• Vanderpump Heard That Too

    Vanderpump Heard That Too

    Why? Why do I keep doing this?

    Why do I keep watching Vanderpump Rules?

    It’s not because it’s as good as it used to be. It’s not even really Vanderpump Rules if you think about it. The restaurant is hardly shown and nobody really works for Lisa anymore, they all have podcasts. It should be called Vanderpump Heard That Too.

    Kind of like how everyone on Teen Mom is almost in their 30s so it’s actually Typical Age Mom.

    Knowing all of this, though, I still show up. Every Wednesday I show up, expecting nothing and sometimes getting less than that.

    Or at least that’s how I felt last Wednesday. Friday hadn’t happened yet.

    Last Wednesday I was over it. I was fully prepared to go on a tangent about the pointlessness of the show. And this is coming from someone who’s followed it from the very beginning.

    In fact, back in 2018, I used to write recaps of the show for the website TasteofReality.com. Even then, I could only write about it for 2 seasons – there were only so many times I could call Jax an asshole before it got old.

    So I went back to making fun of it for free on my website. At least that way I could write when my annoyance dictated. It took a few years but I reached my point last Wednesday.

    Last Wednesday, it was the same show from 10 years ago.

    Katie and Schwartz were still having the SAME argument and they weren’t even together anymore.

    Tom was back to being with the band and Ariana was still working with cocktails.

    James was back to drinking and getting kicked out of places.

    Lala was back to talking about wanting to give “blowies”.

    Raquel was still… Raquel.

    Or so we all thought.

    Last Wednesday I was ready to make my case on why this should be the last season.

    But then something happened.

    I woke up to an entirely different world. 10 years of watching this show and I knew nothing.

    And Jax knew everything.

    It was a different world indeed.

    By now, everyone is well aware of Scandoval. While I was laying my head down on my pillow, getting cozy in my hater vibes, Ariana was discovering the abhorrent betrayal committed by longtime boyfriend Tom Sandoval and her very close friend, Raquel Leviss.

    While I was hitting my REM Cycle (probably), Scheana was serving Raquel with some jailyard justice.

    Schwartz was already going into hiding (I’m sure) because Schwartz.

    And Jax.

    One of the most annoying aspects of all of this.

    Jax was right.


    In the span of a weekend, everything we’d ever believed was eviscerated.

    Nothing means anything. The limit does not exist.

    Today, cast members that were once villains are emerging as the heroes we don’t deserve but the heroes we need.

    I used to think Scheana was just doing what she could to stay on the show. Now I’m preparing to interview my closest friends to find out if they’ll throw bows for me should the time ever come the way she did for Ariana.

    I used to think Kristen was completely out of her mind. Now I think we should all buy her book He’s Making You Crazy which DETAILS SANDOVAL’S BULLSHIT!

    And Schwartz. He’s not even a loveable bafoon anymore. Just a gelatinous mass from his lack of a spine.

    Every day is a new bombshell but as I type this, I’m also watching the latest episode, and almost every scene that features Raquel Rachel and Tom is eerie and pretty gross.

    Rachel and Sandoval have also both released statements apologizing to Ariana and proclaiming themselves problematic and in the process of working on themselves.

    How standard, and how delightfully insincere.

    They’re supervillains. True reflections of the worst in people and possibly a trigger for some of us who’ve been in Ariana’s shoes.

    But something is a little different with this reality show scandal.

    Because this doesn’t really feel like a reality show anymore, now that we’re watching someone’s painful reality in real time. And while we’re all checking social media every 30 seconds for updates (it’s very hard to have a job right now), we’re also doing something unprecedented.

    We’re coming together and rallying for a woman who, even though we don’t know her personally, we can all agree didn’t deserve this public humiliation much less her boyfriend of nine years choosing to betray her in one of the worst ways.

    For many of us, we are Ariana.

    For me, I’m rallying for her and myself and for anyone who’s had their significant other pull the rug out from under them.

    I wanted this show to be canceled because I was sick of seeing the same thing over and over for 10 years (even though I had the option to just stop watching it but I’d already invested this much time and you don’t just quit a career like that). Instead, I look forward to seeing the positive that can come from this, even though I still think it’s all a bit too high school and the popular kids have peaked.

    What I’m hoping to see is Ariana and Katie opening their business and watching them chase success instead of the two man-children they were chasing before.

    I don’t know about you but I’m over this trend where a reality star goes through a breakup and then ends up on a show where they’re trying to find love. We’re more than that. Women are and want more than that.

