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Hostel Part 2

dir: Eli Roth
[img_assist|nid=763|title=Lambs to the slaughter|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
What Borat has done for Kazakhstan, Eli Roth and his Hostel horror movies have done for Slovakia.

You thought that Slovakia was just a former part of the Soviet Union that was recovering from no longer having the word Czech in front of its name. In Roth’s hands, Slovakia is a place as bleak and foreboding as Chechnya, as Srebrenica, as Caroline Springs where, in the post-Communist aftermath, life is simultaneously cheap and auctionable to the highest bidder.

In the first Hostel flick, two American backpackers and an Icelandic traveller find themselves on the pointy end of the Eastern European tourist industry when they are selected, hunted down, tortured and murdered by the clients of a company who pay to maim and kill people in the slaughterrooms of an old industrial complex.

It’s a horribly macabre idea, and Eli Roth and his many producers could not see any reason as to why they shouldn’t repeat the idea again, only with American girls this time.

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Reaping, The

dir: Steven Hopkins
[img_assist|nid=765|title=Hillary Swank fights against increasing irrelevance|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=337|height=500]
Despite continuously implying the opposite, this crapulent movie is proof positive that there is no God, benevolent or otherwise. No God would subject his believers or even his deniers to a movie as poor as The Reaping with any intention past convincing people that He / She / Shmoopie doesn’t exist.

A town deep in the Southern swamps called Haven is having some strange events occur that seem like they’re out of the Old Testament. A patented disbeliever, who used to be a servant of the Christian God, spends all her time disproving phenomena that look like miracles. Katherine Winters (Hillary Swank) is the Doubting Thomasina required by such a setup, and the highly serious flick’s lead. She lost her faith when her husband and young daughter were killed by, I dunno, a machete-totting wildebeest, when they were performing God’s missionary position work in some nasty section of Africa.

When someone pretending to be all nice and wholesome and Southern (David Morrissey) comes to her for help in explaining the town’s strange occurrences, of course she feels compelled to go to the Louisiana boondocks in order to debunk the superstitions of the surprisingly clean and well-adjusted townfolk.

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28 Weeks Later

dir: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
[img_assist|nid=767|title=28 Million Dollars later|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=316]
Gee, I wonder what flick this is a follow-up to?

Danny Boyle doesn’t return to helm this sequel, but I’m sure he made some money out of it as an executive producer. As such I’m sure he’s not too disappointed with how it turned out, but I’m sure he would have done it quite differently.

Instead of Boyle and his usual crew, it gets a bunch of other writers, and the Spanish director of a superb flick from a bunch of years ago called Intacto. I loved Intacto (a strange flick about luck as a power, as a curse) so much that I expected 28 Weeks Later to be some kind of masterpiece as well.

As it stands, this flick is passable entertainment, I’d say. They keep the location, and the story (a rage virus spreads throughout Britain making most of the population go berserk and kill each other), but saddle it with a pretty simple (some might say almost stupid) plot in order to gain some kind of currency with world events.

World events like the present Iraq Adventure, I guess.

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Primeval

dir: Michael Katleman
[img_assist|nid=8|title=Alligator was also a terrible film about a giant reptile, but it was better than this|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=200|height=315]
How do you solve a problem like Maria? On that same tack, how do you fuck up a cheap movie about a giant crocodile chomping on people and making their heads pop like grapes? Ask these shmucks.

It should be impossible to stuff something like that up. Just deliver what you say you’re going to deliver, and the audience should take care of itself, as it lolls about stuffing its gaping maw with candy and popcorn as if to mimic the CGI reptile on the screen.

For a reason I cannot work out, they refer to the crocodile, Gustav, as a serial killer. It’s just a crocodile, it’s not Hannibal Lecter. Although maybe this should have been the next Lecter film instead of Hannibal Rising: whilst on safari, Sir Anthony Hopkins takes some time out from eating some of the local cannibals to strike up a romance with a sexy, slinky lady croc. After a few wines, and to the sweet background sound of the buzzing of millions of tsetse flies, they consummate their relationship on the banks of the Mfulakwe river. A year later, a brilliant, sociopathic young crocodile starts targeting rude tourists and ripping out their organs whilst expounding on the virtues of 14th century Alexandrine poetry.

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Hannibal Rising

dir: Peter Webber
[img_assist|nid=781|title=Have you been brushing your teeth since your last appointment? Have you?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=200]
Hannibal Lecter: The Wonder Years, or Look Who’s Stalking could have been better titles for this new prequel chapter to the Hannibal Lecter legend. Did you wonder what Hannibal was like as a child? How was his toilet training conducted? At knifepoint? Did mummsy and daddsy punish him for wetting his bed by ripping out his liver and feeding it to him with a mediocre Chianti and some azuki beans as an accompaniment?

All Hannibal Rising is and ever will be, is another trip to the well for fun and profit. The makers, especially ancient Dino De Laurentis, have confused the popularity of Thomas Harris’s initial books (Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs), and the iconic status of Sir Anthony Hopkin’s portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence, with an unquenchable thirst in the audience for anything with a hint of Lecter-related marketing attached to it.

