Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

The Man Responsible: Kim Henkel
Victims (Careers May or May Not have Survived): Renee Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, Leatherface

“Girls have tits.”

Okay, so I got one horrible Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel out of the way; how about another one? How about a movie so bad that it makes even long-term fans of the rest of the series cringe? Yes, that’s right, people who actually support Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, shun this movie. People who actually thought that was a good piece of cinema… this is the movie they don’t like of the series. How bad can Tex-ass Chainsaw Massacre get? Well, let’s take a look at The Next Generation, which more or less means ‘here’s a crappy 90s sequel that attempts to half-assedly modernize an old horror franchise with stupid characters and banal attempts at humor.’

First of all, if that title isn’t going to have anything to do with Star Trek, I don’t want a part of this movie. Second…did we just enter a parallel dimension or something? I’ll do a quick rundown of just the first five minutes: Weird montage of a girl and her boyfriend getting ready at home, taking pictures and then going to a high school prom. Cut to two guys wrestling in the parking lot. Cut to this one blonde girl named Heather asking a teacher where her boyfriend Barry is, to which the teacher says, “I thought you two broke up?” I’m sorry…but what the hell does that have to do with anything? Couldn't you just tell her the answer? Keep your nose out of her business! Then Heather talks to her friend, who is muttering gibberish for absolutely no reason and twitching like she has Tourette’s…although she stops doing that and does not appear to actually have said disease. Then Heather finds Barry kissing some other girl, steals his car and goes careening across the parking lot. But somehow he gets in the car and they start talking.

He says that she’s so controlling and won’t let him see his friends anymore, even though everyone in the audience and her clearly saw him kissing and feeling up another girl. He says that he needs sex and that there’s “nothing wrong with kissing another girl once.” Uh…YES THERE IS, YOU MONGOLOID. And then the kids from the opening scene, Jenny and Sean, from the first scene pop up spontaneously in the back of the car even though they weren’t shown ever getting in, and were just seen a few seconds ago coming out of the doors of the dance. They talk about…okay, okay, wait. I need a second here.

Five minutes. Five minutes is all it took for this movie to break me. I mean WOW, man, that’s a new record right there! This is like an M. Night Shyamalan movie...if it was on steroids.

So they get in two car crashes – don’t you know you’re not supposed to drive angry? – while Barry delivers such witty lines as “Girls have tits.” Startling observation there, Sherlock; how long did it take you to figure that one out? The second crash actually stops them cold and they even find an unconscious guy in the other car. Then they go looking out in the woods for help…instead of just going back the way they came for some reason. Your guess is as good as mine why that is. They just…randomly barge in on this weird little wood-office place where the lady at the desk starts talking to Jenny about random stuff while she calls her friend Vilmer.

…who arrives at the scene of the accident where Sean is waiting. Sean asks if Vilmer can take a look at the unconscious guy, and Vilmer promptly slits his throat. He stands up and announces that he is going to kill Sean too, and then…Sean disappears. I can infer that he ran away from Vilmer, but I don’t hear any running sound effects, and I sure didn’t see him run away, so what the hell, movie? What, is this like some kind of visual fun-house mirror or something; just twisting our perceptions of reality by including normal looking people and situations but making them just a little strange and out of focus? My brain is being raped by this movie. I haven’t even gotten to the chainsaw wielding cannibals, and my brain is being raped.

We see Vilmer chasing Sean with his truck and playing around with him before actually backing up and hitting him. What happened to him? Is he really dead? I guess we won’t find those things out before the movie’s whimsical sense of fucked up magic decides we need to know! Our three other characters are wandering through the woods when Vilmer speeds by them and does not respond to their cries for help. Jenny wanders off into the woods, deciding she doesn’t want to be a part of this movie for a while, while Barry and Heather exchange…some of the most fascinating dialogue I’ve heard in a long time.

I’m dead serious! Just read some of these quotes:

Heather: Let's stop and ask for help. Tell them we'll give them fifty bucks if they give us a ride.
Barry: Fifty bucks?
Heather: We're not really gonna GIVE it to 'em, tell 'em to send us a bill. If they get mad...give them five bucks, tell em we'll send the rest later.

...I'm sorry, what? Why are you talking about that? It's like completely out of left field with what is actually going on, like looking at a picture of a hot girl to stare at her right earlobe.

And later on…

Barry: You better not shoot me, mister. I heard this guy pulled a gun on a kid at his house, and he got tried for murder.

...Yeah, man! You stick it to him!

There is too many of these lines for me to even count, let alone write down or comment about. So how about we take a look at the next scene…Heather is sitting on the bench waiting for Barry to look around for people to help them. This ratty old man in a mask and a dirty trench coat comes up behind her and starts picking her hair. She makes no sign of even noticing him. We cut to the scene above where Barry is confronted by a man with a gun. We cut back, and she still hasn’t noticed. She finally notices this huge guy who was probably breathing down her neck the whole time, and we see it’s Leatherface!

But that doesn’t trouble me nearly as much as how much this girl screams. I’m really starting to hate girls screaming in these movies; it’s so annoying. It even annoys Leatherface! Good job, movie, you created a character that could aggravate a seven-foot serial killer who wears other peoples’ faces. That takes talent. But he kills both of them off anyway.

Meanwhile, Vilmer is playing cat and mouse with Jenny, who is still stranded in the woods. He shows her the dead bodies of Sean and the unconscious car-crash victim in the back of his truck, spouts some pseudo-existentialist philosophy and then chases her into the woods, only to leave again. Gee, you’d think a guy with that kind of imagination would have something better to do on a Friday night. She then gets chased by Leatherface until she gets back to the little house from before, where she gets cattle-prodded and tied up by the lady who she thought was a good guy, and a man who does nothing but quote famous intellectuals.


The movie trudges along and we see the cops completely ignoring the crazy woman with Jenny tied up in her trunk - If someone, even a hot and flirty girl, says to you "You don't want to know" when you ask what's in their probably need to check it out. That is your job, you frigging retard. And then we see the woman hitting the escaped (???) Heather, who we presumed was dead since she had a hook stuck in her last time we saw her, with a stick for no reason. But for some reason, she does not actually take Heather back with them, despite that she tells Vilmer to go find her when they arrive at the house…but then, brace yourselves! WE GET A CROSS-DRESSING LEATHERFACE.

