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Belittling Horror Excessively: Altar11:50 PM -- Mon October 2, 2017

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

Altar (2016)
Unrated
IMDB Says:
“ALTAR is the terrifying story of a group of former college classmates who get lost driving to a college reunion camp out in the Sierra Nevada mountains. After stopping for the night, they stumble onto something much darker. They must battle to escape the evil they unleashed to not only save their own lives but their souls as well.”
IMDB Rating: 4.0/10
Metacritic Rating: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Solee: 1/5
Mikey: 1/5
We watched this on Hulu.

Solee: So we watched Altar, a 2016 movie about some kids lost in the woods. You chose this one. Was there a method behind your madness?

Mikey: Well, I looked through Hulu’s movie list and the title and picture seemed interesting, so I clicked and saw it was found footage, and was like, “there we go.” I think I was specifically trying to avoid quality. Don’t want two good ones in a row, you know.

Solee: Is it too soon in this conversation for me to say you succeeded in that? This was the tropey-est of tropey movies.

Mikey: I want to single it out for the most lampshades ever hung on one movie in history. While they proceeded to do everything the same as every movie, they constantly mentioned “We’re not like those people in scary movies, we’re gonna do the smart thing!”

Solee: Those kids wouldn’t know smart if it glowed bright blue and snuck up on them with an ax. So found footage movies are tricky because we have to believe that they’d be recording the whole thing. What did you think about this one? Believable?

Mikey: No. And they really kept harping on it. Not the usual “Stop filming, Jim! You’re so obnoxious!” but just endless references to the camera. Probably every 5th line of dialogue was something about the camera. I’m gonna set it over here, I stole it, you sure like filming, etc.

Solee: My theory is that they were ad-libbing a lot of the dialogue. One of those scripts where the director said “A and B have to happen in this scene” and maybe gave one of the actors a secret task and then let them just ham it up. These kids weren’t so good at the ad-libbing, so there was lots of talk about the camera and the weather and lots of girls touching their hair.

Mikey: That kind of filmmaking requires a lot of faith in your actors. Misplaced faith in this case.

Solee: Agreed. I was also mildly put off by the whole idea of Bo using the camera to “work through his Asperger's”. Working through his grief around the death of his parents I totally believe. But only someone who didn’t know anything about Asperger's syndrome would phrase it that way. Which makes me think they were using that diagnosis as a plot vehicle instead of for the purpose of diverse, interesting characters. That being said, I DID like the actor who played Bo.

Mikey: I did think he did a good job. I actually think they all did pretty well in terms of acting (except the jock and his high-school girlfriend), it’s just that they didn’t know how to ad-lib. HOWEVER, how about an honorable mention to Ripper? That guy was just some *wow* acting. Not the good kind of wow.

Solee: TERRIBLE. I’m sorry to be so harsh to Mr. Wainwright, but there was NO emotion or energy in that character. And if that was an intentional choice, it was a mistake. He was integral to the Horror Movie Life Lesson of the Movie -

Mikey: Was that “people have different ages all the time”?

Solee: Hahaha! No, although that sweet, dumb “She’s 18, guys!” girl had a point. No, the HMLLotM this time was “Don’t pop off to creepy strangers carrying weapons.”

Mikey: Speaking of creepy strangers, I can’t believe the super creepy weirdo couple they met and camped out with (and their adorable rottweiler-pug puppy!) turned out not to be part of this evil cult that I assume exists somewhere.

Solee: Same! Maybe they were part of a rival cult? They were definitely part of something weird. I mean … that “storage tent”. Like with the Asperger's … it reads like someone who has never actually been camping trying to write a camping scene.

Mikey: Yeah, there’s some backstory we’re missing about the battling cults.

Solee: Now, THAT’S a movie I want to watch.

Mikey: Okay, so this movie tells you nothing. In brief, the kids go into the woods, run across an evil altar, and it possesses one of them who kills the others. Sooo… this altar surely requires a cult, right? It didn’t just happen. And Ripper is … some well-meaning guy who likes carrying axes and wanted to make sure everybody was safe? Or the cult leader?

Solee: My take was that the altar held a demon. Ripper let the demon out the first time … leading to the deaths of the newlyweds, which MAYBE contained it again? Because he said something about them letting it out after they fiddled with the glowy balls. Anyway, this time, the kids took the bad guy out RIGHT AWAY LIKE SMART PEOPLE and it attached itself to Bo.

