Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door [2007]

Synopsis: Based on the true story of the death of teenager Sylvia Likens who was murdered by her caregiver and caregiver's children. Meg Loughlin and her younger sister Susan are left to live with their abusive Aunt and cousins after the tragic death of her parents. It is not long before Meg is the center of verbal and subsequent horrific physical abusive which leads to her slow three month long death.

Review: This movie is NOT for the weak. Imagine if the dungeon scenes from Hostel were real, and Eli Roth decided to take you into the realm of a factual torturous death, with more shocking implied horror than effects laden exhibitions; this is what director Gregory Wilson has done with Jack Ketchum's novel of the same name. Not all the facts are real, however, the abuse and conclusion are. Wilson does not shy away from creating uneasiness and discomfort for the viewer, he forces us into the world of the movie and obliges us to feel her pain. Fantastic performances were given from the entire cast, fronted by lead actress Blythe Auffarth who blew me away with her role of Meg. Highly recommended for genre lovers with strong stomachs.


Frontieres [2007]

Synopsis: A group of hooligan rioters flee Paris, make a convenient but unfortunate stopover at a rural motel en route to Holland, as it is run by an in bred family of neo-fascist nazis.

Review: Somewhat of a mish mash pot of horror: 3 cups Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2 cups Hostel, an ounce of Wolf Creek, a pinch of The Descent, bring to a boil and let simmer. This hearty meal is one grotesque, defiled and immoral stew, only to be savoured by the depraved movie goer. Although not without flaws (unoriginal story, cliche torture scenes), it's put together rather well. A balance of sturdy actors, ridiculous death scenes, a wild score, and an unaccustomed story will keep most viewers in their seat. By far not the best French slasher to come out recently, but much better than most of the U.S. produced garbage of late!


Monday, July 28, 2008

WΔZ [2007] aka The Killing Gene

"Saw meets Se7en?"

Synopsis: A creative, vengeful serial killer forces his victims to choose between taking the life of a loved one or their own.

Review: Critics have described this UK thriller as "Saw meets Se7en". I wouldn't be too quick to throw comparisons of the brilliant Saw or the masterpiece Se7en, however...their similar tones, stories and polished production might just be able to justify it. Stellan Skarsgård (Ronin) gives a fabulous performance as the mysterious Eddie Argo, a detective assigned to solve the shocking and scientific killings of local hoodlums and their loved ones. This dark film is paced quite well, which allows the story to unfold methodically all the way to its fantastic twist ending that comes completely out of left field. It's weaknesses are few and far between, but a standout minus goes to the inconsistant (rookie?) detective Helen Westcott (Melissa George), who can not properly balance her Skarsgård protagonist counterpart. Recommended to all dark crime thriller lovers.


The Mist [2007]

"The hype ruined it for me."

Synopsis: A large group of locals and non-locals of a small town are held hostage in a grocery store by a mysterious mist.

Review: It has taken me awhile to finally get around to seeing this Stephen King adaptation. What I had heard was "an incredible blockbuster", "the best King adaptation yet", and "one of the best endings to a horror movie". And when that "ending" finally happened, I didn't realize it until the credits rolled, and I felt confused and alone like a hooker with a sale on. "That's it!?!?", I screamed. The hype ruined it for me. Perhaps I needed to be an ignorant movie goer or a horror newbie. The surprise finale was neither unpredictable nor shocking, and was completely inconsistant compared to the characters previous actions and decisions. The middle third was irratatingly religious. Suspense and terror was nowhere to be found. Had I been on of the first to see this, perhaps my feelings would be different, but I wasn't so they're not.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Last Winter [2006]

"Sierra Alpha Yankee, Whiskey Hotel Alpha Tango!?!?!?"

Synopsis: In the great white tundra of the north, a group of oil drilling experts, accompanied by two operational scientists, are challenged by the effect of global warming and their quest for the much coveted natural resource.

Review: Things I learned from The Last Winter: Global warming will release giant caribou ghosts with a taste for blood from the frozen glaciers, walking nude into the icy abyss will result in my eyes being plucked out by crows, Ron Perlman wets his bed, sour gas will make us all crazy, and drinking doesn't help to battle hypothermia. What could have been an atmospheric, claustrophobic, and chilling psychological thriller, is sadly over complicated, over time and ironically, over everyone's head. The performances were strong enough, but the characters were developed to go nowhere...like the story.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Funny Games [2007]

"Funny Games... manipulates, force feeds, and drags the audience on a short leash with a strong grip."

