Aftershock

As the name in implies, this movie does have an earthquake and the titular aftershocks to follow. However, mother nature’s wrath is only part of the problem here. The scarier shit is carried out by people who decide to throw out all traces of humanity when the going gets rough and the world around them (literally) crumbles. Eli Roth produced, stars in, and even gets a writing credit in this film. It was directed by Nicolas Lopez who also wrote the script along with Guillermo Amoedo. I happen to be an Eli Roth fan. He seems to be one of those polarizing figures in the horror world that everyone either loves or hates. I’ve heard the arguments pro and con so please spare me if you don’t like him 😉 I am having a tricky time writing about this without any spoilers. So let me just get this out of the way. If the premise I provided above is enough to peak your interest, then watch this movie, come on back and join the conversation. The rest of the class is reading ahead.

**Spoilers below**

Movie poster with very telling tagline!

Movie poster with a very telling tagline!

Things I liked:

– The acting. The acting was pretty darn good. I personally feel that Eli Roth and Andrea Osvart were the stand out performers. But they both had some of the richer material to work with. Andrea’s character of Monica turns out to be the final girl, which wasn’t too much of shock since she presented herself as mature and levelheaded trying to keep her party-rockin’ sister under control. Well, she will be the final girl if she survived that foreboding tsunami in the last frame of the film. But she still gets a sticker for final girl status. Shes’s a tough chick. I’d put money on her getting out alive.

– Eli Roth is the only American lead in the cast! I like that they didn’t try to shoe-horn Americans in the roles that clearly weren’t meant for them. Large chunks of dialogue aren’t in English, and no there aren’t subtitles. This is a joint Chilean and USA film! Deal with it! :p

– Ariel’s severed hand and the unintentional game of soccer it becomes involved in. Actually, I was really impressed with the effects in general. That includes when Eli’s character of Gringo becomes a melted, gooey, molten mess.

– A fine use of the Axe as a weapon. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. First we get the redemption of Pollo taking an axe to a rapist. Then Monica getting her revenge in honor of her sister. Gotta love vengeance kills, right?

Stuff I’m not sure I liked:

-I guess the first thing would have to be the rape-y bit. I feel on principle I need to state I’m not really cool with it. It’s not super graphic, nor very long. It’s not a deal breaker for me to have rape in a movie, as long as the rapist gets what is coming to them. Cause then you get to cheer at their demise.

– Gringo: you were dying under a damn cinder block, coughing up blood and clearly those thugs were not planning to help you out and let you go. Bravely, you told the two girls to hide and hence be not raped while Pollo and Monica went for help, that was your damn idea when you heard the bad dudes coming! And then you break and tell the thugs were the two girls are hiding so that they can get raped?! Dick move. I guess that was the “point” that even likable and usually good people can turn into savages. But honestly, I think that whole scene was a little weird. I mean, why would the thugs think that the girls were still around at all to the point of interrogating Gringo?? Wouldn’t they just assume that the girls/others went for help since Gringo is stuck under a chunk of cement?? It doesn’t even make sense to think they were still around. If something happens to your friend, you go for help. As far as the thugs know that means there would be three girls and one chubby man hiding nearby? I just feel that the whole set up was basically a vehicle for Gringo to crack under pressure and then turn into a crispy critter.

– I really liked Ariel and it was a bummer to see him plummet to his death! Still, it was actually more upsetting to see that hobo run off with the purse that had his hand in it. Ouch. Low blow.

– There is no doubt we could sit here and debate all about the “message” of this movie which pretty much states that humans are evil and will turn on each other before helping someone else. <–And yes, there are time in the movie when people are good and helpful. But the tagline of the movie is, “The only thing more terrifying than Mother nature is human nature.” I personally chose to just let the filmmakers tell the story and present their viewpoint. I don’t really like to debate philosophical matters. But if that’s your thing then I’m sure you will have lots to talk about with your like minded people.

Grade: B+. It was good! I’m glad that I watched it! There were things about it that made it better than the average movie. 

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh: Every time a bell rings….

Thank you netflix for putting indie horror films out there at easy access for the masses. I had heard a little buzz about this movie, so I was excited to get a chance to watch it. When it was over, I pondered it all for a minute and then decided I liked it. Just like, not love. Upon doing a little research I realized it was director/writer Rodrigo Gudino’s first full-length film! This made me appreciate and LIKE it even more. Now, Gudino is no lazy horror filmmaker. He is actually the president and founding editor of the iconic horror magazine, Rue Morgue. The fact that this guy really seems to know and understand our little horror community made me feel like I was in good hands. Kinda like, “I’m not only the president-I’m also a member!”