I’m…I’m at a loss for words. They don’t even say anything about it. Before he was wearing regular clothes and now he’s wearing a grandma’s wig and an apron! Why? I don’t know. He never did that in any of the other movies. And later on we even see him in a full dress and lipstick and everything! And you know what the strangest part is? I’m not even that surprised! That’s right; I’m not surprised. That’s how far this movie has driven me. They showed a classic horror icon CROSS DRESSING, and I wasn’t surprised. Movie, go lobotomize yourself with a rusty chainsaw.

I can’t summarize the rest of this. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just…I’ve covered so much of this already, and the rest of the movie basically amounts to Vilmer and the Leatherface family shouting, beating each other up and doing everything short of throwing their own feces; it’s like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre if they went on Jerry Springer. Oh yeah, and there’s a plot thrown in in the last fifteen minutes about the Illuminati. Color me surprised!

This is amazing. It is so absolutely awful and simultaneously perplexing in every way that it is flat out amazing. I have no idea what this movie is trying to get across. I have no idea what the audience for this was. Sometimes it’s trying to be funny, but there aren’t any jokes so much as…random, weird conversations. And the rest of the time? Well, uh, it’s nothing you ever want to see again. None of this movie is. Don’t get me wrong; this is bad, one of the worst out there, but at the same time…go see this if you have 90 minutes to waste. It’s really a spectacle of a film. A movie as flippantly, whimsically weird as it is godawfully horrendous and ear-rapingly annoying. You decide which one is more prevalent.

Now I’m going to go have my eyes gouged out to forget this whole thing.

Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Bill Moseley, Bill Johnson

The legend goes that 13 years after the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, they finally decided to make a sequel. And it sucks. It sucks hard. Do you need more?

Our movie starts with a few seconds of text recounting the legend of the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, and thusly reminding us of how good that one was. We then go to an open country road where some dork wearing kooky prism-sunglasses is shooting a gun out the window for no reason. He and his companion call up a sexy radio hostess named Stretch, whose name is clearly ripe for any number of sexual innuendos, and joke around with her while playing chicken with some poor shmuck who was probably just trying to get home and eat lunch or something. Gee, listen to the way that prism-sunglasses kid is laughing…it’s like audible AIDS. He gives off this really shrill, piercing laugh that I actually think is exploding my---

Oh, hey, radio girl is playing The Cramps. That’s much better. Thank you, movie.

Buuuut it’s not long before we switch right back to the two asshole brothers who want to prank-call her again, because they clearly have nothing better to do on their trip to the Texas low country than prank call innocent people and make their lives that much more annoying. Well, movie, I’ve got to give you credit; you’ve already made me want to kill these guys myself! I can’t wait till Leatherface does it later.

And luckily we don’t have to wait that long, as he actually shows up on the road a second later and attacks them after the driver calls him a pig-fucker and tells him to back up – which Leatherface does, right before he gets out his chainsaw and cuts their car to pieces while it’s already moving. For some reason he’s wearing a weird zombie-scarecrow costume or something that covers his face, even though it falls off and you can see it’s him; that’s fucking weird. And the whole thing gets caught on Stretch’s radio tape…

The next morning we get introduced to our main character, played by Dennis Hopper. Yup, Dennis Hopper again; he’s been appearing in almost every god damn movie I’ve watched lately, like he’s fucking haunting me or something. He’s playing a washed up sheriff who has been hunting the Texas Chainsaw Massacre killers ever since the first movie and none of the other cops really take him seriously or believe anything he says. But Stretch comes to talk to him and try to help him, and he refuses…I guess he just doesn’t like publicity that much.

So then we go to a Chili Cook Off where a famous chef is winning for the second year in a row. “It’s the meat,” he says, when asked what his secret is to making it so good, with a twinkle in his eye. Gee, that couldn’t possibly be foreshadowing the fact that he’s probably a bad guy and is using cut-up humans killed by Leatherface to make it, could it? Not that I’ve ever seen this movie. Just a healthy bit of speculation, mmm.

After buying a chainsaw at the World Chainsaw Emporium, Hopper goes to meet with Stretch the radio girl at her house, apparently having changed his mind as he wants her to play the tape of the two morons getting killed on the radio for everyone to hear…he says it’s so that the law will realize that he’s not just a joke, but really, I think it would just get her in huge amounts of trouble and probably even set Hopper back further, but hey, what do I know, I haven’t been chasing the Leatherface family for 14 years. And he introduces himself as Lefty. That’s right; our crime fighting team in this movie is named Stretch and Lefty. Why does that sound more like a bad comic strip you’d find in the Sunday papers or something?

So Stretch plays the horrific murder noises on the air for everyone to hear, and that guy from the Chili competition hears it from someone on the phone while driving a truck that only Kurt Russell from Big Trouble in Little China would drive. Oh, and it doesn’t matter, but he’s actually driving with the chili open and sitting on the Texas-shaped trophy he won sitting next to him in the passenger seat. That’s…really strange. Then that night after Stretch is all alone, she gets ambushed by Bill Moseley, playing one of the Leatherface family. He stumbles around chewing the scenery and acting like a ham until Leatherface pops out of the records room, where he’s apparently been hiding this whole time – gee, how did he even stay put that long? I thought he was like some kind of barbaric savage who couldn’t do those kinds of things to save his life.

I have to admit there are a few good scenes in this whole thing that do invite a few scares and some tension. Like when Leatherface corners Stretch in the room and runs his chainsaw up her leg…but for the most part the silliness of Bill Moseley and the temper tantrums of Leatherface afterward kind of drag it down.

So then Stretch decides to follow them. While she’s driving, apparently the sound guy for the movie was so bored that he decided to put in goofy, over the top music that has nothing to do with the TCM franchise. And why the hell is she following them? What, she couldn’t just alert the law enforcement? I know they didn’t believe anything had really happened, but come on, lady, YOU COULD HAVE SHOWN THEM YOUR WRECKED UP RADIO STATION. That’s veritable proof right there! You don’t have to go after them alone, you frigging idiot!

She gets chased by a car that is driven by Hopper, imagine that, and she ends up standing right in the very spot where there’s a trap-door to cave in the ground on her. Hopper gets out his chainsaw and starts screaming his head off as he goes to attack the Leatherface family madhouse, which is full of things like giant statues of hands holding knives, twisty slides like you’d find on a playground and walls that are full of fresh human entrails – weird family decoration, but I’ll go with it. But man, Hopper is a terrible cop. Does he just go in screaming and shouting every time he wants to apprehend a suspect? Imagine how that would have worked in Silence of the Lambs. He would have been dead in two seconds. He really doesn’t think this is going to, uh, alert anyone of his presence and possibly get him killed? Well, again, I guess I’m not the expert here. He probably knows best.

