Friday, March 31, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A sickly man and his wife return to the island where he was born in order to uncover the secret surrounding his birth.
Review: This was probably the most quoted movie by my college crew and I back in the day. I don't remember why we all sat around to watch this shit, but it was an experience to say the least. There isn't even anything particularly special about this film although it does kind of border on so bad it's good territory. I mean, you've got shit audio, laughable dialogue, shitty creature effects (dubbed "stupid little ETs" by my roommate), nonsensical character decisions, and a plethora of other technical and story-related problems. In essence, "Bleeders" is a fucking mess, however, despite these issues, it kind of has a special place in my heart. And there are a few legitimately good aspects such as trying to incorporate a cast of quirky characters like "Baby Laura," the little kids, the town ho (presumably), etc. as well as that shitty dialogue being amusingly quotable. Hey, sometimes you have to look on the bright side!
The story is utterly preposterous with some incestuous family moving to an island hundreds of years ago. Over time, and a lot of inbreeding later, this family has transformed into these deformed, hermaphrodite creatures that I will refer to as little ETs. A doctor and his nurse discovered the little ETs somehow bred a normal-looking boy and took him away. Now as an adult, named John, he has returned to the island with his wife to seek answers. Much of the story is comprised of nothing more than shenanigans related to the islanders, but I'm okay with that I guess. Apparently John-boy here is dying from blood poisoning since he is lacking an integral part of the little ETs diet: formaldehyde-soaked meat. Yeaaaah, makes perfect sense. It would seem the little ETs have tunnels under the island that lead to the cemetery where they get all their food. Unfortunately for the islanders, the bodies were all dug up due to shoddy caskets or whatever. Since the little ETs are starving, they attack the islanders which is a beautiful coincidence that Johnny has shown up at this precise moment in time. So the islanders decide to fight the little ETs which is hilarious since they pull all manner of guns out of their asses yet still can't hold their own against the stupid little ETs wielding fucking sticks. Once John-boy learns the truth, he eats a baby in a jar that has been hanging around for god knows how many decades, and he's magically all better. What's worse is that his wife makes out with him right after and they fuck too! I don't think I could love someone that much! Anyway, Johnny saves the day--sorta--by keeping the little ETs at bay but not before turning to the dark side. I just love how his first order of business when embracing his lineage is to eat some kid. Well, I'll give them some credit for having the balls to kill the kid characters. So...yeah...the film ends with the little ETs giving up and everyone is safe...? I don't know. But then we are treated to one more scene of Johnny realizing he has a fugly twin sister that the film notes could have sex with herself but chooses to bang her brother instead. Thanks for letting us know, movie. Let me get this straight: John-boy's wife puts up with his bullshit for however many years, loves him enough to make out/fuck after eating a jar-baby, and is pregnant with his demon-spawn, and he's just gonna throw her away to be with female-Sloth in a cave?! Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.
Hmm, what to make of this nonsense. Surprisingly, "Bleeders" has a fair amount of titties which I suppose is a draw...in a way. Rutger Hauer is here...collecting a paycheck. Umm...did I mention the cornball dialogue? It really is cheesy in a fun way. Look, this movie is pure shit--more akin to something that was made for TV--but it can provide casual entertainment. This doesn't mean I'd ever recommend checking it out, but it does hold a layer of nostalgia to me. Maybe those looking for ridiculous horror movies will get a kick out of "Bleeders." Hell, it definitely is original, that's for sure.
Notable Moment: When "Baby Laura" throws the knife in the one little ET and says, "NO FUCKING WAY!" Then she dies laughably with a soundbite clearly missing. Too funny, man.
Final Rating: 4.5/10
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: After a car accident, a man is lured through a dark forest to a mysterious house where the children are not what they seem.
Review: It was difficult leaving this film and "Spider Forest" off my "Top 10 Underrated Asian Horror Movies" list (which you can click and check out!), but, realistically, neither of these movies are horror. Oh sure, there are horror elements and a few light scares, however, this is pure fantasy--albeit, a dark fantasy, but fantasy nonetheless. As I stated in my original review, this may be the best Korean movie I have ever watched which is saying something considerable. From the beautiful visuals to the surreal set designs, "Hansel and Gretel" flawlessly captures the notion of a fairy tale brought to life. At the same time, the story is completely original and not simply a retelling of the titular fairy tale. If anything, numerous fairy tales are given nods throughout the story as this twisted tale takes its own, unique form. The only thing that baffles me is that this wasn't a bigger success in Korea.
I want to live there!
