Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

I wondered to myself how in the world one would make a sequel of this movie. Well, here it is, and it wasn't a bad effort. Nothing amazing, but it worked. At times it feels like more of the same, but overall, seeing as how a sequel was inevitable after the enormous success of Paranormal Activity, it was a fine effort.

Outpost (2007)

Had its moments, but nothing amazing.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Let Me In (2010)

Rating: A

Seeing as how I picked the original Swedish film, Låt den rätte komma in, as the #1 DVD Release for 2009, I had vehemently sided with the group who truculently cried foul about an American remake...a year after the original...for seemingly no other reason than the "language barrier." So, yeah, I began the film with my arms folded, stubborn, bordering on disgusted. I might have muttered once or twice about how pointless the effort was. But, man, was this an excellent movie, let alone the absolute best remake I've ever seen, bar none.

And to think: Let Me In is helmed by Matt Reeves, director of Cloverfield, which I truly did not care for. Could be, I was at the end of my tolerance for overly shaky hand-held cam movies, but Cloverfield just didn't do it for me. Enough about that, though; I'm a Matt Reeves fan now. Just like that! Two new favorite directors within one week: first Adam Green and now Matt Reeves. This is some of the best cinematography I've seen in American horror. Terrific angles, superb lighting. Reeves captures and maintains the snow-laden bleakness and the 1980s setting of the novel (surely by now it's well known that this is a remake of a movie that was an adaptation of a novel), despite moving the locale from Sweden to Los Alamos, New Mexico. The only visual design I wish had been omitted was Abby's (i.e. Eli's) ocular effects and her erratic X-Menesque movements, both of which took a bathetic dip toward cheesy.

Aside from being beautifully shot, Reeves did a great job with the tone of the film. Somehow (and this is something I was worried about) the film tends more toward a darker, more horror genre film without losing the slow-burn coming-of-age character drama. The two genres are well balanced. There are moments, especially during the procurement of lifeblood, that are brilliantly chilling. And the tension between Owen and the bullies at school is so perfectly depicted, that, by the end, I felt terrified for Owen, the tension was palpable in a way I actually did not feel with the original. Furthermore, the film renders the sadness of Abby's harrowing existential situation and Owen's disheartening filial dilemmas. It's been a while since I've seen a horror movie that can both chill my skin and and genuinely tug at my emotions.

This is absolutely worth checking out. A big thank-you to Carl over at I Like Horror Movies for talking me into watching Let Me In with his recent review. Even if you're an Original Film Puritan, get a copy and give it a chance. This is a remake done right!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hatchet II (2010)

Rating: A+
Experience Vitals: Neflix DVD

I can tell you already, this is probably going to be at the top of my end-of-year list. It's been a while since I awarded a Netflix movie the highly-sought-after 5-star rating, but this one saw me not only clicking that right-most star but taking pride in the act to boot. And to think: I didn't really care for the cheesiness of Hatchet. Perhaps I just wasn't ready for Adam Green's tone and style. But I was reawakened with last year's Frozen, and now, after this masterpiece, it's safe to say that I am, in fact, yet another Adam Green fan.

I can't say I've seen such a great mix of horrific (creative) gore and humor in a movie, save for, maybe, Feast. But Feast isn't the best comparison, because I honestly had much more fun with Hatchet II. The only other movie I can think of that was in this vein of fun is Behind the Mask (which a Hatchet II character alluded to!), though it was sans gore. There were times that I had to pause the movie while I laughed, so as to not miss anything--two scenes in particular are worth the 90-minute treat above all else: the "chicken and biscuits and gravy" bit and the "that's just inappropriate" scene! Worth the whole effort.

And, on top of the incessant, brutal, gratuitous gore; on top of the brilliantly executed humor; Hatchet II has a spectacular setup--even better than the preceding installment, which is usually not the case. It is typical that a sequel be mere fluff that attempts to ride the coattails of its predecessor. Not so here! In fact, parts of the first act's exposition were quite chilling despite the jocundity and over-the-top horror. Kind of reminds me of one of my favorite writers, David Foster Wallace, who has the ability to shift gears and dip in and out of different (and sometimes conflicting) emotions within a single page.

The Hatchet Army has a motto that Hatchet II exemplifies: "Here to Save Horror."