8.31.2009

The Final Destination (2009): Death in Yo’ Face!





A fun experience for those who like to see people die in weird ways.

I love the title of this one. Adding the definite article just means that they are setting themselves up for lies. We all know it’s not THE final Final Destination film, especially since it climbed to #1 at the box office over the weekend, standing triumphantly on the head of Zombie’s H2 . But grammar choice aside, this movie delivered the goods in a format that was destined to be utilized for this type of action.
Our heroes...meh..t.he most generic kids ever.
Opening with a fun credit sequence that showcases deaths from the three previous films via X-rays of skeletons, I knew I was in for a good ride. Rock music blaring. Race cars zooming by in 3D. Mildly good-looking teenagers providing not-so-interesting dialogue. Yup, this is exactly what I wanted to enjoy on my Friday night. In many ways, the scenes on the race track provided some of the best 3D experiences of the movie. I actually flinched when a metal object flew at me from the raceway and I’m not usually a jumpy person.

Some of the best "oh shit" faces I've ever seen.
Although the big disaster opening is plagued by lots of CG (as is the rest of the film), I never get tired of watching deaths unfold in bizarre ways. The series began as a fairly contemplative look at the mystery of death with some comical horror moments thrown in, but it has surely evolved into something that left behind philosophy and embraced a morbid guessing game of gruesomeness. What was great about The Final Destination is that it didn’t waste as much time as the earlier sequels did with entangled plotlines about death’s plan and unnecessary exposition. It’s the fourth go at it. And it’s not a complex formula. We get it. So thank you for realizing that we are not complete morons and just letting us get on with mindless death scenes unfolding before our eyes.
Is it wrong that I laughed during this scene? He was a racist, so no.
The death scenes themselves are not necessarily more elaborate than the film’s predecessors. Instead of creating a ridiculously long chain of events that lead to a character’s demise, the film builds up misleading events and focuses on objects that trick us into thinking they will be involved in the death. This is part of what is so fun about these movies. Everything, from a tea kettle to a leaky faucet, become sources of suspense. The gore that unfolds is decent—nothing spectacular, but it’s gonna’ make you laugh because you’re one sick puppy.
Don't worry, this scene is much better than it looks from the trailer.
I find myself short on words when it comes to this movie. I mean, what else can I really say? I’m not going to discuss technical elements, story, or acting. You know what you’re getting yourself into and all I can tell you is that you’ll have a good time. Go see a horror movie that was begging for the third dimension since its inception into the world.  

8.29.2009

Halloween 2 (2009): A jumbled mess of every Halloween sequel, mixed in with Rob Zombie’s craziness.


A spoiler-free review (mostly, see warning).

First things first, I’ll unload my paradigms. The original Halloween (1978) is my favorite film, but I’ve been open-minded towards Zombie’s reimagining of the franchise. I wouldn’t expect Zombie’s films to be all that similar to Carpenter’s vision. If they are the same, then what’s the point? That said, I wasn’t hostile toward the changes he brought to the 2007 Halloween. All in all, I thought the film was “okay.” I didn’t share the hatred that so many fans held, nor the love of others. Going into the sequel, I would like to think that I was neutral, for lack of a better word.

I’m trying to keep this review relatively free of spoilers, so I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details, but I will say that I slowly turned myself away from the film as the runtime progressed. Oddly enough, my frustration came to a climax at the film’s conclusion. It’s almost as if any goodwill towards the movie was put on a constant fade, as I was enjoying the beginning of the film and simply enduring the last moments.

