Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Cottage (2008)

Dumb, lame slapstick comedy has never been my thing. I was hoping to watch a horror movie, but The Cottage thwarted these intentions, causing me to turn it off at the 20-minute mark.

Slither (2006)

Some of the effects are cool, and the lines are hilarious; but overall this isn't a very good movie.

To clarify: Yes, my "review" is purposely one sentence long. Thanks.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Irreversible (2002)

Based on cinematography, direction, acting, and overall structure alone, this is a masterpiece. But I will never watch it again. Its depictions are so realistic, gritty, disturbing, I can hardly bear to think about it today. This is literally the most disturbing movie I've ever seen, including Martyrs. There were times when I had to look away for minutes at a time.

The first twenty minutes or so were hard to watch, not only because of some of the unnerving sights, but because of the camera flip-flopping all over the place. At one point I had to look away for a minute or so just to regain my sense of equilibrium. And throughout the movie the camera does some roller-coaster activity that sometimes heightens the calamity, and sometimes just makes your stomach lurch.

The best part about Irreversible is the philosophy behind the story: the future is already written and that preordained future is irreversible. If you've read other reviews, you probably know that it works in reverse-chronological order; this structure adds weight to the philosophy by showing you the future first, which makes for an intriguing experience, but it causes the film to haunt you even more without the typical closure delivered at the end of a revenge movie.

For me, this concerned a difficult subject matter that I am extremely sensitive to. View at your own discretion.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

From Within (2008)

Much better than the recent Slaughter. This flick offered a well-developed plot, strong characters, taut pacing, and visualyl stimulating thrills. Sure, there are a multitude of films out there based on the "religious zealotry" plot, but something about From Within just worked--I was glued to the movie from beginning to end. More than anything else, I enjoyed the strong lead by Elizabeth Rice and the redneck antics of Adam Goldberg.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Baby's Room (2006)

The plot was deeper than I expected, and the "creepiness" intended seemed lost among the humor. It is more of a satire involving the nuclear family than a horror movie, but certain supernatural gags keep it in the genre. Overall, it was entertaining, but forgettable.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Slaughter (2009)

Introducing the movie that broke the streak. That's right. Sadly, I can no longer say that every entry from this year's After Dark Horrorfest has satisfied. This is the first out of the six I've seen so far (From Within and Butterfly Effect III are the only two left now) that felt like an ADH movie. Not only was the acting rigid, the scares nonexistent, and details left unattended to--this movie was just plain boring. And on top of it all, Lola's (Lucy Holt) accent seriously grated on my nerves!

(1) Continuity / Attention to Detail - Call me picky, but there were blatant flaws with garments, blemishes, and restraints (e.g. shoestrings).

(2) Pacing - This movie had so may lulls it tugged on my eyelids and caused me to consider forgoing the rest of the movie more than a few times.

(3) Scares / Thrills / Suspense - You can't show pig carcasses and (sort of show) the removal of teeth and call it a horror movie. This movie seriously lacked suspense or legitimate scares--I never once felt the prick of horrific visual stimulation.

So, it is with great disappointment that I retire for the night having concluded a busy day of work and school with a lame snoozefest.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ginger Snaps (2000)

People have been telling me about Ginger Snaps for a long time--well, since its release in 2000 at least. Finally, nine years later, I have seen this gem; and I can say that I had a blast! The two sisters are brilliant little actresses who pull you into their macabre world. I haven't seen a lot of werewolf movies, but this was a good take on the genre in my opinion.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Deep Red (1975)

Thanks to starting this blog, I met some knowledgeable horror movie fanatics. These fanatics (you know who you are) pointed me to Dario Argento, whom, I humbly admit, I had never heard of prior to starting this blog. You see, in my naïveté, I used to think I was a fairly well-versed horror movie buff. So, a big thanks to everyone out here in the blogosphere who helped me find the path!

The first thing that caught me with Deep Red was the music by Goblin. As in Suspiria, and as a musician myself, Goblin is a real treat. I also had the pleasure of basking in the stylization and direction that I've come to learn is "pure Argento." On top of superb auditory and visual stimulation (though visual stimulation reaches new heights in Suspiria) Deep Red caused me to laugh more than a few times. Good plot, good acting, good script, good direction, good soundtrack: A+.

This is one of the only who-did-it movies, complete with classic red herrings, that actually kept me wondering until the very end. Even after the "reveal," I had immediate disputes; but those disputes where taken care of masterfully. In fact, the movie gives the viewer the chance to go back to the "scene in question" and see what they missed--it was right there in front of my eyes! Never before has that happened in a movie, that I can think of.

So, despite it being slow in places, and despite all of the high expectations I had going into the experience, Deep Red still won me over. I understand why Dario is king of the hill when it comes to the giallo.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

What's with the DVD menus these days? I purposefully abstain from reviews and trailers before watching a movie because too much is given away. Now, with the DVD menus in movies like The Unborn and The Haunting in Connecticut, I am forced into an onslaught of all the mood and thrills of the movie, delivered in a rapid--yet comprehensive--collage that plays before AND after I select play movie.