Hey, kids, let’s play PLOT ROULETTE! This is a game where we spin the great wheel of movie sequel plots and see what we’re going to have to deal with. Today’s plot wheel winner is…the sympathetic serial killer! Yes, Leatherface actually falls in love with Stretch, and tries to hide her from his crazy family by putting the face of her dead best friend over hers and also putting his hat on her head, too, and then tying her up so she doesn’t get away. It turns out he’s still alive, though, even though his face was skinned off…and actually, what follows is a really touching scene that’s also equally hard to watch and brutal, as he stumbles around, having been beaten within an inch of his life and had his face cut off. He manages to untie her and even talk a little, but he falls over and dies. This scene is actually really sad, and one of the only moments in this damn movie that actually evokes some kind of emotion.

But ugh…then we have to go back to watching Bill Moseley and that Chili cook guy who is apparently the head of the family. These two characters are so damn annoying and grating to the ears that they had me hoping that Dennis Hopper would show back up again. Hell, even Stretch herself is hardly sympathetic anymore. All she does is scream and she’s the one who got herself into this whole thing in the first place, so what the hell should I feel sorry for her for? Luckily Hopper does show up – although any protagonist whose choice of attack is a chainsaw to the other guy’s ass as he runs away is kind of questionable, but I’ll overlook that if we can get this movie done with faster.

I think one of the funnier parts is how Dennis Hopper has this armory of chainsaws, all of different sizes, tucked into his uniform like guns or knives or something – I’m not sure they’re supposed to be used like that, dude. And FINALLY Stretch kills Bill Moseley and puts the audience out of their misery of his horrible performance. In a startlingly cartoonish climax, the old grandpa throws a hammer at Dennis Hopper, who ducks, so it hits Leatherface, who falls over and knocks the floor in on the Chili cook guy, who loses control of the bomb he was about to explode.

Wow. Did we just enter the fucking Looney Tunes?

But no, the movie isn’t done torturing us yet, so Bill Moseley comes back and fights with Stretch some more until she finally knocks him down the mountain and into a pipe like he’s a golf ball at a mini golf course. Phew.

This just sucks. It’s got a few redeeming factors and a couple scenes that were okay, but for the most part, it just sucks. It completely eschews the tension and atmosphere of the first movie by putting in a bunch of annoying fuckholes screaming and cackling all the time and it gets rid of the cool Texas outback setting in favor of a carnival funhouse that just isn’t nearly as impressive. There’s just nothing about this that works or creates any kind of fear. The acting is over the top and annoying, the plot is just boring and…well, that’s all I need to tell you why this sucks. I guess in between the first one and this one, director Tobe Hooper lost his marbles or just stopped giving a shit, because this just isn't any good at all. If you see a copy of this, spit on it. That's all, folks!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review: Speed (1994)

Director: Jan de Bont
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper

"Oh! In two hundred years we've gone from "I regret but I have one life to give for my country" to "Fuck you!"?"
-Howard Payne

I’m going to have to write this review fast, before the bomb goes off. If I review slower than 50 mph, then we all go up in flames and I’ll never be able to reach the talked-about 100 reviews for the site! Speed is a movie made in 1994 starring Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper and Sandra Bullock. Hopper is lame, Reeves is lamer and Bullock is cute. The plot revolves around a cop (Reeves) who has to stop a money-hungry psychopath (Hopper) from blowing up a bus. But indeed, it’s rigged like a game – the bus has to keep going at about 50 miles per hour, or else the bus will explode!

This movie is just full of tension. The plot moves fast and is full of excitement on every level. Reeves must find a way to stop the bomb and apprehend Hopper, and fast. I found the script corny and blatantly stupid at times, but even then, it wasn’t a major detractor, and I could overlook it once the movie kicked into gear. Everything in this movie that could possibly go wrong actually does happen – first they have to defuse a bomb in an elevator, then the hour-long bus escapade, and finally a deadly date in a subway car…all ending in some sort of explosion every time; how tiring must that get? I can only imagine how annoyed that must make Reeves…but then, he’s a lame actor anyway, and can’t properly convey annoyance to begin with. So all I can do is imagine anyway. Still, though. It’s worth considering the ramifications of a mind getting too used to explosions. Eventually, they must become trite.

Uh oh. I didn’t review it fast enough.


Phew! Made it out in the nick of time through an extremely implausible and yet bad-ass stunt that you’d have to be either on drugs or as blandly heroic as Keanu Reeves to attempt. Now I can finish up this review properly…well, most of the end is Sandra Bullock carrying the entire movie alone while Dennis Hopper cackles and over-acts like a moron – but I suppose that’s kind of entertaining on its own. In a way detrimental to him, more than anything. But I still really enjoyed it. It’s a fun movie. It manages to create a lot of big, stupid explosions and a ton of gripping tension, and the fact that it can overcome the often lame acting and dialogue says a lot. Hey, I liked it. I’d probably watch it again. Just not too fast – I’ve still got some other stuff to review, too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Review: The Ninth Gate (1999)

A satanic mystery-thriller released in 1999 that has 66.6 on IMDb...something is amiss here.

Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Emmanuelle Seigner, Frank Langella

"Look around you all what do you see? A bunch of buffoons parading around in fancy dress. You think the prince of Darkness would deign to manifest himself before the likes of you? He never has and he never will!"
-Boris Balkan

I really expected this to be a bad one. I don’t even know why…I just did.

Well, it’s not. This is actually a Roman Polanski film, which I didn’t know when I first heard of it, and I have to say, I’m not that familiar with the guy. But from what I do know about him, he works hard on his movies. He really knows how to put them together. I’ve seen his newest flick Ghost Writer and now this one, and both of them are really well constructed, memorable films, even despite having a distinct lack of popular Hollywood-ized hooks and candy-coated dialogue. Where Ghost Writer was a sleek, tempered political thriller, The Ninth Gate is more like a slow-burning descent down a long, winding stairway, with the temperature rising steadily as you go.

Starring Johnny Depp as Dean Corso, this is about a book-detective who gets hired to track down the last two remaining copies of a satanic text that has mystical codes in it. He gets mixed up with an enigmatic young blonde girl who seems to be out to help him, and also a duo of prestigious and shady nature who want to steal the one copy he does have back. As people start to die around him, Depp’s stoic nature and lack of any kind of superstition undergo a heavy challenge…

I can’t say this is a great movie, but it is pretty good. I’m surprised how memorable I found it. The characters are well-acted and the locations are well-lit and really cool and exotic – look at all of the empty city streets, ancient buildings, decaying temple walls and dusty libraries; it’s practically ripe for a satanic thriller to be made out of. Depp always looks cool and acts cool, even if the weird stuff going on around him overshadows his acting alone. I have to say I really enjoyed the performance of Emmanuelle Seigner as “the girl.” She’s sexy, she’s mysterious and she just kicks ass. Even if those flying effects she does when she jumps are really corny looking. Props to her for doing a really great job.