So...to begin things properly I'll give a brief summary of the plot. Our lead, Eun-soo, is driving to meet his sick mother when he suddenly crashes; not quite to grandmother's house we go but close enough. Eun-soo then awakens in a dark forest where he meets a whimsical-looking girl named Young-hee. This early exchange is so great they decided to put the image on the cover! Seeking help, Eun-soo follows Young-hee back to her home at the center of the forest which is a sight to behold. Here, Eun-soo meets two other children, an older boy, named Man-bok, and a little girl, named Jung-soon, as well as the fidgety parents. It doesn't take long for Eun-soo to realize things are not right since the house is filled with toys, they eat sweets and cakes for breakfast, and the parents have little control over the children. As it turns out, the children have psychic powers that border on magical due to their reality-warping capabilities; their powers were brought out by their life as tortured, molested, and neglected children living in an orphanage. Seemingly, through sheer willpower, the kids developed their abilities in a manner that fit the Hansel and Gretel story of burning a witch in the oven. Since discovering these powers and creating an imaginary dimension, the children became semi-immortal and have been seeking out someone who would be willing to be their parent for decades. As people try to escape the kids, they are dispatched with in strange ways only a kid would think up. Growing attached to Eun-soo due to his empathy toward their plight, the kids become threatened by a weird religious zealot that has nefarious plans for the children. After helping the children stop the zealot, they refuse to ever let Eun-soo leave which pains Eun-soo since his girlfriend is pregnant and his mother is dying. Realizing how much they are hurting Eun-soo, Young-hee feels sorry and explains that Eun-soo can only escape by burning the drawings the kids made of him that bind him to their world. Returning to the real world like nothing even happened, Eun-soo lives his life, marries his girlfriend, takes care of his son, and his mother apparently overcame her illness. The film ends with Eun-soo finding a notebook from the children under his Christmas tree a year or two later, and it's left up in the air if they're happy now or longing for his return.
All the kids and the fake parents.
First I want to address the technical accomplishments. The set designs are utterly mesmerizing with such attention to detail--it's impressive. You have all the little toys, trinkets, and random items everywhere. This must have been a continuity nightmare for the script supervisor! The aesthetics are equally eye-catching with this surreal depiction of what heaven would be like from the perspective of children who only experienced suffering beforehand. From the lighting to the camerawork, and everything in between, suffice it to say, the cinematography is breathtaking. There was a lot of creativity put into the production whereby everything fits together thematically...if that makes sense. The style of the house with its labyrinth-attic and the dark, gloomy forest are perfect--I couldn't imagine them done better than what we see depicted.
As for the story accomplishments: I believe the biggest success is in successfully capturing the fairy tale sensation; this really does feel like a storybook given life. The immense sadness of the children and their longing to find someone who cares for them is especially powerful. The fact that they keep stressing that everyone wants to leave them and hates them is something that makes the kids feel sympathetic despite their actions. Furthermore, it's hard to completely blame them when they kill someone since, to them, they're in an imaginary world with no sense of consequence. This leads me to the next point: the characters are well acted and given a lot of heart. The actors deserve much praise especially from the kids since they aren't annoying at all (to me at least). Of course, the best is Eun-kyung Shim who plays Young-hee. She brings a lot of conviction to her character that makes her the most likable, and she effortlessly outshines the adult actors with nuance; this is why I mentioned that it was disappointing that she had such a bit role in "Train to Busan." Lastly, the resolution and ending are incredibly touching with the final music piece sealing the deal. We are left to wonder if the kids have ultimately found happiness or not, but we can say for sure that they still think about Eun-soo. There are some powerful emotions at work in this conclusion that's for sure.
This shot is perfect. It's seriously as if taken directly from the page of a book and given life.
Unfortunately, it's time to discuss the negatives...though there aren't a lot. The most noticeable detriment is the overly long running time. I really love this movie, but it definitely did not need to be almost two hours long! This could--no, should--have been reduced to around 90-100 minutes. It's not that there isn't enough material, however, the ideas are presented well enough that we don't need excessive scenes that neither further character development nor enhance the narrative. For example, the flashbacks to the orphanage and everything with Santa needed reduction along with the entire opening scene; just cut directly to Eun-soo driving and crashing. Speaking of Santa...the origin of the kids' powers is questionable and borders on nonsensical. Yeah, yeah, I get it, given the subject matter it's hard to ask for logic, yet, I can't ignore the notion that their belief in Santa and Christmas wishes suddenly unlocked godlike powers! Honestly, the film's shortcomings are minute and hardly deter from the overall achievements.
Without question, "Hansel and Gretel" is a film worth seeking out for fans of Asian cinema or those just wanting to see something good for once. From a production standpoint, the film is beautiful to behold. You will be sucked into this immersive world, captivated by its attention to detail and sense of wonder, and it will stick in your own imagination long after the credits have finished rolling. The story is emotionally charged with a combination of drama, thriller, and dark fantasy to set the stage. The characters are interesting and will thoroughly invest you in their plight and pain. There is still a chance that any kid actor can annoy some audiences--so fair warning in that regard--yet I'm confident in the actors' performances. The only things you really need to keep in the mind are the running time--which the pacing eases you through anyway--and remove any belief that this is a horror from your mind. Plenty of critics and reviews claim this is a horror, but they need to lay off the blow. Or just go into this completely blind, like me, and you will come out pleasantly surprised.
