Friday, August 28, 2015

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2014)

The first Woman in Black movie with Daniel Radcliffe was an excellent real estate ad for those looking to buy old English country homes. The movie itself was a contest by the filmmakers to see how long they could stay awake during endless scenes of Radcliffe walking around in the dark with nothing happening. I guess that description sounded good to somebody, because now we have the sequel, Angel of Death.

Director: Tom Harper
Starring: Phoebe Fox, Jeremy Irvine

Co-written with Michelle.

This one is set in World War II, and sure, there was a war going on, kids were in the trenches fighting for their lives and there were unspeakable horrors going on at the concentration camps, but hey, we NEED to focus on this silly haunted house ghost story right now! That's amazing to me. You could do anything – it's a fucking period piece – but instead, we just get the same stuff we're used to from movies set in the plain old modern day. "But they set THIS one in the 40s!" Well, okay. It must be better then.

I mean, surely there were no better story ideas? How about a bunch of soldiers come across a house and stay there for shelter during a storm? Maybe a wounded or discharged officer trying to cope with the war AND the ghost? Nah. We really need another bullied loner kid story and a cliché romantic subplot! That's really original, guys!

On the plus side, it does work as a sleep aid – Michelle actually told me it worked for her that way after the movie ended.

The movie begins with a bombing in London during World War II. Gee, I have never actually seen a movie start off with such an accurate description of how it did at the box office.

Then we get our main character, a woman named Eve Parkins taking a bunch of kids to this house on an island to keep them safe. She is introduced to Edward, whose parents died in the bombings, and who now wears the permanent expression of sorrow more fitting for a kid who's just realized his acting career won't be helped by starring in this.

His loss of his parents could be a positive thing, if he spins it and becomes English WWII Batman. That would actually be awesome. Much more awesome than this movie.

They go to this old house, which gives us more of the movie's favorite thing ever – showing us the house as if we have the option to come to the open house next Tuesday. It's not a very good real estate agent though, as rather than warm and inviting, we just get a broken down house with everything ruined. Thanks for nothing, guys!

"Ugh, the LIGHTS aren't even on?! Worst open house ever."

It turns out the movie did find one use for the World War II setting – pseudo-intellectual dialogue that doesn't really reveal anything insightful about the characters or story or even, really, the times. But what would we do without characters talking about how strong they need to be to survive, which is something that could be from literally any time and any situation? Aren't there better ways to develop characters? Nah. Just throw bullshit hollow platitudes in and call it a day. Back to our bland supernatural lobotomy-fuel horror!

Most of the first hour is just boring as fuck. It's all played out scenes of Edward, who is silent, withdrawn and likes drawing pictures, being bullied by the other kids. Sure, like one girl is sort of nice to him, but even she's just doing the bare minimum any character does in these sorts of movies – every once in a while she'll call out for them to stop being so mean. Whoop-de-fucking-do.

"Teacher, can't we get one decent line or some kind of identifiable character trait?"
"NO!!! As punishment for asking that, you must write I have been a bad child 100 times on the blackboard!"

I mean, I guess we could have had actually well written dialogue for the kids that made you like them, and actually treated them like human beings. Whoa there, bucko, don't get TOO progressive on us there!

There's nothing overly annoying about most of this stuff, but they just do so little with their story. It's like having the ingredients to make a really great five-star cuisine, but then just settling for McDonalds for dinner instead, out of laziness and convenience.

But hey, at least we have a bunch of jump scares! Shitty ones! Ones where you see a glimpse of some Grudge-style white-faced ghost and then the character turns around and sees nothing! Give me a hip, hip, hooray for that!

….Guys? GUYS?!

Oh well. The film trudges on as we see Eve has a tragic past that can easily be explained in a short flashback complete with clich̩ orangey colors and slow music. Apparently she had a baby and since she wasn't married, the hospital took it away from her Рthat's really all we get.

This is almost a scary scene. You're closer to hot than to cold. But this is the closest you'll get, I'm afraid. Sad...

It's a story, I'll give them that – but that doesn't mean they did much with it. They didn't really do anything. It's the equivalent of a guy winning the lottery and spending the money incrementally on the same stuff he bought at CVS every day before he won. Complete waste of time.

But at least we have another backstory scene as Mr. Pilot Man, whose name I suppose is actually Harry, stops the car with Eve just to tell her his sob story about how he was a coward in the war and left his buddies to die. This character constantly has a deer-in-headlights look, like he has been locked in a room his whole life waiting for a Pantene commercial that he's been specially bred to star in. So I can believe he's a World War II pilot if I stretch my disbelief far enough!