One of the most annoying features of the film was the characters. Laurie has turned into an anarchist punk (that’s still a good girl) over the course of a rough year. During the film, I jokingly mentioned to my husband that Scout Taylor Compton turned into Rob Zombie (that hair!). This new attitude that Laurie adopts is painfully clichĂ© and laughable at times. She actually has an anarchy symbol and “666” spray-painted on her bathroom door (which isn’t really her bathroom either). What kind of ankle-biter does that (especially in someone else’s house that she is lucky enough to be staying in)? Unfortunately, she’s annoying as a punk rock chick (chirping with her punk friends in that high-pitched voice) and as a broken-up survivor (screaming in that high-pitched voice). Annie and Sherriff Brackett, who have basically adopted Laurie, are the film’s highlights and they are not in it enough. Instead, we get a lot of useless scenes with Dr. Sam Loomis, who has turned into a complete asshole (and you thought he was mean in Halloween 5). As other reviewers have mentioned, why was he in the film at all? He could have just died in the first Halloween, as it appeared in the theatrical cut.

She's sooo punk.

THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH MAY CONTAIN VAGUE SPOILERS, BUT I DON’T REALLY CONSIDER THEM SPOILERS SO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK:

Why do I say it’s a mess of other Halloween sequels (excluding H3 of course), even though it’s an entirely different type of film for the franchise? Well, let’s just look at the film on a basic, superficial level: You got the hospital action from H2 (which had a very similar feel in the way the stalking scenes played out), the weird ending like H4, the psycho-connection nonsense from H5, the overall strange feeling of H6 (which also turned the series in a bizarre direction), the brother-sister connection that plays out in the end of H20, and the psychological breakdown of Laurie as seen in the beginning of Resurrection. My main problem with the film is that I couldn’t buy the fantastical elements because they were anticlimactic, trite, unnecessary, and completely inconsistent with Zombie’s first run at Halloween. I’m all for doing new things, but for whatever reason, I found the new style/sub-plot to be unrewarding.

YOU’RE SAFE NOW.


Why is the film totally different from these movies? Well, because it’s Rob Zombie. He brings the handheld camera, long lenses, and 16mm grit from The Devil’s Rejects and the weirdness of House of 1000 Corpses into Halloween 2. I can’t say that I’m always a fan of his style. It sometimes feels as if shots are composed with out-of-focus foreground elements as an afterthought, because they end up being distracting despite any apparent visual symbolism they might have. Sometimes I just wish the camera would back off for a minute, slow down, allow us to really see what’s going on. When the editor does cut to relatively stable wides, especially when it’s of Michael Myers, it’s pretty effective. In tandem, the editing and cinematography, were not working for me.

I’ll conclude this review by saying some things I did like about the film:

-Danielle Harris and Brad Dourif
-The Hospital Sequence (aside from it’s disappointing…ummm…conclusion?)
-The sparse wide shots during action scenes that played up Michael’s brutality
-The score has improved since the first film, with less unintentionally comical music cues
-Some good moments of gore (when it’s onscreen)
-A scarier Michael Myers than in 2007

8.26.2009

5 Disappointing Moments in Horror


We all know what it feels like to be let down. Sometimes we are disappointed in filmmakers, in studios, in mainstream moviegoers, or maybe just the film industry in general. Here is a collection of random disappointments from the past five years or so in no particular order.

1) House of 1000 Corpses: I was promised body count and I didn’t get it.




After years of waiting to see Rob Zombie’s feature debut, it definitely wasn’t worth the wait. Caught up in post-production, studio swaps, and a whole lot of confusion, House of 1000 Corpses was an example of why filmmaking isn’t something you just pick up on the first try.

2) The Failure of Grindhouse : Rodriguez v. Tarantino


While I loved the idea behind Grindhouse and all that retro goodness, putting Rodriguez and Tarantino back to back only proved how boring QT movies are. I have a strong affinity for Planet Terror, but harness the opposite emotions towards Death Proof. The poor box office turnout for the double feature was undeserved. It was worth the 10 bucks to watch Planet Terror and leave during the intermission before the horror that is Death Proof began.




3)The Vampires of Twilight: Ughhhhhhh

Conversation between random young woman and myself:

“Becky, I think you might like Twilight. It’s like a horror film.”
Twilight isn’t exactly what I would consider horror.”
“Yeah, but it has vampires”
“Vampires that hang out with high schoolers and dress like emo-kids”

4) Afterdark Horror Fest: 8 Films I wouldn’t die for.


