September 28, 2010

Review: Monsters (2010)

"Excellent movie, misleading title..."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1470827/
"Alien life forms have spread throughout the southern U.S-Mexico border region leading to the quarantine of half of Mexico. The U.S. and Mexican military are battling to contain the creatures, with a wall stretching along the American border. The story follows Andrew, an American photojournalist helping his wealthy employer's daughter, Samantha, get back to America. Their journey takes them across Central America and eventually into the 'infected zone."  

Monsters is a great little movie. If you liked Cloverfield or District 9, Monsters has just about the exact same feel to it, which is a good thing in my book, and why I think it has such a compelling appeal. It feels real. It's a glimpse of our world, our normal world, which has been inundated with abnormal forces which pose a threat to our humanity, whether realistically or perceived.

This is pervieved reality.
The problem, and basically the only one, with this movie is in the title; Monsters isn't really about monsters at all. There are monsters in it of course, a few anyway, but the movie is more about how we as people live in a monster inhabited world, rather than a group of people fighting for their lives against said threat. There is little external conflict involving monsters, and a ton of internal conflict both between the main characters, and within themselves.

This movie is a metaphor for something, I think.
What we do get of the monsters is pretty awesome, and I do think that the minimalistic approach to our exposure to them makes the movie work better as a film, if not a monster/horror flick, but some people are going to feel cheated, expecting a movie packed with action that just isn't there. Please understand, I think this is an excellent little movie. I loved the hell out of it, and really it didn't step wrong the whole time for me. I can however see how many people may be pissy after seeing this movie, expecting a glut of monsters and getting more of a relationship/characters in internal conflict study instead. This movie isn't for those people though. They should go see Saw 43, and enjoy the hollow, yet visually jam-packed spectacle of it all.

Hats off to Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy (Yes, his name is Scoot, not Scott) neither of whom I really knew much about before this movie, but did a killer job in the main roles. I empathized with them and cared about what they were going through, and managed to become invested in them and their burgeoning relationship. Whitney is really easy to look at too, and makes me want to go back and check out Mandy Lane again, just to see her have that near lesbian experience with Amber Heard... Yes, everything comes back to hot chicks for me. Stop judging! And really quick here, why Scoot? It's hard enough knowing that there's a guy in Hollywood that calls himself McG, and now we have a Scoot? Cool guy, good actor, but come on with that name!

Don't cover that pretty face, Whitney.
This movie is for film geeks, Indie lovers. People who need more substance and less flash from their flicks. I personally think this movie is for everyone, or at least should be; it has a great premise and setting, characters we come to really give a shit about, some pretty awesome (sparse as they may be) monster encounters, and an ending that made me think, then go back and look to make sure that I wasn't getting it wrong.

It made me tense at times, and was scary in that it felt so damn real, and the monsters were so large and imposing. It sucked me in. Monsters is a subdued Cloverfield, a District 9 light if you will. And while it may be light on the action and monster-filled carnage, it's not light on much else. If you don't mind more story than action, you won't have a problem. If deliberate pacing and a slow build up with less of a visual payoff makes you mad, you will.

"But what does it all mean?"
See it now on Comcast On Demand (a month before it hits theaters), or catch it on October 29th on a big screen near you, in limited release. Either way, see it. It's a different approach to monster movies that is definitely worth a look.

A

Monsters is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004BZ5AMS/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B004BZ5AMS&linkCode=as2&tag=thehorclu0a-20&linkId=CEBNTQA352BBMCNV

Watching Whitney Able on screen for 90 minutes was not a bad thing at all.

September 27, 2010

Frozen (2010)

"Frozen will make you afraid of snow, scared to ski and hesitant to play with wolves..."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1323045/
Sub-Genre- Ski Lift terror!
Cast Members of Note- Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers, a pack of mean wolves, and a cameo by Kane Hodder!

Frozen is a story about a pack of rather cunning wolves that roam the woods surrounding a remote ski lodge, setting traps for unaware skiers, all in the name of murder! That's right. Let's just say that the wolves turn the table on we humans, voraciously hunt dumb slope-bunnies and ski-bums, only to kill and eat them in the end. We are the hunters, not you, you glorified dogs! Then again, if we humans are dumb enough to fall for a wolf trick...