The movie is a nice slow burn with plenty of atmosphere. No shaky camera found footage (which I often like, but I know many don’t), and a nice haunted feel. Which makes sense as it’s a ghost story….or is it? The story centers around Leon, an antiques dealer. He has this bad-ass style going on, I dug it enough. Leon estranged himself from his mother and now must go back to his childhood home where she still lived and settle her affairs. His mother (voiced by Vanessa Redgrave, no less!) actually narrates the opening and provides a little back story about their drifting apart and how Leon never fully dealt with his father’s suicide. Leon also seems to have some other issues involving a failed marriage/relationship. As Leon journeys through the house he starts to feel his mother’s ghost is still around and trying to communicate…especially by messing with angel statues. That would freak me out.

The Leigh house is sort of my dream home. It’s packed with religious icons, those angel statues, dolls, antiques, artifacts, creepy cross-stitch hangings….I mean, where do I sign?? I also really liked how we never “see” any other characters in person besides Leon. It just gave me this sense of loneliness. Everything is just subtle and I found myself trying to figure out what was going on, what would be happening next, etc. It had a nice original touch. And for a first full length film, I enjoyed it.  I want to give this one a grade, but I have one **SPOILER** I am dying to talk about cause it was my FAVORITE part of the film. So, let me wrap this up.

Grade: B <– Above average!! 🙂 Looking forward to more from Gudino!

 

Rosalind would have liked this little lady/fellow. I'm not sure what it is.

Rosalind would have liked this little lady/fellow. I’m not sure what it is.

 

 

**SPOILER**

My favorite part of the movie? Um, the freakin cult of Angel worship!!!! I haven’t gotten to review many cult movies here, but I am totally fascinated by cults. So when Leon finds that crazy home VHS tape depicting all the old people at a church ceremony with the significantly younger preacher ranting and raving to his congregation?! I was seriously digging that. AND then we see the church is actually IN the damn house???!! Pretty rad. I also like the weirdo twin dudes. Very effective.  I wouldn’t say the movie ties together in a perfect package at the end. But I did like the “twist” ending and the general subtle nature of the movie.

Insidious 2: No Darth Maul demon but that’s okay

You may have read my review of Insidious Part 1 wherein I unabashedly share how much I love that movie. Not surprisingly, I had huge expectations for Chapter 2. Though it didn’t make my heart sing like its predecessor, the sequel was fantastic. James Wan and Leigh Whannel obviously took a lot of pride and care in crafting another excellent horror movie for us fans.

The film starts off immediately after the first chapter ends. Meaning all the actors/character we know and love are back. Impressively, the two little boys look exactly the same as they did in the first go around. Obviously, time was of the essence in making this movie. We all know I was happy to see the familiar faces especially Barbara Hershey (I’m thinking of being her when I grow up.) Sorry if you haven’t seen this first one yet, but the trailers make it obvious that the spirit realm isn’t done with the Lambert family. In fact, when dad Josh (Patrick Wilson) returned from “the further” to rescue son Dalton (Ty Simpkins), he brought SOMETHING eviiiiiil back with him. That’s the basic plot.  Please consider yourself  **SPOILER** warned from this point on. And what the hell is wrong with you if you haven’t seen these movies yet? Get on it! :p

Let me run down the stuff I loved about this one. I like doing this in bullet points for those of us with short attention spans: 

  • The humor. We know these beloved film makers always throw us some comic relief. Well done comic relief in horror is something of an art all on it’s own. The comedy is delivered in the form of the returning characters of Specs and Tucker. I guess you’d call them paranormal investigators/technicians to the endearing clairvoyant Elise.  These two guys have awesome chemistry together and were seriously my second favorite part of this movie.
  • My first favorite part: There is one little scare that was so subtle it made this little horror nerd want to weep. Okay here it is- when Renai Lambert is on the phone and is nonchalantly walking from room to room. Our director set it up perfectly. There is a spectral creepy ghost lady just sitting there. No fanfare, no music, no indication, nothing. Just BOOM there she is sitting calmly out of focus in the background. This was not the only phenomenal scare, but it was my personal favorite. I get all jazzed just thinking about it. *sigh* 
  • The corpses under the sheets in the Crane house. Such a brilliant use of not over-showing the creepiness to the audience. Often what your imagination fills in is even worse. However, the mold is a good indication of what was happening under there. Oh, and the rotted hands. Nasty.
  • The way the two films flowed together so perfectly. It really was Chapters 1&2. I loved how Josh basically time travels back into the first movie to a very familiar scene where the front door and alarm was mysteriously going off. Well, now we know what that was all about.
  • The very end. I liked that the crack team of Elise, Specs and Tucker are still out helping people. This was a classy set up for further movies. We’ve been told James Wan won’t be involved. I strongly hope that whoever picks of the torch for more movies treats this franchise and it’s audience with respect. A high bar has been raised!
  • I could probably go on about this movie. But I think y’all get the drift. I liked it.

