Archive for February 4, 2013

Arnie is getting too old for this……

This is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first film as the lead man since Terminator 3 which was made over 10 years ago. Even then he was beginning to look like an old man. Now at the age of 66 he really is looking his age. That’s not to say he’s bad in the film (he’s awesome and it is a great return to form) but it shows why there is less action in the film, especially for a movie marketed as an action film.  I must say though, it is great seeing Arnie doing what he does best (well at least in the last 30 mins of the film).

I went into the film expecting an ‘Assault on precinct 13’ style film with Arnie and his other sheriffs defending the town from criminals. That never really happens. What we get is a kind of police thriller/ mystery until the final 30 mins when we get all out action. It almost feels like it’s too little, too late. It is some amazing action and is great to watch but the beginning of the film is just boring and not a very good build up. I wouldn’t have minded if the film was shorter, but being just short of 2 hours it feels a bit too long.

I will say that Arnie’s co stars are great with an excellent turn from Johnny Knoxville as the local gun nut.

As I’ve said, it’s nice to see Arnie back but it’s not the same as when he was in his heyday. overall i’d say it’s worth a watch , just don’t go in expecting all out action throughout the film. 7/10

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Based on the classic British Tv show about a sect of the police force that use extreme measures to get their perps, this 2012 film had a lot of pressure behind it to be great. Did it succeed? Not really….

It stars Ray Winstone and Ben Drew as the two leads who along with the rest of the squad, go after a group of diamond thieves.

The actors do a pretty good job with the awful script and to be fair Nick Love does a reasonably good job directing the action. The film famously ran into numerous problems during shooting and had to be short within a far smaller timeframe then they expected with far less money then they expected. For what it’s worth the film does look nice and there are some incredibly well choreographed and filmed set pieces.

The first of these set-pieces being a run and gun battle through Trafalgar Square in London. For those who aren’t from the UK, it is probably one of the busiest places in London you can visit and there are rules about not being able to hinder people walking round (so the crew had to work around them.) . The film crew managed to, somehow film a pretty good gun fight across the square and across a few roads in less than a day. It looks like it took them a lot longer by the glossiness of the final footage.  The other great set piece is a car chase through a caravan park which was filmed by the camera crew from the british car show ‘Top Gear’ (as they were used to filming high-speed car chases). It looks very good and makes a pretty good action sequence.

This leads us to one of the films biggest problems; It doesn’t seem to know if it wants to be an action film of a straight police thriller. When it’s not doing action, it’s very poor indeed. Evene the action has been done better (and with far less CGI bullet holes). For a better street gun fight see ‘Heat’, for better car chases see ‘French Connection’ and for a better film featuring british gangsters watch ‘Snatch’ or ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’.

There isn’t much to recommend the film for really. It has a poor script, bad story, OK acting and Ok action. If anything it’s worth renting the DVD just for the making of which was far more interesting and enjoyable then the actual film. 4/10

*BANG*! Your eyes jolt open, pain coursing through your skull.  It feels like you’ve been punched in the gut, your stomach churning, no matter what you do. You look around. A Woman sits opposite you. In the haze you see her head crack to the side as she too is hit. *BANG* you get hit again, this time harder. *BANG* and again. The Women screams. A man brings out a knife and slashes her across the chest. You close your eyes hoping this is all a dream. *BANG* Your eyes fling open. You’re being forced to watch. The man slowly cuts her again. You can’t believe what you are seeing. You close your eyes again. *BANG*. You sit and watch. after 70 minutes of this. you are untied and freed. You look across to the woman. Her head hangs, chin pressed into her chest. She’s not screaming anymore. Standing you grab the chair to stable yourself. You stagger away from the scene, queezy, legs weak beneath you. With one final look back the image is burnt into your mind. your never going to forget what you’ve seen, what you’ve been through. In the weeks to come, you find you no longer feel anything, you feel like and empty vessel of what you once were. You actively seek something, you don’t know what. Just something to make you feel again. You are left waiting for what may never come. Why did you look back? Why didn’t you just leave? The image of the woman is a scar in your mind. Some scars never fade.

This is the how I felt the first time I watched ‘August Underground’, Fred Vogel’s horror masterpiece.

For those few who have never heard of the film, It sets out to be a sort of home movie of two men joking round, beating people up, torturing and killing. there is no start and there is no end.  (that is ‘August Underground’s’ plot in a nutshell).

Why then am I calling it a masterpiece of horror?

It is because of this simple idea, why the film, in my eyes at least succeeds. It doesn’t waste time building the characters up, we know nothing about these murderers or their victims. We are thrown into the middle of Fred Vogel’s character torturing a lady in the basement of a house. By throwing us straight in, it makes us as an audience instantly question what it is we’re watching. This is the Vogel’s first masterstroke.You’re ultimatley meant to feel like you have just found a random home movie that isn’t professionally edited.

This leads us onto Vogel’s second masterstroke; filming it so badly. Yes, you heard me right. The fact that the movie is so badly framed and shot (most of which I think on purpose), helps add to the found footage vibe the film is going for. Unlike big screen films like ‘Cloverfield’ and ‘Paranormal Activity’ where everything happening is always ‘conveniently’ framed, AU doesn’t frame everything. It feels very much like a person filming his mate and just messing round. (like it should be). The way it is filmed led to me actually question if what I was watching was real. It’s filmed on video and a such it looks ba, picture quality-wise and when you then add-on the ‘jolty’ filming, it just looks very real. (well for me it does).

