Sunday 13 January 2013

Killed by Death... Of a Franchise

[Rec] was a great movie. I loved it. I think you've seen it. I forget. If you haven't, go and see it. The movie's great. Paco Plaza and Jaume Balagueró. It's first person horror done well, and having seen it before Cloverfield, I did both a disservice. I actually like Cloverfield, despite the flaws. Cloverfield is a roller-coaster ride more than it is a horror movie. [Rec] delivers the best first person horror I've seen outside of Blair Witch, which I still think is good. Wow, first person horror admission hour.
Anyway, back on track, [Rec] was amazing, [Rec] 2 was still good, delivering two stories set after the first film and during it (in that order, weirdly). We got to see familiar faces and had more of the mythos expand in front of us, because this isn't simply a zombie movie, there's more to it.
[Rec] 2 was made to keep people aware that [Rec] was a property of Plaza & Balagueró, not the awful American adaptation, called Quarantine, which I'm surprised I've not written about here on KBG. Actually I'm not, I tried and it became a rant about how wonderful [Rec] was instead. The production company asked for two more movies, so the creators decided to set about one each for reasons which sound a lot like, "creative differences". [Rec] Genesis is a prequel by Paco Plaza, and [Rec] Apocalypse will be set after all the other films, by Balagueró. I can only assume by Genesis, that Apocalypse will be the good film. If you've not seen them, this is just my usual babble, but the second this film was over, I had to find out why. Why was it like this?
[Rec] Genesis has a great DVD menu, done in the style of a tacky home-made wedding DVD. Once the film starts, we're back in a first person view, behind two cameras at a wedding. There's a lively kid who's wanting to film everything on a crappy handheld camera, and then a tubby guy who's the hired cameraman with all the proper kit. The two cameras make for different styles, and the cameramen are great together. They're chatty and the older guy is mentoring the kid. There's kid's entertainer, "John Sponge" who is definitely not Spongebob Squarepants, for copyright reasons (as mentioned in the film). Then we have the family, including Rafa, who's trying to pick women up, and a vet who's been bitten by a dog, his hand bandaged up. [Rec] people will know what this means. Finally we have Clara and Koldo, the happy couple. The wedding shows all of their friends and all the chintzy, sentimental moments, including Koldo serenading his wife after they've kissed at the altar. Everything moves to a party at a nice mansion (nice, but the police are outside for some reason). As in most sequels, there's a sense of, "get going already" to the events, even though it's good to stick around and see who the characters are, why we care about them.
At the party, the vet, Koldo's uncle, throws up what's obviously blood, gives The Crazy-Eye and mounts a prop at the disco. He topples and falls through a table, then bites a woman who helps him, and stands around looking pretty damn pleased with himself. People panic and then leaping rage zombies jump into the crowd. I'm not sure where they came from, but they're here now, ripping everything apart. People are getting killed and eaten all over the place and in the chaos, both cameramen end up with the groom. The camera kid of course gives the now-traditional, "I have to film everything, people have to know the truth!" speech, only to have the camera taken away and stomped on.
The end.
No, not really, but they use that as a mechanic to deliver the opening title, as the 'record' light dies away. We switch instead to a clean, crisp filming style, following Koldo's group as they abandon the other cameraman when he's too fat to fit in the vent. They find out that one of the guests was a guy who goes to weddings and sees who's using copyrighted music to make sure that the music companies get royalties. Clara uses the intercom to show that she's still alive and now the plot's about the pair of them getting back to each other through a zombie-infested mansion. And these are zombies. They're not the… things, [Rec] 1 & 2 had. Those were more than just zombies, but aside from freaky evil angel reflections and the smirking vet zombie, they are basically standard zombies from any one of the billion zombie films out now. Clara's own group includes John Sponge and a short priest who keeps talking about this being the Genesis (not the book of the Bible I'd compare it to). He's abandoned by the others and by quoting scripture, he makes the zombies spasm and stay in place. Clara meets Rafa, who went off to shag a French girl and is unaware of what happened.
Koldo's team are decimated, with young camera guy separated, Royalties gets bitten by the cop and then alerting the horde (I said that out loud when the police siren went off, damn you Left 4 Dead). Koldo and a tubby guy get suits of armour to cross the horde in the disco, and tubby is instantly dragged off. In Clara's team, John Sponge is killed, the French woman has a heart-to-heart and is killed a second later, and Rafa tries to get on with Clara, only to die, too. She gets a chainsaw, cuts only half of her wedding dress off so that she looks like a Final Fantasy character, hacking through a few zombies with chainsaws, lopping off Rafa's head and bisecting one guy. It's short-lived as she sees Koldo (in his armour and sideburns looking like a weird Not-Colin-Firth) through a grate above her. The two share a way too long reunion at first either side of the grate, then right next to where zombies are clambering at them. I guess they're holding back for now because they wanted to see the reunion, too.
They're surrounded, about to die, despite having the cake-cutting sword of doom (oh yeah, there's a sword everyone keeps forgetting is there). Then the intercom goes on and it's the tiny priest reading the Bible. All the zombies start convulsing, allowing the bride and groom to leave. On their way out, the gates have been covered in plastic and the guys who boarded up [Rec]'s building are there. Technically, for a prequel, this must now be after the incident from the first two films, as an aside. The zombie extras are having to twitch about, even though the tiny priest has stopped. What's happened to him? We never know. Clara and Koldo are in the garden of the jittering dead when she's bitten in the hand. A relative had a bad hearing aid, so he never heard the religious chanting. Finally, the sword gets used to hack her hand off, but it's too late and the bad CGI shows the infection bubbling beneath her giant eyes. They don't realise this until the pair confront the big plastic sheet and the yelled warnings from "The Man" to not go near. The infection starts to show in Clara and the pair decide to walk through the unguarded tunnels, all the way to the outside. The authorities surround them, now the pair are out in the open, rather than the sealed manor, and let the pair kiss. Clara turns the moment they kiss and rips Koldo's face open. He's going to turn now, and the cops open fire on the couple. They die together, and that's it. The end.
This isn't just a bad zombie movie, it's EVERY bad zombie movie. After Dawn of the Dead, there was a glut of zombie films where people don't seem to understand what they're doing. A zombie invasion is best when it's an element, like a storm, and you get to see the human reaction to it (see Night of the Living Dead and The Walking Dead). Then for the 'storm' to be the face of their inevitable demise, it's great, it'll make them crack in no time, or discover inner potential.
Instead, these films remove any allegory, any human element, any meaning aside from, "zombie movies sell and I want to make one". The arcs mean nothing. The characters didn't have more than one note each. The first part, pre-invasion, could have been good, and both cameramen had a fun dynamic. The sad truth is that seeing their story could have been more interesting than these lovers separated by the dead. I feel that this is the equivalent of George Romero's "Diary of the Dead". In that instance, he was trying to tap into the first person zeitgeist and took all interesting traits from his previous films out. Paco Plaza has done the same by going from first to third person. Experimenting with style is fine, but acting like the pale imitations which flood the cheap film section of second-hand stores is a shameful move on both their parts.
I can only hope that [Rec] Apocalypse is better, as Paco Plaza won't be behind the camera.

