dirs: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Chad Villella, Ti West, Adam Wingard
Blah. Terrible. An anthology of horror flicks as horrible as the media storage format they replaced.
There is something creepy about video footage, yes, granted. None of that, none of it improves any of the flicks or the framing device used to situate these short, mostly pointless flicks. The graininess of the footage doesn’t add to the atmosphere at all, it doesn’t improve the terrible framing device, and it also doesn’t make that much sense, honestly.
As this ‘movie’ starts, a bunch of creepy frat boy criminal types commit various crimes and film themselves as they’re committing them. They’re real scumbags, which, in the context of the horror genre, is not a bad thing, because we know that they’ll get theirs in hell, so to speak. These shitbirds are hired by someone to break into a house and steal a video tape, in order to give context and meaning to their constant filming of everything they do.
When they get into the house and start creeping around, they find an old guy dead in front of a bunch of televisions, and stacks of tapes around the house. One moron at a time pops a tape into the VCR and starts watching.
The further conceit is that the movies on the tapes that the shmendricks watch, when we’re the ones really watching the short movies, are ‘real’, as in, found footage. Oh look, I’m not saying these things actually happened; these individual short flicks were ‘directed’ by most of the guys pretending to be scumbags at the beginning of the flick. But the conceit is that the movies were ‘filmed’ by the people to whom these awful things happened.
dir: Bradley Parker
What a waste.
It’s one thing to make a flick set around Chernobyl, yes, THAT Chernobyl, being the site of the worst nuclear accident (publicly known) to occur thus far. Let’s just ignore the one that happened at Fukushima just recently, I guess, at least until the Japanese start making monster movies about it.
It’s another thing entirely to film such a film in the actual location you’re setting it in. I mean, that just blows my mind. That’s a great idea. Even allowing for the greatness of the idea, I can see that, necessarily, there are only two kinds of films you could set at such a location: documentary or horror movie. Comedy, well, not even Adam Sandler or Roberto Benigni would be able to get away with it. Romance, hm? Love in the Time of Lethal Radiation?
I am somewhat obsessed with the place. Perversely, the best realisation of something set there thus far have been the Ukrainian-produced S.T.A.L.K.E.R games, which used the location very effectively, but I’m not pretending it did so in a deep or meaningful way. It’s an excuse for some very creepy, very effective first person shooters where you get to blow away a whole bunch of horrifying (but poorly animated) mutants, tracksuit-wearing hoods and some very hardcore mercenaries, on your way either to death, escape, or a basket of puppies wearing cute scarves.
So I went into this thinking Chernobyl Diaries was actually filmed at Pripyat and Chernobyl, at least in some of the least irradiated areas. Turns out I am a complete idiot, because the closest they got, the filmmakers, to the Ukraine, was Serbia and Hungary. They didn’t get anywhere near the fucking place, the cads.
They didn’t have the balls or the ovaries to go there. It’s not impossible to get in to, either. Plenty of people go there every year, mutants notwithstanding. Other films and docos have been filmed there, and those filmmakers haven’t cried about it yet like little girls whose faces have dropped off.
dir: James Watkins
Creepy, very creepy. Victorian England is so very creepy. England is creepy.
All those orphans. That fog. All those smokestacks. All those debtors prisons and cholera and rickets.
And they apparently cornered the market on vengeful ghosts way before the Japanese jumped on the bandwagon.
The Woman in Black isn’t a redo of Wilkie Collins’ alleged classic The Woman in White, just with an African American flavour to the proceedings. Plus, I overstated the creepiness of the era. And it’s not set in the Jack the Ripperesque Victorian era: it’s the Edwardian era, because someone’s got a shiny new newly invented car.
The old timey car is somewhat creepy, though, but nowhere near as creepy as everything else that goes on here. Reminiscent somewhat of poor Harker in the Bram Stoker Dracula novel, a young lawyer (Daniel Radcliffe, yes, Harry Potter himself) is sent out to an isolated mansion to settle the estate of a woman recently dead. He himself is grieving for the death of his wife several years earlier.
