Friday, February 28, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Scantily clad women fight to save the world from zombies and to stop some kind of witch.
Review: As with the first entry, there exists a multitude of alternate titles for this film that may confuse the viewer when factoring in the video games as well--so be aware of this fact. Honestly, there's not a lot different with this sequel, and I should stress that the term "sequel" isn't even a fitting description. This movie is more of an alternate universe with the same characters, setting, and situations; that means Saki and Reiko are back alive among other things. Unfortunately, this also means that the creators did not take any steps to improve upon the first film's numerous flaws. The biggest complaint I've read other discuss about these two movies, and I agree, is that they are not that entertaining. I already discussed with the last entry how they should have had more fun with the material, made things more lighthearted, and properly applied the exploitative, over the top, splatterfest-vibe from films like "The Machine Girl." Instead, the story is somehow more boring than the last one, the action isn't as good, and even those drama elements that felt out of place the first time are removed yet replaced with nothing. In essence, if you saw the first movie, you watched this one as well.
Let me say this up front since it annoys me more than anything: all of the original cast has been replaced. Nooo! Manami Hashimoto--come back to me! I mean, the new girls are really good looking too, but, eh, I guess it's up to your own preference, but I thought the original girls were all better except this Aya is sexier. The story is still about Aya fighting in the same bikini trying to destroy all the zombies that have overrun the planet. This time Saki is good and the sisters fight together, as opposed to the first film, but this is more in tune with the video games; likewise, Saki is wearing the more iconic blue and white schoolgirl outfit. Reiko is now known to Aya from the onset and she appears to be taking care of orphaned kids, but they don't stress anything about losing her own kid like the first movie; this Reiko looks a lot different although they both share the same...ahem...top shelf in common. That annoying comedy relief guy is replaced by a wannabe fighter who serves as Aya's makeshift love interest; can't we simply have a world of nothing but scantily clad women fighting? This dude also possesses the ability to nullify the "Imichi blood," but this plot point never serves a purpose or becomes relevant except to give a reason for Aya to be drawn to the guy.
That whole "Imichi blood" plotline is still important as it's once again needed to complete the villain's plan, but they still apply this plot element idiotically. For some reason the villain, sometimes called "Mizari" while other times called Himiko and trying to look like the emperor, will gain immortality from drinking the blood, yet needs it from two sources--you'd think that means Aya and Saki. Apparently, she wants Saki and some random little girl they come across which doesn't make the most sense. Speaking of which, the villain is like a witch or something...I really don't know since they don't explain it and there appears to be no basis as to what she is until now. The only thing mentioned is the villain herself talking about a queen of the zombies, but she's obviously too smart to be any zombie and then she can shapeshift too? Uh...your guess is as good as mine on this one. The way the witch convinces Saki to help her is some bullshit about claiming she can resurrect their parents; this part feels extra stupid and contrived. As you may have easily guessed, the witch gets what she wants but is eventually killed by Aya. And then, literally, the moment the villain's body hits the floor, the movie abruptly ends--just like that with no resolution or anything. What the fuck?
To sum things up, everything I said that was wrong with the first film still applies here except somehow even more boring, less action, and such a terrible ending; at least the first one had an acceptable, if not decent, ending. Nothing new has been added except tiny differences, the villain's scheme, and now Saki is good. But let's face it, if you're even mildly interested in these movies you're only watching this for the ladies or else something may be seriously wrong with your cognitive abilities. So since it all comes down to the beautiful actresses involved, although some decent action would help, you should probably pick the version you feel has the better group. To this film's credit, it does try to show off Aya's buxom and firm body more, but I still prefer my dear Ms. Hashimoto as Reiko from the first film.
Notable Moment: Since you will probably be completely confused as to whether the movie is over or not, there's actually a little montage during the credits that showcases Aya in close-ups of her bikini-body. If only this degree of exploitation were more present in the film...
Final Rating: 4/10
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A women with cursed blood must stop her sister and a scientist from destroying the world with super zombies.
Review: First, let me say that this film and its sequel have like a million alternate titles; I don't care to mention them all. The annoying part is that the sequel is a stand alone film from this one, so it makes it confusing as to which movie you are watching. Confounding things even further is that these films are based on a video game franchise that often has these same titles for their games. Hopefully you can sort things out! Anyway, as you might have guessed by that poster, this franchise as a whole is meant to cater to a certain type of audience. While you may expect the story and events to unfold in a manner similar to the likes of "The Machine Girl" and "Deadball," this film surprisingly takes itself seriously and never plays up or properly exploits the outlandish story. In fact, a lot of the decisions with this film completely baffle me, because it should be as over the top as it appears but fails tremendously in this regard.
I will quickly run down the plot since there's almost none. In the future, some corporation (wannabe Umbrella) can resurrect the dead and this leads to them obviously losing control. Zombies then take over the world with one of the rogue scientists still trying to modify the formula to have loyal zombies and more powerful ones. Honestly, I don't know if the villain even had a legitimate plan. Two sisters from a lineage of sword fighters, Aya and Saki, have something they refer to as "Imichi blood" which somehow magically gives them powers when covered in blood...or just whenever it seems like; this is not fully explained in this film, but they go over it more in the games and sequel. There's something about Saki kind of being the source to the zombies yet the scientist wants Aya anyway. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but all you need to know is that Saki and the scientist are bad and Aya is the hero. Aya wants to kill Saki because she murdered their father, and Saki hates Aya due to jealousy. Most of the movie they are simply fighting zombies until Aya tracks down the laboratory of the scientist, kills his minions, and then kills Saki in an epic showdown. The end.
There are so many small gripes that they add up into one giant mess of a film. Aya is clad in a bikini and cowgirl hat as she fights zombies and Saki is in a classic schoolgirl getup--how do you not make that work?! The zombies are inconsistent and pointless since the real threat appears to be Saki. The scientist dies like a little bitch to Aya's comic relief sidekick which is pathetic. Speaking of which, they throw in a dramatic flair--yeah, drama--rather than a humorous approach to the material. For example, the sidekick is whiny about his sister, who turns out to be a huge Gogo ripoff from "Kill Bill," and Aya is constantly moping about her dead father. There's a random sex scene which connects to nothing and really stands out since nothing like this happens anywhere else. The dialogue is lame, but should have been ridiculous in a good way. I don't know how else to explain that they simply do not exploit their own material when it was ripe for the pickings! Where are the camp and cornball scenes at? Why did they try to present the story seriously when it is impossible for the viewer to look at this setup and characters as serious? If you're expecting anything in terms of the splatterfest and over the top offerings Japan is known for, this is most certainly going to disappoint.
With all that said, it isn't a complete waste. The ladies are all beautiful, sexy, and scantily clad. I was waiting until this moment to bring up a character they come across named Reiko, played by Manami Hashimoto. Oh...my...god...that is one insanely beautiful woman! I mean, god damn! I've seen a lot of hot chicks in recent years, but Ms. Hashimoto is easily one of the best. I wish she could have played Aya, but you can't have everything I suppose. Other than the ladies completely enthralling you, the fight scenes aren't too bad, and the final fight between Aya and Saki is commendable if not dragging a bit. If done in a different way, this could have been a good film, but eh, wasted potential seems to be the way I describe the majority of movies I watch--good ideas but horrid execution.
Overall, I would say this film falls under the mediocre category. They missed the chance to make the film fun in favor of pointless drama and odd script decisions. It really isn't that hard to make an entertaining film out of a bikini cowgirl fighting hordes of zombies led by a mad scientist and his schoolgirl minion. Instead, you have a cheap film that feels stupid instead of so bad it's good. At the same time, the ladies are almost worth lending your time for a view...especially to see that goddess Ms. Hashimoto. If you've played the games, this probably will be worth your time, and maybe if you're a fan of those over the top splatterfests I've mentioned, you just need to understand what you're getting yourself into.
