Film Review : Big Bad Wolves (2013)

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IMDB Score – 6.9
Rotten Tomato Score – 78%
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Directed By – Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
Starring – Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, Tzahi Grad, and Guy Adler

A series of brutal murders puts the lives of three men on a collision course: The father of the latest victim now out for revenge, a vigilante police detective operating outside the boundaries of law, and the main suspect in the killings – a religious studies teacher arrested and released due to a police blunder.

First off let me say that even though I love his films, Quentin Tarantino is starting to piss me off. He’s a pretentious douchebag who happens to make some of the best films of the past thirty years. I’ll give him credit for that. I hope he continues making films for a long, long time. I do however wish that he stop talking, like forever. His claim that this was the best film of last year is just ludicrous and seems like he’s just trying to sniff his own butthole due to the fact that the entire film was a dragged out version of the scene from “Reservoir Dogs” when Micheal Madsen cuts that cops ear off. That isn’t to say I didn’t like the film because I enjoyed it, but it was nothing new whatsoever and for Mr. Tarantino to claim that this film was the best from last year just strikes me wrong. It just screams “Hey! I make movies like this! I didn’t make a movie this year so THIS is the best of the whole year.” Give me a break.

Now, apologies to the cast and crew of this film because even though it seems like I just took a huge dump on your film, I did find some enjoyment in the film. Besides a little set up, the entirety of the film pretty much takes place in the basement of a secluded cabin in which a father who just lost his daughter to a brutal rapist/murderer thinks he has found the killer. He thinks he has found the killer because the cop who is with him thinks it was him even though there is no evidence to suggest he’s right. There really isn’t much more meat to this film besides being a good old fashioned torture movie. Films like this come along a lot because it’s an easy script to write and you can get creative in the ways to torture people. This film didn’t get that creative. Hell, it wasn’t even that bloody. There were a few cringe worthy scenes but for the most part I was left wanting something a little more original. I was at least hoping for a shocker of an ending but instead I got an unearned twist that was suppose to hit hard but since the script decided to invest nothing in the characters themselves, I didn’t give a shit. The only thing I actually enjoyed about this film was the cast and the dialogue, which is what ultimately saved the film for me.

Tzahi Grad is a menace. He’s a huge presence with a deep frightening voice that was perfect in this role. His line of “Maniacs are afraid of other maniacs” couldn’t have rang more true. The guy was a pleasure to watch every single time he was on screen. His terrifying presence was helped greatly by some fantastic dialogue written for the characters. The writers decided to take a black comedy approach by taking a very serious script about torture, rape, and murder and gad the characters in this film be as polite as possible. In one instance, a character apologizes to the alleged serial killer for not offering him a piece of cake. This is before he is planning on burning him with a torch. I loved it. I thought it was hilarious. I wish the movie lived up to how funny it ended up being.

So while Mr. Tarantino was completely wrong about this film in my opinion, it was still a decent watch and is now streaming on Netflix. If you’re into horror movies and would like to see a black comedy dressed up as a horror film, then I’d suggest checking it out.


Suggested Viewing – The Loved Ones, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I Saw the Devil

Film Review : Haunter (2013)

IMDB Score – 5.8
Rotten Tomato Score – 52%
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Directed By – Vincenzo Natali
Starring – Abigail Breslin, Stephen McHattie, Peter DaCunha, Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden, and Eleanor Zichy

The ghost of a teenager who died years ago reaches out to the land of the living in order to save someone from suffering her same fate.

