Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Amer (2009)

Close ups of eyes. More often than not the eyes look angry. Sometimes I can't tell what expression is supposed to be shown, the crop is just of the eyes. Salt under a bed? An aged, dead old man on a bed. A pocketwatch or a locket, something that seems to let breath escape when it is opened. A frightened child in a room with a latch. The next set of sequences show the young girl as a teenager. The final set of sequences move from teenager to young woman. This film is colourful. Don't expect a plot, this is just visual poetry. I can't describe a story even after seeing it. I can only recommend it for the visuals. I didn't find it scary.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Nailbiter (2013)

This film was more than a little disappointing. A family with an alcoholic mother and three daughters start a journey to pick up her husband/their father from the airport, he is returning from a military tour somewhere. There are storm warnings when they set off. They call in to a village for some gas and the local sheriff is concerned that they should wait out the storm rather than continue on their journey. The mother decides to ignore the warnings and continues. Eventually, they are forced out of their car and head to a farmhouse. The front door doesn't open so they run around to the cellar and head down through the storm door. They get trapped down there. The family who own the farmhouse are some kind of monster family and the girls and their mother become the victims.
The action takes a long time to develop and I wasn't impressed by the special effects. The performance of the daughters wasn't anything special, I felt nothing for them because there was not much backstory to speak of. I can't recommend this film as it was a disappointment.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

This film was a surprise watch for me, I hadn't realised what it was about before I started it. Ever since September 11th 2001 one name was the focus of the American international surveillance effort and that name was Osama bin Laden. This film documents the decade long search for him and one female CIA agent's journey from being within a hotel that was blown up to nearly being killed by her car being shot at leaving her house. A close friend was killed following what seemed a breakthrough lead, with a blast happening at a CIA base taking out a number of other agents and members of the military. Eventually though, surveillance suggests a special courier that bin Laden was using was located in Abbottabad in Pakistan. After months of surveillance, that must have seemed like a lifetime, the chances of bin Laden living there are more than 60%. The decision is taken to go in. Radar shielded black hawks are readied. A date is set and they fly in, drop down and infiltrate the compound. You know the rest. The acting is excellent and the story is a good one. I really enjoyed the film and can easily recommend it.

The Devil's Rejects (2005)

This was another film with cartoon-like characters. It was directed and written by Rob Zombie. The police arrive at a family home and shoot it up. The family in residence are wicked and have obviously tortured and killed people there. There is a very tall member of the family (called Tiny, ironically) who is disfigured and gets away at the start and later makes an appearance at the end. The mother of the family gets captured and her son and daughter get away. The mother is locked up in the county police station. The sheriff's brother was killed by the family and he resorts to his own plan to get revenge on the family. One member of the family who wasn't at the farm house for the shoot up was called Captain Spaulding and he wears clown make up though the reason is not clear. The son and daughter and the clown agree to meet up at a safe motel. Before the clown gets there, the siblings take a traveling band hostage and shoot their roadie point blank in the head. The two men in the band get taken away by the son and he leads them to some remote place where he has buried some weapons. The two men try to overpower him but he survives and is too strong or too lucky. He kills them both and returns to the motel. In the mean time in the hotel, one of the women in the band tries to make a run for it and is killed by a vehicle running right through her. The son and daughter are picked up by Captain Spaulding and they head to a town where there is a friend who runs a brothel.
The sheriff enlists the help of two criminals who may have helped him out before. By this time the sheriff has gone mental and he has killed the mother. He wants to hunt the daughter down after he thinks Captain Spaulding and the son are being killed. However, things don't go to plan as Tiny turns up to her rescue. The three remaining family members are all injured but manage to make a getaway in a convertible. They drive until morning when they stop, facing a roadblock. Here they load their weapons and start heading for the roadblock, the police open fire and the film ends with them presumably being shot up.
This film was a lot more entertaining than I had expected. There is some sexual violence in it, which I think must have had some cuts from the film censor, especially in the motel sequences. Overall though, its recommendable on the basis of good acting and a great cast, including the wife of Rob Zombie - Sheri Moon Zombie.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

I watched this film this week and despite myself I found I enjoyed it. It is very much like a cartoon. The violence is way over the top. The colours are vibrant. There don't seem to be any nice characters in this film. It is not explained where the hobo comes from, Rutger Hauer plays the part of the hobo, he jumps off a freight train. The city is under control of a villain called Drake, he acts like a television show host to crowds of followers? There is a lot of cartoon violence in the film, the police are as bad as the criminals. There is a guy walking around with a video camera who wants to film people being beat up, he pays them money to allow themselves to be beaten up. Drake's sons want to control the city through fear and try to be more violent than their father. The hobo rescues a prostitute called Amy from one of the sons. She allows him to sleep in her bed and they become friends. The hobo wants to buy a lawnmower. None of the film really make sense, its one crazy ride. Entertaining while it lasts but one that will leave you wondering what you just saw.

