Monday, October 27, 2008

Movie Mon. - A Smattering of Horror Reviews

I'm a little disappointed in myself for not living up to my usual standards of horror film reviews this Halloween month; I blame Cap'n Shack-Fu's presence back in town this month for the distraction. Of course, as far as distractions go, having my Best Friend around again is one of the better ones.

Death Note:
Live action Japanese adaptation of the popular Manga series about a brilliant young man named Light who comes into possession of a mystical notebook with the power to kill anyone whose name is written in it, and decides to use the power to rid the world of evil, becoming a cult figure known as Kira. A relatively faithful adaptation of the first several volumes which shifts a few things here and there, shrinking the timeline and shifting some character actions around. I did feel like the decision to have Light espouse pro-Kira thoughts to his girlfriend was totally out of character, and the movie really dragged up until the appearance of Light's nemesis, the brilliant but eccentric detective known as L. Not a bad film, and I'm looking forward to the sequel which will wrap up the first half of the Manga series, but I couldn't help feeling it paled in comparison to its source material.

The Strangers:
Occasionally tense but also occasionally frustrating thriller about a couple who are terrorized in a secluded house by a trio of masked strangers. A lot of the reviews I read compared this to Ils (Them), and while I see the link, I found this one to be more suspenseful and more enjoyable overall, although ever since having to suffer through her breathy, whiny version of Betty Ross in The Incredible Hulk, I've been a bit down on Liv Tyler, and watching her trade in whispers with the equally soft-spoken Scott Speedman --seriously, was having Felicity flashbacks at times with all the whisper-talk -- was more distracting for me than anything else. But, that may just be me.

The Substitute (Vikaren):
Off-beat tongue-in-cheek Danish SF/Horror comedy about a bizarre substitute teacher who some of students discover is actually an alien in disguise. A bit uneven, the film still earned high marks in my book for having a diverse cast of kid actors who managed to be entertaining without being cutesy, and for the performance of Paprika Steen as the odd-ball alien substitute; her whip-crack emotional transformations from ice cold to maniacal laughter to overflowing with faux compassion made the movie. Although nominally a horror flick, the only blood is courtesy of a slaughtered chicken or two.

Strange film about a nursing home worker (Mena Suvari) who accidentally hits a down-on-his-luck man (Stephen Rhea) with her car while driving home intoxicated from a party, resulting in the badly injured man being stuck in her windshield and leaving her to decide whether to turn herself in or wait until he succumbs to the injuries and then dispose of the body. Not quite what I was expecting; the original synopsisI read made it sound like the bulk of the film took place in the car where the man tried to talk her into saving him, which sounded like an interesting psychological film. Instead, we have her running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to figure a way out of the mess while the man lies bleeding and battered back in her garage. I had a hard time getting into it at times just because none of the characters were all that likable, including the victim.