I’m not what you would call a fan of Jason Statham, I’ve always felt that the highlight of his career for me will always be his second movie ‘Snatch’ (2000) a film I don’t particularly like; but am willing to jump to the defence of, solely based upon Statham’s performance, he has a certain cheeky charm that you can only really find in the English. Admittedly it helps that he had some good material to work with, but I don’t see anybody else being able to pull that same role off with such aplomb.
Since those early days he’s set himself up as the new Hollywood hard man, something his ‘Snatch’ co-star Vinnie Jones would like to have achieved but ended up getting bogged down through repeated typecasting as pretty reprehensible individuals, one particular low point being his character McStarly in ‘The Condemned’ (2007) or maybe I’m just to sensitive.
Statham on the other hand seems to have gone in the opposite direction and cornered the market on playing lovable hard men, I didn’t get to see Parker (2013) but it’s described on IMDB as being about ‘a thief with a unique code of ethics, where he won’t steal from the poor or hurt the innocent’ This is quite a departure from the cold methodical criminal we find in the Richard Stark penned Source Material, and the two previous film adaptations; 1967’s ‘Point Blank’ and the terrible ‘Payback’ (1999). However this shows a definite trend in the way a production is adapted to suit Statham and the character type he’s cultivated, ‘Wild Card’ is no different. In ‘Wild Card’ Statham plays Nick Wild an Ex-Military man, Las Vegas Chaperone for hire, and doer of favours, Who Finds himself helping a young woman get revenge on a rapist gangster and all the subsequent trouble that comes with this.
I mentioned Parker because that character was born in the Crucible of American Pulp fiction, the progenitor for film noir and therefore the great grandfather of ‘Wild Card’ admittedly ‘Wild Card’ is not essentially a Neo-Noir but I would say that it’s as dammed near close enough, to be considered as such. It just falters at the last hurdle by refusing to fully grasp the cold misanthropic world view of a fully fledged Noir.
The main elements are there though, the lighting, the corruption, and to some extent the moral darkness, however once the original evil deed is done the villains become nothing more than comic foils, humorous punching bags for Statham to lamp for our cinematic pleasure, and for a connoisseur of action films the three fight scenes are a joy, suitably stylish and visceral and placed at just the right time to keep the pace moving and break up the character building. However for all this action and fistycuffery ‘Wild Cards’ weakness is that there is no real feeling of threat there, not once did I worry for Wild. So then the experience of watching ‘wild Card’ becomes much like playing a video game, in that you know that by the end of the experience; you will win and all will be well.
This feeling is not only evident in the fight scenes, and the threats from the gangsters, we also see it in Wilds personal life. There’s a particular scene when we learn of wilds gambling addiction seemingly against the odds the earns half a million Dollars at Black Jack, this is his dream he talks about buying 5 years, 5 years to sail around Corsica; 5 years where he will be away from the seedy hell hole that is Vegas, a place that he has suddenly found himself in desperate need to leave because of the gangsters that are looking to get revenge on him. Yet at the last minuet just before he cashes in his chips he goes back to the tables, and inevitably looses it all. However watching this play out I knew he was going to loose it all; it’s cliché, and this cliché led to the inherent feeling that it doesn’t matter, because come the conclusion he will have enough to retire: somehow. One nice touch that takes place after this is a character mentions to Wild that he heard he was up half a million dollars then lost it, only to continue to remark about him being two hundred thousand up in his casino only a month ago. It’s a subtle line mentioned in passing but it builds a lot of character around Wild without pushing it into your face. There are other instances of this happening in the film; these soft touches of discrete dialogue are an excellent example of good writing.
Despite the predictability, and the clichés ‘Wild Card’ is not a bad film, it’s by no means a good film either, but it’s definitely an enjoyable experience. Statham plays Wild well, he brings a likeable charm to a man who seems to want to be the complete hard boiled ‘the world can go to hell’ tough guy but doesn’t quite have the heart to do it. So much so that I actually feel that he was even more of a sympathetic character than Holly the girl who the gangsters rape, she badgers and bullies Wild into getting revenge for her despite the fact that she knows it will put him in danger. She essentially plays the role of the Femme Fatale, a destructive seductive woman who causes the fall down of the men around her. It seemed an odd choice to me, for them to portray her this way, I imagine that they wanted her to be a strong female character despite her ordeal, and I agree the woman as a victim role is played out and boring. However I feel they could have made her a little more likable.
