May 31, 2013

The Theatrical Trauma of May 31st

This week brings us the release of the new M.Night Shamalayamanayan movie, After Earth. It stars Will Smith and his son Jaden, the story is by Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith produced it along with her brother, Caleeb Pinkett... so it's basically a Smith dynasty self-masturbation project.

Shamalayanannyiyan's career collapsed in on itself like a dying star once people realized that he sucked, and that his movies were just thinly-veiled self-masturbatory celebrations of their own. We haven't seen a decent flick from him since 2002's Signs, and it looks like this one is going to do nothing to restore audiences faith in the once promising director.

We've always seen Will Smith as a charismatic and funny guy who has the bad tendency to star in bland, generic movie that suck. We like him, it's just that for every Bad Boys or Enemy of the State on his resume, there's also a Men in Black II/III or a Hitch. Or a Wild, Wild West. He's really likeable and talented, we just never, ever feel compelled to see any of his movies anymore.

His kid, Jaden, is another story. Watching the kid act is like watching a piece of wood be painted, and then watching it try to emote as it dries. Mommy and Daddy need to stop producing projects that shove their evil spawn down our throats, because enough is enough. At least daughter Willow is too old to play the title role in Daddy's upcoming Annie remake project, but we're sure that she'll have a song on the soundtrack. Yay.

As painful as After Earth makes this week's Box Office, at least some form of redemption can be found in its Limited Releases.

American Mary is a solid little flick that is far more deserving of a 3400 theater wide release than is the aforementioned Smith Family travesty. Do yourself a favor and catch it on VOD this weekend and you may just find yourselves pleasantly surprised.

Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan looks like a SYFY movie gone retarded, and even it still looks more entertaining than After Earth. It stars Grizzly Adams and Martin Sheen's obscure brother, boasts a cheesy CGI Paul Bunyan strangling a bear, and a mongoloid blue ox which I'm guessing is supposed to be Babe? What the hell, maybe this one will be of the "so bad it's good" variety.

Finally, we have The East, which looks like a capable little Thriller. Brit Marling is hot, and Alexander Skarsgard deserves better roles as an actor than what he's given on True Blood, so we may have to give this one a go. Since it's only in 4 theaters nationwide, we may have to wait for VOD or BD to catch it though.

The moral of this week's story is that we'd rather see anything else than After Earth. Maybe Man of Steel can finally deliver the first truly great blockbuster of the Summer Season when it hits theaters on June 14th. Good God, we truly hope so.

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May 29, 2013

The Evil Dead gets a DVD/BD release date...

... and there's no mention of an Unrated/Director's/Alternate cut, or Deleted Scenes?

Sure, the gore was trimmed down by only a few seconds to secure the film an R-Rating, rather than a dreaded NC-17, but where are all of the scenes that didn't make it into the movie?

You know, like the best one from the trailer where Demon Mia sings "We're gonna get you, time to go to sleep!"

Point is, there was a bunch of alternate/missing footage (not to mention scenes) that didn't make the Theatrical Cut. Now, we understand that it's the filmmakers right to give us their intended versions of their work, but how can such an impressive scene from a trailer be left out of both the Theatrical and Home Video versions of a movie? That "We're gonna get you..." scene was arguably the most effective parts of the ED trailers, and images from that scene were used by tons of websites when they discussed the remake...

They had better not be setting Horror fans up for the double dip. In this day and age of Blu-ray releases coming with a BD/DVD/Ultraviolet/Digital Copy of the movie all in one package, there's no excuse for studios to double dip us anymore. If they release a "Director's Cut" somewhere down the line, we're going to be pissed.

And while we're at it, the trend of movies being marketed with false trailers needs to stop. You can't give fans a trailer that has them saying "I want to see that!" and then not include the inciting scenes from the trailer in the movie.
It pissed us off when PA 3 did it, and now Evil Dead has followed suit. That shit is not only cheap and misleading, but it's not fair.

Bottom line is, as of right now we're not sure wether or not we'll be buying the Evil Dead Blu-ray when it hit stores on July 16th. We were really expecting more from this release, and the fact that it's still missing things that they teased us with leaves us feeling a bit distressed about the whole thing.


May 28, 2013

The Digital Dread Report for May 28

May goes out with a whimper on the DVD/BD release front, and that's alright with us; June is so packed full of must-own titles, that we're happy to give our wallets a rest this week.

must have

At the right price, these three movies could find their way into our collection. Dark Skies was a good watch, Rolling Thunder is a great 70's revenge flick with a great cast, and The Star Chamber is one of our childhood faves. They aren't  day 1 buys for us, but we'll most likely grab them down the road.

rent it
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The rents are a pretty solid bunch this week. We saw and enjoyed Nailbiter, and Priest of Evil and The Numbers Station look promising. Dead Mine is on our list too.

Dr. Who, you can keep. I can't stand Dr. Who, but there are those amongst us here at THC who are Fanatics for the cheesy British TV show, so maybe it's just me.

skip it
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From their trailers alone, both of these movies look pretty bad, especially 9 Days... There's definitely an audience for these types of flicks, but it ain't me.

Like I said, we'll save our money for June.

May 26, 2013

Black Rock (2013)

(aka The Hike part 2)
Release Date: In Limited Release now.
Country: USA.
Written by: Mark Duplass and Katie Aselton.
Directed by: Katie Aselton.
Starring: Katie Aselton, Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth.

The first thing that came to mind as we started watching Black Rock, was how similar it felt to a movie called The Hike. The Hike is a 2011 British flick about a group of girls that head out into the isolated woods for a girls weekend, only to be set upon and brutalized by a group of normal looking dudes... There are differences between the two movies, but they are also very similar.

Our review of The Hike can be found HERE.