    As for the Tom’s and Rachel, who cares? The diabolical nature of Sandoval and Rachel’s behavior is some True Crime shit and Schwartz needs to grow up in a way I’m not sure he’s capable of. Absolute ballsacks, all of them.

    Anyway, I’ll keep watching.

    Like everyone else, I’ll continue watching as, for me, it looks like we might be looking at an inspiring turn of events. Some real triumph, not just for Ariana but for everyone who knows this feeling all too well.

    And I hope to see the rallying continue because the fact is, someone you know may be going through or have gone through something similar. Let’s keep supporting each other. Let’s keep rallying.

    Because even if we don’t get the spin-off Ariana and Katie deserve, all of the support at least gave us this:


  • I’m here for We Are Still Here

    I’m here for We Are Still Here

    Horror movie lovers can determine if a movie is going to be a classic before the movie is even over. The Exorcist. Nightmare on Elm Street. The Changeling. Robert Ebert and his questionable taste didn’t decide that. We did. From mainstream movies to indie flicks, our people know where it’s at.

    So allow me to introduce you to a little gem called We Are Still Here. It’s amazing. The acting is terrible. The writing isn’t that great. The plot is nonsensical. Somehow, it just works.

    Here’s the rundown.

    Paul and Anne (who makes a better Barb, probably because that’s her real name, so that’s what I’m going to call her) are a super simple, not-much-to-talk-about couple who have recently moved from their hometown in an attempt to start over following the death of their son. Barb is very emotional and upon moving into this centuries-old house, tells Paul that she can feel the presence of their son and that she believes he’s followed them to that house.

    Paul is like “Barb, no he didn’t, he’s dead” and his responses continue in this cadence for the duration of the movie.

    we-are-still-here-2                                                                 Photo by: gbhbl.com

    It’s the best.

    So after a bunch of not-very-weird things happening, Barb contacts her hippie psychic friend, Mae, and asks her to come for a visit but also so she can conjure up her late son. Mae is like “sure” but Paul is like “god damnit”.

    Mae and her husband, Jacob, arrive and they all go to dinner where naturally the entire town is also having dinner. The 4 of them walk in and the entire town stares at them cause they’re the new owners of “that” house. They notice but ignore it like good unsuspecting victims. Meanwhile, Barb’s friend Mae’s son is on his way to the house with his girlfriend, and now the shit is really about to go down.

    Mae’s son gets offed and his girlfriend drives away frantically for help and then SHE gets offed. The fourseome get back home and are like “hmmm, I guess the kids aren’t here yet.” Parents didn’t smother their kids back then so they’re just like “oh well”.

    So the next day Mae tells Barb “let’s do a seance to contact your son” and Paul is like “pfft”. But then Mae is like “actually, sike, there’s something evil in here so no seance”.

    Instead of conjuring the dead, the women go to the grocery store. After they leave Mae’s husband Jacob is like “seance time!” and Paul is like “pfft”. Jacob is like “Paul, you need to believe it or it won’t work” to which Paul’s attitude rolls its eyes. They’re doing the seance and then Jacob starts acting weird and Paul is like “this is lame”.

    As it turns out, it’s not lame, Jacob has managed to get himself possessed. The wives get home and Paul is like “so yeah, Jacob played with ghosts and now he’s crazy”.

    MV5BMTk0NjU1OTAxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDA0Mjg4NTE@._V1_                                                                                 Photo by: imdb.com

    Then Mae is like “it’s Dagmar (the thing that’s haunting the house)!” and Paul is like “oh FFS”. Then Jacob stabs his own eye out and Paul is like “ok, time to bounce”.

    Before they can leave the town’s people show up because the ghosts of the house are feeding and they need to make sure the victims are the owners of the house and not the rest of the town. The leader of the group knocks on the door and like a dumb-dumb, Mae answers it resulting in her timely death. Barb is like “he killed her!” and Paul is like “I was here when it happened”.

    So Paul and Barb run from the townspeople and then (plot twist!) the ghost family (not just Dagmar) that has apparently been wreaking havoc on the town is like “you know what, fuck this town, but Paul is cool” and kills everyone except Paul and Barb. After everyone is dead Paul is like “sup” and the ghost dad is like “sup” and then the ghost family is like “k, bye” and it’s over.