Mikey: They did say they were going to do that. But there’s holes in that. I mean, he sure wasn’t possessed like Bo was (when he met the kids, I mean). Was it post-possession depression? Probably not, since he was just as surly and weird when he was telling the honeymooners not to go for a walk.

Solee: Maybe he was a surly, creepy serial killer type who just happened to also be possessed by a demon. He didn’t seem possessed when he met them on the road, just creepy. And ax-wielding.

Mikey: Yeah, normal road behavior. I think we have put more thought into this movie than the creators at this point.

Solee: Yep. There were a ridiculous number of holes in the timing/travel. None of it made sense if you thought about it. Best just not to think about it.

Mikey: That’s what the writer said! Now, the other thing the writer said was “I love Game of Thrones! How can I get Cersei and Jamie Lannister into my movie?”

Solee: Come on … it wasn’t THAT bad. But there was definitely a brother-sister sexual tension going on that I did NOT like. And it was completely unnecessary. They went all out with the taboo relationships in this film: teacher/student, old guy/young girl, brother/sister. And none of it moved the plot.

Mikey: Maybe it did, and we just haven’t figured out the plot yet. Well, that aside, I want to point out that we had a… hmm… a very special scene at the end of the movie where Bo levitates his camera into following him around rather than having to carry it anymore. The most core problem I have with this, well is probably the silliness of it, but secondmost is WHY? He doesn’t have any reason to film anything if he’s a murdering demon man! He doesn’t care about the camera! Levitate the knife into some throats instead!

Solee: Ax-wielding guy still loved his ax after being possessed. Camera-loving guy still loves his camera!

Mikey: Just more of the taboo relationships.

Solee: Haha! It all comes down to the fact that they needed to show what Bo was doing, but had killed off anyone who could hold the camera for him. Gah. This movie has film school project all over it. It feels like the horror was an afterthought. Like a bunch of film school kids had a project due on Monday and a weekend trip in the mountains planned and were like “Hey! What if we do them together!” and then they realized half-way through that they had to actually do something scary.

Mikey: Wish they had! Ba-dum-tssh!

Solee: Right?! This was the least scary scary movie we’ve watched together. Aside from ones that were being goofy on purpose. This felt like it was taking itself seriously and just missing the mark completely. Even the jump scares didn’t get me and jump scares ALWAYS get me.

Mikey: I think you’re right. They even managed to make walking through the woods at night with only a flashlight seem blasé and relaxing. I feel like that’s an easy one to get right. On that walk, by the way… one of them heard something in the woods, and they all go to investigate, and then walk for HOURS. If it was that far away, you wouldn’t have heard it!

Solee: It kind of makes sense though … because they also drove forward for 3 ½ - 4 hours after realizing they were lost. “I don’t even know how I’d turn around here!” *facepalm*

Mikey: Plenty of padding in this movie. Not sure there was any content between the padding, actually.

Solee: That reminds me. I did have one semi-thoughtful note from this movie (out of three pages of incredulous mocking): found footage films often have the “outsider” as the camera operator. It’s almost like directors/writers think that the misfit will have a clearer, more neutral perspective on the group because they aren’t in the middle of it. I think that’s total BS. The one left out carries SOOO much baggage about the group, collectively and as individuals. So many inner stories. It’s a flawed premise that most of these found footage films are built on.

Mikey: That is deep thoughts. I think they did it looking for scenes like the one where he decides to interview Chelsea - if he knew her, he wouldn’t be doing that (only he totally would, especially since this is a college reunion, so he wouldn’t have seen her in years). Not worth it.

Solee: Nope. So … I feel like I’ve ragged on this movie enough and I literally don’t have any positive notes (except YAY! PICKLES LIVED!) so … ratings?

Mikey: Pickles! You did appreciate Bo. I think ratings. That’s pretty easy here. I think we’ll find worse this month, but I still feel good giving a 1/5 for this winner.

Solee: Ha! At first I read that as ½ out of 5 and I was like … yeah, I can see that! I am with you on a 1, though. I definitely don’t want to give it more, but I want to reserve the 0 for something truly heinous.

Mikey: Remember #Horror was our only 0… hard to equal!

Solee: I thought that was the one. Wow. That was a truly terrible film. Please tell me that we have something better in the docket for tomorrow...

Mikey: I can’t promise that, I can only promise that it’s The Disappointments Room. Hope it doesn’t disappoint!
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