Monday, October 23, 2017


by Adam Riske
Both entertaining but for different reasons.

Adam: Welcome to Scary Reserved Seating. I’m Scary Adam Riske.


Adam: Scary Rob DiCristino is off this week. He fell off a mechanical spider at the Scary Philadelphia Country Western Bar. To make up for his absence, I’ll review two new “scary” movies: the college-set slasher Happy Death Day and the serial killer thriller The Snowman.
Our first movie is Happy Death Day, which took me a bit by surprise. I knew it wasn’t going to be very hardcore with its PG-13 rating, but I was still taken aback by how lighthearted of an affair it is. This could be a horror movie that middle school girls watch at a sleepover. Once I got to realizing that, I had a good time with Happy Death Day. It’s a movie with a shaky first act that gets better in the second and third acts. The movie tells the story of a snotty sorority girl named (ugh) Tree Gelbman (played by Jessica Rothe) who is forced to repeat the same day over and over until she solves her own murder and prevents it. She basically becomes Pre-Crime. Assisting her along the way is the nicest college guy ever put in a movie, named Carter (played by Israel Broussard aka Fake Andrew Garfield). He has They Live and Repo Man posters in his dorm room, too, so the audience knows that the filmmakers know what’s hip. That part of Happy Death Day can fuck right off. It annoys me so much when this trope happens in movies. Blech. Gripehouse.
Just like in Groundhog Day (which this movie owes to the point of residuals paid being appropriate), Tree will have the opportunity to become a better person along the way with every subsequent time loop. This section is where the movie won me over enough where I’m voting Mark Ahn for Happy Death Day. The opening scenario (and death) is not very interesting, so when we must repeat those same scenes with a twist a couple of more times in the first act, I was frustrated that more creativity wasn’t put into the setup. Then the movie begins to not go A to Z in repeating those moments and circumvents the early scenes and improves. The ace in the hole of Happy Death Day is Jessica Rothe. Without her, I don’t think the movie would be nearly as good. She’s the real deal – funny, charismatic, smart, sympathetic. Luckily she’s in every scene, which makes the film an enjoyable experience. Israel Broussard is also very likable and he and Rothe have a nice easygoing chemistry. There’s a fun supporting performance from Rachel Matthews, who is amusing as the obnoxious leader of Tree’s sorority. I wish she were in more of the movie. So, while Happy Death Day is barely a slasher and more of a comedy than a horror film, it’s good time and worth a viewing. I know it’s a real love it or hate it affair based on some of the seven-word reviews I’ve read this month, so your mileage may vary.
Up next is The Snowman, one of the most bizarre thrillers to come out of Hollywood in some time. It’s a throwback to the post-Se7en ‘90s where serial killer mysteries were prevalent. The Snowman is like watching one of those if you dozed off consistently and woke up confused and missing plot details. The Snowman sort of makes sense but also makes no goddamn sense. I described it in my seven-word review as like serving a cake before baking it – the ingredients are all there (the photography, mood, performances) but it never comes together into anything resembling a real movie. The film is edited very oddly. For example, there are scenes that follow other scenes as non-sequiturs with seemingly no rhyme or reason why one followed the other and shots that jump way ahead (someone is giving chase from a cabin and the next shot they’re in the middle of an open field) or end way too early/start way too fast for the viewer to get their bearings. The Snowman is a fascinating mess. It’s also a movie where actors of recognition (Val Kilmer, J.K. Simmons, Chloe Sevigny, Toby Jones) show up and have almost no impact on the plot, making me wonder why they are even in the movie. The two leads, Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson, do what they can but it’s not enough. The Snowman is too stupid and incomplete to recommend as anything other than a Redbox or VOD curiosity. I will say, though, the movie is very unintentionally funny in spots. Here are some of my favorites:

• Michael Fassbender is having his home fumigated and the guy doing it is dancing to the Popcorn song until Fassbender throws him out.

• There’s a little girl who is the daughter of one of the victims that is just one of the worst child actors ever put in a movie. It’s capped in one scene where she jumps at a window in a jump scare (?), startling two other characters who are having a serious discussion in a car.

