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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Army of Darkness (1992)

It’s official, Martin Lawrence totally tried to copy The Bruce Campbell. Obviously, it didn’t work.

This begins where Evil Dead II left off, except once again retconning the fact that Ash killed the flying bird thing at the beginning. Instead, he is taken prisoner by English knights at war with a group of Scots. After Ash shows his skill and superiority when killing the “Deadite” used for executions, the film takes a very adventures turn. Ash tries to fling the Necronomicon, mistakenly chants the phrase wrong, and is soon against an army of the undead.

It’s sort of weird that I placed this in the Halloween Horror Movie Month-meme because this one really isn’t as much of a horror flick as much as it’s more of a comedy. However, it is part of the Evil Dead franchise, so I guess it belongs here in that sense and it also makes me feel great knowing that I have finally got done watching it all. And jeez, what a franchise, man.

Since this was made after Sam Raimi hit it pretty big with Darkman two years before, the budget here’s definitely a lot bigger than what he was used to working with, which basically meant he was able to do whatever the hell he wanted, how he wanted, and with as much moolah as he wanted. That’s a pretty smart-idea to pull-off because if you give Raimi enough money, he’ll definitely be able to make it work and that’s what he shows off here.

There’s a lot of fun to be had here with this movie: the comedy is more obvious now but still goofy and over-the-top, the monsters are a lot better-looking, but still odd; and the action is very polished, but still entertaining as hell to watch on-screen. It’s obvious that this movie is very different from the other ones because of what it has at it’s disposal, but that doesn’t really seem to get in the way of Raimi and what he wants to do with this movie, and that’s to pretty much just give us another wacky and wild ride, but this go-around, is placed in the middle ages, where there seems to be a lot more goofy crap happening.

Since this is a pretty up-front comedy, I think it’s pretty safe to say that on that level, it definitely works. Just watching Ash go around and say dumb shit to these characters, without them having a single-clue as to what he means is really, really funny. There’s a whole bunch of anachronistic humor here, but it never seems over-used and just continued to make me laugh and laugh a lot more. I mean, hey, the sight of a 1982 station-wagon standing side-by-side a knight and his horse is pretty damn funny once you take into a consideration the fact that none of these characters have any idea just what the hell that actually is. As I said before, not as much of a scary movie as it is funny, and that’s the real charm behind it all, is that it is funny and knows how to play around with itself.

However, when you look at it as a movie that came after the first two, it sort of pales in-comparison. Granted, this movie is still a strong add into the trilogy, but definitely seems a lot more careful with itself now, considering that there was more of an opportunity to be a mainstream hit, when we all know that Evil Dead is not for a large audience, because some love it and some get it. One of the biggest disappointments of this whole movie is the fact that there definitely doesn’t seem to be as much gore or blood this time around and a lot of the action and violence is shown, but never shown in an over-the-top way that made the first two so much fun. Actually, for a movie that’s rated-R, it’s a bit tame and seems like Raimi wasn’t allowed to do everything that he wanted, simply because of the big, studio-heads that were probably behind this movie.

It’s not that the love or the spirit isn’t here, because it definitely is, it just feels as if it could have been more of a successful stand-alone movie, rather than one that’s associated with the Evil Dead franchise because Ash is in it. But you know what? Ash is also probably the best thing about this movie and it’s all because of how freakin’ cool and king-like Bruce Campbell is, once again too, may I add. Even though it seems like a bit of a shaky-idea to have Ash out of the cabin, fighting demons and have him now in the middle ages, still fighting demons, it still provides a lot of opportunity for Campbell to really stretch out his comedic skills and show everybody what he’s got and needles to say, the results are far from disappointing.

It helps that the script he’s working off of is pretty solid, but Campbell still adds a lot of that goofy, campy charm to a movie that seemed like it really needed that to remind us of the old movies. A shitty line like “Give me some sugar, baby”, just wouldn’t sound right if it was placed in any other movie, with any other actor saying the line, but thankfully, this is an Evil Dead movie and it is Bruce Campbell who delivers that line. Seriously, if a lot of you out there don’t like the first two or don’t even understand the real charm and awesomeness of Campbell, then I urge you to see this movie and watch it for his performance alone. There’s just something about him and his comedic-timing that just puts him and Ash one step ahead of everybody else in this flick and it’s definitely one of the best elements of the whole movie. Guy had me howling from start-to-finish, but he still kicked-ass when the movie needed him to and you know, that’s all that really mattered to me.

Consensus: Army of Darkness is definitely the weakest entry of the whole Evil Dead franchise, but is still a fun movie in it’s own right mainly because of the charm and likability of it’s leading man: the man, the myth, the mother ‘effin legend, Mr. Bruce Campbell, everybody.

8/10=Matinee!!

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Halloween Horror Movie Month: Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

You just had to go back to that cabin, didn’t you?

Basically, Dead By Dawn retcons the fact that Ash went with four other college students to the fact that he only went with his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler). It recaps the events of the first film, up until the point where the spirit attacks Ash, which basically means that it’s another night trapped with the horrifying demons of the Necronomicon.

After checking out The Evil Dead for Halloween Horror Movie Month last year, I knew I had to end this year’s one on a bang. And if you have seen this movie, you know exactly what type of bang I’m talking about. In-joke, bitches. In-joke.

If you think seeing this movie as being a part of my little meme for this month means that it’s scary, I will assure you: it’s far from that. Yeah, there is a couple of jump-scares here and there that catch you off-guard in the way most horror movies do, but this is more of a campy, over-the-top horror movie, with slight, comedic undertones, and that’s probably what makes this film so much damn fun in the first-place. Like with the first-movie, director Sam Raimi shows that he loves making these kinds of movies, regardless as to how much money or material is at his disposal. The guy just has a ball with everything that he owns here, and it shows, but in a good-way. So, for any movie-geek out there who thinks that making all of your wildest dreams come true of being a big-time film-maker are lost because you don’t know the difference between a 16 mm and a 70 mm, then have no fear and just take a note out of this guy’s book. Hell, he’s making this crap and no less than 15 years later he was already making a big-budget, Spider-Man movie. Just goes to show you what a bunch of fun and love can do and where it can get you in Hollywood.

Despite being a sequel to a relatively scary movie, Evil Dead 2 pulls no punches in making itself as goofy as can be. You got laughing furniture, prosthetic chainsaws, tree monsters, an evil book of the dead, and plenty of other crazy and goofy stuff that just so happens to show up in this movie, but it all works because it is never, not for once, taken in the least-bit seriously. Everything here is practically a joke and every scene that happens, is just as outrageous and crazy as the last one but who cares? It’s not about scaring the pants off of film-goers, it’s more about showing the audience that you can have a kick-ass time just watching a movie that does not pull any punches with itself, or it’s material.

And when I mean that this film “does not pull any punches”, I mean that it does not linger away from showing you some disgusting, freakishly-weird looking things up on-screen and as dated as they may be, they still are inventive and original, in their own, sick way. There’s plenty of blood and goo that just pops-out of nowhere sometimes so if you’re squeamish, remember, you have been warned to bring your brown paper bag with ‘ya. Then again, why the hell would you be going to see this movie in the first-place if you don’t like blood or gore. It’s called Evil Dead for chrissakes, and better yet, it’s the sequel. More evil, more dead, more blood, and more guts to be seen. That’s how I like my horror movies and that’s why I had a ball with this one.

I know, I know that this whole review has been all about me practically making love to this movie and telling you how much fun I had but when I say that, I really mean it. Yes, it can be perceived as corny-as-hell in most-spots but that shit doesn’t really matter when you have a cast and crew that sort of knows it and is doing it on-purpose. It’s so rare that you can come by a film that just knows what it is, plays around with itself, and makes no apologies for itself either. Trust me, rather than being scared shit-less until your own pants, literally fall-off from so much feces (sorry for the graphic image), you’ll most likely lose them from all of the piss that comes out when you laugh so hard. Seriously, lines like “Groovy” and “Swallow this”, just had me howling in my seat not only because they were corny, but just because they fit the whole tone of the movie and seemed like it served it’s purpose when it was all said and over with. You’re not going to get a more over-the-top and wild movie than this, and that’s a fact, Jack.

And you know who else serves his mother ‘effin purpose? Fuckin’ Bruce Campbell, that’s who! I remember seeing Campbell play Ash in the first movie, and remembering that this guy definitely seemed like he had a mean-streak in him and should totally let-loose against these demonic pieces of shit if he knew what’s best for him. Thankfully, by the end of that movie, he got that memo after all and gets that one right from the start here and it’s freakin’ awesome to see. The guy does a total 180 and starts kicking ass, taking names, saying cheesy-lines, saving dames, and doing everything else, other than chewing bubble gum (that was a They Live reference in case you peeps didn’t know). Campbell is the big reason why so many people love this movie, and exactly why I do too because no matter how many times the guy gets his ass kicked, he always comes back for more and that’s refreshing to see in a horror-genre that’s now plagued by high-school pussies that are more concerned with their virginity than their lives. That’s why we need another character like Ash in today’s day and age to smack some sense into these little pieces of crap. Actually, if there is a complaint I had with this movie was that when Ash does eventually meet-up with other people in this movie, they are annoying, despicable, and do every single, stupid thing that you would normally expect from horror-movie conventions and stock-characters. However, Ash was still there to save the day in the end and that’s all I cared about. Thank the lord for Bruce Campbell!

Consensus: I went back-and-forth on whether or not I should have given this movie an 8.5 or 9, and I just realized that the whole-time, I continued to smile and smile throughout and it’s exactly what I wanted in a horror flick. Pure fun, pure campiness, and pure, over-the-top, goofiness that never steps into serious-territory.

9/10=Full Price!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark (2011)

If a mansion looks freaky, don’t enter it and make yourself at home.

This is the tale about a young girl (Bailee Madison) who moves in with her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) and discovers they are sharing the house with devilish creatures, that can only attack you when the pitch-bright lights aren’t shining on them.

It seems like no matter what horror movie he produces, Guillermo del Toro’s name always seems to pop-up more than the actual stars in the movie. I mean it’s obvious that horror-aficionados love the hell out of this guy because of what he can do with any weird, creature design but does it really matter whether or not the guy produced the flick or not? I don’t, and this is flick is a prime example as to why I think that way.

Instead of making the smart decision and handing the directing duties to del Toro, the honors are given to a dude named Troy Nixey and believe it or not, for the first hour-and-a-half, the guy doesn’t do a bad job with what he’s given. Nixey does a nice job of not relying too much on showing his monster/ghost, but instead uses the darkness to keep our suspense up and to have us continue to wonder just what the hell is this thing that were dealing with here. This also sets up a pretty nice mood, where everything’s tense and creepy, and had me going for awhile. That is, until Nixey got the bright idea to show off his monsters about 30-minutes in, and then that’s when things went all downhill from there, folks.

Usually when flicks show us the monster right-away, it doesn’t bother me unless they’re scary and have a distinct look to them that deserves to be feared whenever they show-up. These ones here, are not those type of monsters. Without showing you exactly what they look like, I’m just going to say that they look like tiny, mouse rats that just got it on with a Gremlin, who just so happens to be the brother of Gollum’s more-deformed, little bro. It’s a very lengthy synopsis as to what these creatures look like, I know, but that’s the whole problem with this film is that they look absolutely as ridiculous as I made them out to be and totally takes you out of the film right away.

However, Nixey doesn’t even get that idea from the get-go, so instead, he just continues to pile and pile on more and more of these little creatures, in a way so that he can actually get us scared by them, but it doesn’t work and just made me laugh. Hell, it made me angry that these dumb-asses in this movie couldn’t just find it in their guts to pick up something and smash their fuckin’ bodies or do something. And also, what’s all that shit about them being sensitive to bright-lights, that nobody, absolutely nobody seems to use against them? This movie went from having me pretty creeped-out, to having me just angry with everything that was going on and most of that is because of the characters.

Notice how I ended that last paragraph by saying the “characters” and not the performances, because believe it or not, the performances are actually okay. I’ve never, ever been a big fan of Katie Holmes (one of the few similarities between me and Tom), but she’s actually fine here as the girlfriend that reaches-out to this girl early-on in the movie. Then, there’s Bailee Madison as that said girl and is okay too, but it’s obvious that she’s only there to be a bit weird and scream. And lastly, the one who I was very sad to see show-up in a pile of junk like this was Guy Pearce as the father, who just seems like he’s phoning it in beyond belief and that’s a real shame too, because Pearce is a great actor but just has never really been given the chance for the break-out role here in the U.S. If he thought this was going to do it, he was dead-wrong.