This is a ghostly horror story after all, and a sense of dread permeates almost every moment of screen time. It’s in everything: the hairstyles, the clothes, the fog, the architecture, everything. Even the eel pie and the candelabras all drip with dread.
Arthur (Radcliffe) is a bit of a drip, bit of a depressed drip at that. His own darling little son draws pictures of him moping all the time. Nothing wrong with a bit of a mope every now and then, but really, Arthur, snap out of it. This is not the era with any modicum of sensitivity towards anyone clearly suffering from clinical depression. Back then the cure would have been three hours in a radium bath and a snifter of laudanum, because they were, as we would think, unenlightened times.
dir: Ben Wheatley
Pretty nasty. Pretty goddamn nasty. Ugly and goddamn nasty would perhaps be most apt.
Trust the Brits to make a flick about work-a-day hitmen that’s probably closer to the reality of what such monsters must look like. None of this aestheticisation of murder crap for them, no.
Oh, fuck the ethical / moral arguments about it; they’re not worth having, they can’t be had because no-one’s arguing the contrary. What I’m saying is, considering the sheer abundance of films with characters who are hitmen, in reality, such professionals are probably more like the chaps here than, oh, let’s say George Clooney in The American.
I’m not just talking looks-wise here. Although I am. Bless the Brits for doing something to ensure unattractive people get to make a living. No, I mean it just feels more credible to have two chaps like the ones here, Jay (Neil Maskell) and Gal (Michael Smiley) doing what they’re doing, rather than two rarefied, classical-music-listening, Faberge-egg-collecting pretty-boy buff chaps, which would be the norm if you believed a lot of movies with the subject.
Nah. Working class chaps all the way, ex-Army, who don’t mind getting their hands bloody in order to pay the mortgage and keep their scrag wives in the luxury (of jacuzzis and Katie Price designer hand bags) they’ve become accustomed to. A job, a grinding trade-like job. One where you’d think they could wack on some overalls, get their lunchbox and a thermos of tea, and wander off after kissing the wife and ruffling the hair of their kid, to a full day of brutal murder.
With a name like Kill List, presumably people aren’t expecting My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic! Despite Jay’s reluctance, he eventually agrees, after a dinner party with Gal and his girlfriend, to work on another project. Various characters make regular allusions to Jay’s last job, which apparently didn’t go very well. Kiev, they say, everything went wrong in Kiev. Everything always goes wrong in Kiev.
dir: Drew Goddard
Five teenagers go camping, or to a secluded cabin in a forest, or a house by a lake. They go there to get wasted and have sex, generally, to incur the wrath of some truly conservative and reactionary forces embodied in a killer who then goes to work.
Something always arises from somewhere, at least, in the horror flicks of the last thirty years, and kills all or most of them one by one, in the most grisly of fashions.
There will be naughtiness, but not too much. There will be harsh language. There will be alcohol and drug consumption. And there will be blood, lots of blood. And boobies, but mostly blood.
There are a thousand movies like this, I’m not going to list any of them. You know the ones. You either love them with a passion, in which case you’re a sick fuck and you should be avoided, or you love them ironically, with hipster detachment, which possibly makes you worse than fifty Hitlers, or you hate them and have absolutely no time for them, yet know intimately of their existence.
But why? Not ‘why do they keep making these movies’, because money you’d think is the sole determinant, but why is or was the template adhered to so rigidly? Why do five teenagers, five American teenagers, always seem to find themselves in this predicament every other ‘week’ or so? You’d think that, considering the sheer quantity of movies, and their sequels with teen slaughter as the special of the day, even in the world these fictional teens inhabit, they’d be more terrified of these trips away than they would be of terrorism, chlamydia and paying off their student loans.
Genre blindness aside, they all keep seeming to make the same mistake eternally, endlessly, over and over again, like lambs to the meat grinder on a conveyor belt.
dir: Kevin Smith
You know, for a Kevin Smith flick, it doesn’t suck too much.
But does it suck enough? Well, these things are always relative, aren’t they?
I’m not sure if Smith thinks this flick makes him seem like a director with his finger on the pulse of society, but it at least shows that he can make a flick about something more serious than his own sexual obsessions and his desire to get back at those who’ve ever wronged him.