Notable Moment: When Eun-soo first awakens in the forest and meets Young-hee. It's simply awesome imagery and sets the tone immediately with its whimsical, dream-like setting.
Final Rating: 8/10
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: The owner of a cable station discovers a bizarre, pirate broadcast of real life torture and murder as next level zany antics ensue.
Review: Well, potheads, this one's for you. There are few films as imaginatively strange as "Videodrome." Honestly, it's hard to even think of what to say without going into endless, nonsensical tangents. Although the medium of cassette has come and gone, and television itself has fallen into shambles, this film still offers a story with implications applicable to today. There are numerous times you will be left wondering what is real and what is imagined yet it never comes off as a cheap trick. Due to the horror elements, "Videodrome" is simply too captivating and you are left wondering where this freaky trip is heading. Does it completely succeed in this effort? Yes and no. You will certainly remember this film for years to come, however, I don't think the vision of the story's scope is fully realized; we are left with a lot of unanswered questions by the end.
You know, it occurred to me that the director/writer, David Cronenberg, really should have teamed up with Clive Barker at some point in the '80s; they could have made one hell of movie! Or how about a "Videodrome" sequel mixed with "The Ring?" Now that could be epic! Anyway...where was I? Oh yes, so what the hell is happening here? The main character, Max, played by James Woods, is looking for something edgy to add to the cable channel he operates. A "hacker" reveals to Max a show that is nothing but random people being tortured and murdered which is called--you guessed it--videodrome. When investigating into the matter, Max begins to experience nightmarish hallucinations that appear to warp reality in the process. Eventually Max learns that videodrome is more of a weapon intended to kill the degeneracy of society that would enjoy watching videodrome to begin with; apparently when watching videodrome you develop brain tumors as a side effect to the hallucinations. Toward the end, Max is controlled by the shady characters behind videodrome until he is told he must transcend his flesh form--becoming one with the TV universe or something. Hell if I know--it could ALL be a hallucination at this point as far as I'm concerned. After killing his handlers, Max kills himself as we fade to black...left to believe whatever we want to believe.
Obviously the biggest draw for the film is the crazy visuals which includes some impressive special effects. Where else are you going to see an erotic TV come to life and a guy lose a gun inside his chest-vagina-betamax player?! But there is more to the set pieces than freaking out unsuspecting stoners. There is this theme that watching TV changes a person. The film proposes the notion that certain parts of the brain are triggered when in the viewing state which fundamentally alters the human form. Watching TV does put you in a susceptible state, but the film takes things up a notch by showing a physical transformation resulting from watching increasingly edgy viewings like videodrome. Realistically, we could spend a lot of time dwelling on this subject, but let's leave it at the notion that it's interesting!
As for my individual gripes with "Videodrome:" I feel like the film kind of unravels toward the end. What is real and what is hallucination is questionable and the endgame of the villain seems outlandish. I dare say things feel rushed to get to the credits--like a scene or two has been cut somewhere along the way that would have spread out the ideas. Likewise, what is happening can be somewhat confusing during the last 15 minutes or so. I mean, one minute Max realizes he's been betrayed, then he's brainwashed, then he's un-brainwashed(?), then he's at a shipyard shooting himself? Ehh. The buildup and pacing are so great that it's tough to see things fall to pieces at such a critical moment in the story. Finally, James Woods' acting can be uneven. Sometimes he's properly scared, as he should be during freaky moments, but then he's a smug bastard all of a sudden? Not buying it.
I want to add that, annoyingly, there was a deleted scene that explained how videodrome came into existence which would have helped to see years ago! So I'd suggest you make sure to track down that scene if you're going old school and actually watching this on VHS (the only way to go). And you should watch this since it's something much weirder than the typical slasher fare the '80s were infamous for. Not only was "Videodrome" going outside of the box, it made the box explode with tumors. While I have covered other unusual films like "Hausu" and "Crazy Lips," this film is it's own level on the weirdness scale. This is yet another instance where you essentially need to to see it to believe it...which is quite apropos. Death to videodrome! Long live the new flesh!
Notable Moment: Hmm...very tough to pick. I guess my favorite would be when the TV comes to life so to speak. The effect for the screen is especially noteworthy.
Final Rating: 6.5/10
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: An experimental android befriends a family and their neighbors in an attempt to become more human.
Review: This is one of those movies where I'm like the only one who even remembers it exists. Come on, it has Bastian from "The NeverEnding Story" in it! Well, in all fairness, this isn't really all that memorable of a movie so it makes sense that it has fallen into obscurity. However, it's one of those cheesy family movies that can only come into being through the usage of '80s magic. On the plus side you have that image of '80s suburbia where everything appeared fun and wholesome. On the other hand, this is like a blander, dumber version of "E.T." meets "WarGames." I mean, D.A.R.Y.L. is supposed to stand for "data analyzing robot youth lifeform"--which is a mouthful--and yet the poor kid is clearly some kind of android. Actually it's best not to think too deeply about the how and why of Daryl's existence since it won't add up.
