(cinema) The Innkeepers, d. Ti West, 2011. “Let’s go to the basement and find out what that fucking ghost’s problem is.” That’s a funny line from this horror movie that is playful in its script without ever degrading to farce and stupidity. It is the lobby level of Innkeepers where the movie works, at least for the first three quarters. Two slacker clerks in a New England hotel kill time on their long shifts by trying to record proof the old place in haunted. Besides the funny banter between the clerks there is the role of the horror movie “last girl” presented here as quirky, nerdy, and on time with her slap stick. You don’t see girl characters like this in any kind of movie except for maybe one with Drew Barrymore. Kelly McGillis also makes a strong appearance as a psychic guest in the hotel who warns the clerks against waking up spirits. Yep, Kelly McGillis was the sex object in Witness and Top Gun back in the 80s who never did anything again except come out of the closet. I don’t know if I can say McGillis is slumming now in indy horror. The cast is the best part of The Innkeepers. The worst part is the proposed ghost story. That fourth quarter is fairly suspenseful, scary and bloody but the back story on why the place is haunted never comes together. ๏ ๏ ½
Posts tagged ‘horror’
(cinema) We Need to Talk About Kevin, d. Lynne Ramsay, 2011. The IMDB entry for this movie says: The mother of a teenage boy who went on a high-school killing spree tries to deal with her grief and feelings of responsibility for her child’s actions. I lived in Colorado at the time of the Columbine High School murders and I’ve thought a lot about what life must be like for a parent whose kid has does something so awful. It’s an intriguing script idea but it doesn’t happen to be what Kevin is actually about. The high school mass murders here are a sort of foregone conclusion to the story of a mother who is emotionally terrorized by her son, beginning when he is an infant. This is a unique piece in that the story is told in non-linear flashbacks and the cinematography is experimental. Yet the story to me plays closer in genre to horror than to a psychological drama you might see at the arthouse. I can recommend this movie if it’s only on the multiplex at the mall level. Otherwise we’re looking at something that it is on the edge of camp. Witness the
scene where the mother tries to explain reproduction to her little boy via the Mama Bear and Papa Bear and the boy interrupts, “Is this about fuckin’?” If it isn’t highbrow horror Kevin is just Mommy Dearest with the abuse roles switched around. Did you want the gays to love your movie like that? ๏๏๏… Afterschool, d. Antonio Campos, 2008. The actor who plays the
sociopath in We Need to Talk About Kevin was in this earlier movie where he also plays a disturbed kid but with a bit more subtlety. Ezra Miller is great actor in addition to have grown up to be pretty hot. Anyway, in Afterschool, Miller is a nobody kid at a prep school who accidentally videotapes two popular girls die overdosing on tainted cocaine. As the school goes into damage control trying to shake out all the drugs, Miller starts to act erratically believing he is under surveillance. Surveillance, public image and acts of watching are huge themes in movie. Apparently a lot of people don’t care for the slow pace of the story and static camera scenes. I could write a book on why every shot matters. I think it’s brilliant.๏๏๏๏๏
Addendum: If you want to a see an excellent movie about the psychology behind school shootings I recommend Zero Day, from 2003. Both Afterschool and Zero Day stream on Netflix.
