Films viewed in 2011

Posts Tagged ‘horror’

488. Terror Train

In Canadian on February 24, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Dir. Roger Spottiswoode

A masked killer targets six college kids throwing a large New Year’s Eve costume party aboard a moving train.

MY TAKE

Jamie Lee Curtis is best remembered as the “scream queen” from the Halloween franchise, but a couple of Canadian films helped her secure the title. Prom Night is the classic of the two, but Terror Train is still worth keeping track of. The film has fun featuring a young David Copperfield as a mischievous magician, and his routine pulls off the trick of keeping you guessing about his allegiance throughout. The story is otherwise a pretty cut and dry tale of teens being terrorized in a confined space, but looks good and chugs along at a nice pace. In other words, don’t be surprised when they remake this film because it already has a fan base of about 12 people.

 

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382. Vanishing on 7th Street

In Mystery on November 14, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Dir. Brad Anderson

The population of Detroit has almost completely disappeared and the Dark is coming for those who remain.

MY TAKE

Hayden Christian Anderson wakes up one morning to find himself completely alone. No, I’m not talking about the day after a Star Wars convention, this is the entire premise and “appeal” of Vanishing on 7th Street. By removing the religion from Left Behind and bloody fun from Final Destination, Brad Anderson’s film is only weak shades of similar themed B-movie’s. Shadows are the menacing “death” that pointlessly stalk the survivors, devouring them each in an anti-climax of darkness and lazy special effects. Stay safe by seeing the light: don’t see this movie.

363. Rubber

In Arthouse on November 1, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Dir. Quentin Dupieux

When Robert, a tire, discovers his destructive telepathic powers, he soon sets his sights on a desert town; in particular.

MY TAKE

The awesome cinematic powers of “no reason” are pushed to the limit in Quentin Dupieux’s funny, original and absurd feature film Rubber. I was hooked from the opening post-post-modernist rant, and was more than willing to roll with the telepathic punches as Robert the Tire menaced a desert town on the outskirts of reality. The visual style is refreshingly not trying to ape exploitation films of the 70s, but the never-ending shallow focus (which I assume was shot on a Canon 5D or comparable DSLR) feels like the new indie cliché. The film at least knows to keep a nimble runtime, and is sure to delight many a midnight crowd.

362. Paranormal Activity 3

In Horror on October 31, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Dir. Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

In 1988, young sisters Katie and Kristi befriend an invisible entity who resides in their home.

MY TAKE

Laying criticism against Paranormal Activity 3 for being just like the other two misses the point. Like all brands of horror, the trilogy captures a signature style, pacing and substance that will certainly spin into an extended franchise. Catfish co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman expertly execute their shots, respecting the eerie silences and staging of the first two entries, while lifting other influences directly from Poltergeist. The resulting tension is earned, even if not all the “gotchya” moments got me. As a prequel taking place in the 80s, there’s also a missed opportunity for the characters to embrace the novelty of the technology and taped experience more.

339. Red State

In Action on October 19, 2011 at 9:35 AM

Dir. Kevin Smith

A group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.

MY TAKE

Director Kevin Smith gets all “grown up in here” with Red State, a stylistic departure from his usual talk-heavy fare and a logistical deviation from the Hollywood distribution system. Even the script defies several conventions, ruthlessly rotating protagonists and ending up in places that are far from obvious in the opening act. Michael Parks is the film’s best revelation, as the bible-totting Southern cult figure leading a delegation into their end days. His performance may, however, have over-mesmerized Smith who lets the madman’s opening monologue drag on far too long.  Otherwise, the film is remorseless about its characters and a bloodbath the whole Kool-Aid sipping family can enjoy.

333. Fright Night

In Horror on October 14, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Dir. Craig Gillespie

A teenager suspects that his new neighbor is a vampire.

MY TAKE

The best part about this re-vamped Fright Night is that Colin Farrell actually seems to be having fun playing a frightening vampire. His hisses and growls are surprisingly fitting, and his antagonizing role often feels genuinely threatening. The film still has major faults, like the car sequence and Toni Collette’s entire performance, but an inspired third act helps pull the film together. I don’t think it’s even possible to make a great vampire film anymore, but I’m willing to call this a good one.

280. Shark Night 3D

In Horror on September 27, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Dir. David R. Ellis

A weekend at a lake house in the Louisiana Gulf turns into a nightmare for seven vacationers as they are subjected to shark attacks.

MY TAKE

A movie that combined my favourite horror franchise (Final Destination) with my wife’s unnatural shark fixation equaled a date night we inexplicably looked forward to for weeks. But director David R. Ellis’ half-hearted efforts to embrace the absurdity of the genre make it hard for even us to recommend. There’s only one real cheer-worthy moment as a shark leaps through the air devouring a Jet-Skiing teen head on. Katherine McPhee is also a fruitless tease and Canadian Dustin Milligan is far too good looking to play the supposed nerdy lead.

279. Things

In Canadian on September 27, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Dir. Andrew Jordan

Conceived by a lunatic, hatched within a human womb. Nothing will prepare you for Things.

MY TAKE

If you thought prerequisites for making a film included having a story, lighting a shot and capturing usable sound, you were wrong. First- and thankfully last-time director Andrew Jordan can’t hold a candle, or a camera, to even the gleefully bad antics of Ed Wood. In fact, calling this a film feels like too large a compliment. I only got through it thanks to alcohol and a game of cinematic chicken with some friends. But Things was comically re-released on DVD for the appropriately inept 19 ½th anniversary in an attempt to climb all-time worst movie lists. You’ve got my vote.

275. Bug

In Thriller on September 26, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Dir. William Friedkin

The line between reality and delusion is blurred as an unhinged war veteran and a lonely woman discover a bug infestation.

MY TAKE

Call off the search party, I found Ashley Judd. She was hiding in this twisted little paranoid thriller by William Friedkin (director of The Exorcist and The French Connection). Matching her manic performance is the dependably strange Michael Shannon, who apparently really knows how to drive a woman crazy. The 24-hour seduction-to-insanity turnaround must be a record. But the end just left me scratching my head in bafflement – or maybe I also contracted the Bug.

258. The Day

In Canadian on September 22, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Dir. Douglas Aarniokoski

Five survivors take a stand in what could be humanity’s last battle.

MY TAKE

Post-apocalyptic films are always ruthless about killing off their characters, and The Day is no exception. Uninspired title aside, the film presents a scrappy and empathetic group of survivors escaping an unknown fear to an equally unknown destination. As a result, the plot it little more than kill-or-be-killed, but the mole-in-the-ranks angle keeps the story interesting. Visually, the cinematography depends a bit too much on finding light instead of creating it, and the use of blue tones grows tiresome. Otherwise it’s a competent genre flick.