Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

I’d wanted to see this film for quite some time due to my love of extreme Asian cinema such as ‘Visitor Q’ and ‘Tetsuo: the Iron Man’. I’m happy to say that it was worth the wait, well kind of.

How do you start to describe a film like this?

Well firstly I’ll say it’s not a film for the easily unnerved as the atmosphere created through clever use of music and visuals is pretty unsettling from the get go. It’s not as extreme or graphic in terms of its depictions of sex and violence as say ‘Visitor Q’ but it has a more eerie vibe about it all.  I guess you could say it’s a kind of sexual horror film. But it’s not that simple.

The film is pretty complex in its themes and ideas. The plot of the film is about a husband and wife who are being stalked by a twisted individual. But I’d argue the film is about the futility of life and the need for companionship. The husband and wife are both missing something from their lives and it is only when the third party intervenes in their lives that they start to openly address these issues. You could even argue that the film is about voyeurism and how everyone is being watched without even knowing it.

There is a lot of focus on the unity between nature and the industrial world we are all accustomed to. Not that the film is set in any specific time period. It’s kind of timeless and feels vaguely futuristic at times. In fact the whole film feels very dreamlike with its unusual camerawork and creepy score. Throughout the film the city is shrouded by constant rain which helps emphasise the characters depression. I must say that the cinematography is stunning throughout, especially during the outdoor sequences. It is this amazing camerawork that helps create a beautiful sadness to the whole film, making it much more than your usual semi erotic horror film.

As the runtime progresses so does the craziness of the onscreen antics. All of it culminates in one of the most confusing and messed up fights I’ve seen in a long time. Even when it is being crazy the film is still weirdly believable due to the slow way it draws the audience in. The story is compelling and constantly keeps you on edge, wondering what will happen next.

I think that the decision to release the film in black and white adds to its beauty.  It means you are not distracted by the colours of the world around the characters, while also helping merge the industrial with the natural.

I came away from the film thinking hard on what I truly thought of it and I’m still slightly mixed. It is definitely good but I’m not sure if I’d consider it anywhere near a classic. I’d say it’s well worth watching as it is a truly unique experience and one that I doubt I’ll forget. 7/10

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An estranged couple’s take a break in the country to try and help save their relationship. Little do they know that they’re soon to have some unexpected guests….

Zombies are everywhere these days (not literally), they’re in books, games, board games, and most of all movies. It seems to be the craze for first time horror directors to try and break out with a hit undead movie. With so many made, it’s hard for many to stand out and be truly memorable. It doesn’t help that the benchmarks in zombie cinema (George Romero’s ‘Dead Trilogy’ being the landmark s) have set the bar ridiculously high. So high in fact that not even Romero has managed to capture the greatness that made his name.

This British production aims to have that special something to make itself stand out. Directed by first timer Dominic Brunt (from Britain’s very own soap opera ‘Emmerdale’ ) it shows a little promise at the start but that quickly fades.

I got excited about the film when I found it in a dvd store. The cover features an army of zombies and a man standing, shotgun in hand looking out onto an undead city. The reviews on the box stating ‘unforgettable… the most gut-wrenching modern zombie flick in years’ from Hollywood news, ‘Bloody Terrifying…’ from Starbust and ‘stunning cinematography’ from Little White Lies led me to believe what I was about to watch would truly be great. After watching the film I’m wondering if I saw the right film. What I saw was far from what was described or pictured.

From the outset the cinematography is very iffy. The camerawork goes from being passable (the scenic shots) the downright awful (zombie attacks). The lighting is appalling throughout with the camera being constantly overexposed. It just looks awful. I have no idea what the reviewer from ‘Little white Lies’ was watching but it can’t have been this. I’ve seen student films that look more polished. The music starts out ok with a sort of ’28 days later’ vibe but quickly transcends into a repetitive mess.

The first 20 minutes built up the tension pretty well and I was thinking that it may make up for the camerawork but alas no. It quickly spiralled down the hole of awfulness with a tired script, some awful acting and appalling action.

