Film Review : Spring (2015)

IMDB Score – 6.6
Rotten Tomato Score – 89%
Metacritic Score – 69/100

Directed By – Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead
Starring – Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Francesco Carnelutti, Augie Duke, and Jeremy Gardner

A young man in a personal tailspin flees the US to Italy, where he sparks up a romance with a woman harboring a dark, primordial secret.

I’ve bitched on this site before about how Horror movies need to start getting more creative. I’ve said that even if the acting or visuals are lacking in places, an original script can triumph over anything. This is case and point when it comes to Spring, directed by the guys who gave us the original film about addiction and the supernatural, “Resolution”. The trailer posted above doesn’t give TOO much away. It certainly is better to go into this, like every movie, knowing as little as possible. Seeing it won’t ruin much though. The film centers around a guy named Evan who goes to Italy to get away from his depressing life full of heartbreak and failure. He meets a girl named Louise and over the course of the next week, things happen.

So the film is labeled as a horror movie I mean, I opened up this review by talking about horror movies so what else would it be? This is a special kind of film though. The horror elements will satisfy people looking to get creeped out and scared, but this film has much deeper meaning and effect. The heart of Spring is the romance between these two lovers. The fact that the romantic aspect is coupled with a sci-fi/monster/horror film makes it that more special. This isn’t Jennifer’s Body, which was horrible apparently, but it also isn’t Let The Right One In. The story begins to unfold more towards the end of the film and here is where the real beauty lies. The mythology, while a bit confusing at times, still presents something I haven’t seen before in film. Telling what that is would spoil the story, but trust me, it’s interesting. The film also utilizes some straight forward romantic writing, almost as if Benson watched the Before trilogy a bunch of times before writing this script. I’m a sucker for those kind of films, so I ate this right up.

It’s not perfect though. For one, I wasn’t fond of the acting that much. Nadia Hilker was very good and this film should serve as a stepping stone to bigger things, but the acting from the rest of the cast was average at best. I just couldn’t see Evan, played by Lou Taylor Pucci, as a real person. I felt I was watching an actor. That’s never good. I don’t feel he’s a bad actor by any means. Hell, we’ve all seen a thousand worse performances from indie film actors. A story like this just needed a strong male performance to go along with Hilker and the nature of the script. The plot was also muddy at times. I got the gist of the film and the impact was felt, but it could have been a lot more polished and clean. I had to do a bit of reading afterward to get most of the story arcs.

The film is also gorgeously shot on location in Italy. I’ve always read that Italy can be a bit of a drag with all the tourists and scam artists buzzing around major cities and villages. The main town that this film takes place in however is a fucking beautiful place that I feel I could visit and never come back from. The lush landscape was captured very well by what I’m assuming was a drone camera. Lots of great shots of waves crashing onto rocks and some great color grading that gave the film a warmth about it. It was pretty.

My movie watching habits are changing. I’m finding less time to watch films and less things in the theater interest me. As long as I have films like this come in the mail however, film will still fascinate me. I love original ideas and I love when these ideas come in hybrid packages. Romantic horror films like this could end up becoming one of my favorite things to watch if their done correctly. This is definitely worth the watch and I’ll be anxiously waiting to see what Benson and Moorehead come up with next.

4/5



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Film Review : It Follows (2015)

IMDB Score – 7.6
Rotten Tomato Score – 95%

Directed By – David Robert Mitchell
Starring – Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Jake Weary, and Daniel Zovatto

A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after getting involved in a sexual confrontation.

*Insert STD joke that everybody seems to be making here*

There. Now that THAT’S over with…

I feel the need in every horror review I write to point out that modern horror movies are hard to do correctly. First off, studios have trouble greenlighting a lot of horror films because the great ones almost HAVE to be rated R and rated R films hurt box office sales. If your film does get on its feet, then it’s got to be pretty unique or else it’s going to come off redundant and stale. As of late, there has been an almost “rebirth” of 80’s style horror/thriller films that take simple premises and make them unique with style, atmosphere, and callbacks to horror classics of the 70s and 80s. Films like Drive, House of the Devil, The Guest, Cabin in the Woods, and The Innkeepers have done unique things with either tired tropes or dated plot devices. Cabin in the Woods did this perfectly and then spun us onto our head with the 3rd act. House of the Devil fully embodied an 80’s slasher flick. The Innkeepers took a typical ghost story and through atmosphere and brilliant camera work, made it unique and special. That being said, I’ll always respect and applaud films that try to do something different, or try to spice up something familiar. It Follows is a film that I respect, am intrigued by, but am left wishing it gave me a little bit more.

The film has a relatively easy premise. Whoever has “it” is followed by people, seemingly random people, and if they are caught, they die. They have to sleep with somebody and then “it” gets passed along to that person and the chain continues. If that person dies, “it” goes back down the chain of teenager sex until nobody is left. The followers only walk, and can’t be seen by anybody else. Off the bat, that’s a creepy premise. We all have been walking home late at night and notice that somebody is walking behind us. Even if that person is harmless, the sense of unease is there. So an entire film based on random people coming for you dead eyed at all hours of the night scares the shit out of me. I was disappointed though, not so much with the film, but rather by own self. You see, I wasn’t scared, not once, throughout the whole film. Save for one scene, I was watching this film no differently than I would watch a Pixar film. I guess the suspense just didn’t grab me or some outside forces from the day just numbed me to being scared but I just honestly wasn’t tense at all. I did however appreciate how one could find this suspenseful. They certainly did a good job keeping the camera flowing at the right places and still at others. There were many 360 pan shots that revealed some horrible thing or a stagnant show with something coming closer in the distance. I liked that. The film is well made. I just didn’t really get it.