Red State takes a decidedly different tack from the one, and only, smutty track his flicks usually take. It’s serious, man. Entire sections of Red State could have come from one of the Hostel movies. And there are long, agonising sections where a preacher (Michael Parks) lectures his congregation, telling them, and us, about how much God hates humanity. And the gays, especially.
And it’s not played for laughs. It might sound inelegant to describe this flick as Smith’s most ‘serious’ flick, but it’s pretty much played straight, if you’ll pardon the pun, and I’m sure you won’t.
The flick also has three distinct shifts in its tone and content, to the point where it makes it hard to describe just what kind of movie it is, in terms of genre. Not that it’s important to wedge it into the most appropriate pigeonhole, or to find the most fitting pigeonhole, or to just shoot the fucking pigeon so that it leaves you alone for ever more. No, just sit back and endure the ride.
In our real world, there are these lunatic members of a lunatic church called the Westboro Baptist church, led by a lunatic called Fred Phelps. There aren’t that many of these lunatics, but, as Alexander Pope said of narrow-souled people, comparing them to narrow-necked bottles: the less they have in them, the more noise they make in pouring out. These prize dickheads make a lot of noise and get a lot of notoriety out of all proportion to their actual relevance or importance to this world or any other. Their hatred of pretty much everybody, but especially gay people and the Jews, and the actions they take to express this hatred, has made them strange fixtures in the media, more for curiousity value than anything else.
dir: Wes Craven
There doesn’t need to be a Scream 4. It doesn’t need to exist. Then again, you could argue that any number of things don’t need to exist, that do exist. Instant coffee. Pancake hotdogs. The Royal Family. Syphilitic chancres. Syphilitic Royals.
Scream 4 has as much right to exist as any other crappy flick trading on a franchise’s name to justify its own existence. Look, we live in a world where there are seven or eight Saw films, five Superman flicks. Hell, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants got a sequel. Alvin and the Chipmunks got a sequel, called The Squeakquel. People keep making them, people keep watching them, they keep making money, I keep reviewing them, and the Circle of Crapulence rolls on.
I watched Scream 4 with the same jaded eye that I watched any of the preceding flicks in the series. They’re all as good or as bad as each other (in that they’re all pretty crap, except perhaps for the first one, which was slightly less crap) and as such even a horror fan has difficulty differentiating them from any of the other flicks where people are killed in order of annoyingness over the course of 90 minutes, until one person survives, and the status of a sequel is left open in some way.
The very mild difference between these flicks and others in the slasher genre is that there isn’t a specific villain coming relentlessly back like an unkillable, profitable idea. Unlike Halloween, Friday the 13th or any other craptacular flick you care to mention, it’s not about a specific villain coming back to kill more people for the umpteenth time. It’s about some whole new bunch of morons getting dressed up in a very cumbersome Ghostface costume to kill a bunch of random people as a commentary on those other flicks where some cretin butchers a bunch of people you don’t care about.
See, it’s meta, therefore it’s cooler than the crap it’s referring to.
dir: Yoshihiro Nishimura
This flick is like watching a squirrel twitch balls-deep in a bag of acorns for two hours.
Because it’s fucking nuts.
I guess I haven’t watched a lot of Japanese flicks for a while, because even I was surprised by the level of violence in this film. It’s beyond anything I’ve seen in a long time, probably ever. It’s probably the bloodiest thing I’ve ever seen, to date.
But it’s also probably the least affecting thing as well. I thought this was a horror flick, and, considering the level of gore, and what with penises and limbs being horrifically ripped off, or the chainsaws going into people’s mouths and staying there, with sprays of blood showering everything for hours at a time, it’d be a safe bet.
But it’s probably more of a comedy, albeit a very nasty one. There’s also some contemporary satire, very reminiscent of Robocop despite clearly being about a far more fucked up society than Detroit. Ads for the privatised police force of an insane level of violence, reassuring the public that the police corporation has their violent best interests at heart, or tv ads for accessorised cutters catering to self-mutilators play, I guess, to contemporary commentary that would resonate with, I guess, Japanese audiences. I guess. But I’m not sure how the fear of being killed by giant mutant cocks plays into millennial anxieties or contemporary financial stresses.
dir: Darren Lynn Bousman
This movie is fucking awful. I can’t sugarcoat it, I don’t have some other witty or vaguely amusing way to intro this review or to prepare the prospective viewer. This flick is terrible from beginning to end. But don’t think for a second that it’s consistently terrible, or that it maintains a steady tone of terribleness throughout. It starts off bad and keeps getting increasingly shittier and more nonsensical as it wears you down and just makes you want to die.