Friday 5 October 2012

Killed by Foxy Boxing

I forget how I found "A Lure: Teen Fight Club". I know I was on one of those IMDB trawls where you see credits of random actors you recognise, but I forget who I was looking up. They must have been awful, and now I wish them only pain.
Teen Fight Club sounds like it was added simply to try and get any views from gullible 'Fight Club' fans, similar to the way Asylum Movies title themselves. All I knew was the title, and it had me, so I'm about as good as the gullible Fight Club fans. This movie took me two attempts to get through. Detention 2010 and Twilight didn't take two attempts. Admittedly the first one I had to stop because it was in my living room, and I didn't want people hearing what I was watching. Again, I've seen the other two films in my living room, I watch Gilmore Girls in my living room unabashedly.
So the film… It opens with two cheerleaders running through the woods, only to get killed...? It's uncertain at this point. The smoke and the woods look like a bad Buffy set. No, a bad Charmed set, but without Smashmouth in it, as the only thing I remember about Charmed is that they had Smashmouth appear once.
We have some cops in a made-up room at a college or office, giving the usual film cop banter back and forth, and we hear about missing teenage girls. The first reaction to this is that someone's got to be sent in undercover. They get our lead girl, Maggie, a cheerleading uniform. She's going in.
The school itself, Belmont High, is awful. Every teenager is the absolute worst. You'd think that you're watching a porn parody of an Eli Roth movie, but without any payoff. The girls are all about sexually insulting each other, walking about with little on and having the acting skill of the average porn star. Although this really isn't porn. It's about a teenage fight club. In theory. Nothing is made of this, no hints. The main clique we follow are a tiny mean girl who hams it up like a 1960's Batman villain, a girl whose family are rednecks but displays no difference from the other girls, and a blonde who is exactly a pr0n parody of an Eli Roth girl. Oh, and a generic girl who's taken away plot-wise and stars in the sole séx scene (when I realised all the noises and high-pitched sweary slutshaming the girls gave to each other sounded really awful echoing through the flat. The new girl/undercover cop is instantly hated, of course. These days, a lot of films seem to tar people with the outcast brush without any need to back it up. The Amazing Spider-Man had a less overtly-nerdy Peter Parker, and at its most blatant, the awful Abduction had Jacob from Twilight, a former model, as an outcast simply because… well, it's narrative shorthand for, "you sympathise with this character". Yeah, I saw that movie. It was on the, "How Did This Get Made?" podcast and any film I've not already seen which they cover, I watch. I'll tell you about Tiptoes sometime.
The girls talk about a rave they're going to later on, and with contrived reasons why they don't have a ride, they'll get the cop girl to drive them. While bullying her. Smart girls. The redneck girl draws sympathy from cop girl, which you might mistake for characterisation, but don't worry, it won't last.
On the drive through the dry-ice woods, the girls stop so that one of them can pee (classy) and they're split up, then knocked out. The mean girl and redneck girl are attacked by a poor man's Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica, lurking in the back of their car. He tasers one and the other runs into a rope hung in the air. Not a garotte, that would kill her, but the throat-strike of the rope knocks her out.
Finally, what feels like two hours into this movie, we finally start to see more than truly terrible acting and girls in their underwear, which I shouldn't really have complaints about, but still, that's how bad this movie is. The bland girl finds cop girl's adult boyfriend. She thinks he's an evil stalker, and still he ends up talking his way into being driven to the rave. Of course, it's a totally different place than the other girls. Redneck girl's brother and his bff get lost in the woods and attacked, just like the girls. One dies, the other gets away.
The kidnapped girls are caged in pairs, and we can see the cheerleaders from the start. This is all in a barn somewhere, and the leering guards taser some of them, just for the hell of it. After a bit of caged screaming, cop girl escapes with a hair pin, because the oldies are the goodies, but is caught. This happens quite a bit with different combinations of almost out, and then not. Another eight hours into this film and we finally see the fight club. It's a boxing ring surrounded by seedy gambling types. Cop girl is dressed like a really bad Sucker Punch cosplay and fitted with a collar which will shock her if she doesn't play along. Then a now-feral girl in hot pants is put into the ring and they fight for people's entertainment. It's not as great as attractive women fighting sounded. I didn't realise this was going to be the kind of fight club, and my expectations were dashed as soon as they were raised. Part way through the fight, a goon throws a knife in and in self-defence, cop girl kills feral girl. She's applauded and sent back to a cage for another escape attempt. Oh, and all the while a shadowy figure is drinking and watching all this on a monitor, just to make it seem creepy, but in a Jimmy Savile way instead of a horror movie way. Redneck girl's brother turns up and dies during her attempt at escaping, delaying her from going. Cop girl is given the victory hot pants from the feral corpse girl and made to fight the mean girl. They agree not to fight, are told to kiss and then when it's not convincing, are conned into fighting by mind games a five year old could work out. During this time, the cop guy and bland girl's boyfriend have figured out the girls were given wrong directions and go for a platonic drive out in the eeeevil woods.