The location gives the director the freedom to play around with colours in the lighting something I’ve noticed an increase of recently, my personal avocation for the style adopted by Mario Bava and Argento are well known and this is a welcome sight. Personally I feel that rather than a cinema release the world built up in this movie would have been perfect for a series of high end TV movies; it’s the perfect vehicle for a continuing series, and as such I felt like I wanted more, which is pretty good grounds to base a recommendation on.
Fresh off the presses and ready to catch all the cash you can throw at it this half term is Disney’s ‘Epic’…….what, wait it’s not Disney; it’s a DreamWorks film?? Sorry DreamWorks ‘Epic’ which feels so much like a Disney movie I’m wondering if the DreamWorks magic has finally worn off and they have been reduced to producing movies that follow the tired and boring formula that Disney was recently saved from by Pixar.
Epic is about a young girl called M.K who after the death of her mother goes to live with her eccentric scientist father, who’s thrown away his career and relationship with his wife and daughter to pursue his belief that there is an advanced civilization of tiny people living in the forest. So he spends his entire time roaming the land wearing Wayne Szalinski’s (Honey I Shrunk the Kids 1989) magnifying helmet.
Naturally he is correct. Right under his nose and just out of sight there is a war going on between the forces of good and evil. The powers of growth and putrification, a little like fern gully only the putrification is a natural force as pollution is no longer a hot topic.
Once every 100 years queen of the forest chooses a successor to continue the life of the land and to hold off the Rot, which is embodied by the Boggins; a race of goblin like creatures that are led by the evil king Mandrake. Who looks remarkably like Hades from Disney’s Hercules minus the awesomeness that is James Woods.
While this is going on M.K gives up on refreshing her relationship with her father leaving him a note telling him as much, she inadvertently lets her fathers dog escape and has to chase him through the woods, just as the Boggins have made their big push to stop a ceremony designed to choose the new queen. M.K stumbles upon the mortally wounded queen Tara who entrusts her with the pod that contains the new queen and shrinks her down to miniature, so she can adventure and caper with the rest of the good woodland folk; in this case the heroic leafmen, and save the day, naturally.
I know that this is a children’s film and I shouldn’t judge it too harshly but I have come to expect more from DreamWorks, they have consecutively shown themselves to be the intelligent alternative to Disney, but now they seem to be loosing their edge. I can only describe ‘Epic’ as being Disneyish, it’s ruled by sentimentality, and has a high schmaltz factor. We have families coming together, lost love, tragedy, and growing to become a better person. Gone is the knowing sense of humour, the post modern nods (bar one scene involving a killer mouse) and slightly risky humour such as Shrek’s (2001) Gingerbread Man Rambo Torture scene. Instead we get a comedy ghetto slug and an Irish snail, whose capering is akin to that of Jar Jar Binks in its level of annoyance. Oh and Steven Tyler playing Mel Brooks as a caterpillar, which totally threw me.
On another note I’m still trying to figure out if the queen was supposed to be black? She has a dark skin tone and Beyonce’s voice but features wise; she looks Caucasian. Also it’s probably fair to point out that she is the only dark skinned character in the entire film; it seems a little odd. I guess no matter what Beyonce does people can’t stop themselves from turning her white (Seriously Google it, they love to Photoshop that girls skin colour).
The action sequences are ok we get an enjoyable bird racing sequence that although short seems to have been directly influenced by the pod race in The Phantom Menace, albeit with a toad replacing Jabba as the races corrupt organiser. ‘Epic’ moves at a fair pace and the action sequences are pretty good to the point that during one of the battles when all the leafmen are pointing their boys at the enemy I was waiting for someone to say ‘on my word unleash hell’ sadly this doesn’t happen. I guess you gotta stay kid friendly.