Yep, you're going to end up as dog treats!
It's our fault really, we ask for it; we bribe our way onto ski lifts, we decide to go for "just one more run" as the lodge is closing for the week, and because it's so rad, we get trapped on the ski lift and piss ourselves, creating a small slick of piss-ice in our pants that makes us even more uncomfortable and miserable. Instead of just saying "Hey, good day man, what say we leave now" when it makes sense, we push our luck and set ourselves up to be fodder for hungry wolves.

Did you enjoy your last run? To wolves sure did.
Once we realize we're trapped and all alone in the sub-zero dark, not to mention hundreds of feet off of the ground, what do we do? We cry. We piss ourselves. We argue. We whine. We try to have a threesome that just doesn't work because the guys are "turtling" in the frigid cold. Then, in a flash of pure genius, we decide "hey, let's just jump down." Awesome plan for everyone involved except for our legs; they're the ones who break and shoot through our skin, and then refuse to help us walk... mainly because they can't.

Ouch.
So, with one of us crippled, another piss-covered, and yet another scared to shimmy 12 feet across a wire to a frigging ladder, we freeze to death and deteriorate into permafrost. At night, the ice-dogs come, and they want blood! This is what we, as humans, do to ourselves. How can we possibly escape such a situation? How can we ever respect wolves after they make it so clear that they hate us? How can we get rid of this uncomfortable piss-ice?

Don't ask me, I'm actually a wolf, and I don't know your human ways.

Sans sheep clothing.
How they made a 90 minute movie about 3 people stuck on a stalled ski lift interesting, I'll never know. They pulled it off though, and it managed to thoroughly entertain us. Frozen is a lot like Burning Bright (which we recently reviewed) in that they both have crazy premises' that seem impossible to pull off, and yet both films do exactly that, and they do it well.

This movie is bleak, depressing and tense as hell, and we felt spent after watching it. It's not fun to watch if you have a fear of heights either, as I felt my goods tingle and clench up on me far too often as they swung, hung, and fell. *Not my goods, but the people in the movie.

Watching three kids slowly begin to realize that are really screwed and look to have no hope of getting home un-scarred, if at all made us feel fairly hopless. Movies like this, that are grounded in reality, always seem to resonate more with our fear meters... because this shit could actually happen. If it did, it may well play out exactly like it does in the movie. Now that is terrifying to think about.


This is why I always wear my mittens when it's cold.
One last run? The ski lodge, which you have basically cheated your way in to, is closing imminently, but you feel the need to go int he opposite way of everyone else; into the dark, lonely, bitter cold woods. Go ahead, take your last run. I'll be right here at the warm, safe lodge, sipping cocoa and not dying. Dummy.

***SPOILERS*** So your friend dies because you're too scared to shimmy 12 feet across the cable above you, to a waiting ladder that's connected to the ground, but later on, you shimmy across in a matter of minutes and reach the ground safely... congratulations on killing your friend, you procrastinating pussy.

NOT better late then never. Not for all of you, anyway.
Plenty of nasty frostbite and wolf-induced violence, and some of it was cringe-worthy. Who knew frostbite could be so gruesome?

Why would you touch the bar with your bare skin?!?
None. Really, boobs had no place in this movie. I can't believe I just typed those words. Shame on me.

Don't push your luck. Also, cheaters never win. Wolves on the other hand, always seem to come out on top of things. So I guess don't push your luck with wolves is the ultimate message here.

Frozen is a cool (no pun intended) little movie that makes you feel like you're the one trapped on that ski lift for the entire running time, letting you experience a bit of the dread and panic that the characters themselves are drowning in. The best thing I can say about the movie is that it gets the job done while feeling fresh and new. In a Horror genre full of stale cliches and gluts of far-too-similar movies, that's a very good thing. Grab it on DVD when it comes out tomorrow, and enjoy.

B+

Cute little Emma Bell will next be starring in Final Destination part 12... at least we get to see more of her on screen?

Now if we could only get her to star in some sort of Zombie project...