The marketing behind the Afterdark releases fooled us into thinking we would be seeing some truly disturbing, independent horror films. On the contrary, half of them are so tame they could be confused as a child’s bedtime story. Kudos to the concept of giving new directors a shot, but you can’t say you weren’t disappointed.

5) Masters of Horror: I could be a karate “master” under these qualifications.

I have no issue with the first season, but during the 2nd season, they just got desperate. If I’ve never heard of the director, chances are he is not a “master” of the horror genre. Making one or even two horror films does not qualify you as a master in my book. Take Brad Anderson as an example. Sure he directed Session 9, which was fantastic, but he also directed Next Stop Wonderland… And Ernest Dickerson. Yeah, we all love Demon Night, but I definitely had to stop by IMDB to figure out who he was. He’s been too busy directing TV to make my horror radar.

8.24.2009

Vinyan (2008): Nothing...F'ing...Happens

Ok, ok, ok. I should have known better, but I couldn’t help myself.

There are two reasons why I decided to watch this movie, despite glancing over some negative reviews. 1) Fabrice Du Welz. I loved his freshman feature effort Calvaire. It was crazy and twisted in that indie horror sort of way. 2) The premise was unique and engaging: a couple looking for their child after the tsunami in South East Asia.

Well, what lulled me in to watching the movie were warning signs in disguise. Du Welz is probably crazy—crazy in that artsy filmmaker sort of way. I knew Vinyan would be fantastical and perhaps difficult to piece together, but boring and nonsensical is something else altogether. The film’s plot should have had me concerned. Doesn’t sound like a horror film, does it? Well, if they are marketing something off kilter like Vinyan as a horror film, it’s probably because they have no idea what else to call it since it’s so “weird” and may have a scene of “gore” or two.

All horror expectation aside, it’s still not a good film. I can deal with a slow-paced film. In fact, sometimes there is nothing I enjoy more than a slow burn, especially when it’s a horror film. However, Vinyan just sort of drifts, as the characters sluggishly trudge from step to step. Sure there are some gorgeous shots of Thai landscapes and the crazy wife looking at trees, but this isn’t a nature documentary, it’s supposed to be a damn movie! And let’s talk about that crazy wife for a minute…

Here I am, watching Vinyan.
Oh wait, I mean it's Emmanuelle Beart playing Jeanne.

So this woman thinks she sees her son on a videotape of a Burmese village (shot by those fundraising organizations) and somehow persuades her husband to spend their lifesavings to go into war-torn Burma with some mafia druglord type that is obviously ripping them off the entire time. And so you must think it’s pretty clear that it was her son on that tape, right? Well, I’ll let this picture speak for itself:

There's more proof that Sasquatch exists than this kid...

Oh, ok. There really isn’t a possibility that some other kid is wearing a red shirt, right? Yes, I understand that parents with missing children are desperate enough to cling to almost any chance at finding their son or daughter again, but as an audience, it’s more effective if we believe in that possibility as well. It’s hard to jump on board with Vinyan from the beginning, because this woman appears more of a lunatic than a desperate mother and because you know they are not going to find their son. Futility is never a good feeling, especially when it comes ten minutes into the movie. You start asking yourself, “Should I take out the disc now? Or should I give it a chance?”

Damn. I gave it a chance. Wrong choice. Beautiful close-ups of good actors only take you so far. The pointless scenes, the rambling nature of the editing, the lack of backbone on behalf of the characters, and the sheer sense of “blah” that comes from watching Vinyan doesn’t leave you much to go on. There are so many scenes that lack conclusion; it’s as if Du Welz set a goal of not following through on any single thing with this movie. For example, the wife runs off at one point, leaving her husband running after her and calling her name. Cut to: a shot where they are both walking together, as if nothing happened. Ok, so I guess he found her and convinced her stop running in between those scenes. I can read between the lines, but why bother? What was the point of that scene if nothing changes because of it?