And I just think that the film’s attention to a fairly minimalistic way of storytelling and presentation is charming. I don’t know, it’s just cool. With all the big budget flicks and super-polished films around with a ton of effects, watching a movie like this is refreshing, even if I am about 11 years late to the punch. The movie still has a ton of suspense, and it will really pull you in with its deftly placed twists and turns. It’s not a fast paced thriller at all, but it kind of slowly works its way into your bones, and even when it isn’t that exciting, you still want to know what happens next. That’s a sign of a good flick.

The Ninth Gate has some problems. Some of the action scenes are clumsy and awkward and it does run a little too long at over two hours. But overall it’s a really solid thriller that will put some chills in your bones if you watch it late at night. Thumbs up to Polanski.

Review: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)

Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Neil Patrick-Harris, Felicia Day, Nathan Fillion

Penny: You're not really interested in the homeless, are you?
Dr. Horrible: No, I am, but... it's a symptom. You're treating a symptom while the disease rages on, consumes the human race. The fish rots from the head, so they say. So I'm thinking, why not cut off the head?
Penny: [pause] Of the human race?
Dr. Horrible: It's not a... perfect metaphor. 

Long gone are the days when superhero films could only be cheesy, substance-less action flicks. With the advent of films like The Dark Knight and the ill-fated Watchmen movie, we see superhero films reaching the mainstream with an added dosage of introspection and psychology for a new kind of depth, whether people like it or not. And who better to exploit this to the full than Mr. Joss Whedon himself? This…is Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog.

I remember seeing the name for this movie a lot and thinking, wow, that can’t possibly be good. But like that cliché goes, never judge a book by its cover, and that rang true with this well enough. Dr. Horrible (as I will abbreviate the title to from here on out) is just a joy to behold on every level. Literally everything you could ask for is here, and all condensed down to a manageable and admirable 40 minute mark. We’ve got great characters, we’ve got snappy, witty dialogue, we’ve got some good jokes, and we’ve got some tragedy as well. Everything you could ask for, brewed up into a succinct statement of enjoyable filmmaking. There’s no room here for bullshit or tedious extravagance, all of that is eschewed completely.

The most interesting thing you will first notice is that the main character Dr. Horrible, played by Neil Patrick Harris, is, well…very obviously the “antagonist.” But yet he’s also the one we’re supposed to root for in this story. It’s because he’s a rather woebegone figure, a silly, introverted guy who makes videos on the internet and gets awkward around pretty Penny (Felicia Day) from the Laundromat. His evil plans are only a modicum more sinister than those of a certain Professor Chaos from one animated cartoon series I will not name…but yes, the comedy in this plot point actually comes from the fact that he is trying to do something so sinister that it will get him into the “Evil League of Evil,” which is apparently very prestigious. And also run by the ‘thoroughbred of sin,’ Bad Horse.

His enemy is Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion), the protagonist of the series, who is made out to be a condescending jerk-ass with a huge narcissism complex and a lot of swagger. Unfortunately, he also manages to get with Penny; much to Dr. Horrible’s woe…don’t you see where this is going? The way the roles of protagonist and antagonist are reversed and juxtaposed against one another is very subtly complex, seeming obvious to any viewer right away, but also rooted deep enough in the story to make you think about what’s going on. It’s nothing too in depth, just a really well written about-face of the traditional roles of hero and villain. And Nathan Fillion does a brilliant job as an annoying jackass. The whole thing has an undercurrent moral about corruption in society, and the way people always have ulterior motives whenever they do things. Nobody is honest, and especially not Captain Hammer, who does everything he does mostly for his own ends. Ironically, it is Dr. Horrible who seems to be the most honest character in here, because he makes no excuses and doesn’t try to pass off his villainy as anything other than what he is – a regular guy with a “PhD in evilness.”

If you hate musicals, this will be the one to set you straight, or at least the one exception to the rule. The songs here are outstanding. All of them are incredibly well written, syncopated masterfully and sung with a lot of emotion. You’d think this would come off like some kind of dumbass ironic hipster thing, being a superhero movie with a bunch of cheery songs in it, but it doesn’t, entirely because the material is so damn good. I especially like “Brand New Day,” sung by Neil Patrick Harris; a really cool industrial metal-ish tune that has some really cool, menacing vocals and a killer stomp that I really dig. But all of them are good. They’re done with a very easy-going wit and a metric ton of charm that is nearly impossible to shun.

Joss Whedon’s works are always endowed with a maddening mixture of comedy, drama and a moral message that over-arches the whole thing, and under a lot of less talented guys, this mixture would suck. Some people will tell you that this makes a film tacky and directionless, but really in the hands of the right director, there is no greater force. Whedon succeeds here because he’s a storyteller, and a masterful one at that. There is a heavy degree of theatrical pomp here, but then on the other hand, this is just so well constructed and so air-tight that you feel completely relaxed watching it. It takes a lot for a new movie to be so good that you just sit back and watch it, without trying to analyze it or look for flaws or anything. Dr. Horrible is one of those movies. There are no flaws. You just sit back and let it roll, like a fine waterfall, right into the pool of life. This is fun. It’s a movie for movie lovers at heart, and I cannot recommend it higher. A movie so good it just defies words in general.

Now give me a sequel, goddammit! Where are you, Whedon?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: Land of the Dead (2006)

Director: George A. Romero
Starring: Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Asia Argento, Robert Joy

"They're just people."
-One Dumb Zombie Killer

You know what I don’t like? Being raped by alligators. You know what else I don’t like? Land of the Dead. UGH.

Okay, so we start off with what looks like a zombie convention as they stumble around in front of a building and play musical instruments. Gee, that’s…not threatening at all! They’re being watched by some normal people – or what this movie considers to be normal – named Riley, played by Simon Baker, and some other guy who gets killed off in a few minutes, so I won’t bother to learn his name. Riley is a Typical Depressed/Cynical Futuristic Dystopian Hero, making quips like “Aren’t we just pretending to be alive?” and “That’s what I like about you, you still believe in heaven.” This character is just delightful, isn’t he? He’s got all the personality of a goddamned paper clip. There’s one scene where he shoots a zombie and the guy next to him says “Nice shooting,” to which he replies, “Good shooting, Charlie. No such thing as nice shooting.” Great. So we’ve got a philosopher on our hands, too. Really glad this guy is our main character…ugh.

