A Stranger in the House: The Open House (2018)

So on Friday the 13ths I celebrate with Horror films and pizza!

From the Supernatural episode “Monster Movie”

This year my niece joined me and I let her pick the movie we would start with and she chose Open House from Netflix.

I thought this film was interesting but I also have mixed feelings about the film. Some things I liked about it, but other things I think they could have done better.

Meh.

The film starts off with out main character Logan Wallace (Dylan Minnette), who wants to be an Olympic star and trains with his dad. They have to go out later to get milk and his father is killed when a car hits him.

That’s not good.

The family has a lot of debts and the mom can’t keep their house. Her rich sister attends the funeral and offers up her vacation home that she and her husband are trying to sell. All they have to promise is to leave when the realtors are showing the house off. Now I understand what the movie is trying to do, get them to this secluded place in the middle of nowhere, but this doesn’t make any sense. Why would the mom leave CA and whatever job she had to move to Nevada, to the middle of nowhere to stay in this fancy mansion, but one she will only be able to use until the house is sold, something that the sister wants to happen right away. I know that houses take time to close when they go into escrow but it seems weird to me that she would uproot her life and only source of income for a few months and take him out of school (it’s right before Christmas) to nowhere and then what, after a few months uproot again? Where will she go after that?

And if her sister is so rich why can’t they just stay with her?

So the Logan and his mom move to the middle of nowhere, up on top of a mountain, where the nearest neighbor is super far. While they are there, weird things start happening. A local guy, Chris, is too friendly, he borders on creepy, is always trying to talk to them and even comes over to the house randomly because he has “always wanted to see inside it”. They actually let him, and just leave him there, never checking to see if he left the house. He also keeps hitting on the mom and trying to be Logan’s friend.

Hmm…

The realtor lady who is showing the house is extremely abusive to her assistant, and terribly rude to Logan and his mom. This is a weird interaction as they could tell their sister/aunt and she could fire her and go with another company.

Then there is the next door neighbor, Martha, who although she is miles away, switches from being too friendly at times (all up in their business) to being angry and unfriendly (it turns out that she has dementia…or does she?).

Hmm…

But besides these bizarre people, even stranger things happen in the house. Such as Logan’s phone getting stolen, things keep disappearing, when the mom takes a shower the water heater keeps being turned off, they hear footsteps in the house when there is no one there.

Creepy…

Yet the relationship between the mother and son is very odd, it doesn’t quite make sense at times. Now I have worked with grieving families, I used to be part of a program where we had the parents and kids separated, allowing each family component to work on their grief separately, allowing both parents and kids the freedom to share how they felt. So I know many different types of grief and how teens and parents act. There were times when Logan and his mom interacted that were perfectly normal for grieving people, but then there are times when it is off. Such as the mother doesn’t seem to think it is weird or strange that her son’s phone has completely disappeared, even though they are the only ones in the house-only for it to turn up later on the counter in plain view. Or how this repeats with other objects and items.

Then we have the water heater issue. The mother keeps trying to take a shower and every time the hot water turns off and she is upset and yells at her son for doing it, who says he didn’t. She yells at him and marches barefoot in a towel to the frozen basement to turn it back on. She tries again to take a shower and the whole thing repeats several times before she decides to call a repairman. It made no sense why she would think her son would even do that and repeat it. He has never done anything remotely “prankster” so why would she even think he would be messing with her? If he was acting angry toward her maybe, but he doesn’t. Most of the time he sits in his room alone and sad.

Then the mom finds pictures of her sleeping and doing things, and pictures her son and she thinks he did it. I’m like how could he even take that picture of himself while he was asleep and the photo is clearly taken from the doorway. Eventually they call the police who don’t help, and it’s like really, the police would do more. But by far the thing that makes absolutely no sense is when the house gets broken into-they never call the sister and ask her to change the locks which is what I would have immediately done. I don’t understand that at all. Yes nothing that they know of was taken, but still they are in the middle of nowhere, on top of a mountain, and it takes a while for police to respond. You think changing the locks would be a good idea.

Eventually death comes for them and we know nothing about who the killer is or why they did it. It is just a stranger that likes to go to open houses and kill people. I think if this had been a short, it would be better but as a film I found it lacking.

So originally I thought that there was a person who was squatting in the house, like hiding in the basement or in the walls and I think that would have been more interesting.

So, yeah I was not a fan.

But what did I like? I LOVED that the main character wore glasses and it was accurately portrayed in the way he struggled to see in the morning, how he loses his glasses and just the way they incorporated it. I have never seen a film so accurate in its portrayal of one who wears glasses, and as one who wears glasses it made it the film scarier for me. I’m nearsighted, meaning I can’t see far away, and if I lost my glasses I’d probably end up dead (in a horror film).