The ‘real’ feeling is further emphasised by the fact that Fred Vogel and his co-star (the person filming) are not very good actors (sorry Fred but you’re not). For this reason I was completely ‘sold’. I never found myself thinking they were acting. it just felt like they were two friends pissing about and just messing people up for fun. (the horrible thing is that with the increased emphasis with camera phones, this has become far more of a reality then it may have seemed when they were making this film.) The characters are just nasty pieces of work (Vogel’s being the worst) who care about nothing other than amusing themselves. You are forced to watch their actions by the one filming and at some points even he seems to begin to think what they are doing isn’t right. It is Vogel’s character that is the one that seems to playing for the camera and striving to show what he can do.

As the film has no real plot it relies on the acts that the characters are performing during the films’ runtime being captivating (or in this case, sickening) You keep watching out of a kind of morbid curiosity that seems to be subconsciously programmed into each and every one of us. (the part that doesn’t want to see anything go wrong during something like a car race but you wonder what it would be like if something were to happen. It’s the same reason people seem obsessed with taking photos when someone gets hurt. There is n reason for the feeling it’s just there.) This film plays on that feeling and manipulates the viewer into watching it, not because they are enjoying it, but because they want to know how much worse it can get. This is where the brilliant special effects come into play. Vogel studied at a film school that specialised in special effects. It shows. While one could say that some of the effects are ‘over the top’ I’d say they aren’t. They aren’t the glossy effects people like Eli Roth relied on when making ‘Hostel’, they are much more grounded and much more gritty.

Everything blends into a film that one really can’t enjoy. You don’t walk away from the film enlightened, more you walk away feeling dirty and unclean not knowing what you’ve just witnessed. I walked away questioning my own mind and why I sat through the film without turning it off. I started questioning my own morbid curiosity and began watching how others reacted to sickening films and situations. More so though it made me forget how to ‘feel’ for a while. It partially desensitized me to pretty much everything, be it good or bad.  This is the first and only film to do this to me.

For creating a film that actually makes you question what you are watching and a film that perfectly captures the feel and extremity that he set out to create, I cannot praise Vogel enough. Clearly knowing the limitations that come with making a film in terms of money and time, Vogel has done something that many directors never end up doing. He’s created a film that has shaken up how horror films are made and has created a film that will be remembered for many years to come (if only because of it’s noteriaty).

Now comes the tricky part. I don’t know if I can recommend this film. Lots of people will hate it, many will say it’s a disgusting piece of filth. (they’d be right) I guess it all comes down to what you want from a film. This is not the sort of film you can easily watch with friends. It’s not the sort of film you can sit and watch for entertainment (unless you are slightly messed up). It’s the sort of film, I guess you’d watch to test your boundaries (like the films, ‘Traces of Death’, ‘Flowers of Flesh and Blood’, ‘Men Behind the Sun’ etc…..) I have seen the film a few times and have never regretted it. If anything I see it as a pivotal turning point in horror films and a breathtaking up yours to censorship. 8.5/10 (I know many would disagree with me but I believe Vogel deserves it for creating something that ultimately makes you question your own mind.)

*interestingly Vogel seems like a really nice chap from all of the interviews I’ve seen him in. He just seems like a fan of films and the sort of bloke you could have a good chat with in the pub.

 

 

 

 

 

Man, Gary Busey is awesome. He seems to revel in playing the bad guy (check out ‘Under Siege’, ‘Lethal Weapon’, ‘Predator 2’), although in this I don’t know if you can call him a bad guy in the classic sense. He comes across as a ‘boogeyman’ figure from the trailers but in the movie it is much more complicated to explain what he is.

The film revolves around Busey’s mentally ill Tom Sykes who has just got out of a hospital after being committed as a child for burning down his family home, subsequently killing his abusive father. As he has nowhere to live, he decides he is going to live in the attic of a large property that is being renovated. He builds himself a ‘secret’ hidey hole and seems content in his new home. Soon a family move in leading to Sykes’ becoming emotionally involved (in a slightly insane) way with the family and especially Mimi Rogers’ character Julie. Things quickly start to unravel as Sykes struggles to keep his sanity in check.

The film has the feel of the original ‘Halloween’ film in the fact that you get the constant feeling that the ‘boogeyman’ is always watching and could be anywhere. Sykes sneaks around the house at night, getting food and generally snooping. He knows the house inside and out and has learnt how to move silently through it. (although he does get seen from time to time). There is no real gore in the film and no real violence until the end. The film is all the better because of this.

Busey plays the role amazingly well and definitely one of the most realistic mentally ill creeps to ever grace our screens. (I think it’s his eyes, or more accurately the crazed look he seems to naturally have on them. He almost feels like a rabid animal that could flip at any time.)

I don’t want to go into any details about how the story develops because I really think it’s a film that should be seen. It’s creepy, brooding and a great night in. 7.5/10