So they run into a burn victim named Charlie, played by Robert Joy, who does his best impersonation of what it would be like if zombies could talk and act like regular people, or if Nic Cage was a zombie, you take your pick. Okay, he’s mentally handicapped, and to be fair, he’s probably the best thing in this movie just for how unassuming and innocent he is even when he’s killing some fucking zombies, but it’s still kind of strange that they just randomly toss him in without any introduction…

Fuck it. We’re also introduced to our second in command, John Leguizamo, playing a guy named Cholo. His job is to ride motorcycles, perform hokey, overdone acting and give snarky replies to everything his leader Riley tells him. The apparent plan of this group is that they have a giant machine called Dead Reckoning that shoots off fireworks to distract the zombies so that they can kill them and raid the cities for supplies and food and stuff. Except apparently now the zombies are getting smarter and are able to think and even work together now, as is illustrated in one scene where this big black zombie helps his fellow zombies and pushes them out of the range of the gunfire. Oh no!...wait, I don’t care. The movie has given me no reason to care.

So the one sidekick guy from before gets bitten and shoots himself, and nobody seems to care except for Riley. Leguizamo and his buddies do some stupid motorcycle stunts in the middle of the street that should in all reality attract a lot of zombies to try and eat them, but I guess not in this movie. Having actual excitement might slow things down; you know the drill. And if they’re supposed to be so smart, how come these rebel guys aren’t killing more of them?

The basic story behind how the last fringes of humanity have survived in this post apocalyptic world is that they’ve walled off one specific city where the zombies can’t get to. The rich live in tall skyscrapers in nice homes while everyone else lives on the streets fending for food every way they can. We see Cholo and Riley returning from their mission as Riley chews out Cholo for celebrating after a good soldier just died. Cholo will hear none of it, and the scene is pretty much pointless.

Cholo goes up to one of the buildings to visit his supervisor Kaufman, and a random black guy almost kills him, telling him of something strange going on next door. So Cholo goes over and checks, finding a man who has hanged himself while his family for some reason did not hear him doing it. And then he turns into a zombie and bites his teenage son…huh. I don’t get it. So whenever people die, they just become zombies regardless of how they died? How does that work? Explanation please? None? Okay, fine, I’ll just…assume that the rope had some zombie blood caked on it and that it somehow got into his blood stream, infecting him as he died. There. It’s stupid, but it makes about as much sense as anything else in this goddamn movie!

Our next spectacle of this movie’s intellect comes when we see what the people of the city do with the zombies they captured – yes, they capture live zombies, because that could never go wrong…and to add insult to injury to the Romero legacy, here we see people taking pictures with them like they’re fucking circus attractions, and also shooting paintballs at them. And they use them in cage fights to bet money on, too! That’s…really weak. A lot of the stuff in this movie is like that. It’s just like, really? That’s what George Romero is giving us in 2006? C’mon. You can do better, man.

They throw in a prostitute played by the luscious Asia Argento, who is intended to be the ‘bait’ that the zombies fight over. Riley, while looking for a way to get his car back from a midget in a purple suit, notices this, and saves her, only for him, Charlie and the prostitute, whose name is Slack, to get arrested for killing the midget…yes, there are midgets in this post apocalyptic city. I don’t know why; that just seems funny to me that the movie would point that out. Between this and the retarded guy, they’re really pandering to the PC crowd, huh? Never thought I’d see the day a zombie movie did that. Equal rights for everyone to get murdered and eaten in a zombie flick, I guess…

But trouble’s afoot when we finally meet Kaufman, played by the late Dennis Hopper, in a performance that you will most likely forget five minutes after the end credits roll! Wait a second, Dennis Hopper? John Leguizamo? You’d be forgiven for thinking this was just a convention of B-minus list actors, but these two were also together in the much maligned Super Mario Bros. movie back in 1993 together. Who knew this would be their reunion? Let’s get some Goombas and mushrooms in here; maybe that would make this more interesting. Kaufman doesn’t want to let Cholo buy a room in his big building for no real reason, so Cholo gets PISSED OFF and rallies his men to steal Dead Reckoning and use it as leverage, planning to destroy the city and start a mutiny against him.

Bet you thought we forgot this one, huh Mr. Hopper?

So Riley, Charlie and Slack get released to go hunt him down, along with a few other mercenaries, two of which get killed off later without even doing anything…and we get about fifteen minutes of filler as Riley and his crew go hunting for Dead Reckoning. They come across a few parties of zombies who probably did not say grace before they sat down for their blood feasts, kill them, and move on. And while that’s going on, apparently the horde of zombies from outside the city breaks in rather easily, seeking to avenge their fallen zombie brothers.

…is it just me, or is the idea of cogent zombies who can actually think and form plans really lame? It’s not scary and it certainly doesn’t make for any kind of tension. It robs them of everything that was originally so interesting about them. Watching them assemble like some kind of army is just like “…huh?” What are we supposed to feel here? There is certainly no imminent terror. It’s just…well, weak. Zombies go swimming through the water…huh, well I don’t give a crap.

In a surprisingly, stupidly easy finish, Riley and pals get Dead Reckoning back from Cholo and then they go to fight off the zombie hordes. Cholo gets bitten and decides he wants to be a zombie…yawn, yawn, yawn, WHERE’S THE EXCITING STUFF? Get to it, movie! I’ve been to knitting classes more interesting than this movie. So Cholo goes after Kaufman, who has been abandoned in the parking garage. Kaufman is attacked by the big black zombie who actually pieces together in his rotting brain how to pour gasoline on the car and then throw a Molotov cocktail at it, blowing it to bits.

But not before this exchange: Cholo comes in, shadows on his face like the movie thinks it’s actually suspenseful as to whom he is, and Kaufman says, “No…you’re dead.” That’s a cliché and stupid line in itself, except that then he comes fully out of the shadows to reveal that he has become a zombie, to which Kaufman replies, “You really are dead,” right before Cholo bites him and they both get set on fire and blown to bits. Ha! Oh, Romero, you kidder, you. Always the comedian…oh, man, this is a bad movie.

Meanwhile, Riley and Charlie are marveling over how easy it was for the zombies to get in and eat everyone. They watch over a scene of death, destruction and flames as they have a moment’s consideration before they launch a missile and blow everything up. “They’re just people,” one woman with them says about the flesh eating demons from hell, as if there isn’t a reason to stop them from killing innocent people. But Riley tells him to do it, so Charlie presses the button and blows them up anyway. Hooray for destruction and violence!