They find one of the bully kids dead in the thorns outside in the morning, which I guess is really the point when they start to ask questions.

...Or it would be in a movie that had any logical sense. But in this movie, it's just another thing that happens – nobody really questions it or has a big reaction. I guess you could argue they figured that kid just wandered outside and died accidentally – but even then, nobody really seems to care. That child's death is just glossed over like nothing. I realize these kids have all the personality of a pack of playing cards left out in the rain, but that's not THEIR fault – that's the writers' fault at Satan's Movie Studio.

The movie rolls slothfully along, with some more random jump scares and some scenes with scary toys that should have probably been removed by now. But we needed some dismally small attempt to scare the audience, so it's pandering time on a level usually reserved for four year olds watching Barney the Dinosaur. If you think this is scary, you probably shouldn't go Trick or Treating this year; you'll probably have a heart attack.

It's scary because that stuff was found in an abandoned toy factory and ominous lighting was put on it. OoooOOoooohhh...

Eve, meanwhile, gets locked underground with a zombie version of this one doctor character from earlier. He blabbers on about some prophetic sounding nonsense, and once she gets out, she realizes she has to take the kids away from the house, putting together the clues from the nonsense that ghost was mumbling about. Because she is the type of teacher who lets supernatural ghosts and ghouls guide her decisions. Today, they would probably call her crazy and fire her for this, but in the 1940s, she was just being a good teacher.

"You look like a credible person that I should listen to!"

So they recruit Mr. Pilot Coward Man Harry to take them off the island, which he does – he takes them to the greatest place possible, a decoy airfield used to make the enemy bomb them during the war. That sounds like an amazing place to hide a bunch of scared children, doesn't it? Take them on a field trip there, pop open a bottle of wine. Why not?

I also love the contrived romantic scene we get here - Harry reveals that he had been making up a lot of his stories about being a pilot, and that he never made it out of training. Eve's response to this is to kiss him right there. Which just goes to show you - cowardice and lying gets you chicks.

Harry shows off his true nature when the place gets bombed like, a few hours after they arrive (great place to take kids, remember?!), and Edward tries to run back to the island. Harry tries to save him, but pusses out at the last second and instead goes back to the bunker like the weak-ass bitch he is. It would be one thing if we saw the conflict of his character doing this. But this is his face when he's telling Eve about how Edward was lost:

Amazing. The heartbreak is achingly obvious. I feel for this man in a way I've never felt for a movie character.

Truly heart-rending.

Anyway, Eve decides Edward is still alive, and so she goes back to the island and the old house. This results in an extra endurance round of 'boring scenes of searching the house while sad music plays,' where nothing is accomplished except for padding this movie out some more. It's only an hour and forty minutes, but goddamn, does it drag like a deflated wet balloon across a hot blacktop.

The movie also seems to think that rocking chairs are scary. A lot of these kinds of movies do this - see also Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring - they all do this scare. Why? Did a rocking chair traumatize the writers when they were young?

While looking out a window, she sees Edward walking on the frozen marsh toward this giant cross thing sticking out. She somehow makes it out of there super fast, and runs to him, but they both sink into the water. Fortunately, Harry the Pilot Man comes to save them, jumping into the water and helping to pull them out of a pile of corpses. He sacrifices himself in doing this, and they bid him farewell as he slowly dies underwater.

"Bbbrbrrgggbbb.... I knew I should have just gone back to the mainland and started telling women that I saved these two instead of actually doing it! That would have been in line with my character and also kept me alive!"

So, wait a second. Pause the movie. This represents him finally having the balls to do something brave – all movie long and even in his backstory, he's been a coward who survives only by running away when things get tough. Now, he finally does something brave – and HE DIES INSTANTLY the second he does so! What kind of message is that? Clearly, he should have stuck to being a coward, as that was the best way to stay alive.

I guess that ends the whole thing, as we then see that Eve and Edward now live together and Edward is on his way to becoming a normal kid. I mean okay, there IS that one moment where a picture is shattered on his desk, which might allude to the ghost still being around:

But I think that's just proof that picture frames were in short supply during the war, and this one was just poorly made craftsmanship. I turn up my nose at your shoddy handiwork!

Overall, this was lame. No good character, a story that's been done a thousand times over, and no good scares. The settings, like the first one, are nice – but they rarely use them to their full potential. You can tell they're trying to go for atmosphere, but the movie just shoves your face in these long, dull scenes of the characters walking around in the house – atmosphere can only take you so far. You need something else aside from a creepy setting – I know this might be an unrealistic expectation for a modern horror flick, but how about an actual scary scene? How about trying that?

