REVIEW: The Shape of Water [2017]

“We’re all alone” Leave it to Guillermo del Toro to create an adult fantasy in the vein of Beauty and the Beast wherein there is no “beauty,” only the “other.” It’s one thing to read or watch a tale of overcoming the odds as a child with a specimen of perfection finding it in his/her heart to give a “monster” love, but such utopic vision is too reductive to the mind of someone who has experienced the difficulties of living in a world built on advancement and superiority. Kids are…

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REVIEW: The Bye Bye Man [2017]

“Don’t think it. Don’t say it.” A horror movie slated to open in October means buzz and solid expectations. It used to be you didn’t see the genre at any other time—back before studios discovered how cheap they were to produce and how palatable they were to teens looking for something to do on a Friday night whether it proved enjoyably worthwhile or not. Securing this coveted spot was therefore a win for STX Entertainment and their film The Bye Bye Man, either through hard work or sheer luck. Watching…

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REVIEW: Crimson Peak [2015]

“Beautiful things are fragile” If you truly want to know what to expect from Crimson Peak you should ignore the trailers—save their ability to highlight the gorgeous aesthetic—and instead read director Guillermo del Toro‘s mission statement. In it you’ll discover that this isn’t your usual horror story. Yes it has some jarringly gruesome visuals and is rife with skeletal ghosts, but his main goal was to pay homage to the “old-fashioned, grand Hollywood production in the Gothic romance genre.” This means a melodramatic tone that earns its laughs as intentional…

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REVIEW: Hocus Pocus [1993]

“Winnie, do you want to hit me? Will that cheer you up?” What began as a script for a made-for-TV Disney Channel movie, Hocus Pocus found its way onto the right desk at the right time for the increased level of support necessary to transition it into a bona fide theatrical release. Sadly for all involved, though, the critics more or less hated it and the box office barely squeaked by its production budget. Yet somehow everyone I knew who had seen it as a child possessed a strange affinity…

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REVIEW: Men in Black II [2002]

“I see you neuralyzed another partner” There’s nothing like a lost memory trope to allow lazy screenwriters the opportunity to explain their film within the construct of its plot. Despite an inventive, tongue-in-cheek reenactment program hosted by Peter Graves about mysterious conspiracy stories ushering us back into the Men in Black universe, Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro‘s subversion of their expository prologue is wasted. No one enjoys disembodied voices and scrolling text to describe backstory in a Kindergarten teacher’s tone of superiority, so why not poke some fun at the…

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REVIEW: Hellboy II: The Golden Army [2008]

“Which Holocaust shall be chosen?” Guillermo del Toro goes behind the camera again to continue the saga of everyone’s favorite demon on Earth who works for the government to fight evil in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Having already worked on a sequel in his career (Blade II), I had high hopes for this one to improve upon a solid first installment. Being that he was the second director in as many films for that vampire series, he was able to come in with a fresh eye. Here, however, he…

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REVIEW: El laberinto del fauno [Pan’s Labyrinth] [2006]

“My mother told me to be wary of fauns” Finally Buffalo is able to see the phenomenon El laberinto del fauno [Pan’s Labyrinth] for itself. All the hype and the acclaim have definitely raised expectations for this film by visionary Guillermo del Toro. For myself, I really just wanted to see a del Toro film outside of the Hollywood realm. Sure I liked both Blade II and Hellboy, but it’s the other Spanish language films, Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone, that have been intriguing me for years. After watching his…

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