Monday, September 15, 2008

13: Game of Death [2006]

"An interesting attempt from an uninteresting cinematic country in an already diluted genre..."

Synopsis:  Pusit is in the shits; having just lost his job, his girl, his car and is neck deep in debt.  All his luck seems to change when a game show calls offering big money for relatively simple tasks, but when the challenges become more and more severe, dangerous and all too familiar, his world spins out of control and he may just lose everything he had left. 

Review:  I don't want to spend too much time on this one, even though it did have some redeeming qualities.  13 is chalk full of plotholes, dull characters, uninventive shock moments and the all too notorious "we just picked you randomly" (so it could happen to anyone) motiveless storyline.  The pacing was good and was co-anchored by the almost spot-on comedic timing...the children's daycare scene was HILARIOUS!  If you have an hour 1/2 to kill, giv'er a whirl, just don't expect too much and everyone will get home safely.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Martyrs [2008]

"Erotica is not porn, and Martyrs is not torture porn."

Synopsis:  Lucie, a young woman subjected to an arduous childhood of pain and suffering, returns to the home of the family who abused her with on revenge on her mind.  Her vengeful outing leads her to her fate, and her best friend and consoler into the life of which she escaped from.

Review:  Martyrs is undeniably brilliant.  It has haunted me for days and I still can't shake the thoughts and emotions ingrained in my head for long enough to write an in depth review.  Martyrs is really two films in one, both unmistakenly different.  The first half is a high-paced, emotionally charged, kill-fest that packs a fuckin' punch like you wouldn't believe.  The second half is an emotionally draining and mind numbing slowed-down transcendant trek of tortuous abuse that leads to an almost unwatchable ending.  At parts it's scarier than [REC], more brutal than Inside and grotesquely more beautiful than Aftermath.  I've seen this film make viewers cower in their seat, vomit at their feet and remain speechless and motionless for minutes.  It's an experience.  It's a masterpiece.  It's unforgetable.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Zibahkhana [2007] aka Hell's Ground

"He's a shit sweeper's son, and always will be!"

Synopsis:  Five Pakistani youths set forth, unbenounced to their parents, on a road trip with a concert as their destination.  En route the group is diverted off course and end up smack dab in the middle of a infectuous outbreak of zombie-like flesh-eaters and a family of ritualistic killers.

Review:  What was marketed as "Pakistan's first gore film" hopefully won't be it's last, but I'm praying it's Omar ali Khan's last.  Hell's Ground is a mess.  The story layout is confusing as Hell; the first third plays out like a comedy, which rolls into a environmental subtexted zombie reel in the middle third and the final sequence showcases a killer-family slasher survival led by a sheet-wearing spikey-ball twirler.  I'm befuddled.  The frame-to-frame inconsistancies, cycled screen shots, piss poor sound effects and homages that seemed more blantant ripoffs were laughable.  The shameless Mondo Macabro plug and Rehan cameo, however, I did love!  The cast was decent, as to was the dialogue between them...confusing as the half English half Urdu was.  A disappointment at best.


p.s. - If you can clearly hear your attacker breathing, he's more times than not, not dead.  Holy fuck.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Calvaire [2004] aka The Ordeal

"Fuck chocolate, Belgium needs to give us more Du Welz!"

Synopsis:  A pseudo lounge singer's trip to his next gig is interrupted when his transportation breaks down.  With the help of a passer-by he finds a nearby inn owned by an all-too-friendly fellow artist whom offers room and isn't long before he finds out the ins and outs of the inn (ya, that's right!).

Review:  Fabrice Du Welz' debut film is a stellar outing in the disturbing and creepy bowls of shock horror, Calvaire is unsettling and uncomfortable from the get go, and never lets up on the reigns of distress and suffering.  With obvious nods to many of horror's elite, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Misery, Delieverance and Psycho, Calvaire is as unique as it is homaging.  It's almost unparalelled originality formulates from it's stunning cinematography, bold performances , and sets and locations so dismal they put the "grotesque" back in "holyfuckisitevergrotesque".  Calvaire simmers in the cooking and not in the feast...and demands we all stick out or tongues to have a taste, no matter who much it will burn.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Arang [2006]

"I've got a "ju-on" to pick..."

Synopsis:  A detective and her new forensics specialist partner are on the hunt to find the killer of 4 friends with a murderous past.  Is it another long-black-haired teen back from the dead to avenge her death or perhaps a different killer with a "ju-on" to pick? 

Review:  A monotonous uneventful outing to an over cliched genre...the long-black-haired ghost with a grudge...yet somehow writer/director Sang-hoon Ahn believed he could reinvent the wheel with an added detective twist to the story...a swing and a miss!  The spills were few and far between and the thrills were non-existant.  By the time the banal final twist was thrown at me the dismal score had me dozing, the acting had me "who cares"-ing, and Asia has me running to France!  Skip it.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fragile [2005]

Synopsis: A nurse is hired to work the final few nights at a hospital for children before the patients are moved to new hospital.

Review: Fragile (Frágiles) is a simple yet effective ghost story not uncommon with the dozens of recent Japanese horrors. Perhaps too overconfident, the film faulters. It lacks the frightful jumps of it's J-horror relatives and the final shocking twist. It's upside is it's capable cast and strong editing, both of which will keep you seated and your hand away from the remote. Although not worth seeking out, it may be a decent flick to find on TV when nothing else is on.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Eden Log [2007]


Synopsis:  A man awakes in the underworld without memory or clothing.  As he makes his way through the labyrinthian network truths and dangers are revealed, both equally frightening.

Review:  Eden Log is yet another masterpiece to emerge from France, and will comfortably accompany the likes of Saint Ange, Ils, À l'intérieur, Frontieres and Haute Tension.  Not surprisingly, as first time director Franck Vestiel sat assistant director on two of the five films (Ils and Saint Ange).  As the torch has now been unequivocably passed from Japan to France, it seems as though "chef-d'oeuvre" after "chef-d'oeuvre" are being churned out; each is unmistakenly different, exploring new realms of horror and taking untrodden paths to reach it.  Eden Log is a surreal oasis of dark mystery, enigmatic atmosphere and perilous intrigue.  The story unfolds slowly, yet effortlessly, we are taken on the same journey as our protagonist and we only learn what he learns; this will either attract or detract the viewer.  It's upsides are it's downsides.  For viewers, not unlike our protagonist, that can sustain the oddysey, will reach a conclusion that provides the answers we seek...and subsequently more questions to ask.