One problem with this film is that there is a fair amount of back tracking on the narrative with M.K visiting her father’s house twice while in shrunken form, and the queens’ death being played twice. It seems a little lazy as these events happen fairly close to each other.
Ultimately though I will say despite my gripes ‘Epic’ does what it’s supposed to do. There where plenty of giggles ad laughs coming from the assorted children that were in the cinema, although there was also a few unhappy children at some of the scarier moments. And it looks stunning the water and some of the luminance effects where breathtaking to see, but the pretty pictures didn’t hide the lacklustre story. I would definitely say this one is mainly for the kids.
If you are one of those parents concerned about the effects of violence upon a small mind then I’d say yes this is violent albeit mildly. Maybe you should take them to see something a little softer in tone, and more comedy based, such as the excellent Ice Age films.
As a last point I have to give this film honourable mention for actually managing to squeeze in an Apple product; something I’ve been noticing more and more, yet this is the first time I’ve seen an Ipod in an animated feature.
It’s that time of year again. And in the words of Mr Garrison Merry Fucking Christmas.
It truly is the season and all that shit. If you can’t guess I pretty much dislike Xmas I see it as a shrill pointless exercise in capitalism. You can’t deny that the forces of mass commerce have ambushed this secular holiday and caused it to become nothing more than a quest to spend as much as you can, in as short an amount of time as possible. The fact that Facebook lights up with comments about seeing the Coke advert for the first time truly meaning its Christmas proves my point well fuck this holiday and all it’s bullshit. Personally I prefer Halloween; there are no religious connotations, and no obligation to buy people things that they never really wanted. Halloween is a positive force it brings people together to celebrate and generally have a good time, Christmas is just a time for arguments and unhappiness; you force families that have gone most of the year without seeing each other to spend lots of time together, and then you add sweet lady liquor to the equation; you know shits gonna happen. I have an ex-Girlfriend who’s uncle kindly fractured her collar bone and punched her in the mouth breaking two teeth one Christmas day so yes fuck this holiday, but more importantly fuck him, fuck him with a barbed wire dildo.
About the only good thing to come from Christmas are Christmas Movies. We’ve all got our favourite personally I love National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (1989) and of course Elf (2003). A film that has confirmed my personal convictions, having watched it years a go I couldn’t help but say goddamn Jovie’s hot every time she came on screen, only finding out a few months a go that, that was Zooey Deshanel, proving that I have always loved her even before i knew who she was. Having said that I still think New Girl is shit.
But I’m not interested in those traditional family style Christmas Movies, what I’m here for is to tell you about the darker choices that are available to you this holiday season. This list is inspired by my first English teacher from High school Mr Spahr who took it upon himself to show his class the first episode of the tales from the crypt TV series called ‘And all through the house’ (1989). If you’ve seen the Tales from the crypt (1972) film you’ll already be aware of what this episode is about as it is a part of that portmanteau movie. For those of you not in the know it’s about a woman who bumps off her husband on Christmas Eve just as a maniac dressed in a Santa suit escapes from a mental asylum. You can guess the rest. They say the things that happen to you as a child influence you in later life. Well I enjoyed this episode so much that I have over the years tried to hunt down as many non family Xmas movie’s as I can. So here they are, in no real order:
Santa’s Slay (2005)
So it turns out Santa is actually a demon, a demon who foolishly lost a bet with an angel that means he has to be good for 1000 years. Problem is those 1000 years are over and Santa’s out for revenge, so he sets out on a festive themed killing spree. This is a B-movie extravaganza and I’m surprised it got made in this day and age I thought we left these Christmas themed slasher films behind in the eighties. Not that I’m complaining because where else could you say you saw Goldberg (yes the wrestler) dressed as Santa; going on a killing spree. It’s dumb, and it’s stupid but it’s also a lot more fun than the overly twee sentimental sacks of excrement that get passed off as traditional Christmas movie fare.