Notable Moment: When Aya and Saki finally face off. The fight itself makes little sense, but it was kind of cool for what it was.
Final Rating: 4.5/10
The devastatingly sexy Ms. Hashimoto!
Monday, February 24, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A psychologist believes she and her patients may have been alien abductees.
Review: Oh, what a waste, what a waste. I can't remember who, but someone warned me not to watch this movie and I really should have listened. This is yet another film I had to watch in increments, because I was bored out of my mind. It's already hard enough to make a scary movie involving aliens, but then they had to go and borrow from "The Blair Witch Project's" marketing campaign and truly blow it. I can't even believe this movie is trying to make people think any of this shit is based on reality. It's one thing if they implied it could be real or followed the formula of previous found-footage films, but no, they come out claiming everything is real and use "reenactments" as their presentation. At least Blair Bitch merely left the reality of the events depicted up in the air until the credits rolled, and, with the advent of the internet, they had an edge. If you couldn't tell by the typical Hollywood cliches that this tale of alien abduction was fake, then perhaps the multiple lawsuits against the film would clue you in.
The film idiotically opens with Milla Jovovich telling the audience everything is allegedly real, but interpreting the bullshit is up to the audience. See, it's this going the extra mile to convince people things are real when they're not that is so annoying! What you need to know from the onset is that there are two actors playing each character: the known actor doing the "reenactments" and the "real" person. The main character, Abby, who looks like a fucking alien herself, is supposedly telling her story at some interview that is trying to set the record straight (to who?). Abby is conveniently getting over her husband's murder at the exact moment she discovers some of her patients appear to have been abducted by aliens; how do you only just discover this now? Their minds' struggle to see the aliens, but for some reason they think they're owls...uh okay; speaking of which, the audience never sees the aliens either so don't hold your breath for that. When the patients go under hypnotherapy, they relive the abductions that the aliens erase from their memories. This then leads one to go apeshit and murder his family and commit suicide. Apparently Abby also has been abducted--oh and Abby has some stupid kids that will sort of become relevant later. The aliens are really, really stupid and for no apparent reason speak Sumerian for contrivance's sake. The aliens also like to talk tons of shit while abducting you and gloat about being God. I mean duh, like come on, the moment I burst into anyone's home to abduct them the first thing I do is trash talk in Sumerian--I mean, there's always that off chance a researcher will materialize out of the blue to translate my ramblings! There's pointless police drama and they throw in a skeptic simply because we need one, and there's this whole "Mothman Prophecies" vibe to everything and even has one of the same actors. Another patient goes under hypnotherapy and he is seemingly possessed by the aliens...I don't know. Blah blah blah the aliens abduct Abby's daughter right in front of her which was acted terribly. You actually see the spaceship of the aliens for a split second which only demonstrates how full of shit this movie is. Finally Abby is possessed by the aliens too for whatever reason and this experience cripples her as we learn pointlessly that her husband was not murdered but committed suicide. The film ends with the actors still trying to make it seem like everything we saw was real. Oh and in case you're thinking "well, what the fuck is the fourth kind?" well that is the term for being abducted by aliens.
If only I could bitch slap everyone involved in this film's creation. I swear, someone was like "we want to do a Mothman Prophecies 2 but we don't know how" and this was the result. There are aspects that had potential and the subject matter could have worked under the right conditions. Instead of trying so hard to lie to the audience about the validity of the film's events, why not go full Blair Bitch and act like these tapes were found after Abby "disappeared" or some bullshit like that; at least that would explain why no one would have seen the footage until now. Nothing is scary, the aliens make no sense and act stupid, the acting is inconsistent, too many pointless contrivances like Abby's daughter's blindness, and the attempt to portray the events as real borders on pretentious. Definitely do not waste your time on this film unless you like the idea of owl-looking, Sumarian trash talking, abduct you in front of the police, completely idiotic aliens!
Notable Moment: When the one guy is floating off the bed. It's in the trailer, does look cool, but should have been better nonetheless.
Final Rating: 4.5/10
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Some rich bitch thinks she's being haunted by her dead "friend" as lame drama unfolds.
Review: Don't be fooled by that Sadako-wannabe on the poster--this movie is not scary at all, and, in fact, this feels more like it should have been a Lifetime channel original. At first I thought I was watching the Korean movie, also called "Nightmare," since they begin exactly the same with a party and some chick committing suicide. Unfortunately for me, this movie was nowhere near as entertaining as the Korean film, but I forced myself to finish it nonetheless. The biggest problem is that this film is soooo fucking boring, and it has such a stupid twist ending that it cancels out a lot of the film's own shenanigans exasperating how stupid the entire experience felt. By the time the credits roll you will probably find yourself compelled to punch someone in the face as I did.
Almost nothing happens in this movie which is kind of surprising when you think about it. The story begins with some girl wearing a red dress committing suicide by jumping off a building in front of the main bitch. The film cuts to some time in the future (I don't care to remember) as the bitch is staying at some random house in the middle of nowhere conveniently. She starts to see the ghost of the suicide-girl and she appears to be scared of the color red. The boyfriend of suicide-girl has become a psychologist, which should contribute more to the plot, but comes off more as a contrivance and he is the worst psychologist I've ever heard of to boot. The bitch wants to romance the boyfriend since she's always wanted him, but he's still in love with suicide-girl. We are suddenly introduced to suicide-girl's twin sister that no one knew existed...hmm. Twin sister has a bullshit origin story, which will come to make no sense by the end, and she thinks she's being possessed or whatever by suicide-girl. The twin tries to get the boyfriend to uncover the reason why suicide-girl killed herself which is sort of self-explanatory but surrrre! The bitch continues to be haunted and grows more and more paranoid just as the boyfriend thinks the twin and the bitch are both crazy, but he feels obligated to get to the bottom of the mystery of his beloved suicide-girl. Supposedly the main thing that drove suicide-girl to kill herself was that she was not accepted into some study abroad program or something along those lines; as it turns out, the bitch was accepted instead. To make matters worse, the boyfriend was seduced by the bitch and suicide-girl walked in on the two banging. Blah blah we realize that the twin is dressing up as suicide-girl and scaring the bitch for revenge, but the twin doesn't have it in her to kill the bitch. More so, the bitch almost drowns and the twin ends up saving her instead. In one final stupid twist, some guy appears out of nowhere and reveals there is no twin, that suicide-girl never died and it was some elaborate hoax that makes no fucking sense and is the ultimate contrivance bullshit. Then there's something about the bitch's dad getting arrested for helping the bitch get into that study abroad award or whatever the hell it was. And everyone is all happy and good lord this movie fucking sucks! There were too many instances of supernatural bullshit yet it's supposed to all be in both girls' heads. Ugh, you have to see this shit for yourself to understand it, but I highly advise against that. Uh...I just want to punch someone...
This could have worked on some level if the plot weren't bouncing all over the place and there weren't important plot elements introduced late in the game. They were trying to create some cool imagery with the ghost, the color red, and an analysis of duality, but everything fails monumentally. All the scares, which sucked by the way, were all dreams or hallucinations which is so stupid when you realize, not only is none of it real but, that no one is even dead to begin with! Plus, why does suicide-girl think she's a twin? We get the how, but we never know the why. Don't even get me started on the hoax shit. I mean, seriously, if they saved the money that it cost to create the hoax and use it to pay for the study abroad program, wouldn't that have been the wiser option? Plus, all it did was confuse the bitch...for a revenge plan...that made no sense. AND, the bitch was a fucking BITCH and yet by the end they act like she's totally innocent. Grr! This movie blows. Trust me, don't waste your time with this one unless you are psyching yourself up for a fight and need to get angry fast.