But of course there has to be an uplifting ending for no reason, so we actually get some sympathy for the zombies – yes, really, sympathy for the goddamn zombies. That’s a new one. Yeah, have sympathy for them; they’re only killing everyone you know without any intention of stopping! You think they’ll really show you that same kindness the next time you’re under their mercy, you frigging idiots? What, is there going to be a sequel where these assholes form a Zombie Liberation Front dedicated to protecting the rights and safety of those who are not living and who eat brains to survive? Ugh, what a dumb idea. Riley doesn’t kill the head zombie because “he’s just looking for a place to go.” Maybe in a more compelling movie this could have been a good plot point, but in this movie, it’s just weak, and it wasn’t even a plot point for the entire movie anyway, so what the hell? They just...randomly introduce it at the end because apparently the movie needed a moral or something! Like everything else in this movie, the idea of sympathetic zombies is weak-ass, pussy crap for people who aren’t cool enough to watch the good Romero films from back in the day. Pff, pass me the vomit bag.

Land of the Dead is a huge waste of time! Nothing about this movie is exciting, nothing about it is scary and nothing about it merits a viewing at all, even if you’ve already seen all of the good zombie flicks. The acting is menial, the direction tame and indistinct and the plot is just weak. What happened, George Romero? How did you sink to such a gut-wrenchingly lame and pussified low as this movie? This is just shit, shit, shit all around, and the only way I can possibly recommend it to anyone is if you have absolutely no standards. Otherwise, you can just take a look at a pile of actual shit and you’d probably have something of equal worth. Putrid.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Review: Inception (2010)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy

"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange."

Man, Leonardo DiCaprio is really not having good luck with women this year! First he gets a psychotic killing wife in Shutter Island and then he gets his forsaken long lost dream-love in this one. Someone needs to take the guy to a strip club or something; sheesh.

But that really has no bearing on how good a film like Inception is. This is a Christopher Nolan movie, which means if you like any of his other movies, you’ll like this one too – not because they’re all the same, but because they’re all so good, and he puts so much work into making them explosive, complex and driving cinematic opuses. Inception tells the story of a man named Cobb, who lives in a not-so-distant future where dream-theft is possible. He is hired by a businessman to assemble a team of dream espionage agents and “influence” the mind of a young heir to liquidate his dead father’s company to save the market.  However, Cobb is still battling his personal demons in the form of his deceased wife, who he was accused of killing.

Now, before I go any further, I’m going to attempt to lay out the workings of this whole dream-entering espionage business. Apparently, there are two people that can affect this whole dream thing – the one who enters the dream, who builds and manipulates the world around them, and the dreamer him- or herself, who populates the world with ‘perceptions,’ or images of people who aren’t really there – just like we all have in our own dreams.

That’s why DiCaprio goes to his father (Michael Caine)’s job where he works as a college professor, requesting a student to help him out with the heist. Caine tries to reason with his son, but ultimately gives in, and lets him have a student named Ariadne, played surprisingly by Ellen Page, who I didn’t recognize at all, and who is a genius architect who can help him construct the worlds he needs. And while I’m on that tract, I also didn’t recognize the great Joseph Gordon-Levitt as DiCaprio’s sidekick Arthur. He did a good job. But I think I must be losing my touch with how much I never recognized these actors throughout the whole two hours of this thing. I did recognize Cillian Murphy though.

But there are some…complications. You see, apparently you can also go deeper into the dream-state, and have a dream within a dream, and even a dream within a dream within a dream. This is probably the movie’s best point right here, as I just find it so fascinating. We just keep expanding, don’t we? And by that I mean the human race. It wasn’t enough to keep expanding in our own reality. This movie suggests that we take it to the subconscious plane as well, and that is some tasty food for thought.

So the story goes that DiCaprio and his wife spent 50-dream years inside the dream world constructing their own little paradise, only to wake up and have her go crazy thinking that the real world was also a dream. I won’t spoil the entire premise of this subplot, as it really is a good one, but now he is overridden with guilt, and she pops up in most of his dream sequences because of it, completely out of his control, seeking to meddle with whatever is going on. This will naturally cause calamity in the other plot about the heist.

Inception is a tightly woven and sleek thriller. The characters are cool – Ellen Page as a super-genius architect student was actually really good, and I found she added a lot to the movie. Tom Hardy is the handyman of the group as he somehow manages to shapeshift whenever needed and is also a real bad-ass; what a cool guy. And how great are the visuals? Just watching that city fold over on itself is a spectacle. And watching Ellen Page wander around creating things with her mind is really great, just for the ‘what would it be like if YOU could do it’ factor - admirable. Other great visual moments include the entirety of the scenes in the arctic tundra with that military base and all of that military-style warfare going on around and inside it. Or how about the scene near the end when it starts to rain in DiCaprio’s wife’s apartment room and Ellen Page is standing in the doorway with everything blowing in and out? Or when they wash up on the shores of their final dream, at the beach with all of those crumbling buildings falling into the water? This movie is a veritable feast for the eyes. It has perfected the art of pleasing your eyes.

It’s just the little things. Like the lighting in the various hotel rooms featured, shaded subtle golds and delicate auburns. It just gives the whole thing this really noir-esque feel that I find really enticing and charming. All of the settings are just meticulously great; they are really the icing on the cake of this full-throttle-ahead rocket canister of a film.

A lot of people are talking about the film’s emotional core, about DiCaprio and his wife, and saying that that is truly why the film stood out. It was certainly interesting enough; I admit…I am always a sucker for a tragic romance plot stuck into an action film, just to round it out with style. And it is certainly done well here. But does anyone else think Leonardo DiCaprio would make a good villain? Whenever I see him in this movie scowling and playing the cool thief and the mastermind of the heist, I think he’d be great playing a serious mobster or big boss type villain. I mean, look at him. He looks completely demented and sick here, even moreso when he’s in the throes of his depression and loneliness, in his more quiet moments. I was all ready to believe he was the one who was nuts, with that look in his eyes. He really has come far since Romeo + Juliet…

This is a very cool, cinematic picture. You really get sucked into it, and it is always big, epic and grand like any good summer blockbuster should be, and the fast pace is entertaining as hell – don’t even blink, lest you miss something. The emotional quality is more complex than the usual fare, but then, Christopher Nolan is becoming known for challenging the common perception that summer blockbusters are the ‘big, dumb’ movies. He is actually good at profiteering from this. He gives the audiences a big, flashy special effects movie with epic camerawork and explosions galore, but also adds just the right pinches of complexity and emotional depth in the plot to make the audience feel rewarded, and like they’re smart for trying to understand it more in depth. Mr. Nolan, I must admit, gets better at this every year. It will certainly be interesting to see where he goes next.