Silent night Deadly Night (1984)
This is pretty much the bleakest film on the list; it really is a nihilists dream Christmas movie. The main character as a child witnesses his parents killed by a man in a Santa suit. Then years later is forced to play Santa by his douche bag boss. This sends him off the deep end and he goes on a Santa suited killing spree. I actually love this film. I think it’s probably my favourite Christmas movie on this list outside of Die hard (1988). It’s true it is just a Christmas themed slasher movie, but there’s a slightly deranged fevered feeling to the proceedings that makes it something special.
Also it offers us another chance to see Linnea Quigleys Ta-ta’s which; is always a pleasure.
Black Christmas (1975)
The original Black Christmas because yes it got a pointless remake is pretty boring; not much happens, bar you get to hear Margot Kidder; the future Lois lane say the word Fellatio.
Once again it’s a simple slasher film albeit a fairly tame one. A killer hides inside a sorority house just before Christmas and between threatening phone calls to the resident’s kills one or two of the girls. To be honest I only mention Black Christmas because it’s the earliest Christmas slasher I could find; that and the fact that I had the misfortune of watching it. Overrated and a little boring I’d miss this one if I was you.
Black Christmas (2006)
I’m sorry but this films fucking shit, and seriously disappointing, disappointing because the trailer for it is amazingly well realised. You can find it on Youtube; go on and watch it. It’s a gaudy nightmarish vision of Christmas, it presents us with a world dominated by cheap plastic decorations, lit by red and green fairly lights, and in my opinion is nothing short of a conceptual visual masterpiece. But when you get to the film it’s nothing more than a soulless modern slasher film about a disfigured maniac who returns to his old house one Christmas. Finding it has now been turned into a sorority house, he crawls in the wall spaces and kills off the remarkably unlikable girls living there. Seriously leave this and the original version alone; the name black Christmas translates into shit Christmas based slasher film.
Jack Frost (1996)
No not the one with Michael Keaton playing a dead man who possesses his son’s snowman, this is another Dumb B-Movie. This time about a serial killer called Jack Frost who gets melted by molecular acid and bonds with snow, turning him into a giant killer snowman; it’s almost as if his parents knew this would happen to him when they named him.
This film like Santa’s Slay is huge fun it doesn’t take itself seriously and just let’s itself go with the stupid premise. There’s a fair amount of poorly realised gore and lots of bad acting present, but its well worth seeing if you’re looking for a good laugh, and unusually you won’t always be laughing at the film you’ll be laughing along with it. Also of added note you get to see Shannon Elizabeth’s original nose and a bit of; from the back nudity as she is smothered by an avalanche in the shower; if you want to see her naked just Google her playboy pics, they’re out there.
Die Hard 1 & 2 (1988, 1990)
Yep these are Christmas movies. I’m guessing I don’t need to explain to you what these are about but just in case I can sum these as easily as this, Bruce Willis killing terrorists at Christmas. More one liners than you can shake a Yule log at and lots of blood……Simply Beautiful.
Bad Santa (2006)
A Christmas movie where the word Fuck is said 159 times, shit 73 times and altogether there are 300 profanities uttered. For added effect Bad Santa also includes a girl bouncing up and down on Billy Bob Thorton’s cock saying Fuck me Santa over and over again. God damn I love this film, it’s just too funny.
Bad Santa is about two con men who work as store Santa’s so they can case shops before they rob them blind. Billy Bob Thorton is at his misanthropic best, as he curses and drinks his way through the film.
However beneath its misanthropic exterior there is quite a beautiful but never twee story, about the redeeming effects the innocence of youth has on the sour callow character Thorton plays. Bad Santa is a good film; full of laugh out loud moments, if you have enough darkness in you to appreciate it.
Ok so those are the ones I’ve seen but my quest continues as two more potential Xmas master pieces have come to my attention
The reasonably new Saint (2011) which sounds like Santa Slay’s but using St Nicolas instead of the Coca Cola Mascot Santa and another Eighties slasher; Christmas Evil (1980). If I get to watch them in time I shall post short reviews for them so watch this space and enjoy your Christmas break as best as you can.