No? Oh well. I can't wait for the third movie set in the 2000s with a bunch of partying college frat bros staying at the house on a dare. Come on, you know that's what they'll do.

Images copyright of their original owners; we own none of them.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Piranha (1995)

Well, it's the end of summer. So, let's celebrate by doing another summer horror movie! I originally planned to review the 1978 Piranha this week – the original movie that people sort of remember. But unfortunately, I didn't do my research, and ended up watching something else entirely – the 1995 Piranha remake, to be exact; a movie I didn't know existed. Because apparently, I am going senile after six years of doing this site and can't be bothered to watch the right movies.

Director: Scott P. Levy
Starring: William Katt, Alexandra Paul

Co-written with Michelle.

This movie is good, if by 'good' you really just mean 'ripping off every creature flick in existence and doing a bland job of it without actually offending.' Which is what I always mean when I say good. So I guess it's cool.

The film begins with two kids going out onto the water, and yes, it's totally OK for the girl to get naked and the guy to be completely clothed – that's what feminism has brought us.

They blather on about how it's totally cool to be there, and no, nerdy guy, nothing bad will happen. Which is a surefire guarantee, really. It should be an insurance premium – if a hot chick in a horror movie tells you everything will be fine, it totally will be.

The nakedness apparently has all the answers.

They start swimming for a bit until one thing slightly inconveniences them – a swarm of hungry piranhas that devours them alive. I guess the insurance policy was a bit of a fraud. Oh well. At least we have Obamacare now, so this kind of thing never happens in horror movies anymore.

The main story starts when a writer guy named Paul living out in the woods is confronted by a scientist named Maggie, who is searching for the two kids who got killed in the opening scene – even though we will never remember their names, and even the movie sort of forgets them as we go along. We get a few bland scenes of them introducing one another, which of course ends with Paul joining her for a wacky buddy cop scenario like all bad movies have.

"Let's exchange pointless banter and then grow to love one another at the end!"

They go and find some laboratory where some scientists were experimenting on piranhas, or some shit like that. They don't get very far, though, before a crazy woman attacks them with an ax. It's random and out of nowhere, but hey, the movie needed someone to spout exposition lazily later on, so they just threw this lady in. I've seen worse excuses for exposition... wait, no. No I haven't. This is the worst.

Put the ax down, Annie Wilkes. You're better off just getting out of this while you can.

They tie her up and bring her back to Paul's place, and the next day while they're searching for the source of the piranha attacks, the lady gives them some exposition about how the piranhas were created by the government so they could put them in the water of enemy countries and kill everyone off. That's so stupid, even most Internet conspiracy theorists would call it insane – but I guess in this movie it's a reality.

I also love how there had to be this whole big explanation of this plot. Isn't it just the same shit all these movies have? If the government wasn't behind this, it would have been aliens or something. Those are the only two options. After that, you just copy and paste all the other tropes and wallah, you have a bland and formulaic creature horror flick.

They do save a kid from the piranhas, but the crazy lady dies, because her purpose in the movie was just to tell the extremely bland backstory. Boy, these movies sure do have a weird, Darwinian view of purposes in life, huh? Once you give the exposition, you have no reason to live and can thus be ripped apart immediately. Heavy stuff for a movie made by people who I'm not sure could count past 12.

"Farewell, sweet princess. You have served your purpose and may now go to the Great Exposition Dump in the Sky, where Odin awaits you."

Also, while I'm on the subject, the piranhas make noises more like raptors from Jurassic Park or something, and it is annoying as shit. It's also always the exact same noise, with no variation. It's kind of like if they were puppets with the laziest sound-box in the world. Really? Couldn't even vary up the scary noises they make? Ah well – it's still better than the noise the mosquito made in Mosquito.

This apparently makes noises like a fucking dinosaur or bird of prey. Oh well. I'll go with it.

They then find out Paul's daughter who he never talks to is at a summer camp where all the piranhas are plotting to kill everyone. The movie doesn't say they're plotting to do that, but I think it's funnier to imagine a bunch of mutant piranhas sitting around with a map plotting out points on where to attack.

Of course, because this is a dumb movie from the '90s, the authority figures don't believe Paul and Maggie when they say piranhas are going to attack. Because Mr. Bigwig Businessman wants money! So that trumps any and all warnings of danger, even from legit scientists who have no reason to lie about it. This is basically how the whole conversation goes:

PAUL AND MAGGIE: We need to evacuate that park, because piranhas are going to kill everyone!

