Wednesday, 19 October 2011

When the Wind Blows (UK, 1986)

When I was growing up, one my favorite times in my life was when my parents would take me to rent movies. Even as a child, I loved films, so much that I would watch anything, whether it was made for kids or not. Luckily I was raised by loving parents that would, for my benefit, protect me from content that my growing mind might not be able to process. As a child, I saw this selective editing of my choices to watch everything as an insult to my capability of comprehending good from bad. It drove me to rages of anger.  As an adult, I am grateful for their patience and protective nature, especially after seeing the cartoon "When The Wind Blows".
                 Still maintaining an "R" rating, this lesson driven cartoon has no visual violence, no foul language, no nudity or sexual content, yet with its absence of foulness delivers an emotional  shock to your system. In the near future, an old English couple prepare for what may be a nuclear attack. And we the viewers then watch a loveable and naïve couple deal with the physical effects of a nuclear bomb. we see them bicker like an old loving couple, chat and gossip, worry about their loved ones and go on with their lives as they bodies slowly react to a nuclear attack. Their innocents and lovable characters bring this morality lesson to such an emotional jolt to your system, that this movie will sit with you long after watching it. I found myself moved to tears watching the final 20 minutes of this gloriously important piece of art.
                And speaking of the art, while appearing simple, it is quite beautifully put together. The two characters are 2 dimensional cartoon characters as we are accustom to seeing, but they exist in a real 3-dimentional environment, which appears to be a house made for claymation characters.  When moving from one room to another, or from one character to another, we are treated to a 3D panning of the house, making the visuals pop off the screen.  They are fictional cartoonist characters dealing with a real world situation.
                If I were to have seen this as a child, and I had often requested renting this movie because it was obviously a cartoon and therefore cartoons are made for children, I might have missed out on how amazing powerful this film truly is.  Even worst, if I were to have seen this as a child and understood the films dark depressing atmosphere and message, it may have destroyed a part of my childhood. This is powerful stuff. 

See it

Chain Letter (2010)

With all the Slasher flicks made for the past 3 decades, we have been treated to outrageous plots and gimmicks, ranging from evil twin birthday parties, social pathetic doctors teaching bad patients how to sarcastically take care of their body, to even metal head plate fisherman that when a particular music piece is played and reaches a particular frequency causes the metal plate to vibrate which leads the fisherman to catch and reel in victims into a secluded cabin and grind their body parts into paste.  So therefore, a plot about a chain letter that one person doesn't pass on to other or they die, wouldn't be too outlandish for Slasher fans to jump on board.
                It is amazing that with the hundreds of lousy Slasher flicks developed, year after year, a corny gimmicks such as not responding to a chain letters or you die has not been tackled until 2010 (at least to my movie watching knowledge). Yet, perhaps it is because of the ridiculousness of the premise that the writers attempted to add another angle to this preposterous tale of hack and slash. So they have added a cult bent on destroying technology and the advancement of technology. How do they wish to accomplish this, by ironically using technology to destroy the people that use it the most.  Nothing like a dose of  heavy irony to get people to think twice about their life choices.
                So we get to know  a twenty something group of actors playing high school teens, all of which have received the chain letter and are being knocked off by a large deformed killer. Luckily one of the teens is smarter than the police and starts solving the mystery revolving around the brutal murders. Oh, and to make matter more corny, the murders are all performed with chains, specific chains that are so unique the head cop on the case believes that the type of chain will lead him to the killer. This then has the cop carrying a link of the chain in his pocket around with him to everyone he investigates, like most police he doesn't keep the evidence in a bag, just freely in his pocket.
                So being that the plot is not worth supporting, we would then look to the highlight of most Slasher flicks, tits and gore. Well the tits are there, even right from the start with a non-supporting character barely connected to the films story line. Then we have the over the top gore that doesn't really gross me out because the scenes ignore basic biology and physics of the flesh. The first chronological murder has a man's face and head being cut by two sawing chains. The chain links are about two inches thick and yet cut through the man's face like thin piano wire. This unbelievable massacre is accomplished on screen through the art of editing.  Watching it happen on DVD allowed me to replay the murder to see if my eyes were deceiving me and no they saw what I thought they saw… a terrible film.
Avoid it