I’m currently struggling my way through NanoWriMo (Novel writing month) and pretty much getting nowhere; so I took a break from writing about a crime fighting lesbian Nun death squad, and went to see ‘Silent Hill Revelations’. I had meant to go see this on its Halloween release date but they kindly held a special showing of ‘The Shining’ (1980) on that day; so it was obvious what I was going to end up doing instead.
The first Silent Hill movie is quite old now; it was released in 2006; before the games started to suck (although shattered memories is excellent) and it holds an important place in my heart, it’s not a brilliant film; it’s a pretty average modern horror, but as a video game movie it’s one of the better efforts. It contains some moments of genuine creeps and has some good set pieces particularly the bits they borrow from the games. But it means more to me than your average movie because I’ve attached sentiment to it. I’m a huge fan of the games, and at the time of its release I was with the girl I tend to describe as being the love of my life, or at least so far (I’m planning on buying a full size arcade machine, that will take her place). And even though she hated horror films we went to see this, as she was interested in getting involved in things that I like. I remember being a little embarrassed when the priestess gets her cooch crammed full of barb wire but overall, we had a good time. Sadly I haven’t seen ‘Silent Hill’ in a few years now as the relationship ended, and the film is strangely painful to watch; but these are the things of life, and a little pain never did any one any harm. I think Chuck Palahnuik said it best.
‘People don’t want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown’
So I think I’ll hold on to the feeling for a little longer.
‘Silent Hill Revelations’ takes its cue from ‘Silent Hill 3’, which is the true sequel to the first Silent Hill game, ‘Silent Hill 2’ was a spin off title. And as the first Silent Hill film was based on the first game it‘s a logical choice to skip the second game as a source of inspiration.
At the start of ‘Silent Hill Revelations’ we find Christopher and Sharon from the first film living life on the run, under the names of Harry and Heather (the original names from the game) because of an intruder that Harry killed many years earlier, who is later revealed to be a member of the order; the religious sect from Silent Hill who are trying to find Sharon so they can sacrifice her to stop Alessa and release their town from the darkness.
Sharon is fast approaching her seventeenth birthday and is just starting a new school where she meets Vincent; who is also there on his first day and dresses like an extra from a Twilight or maybe he’s trying to audition for the part of Ted Logan in the remake of ‘Bill and teds excellent adventure’ (1989) either way he looks like an anachronistic douche bag, he immediately tries to hit on Sharon, who rebukes his efforts, maybe he’d have more luck if he wasn’t wearing that stupid fucking waist coat white t-shirt combo, hell if I know ‘I don’t understand dames’. While in school Sharon starts to have strange visions; journeying into the dark world, even though she is not in Silent Hill. Sharon soon realises that someone is following her so she goes to the shopping mall to wait for instructions from Harry, while she is there the dark world starts to bleed into reality again and the person following her reveals himself to be a detective that was hired by the Order to find her, he warns her of their nefarious plans and then is dispatched by a reject Cenobite. Sharon goes home to find out that her father Harry has been kidnapped and written on the wall in blood is an order for her to go to Silent Hill. So she sets off with Vincent in tow to rescue her old man.
There is more to it than that, but if I was to go through it in to much detail then this review would be a couple of thousand words long, because ‘Silent Hill Revelations’ is just full of random shit that seem to take place with no rhyme or reason. Usually a movie will have a build up to events instead ‘Silent Hill Revelations’ just springs it on you. Some of it is explained away by Sharon reading a note book written by her father, so when she meets Dahlia and uses her name we don’t ask how did you know who she is? we just accept that she probably read about her in the book. But all through this film we are presented with nonsensical situations based solely on the fact that they would make good set pieces. Personally I think it’s because Michael J Basset studied at the Resident evil school of film making; where the most important thing is keeping the story moving through any means, showing as much cool shit as is possible; and not worrying about explaining any of it away.
