fredag 18 januari 2013

10 movies you need to see

A found footage horrormovie that starts like it's trying to be a complete list of all the genres faults but punches you in the gut halfway through and goes completely insane! My review here.

This french microbudgeted monstermovie deserves more attention than it got, every selfrespecting monstermoviefan should own this. To quote my own review, Think Wrong turn meets Tremors. Without the rednecks. In France.

Another french movie, this one with a Lovecraft tint and set in basically one room, a prison cell. Great acting and good characters makes this essential viewing. My review here.

Western/horror mashups are rare and I sincerily wish there was more, especially since The Burrowers show that you can really do something good with it. It might be slow paced but the dread feels more real than most. My review here.

This one is hard to describe, think Alien/The Thing but set on a cold and wet Irish farm with mutant cows! Sounds preposterous, but it isnt - on the contrary. Isolation is an excellent dreary little gem of a horrormovie. Review here

The hands down best horrormovie ever to come out of Scandinavia. It might not answer all your questions about what is going on but the ride is so delicious that you really don't care. Review here.

The second best horrormovie ever to come out of Scandinavia. Skjult takes it's haunted house story into the dark Norwegian woods and hands out some pretty awesome chills. Review here.

A young French woman is impregnated by a weird parasite that forces her to kill people to feed it as it grows inside her belly. Sounds like a Troma movie but is an excellent comic book style gorefest of epic proportions. Review here.

Here is a little gem that I tend to talk about a lot, a french horror/scifi/musical which for some reason is really hard to get, and that is a real shame. Tentacled aliens and Vanessa Paradis, how can you go wrong? Review here

While The Carrier is not exactly a "good" movie as far as acting and production values go, it is still one of the more stranger experiences out there without going down the avant garde / just got out of film school route. Like if David Lynch did an adaption of Stephen King. Review here

onsdag 9 januari 2013

The Squad

Trailers, dont you just love them? The way they can lure you into their world, making you believe that what you are about to watch is an entirely different experience than you are getting. Colombian movie El páramo aka The Squad is a perfect example of this, with a trailer promising some sort of supernatural military horror and when end up with something not quite so. Or do we?

A squad of nine special forces soldiers are sent up into the Colombian mountains to investigate a remote military outpost who hasn't been heard from in several days. A guerilla-attack is suspected so tension is high. Upon arriving they find that the whole crew is dead or missing, and this is where paranoia sets in, everyone expecting guerilla soldiers sniping at them any moment from the surrounding mist-shrouded mountainside. The situation changes however when they find an insane woman behind a bricked up wall filled with wards against evil. Then a logbook is found, one that implies that the woman is a witch and has brought a curse upon them. Some of the soldiers believe that she is behind the deaths of the crew and when she escapes and a soldier is found dead, mayhem ensues.

I was really hoping for, as the trailer suggested, a tense supernatural horror where the soldiers go up against nasty supernatural creatures but this is not what The Squad is about. Instead we get a nailbiting psychological horrormovie where the threat remains somewhat ambigious throughout. And that's the beauty of this movie, if you are into this kind of horror and can accept not getting every single answer spelled out for you in capital letters, i e: THE BUTLER DID IT. We never really know who or what is causing all of this, is there some kind of supernatural prescense here or are the soldiers going insane? The woman is real, but who is she? Is she the cause of the deaths or are the soldiers just seeing things where there arent any? People start to die, sometimes by unknown causes and sometimes by the hand of a former comrade. Sure, there are more questions than answers here but the mood and atmosphere is as bleak and full of dread as it is here, it doesnt really matter. Your mind is prefectly capable of making up what might be in the blank spaces (And if it isn't, then you should be watching Transformers 3 instead). The locations are striking, the armybase on a small mountain peak surrounded by trees, rock and fog, all shot in a lovely grey palette with the corridors of the base itself dull with streaks of red from the former crew.