Notable Moment: When the ghost appears in the refrigerator (that's a new one) for no reason and isn't even seen by the main girl. But if all the ghost appearances are hallucinations, why would the bitch imagine a hallucination she didn't even see?! Ahhh!
Final Rating: 4/10
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Two girls inadvertently unleash a vampire from his imprisonment and the zany antics that ensue.
Review: Well there went 90 minutes down the drain. This felt like the "Goosebumps'" interpretation of "Salem's Lot" or something. You'd think with a cool title and an acceptable plot, this should have been better, but, alas, this is as forgettable as they come. I don't expect a lot from direct to video movies from the rental store era, but this was exceptionally stupid at times. The only reason I, or anyone, should ever waste a second on this film is because it stars my '90s dream girl, Ami Dolenz, which is the only reason I bothered to track this down. While she is always beautiful to behold on the screen, she isn't looking as sexy as she had in "Miracle Beach" and "Witchboard 2" so be prepared for that; she's dressed down a bit and is meant to play a younger character, for some reason, even though "Miracle Beach" was made the following year. It's kind of funny though, because there's a part where a random pervert kid is explaining my dear Ms. Dolenz's physique as, "I've seen all the girls in town, and this one's got the nicest, roundest, firm pair of..." don't leave me in suspense, kid--what does she have?! So yes, Ms. Dolenz is the sole reason to watch this film, but don't expect her to be as scantily clad as she was in some of her other films.
I think the main reason why this film sucked so hard was because it feels like they're writing the script as they go. There are a lot of plot elements that are introduced and discarded on a whim which becomes frustratingly annoying. At first the peculiar town's people feel like they will play some significance, but they merely serve to make moronic references once they become vampires. The beginning feels overly lighthearted with the main two girls, Lucy (Ms. Dolenz) and Cindy, hanging out and talking about how lame the town is. They discuss some little urban legend about going to a waterlogged crypt to wash away the dirt of living in the town which was an okay detail. This crypt is at a giant church that feels like it should contribute to the plot as well but doesn't. Lucy drops her crucifix in the water and that somehow reawakens some vampire that had been held captive there or whatever the hell he was doing. The first order of business is for the vampire to feed off Cindy, which did look kind of cool, but it showcases another stupid aspect to this film as random lights appear out of nowhere for dramatic effect numerous times. At best it has probably been hours after this incident and the whole town has been turned into vampires which is painfully idiotic.
At this point the film starts shooting at the audience one contrivance and throwaway plotline after another. Vampires are running around everywhere, yet the, seemingly, only cop in town didn't notice, because she hates everyone. Cindy somehow went home, turned her mom into a vampire and yet it's the mom that appears to be the more powerful vampire; at the same time, why was Cindy allowed to leave and why didn't all the other vampires scatter as well then? There is pointless drama about Cindy's mom screwing her husband's brother who is also a priest; this is yet another plotline that felt like it would mean something but seriously disappears completely at one point. The priest gets a friend to help that is a teacher, named Mark, who only has one student for some reason with the mom watching on that has a weird face for no reason...again, why are these plot aspects built up for no reason? Mark is not easily convinced the vampires are real even after seeing shenanigans which is yet ANOTHER pointless throwaway plotline about how the vampires can go into cocoons or sleep underwater with their lungs on the outside of their bodies--well which is it?! Mark goes to check up on Lucy only to discover she has locked herself in her room from the vampires; this wouldn't be too bad if Mark didn't easily kick down the door with one hit yet we are to believe a town full of vampires couldn't get inside even though, they explain later, every vampire can smell her.
Finally believing vampires are real, a few stupid things happen and we see some staking action from Mark. We cut pointlessly back to Cindy's mom seducing priest dude simply by clawing at the ground...uhh how horny is this guy? Cindy's mom feeds on priest dude, but he seems okay to me afterward and not a vampire. Since Cindy realized she looks like Scarlet Johansson's sister, she decides to stake her own mom; I don't get it, now the vampires have free will beyond their master? The pervy kid I mentioned earlier lures Mark and Lucy to be eaten by all the vampires, because they desire Lucy's virgin blood. Oh, and apparently the pervy kid is a "familiar" of the main vampire; so how does that work exactly--we never know what the fuck is going on in this movie! To be fair, that pervy kid is really funny and gets killed which was a nice touch since you'd think he'd get away unscathed. Mark and Lucy are saved by some bum, named Matty, who has stolen a religious zealot's van that had run him over at the beginning of the movie--again, there is no sense to be made of any of this. Cindy returns to collect Lucy in some lame attempt to beat the head vampire...I guess...I have no idea what they're plan really was. Mark and Matty materialize vampire weaponry out of their asses as they attempt to save Lucy. Cindy explains that 50 years ago the main vampire came to town and was feeding on the children and some bullshit about being burned and trapped in water and blah blah stupid shit. Why didn't this bitch turn the whole town into vampires 50 years ago?! Cindy ends up freeing the "children of the night" as they fight the main vampire, but Cindy is killed. The main vampire is about to eat Lucy, but he is killed in a scene that completely rips off "The Lost Boys." The film ends with everyone back to normal as if a lot of time has passed, yet Mark and Lucy look exactly how they did fighting the vampires--um, okay...
What can I say, this film is a total mess from start to finish. It never knows whether it wants to be serious or super lighthearted. I like how they kept trying to rip off other horror movies especially with that wannabe "Hellraiser" soundtrack. You have way too many plotlines that amount to nothing leaving the audience with that script-in-a-blender sensation. Parts that should have been cool manage to turn out retarded due to absolute bumbling of the material. You have a goddess that is Ms. Dolenz as this desired virgin by the main vampire and you make no use of this whatsoever?! The backstory on the main vampire is brushed over and should have been introduced earlier in the film so it could be expanded as the story progressed. The town's people should have been interesting, but are totally wasted. You have--oh forget it, this movie just flat out sucks! Bottom line, either you love Ms. Dolenz and are watching this because of her, or you have no idea what idiocy you have gotten yourself into. This is an easy pass, even for fans, because this isn't exactly the best work to see my dear Ms. Dolenz in all her glory.
Notable Moment: There are so many stupid moments, like a vampire jumping on a wooden stake even though he knows it's there, but the moment that had me say, "WHAT?!" aloud was when Matty flips his van by hitting another car and that car suddenly, and inexplicably, explodes for no conceivable reason.
Final Rating: 3.5/10
A wet and wild Ms. Dolenz is the best this film has to offer, but I'm not complaining:
Monday, February 17, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A group of friends receive a mysterious text to meet one their friends who had committed suicide.
Review: Once more, this is a film being taken away from Netflix streaming, and I guess it's already gone so that sucks. Well, you know it's never a good sign when there isn't a wikipedia page and even imdb doesn't list who played who in the cast section nor have any comments in its forum. But I decided to give this one a go regardless, and it turned out to be nothing like what I was anticipating. I really don't know what to make of this movie though, because it's a straightforward revenge flick in theory yet it somehow screws that up while simultaneously being so over the top that it crosses into so bad it's good territory quite successfully. It's as if you think they will take the subject matter seriously, but then pull out an overly ridiculous revenge scheme and surprisingly cool fight scenes. I don't know what the hell they were thinking, but as stupid as this movie can get, it never ceases to be entertaining.