BIGWIG BUSINESSMAN: No, we need money! You're just a bunch of liberal feminist hippies!

(Yes, that's an actual line in the fucking movie.)

PAUL AND MAGGIE: Wouldn't it make sense to at least check and make sure a bunch of child deaths aren't going to be on your conscience?

BIGWIG BUSINESSMAN: *plugs ears with fingers* LALALALALALA!

SHERIFF: I'm gonna arrest you now on no legitimate charges because I am in the businessman's pocket! That's how reality works!


So, yeah, really – they get thrown in jail for no reason and can't even make a phone call because “they're not arrested, they're just being held.” Which is so illegal that I'm positive the entire sheriff's department would be immediately overhauled in real life and Paul and Maggie would be able to sue them for millions. But this movie is more of a cartoon than anything, so we need a scene where they knock out a guard to escape and steal his pants because the key to the jail is chained to them, and we get to see this:

Amazing. I can die in peace now after seeing this.

Then we get the climax, full of kids dying and their parents dying while trying to save them. That's great because their lives are ruined forever now.

Aw. What a heartwarming summer image.

Paul and Maggie go out to the ocean and try to lure the piranha into this old barge thing, or something like that – Paul is underwater for much longer than any of the other characters who died, but he doesn't get attacked at all. Hmmm. Maybe that's incredibly poor writing based on lazy convenience and anyone who does it should be ashamed.

Nah – the fish were probably just hungover that day of shooting.

And plus, it's cool – later, the piranhas DO attack him mercilessly, which is what I wanted to see from the first time I heard that weenie talk. But he demonstrates that being the main character means piranhas devouring you just means you have blood paint on you afterwards and are mostly fine.

"No! That guy I knew for one day is DEAD! I loved him!!!"
"Arrrgggrrrrrhhhh! Even I don't know how I survived this!"

So they get rid of all the piranhas and then the businessman guy shoots himself. Yes, really – that's the end of his story. It's totally dark, and is the best suicide I have ever seen.

Best ending ever!

Then the movie ends with kids on a beach presumably going to get eaten by more piranhas, with a voiceover from the mayor or somebody telling them it's totally safe!

Which is totally original and not at all a lame Jaws rip off. Not at all.

This was pretty bad, but not offensive or anything – it was pretty harmless. The worst thing about it had to be that noise the piranhas made. Just for that, I give it zero stars. If it didn't have that noise in it, it could have been a solid three-star movie. But the noise the piranha made killed it, just killed it dead.

And what? There were plenty of boob shots and fanservice scenes I could have very easily put into the review and made it better? Damn. Just damn. Between getting the movie wrong AND not putting in those pandering fanservice shots, I'm really not at the top of my game. I could have edited this further and fixed everything in addition to watching the correct movie instead, but I'm just leaving all of this rambling at the end of this mediocre review. Oh well. I'll try again next week.

Images copyright of their original owner. I own none of them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cinema Freaks LIVE: The Gift (2015)

It's time again for Cinema Freaks Live, this time talking about the 2015 thriller The Gift. I'm joined by Colin (The Observer), Michelle and Chris as we all talk about what was good and bad about the movie. I'll also go into it a little bit in this post, as well - just in case any of you are stuck in the soul-sucking 9 to 5 routine in a cubicle somewhere. Also note that there are SPOILERS a lot in this one. Here's the podcast:

Director: Joel Edgerton
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall

The movie is basically about a couple, Simon and Robyn, who move into a new house. They almost immediately run into Gordo, an old buddy of Simon's from college, who starts acting a little weird and overly friendly. He comes over a lot when Robyn is home alone, which starts to get on Simon's nerves. Tensions rise as Simon tries to tell Gordo to back off - but in the process, some secrets about Simon's past are revealed.

The movie is pretty good. It's got a nice visual style to it and the settings don't look like every other thriller out there. The story and atmosphere tend to remind me of early 2000s thrillers, and the acting is pretty solid. I like how you don't really know who to feel sorry for at first, and the murky ambiguity early on makes it an interesting watch. It also doesn't really pander to anyone by throwing in any stupid twists, gore or tits or anything like that - it's just a solid story, written and directed by acting veteran Joel Edgerton - who also plays Gordo, mind you.

