Have been saving a few mini-reviews for October, didn't watch all of these this month. In this post, I'll focus on recent horror films
The Conjuring (2013)
By James Wan, the director of Saw (2004) and Insidious (2010).
For me, The Conjuring is an overrated, moderately entertaining horror film. In terms of scaring me, it failed. Perhaps the fault of the movie was to explain what we are supposed to be frightened of in the intro.
The male(Patrick Wilson) and female(Vera Farmiga) paranormal investigators reminded me of Mulder and Scully from The X-Files.
If you’ve seen Insidious (2010), which I also had a lukewarm reaction to, The Conjuring is more of the same, with jump scares in a haunted house.
There’s nothing much new here, that you haven’t already seen in other horror movies.
Lili Taylor's performance was the stand-out for me, and the end credits the scariest section of the film.
Warm Bodies (2013)
I liked it, even though the leading lady looks like a blond wannabe Kristin Stewart, I read someone call her a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG). It's not perfect, but the strength of the film is the humor, and how the story depicts the struggle to connect. The soundtrack is very entertaining too.
But I did wonder, how does the main character satisfy his hunger, if he stops eating?
I think there’s some social commentary there, about yearning to be alive again, but often falling victim to habits. Plus that being in love, makes us feel more human, and can change how we perceive the world.
To me, the intro of the film is pointing a finger at detached zombie-like behavior today, when people listen to their iPods, and look at mobile phones, barely acknowledging people around them.
Surprised this vampire movie is getting mixed reviews. Really liked it, I can see it featuring on my year-end top 10. It goes for emotion, and tones down the blood. I agree with Adam Cook that it deserves a place on his reappraisal misunderstood modern classics list.
Maybe a weakness is, that the two main characters are similar to Neil Jordan's previous vampire film, Interview With The Vampire (1994), the promiscuous one (Tom Cruise/Gemma Arterton), and the sensitive one (Brad Pitt/Saoirse Roman). I watched both those Jordan movies within the same week, and that didn't bother me.
Getting back to Byzantium, I liked Gemma Arterton’s performance the most. Admittedly, Saoirse Roman’s character was a bit dull(LOL takes 52 minutes before her facial expression changes). Though the atmosphere deserves praise, and the story and characters I cared about.
Favorite quotes: “Don’t you sometimes crave to tell the truth? There is a code that we survive by, Eleanor, keep it”
“A pearl stays pure forever, while the oysters flesh rots around it”
The animation was decent, although I thought the Gollum character in The Hobbit was better able to express facial emotions than Burton's characters. A bit too contrived that Victor suddenly had all that equipment in the loft, and that the lightning struck exactly when they needed it to. Would be interesting to know how much of the story is based on Tim Burton's own childhood.
I recommend watching Burton’s 1984 short, it’s better than this overlong animation.
Favorite quote: "Well, sometimes knowing too much is the problem"
Directed/written by Brandon Cronenberg, son of David Cronenberg. I liked the idea, but couldn’t help thinking it was a story more suited for a short film. Most of the running time the protagonist wanders around sick, which is quite painful to watch.
The House of the Devil (2009)
Lesser-known horror film, really surprised how good this one was! Stars Greta Gerwig and a few unknowns. Feels very 80s, the characters, and what sounds like an instrumental version of The Cars song Moving In Stereo. Exceeded my expectations, and managed to scare me.
The Loved Ones (2009)
Australian horror. Impressive performance by Robin McLeavy as the vicious daughter of the messed-up family. As the poster suggests, it’s violent, with torture scenes, so not for everyone. I could imagine people turning it off. It doesn’t give an explanation for the bizarre happenings.
A difficult film to know how to react to, because at times it was painful viewing, and at other moments, the tone was comedy. The heavy metal bits annoyed me, and the soundtrack was not really my thing. Goes to show that people can be totally different at home and at school. The haunting end credits sequence fits the mood of the film.
South Korean horror. The first section of the movie is amazing but tricky to keep up with, a lot of info is passed to the viewer. I watched the opening 35 minutes twice.
Interesting how the vampire element is used as an allegory for illness, being afraid of that illness, yet turning into a vampire also is perceived as a cure for other illnesses.
Less violent than Oldboy, I wasn’t expecting Thirst to be erotic and romantic.
The most memorable thing about it was the scene by the lake, and the visual repercussions of that. There is beauty in the concluding ocean scene, but I mostly disliked how the last 15-20 minutes played out. Beautiful main theme, going to listen to the score again in its entirety.
Favorite quotes: “Nobody blames those, who are hurt in an accident. Nobody is criticized, because they have cancer.” Don’t play human, you are not human anymore” “Does the fox sin, when he eats the hen?”
I Saw The Devil (2010)
A South Korean revenge/horror thriller. You could say the film realistically should have ended at about the 55 minute mark, but movies being movies, it goes on. Pretty violent, so not for everyone.
A Field in England (2013)
Black-and-white historical drama, with elements of horror. Has unique moments, and was quite unpredictable. The scene when the guy goes deaf, when he screams and emerges from the tent, and when he becomes swallowed up by the field, were stand-outs for me. I guess it is an impressive technical achievement considering the budget.
But overall, it was just too slow for my taste, and I didn’t care if the characters lived or died. I actually found it difficult to decipher one actor from another, as several of them had similar appearance.
It was a bit tricky to follow what was going on, so as Thomas4cinema did, I too decided to experience it with the guts rather than with the brain.
Favorite quote: “You’ve not only kept yourself a stranger from the world, but to yourself, it seems”
French horror. I didn’t know whether to give this the lowest possible rating, or a 4 out of 5 on letterboxd. I just don’t know what to rate extreme and cruel horror like this or Eden Lake (2008). I feel bad recommending them. Is it a masterpiece by how terrifying and unforgettable the events are, or is it a nasty film that should never have been made?
The first part of Martyrs is wild and unpredictable. The last 30 minutes are borderline unwatchable and torture to sit through. You have been warned! Uncomfortable and painful viewing, rather than scary. Who ever wrote the script was a sick person. The ending I thought was a bit of a cop out, but I guess the only way to finish it.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Worth watching, for those who enjoyed the wacky inventions and adventures from their beloved short films. While the animation is top-notch, that said, the story is honestly quite far-fetched and ludicrous. It does recapture the atmosphere of the short films, especially the humor. Not just for children, adults can watch this too.
Plenty of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them details. Love the books he has on his shelf: Waiting For Gouda, Fromage To Eternity, Grated Expectations, East of Edam, Swiss Cheese Family Robinson, Brie Encounter, How Green Was My Cheese.
Favorite quote: “Not a single one harmed! The old BV6000 mam, capable of 125 RPM, that’s 125 rabbits per minute.”
Agree or disagree? Have you watched any of the above? Which horror films do you plan to watch this October?
Next week, I'll blog about some classic horror films, Rosemary's Baby, The Wicker Man, and others, stay tuned!