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Monthly Archives: July 2014

They’ve just been told that series 14 of Indonesian Big Brother is starting in the TV room…

A interesting collection of horror tales linked together by an unnecessary meta-tale involving a couple of investigators looking for a missing man. All the stories are in the form of found footage and predictably none (of the ones I saw at least) are actually scary. Relying instead upon the slightly cheap tools of shock and gore.

The first tale is about a man who after an accident has an eye-implant fitted. However as well as restoring his sight he gets slightly more than he bargained for – he can now see the dead. If you’re thinking the Sixth Sense – don’t. It fails to do anything interesting with this concept other than reduce it to a series of cheap scares with an unconvincing ending. The acting in this tale was also on the poor side.

I felt that the second story had artistic merit. It didn’t really hold my interest but the story of a cyclist who goes to the aid of a woman but ends up being bitten by a zombie and then turns into one himself was certainly interesting. After being bitten the his helmet-cam is still rolling and the story now continues with him as a zombie. You watch as he first tries to snack on his own arm and then on a couple of other cyclists who come to his aid, and then worse as he approaches a children’s party. Despite not being that involving at the story level it did manage provoke feelings of disgust, interest, amusement, and even boredom. So like I said, perfect as a piece of art.

The third tale was the most inventive, and the one that came closest to truly unsettling. That it offered something other than the standard ghosts and zombies was welcome too. It details what happens to a group of journalists and camera crew after they go to interview an Indonesian cult-leader. Halfway through the interview he decides that it’s time for him and his followers (and apparently the journalists too) to enter the “Gates of Paradise”. There is some impressive editing and your empathy for the camera-crew, and their helplessness against the huge numbers of the cult gives it the potential to be frightening but ultimately this story just ends in death for pretty much everyone and huge amounts of gore and violence. So it was more shocking than anything else.

I stopped watching at this point. It felt a bit sick watching as people get their heads blown off and as demons emerge in a bloody mess from pregnant women. Gore has it’s place in horror films but when it’s just person after person getting ripped apart or exploding into fleshy pieces…  if you are enjoying that then you have a problem.

Often inventive and from what I saw a mostly above-average collection of  found-footage horror films, but it is a little sick and exploitative.

6/10

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“Here take the wheel, I’ll stand up and make myself more of a target”. Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) about to single-handedly take out six vans filled with assassins.

I’ve never eaten swordfish before but I have seen Swordfish before. How’s that for a terrible introduction? (Wait, there’s more) – unlike the start of Swordfish, which has a very good dramatic introduction. Here Travolta sits opposite 2 police detectives and complains about the bad guys in films who typically show mercy towards hostages – where in reality killing a few hostages would get them taken seriously and get them what they want. A few minutes later we realise Travolta is in the middle of a siege himself and it’s not long before one of his hostages explodes taking several policemen and cars with them…

Strangely considering I had seen it before, not much of the story came back to me while I was watching. I do remember at the time of release a big deal was made of the fact that you get to see Halle Berry’s breasts. Those were clearly lean breast times, and apparently she agonised over the decision. Ironic because since then she has been seen dipping one of them into a bowl of guacamole while being cheered on by a room of party goers (Movie 43).

Anyway I digress – Swordfish is a stylish crime thriller in which Hugh Jackman plays an unlikely super hacker : Stanley Jobson. He is hired by Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) to help him with a plan to siphon millions of dollars from a secret governement bank account. Berry is Shear’s henchwoman (or is she?), charged with getting Jobson onside. For the most part it’s exciting and tense, although it’s spoilt by some unrealistic sequences (especially disappointing since the opening sequence seems to indicate the the film will be grittily realtistic) such as where ‘master-strategist’ Shear makes himself a sitting-duck by standing up in an open top sports car spraying bullets from a gun held in each hand. Even though driving duties are swiftly passed on to Jobson – who claims he has never driven a stickshift before – Shear not only survives unhurt but takes out six vans filled with trained assassins in the process.

Aside from a few blips though it’s tense,exciting, and good fun. You do get the impression though that it had more impact in it’s time – I imagine it seemed super brutal back then, but even so it hasn’t dated too much. A solid and exciting 6/10

Hitchcock ordered his assistants to buy every copy of Psycho in town so that no one would know the ending…

Instead of taking the usual biography film approach and trying to cram a person’s personality, relationships and life into a 2 hour film – which let’s face it, isn’t possible – this film focuses instead on an important and emotionally intense slice of Alfred Hitchcock’s life. The part during which he wrote and directed Psycho. It’s a great idea, because really you get to know a person best from what they do and how they react in a situation, especially a stressful one. Aside from that, there is also the more conventional movie narrative to add interest and tension.

This was a time of Hitchcock’s career when he had been criticised for playing it safe and for not being as bold or inventive as he was in his early films. Psycho was Hitchcock’s response and was a shocking film for the time. You know this when the censor vetoes a scene of a flushing toilet, reasoning that: “No film shown in the United States has or will ever show a toilet”. You can only imagine then what the response might be to a transvestite killer with mother issues who attacks women in the shower with a machete…

The Hitchcock of this film (played ably by Anthony Hopkins) is a complicated character, one who fantasises about and becomes overly attached to his blonde heroines (he cast a string of them in his films). His relationship with his wife Alma (Helen Mirren) is close and essential, since she is also a vital part of his writing team. However this marriage is on shaky ground as Alma is becoming closer to her friend and writer – Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston). To add to his woes no film studios have any faith in Psycho, and Alfred can only get it made by mortgaging his home to raise the funds.

Overall Hitchcock is a very good film, it’s engaging with emotionally complex characters. Even though most people will already know that Psycho was a success, it’s still interesting to find out about the story behind it, and how the actors were cast. For example Anthony Perkins was apparently cast as the killer Norman Bates because he was secretly gay, and therefore was always hiding (in his mind at least) what was a deep dark secret.

Interesting, engaging and well worth watching 7/10