The story is simplistic...maybe even too much so since we don't get a full grasp on what has set things in motion. There is a group of seven friends, at least I think they're supposed to be friends, who are planning some dance or whatever. One stupid thing leads to another and the main girl, Asuka, who planned this dance ends up committing suicide; to be fair, she was a pretty good dancer. For some unexplained reason, the remaining six friends get a text from Asuka 49 days later asking to meet in their classroom. The group of idiots agree to meet simply for the sake of finding out who is messing with them. There they find a girl wearing a rat mask similar to the one Asuka had wanted them to wear at the little dance they were planning. The girl wears a schoolgirl outfit, writes her words instead of speaking to appear creepier I suppose, and presents one of their friends as seemingly already murdered. Even though there are four of them in the group, at the moment, and one of them is supposed to be a tough guy, they run like little bitches from the girl in the rat mask like she's fucking Jason or Michael Myers. Eventually the rat-girl tracks down the group's resident bitch boy and challenges him to a life or death penalty kick in soccer. Instead of running away, the bitch boy accepts and fails thus is beaten to death with a baseball bat. During each character's demise, we learn a little more about what led Asuka to commit suicide although I still don't have a clear reason. Plus, this group simply doesn't feel like friends, and I don't get the feeling they ever got along nor would they. The wannabe-smart one of the group tries to escape the school but is tazed by rat-girl and then tied up. The smart one is then challenged to get a perfect score in karaoke or die; she of course fails and is electrocuted to death.
Up to this point things were mostly straightforward, but from this point on things start to really get funny. So the tough guy and his little chickadee prepare weapons to fight rat-girl which is kind of moronic since all she had was a baseball bat. To make this more complicated, the tough guy actually crafts himself a spear out of tools rather than using the tools themselves as weapons! Tough guy and rat-girl then get into a pretty decent fight as tough guy manages to knock off the mask and reveal that rat-girl is actually the first guy they believed was killed. I like that he even went to the length to wear a padded bra! Tough guy manages to finally kill the rat-boy who comically becomes ensnared in a trap he should have already known about as if this is "Home Alone" or something. At the exact same time, another person dressed as rat-girl meets the final classmate that was late to the party on the roof where Asuka had committed suicide. This main girl was the most friendly with Asuka and appears to be the most guilt-ridden and sees through rat-girl's ruse to make them think she's some kind of ghost. Another awesome fight breaks out as they go all over the roof exchanging blows. I mean, was this a school for martial arts or something?! The main girl knocks rat-girl down the stairs where she is impaled on her own knife revealing that she is Asuka's older sister; yes, throw in a random character at the last second...sure! We learn that Asuka's sister wanted revenge against the group and recruited the one guy to help her in an overly elaborate plan that obviously failed miserably. The main girl feels left out of the revenge scheme and decides to don the mask and pick up where the sister had left off. Now as the third rat-girl, the main girl tracks down the chickadee and they get into yet another over the top fight scene; this one is especially amusing, because they go all out and the chickadee even starts talking trash calling her "rat girl." But the main girl wins and beheads the chickadee. This leads to the best moment when the tough guy tries to leave on his scooter and is randomly blown up! The movie ends with the main girl sitting outside the school as we hear sirens in the distance and she smirks an evil grin talking about how she will keep the secret between her and Asuka.
A few things I'm leaving out are the random "artsy" shots that are pretty decent, but they become idiotic when the movie has shots of laughably bad CGI like with the moon. Why try and add beautiful transition shots if you're going to have such horrendous shots following it? The best reason I can guess why Asuka committed suicide was because she felt the group turned on her and didn't care about her dumb dance, but when we get little reason as to what kept this group together, why should this move the audience? There is some unspoken drama, but it's hardly worth addressing. The movie is really short, so we could argue a lot of the bullshit was filler, but why not use the extra time, get rid of the filler, and properly tell the tale? There is something about how Asuka is always smiling to cover up her feelings and blames herself for whatever, but nice try. There are just so many unanswered questions and this is confounded by the idiocy of the plan by Asuka's sister and the sheer shenanigans of the movie as a whole. But with all of this said, there is something amazingly entertaining to it all. The fights are good, the random scenes keep things interesting, and the creative set up to the revenge scheme is fun. If you can manage to track this film down now, I'd say it's worth a view because of how offbeat it is, but you have to appreciate it from a certain perspective.
Notable Moment: When the tough guy thinks he's escaping and suddenly blows up on his little scooter. Well, that came out of nowhere and looked fake as hell.
Final Rating: 5.5/10
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A popular boy easily falls in love with the school outcast, because she's played by Mandy Moore. Nuff said.
Review: Valentine's Day may be over, but I promised to review a chick flick and I shall deliver a chick flick. Okay, I have to come clean here...I actually...can't believe I'm going to admit this...love this movie! It's my guilty pleasure, pretty much the only chick flick I enjoy, and this movie just touches me on some strange level. Maybe it's the film's charm, innocent romance, or that Mandy Moore's character is so likable while somehow being wholesomely hot--I mean, just look at her on the film poster! Now that's the kind of girl you can proudly bring home to mom. I'm not going to pretend this movie is without flaw, because it is loaded with them. In fact, there are moments that are flat out idiotic and off the charts corny, melodramatic, and overly sentimental, but none of this deters from the overall experience for me; this cheesiness probably adds to the charm. Even though the main characters fall in love quickly, I can't help but find myself invested and wanting to see their relationship through to the end. It also doesn't hurt that the leads, Ms. Moore and Shane West, have awesome chemistry with one another and allow the audience to get behind their struggles.
This film is, in actuality, based on a book, of the same name, by the master of cheesy romance, Nicholas Sparks. However, it's definitely of note that the book and this movie have little in common besides some of the characters and certain events. The character's personalities are completely different, the time of the setting is made contemporary, and the ending is completely altered so you really don't need much of an understanding of the novel to appreciate this film as a stand alone entry; although, I suppose if you read the book you may see this film as a bastardization of that material, but they're so different from one another they shouldn't be compared realistically. Anyway, the story is nothing we haven't seen a thousand times before since it's just popular, douchebag boy with a heart of gold falls for the outcast hot girl who changes his life as they get together. Thankfully, the presentation goes in an interesting direction aided by actors playing their parts with utter conviction to bring to life a believable romance.
To set things in motion, the main character, Landon, and his punk friends get some kid to borderline commit suicide and Landon takes the fall...somewhat; after all, he is the "Jedi Master of bullshit." Now in trouble and injured, Landon is forced to join clubs and participate in activities he doesn't want to as a punishment by the principal who is never seen or heard from again. It is at this point that he crosses paths multiple times with Jamie, the daughter of the town reverend. Jamie suffers from Hollywood dorky girl syndrome since she is a hot chick dressed down and given some makeup to look pasty and now she's magically a loser--except she's still played by Ms. Moore and looking oh so sexy anyway! You know, this fact wouldn't even bother me so much if it weren't for the fact that Jamie is seriously better looking than every single female in the entire film; I don't care if she's the absolute biggest geek of all time under all the hotness, she would still be popular, because the natural shallowness of society demands it. Moving on--Jamie tries to be Landon's friend out of kindness, and because she suspects there is a nice guy under the wannabe cool-guy exterior but Landon is apprehensive. Later, the two are cast as the leads in some school play and Landon wants to practice lines together, but is embarrassed to be seen hanging out with Jamie. When Jamie tries to talk to Landon with his friends around, he makes her look like an idiot, which rightfully pisses Jamie off; eventually Landon tries to explain his actions to Jamie, but she's done wasting time trying to befriend him.