But is this all a dream? Did I really write this review? Did I really see this movie? Is anything real? Are we all just dreaming right now? You could be dreaming as you read this. None of this could be real at all. Think about these things, and take them back with you to the real world. If you can get back, that is.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Review: Shrooms (2007)

Director: Paddy Breathnach
Starring: The talking cow mostly.

"No. Dead fucked."
-The Cow

Okay, a bunch of kids go into the woods intending to eat intoxicating mushrooms and have sex…that won’t end badly, now will it? This is Shrooms!

So we see our main character Tara, a blonde haired Catholic schoolgirl going out for her first time doing drugs with a bunch of sex maniacs. Although she denies it, she’s really going to see her kinda-sorta-boyfriend Jake, who she is too embarrassed to really get with. They drive up into a secluded spot of the woods, talking about sex and steroids and all sorts of the usual topics, and then they run over a dog with their car…don’t all good movies start like that?

Then they get to the clearing where they’ll be staying, and Jake makes them give up their cell phones before they do anything embarrassing with them while tripping. He hands the keys of the car to Bluto, a steroid freak and the only one who was reluctant to give up his phone because “it’s like handing away his freedom.” Pfft.

Well, there’s rule number one of what not to do when you’re out in the woods tripping with your friends.

#1: Never hand the keys to your car to the guy who will die first.

So Jake takes them all out to look for mushrooms, informing them not to take the Death’s Head shroom, which is rumored to have been used in the middle ages. He says that it inflicted horrible pain, boils and other unpleasant shit onto people, but if they survived, they could travel to other dimensions, talk to the dead and see the future. We cut to Tara, who is looking at Bluto and Lisa from behind a tree when she trips and falls right in front of one of those Death’s Head mushrooms, and eats it. She is then promptly saved by Jake, who uses CPR and cures her instantly, no apparent real danger at all. Only, ooh, she could see him saving her seconds before it happened!

Wait a minute, what? You just got done saying that it was the most extreme and painful trip out there, and all it takes to save somebody on it is a little CPR for a few seconds? Talk about exaggerations.

And another thing. The only thing Tara can do under the influence of this shroom is foresee the future. No talking to the dead and definitely no traveling to other dimensions, two things which might have made this movie cooler. I guess they didn’t have the budget for that stuff. Oh well. More wasted potential, surprised?

So we fast forward to nighttime, where Jake is telling a ghost story about a Catholic school in the area where a sadistic teacher abused the kids there and did terrible things to them. Until one night when a kid was pushed too far and slipped a bunch of Death’s Head mushrooms into his soup, causing him to go on a rampage and kill almost everyone at the school. And apparently now he comes out at shroom season to kill people and do other ghostly things…and the other kid is still there too…it’s a really vague story, but I guess since they’re all stoned, it’s an excuse. And…really? Telling a horror story? Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that people need to have in their heads when they’re already tripping on drugs and stranded in the woods with no cell phones! Truly this kid was an honor student in school. Somebody give him a fucking medal, man.

Then later, Holly and Troy are having shroom-sex when they see someone outside their tent moving around. So Troy goes out and gets into a fight with Bluto, and then Holly and Lisa shout insults at each other. Charming.

Then we get to see our first real mindfuck as Bluto the ‘roid-head wanders into the forest chasing  a hallucination of a beautiful woman, and stumbles upon a talking cow…yes, a talking cow, with a really deep, gravelly voice, too.

It tells him that he’s fucked, to which he replies “I know.” Then it says, “No. Dead-fucked.” He asks it which way the woman went, and the cow directs him thusly. It would be kind of cool if there were other instances of weird shit like this happening, but nope, this is the only time. But still, I have to give them credit for standing up against PETA’s iron fist and putting it in the movie against all odds. The time to stop worrying about the rights of trash-talking cows in movies is now! Rise up with me and protest the censorship of talking cows in movies! We will bring PETA down! Down, I tell you!

Ahem. He follows the hallucination of this hot naked girl to a car where she orally pleases him, but then…isn’t really there…and something else happens. It turns into some evil looking black shape, and eats his dick, I think? Then it gets out of the car and he, uh, dies, I guess…it’s really unclear, with terrible unfocused directing, and all we get are flashes that are supposed to be from Tara’s foresight or whatever.

And here is the second rule of what not to do when you’re out in the woods tripping with your friends.

#2: If you’re going to drag your friends out into the woods to start tripping, what’s the logic of doing it alone where all you are is afraid?

I mean…we never really see them doing any of that stuff they said they were going to do. It doesn’t seem like much fun if you’re just going to let people wander off into the woods without anyone else to help them! This movie so far is just a bunch of wandering alone with bad things happening, and frankly, it isn’t that exciting.

Yergh, so then we switch to a bright, happy morning where everyone is eating mushrooms by the lake and fishing. Apparently when Bluto disappeared, he cut off part of Lisa’s hair, which really makes her mad. But it doesn’t take long before they all split up again and get into trouble. They find Bluto’s body eventually, after Lisa and Holly call each other names and push each other some more…seriously, what is this, second grade? But then they see the scary black-hooded reaper in the woods, ooh! Except…he’s as scary as Count Chocula. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve seen a lamer movie killer in a long time. He just stumbles around like some kind of terrible 90s CGI abomination. That’s not scary. It’s just weak.

We have Holly looking for help from these two redneck hillbillies. And Lisa and Tara wander around in the woods and stumble upon her dead body as she was, again, killed off screen. Ugh, will you STOP DOING THAT? How are we supposed to be scared of this if nobody is ever killed on screen? Sure, they show you bits and pieces of it in Tara’s weird little foresight things, but that doesn’t count. And we don’t get any tits, either; what kind of a slasher movie is this? It’s like a slasher movie made by the PC squad; it’s as harmless as a rubber knife tip. Show us some gore, you goddamned pussies! If you’re not going to give us the psychological scares of a bad drug trip in the woods, at least show us some blood and gore and skin. That’s why we watch these movies!