I’d understand if Thomas Harris has written a book that resonated with the public, garnered major sales, and seen a resurgence in demand for a cinematic version. Since the book in question was released simultaneously with the film’s release earlier this year, we know that’s not the case, and that it’s just merchandising.

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Bug

dir: William Friedkin
[img_assist|nid=790|title=Bugfuckingly crazy|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=300]
Friedkin has had a many and varied career, probably best known for the classic horror flick The Exorcist. However many and varied his abilities might be, we should, at the very least, expect him to know how to depict all kinds of crazy on the silver screen. Oh, and he does.

Bug is based on a play, and it pretty much looks like a play, since most of it transpires in a single hotel room, with a few outside and aerial shots to make you forget how much like a play it really seems. There are more than two actors, as well, but mostly it’s a two-hander between Ashley Judd, yet again playing a white trash down-and-out with substance abuse problems and poor taste in men, and Michael Shannon, who regularly plays lunatics in movies.

And what this kind of story needs is people that are comfortable with playing absolute lunatics for the majority of a movie’s length.

Agnes (Judd) lives in a hotel room and waits tables in a nearby bar. She is clearly an alcoholic, loves her ganja and doesn’t mind the old crack/crystal meth pipe. In the flick’s opening minutes, we see that she’s probably been on the downward spiral for a while, and the silent, harassing phone calls from, she suspects, her recently paroled ex Jerry (Harry Connick Jr), are tipping her further over the edge.

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Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

dir: Scott Glosserman
[img_assist|nid=795|title=Behind the Mask, nothing to do with Jim Carrey|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=367]
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.

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Turistas

dir: John Stockwell
[img_assist|nid=798|title=Come to Brazil: You'll lose your heart. And probably your kidneys too.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=360|height=259]
Bunch of backpackers go to Brazil. Evil locals catch them and harvest some of their organs. The other tourists try to escape.

The end. Is there really a need for any further review? Unfortunately for you, I can’t help myself, so yes, there are acres and acres of more review to plough through.

I can’t really explain how this flick is different from, say, Wolf Creek or any other flick where a bunch of clueless white people are preyed upon by evil dark-skinned locals. I guess the Brazilian setting is different. The motivation of the villains is slightly different. Having Melissa George play an Australian is a bit of a stretch as well.

All up it’s still super generic in its genericness. It’s no better than the movies it copies, but it’s not significantly worse either. It’s reasonably well done for a flick of its type.

I didn’t hate it, and there was at least one sequence that was genuinely tense and scary, which is one more than most horror flicks seem to manage these days.

Who the actors are, and why their characters are in Brazil is irrelevant. You don’t care, the director doesn’t care: they’re there alternately to die, or run and then die, or if they’re lucky and attractive, survive.

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Grudge 2, The

dir: Takashi Shimizu
[img_assist|nid=818|title=Someone needs help getting down the stairs. Would you mind?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=300]
This Japanese director has gotten to make this same film six times. It’s not like he hasn’t been given adequate opportunity to get his groove on, and to work out whatever the hell he wants to get out of his system.

I’m sick of it. Stop now. Kudasai, domo arigato gozaimashita.

He made the first Ju-on (Grudge), remade it another three times in Japanese, then was hired to remake it in English (twice thus far) and to wedge Sarah Michelle Gellar into it. Big bucks apparently in remaking Japanese Horror for the American market.

Problem is, even as exponents of J-horror these flicks are excruciating.

I don’t mean that in a good way, since they’re all supposed to be horror films. They’re excruciating because they’re so abstract and untethered, and repeat boo moments until you’re so sick of them.

This surge in J-horror for the American market is really about being able to make horror flicks that pander to the horror-liking audiences but also getting the flicks in under a PG-13 rating. All of the remakes (Ringu, Dark Water, these ones) retain most of the plot aspects and visual elements and repeat them, with some success (and a lot of failure) ad infinitum.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

dir: Jonathan Liebesman
[img_assist|nid=823|title=Even R. Lee Ermey being The Man so profoundly doesn't save this pile o' shit|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=240]
Oh, what a woeful, woeful film. Hopefully it’s an Ending instead of a Beginning. It’s bad enough that they did a remake of the original in the first place, but now, compounding their crime by following the redundant with the plain unnecessary, they’ve gone and prequelled a horror classic. In doing so they’ve so how managed to make it anything but horrific, and substantially less than a classic.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is not so much an origin story about the origins of the murderous Hewitt clan so much as it is the endpoint of intellectual bankruptcy that serves the interests of greed without an ounce of creativity. The TCM remake made some money, so another flick scraping through the bottom of the barrel just had to be made, even though from watching this crap I can see clearly now that they had no idea what they were doing from start to finish.

In ripping the shit out of a review for a prequel / sequel / another trip to the well to whip the dead horse dismembered by a chainsaw, it requires an apologia or defence of the original. For perspective’s sake, at least.

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