The film tries to be a ‘character driven piece’ instead of the usual everyone dying zombie film. This would work if there was a good script behind the acting. I felt nothing towards the main characters. I just wanted to see them die at the hands of the zombies during the ‘epic slaughterfest’ (as stated on the box). Even that failed to happen. in the whole film there are 6 zombies.  3 of which don’t appear until the final 2 minutes of the film. When the zombies are on screen they just feel like people running around after one another. They never feel like mindless bloodthirsty creatures, but more like people acting. I’ve never been one for the ‘running’ zombies but at least films like ’28 days later’, ‘Dawn of the Dead 2004’ or even the resident evil franchise, but at least these films handle the zombies well and actually make you fear for some of the characters (slightly less so for resident evil).

In fact the whole film feels like a student made version of the opening of ’28 Weeks later’ with none of the tension, acting skills, script or direction. In that film I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was going to happen. The music and the frantic pace push everything forward perfectly. This film does none of that (well it tries to). When the zombies do come the music gets faster and they employ the ‘shakey cam’ style. It just doesn’t work here. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve seen a more boring zombie attack in a film then the 2/3 in this film.  You know a film is bad when you start thinking about the practicality of a zombie and how their motor functions work etc…

I can happily say that this is easily one of the worst zombie films I’ve ever seen (possibly in the bottom 3) and easily one of the worst films I’ve seen in general. It has barley any redeeming factors and really is bottom of the barrel. I’m even more annoyed at the lies the box told me. There was no man with a shotgun facing a city in the snow (I forgot to mention that before but the man on the cover is standing in a little grassy patch in amongst a snowy wasteland.)

I do not recommend anyone see this film and I really hope that they change the dvd packaging in the future as not to trick viewers into picking up a film different from that on the box. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THE GOOD REVIEWS!!!!!!! 2/10 (for an OK idea)

Sean Patrick Flanery stands up to a biker gang led by Lou Diamond Phillips. The biker gang don’t take kindly to this and vow revenge. They decide to get this revenge by attacking the wild west show town that Flanery acts in. Flanery must lead the actors in the stand against the bikers. Will he prevail?

I was really excited about this film when I found it cheap on dvd. I really like the two main actors and thought that they could bring charm to a low budget ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ style flick. Sadly, although they do their best, they don’t save this mediocre flick.

It may be because I was expecting more of an action film from what I read on the dvd box and I didn’t get that, or it may have been just because it wasn’t very good. We have a long build up with the odd confrontation between Flanery and Phillips but no proper action until the end. In the way it felt a little like the modern film ‘The Last Stand’ but just nowhere near as fun. This would be ok if the film knew exactly what it wanted to be but unfortunately it feels very much stuck in the middle between character piece and action flick.

The music is ok as is the cinematography. While neither is great they get the job done and make it easier to watch the slow meandering thriller where nothing really happens.

As you’ve probably guessed I didn’t really like the film. It’s not that it’s fundamentally bad, it’s just ‘MEH!’ It sits in that middle ground between being not good and not bad. It could have been a fun little action romp but what we get is a slow build up to a very anticlimactic ending.

I wouldn’t waste your time. 5/10

Set in 1989, the film tells the tale of a group of high school athletes who are accused of the gang rape of a mentally handicapped girl. When the town rallies to protect the athletes it is up to a detective and a prosecutor to discover what really happened.

After discovering the quality of the TV films distributed by ‘Odyssey True Films’ (Death of a Cheerleader, Deadly Whispers, In a Strangers Hand etc…) I decided to seek out this film as I really like the actor Eric Stoltz. I was not disappointed.

It is a deeply dark tale told without any kind of censoring of the facts (it’s based on a true story) . It deals with some very dark subject matter that I haven’t seen in a film in recent years, let alone a film made for television.  Although it features themes such as rape, corruption and the rights of the mentally handicapped, it never uses them for exploitation. Ferland handles each of the elements really well and handles them in an appropriate manner.

The pacing is brilliant as is the direction and the acting. Everyone plays their role amazingly well, especially Stoltz, Sheedy and Matarazzo. You can’t fault any of the actors on their performances which are all believable and fell very natural.

‘Odyssey films’ has yet to disappoint me with a bad film. What we have here is a very well made and highly thought provoking piece of film that I’d say is worth the time. 7/10

A group of individuals head to a cabin in the woods for ‘fear therapy’ unknowing of what evils may await them.