If you were ever a fan of these movies, you’re going to doubt your own judgement after watching this piece of abject shite. You are, or at least should be, wondering just how dumb you might be for ever having defended them to anyone.
Oh my good gods does it stink. It is horribly directed, the editing is irritating and confusing, the acting is shitty, the dialogue and script are atrocious and it just looks and plays out like something cobbled together from the collected deleted scenes from the other three movies in the Saw franchise.
dir: Scott Glosserman
You might have thought that Scream and its pale shadow sequels were going to be the last word on self-aware horror flicks deconstructing the horror genre even as they celebrate their dearest clichés. But no.
There’s more of that filthy, filthy lucre to mine by taking more trips to the well. In truth, these kinds of self-aware flicks will always be viable, and always be relevant as long as horror flicks keep being made.
The reason is that, as an audience member, you often sit there wondering why the characters in a horror film who are seemingly trapped in a building they can’t get out of and being stalked by an implacable killer don’t realise they are in a horror film. The willing suspension of disbelief necessarily has to extend to allowing for the protagonists, police chiefs, their neighbours and work colleagues to have never seen a horror flick in order to not know what the conventions are governing their survival or death, and therefore what is going to happen to them next.
dir: Eli Roth
Hostel is about so much more than just the horror. It’s more like bumping into an unpleasant ex at a party who gives you a blow-by-blow explanation of just why every single little aspect of your relationship sucked. Without any blow-by-blow, but with plenty of bringing the pain.
Oodles of pain. There is viciousness here, but it’s really not as bad as you’ve heard. It veers off into cartoonish violence and gore which undercuts its overall effect, but it’s still pretty compelling in setting up its fucked-up premise. Director Eli Roth has done substantially better here than he did with his awful debut Cabin Fever, but he’s got far more money and obviously far more leeway as well to tell this diabolical tale.
The essential thing to remember is that this grindhouse, grindcore flick is not for any other audience other than an American one. Sure, they sent copies of the flick out here for our drooling masses to drool over, but it’s very much a product of a certain place and time, calculated to derive a certain feeling. And that feeling is the dread of what other people want to do to you because you’re American.
The Americani, bless each and every one of them, have been going through tough times for the last bunch of years. Since September the 11th 2001 Americans, in general, have started getting the impression that other people throughout the world, wallowing in the misery of their own pathetic nations, have little love lost and in fact open loathing for all them. Some might feel it’s because of the US government’s actions overseas, or solely because of envy.
dir: Gaspar Noe
The film's tagline, one of the first lines of dialogue and the film's final epigram is 'Le temps détruit tout', or 'time destroys everything'. Well, even after watching the film in its entirety, I don't agree. In enduring this film, I think there is greater accuracy in saying that it is not 'everything' that gets destroyed, it is we the audience. And it is not 'time' per se that does the damage, it's this film and its sadistic director, Gaspar Noe.
dir: James Wan
The day before I had the honour of watching Blade: Trinity. Today I watched Saw. Tomorrow I should try to find something equally knife related to watch just to get a hat trick of some variety: Knife in the Water? The Night of Long Knives, Mack the Knife, er, something with 'spoon' in the title? Anything to maintain the metallic imagery.
Okay well maybe I won't be doing that. What I would also like to do (but won't, not yet) is watch this film again and see if it's as enjoyable the second time around. I have to say I was surprised, very surprised. Pleasantly surprised, not like after a night of heavy drinking, putting your hand in your pocket looking for your keys and finding that your fingers are missing. As are your pockets and keys.