The problem is, I don't think Edgerton really knew where he was going with the story. He takes the easy way out too often as the story hurtles toward a conclusion. Characters figure things out too easy, and what was once an ambiguous, shady story becomes a story where both Simon and Gordo are obviously bad, bad guys. You find out Simon was a bully who ruined Gordo's life as a kid - fine. That could be interesting. But then you see he also isn't any different NOW. Now, he's cheating his way into a promotion at his job and lying to everyone - it's just kind of goofy, the way it's done. It doesn't really engage you to the character when there's so little complexity.

Gordo, on the other hand, is a psychopath. He clearly had this planned, or else it made no sense. He met Simon randomly on the street and then had this whole plan to fuck with his head. He breaks into Simon's house later, drugs Robyn and makes a video tape where he may or may not have gotten her pregnant. When they have a kid at the end of the movie, Simon is tormented with guilt that the kid may not be his - it might be Gordo's.

It's all just too over the top. There should have been a more subtle plot - maybe about Robyn seeing Simon's real self and then choosing to side with a more sympathetic Gordo. Or show Simon as a conflicted man who used to be a bully but now is pretty OK, but he's being chased by this vengeful psycho he once bullied. But it doesn't work when they're both just flat out bad guys. It becomes a story talking about how bullies never change and how if you're bullied, you might grow up to be a fucking psychopath. Not exactly a great story.

It wasn't bad, though. As far as directorial debuts go, it was solid. If you like thrillers, you'll find something to like here.

Images copyright of their original owners. I own none of them.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Killer Mermaid (2014)

I recently saw the 1979 Tarkovsky film Stalker, which was about a man who led people into a strange other dimension called The Zone to search for their innermost desires. And it rang true with me, because I also am about to embark on a similar journey.

For you see, I am also searching for something – a purpose in my life. I've heard all the legends and stories; all the hushed whispers of those who have tried and failed at the task I am going to undertake today. This is the path I need to take, for at the end of it, there supposedly lies a grand, ultimate truth that will set my soul at ease and answer all my questions. It is in a cruel twist of fate that I realize what road I must travel down – this movie contains the answers I seek.

Director: Milan Todorovic
Starring: Kristina Klebe, Natalie Burn

Yes, Killer Mermaid. It's a Serbian horror film that is actually, apparently, the first 'creature flick' made in the country, which is pretty cool. What isn't cool is the fact that everything about it is stale and tired already. It is a strange, boring journey with many perilous obstacles that could be the death of me. This is the voyage of legends, which no man has survived awake or with all his brain cells. If I fall asleep, I lose the game and have to start over. Wish me luck!

It starts off rather innocuously, as it is in all aspects a regular film – it has characters speaking English and not breaking off into crying screaming gibberish, and they are talking to each other and not to hallucinations only they can see. Also, the dialogue seems to all go in one direction and seems like it's in the same language. So it's good – we know we're in our own reality, which is the standard I have come to start out all these reviews with, because that way at least nothing is as bad as Bad Kids Go to Hell.

Unfortunately, what seemed like a comfortingly bland beginning gives way to my first obstacle, as I was lulled into a false sense of security – The Bland and Stupid Opening Kill. The opening kill scene is these two, who come to the beach to take off their shirts, stand on the sand and make out – I'm sure that's a great pastime in Serbia where this was filmed. Leave your pants on and don't get in the water – just take off your shirts. That's where the real sexiness is.

Ohhh yeah, cue the funky music.

Then the guy says he hears a strange sound, and the girl assures him it's just a club nearby. They don't seem to be AROUND any clubs, and I'm really not sure what clubs play weird atonal ocean music. I wouldn't want to go there though.

I wade through the ocean of cliche with no stars to guide my way. I can feel the reality setting in - I'm on my own, and there is no one to help me. The opening kill characters get killed off by a guy who clearly has watched too I Know What You Did Last Summer too many goddamn times. Like, seriously, a hook used to kill them? That's so last summer.

You've done something new this week, Rebecca - did you cut your hair?

The sludgelike miasma of the movie rolls over me in waves. I can already feel my eyelids growing heavier. But this is only the beginning of the bizarre and terrible challenges of the movie. The next challenge to overcome is the main plot, involving two American chicks who look like supermodels going on vacation to Serbia. Because, ya know, why not? We need some implausible reason to set this in Serbia! No, we can't just have a movie set there! We have to throw American tourists in like every other movie on the planet!

Already, I feel my sanity starting to go. Sarcasm won't save me this time. This is the second horrible trap the movie springs on me – that of the Awful Dialogue and the Cliche Characters. These two just blather on and on about nonsense like how hot the one girl's boss is.

"Is your editor hot?"
"No, he's in his 40s and overweight."
", he's hot?"