But maybe they’ll fix that problem with the next one. Maybe they’ll show us a really good kill in the next one. I’ll just lay out what happens:

Tara tells Lisa that she (Tara) is the next to die, so Lisa runs away through the knee-high water like any good friend would, fearing death herself. Then in the very next scene, Tara has another brief two-second flash of Lisa being pulled under the water by something we can’t see, and she screams. Then, we go to the next scene, and nothing else of Lisa’s death is ever elaborated upon.

…you know what? Fuck it. Just fuck it. I’m going to speed through the end of this, and just get it over with, with no more deliberation or agonizing.

The rest of the movie is just Tara, Jake and Troy wandering around isolated, and jumping at everything that moves. They wander around in a hospital where Troy is killed with little fanfare, and then they end up outside again, where Jake is killed. Then we get the ending twist where it’s revealed that Tara killed them all and was really going crazy the entire time! Even though that makes so little sense that it’s absolutely insane, but I guess we’ll just go with it, since the movie needed an Edgy Twist at the end. Heinous.

So that’s Shrooms, and what can I even say about it? It’s just frustrating. It actually sounds pretty damn cool when you read the back cover summary, but really it never delivers. The kills are never shown, the characters get annoying fast and the plot is half-assed. I don’t hate this movie, but it’s really, really damn frustrating, and I can’t really recommend it. Skippable as hell.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Shutter (2008)

Director: Masayuki Ochiai
Starring: Joshua Jackson, Rachel Taylor

You know that old myth about how taking a picture steals your soul away? Well, that would still leave you with more heart and feeling than this movie does. Yes, Shutter is another in the line of American remakes of Japanese horror movies, because Americans are just too stupid to watch foreign films and put a little more effort into their movie watching to do such harrowing things as reading subtitles. Gasp! So…yeah. Yeah, that about sums it up.

This movie is just completely soulless and bland. It’s as plastic as a movie gets. It starts off with two airheads getting married, and can you honestly think of a more cliché and redundant looking movie couple? There’s a saucy blonde with full lips and blue eyes and a perfect figure, and her rugged, buzz-cut husband, white and handsome, a photographer going to Japan for a project. They have absolutely no personalities. They engage in the usual honeymoon necessities like taking pictures at scenic locations and having lots of sex while exchanging witty, empty quips. Get used to them – the movie actually thinks they are worth caring about.

So they go to Japan on a night road and are getting tired. The Female Main Character – or Jane; I literally had to look that up on IMDb to remember, her character was so generic – takes her eyes off the road and then suddenly hits a girl who walks in front of the car, causing them to swerve around in circles until they hit a tree and apparently pass out for hours. When they wake up, there is no sign of the girl at all…spooked yet? Yeah, me neither.

So we get introduced to some more stock cardboard cutouts of characters that also don’t have any real personalities or distinctions to them…aside from having names. There’s Seiko, who is Ben’s assistant and who also acts flirty towards just about everyone, including her ex boyfriend…well, that’s a pointless subplot. And then there’s Bruno and Adam, who are Ben’s best friends and partners. Not much to say there, except that Adam acts like some kind of weird pedophile or something…

Ben and Jane…god, how much more generic names can you get? It’s like they just forgot they had to name these characters until the last second and had to pull them out of a hat as an afterthought. It wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it just feels so half assed, and in no small part in conjunction with the character writing, too. These are the kinds of names every generic character in every damn dime a dozen thriller flick gets just to move a story along, and they usually signify a huge lack of development and thought put into them as people. Can’t you assholes just put a little more thought into this? Here’s a tip to start you off: If you don’t find them interesting and can’t name any specific things that make them unique as people, TRY HARDER.

Anyway! Ben and Jane get their new living quarters. After Bruno leaves them, they immediately start having sex and apparently, if the editing serves correctly, do not stop until nightfall. The next day, Jane shows Seiko some of Ben’s pictures which had ghostly images in them, and without blinking an eye Jane is referenced to a ‘spirit photography’ group led by her ex boyfriend, whom she still flirts with heavily for no reason – are we supposed to care? My main problem with this is that it’s handled so trivially – Seiko tells her about a spirit photography group with the same casual tone as talking about some new nail salon, or something.

The rest of the movie is spent with a lot of half-assed nothing as Jane plays amateur sleuth and tries to find out what’s going on with the ghostly picture mistakes. She visits psychics, tries taking pictures and seeing what happens and other stuff. So it’s kind of like Lost in Translation, except instead of a bored and lonely newlywed in Japan meeting a depressed Bill Murray, she’s trying to be a paranormal investigator…or a Ghostbuster. It’s all coming together now!

Sigh. Sorry. I’ve been watching this movie for too damn long. It’s boring me so much that I have to create such whimsical fantasies to keep me entertained. Goddamn, there’s just nothing of interest. There’s one really annoying part where it shows Ben getting attacked by something in the dark with these really annoying flashes of light interspersed every two or three seconds, but otherwise, nothing of note. Oh, the two best friends die in grotesque ways. Real surprise there…god, I’m bored.

The end of the movie basically concludes with Jane finding out the big revelation that – shock and awe! – Ben and his buddies had to do with the rape and subsequent death of the girl who has been haunting them! Apparently she was an old romantic flame of his who went crazy after her father died or something, and started following him everywhere and getting needy and desperate. Instead of just doing the logical thing and, oh, I don’t know, GETTING HER SOME HELP or something, they decided to slip her date rape drugs and take pictures of her in incriminating or embarrassing positions. So they could…because she…well, honestly, there is no reason for it. I got nothing.

I mean what the hell? You’re blackmailing a person with severe emotional problems to stay away from you? What kind of fucked up logic is that? You couldn’t just sit down with her and explain it calmly? What makes you even think she’ll listen to any kind of threat or blackmailing when she’s as hell-bent as he says she was? And he never even explains what she did that was so crazy or weird in the first place. So she followed him around and didn’t want him to leave her; so what? Seems like a pretty normal response to emotional trauma to me. Maybe if these characters were more fleshed out and developed I could believe it, but as is, this is a REALLY stupid plot.

Well, this isn’t even worthy of any more discussion, so…Ben gets killed, and Jane leaves him. Although I’m not exactly sure if it was in that exact order.

Shutter is just a waste of time. I can’t even imagine what kind of audience this is supposed to appeal to, and it’s just confused and dull all around, like a defective butter knife. The characters are lame beyond belief, the plot is boring and the whole thing just doesn’t seem like anybody was actually trying. Ooh, so it’s a symbolic revenge story about people getting their comeuppance for their sins in the past? So fucking what? This kind of third-rate, phoned-in storytelling is just inexcusable with the big budget this movie obviously had. Go watch Jacob’s Ladder instead.