Things go awry, with the cop girl in another fight when the cop guy turns up. He breaks up the seedy audience who could easily have overpowered and killed him, and rescues cop girl. The mean girl, having done nothing other than get put in a cage to win our sympathies, is tied up in some other barn. The shadowy form, sensing everything falling apart around him leaves his monitor (taking his drink with him) and goes to the mean girl. It's Mr Reed! A teacher we saw for a moment and the girls all leched over right at the top of the movie. If he had more of a presence, this would be more of a plot point. He kidnaps the mean girl, takes cop girl hostage (with a man around, she's suddenly become useless). He gets cop girl to drive them away which ends with a crash in a lake, ending him, and I think the mean girl, too. I don't know, I mentally switched off at this point. I entered a trancelike state, transfixed by my Resident Evil 2 mousepad. I couldn't remember where I got it from, but the pad had lasted a long time. I remembered a time when the ludicrous Resident Evil series wasn't bloated, wasn't somehow more illogical than the bad film spin offs. When wandering around a trap-laden house or police station was a slow-paced thing of joy. When we were more innocent, and didn't ask questions like, "What is life like for an average Umbrella Corporation employee? Do they have to move a statue in place, collect three coloured-keys and play part of a song on a piano just to get to work in the morning?" A simpler time. Anyway, all of that behind me, I tuned back in and the cop girl was no longer undercover, she was together with cop guy, her rescuer, but the film ended on him looking creepy, suspicious, like somehow he was part of the ring that he investigated and broke up. An implausible and unnecessary twist end for a really poor film.
A Lure: Teenage Fight Club, feels like a really bad approximation of what a modern horror film should be like. All the protagonists have one character trait which is, "swearily antagonistic", all the girls are constantly between chastising the vírginity or slutshaming each other, then when the fight club appears, their character trait becomes, "screaming in a cage". It's lazy, unambitious, and proof that the Bechdel test doesn't always work as these are painfully one-dimensional women, but they all have names and don't just talk about guys.
I might have to find a Gamecube copy of Resident Evil 1 to play on my Wii now. I miss that game.

Saturday 5 March 2011

Faked Tales and Mundanity

We've done shockingly little with bad horror movies lately.
There was a point where we started picking apart the genre instead of specific movies and I don't know quite where we're going to go with the movies themselves.

Instead, we've got other endeavours on the internet.

My brother, Goddom, has the following article on D-Pad magazine:
The Importance of Mundanity

While I've got a new website, Faked Tales: Real stories of things that never happened

Enjoy, and we will be back again, to be killed by ghosts

Thursday 5 August 2010

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrkkkkk Waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhteerrrrr

What is it about little girls in horror movies? Frequently appearing as both victims and horrible ghosts you could almost make a horror movie using only little girls and it'd still work with most modern horror conventions...... If not being a little insufferable. That said lets plunge head first into

Dark Water(2002)

This is a film by Hideo Nakata, who you should probably know Directed "Ringu" (AKA "The Ring"), a film so ridiculously famous that I'm not going to bother re-watching it and sending you a tedious review. Know simply that "Ringu" restarted the Asian horror movie scene after making big mega bucks in the west and having an American remake. Since then almost no Asian horror film has been complete without a long dark haired young woman whose face is obscured wandering slowly towards you, possibly crawling over your bed and just before she reaches you, the camera cuts away and you're later found dead. Seeing as Mr.Nakata is currently one of the most copied Directors in the east (See Japanese re-make of "Dark Water" and American remake of "Dark water") the one thing I was not expecting from this film was originality, but I was adequately surprised! Unlike almost every other film I've reviewed for you so far this film takes pretty much no influence from western cinema (aside from the occasional nod towards certain famous films like "The Shining") which makes this a very eastern focused film. It's clearly intended for Japanese audiences as it keeps their culture very much intact throughout......including all the sexism! I don't expect you'll ever watch this, so I'm going to go ahead and ruin it for you.

