This weekend, I caught up on a movie I had been meaning to see because it’s about a shark, was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (who directed one of my favorite trashy movies of the 21st century, Orphan), is certified “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, and came recommended by people whose opinions I trust. A scrappy little B-movie that, after just two weekends in theaters, has already grossed about $20 million more than its $17 million budget, The Shallows is a single-setting thriller along the lines of 127 Hours, The Ruins, Frozen (the ski-lift one, not the Disney one whose songs continue to fill our ears and haunt our lives), and Buried (which starred Ryan Reynolds, the husband of Shallows star Blake Lively). More than anything, though, The Shallows is a giant crock of shit.
Watching The Purge: Election Year is like listening to an explanation of American politics from your high-school aged brother who goes to class sometimes. The third entry in James DeMonaco’s cheap and profitable horror franchise centered around an annual 12-hour nighttime period in which Americans are permitted to indulge in “any and all crime” is as wannabe woke as ever. The movie vaguely gestures at Black Lives Matter-style activism responding to the disproportionate effect the Purge has on minorities (it’s hard to determine if the movie is referencing the theory of fundamental cause or just tripping over it), women in office, and conservatives whose hunger for money and power amounts to blood thirst. These things exist, says The Purge: Election Year. These things...are things. This movie is a deep dive into a shallow pool and watching it is slightly less pleasurable than breaking your neck (I’m guessing). Election Year’s social consciousness reads more like a coma.
Pint-sized pop singer Ariana Grande is the reason why the phrase "cutie patootie" exists, even at age 21. But did you know that lurking deep down that adorable, quinceañera-frequenting exterior, below even the demons she speaks freely about, may be the cold-blooded heart of a serial killer? It's true, she said it to Billboard in a tossed-off aside that the industry mag then blared on its cover, as a pull quote on a photo within the accompanying story, and in a press release announcing the article last week.