Also, yeah, they're here to see an old boyfriend of the one chick's from college, who now has a fiancee. Because that sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? It's practically tailored for the next episode of Dr. Phil. Cause, you know, most adults let their future spouses invite random hot supermodel-looking foreigners to come hang out for a weekend. If it sounds like a set-up for a porno, it's good enough for your horror movie.

I already feel my feet sinking, as if I've stepped in quicksand. I grasp for something to hold onto, but there is nothing. This is the next stage of traps the movie has set up – The Filler Scenes. This is a sequence of utterly dull and drab scenes of these morons actually trying to relate to the audience. This movie is so bad at that that I relate more to this than to these characters:

Yes – the movie is reverting me to a primal form. It's winding back the clock on humanity, and now suddenly, I can relate to apes. This is torture. It's the movie's test getting real. This has become an ordeal on the level of the perils Odysseus faces in The Odyssey.

Seriously – we really need all these scenes of these assholes cheating on one another, lying about it AND sitting around at a dinner table blathering about a deserted island with an old prison they want to visit? That last one is fine, but the FIRST TWO? Just unacceptable. The dialogue is just the pits, and sitting through these airheads talking about whether or not Mr. Serbian Ex Boyfriend has a guy friend she can hook up with is torture of a magnitude I have not known in at least a few weeks since I saw Ouija.

I really wanted him to just straight up say 'no, you're awful.' Ya know – be honest. It would make it better for me.

Fuck. There's even a scene where a grizzled old man in a fisherman's hat warns them not to go to the island? I'd like to say it's better to play it straight than to do the whole dumb irony thing, but I really think in Serbia, they just got the first Friday the 13th like, a few years ago, so this seems fresh and new to them.

"I only drink when I'm remembering contrived tragic backstories. And I'm always doing that." 

Also, one of the characters mentions that the guy looks like he's from I Know What You Did Last Summer. What? How dare you steal my joke? That's the first time a movie has done that. Truly, this is a devious plot – what lengths will they go to to undermine everything that I do?

Sigh. I just don't know if this is worth it. What kind of enlightenment could possibly be worth sitting through more of this movie's grueling tests of my will? Is it worth it to finish this? Who am I, really? What am I going to gain for finishing this movie? I feel the weight of all of this settling in – all the dumb characters, all the insipid lines and all the rehashed plotlines – and I sit down. I pause the movie. I reflect for a moment on all that I have seen and all that still lies ahead.

And I decide, in this moment of truth, that not finishing this piece of shit movie would be worse than finishing it, because if I don't finish it, then I just watched half of it for nothing.

And so I turn the movie back on.

The film's final test is by far the worst one – the Stunted, Dull Horror Movie Chase. The settings could be worse I suppose. But everything else is toxic poison. It even throws in some of the previous awful cliches when we get scenes of one girl whose brother drowned struggling with how to deal with her fear of water. And yet she agreed to come on vacation to a place with a lot of water and hang out near it the entire time. I don't know about you, but to me that sounds brain-fuckingly retarded.

Oh, a pointless flirting scene for a romance that goes nowhere. Excuse me while I drift further into the realm of sleep...

Then we just get a bunch of extremely rote scenes of them wandering around the prison. It's every scene you've seen in every other dumb movie like this. I want to be nicer since this is a foreign film and made on a fairly low budget I imagine. But there's really no excuse for poor dialogue and poor writing. The movie very nearly did me in with this, as it lasts for the entire rest of the film – a long, slow, agonizing trudge through nothingness and nonsense.

Like, really, how serious does the tone need to be in a movie about a bunch of dumb kids finding an island with a guy feeding random kill victims to a mermaid? This whole thing is about as silly and fun as a funeral procession for a guy everyone liked. The one thing that could have saved this was a goofy, fast paced thrill ride, but all of that was squeezed out of this movie like a tube of toothpaste.

That's really only a D minus mermaid. You can do better.

And when they randomly run into Exposition Man from earlier, Mr. I Know What You Did Last Summer, who tells them a story in a very monotone voice about how he was the only survivor of a shipwreck on this island years ago after the mermaid killed his crewmen. Wow. How sad. Let me play the world's smallest violin.

The final battle scene goes on way too long and is yet another solution to your insomnia. Lots of ominous sounding dialogue delivered in boring hushed monotones and lots of scrambling around on a boat. Yaaaaaawwwwwwnnnnnnnn. They finally kill the dumb mermaid after it attacks them on land, which was a dumb plan from the monster's part. Really, you'd think she'd have been smart enough to not go to the one place where the humans have the advantage.