I Spit On Your Grave (2010)

I was aware of the existence of a film of this name from some time in the 1970s and a certain notoriety about it, but I didn't know any real details. Even so, it was with some reluctance I sat down to watch this film because I knew it wasn't going to be an easy watch. I hate to see sexual violence against women and I knew that this film included some.
I think in my mind I had built this film up to be awful and unpleasant and unwatchable. Well I was partly wrong. This is well-made movie and the acting and production quality are good - improving on the original 1970s version in that sense at least. The story concerns a young female writer who wants to spend a few months writing a book in a secluded place where she can enjoy the quiet and the isolation. Her quiet and peaceful world is violated by a gang of thugs and even worse by a wicked police sheriff who controls them. It's a revenge flick, so she gets her revenge. It is less believable in the means that her revenge take and it's best to accept it rather than dwell too much. It's enjoyable to watch the men suffer I must admit. Not one I can universally recommend due to the extreme nature of the sexual violence.

Rabies (2010)

I was surprised by this film. I didn't know it was a slasher film when I began watching it and I didn't know it was the first Israeli horror film. It is set in an Israeli country park which includes some parts that are old mine fields, which conveniently has rusted signs lying on the floor and not visible. It was also a surprise to realise that the film was not going to be about the disease Rabies, although there is a dog in the film - at the beginning at least.
The film's course is quite unpredictable and I enjoyed that aspect the most. The special effects are fairly minor but are done proportionately with the plot. There is a lot of blood but what do you expect for a slasher. You can expect sub plots and murders here. What's interesting is that the protagonists don't seem to be very likeable and end up doing the killing themselves, this is remarkable considering there is a genuine serial killer/bad guy in the film who hardly has any screen time.
An interesting film on many levels.

The Torment (2010) aka The Possession of David O'Reilly

I watched this film a while back, probably in February or March but didn't write it down in my list and forgot about it. But I think it's one to blog about, you see it is not the worst horror film I have seen. The idea of it is good. A young couple are disturbed just as they are about to go to bed by a friend (David) who appears at their door. He has been recently left by his partner and the closeness of their friendship means he is welcome to stay and the two men spend the night talking. They seem to get very little sleep during the whole film. David is seeing evil monsters in the shadows but doesn't admit this to the couple at first. The way the threat emerges is handled really well. We, the audience, think the monsters must be just in David's mind. But by the end of the film they seem very real. It is a decent film but not a mainstream one and it does take a while to get going but I think that's excusable in this case and in the contemporary British setting of the film.

Rogue River (2012)

I watched this film some time last week. I have to admit that I found it watchable even though I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I thought I might. I think the idea was a good one. A young woman drives out into the country after saying goodbye to a young man (I thought he was her partner at first but it turns out to be her brother) to find a spot by a river to drop her fathers ashes into. She's interrupted by a bloke who seems to be a busy-body at first, he tells her he wouldn't advise doing what she's about to. But the encounter swings around and he seems genuine as he helps her to her feet, as she is obviously upset. This bloke is convincing as he helps the young lady, called Mara. The trust builds as she finds her car gone and he offers a lift. She should feel alarm bells ringing but she doesn't. She goes back to his house and meets his wife. They have dinner together and she is offered a bed for the night. She drops a cup or glass after dinner and the wife is seen to deliberately slice Mara's hand open. They insist on treating the wound by stitching it without anaesthetic despite Mara's protests. Man, wouldn't you have just run screaming out way before that point! So Mara basically becomes their prisoner and is subjected to further torture as she tries and fails to escape them. The audience sees some hope as the local cops arrive, they seem authoritative and have doubts about the couple but on their return to the squad car they are shot and killed by the man. Mara's brother turns up and is captured as well. I won't spoil the end. The successful parts of the film work well, the couple certainly are acted very well and are believable. What's less believable is the main character's total lack of stranger danger and he wimpy reaction to everything. This let the film down for me. I like strong female characters and she just wasn't. Probably a fault with the script rather than the actress playing the part.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Human Centipede 2 (2011)

I saw this film last night. Unusually, it is filmed entirely in black and white. It's also unusual in that the first film is watched as a film by the main character and used as a reference by him. It's also unusual in that an actress from the first film plays herself in this film.
This isn't a film I can recommend to anyone. I didn't enjoy it very much but watched it nonetheless. The main characters dialogue is none existent. He has a job as an underground car park attendant. He has a tire iron as a favourite weapon which he swings with abandon but doesn't kill his victims with it. The film doesn't make sense to me but maybe I'm thinking too much about the biological aspects. I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone apart from fans of the first film.