So what is happening in this film? Daryl is freed from a laboratory by one of the doctors and is later adopted by a couple. While befriending the neighbors, Daryl tries to observe human behavior and incorporate what he learns meaningfully. There was definitely a missed opportunity to expand on Daryl's experiences, but, hey, what can you do? Instead they focus on bullshit like Daryl learning to play baseball, trying to figure out what a hooker is (don't ask), and dealing with his bitch of an adoptive mom who is annoyed that Daryl is the perfect child. Yeaaah, because I'd be totally pissed if my kid knew calculus at ten! Maybe chalk that one up to zany, '80s shenanigans? Nah. Anyway, there is little in the way of drama or struggle, hence, the blandness to the story. There is no real villain or obstacles to overcome up until the end when things shift into an action movie out of nowhere. Once the military reacquires Daryl, they want to destroy him...because...why not? Yet another doctor helps Daryl escape, they go on the lam, Daryl steals a jet, the military thinks they blow him up, and Daryl seemingly drowns. Since Daryl's brain is a computer, he magically survives and...they live happily ever after...I guess...? Not sure how the military will never figure this shit out or, hell, why they never assumed Daryl would go back to that family in the first place. Also, it's said Daryl can grow into an adult which further complicates the future for this kid and kind of defeats the entire purpose of why the military wants him dead since they claim they want an adult version. Just wait or why the fuck did you make a kid version to begin with, you pedo idiots?!
I know I sometimes make movies sound dumber than they actually are, but "D.A.R.Y.L." is more on the mediocre side than anything else. Yet, it's worth noting that the film has a layer of charm that simply works if you enjoy '80s cinema and their tropes. The events aren't all that exciting, but it won't bore you either--it's just somewhere in the middle. I don't imagine modern audiences will be impressed, however, I think '80s kids could sit down with their own children and get enjoyment out of this one. Of course, others might find greater enjoyment than I--I just thought I remembered this film having more heart to even out the slowness to the pacing. Nevertheless, this is an okay watch, but if you forgot it existed you will not be at much of a loss if you continue on with that mindset.
Notable Moment: When the doctor lets Daryl drive during the random car chase that comes out of the blue. This is so outlandishly preposterous that it becomes awesome!
Final Rating: 5.5/10
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A group of strangers converge at a motel where they are mysteriously murdered and a connection to one another is revealed.
Review: Think of "Identity" as the existential version of "And Then There Were None." While it is a bit cheap to borrow a plot line so heavily from that famous book, the film's story line is certainly a unique enough spin to stand on its own. If anything, it's more of an homage in a manner reminiscent of another film I reviewed, "The Incite Mill." What is undeniable is that "Identity" flawlessly depicts great intrigue and a moody atmosphere. The mystery unfolds at just that right pace to keep the audience guessing while never overstaying its welcome. Unfortunately, the ending is probably going to be on the polarizing side since it's predictable in a manner in which you are hoping that's not the direction things will go (if that makes sense).
What truly works in the film's favor is how the mystery and intrigue unfold...BUT you have to look at the story from a certain perspective. The film begins by, seemingly, introducing us to the implied killer which is some dude getting a late night hearing or whatever. Anyway, we then cut to the events at the motel where all the characters converge in the midst of a huge storm. I can't emphasize enough how much I love the rainy sets! Shortly after all the characters cross paths, the murders begin with an unseen assailant responsible. Adding a nice little touch is that a room key is left at each murder counting down from 10. Ahhh...but notice there are 11 characters...hmm! At first things appear straightforward with a human killer until supernatural elements kick in like the con character somehow teleporting back to the motel after running off into the desert. This introduction to supernatural elements was an especially cool change to the tone since it added a lot more to contemplate toward the intrigue factor. The characters do try to figure things out and, in the process, suggest many things the audience will suspect like ghosts or whatever; surprised no one mentioned aliens though.
With the bodies piling up, the characters come to the realization that they must be connected to one another--that there must be a specific reason for all these impossible coincidences to occur. Such connections include things like their names all based off states in the USA as well as everyone having the same birthday. At this point you will have either figured everything out or will be even further in the dark; I believe they handled this process well with the tight pacing. As it turns out, each character is merely a personality within the mind of the implied killer at the beginning. All the aspects of the film and the characters have had a connection to his life, and a psychiatrist is trying to force out the specific personality that is the murderer. Eh, it makes more sense in the context of the film, trust me. This leads to all the personalities dying except one which is a hooker with a heart of gold (of course). Believing everything is okay now with the personalities killed, they transport the killer to a mental hospital only to reveal who the real killer personality was: some stupid fucking kid! Ughhh. Again, it does make sense within the context of the story--it's just disappointing nonetheless. At the same time, it is predictable but in a way that you're praying to Rika that you're wrong about the direction things are heading.