The film follows single mother Yoshimi who (curiously) doesn't battle pink robots but instead battles for custody of her child Ikuko. There's alot of strange elements to this film that never entirely get explained, while I could be lazy and assume that some things get lost in translation I can't help but feel that Hideo Nakata can (at times) be an incredibly unfocused writer. It almost feels like there's too much being squeezed into this film and early on it really could head in any direction. The film starts with Yoshimi reminiscing about how she'd frequently be the last girl at Kindergarten to be collected by her Mother..... This theme is echoed throughout the film but never actually goes anywhere and doesn't hold any relevance to anything! Flash forward and she's arguing her ability to care for the kid to some curiously insensitive social workers..... no seriously...they ask some of the most invasive and unnecessary questions you'll ever see.. "we heard you used to sleep walk as a child?" Who cares! why could that be a problem! I understand that this is all meant to give the backing to Yoshimi but it comes across as completely inappropriate. Anyway... She and Ikuko go house hunting and end up at the evillest looking tenement ever! over looking the kind of industrial landscape that makes northern Russia look glamorous. Obviously a bargain they move in immediately...

At this point I want to point out something important. Hideo Nakata hates horror movies! yeah it's strange.... The one person responsible for restarting the whole horror movie industry in Japan... hates it! I think this is why he sometimes misses some pretty obvious things.... like the plot in Ju-on: the grudge... and the pay off in this film... The one thing he is fucking superb at is atmosphere.. This guy can make almost anything creepy as hell! and one thing that he really makes creepy as hell? This fucking evil tenement block!

From the second they enter it somethings just not quite right, everythings really tense and the inhabitants are really odd. Water, which remember is part of the theme, is everywhere... like seriously.. when there's water IN THE LIFT! Call a plumber or live elsewhere! While walking around and generally being creeped out Ikuko goes missing, YEAH THAT'S NOT A BAD START! I mean honestly. When I was 5 I was terrified of everything, EVERYTHING! The very idea that you'd go exploring by your self in a huge evil looking tenement is implausible.... Anyway, she's found up on the roof!........................................ where she's found a neat looking red handbag with a hello kitty style bunny rabbit on the front. Spoilsport Yoshimi doesn't let her keep it however and makes the building manager put it in a lost and found box by reception.

They move in and everything seems ok... apart from a damp patch on the ceiling that starts to head towards Yoshimi's bed.... and the teachers at the pre-school, who Yoshimi seems to think are bad.... despite them being the most incredibly liberal and average teachers you could possibly imagine in a horror film! Sure enough the ceiling starts to leak and weird shit starts happening (A hair in the tap water ew!)...also that red bag keeps appearing on the roof, despite several attempts to bin it. We find out that a little girl about Ikuko's age went missing about a year it seems obvious that she's the ghost in this one. In fact I assumed that she'd been kidnapped, raped and murdered ...... possibly by Ikuko's dad! And we'd have to sit through loads of hauntings until eventually we'd be forced to relive that experience, catch the murdering douche bag and hooray! happy ending!..... not even close......Three things are painfully obvious though: 1, the girl is dead. 2, her body is in the water tower on top of the building. 3, Ikuko is going a bit mad and possibly playing with the ghost of this dead girl.

Things come to a head when the ghost goes the Ikukos school and drips some pretty nasty looking water on her which makes her vomit and collapse. While recovering at home shit gets worse as the damp patch on the ceiling spreads.... this leads to possibly the scariest part of the film. Yoshimi falls unconscious while at Ikukos bed side... has a big flashback to the dead girls past and when she wakes up Ikuko's missing. She hears movement in the flat above, assumes it's Ikuko (as you do) and goes to investigate. The flat upstairs is vacant (established earlier) and when Yoshimi enters it, it's become kind of a nightmarish decayed Silent hill-esque room. She finds Ikuko and legs it.

The strangest thing ever happens next... Yoshimi's lawyer arrives and sorts out.....well Everything! Seriously! So they decide to stay in the house???????? I know!!!!!!!

However things aren't all great. The ghost returns, has a really very good attempt at killing Ikuko (why ghost why?) and then does the second strangest thing ever.... Confronts Yoshimi and takes her as her mother....Which Yoshimi accepts.... The ghost then drowns her...........

Cut to ten years in the future???????? At least he tells us this time.

Ikuko is all grown up, returns to the now derelict tenement block... Meets her mother as a ghost?????? Chats for awhile!!!! and then leaves????????


