyone — Jud, Louis and his wife Rachel — has dreams about dead people that night. Jud sees Ellie in her bedroom window that night and tries to kill her. Re-born Ellie absolutely goes off and kills everyone, burying them in the “Pet Sematary.” The movie ends with their animated corpses burning down houses and trees in the forest.
Overall, this film disappointed me. They introduce a bunch of kids at the beginning who clearly wrote the titular “Pet Sematary” sign and then never talk about them again — at least, not according to the Wikipedia plot summary. This movie really is just a less-good, live-action remake of “Frankenweenie.” I give it one and a half resurrected cats out of five.
Technically, I did see this in theatres. In fact, “Us” was the first horror film I’ve ever paid to see and, even though I did recently have a nightmare involving dopplegängers, I don’t regret this decision! I even avoided reading the Wikipedia summary beforehand, which was good, since it gives away the entire plot. With that in mind, I thought I’d avoid summarizing it here and instead provide a quick comparison of the Wikipedia page and the actual movie.
The summary for this film is comprehensive and covers the movie fairly well, besides glossing over Jordan Peele’s whole thing with scissors. While in the movie — and even the poster — there are a lot of scissors and stabbings, the Wikipedia page only mentions scissors once! They’re literally on the movie poster! The plot summary also doesn’t talk nearly enough about Elisabeth Moss’ impeccable performance as a rich, functioning-alcoholic, husband-hating housewife; complete with lines such as “it’s vodka o’clock!” The wikipedia summary is otherwise so detailed that it even gives away the surprise twist, which is one spoiler I won’t reveal in this piece!
I give this movie and Wikipedia page five red jumpsuits out of five. Five hands across five Americas. Five tethered people out of five of.... Us.