What irked me the most about the characters these three portray is that they are the standard, most obvious, most unoriginal characters to ever show up in a horror movie. It all starts off like nobody believes the little girl, who sees all of this weird shit; then weirder shit starts to happen; then they call up the psychiatrist; then one of the adults finally catch-on to what’s really happening; and then it’s almost too late and just about everybody dies. I’m not going to give away whether or not that last part actually occurs in this movie or not, but you pretty much get the gist of what I’m throwing around here. This is exactly the same type of crap you can expect from a horror movie, and it’s a shame because this is one that starts off with a whole lot of promise and even worse, it’s one that del Toro even signed-off on. I didn’t care a single-lick for any of these characters and I didn’t even care what these little ‘effers did to them either. It was a very blank feeling for me throughout this whole movie and just goes to show you that no matter how creepy or weird-looking your monster may be, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, show it in the first 30-minutes. That my friends, is what we call “jumping the shark”. And oh, does this movie do that all right.

Consensus: Even though it starts off promising with a creepy atmosphere, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark soon piles in to a cliche, predictable horror movie that we have all seen done before, but this time, with weirder-looking creatures/monsters that make you laugh more than squeal.

2.5/10=Crapola!!

Alex Cross (2012)

If only Madea decided to dress-up for the occasion.

The plot centers on Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) trying to resolve a series of grisly murders by the cunning and sadistic killer (Matthew Fox), who just so happens to be more of a threat than Cross, or anybody else on the task-force, had originally imagined.

Since I’m not much of a reader, I usually depend on the movie-adaptations to give me something good and reasonable that makes me feel like I have already read the book, without even opening it up. Maybe I’m lazy, maybe I’m a dummy, and maybe I depend too much on movies, but all I know, is that I like to watch movies rather than read books. That’s why I’m a movie critic and not a book critic (thank the heavens for that). However, movie-adaptations like this make me feel like it’s time for me to get my ass out to a Barnes & Noble (notice how I didn’t say Borders, RIP), and start reading what was really supposed to happen in the first-place, until Hollywood had to take it over and shit everything up.

This is not the first Alex Cross movie to ever be done before. Apparently Morgan Freeman starred in two of those adaptations and did pretty well, both for the movie and for the books as well. Sadly, it seems like Hollywood wanted to see what they could stretch out of that series once again and it’s a stupid-move that they should have just left with the Freeman. But, you would think with a director like Rob Cohen (who has done fun, but dumb action-flicks like The Fast and the Furious, XXX, and Stealth), that there would be something even remotely promising to see, but somehow. Cohen totally drops the ball on that idea.

I’ve never been a fan of Cohen, but the guy does have some fun movies to his credit but this one, is not one of them mainly because it seems like a lazy direction from the guy. Nothing here feels like anything new, original, or improved that we haven’t seen before already and just feels like one, long episode of CSI that you have to go out and pay for actually see. That wouldn’t have been so bad either, if the film just decided to relax a little bit with it’s camera-movements but they didn’t, and instead gave me a freakin’ head-ache. And when I mean that it gave me a head-ache, I mean exactly that.

I’ve seen so many damn films that have this shaky-cam, and they have all bothered me but have never made me sick or had any physical impact on me, until I saw this movie. Seriously, it’s so bad that during one scene where Perry and Fox face-off in what was supposed to be a climactic/epic head-to-head battle, that you cannot what is happening to who in the fight. You see people getting hit and you hear some damage being done, mainly because of the corny sound-effects, but there’s no actual sight of or understanding of what’s happening. It’s just a camera moving in such a rapid-fire way that it will anger even the biggest Tony Scott fans. Yes, it’s that bad.

However, when there’s a will, there is a way and I can’t say that this movie was all that terrible in every-aspect, especially in terms of the acting. I highly doubt that people imagined Tyler Perry would be the go-to-guy to take over a role that was once captured so famously by Morgan Freeman, because so many people thought it would have been Idris Elba in the role. And in all honesty, Elba would have done such a better job with a this role, even though Perry’s not all that terrible either. It’s obvious that Perry has a decent-amount of likability to him that shines through most of the movie, and for about the first 30 minutes, he captures that well and makes it seem believable. The problem that he runs into is when the film, and his character start to take a darker-edge towards everything and it feels very-forced in a way that didn’t even seem like Perry was all that infuriated. His character is supposed to mad and hellbent on revenge for something tragic that has happened to him, but it never feels like he actually is, and more or less, just feels like a guy that’s a little ticked-off. Can’t say why he’s ticked-off in the first-place, but it’s something that would infuriate anybody, but apparently Alex Cross is too composed for that.

The main villain who causes this tragedy, is named Picasso and is played by an almost unrecognizable Matthew Fox. When this movie was all said and done, I felt really bad for Fox because the guy goes through this huge and insane physical transformation that really seems like he put a lot of hard-work into, but seems undeserved for a movie that doesn’t really do anything with it, let alone even show it all that much to freak us the hell out. Since the camera is always shaking it’s ass off as if it was in a wild, ecstasy-fueled rave, Fox’s clean-cut body never gets to see the full light-of-day and is barely shown in it’s full-look to actually have us intimidated by what this guy can and most likely could do with his body. However, I can’t put too much of the blame on the camera as it’s also Fox to blame for this character being an ultra-lame villain that just seems like he’s phoning it all in, with crazy eyes and all. He’s a laughable villain, that never seems like a real threat to Cross and for the most part, never feels like Cross is even a real threat to him either. They just feel like two guys that have a problem with one another, but still don’t have anything special about either of them that could really eff-up the other person. It’s just a lame and boring rivalry that never feels fully-established.

As for the rest of the cast, they’re all okay but once again, it’s a bunch of talent that feels wasted on material that couldn’t give a shit if they were in these roles or not, they’re just there to fill them in. Edward Burns is good as Cross’ buddy/fellow-cop and does his usual Irish-guy shtick that we all know and love by now, but even his relationship with Cross feels lack it really lacks something to make it memorable and believable friendship that could stand all of the heart-ache that they go through. Rachel Nichols once again shows-up as another sexy girl, in a movie that sucks and does fine with it, but still feels like she deserves bigger and better for her looks and talents; Jean Reno is fine, but only shows up for 7 minutes throughout the whole film; Dr. Cox, aka John C. McGinley feels like he’s really lost in this movie and deserves way, way better; and Cicely Tyson probably does the best job of the whole cast as Cross’ mommy, who shows up to give nice advice on life and what he should do next.

Consensus: Alex Cross is what you expect from any conventional/unoriginal detective-movie that feels like it could have been so much better, but just isn’t because of it’s lazy-direction, under-written roles that feels like a big waste of time for the talent that’s in them, and an incredible over-use of the “crack-cam” that I always hate to see in movies, except for The Bourne Ultimatum, but I’m going to act like I didn’t even mention that movie in the review for this one.

4/10=Crapola!!

Chasing Mavericks (2012)

Bodhi is swimming in his grave right about now.

The movie centers on the real life relationship between the late surfing phenom Jay Moriarty (Jonny Weston) and his legendary mentor Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) as they embark on a quest to surf five-story tall waves known as “Mavericks”.

As far as surfing moves go, 1) there hasn’t been many, and 2), the best of them all is probably Point Break. Say what you will in the comments and talk about how Point Break isn’t really a surfing movie, as much as it is a crime-thriller with the surfing element but seriously, try and not associate surfing with that movie when you think of it. If you’re not sure about that statement, well then be sure about this statement: you sure as hell won’t associate THIS movie with surfing, I can promise ya that.

Coming from director Curtis Hanson (aka, the guy who directed most of it, only to be replaced with two weeks left of shooting due to health issues), you’d expect something very inspirational, full of energy, and able to hit you in the heart and make you weep like a little bitch. The reason I say this is because the guy’s given us many great flicks like L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys, and the one I think this one compares to the most, 8 Mile. No matter what you may say about that last film I mentioned, it’s inspirational, has a good story, and had a nice lead character, something that this movie seemed like it could have been but just ended up dropping the ball on big-time.

It’s obvious that the promise of the tale of surfing legend Jay Moriarty was there, but it just never comes full-circle and seems like a long, dull drag until you’ve had enough with these damn kids, surfing, and the ocean. Maybe the fact that I’m not part of the surf culture is the reason that I don’t get what’s so special about this kid, but there was just nothing here to really grab me and have me involved one-bit with this story. The surfing scenes were sometimes cool to look-at, but that’s about it, and I was surprised that there was barely any type of energy thrown into this flick at all. The only times I really felt like this film was moving at a solid-pace was when they would throw some nice-ass 90’s tune in for easy-listening, and even they felt a little misplaced since half of the scenes consisted of guys paddling out into the sea. It’s a pretty boring experience that definitely does not give you the rush or energy that goes into surfing, or the surf culture itself. Seriously man, this movie needed Bodhi, and big-time, too.

Aside from the cheap surfing scenes, the story here is pretty uninvolving and just comes off like a normal, day-of-the-week TV special. The main story of Moriarty could be pretty inspirational and exciting, but they never show the kid as a human-being and make him out to be this sunny-eyed kid, with beautiful, blond hair, beautiful aspirations for life, and not a single problem going on for him. Hell, I think the only problem the kid had was a note from his father that he didn’t read for 5 years or so and if that was his only problem, jeesh, he should have considered himself one, lucky mother ‘effer. Now, I never knew the real Moriarty and I’ve never read anything on him, to know if he was a bad kid or not, but there had to be at least a little something wrong with him. Maybe he liked little boys? Maybe he robbed banks in his down-time? Maybe he had a secret fetish for feet? Who knows?!?!? All I do know is, that he definitely was not the latter-day saint this movie had portrayed him as and it just got to bother me after awhile.

The main part of the reason why I was so annoyed by this kid was mainly because of Jonny Weston‘s cardboard performance as him. I’ve never seen Weston before, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to have a bright-future ahead of him with a body and good-looks like that, but he cannot act for crap and this movie just proves that. The kid is painfully bland, rarely ever shows any type of emotions, and is not easy to connect with, just because he’s the same-old, underdog we have seen time, and time again. Except, this time, he has no problems in life and can still get by the fact that this big wave he wants to take, may be the last one he ever takes, ever. And when I mean “ever”, I mean that his life will be over. That’s why it will be his last one.

Even though this is Jay’s story, Gerard Butler somehow gets top-billing over him as the guy’s mentor, Frosty Hesson and is fine, but also dull, even though it’s not as painful to watch as it was for Weston. There’s something about Butler that makes it seem like he has a crap-load of charm to throw-out all over us from the screen, but never gets the chance to because he gets put in crap like this, The Ugly Truth, and that one coming-up, Playing for Keeps. Butler does what he can here with a role that’s thinly-written, but all of the subplots that come along with his character just weighs everything down (if that was even possible), and never really felt fully-developed for me, either. And seriously dude, drop the fuckin’ Scottish accent. You’re a gnarly, surfing-dude from Santa Cruz and you sound like William Wallace.

Perhaps the most interesting character of the whole cast was the gal who played his wifey, Abigail Spencer, who seems like she has a lot of problems with his love and dedication to surfing, and not his love and dedication to their kids. She’s got a nice role and does what she can with it, but once again, she never feels fully-developed and her story ends up getting little or no focus. And since we’re talking about a mommy that’s in this film, let me just get right down to talking about Elisabeth Shue and what the hell her career has been bringing her nowadays. Shue is a beautiful woman, who is still pushing a surprising 49-years of age, and definitely has great talent that could still get some Oscar-looks, but yet, she still finds herself as the beaten, battered, and dysfunctional, single-mommy in films like Mysterious Skin, House at the End of the Street, and Piranha 3-D. Seriously, there is so much more to this gal than Hollywood is giving her credit for and I think it’s time for her to go back and see what she can do as an older, more accomplished hooker now. Leaving Las Vegas 2 anyone?

Consensus: Though the surf culture will probably eat this movie up from start-to-finish (if they can remember it), Chasing Mavericks is still not a film that’s worth seeing by others because of it’s thinly-written characters, lack of energy, and nothing to really grab-on to and take ahold of you. It’s just there, and that’s pretty much it.

3/10=Crapola!!

Cloud Atlas (2012)

So, since we’re all connected to one another, does that mean Hugh Grant is connected to me??!?! Yes!

The movie explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.

Most of you folks out there have probably been seeing loads and loads of advertisements and whatnot for this flick and are probably thinking, “What the hell is this about?” I’m pretty sure my synopsis up there didn’t provide any such help for you either so let me just start off by saying it’s about a bunch of stories that all take place during the past, present, and future, and all connect to each other in slight, little-clever ways. There, now you have it so let’s get on with what makes this film one that the common-folk will hopefully see. I highly doubt my review will do anything to change the opinions of peeps, but there’s always hope, people.

This movie marks the long-awaited return of the famous directing team, the Wachowskis, but it isn’t all about them the whole way. They also share directing-duties with Tom Tykwer, but that doesn’t matter because you can’t really tell who’s directing who as neither of them really have a distinct-style of film-making, other than using loads and loads of CGI in their works. Not saying that’s a bad thing but it’d be a lot more obvious if you had a pairing-up between two directors like, say, Martin Scorcese and David Lynch. One person would be telling a story about a bunch of mobsters going off to whack some guy, while the other person would be telling a story about boogie-men, Roy Orbison songs, and live-walking bunnies. Hell, now that I think about it, that would make a pretty cool-ass flick. Anyway, I am toates off-subject here. Back to the freakin’ movie at-hand.