    Paul is the reason this movie is watchable. I don’t know if he’s a terrible actor or if his role was meant to convey an attitude of “over it” but it just makes me laugh. Terror takes over this family and he can’t be bothered by any of it. Which, by the way, is the person you want by your side in a crisis – clearly. Paul’s not here for your shit, my shit, or anybody’s shit. And you know what, I’m here for that.

    We Are Still Here is streaming on Shudder.

  • It’s one of my favorite holidays: Friday the 13th

    It’s one of my favorite holidays: Friday the 13th

    The only thing more awesome than Friday the 13th is October Friday the 13th. We don’t get one of those this year. But we at least get this one which, other than every other day, makes it a great day to watch some horror.

    Work has been busy lately so it’s been the perfect time to get caught up on everything streaming in Shudder. I freaking love that channel. Not only do they celebrate Halloween all year long but they stream some of my favorite horror movies as well as have introduced me to movies that aren’t mainstream but also aren’t half bad.

    Southbound (2015. Streaming on Shudder)

    This movie actually surprised me. It starts out with 2 men running for their lives (obviously) and continues with a series of scenarios, each completely different from the other, but all connected to put together a gory tale of horrific events. My love for horror movies made up of multiple stories began as a kid when I watched Tales From the Darkside: The Movie.The way all of the stories in Southbound tie together makes it a little more entertaining. It makes for a pretty good midnight Friday the 13th movie.


    Photo by: newyorktimes.com

    Open 24 Hours (2018. Streaming on Shudder)

    Open 24 Hours is very Fear (1996) meets I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997). Mary (Vanessa Grasse) has just taken a job at a 24-hour convenience store, the only place she can work thanks to an incident where she set her serial killer boyfriend (like who hasn’t wanted to do that?). In addition to the convenience store being the only place that will employ her, she also suffers from paranoia. I know, bummer. Throughout her shift, she’s constantly fighting visions of her burned up, Freddy Krueger-esque boyfriend coming back to murder her (a real asshole). As it turns out, her ghost of boyfriend’s past is just one of many things she needs to worry about. This movie didn’t get the best reviews but it’s on Shudder’s most popular movies and that’s because, I believe, it’s not bad. I recommend it.


    Photo by: themoviewaffler.com

    The Mortuary Collection (2019. Streaming on Shudder)

    So we’ve already established that I love anthology horror movies. A woman named Sam (Caitlin Custer) finds herself in a mortuary that’s in search of workers. Sam meets the mortician, Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown who you’ll recognize if you’re a Dexter fan), and after he agrees to interview her, takes her on a tour of the mortuary while telling her stories about the people he’s performed funerals for, and how they died. What I love is that the stories are very Creepshow/Tales From the Crypt – my kind of stories. If you’re looking for a fun movie that still mixes in some horror, this is it. Again, not the best reviews but I dug it.


    Photo by: filmthreat.com

    Housebound (2014. Streaming on Shudder)

    I’ve saved the best for last. I watched Housebound on a whim – I’d been scrolling through Shudder movies and my wrist was getting tired. Let me tell you, I’ve never been more proud of my weak princess wrists. Housebound is freaking brilliant. A horror/comedy hybrid, Housebound is the story of a rebellious and troubled woman, Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly), who has to move home with her mother following her latest crime gone wrong. Upon moving in, weird things begin to happen making her believe the house is haunted. This concerns her psychologist as he believes them to be delusions, however, following a home visit from the doctor, Kylie believes there may be more to the happenings and hauntings in the home. Along with her security contractor, Kylie goes on a mission to uncover the truth. What you think is happening isn’t, and the entire movie is peppered with the dry British humor we all know and love, or at least I do. If you like Shawn of The Dead, you’ll definitely like Housebound. I suggest saving this movie for your main Friday the 13th feature.


    Photo by: variety.com

    I hope everyone has a happy, horror-filled Friday the 13th!

  • Super Pumped and WeCrashed: shit CEO’s and how they were still successful, basically.

    Super Pumped and WeCrashed: shit CEO’s and how they were still successful, basically.

    For the most part, everyone, at some point in their life, will work a shit job or work for a shit boss. I’ve been a telemarketer. I tried to sell Mary Kay BEFORE there was social media to harass people. I worked at a talent agency where the owner was embezzling from herself. But I think the most miserable I’ve ever been at a job was when I worked for a local marketing agency (small town in Texas) that the owner considered a Silicon Valley startup.