Synopsis: Two young sociopathic killers enter and exit the lives of an innocent family vacationing at their lake-front cottage.

Review: Funny Games, a shot-for-shot remake of the 1997 film of the same title and director, manipulates, force feeds, and drags the audience on a short leash with a strong grip. Michael Haneke should be commended for taken the reigns on the remake inevidibility, and in this second effort, admirably, neither dumbs-down or over-simplifies his risky and controversial objectives deeply lined in his first triumph. Each and every visceral, disturbing, confusing, and substantive shot, dialogue, and scene is maintained and preserved. The script is undeniably engaging, uncomfortably hypnoptic and sadistically voyeur. Each and every performance is painstakingly real and brilliant, principally Michael Pitt, as "Paul", who arguably outperforms Funny Games' original, Arno Frisch. This film is still hard to watch, still difficult to digest, and still impossible to decipher.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

[REC] [2008]

"[REC] needs only a second to interest you, a minute to suck you in, and an hour to eat you whole."

Synopsis: A beautiful young reporter and her cameraman follows the working lives of a fire fighting detachment. A late night call of a "screaming old woman" brings them to a small apartment building where they meet it's residents, local law enforcement, and their soon to be fate.

Review: Not many recent horrors can leave you speechless...and speed reaching for the remote to replay it. [REC] does that and more. It infects you. It consumes you. It's a fuckin' masterpiece. What writers/directors Juame Balaguero and Paco Plaza have done is not rocket science, they stripped down horror to its bare fuckable necessities. They conjured up a simple idea, made it relatable and realistic, shot it stylistically, and hinted on and implied a deep rooted back story. The action is fierce and each "scene" catapults you into the next. Where Cloverfield failed to produce likeable characters, [REC] succeeds. We know nothing about the female protagonist, but her personality just beckons you to care for her; and her firefighter cohorts need only their professions to do the same. [REC] needs only a second to interest you, a minute to suck you in, and an hour to eat you whole.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pathology [2008]

"I want my Milano back, and somebody owes me a pathology"

Synopsis: Young forensics genius Dr. Ted Grey begins a residency at a university pathology lab where a group of fellow classmates, led by Dr. Jake Gallo, take turns randomly killing innocent victims and solving their scientifically mysterious murders as a form of entertainment and game.

Review: This absurd implausable story will either attract or distract; and it has me caught in the indecisive world of purgatory. The quick and tight editing gave the pace a steady and straightlined flow but became an issue when establishing each characters motive, consideration and provocation. The cast was strong, even the fart-smelling skill of lead Milo Ventimiglia (Dr. Ted Grey) was only partly annoying. Top nods go to the surprisingly brilliant Michael Weston, as Dr. Jake Gallo, and Keir O'Donnell, as Dr. Ben Stravinsky. Gore hounds will be gratified with the elegant visuals and red soaked autopsy tables, almost Aftermath-esque. All that said, it was a few rungs short of it's online buzz, so don't run out and pull a muscle ripping this off the store shelves, there's a lot more to be seen before you throw this in the DVD player.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Zombie Strippers! [2008]

"Fake Tits, Throat Slits & A Dose of Wit"

Synopsis: George W., now serving his fourth term of U.S. presidency, has spread his military arms too thin (into the entire middle-east, Canada and Iceland). After recognizing their need for more soldiers, U.S. scientists create a virus to reanimate the bodies of dead soldiers, allowing them to be put back into action as "super soldiers". All goes to hell in the research labs, a bitten soldier flees the premises and takes refuge in a nearby strip club where he infects the entertainment. Then...it's boobie time!

Review: Zombie Strippers! should not be taken seriously...and for that, it fails and succeeds. Horrorphiles who seek subtext, underlying meaning, metaphors and satirical commentary need to adhere to these simple yet effective procautionary instructions...make yourselves be seen, back away slowly, and don't make any direct eye contact. If you can do that, you'll be alright to go about your business and you may briskly walk back to your Argento collection. This is a b-movie...errr...z-movie. It's sturdy foundation is built on delivering fun and amusement. The jokes are obvious and retardedly infecting, the tits and ass are bountiful and abundant, the gore is outrageous and hilarious, and each of the components was only outdone by the intelligent dialogue and script. And by intelligent I don't mean "intellectual" or "deeply conjured", it was just written perfectly for it's goal; a solid turn-your-brain-off tit and shit show. Unfortunately these charateristics are it's downfall. Zombie Strippers! does not break any new ground or even attempt to, and it's the attempt that is what film, especially horror, is all about.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Insanitarium [2008]

Synopsis: A loving brother insanely razorblades his pecs, hits the street, and insanely mumbles and screams at people until he's institutionalized to an insane asylum, ran by an insane Dr. who experiments on his insane patients until they become even more insane, all in an effort to save his committed insane sister.