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Yellow Brick Road

If every time a group of people take a specific path of travelling they end up dead, how can other people take this path to find out that the first group of people have been killed?  Wouldn't the second set of people discovering the first dead group get killed themselves? I can usually ignore some of the illogical liberties that supernatural films take, however in Yellow Brick Road, these poorly thought out concepts keep coming up.
                Team of experts (experts is used very lightly) get together to trek down an infamous outdoor trail where people end up getting killed. For starters, there is no actual trail that these people follow, mainly open fields and with no distinguishing terrain. This group takes a hiking trip over this dull scenery and the further they go, although where they are going doesn`t make too much sense to begin with, music from the past starts to fill the air. The music shuts off and turns back on randomly and this starts to get to the travelers psyche and just as I was already hating this film, they start to kill each other off with terrible make up effects. 
                 The question that I couldn`t get out of my mind was if this trail leads to something to be discovered, why don`t they just fly over the area? The characters keep saying that they have walked forever, but it never appears that they have walked for very long at all. Usually after someone has walked for several days straight, they will appear exhausted or even dirty. At no point did I feel that these people have suffered enough to start acting psychotic or even having visions. 
This film is just plain ridiculous.

Avoid it.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

They Came Back (2004 France) AKA Les Revenants

I may have a halo effect when it comes to French cinema because I am of French descent. However, it is hard not to enjoy movies in which there has been effort made to create something new and thoroughly thought out. People had warned me that they thought I would find it boring and oh contraire mes ami, I found it quite fascinating.
                What if 2300 people who had died within the last 10 years just suddenly came back, appearing physically unchanged from death? The horror in the film is more disturbing and believable because of the realistic sense of having to deal with the situation politically as well as emotionally. Those that come back have colder body temperatures, they are slower moving, slower reacting, and appear to be only capable of thought processes that they can retrieve from their past memories. They cannot sleep and most of them slip out of their houses and join together for meetings with other undead folk. 
                The creepiness factor is really high being that no true answers are given right off the start, leaving the main characters as well as the audience continuously guessing. Slowness of the film is a marvellous technique that adds so much to the eerie and often melancholy feel. This reaches emotional levels that most films would try and dodge, hoping to attract more audiences.   
                If you still have the patience of a 5 year old, then you may just want to skip this one. But if you enjoy having your thoughts challenged, then this one is for you.

See it

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Bereavement (2010)

Ok let's get something straight. A girl who has lost her parents because of an accident, is not a character, that is a thing that happens to a character. A girl who is new to a small town high school, is not a character. A boy who looks after his paralyzed father, who happens to be a jerk father, is not a character.  These are things that characters have to deal with, not who they are. Just because you give an actor a name and clothe to wear and tell them "Ok now this happens to you... now act." does make them characters. I have seen finger puppets deliver more believable personalities than the paint by number bores this film has.
                "Bereavement" is another exceptionally dull horror film that does not offer anything new to the genre of serial killers/torture films. In this one, a young boy who lacks the ability to physically feel anything, gets abducted from a  swing by a madman who raises him in an abandoned meat factory, where he is forced to watch the madman chop up kidnapped women to please a cow skull that instructs the man to perform the tortures. After that you have seen it all. This is boring and poorly paced. Much of the time, even when it's suppose to be scary, I found myself uninterested and counting the minutes going by.
                It is said that this movie barely received an "R" rating but after much work it was given the "R" rating and had minimum theatrical release. This shocked me to hear, mainly because the film is not that violent or ore as others in the genre, for instance any of the "Saw" films. These types of claims usually pop up for movies that are not that good to begin with. It is a marketing strategy to have viewers believe that what they are about to watch is going to be something that will be over the top or even shocking. This is why almost all horror films get released on Bluray/DVD as "unrated". In the past being unrated meant that the movie was not interesting enough to even waste the time of the films boards that rate them. Don't be fooled when this one comes out.