Saw is one of those success stories where two young hopefuls put a script together and shop it around like all the other hopefuls. Except their script actually gets somewhere, they get funding (miniscule comparatively, a 1 million dollar budget), they get the press and the promotion and the film turns out to be a roaring success. Of course the flick itself is sick, twisted B movie horror trash, but it's decent B movie horror trash. But you have to admire the way in which these guys, James Wan and Leigh Whannell got this done.
Also, as I rarely find, you've got to admire a film that succeeds despite bad acting performances, continual continuity errors and plot holes you could drive the International Space Station through at a leisurely pace. What succeeds is the concept, the overall sick concept to make a pretty disturbing film on a micro budget and genuinely unsettle an audience. Not in the way that the thought of seeing Barbara Streisand in a film again is deeply disturbing, but a set up where there is genuine horror, and scenes where you peak through your
fingers, unsure if you really want to see what happens but unwilling to miss it.
dir: Hideo Nakata
The onslaught of Japanese horror remakes marches inexorably on. Strictly speaking this is a sequel to a remake, but there’s a Japanese Ringu 2, and it was directed by the same guy that directed this, but it’s a different story (kinda) and, oh fuck it, it’s making my head hurt already. Look, it’s a sequel to the Hollywood Ring film, that’s all you need to know at this stage. It has nothing to do with the Lord of the Rings movies, The Ringmaster, Postman Always Rings Twice, Ring of Fire, Ring King, Ring Ring, or Ring-a-Ding Ding. So don’t be too disappointed.
This nasty little ghost story has come a long way from its modest origins as a schlocky novel by Koji Suzuki. The original Ring managed to be creepy and somewhat fairly entertaining. It represents the starting point for the wholesale adoption of these flicks as the new face of cinematic horror, with highly variable results. Of the recent sequence, Ring, Ju-on: The Grudge and Dark Water have been remade, with Dark Water yet to be vomited upon cinema screens yet. Presumably The Grudge will get its sequel. It seems there’s a little way to go before people get thoroughly sick of this crap and move onto the next place to plunder “Ooh, look, Mongolian films are the next big thing. Let the milking commence!”
dir: Jaume Collet-Serra
This is both a horrifying and silly flick. It would be easy to just say it’s a shit flick with the most ridiculous twist ending since the last time M. Night Shyamalan made one of his ridiculous movies. In fact it wouldn’t just be easy, it’d be downright accurate.
Still, I can’t dismiss it entirely. Approached as a genre piece, it’s unsettling and disturbing, as in, it achieves its ambition of creeping out the viewer, the viewer being me, in this case. This strangely-put together flick fits into that horror-thriller sub-genre about competent sociopaths, this time in the form of a nine-year-old child adopted by a nice family, who do what they do, infuriating the viewer because no-one except the main character can see what’s going on until it’s way too late.
Esther is an odd child adopted from an orphanage because a mother (Vera Farmiga) can’t get over the recent death of the baby she was carrying. This is conveyed to us, the viewers, right at the beginning in a horrific birth scene which is rendered as some kind of demented nightmare. Whilst the details aren’t considered literal, the loss of the child is, and we learn more details about spiralling depression, alcohol abuse and infidelity. All this occurs despite the fact that the two parentals have two other kids, an annoying teenage boy called Daniel, and the sweet, deaf Max.
Into this house they bring this strange girl who not a soul buys as being anything but the demented creature the promo posters depict her as being. Those posters were a stroke of genius, I have to say. The way that image was composed, by splitting and mirroring half of her face and reconnecting them at an odd angle, was far-more off-putting than probably most of the flick.
Ah, that’s probably not entirely true. There are plenty of instances of Esther murdering a whole bunch of people, and meting out violence to children, which of course is horribly disturbing.
Worse than that is the idea of the cuckoo’s egg: willingly bringing an interloper into one’s house whose intention is to displace (read: kill) the other nestlings, and eventually either replace the mother or kill everyone in a fiery inferno. As if it isn’t already hard enough for older kids hoping to be adopted…
dir: Sam Raimi
Sam Raimi. Sam Raimi. Where have I heard that name before? Oh, wait, I know. He’s the lesser known brother of Ted Raimi, who dazzled the world with his performance as Joxer the Magnificent in that Xena: Warrior Princess series, and as J. Jonah Jameson’s assistant in the Spider-Man movies. Or maybe it’s that he’s the brother of Ivan Raimi, famous scribe of Spider-Man 3 and actor in the classic Nude Bowling Party?