    John was every startup CEO cliché you’ve seen on TV. Our policies changed every month. We had hour long meetings EVERYDAY where we would talk about what we accomplished the day before and then clap like a bunch of mindless idiots. I once got in trouble because I had a meeting in the game room (the only quiet place to take a phone call), resulting in 2 of the guys in my office having to wait 10 minutes before they could play ping pong. Also, that reprimand came via Slack from the CFO who’s last name was Chew and used to start off every Tuesday meeting with “happy Chewsday!” Then there was John’s speech about valuing women which is why he paid everyone the exact same salary, only for me to find out that I got paid the least out of everyone, including his nephew who watched YouTube all day. Every day felt like a Black Mirror episode.

    I could go on but I can feel my buried anger rising and I’m afraid I might find myself outside, hurling my car in John’s direction like a meteor. And I just paid it off. What I’m getting at is, there are some shit companies and shit bosses out there. You probably work for one (or both). And if you’re feeling trapped I have some good news for you. There’s a chance your company and/or boss could be a total fraud and you might be close to being a part of a streaming service series! There’s always a bright side.

    The theme this decade appears to be highlighting companies that had the potential to be great but were nearly (or absolutely) destroyed by CEO’s that considered themselves Jesus. I’m eating it all up. First up is Super Pumped: The Fight for Uber (Showtime). Who knew that a ride share company could be so volatile? I didn’t. In fact, up until I started watching this, the only thing I knew about Uber was I didn’t want to ride in one. I have trust issues. Apparently, not trusting Uber is just one of a few feelings to have about the service.

    Based on the New York Times bestseller by Mike Isaac, Super Pumped tells the story of the Silicon Valley startup that revolutionized an entire industry and created an opportunity for more jobs and side hustles. Unfortunately, like most companies that are this innovative, they’re also pretty fucked up. Misogynist behavior, uncontrollable egos, and a lack of empathy for significant incidents like when some of the Uber drivers were murdered are just a few of the “growing pains” the company goes through.

    You can’t deny the success of Uber or the fact that someone as awful as Travis Kalanack got it there, but it doesn’t negate the fact that how they got there was through abhorrent behavior and unconventional, sometimes unethical, business practices. So it’s like a lot of just regular businesses but this one became famous.

    Then there’s WeCrashed. My entire working life I’d dreamt about not working in an office. In 2019, I made it happen. I was working freelance from my home office and it was, and still has been, splendid. Around day 83 of not having to endure an open office space with about 14 co-workers and a daily meeting, a fellow freelancing friend asked me if I’d ever heard of WeWork, a place to work with a bunch of random people and I should try it sometime. Absolutely not. Also, I thought that’s what Starbucks was for.

    Anyway, WeCrashed (Apple TV) tells the story of the rise and catastrophic fall of WeWork, Inc. – the work-sharing company that expanded to hundreds of cities and countries around the world. Then they tried to go public and it all went south. CEO and founder Adam Neumman was forced to resign and cut ties with anything involving WeWork.

    You know who didn’t crash? Adam. That man walked away with a reported $1.7 billion as well as $47 million a year salary for working as a consultant which is a loophole for cutting ties, I guess. WeCrashed is another series that evokes a very “dude what the fuck?” response so I suggest watching the WeWork episode on Generation Hustle (HBO, and you should watch every episode of Generation Hustle because it’s pretty nuts. The Anna Delvey story is on it!) to prime yourself.

    So if you hate your job or your boss or both, watch both of these and be thankful it’s not bad enough to get its own show. Which would actually be more entertaining than what you’re dealing with now. And you’d probably also get interviewed for it. But, you know, have a good day and whatnot.

    Picture by: deadline.com

  • Vivarium and The Room: weird houses and jerk kids.

    Vivarium and The Room: weird houses and jerk kids.

    I’ve known I wasn’t meant to have kids since I was 13 and a friend of mine gave me her Tamagotchi – one of those electronic aliens on a keychain. I’d never expressed interest in it nor did I even know what its appeal was, but I accepted it thinking she was just being nice. Immediately I realized why she gave it to me. She hated me. 

    I couldn’t get it to shut up and I didn’t know how to turn it off. The first night I had it my mom stormed into my bedroom in a full-on rage, pissed because the bloody thing kept beeping and I couldn’t hear it even though it was right next to my head. After a couple of days it finally died – not the batteries, the actual digital alien or baby or whatever the hell it was. 

    These days I’m particular about what items I accept, and that includes children. Don’t even ask me if I want to hold your baby. Thanks to that Tamagotchi, the answer is I do not. I’m not falling for that one. Not like the dumb-dumbs in Vivarium did.