Trying to rationalise the actions and events in the film is impossible, I’ll list some of the bizarre leaps the film makes with little or no explanation. Vincent turns out to be an agent from Silent Hill but ends up helping Sharon. Sharon has to meet Vincent’s grandfather; upon meeting him he promptly turns into a demon and attacks her. And my favourite; Vincent is taken to Brookhaven asylum; tied to a gurney and wheeled into a room full of the staby nurses from the first film, by two members of the order. These guys happily just walk into this room full of homicidal ugly birds with rocking bods as if it’s nothing, and then get slaughtered for their stupidity. All so that we can have a cool escape scene. These two members of the order have lived in the darkness for how long? They know these nurses are dangerous, the lack of faces and prominent presence of sharp implements should at least tell them that, if not previous experiences. It’s a good scene but fucking stupid. And it’s just an example of the total lack of coherence and reality to this film. I mean seriously, the Order’s head quarters are hidden in an abandoned amusement park. Did they go to the Scooby Doo school of evil villainy or something WTF.
The other problem with this movie is that it’s a horror film but there is no real feeling of threat. I never once feared for Sharon. It’s true that she see’s some horrible things in her journey through Silent Hill, but even when she runs into the Pyramid head he ignores her. It makes it feel like a fair ground ride. It’s almost as if you are watching someone walk through a spook house. You see some scary disturbing imagery but ultimately it’s just a ride and you know there is no real danger.
The six years we waited for this film wasn’t worth it. I’m underwhelmed and unimpressed. If you want to watch a similarly structured movie watch the Resident Evil films, they are just as dumb but a lot more fun than this.
Four years of college, and three years of university devoted to studying film, two years of working as a lighting tech for a small film crew and it was all because of one man; Tim Burton. Without Tim Burton I wouldn’t give a crap about films I would just be like most other people; instead I’m an obsessive compulsive movie fan who writes a film blog that nobody reads.
When I was younger I’d watch the odd movie or two, but it wasn’t something I’d go out of my way to do; it was just a distraction. But then I ran into ‘Beetle juice’ (1988), ‘Batman’ (1989), ‘Batman Returns’ (1992), and ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ (1993), and suddenly movies became important to me, albeit as long as they had the name Tim Burton attached. I noticed that there was something different about his films; they were dark, twisted, and embraced the strange and macabre. Having always been a fairly dark soul I latched on to them and started to find out about the man that made them. I learnt that he was a fan of old horror films; so I also started to watch old horror films. From this I learnt about German expressionism, film noir and who Vincent price was. I was hooked; and have been ever since. To the point that when I got to college I was ahead of the game as I knew all the basics of film theory.
So it’s with a heavy heart that I’ve watched his career proceed, it’s been a while since he released a good Film and even longer since he released a great film. His last few efforts have failed to hit the mark. It’s true that the Tim Burton I love was still present in his last few efforts; but only in rare flashes and the briefest of glimpses. However I preserver sticking with him, watching his films religiously whenever they are released, so it was with my usual hopes that I went down to the old picture house to watch ‘Frankenweenie’. And my dedication was proved worthwhile. ‘Frankenweenie’ is old school Tim Burton, this is Ed Wood and Beetle Juice Tim Burton, pure malevolent playfulness mixed with deep postmodern homage to the people and films that made him who he is.
‘Frankenweenie’ is a remake of sorts, of an early TV special that Tim Burton did based on James Whales Frankenstein movies, if you’re interested in seeing in it’s on the ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ special edition DVD along with another excellent early work ‘Vincent’. With this film he’s expanded his thirty minute TV special into a full blown animated masterpiece. Young Victor Frankenstein lives in New Holland a suburban nightmare straight out of ‘Edward Scissor Hands’ (1990). He’s shy and withdrawn and his only real friend is Sparky a small lively, dog. One day Sparky is run over so Victor using the power of electricity brings him back to life. Several of his classmates find out how he did this and set out to bring back various other deceased critters. Only their experiments don’t quite work as well as Victors, unleashing monsters on the town.