There’s about two feet of snow on the ground right now and more is to follow. What does this mean? Beer and Netflix. “Haunter” hasn’t actually finished yet but I am totally finished with the film. I always finish movies whether I like them or not, and I’m still half paying attention, but I’m not missing much. I’ve seen all I needed to see. I remember when this hit on demand and being curious due to the fact that I have liked Vincenzo Natalis work in the past. “Cube” is one of those movies that I can watch at any time because of how much I appreciated the ambition and creativity. With a bigger budget, that film could have been amazing. Yet, it falls into the guilty pleasures section of my DVD collection. This wasn’t by lack of trying of course. The film just didn’t have the money to accomplish everything it wanted to. Natali was also responsible for one of 2009’s most interesting films, “Splice”, which was flawed and disturbing but goddamn was it entertaining. The fact that Stephen McHattie is in this film was the clincher that I’d check it out someday and BEHOLD…Netflix added it to its library today just in time for my snow storm. Now let’s try to figure out why this film sucks…

This film is too complex for it’s own good. What started out as a simple ghost mystery soon turned into a weave of confusion and plot twists that drained any life out of the original idea. This is the problem with trying to be too smart. People think that all the ideas have been done before so they’re going to have to compensate for this by throwing in twist after twist after twist. You know what this does? This takes the viewer out of the story completely, or at least it takes me out. Sometimes, the most simple of stories is what generates the most genuine reaction. Ti West is a good example. His two films “House of the Devil” and “The Gatekeepers” were slow burns that only featured one twist. They upped the suspense by keeping it grounded. Both are among my favorite horror films of the last decade. They didn’t try to blow the viewers mind but rather played to the strengths of ghost stories. They capitalized on the fears of being in a house/building that is creepy and let the imagination do the work. “Haunter force fed me discoveries. It didn’t let me figure out what was happening or give me time to try to guess what was going on. Every five minutes the path in which we were travelling to was pointed out and thus took all suspense away from the film. I don’t understand how people don’t understand this and keep making films that refuse the viewer the right to use their imagination. This is the key to horror films.

The acting was also pretty bad. Abigail Breslin can be a good actress. Obviously she was great in “Little Miss Sunshine” but we haven’t seen that kind of performance from her since. I haven’t seen “August: Osage County” yet but perhaps the stellar cast aound her brought something out because she was flat out awful in this. I don’t expect great acting in horror films but it’s the one thing that could make a bad film somewhat watchable. Look was “The Conjuring” did recently. The story was something that has been done twenty times a year but the acting, and the direction of course, was top notch, hence giving a pleasant experience. This wasn’t pleasant. This was stupid. Stephen McHattie, who is one of my favorite supporting actors, tried his best but the corniness of his character just didn’t work with his creepy way of delivering lines.

I was disappointed by how much I hated the film. I know that I haven’t loved any of Vincenzo Natalis films but I expected something enjoyable at least. Yet another horror/ghost story suffers the fate of being unoriginal and poorly executed. One day somebody is going to figure it out. Until then I’ll just have to keep waiting for Ti West to release his masterpiece and out horror films back in the spotlight.


Film Review : You’re Next (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.6
Rotten Tomato Score – 74%

Directed By – Adam Wingard
Starring – Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz, Ti West, and Rob Moran

When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.

The genre of horror is a lot like chicken. I see chicken on a menu and I go “yeah, I’ve pretty much had enough chicken in my life, lets try something else”. However, there are still some wonderful chicken dishes out there in the world. Every couple years a few films get released that try to do something different that what everybody else is doing. Even the ones that don’t land as well as they should are still usually credited with striving to be unique. Chicken doesn’t have to be done the same way. It can be either generic or unique. Would you like me to stop making this awful chicken reference? Okay, you’re right. It was bad and I should be ashamed but I’m going to leave it in because this is America and I can make bad chicken analogies if I want. Moving on.

I enjoyed You’re Next. I enjoyed it enough to stick through a really awful middle act to get to the more interesting and entertaining final third of the film. The film centers around a family reunion in an old house in the middle of the woods. We have seen this film probably a million times. However what we haven’t seen is a horror film totally be in on its own joke and create a new experience. I know that “Cabin in the Woods” was a similar film where the comedy and satire of the horror genre is on full display and while I loved that film it was very obvious to the viewer what was going on. With “You’re Next”, you’re not entirely sure if what you’re watching is supposed to be dark humor or horrible crafted straight horror. I looked at it as a comedy. Not a very hilarious comedy but one that should be enjoyed without sniveling and complaining on how ridiculous the actions of the actors on screen are.