RIP...on second thought, no, I changed my mind. I don't care.

Phew. What a shit-show. Bad characters, a cliche plot and nothing remotely exciting about it, due in no small part to the ludicrous 'dark' tone the whole thing has. It's cool that this is the first Serbian 'creature flick,' and I hope they make more, but that doesn't excuse the lame things about the movie, as much as I want it to.

But in the end, I made it through the movie. I completed my vision quest journey. I am a weary traveler, and I think I deserve to know what it is that will complete my yearning soul.

So. What is it? What is the light at the end of the long, dark, murky tunnel of this movie?

Yeah, y'know what? Not worth it!

Images copyright of their original owners; we own none of them.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Creep (2014)

The Internet is a scary place where sometimes your kids will go on a chat video site and see a picture of a penis. But the things that happen in this week's movie, entitled Creep, might be far worse than that. I'm not going to make any stances for or against that logic, but it's a possibility, is all I'm saying.

Director: Patrick Brice
Starring: Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass

Co-written with Michelle.

This is a bit of a personal project directed, written and starred in by the same two guys – Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass. It's a found footage thing about this freelance cameraman who answers a Craigslist ad and then finds himself filming this really weird guy. Things just get stranger from there. And by stranger, I mean completely bat-shit, flinging poop at the walls, Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys crazy.

We start off with main character Aaron, played by Brice, filming himself while driving – which is a thing that everyone does in real life. I am filming myself write and edit this review. No, it's not weird. These movies have taught me it's the most normal thing in the world to just have a camera on while you're by yourself, talking to yourself at all times.

You know what we need more of? Uncharismatic white guys filming themselves.

He meets up with Josef, played by Duplass, a strange man who likes to jump out of nowhere and do random jump scares. That’s totally a legit character quality and not just a cheap way to make the audience flinch for a second.

What do you mean I’m being sarcastic? I’ve never done that. Everything I say is 100% honest, and you can tell because I’m saying it on the Internet, where everything is believable.

Josef explains he has terminal brain cancer and is going to die in two months, so he wants Aaron to film a video for his unborn son. Wow. That got dark – how can I even make jokes about this? What kind of monster am I? Eh, on second thought, I don't care, because it's just a character in a movie.

Because after that, we immediately delve into WTF territory as Josef tells Aaron to film him taking a bath completely naked and miming how he'd bathe his son if he had a chance. You may be inclined to say it's sweet if a bit weird, but at one point, I shit you not, Josef pretends to kill himself by sinking down below the bath water. But just for another super hilarious jump scare! Yes, the old ‘cancer patient suicide joke’ is always a classic.

And yet Aaron doesn't care and just goes with it anyway, because that's the sort of thing a regular human being does. That's the main recurring theme in the movie; Josef doing weird shit and Aaron acting more desensitized than a 20-year police veteran would be to violent crime scenes, never finding it weird enough to say something or just straight up leave like a normal person would.

Then Josef wants to show Aaron his creepy wolf mask he keeps in the closet, and also does a dance with it on. Which is a scene I am sure I could make jokes about, but honestly, it would take me the whole rest of the review. Because this right here is the point where all sanity officially checks out for good.

What is this? Where am I? What is reality?

Then it's time to go hang out in the woods, where Josef immediately sprints off into nowhere without giving Aaron any warning. I think it would be hilarious, and a relief, if he never came back and just ran off.

Go, flee, my son, and never return.

But that doesn't happen – instead we get a rambling, headache-inducing, almost psychedelic scene of the two wandering in the woods. It's a bit like Blair Witch on happy pills. After watching it, I forgot who I was. Since Aaron’s brain is just one tiny marble rolling around in a vast empty space, he doesn’t seem to think anything is wrong when Josef asks if Aaron thought he was going to kill him with an ax Aaron saw outside his house earlier.

Who am I?

Seriously, what would it take to get you to realize this Josef guy isn't trustworthy? Would you have to see his torture sex dungeon full of sex slaves? “Hmm, well, it's weird, but I'll keep filming!”

After that, we get a scene of them sitting at a diner and Aaron tells Josef a story about how he used to pee his pants all the time. That's great. It really does sum up how he became the dead-eyed, obviously socially awkward adult he is now. That’s character development!

That night, over whiskey, Josef “confesses” that he caught his wife looking at animal porn one night, and then got the brilliant idea to break into her room at night wearing that wolf mask and rape her with it, which apparently she liked, because she looked at animal porn. Awesome story, bro! Man, what would I do with my life if I never heard that story? I would have really been missing out.

