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A Vampire and A Witch Walk into a Theater

The trials and tribulations of the double feature

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There's something so purely timeless to me about a good old-fashioned double feature. I don't mean like at the drive-in where it's a specially curated two-fer of films that are thematically connected or are perfectly paired with each other. Don't get me wrong...those are great, but there's something beautiful about seeing two movies just because the timing is right and they're all that's showing. It's like Russian roulette where there's a good chance at least one of the movies will kill your spirit and brain instead of everything else.

The best double feature I've ever seen was easily opening day of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" with the remake of "Dawn of the Dead." I love that combination of disparate genres where you spend four hours just basking in every single cinematic storytelling tool possible. It's pure nostalgia for me and I'll be doing "dub-featches" for the rest of my days.

But maybe you might want to avoid the one I'm writing about today, just to be safe.

Guess which one of these actors needs to chill. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF SONY AND FOCUS FEATURES
  • Photos courtesy of Sony and Focus Features
  • Guess which one of these actors needs to chill.

First off was "Morbius," the long-delayed Jared Leto vampire superhero movie set in the same universe as "Venom" and (maybe?) Tom Holland's "Spider-Man." Going to this one was a struggle because I'm a Marvel completist and will go see anything and everything they put out, but I also think that Jared Leto is an ambulatory dumpster fire of an actor. He has been good before (or even great in "Requiem for a Dream"), but he's so pretentious that he gives method acting a bad name.

As a method actor, staying in character even off-camera and treating all his co-stars like he's The Joker or whoever, then he needs to put in performances like method actors Daniel Day-Lewis or Robert De Niro. He can't just be...OK. His Joker was embarrassing, and the quality of his work doesn't jive with how seriously he takes himself.

In "Morbius" he has one mode: INTENSE BROODING, and that's all he has time for. The script is dull and revels in being the most generic origin story possible. The direction has a few inspired moments, but it's all in service of a movie that is borderline offensive to people who actually care about comics and nerd stuff.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF SONY AND FOCUS FEATURES
  • Photos courtesy of Sony and Focus Features

Leaving the auditorium after the worst post-credits Marvel sequence of all time, I was disgruntled and needed a palate cleanser. I discovered a Macedonian witch movie called "You Won't Be Alone" was starting in five minutes, and was reminded exactly why walking in blind to some random-ass flick is the way to go.

"You Won't Be Alone" tells the story of Nevena, a teenage girl taken by a witch and given shape-shifting abilities, who then goes through her days becoming different men, women and dogs. The film tricks you into thinking it might be a folk horror movie and has the creeping dread to pull that off, but it's actually a sneaky coming-of-age tale that's focused on the ways life changes based on who you are and where you come from.

It's a beautifully shot, stream-of-consciousness tone poem that feels like a hybrid of "Tree of Life" and "The Witch," but set in 19th Century Macedonia. Over its runtime, the film manages to deconstruct toxic masculinity, gender identity and the social constructs of humanity while also being disturbing and strange as all hell.

If I hadn't watched the truly dire "Morbius," I never would have discovered the bizarre joys of "You Won't Be Alone," so thanks Jared Leto...I guess I owe you one.


You Won't Be Alone
Dir. Goran Stolevski
Grade: A-
Now Playing at Regal Old Mill

Morbius
Dir. Daniel Espinosa
Grade: D-
Now Playing everywhere

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