Tonight, as I encountered this, I looked away from the screen until it was over. Extreme behavior? I've been known to exhibit extreme behavior at times, sure; but why throw away the mood and horrific imagery before the movie even starts? I don't want to see any of it. I want to be scared for the same reason the characters are: because they are witnessing things for the first time. Anyway, I haven't even started the movie yet--had to vent out my frustration.

On with the show...

Well, that was disappointing. This movie offered nothing new to the audience: one of the family members see "frightening" visions, the family becomes concerned, the doctors confirm that nothing is wrong, a priest attempts to expel the evil from the house, some library research is done, and so on and so on. I thought The Amityville Horror remake did a better job than this movie. The only deviation from the format we've all been subjected to time and time again is the multiplied number of "scares." Seriously! I couldn't even keep count of how many times this movie used the exact same scare tactic.


You may argue, but I recommend The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) above this movie.

[REC] (2007)

So, I've been holding off of the U.S. remake, Quarantine, for months now, waiting for Netflix to ship the original Spanish film [REC]. I still haven't seen the U.S. remake, but it's hard for me to believe that it could be better or even on-par with [REC]. Manuela Velasco's performance as the reporter pulled me into the movie from the very start. There is no way Quarantine's Jennifer Carpenter could do this like Manuela Velasco. Carpenter is clunky, gangly, awkward, and, well, just not very likable in my opinion. Velasco, on the other hand, pulled me into the reality of the movie, causing me to laugh and care.

Admittedly, the film is fairly generic and follows the zombie genre closely. It isn't until the end, when a twist is thrown in, that the movie claims its place in the horror genre, but don't let that stop you; it still packs punches with heightened action throughout. Too bad it is only the last fifteen minutes or so that really sent chills down my spine, but I think this is the effect they were going for. It made me think of Audition, which is 75 minutes of tame drama, then 15 minutes of shock--though, [REC] does not go for heavy gore in its ending, and like I said, it isn't a tame drama throughout. For some, the movie may become monotonous (especially if you watch a lot of zombie/survival movies), but trust me, the ending is worth it!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Killing Ariel (2006)

The best part of this movie was the nightmare I had while sleeping through the last thirty minutes. It was a terrifying dream; the most frightened I've been in a long time. Killing Ariel tried so hard and is lame at best. The tone, acting, and visual gags reminded me of a full-length version of one of the tales from Campfire Tales (1997). If this comes on TV during an October horror movie marathon, it might be worth checking out, but don't waste a spot in your Netflix queue, or a slot in the torrent downloader.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

In My Skin (2002)

Mon dieu! Once again, an over-the-top, ultra-realistic French (horror?) movie. Among the rest of the French extremism movies I've seen recently, this is at the bottom of the list, yet it stands alone and has its own tone. And that tone is disturbing to the point that I realized I had spent an hour and a half sitting on the edge of the couch with my mouth hanging wide open.

The Unborn (2009)

So much promise, so little delivery. In a word: monotony. If the exterior of a house at the start of every scene transition doesn't scream monotony, the continuous reuse of the same visual gags and cheap thrills will. And it really stinks, too, because I had high hopes for this one. I even gave the PG-13 label a chance after having seen Drag Me To Hell. But despite a few eerie visuals, which seemed misplaced in the entire context of the movie, it is simply mundane, nothing we haven't seen over and over already, worthy of omission.

Donkey Punch (2008)

This is more of a mediocre thriller than a horror movie, but it still has its merits. If you don't know what a donkey punch is, check out Urban Dictionary, an indispensable resource for urban vernacular. Supposedly, this movie is based on an "original idea" by one of the writers (it proudly boasts this information at the forefront of the ending credits), but it is a complete copy-and-paste of a hundred countless thrillers where everyone is having a good time, something tragic happens, and the group begins to divide and form deadly alliances like an unrated version of Survivor. But, like I said, it has its merits: above average acting and a few brilliant shock-gags. Worth a watch if you don't have a good book close at hand.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Frontiers (2007)

Think Texas Chainsaw Massacre mixed with Hostel, but with superb cinematography, acting, lighting, pacing, sound, and gore, as only the French seem to be able to master in the horror genre. Frontiers continues the trend of brutal French horror with high production value; and this after having seen High Tension, Martyrs, and Inside, among others. When it comes to a bloody good time, this movie is the guest of honor.

The Ruins (2008)

An entertaining, pleasantly gruesome movie that caught me by surprise. Sure, the plot has been done many times before, but this movie had some memorable moments despite the cliché. Plus, I have respect for any movie that contains the lines (and don't quote me here):

"Four American tourists don't just disappear. Someone will find us."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dead and Breakfast (2004)

There are three types of campy horror movies, and they produce three different reactions: a mere roll of the eyes, a "hmn" executed through the nose, and actual, genuine laughter. Dead and Breakfast falls in the third category!