Monday, January 19, 2009

Mega-Movie Monday Pt. 2 - Odd and Scary

For the second batch of movie review catch-up, I'll be focusing on the less mainstream films I've watched over the last month or two.


Horribly low budget slasher film about a serial killer who uses railroad spikes as his weapon of choice. Dad and I started to watch this my first night home for Christmas, and were more than happy to stop watching it when mom got home from the store about 20 minutes in. I finished it up after I got back to Denton, but it was more like background noise as I was playing around on the laptop. Avoid with all your might.

Slash: Another low budget slasher film, this one about a rock group who go to visit their lead singer's estranged father's farm for a funeral and then become victims of a crazed killer who believes human blood helps crops grow. Much more watchable than Spiker, but again, that's damning with faint praise. This one's not exactly going to go down as a classic, unless you're talking about a classic example of horrible racial stereotyping. Honestly, the single Black character in the film is such a mass of negative stereotypes that it was painful; was glad when he got bumped off just because I didn't have to endure any more.

Frostbiten: Interesting and entertaining Swedish vampire flick . I could go into more detail about the plot, but honestly, either the phrase "Swedish vampire flick" intrigues you or it doesn't, and I doubt my talking about how funny and well-done it is could sway your mind if you're one of the latter. I do wish I could find some clips of the talking dog sequences to share, though; those cracked me up.

Feast II: Sloppy Seconds:
Inferior sequel to one of my favorite horror films of recent years. This one ramped up the gross-out factor, but seemed to lose most of the originality and wit. Plus, none of the characters are all that likable, making it difficult to slog through.

Jake's Closet: Incredibly annoying film about a little boy whose parents divorce coincides with the appearance of a monster in his closet. No real redeeming characters anywhere in this one, and the ending just made me roll my eyes and wonder why I'd wasted my time.

Spanish horror film about a teen afflicted with an intense sensitivity to light, making him an outcast in his new community, and thus one of the first suspects when people turn up missing. Not a bad little film, definitely higher quality than most of the horror flicks I've seen recently.

P2: So-so thriller about a workaholic who is trapped inside her office building's parking garage with a crazed parking attendant who has grown obsessed with her. Watched this one on Video On Demand; glad the only thing I wasted on it was my time, and not my money.

The Breed: Surprisingly well done animals-gone-wild film about five friends who are stranded on an island with a pack of intelligent and murderous dogs. A likable cast coupled with a very small number of "how can anyone be that stupid?" moments made this one a pretty entertaining watch. Plus, how often are you going to get a chance to see Oliver Hudson take out rabid dogs with a bow and arrow?

Dead Silence:
So-so supernatural horror film about a man whose wife is murdered right after receiving a ventriloquist dummy in the mail. The movie had its drawbacks -- particularly Donnie Wahlberg's character, who grated on my nerves something fierce -- and telegraphed part of its final reveal something fierce; however, the actual reveal itself went gloriously dark and twisty places that I hadn't foreseen, and I have to give it props for that.

The Plague: Inspired by a Clive Barker story, the movie tells the tale of a strange illness that sweeps the globe, rendering all children worldwide comatose for ten years, when they suddenly awaken, thirsty for blood. An okay movie, not at the top of my list, but not at the bottom, either.

Dance of the Dead: Horror-comedy about a zed-word outbreak on prom night which catapults all of the dateless losers of the Sci-Fi club and other prom holdouts into the role of heroes. Mildly amusing film that embraces some cliches but eschews others.

The Ferryman: Mildly diverting film from New Zealand about a deadly spirit that uses a mystical knife to swap bodies in order to escape death itself. The film had its flaws -- notably the stereotypical and annoying uptight rich girl -- but for me it was all worth it for the scene when the possessed boyfriend of the uptight rich girl takes her down a peg or three.

Shutter: American remake of a Thailand film about a photographer and his girlfriend who begin to notice strange shadows in appearing in their pictures, shadows that soon prove to be proof of a deadly ghost haunting them. An okay film; not sorry I saw it, but not one I'd really recommend.