From the outset we are presented with a weird green filtered sequence with a child bumping into a group of people all wearing masks. We have no real explanation we’re just thrown straight into the weird cheapness that is to continue for the following 90 mins.

The film itself is kind of interesting but just feels a little like a more ‘fear’ orientated take on the film ‘Pin’ (which was far better than this). The wooden dummy (Morty) is actually quite creepy and is possibly the only redeeming feature of the picture. His movement and sound effects are really well implemented which helps him feel like an evil killer doll.

Plot wise it all feels very random as does the pacing. It is incredibly slow which gets to the stage of going nowhere. When stuff finally starts to happen we see the group travel to an old abandoned amusement park (for what reason I do not know…). While there one gets raped and a little bit of violence happens (definitely not enough to warrant the 18 age rating the dvd has in the UK). We then get some weird possession stuff and your usual running from Morty. It’s all so tiresome.

The cast are all pretty bad in their roles and no-one is particularly stand out. It really is bottom of the barrel and sometimes difficult to watch. One quite nice touch is the fact that the film features a random cameo from Wes Craven (yes the director of horror classics ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Scream’).  The acting is even below par when it comes to cheap 90’s horror films and isn’t helped by an atrocious script.

Direction and editing is average at best, with the majority being tiresome and boring. The music starts off being ok but as with everything in this film, quickly becomes repetitive and boring. I got the end and found myself asking a simple question;

‘WHAT THE HELL WAS IT ALL ABOUT??????????’

I found no answer to this question and I don’t intend on watching it again to try and find out.

There is nothing worthwhile here and it’s a film that should just drift to obscurity and never be heard of again. It’s not even ‘so bad it’s good’. 3/10

If Lola loves you, you’re sure to find out…..

I expected this to be your average teen slasher horror and was pleasantly surprised with a fairly refreshing take on a tired genre.

The basic set up is out of the way quite quickly with Xavier Samuel’s character Brent turning down Lola’s (Robin McLeavy) invitation to the school prom. She doesn’t take this too well and with the help of her father, kidnaps him and submits him to her own kind of torture.

It’s a pretty basic plot but has a few nice twists and turns hidden away. It feels a lot like the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ film just with a boy at the hands of the villain instead of a girl. The dinner table scene feels very reminiscent of the same sort of scene in Tobe Hooper’s horror classic. As the film progresses, so do the methods of torture, until we reach some very extreme situations of punishment.  The pacing is top notch, as is the script which helps keep the audience captivated until the credits role.

The acting on the whole is very good with an amazingly nasty turn from Robin McLeavy as the evil Lola.  By the end of the film I wanted her to die at every turn. Xavier Samuel is great as the male lead, although at times he puts on the same pout that Kristen Stewart has used throughout her career. John Brumpton is also great as Lola’s equally crazy father.

The film looks beautiful with some stand out cinematography. This really helps the film stand out from the crowd and I must say makes it one of the prettiest torture films I’ve ever seen.  The stunning visuals are helped by some truly great sound mixing that helps build and maintain a great atmosphere throughout.

At the end of the day, what we have here is a horror film which is different from the norm and a bit of fresh air. It has some great small touches such as Brent’s razor blade that is his means of escape in more ways than one. I would say that the film is very grim and never really steps out of this. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it sometimes feels a little over the top. The film is also kind of pointless in the fact that no-one really learns anything. This is helped by the fact the film is constantly interesting and is always throwing something new at the viewer.

I did really enjoy it and would definitely recommend it. Although I’m not sure if I’d really want to see it again. 7/10

One day kids turn on the local bully. But how far will they go to make sure he doesn’t bully them again?

I had been looking forward to seeing all of this film for quite some time after catching the beginning on television years ago. I finally got round to watching the ending and I must say I was slightly disappointed.

The whole film is very well acted by the young cast especially Brad Renfro and Rachel Miner who are what you’d call the main instigators of the piece. Nick Stahl is also great as the town bully who can go from being likeable to a hateful rapist at the click of your fingers. The supporting cast are all just as good and all help power the plot along.

The film looks really good, yet isn’t too glossy which is nice. It all feels very natural and in a way, quite documentary styley. This helps the film get across the fact that it is based on a true story (I’m not sure how closely it sticks to the facts though).