He's screwed. Just like you for watching this movie.

And if you’re thinking of just fast-forwarding to the jungle stuff, where the creepy children promised in the trailer start to show up, don’t. I’ve never been lost in a rainy, muddy jungle before, but if I were ever to get lost in such a place, I’m sure it would feel a lot like watching this movie: endless and painful. There are a couple people that die, some sparse moments of gore, a few shots of creepy kids, but if you want bodycount, watch a Friday the 13th film, if you want guts, check out Dead Alive, and if you like scary kids, then go see The Omen. There is no reason to watch Vinyan if you are looking for these things.

And by the way, this really isn't all that creepy.

If you are looking for a film comprised of 96 minutes of people sitting on boats, walking around Thai jungles, staring off into the trees with desperate eyes, and being treated to a big reveal of something you already knew to begin with (the damn wife is crazy), then go ahead and watch Vinyan.

Surprise! She's crazy! Bet you didn't see that one coming...

8.18.2009

CAPS: House on Sorority Row (1983)

Finally, another long-awaited CAPS (Screens Captures and Captions) review. In celebration of the upcoming Sorority Row, let's take a moment to relive a classic slasher.



Don't be afraid. The whole movie doesn't look like this. We're just letting you know it's "the past" when this lady loses her baby during childbirth, which is somehow going to be important later on.


Ahhh, back to the familiar grit and grain of 80's slasher goodness.

Meet the victims, I mean cast.

There's this girl, who manages to look like a bitch in every frame of the film.

And our Final Girl, who has this ugly-pretty-girl thing going for her.

And this montage is just for clarification that we are in a Sorority.

I'm sorry Mr. Band, but you just don't deserve a more appealing shot for your credit.

The first (of many) examples of glorious 80's fashion. Purple shorts, baby blue polo...oh yeah.

The pool that their Sorority Mom has neglected to take care of. There's probably a Volvo under there.

She's trying to be nice, but nope, BITCH.

Just to show you the contrast.

The heinous Sorority Mom on her doctor visit just so we know that she's insane.

Is that George Romero? No, but I wish.

>
Fashion Example #2: Do I need to say anything?

Ok. This is weird.

Bitch with a gun.

Celebrating their graduation in style.

Hey, it's Baby Spice.

"You MAY NOT party in my house! I don't care that you're 21; it makes no difference that you are all 30-year-olds playing 20 somethings."

We're in college now, sex in the car is so high school.

Showing off her water bed that Daddy got her.

Mrs. Slater hears fornicating on the water bed.

Is that face supposed to be sexy? Cause all I'm getting is...BITCH

Oh yes, it feels like we're making it on a raft!

Someone doesn't like rafts.

Or water beds.

This is really the turning point in the film I'd say.

Plotting to seek revenge.

Meanwhile, we learn how demented the old hag is.

Ooooo. A gun. We can definitely pull a safe prank with that. Nothing could go wrong.

>
Who the hell decided it would be a good idea to hang that painting? Probably the same person that dressed these girls.

Mrs. Slater is pissed that they took down her beloved portrait.

>
She's nervous. That's called, "acting."

She's bitchy. That's called "a one note show"

This is called "trying too hard"

Things start to go wrong.
Pause. What is that blonde on the left wearing? Really?

HAHA! It's just a joke! It's just ketchup, I swear!


"We are just so damn clever and bitchy."

"You guys f-ing suck."
Let's cut to the chase. You all knew THIS would happen.

>
Don't act so surprised.

"So of course, we have to dump the body back in the pool and pretend like this never happened."
"You mean party all night with a dead woman floating in our pool?"

"Why yes. Do you have a better idea?"
I'm sure I could think of 1 or 2.

So what do they do? Throw an elaborate house party!

You know it's a party when this kind of hair shows up.

Even the local Amish community came.
>

And the creepers.