From what I hear through the grapevine, the original novel that this movie is based off of, has been apparently called unfilmable, which makes the direction between these three seem all the more eventful in the long-run. There about six-different stories that are told here, and all seem very understood and easy to follow, where you don’t really ever get confused as to what story is actually taking place and what the hell is going on in each of them. All stories are pretty simple to follow and even though some of them may have goofy sci-fi shit going on, you still get the gist of what’s going on.

And what’s so great about all of these different stories, is that each and every single one is about as entertaining and interesting as you could get. Granted, not all of the stories hold your attention as much (the one that takes place in the woods where everybody talks like they’re from the South, during the 19th century), but they all seemed to keep me glued to the screen and provided me with the right ingredients to have a good time. They also all seem to have their own personalities where there’s one story concerning romance, one story concerning a bunch of slap-stick humor (and it’s slap-stick done right, mind you), one story concerning sci-fi, futuristic action, and even one story that reminded me a lot of Death Wish, with it’s cool, 70’s-thriller vibe. In a way, there’s something here that’s for everyone and if you don’t find one story all that intriguing  then you can always depend on another one to come right out, and sweep you off your feet to get you right back into what’s on-screen. Great directing skills from all three of these peeps and it shows you that these guys still have it in them to make an entertaining movie, even if it is almost 3-hours long. Yes, you heard me right, people. 3-HOURS LONG. Bring the red bull, you may need it. But yet, it’s 3-hours that didn’t feel like it at all, so maybe you don’t. You know what? Bring it just in case.

However, as entertaining and interesting as this whole film was, I still felt a bit empty at the end of it all. The whole point of this movie was understandable, and it was how we all the same, underneath our skin. It’s a message that does get drawn-out very well in this movie with certain stories relating and connecting to another in a very small-way, but that message didn’t have any impact on me whatsoever when the movie was over. Some of the characters in the stories I did care about, but not to the point of where I felt like I was going to cry my eyes out if they died or anything. Maybe that’s sick-way of thinking when you see a flick like this but that’s how it all went down for me. No emotional impact, no emotional connection, no nothing. It was just a bunch of fun, entertainment that kept my interest.

But somehow, I felt like the Wachowskis and Tykwer were going for me than just that, which is why I felt like I missing something at the end. The score did give me that epic-feeling in the pit of my stomach and had me look to the screen with wonder, but how the hell was I supposed to connect to characters and to a story through just plain and simple score-music? I don’t know what was wrong with me during the viewing of this flick, but if you expect a huge, tear-jearker, than you may have come to the wrong-place. Bad/sad stuff does happen, but never to the point of where I felt like I needed an extra box of Kleenex on the way home. Maybe that answers the question for ‘ya. So, for all of you Nicholas Sparks fans, don’t even think about going to this after a bad break-up and expecting to relate.

Most of the fun of this movie that I already alluded to earlier, is watching the ensemble cast and seeing all of these different roles they pick-up in each story. See, in this movie, instead of just having a star play one character, in one story, and having that be their own pride and joy, they all get to play another character in each and every other story and all have different looks. Some are goofy-looking, and some are pretty neat-o how they all pulled it off (make-up and costume designs are sure to get an Oscar nomination this year), but overall, they all will probably have you staring at that one character and thinking to yourself, “Is that Huge Weaving in drag?”

And yes, in case you wondering, Hugo Weaving does actually show-up in drag here and it’s fun to watch him play it too, because the guy plays a villain in every, single story. But he’s not the only one having fun out of the cast, because everybody else is pretty much too. Tom Hanks shows up the most prominently in this flick and plays all of these different types and roles that we have never really seen from the guy before and it just goes to show you why exactly this guy is the face of-Hollywood, in a lot of ways. Halle Berry is another one who shows up the most prominently in this flick and shows us all why she deserves bigger and better roles like the ones she has here. It’s been awhile since Berry has actually took a nice, juicy-role that spoke to her true talents as an actress, and thankfully, the time has come to where we see it finally and she handles herself oh so perfectly with every story.

Out of this whole cast, it’s really hard to decipher who has the more-difficult tasks at-hand here, but I will say that the one I was most impressed with was Jim Sturgess who held his own pretty damn well throughout this whole flick. Maybe the guy didn’t do an amazingly spectacular job, but after appearing in shit like 21, Across the Universe, and One Day, the guy took me by surprise by showing me the depths he has as an actor and I look forward to seeing what else he can do in the near-future with his career. Hopefully, just hopefully, he steers clear of those soapy, melodramas that always seem to plague young, good-looking guys’ careers like his.

It should also be as to no surprise that Jim Broadbent steals the show in every story he has, and the one where he and a couple of fellow old-timers plan an escape out of an old-folks home is definitely worth the price of admission alone. Basically, everybody you see on that cast-list up there on the poster, is featured plenty of times in this movie that will have you pointing to the screen a crap-load of times. But on a sad-note, the coolest Brit of them all seems to get the short-stick a bit. Yep, that’s right. I’m talking about you Hugh Grant. I want to see more of you buddy, so show-up in more stuff!

Consensus: Cloud Atlas is a very, very long movie that’s filled with plenty of stories, plenty of characters, and plenty of ambitions that it’s set for itself, but is also a very entertaining and beautiful movie to watch as it never really leaves you bored when it’s all over. It may not be the most emotionally-impacting viewing-experience you’ll have this year, but it’s a great watch that will probably take-up half of your day. But, in a good way at least.

8/10=Matinee!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: The Descent (2005)

As if cave-diving couldn’t get any freakier.

In a remote mountain range, six girlfriends meet for their yearly adventure, a caving trip into the arteries of the earth. The group makes their way through the remote cave system, enjoying the hazardous but beautiful surroundings. However, they end-up trapped after a break in the cave and somehow find their problems with a bunch of humanoid-like creatures that have come to eat them alive.

I don’t know about any of you out there, but cave-diving is definitely not one of the main things I feel like I need to do in my life before I die. That’s mainly because it’s terribly claustrophobic and the idea that I could get stuck down there without anybody ever really being able to save me is just all the more frightening and gives me more of a reason not to do it. However, I can now add weird-looking, albino creatures to that list of reasons as well.

That whole fear of claustrophobia is what writer/director Neil Marshall taps into very well and what kept me so damn interested from start-to-finish. Actually, the first 45 minutes or so is just all about these gals crawling down small-ass caves and barely making it out is what kept me watching and wondering just when shit is finally going to blow-off. Thankfully, once shit does start to blow-off, it blows-off in a way that doesn’t feel cheap or unnecessary whatsoever, and that’s the way I like my horror movies, man.

I’m just going to go right out and say it, but this movie surprised the hell out of me. Before I saw it, I knew it was going to be good but what really got me the most was how the transition from cave-diving spectacle, to full-on escape/action-flick felt realistic and just kept me involved so much more. Maybe calling it an escape/action-flick isn’t doing the whole “horror-element” of this film any justice, mainly because I feel like that was the weakest part of the movie. Some of the scares here are effective and come out of nowhere at times, but other times, feel calculated as if you know Marshall was going to get us with a boo-scare eventually because I mean honestly, is he going to go that against the typical, North American-view of horror movies? That’s not really a rip on Marshall, necessarily, because a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do in some cases, but it definitely seemed like something was clicking for me enough on that end to really hit me hard.

What did hit me hard was when Marshall decides to kick his story into high-gear and allow us to sit on-the-edge-of-our-seats wondering just what the hell is going to happen next, as we await each and every one of these girls’ impending dooms. That’s a terrible thing to say about characters in a horror movie, but here, you just feel like nothing is going to go right for them but that’s where this movie surprises you: these beotches fight back and actually kick some ass. This is where the movie becomes very unpredictable as not everyone here feels like a damsel-in-distress who needs to be saved from her knight in shining armor. They can all stick up for themselves and give these weird-looking S.O.B’s a run for their money in terms of killing bitches one-by-one.

And god, did all of this action and craziness just look so bloody, beautiful. Since a lot of this film is shown through night-lights and flash-lights that the girls bring around with them, there’s very few chances for Marshall to really get artsy at all with this look and feel for the movie, but he somehow finds a way to, in a very horror-ish kind of way. I don’t want to go right out there and state that this is a gory film, because it really isn’t, but still does use gore when it’s needed and really stays in your head, long after it’s over. You don’t see too many colors, but when they do show-up, they are usually in red and green and both colors have a distinct-look that makes this film a hell of a lot more creepier than it already was before. Even when the blood and gore does somehow find it’s way into the movie, it feels deserved and never for once feels like Marshall’s way of just throwing ketchup around, just for the sake of doing so. No, he’s no Eli Roth and I don’t know if that’s a good thing, or bad thing. I think I’m starting to go with the 1st thought. Sorry Eli, you can always depend on Tarantino to keep your relevant.

And where Roth follows the usual conventions of horror-movies, Marshall necessarily does not, in terms of the cast that he picks. It may come off as a big surprise to most people seeing this movie, but this full female-cast actually worked in Marshall’s favor because it not only provides a larger-sense of danger and unpredictability for these gals, but also allows us to get to know them before we go off and see them shipped-away to cannibals. The whole cast is pretty damn good, with Shauna Macdonald doing the best job here as Sarah, a woman who’s kid and husband died a year before she goes out cave-diving. What I liked so much about Macdonald here is that the girl really seemed like she was going to annoy the shit out of me the whole way, but suddenly, grasps a change of heart and decides to fuck-up everything that stands in her way and it’s great to watch as she goes through this transformation, and even better because you know it’s all done by a female, not a masculine piece of crap like a male.

However, everything was going fine and dandy for me in this straight-forward horror flick, that was until, Marshall decided to pull a High Tension-twist ending on me and ruined half of my experience. Without giving too much away, I’m just going to go right out and state that the whole twist to the movie makes it feel a bit cheap and as if Marshall had that bright idea go off in his head that made him think that twist-endings really spice the whole story up once it’s all said and done. It doesn’t really give us our traditional, Hollywood ending we’re all so happy and used to seeing, but it’s not that element of the ending that bothers me, it’s just the fact that it doesn’t seem needed and could have just ended in a way that didn’t need any more interpretation whatsoever. This is horror people, not a Kubrick film.

Consensus: High Tension fully functions as a tense, edge-of-your-seat thrill-ride that is unrelenting in the violence and gore it shows, doesn’t show, and keeps you waiting for, even if the pay-off may not be what you would want the most from a film of this nature.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Open Water (2004)

And we all thought that sharks were the ones to not be trusted when it came to going scuba-diving.

Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) need a holiday together. They aren’t really doing much with one another, can’t get frisky, and seem like two busy-bodies that just need to relax for a little awhile. That’s when they decide to go scuba-diving on a Sunday during their vacation, and are somehow left behind by the crew they came with. Pretty nice way to relax and love one another again if you ask me.

The idea of being lost in a huge sea, without anybody out there coming to get you is a pretty freaky thought as it is, but imagine if that was actually something that happened. Apparently, it has and that’s what this movie is based off of and as sucky as that whole situation may be, it doesn’t really generate a fun flick to watch. That is, unless your idea of fun is watching two, helpless human-beings stay stranded in the ocean, with the fear of being eaten alive by sharks clear in their mind, then you may have a ball for this movie and may want to also check yourself into a psychiatric facility as soon as possible. Hey, I’m just saying.

Probably the scariest element of this whole movie has to be the fact that it shows you these two people, lost at sea, all by themselves (except for the lurking sharks), and rarely ever cuts away from them. So, basically, the sense of danger and doom is just looming in the background and makes you pretty freaked-out once you start to feel like a shark’s going to come-up and bite one of these people’s legs off at any second. It’s as terrifying of an experience to watch, as much as it’s one that definitely provides a great deal of tension and that is exactly what we get here.

Writer/director Chris Kentis definitely allows this low-budget approach to take over the film and just give us a low-key look at something that’s not only terrifying, but could happen to anyone if they aren’t careful enough to watch. I mean, getting lost at sea by a bunch of divers you’re grouped up with seems highly unlikely (especially after a movie like this that high-lights that terrible happening), but there is still that shred of an idea that it could possibly happen and that’s what’s so freaky about this material. Kentis taps into that idea and lets his tension run wild, but not as wild as I was expecting, mainly because it comes around for only a couple of minutes throughout the whole film.