‘Frankenweenie’, is just pure unbridled fun, it’s full of quirky interesting characters, there’s a Japanese kid who ends up unleashing Gamera, one who looks like Igor, and another who bares more than a passing resemblance to Boris Karloff in his Frankenstein makeup. In fact this entire movie is packed with references to classic horror films Mr Rzykruski the science teacher is clearly modelled on Vincent Price and don’t forget the glorious Black and white photography and the strong use of horror tropes in the visuals. But even if you aren’t able to read these references and have never seen any of the Classic Universal Horror films, it doesn’t matter because these are extras Tim Burton hasn’t hung this film on the fact that it’s homage to the movies he loves. This film is clearly all about the main story. And it’s a beautiful story, about friendship, being yourself, and exerting your individuality. There’s some genuine dark humour Mr Rzykruski explaining what happens when you are hit by lightning is a stand out example, and some genuine moments of pathos. Mixed in with Burton’s gift for the bizarre, just wait until you meet Mr Whiskers owner. Who is clearly modelled on staring girl from Burtons Melancholy death of Oyster boy.
I love this film and I can see it becoming a massive cult hit, while managing to do decent trade in the normal world. Which is a good thing because I think more people need to see films like this; Films with heart, films that are so lovingly created that they can’t help but turn out this good. I’ve been waiting for the next great Tim Burton film for a while and I can honestly say I’ve found it, I’m not going to suggest another film in this ones place because; it needs to be seen, it’s simply that good.
I can’t help but feel a little guilty as I’ve spent the best part of a month bad mouthing this film, even though I hadn’t watched it. My initial dislike for Sinister went so far that when I invited my friends to come see it I simply asked if they ‘wanted to see a shit film’. How glad am I that I was proven wrong. My erroneous initial impressions of Sinister were born from a trailer that succeeded in making it look like every other waste of time modern horror film. I’m looking at you House at the end of the street (2012), which incidentally was the first place I ever saw the sinister trailer. In my defence I still think the trailer for this film sucks, I can’t see the bit with the kid coming out of the box without thinking of the zombies from deadly premonition. Which wasn’t a quirky, unique, and interesting game, it was just crap.
Even when this scene plays out in the actual film I don’t like it, it’s something I’m forever going to hold the trailer responsible for. I must have seen it about 20 times since they started airing it. This is why I tend to get to the cinema in time to miss them; I’ve been misled by the bastards to many times.
Sinister centers on Ellison Oswalt; a washed up true crime writer, who moves his wife and two children into the house of a murdered family, the only survivor seeming to be their missing daughter. While moving in he finds a box containing an 8mm projector and a set of home movies all with seemingly innocuous names. After watching them he discovers that they are the recordings of several other murders, all perpetrated by the same killer. As he digs into these crimes things start to get strange, his son sleepwalks, the projector turns itself on at night, and strange noises can be heard in the attic. These events don’t just leap out at you they are slowly built up. This slow burn technique makes Sinister one of the most suspenseful films I have seen in a long time, the only other film I can liken it to is the excellent Woman in Black (2012) which also used the same techniques. There are some truly shocking moments in Sinister, but it never stoops so low as to rely on blood and guts to do so. Anyone can show a teen being hacked apart with a chainsaw, nod and a wink to Rob Zombie. But it takes a true master to realise that depriving your audience of the gory details is by and far a worse thing to do to our delicate nerves.
Sinisters writer C Robert Cargill has said that he came up with the idea for this movie when he had a nightmare after watching The Ring (2002) and to be honest I spotted this influence a mile off. Which is interesting because I can also see The Ring’s influence in Woman in Black (2012) the only other good horror film released this year (Cabin in the woods is not a horror film). I think it’s the detective element of these three movies that makes them so successful, because we are tied to a protagonist who knows as little as we do. Making this a true journey into horror, and Ethan Hawke plays the part perfectly, he does an excellent job as a man both scared but desperate to get claw some sort of fame back after the two flops he has just produced, ignoring the dangers that most normal people would have walked away from a long time a go. I can’t recommend this film to true horror fans enough, because this is a Horror film; not a slasher, psycho, or gore movie but a horror film in the truest sense; it tries but unnerve you with atmosphere, not with the threat of violence. Yes violence is the pay off because ultimately in a horror film death is the final threat, but this film is about the journey not the destination, unlike so many cheap gore movies fooling themselves into believing they are horror films.