If you can get over the lackluster payoff or, better yet, appreciate the twist, then you will realize "Identity" is a first-rate mystery-thriller. The story simply hits all the right notes in just the right amount of time and manner to suck in the audience's attention. You will want to know what's going on and will be left guessing the whole time. The actors are all pretty good and will keep you engaged with what becomes of their characters. Though, the little boy is painfully annoying on multiple levels. The mystery itself is what's important, and it's executed seamlessly regardless of the obvious usage of "And Then There Were None" as the framework. I do highly recommend checking out "Identity" due to the excellent intrigue, wonderful abundance of rain, and everyone loves a good whodunnit mystery especially when it has a supernatural edge.
Notable Moment: I've always liked the scene where Ed explains to Paris why he quit being a cop. It feels believable and adds a layer of depth to Ed despite the twist regarding his "life."
Final Rating: 7/10
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: An elite police officer must hunt down a group of criminal androids which are prohibited from use on Earth.
Review: I've always viewed "Blade Runner" as a flawed masterpiece. You have spectacular visuals with an, almost whimsical, soundtrack to properly enhance the tone. However, the pacing is slow, the action is light, and we don't gain a true insight into this universe despite the director, Ridley Scott, accomplishing the scope. The film is based on a book by Philip K. Dick, called "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" yet the film deviates heavily from the source material; the book serves more as a foundation than an adaptation. Then we must deal with the numerous edits of "Blade Runner" which further complicates things. I guess just stick to whatever version has a damn unicorn prancing around in it! Hmm, maybe there is a connection to "Legend" there. What if "Legend" is actually the distant future of "Blade Runner" and they're all replicants?! I think I'm on to something here...
A quick rundown of the story: Harrison Ford plays Deckard, a former cop who was also a Blade Runner. Blade Runners hunt down androids, called replicants, that are used for commercial use off Earth but are outlawed on the planet itself. In this instance, four replicants are trying to figure out a way to extend their life since they have been designed to die after four years. As Deckard tracks their movements, he becomes connected to the company that manufactures the replicants, the Tyrell Corporation. There, he meets a replicant so advanced she doesn't even realize she is a replicant; her name is Rachael, and, of course, there is a romance subplot between her and Deckard. Eventually Deckard kills all of the replicants (or at least they all die one way or another), but, in the process, begins questioning whether it's right to do this while simultaneously hinting that he may also be a replicant. The film ends with Deckard and Rachael running away together to go dream of electric sheep I suppose--maybe electric unicorns.
The Good: The cinematography and special effects are utterly amazing. From a visual perspective, "Blade Runner" is in a sci-fi league of its own with special effects that hold up better today than most films from the last 10 years can. Furthermore, the designs to everything, from the clothing to the basic look of Los Angeles, are so visionary and awe-inspiring. Sure, they didn't set the future far enough along--mindlessly only jumping to 2019--but one can not help but to appreciate the powerful usage of camera trickery, unique styles, and attention to detail right down to the extras and background buildings. Honestly, whether you enjoy "Blade Runner" or not, it's worth a view just to see how much better special effects could be without CGI. Now...to properly set the tone of these visuals we have a kick-ass soundtrack that only the '80s could produce. When you combine these two elements together it's no wonder that "Blade Runner" became the kind of inspiration it did to other filmmakers. Essentially, you can still feel this film's influence on sci-fi to this day which is saying something tremendous considering this was, by no means, a success in the way of "Star Wars." To put things succinctly: "Blade Runner" succeeds on all technical fronts in a way few other films could dream.
As for the acting...most turn in commendable performances with Rutger Hauer being the most memorable I'd say; Harrison Ford is a bit underutilized, but this is more of a nitpick than anything. The themes are some next level existential shit, however, I think casual audiences will still appreciate the philosophical debate about whether the replicants are human or not especially if they have been given fake memories. The usage of the noir genre works well, making use of a narration from Deckard to boot. Assuming you are watching the director's cut or whatever, the ending does leave you guessing about Deckard being a replicant which is a nice touch. The theatrical ending makes things feel a tad more abrupt since you have no final thoughts about the characters really. Personally, I always thought the debate was kind of cut and dry--Deckard's eyes glowed in at least one scene which means he must be a replicant. Forget anything about the unicorn...human eyes don't fucking glow! Unfortunately, the sequel coming out kind of leaves us with no other alternative but to accept Deckard was human since old man Harrison Ford is still playing the character. I guess they will be using the theatrical cut as the basis for the story then.