As for those other minutes that seem to make up the rest of the flick? Well, they are pretty much dedicated to two, a-holes that seem to fight, complain, bitch, and fight some more about the situation they’re in, without ever seeming to come together and show they’re love at all. I get that the film wanted to create this claustrophobic atmosphere by focusing on this couple and their dynamic throughout this whole, freak-situation but there still wasn’t much for me that felt like it was worth holding onto for them. They rarely ever shared an agreement on anything, they rarely ever showed any signs of affection or love, and they don’t even seem to get along with one another. So, pretty much, it’s almost like they’re together just because they can and that’s not what love’s all about in my book, especially when you’re lost at sea and you have no one else to be with.

It also adds insult to injury by the fact that the two people that play the characters (Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis), aren’t very good at improvising, or spouting-out scripted-lines, either. Actually, I can’t be too harsh on them because they do at least try with a script that seems more concerned with the sharks than the actual humans themselves, but they don’t really add anything all that much either. There’s one scene in the beginning of the movie that shows that they are running through some problems as a couple, but that’s pretty much it. Then, they’re stuck in the water together, with sharks at their toes, and practically up each other’s asses about everything they’re doing right, and what they’re doing wrong. Hey, if you need couple counseling, just go out in the middle of the ocean and see if you can’t patch things up sooner or later. If one of you dies, then you definitely know that they weren’t the right one for you. That’s the message I got by the end of this movie and it’s probably not the one that Kentis had written-out for me in the first-place, but then again, what the hell was his message after all? Don’t get lost at sea? Sharks are bad? Professionals that you pay a lot of money can fuck up too? Don’t trust everybody who allows you to go diving into the sea? Hell, I putting too much thought into this movie, who the hell cares?!?

Consensus: Open Water definitely features some great moments of pure tension that are sure to have you freaked the hell out, but doesn’t have characters you care about or root for, and just seems more concerned with it’s sharks than the actual human-beings in the film itself. Then again, I can’t really say that I blame the film all for that. These two were freakin’ jack-asses.

6/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: 28 Weeks Later (2007)

Sadly, no signs of Cillian Murphy’s dong anywhere to be found here.

After a rage-virus ravaged through all of London, the U.S military attempts to take over and try to repopulate the city. Everything goes all fine and dandy until an outsider is let in, then it’s all back to normal for post-apocalyptic London.

Being as that 28 Days Later is not only one of my favorite horror movies of all-time, but also ranks up there as one of the scariest movies I have ever seen, this sequel definitely had a lot to live-up to in terms of scaring me, what it made me think, and how it made me feel. As many people do know, horror-movie sequels don’t seem to do so well in terms of sticking close to the source material but somehow, this flick does even though it definitely feels different without Jim or Selena anywhere to be found. I hope the virus didn’t get the best of them.

Anywho, instead of having Danny Boyle return to the director’s chair for this second-go around, director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo takes over and does a pretty nice job of keeping things promising in terms of mood and atmosphere. It’s pretty cool to see what actually happens when the rage-virus breaks through an already established city and how Juan Carlos keeps us awaiting for that impending doom to occur is what really kept me on-board. I must admit that this isn’t the first time I saw this flick, but it definitely surprised me with some of the scares and what Juan Carlos could do with a bunch of material that seemed to already be used before. However, instead of just trying his hardest to do a good Boyle-impersonation, Juan Carlos sticks to his guns and uses them to deliver a sense of destruction that made me still feel a little scared for my life.

Even though this film didn’t scare the pants off of me with it’s vision like the first one did, I still felt placed in a realistic, if a bit ambitious idea of the world we live in and what it would look like, especially after a catastrophic-event like a zombie break-out. Juan Carlos probably got the memo that more people wanted action, blood, guts, and gore from the first movie, and delivers on all of those accounts by giving us more, more, and more of that. It doesn’t feel needed for this type of story, but given the type of budget they’re working with here and the type of larger-scale they have to control, it feels deserved and works well rather than feeling cheap. The shaky-cam annoyed the hell out of me, but there isn’t much to see in these action moments other than zombies, people getting eaten alive, and a bunch of bullets and blood flying everywhere. So, after awhile, you get used to it and you pretty much get the gist that people and zombies are both getting off’d.

However, being the huge fan of the original that I am, I still can’t go by this flick without mentioning that this one just does not hold a candle to it, it just does not. I hate to make this “negative part of the review” all about my love for 28 Days and how it’s ten-times better than this movie, but it really is and it’s so hard to get by. The whole time I was watching the movie, I just kept uttering to myself, “Oh, Boyle did that better. See that part? Yeah, looked better with the HD-camera.” Maybe that’s a stingy-way to be with a sequel, but when something is obvious to me, hell, I’m going to point it out.

For instance, the underlining political-themes and ideas about the nature of human-beings that ran so rampant in the first-one, are barely anywhere to be found in this. The closest example I could find that connected the first-one to this one in terms of ideas, is the whole idea about how the army can be full of some sickos and I don’t think that really even counts. But for most movies, I can live without a bunch of political-themes and ideas if you give something else to grab-on to, but somehow, this film doesn’t even seem to have that either. All of the characters here really lack any type of development or real heart to them, to really have us root and care for them in the end. And even if we do root for them, it’s only because they’re human-beings and nobody wants to see their own kind get eaten alive by a bunch of rage-infected zombies. That’s the truth, Ruth.

But, when it all comes right down to it, the real-factor as to why this film pales in comparison to the original is that Juan Carlos just doesn’t have the artistic-vision like Boyle does. Boyle has such a real interest and idea for what it takes to make a beautiful scene in such an ugly and grim atmosphere, but it doesn’t really seem like Juan Carlos is all that concerned with that. That’s all fine and dandy, but it does make the picture seem a bit shallow in terms of what it’s trying to offer new and original to the already-tired zombie-genre.

There’s a couple of scenes here and there that sort of reminded me of a “Boyle-look” (that underground safe house scene scared the shit out of me), but nothing else to it. Even though Boyle produced this flick, I highly doubt the guy had a final say in what he thought was best for the final-product and it’s a real shame because this movie could have been filled with so much more brewing underneath the surface, rather than just a bunch of people running away from zombies. In a way, that’s how the zombie-genre is (people running away from zombies and whatnot), but what Boyle offered with 28 Days Later was new, and unlike anything we’ve ever really seen before, whereas this movie, brings the zombie-genre back to where it was taken away from in the first-place. I don’t want to say that I take points away from this movie for not being directed by Boyle, but it definitely goes to show you what a good director can do for your material, if he’s game for another sequel. Please Danny, do 28 Months Later, if it ever happens.

Before I go though, let me not forget to mention the performances in this movie that were all pretty good, except for the fact that some of the characters blew. Out of everybody in this whole cast, Jeremy Renner is the one who really shines as Sgt. Doyle, aka, the same role he would go on to play and get nominated for an Oscar for in The Hurt Locker. Renner just has this utter sense of coolness and warmth to his presence that it’s pretty easy to feel safe when you’re around him in the movie and his character’s motivations feel believable, even if everybody else around him feels like they just watched a Lifetime movie and felt like they wanted to give everybody a hug for no reason.

That’s what brings me around to everybody else in this film, as all of the other characters just don’t really do anything spectacular or show us anything worth really holding onto in the end. Take for instance, Robert Carlyle as Don, one of the guys who escapes a zombie-attack early on in the movie. This guy, from what we see in the beginning, is a rat-bastard who leaves his wife behind to get attacked by the zombies, but then feels sorry for what he did when she turns out to be alive. In all honesty, who the hell cares how this guy feels. There’s no real conviction to him, to the others around him, and when things start to go bad for him, I could care less and even he started to feel a bit shoe-horned in there by the end. Can’t tell you why he does, but the fact is that he does and it got on my nerves, considering Boyle would have never been all about that ish, regardless of if the character was played by Begbie. Oh, now that would have been nice. A good, ‘olde, Trainspotting-reunion in the middle of the zombie apocalypse  Not only do they have to fight-off heroin addiction, but zombies as well. I can already see it now…

Consensus: 28 Weeks Later is definitely one of the better horror movie-sequels out there due to it’s grim atmosphere and mood, but still pales in comparison to what Danny Boyle was able to do with the original and the lasting-effect it’s material it had on you, in terms of horror and emotion. Please come back for one last movie, Danny, please.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Session 9 (2001)

Just stay out of insane asylums. Even if you’re job is to clean them.

The plot focuses on the growing tension within an asbestos removal crew (lead by Peter Mullan) working at an abandoned mental asylum that’s already pretty freaky as it is but hey, they need the bonus money so why the eff not?!?!

Co-writer/director Brad Anderson is most known for his ultra-creep-o flicks like The Machinist, Vanishing on 7th Street, and Transsiberian, but can you believe that he never started out in that genre. Nope, this was his first movie after he did two rom-coms and it’s a real surprise now knowing that this guy can go from making lovely little tales of romance, to sick, twisted tales of paranoia and psychos. You are one, crazy mothereffer, Mr. Anderson.

Anybody going into this horror flick expecting all of these guys to go into this mental asylum and start hacking one another up into tiny pieces, will most likely definitely be disappointed. Anderson does not care about that type of horror and instead, builds and builds on the atmosphere and tension of this flick to fully get us immersed in just what the hell is going on behind these freaky, closed-doors. It’s a horror film that doesn’t show you much, but has you continuously thinking the whole time as to what the hell is going to happen next and why is everybody acting so weird with one another. There’s many answers to that question, but you still never know until that final twist comes out of nowhere and grabs you right by the throat. Anderson always has a knack for doing that, and that idea is no different here, either.

But what really sets this film apart from all of those other, spooky horror flicks, is the setting that still gives me creeps to this day. The abandoned Danvers State Mental Hospital in Massachusetts is where Anderson shot this whole flick and it provides a very strange, a very weird, and a very creepy subtext for the whole film. Every single shot in this film just oozes tension as this place literally looks like it’s about to fall-apart any second now, and these guys are stuck trying to re-built it. Apparently Anderson and his crew didn’t really have to change anything up whatsoever in this abandoned hospital, and just left everything around and filmed along with it. That makes it even creepier to know that this hospital looked exactly the same before these guys showed-up, when they showed-up, and after they left. I wonder if it’s still up, cause if so, I think I know of the next place me and my buddies are going next for “haunted house hunting”. Yeah, I know we’re lame but we’re 19, what you gonna do?

However, as creepy as this setting was, something about the movie as a whole just felt off. I will say that this is one of those rare horror movies that focuses on the atmospherics but if you look at it from a real, horror movie standpoint, there isn’t much here that’s worth scaring you. Yeah, it’s tense and creepy but nothing ever jumped out at me, nothing ever made me feeling like I can’t go to sleep, and nothing really that dark or sadistic stayed in my mind long after the movie was gone. There was this one, phenomenal shot that takes place in a hall-way with the lights going out, one-by-one, in a weird-fashion, but that’s all I can really remember that terribly freaked me out and that wasn’t even what I originally imagined. Basically, you can be as freaky and creepy as you want, but you got to have some scares here and there to really keep my horror-self going.

The lack of scares, is something I put the blame on Anderson for because the guy plays it too subtle here. I get that the guy doesn’t want to give too much away and just wants this setting and story to linger-on into our minds, until we can’t take it anymore but it doesn’t really work that way here. Instead, we get way too many shots of random scenery that does look freaky, I’ll give it that, but that’s pretty much it and by the 5th time Anderson pulled this move, I was about to just give up and fall asleep. Trust me, there were plenty of other times when I could have just called it a day and dozed off right on this film, but I chose not to and stayed alive, but still, Anderson was not helping with that one-bit. So maybe, just maybe, drinking a little 5-hour energy beforehand won’t kill you either.

Thankfully, Anderson the fact that Anderson tried hard to play it low-key, didn’t effect the performances here because everybody still knocks it out of the park, much like I expected. David Caruso is good and charming as Phil Cronenburg, the guy who knows what to do, how to do it, and when to get it all done. He’s basically acting like he’s in another episode of NYPD Blue, but instead, is placed inside of a crumbling hospital, rather than the crook-filled streets of NYC. Peter Mullan is good as the weird, headmaster of this whole operation, Gordon Fleming, but the problem I had with him was that it seemed like almost everything he said, came out in a stutter or a piece of language that I just didn’t understand. It wasn’t really a problem with the film, as it’s more of a problem with him and the way his Scottish accent never really left the role. Then, there’s Josh Lucas as Hank, the d-bag that stole Caruso’s girl and isn’t as one-dimensional here as he usually is in flicks. Don’t get me wrong, the guy is still a total d-bag here, he’s just one that has a bit of a humane side to him that makes you realize that the guy is just a regular human-being, who is still a jerk none the less.

Consensus: Session 9 may not satisfy all of your horror-loving needs with it’s lack of blood, gore, and showy-presentation, but still hits it’s tension hard with an eerie sense of suspense, dread, and no clue as to what’s going to happen next to these characters and the setting they’re involved with.

7/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Fido (2006)

I don’t think as many people would have gotten on Michael Vick’s case if he had zombies fighting each other.