As a whole, even though it had good parts, I would recommend just skipping this film.

For more Netflix films, go to People Don’t Realize That There are Killers Among Them. People They Liked, Loved, Lived With, Worked With and Admired…: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

For more strangers in the house, go to Have You Checked the Children?: When a Stranger Calls (1979)

Emma Manga

Emma: Manga Classics adapted by Stacy King and illustrated by Tse

So my niece’s birthday was the second of February and this is the year she turns 16, I decided to do my annual gift of Pride and Prejudice. I first read it when I turned 16, so now I gift as a 16th birthday gift.

So I decided to get a copy for my niece…but only one problem-my niece isn’t a big fan of reading. She doesn’t hate it, but is more into Netflix, K-Dramas, Anime, tiktok, etc. You know how I feel about that…

So I am planning something else to celebrate her birthday, but I figured I would get her the book too. But then I was looking online at Barnes and Nobles to decide what I wanted to spend my christmas gift card on, and I spotted Emma and Pride and Prejudice manga.

Wow!

My niece loves Webtoons so I figured that a Manga would be the route to go! I looked at the two and was going to buy Pride and Prejudice when I looked at the Emma manga. Emma would be perfect as a manga as it has great comedic moments and the style would fit perfect for some of these characters. I mean think how fun some of the more extreme characters would be in this-Mrs. Elton for example.

My niece also LOVES Clueless so I figured it would be the perfect in to Jane Austen, and espechially Emma. 

While it differs from tradition, I think she will love it, so I ordered the book.

We then went to the bookstore last weekend and my niece was looking at the manga wanting to buy one, but couldn’t settle on one. I was so pleased as I have one ready.

But then, of course like last year’s P.S. I Like You, I needed to read it first so I could review it.

So I read this book and I just absolutely LOVED it! I started reading and couldn’t put it down at all. They did such a good job with selecting which parts of the novel and text to use and pairing them with the illustrations. It was incredibly enjoyable, and I highly recommend it for any Austen fan.

These illustrations were also 100% perfect.

I loved Mr. Knightley’s reaction to Emma:

I laughed so hard at this one of Mrs. Elton and everyone who dislikes her:

Look how gorgeous they drew Emma’s dress for the ball:

Ugh, Frank’s temper tantrum. They did him perfectly. Like, wah little baby!

It was fantastic and I loved in the back how they detailed their process in adapating the novel to manga. I absolutely loved it and again, I recommend it to any Jane Austen or Manga fans.

I can’t wait to check out their Pride and Prejudice version. Maybe for Christmas?

For more Emma, go to Why Don’t More People Talk about Mrs. Goddard?

For more Emma adaptions, go to Interference: Friday Night Lights Meets Emma

For more Emma Woodhouse, go to Achy Breaky Heart: Austentatious (2015)

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Northanger Abbey Audiobook Narrated by Anna Massey

How Well Do We Ever Really Know People?: The Stranger Beside Me (2003)

How well do we ever really know people?

The Stranger Beside Me (2003) is based off the book by Ann Rule about her experiences working alongside and being friends with Ted Bundy (you know before she realized he was killing people). So I really, really want to read this book, but unfortunately we do not have it at the library as someone checked it out and never returned it.

We had the movie, but I of course would prefer to read the book first and then watch the film.

Sigh!

However, then I saw the new film on Ted Bundy, Extremely Wicked and Incredibly Vile (review pending) and then I really wanted to read the book/watch this film.

So instead of waiting any longer I decided to watch the film.

Tell ME!!!!!

So while it is a TV movie and didn’t have the same amount of money that the Netflix production did, I preferred this film over the new one.

I’m sure you all know by now that I am not a remake fan.

The starts off with Ted Bundy (Billy Campbell) with the dead body of a woman. We then switch to Ann Rule, previously a cop, now a true crime reporter-is close friends with Ted Bundy and talking to him about how she got this great deal to write a book on this person who has been killing people. He asks about the book and she shares a little about it and the crime, the two reconnecting as they haven’t seen each other in a while-we then flash back.

Ann Rule had met Ted Bundy earlier in her life when they both worked at a crisis counseling center and let me tell you that watching it felt like being in a whirlpool. Here is this guy who they estimate ended up murdering and raping over 100 women actually helping and saving people-and being incredible kind and caring while he did it. Ann has said that she witnessed him saving lives and that she trusted him with her own daughter (she has stated that if her daughter was older she would have set them up, she would have made a play for him if she was younger). He used to walk her to car every night and make sure she got in safely.

The thing I really liked about this film is that it is much more balanced than Extremely Wicked and Incredibly Vile as we are shown how Ann views him-but also we see the horrible things he is doing. From how he emotionally abuses and manipulates his girlfriend to him killing women (it doesn’t show anything but alludes to it.) In fact, watching this showed what it is like to be in an abusive relationship-you see the ugly dark side, while the abuser shows the rest of the world the charismatic side.