Review: Insanitarium is, at its core, Prison Break with zombies. So if you like Prison Break and zombie movies, then pop Season 1 or Dawn of the Dead into the DVD player and forget this dung pile ever caught your attention. But if it's more you want, then I shall be so inclined. Subbing for Wentworth Miller is Jesse Metcalfe as Jack, the not as smart, but strangely as eager, loving brother trying to break his sibling out of an institution. We don't know much about his history or motives, probably because they were never thought up. Peter Stormore is back as the bad guy, but this time he's crazy for no apparent reason, if not for convenience sake. Upsides to this mess are Paul Giamatti **cough cough** I mean Kevin Sussman as the paranoid sidekick, the hiring and not overusing a slew full of hootch and culo, and a machete though the skull and out the mouth.


Monday, July 14, 2008

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane [2006]

Synopsis: Mandy Lane, the recently turned drop dead gorgeous bookworm, is coerced into a weekend ranch get-a-way; where a deranged admirer of Mandy's tight legged and panty locked lower half spoils all the innocent fun.

Review: All The Boys... is a solid modern slasher that earns it's inclusion to the classic genre. The comedic element is thankfully only moderately used, which keeps the viewers attention on suspense build-up and character development. The w-teen cast seemed seasoned and experienced, which was a breath of fresh air considering the recent hiring strategy of "you're hot, you're hired". This one will keep you interested and entertained right up until it's acceptably decent twist ending.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Broken [2006, Boyes/Mason]

Synopsis: Hope, a single mother, is abducted from a restful sleep at home, and wakes up in a cold, damp nightmare of tortuous tests, humiliation, slavery and the mystery of her daughter's safety and whereabouts.

Review: A rare film that has actually benefitted from being highly cut and edited (the proud decision made by the filmmakers themselves). Do not expect another "torture porn" Hostel knockoff, which has been mentioned and compared to in more than one online review. Broken offers an excellent story, a relatable, passionate and convincing *albeit annoying at times* performance by lead Nadya Brand, superb direction, and set props/cinematography so stunning that they almost appear as characters themselves. It's only flaw is it's uniqueness, independance, and the obvious fingerprints left from two young and up and coming director/writers.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Gag [2006]

Synopsis: Two hapless robbers find themselves far from safe as they broke into a home of a deranged killer.

Review: A typical low budget capture and torture flick aimed to nurse from the supple teet of the Saw and Hostel cash cows. Our anti-heros are unfortunately hardly admirable leaving the viewer confused on who to cheer for. We know one of the crooks "needs the cash" but we never find out why. Are we to expect it is for something genuinely valiant? The script fails to let us in on the big secret. Shot largely in a dark and grimy basement, first-time director Scott W. Mckinlay fails to draw the viewer into any sort of terror or fear. The torture is unintentionally humorous to the desensitized and the few hide & stalk scenes were poorly done....panic, uneasiness and horror are completely absent as the story can not draw the audience in.

Timber Falls [2007]

Synopsis: Two young unmarried hitchhikers are terrorized, kidnapped, tortured, and experimented on by a family of jesus-loving, bible-thumping, god-fearing redneck hillbillies. Ya, that's right...no one has EVER done something this original in DECADES.

Review: A dramatic kill in the opening minutes, the unexciting twist ending, the trademark torture scenes, the lost in the woods only to found by a crazy jebus-praising family plot. This cinematic mess is just one big long circumcized clichée with a only a handful of pat-on-the-back redeemable qualities. The acting is decent, if not good. The cinematography was wonderfully shot, however, I'm pretty sure it's purely incidental as it's location could hardly present itself as anything but scenic and beautiful. I did like the pregnancy aspect of the story. The dialogue is quite realistic and far from tedious. All that being said, don't waste any time seeking out or watching this trivial salad of ass and feces (and please don't mistake "ass" as any indication of gratutious nudity content, you won't find that here).