Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sauna [2008]

Sauna is an Apocalypse Now-esque tale of darkness and the inescable path to reckoning that is both pretentious and masterful, boring and thrilling.  Finland's Antti-Jussi Annila gives us Eerik and Knut - two brothers sent by Sweden to mark the border between Finland and Russia after a quarter decade war over the church has reached it's end.

Along their expedition, the brothers take shelter with a widower father and his teenaged daughter.  Upon discovering the hidden religion of the quaint family,  the older - and much more brutal - brother Eerik is seen stabbing the father to death (for untruthfully reaching for an axe).  To protect the survived daughter from Eerik, the younger - and more sheltered brother - locks her in an underground cellar.  

As the trek continues off the property, Knut is haunted by the visions of the girl they have abandoned to die.  Further on a swamp is reached that they must divide to each country.  In the middle of the swamp a small uncharted village is stumbled upon - a village of 73 - an amount equal to lives Eerik has taken...and those that need to be avenged.

With eerily mirrored parallels to Vinyan (2008), Sauna is an emotional and pyschological journey to the inner depths of fate and hell, and not unlike the ever brilliant Ravenous - filthy, cold, and thrilling.   The cast is captivating, the script is fantastic, and the setting, scene locations and photography are beautifully unclean.  The lack of gore and slow pacing found here are not for the average horror fan, but those well versed in the films of inner horror or period horror will find Sauna well worth the short running time.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Haunting In Connecticut [2009]

I'll be honest...I usually try and keep good distance away from big-budget US productions but it's been too long since I've kept up with my reviews...and watching modern horrors in general (don't get married, move into your first house, and take up a costly and time demanding hobby like woodworking all in 6 months and expect to have time for much else). So I thought I'd toss in a easy one to get my writing brain functioning again.

The Haunting In Connecticut is nothing more than an Americanized version of classic Japanese ghost horrors. Heavy stringed score, check. Jump scares, check. Devoid of gore and violence, check. Creepy black haired ghost, chhhhh....errr...damn American horror fimmakers can't do anything right.

Keeping in line with it's Japanese predecessors the performances are good to great (minus the lackluster Martin Donovan as Peter Campbell, who's drunken tirade against any and all light bulbs was deplorably laughable). Rounding out it's pluses were the excellent house setting and capable cinematography. But seriously...(yawn)

Not completely terrible but almost unavoidably forgettable, it isn't really worth any more time. So go rent some good J-horror to make you dread your next trip to the nearest "little Asia" or local chicken ball delivery man.