The film is very grim which is both one of its biggest saviours and its biggest downfall. The grimness is created through the fact that everything is played out very deadpan and nothing is hidden. Larry Clark the director doesn’t shy away from filming graphic sex and violence and he’s no different here. While there is a lot of sex, non of it feels ‘erotic’ of ‘sexy’, it is merely there because it happens in real-life. I would argue that he started off using it in this way but somewhere in his carrier decided he would use it extensively for exploitative reasons and to get his films in the public eye.

Some films use sex and violence to make a point. This uses it to shock the audience. There is no other reason for it but on the other hand, without it the film wouldn’t work at all. It relies on this shock to in turn keep the audience watching.  It also doesn’t help that by the end the characters are all unlikeable and unrelatable to.

Overall I’m happy to have seen it, but I’m not inclined to watch it ever again. 5/10

To pay for Spring Break, 3 girls rob a restaurant. This is the start of their descent into darkness.

‘Spring Breakers’ is an interesting film as it is actually far more thought provoking than the trailers would suggest. The film opens with 5 minutes of T&A and party music. This for me is when the film is at its weakest. It makes the film feel juvenile and teen orientated from the outset, which it’s not (no matter how hard it tries). After this sequence we get a couple of other similar sequences segmented throughout the films runtime but never quite as ‘in-your-face’ (well not quite).

What we have for the rest of the runtime is a study of 4 girls getting in over their heads with sex and drugs and their downward descent into the darkness these things bring.

Yes….

there is violence,

there is sex,

and

yes there are drugs

but these things, although being the backbone of the story, are never as important as the actual characters we are following.

A lot has been said about the fact that 2 former Disney starlets (Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez) are in the film. But to be fair you kind of forget this fact as they (and the other girls) all play their characters really well. Gomez is easily the weakest of all of them but still gets the job done.  James Franco also has to be praised for his portrayal of a drugs/arms dealer. He is amazing and is easily steals the screen from the girls when he is around.

I would say that the four central girls all feel quite 2 dimensional and similar. It would be difficult to truly explain each of their personalities as (other than Gomez’s character) we never really see them.  In any other film I think this would be really bad but here it kind of works.

I think it is helped by the fact that we’re thrown straight into the overpowering nature of spring break along with them and have very little time to think about such things.

The music and the visuals are amazing throughout the film and both help create a stunningly overpowering  feast for the mind. There is always something to see or hear and at times it’s a true sensory overload. But it works. The film is about this kind culture and how easily it is to get lost in the sights and sounds. The movie works perfectly on this front and it really helps draw you into the picture.

For all of this ‘overpowerment’ the film still paces itself beautifully and allows you to go on the journey with the girls. By the end of the film you feel you have been on a true cinematic journey instead of just watching random characters doing random things (this for me is what watching a movie is all about, the experience).

For me the film only has two real negatives.

The first is the fact that it doesn’t seem to always know what it wants to be, ‘pure exploitation flick’ or ‘slow character study’. It just about gets the balance but at times I found there was too much random nudity for the sake of it (not that I’m against nudity, but I find there should be some half-decent reason behind it in a film).

The second negative would be the ending. I won’t spoil it but I will say I was left completely unsatisfied. It would also have been so easy to fix, which is the most frustrating point.

Even with the disappointing ending. I would say it is absolutely worth watching as it rally is like nothing else. I for one would be happy to see it again and hope that when the dvd comes out they’ll have an alternate ending that works better. 8/10

For years Laurie Strode has been haunted be reoccurring nightmares of her older ‘serial killer’ brother Michael. Now 20 years later he is back and this time Laurie must fight back or risk her son’s life.

‘Halloween’ was the first horror film I remember seeing as a kid that truly scared me and as such has always been the blueprint I judge other slasher/horror films on. I worked incredibly well and the atmosphere created has yet to be beaten in my view. Michael is on screen very little but you have the constant feeling he could be anywhere and that anyone could die.

The films that followed never reached the same standard set by the first film although I do really like all of them (minus the remakes and resurrection.). I even like the third film that has no relation to the franchise.  The first two films painted Michael as this unstoppable human that could take a ridiculous amount of punishment whereas the later films painted him as some kind of supernatural monster which I never felt worked as well. I find that villains are scarier if they’re human instead of being a ghost or demon.