    Vivarium (streaming on Amazon Prime) starts off with a couple in search of a home, finding themselves in a neighborhood that looks like it’s straight out of the Monopoly game. Even though every single house is identical, they keep their appointment with their weird AF realtor, doing a walk-through of what might be their new home. They’re like “mmm, I don’t know” and then try to drive out of the creepy neighborhood but as you may have guessed, they cannot.

    So, they end up staying in their creepy dollhouse and while they may not be able to find their way out, Amazon can as they receive daily packages – one of them being a FUCKING. BABY. Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) is like “um no” and Gemma (Imogen Poots) is like “we have to it’s ours”. And thus begins an hour and a half of screaming, tantrums, fighting, and trying to escape but ultimately realizing there’s only one way out.

    If you’re on the fence about having kids or would like to know what my 48 hours with a Tamagotchi was like, watch Vivarium. Warning: it’s weird as fuck.

    2019 must’ve been the year for movies about weird houses and jerk kids because at the same time Vivarium came out, so did The Room (streaming on Shudder), except in The Room, the featured couple conjures up a devil child as opposed to just being left with one. I’ll explain.

    Kate (Olga Kurylenko) and Matt (Kevin Janssens) have just moved into a home that’s special because a murder was committed in it. As a consolation prize, the room where the murder was committed grants wishes – a peace offering if you will. They both quit their jobs and decide to live off The Room, wishing for all sorts of bullshit. However, the one thing they both really want is a child so naturally, they wish one into existence.

    How could this go wrong?

    Well, for starters, they didn’t read the instruction manual on the room because if they had, they would have known that all of their wishes cannot be taken outside of the home or they’ll turn to dust. So it’s like the people on Instagram who pay to take staged photos in private jets but they don’t actually fly in private jets – like that.

    The rules apply to the child as well, a fact they discover after Kate takes the kid outside and he turns into an 8-year-old or some age like that. Then he really turns into an asshole. He’s pissed because Kate won’t let him go outside and Matt doesn’t like him so he lashes out. But things really take a turn when he turns himself into an adult, and then we have a whole Oedipus situation going on.

    It’s either the parents or this manifested little jerk – who will win? You have to watch The Room (streaming on Shudder) to find out. Or, if you don’t want to invest your time in it (and I kind of wouldn’t blame you), let me know and I’ll just tell you. 

  • Watch This, Not That | Kevin Can F**k Himself vs The Crew

    Watch This, Not That | Kevin Can F**k Himself vs The Crew

    I love a good underdog story. Did you know that right before she landed Schitt’s Creek, Annie Murphy was broke and on the verge of giving up acting? We almost didn’t have have the national treasure, which means we almost didn’t get to watch her in this incredible new show Kevin Can F**k Himself.

    Holy shit, this show is amazing. Kevin Can F**k Himself rotates between corny CBS-type sitcom (husband and wife where the husband’s “jokes” are followed by a laugh track to drown out the sound of the channel changing) where Annie plays Allison, a dutiful housewife married to a chauvinistic prick and her real life where things are dark and she’s married to a chauvinistic prick.


    Immediately we see that she’s done with his shit, his dad’s shit, and the neighbors shit. Immediately, women everywhere feel seen. Anyway, after Allison discovers that her dream of owning a home is going to have to remain a dream thanks to Kevin blowing all of their savings, she decides there’s only one thing she can do: kill him.


    Will she? I don’t know but he’s got it coming. Let’s find out together. Join the lot of us dealing with our own sitcom-Kevin and tune in to Kevin Can F**k Himselfevery Sunday on AMC at 8 p.m. central time.

    Speaking of “sitcom-Kevins”, my Not That pick features a Kevin that I’m sure Kevin Can F**k Himself is mocking. I’m talking about Kevin James and the Not That I’m referring to is his Netflix series The Crew.

    First off, The Crew uses a laugh track, and not in the mocking way that Kevin Can F**k Himself does. I mean in a way that they have no choice because it’s the only way they’ll get laughs. The Crew is about a NASCAR team crew chief (Kevin James) that sucks. And that’s about it. I guess. It’s all I could watch.


    The first episode was all over the place. We’re introduced to the shit driver, then there’s a party for the owner. One crew member is talking about squirrel sausage while another talks about fighting with his wife about bed shams. Then the owner retires and makes his twenty-something year-old daughter the new owner (duh) and then I’m assuming that’s when hilarity was supposed to ensue.