Journey to the far side of the sun (1969)

I watched this film last night for the first time in a long while. I remember it as a classic but watching it again I have to admit there were some parts of it that were a little disappointing now, probably down to the fact of the age of the film and the reliance on models for the special effects. The film is known as Doppelganger in America I think. If you like the live action Gerry Anderson TV series  UFO you will enjoy this film, there are members of the cast who are in both.
I think the main idea of the film is a good one but really I'd have to question whether it is a strong enough idea.

American Sniper (2014)

My wife has been saying I'd enjoy this film for a good few weeks and I finally got round to watching it last weekend. It's based on a true story of a proper cowboy from America who sees the World Trade Centre attacks and decides he has to join up to fight the terrorists abroad so that he can keep his homeland safe. He joins the SEALS. He is a good SEAL and is deployed to Iraq. We watch the film through several tours he completes, each time changing him as a person. War changes us and even when he returns home between tours of duty he can't leave the war. He is a sniper and a good one at that, providing over watch. His nemesis is an Iraqi sniper who also happens to be an Olympic champion shooter. He defeats his nemesis and returns home to retire, his time done. As part of his treatment after returning he visits a veteran centre and instantly enjoys working with vets who are in different states of physical disability. Sadly, the film's ending reveals that he was killed by one of the veterans he was trying to help. A very sad ending really. The funeral convoy was very sad because a lot of ordinary Americans paid their respects to him by lining the roads and highways and saluting him, displaying the American flag.

Wake Wood (2009)

I didn't know what to expect with this film, my expectations were not high but I was pleasantly surprised. It is about a young couple whose daughter tragically gets killed by a vicious dog. They live in a village called Wake Wood and there are a group of people led by some wealthy landowner who are into some kind of pagan ritual. Since the mother of the dead girl can't get over the death of her daughter they offer her the chance of bringing her daughter back for 3 days to say goodbye properly. Well, there are conditions - she has to have been dead for less than a year, she has to stay within the boundary of Wake Wood and stay only for three days. Not everyone is convinced. An older woman in the village suspects something isn't right about it. Well, as you can imagine she is proved right. I won't spoil it but I enjoyed this movie. I liked the pagan abacus-like thing they used to ask questions and I liked Timothy Spall's part in the movie, he played it well. It reminded me of The Wicker Man in the pagan aspects of the film. If you like classic horror, this is a good one to watch.

In Bruges (2008)

It's a shame I hadn't seen this film before but I'm glad I've seen it now. It is the story of two gun men who have been sent to Bruges to lay low for a while. One of the guys accidentally shot and killed a child when a bullet he fired went through the target (who happened to be a priest).
The owner of the hotel they are staying in plays a great part really strongly although she doesn't have a massive part. All of the characters are played really well. It is a comedy thriller and the setting of Bruges looks great. I've been to Bruges so some of the jokes about it are funnier but even if you haven't been I think you'd find it funny. Well worth a watch if you like comedy and thrillers.

Landmine goes click (2015)

Not really what I'd normally call a horror film but more of a thriller than anything else. It is a good film in my opinion. The setting is somewhere in Europe and 3 friends are off on a camping holiday. The attractive blonde girl of the three is loved by one of the men but not the one who she is in a relationship with. I think the man in love with her had sex with her but hasn't told his friend. This forms part of the twist later on. It's a hard film to describe without going into the exact detail of it all.
Most of the film is taken up with the problem that one of the guys happens to have stepped on an old landmine that hadn't been cleared up from the war several years ago (in Serbia?). I'm not sure why it wouldn't just automatically blow him up but I'm not a landmine expert. His male friend abandons them, leaving him with the girl he loves. Now, all seems redeemable when a stranger comes along. However, this stranger is an absolute bastard. He strings them along, promising to help but infact does everything but help. He humiliates the girl and eventually rapes and murders her. All while the guy stands on the landmine. You might assume the film ends there but no. There is an ending. I would have wanted the guy who abandoned them to get his just rewards but no, that wasn't part of the ending, instead it was passing stranger who gets it. I won't spoil it but lets just say it ends quite darkly.
A strange little film that is well made and well scripted. It's difficult to watch at times but I can tell there was good craft on display in making it. The acting is superb. Well worth a watch if you can stomach it.