This is where ‘Halloween: H20’ comes in. Set exactly 20 years after the original (and also released exactly 20 years after the orginal) this could be argued to be the true continuation after part II. Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode which is great and it’s great to watch her character evolve throughout the films runtime from hunted to hunter.

H20 goes back to the suspense that made the first film so good (although tries too hard to appease modern day horror fans by upping the pace). The director Steve Miner obviously loves the first film and as such has echoes of it running through his film, from Laurie hiding in a cupboard, to the reoccurring silhouette shots of Michael. For a modern day slasher film (well 1998) there are very few deaths and the ones there are generally committed off-screen. I think this is a great move as a few come as surprises when the other characters find the bodies. This helps the films overall atmosphere. It unfortunately looks a little too ‘glossy’ for its own good and at times draws you out of the picture. The music helps bring you back in which on the whole is very good.

The acting is overall very strong with a great performance from Jamie Lee Curtis. Josh Hartnett is great as her son (in his first lead role). You also have LL Cool J, Janet Leigh (Jamie Lee Curtis’s real life mother) and you even get an early performance (if very short) from the great Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  All of the main characters are likeable and you actually care for them.

The only real failing of the film is the fact that we see Michael too much and he never really comes as a surprise like in the original. The tension is never there 100%. That’s not to say there isn’t any. It’s just doesn’t pull off the tension like the original did.

Saying that, H20 is probably my second favourite ‘Halloween’ film after the first (although I do love the third film as a different kind of horror film. I like what they’ve done with the character of Laurie and it’s nice to see her magnificent return (feeling a little like the return of Nancy in ‘Nightmare on Elm Street 3’).

I’d say it’s well worth watching if you are a fan of the series (although I’d expect most fans to have already seen it) or even if you just like a good slasher flick… 7/10

‘A man returns from the grave to solve the murder that he was accused of committing.’

The first film in the series was, for a time my favourite comic book movie of all time. It featured amazing performances, an amazingly well realised gothic world, and a great script.

The sequel ‘The Crow: City of Angels’ tried to expand on the world created in the first but fell quite short of the first films greatness. (Not that it’s a bad film. I really like it but I can see why a lot of people don’t)

‘The Crow Salvation’ is the third film in the series and bears little resemblance to the first to apart for the basic premise of the crow bring the dead back and the makeup (which I’ll get to soon).

I think the film works better because of the fact it goes off on its own course. It was made for television but is by far the most brutal and violent of the 4 films in the series (the 4th is by far the worst with barely any redeeming features). For a made for television movie it looks surprisingly good with some great camerawork and direction. It also evokes some of the haunting soundtrack of the first two films which helps create a great atmosphere. It has a pretty good revenge story at its heart and it plays out pretty well, even if it is very predictable.

The acting is generally pretty good and almost everyone does their job. The weakest entry into the acting department is probably ‘Kirsten Dunst’ who really isn’t very good in the film, not knowing if she is playing a love interest, a friend or just someone who’s somehow gotten involved in the films revenge storyline. Eric Mabius is great as Alex, the main character. He holds the film together and is really watchable.

For me the biggest fault with the whole film is that it is a ‘Crow’ film. As I said before it doesn’t have much in common with the other two. (The second felt very much that it was set in the same world as the original with the reintroduction of Sarah from the original and the gothic world.) This film feels like it could be set anywhere.

The makeup/scarring is my other major complaint. I know the white face with the black eyes and mouth has become synonymous with the franchise but it doesn’t fit in here. The make up in the first film is done as a copy of a mask Eric has hanging in his house that his fiancée had bought. It was his way of coping and having a bit of her with him (along with the ring around his neck). In the second film the makeup is drawn onto Ashe by Sarah (from the first film) as a way of her remembering Eric. It this film the electric chair burns the scars into his face in the shape of the makeup. WHY? The makeup has no relation to the actual Crow of the story and there are no characters (or at least non I noticed) from wither of the first two films. There is no reason for it and I think it harms the film (well it did for me).

If the film had been a straight revenge thriller with no relation to ‘The Crow’, I think it would have been far better. But on the other hand without the established name it would have probably disappeared in amongst all the other low budget thrillers out there. It’s an enjoyable watch, if a vaguely depressing one. It’s worth watching if you like this sort of thing and it does do what it sets out to do pretty well. 6/10