No, I’m sure I’ve heard of Sam from somewhere else. Wherever it’s from, it seems like he’s decided to enter the family business by directing feature films. For what may be his debut feature for all I know, he’s decided to make a strange little horror-comedy called Drag Me to Hell, which, honestly, shows to me that this Sam Raimi guy might just have what it takes to make a career for himself with these movie shenanigans.
The kid definitely has a future ahead of him. Or maybe a past, I’m not sure. Like most rookies in the business, he’ll probably piss it all away on hookers and cocaine, but maybe he’ll survive and make some more tiny small budget horror films in the future. I think that’s all a guy can hope for, really.
Sure, so Drag Me to Hell is awfully reminiscent of decent classic horror flicks like the Evil Dead movies (whose director I can’t be bothered to look up on the tubes of the internets), but what horror films haven’t cribbed from the classics, eh? The good ones borrow, but the great ones steal.
Considering when it was made, which is just before the economic crisis hit full swing, this movie was oddly prescient in its timeliness, seeing as it centres around the actions of a loans officer at a bank who screws over a crazy old gypsy woman (Lorna Raver), who curses her with one hell of a curse. The irony is that this hideous gypsy woman, who has false teeth that deliberately look like fangs, is a fucking monstrous evil creature. Okay, so it sucks that Christine (Alison Lohman) declined to give her a third extension on her mortgage, and that she did it to convince her boss that she is tough enough to be an assistant manager for a potential promotion, but it’s not like she does anything as evil as, say, cursing someone so that they’re going to be dragged to hell by a demon called a lamia, solely for the crime of offending a vicious gypsy.
dir: Marcus Nispel
There are remakes that are pointless. Remakes that are insults to human dignity. Remakes that just make you wish a nuclear war would wipe out the world so that you wouldn’t have to watch any more crappy flicks ever again. It would be a small price to pay.
And then there are remakes of crap horror flicks, which are just as crap as their origins, which it’s hard to get angry at.
Shit repackaged as another form of shit, when you know it’s shit, can’t really surprise you. It doesn’t have that power.
I don’t care what classic horror buffs think about the original Friday the 13th series: they were crap, whether the first or the four hundredth movie in the franchise. They achieved then and have maintained since a cheap notoriety far in excess of the actual artistic or frightful merits of the actual productions. Most film critics and social pop cultural commentator-types point to them as a barometer of the political and ideological landscape of their era: that being the Reagan era of conservatism for which the protagonists, being generally teenagers, are punished for drug and alcohol use and for having sex by the wordless and faceless Jason. Clad generally in his tasteful but elegant rags and hockey-mask, the unstoppable killing machine mows his way through swathes of people whose purpose is solely to die, until an ending where he looks like he’s finally bought the farm, only to come back again and again.
I find it fucking tiresome, and pointless, generally to watch a movie whose sequences I can predict just by hearing the franchise title. I don’t get off on watching people being killed, so when I know it’s just going to be nearly two hours of the same crap, done so mechanically, I have little to be interested in.
dir: Tomas Alfredson
You would think that the vampire genre has been pretty much tapped out by now. The well went dry right about the time someone decided vampires could be an excellent Mormon stand-in for preaching abstinence and that sunlight, instead of burning them, would make them go all shiny and mirror-ball. How pretty! All Twilight needed further was ponies, and it would have been complete!
The endless permutations, allegorical renderings, highbrow and low trash versions mean that almost each and every possibility has been explored and then some.
So if you’re one of the many who’s heard of this strange little Swedish film and you’re wondering why it made so many critics end-of-year lists last year, and why it’s gotten so much acclaim, you might think it’s because it takes the vampire genre and radically twists it around and makes it all new again, kinda like that surgery they claim can turn women back into virgins. Yeah, as if.
You would be, like I was, surprised to find that Let the Right One In, based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist isn’t really that different. Even in Swedish, even set in the 80s, it’s a recognisable part of the vampire canon of tales and stories. This vampire needs blood, has to avoid sunlight, has to be invited in to a house in order to enter it, and its bite alone can turn its victims vampiric if the vampire neglects to kill those it feeds on.