Beginning to realize what an asshole he has become, Landon attempts to improve himself which includes trying harder with the kid he tutors, taking his role in the play more seriously rather than simply not wanting to look bad, and finally apologizing to the kid he and his friends messed up who had been hospitalized. When the night of the play rolls around, Landon is shocked that Jamie is looking super sexy and forgets his lines momentarily. I really like this part, because Landon ad-libs his lines basically telling Jamie how beautiful he finds her which surprises her since she knows those aren't his lines. This is probably a good time to mention Ms. Moore sings for herself here as well as a large chunk of the soundtrack. At the close of the play, I guess, Landon and Jamie kiss which is pretty intense for them and the other main characters pick up on this amusingly. In the days after the play, Landon tries to apologize to Jamie for the way he had been acting and tells her that he misses her, likes her, and that he suspects she feels the same way but is afraid to admit it. In a gesture of good faith to show his genuine desire to be with Jamie, Landon buys her a new sweater which had been sort of a running gag throughout the film thus far.
Landon's ex-girlfriend is annoyed that people think Jamie looked hot (whoa go figure) and so she plots (and I use that term loosely) to make Jamie look dumb with one of the worst, pathetically childish, most moronic pranks known to mankind. The ex-girlfriend and Landon's other flunky friends photoshop Jamie's head on to some bikini-clad body and distribute the photo. The idiocy of this "scheme" is further exasperated with laughably bad music playing and when we see so many people laughing like this retarded prank is the funniest thing ever. For some reason this upsets Jamie, but luckily Landon is there to save the day and beat up his bitch-boy friend who retorts with "we're through foreva!" Oh noooo, not "foreva!" Landon finally asks Jamie out for a date, but she's apparently not allowed to date which requires Landon to convince Jamie's whiny-bitch dad to give him a chance--which he succeeds at. Landon goes to great effort to make this date amazing which includes doing things on Jamie's, apparent, bucket list which means a lot to her. At the end of the date, Landon confesses he loves Jamie (slow down there buddy) and the two kiss. We get the feeling that quite a bit of time is passing as we see Landon and Jamie on other dates, spending time together which aggravates his former flunkies, and Landon explains to his mom (played by Daryl Hannah looking like shit) that he wants to put his life on a better path and that it's because Jamie inspires him...aww how sweet!
The movie then ends abruptly with the two living happily ever after--oh wait, nope, Jamie reveals she's dying of cancer! Talk about a buzzkill. Jamie is troubled, because she never thought she'd have something as strong to live for as Landon and obviously Landon is saddened since he doesn't want to lose the love of his life. Landon's friends slowly make peace with him as they realize what Landon and Jamie have together and that they are simply flunkies which is a pathetic kind of existence. Landon and Jamie come to terms with the situation and decide to make the best of the time they have together which is endearing. This also leads to Landon forgiving and becoming reacquainted with his father once more as Jamie grows sicker. Realizing that Jamie's number one item from her bucket list was to marry in the same church as her parents, Landon asks her to marry him which she obviously excepts. Although, wouldn't it have been hilarious if she said no? Plus, this part makes me laugh so much because Jamie says she'd do "anything" for Landon--maybe I'm just a sick fuck, but I imagine any number of shenanigans that Landon would ask her to do. So the two get married and Landon narrates the final scenes explaining that they had one last summer together before Jamie died. Years later Landon returns from medical school to give Jamie's father a book that his wife had given to Jamie. Jamie's father explains that Landon was like a miracle to Jamie which somewhat mirrors what Jamie had said about Landon being sent by God to help her through her death. The film ends with Landon explaining that Jamie's love is always with him and that it's like the wind: he can't see it, but he can feel it.
I don't know what it is about this film, but I enjoy it so thoroughly when I probably shouldn't. The subtle nuances are great, and the corny moments and dialogue somehow enhance the feel creating an inexplicable charm that is hard to establish deliberately. Ms. Moore is wonderful with her dreamy-eyed, innocent hot-dork portrayal of Jamie. I think she did a fantastic job acting for her first lead role while doubling as the main singer for the soundtrack which is an impressive feat; speaking of which, I do like most of the songs. Mr. West, likewise, pulls off a successful portrayal and transition for Landon while coming off as a believable reformed douchebag with genuine emotion. Also, one of the best things I liked about the romance was that even though Jamie was really religious, she never tried to force her beliefs on Landon and loved him nonetheless. Overall, this is the best chick flick out there I've watched...well, to be honest, I do like "13 Going On 30" and "You've Got Mail," but I'll get to those some other time...oh, and I did like "Cyborg Girl" and "Parasite Eve" oh and "Phantom of the Opera" and--what the hell...do I like chick flicks now?! Anyway, check this one out, because it's nowhere near as bad as you'd think and it's really a sweet little film; and this is coming from a horror movie-loving man.
Notable Moment: When Eric says, "Where's your sweater?" in a mocking way. It feels off the cuff, and the look on Landon's face is priceless. I have to give Mr. West credit for subtle acting skills since his character is supposed to feel somewhat guilty, but then he pauses for a second thinking about Eric's joke and laughs because it's genuinely amusing even if he does like Jamie.
Final Rating: 7.5/10
Friday, February 14, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Nothing says date movie like a 3-D ride to HELL!!!
Review: While I generally cannot stand the idea of remakes, the original MBV did leave plenty of room for improvement. Although this film is not a wholehearted success in improving on the original, it did tell a more interesting story and the 3-D gimmick was actually amusing especially if you managed to catch this in the cinema when it was first released as I did. At the same time, this version had certain advantages over the original like better looking babes, a better grasp on the killer's reveal, some genuinely funny offbeat moments, and this film boasts my man-crush, Jensen Ackles, from "Supernatural" fame as the lead character, Tom. SAAAAAAAAAMMM!!! Also, they were smart enough to scrap that ridiculous name of the town--but they also removed that awesome ending theme song!
This movie changes up quite a bit of the story to the point that only a few details and character names remain intact. Harry Warden still went crazy after being trapped in the mine, but this film explains that Tom, who is supposed to be TJ, was the main person responsible for not properly checking the methane levels. Later, Harry comes out of a coma and slaughters the hospital staff before gearing up, in the same infamous miner outfit from the original, to kill idiots at the mine and, of course, trying to get revenge on Tom. After a struggle and a few dead teens later, the sheriff shows up in time to shoot Harry before he kills Tom, but he appears to escape deeper into the tunnels. Ten years later, Tom, who had been missing all this time, returns to town to close down the mine after his father's death as their family owns the mine. With Valentine's Day drawing closer, and plenty of people wanting revenge against Tom for closing down the mine, it appears Harry has emerged once again to kill anyone in his path. There is still a lame love triangle between Tom, Axel, and Sarah, but this time Sarah is less of a tease; she is also married to Axel who has become the current sheriff. The kills are just as good as the original with some really brutal deaths that make full use of the 3-D. The banter between a lot of the characters is funny with some outright humorous scenes giving a nod to the over the top acting from the original; speaking of which, the acting is much better this time with some horror icons thrown in for good measure. There are still plenty of red herrings, but, as with the original, it all comes down to Tom or Axel as the likely killer; although, since this was a remake, you at least have the possibility that things may change so you are a little bit more intrigued than with the original. Another factor is that Harry's whereabouts are less apparent than the original, but, still, this shouldn't fool anyone. The look and approach to the killer miner are equal to the original with the same imposing threat ever present. One thing that did suck was that the mine was not as crucial in establishing the atmosphere as with the original, and the characters don't spend as much time in it. A lot of the cooler scenes from the original are recreated, like the jumpsuits falling down and the body in the dryer, but I think they missed out on some opportunities. Then there is the fact that it's supposed to be Valentine's Day and that should contribute more to the killer's motive, but you don't feel the holiday, and, honestly, there's no real reason why the killer is focusing on V-day.