Like I alluded to earlier, the film definitely paid tribute to classic films and directors. The score, which was amazing by the way, is straight from Carpenter himself. The night shots and horror scenes look like they were shot by Wes Craven. Hell, I was even reminded of The Shining a couple times when a scene would concludeand I was left scratching my head as to what the hell I just saw.

I think that’s what is eating at me with this film. It’s not as if I didn’t like it. I liked it plenty. I just didn’t get it enough to really love it. It’s a film that could definitely change my opinion of it over time, but I’m just not there yet. It’s flawed. The 3rd act was kind of a let down. There wasn’t a satisfactory end. Ambiguous is fine, but I needed a little bit more from it before it ended, which it abruptly did. There seems to be a lot of underlying themes that have NOTHING TO DO WITH FUCKING STDS that I just can’t seem to grasp. Is the film about relationships? We have Jay, a girl, played by Maika Monroe, running away from “it” while her friend Paul, played by Keir Gilchrist, is only trying to get closer to her. I enjoyed this dynamic. Is the film about the youth of adolescents? Are these kids literally running away from death which is slowly inching its way towards them? Like I said, “it” walks very slow. Whatever the main theme is, it’s not obvious, which both excites me and frustrates me. I like challenging films. I also like to figure things out. I haven’t figured this one out yet.

You should see the film. Why? Maybe you’ll understand it more than I did. If you’re a horror fan and have been waiting for a unique film that hasn’t been done before, then go see it. It’s a stylish film that does something completely different. Michael Meyers may have started the slow walk killer thing, but this film takes it to another level. I’ll always pay to see films like this. I love ambition. I just may not always get it. I need to watch this again.

3.5/5



My Favorite Horror Films of All Time : Classics and Hidden Gems

It’s October. While I haven’t been watching as many horror films as I should be watching. Instead, I thought I’d take some time and share my thoughts on what I consider to be the essential and underrated horror films that I’ve seen. These films are in no order besides the order that I remember them. As a sidenote, I didn’t include Cache or The Night of the Hunter because I don’t feel they fit as true horror films. Enjoy and please let me know what I missed or goofed on in the comments.

We Are What We Are

I was blown away by this film when I first saw it. The ending shocked me and the acting and pace of the film created a perfect cloud of suspense. I like my horror films to be a bit crazy and this film managed to hit the perfect note on the crazy scale.

The Act of Killing

A documentary can’t be a horror movie you say? PSHHHHHHHH! If you watch this film and tell me that there isn’t an ungodly amount of horror in this film then your soul is black and void. The film scared the absolute shit out of me. The scariest part is that it is all real. This shit actually happened.

The Loved Ones

Batshit. Totally effin batshit film. It’s fun. It’s horrifying. It’s Australian. I can’t say enough about this one. Actually, saying any more than what I have already said will give too much away. Jus find a way to see this one.

Kill List

Easily the scariest final twenty minutes in a film I’ve ever seen. It threw me for a loop for fucking days. One of the few films that completely changes genre in the final twenty minutes. The film is brutal and provides, along with the ass clenching suspense, one of the most what the fuck endings ever. It’s a treat.

Rosemary’s Baby

Classic horror. You don’t need blood thirsty monster or ax wielding maniacs to deliver a truly frightening experience. Polanski may be an asshole, but the guy knows how a craft a truly creepy and unsettling film.

The Changeling

Perfect ghost story. It doesn’t get overly ridiculous and happened to cast one of the best actors working during that time George C. Scott. I inspect houses for a living. The big, old, vacant ones still give me the creeps due to this film.

The Shining

What can be said that hasn’t been said a thousand times. It is in my top five films of all time. It’s THE perfect horror film. Don’t agree? Maybe I should…correct you.

The Thing (1982)

Like The Shining, another perfect horror film. The special effects haven’t been done as good since and most likely will never be as good in a horror film. You ain’t getting Wilford Brimley’s blood and Kurt Russell sports the greatest beard ever committed to film. It’s amazing.

The Innkeepers

I love Ti West. He’s my favorite horror director working today. This is his slowest and creepiest. It builds perfect tension and features two characters who act like real people instead of horror devices. It’s another perfect ghost story and makes me want to work late nights in an empty hotel.

House of the Devil

Ti West’s homage to 80’s slasher films with a great twist ending. Tom Noonan should be cast in ever horror movie ever and the film also has probably the best and most alarming jump scare in film…twice…60 seconds from each other. If this film came out in the 80s it would be an instant classic.