    It never did.

    In fact, the entire dialog between the actors sounds like they were just winging it. It was like Kevin James had to fulfill his contract obligations so Netflix gave him a set, some actors, a production team, and yelled “go!”. The outcome? Another unfunny Kevin.

    Don’t be a Kevin. Get in on something funny, original, and fucking brilliant. Watch Kevin Can F**k Himself.

    First pic by thewrap.com. Second pic by tumbral.com. Third pic by variety.com.

  • Watch This, Not That: His House vs. Things Heard and Seen

    Watch This, Not That: His House vs. Things Heard and Seen

    For the most part, the people in horror movies don’t have it so bad, with the exception of whatever’s trying to kill them. Whether they’re being chased by zombies, serial killers, or whatever demonic spirit they’ve let inhabit a doll, their story usually starts off in a nice house with a nice family and everyone including the toddlers have high-paying jobs. (No wonder the rest of the world hates us). So when Netflix released His House, a horror/drama hybrid, I was pleasantly surprised, and impressed.

    His House tells the story of a couple seeking refuge after fleeing their native country: the war-torn South Sudan. They survive the horrendous ordeal and arrive in Britain, eventually receiving housing on the outskirts of London. But it’s not just a regular family home like all of the houses in Insidious. It’s a run down apartment that looks like it’s haunted by the last meth head that lived in it.

    Meth head ghosts are the least of their concerns, though. Demons are what they’re fighting, and not just to save themselves but to save what they sacrificed everything for. What kind of demons are they? Who wins? You’ll have to watch this week’s Watch This to find out. Netflix’s His House will mess with your head, which I think we all can agree is the best when it comes to horror.

    What isn’t the best is when you have a horror movie figured out in the first 10 minutes and then you have nothing to do for the remainder of the 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours. This week’s Not That was stretched 110 minutes too long and I sat through all of them. Netflix’s Things Heard and Seen features Amanda Seyfried who plays Catherine, a wife who’s given up her life to support the ambitions of her douche husband.

    Right off the bat, we’re given insight that there’s something wrong in their marriage: Catherine has an eating disorder. That revelation is immediately followed by another one: Catherine’s husband George (James Norton) has a wandering eye.

    Pretty soon, haunted things start happening. A rocking chair moves on its own. Their daughter sees a ghost lady. Catherine smells gas fumes. All of this freaks Catherine out, but then her husband’s colleague explains that it’s NBD, just a woman ghost who’s got her back. Empowered by her supernatural backup, she starts to make her way out of her shitty marriage. During the time she’s getting her groove back, she discovers that her husband is a liar, stole his cousin’s identity, is a cheater, and then also he commits a bunch of murder.

    But, surprise!, the ghost men of the house are shit too. Just as Catherine learns everything that’s bad about George and is about to make her move, George drugs her. And, surprise again!, the lady ghost (whose real/ghost name is Ella) can’t help her because of her dick ex-husband ghost. So George kills Catherine. Then he gets away with it because he’s a man. But then he rides off into the ocean and gets killed by the devil? I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter.

    What does matter is I sat on my couch rolling my eyes for 2 hours proving that good horror movies are hard to come by, disproving that your eyes will get stuck that way. If you want to try it for yourself then watch Things Heard and Seen. Not responsible for loss of vision or interest.

    Photo by screenrant.com

  • Watch This, Not That: Documentaries

    Watch This, Not That: Documentaries

    I kind of remember when reality TV was invented. For me, it was invented when Season 8 of MTVs The Real World debuted. Th at’s when I started watching it and I remember thinking it was the exact opposite of the real world. It’s been all downhill from there. A few years ago I had a gig writing comedic recaps on reality shows such as Vanderpump Rules and The Real Housewives of Dallas. That was it for me and have since given up on reality TV (except for My 600lb Life). It’s all documentaries for me and readers, have I got some watch this and not that’s for you.

    My first recommendation is YouTube’s The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story. In the 90s, most teenage girls were either Team Backstreet Boys or Team N’sync, and if you were Team 98 Degrees you were no friend of mine. Anyway, did you know Lou Pearlman is the reason you had to pick a side? Did you also know that he was a complete fraud who scammed several elderly people out of their life savings with the help of U.S. Representative Charlie Crist? Well, it’s true. Brought to us by Lance Bass’s production company, The Boy Band Con is such a good telling of the boy band craze, the man behind it, and how he deceived so many while simultaneously making music history.

