Friday, September 16, 2011

Cold Fish (2010)

Like a lot of Asian horror films, this one was about one hour too long. Had that been trimmed, I probably would've walked away more satisfied. As it is, I'm just sort of indifferent to the film, nothing really stuck with me except my impatience for the thing to be over. It's your typical good-guy-gets-bullied-and-caught-up-in-the-wrong-crowd plot, and it seems the movie was made more to make gratuitous use of Megumi Kagurazaka that anything else. So, if you're in the mood for a crime drama wrapped in typical black humor, this great. But, then again, I guess I have to be thankful that I watched a J-horror flick sans ghosts!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Clinic (2010)

Now here's a film that surprised me. In my usual fashion, I had eschewed information about the movie, including trailers, reviews, etc., so the only preconceptions I had were based on the cover art printed on the Netflix DVD. And based on that, I figured this was either (a) another vacation that ends in a black market ring for body parts, or (b) another gross-out torture flick. Well, sure, conventions are used from both subgenres--many well known horror conventions are melded together--but it ends up being fresh and interesting nonetheless. I commend James Rabbitts for his ability to keep the pacing with a slowly unfolding exposition regarding what, exactly, the point is with everything that's going on. There are carefully placed moments of plot-thickening and mystery, which compels the viewer to stick around until the very end. And there are a lot of wince-inducing flaws that are inevitable with such an ambitious, heavy plot, but overall the movie is very well done and interesting from start to finish.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tales From The Hood (1995)

I was just talking to someone the other day about how there seems to be a serious lack of good horror from the 90s; there are mostly brainless slashers and teen screams. And it's strange, too, because most people are bias toward the music and movies they grew up with. In my case, I grew up with 90s horror movies, but I favor the 70s, 80s, and 00s. Not sure why it took me so long to see Tales From the Hood, but before this one I could cite Braindead (Dead Alive), Event Horizon, and a couple others as good 90s horror. Now I can add a new selection! This one is packed with racism and social commentary, intertwined with big laughs and the quirky sci-fi format of Tales From the Crypt storytelling. Not to be missed!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Malevolence (2004)

Having watched Bereavement first, i.e. out of chronological order, I wondered how the experience would be. But it was hardly a factor; I probably could've watched them in either sequence with the same effect because the "big reveal" isn't so grand whether you know or not. There's more focus on the composition of shots, the coldness of kills, and the score. I didn't catch this with Bereavement as much, but in Malevolence Stevan Mena is essentially recreating Carpenter's Halloween. And the crazy thing is that, for me, it isn't off-putting. I quite enjoyed watching Mena work with Carpenter's materials: pillow case/mask, pulsing, stinging score, nondescript mechanic's jumpsuit, and so on. So, in sum, the movie as a whole is average, but as an homage to Halloween it is highly enjoyable.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Frostbitten (2006)

If I didn't know any better I'd think this was a product of the UK, for it displays that brand of British humor wrapped into a conventional vampire plot. But, lo, it's a Swedish export that proves they can do more than the no-nonsense, steadily paced, artistic Let the Right One In. When it comes to Swedish cinema, most are familiar with the bleak, fractured oeuvre of Ingmar Bergman; and coupled with the aforementioned 2009 hit (remade in the US as Let Me In), it's easy to view Swedish movies as inherently ominous and gloomy. Frostbitten is a fun, entertaining vampire flick devoid of dull moments, with well-paced and well-placed comedic value.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bereavement (2010)

This year I'm doing everything I can to stay on top of all the DVD releases so as to increase my selection for my end-of-year top ten picks. Not sure how I came across Bereavement, but after watching it I found that it is actually the prequel to a 2004 release entitled Malevolence, also helmed by Stevan Mena. So I'll be watching Mena's films in chronological order at least. The plot isn't as interesting as I'd hoped (perhaps watching Malevolence first would've changed that), but the production value was high enough to enjoy the film despite it surpassing the standard 90-minute mark. The acting was decent throughout with superb screaming that conveyed pure dread. Alexandra Daddario carried the weight of her heroine role deftly, even in the face of parodic family drama. So, all in all, worth a watch if you're not expecting too much. Also, bonus points for nods at Halloween.