Set in the 1950’s, the story takes place years after a radiation cloud took over the Earth and allowed the dead to walk again (aka zombies). But a company named Zomcom has finally made it able to allow zombies to not only be servants and do all of your chores, but also be your friends in ways, too. Little Timmy Robinson (K’Sun Ray), has finally found a friend to confide in named Fido (Billy Connolly), problem is, he’s a zombie that actually threatens mankind, something my dog has yet to do.

Take a Leave it to Beaver episode, give him the dog Lassie, have it directed by George A. Romero, and this is what you may come up with. Sadly, for all of you Zombie-genre lovers out there, it’s just not quite as awesome as one would expect. But having a zombie as a pet would make for a great show-and-tell.

Basically, this is a one-joke premise but writer/director Andrew Currie milks it for all that he’s got. The whole joke behind this film is that zombies walk around as normal citizens doing normal citizen-like activities such as taking out the trash, delivering milk door-to-door, grilling some burgers on the grill during a BBQ, and even providing some twisted and sick-minded people some lovin’ at night as well. It’s an original way of telling a zombie satire and for the most part, Currie makes it work because he always plays off of these 50’s-like caricatures that have been done so many times in plenty other films, but this time just provide more humor due to the twist.  I laughed a good amount during this film, which really took me by surprise since it seemed too obvious, but there were some nice touches that Currie gave this film for that ultra-retro 50’s look and feel.

But as good as funny as this may be, there’s always something here that’s left to be desired. They milk this premise just enough to make me laugh and enjoy myself, but they never go the full distance to where I was surprised at the turns they took with this story. You can tell where this story is going to go from start-to-finish, how, and why exactly it is and that was a total bummer considering this could have been a nice blend of humor that mixes itself up nice with a horror movie as well. In fact, that horror element was barely there at all because any time it seemed like the film was going to go for a full-out, zombie scare-fest, it sort of just cut it out as quick as possible and made it seem like Currie played it a bit too safe.

I wasn’t expecting to be totally scared out of my mind with this material, but to me, zombies are some of the scariest mothereffers even when it comes to horror (even if they are the oldest trick used in the book). So when a film comes around with zombies in it, regardless of how they’re used, I’m expecting to be a little scared at the fact that they’re running rampant, eating people, and spreading their virus. The problem here, is that I didn’t feel any tension whatsoever and I was barely even scared by the fact that these zombies could start to eat up this whole entire, little town of Willard (teehee).

Also, for all of you gore-loving son of a bitches out there, there’s enough of that here to satisfy your dirty needs, but even that feels a bit tamed. Yeah, there’s a couple of chewed-up limbs here and there, but nothing where I literally wanted to throw-up. I never feel like that with that when I watch horror movies, but I would always like to. That’s a real shame too, since this film is rated-R and I don’t really think that Currie would have had anything to worry about, had he gone on a bit farther with the gore-pushing.

The performances by everybody in this film was the real strong-point and I think one of the elements that entertained me the most. Carrie-Anne Moss is great as the subdued mom that starts to come out of her shell a bit and become a cool mommy, once things start to get a little twisty with her hormones. No trust me, it doesn’t go in the direction with her character that you may think but it would have been a lot more cool and twisted had it done so. Dylan Baker plays her a-hole husband, and he’s great as well playing a daddy that doesn’t seem to know how to even do the right thing for his son and can’t stop complaining about the fact that his daddy almost ate him once. Billy Connolly was also great as Fido, in a more subdued role where he has to use a lot of growling and facial expressions to really convey what his character’s intentions, even if he is just a damn zombie. That actually makes it a bit harder for him, but he still pulls it off very well. K’Sun Ray was fine as little Timmy Robinson, and doesn’t really seem to be one of those little, annoying child-actors that we usually get in movies like these. Oh yeah, and Tim Blake Nelson is here as one of those twisted and sick-minded people I mentioned earlier. That guy is always a blast to watch.

Consensus: The cast, comedy, and original premise make Fido a lot more entertaining, but it never goes the full distance to be flat-out gory, sick, twisted, or even scary for that matter, and that’s one of the most disappointing factors of this could-have-been comedy-horror classic.

6/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: The Orphanage (2007)

Yup, kids are still creepy.

The plot centers on Laura (Belén Rueda), who returns to her childhood home, an orphanage. Laura plans to turn the house into a home for disabled children, but a problem arises when she and her husband realize that their son Simón (Roger Príncep) believes he has a masked friend named Tomás with whom he will run away. After an argument with Laura, Simón is found to be missing.

It’s a swell reminder to know that horror films can still be as freaky and scary as they were back in the day, without the loads and loads of amounts of blood, gore, and special-effects. Times have obviously changed and most horror films need these three ingredients to work, or even call themselves a “horror film”, which is why I’m glad to finally see one that doesn’t use that crap to it’s advantage. Sadly, it’s not from an American. It’s from that damn Spaniards! Grrr!

What I liked so much about Juan Antonio Bayona‘s direction is that the guy brings it back old-school, in terms of how he freaks the audience out. Instead of just showing us freaky stuff left-and-right and letting us know what we’re going to see next, he keeps us in the dark, and keeps us waiting as to what’s going to just pop-out at us next. You never know what floor this guy is on because he always moving around and I liked that. No matter how familiar or predictable you think this story is going to be, Bayona slips one from right underneath you, and leaves you behind wondering where this guy is going to go next with the story. That utter sense of unpredictability is what kept in-line for what I was watching, but there was still a great deal of tension that was actually killing me on the inside.

You never really get the full-out “boo” scares here, and even when they do come around, they feel deserved and not cheap in the least-bit. So, instead of getting these “boo” scares, we get a bunch of creaks, laughter, movement, and random other noises that have you wondering just what the hell is going on in this big house and it always kept me on the edge of my seat. I always thought something was going to pop-out at me and scare the bajeebers out of me, but somehow, it didn’t and I like how Bayona played that way. He isn’t subtle with his scares, but he;s very tense about it and that’s what I liked most about the whole horror-aspect to this flick. It scares you, without ever really trying to. It just does and that’s something to hold onto in terms of the horror genre.

Where I thought this film did fail was in the whole story itself. The main story of this mother looking all over the place for her lost son is a nice one, but it gets way too hammered over the head, almost to the point of where it’s repetitive. At first, when the kid is around, it’s the same old crap where the kid just constantly sees these “ghost-like creatures”, the momma doesn’t like it, and tries to get him to stop. This happens a couple of times, until the kid goes away and then it shifts off into her being a nut, and looking for him on her hands and knees wherever she goes. Some of this was fun to watch because of how Boyan kept the unpredictable nature of this flick going, but the other times, it just felt boring and over-used. It was almost like they had all of these scares lined-up and ready for the flick, but they just needed a story to bring them altogether in order for them to make sense, so they just had this one, simple story of a mom going crazy of the search of her son. Lame-o!

Even though her character can be a bit annoying, Belén Rueda is still a delight to watch as Laura, and had me rooting for her the whole way. What I liked about this Laura character was that she came off as very three-dimensional in many aspects. The woman loves her son, wants him to be happy, and wants him to feel like he belongs in the world, but just wants him to get out of his funk, where he constantly talks to ghosts and plays weird “hide and go seek” games with them. That, in a way, is pretty understandable since all mothers just want their kids to be “normal” (not mine, she knew I was fucked up from day one), but her character becomes richer once her son is taken from her and we see a real-life, human-being come out of her and we can’t help but feel for the gal when she goes through this rough-ass patch in her life. Rueda is not only beautiful, but also feels like a real mother that just wants her son back and the transformation she goes through is believable and understandable to the fact that you believe in everything she does, and has done in the past 2 hours. See horror movies, you can have three-dimensional characters and still be scary. Wowwwwww…..

Roger Príncep was pretty good as her son, mainly because he wasn’t annoying and as cute as a button. That sounded a bit weird coming out of my mouth (or finger-tips, whatever you wanna call them) but don’t try and tell me that you didn’t go “aww” at least once when you saw the picture of that kid. Okay, I’m done now with my pedophilia-like ways. The one in this cast that I didn’t like and sort of took me out of the whole film whenever she showed up was the lady who played the creepy, old gal named Benigna. What I didn’t like about her was how goofy and cartoonish looking she seemed to be in a film that seemed pretty realistic in terms of the type of horror it was going for and how. The story was pretty realistic even though it concerned ghosts and whatnot, but every time she showed-up, I just wanted her to go away and bring back the realism to a tale that seemed to have a lot of that going for it.

Consensus: The Orphanage is not the non-stop scare-fest you would expect from the idea/premise, but still delivers a creepy atmosphere, packed with endearing characters, an emotionally-charged story, and a solid performance from Rueda, who makes her character so much easier to stand-by, even when it seems like she’s losing her mind.

8/10=Matinee!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Has anybody in this series ever taken into account that maybe this demon just doesn’t want it’s picture taken?

It has been five years since the strange disappearance of Katie and Hunter, and now we focus our attention to a nice, suburban family that just so happens to live right across the street from these two weirdos. Yay! It’s time to break-in the newbies.

If you have been following my site ever since the heydays of 2009, you should know that I’am a big Paranormal Activity fan. When I went to see the first installment, it went down as one of my favorite movie-theater viewings of all-time and still ranks there to this day because that movie freaked me the fuck out with what it did. Then, the second one came around and that was pretty freaky as well, if a bit uneventful. And then, that third one came around last year and totally surprised me by how everything was cranked up to 11 on the scare-o-meter and never went down. Now, finally, we have the fourth installment and needless to say, it doesn’t feel like Halloween without one of these movies. Sadly, that’s the same thing people were all saying about the Saw franchise as well. Yup, it’s going there.

The fact that PA brought Catfish directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost for last year’s fright-fest, really made me curious as to what these guys had to offer and bring to the table and thankfully, they shocked us all by giving us some neat-tricks and inventive scares that we thought we’d never see in a horror movie, especially one that’s on it’s third-installment already. Here, the guys return and still do a nice job at scaring us but I don’t know, something really feels like it’s missing. One of the main reasons why this series worked in the first-place, and why the 3rd one did as well was because of how these guys allowed there to be some neat, visual-tricks that had us guessing just how the hell they pulled that off.

When somebody would go flying at the screen at a 100 mph, you would wonder how their necks didn’t really get broken; when everything in the kitchen would be floating in mid-air, you wondered just how the hell that even came-about and everything was able to just stay there; and whenever somebody was able to flat in the air, without there looking like there was a bunch of cable-wires actually holding them up, you’d get it in your mind that it looks incredibly hard to pull-off and required a crap-ton of skill. In this movie, all of those wonders and questions seem to go right down the drain as the film constantly falls back-on such tricks like a chair moving, or a cover being taken off of somebody, or a door creaking open. This shit is still a little freaky just because of the tension involved, but when you get right down to it, there’s nothing new or original we haven’t seen before.

That’s probably one of my biggest problems with this flick here is that I never felt like any of the scares really got me and made me feel like I was in a dangerous place throughout the whole movie. Maybe you can blame that on the whole movie series itself as we all know when a person is going to pop in front of the camera for a sneaky appearance, or whenever a loud noise is going to go “bam!” right in front of the screen, so all of those elements of surprise sort of get lost in the shuffle. Did I just jump at the scares? Of course I did, but you probably would too, if you’re just staring at a screen for a total of 30 seconds waiting for something crazy to happen and eventually does, much to your surprise.

Another element of this movie that didn’t really come as a surprise to me was the dumb-assed characters, that are sadly, well-performed by everybody involved. I don’t know where and I don’t know how, but I have seen the girl here who plays the teen protagonist (Kathryn Newton), and she actually took me off-guard by how good she is. Granted, she’s a little too familiar and good-looking to be taken seriously as a real, angsty teen going through this whole paranormal problem, but she has a lot of charm to her and feels like the type of girl you want to live, when it’s all said and done. However, all of her scenes get stolen by her boy-toy, played by Matt Shively, and just adds so much fun and humor to every scene that he’s in, that I never wanted to see the guy go. These two characters aren’t as stupid as you would expect them to be, but I can’t say that about the parents who are pretty much your typical, disapproving parents that don’t believe in any of this crazy shit, no matter how crazy it actually gets. Also, that mom deserved all of the shit got because she was the dumb-ass who lets the kid stay in the house with them and gives the comme-ci, comme-ca reason as to, “Well, he doesn’t have anywhere else to go so why not?” What the fuck, mom!??! Next time I’m stranded, I’m going right to her house and making myself a sandwich.

When it comes right down to it, even though this installment isn’t the best out of the whole series, it’s still as much fun as you’d expect it to be. Yeah, the scares are obvious and border-line predictable by now, but they’re still fun to be apart of, especially when you have a crazy crowd like the one I’ve been in for the past 4 years when I go to see these movies. Everybody’s hootin’, hollerin’, and jumpin’ all over the place that it’s almost torture to yourself to hide a smile or chuckle because you’ll be having that much fun with this movie. Also, if you doubt me, just you wait until those last 5 minutes where everything comes full-circle and all hell breaks loose, like we always love from this series. Yeah yeah yeah!