I really don't understand this.... Ok so we find out the the dead girl wasn't killed or anything interesting... she just fell in the water tower and drowned! (what a clutz)! so I guess she's looking for a mother figure? Strange... because when alive she lived only with her dad! Why take on that role? why not just run the fuck away? Why do we have to learn about Yoshimi's shitty upbringing? Why is there this constant repetition of a young girl being the last girl to be picked up from school? Why are the pre-school teachers made out to be sinister even though they're not at all? Why do they make Ikuko's dad so sinister?

All these things really distract from what's going on.... 

I mean I liked this film, it's beautifully shot and the techniques for the ghost are still genuinely creepy. I still love the complete lack of jump moments, but something just seems abit broken about this film.

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Killed by Words, by damn words! You're dead just reading this!

We are using the language incorrectly and it is killing us. We are surrounded by textspeak, a country with an average reading age of seven and no ability to determine the difference between they're, their and there. We are crawling towards newspeak and the inevitable newthink that will provide.

People are closer to the Bill Hicks trope of "What are you reading for?" and in one of the previous buildings where I worked, one call centre worker proudly scoffed about how he'd not read a single book since age eleven. What a c**t.

Anyway, I saw a film. That's what all of this is about. I saw a film from Canada and it was low budget, but kind of fun. Pontypool. But not the Welsh one, the Canadian one. I know, I wasn't aware of that either, and what a name to choose. It's based on "Pontypool Changes Everything" which sounds a bit mad.

We're introduced to an old radio dj who wants to be Howard Stern and anyone else vaguely controversial. Actual controversial, not Chris Moyles cuntroversial (and I bet Censor-Bot doesn't block that, see how I flaunt these loopholes in e-mail rules!) He has two women working with him, his producer and a young Afghanistan war vet who's their techie and looks like she's only just old enough to be in a teen tv show. I'm surprised I've not seen her in Degrassi, my teen show/trauma vehicle of choice.

Things start simply enough although they bicker on and off-air constantly about the dj wanting to rant and the producer wanting him to get on with local news and weather (delivered by a man in a car pretending to be in a helicopter). There are hints things aren't right like people not being here in the radio station/disused church for work. Then we start getting information called in to the station about a riot outside a doctor's office. The terms used are not only indicative of a zombie outbreak, but simultaniously not. There's word of people piling on folks, of them babbling the same thing over and over, about U-boats and things like that.

Confused, the rebellious dj breaks the news, but isn't sure what's going on and when pressed by the BBC keeps things under wraps. Auntie thinks it's terrorists, which in Canada seems like a weird idea. What's there to bomb? Who'd want to kill LoadingReadyRun? Given I've never heard your stance on them, possibly you, but I'm a fan. The portrayal of the BBC seems to be that they're looking for confirmation on their own beliefs rather than finding something out. That's a bit more American isn't it?

Anyway, contact with the outside lessens and lessens until we get a few moments where you wonder if any of the cast are infected as they're saying strange things or repeating phrases. One of them, it turns out, is. The Afghanistan vet girl starts making a high pitched noise and isn't responsive, about the same time as a Groucho Marx/Robert Winston-looking doctor turns up. He's escaped the riot of zombies outside his surgery and provides exposition with easily the worst acting in the film. They lock themselves in the radio booth as the war vet techie starts looking for them. At first she's acting normal, but can't seem to see them when she can't hear them. Then she attacks the glass of the booth, running into it head-first. Then she starts eating her own mouth. When I was kicked in the mouth at age 12 or 13, pushing a couple of teeth through my lower lip, I did develop a slight habit of gnawing at the giant bloody scab to stop it growing over my face. A horrid habit. Still, she takes it a bit far. Then, looking like a low-rent Joker, she continues headbutting the glass before vomiting herself inside out and dying.

During all of this, the doctor explains that it's the language which is infected! Yes, you heard me. The English language is infected. A bit Grant Morrison, so I'll let it slide. It's a strange premise to undertake, but why not. It can't be any less reasonable than Zombie Rednecks' infected still or Condemned 2's sonar hubcap things.

More audio-zombies appear, repeating anything that's said and banging against the glass of the booth. Communicating in writing, then in French, the dj and producer determine that the doctor's crazy and when they come up with a way to ditch the infected, they flee.

The fleeing and talking in French fall through a few times. I don't know if their repeated giving up on the French is to fill a quota of English in a film to allow an American release (which is, if I recall correctly, a real thing).

The escape fails hideously but the dj realises something which again, ticks the Grant Morrison buttons. I'm realising I keep going back to the mad scotsman as a frame of reference, but he is my favourite comic book writer and if I will watch surreal films, then comparisons will be made. Anyway, the cure. Apparently it's to make the words lose sense. Say something enough, write something enough and it starts to lose meaning in your head. The infected words seemed to be words of love, hate, anything with emotional resonance.

Deciding to do the right thing rather than escape, the dj and the cured producer head back down to the booth and start spreading the cure by saying word-substitution gibberish. We hear helicopters overhead and as our diminished cast say random things, we don't know if the 'cure' is setting in and we can hear the helicopter believing that our babbling duo are infected. They're acting just like the zombies after all. One of the things I guess I've not touched on as much is the idea that apparently the infected are people flipping out as their aphasia and their mental faculties are going all wibbly. Then, much like Night of the Living Dead and any zombie movie with government types, it's explodey doom time.

