November 28, 2010

The Last Exorcism (2010)

(aka Cotton)
Release Date: On Blu-ray & DVD now.
Country: USA, France.
Written by: Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland.
Directed by: Daniel Stamm.
Starring: Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr, Louis Herthum and Caleb Landry Jones.

There are few sub-genre's in Horror Filmdom that are tougher to master than Possession/Exorcism. The Exorcist aside, try to think of  some other great movies that involved someone being possessed and their subsequent exorcism, that didn't suck.

See what I mean? The truly good ones are truly few and far between.

Maybe The Exorcist set the bar too high? Maybe there's only so much you can do with that type of story. I don't know. Either way, The Last Exorcism manages to be one of the better efforts in that particular sub-genre, and it's really nice to see one that works rather well for a change.

*We do wish they had kept the original title of the film, Cotton, though. That just sounds really cool, doesn't it?

Don't fight it, baby.
Cotton Marcus is a preacher that doesn't believe in God, gives sermons about banana bread, and has one of the worst first names ever. He also lies and swindles people out of their money, in the name of the Holy Father, which is kinda underhanded since he doesn't actually believe that he exists. He is very charismatic though, so I guess I trust him.

Come on, he looks trustworthy!
After receiving a plea for exorcism help, Cotton and his film crew head to Asscrack, Arkansas or some place like that, to "exorcise" a "possessed" teen girl. He's obviously playing with fire here, because you don't mess around with the simple folk of the south, and here's why; they're God fearin', gun totin', and they don't like you. They're all very well mannered and polite, but if you weren't born in the holler, you taint welcome. Being that Cotton is definitely the kind of guy that overstays his welcome, you can imagine that things don't go so well...

"Go home, Yankee!"
After he performs an exorcism, which he fakes like most women fake the "big o", things get odd and creepy. He begins to wonder if Nell (the girl) is really possessed or if her dad is just crazy and wants to hurt her, or maybe even make sweet love to her. He also wonders if her brother is going to kill him or not. Also, he also wonders if human bodies were meant to contort in such as fashion as Nell wills hers to do also. I like the word also... it adds emphasis.

"The orgy hasn't even started yet, how can you be finished?!?"
Is Nell really possessed, or just bat-shit crazy? Will Cotton use the power of Jeebus to save her sweet little soul? Does she have daddy's bun in the oven? Does Cotton know how to take a hint and git while the gittin's good? I won't spoil what happens here, but suffice it to say that this picture just about says it all:
Yeah, so everyone is pretty much fucked.
As far as the Found Footage genre goes, this one was pretty good. It's was hard at first for us to say if we liked it or not, because we thought we did, but we're pretty sure we didn't. Confused? Us too.

Cotton being a charlatan was a great plot move, and Patrick Fabian played his swindling role well; we liked him for the fact that he had his own set of beliefs, and mostly did what he did for the betterment of the people in his flock. Still, you can't help but totally like him, snake oil salesman that he is, which might be why he was so interesting.

The movie got better as it went along, though it never really kicked into gear as far as scares go. Some of it was creepy, and there were moments of trepidation and held breath on our parts, but it almost seemed like it came too late and didn't really mess with out minds as we'd hoped it would. Had Nell spouted off in some crazy Demonic voice or something, it would have been better. We do understand why she didn't though.

It takes a brave kid to be openly gay in the South. Kudos to him.
The barn scene from Emily Rose, the ending camera work from Blair Witch, the main characters name stolen from the Scream series... this movie is one big thief! Maybe not, but the borrowed elements were pretty glaring.

The last 8 minutes or so of this movie have caused quite the backlash amongst moviegoers. I won't spoil it, because people who spoil twists are a-holes, but I do have to say that it was a decent idea, but came and went like a flash. The whole movie takes its sweet time about doing much of anything, builds a little, pretty much resolves itself, and then BAM! CRAZY TWIST ENDING! It did make me look back and appreciate some of the story elements differently, but they really needed to let it breathe a bit more. It all felt a bit too rushed.

There's some blood here and there throughout the movie, but most of it comes in the form of Sanskrit ramblings on walls and cave drawings, also on walls. Cotton does get a pretty nasty cut though, and one person gets beheaded. You don't really get to see that though.

Nope. This movie was shot in a Dry (as in sex dry) County... although creepy little Nell did try to seduce the camera chick. She wanted it too!

Preachers lie! Also, don't ever butt into people's family business, especially in the deep south. Those people don't cotton much to outsiders. Heh. Cotton.

This is a tough one for us, me in particular, to grade. On one hand, it was enjoyable and added a little twist to the found footage genre. On the other, it felt a bit tame and never really went to the places that I feel it could have gone to had they pushed it... The ending seemed to piss people off too, though I didn't hate it other than the fact that it felt rushed. I don't know. It's a decent little movie with a bunch of flaws. Maybe I need to watch it again and see how it settles with me. You, however, may just like it.