Aside from the familiarity issue, we were really looking forward to seeing Black Rock. Katie Aselton and husband Mark Duplass are great on FX's The League, and they've both written and directed some decent movies before, so their joint-foray into the Horror genre felt like it was bound to be a good one.

Turns out, it was a middle of the road type of joint-foray.

The idea of three girlfriends heading out to a deserted island for a weekend of drinking and sleeping on the beach seems a far fetched one to me, but when the girls in question are this hot, I'm willing to suspend my disbelief and just see how things play out.

Kate Bosworth has two BFF's in the form of Lake Bell and Katie Aselton, both of whom are feuding with each other because one banged the other's boyfriend a few years back. Determined to heal old wounds, Kate tells them that she has cancer and only has up to 46 months to live, which totally shocks her BFF's, and makes them decide to put aside their bitter hatred of one another, to give their BFF one last cold, isolated weekend on a shitty island... but surprise, she doesn't really have cancer! It was all a clever ruse. Some BFF she is.

That all unfolds and is resolved in the first 7 minutes of the movie. Yeah.

"No cancer LOL"
My weekend would have been done right there, because I would have been like "bitch, you're shady" and I would have left. Being girls though, they all decide to hop on a boat and head out to Shitty Island to bond despite the deceit, because girls kinda thrive on drama. Once there, they argue, go for a hike, argue some more, call each other whores, and are all like "bring it then, bitch!" Don't worry though, because they have a heartfelt apology session and squash all of the drama by the 20 minute mark. Yeah.

Slow-witted, or really high... you decide.
Right at the aforementioned 20 minute mark, three shady looking fuckers show up, heavily armed and looking really suspicious, and are quickly invited by the basket-case of the group to join them because "we've got a shit-ton of liquor." Sounds like some more great decision making by the three hot chicks who are basically helpless and alone on an island, miles from any sort of help. These dudes are also recently dishonorably discharged Soldiers who just got back from Iraq... so, they are probably not in the mood to deal with some dumb bitches.

"You gon' get raped."
Later that night when the basket-case of the group gets drunk, throws herself at the head creeper, then wanders off into the woods all by her drunk lonesome, he follows her, tries to get some sugar, and she ends up caving his head in with a rock. His friends are none to pleased with this, and decide to kill the girls all "Hadji-style," which all just felt really out of place to us.

Typical backwoods Horror tropes ensue.

They look awful without makeup...
Katie Aselton directed the hell out of this Black Rock, even though there wasn't much of a story to work with. It's a technically sound little flick that set a pretty decent atmosphere and gave us some smooth visuals, despite what were guessing was a small budget.

Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth were the highlights of this movie. Both are extremely likable and come off as such here, despite Bosworth's frustrating lack of sense towards the end. Katie Aselton is someone we usually like too, but her character wasn't very likable, although we suppose that was intended.

It seems as if everyone involved in making this movie had a blast doing so, that's at least pretty cool.

Aaw, they look so happy.
The premise of three hot chicks taking a boat out to an isolated island for a weekend of camping and roughing it, just made no sense to us. If they had been man-chicks, we could have bought into it a lot more, but these were pretty girls. I'll even go so far as to say they were girly-girls. They could have at least written a cabin into the story, because a gang of girly-girls might just head out to a secluded cabin on an isolated island for a... no. We still wouldn't have bought it.

And why in the poster does Lake Bell look all kinds of menacing, as if her character has some sort of deep dark secret that's going to drive the movie forward somehow? She doesn't, by the way. No one does. (Drive the movie forward by way of character, that is.)

And if you're going to make a Thriller that relies heavily on story, then make it a good story. If your story is weak, then you go heavier on the action or gore. Hell, most Horror flicks throw in gratuitous sex and nudity to cover up the fact that they mostly suck... So, solid story, or solid visual titillation; you have to give audiences one thing or the other if you expect them to buy what you're selling. This movie kinda half-assed both sides of that fence.

Come on, man. Titillate us!
I can imagine that the whole "recently dishonorably discharged Soldier" element of the plot might draw the ire of some viewers. I'm guessing that these Soldiers are supposedly all suffering from some sort of PTSD and/or are in pissy moods because their Government just betrayed them, either of which seems like bad plot devices to be throwing into a Horror flick these days. Just my two cents, but it almost felt like a very subtle statement of some kind, and a misplaced one at that.

There are a few incidents of gun violence, and various characters get punched with fists and/or rocks, but the blood & gore are rather tame in this one. Black Rock is all about the suspenseful thrills, not visceral ones.

In one scene, Katie Aselton and Lake Bell strip out of their wet clothes, and huddle together for warmth. Naked. Sounds epic, doesn't it? Well, most of it took place in the shadows, and there was absolutely nothing sexy about the scene, so as good as it sounds on paper, there was nothing graphic of exciting about it. Shame, that, because Lake Bell has some world-class boobs. Seriously, Lake Bell does not fuck around when it comes to being hot and buxom.

God Damn it all, kiss her!
It pains me to say that we didn't really like Black Rock all that much. We love the cast and the behind the camera talent involved with the movie, but the movie itself just seems to retread old, familiar waters, and never really brings much excitement or terror to the party. Had it pushed things a bit more, or had it been a deeper experience, it would have worked well. Alas, it just felt too safe to us.

In the end, Black Rock is just another hollow, barely memorable backwoods Horror flick that smarts in its failings all the more because it wasted such a good cast. Duplass and Aselton are still faves of ours, but this little project of theirs did absolutely nothing for us.


The triumvirate of hotness in Black Rock is a powerful one indeed, and we especially love Lake Bell. That girl is just a special, special breed of hot. Odd name though. Makes me think of summer camp.