Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: The Fixx

The Innkeepers (2012)

It’s like ‘The Shining’ if Stanley Kubrick was a hipster.

The film follows a pair of amateur ghosthunters (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy) who use their dead end job, working the desk of a failing hotel, to flex their muscles as supernatural investigators. But what they find, is a little bit too much for the both of them.

I was very impressed by Ti West‘s last flick, ‘The House of the Devil’, and it really made me wonder just what he was going to do next. Once again, it’s pretty much the same thing around except no 80’s cars and hair-styles, as well as no more jams from The Fixx. Waaaah!

What West does well here that he did with his last flick was that he takes time to build-up to the actual by actually developing these characters and giving them enough back-story for us to actually feel something for them when all of this crazy ish is happening to them. We see how these two are terribly bored with their jobs and it’s actually kind of amusing to watch them go around, play little pranks on each other, and just talk about the hotel and its history. This was definitely great to see West allowing us to know these characters but even when they are just goofing around, there still is a lot of mystery and tension going on because you don’t quite always know what’s really going on behind those closed doors.

When the horror does come though, West makes it all work again with a very tense and dark atmosphere. Even though many moments in this film can be incredibly happy and light, West still keeps to his whole creepy tone with plenty of scares that take more time to get you rather than just throwing out a whole bunch of jump-scares (even though there is one, that’s used as a joke). The scares also work because of the insanely loud noises that come from this score, which isn’t as noticeable as another film that came out this weekend, ‘The Woman in Black’.

I think my favorite element of this film when it came to its horror was its setting in the real-life hotel, The Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Conneticut. The Inn isn’t huge nor is it some place you could get easily lost in but the film never leaves the place (except for one scene) and the whole time you feel as if you are trapped in there as well with all of these creepy and mysterious happenings going down. It’s still around today and definitely not haunted but I think I may just go there one of these days and give it a shot myself.

My problem with the flick is that even though the horror does come after a very long period of time, for some reason, I still felt like there should have been more of it. The last act is where everything really goes crazy but I still felt like West didn’t allow things to get too crazy and it just felt like a bit of a let-down considering how much time it took to build things up. I will admit that it definitely didn’t go as bonkers in its last act as West’s last flick did but I think that’s where I was bummed considering the pay-off was a lot better there.

Another thing I was sort of annoyed by was that it seems like all of these low-budget, small horror films all seem to have the same kind of protagonists no matter what. All of the protagonists in their flicks seem to be those sort of weird, hipsterish, non-normal people that always have to be quirky and do different things than anybody else would normally do and it’s almost like a cliche now. I mean after awhile I kind of got past it, but it seems to be something that happens in a lot small horror films lately and it’s not really that cool to do in the first place.

Despite them being overly quirky at times, I still found the two main characters to be likable and people I could very much just hang-out with. Sara Paxton and Pat Healy are both very good here and play these two slackers very well because they aren’t annoying and they aren’t really trying too hard to be funny or hip, they are just bored to death of this job but when it seems like their lives are in danger, they seem scared. They seem like actual people almost and the film takes enough time for us to really get to know them and it made me wish that I was actually there with them when all of this shit was happening, because I think it would have been a lot of fun in the first place. There are only a hand-full of other guests that come into the house but the one that sticks out in my mind is 80’s forgotten-hero Kelly McGillis who seems to be having a come-back of sorts and hopefully it continues because she’s very good as this strange but bitchy old actress, Leanne Rease-Jones.

Consensus: Although it’s nothing new that we haven’t seen done before from Ti West and doesn’t fully supply a huge amount of scares as you may think, still, The Innkeepers has a good build-up by developing its characters and setting, as well as providing us with just enough tense moments to make West the definitive horror director to watch in the upcoming years.



Halloween Horror Movie Month: The House of the Devil (2009)

Now when I’m looking to babysit, I know to cross Satan worshipers off the list.

A cash-strapped college student named Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) takes a babysitting job during a full lunar eclipse and ends up fighting for her life. She soon discovers that her employers, Tom (Tom Noonan) and Mary (Mary Woronov) Ulman, are hiding a wicked, sick and twisted secret.

Giving the fact that it’s October and I’ve been doing this little “Horror Movie Month” thingy, I finally get the chance to actually look at a lot of horror films that I wouldn’t normally look at if it were say December of November. So when peeps started telling me that I needed to check this flick out for this month, I did not hesitate once.

Writer/director Ti West does a great job here with this 80’s look-alike because he’s more about the suspense of the horror film rather than the numerous jump-scares we always get nowadays. It’s less about scaring you and more about keeping you scared that something scary is about to happen soon. The first hour or so is all about creating the tension for this film with basically Samantha just walking around the house, looking at the rooms, listening and dancing to The Fixx, and watching some really crappy TV. This, to many people may sound really boring, but I can promise you, it’s probably the most tense I’ve been in a horror film for a long time. Never would I have thought

However, as subtle as the first hour was, the last 30 minutes of the film kind of delves into more straight-up in-your-face horror. To me, I still was very freaked out by everything that happened in these last 30 minutes because you actually get to see all of the devil-work but since the first hour is all about what you don’t see and what you imagine, this came off as a bit of a disappointment. But it’s still really creepy and even though I knew where it was all going, it still worked which is something I can’t say for half of the horror crap that comes out nowadays.

Another minor problem I had with this film was how a gun came into play with this film. A gun is not really a weapon you see used in a horror film, let alone a killing device like it’s used here because it comes into place the first time and is extremely destructive, but the next time it’s used, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was actually a BB-gun after all. This wasn’t a problem that took me away from the film as a whole, but the way its used and how differently its effects are shown, raised a little bit of eye-brows for yours truly.

If you are a fan though of Freddy, Jason, or any other of those other crazy son-of-a-bitches from the 80’s, then this is definitely the horror film for you. Right from the opening credits, I knew I was in for an 80’s horror film tribute and instead of just being a total mirror-copy of that style without any originality I actually found myself wondering why more horror films can’t be like this nowadays. The certain camera angles, lighting effects, and synthesizer-powered score that this film uses is in great effect and made me feel like I was actually watching a Grindhouse flick from those days that I would go to see on a boring Saturday night.

Earlier in the week, I heard that a little-known Indie film-maker was looking to make a $500 remake of the horror classic, ‘Halloween‘. This came as a total surprise to me because I felt that ever since Rob Zombie touched that franchise, it was practically dead. It also had me thinking that maybe some directors out there could possibly breath some new-life into old horror films, rather than just being a carbon-copy placed in the 21st century. Ti West is one of those guys who bring some new game to these old-school films but instead he gets stuck with crap like ‘Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever’ but I still have faith that he could just possibly do something cool and new in the future.

Jocelin Donahue plays Samantha, who does a good job at being pretty but also scared. It also helps that Samantha is incredibly smart and actually makes a lot of good decisions as the whole film goes which isn’t a lot we could say for many of the other teens we see in any horror film in today’s world. It also helps that she looks like Ally Sheedy, another 80’s film legend. Greta Gerwig is also pretty good as her bestie; Tom Noonan is brilliant as this insanely creepy and strange as the mysterious as Mr. Ullman; and Mary Woronov is equally as weird as her husband. The cast is all pretty good but it’s really West who is the star and finds away to take over the spot-light every time.

Consensus: With the grainy throw-back look to the horror films of the 80’s, Ti West makes The House of the Devil a very tense and creepy flick that may take awhile to get where it has to go, but it’s worth it in the end.