So after laying waste to, what appears to be, half the town, the killer chases Sarah into the mine as the audience is bouncing back and forth between whether the killer is actually Tom or Axel when both conveniently arrive. The movie does as good as a job as the original to keep you on the fence, but, to change things up, it is revealed that Tom is the killer. Instead of being traumatized as kid by Harry, like Axel was in the original, Tom was traumatized by his near-death experience with Harry, as well as his guilt over the incident, and has spent years away in a mental institution. When he returned to town and found Harry's gravesite, he somehow began to emulate Harry when he found his gas mask. In some ways, this Tom believes he is Harry while still seeing himself separately at times--somewhat like disassociate personality disorder; Tom comes off much more crazy than the original film's Axel whose motive was not entirely sensible. Tom then tries to kill Axel and Sarah, but is seemingly blown up after Sarah shoots methane tanks lying about. An injured Axel is whisked away with Sarah not far behind as Tom has disguised himself as a rescue worker and narrowly escapes to kill another day!
I hate to admit it, but I think I actually prefer this remake to the original. The original is good, no doubt about that, but this film managed to improve upon enough points to slightly edge past it in quality; although I may be biased, because of Mr. Ackles' performance as the killer, the jokes were funny, and the 3-D made things more fun. To the original's credit, it is more of the main V-day themed horror movie, because, as I mentioned, this film doesn't even have a reason to have the holiday as its focus--it's just there. The kills and the presentation of the killer are on equal terms, but the original had the superior use of the mine tunnels for its climax; on the other hand, the remake had more intrigue as to the revelation of the killer and the red herrings felt like genuine possibilities for the killer. I guess it's up to the viewer to decide which they like better, because both felt close in quality with each going for different avenues to appeal toward. If you can check out either this Valentine's Day, definitely go for it and forget the chick flicks.
Notable Moment: When we realize Tom is the killer and they play up the insanity a lot more than they did with the original. Mr. Ackles pulls off a believably psychotic killer quite well, and I love it.
Final Rating: 6.5/10
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: In a small mining town, a seemingly dead killer returns to kill those who did not heed his warning to never celebrate Valentine's Day again.
Review: Okay, so maybe there aren't a ton of Valentine's Day themed horror movies out there after all; plus I have to save a few for next year. Also, I don't think there's an Asian horror film with Valentine's Day as a theme which sucks; sure, not a lot of those countries celebrate it, but come on, humor me! In some ways, this is the quintessential V-day themed horror movie since it pretty much mirrors "Halloween" mixed with the typical '80s cliches. Unlike "Halloween," however, this film is a lot cheesier with some shoddy acting, but the film compensates with more graphic deaths and a mystery as to the killer's identity. And while "Halloween" has an iconic music theme, MBV has an amazingly cornball ending theme based on the title and story--oh the '80s always pulling on my heartstrings (get it...heart...Valentine's Day...okay, I'll shut up now).
The movie opens with the killer offing some bimbo who is never referenced again except to make the mayor start whining like a bitch as a police car is chased by a random dog (not even making that up). I guess he killed her because she had a heart tattooed to her tit--I mean, who hasn't wondered what it would be like to shove a pickaxe through a chick dumb enough to have a tattoo of a heart where her actual heart would be, am I right? RIGHT?! So once upon a time, on a Valentine's Day 20 years ago, some miners were working in a mineshaft when their bosses kind of just walked off the job and they were trapped somehow. The only survivor was some guy named Harry Warden who went crazy and ate everyone trapped with him in order to survive. Dressed as a creepy miner, Harry killed some bitches the following year and warned the town to never celebrate Valentine's Day. Unfortunately for Harry, the name of the town was Valentine Bluffs and there was no way in hell they'd listen to that warning. Ugh. Seriously? You couldn't come up with a better name than that? While we do get some cool kills here and there as the mystery begins, a big chunk of the story is annoyingly dedicated to the main two guys, TJ and Axel, fighting over some stupid tease named Sarah; and she's nowhere near good looking enough to be the heart (see what I did there again?) of the story. While there are ample red herrings, it becomes painfully obvious that the killer has to be either TJ or Axel with each disappearing at convenient moments and looking suspicious as hell. The final climax is pretty damn awesome, I'm not going to lie, as the few remaining survivors are running around the mine tunnels with the imposing killer lurking about. I should mention that the look of the killer is definitely one of the strongest points to this film as the jumpsuit, gas mask, and pickaxe create a truly intimidating fiend for any group of fodder to contend with. Eventually Axel is "killed" offscreen which pretty much tells the audience, which they learn moments later, that he is, in fact, the killer. Apparently Axel's father was one of the supervisors that Harry Warden had killed while Axel hid under the bed. I guess he was traumatized by the incident and emulated Harry to a certain degree. Either that, or he was as tired of his tease girlfriend as I was, and wanted to clean up the other idiots inhabiting this town. It's also of note that the real Harry Warden had been dead for years, but contrivances kept this fact hidden for the majority of the movie. The film ends with Axel being trapped under some rubble and cutting off his arm to break free; he then runs off vowing revenge with Harry at his side setting up a sequel that never came into existence.
At a glance, this film does fall into many of the trappings similar to movies of this era which is a major detractor. The love triangle was lame considering Sarah doesn't even get killed which is borderline unforgivable! On top of that, some of the acting is flat out horrendous especially from a few extras. But if you can get past these flaws, there is a really cool slasher under it all. Sure, you have a fifty-fifty chance of guessing the killer which kind of sucks, but I liked the approach to the killer; he looks cool, feels truly menacing, and the kills are exceptionally graphic for the time. The pacing is good with a little intrigue and a kill right at the moment when you are probably clenching your fist over the dumb love triangle. The setting, and effective use of the mine tunnels, was awesome and established a badass scenario to unfold a bloody final showdown. I'm not saying this movie is anywhere near the level of "Halloween," but this is certainly one of the better clones and well worth your time. If you're looking for an alternative to all the chick flicks this year, this is probably the film for you.
Notable Moment: The ending credits, because it plays one of, if not, the most ridiculous of the movie title-themed songs from the '80s. It's sooooo fucking corny, but I love it nonetheless.
Final Rating: 6/10
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Two young actresses and their film crew find themselves haunted by ghosts after adding a "ghost video" segment to their TV show.
Review: So, I mentioned that I would occasionally add updated reviews to movies I've already covered if I felt the original was not my best, and here is the first of those; my first review, which you can check out, really did not convey everything I wanted to discuss regarding this rarely discovered gem. I can't recall if this was on Netflix or maybe I'm simply dreaming--either way, it's not there now; it probably never was on Netflix, because apparently it still doesn't have a region 1 DVD (oh for the love of Rika!). Anyway, I find myself constantly coming back to this movie, still captivated by its awesomeness. It's definitely a sleeper hit if only an audience had the opportunity to discover it. In terms of scares, this film is easily on par with the legends like "The Grudge" and "The Ring" while simultaneously implementing successful, low budget tactics and creative ideas that allow it to stand on its own as a unique entry in the Asian horror library. While the quality may not be as good as those legends, this film more than makes up for that with unconventional ideas, an engaging story, and originality to the scares in a genre where the audience has seen it all. You'd be surprised by how well this film works despite simply being a combination of typical Asian horror ideas mixed with a found-footage approach. My only caveat is that you must watch until the very end because there are two decoy endings, and I would hate for anyone to miss out on some of the best material.