    Speaking of the 90s, my next suggestion is all about nostalgia. Before there was Netflix and Chill, there was Be Kind, Rewind. In those days, when you wanted to watch a movie at home you had to physically leave your house and drive (or ride with your parents) to the local video store. For most of us, that video store was Blockbuster. Aahh, Blockbuster. The smell of the weekend. My next watch this is Netflix’s The Last Blockbuster.

    I loved this documentary. It tells the story of how Blockbuster came to be, why it was the greatest, what happened to it, and how the very last one is hanging in there. For anyone who wants to reminisce or would like to know more about their botched Netflix deal, I highly suggest The Last Blockbuster.

    Here’s something you don’t need to know about: Paris Hilton. Since I’d scored big with that boy band documentary, I let YouTube’s autoplay guide me and next up was This Is Paris, a documentary on Paris. Good god. Sure, her voice finally caught up with her age, but that’s about the only thing that’s tolerable. Other than that the entire documentary is pretty insufferable.

    If you watch it, be prepared to weep when you see her museum of MacBooks, explaining that she needs to buy a new one after every breakup. Feel your heart break when you discover she NEVER wears then same outfit twice. At one point she talks about the abuse she endured at bad kids camp that still haunts her to this day (Side note: she recently testified in court against this camp). It’s a serious situation although Nikki Hilton brings us back by asking Paris “do you remember how horrible you were to our parents?” Look, I grew up with a Mexican grandmother so it’s real hard for me to feel bad for Paris. Anyway, unless you’re interested in learning how Paris stayed rich after growing up rich, I do not recommend This Is Paris.

    And while we’re on the subject of spoiled rich kids, I also don’t recommend Netflix’s Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal. We all know the story: Aunt Becky used that Full House money to get her bratty, underserving child into USC. And she wasn’t the only one. A bunch of rich parents did it, all with the help of a guy named Rick Singer. The majority of it is shot in reenactments which I get because most of the people this scandal involves are in jail.

    The documentary is meant to show how fucked up the system is but here’s the deal: it’s nothing new and it’ll probably never change. And the worse part is there will always be kids that want to go to these shit colleges that allow this.

    FUN FACT: I went to school with a girl who wanted to go to the University of Texas at Austin but didn’t get in. Instead of just going to another University of Texas she lied to everyone, telling people she got in and would actually walk around the campus pretending to be a student. She eventually got caught. This happened 20 years ago so this story also serves as a reminder that people don’t forget.

    Anyway, my point is, I would rather watch a documentary about that girl than one about something that isn’t that surprising other than Aunt Becky learned dick all from the life lessons on Full House. I do not recommend Operation Varsity Blues.

  • Watch This, Not That: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel vs. Demonic

    Watch This, Not That: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel vs. Demonic

    According to Google, the definition of ‘horror’ is “an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust” which simultaneously explains, and somehow does not explain, why there are so many shitty movies lumped into this genre on Netflix. It’s tough to find good horror these days, at least something that’s not brought to us by the news anyway. It just so happens I do not watch the news. It also just so happens that the news watches me because this week’s Watch This is a documentary on a story that made national headlines.

    This past week, Netflix released a 4-part documentary called Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel which detailed the disappearance of a young tourist named Elisa Lam. I’d actually heard of this case before, not from the news (thank God) but from my favorite YouTube channel, Top5s. About 6 years ago, one of their videos featured the footage of Elisa Lam in an elevator that shocked the interwebs. When I first saw it, it creeped me out. You see, Elisa Lam was a woman who traveled from Canada to L.A., found herself staying at the infamous Cecil Hotel which is where she was last seen. After she was reported missing, video surveillance captured Elisa in one of the elevators looking paranoid and frightened. That was the last anyone saw her until she was discovered more than 2 weeks later in one of the hotel’s water tanks.

    Prior to the discovery of what actually happened to her (she climbed in herself which was most likely brought on by her mental illness), the story itself was something out of a true horror film. In fact, some people compared it to the 2005 film Dark Water. Those people would be conspiracy theorists who decided it was their job to find out (i.e. make up) what happened to Elisa Lam. They would also be the same people who helped pin it on someone who’d never even met Elisa Lam, causing that individual to basically give up a part of his life because of the harassment, helping this documentary land in the ‘horror’ genre thanks to that one tidbit of this story being absolutely disgusting. In fact, the scariest part of this documentary is the incredible amount of people who could afford to spend countless hours investigating Elisa Lam’s case, making it difficult at times for actual investigators to do actual investigating.