We get the inevitable scene during the end-credits where we hear noises that the virus isn't just in Pontypool anymore. Then a coda which is a bit more Kill Bill than anything else. I'm not sure why it's there, but the style it, and the mass obituary section earlier are shot very prettily. I'm sure it makes some kind of sense.

The acting's ropey in places, although the dj is fantastic. As we're almost always on his face, the fact that it looks like some kind of alien landscape helps. He looks like Timothy Olyphant's dad in any western he's been in. Cowboy clothes, gravel voice, and a pair of bug eyes which just help the bizarre landscape we see. Other than that the acting's a little off in places and only helped by things going weird. Maybe that's what they were aiming for.

The horror's alright, more suspense than anything else and that's going to bore the f**k out of the people I'll inevitably show this to, and most horror junkies out there. There's little gore (yay!) and only a few jump-scares. It's more the isolation and the uselessness of the cast to deal with the situation which brings the horror. Everything happens out there, out of our view. We're trapped, waiting for the inevitable.

This film could be about our current issues with language, as per my rant earlier, about our relationship with each other through language. It could be about the military's attitude towards friendly fire although that's brought in at the last second. It could be about many, many things, or it could be about some freaky arse zombies in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes a zombie is just a zombie.

I give this the Grant Morrison rating of Platypus out of Verisimilitude.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

I was going through the reviews I've sent you over the last year or so and at first thought I was going to be the 'good cop', with this film and Triangle, and admittedly the first Saw movie. Oh yes, I'm going to do the Saw movies, possibly all in one, once I've seen their impressive efforts towards retroactive continuity in Saw 6, 7 or whatever the latest one is. So yeah, me good cop, you bad cop? Well no, Twilight is in my list of things I'm going to be looking at.

I was in a horror mood, and decided to watch "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane" starring the lovely but unknown Amber Heard and a bunch of people even less well known than her.

This is actually shot really nicely. Blurred and surreal in some spots, but almost reactively trying to revert back to the standard slasher-flick faire and lazy direction. It's like if half the film thought it was Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park, there are moments where time just slows down, plays strange music and just sits there, watching Mandy Lane, but in more idolisation than voyeurism. That one-itis which happens in our teenage years, that beautiful girl who you just can't get. And that, the camera tells us, is Mandy Lane. Of course, alongside that is the fact that she has very few lines of dialogue. She's this thing which is unknowable, you can't really see what she's thinking, because you know it's not you, as that would break the illusion.

Anyway, enough of my baggage. We're introduced to a relatively small and barely sympathetic cast, starting with a poolside party. A loser kid who hangs out with Mandy and is evidently in the nonsexual best friend place, gets beat up by jocks, most of whom are trying to get off with her, too. Her best friend Emmett, then drinks on the jock's roof and when confronted, launches into a massive speech about how the jock is boring, he's bland, he's beige. Hell, he's not even beige, he's taupe. He convinces the jock to dive into the pool, which goes awry as the jock falls to his death. When it happens, we pan to where he should have landed, and his body flops into it, evidently from where it crashed into the poolside. Nice.

Nine months later, Mandy's not talking to Emmett because of that, instead she's with a bunch of girls who hate her and some boys wanting to cop off with her at a "dude ranch" in the middle of nowhere. So, typical high school as far as I'm aware.

We have a token black guy who fancies Mandy Lane. A boring jock guy (one born every minute in these films) who fancies Mandy Lane. A stoner guy who fancies Mandy Lane. A blond neurotic desperate for any attention and a brunette who's called 'fat' by the neurotic. Again, your usual gaggle of miscreants.

They drink, the neurotic takes some pills (her brother's, for his ADHD, apparently) and the 'fat' (quotation marks for Hollywood fat) girl runs off angrily. She goes down on the jockish type who refuses to return the favour and wanders off. Then she gets a quite grisly death scene with a shotgun butt in her mouth. Ick. I was wondering what the horrid crunching noise in that scene and naively thought the killer was eating a carrot, like Clive Owen from Shoot Em Up. But no, that was her. Again, ick.

The guys all cockblock each other while the girls seem more enamoured with the creepy farmhand. One of them stops the power, giving us a nice fake-out with the black guy not actually dying. Instead, the jock kid's evidently the person not getting any from Mandy, so he's voted out of the house and goes back to finish the job for the 'fat' girl. He drunk drives around, not killing himself, but instead going to a lake they all swam in earlier (Mandy in slow motion, natch). He finds the girl on her knees, alive? Dead? Whatever, it'll all be the same soon enough and he's shot by the same antagonist. Remember when bad guys were iconic, with claws or hockey masks or stuff like that? This one's in a hood with a shotgun. Anyone could be like that. An ambitious chav could pull of the look. Oh well.

The drunkard's car is driven up to the shack and fireworks are launched at the group. The person leaves, chased by the black guy. Oh look, it's Emmett. They have a brief chat, punctuated by a brutal fight and a nasty death. Of the black guy. If the killer died at this point, it wouldn't be much of a film.