Consensus: Though it’s definitely the most unoriginal and blandest entry of the whole series, PA 4 still has fun with itself in terms of scares, chills, and overall fun atmosphere that never ceases to stop me from having a good olde time. PA 5? I think so. Let’s just hope they try some new, cool stuff this time around.

8/10=Matinee!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Slither (2006)

Do small monsters like the ones here ever attack a big city?

The sleepy town of Wheelsy could be any small town in America, somewhat quaint and gentle, peopled with friendly folks who mind their own business. But just beneath the surface charm, something unnamed and evil has arrived, is growing, and has came to take over the small town. Nobody knows what they are, but they look like small-leeches that go right for the brain.

Even though it’s not right to judge a person after only seeing one-piece of their work, to me, writer/director James Gunn seems like one fucked-up individual. Super was one of those very violent flicks that did work, but still, it was so violent that was at-times hard to watch even if it was all played for dark and sinister laughs. His directorial debut is sort of the same-thing, except this time, with even more stuff to make you look away from the screen. But it’s Halloween, so what are ya gonna do?

What I liked most about Gunn’s direction and what he’s able to do with this sickly material is that he doesn’t ever shy away from doing anything that would practically make a person sick. Everything you see in this film is disgusting, gross, slimy, juicy, and altogether, just plain and simply over-the-top, but what saves it is that constant winks and nods at the audience that Gunn gives and makes this material more fun to be around. Gunn knows the type of movie he’s making and even knows the movies that he’s making several homages to, so that obviously doesn’t stop him from just letting loose on some crazy, wild horror fun that take the B-movie audience, says “Hey! Look at me!”, and allows them all to do so with a great time ahead of them.

You got all of the typical horror movie elements you need to make a successful one: blood, guts, gore, action, violence, semi-naked women, corny-lines, over-the-top situations, and many, I do repeat, many moments that will probably have you saying, “What the hell did I just see?”. But the best part of it all, is that it’s done in such a fun way that you just decide to go along with the ride and believe it or not, may actually have you finding yourself laughing at a lot of what goes on in this flick, as did I. Gunn has a perfect knack for comedic-timing and knowing when and how to place them into certain scenes, and not once did I feel like he dropped the ball on that element one-bit. In fact, it probably wouldn’t have hurt if he gave a couple of more funny lines here and there, but with what he did, I was fine with and that’s all that mattered to me.

The problem I think I had with this movie was that there was little to no surprises with this material one-bit. It seemed like Gunn had all of the right material in-place for a movie that could have literally went anywhere with itself, with any character, and any plot-twist whatsoever, but instead, just played it straight by giving us a story that’s simple, easy, predictable, but still fun. Hell, the only time I actually felt a decent-level of suspense throughout the whole damn film was when one of the gals is in the bathtub and the little leeches are coming after her. That whole sequence kept me on-the-edge of my seat and was the only time during the whole movie where I felt like something bad was going to happen to this character, but then again, it was only 3 minutes out of the whole hour and 36 time-limit. That leaves us an hour and 3 minutes left of just unsuspenseful, but fun piece of horror-entertainment.

Also, anybody looking towards this film for some great spooks, chills, and scares whatsoever, are going to have to look elsewhere. I don’t know if this is necessarily considered a problem with the film since it’s sort of what separated it from the usual crap I see out there time and time again, but anybody going to see a horror film with monsters and zombies, are probably going to come out a bit disappointed in seeing a zany and loopy shoot ‘em up that doesn’t really care about scaring you in the least bit. Once again, not a big problem for me, but for those horror freaks out there (and trust me, I know there are plenty), you may be a bit ticked off.

Most of the laughs that actually occur in this film, are mainly because of the fun-loving cast that Gunn has been able to assemble. Nathan Fillion is always a delight to watch with whatever it is that he does, and his performance here as Sheriff Bill Pardy is no different. Fillion has some of the best-lines in the whole film, but his comedic-timing is what really makes him so much fun to watch as every crazy situation the guy gets thrown into, he surprisingly somehow finds his way out of it with a quick quirk here and there. Playing opposite of him is the equally as-funny, Elizabeth Banks, as Starla Grant. Banks, no matter what junk she’s in, always has the best comedic-delivery out of everybody in the film and even though she is still playing a bit of a straight-woman here with this role, she still gets to show-off her comedic-chops every once and awhile to remind us why we all love this girl so much in the first-place.

Playing her d-bag, evil husband, Michael Rooker, shines at another one of his “villainous roles” that reminds you why so many people type-cast him as a bad man in the first-place, the guy’s so great at it you. I don’t know when the next time will be when I see Rooker play “the nice guy next-door” role in a movie, but if I never do get that, I won’t be too bummed considering the bad-guy roles are basically what he was meant to play. Don’t believe, watch Henry, then you’ll see. The other dude in this flick who had some of the better lines and stole just about scene he was in was Gregg Henry as the foul-mouthed talking mayor. Any guy who can make me laugh at the way he says “cock sucker” is always a winner in my book and that’s why it was so much fun to watch him work his magic with this zany script.

Consensus: People expecting a full-out, scare-fest will most likely be disappointed in what they see in Slither, but people looking for a fun, entertaining, wild, self-knowing, bloody horror ride from start-to-finish, should look no further and give this baby a shot.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

Those boys from the woods always have a way with women.

Jennifer Hill (Camille Keaton) is just a normal, white girl from New York City who ventures out to a house in the country so she can be all by herself, relax, tan, and get writing on her novel. The problem is, she’s stopped very suddenly when three dirt-ball locals decide to take it upon themselves to have more fun with her than she expected.

I’ve heard so much shit about this movie, it’s not even funny. I know it’s disturbing, I know it’s gross, and I know it’s hard to watch, but that does all of that crazy, cult controversy make a good film in the end of the day? Absolutely not god dammit!

There is so much about this film that just pissed me off that I have no freakin’ clue where to start, so I might as well go with the guy who’s mostly responsible for this utter piece of garbage: writer/director Meir Zarchi. I don’t know who this guy is, what his intentions in life were, or how he is as a person, but I would not want to be this dude’s friend if I met him in real-life because of what he portrays on-screen here. First of all, before any of you go crazy and call me softy, just realize that I get that the film needed to be over 40 minutes of intense torture and rape-age in order to really eff with our minds, but none of it, I do repeat, none of it ever felt deserved or understandable at all. If a film ever felt the need to express a 40 minutes rape-sequence but gave me honest reasons, depth, and in ways, emotion, then I would sort of be all for it and sit there in disgust a whole lot more but this film made me feel disgusted in all of the wrong ways. In ways, I actually felt dirty and needed to take a shower, which is exactly what I just did before I started writing this review. It had that much of an effect on me and it’s weird because I would usually praise any film that does that to me, but this one, I can’t praise one-bit.

The reason I can’t praise this movie one-bit is because the way Zarchi writes his dialogue. All of the male characters are complete one-dimensional, caricatures that have no minds, no souls, and can’t think of anything else to use other than their limp dicks, (Which we get to see plenty of thanks Zarchi. Yay!) As soon as they see this gal Jennifer walk right in front of them, they all of a sudden get this crazy urge in the beds of their penises and decide that it’s time to go rape and pillage a random, white chick who just stumbled upon their homeland. I make them sound like Neanderthals but that’s the type of level of intelligence I think Zarchi wrote these characters with: they just stand there, yell, hoot, holler, fuck with this girl, fuck her in the mean-time, and spout out some of the worst lines I have ever heard in any movie, ever. Not only does Zarchi screw-up his script when it comes to his characters and their intentions, but the dialogue is even worse and probably wouldn’t have been so noticeable if they relied on something more than just a bunch of dudes getting their d’s wet, in the worst ways possible.

Then, the main element of this movie that really pissed me off was the main, central “message” of this whole inspired tale. Basically, what I believe Zarchi was trying to say through all of the semen, was that men are worthless, animalistic pigs that feel no remorse after they do something ugly. That, in a way, is a message I would be more than willing to accept, understand, and eventually think about in my day-to-day life of well-being, but this film did not once, have me believe in that whatsoever. These guys are all dicks, but they don’t start off like that, they all of a sudden change out of nowhere and spend their whole time acting like crazy fuckin’ buffoons when they torture and rape this girl. Then, we see them when they aren’t with her and are all of a sudden all normal and relaxed as if they never did the crazy and insane act they just did to a girl, almost 2 weeks ago. Maybe with some people who commit rapes, this is a true-story, but for me and what I saw with this story, it was way too fake and phony to fully get me to believe in it. Honestly, in case you haven’t been able to tell, I didn’t buy anything that this movie was selling to me. Not a single goddamn thing.

Now, as for the rape scenes that has garnered this movie so much controversy over the years. I will say one thing about them: they are disturbing, but, not in a good way. In a way, I almost felt like Zarchi continued to show this girl getting raped and destroyed in order to shock us, mess with our minds, and make us realize something about the cruel, cruel world we live in, but instead, had me feeling nada. Was it hard to look at the screen sometimes? Of course, but not a single part of it felt necessary to the story and just felt like another piece of 70’s-exploitation flicks that always tried to out-do each other with who can do the craziest and most sadistic things in their movies. I haven’t seen any of the other competition so I think you won Zarchi, you bastard.

If there is any compliments I can give this piece of shit at all, it’s Camille Keaton as Jennifer. Keaton, like the rest of the cast, is absolutely terrible with their line-delivery and come off terribly unbelievable as the film goes on, but damn does this girl let all hang-loose, seriously. It takes a lot of gull for a person to go out there in front of the camera, and just let it all flow in some of the most terrible situations ever depicted on-screen and if there’s anything I can give Keaton credit for, it’s exactly that. She’s a shit actress, but the girl doesn’t shy away from baring it all and making it feel any slight bit of being legitimate. Wonder how her hubby felt when they would be having sex and he’d start to get flash-backs of the movie that made her a star. Hmmm….oh well! Too much thought into a movie that doesn’t deserve it.

Consensus: I Spit On Your Grave will definitely disturb and scare viewers, but don’t let it fool you, it is dumb, idiotic, terribly-written, barely directed at all, horribly-acted, and features a message that doesn’t make any goddamn sense at all, once you start to think about the characters and all of their dumb-ass actions. Seriously, skip this shit.

0.5/10=Pile of Heapin’ Crap!!!

Here Comes the Boom (2012)

Wish all of my teachers beat the shit out of guys in their spare-time.

Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a 42-year-old apathetic biology teacher in a failing high school. When cutbacks threaten to cancel the music program and lay off its teacher (Henry Winkler), Scott begins to raise money by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter.

In my humble opinion, watching a Kevin James movie isn’t as unbearable as some make it out to be. Paul Blart: Mall Cop wasn’t great, but yet it wasn’t the cringe-inducing spectacle I was expecting; Zookeeper is thankfully, a ship that I did not sail and still do not plan on doing so unless I’m drunk, lonely, and bored one Tuesday night (tomorrow night, maybe?); and even The Dilemma allowed him to stretch out some promising dramatic-muscles as well, even though the film was barely something to recommend. So, that’s honestly why I wasn’t dreading the hell out of this thing because I like James, I like UFC, and I like movies that revolve around it (looking at you, Warrior), regardless of who’s in them. And thankfully, James likes it too and doesn’t lose that spirit that only comes present when you’re watching two dudes beat the ever loving shit out of each other on a mat. Oh yeah, brings me back to the golden days.

Even though it’s not as bad as James’ last outings, there still is a lot of problems that cannot be avoided, no matter what the subject-material may be. James still finds his way of slipping, sliding, and falling down in order to conjure up some laughter and while it may work in some of his goofier flicks, here, it doesn’t sit so well which is strange considering the whole movie revolves around him slipping, sliding, and falling down, but this time, in a ring instead of just a normal place on Earth to walk. No matter how you put it, Kevin, slap-stick isn’t very funny unless you’re names are either Moe, Larry, or Curly, and even then maybe not. Basically, the comedy of this movie doesn’t really work when it’s trying too hard and that’s a good part of this film as well.

However, when it does focus on it’s story, it actually proves to be an entertaining flick that has something more going for it rather than just being about a guy getting his ass kicked, in order to get some moolah. In fact, that premise that I just typed-out write there would probably be a dark, depressing indie-drama, had it not starred Kevin James, but thankfully, it does star Kevin James and we get to smile enough throughout the whole film. It’s a story that hits the obvious cliches and conventions that you would expect from a sports underdog movie that doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel, but there isn’t really anything all that wrong with that here. It’s entertaining to watch and it’s a story that may keep you glued in, especially when the fight scenes come up.