The Abandoned: Story of a British woman who was abandoned at birth and tracks down her family in Russia, only to encounter something supernatural. I liked this one for the most part, especially the use of the doppelganger concept, but wasn't a fan of the ending.

The Unborn: Well done ghost story about a girl who is haunted by the ghost of her twin who died in utero. Some nice creepy special effects, and a couple of creepy little kids, add up to some creepy fun. The only downside was that it's rated PG-13; normally that wouldn't be a problem, but in this case it meant that when Li'l Random and I went to see it, we had to put up with a theater full of teen-aged girls shrieking and talking throughout most of the film. They actually had to stop the movie at one point so that the security guard could come in and lecture everyone about being considerate of others.


The Cottage:
Story of two estranged brothers who team up to kidnap the daughter of a connected club owner for ransom, only to have things go terribly wrong when their hideout happens to be right next to the home of a deranged killer. While this British horror-comedy should technically go in the above section, I feel like it is dark, twisty, and bizarre enough to be Odd Squodd fodder. Not for the squeamish, but my dad and I cracked up all the way through it; out of all the movies I saw while at my folks' house, this was probably my favorite.

Colma: The Musical: Low-budget indie musical about three recent high school graduates in the town of Colma-- a town whose land is chiefly devoted cemeteries -- struggling with the transition into adulthood. None of the cast is likely to wind up on Broadway anytime soon, but the soundtrack still grew on me, enough so that I wound up ordering it online and have been listening to it non-stop since I got it. This is one I'd have a hard time recommending to most people; two out of three of the characters are self-serving and self-destructive, which can make it a tad difficult to identify with them. Still, the writing shows some real wit, and there are some genuinely funny moments throughout. Just probably not going to be most people's cup of tea.

Mr. Foe: Drama about a young man (Jamie Bell) who has trouble dealing with his mother's apparent suicide, becoming first a peeping tom, and later a semi-stalker when he spies a woman who greatly resembles his mother. I liked this one a lot, was alternately funny, touching, and disturbing, but definitely not for everyone.

Hamlet 2: Over-hyped comedy about a washed up actor (Steve Coogan) who becomes a washed up drama teacher who tries to save the theater department by staging a musical he wrote about Hamlet traveling through time with Jesus. Yes, you read that right; fair warning, there is a musical number entitled "Rock Me Sexy Jesus," which isn't quite as blasphemous as it sounds . . . quite. Didn't really enjoy this all that much, even without the uncomfortableness generated by the religious stuff; Coogan's character annoyed the heck out of me all the way through and since he was the main character around whom all other things revolved, that made it hard to enjoy it. Yes, there were some funny moments, and I'm not about to say it was a total waste of my time, but on the whole, not something I'd want to see again.

Entertaining if bizarre Japanese film about an awkward high school teacher obsessed with a short-lived 70s super-hero show who duplicates the costume to escape the mundanity of his everyday life and soon finds himself drawn into conflict with villains ripped straight from the TV show. The strangest thing about this movie to me was that it was from Takashi Miike, but was surprisingly wholesome; yeah, there was some death and violence, but it was all exaggerated and cartoonish, not explicit and gory like so much of his other work. That being said, I liked this movie a lot. Funny and action-packed.

Sidekick: Interesting indie film about a comic geek who suspects that one of his coworkers has super-powers and sets out to turn the co-worker into a real life super-hero so that he can become his sidekick; the only problem is that the potential super-hero is a self-centered, self-serving jerk. This one might best appeal to comic book fans, but as far as interesting takes on the super-hero genre go, this one was well worth my time.

Final Draft: Psychological drama about a script-writer on the verge of a nervous breakdown (James van der Beek) who locks himself in his apartment cut off from the outside world to make himself finish his horror movie script, and in turn begins to hallucinate about the people who have wronged him in his life. The ending is pretty predictable, but watching van der Beek's slow descent into madness kept me engaged through most of it.