28 Days Later

It took me YEARS to see this movie. The trailer scared the absolute shit out of me as a kid. The image above gave me nightmares for weeks. When I finally sat down to watch it, the most unique “zombie” film of all time opened my eyes. Alarming, horrifying, and loaded with emotional scenes. The empty London scenes are iconic.

Shaun of the Dead

Hilarious? Yes. Scary as shit and full of amazingly serious situations and acting from all involved? Also yes. I still think it’s the best traditional zombie film of all time. The fact that it’s hilarious only adds to its brilliance.

Psycho

What can be said? It changed the game forever. A work of genius.

Jaws

My favorite film of all time. Words can’t explain the amount of enjoyment I get from it. I’m still scared swimming in the ocean.

Alien

I love space horror, even the bad ones. This isn’t a bad one. It’s a brilliant one and among my most watched films of all time. The blu ray version of this is incredible.

Quick Review : Absentia (2011)

IMDB Score – 5.8
Netflix Watch Instant

Directed By – Mike Flanagan
Starring – Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon, Morgan Peter Brown, and Doug Jones

A woman and her sister begin to link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances, including that of her own husband.

First films are interesting. On the surface they are cheaply made with actors who range from promising to barely usable. Below the surface they are occasionally the early seedlings of talent. After finishing Absentia I was left both impressed and frustrated. The film didn’t make sense in some scenes, had bad editing, and some shoddy acting. Yet, the film is also unique with some seriously disturbing and frightening ideas. Although I haven’t seen it yet, I can understand why Mike Flanagan got the budget to make Oculus.

The film centers around two sisters. The oldest is finishing filing the paperwork to declare her husband, who disappeared seven years earlier, dead. The younger is reuniting with her older sister after a long battle with drug addiction. The typical horror tropes start to occur afterward. Strange thins start to happen and both sisters are starting to question what they see. The film features a cameo of sorts from the great Doug Jones and some seriously horrid acting from two horrid detectives.

Like many first features, the beginning of the film kind of ruins the remaining. This movie takes an eternity to get going and by that point I’m really just hoping to see some blood and guts. The acting from Parker and Bell gets better as the film progresses and the last twenty minutes showcases some pretty interesting and disturbing concepts. The end result is pretty much this…I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it. I’ll see if Flanagan improved on his first effort with his second effort soon.

2.5/5



Film Review : The Orphanage (2007)

IMDB Score – 7.5
Rotten Tomato Score – 87%

Directed By – J.A. Bayona
Starring – Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Andrés Gertrúdix, and Geraldine Chaplin

A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.

It’s funny how full of shit I am. I told myself that I would be watching a horror movie a night because it’s my favorite month of the year, October. You know how many I’ve seen this month? Two, including this one. That’s pathetic. My viewing schedule has developed a case of the crazy and I take what I can get. Tonight I took a walk down to the library to find some interesting films to watch over the week. I wanted mostly horror films but I couldn’t help take out a few Criterion films which I’ll be watching over the weekend. I guess I’ll just have to dust off the old Netflix account and browse the horror selection there. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed. The Orphanage has managed to escape me for years so I decided to finally pay it a visit which actually turned out to be a wonderful idea.

I loved the film for the most part. You don’t get many horror films like this.

Slow. Detailed. Well acted.

It reminded me of Ti West in the way he lets the atmosphere and natural creepiness of setting scare the viewer. I haven’t seen his newest film (heard it’s on Netflix, I take back my statement above), but the guy just knows how to make a horror movie that appeals to all of my senses. He still likes to throw at least one jump scare in though, a tactic that I find tired and overused. This is where The Orphanage differs itself from the pack. I honestly don’t remember one single jump scare. Sure there were some quick camera movements and figures appearing from a spot where there was once nothing, but those just felt earned. There was no ROARING CRASH OF SOUND accompanied by a lightning quick edit to some deranged murderous face, or better yet a fucking cat that jumps out of a closet. This film was just plain old creepy. It’s also a ghost story. I love host stories. I’ve been telling, reading, and writing them since I was a kid and this ghost story satisfied me completely. I was into the overall premise of the film. There were some holes that I should have bothered me but somehow didn’t given the fact that the movie could exist without filling them. Actually, I’d say the story was the weakest link of the whole film. It certainly pulled me in but I was really hooked by the overall aesthetic feel of the film. I made sure to turn the lights out and crank the volume for this and the film returned my diligence by giving me a great atmosphere for a horror film. The acting was also top notch, especially from Belén Rueda. She’s a natural.

Like many, I had a problem with the ending. I just felt like it was a total cop out to what could have been a seriously disturbing and unique conclusion. Those who have seen the film will remember the basement scene. Credits should have rolled from that point. The movie was over. What came next was just a very easy way to end what was a totally original and uneasy film. I understood the reasoning behind it but I honestly didn’t care for what happened to the characters involved. I didn’t shed a tear. I wanted the disturbing option A.

The ending disappointed me but the film overall couldn’t have been more enjoyable. I loved the creepiness. I loved the acting from Belén Rueda. It was a good scare on a nice, windy, chilly October night. I should do this more often.

4/5

Suggested Viewing – The Others, The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, Tale of Two Sisters, Les Diaboliques (1955 version, fuck that shitty remake)