Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hostile

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Hostile (2014)

I decided that I'm going to try to learn French again and what better way to learn French than watching some French horror movies? I'm sure there are a lot of better ways. It should be noted that I've tried to learn French about as many times as I've tried to quit smoking (twice) so I'm not really an expert on this matter.

Anyway, the movie is about two sisters (Luna Belan and Julie Venturelli) who get adopted by a woman with a fantastic house and apparently no job (Shelley Ward). Everything is fine until the girls and their mum start seeing a man in a johnny shirt walking around telling the girls to kill and stuff. The mother summons a reporter and cameraman (Anatolia Allieis and Morgan Hec, respecitively) from a reality show about adoption troubles and then apparently leaves. The TV crew hang around for a bit, some weird stuff happens, and then take the girls to a husband and wife team (Julien Croquet and Magali Gouyon) who are apparently psychologists but also perform exorcisms.

When looking up this movie after watching it I found out that its main claim to fame was that Nathan Ambrosioni, who wrote and directed the movie, was fourteen years old at the time. Good for him. It's actually pretty good considering that it was made by a fourteen year old kid, I will give it that. The stuff I was making when I was fourteen was probably about this good, I don't know. I started this blog when I was fifteen, that's pretty embarrassing. That being said, because this movie was on Shudder and available for all to watch, and because I spent an hour and a half of my life watching it, I'm going to judge it as though it were made by an adult.

One thing I thought was neat in the movie was a few shots where you could see something weird for a moment in the background but the characters didn't notice it, there was no music or nothing, it was just strange and creepy. That was a nice effect. And also literally the only thing I thought was any good about the movie.

It hits all the notes of things that are supposed to be scary - creepy little girls, doors closing on their own, faces appearing in mirrors, lights going out, and so on - but without any suspense or focal character to worry about.

The characters and setting change about three times which makes it sort of hard to stay grounded with the story. I guess that the younger of the two sisters is supposed to be the central character but we get so much more time with the various people who are charged with caring for her, none of whom is actually developed into a character I want to care about. We start out with the mom, then she disappears so she doesn't matter apparently, then we switch to the reporter for roughly half the movie, then she dumps the girls on this exorpsychologist and disappears so she doesn't matter either (we find out later from the mom, who comes back for no reason, that the reporter and the camera man died off screen at some point, no word on whether it was connected to the other events of the movie). There's an extended flashback of another kid (played by Nathan Ambrosioni) that they performed an exorcism on, no word on whether he turned out okay or not. Then there's a reeeeealllly loooooong part with the husband and wife trying to get approval from the Vatican to do more exorcisms and also buy a new camera (riveting shit, right?), oh and the girls are being creepy and stuff. Then there's another extended flashback of a different girl who also killed a bunch of people. Then back to the exorpsychologist for the obviously thrilling conclusion.

Also, the characters all seem to be kind of stupid and behave in a totally irrational way. The worst offender is the TV reporter. Right after the mother disappears, the camera guy has to leave and he's gone for a while (he's randomly back ten minutes later, though, so there was not really any reason for him to leave). While he's gone, the reporter is getting more and more freaked out by the girls and the weird sounds of what might be a ghost in the house, so to relax she suggests a nice game of hide and seek, the creepiest game there is. Seriously, why not backgammon or something? Much more relaxing. The next worst offenders are the girls themselves. There's one point where the camera crew leaves them with a babysitter (Sarah Robert). The girls drug the babysitter's wine, then wait for her to wake up and start running around the house before they corner her and tie her up and kill her and whatever. Why? Why go through all the trouble of drugging her? And on her side, they're fourteen year old kids, fight back. I wouldn't go out of my way to beat up children but I think that if two teenage girls were going to kill me I could take them.

But there are so many scenes like that. Transition scenes where somebody does something that doesn't really matter at all and doesn't do anything to further the plot along or develop any of the characters. On the other hand there are a bunch of scene changes that just jump from one place to another with little to no explanation of how they got there, they're just there. A little more than half way through another ghost shows up? And that's like the main ghost apparently? Or maybe Satan? And he's already convinced another girl to kill her family? What?

The way the movie is filmed is almost incomprehensible. It's done half first person and half third person (you can read all about how much I hate that in my review of Pandemic, I'm not going over it again), so you've got the TV crew in the first part and in the second part the exorpsychologists have a camera and film just about everything they do. The stuff the TV camera man is filming in the first half of the movie, though, it's hard to believe it could possibly be edited into anything resembling a coherent show because a lot of it is just shots of nothing.

The acting wasn't just bad it was totally lifeless. This actually worked for the two girls, I will give this movie that, but for the other characters who only managed to convey two moods (unconvincingly scared, and possibly asleep) it only served to bore me further. The only thing that actually kept me from falling asleep was that there was a jump scare, the lowest common denominator of scares, approximately every ten minutes acting like a pacemaker for the wakeful part of my brain.

And thank god I stayed awake so I could get to the absolutely foolish reveal and conclusion. Are you ready to come with me into the spoiler zone? Let's go then.

It turns out that the ghost in the hospital gown isn't a ghost at all but the girls' father who is an escaped mental patient. The girls were not possessed, they were actually being shot up with ketamine by their family doctor, who is also the plague doctor ghost Satan guy. I'm not sure when he would have had time to sneak in and give them ketamine every night but apparently he did. Don't question it. Anyway, this doctor is trying to summon Satan I guess and needs some sacrifices but the girls were just bait to lure and kill the exorpsychologists. They were going to use the TV crew but they were too easy or something. Another thing that I will grant to this movie, I had no idea where it was going at any point. It took so many twists and turns it was sort of unpredictable which is cool.

I guess at the end they do summon Satan who inhabits the body of the younger sister, who I think is the one we're supposed to like because she was hesitant to kill people earlier. I think that's what happened. She ends up killing her sister and the mom, later on? I think? I think that's what this movie was telling me? She also might have died, I don't fucking know.

Overall this movie was a boring fucking mess. Avoid.

Written and Directed by: Nathan Ambrosioni.  Starring: Luna Belan, Julie Venturelli, Magali Gouyon, Julien Croquet, Anatolia Allieis, Shelley Ward, Sarah Robert, Didier Beaumont, Lucille Donier, Nathan Ambrosioni.

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