So nothing radically new there. The difference is in the telling, and in the way we are meant to care not only about the vampire, but the main character, a human boy of only 12 years of age.
dir: Mary Harron
The book that no-one thought could (or should) be made into a film finally has been, and thank the lords above that uber-hack Oliver Stone or pretty boy Leonardo “Credibility” DiCaprio, both initially rumoured to be interested, were not involved in this particular production. Whether it is a successful film and / or adaptation depends on three factors, only two of which depend on your opinion of the book. If someone is an overwhelming fan of the book, apart from possibly requiring anti-psychotic medication, it is quite likely that they will like the film, as the dialogue and the lack of plot are taken verbatim from the book.
The film is a very faithful, some might say almost timid adaptation of the book. Anyone hating the book obviouslyis a moron for watching the film expecting anything different. The most damning condemnation of the film that I’ve heard was simply that the film is boring, with no point, and an unpleasant way to waste 2 hours. It’s hard to disagree with that kind of logic.
The more horrific excesses of the book are effectively excised, and thankfully so, more due to the fact that even in the book alone the sheer catalogue of repetitive murder and torture simply becomes tedious rather than shocking. Apart from that, the fact remains many of those occasions are unfilmable in a non- snuff, non-X rated film. I am referring to sequences involving decapitated heads carried around on engorged genitalia, pipes, rats, and the human body, child murder, nailgunning, et bloody cetera. After a while it holds all the mystery and inventiveness of a casual perusal of your local phone book. The film avoids the same trap by having a sparing use of gratuitous violence except in those non-key scenes designed to show how much of a psychopath our protagonist, Patrick Bateman, truly is.
dir: Michael Powell
Peeping Tom is a first of sorts. It’s not the first flick about a serial killer, nor about voyeurism, nor about the killing of prostitutes.
But it’s one of the first flicks I can think of that has a character study of a sociopath with something of an explanation of how and why he does the things he does. And, oddly enough, it’s a sympathetic portrayal.
It starts with a first person point of view, where we are to understand that the camera is a character itself. He or she, we don’t know yet, approaches an old boiler of a prostitute, who squawks that whatever it is that they’re referring to, it’ll be “two quid”. She leads him up some stairs to a slum like room, and she looks as excited by the prospect of servicing another punter as she does about filling out her next tax return.
But then the scene starts to turn odd, as we realise that the first person perspective, isn’t the person themself, but someone holding a camera as he hired the whore and followed her to her room. When she starts freaking out, we realise that whoever is doing whatever to her is also filming it.
dir: Ridley Scott
I'm here to tell you that there is a new contender for shittest film of the new year all ready, if not the decade. Hannibal is simply the dumbest film I've seen since primary school. The horror flick Fright Night on Channel 10 last night had a more coherent, intelligent plot. Hell, I've seen pornos that had better character development, plot machinations and more credibility than this load of old cobblers.
Many people don't actually know this, but Hannibal is a special effects heavy film, like Ridley Scott's last film, Gladiator. Except in this film, instead of using CGI for images of the Colosseum, Rome at the peak of its glory, or nasty tigers on chains, the CGI is used to depict Anthony Hopkins, because that can't be the same actor I've seem in other great performances for the longest time. He looked and acted as fake as the mechanical shark in the Jaws films.
I can't comment on the source material, seeing as I couldn't give a fuck about the book and have no intention of ever reading it, but why they bothered making such a stupid, boring, utterly devoid of interest or tension film is a mystery of staggering proportions. I know that the film has made $60 million dollars in one week of release, but it would have done that if they'd based it on a copy of "See Spot Run!" or a Sesame Street Golden Book. I cannot fathom why they bothered writing such an inept, mishandled screenplay giving a bunch of actors nothing to do but look foolish. Hacks, they're all fucking hacks.
dir: Danny Boyle
An amazing film, on a number of levels. The most amazing fact is undeniably the redemption of Danny Boyle and his crew. It’s a touching tale of intellectual rags to riches to rags and then hopefully back to riches. It’s also the kind of story all too common with young ‘cool’ film makers who compete with each other to find new ways of fucking up as their careers progress from the ènfant terrible stage to the illustrious ‘sellout’ stage. Starting off with the low key Shallow Grave, he and his people established themselves as being capable of producing a decent, nasty film with believable characters acting believably nasty towards each other as situations moved from bad to worse.