The Bad: While I certainly appreciate everything this film has to offer, I won't pretend like I wasn't a bit disappointed the first time I saw this. Yes, blame the studio for setting this up as an action movie--I get that--BUT, come the fuck on, son, the movie's name is "BLADE RUNNER!" Nobody even has a sword! Deckard is said to be the best and yet he gets obliterated in every...single...fight. Yeaaaah, okaaay. Let's see...Zhora: could have killed Deckard but ran away until shot. Leon: about to kill Deckard and he's saved by Rachael. Pris: again, could have killed Deckard but fucks around until getting shot. Finally, Roy: could have killed Deckard, fucks around until his time alive runs out. This is our hero...the best Blade Runner?! Seriously, Deckard should have been shown as a badass in at least the first fight to establish the character's skills. Realistically, Zhora and Pris should have been depicted as dying easily, maybe make Leon only start to win because of a sneak attack, and then only have Roy as trouble since he's a combat unit. The action, as shown, demonstrates to the audience that the Blade Runners are nothing special which is a failure in storytelling. Meanwhile, these action scenes are short and spread thin across the running time. I'm not advocating for Michael Bay shit, but you can't honestly tell me Deckard's credentials are ever established as a Blade Runner let alone the fucking best! And don't even get me started on the plot holes if Deckard really is a replicant! A replicant made to hunt other replicants should have turned into some "Mega Man" shit! Anyway...much of the problems with the lack of action boil down to slow pacing which will bore casual audiences or even fans who came into this for the first time with certain expectations. Lastly, we don't get a thorough exploration of the characters, motivations, or backstory. There is this lingering hollowness to the story that shouldn't be there. The epic scope feels so rich yet we don't get enough tidbits to satiate the urge to know more about this world and how it operates.
Overall, the film is a visual wonder that revolutionized how many filmmakers looked at sci-fi. The style, the sets, the special effects--you name it--are topnotch and can go toe to toe with any big budget film of today. The music is simply awesome and enhances the emotional rush you feel when considering the greater themes at work in the story. The down side is that the pacing can be infuriatingly slow at times and not adequately make use of the action when it comes. Due to this lack of execution in the action, the potential of the greater story at hand feels wasted--as if we are only seeing a small glimpse at a grander idea. Nevertheless, "Blade Runner" is still essential viewing for the sci-fi genre and it still remains an '80s masterpiece. I highly recommend checking this out if you've been on the fence for years, however, understand the kind of story this film is really trying to tell.
Notable Moment: The opening scene is simply so iconic. We have our first view of this future coupled with that awesome soundtrack from Vangelis. Through one shot alone, the filmmakers have told the audience almost everything they need to know and effectively established the tone. That's an impressive feat.
Final Rating: 7.5/10
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A woman stays at a, seemingly, idyllic apartment building where her friend mysteriously disappeared.
Review: Once again, I only bothered with this movie to see my dear Danielle Harris; it has been a while since I covered one of Danielle's movies anyhow. Unfortunately, she is barely in the film--unceremoniously killed off within the first two minutes. Yeaaah...not the best way to start things off for me. However, that is the least of "Havenhurst's" worries as it's as mundane and pointless as a horror can possibly be. It's not that it's a completely bad movie, but it's boring and, at times, painfully stupid which is unforgivable given the extremely short running time. The only redeeming qualities are the set designs and the polished picture quality that makes you think you're watching a bigger budget flick. Typically I'd consider Danielle a bonus point unto herself, but that ain't happenin' this time around.
I'll just start naming random problems as they come to me: the main killer is nonsensical and has supernatural strength and speed with no explanation; the killer is implied to be human so this is just a bizarre decision to make. Yes, this is a horror trope, but this guy is fucking teleporting and throwing people around like rag dolls while not exactly having the body of Jason. Anyway, the little girl character is absolutely annoying and her line delivery makes me weep for humanity. She's just so mechanical that I should probably blame the director for allowing such a shit display. Furthermore, making her join up with the family of killers is stupid and comes out of nowhere with no buildup. Introducing characters for five seconds just to bolster the body count is cheap and ineffective. The traps and mechanisms scattered about the apartment building aren't even cool since they feel contrived; pretty much all the mechanisms are so ridiculously situational that it would be virtually impossible to imagine them in advance without a need for their implementation. For example, the random switch in the vent or the barricade that drops down. None of these would have a reason to exist unless the creator anticipated someone uncovering their secret AND the killer being in the perfect position to trigger these traps too! It's just moronic. And who the fuck is maintaining these traps a hundred years later?! The film tries to claim this family of killers are connected to the serial killer, H.H. Holmes, who lived in the goddamn 1800s! These mindless contraptions would be rusted to hell and back at this point. Ugh, fuck this movie...it's putting me to sleep merely thinking about the idiocy.
Other than a decent production quality, there is nothing of note besides Danielle Harris. The film is boring, predictable, cliched, and outright stupid more often than not. The traps, which should have been the highlight of the action, are too convenient and illogical to take seriously especially when being implemented by an invincible killer that defies all reason. I mean--FUCK--there was a scene where he's in the basement and then, maybe, 30 seconds later is dropping out of the ceiling! WHAT?! And the cherry on top of this shit sundae is a horrible little kid actor. Seriously, stop adding children to horror movies! Or at least have the balls to kill them off. Overall, I do not recommend "Havenhurst" at all. It's not the worst movie out there by any means, however, it's forgettable and doesn't even employ any so bad it's good moments. Plus, killing off Danielle so quickly is the worst mistake you can make.