So in the beginning, Ann Rule didn’t believe Ted could be the killer as all the good he has seen him do. But as events transpired and she began to believe he is he murderer, the film got darker as well.

Creepy…

One thing that I found really interesting, was that before Elizabeth called in her tip about Ted Bundy, Ann shared it with the police as when she heard about the car and the guy being called Ted he popped in her head-but she didn’t really believe it until much later.

I also liked how this showed how he tried to interject himself into her book and have the story written his way. It reminded me of the way he tried to direct the TV interviews .

I thought it was extremely good-even though some of the acting and costumes might not be as good, the story was great and I really liked how it showed how he could charm and be this friendly guy, while in reality he was a dark and twisted man.

For more films based on a True story, go to I Don’t Understand, I Just Wanna Be Your Friend!: Death of a Cheerleader (1994)

For more serial killers, go to How Much Do You Really Know About Him?: The Stepfather (2009)

For more TV films, go to Lifetime Didn’t Go Psycho Enough: Psycho Mother-in-Law (2019)

Hart of Dixie’s Jane Austen Scene

Have you ever seen Hart of Dixie? I started watching it a few years ago on Netflix after a friend recommended it. It’s funny but ever since I read Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, I can’t get it out of my head that Hart of Dixie has a similar vein of that book in it. In fact it has made me want to rewatch the TV Show, so I did.

In Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors Trisha Raje (Mr. Darcy) is a doctor and has a horrible bedside manner. She cares, but is too clipped in speech and the way she treats people-not good.

She meets D.J. a caterer, and treats him horribly-calls him the help, even when she proposes that they start dating she insults him multiple times.

D.J. (Elizabeth) has had a hard life and is tired of snobs and let’s her have it. But both grow from this and you’ll have to read the book or my review to get the whole scoop!

In Hart of Dixie, Dr. Zoe Hart is a similar character to Trisha. She wants to be a cardiovascular surgeon, but isn’t granted the fellowship she wants because she has a horrible bedside manner. She gets told to take a year off and be a GP and then come back after she’s practiced more than just doctoring. She is lost at what to do, but at her graduation she had been approached by a Harvey Wilkes in Bluebell Alabama to come work in his practice and she decides to take him up on his offer.

When Zoe reaches Alabama she is a regular fish out of water and to add to that it turns out that Harvey is not only dead, but he was not a random doctor-but her father.

Zoe decides to stay in town for the year and falls for engaged lawyer, George Tucker, while country boy Wade Kinsella makes a play for her. The way Zoe treats Wade is a lot like how Trisha treated DJ, but much worse. She sees Wade as lower than her, uneducated, a real country bumpkin as she is from New York City and he’s from a hamlet in the middle of nowhere. (Not completely unlike some of the interactions of the Bingley party from London reacts to being on Hertfordshire.)

The show has a whole range of crazy and kooky characters. All are so adorable and it is a great load of fun. Eventually Zoe learns to care and relax her demeanor (like Mr. Darcy) and Wade grows up and learns better how to relate and discuss how he feels.

How sweet!

So the show isn’t enough similar (like Gossip Girl), so this won’t be a comparison review. Instead I want to talk about the Jane Austen scene in season 4 episode 4 “The Very Good Bagel”.

So as the scene I want to talk about comes in season four, I’ll do a quick recap for any who haven’t watched this. The first season is a lot of will-they, won’t they (Zoe and George & Zoe and Wade)? And then Wade and Zoe do get together in the second season, but unlike Trisha Zoe treats Wade like crap. Re-watching it, she actually is one hundred percent is horrible to him until the last season (and even in there). Wade ends up cheating on her as he gets insecure how the bar-tending child of town drunk Crazy Earl can keep such a prize when everyone in town wants her to get with George Tucker. I’m not excusing cheating-but you can’t help but feel a little for him. After they break up Zoe leaves for New York City, but then returns with a new boyfriend-even though Wade apologized and told her he would wait for her.

They end up breaking up when Joel heads to Hollywood and after all the time Wade spent dating Zoe’s cousin she realizes she has feelings for him. She tries to win him back but he is not ready to get his heartbroken again, so Zoe seduces him and gets pregnant. Fast forward eight weeks and Zoe realizes she is pregnant [the actress was in real life] (not telling Wade) and Wade decides he is happy to risk it all and to show Zoe he is serious he came up with a plan, they would take things slow.

