So now that we’ve established that my marathon training nostalgia means that I’ve completely lost my marbles, come with me on a trip down training memory lane – with a twist.
I give you: The Jess Runs Happy Marathon Training Movie Reviews.
In this series, I’m going to examine the movies I watched on the treadmill, all through the lens of a runner and rate them based on very specific, marathon-training-based criteria:
- Distance: Pretty simply put, how many miles did I run while watching this movie?
- Sob Factor: Because marathon training had a knack for making me emotional, especially towards the end, how many times did it make me cry?
- Inspiration Meter: Not all movies are about running, but they can still light a fire under you. How engrossed did I get in the movie that I was inspired to run farther?
At the end of each review I’ll tally the total points to give it a total score that means absolutely nothing in the real world but will hopefully give you a little chuckle. Ready? Let’s kick it off with a film that stands out in my memory right off the bat:
This film had been on my must-watch list for a while, mainly because it looked *cool*. Dakota Fanning stars as Jesse, an aspiring model in a strange, fever-dream version of LA that’s filled with fashion-world predators. The marketing made it look like a slick, visually striking murder-mystery-with-a-neo-noir twist – and it was, at least for the first hour that I watched during a sunny post-work 5 miler. Hell, it even had Keanu Reeves and a mountain lion!
Basically, Jesse leaves Georgia for L.A., and meets up with makeup artist Ruby (Jena Malone) and two models, Sarah and Gigi. The fashion world is obsessed with Jesse’s youthful innocence, and the film makes no bones about the literal consumption of uncorrupted, perfectly packaged beauty and youth. She’s innocent enough, and I genuinely felt frightened for her in some scenes, like when she’s left alone with a creep-tastic photographer, or when she hears a woman being attacked violently in the hotel room next to hers one night.
But just as I finished my first 5 miler with this film, she walks the catwalk in a show and literally goes through the looking glass, into the heart of darkness. When I picked it up the next week during another 5 miler, The Neon Demon took a HARD left into psychological, gory horror-ville.
And I. Was. Not. Prepared.
The second half of this movie is so violent and strange and disturbing that I legit went off my company’s WiFi and watched on LTE because I worried I’d be put on some kind of list for using company resources to watch it.
While Jesse turns into the exact opposite of the naive ingenue she was in the first half of the film, Sarah, Gigi and Ruby all turn on Jesse too. And their true, witchy natures come out to… I guess play? Because when I say they turned on her, I don’t mean in a Mean Girls, three-way-calling-while-secretly-listening-in-while-we-talk-trash kind of way. I’m talking about pushing her off a diving board into an abandoned pool and murdering her with knives, then bathing in her blood in some kind of occult ritual kind of way.
It would have been weird enough to end there – I haven’t even mentioned the necrophilism, the knife swallowing, or the blood rivers that Ruby apparently can control with her punani. But instead, it kept going, for a final scene where…. I’m going to be real with you, I nearly had to stop the treadmill to be sick. I was going to copy and paste the final paragraph of the Plot section from Wikipedia, but honestly I don’t want to have that kind of copy on my blog. So go read it there, and then come back. Just know that I’m not responsible for any nightmares you may have from visualizing it.
Back? OK. So yeah. I finished mile 5 just as the credits started rolling, and basically regretted ever wanting to watch this movie in the first place. The worst part was, I’d been recommending it to people after watching the first hour! I immediately took to IG to recant my statements about it being cool and vowed to watch a whole movie before recommending it to people.
But hey – it helped me run 10 miles and gave me a good story, yeah?
Distance: 10 miles over 2 nights, a solid 2 hours of nonstop running. And running in fear counts, so it gets an A+ there. Best I could hope for in a film while running.
Sob Factor: I did not cry. At all. I screamed a lot though. So let’s give it a C- here.
Inspiration Meter: I wouldn’t so much call it inspiration as I would call it… distraction. But again, because I was so focused on the film, I forgot I was running on more than one occasion. A+.
Overall Score: If you can handle gore and don’t mind going “What the actual f*ck?” about a dozen times in an hour, by all means, give this a go. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Solid B+.
Stay tuned for the next installments where I cover movies like Ex Machina, Zoolander 2, and Paterson!