If your unable to get to the cinema to see Sinister or just want to wait for the DVD release then in the meantime I don’t think you could go to wrong if you got yourself a copy of Woman in Black, or if you want a classic Suspiria (1977) by Dario Argento a true master in his day.
I’ve always had what you would describe as being a strained relationship with the Resident Evil films. As a huge fan of the games the first film disappointed me by omitting any of the series’ well established characters. But overall it’s not a bad movie, and I generally enjoyed it, admittedly it would have been better if George Romero had been left on the project, but we can’t always have what we want.
Then they went and made a sequel, Resident Evil Apocalypse (2004). Shit! What a mess; it was just a bunch of random scenes linked together with the flimsiest of storylines. It was as if someone had said what would you like to see in the film? Written a bunch of set pieces, and then tried to fit a story around them. It was such a departure from the first film that I took an instant disliking to it. I couldn’t understand how they could take a horror game and turn it in to a caricature of an action film. It’s so over the top and ridiculous even I thought it was stupid, and I’ll watch any old shit. So I stayed away from the sequels Resident Evil Extinction (2007) and Resident Evil Afterlife (2010), until a couple of months a go. When I found myself sitting down to watch Afterlife, because I’m lazy and I couldn’t be arsed to find something productive to do with my time. The surprising thing was I liked it. So I watched Extinction next; and I like that one as well. So it was inevitable with the release of Resident Evil Retribution (2012) that I would find myself sat in the cinema with my 3D glasses on looking forward to seeing Milla Jovovich in the third dimension.
The one thing that strikes me about the Resident Evil films is that even though they are a part of a series Paul W S Anderson has no problems with ditching or just plain ignoring events and characters from earlier movies. Retribution is no different, K-Mart and Chris Redfield are no where to be seen. Alice doesn’t even Bat an eyelid that the girl she spent the whole of Afterlife trying to save is no longer around, although I’m sure they’ll both turn up in the next one. At the end of Afterlife we see a fleet of Umbrella attack helicopters flying towards the umbrella prisoner ship. Retribution kicks off straight from this moment. In the ensuing fracas Alice is taken prisoner and held in a secret Umbrella base (another one!) Where she successfully escapes and starts to cause all sorts of mischief while wearing Umbrella sanctioned bondage gear.
It turns out that Alice was broken out by Ada Wong, who has a team of mercenaries making there way into the facility to help them both escape. This team includes Barry Burton and Leon S Kennedy who looks like he’s channelling the spirit of a young Dolph Lundgren, and for some unexplained reason Luther West who’s gone from being an ex-basketball player to a trained soldier, because this is after all a Resident Evil movie and shit like this doesn’t need explaining, ever.
If you’ve seen the other films then you pretty much know what to expect, because Anderson hasn’t deviated from the formulae he used in the last three entries in the series. However this time he’s out done himself. This particular Umbrella facility is used to simulate T-Virus outbreaks in various cities, so we have Moscow, New York, Tokyo and Suburbia all represented and ready to be shot to shit by the cast. The action sequences are truly magnificent, and the liberal bouts of fisticuffs are well handled, we even get a car chase through the streets of Moscow. The effects as ever are top notch despite the use of GG blood. Overall there’s nothing new here; but I’ve come to love these films, and it feels good to catch up with Alice and the Zombie ravaged world she lives in.
The best way for me to describe it is; it’s Resident Evil 5. It’s the cinematic equivalent of Candy Floss, there’s nothing there; and what little substance there is, is bad for you. But it’s colourful and fun and a little won’t hurt you every now and again. Besides it’s got Milla Jovovich, and you can always go see Looper (2012) afterwards.
I guess the best thing to suggest for you to watch in this films place is any of the previous entries in to the series, but I can’t let you go without suggesting a classic piece of Zombie asshatery in Retributions place; so go watch Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) it’s shit; in an awesome way.