Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'Spectral' (2016)
One of Netflix's first... they kinda dove off the deep end with this one.
Alight, so this movie was pretty fucking decent. I don't know if I can say it's horror... it's definitely got horror elements, and in many ways is like the 80's classic Aliens. Yeah, I'm gonna go with horror. It gave that little bit more than World War Z. You couldn't just replace the "Specters" in this movie with the Taliban and essentially have the same movie. There was a fully developed sense of dread and helplessness that is really needed to define horror. The survival element wasn't in the background, it was ever present and deeply involved in the developing plot.
This is not to say the movie didn't phone it in from time to time. It's a Netflix original movie, and I think one of Netflix first, if not the actual first feature length film. I mean, we're talking about straight to video expectations, and frankly, what you get is Hollywood quality. If Netflix can keep this up, Hollywood, and the movie industry as we know it, is doomed. And fuck 'em. It's about time something came along and popped that impenetrable bubble. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. It was pretty good, but it WASN'T Aliens quality or caliber.
The acting was pretty fucking good, the atmosphere spot on for war torn, the plot was simple, but not empty, and the story was tropey as shit, but not intolerably so. My only real complaint is that we didn't get a Ripley out of this movie. And for Netflix, it was strangely whitewashed. Without spoilers, I THOUGHT about citing the "Black Guy Dies First" rule, but I don't think it counts. Too many non-ethnic extras killed and the black actor's character was underdeveloped. Still, it was dangerously close and devoid of minorities.
So our ghosts are basically Bozine Condensate? Are we really trying to scientifically explain ghosts? No, I get it, they're not really ghosts, and this is a universe where ghosts aren't a real thing, but... I kinda like the idea of vengeful spirits exacting revenge during war. That shit is a pretty cool concept! I mean, okay, the fact that they could loosely connect these creatures to actual science is pretty neat, but I don't fucking care. As stated before in many of my previous rants, I don't need scientific grounding to root me into the story. Immersion comes from making the fantastic real, not by making it hypothetically possible.
Any who, it was a minor flaw and easily dismissed. So let me tell you what really pissed me off about this movie. Alright, there's this one scene where they just got wasted, I mean lost a good 80 percent of their troop trying to fight these things, and their in this abandoned industrial complex. Here, they discover that iron, while it doesn't really hurt the specters, kinda paralyzes them or disrupts their movement. Cover yourself in an old iron clawfoot tub, and they can't get through it. Surround the building with iron filings, it's like a salt barrier against demons. So they end up making a fuck ton of homemade nail bombs with iron filings, and this is enough for them to escape. Great! Perfect! In less than eight hours, they cook up some pretty shoddy jury-rigged shit, and they just barely make it out of there alive. Right. Great. Perfect. Exactly what you would expect out of the film. The troop uses what little they have in the immediate environment to barely survive the situations. That's fine.
What is NOT fine is setting up basically the same scenario for these guys and having them walk the fuck up like their goddamn space marines. So, you're telling me, in less than 24 hours—albeit with the help of a tone of technicians—that you're going to take standard military equipment and all of a sudden, convert it into super-tech ghost killing weapons... the fuck? Look, if they came wandering up looking like something out of Mad Max, only with glowing lights, I might have been okay with it. But they're not, all of a sudden, going to be able to outfit a platoon with super-tech weapons and armor overnight. The movie kinda checks out at that point.
I mean, it wasn't perfect up until that point, but it was at least reasonable. Here's the thing though... it was still pretty good. I really did enjoy it. If it weren't for those two major problems, I'd have said this was setting a new standard. It fell short of that though. But hey, give credit where credit is due. Netflix is still pretty new to the game, so for a first couple of attempts, they've been doing really good.
So give this movie a shot.