The middle of the film almost lost me. It took me a long time to get what was going on and that I should be enjoying the ride instead of constantly rolling my eyes at the decisions being made by these characters. The whole way the attack on the house begins makes the viewer believe what they are seeing is cheese in its smelliest form. However when giving the film time to breath and come to fruition, the gist of what Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett are trying to accomplish starts becoming clearer. I really enjoyed the final third of the film but can’t go too far in explanation in order to avoid spoiling key moments in the film.

Besides the creative writing, the camerawork from director Adam Wingard was particularly impressive. While nailing traditional horror techniques such as villain POV and quick gore cuts, Wingard also uses a unique filming style, particularly in the films for dark lighting scenes, that give a viewer a new way to be scared. Use of camera flashes and old fashioned jump scares were earned instead of coming off cliche and tried.

Overall I liked the film. I like when horror movies try to think outside the box and take old used ideas and settings and try to create something new. It’s like wrapping chicken in bacon and putting ice cream on top. Is it good? Well, shit, that’s sounds like it would be. I’d eat that. I don’t know about you. Even if it wasn’t delicious, at least it isn’t the same of bland piece of meat resting on an equally bland slop of potatoes.

I’m going to work on my analogies.


Film Review : Evil Dead (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.5
Rotten Tomato Score – 62%

Directed By – Fede Alvarez
Starring – Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore

Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. The evil presence possesses them until only one is left to fight for survival.

As I am making my way through the 2013 films I neglected to see in theaters, I am being reminded why I chose not to see them in the first place. I usually hate remakes. The reason I do is not because it “ruins” the original because that statement doesn’t make any damn sense. Remakes don’t cease to make the originals exist. You like the original “Total Recall” better than remake? Great! Keep watching the original. Don’t see the new one. Easy. The originals will always be there for us. No, the reason I hate remakes is simply because I’ve seen it before. I know the story. I know what is going to happen and am forced to put all my faith into the remakes ability to do something different which always seems to fall flat. Horror films are the usual culprit in this regard in where they take an original piece of work and try to either make the same exact thing over again or try to out do it. We saw it with Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and The Thing. I know what you’re saying about that last one. BUT JOHN CARPENTER REMADE THE THING AND IT WAS GREAT! John Carpenter did something completely different with his remake and it worked perfectly mostly due to the fact that the special effects were state of the art at the time and still may be the best special effects film ever made (take that James Cameron). Great remakes are few and far between but they’re going to keep happening whether we like it or not. I may not lighten up to the idea of paying for these remakes but if one comes along with a good review I might take a chance on one of them.

I should have taken a chance on Evil Dead.

Seeing this in a theater on a packed night would have been awesome. It is by far one of the most disgusting and gore filled mainstream release I think I’ve ever seen. I mean this thing was playing in theaters next to kids movies. That’s incredible. It took the shlocky B level violence in the original cult classic and turned it up to 11. The story pretty much remained the same (and only solidified how great a satire Cabin in the Woods was) but that isn’t the feature of this film. This was just good old fashioned horror fest. The effects were beyond impressive and just seemed light years ahead of anything Eli Roth has cooked up in recent times. This isn’t “torture porn”. It is well crafted blood art. I honestly don’t know why I liked it more than any other film that just tries to go for shock value instead of actually trying to tell a story. While not the most complex of narratives, the film stayed very close to the original plot line and didn’t try to go out of the box too much. Sometimes simplicity trumps creativity.

It was basically just a really fun and cringe inducing film that I can see being a great hit at parties for those who want to watch something entirely ridiculous yet entirely intense and fun. Just don’t eat before watching it. Oh and Bruce Campbell just can’t resist a chainsaw can he?