• Michael Fassbender takes his sort-of son to a concert and when they show the band playing it is so bananas that I’m convinced it’s some sort of joke. They are terrible at music.

• Chloe Sevigny playing identical twins, one of whom is in a barn cutting the heads off chickens and looking haggard.

• Val Kilmer is (I think due to his recent health problems) ADR’d and it’s so jarring and inauthentic sounding that I had trouble focusing on any of his dialogue. I know what Val Kilmer sounds like! You can’t just slide this one past me, movie!

• The talking killer scene, where the killer tells one of our protagonists to sit down and pass over the gun (and they do) even though the same protagonist could have just shot the killer (who had their back turned) and saved their family right there before hearing the motive.

• A Deus-Ex-Machina that wraps the film which is so stupid and misguided I sat there stunned the filmmakers went with it. It’s like the movie gives up in front of your eyes.

Obviously, I’m voting Mark Off for The Snowman unless you’re in the mood to watch a trainwreck. Join us next week as Rob returns and we review the latest and greatest Hollywood has to offer. Until next time, these seats are reserved.


  1. I was so bored and confused with The Snowman. Too bad i jad high hopes

    Happy Death Day. Fun movie that could be better. As an added bonus, the /Filmcast did a review episode with guest Stephen Tobolowsky (from Groundhog Day). Spoilers, he liked it.

  2. Yeah Happy Death Day really kicked my butt. I loved it. Jessica Rothe was a friggin' movie star. When she bested the "bad guy" (trying to be vague here for spoilers), I almost cheered because it was such a campy fun moment. And the ending, it is so much of a PG movie, the blood spurting up was that much more jarring.

  3. ...going to watch The Snowman tomorrow.

  4. Watching the trailer after seeing the movie was a weird experience. There's so many scenes and lines that are missing from the movie, it's borderline false advertising. "He calls himself the Snowman Killer." "You could've saved them. I gave you all the clues." Not only are these lines absent from the movie, they totally misrepresent the plot.

    I'd also add the sliding scale of "Norwegian" accents to the funny list. And the subplot (which has no impact on anything) about Oslo's bid for the "World Cup of Winter Sports" or something similar. I haven't read the book but I'm guessing it involved an Olympics bid and the IOC didn't want it in the movie.

    1. Other funny things I forgot to mention

      1. J.K. Simmons taking pictures of women on his phone whenever he wants to
      2. Everyone is studying Fassbender's cases at the academy (as if he's brilliant and has been for decades) even though he's like 5 years older than them
      3. His name is Harry Hole

    2. If Tree Gelbman wasn't the product of the Wu-Tang name generator, Harry Hole definitely is.

  5. I loved Happy Death Day. One of the funniest comedies in a while, and just enough horror to satisfy me. I had a great time.

    Wow, The Snowman sounds unbelievable. Almost tempted to go see it for myself...

  6. Along the lines of silly, outlandish names, the main protagonist in the upcoming Polaroid is "Bird Fitcher." Lol.

  7. Been reading that the problems with The Snowman (besides the fact that they almost completely threw out the plot from the novel) is that - because the financing came from a tax break in Norway - they had a certain number of days to shoot and no more. The director then realized that they hadn't filmed about 10% of the script.
    When re-shoots are such a given in movie-making, you'd think they could have found a way to get people back to get those done?

    1. that's too bad for them, but i never felt that it was an excuse for a bad movie.

  8. That picture of the snowman reminded me of Fassbender in Frank. Papier-mâché slasher movie, anyone?

  9. I thought it was really funny when Val Kilmer is trapped in his office by a birthday party and climbs out the window, then proceeds to flip off his "boss" and co-workers.

  10. People were baffled by The Book of Henry too, and that was awesome, so I’m going to see The Snowman this week. I’ve been excited by the premise since last year, and Let the Right One In is a glorious winter film. I’m just going to forget that The Snowman’s trailer was one of the most confusingly horrible things I’ve ever seen come out of Hollywood and I’m going to watch the fuck out of this movie