Aaron, fearing for his life at this point, drugs Josef's drink and gets him to fall asleep, but then, bafflingly, still isn't able to actually escape – because he's probably the type of person whose mother picked out his clothes until he was a senior in college.

Hiding in the fucking bathroom talking on the phone doesn't equal escaping. How can you not escape when the guy you're escaping from is in a drug-induced comatose sleep? How much less can you do, outside of just killing yourself for him?

Conveniently right as Aaron actually attempts to escape like a sane person would, Josef wakes up and tries to block his way at the door while wearing the wolf mask, growling like an animal and clearly intending to do him harm...

After that, it cuts to black and we see Josef in the woods digging a grave with black trash bags around him. For a second it looks like he actually killed Aaron, but nope! It's just a DVD he sent Aaron, who is at home safe and just lounging around his house doing nothing in a T-shirt and shorts. Lame!

Aaron is still talking to his camera despite the fact that his assignment with Josef is over now, which is because the movie is fucking dumb. He says he thought the whole thing with Josef was “just a weird thing that happened,” and that he didn't think about it much.

Really now. You were at this house with a man who insisted on bathing in front of you and made comments about how you thought he wanted to kill you, AND told you a story about raping his wife, AND blocked your path to the door wearing a wolf mask...and you didn't think anything was super scary about that? No warning bells went off? Dude, I'm giving up on you. You're dead to me now.

He also says he’s been having nightmares about being in the tub with Josef, both wearing wolf masks, and then he realizes in the dream that he’s a baby and bathing in blood. This apparently happens several times, but does THAT little detail cause even an inch of fear in dead-brained Aaron? Nope. Not an ounce. He’s as nonchalant about it as he would be about going to the DMV. I mean, yeah, he's a bit concerned, like a mistake was found on his tax return, but no big deal!

"I actually kinda LIKED the dream..."

Later on there’s another scene where Josef sends him a toy wolf with a heart shaped locket up its ass, and inside the locket is pictures of them like they’re in love or something. Aaron does finally call the police after THAT, which is like putting a bandaid on someone whose leg just got eaten by a shark. The police don’t help. Probably because they know he’s a lost cause.

They just don't like the adults from "Peanuts."

The “climax” of the film comes when Aaron hears a noise at night and starts looking around for what caused it. The camera catches Josef just standing creepily by the door, and Aaron eventually goes wandering outside and finds nothing except, I guess, a ripped open trash bag. Well that explains it - Josef was a raccoon the whole time.

Well, no, he wasn’t, but it’s still not much worse than what actually happens. Aaron agrees to meet Josef out at this lake, and Josef sneaks up behind him in a goofy looking trench coat like a pedophile would wear and puts on the wolf mask to kill him with an ax. Aaron never sees him coming - he doesn’t even look behind him.

How do you not hear him? Did you have earbuds in, listening to the latest Marilyn Manson album? Were you just eyeing the beautiful sights?

Either he’s deaf, or he just wanted to die already and this was the best option - those are the only options. Him wanting to die actually makes the entire movie make much more sense.

Then Josef monologues about how Aaron was the greatest person ever because he always kept giving Josef second chances. No, I think that was just because he was a lobotomy patient who somehow escaped the hospital. Let's not get crazy here.

We also see that he’s apparently done this so many times that he can fill up a whole shelf full of all the tapes he’s taken.

Are you fucking kidding me? This guy did this THAT MANY TIMES? I just don’t get what he was doing right to kill so many people. For one, why didn’t he kill Aaron when Aaron came to his house the first time? Was that not his plan?

If not, that just raises more questions about all his previous victims. Did he have to lure all of them to his house, go through that whole story about having fake cancer and a fake wife, then follow them around for weeks until they finally just agree to let him kill them in a public place? Every single time? How were his victims ALL so abstractly stupid? The whole thing makes the Trinity Killer from Dexter look like a caveman bashing his enemies over the head with rocks to kill them. The odds required are astronomical - no, actually, “astronomical” still isn’t a big enough word.

Basically, he’s the most prolific serial killer alive, and given the movie’s story, characterizations and circumstances, that is insane on a level I am afraid to even begin to comprehend.

I hate to shit on this project that these guys were obviously extremely passionate about, and there are way worse movies overall, but come on. If you're gonna make a Craigslist horror movie, you didn't have to make up a story this silly. You could have just asked any random user what their worst real experience was, and made a movie of that.

Images copyright of their original owners; we own none of them.