Okay, I had one big gripe with the movie. Really, this is the only thing that irked me.

  • The character of the mother of Parker Crane. She’s referred to as Mother Mortis at one point. Let’s just call her Ma. Turns out it was Ma drifting around the Lambert family compound misplacing the baby and whispering creepily. Ma has that distinctive look of a James Wan character, which I like. However, I feel like they really cranked up her performance to borderline melodrama. Everything from her exaggerated appearance, to her voice and mannerisms is really not subtle. Now, I’ve told myself that she probably “seemed” that way because it was through the filter of her damaged son Parker’s memories. I also think they decided to keep her on the cartoon-y side because the emotional, verbal, and physical abuse she’s inflicting on little Parker/”Marilyn” is fucking disturbing. I’m not a parent (nor planning to be one) but it’s hard for many people to watch any sort of violence towards kids. It’s important to the story as a whole in this case to show the relationship between Ma and Parker. Maybe they decided that by taking Ma in such a flamboyant direction it would keep us away from Precious style parental abuse. What we end up is more Mommy Dearest. I guess I’ll take it.

Well, that’s it! I hope you guys liked Chapter 2 as much as I did. I got some feedback to grade/rate movies. Until I figure out a system I like more, I’m going to go with the standard A+ through F system.

Insidous 2 Grade: A

 

insidious-2-movie

 

You’re Next

YoureNextNew1Upon seeing the trailer for Adam Wingard’s You’re Next, you can deduce a view things:

1. Home invasion genre

2. Looks violent

3. Awesome opaque animal masked killers

All three of these points are definitely true, but those are just the tip of the fun ice berg that is this movie. If you’re a fan of Mr. Wingard and writer Simon Barrett you know they always have a few tricks of their sleeves.  I feel like these guys really know what’s up when it comes to crafting a quality horror movie (like V/H/S, which both worked on) that strikes a cord with die-hard horror fans. I love watching these movies made by genre enthusiasts. Now obviously they’re in the same class as some other relatively “new” filmmakers too. There is so much talent out there that totally get what us fanatics want to see. So, when it comes to these guys,  I am totally drinking their kool-aid and will watch anything they’re involved in at this point.

I also have to point out that the opening sequence of the movie is awesome. Horror movies need to have a spectacular opening sequence. I am getting pickier about this in my old age. It doesn’t need to be flashy or violent, but I am really looking for it to hook me and reel me in. Also, I love how both behind the scenes and on the screen You’re Next is packed with horror favorite actors and technicians. I was geeking out hardcore.

There are some tricks and twists in this movie. If I wanted to really break the thing down and talk spoilers, I could. Because there are some really unexpected little turns here and there. But to be honest there is only one spoiler-ish thing that I wanted to touch on here today with you. In fact, I knew about this one element before seeing the movie. I have no clue if this is a spoiler or not.  So, you’ve been warned.  **SPOILER??** I really appreciated them resurrecting the concept of the Final Girl. There are still movies made with this archetypal character. But I feel like You’re Next really celebrates that concept. Sharni Vincent gives a wonderful performance as Erin. Erin is having the first meet the fam visit with her professor-turned boyfriend’s parents, siblings and their spouses. (Side note-I love when slasher have a big-ish cast. C’mon, we need people to kill off! That’s the point! ) Anyway, when the masked weirdos start to terrorize and kill (RIP Tariq) the party, Erin steps up. She really takes charge. Right away she’s shouting orders and making plans to try and get a handle on the situation. This comes as a shock to every one including her man-friend who all know nothing of her un–traditional and bad-ass upbringing. Erin gets pretty banged up during this movie. Yet she doesn’t back down. And, she can rig up some pretty insanely sick traps and weapons ala Home Alone’s Kevin McCalister. Erin is a girl after my own heart. She slices, she dices, she makes you wanna root for her, and most importantly, she doesn’t disappoint.

Sharni-Vinson-in-Youre-Next-2011-Movie-Image-2-650x432