The film begins by introducing the audience to two young actresses, Mirai Shida and Haruna Kawaguchi, who appear to be playing themselves; the two girls are cute and do a great job portraying their own fictional selves with realistic fright. Mirai has her own low budget TV show, and Haruna is her guest as they add a "ghost video" segment to spice things up for said show. Although the crew believes the videos they're playing are fan submitted, it would appear the videos are something entirely different than what they anticipated. I love that the story pulls you in very quickly, and the scares start rolling before the 10 minute mark; none of that slow burn like the "Paranormal Activity" franchise employs. The first video the crew watches involves a bathroom door opening on its own with no one inside, but then when they try to replay it, the video has altered angles and now a hand appears on the bathroom door. Unnerved by this notion, the girls press on regardless, knowing that they can't afford to screw up acting gigs like this. Haruna recognizes the location in these videos as her old junior high school after the next video shows a shower that comes on untouched and a ghostly visage appearing in a window. The crew tries to stop the DVD, but it won't stop as we see a ghostly schoolgirl laughing on top of a roof; the footage cuts out right as the camera comes to the girl's face. Haruna, who had investigated the hauntings on her own in the past, is freaked out as the crew is baffled by what happened with the original videos. As the girls leave, one of the crew sees a face in the window that looks like the schoolgirl from the video.
The crew seeks the help of a psychic to exorcise any spirits, but she explains that they must appease the ghosts that are drawn to Haruna by going to the school personally. After the school's principal surprisingly allows the crew to visit, they are snagged by the one camera girl and the psychic being caught up in traffic. The remaining crew continues anyway as they meet up with the principal who shows them her own ghost video filmed recently. There is the implication that Haruna's fame has stirred up the ghosts, which would actually coincide with her trying to make contact with said ghosts. More so, the ghost schoolgirl from the video is allegedly a girl who committed suicide who also tried to make contact with spirits just as Haruna had except the rumor was that many ghosts became drawn to her due to this; they also explain that the footage the crew had watched belonged to this schoolgirl. The one camera girl shows up, but says the psychic won't make it as the crew tries to reenact the principal's ghost video to see if it was possibly a mistake or fake. There is a cool moment here, that kind of foreshadows a plot twist later, but it should easily catch your eye that something is amiss.
After roaming around the school, investigating the areas from the videos, and addressing the ghost rumors, the crew comes up empty and decides it's time to leave just as they hear laughter coming from the same bathroom in the video. The camera girl volunteers to be the one to check it out, but the crew hears the crash of her camera and discovers that she has disappeared. They then get a call confirming that the camera girl had been in an accident and was in critical condition. The principal thinks the crew is messing with her so they watch the camera girl's footage just as all hell breaks loose. The lights go out in the school and the camera starts to show a ghostly woman dressed in red emerging from the bathroom seemingly in real time. The group runs away but stumbles across many ghosts now trapping them in the school. Haruna remembers that the rumors said the one schoolgirl killed herself over some boy so she tries to find the school records only to reveal that one of their crew members was the guy. Admittedly, this is the dumbest part of the movie, and serves as a huge ass contrivance, but roll with it. Somehow Haruna is possessed by the ghost schoolgirl who leads the crew to the roof where she throws the guy off in the same manner that she had died. Even though he survives, the spirits appear to be appeased...for the moment. This is also where the first decoy ending comes into play.
Months later, the footage is being shown at a private screening for the big wigs at Mirai and Haruna's talent agency. Apparently they want to torturously add footage of the two girls watching their own movie and seeing the fear on their face. As the girls watch the movie Mirai notices that the footage is changing yet again and Haruna is becoming possessed by the ghost schoolgirl once more. One of the crew members then gets a call from the psychic explaining that the movie is cursed and they all scatter like cowards. Mirai tries to get help, finds no one, and notices that on the monitor there are many ghosts in the theater with Haruna. Mirai bitch slaps the ghost out of Haruna as they notice that they are being filmed by the ghost schoolgirl in an especially creepy moment. Trying to run away, Haruna is grabbed by a ghost as Mirai is pursued by the schoolgirl in an attempt to shut down the movie projector somehow working as a gateway for the ghosts. After shutting down the power to the area, Mirai finds Haruna safe as the real closing credits are rolling. Haruna closes things out by discussing she thought the ghost in red was the key to everything just as we see a final shot of the ghost in red lurking in the movie theater.
Hopefully that synopsis will entice you to check this bad boy out for yourself. Obviously the movie needs to be experienced to fully appreciate the ingenuity with a lot of the scenes, editing, and, of course, cool scares. There are so many fantastic moments, original ideas, and creativity strewn about that I can't recommend this movie enough to Asian horror fans. This film is probably ranked with "White: The Melody of the Curse" and "Ju-on: The Grudge 2" as the most underrated and overlooked Asian horror films that fans need to check out as soon as possible; hell, these are some of the best horror films flat out. From start to finish this film successfully engages you with an interesting story and keeps an impressive pacing moving from one cool idea to the next. Sure, the scares still revolve around ghostly women, and other cliches, for the most part, but they worked with the material and took it in a completely different direction than most movies have been able to accomplish. There are bouts of shaky acting, a few predictable twists, and at least one cheap looking ghost, but none of these aspects hurt the film in a meaningful way and serve more as nitpicking that I would have liked to see improved. Originally I said check this out on youtube, and while that is usually an option, the video quality usually sucks lately. If you can somehow get a DVD, I highly encourage that option, but, unfortunately for us region 1 individuals, we are shit out of luck at the moment.
Notable Moment: When the group runs into an old man ghost outside the school's front door, then, after superb editing, the ghost is on the other side of the door. Cool, scary, and just pure awesome--one of the reasons why this film deserves more acclaim.
Final Rating: 7.5/10
Friday, February 7, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A college student finds herself stalked by her roommate after the roommate develops an obsessive fixation toward her.
Review: Once upon a time there was this movie called "Single White Female," and 19 years later there was an unofficial remake calling itself "The Roommate." If you have watched SWF, then you have essentially watched this film except this is significantly inferior. I don't know what they were thinking--SWF was an edgy, erotic thriller bordering an X-rating, while this film merely pulled a switcheroo on certain plot elements and struggled to get the PG-13 rating. I'm going to be honest, literally 5 minutes into the film I was already feeling homicidal. Bad scenes, bad setup, weak acting, and college cliches galore is not how you want to come out swinging when you know people will notice the parallels to SWF. The only aspect that this film has as an advantage over SWF is that the actresses are way more attractive...to me at least; to be fair, SWF was obviously trying to reach an older demographic anyway.
So what exactly are all the similarities? At a glance, Leighton Meester, as the crazy Rebecca, doesn't seem as obsessed as Hedy from SWF. Likewise, Minka Kelly, as Sara, comes off more as a goody two shoes compared to Allie, who was more of your average '90s woman. But don't let any of this fool you, because the reason is that this movie lacked the ability to establish their characters with depth. SWF had Hedy losing her sister at a young age and slowly becoming obsessed with Allie, then wanting to become her. Here, Rebecca has no true motive to obsess over Sara, except that she's crazy, and it's strangely Sara that had the sister that died. Both movies have lame ex-boyfriend drama with them being killed after having some kind of sex with the crazy one who they believe is the main girl. SWF had a pervert boss, this movie has a pervert teacher with both being dispatched by the crazy roommate. SWF had a dog that gets killed, this movie has a cat that gets killed. Both movies have some masturbation scene from the crazy one. Allie knew Hedy was officially insane when she died her hair the same, this movie, Sara finally knows Rebecca's crazy when she gets the same tattoo...close enough and the scenes felt the same. And both crazy chicks are stabbed in the back as the finishing blow, although, I don't see how Rebecca died but okay. There are a ton more, but I think you get the idea, and the majority of these plot points feel shallow in comparison to SWF, because the characters are nowhere near as compelling. Oh, but hold on, "The Roommate" does have Sara trying to get a new love interest which is different than SWF. Yes, let's not forget that fucking idiot, Stephen, who can't stop smirking in any scene with the most punchable face that has ever graced film! Oh yes, I'd be doing a serious disservice by failing to mention that little bitch boy. Quit fucking smiling you enormous douchebag! I'm clenching my fists just thinking about this guy.