    Then there’s the former GM of the hotel who gives off serious American Horror Story: Hotel vibes – she plays a great villain. The entire documentary is weird and while it’s definitely a shocker of a story, it’s more tragic than anything. The Cecil Hotel is worth Googling as it’s actually pretty disturbing. However, the only reason you should watch the documentary is to understand what mental illness can do to a person as well as understand how much of a tool you’ll look like if you spread conspiracy theories – particularly ones you made up – about a subject matter that effects millions of people.

    Coincidentally, this week’s “don’t watch” is a movie based on demonic possession which some are more than ok with classifying as mental illness. Demonic is about a bunch of amateur ghost hunters (what else?) attempt to become professional ghost hunters by venturing into a house where a mass murder took place with a goal of raising the dead. As you may have figured out, the majority of them die because one of them gets possessed but actually he’s dead and it’s his girlfriend who is possessed but not for real her, her baby is possessed.

    Other than that stellar description I just provided, here’s why you shouldn’t watch it: as with most terrible horror films, we’re never told or given any sort of inclination as to what and/or who is possessing people. It could be the devil. It could be something pretending to be the devil. It could be a picture frame. Who knows? Not the screenplay writer, that’s for sure. I give it one star and that’s only because Dustin Milligan, AKA Ted from Schitt’s Creek, is in it.

  • Watch This, Not That: Mercy Black vs. Our House

    Watch This, Not That: Mercy Black vs. Our House

    I like to consider myself a horror enthusiast, a horror snob if you will. When it comes time to pick the movies I’m going to watch for this column, I can barely get through the horror movie section of Netflix without making a sarcastic remark to myself. I’m very witty. Who decides this belongs in horror?, I always think to myself. I should be getting paid to decide what goes in the horror genre. Amateurs, all of them.

    Then I watched a movie titled Mercy Black and what the fuck? First off, Mercy Black is a Blumhouse Productions movie – the people who gave us Insidious – so I should’ve known it wouldn’t be too terrible because Blumhouse can do no wrong, ever, not even if they tried.

    Mercy Black is about a woman who is returning home after having spent 15 years locked in a mental institution for assisting in the attempted murder of her friend – very Slender Man. Upon her return she has to deal with visions of the past, weird occurrences in the home, and then, her nephew acting like a murderous weird-ass just like she did when she was a kid.

    She sets out to help him by trying to figure out if the thing that made her try to kill is real – AKA Mercy Black – or if she made it up. The more she looks into her past, the more it comes back to haunt her (obviously). But not like regular haunt. Like, fucked up haunt. Like people getting stabbed in the eyeballs haunt. I had to watch a couple of episodes of Schitt’s Creek to come down off what I saw. I’m not saying this will give you nightmares but any movie that makes me go “the fuck just happened?” is worth a watch.

    What’s not worth a watch is Our House. Our House is about a teen, Ethan, who has to leave college to care for his brother and sister after their parents are killed in a car crash. During the day he does the adult thing (job, taking and picking up the kids from school, etc.) but at night, he works on a project: a machine that he hopes will generate wireless electricity.

    As you’ve probably guessed, it does not generate electricity; it generates ghosts, two of which are believed the be their parents. At first you’re like, ok, he brought his parents back and now the kids can live with their parents’ ghosts, super cool. But then the little sister starts talking about a little girl ghost she’s been talking to and then the neighbor’s dead wife comes back but in a black shadow/murderous form and then it turns out that the little girl ghost had been killed by her step-father in that house oh and also the parents’ ghosts are not actually their parents but something evil duh.

    SOOOO, we’ve established that the ghosts are not the Casper-kind and eventually so does Ethan, but when he tries to get rid of them the neighbor is like “don’t make my ghost wife go away” even though she’s trying to fucking kill everyone and also she looks like what a 1st grader would draw as their interpretation of a scary ghost. Anyway, before all of the ghosts can kill the family, Ethan smashes his machine and the ghosts are gone and then they move out of the house and also it wasn’t actually the house that was causing the problem it was Ethan and his spirit summoner because the ghosts were fine until his wind machine irritated them. So it shouldn’t have been called Our House, it should’ve been called Ethan Fucking Around With Shit He Shouldn’t.

    I probably made it sound cooler than it is. Look, it’s a movie about a homebuilt machine that conjures up murder-y ghosts instead of conjuring up electricity or my recommendation.