Actually, the fight scenes are what makes this film so much fun to watch considering it’s all real and barely done with any CGI or stunt-work. Now, I’m not saying when James gets kneed right in the head and suffers a concussion  that that is exactly what happened to him and we’re getting the chance to watch it all play-out on film, but a lot of the fights, training sequences, and scenes, are done by James and his crew and it’s a nice reminder that actors who are passionate about their own subjects (no matter how conventional they may come off to be), can still deliver and allow themselves to get their heart and pride out there for everybody to see. Maybe a UFC movie starring Kevin James isn’t exactly the passion-project you would be expecting me to be talking about, but I’m just glad it was fun and that’s all that matters.

Something else that also matters about this movie is how Kevin James is in this movie, and believe it or not, the guy still oozes charm out of every pore. James starts out as kind of a schlub, but eventually gets into the knack of things and becomes more determined and inspired in life and it feels real with James’ acting. No, this is no Oscar-worthy performance here, but James makes the best of it all and allows us to see what’s so special about this guy in the first-place and why he still deserves to make movies. Another element to this guy’s performance is how he handled himself in and out of the ring with his look and stature. James, as we all know, is known for being that big, tubby guy that somehow lands the hottest gals in movies, but changes all of that fat into some muscle and looks pretty good with it, too. Not saying I’d hit that or anything, but the guy gets in good-shape for a role that could have easily gone down as just a normal dude, getting in mediocre shape, for a mediocre role. At least, that’s how I imagined it.

James isn’t the only one who seems to be having fun, though, as everybody else in this cast seems to be in a more playful mood then we have ever seen them before. Henry Winkler plays the music teacher that James is fighting for and once again, plays one of those soft, off-kilter types that seems totally out-of-place, but makes every scene his comedy play-land. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with the Fonz. You just can’t, no matter what the movie may be. I was also glad to see a UFC favorite of mine, former real-life champ Bas Rutten, give off a very energetic and wild performance as James’ trainer, Niko. Rutten does show-up in movies and TV shows here and there, but this is the role that really allows him to go balls-deep out there and just play around for awhile, and I can’t complain about it at all considering the guy is so much damn fun to watch on-screen. It’s a serious wonder why this guy doesn’t do more movies that cater towards his comedic talents, because the guy’s got it. Can’t even believe I’m saying that about a former UFC-fighter.

The one in this cast that doesn’t even seem needed is sadly, Salma Hayek. If anything, Hayek is here to provide beautiful and luscious eye-candy for both us, and James’ character and as hard as it is to watch her go, she needed no place whatsoever in this movie and it could have easily went on and on without her, and nothing would have changed. Hate saying that, but it’s the truth. Please, still call me Salma. Please.

Consensus: It’s predictable, obvious, cliched, and tries a tad too hard to be funny, but Here Comes the Boom still seems to have plenty of fun with itself, it’s cast, and it’s story that comes off as more passionate and heartfelt than you would expect from your usual James vehicle.

6/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Deadgirl (2008)

Men, always make sure to check if the chick your about to bone is alive before any play-time goes down.

Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and J.T. (Noah Segan) are two high school seniors who gaze at the girls they wish they could get. They’re basically your typical teenager: horny, frustrated, angry, misunderstood, sad, and oh, horny. All of those teenage angst problems are eventually cured however, when both guys stumble upon a mute, naked woman (Jenny Spain) tied up in the basement of an abandoned psychiatric hospital. Curiosity hits these guys pretty hard and sooner or later, they decide it’s time to get their kicks with this poor girl. But is she really alive for all of this?

As you are all probably wondering what piece of crap I decided to watch let me just start off by saying one thing about this movie: it’s a pretty original idea. I mean think about it, the zombie-genre has been done to death (pun intended) by now, and the high school drama mixed in with it just doesn’t seem as fresh or as exciting as it once was in the days of the ultra-hip 80’s. So basically, when you have the two together and add a bit of strange-o sex to the mix, things are bound to get pretty new and exciting for an subject that obviously hasn’t been touched before. However, that also seems to be the only thing this movie really has going for itself.

Screenwriting nutcase Trent Haaga does, for the most part, make a pretty intriguing and original piece of horror that in a way, sort of makes sense. I mean I’m not saying that I can see why these high-schoolers would go out, see a dead girl, and bone the hell out of her for shits and gigs, but there are people out there who do that kind of freaky stuff and it only makes sense that two lonely, frustrated teenagers like these two would eventually start getting their rounds once the opportunity came-about. So for that, I have to give Haaga credit in making us believe that these two weirdos would actually do something like bone a dead chick, and for the most part, it kept me interested into where it was going to with itself and how. Yeah, there is a lot of boning and there is a lot of weird shit going on that is most likely able to turn people off, if the plot synopsis didn’t already do that in the first-place, but there is a certain type of fun taken in a flick that can keep my interest even if it goes to depths of weird.

The problem that I think Haaga runs into with this script is that he doesn’t really know where to go with it at a certain point. Yes, he does set it all up pretty nicely to where we can feel some sort of tension and suspense as to where this story is going to go, but it never actually gets there. Instead, Haaga seems like he’s just wasting his time on a bunch of teenager-problems that we’ve all seen before, and even been through on our own terms, but this time, it’s with a naked, dead chick. It also doesn’t help that Haaga has the mouth of a Larry Clark film where all kids talk like a bunch of horned-up sex machines as if that was just shooting the shit on a regular Tuesday afternoon. I get it, these guys are horny, but do they really need to talk about sexy every 5 seconds a conversation comes up. We’ve all been down that road but I’m pretty sure we were all able to conceal our hornyness a lot better than these deuches.

I also feel like Haaga’s script could have done some good and at least established a relationship between these two main characters and made us feel like that not only are their lives on-stake during this whole escapade, but a life-long friendship as well. We never get to see that actually develop as it seems Haaga is more concerned with one of the kid’s affections for this random chick that apparently kissed him when they were 12. Then, out of nowhere, the film actually has this huge monologue about the friendship between the two main characters and almost seems like a missed-opportunity that could have been avoided, had Haaga just took his mind out of his pants. Seriously, I honestly think that this Haaga dude is hornier than the characters he actually writes, so maybe it’s an auto-biographical take after all. You know, without the “dead chick” element.

To make matter worse, the acting is pretty bad with almost everybody shooting lines out of their ass as if they literally just got picked up off the street from the directors. Shiloh Fernandez is pretty bad as Rickie, the only kid with an ounce of heart that’s not placed in his dick, and just butchers all of the lines he’s given. This kid could have been one we care for, cheer on, and eventually make us want him to get the girl at the end, but Fernandez doesn’t do anything to help us out with that and gives us a cardboard cut-out of a high school-movie character we have seen done before. Then, there’s Noah Segan as his weird buddy, J.T., who’s actually okay in some parts, but absolutely atrocious in others where he’s trying to come-off as this big old bad-ass that bangs a dead chick. The guy was pretty good in Brick and Looper, but here, I don’t know what he’s doing. I think he was just waiting for Rian Johnson’s next movie and decided, “Oh what the hell?!? Might as well do some low-budget horror movie and see where I can go with my career.” Sorry buddy, stay with Rian.

The only one in this cast that actually has an alright performance in the whole flick is Jenny Spain as the Deadgirl, but not because of anything special she does, more or less that she just lets it all loose in what is essentially a daring-ass role. I don’t know how the girl went to the premiere without feeling terribly embarrassed  and I hope she didn’t bring her mommy or daddy with her because that would have definitely sparked-up some nice conversations about where she’s going in life. Yeah, good job Jenny. You better have gotten paid the most out of all of these schmucks considering all they had to do to you was hump the hell out of ya.

Consensus: Deadgirl starts off promising, with a neat premise and idea, but never fully comes together in the end due to some bad writing, terrible acting, and a bunch of missed opportunities with where this material could have explored. However, if you are a horror fan, you may be able to get past all of that and at least enjoy what you got up on-screen. I’m not talking about the girl, either.

5/10=Rental!!

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

See, this would have never happened if more people had cats!

Colin Farrell stars as a struggling screenwriter named Marty, who inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends Billy (Sam Rockwell) and Hans (Christopher Walken) kidnap a gangster’s (Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu.

Even though I heard a lot of hype surrounding it way back in 2008, In Bruges still surprised the hell out of me. Not only was it hilarious and violent (the way I like my mobster-like movies), but also surprisingly touching considering the characters were just a bunch of cold-blooded hit-men when you think about it. That was easily one of my favorite movies of that year and that is why I was looking forward so much to seeing what writer/director Martin McDonagh could do next. Thankfully, it’s the same type of stuff around again but this time, with dogs. Even better.

What I liked most about McDonagh’s script and what he does with this story, is he pulls no punches, and makes no apologies for where he goes with it. Right from that memorable first scene, we already know what we are getting ourselves involved with: a slightly off-kilter, type of movie that will kill when it needs to. That’s how I like my crime movies and this one is no different, but there’s more of a darker-edge to it that really works, especially in the comedy-aspect of this movie. There are a couple of jokes here and there that will really fly by people (as it did to me), but what always hit me hard was when McDonagh would have his characters practically dissect what it is that we usually see in movies that are in the same vein as this one, or In Bruges for that matter.

This is made possible because of the fact that Farrell’s character is a movie screen-writer, working on a script while all of this crazy shit is happening, which allows McDonagh to not only go balls-out in the fantasy sequences, but give his own two-cents on what it’s like to make a crime movie that has so many obvious conventions that it’s almost too hard to stray away from. Not only do I love it when movies take certain cheap-shots at movies themselves, but I love when they do it and it’s hilarious, which is exactly what this movie and it’s something I don’t think I’ve stressed enough about this movie. The humor is as dark as you can get, but a lot of other humor bits are intentional and they still work no matter where they are placed in this story. Trust me, you won’t get every single line of funny dialogue, but with the ones you do get, you’ll still be happy and laughing your ass off.

However, as you could expect, it’s not all that sunshine and games with McDonagh and his story as it does get very gruesome at points and may even take you by surprise to the limits it goes. That’s right, characters that you don’t expect to get killed off, do in-fact, get killed off and as heartbreaking and unexpected as it may be sometimes, it still furthers the story on and makes you realize that this is a writer/director that takes no prisoners. This not only adds an extra-level of suspense onto the film, but a whole other layer of heart and emotion to these characters as you feel like any scene with them, could quite literally be their last. It’s something that McDonagh pulls off perfectly and reminded me that this is the type of writer/director we need more of for the crime-genre.

Another thing that more crime-movies should definitely have is an ensemble that we can literally not stop watching. This is exactly what Seven Psychopaths has, and then some. Colin Farrell, once again, stars and plays one of the more cowardly guys in the film, but is the straight-man here, more than anything else as Marty (teehee, gedd it?). Farrell is not only great at playing the straight-man, but also lets a couple of his own weird laughs come through as well and it’s great to once again see this guy stretch his comedy-strength, but also still be able to show that he has what it takes to make an endearing character that we still care for in the end. The only difference between this character, and the one he played in In Bruges, is that we sort of cared for that one more since he seemed so much more innocent, even though he was a hit-man and this guy is a screenplay writer. Actually, that could almost be said about the movie as well, because even though I liked all of these characters and seeing what they did with this material, I wasn’t as emotionally-invested with them here, as I was with the three in McDonagh’s last flick. Maybe it was the size of the ensemble, maybe it was the different sub-plots, or maybe it was just something that made me want to be more entertained and laugh, rather than cry my eyes out. Either way, In Bruges was better in that aspect.

The two cast-members everybody will probably be talking about the most coming out of this film are none other than Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken, the two infamous dog-nappers who start this whole shit-storm in the first-place. Rockwell is one of these actors who comes close to stealing the show in every movie he does, but somehow, just hasn’t gotten that big-break he so rightfully deserves just yet, but I don’t think he has to wait any longer. His character as Bill is a pretty wacky and wild one that seems like he came straight-out of a Tarantino movie, but has more than meets the eye with him. You think that Bill is just a total psycho that does stupid things because he has nothing else better to do, but you realize there’s a reason for doing all of the stuff he does and as twisted as it may be (and trust me, it is), in a way, it’s a bit sweet as well. Rockwell is great at playing both sides of this character and I really, really, really do hope this catapults his career to even higher-lengths than he could have ever imagined. Seriously, the guy deserves it and I could totally see him winning an Oscar sooner or later.

Then, of course, we got the always awesome and delightful Christopher Walken doing his best, well, you know, “Christopher Walken”. As unoriginal and lazy as that idea may come off as, it isn’t in the least-bit because Walken is having an absolute ball with his role here as Hans and it reminds you why this guy is such an icon in the first-place. All of the lines that Walken’s given, he nails in that deliberate-delivery of his that’s always great, and all of the emotions he has to emphasize with this character, works but not just because he’s an old-cook, but because he’s a sweet, endearing, old man that seems like he could still kick anybody’s ass, if he’s pushed to that point. Basically, it’s Christopher Walken, playing Christopher Walken and what’s better than that? Nothing at all.

