Sean Lemme

Sean is mildly pleased with most things in life, so I guess it's good he made this website.

Horrorble: Mortdecai

Mortdecai (2015)

I had a lot of options when it came to picking a movie to close out this year’s festivities. I could have done what I usually do and review a bad movie from this year (Serenity was a front-runner, as were two movies I’ve actually seen, Dark Phoenix and Men in Black: International) but this isn’t just any Shocktober, this is the Decade of Death! In honor of the work we put in this month, I decided I wanted to review a bad movie that represented the darkest, bleakest aspects of the 2010s as a whole. Something so horrible only those who lived through this decade would remember it. So what were the bad directions cinema went in over the past 10 years? Well, there were the unnecessary franchise films, so I could have watched something like Dumb and Dumber To. There was the collapse of theatrical comedies, so I could have watched something like Grown Ups. Then there was “cancel culture” and the backlash to it, so I could have watched something unsavory or truly deplorable but quickly decided that was a bad idea.

One film exists in the crossroads of these terrible trends. A brazen, foolish attempt to simultaneously cash in on the goodwill generated by one decaying franchise and the tiniest opportunity of another. A comedy so painfully unfunny that even watching it on Hulu, I still wanted to find a way to get my money back. A film starring a person who was already creatively burnt out and would go on to reveal himself to be so problematic that I remember hearing an audible groan in the audience when he appeared in another movie just a year after this one. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mortdecai.

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Shocktober Day 28: Hereditary

Hereditary (2018)

Looking over the scores on our individual scores on Herditary‘s Letterboxd page, it appears I liked it the most out of the Mildly Pleased crew. Contributor Michael Sevigny gave it the lowest score of all of us and went on to say in his Midsommar entry “Ari Aster’s filmmaking is anathema to me.” Harsh, dude. Why is it that our biggest cinephile was coldest on the film, while our least film-savvy writer (me) liked it the most? I could have just asked, but let’s guess instead.

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Shocktober Day 25: The Killing of a Sacred Deer

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

Does it make me a basic bitch if I need to engage with a film on its most literal level to enjoy it? Or, to take a step back, is it fair that I need to enjoy a film to like it? The Killing of a Sacred Deer clearly has a lot going on that thoughtful critics can engage with: complicated social criticism, obscure references, deep themes, and deliberate deconstruction of cinematic tropes. But it’s also, for me, a movie that pushes director Yorgos Lanthimos’ stoic style too far. When I hear the phrase “it’s not for everyone,” I always think “I’m not everyone, it must be for me.” But in this case, a deliberately off-putting movie made me too uncomfortable to really like it. And I think that may be my problem, not the movie’s.

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Shocktober Day 21: Train to Busan

Train to Busan (2016)

Train to Busan begins with a disturbing image that I wish the movie explored more. A farmer drives his truck into a quarantine zone and becomes distracted trying to reach his vibrating phone in the passenger seat. While his eyes are off the road, he runs over a deer. The farmer gets out, inspects his vehicle for damage, then resumes his journey. But the camera lingers in place and the dead animal suddenly lurches back to life. This begs so many questions, like what animals are infected? Do they only want to eat their own kind or will they attack anything they see? Unfortunately, Train to Busan is not the zombanimals movie I’ve been waiting for. It is, however, one of the most fun zombie movies I’ve seen in a while.

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Shocktober Day 19: Green Room

Green Room (2015)

Green Room represents exactly the things that have created my general resistance(?) to horror movies and why I’ve still seen so many of them. Green Room is a thrilling movie and on paper I like lots of movies that are exciting… but most of those are action movies. Here, the intensity is in service of creating dire situations that you have to hope you’ll never face in real life. You could go as far as to describe them as miserable. And yet, the movie is smartly made with fully-realized characters, beautiful imagery, and all the other film criticism cliches. It adds up to an all-too-familiar picture: a movie I respect a helluva lot more than I like.

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Shocktober Day 16: Bone Tomahawk

Bone Tomahawk (2015)

The month-long celebration of Patrick Wilson continues with S. Craig Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk, a brutal, modern send-up to John Ford’s The Searchers. While John’s made it no secret he’s a big fan of Zahler as both a writer and director (though I don’t think he’s ever gotten the chance to write about him on the blog), I have to admit I approached this film with a bit of trepidation. For one, it has a reputation for having one incredibly gruesome scene and I wasn’t sure I’d want to see something like that. Moreover, Zahler’s devil-may-care reputation made me wary investing my time in a potentially unsavory character. Is he someone who’s rejected Hollywood and embraced the taboo to aid in his storytelling or does he actually have a warped view of the world? Bone Tomahawk makes me believe the former.

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Shocktober Day 6: Attack the Block

Attack the Block (2011)

The best genre movies (as in horror, sci-fi, and fantasy) often blend a healthy dose of reality in with all the unbelievable. Dawn of the Dead is about surviving a zombie apocalypse, but it’s also about cultural rot that consumerism tries to conceal. E.T. is a movie about a kid befriending an alien, but it’s also about dealing with a divorce. Princess Mononoke is about an exiled prince trying to cure a terrible curse, but it’s also about how humans exploit and abuse the environment (like pretty much every Miyazaki film). Whether it’s through subtext or loudly proclaimed over and over, these movies show that a different setting can illuminate ideas that might be ignored or taken for granted. Attack the Block is one of those movies.

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