September 22, 2010

Suck (2010)

"Stylish and fun, Suck does not suck at all... although is does fall a bit short of rockin' good time..."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1323605/
Sub-Genre- Vampires/Horror Comedy/Horror Musical?
Cast Members of Note- Jessica Pare, Malcolm McDowell, Nicole De Boer, Dave Foley, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins, and Moby.

A lame Canadian rock band called The Winners -yes, that's actually their name- just can't seem to find a break in the music biz. Their songs are lame, they look lame, they're kinda geeky... and their only saving grace is the hot-ass bass player, Jennifer. That's why it's called Suck, because the band really sucks. Except for her. Also, it might be a subtle allusion to oral sex.

Suck, indeed.
Luckily for the band, Jennifer is a total whore and takes off one night with a feminine-looking guy, with hopes of getting filled out like a job application, only to be turned into a Vampire. I guess that's the price you pay in Canada for being slutty! She comes back to the band even hotter than before, but far too pale and desperately hungry for human blood. That's why it's called Suck, because that's how Vampires eat.

She's a messy eater.
As Jennifer turns each band member into a Vampire, they become more and more popular, eventually garnering themselves a record deal. Of course the price for their new found fame is leaving a trail of bodies along their tour route, which no one even seems to notice, so, moot point. The band even kills a DJ on air an no one says a word... which makes no sense, because their music still sucks, so why let them get away with murder? Why am I even asking about this? It's in the script. That's why it's called Suck, because the script kinda does.

Oh Henry, you so crazy!
From here on out it turns into a typical "Van Helsing descendant shows up to save the day" kind of flick. Yeah. Can the band kill the master Vampire, and escape their new found curse? Can Iggy Pop talk sense into Joey, the whiny lead singer? Will their music ever stop sucking? I don't know about any of that, but Alice Cooper looks pretty fucking awesome with black wings.

Cooper is God! Well, one of them anyway.
Suck is a fun movie. It could have been great, a Cult Classic even, but its lack of action and jumbled feel made it fall a bit short in the end. Some will still call it a Cult Classic, I'm sure, and I can see why they would, but Cult Classic is a heavy moniker to put on something that doesn't really live up to that kind of hype.

Suck is pretty sharp and interesting visually, although it never maintains the sharpness for too long, instead reverting to some cheesy camera editing tricks to add to the "creativity." We were fond of the use of color and tone, but not so fond of the whole bobble head/accelerated movement thing.

The cast is awesome, from Dave Foley to Malcolm McDowell, and Rock Gods Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Alice Copper... and Moby? I've never been a huge Moby fan, but I have to admit that he was pretty funny in this movie. If nothing else, it was fun to see the Rock Royalty acting all crazy throughout this one.

This is the funniest guy in the movie.
Nothing really happened. I mean, there was a lot of singing, some good funny bits, some blood here and there, but the plot really didn't go anywhere. There is a plot, and it moves forward, but it doesn't ever seem to accomplish anything. It just felt flat and uneventful. Maybe it was because it never decided if it was more Comedy, Horror, or a Quirky Indie? Confused, we were.

The super fast vibrating movement thing. Why do so many filmmakers feel the need to use that trick, amongst others, in their movies these days? This film was visually interesting enough and was more than a bit ruined for us by the more-than-occasional vibrating head or stuttered/quick-stop motion movement.

There is some blood and gore to be had here, though it's all given to us in a fairly tongue in cheek manner. Still, it's there.

Though the sexy Jessica Pare has been naked on film before, no such luck here. For shame. Same goes for the pixie-like Nicole De Boer. Methinks Canadian Filmmakers play it too safe!

ME-OW!
Canadian rock bands kinda suck. Not you though, Glass Tiger. We still haven't forgotten you, so long after you've been gone. Also, Alice Cooper is awesome. Ditto Henry Rollins and Iggy Pop.

Suck didn't suck at all, and in many ways was an enjoyable (if flawed) viewing experience. The movie is definitely played for laughs more so than it is Horror, and it even delves into musical territory every so often, which wasn't all that painful to sit through... mostly. Stylish, fun, and amusing, Suck is definitely one to check out if you like your Horror a bit on the quirky side.

C+

Jessica Pare makes for a really sexy Vampire... next time though, be naked.