Meanwhile, George Tucker and Mayor Lavon Hayes are both in love with Lemon Breeland. When she returned from her singles’ cruise with a handsome, connected, and perfect doctor-they were crushed and angry. They started researching the guy and discovered he has another girlfriend, them leaking it to the local paper/blog The Blawker, so she would find out and dump him. It turns out Lemon knew about it and the two have been pretending to be together so each could inherit their grandmother’s money. Now Lemon is on the warpath to discover who leaked her secret and the guys will do anything to have her not find out the truth.

Including being in the local bed and bath’s owner Dash DeWitt’s special Pride and Prejudice weekend. Lavon Hayes is Mr. Darcy and George is to be Mr. Bingley, and they are to be the weekend escorts for the tourists, all senior citizens.

The guys are not into it at all, which is weird as I’ve seen them dress up lots of times as pirates, Renaissance Knights, Civil War reenactors, etc.

I mean for real!

I think Lavon can pull of the Mr. Darcy look, he just needs less modern hair.

George doesn’t pull the Regency clothes off as well-but it might be the outfit and his hair as well. Not everyone can look good in Regency clothes.

It is pretty funny how awful they are at this. It appears they know zero about Jane Austen or the Regency Era as they try to make conversation while dancing.

“Jane Austen Enthusiast: And, Mr. Darcy, how do you like Lady Elizabeth’s fine eyes?

Lavon Hayes: [As Mr. Darcy] Oh, uh, they-they are fine. They, uh…they shine like dimes. Or whatever change they have in England.”

“Jane Austen Enthisiast: The country is vast more pleasant than the city, is it not Mr. Bingley?

George Tucker: [As Mr. Bingley] Why, yes, it is lovely here in the…in the country.”

It is a short scene as they guys leave because Lemon is in trouble and they won’t let one go without the other. But if you like Jane Austen-it is cute and a silly scene. I really wish it was longer.

Oh, well.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

For more Jane Austen film adaptions, go to Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Love Notes: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Romantic Moment #1

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

So I reviewed this adorable movie last year as part of my series Non-Austen Films for Austen FansI put it on for background noise and became completely sucked in.

hearts banner

So Laura Jean has had some big changes. Her best friend Josh (who she was secretly in love with) started dating her older sister Margo; it is the start of junior year and Margo is heading off to college to Scotland; Laura is feeling a little lost as she is losing her other best friend and the one she has (Josh)…well it is even more awkward now that he isn’t dating her sister than when he was.

Everything seems normal, lonely, but normal until one day Peter Kavinsky approaches her out of the blue stating that nothing will ever happen between them.

Laura Jean is confused until she realized he got his letter!

You see every time Laura Jean has fallen in love with a boy she would write them a love letter, but she never sends them. She addresses it, seals it, and stashes it in her closet. She has fallen in love with five guys, so far:

  • Kenny from camp
  • John Ambrose McClaren from Model U. N.
  • Peter Kavinsky in 7th Grade
  • Lucas after Homecoming
  • Josh Sanderson, best friend turned sister’s boyfriend

She is horrified the letters were sent out but even more so that Josh will be getting one-oh no!

That’s not good.

Peter’s girlfriend, Genevieve, dumped him for a college guy, and in order to get her back-he approaches Laura Jean about pretending to be his new girlfriend, as him dating Laura Jean will piss her off. Laura Jean isn’t interested, but then Peter points out that if they are “dating”, then Josh won’t believe the letter is how Laura Jean feels now-and no awkward conversations will have to be done with Josh or Margo. Laura Jean agrees after they come up with a series of rules.

The two start “dating” and really enjoying each other’s company. Everything is going great until Laura Jean falls in love with her fake boyfriend. Will everything turn out okay?

***Spolier Alert***

Most Romantic Moment: I Wrote You Love Letters

So when Laura Jean and Peter are negotiating thier “dating contract” he negotiates writing her a love note every day. Genevieve always wanted him to that and he never did, so he knows it will get her super angry and jealous.

It works as Peter gives Laura Jean one every day and often in front of Genevieve. Laura Jean figures they are nothing, or might even be blank, never reading them but throwing them away.

I’m done

Later after she and Peter have been “dating”, and she falls hard for him, they break up after a video of them kissing goes online and he spends the night with Genevieve “talking” to her. All night?

Peter says nothing happened, but Laura is not buying it.

However, Laura is heartbroken over it.

One day while she is sharing how she feels with Josh, her sister reveals that she saved the love notes, and Laura Jean is surprised to see that Peter really wrote her a love note every day.

I totally didn’t see that coming as what teenage boy would right love letters? I thought they would be blank too. But no, he wrote amazing love letters!

I love it!

What can I say? I’m a sucker for a love letter!

For more on To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

For more love letters, go to You Were Right, Let’s Get Married: Psycho (1960)

For more “fake relationships”, go to Even Though You Are Only Using Me and Made Me Look Like a Jerk, I Only Care About Helping You: Picture Perfect (1997)