B-

*Addendum- We found that this movie held up well on repeated viewings, and that we actually liked it more the second time around.

You know, she cleans up pretty well.

November 26, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

"Better than the first one, PA 2 will make you mess your pants!"

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1536044/
Sub-Genre- Um... Paranormal?
Cast Members of Note- Katie Featherston, Sprague Grayden, Molly Ephraim, Brian Boland, Michah Sloat, and Abby the Dog.

Did you see the first one? Same thing. Well, it's a bit different, but for the most part it's about a mean ghost being mean to people, and creeping the shit out of me in the process. And I have news for you, it's way creepier than the first one. And better too. Still, it's mostly the same, except that it's roughly 60 days before the events of the first Paranormal Activity, and this time we get to see Katie's step sister and her family walk around their house filming every aspect of their lives too. They must be exhibitionists by nature, because seriously, who films shit that much around the house?

Then again, I'd tape every last second of these two jamming things in their mouths too if I could.
Anywho... after coming home to find their house trashed, they assume it was a break in of some sort, and have the house rigged with a bunch of security cameras. Their Mexican nanny-maid knows better though, and warns the family that "something isn't right" with their new abode, which of course, the Gringo's ignore. Consuela tries to bless the house and chase away the evil spirits, which only serves to get her fired and deported. God, I hate white people.

This is an actual scene from the movie.
Creepy things start to happen to everyone in the house, including the dog! The baby knows something is up, but much like the maid and the constantly barking dog, no one listens to him either. So as things get worse, it becomes apparent that the thousands of dollars spent on the security gear and cameras was a waste of money, as mom and dad refuse to acknowledge what they see on the tapes.

WTF is going on with that kid and the mirror!?!
Will the family survive the spooky antics of the mean ghost? Will Consuela return and save the day? Will Katie show us her wonder puppies, or go in the completely opposite direction and just act creepy? No, kinda, and unfortunately, yes.

Mmm hmm. She sure likes kids...
Better than the first one, PA 2 nearly made me poop my pants. I don't get truly skeeved out very often, but this movie rattled me a few times, and literally made my pucker ring clench. I'm being serious. It clenched. Not fun.

The dynamic of an entire family being menaced opened things up in the sequel, and in my opinion gave the story more places to go, and allowed for more twists and turns to keep us on edge as an audience. Especially compelling are the scenes involving the baby; it doesn't get more helpless than a baby being moved around by an evil spirit, or wandering a house in the middle of the night by itself.

This movie has a serious creep factor going for it too, which I though was much more effective than it was in the first movie. If you thought seeing Katie Featherston being dragged down the hallway in the first movie was terrifying, you haven't seen anything yet. Oh, and there's a particular scare that happens in the kitchen, which I won't ruin, but it literally mad me jump, yell "Fuck" and pee myself a little bit.

Poor Sprague Grayden. Not only was she one of the stars of a doomed TV show Jericho (which I loved), that died an untimely death, but she died a painful and untimely death on another great show which I love, Sons of Anarchy, and it still hurts me to watch that show without her. Add to that the fact that in this movie she's haunted and abused at every turn by an evil spirit, which you know won't end well for her.. the poor girl just cant catch a break! Maybe throw her a romantic comedy or something, Hollywood. She's been through enough already, and deserves a nice break.

Or maybe she could star in a sexy, sweaty drama?
For the second time in as many movies, we the audience are robbed of the one simple thing that we want from these movies, but thus far have yet to receive: gratuitous, topless-ness from Katie Featherston. Pervy or not, you need to be honest and admit that her breasteses are things on wonder, even if they are mostly-hidden wonders. She's a fine actress, and she might even have a golden personality that would captivate me like cocaine captivates Lindsay Lohan, but make with the tits already, Katie. Stop being a prude!

Not so much on the gore, which was fine really.

Nope. We do get to see plenty of wonderful Katie cleavage, and Sprague Grayden in a bath tub, though.

Football? In the Tub? Spot me the ball on your dirty goal line and I'm in!
Don't screw over your step sister, as it will come back to bite you in the ass. Also, never dismiss the Mexican nanny-maid and her evil-fighting abilities!

This was one hell of a sequel, and if you liked the first PA, you will most likely dig this one even more. Sure, the Found Footage genre seems a little passe' by now, but it can still be done effectively, and is done so here. Catch it if you haven't already in theaters, or wait for it to hit DVD, which is really the best way to see a quiet, creepy flick like this one.

A

She really needs to do a nude scene. Maybe something with her taking a long, slow-motion shower, or involving sapphic love of some kind. Maybe she could be "The Breast Whisperer," where every time danger is near, her nipples tingle and she has to take her shirt off and caress herself for answers. If not that, then Porn.