Notable Moment: Thinking up a worthwhile scene is actually kind of difficult. "Havenhurst" is just that mediocre. Umm...I guess when the killer pulls a drill arm out of his ass. I think that qualifies as shenanigans, but I had become bored out of my mind at that point.
Final Rating: 4/10
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A man unknowingly witnesses the murder of two children which leads to some kind of mental breakdown.
Review: After "Il Mare" I was left still wanting more of the sassy girl herself, Ji-hyun Jun, so I tracked down the closest thing she had to a horror movie besides "Blood: The Last Vampire" (which I already reviewed). Sigh...to call "A Table for Four" a horror is a huge stretch of the definition. Sure, the story does start off with horror elements but, unfortunately, morphs gradually into a psychological thriller only to close things out as a lame melodrama. The whole time I kept wondering what the fuck is happening here?! Besides being genre-confused, the story has a plethora of wasted potential. You have all these amazing ideas without any connection to one another--thus, creating a series of incoherent, unrelated events. And just when you think all of these shenanigans are building up to an epic twist or revelation--that somehow all these pointless plot tangents will come together--the movie simply ends out of nowhere with little to no resolution. Oh goodness gracious.
Starting things off, we meet the main character, Jung-won, as he falls asleep on a train shortly after two little girls sit near him. When he wakes up just in time at the last stop, he notices the two little girls are still there. He hesitates to do something, but, ultimately, decides to go home where he meets up with his fiance. While he was gone, the fiance designed a dining table set in which a spotlight shines on the chairs, opening up all manner of pretentious interpretations from the audience. Come to think of it, this film is loaded with pretentious ideas begging the audience to ask "what does it mean?" I do want to add that the fiance is made out to be an annoying nag, but she's actually more of a sweetheart if you analyze her actions and dialogue. I'd take her off this sleepy douchebag's hands! Anyway, after learning that those two little girls were murdered by their mom, Jung-won starts to see their ghosts or he's feeling guilty; whichever you believe to be occurring. As some kind of architect, Jung-won begins work on the office of a psychiatrist where he finds himself drawn to a depressed woman, named Yeon, played by Ms. Jun. After many fateful encounters with Yeon, Jung-won ends up taking her home after she passes out due to her narcolepsy. When her husband comes to fetch Yeon, she remarks to Jung-won about his kids, implying she sees the ghosts too! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the end of the horror aspects. What a great setup though, right?
As the film progresses, things become less and less coherent in ratio to the increase in zany antics. Everything with the ghosts is suddenly dropped as the story pursues mindless dramatic plot lines. Of course, Ms. Jun brings such passion to her role, but she can't save this film alone. I'll just run down some plot points the movie emphasizes yet connect to nothing: Yeon lives near Jung-won and goes to his father's church. Jung-won didn't know he was adopted and killed his real father after he ran a child over and hid the body. As a consequence, Jung-won also accidentally killed his sister. Jung-won has been haunted by these memories and believed they were just nightmares. Yeon's best friend killed Yeon's kid and there is some, unspoken relationship going on there. Yeon's husband thinks Yeon actually killed the kid. Yeon's weird friend commits suicide in a fashion similar to an incident earlier in Yeon's life when a crazy cat lady killed herself. Likewise, we randomly see a dying cat in the same exact spot where that cat lady died. Yeon's husband believes she's cheating with Jung-won and Jung-won's fiance believes he's cheating with Yeon; neither of these passive bitches tries to figure out the truth. Yeon claims she and Jung-won have psychic-esque abilities...okaaay? Yeon eventually commits suicide and her ghost happily haunts Jung-won?! Don't get me wrong, if some ghost that looks like Ji-hyun Jun wants to haunt my dinner table, please do!
I'm only scratching the surface of plot tangents that go unresolved. The story is a complete fucking mess. However, what kills me is the lack of bringing things together. My fucking goodness...the solution was staring these idiots right in the face. Simply reveal that Yeon was Jung-won's sister! His memories were hazy enough to not know for sure if she died. It would explain why the two are drawn to one another, why only they can see the ghosts, why they're both so damn sleepy, and, for me, explain why there was no romance between the two despite them feeling so close to each other. Or, if a familial bond is too cliched, then add something--anything--to bring this shit show together meaningfully. As it stands, you have nothing more than a series of events that serve more as padding than to enhance the story and characters. Hell, the level of nonsense is so high you could very easily argue the whole movie was in Jung-won's head after he was hit by the debris that fell out of the ceiling.
I'm blaming a lack of direction for why this movie fails. There appears to be no planning to the events or how to incorporate them together. Furthermore, the genre keeps changing when a solid horror premise was established only to be squandered. The acting is decent and there are good ideas and visual scattered about, however, this simply reminds you that this could have been a significantly better film. As much as Ms. Jun is growing on me with each passing film I see her in, this is not worth seeking out. Overall, the story is disjointed and disappointing, the ending is lackluster and unresolved, and I hate seeing potential wasted in this manner.