With Trainspotting these bastards upped the ante substantially, making a film as compelling and, dare I say it, fun as it was repellent. With a soundtrack that became a mainstay on the radio station I listened to and on the stereo at every party, bar and club that I frequented at the time, it was a fiendishly inventive urban nightmare, speaking to the uglier corners of our natures and the natures of people we don’t want to bump into on a Saturday night: it has been continually imitated but seldom matched by a multitude of pretenders in the years that have followed.
Riding on this success Boyle and Co. decided that the word ‘crap’ needed to be redefined. Thus they made A Life Less Ordinary.
dir: Rob Zombie
There was 1 retroactive laugh that I got out of this movie. At
its beginning, the onscreen credits read 'Written and Directed
by Rob Zombie'. That anyone claims credit for pretending to
write and direct this film is staggering, absolutely staggering.
Look, I knew going in that it wasn't going to be masterpiece
theatre. I mean it's called House of 1000 Corpses, for Christ's
sake. But people joke about how when something cinematic is so
crap that it's Z grade. This is one of the first pure examples
I think I've ever come across.
dir: Zack Snyder
The sheer abundance of zombie related material put out in the last few
years points to either a large group of movie industry types thinking
that zombie stuff is a goldmine, or a large audience out there that is
hungry, hungry for brains. In the last two years alone I can think of
a whole bunch of films that had zombies as the scourge staggering
open-mouthed towards Our Heroes, in a fashion incompetent enough to
generally have their heads blown off only at the most crucial or
Though many will point to 28 Days Later as the resurgence point, they
would be wrong. At least one zombie film has been coming out a year
since time immemorial; it's just that most of them were going straight
to video. It really restarted with the release, I'm not kidding, of
Resident Evil, where as anyone with the DVD can attest, not only did
Milla Jovovich show far more than she and God probably intended, but
it also began the inexorable march of the zombie legions back into our
multiplexes as well.
This remake of the 1978 Romero original is neither the best nor the
worst of the recent zombie onslaught (with 28 Days Later at the top of
the heap for my money, other entries being Versus, Undead, Shaun of
the Dead, Resident Evil, House of the Dead, House of a Thousand
Corpses, Glitter), and makes a good enough fist of the original to
justify its re-imagining. I may consider the original to be a classic
zombie film, but that doesn't mean I consider it to be so sacrosanct a
movie that to remake it would be blasphemous. It really wasn't that
great a movie. Like the hallowed Texas Chainsaw Massacre that was
remade last year, the impact of the original had little to do with the
quality of the overall construction. The 'shock of the new' at the
time is what impacted upon people's cerebellums, even when the film
itself may have been pretty ordinary.
dir: George A. Romero
The “master” is back, as if he ever really went away.
Romero is revered as a god of horror films, and many see the zombie genre especially to be his baby. If anyone has the right to screw with the conventions of a genre, you’d think it’d be the guy who built it all up in his own image.
Before Romero’s movies, zombies didn’t crave flesh and brains: they craved strangling people like the Mummy in ancient horror flicks. Post Romero they became the primal, ugly aspect of humanity let loose upon an effete, consumerism-obsessed society.
In 2005, zombies are the excuse for Romero making a film Marx and adherents of the dialectical materialist view of human history would be proud of. Damn proud. It’s enough to make you pull out your old Soviet flag, your copy of Das Kapital, and sing the Internationale, you goddamn pinko commie bastards!
Where the original Dawn was satire (of mindless consumerism, apparently), and last year’s remake was more straightforward action / horror, Land of the Dead is more of a straight allegory. There’s no great subtlety to this, or obscure subtext symbolism: it’s obvious and overt. It doesn’t detract from it, but it certainly is a departure from the other zombie flicks Romero has inflicted upon willing audiences.