If we at least had an understanding for why Rebecca was crazy or if there was some revelation at the end of the movie as a cool twist, that might have made things a little better and actually interesting. We get the inference that Rebecca has done this before, but why did things escalate this drastically when dealing with Sara? Lots of reviewers speculate that Rebecca was a lesbian due to a variety of reasons, but I disagree; she comes off as her own Hollywood version of psycho with ill-defined motives due to bad writing. I will say this, Ms. Meester was playing her role with conviction and did a nice job, but she was all alone in this respect and the material was simply too shitacular to salvage. Eh, overall this movie pretty much sucks and took me a long time to finally force myself through; I had watched it when it came out, but it was torturous on a second viewing. Other than the lovely ladies, a few interesting moments, and the fact that I can be shown a photo of Stephen and instantly become motivated to be a boxer, this movie has little else to offer. I guess this may be worth your time if you really like the actors involved, but if you have the option, watch SWF instead and you will see the superior version of this tale.
Notable Moment: When Sara tries to shoot Rebecca and the look on Rebecca's face as a reaction. This is probably the only moment of any true emotion in the whole film since Rebecca was genuinely heartbroken.
Final Rating: 4.5/10
Ms. Meester and Ms. Kelly looking so happy together:
Sunday, February 2, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A boy is beaten and humiliated at a Valentine's Day dance only to seek murderous revenge years later.
Review: Well it's February, and I suppose I may as well review some Valentine's Day themed movies...maybe even a chick flick to spice things up. I remember when I was in high school and REALLY wanting to see this movie as an excuse to ask out this girl I liked. Although I never did go out with that girl (tear), it's probably for the best since she would have wanted to kill me herself for dragging her to this mess. This is that kind of slasher where you find yourself imagining you're the killer and how wonderful it would be to kill these idiots yourself. What, I'm the only one who gets that feeling? There are too many stupid moments to believe, and there's a reason why this film has already faded into obscurity. The strange thing, though, is that the idiocy starts to cross into so-bad-it's-good territory, and, coupled with a genuine throwback feel to '80s slashers, you kind of get a mildly entertaining experience like it's '85 all over again. Marty would be proud.
The movie starts off in 1988 when the main characters were teens at some pathetic Valentine's Day dance that only plays sinister music, because they probably suspect hijinks will lead to a masked killer's creation. The said killer, Jeremy Melton, asks all the bitches to dance who promptly reject him except Kate, who brushes him off nicely, and Dorothy who, being the so-called "fat one," agrees to dance which apparently in 1988 was code for making out under the bleachers. Some punkasses see Jeremy and Dorothy and confront the two, but Dorothy says she was being attacked so the punks, for some reason, strip Jeremy's clothes off and then proceed to beat him up. Uh huh. Later, through exposition, we learn Jeremy had been sent to some institute or wherever the hell movie killers end up at. Wait, what? He was beaten up by a bunch of kids and he ends up in trouble? The movie even implies he had a mugshot from that day. So he was arrested too?! Oh movie, you're tooooooo fucking funny!
I don't know why, but the killer focuses on the bitches that rejected him rather than the punks that beat him up, and, big shock, the bitches all grew up into even bigger bitches! In fact, all the characters in this movie are so annoying and/or stupid with the absolute worst red herrings. To the movie's credit though, it does feel like poetic justice, because these are supposed to be hot chicks with good careers and yet they are hopelessly single due to their stupidity and bitchy behavior. The first person to die is rightfully Katherine Heigl, because she's clearly an idiot yet is supposed to be in med school and the killer just didn't trust the idea of her becoming someone's doctor; he probably saved hundreds of lives in the long term--some might even say he's a hero. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the killer is apparently a stereotypical anime pervert, but, instead of his nose bleeding on cue when he looks up some chick's skirt, it's whenever he kills someone. The rest of the movie mostly shows us how dumb the girls are while simultaneously showing off the douchebag guys in their lives except for Kate's on and off again boyfriend, Adam; there is an abundance of red herrings, but it should be pretty damn obvious who the killer is since the movie keeps killing off the red herrings before the bitches. I did like that the killer taunts the bitches with amusing Valentine cards, but you hardly get the impression that it's Valentine's Day in the film.
For some reason Dorothy decides to throw a party even though her friends are being murdered; hmm, sounds reasonable to me. Eventually all the bitches end up dead until only Dorothy and Kate are left as all the remaining red herrings conveniently show up at the party. Kate and Adam get into a retarded fight just as Dorothy tries to create a new Academy Award category for dumbest, most annoying, character in a supporting role. The random partygoers clear out like roaches running from light the literal moment the music stops playing so that the killer can make his final move. Kate thinks Adam is really Jeremy Melton and fights him a bit until the killer seemingly falls on top of her only to be shot by Adam. Underneath the killer's mask is none other than Dorothy! But wait, that makes no fucking sense. Oh, okay, skip to a few minutes later and we see a happy Adam embracing Kate with a bloody nose.
So yes, Adam was really the killer all along as anyone would obviously suspect. Now he can live happily ever after with Kate except for the fact that his DNA is at every crime scene. You know what, how the hell did the police not know he was the killer? They should have been able to track down Adam's background yet they claim they can't due to contrivances, his DNA is at every crime scene and they would have tested it against Adam when they interrogated him, and how did Adam have a fake life offscreen that Kate claims exists which is why she "knows" he can't be Jeremy Melton? Dorothy's stepmom should have been the killer or someone else we wouldn't have seen coming a mile away. There were so many pointless red herrings that one of them should have been the killer and add some crazy twist as to their motive. Here's an idea: the movie already established a shot of a random kid at the 1988 dance wearing the killer's mask so that could have been anyone. Why not say this masked individual was Jeremy's brother, or better yet, sister, that blamed the girls for their part in Jeremy's beating and make the killer reveal that Jeremy killed himself recently which is why he/she chose this time, of all years, to finally seek revenge. Hell, say the sister was adopted and since Dorothy's stepmom was as young as Dorothy, it could even fit the plot. But nope, play it safe with the most obvious and only likely character as the killer, that works too I suppose.
I know this movie probably sounds more moronic than so bad it's good, but you kind of have to experience the increasing levels of stupidity to fully appreciate how humorous it can become. Like the fact that the killer seems to be everywhere and always knows when someone wanders off and the killer appears to be able to teleport for good measure. Or like how Dorothy is saying she "knows when she's being dumped" then moments later saying "he loves me" and then even later saying how Kate is jealous of her; I found myself laughing more than I would with most comedies. Somehow the off the charts brain dead characters, corny dialogue, lame choices, and all around idiocy brings it together for an enjoyable experience...it's hard to explain. I was going to give this movie a much lower rating, but I was laughing too hard for that. I'm not going to say this movie is worth checking out, but if you're into this kind of slasher material, you may find this one amusing enough to warrant a view. Just be sure to sharpen your knife ahead of time as you should find yourself homicidal long before the credits roll.
Notable Moment: When Kate is running through the house and stumbles upon one body after another. Wasn't there supposed to be a party going on here? How the hell did no one else find these bodies?! Oh movie, you got me again!
Final Rating: 5/10