Notable Moment: When Jung-won's fiance tells the story about people praying for rain but only one person having faith enough to bring an umbrella. Not sure if it was made up for the movie or an existing morality tale, but it was quite poignant and the only aspect I thought about after the movie was over.
Final Rating: 5/10
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Idiots get in over their heads after watching the cursed video tape and angering the spirit of Samara.
Review: Twelve years after "The Ring 2," and multiple delays later, we finally get "The Ring 3" or "Rings" as they moronically decided to call it despite there already existing a short in this franchise with that title. Come to think of it, they basically ripped off the short which is technically canon since it leads directly into the events of "The Ring 2." Well, huh. Nice going jackasses. Anyway...after my initial viewing I just thought "Rings" was okay--better than I thought it would be truthfully. Seven days later and I realized this movie was pure garbage! It's just like that piece of shit "The Force Awakens" in that it's a glorified fucking remake masquerading as a sequel! "Um, it's called a soft reboot," says smug retard. No, it's called selling the same movie twice. "Rings" essentially follows a beat for beat retelling of the first movie which was already a damn remake...of a remake...of a film based on a book. Oh for the love of fuck, let this shit sink in! We are talking derivative-ception.
The story starts off okay with some dude getting killed on a plane followed by a professor stumbling across the plane-guy's tape at a flea market or something. I love how Samara appearing on a plane doesn't make the news. Later on, things go downhill when we meet our cornball leads. The guy, Holt, ends up in that professor's class where the professor is using his students to study the effects of watching the tape, hoping to find proof of the afterlife or whatever bullshit. I know I'm making it sound stupid, but this idea is actually somewhat decent and along the lines of what the short was trying to depict. As people watch the tape and become cursed, the professor arranges for the individuals to pass the tape on and further continue the experiment on unwitting pawns. However, some chickadee ends up getting killed by Samara who also happened to claim Samara's spirit has grown restless with her tape being manipulated. Again, this all would be cool if not for the leads--enter the female lead, Julia. After Julia watches the tape, things go a bit differently with the tape's events changing and no longer able to be copied. This means they need to analyze new shots and figure out what Samara is trying to say. This leads the couple to the town where Samara's body was buried after the events of part 1. Through all manner of shenanigans, we come to learn that this town is where Samara's real father lives who is a blind priest. Also, Samara's real mom from part 2 was supposedly held captive and raped by this priest in his dungeon. Oh goodness gracious. Why didn't they just stick with the implication presented in part 1 with Samara's "adoptive" mother simply being unable to conceive and using other, alternative, measures to create Samara? Besides, who even remembers anything from part 2? I'm trying to forget! So the blind priest suddenly becomes the villain as they try to free Samara's body because...why not, right? After freeing Samara's soul, and burning the body, we come to the shocking conclusion that Samara is really evil and begins sending digital copies of the cursed tape all over the internet. Hmm, Samara actually being evil...where have I heard this before? Then, magically, Julia becomes Samara. Whaaaat? Sure, if this were reality, of course Samara would try to trick other people into helping her, but, from a narrative perspective, the audience already fucking knows this truth! It's boring, repetitive, and outright lazy writing.
It's not all terrible though. The film looks good and Samara looks more intimidating like she did in part 1. Though...she's a little girl--stop casting adults to play her. Speaking of our girl, I did appreciate the use of old footage with Daveigh Chase. At least someone in editing realized that Ms. Chase defined the role and made it memorable. Despite only delivering a handful of lines of dialogue, she so perfectly captured that evil, creepy little girl persona. She IS Samara--she can't be as easily replaced like the Sadako character who is merely a wig and a white dress. Beyond that, there are a few decent scares scattered about. Likewise, I did appreciate the basic premise of the story before it descended into sheer idiocy. However, the good ideas are stolen directly from the short...so do they really deserve any credit whatsoever?
I had planned to give "Rings" an average rating, but I have to take points away for basically repeating the same plot line as the first film. The only originality comes from the short with the same title so, realistically, this is nothing more than stolen ideas with a shiny finish. The main characters are annoying and nowhere near as likable as Rachel, Noah, and Aidan. Making matters worse is the ridiculous ending that makes no damn sense whatsoever. Hell, if Samara is "reborn" shouldn't she at least look alive? I might have given a bonus point if they brought back a grownup Ms. Chase just for that one scene. Obviously I don't recommend this unless you need closure in your life. If you never watched "The Ring" then you will probably see this more favorably, but why on earth would you do such a thing? Twelve years waiting for this is sickening. The material should have been put into capable hands that could have taken the story to a new place rather recycling old material. This is especially troubling when we consider the Japanese franchise has also destroyed their credibility too. Goddamn, son!
Notable Moment: When Samara appears outside the bathroom window. I knew this was going to happen! It was too good of a concept to waste so I'll give credit where credit is due.
Final Rating: 4/10