The remaining kids (and Garth, the farmhand) hide indoors, trying to keep away from all the madness out there. Garth provides some backstory about having to kill a whole farm's animals at one point. Nicely unpleasant, but why? Why are you telling us this? It's too late in the film for anyone to have a sympathetic backstory.

The stoner and the neurotic girl start making friends, aww. I've just realised how llittle I've actually said about Mandy Lane here. Well, other than the guys trying to be the only one around her during a blackout, and her talking to the neurotic and taking some pill thing, that's about it. I admit, the part of me which is still an 18-year-old lech, was going "Kiss!" as there was some moments where they were far too close to not kiss. Still, it just teased.

Trying to leave in the morning, shots fire at them from offscreen, Garth is hit. The stoner tries heading out the back way, followed by the neurotic, so you KNOW they're being killed soon. If you leave the potentially-evil farmhand and the leading lady together, then you're the one who'll die next, basically. They run down a road, but the sense of despair even out in the open sunlight is still huge. As they stop to kiss, which normally seems contrite, but here I reckon it was because they knew they were screwed, so why the hell not, the stoner's shot. The girl runs off.

At the same time, Mandy Lane actually does something, and not all in slo-mo. Shocking. She leaves Garth and finds a knife, facing off against the morning sun like a warrior, like a Spartan! But no, she's not heading after the guy shooting everyone with a knife, let's face it, that'd be dumb. Instead, the dumb move is on the neurotic girl who runs to Mandy, onto the knife, and they hug until Emmett turns up in blurry, Paranoid Park effects, and watches Mandy drop the neurotic's body to the floor.

Shock, horror, it was their plan! Why? I don't know. Did I guess from the start? Well a couple of bits were telegraphed, but they kept it hidden well enough that when we saw the neurotic running towards Mandy, there was just this creeping feeling which was growing, instead of just yelling at the screen.
Apparently their plan was to kill all of them and then themselves, all romantic-like. Apparently Mandy's not planning for this and he didn't trust her enough to kill himself first. When she tricks him, the pair get into a fight, punctuated by a poor, confused Garth who dies (again). Mandy ends up falling into a big hole o' bodies. She ends up beating Emmett to death with a bit of wood, returns to Garth who is actually not dead (again), and leaves with him, pretending to be the only survivors of these horrid murders.

The last modern slasher movie I saw was Prom Night (the remake). It was terrible. There was no motivation, the characters were horrid, the killer was uninteresting and a good actor (Idris Elba) was underused.

In truth, replace Idris Elba with Amber Heard and you've got the same kind of thing. And yet this is much better. It's still not wonderful, but was the best modern slasher film I've seen in a while, somehow getting past my bullshitometer. The killer was a bit bland until the end where it all went a bit kablooey. The effects were mainly screwing with the camera, rather than anything special. The disfiguring and possible death of the 'fat' girl was a scene which will stick with me, horror-wise, and that's what I often repeat as being good with horror. Not the scenes which are just gore, but the ones which will haunt you.

Anyway, the filming was good, the acting was alright, despite the complete unknowns and the typically unlikable characters. Someone has to be able to do a good slasher movie these days. Deputy Dewey was a sympathetic character in the Scream Movies, and I always yelled at the screen when it looked like he was in peril. I can't see why that's not doable. And there was a scene where I think they all get drunk and/or high (signified by blurry camera effects), dance badly and, I think, spray squirty cream into their mouths. I think. Unless it's a some kind of special spray that's getting them high, but I've never heard of that. I don't know. I think that's the dumbest moment, but there's a lot more good than dumb. Although I've just spoiled the end act. Oh well, as some point I've also got the see the terribly-named "Wackness" by the same director. Not a horror movie, but his directoral efforts were good enough here that I might actually crack open that dvd finally.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

DAY TWO: Irresponsible ASIAN HORROR feature watching....


Ok so on day two I saw the Pang brothers "The eye". I've actually seen this film advertised in the uk (no link for you work slave) and had confused it with the transgressive-pornography opus "The story of the eye" which I've read... and found so distasteful that I have no real desire to re-read it nor see a film interpretation of it. In fact I can't even describe that book here because of your stupid censor bot.

Anyway "The eye" is a Hong Kong film... (you'll remember last time we did Japan and Korea). The jist of it is "Eye see dead people" (har har har), you could be forgiven for thinking this is a pretty direct reinterpretation of sixth sense..... in fact both of today's films borrowed heavily from western cinema..... So our main character is a blind woman (and awful violinist.. unless that's her style) who has an operation to get new eyes so she can see...... little did she know... that they were CURSED EYES!!!!!!! yep seriously. The concept of the whole beginning is great, it is full of genuinely sympathetic characters and the weird theory surrounding the idea of re-learning your "Visual vocabulary", I found really interesting..
So all is going well when... She starts to see ghosts... It's worth mentioning that the effects and direction in this film are superb... but the ghost are kinda benign.. there's only one crazy ghost with a fixation on a chair who well make you jump... but that's it. Most of the first half of the film features her getting used to seeing ghosts and dealing with it as oppose to going mental all the time.... Also in this half of the film we meet "Dr. Lo" 'worlds worst psychoanalyst', who's speciality is dealing with the mental issues of people who've had eyes transplanted... His office is like a f*&king ghost town, there's probably a “Trappist Monk opera-house” that sees more business than him)... He falls in love with our girl and helps her deal with the ghosty problem...

ok ok so far if anything it's like a watered down version of the sixth sense......right?..... ok well lets gets introduced to something that's probably gonna become a theme of these films... The big twist....