Rounding out the rest of the cast is Woody Harrelson as the crazed mob-boss who goes looking for his doggy like any other pet-lover. Harrelson is a very diverse actor in the way that he is able to have us love him when he’s being the typical, cool guy we all know and love him for, but is also able to have us despise the hell out of him when he’s playing an absolute d-bag that can’t be trusted. Harrelson plays with both sides of the quarter here where he shows us his sinister side, but also allows us to see his charming side whenever he’s actually around his doggy or has to think of it being taken away from. It’s a great role for him but in all honesty, I would have loved it even more if they gave it to Mickey Rourke like they originally planned as it would have been downright hilarious with that nut in the role. Playing another nut-case in this film is Tom Waits, who shows up with a bunny and tells his side of being a psycho killer. Waits is here, essentially, as an extended cameo but it’s still fun to see him show-up and do something really random and weird. That’s how we love to see the guy and that’s how we always want to see him.

The other two in this leading-cast are the two gals (Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko) and they were the two ones I was the most disappointed by when it was all said and done. They aren’t really given much to work with, other than a bunch of one-dimensional lines that don’t do anything for their characters, other than make us wish that they’d just be gone and allow this to be a strictly-sausage party, but it was also lame how McDonagh didn’t really give them much to play around with in the first-place. Seriously, it seems like Cornish and Kurylenko could have had some of their own fun in-between all of the dudes just fartin’ around, so why not give them something, Martin?

Consensus: Seven Psychopaths will take most viewers by surprise by how dark and sinister it can get, but most viewers will also find themselves having a ball with the excellent script, spirited ensemble, and a story that’s not only hilarious, but unpredictable in the way you have no idea where the hell it’s going to g0.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Argo (2012)

See, Star Wars really did save people’s lives.

The movie is on the true story of a secret 1979 CIA mission during the Iran Hostage crisis in which six diplomats are rescued through a bizarre extraction plan involving a fake Hollywood film crew scouting locations for a sci-fi film named “Argo.” Ben Affleck stars as Tony Mendez, the real-life CIA exfiltration expert who came up with the idea in the first-place and has to find the strength and courage to go through with it.

Believe it or not, that silly-ass plot synopsis up there is a real-life account on a secret CIA mission that took place during 1979 to 1980 and may have you think, “just how the hell did the government trust Hollywood with saving the lives of six people?” Well, the truth is that Hollywood is good for many things, and not only is saving the lives of six people one of them, but reviving Mr. Ben Affleck’s career as well.

As director, Ben Affleck is basically three-for-three (Gone Baby Gone and The Town are his two other flicks), but this one is slightly different from those other ones as he is actually stepping out of his friendly-streets of Bawhstan, and upping his game by focusing on something bigger, and a lot larger-scale than from what we usually expect from this guy. The look and feel of this movie just put me right into a late 70’s/early 80’s vibe that not only set me in the right-mood, but never rang a single false-note to me whatsoever, even with all of the goofy mustaches, cars, and hair-do’s running around all-over-the-place.

But what really came as a total shock to me is how Affleck was not only make me feel like I was exactly right there with him in America during this time-period, but also made me feel like in the chaotic shit-hole of Iran during this time as well, and damn, was it freakin’ scary. Right from the start, we are put in this area of Iran that is just full of chaos and on the verge of collapsing, and Affleck shows this perfectly by splicing together his footage, with actual-footage taken at this time to create a realistic, if even scarier view-point of the setting where our main-story takes place in. It’s not only great in it’s realistic/very detailed look, but also how we are able to draw the similarities between the Middle East and the West’s relationship with one another, to then, and how almost nothing has changed whatsoever in the thirty-plus years since this whole “Argo” mission went down.

However, it’s not all about making a point and showing off the politics with Affleck, it’s more about the whole mission itself and that’s where most of the fun of this movie came from. The first hour or so where we are left following Affleck as he tries his damn near hardest to make this fake-movie every bit of legit as he can, is the most entertaining aspect of this whole movie, not just because it takes a lighter, and slightly, more humorous approach than the rest of the film, but because it shows you just how hard it is to actually get something made in Hollywood, regardless of whether it’s the next masterpiece or not. But, all of the hootin’ and holler soon starts to go away once the real plot of this movie kicks in, and that’s where I really started to feel the tension go up my spine and get the goosebumps working. This is where Affleck shines the most, by showing how capable he is of making you sweat your ass off, with every single, tense second that goes by. It’s worked in his other two films, and it sure as hell works here but not as perfectly.

The reason why the whole suspension of this film doesn’t work as well as Affleck’s last, two movies, is because we already know the story going on and if you haven’t already known, chances are, you’re going to be able to tell how it ends. Then again, that’s sort of the basis for all movies out there but when you have a movie that puts the whole aspect of itself, on the fact that you have to feel all tense and worked-up to really enjoy the whole movie, then you kind of have to wonder just when this movie’s time is up. I don’t know want to say that it got to that point for me, but there was a very heart-breaking point where I realized that, “okay, I already know what’s going to happen, so why the hell is Affleck wasting my time with all of these slow scenes and epic score bits?” But, I don’t want to give anything else away and trust me, if you don’t know the story going in, be ready, cause you may already know it from start-to-finish about half-way through. I did, and I think that’s where this film sort of failed in captivating me as much as I would have liked it to.

Then, it seems to get worse for Affleck as the guy doesn’t really stand-out as much with his performance as Tony Mendez. The problem with Mendez isn’t Affleck’s acting, in-fact, the guy’s pretty good when it comes to him showing his near-perfect comedic timing, as well as showing us a character that’s easy to root for, even when the odds are stacked up in his defense, more of the problem is that this character just doesn’t have much going for him that’s interesting or worth really standing behind in the first-place. Yeah, the guy singlehandedly comes up with this plan and is brave enough to go out there and finish it off himself, but he doesn’t really have much of anything else going for the guy. This is fairly evident when the film tries to shoe-horn the whole angle with him and how he misses his son and wife, even though they touch on it for about 6 minutes throughout the whole film, and then at the end, is supposed to have some big, emotional impact on us as we walk out the door. No, no, mister Ben. Not falling for it this time.

Then again, you have to give Affleck more credit because this even and plain performance, almost allows him to take a side-step to the left for the rest of his ensemble to show off and do their own thang unlike anybody else. Bryan Cranston shows up in his 100,000th movie role this whole year as Tony’s boss, and nails all of the snappy dialogue they give him, and his angry soul. I was hearing a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding Cranston and his role here and as good as the guy may be, I don’t really see it all that much since he’s not really stretching his skills as an actor by just yelling and looking mad all of the time. Still, it’s an act that I have yet to be tired of. Alan Arkin is also another guy that’s been getting a lot of buzz for his role here as big-shot, Hollywood producer, Lester Siegel. This buzz is deserved but I don’t really see Arkin getting a nomination, mainly because the guy doesn’t do anything else other than yell, scream, holler, and rant like the old man we all know and hopefully, love him for. Then, there’s John Goodman as real-life make-up artist John Chambers, who also seems to be having a lot of fun with his role and steals a lot of the scenes he’s in. However, the rest of the supporting cast is just filled, and filled, and filled to the brim with actors/actresses that you have most likely seen in about 1,000 other movies and when you see their faces pop-up here, you’re going to be going right up next to your buddies ear and say, “Hey, isn’t that the guy from that so-and-so movie?” Trust me, I did that plenty of times with my sister and I probably missed a hundred more because my mind would still be in heavy thought and not focused on who’s familiar face was going to show up next.

Consensus: Though it’s not as tense or electrifying as Affleck’s last two directorial efforts, Argo still works as a smart, funny, and entertaining thriller that covers a mission that not many people ever knew about, but was also a very important one by how it showed certain sides of the U.S. government working hand-in-hand with Hollywood in a slightly surreal, yet smart way.

8/10=Matinee!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Sinister (2012)

If you hear a bump in the night, don’t worry, it’s just the ghosts of the murdered family who once lived in your house.

The premise puts Ethan Hawke in the shoes of a true-crime novelist struggling to find his next big story. He moves into the home of a recently murdered family and discovers a box of home video footage that might reveal exactly what happened to them.

Why any certain interest has sparked up in me about seeing this flick is for one reason and one reason only: the co-writer himself, C. Robert Cargill. Okay, most of you who see that name probably have no idea who the hell I’m talking about and wondering what all of the hype around him is, and that’s fine because this guy is making his writing debut with this movie. The reason why I care about him so much is because most people out there, probably know him by the name of Carlyle from Spill.Com, as I did, and because of that, he has remained an inspiration for me and my movie-review wring ever since I first stumbled upon those guys’ site. However, now that Cargill is outta there and in the big-leagues, it’s finally his time to shine and show everybody why he loves watching shitty movies as much as he does and thankfully, the guy somewhat capitalizes on that idea.

The one element of this film that sort of killed my hype for it was the fact that it’s directed by Scott Derrickson, aka, the guy who remade The Day the Earth Stood Still over 4 years ago and gave us Keanu Reeves’ most boring performance to-date. Seriously, when you have Neo practically falling asleep in a movie, you know that’s bad! Anywho, that’s why this movie was a very mixed-bag for me going in but surprisingly, Derrickson actually does a nice job with this material and gives it that old-school, horror vibe we all love so much, especially around this time of the year.

Everything starts off very slow, in an almost melodic sense of pacing, until it starts to show us tiny bits of terror and freakishness starting to happen, and that’s where the dread and the fun of this movie start to hit. Most people will probably be wondering if this is your typical horror movie, with jump-scares and moments of silence, that all of a sudden get one big “boo!” at the end, and it sort of is like that type of horror movie but with a more effective use of it’s scares. The scares here, although timed, do not feel cheap one-bit and may actually catch you off-guard a couple of times to when, where, and how they get you. I never like jump-scares, quite frankly, and it’s not because they actually scare me but because they just feel like an over-used way of making people jump when manipulate the sound too much and honestly, who likes to be manipulated? Especially when you’re watching a horror movie? But, even though they do use a couple of jump-scares here and there, it still feels deserved and still does a nice job at putting me into this atmosphere where nothing seems to ever go right.

However, as much fun and freaky this horror movie may be, it still never seems to really branch-out of the typical horror-conventions, and be it’s own, original-self. Even though Cargill does seem like he’s playing around with the conventions of the horror movie a bit, he never seems to be able to fully let himself go and instead, a lot of dumb and silly things happen over the course of the film that may make this come off as a bit unintentionally goofy in it’s own way. There’s a random scene with a dog that only seems to be in there for a scene of tension and suspense, but doesn’t offer anything new; the ghosts here are portrayed in a really goofy-way that’s more funny to point and laugh at, than to actually be running away from, had you have to deal with them in real-life; and then there’s the actual monster himself, Mr. Boogie, or whatever the hell they call him, that really disappointed me.

All of the hype around this movie, is mainly because of that one scary image of the main ghost-like monster of the whole movie. Seriously, it’s so eye-catching that it even has it’s own poster just dedicated to it (look to the top-right), and whenever you even see him in these little, short shots in the film, he’s pretty scary and makes you very curious as to what the hell it is. Is it a man? Is it a killer? Is it a monster? Is it a ghost? Is it a piece of Hawke’s imagination? We never know and I liked that about this film, but what really made me feel like they dropped the ball with this monster-like character, was when they eventually get on to showing him in the movie more and more, and for longer periods of time, where he just starts to get goofy after awhile. I was scared at first when they would show it for a couple of a seconds on-screen, but then they start to over-show him that makes him resemble the WWE wrestler Kane, with a slightly more, effed-up mask for a face. That bummed me out because he started off so scary, but after awhile, all those shrieks and scares just begin to go away and turn to laughter.

No matter how silly or stupid this film begins to get, Ethan Hawke never, ever seems to lose his belief in what he’s doing here as Ellison, the writer that seems to get himself caught-up a bit too much in his own work. Hawke has never done a horror movie role before and it’s a surprise because the guy actually makes all of his scared/terrified looks seem real enough to actually have us believe why this guy still does the stupid things he sometimes does. However, Ellison isn’t a perfectly lovable character: he lies, he drinks way too much, he continues to stay in a house that obviously means huge-harm to him and his family, and manipulates a cop into being his buddy, in order to get info out of him. These all sound like perfect ingredients for the perfect, dick-head character but for some reason, due to Hawke’s charm, we believe in him, we root for him, and we actually like him when it’s all said and done. He’s a flawed dude, no doubt about it, but then again, aren’t we all?

Consensus: With a great sense of dread, fun, and suspense to it, Sinister comes off as being a better horror flick than what we are used to seeing, but still doesn’t fall short of being a little silly here and there, or by falling for the typical conventions we are used to seeing with horror movies in today’s world.

7/10=Rental!!

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