(cinema) Drive, d. Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011. I just watched Drive for the second time. On closer inspection I figured out that if this movie with the same L.A. crime underworld story had been edited too fast and too furious and amped with a soundtrack of Kidd Rock anthems it would have come off as total trash. As one gangster character who used to produce low-budget films says, “One critic called them [movies] European. I thought they were shit.” For Drive the filmmakers adopted highly stylized and deliberate editing with brilliant, catchy, 1980s sounding synth music are these are the two elements that hide all the flaws in this movie and make it so captivating. As produced, Drive is brilliant in its turns between the actors subtleties and violent action excesses. Drive is the best movie I saw in 2011 and goes on a list of great of great American films. ๏ ๏ ๏ ½… The Mothman Prophesies, d. Mark Pellington, 2002. Richard Gere is a recently widowed reporter who inexplicably wakes up in a West Virginia town four hundred miles from home. He starts encountering townspeople who are having their own paranormal encounters with a moth-like man who whispers warnings of a looming catastrophe. Mothman is a successfully weird and suspenseful thriller that never tries to over-explain its phenomena. We are never told exactly what is going on between life in the town and whatever dimension the Mothman comes from, nor is it resolved why reporter id dragged into it. I like that these mysteries stay in tact. I like that we don’t really know how much of what is transpiring is just shadow of the reporter’s unresolved trauma. Is he imagining everything? Is he Mothman? In the end it’s a well acted drama about the reporter trying to move beyond his tragic past. But this is a false ending as we find out there really is tragedy about to collapse on the town. Apparently the story is adapted from an investigation into a real incident in 1968 where a West Virginia bridge collapsed and killed forty-six people. That part of it may be factual but it didn’t make for a better ending. One other issue with this film is the terrible casting of Laura Linney as the town cop and love interest for Gere. I love Laura Linney in everything else. Would Elizabeth Taylor have made a good Barney Fife just because she was a good actress? If the movie had got its priorities straightened out it could have been a modern classic.๏ ๏ ๏… (television) Star Trek DS9, THE STORYTELLER. O’Brien and Bashir visit a village of idiotically superstitious Bajorian yokels who think only O’Brien can save their village from the wrath of a giant cloud entity that looks a lot like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters. In an equally idiotic subplot, a teenage ambassador, negotiating for the future of her own village, gets the best advice from the only other kids on DS9, Jake Sisco and his Ferengi chum Nog. This episode plays like it was written for and by children. Not the worst of the first seasons episodes, but quite irritating.
Borderland (2007, d. Zev Berman)
Three impulsive and illiberal students, awaiting grad school, take a bro-cation to a tenderloin, Mexican border town. Although looking for dope and hookers, they accidentally find themselves the prey of a violent drug order/religious cult. While one bro is being tortured and strung up by his castanets, the other two come after the well-armed gang with a tire iron and get their gringo culos handed to them. They should have turned around at El Paso and headed straight back to Stanford.
Based on a true story, Borderland is a case where a better movie is lurking just beneath the one we’re unfortunately watching. The American douchebags are neither sympathetic characters nor well cast actors. More interesting to me is the gang of drug-smuggling orphans who kidnap virgin male tourists for their Jim Jones-esque leader. A guy who performs a sadistic Santeria ritual upon the victim in the belief that such blood sacrifice will render him invisible to narcotics law enforcement. Now that’s entertainment!
My Bloody Valentine (1981, d. George Mihalka)
After a 20 year moratorium, a small coal mining town plans to relaunch their once traditional Valentine’s Day dance, even though the day is scarred with the memory of a serial killer who brutally murdered V-Day revelers. Then real, dissevered human hearts, in heart-shaped candy boxes, start getting delivered to the town’s elders – the same modus operendi of the legend. Has the Valentine’s murderer come back or has someone else picked up his trademark? A group of young partiers end up in the bowels of the local coal mine, trapped inside with the spiteful Valentine’s Day killer.
I don’t know why this guy came to hate Valentine’s Day so much. Maybe he thought he was the only one in town who wasn’t getting any. Anyway, the motivation for all the killing is really secondary to the joy in seeing innocent people cut into pieces, no? Murder qua murder. My Bloody Valentine isn’t like the high-tech torture porn of today’s horror cinema. It’s just gory, suspenseful, cheap, idiotic and cool.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985, d. Jack Sholder)
Teenage Jesse and his family move into the same house on Elm Street where the teenage girl of the first movie was terrorized in her dreams by the psychotic spector Freddy Krueger. Now Freddy is haunting Jesse’s dreams and wants to make Jesse his living avatar for murdering people in the living world.
After successful use of the familiar “last surviving girl” motif, the first Nightmare on Elm Street sequel went with a story centered around terrorizing a teenage boy. Not a bad direction to take, but horror movies are cathartic fantasy and male protagonist victims always come off a little gay. If they didn’t mean for it all to come off gay here they should have maybe cut the scene where the teenage boy in the gym shower psychokineticly strips his bondage fetishist coach naked and lashes him to death with jump rope. There are a lot of weird homoerotic scenes if you like that. Otherwise this is below average material.