Ok, enough praise now. Not everything works. The actors are all fine and decently sketched out as all coming from different parts of Colombian life. The problem is that all are dressed in the same dirty military garb and are at times, mostly in the beginning, somewhat hard to tell apart. This gets better as the movie slows down after the first really tense 30 minutes but if you arent paying attention it will probably get a bit annoying. The ambigiuty of the whole thing can be stumbling and the ending just might kill the movie for you, I'll leave it at that. Personally I found it good, if somewhat cliched, but I can see why people arent liking it. But other than those small flaws I cant do anything else than to recommend this, Jaime Osorio Marquez has crafted a tense movie with more atmosphere than most movies I've seen in the last year or so. It's just too bad that it is marketed as an entirely different movie than it really is. I mean, just look at that dvd cover.

tisdag 8 januari 2013

The arrival of Wang (2011)

Gaia, a young Italian woman working as a Mandarin translator gets a phone call about a well-paid job that has to be done immediately and in great secrecy. She is picked up by car, blindfolded and taken to an undisclosed location where she is to act as a intermediary in an interrogation. The whole setup is strange from the start and she is taken into a dark room, not allowed to see the person she is supposed to translate and the interrogator is more than a little aggressive in his questioning. She finally has enough and demands to see who it is she is talking to, and the man reluctantly agrees. It turns out, to some major discomfort and quite a bit of panicking, that the subject isn’t actually a human but a tentacled alien with the name Wang who only speaks mandarin (since it is the most spoken language on Earth) to make communication easier. Wang states that his mission is only of peace and exchange of cultures but the interrogator refuses to believe him and torture is soon brought into the picture, much to Gaia’s dismay. Why is Wang here? Is Wang as peaceful in his intentions as he claims to be or is the interrogator right with his brutal methods?

Antonio and Marco Manettis L'arrivo di Wang is what I call classic Sci-fi, pretty much nailing the feeling of your favorite sci-fi novella or one of the better Outer limits episodes. A breath of fresh air actually, going back to old school pulp and although there are some budget related limitations (mainly some of the special effects), the concept works really well due to a well written script that keeps you intrigued throughout the entire movie, culminating in one of the best final lines in years. The script could have used some trimming, there are some parts toward the end that feel a bit "filler-ish" and going back to the Outer limits reference, this would have been a perfect 50-60 minute tv-episode. Don’t let that detract you from watching this, L'arrivo di Wang aka The Arrival of Wang is good stuff with some solid acting from the leads and a well animated tentacled monster, something that could have killed this movie from the moment he was shown. The reason I picked up this movie was the fun setup and it pulls it off with gusto, especially since it is mostly set in the interrogation room. Well written old school sci-fi, you know you want it.

lördag 5 januari 2013

A night in the woods (2011)

I am one of the few people that haven't given up on the Found footage genre. It is a tool of producing horror on the cheap that if staged right can be very effective. When made right we get the good stuff like Cloverfield and last years Evidence but we also get the kind of stuff that really give the genre a bad name, the kind that makes me join the chanters of hate. Like A night in the woods.

Brody (Scoot McNairy from Monsters) is an american living in the UK who has quite a fixation with filming every little part of his life, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, Kerry. When they go on a camping-trip to Dartmoor they bring along her male cousin, causing a lot of tension (for reasons we learn later on). The audience realize pretty early that they aren't just cousins, but Brody has already taken to disliking him. After watching the trio bicker for more than half of the movie night falls, Brody vanishes into the woods, Kerry starts to make up for lost time with her ex in one of the tents and soon weird things start to happen, possibly related to an old legend of a hunter that hunts and executes sinners. Not that you actually care about any of it, that train left pretty early.

If you want an audience to enjoy your movie there are a couple of rules. The most important one, in my opinion, is to have characters that you root for - characters that you actually want to survive whatever ordeal you put them through. A night in the woods totally fails in this regards. It tries to develop some sort of triangular drama between the three main characters but all we get to see are psychopathic tendencies. Brody, who I suppose is to be the hero of some sort is just a disturbed voyeur with a previous history of abusing women. Kerry, who obvious has some mental issues, has no qualms about bringing an ex on their camping-trip  lying to her boyfriend about it and then goes on to jumping in the sack with the "cousin". Leo the ex is an asshole who is shown breaking into his ex:s home when she is not around and just being an all-round dick. All these ingredients, combined with an awfully slow pace, proceeds to almost kill all the fun for whoever poor sap that decides to watch this. It does get a bit better after 45 minutes, when the horror elements start to kick in. The last half hour is a decent experience with a well shot chase scene in the dark but the ambiguity of the whole thing combined with the totally uninteresting script makes it really not worth watching. Found footage at its dullest.

Too bad, since the location is truly awesome - one of those forest straight out of a fairy tale full of moss covered boulders and gnarly trees with branches that look like they would pluck you off the ground any moment. This actually gave me some hope for the movie but in the end all we get is a shitload of running about in the dark with shaking cameras held by people we really want to die so that the movie can end. Watch something else instead.