So all seems good and the stupid doctor isn't a dead guy either so the weirdness starts proper when our girl can't even recognise her own face... she sees somebody else's head in its place. Turns out that some of the visions she's seen are through the eyes of this person... guess who??? THE EYE DONOR!!!! so yeah we've got to go check her out... The donor came from Thailand and it's interesting to see that the Chinese look down on Thailand the same way Japan looks down on the Chinese (i.e. Hick farmers). So we get to Thailand and start meeting other Doctors who apparently have no ethics and give away information about the donor without much persuasion, it soon becomes clear that she didn't have a great life in the village as the doctor says "Even I used to throw stones at her.... when I was younger". In fact life was so bad that she was branded a witch or devil or something and blamed for a big fire that messed everything up round here. Anyway in a massive anticlimax turns out the girl killed herself.. The main character gets the girls mum to make up with her spirit and all is good, leaving us with images of the village and the villagers now being at peace.... a strange reward for people who drove a young girl to suicide.

So on the way home on a bus in a crowded street our girl sees a whole load of reapers (oh which she sees as "Shadowy Figures" pre-empting disaster ... how see knows what a shadow is, being blind all her life... no-one knows) heading past the truck, loads in fact... The stupid Thailanders have crashed a gas truck up ahead and clearly have no idea how dangerous it is... nor how to smell that danger. Long story short she realises that this is why the girl in the village was shunned... She could see these events about to happen and in warning people about it took the blame.... Cassandra anyone? Sure enough the gas tanker explodes and kills almost everyone (alot) and we're treated to particularly graphic images of everyone nearby on fire (seriously! even a bus full of children). Luckily our girl survives... luckier still she loses her CURSED EYES... So she's blind again.... Thank you film for that pointless little stroll into your world... so all that happened to what? give a blind girl perspective?

It's a beautifully made film and the early ghosts do use both creepy and inventive film techniques it just kinda loses all real fear when she's in a restaurant, sees a ghost and her waitress confesses that she sees it too.... IN A COMPLETLY UNBOTHERED WAY! goodbye suspense....You can see why this got a big release compared to the last load of films. But in my opinion it plays it too safe.


This is a Thailand film (what the hell is the noun for Thailand? the Thailandish?). I thought it'd be worth a look after seeing the borderline racism in "The Eye". It's worth mentioning that I decide which film to watch via a bunch of horror forums which allow psychopaths to come together and show off how dead inside they are "Pfff SALO? not scary or gross at all?". So when they all were in a frenzy about how truly terrifying this film is I thought "Daaaaaaaaamn... I'm gonna hafta check this out". Oh yeah and not only does this film borrow abit from western cinema but has also had an American remake.... lol irony..
So we begin at a party for someone about to get married (turns out the don't have stag do's in Thailand so it's a mixed group). It's a cleverly written scene which efficiently tells us "this is a group of close friends. they're kinda jocks. This guy's a womaniser. this guy's a sheep" etc. The guy who's kinda like a sheep is our main character, just out of uni and a freelance photographer. He and his girlfriend drunkenly drive home... while driving they hit a young girl in the road.. Being a sheep he convinces his girlfriend to drive away... BAD IDEA.... so yeah you're probably thinking what we were thinking "I know what you did last summer" yeah? WRONG! but we'll get on to that later. I'll make this one abit quicker and abit more spoiler free, it's good enough that you should probably watch it. They start to get haunted by this girl they killed. They see some of this fact in weird effects on photos taken by our man. They cannot find the body of this girl nor does any hospital have any record of anyone coming in that night... The plot starts to shift when the girlfriend (who we think the ghost is after... driver an all) starts to get lured to places.... only to find photos and items about this girl..... She was already dead.
Not to ruin it for you THEY HAD IT FUCKING COMING!

The effects are good in this... I think had I watched it alone I would have found it more terrifying than I did, The final series of images from this film are great. This has real class as a film....... Take it from me and this goes for all the films so far if a ghost girl appeared at the bottom of my bed and started to climb across it.. I would kick her fucking head off!

Both of today's films were abit more western in many ways... both seemed to take their concept from American films... Both seemed to make you jump more than disturb you... (Apart from the last half of shutter which is excellent). Every single film I've watched so far deals with women being betrayed some how (yes even JU-ON). So I'm starting to see a pattern emerging.

(Oh and watch "A Tale of two sisters" seriously it's the best film I've seen this year, I wish they'd gotten that guy to make the silent hill film... he's just beyond superb when dealing with horrifying, disturbing films..... and that's all there is in that film... no jump moments at all... not one.. all suspense and mindfuckery)

I'm still going strong with this...