And a young Nick Nolte lookalike.

Random Death #1

Final Girl is all torn up about this.

And so is Kim Basinger. I mean Veronica Lake. I mean Jodie Draigie.

I hope she's going down to the basement to find another outfit from 1954.

Our second death. Mostly offscreen. You weren't expecting much though, were you?

This is just atrocious.

"Oh. My. God. Even these guys have a better fasion sense than us. I mean, it's not like whitie tighties ever went out of style."

"I'm a Sea Pig" That's literally what this guys says....ok

"Ok. So Mrs. Slater somehow managed to get out of the pool where we stashed her body."

"I just don't see how this could happen. I mean, who had the time to make this beer pyramid behind me?"

"Focus please."


"What are we going to do? We can't just expect to get away with this."

"She's right. We are all going to die in grotesque, painful ways."

Bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch.

If I'm numb with alcohol, maybe my death won't be so bad.

Let's take a moment to appreciate her outfit before she dies.

As well as her backside.

Wow, you really shouldn't have changed. What is that thing?

"Oh look, I found something and it's not creepy at all!"

Uhhhh, I don't think this is a good sign.

She's dying, can't you tell?

Who cares about what's going on in the movie. What's going on with that pant suite/blouse thing on the left?

Our heroine has decided to explore the attic by candlelight, which is always a good idea.

"Funny how we lived here for four years an never noticed this. Huh."

An adult-sized jester outfit. Nope. Not creepy at all.

I'm sensing a theme.

Oh hey! It's that guy that always pops up at the strangest times!

Our fourth death in this movie. And our millionth death in a van in a horror movie.

That's a real hand, I promise. Look, the nails are even painted.

"This is awkward."
"Yeah, I thought the producers said this film had no black people in it."

On the run. An actual chase. Yay.

And for some reason everyone has locked themselves out of their rooms, which will become unlocked at some other time when it is more convenient for the plot.

I just hate it when you trip when there is clearly nothing there to trip you.

How could this girl survive this movie? And for this long?

Knife to the back of the neck. Well that's new.

And the shower head drips slowly like the lifeblood oozing from her neck.

Drowning Pool.

Arg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mr. Romero shows up to help.

Were we supposed to notice the fake grass?
Or the fact that they dug a perfectly shaped grave with shovels?

Second person to die in a van. They have more than fulfilled their quota.

It looks like a mutant hillbilly, but I assure you it's not.

Even when she's about to die, she still looks like a bitch.

Titanic, eat your heart out.

We've been waiting for this moment the entire film.

"Well, I'm not sure if I'm supossed to be sad or what because....

...she is still giving me that same bitch face when she's dead"

"Just relax. The pink lights were my idea darling."

"I hope you like them because you're going to be sitting there for a long time while I drug you and use you as bait!"

"Ok. I guess I'm cool with that."

"Can I change my mind?"

"Cause this shit isn't funny."

Oh, look who shows up at the right moment!
Only to get shot in the shoulder.
What do you mean you can't see the wound?

See, he's even holding his shoulder. He totally got shot.

Romero gets it.

The killer is stabbing him in this frame. One frame later:

He's gone!!!

Ok, that mask thing is legitimately creepy.

Lolz....

This movie is so damn dramatic.

For a few moments, she turns into a zombie. Pallid skin. Sunken eyes.

No need to pay any attention to that jester in the corner or anything.

Just keep focusing on your jack-in-the-box trap thing. It will probably work...

It's alive!

Quickest costume change in history, by the way.

Aim. Fire!
>
Miss!

Fire again at the target that is 3 feet away!
"Woman, you suck"

Throw the gun at him!

Still missed??? Oh come on!

Well that's a convenient find. Don't we all look for hidden daggers stuffed in dolls' necks?

Finally, a weapon that requries a low enough level of hand-eye coordination.

"It's over."

"I'm not grabbing my boob, I'm just...resting."

OMGZ!!!!! He opened his eyes! No way!

THE END!


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