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Review:Ravenous

This seems to be a film that a lot people come across by accident and I was no different. It really is an under-appreciated gem of a film with a story that is refreshingly different from most films in the horror genre. It has a great cast especially Jeffrey Jones, Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle. The bleak mountain location looks both beautiful and deadly and really plays a vital role in the film giving a genuine sense of total isolation.

Captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is a decorated “hero” of the Mexican-American War under very dubious circumstances where his cowardice in battle allowed him to infiltrate enemy lines and take out an entire fort. General Slauson (John Spencer) tells him straight that his choice was to either shoot him or give him a medal and PR demands a medal. But he also wants Boyd out of the way so he has him posted to Fort Spencer high up in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.

In charge of the fort is Colonel Hart (Jeffrey Jones) and under him is the constantly drunk Major Knox (Stephen Spinella) who is the closest they have to a surgeon and Hart warns Boyd that it would be better to not get sick than rely on Knox. The other men are Private Toffler (Jeremy Davies) who is nervous and devoutly religious, Private Cleaves (David Arquette) who is constantly stoned on marijuana and peyote and Private Reich (Neal McDonough) who is the only person at the Fort vaguely like a real soldier, though he is a bit intense and humourless and he takes an instant strong dislike to Boyd. There are also two Native Americans at the Fort: Martha (Sheila Tousey) who seldom speaks and her brother George (Joseph Runningfox) who doesn’t speak much English.

Next day Hart sends Cleaves off with Martha to get supplies. That night after Knox has drunk himself into a stupor Hart nicks his drink and he sits down with Boyd for a talk and Boyd tells him about how he got his medal. Boyd had pretended to be dead even to the point of being buried in a large heap of bodies near the Mexican fort. Blood from the body on top of him went in his mouth and down his throat. This changed him and gave a feeling of strength which he used to take on the Mexicans by surprise.

While they are talking Boyd sees a figure out of the window. They find a man (Robert Carlyle) unconscious outside and they bathe him and leave Toffler to watch over him. When he recovers he tells them his name is Colquhoun and he was part of a party of six who were travelling west across the mountains guided by a man called Colonel Ives. Ives got them lost as winter snowstorms came and they were forced to take shelter in a cave. Soon they were trapped and first had to eat all their livestock. Then they fed on the body of a man who died from starvation. Even more time passed and Ives killed another man to eat and Colquhoun claims he left the cave at the point and wandered lost until he found the Fort.

After they have heard Colquhoun’s story Hart tells them that they have to go to cave to check it out in case there is anyone left alive. Next morning Hart, Boyd, Reich, George and Toffler all get ready for the long trek up there and a surprisingly fit Colquhoun joins them, willing to show them the way to the cave. George is very agitated and he shows Boyd and Hart a picture on an animal skin of a Wendigo and tells them the legend of how if a man feeds on another man he possesses his spirit and it gives him strength, but it also gives him a hunger for more human flesh. Reich ridicules this story but George brings out another skin with a picture of Jesus, pointing out that during a Christian Mass they eat the body of Christ.

During the very long walk to the cave Boyd talks to Colquhoun, asking him about how he felt after eating human flesh and Colquhoun admits to feeling a strange strength but he’s interested in how Boyd know seems to know about it. Further on Toffler gets excited about a bone he’s found but when he tries to pick it up the clumsy idiot falls down a hill and ends up with a large wound in his abdomen. Reich patches him up and they make camp for the night. Their rest is disturbed by Toffler’s screams when he wakes up and finds Colquhoun licking his bloody wound. Colquhoun tries to claim he was asleep and having a nightmare but that hardly reassures anyone so he demands that they tie him up. The next day they get to the cave and I won’t say what they find there but soon the rescue mission becomes a fight for survival.

I really enjoyed this film and I think it’s a pity that it isn’t better known outside of fans of the horror genre. It doesn’t rely on special effects but instead the story is driven by the characters which are really brought to life by an excellent cast. The story itself feels pretty fresh and I was never too certain where it was going to go but I‘m pretty satisfied with the direction it took. I also really liked the folksy feel to the music, written by composer Michael Nyman and Damon Albarn of Blur, which at times gives a light tone to some fairly dark scenes but at other times is appropriately moody and creepy, all performed on traditional instruments such as banjo and accordion, fitting in perfectly with the film’s period and setting. There is some gore which is unavoidable in a film about cannibalism but it’s never too gratuitous. If you haven’t seen this film then I highly recommend it

Rating 8.7/10

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Prometheus

When I first heard Ridley Scott was making this film it was a prequel to his 1979 science fiction horror classic Alien. Without giving anything away it is only technically a prequel since it deals events in the same fictional universe prior to the events in Alien or its sequels but it isn’t really an Alien film. I had held back from watching the recent trailers and supplementary films but there’s was no need to worry since in this case they don’ t really reveal much and the supplementary films provide background not covered in the film itself, especially the TED talk by Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) and the fake advert for the android David (Michael Fassbender).

A pair of archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover that many cultures have references to a race of giants from a distant star system. Shaw and Holloway believe these people engineered our species and they convince the Weyland Corporation to send a mission to this distant system to meet our makers. The mission includes various other scientists and in charge is Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) from Weyland who is accompanied by her android David. They are travelling there on the Weyland deep space exploration ship Prometheus which is captained by Janek (Idris Elba). When Prometheus gets to their destination David awakes the crew and passengers from hibernation and they land on the large moon of a gas giant next to a large hollow mound that has clearly been constructed by an alien race.

I won’t go into spoilery specifics about what happens next but they explore the mound and come up with more questions than answers about what the beings who built it were up to. The pure motives of the explorers Shaw and Holloway comes into conflict with those of Weyland Industries and things go very wrong when they start to discover more what happened to the giant aliens.

This is a pretty good solid science fiction film. It really isn’t an Alien film but it is an exploration of the universe that led to the Alien films. In an interview Ridley Scott had expressed surprise that a lot of elements of Alien had not been explored in sequels such as the giant alien they found dead on its ship. This film goes into the background of that a bit more but it also raises more questions than it answers

The main performances were good but a lot of the background charters felt only lightly sketched and seemed to be written to serve the story more than real people . This a big contrast with Alien that really had fairly strong individual characters. Noomi Rapace was great as Elizabeth Ward and she is one of the characters who develops through the film into (of course) a Ripley-type character. Michael Fassbender was really good as the creepy android who keeps saying things you really wish were not in the mind of an android. There were certainly strong similarities with the replicant character Roy Batty in Blade Runner. Charlize Theron is okay as the cold company executive but she really doesn’t get that much to play with. There isn’t a lot of action or gore but there is enough for the type science fiction that it is. The ending was okay but it was really a brazen piece of sequel baiting. I doubt that this will be only version of the film released and I wonder what extra footage will be included on the Director’s cut

Rating 8/10

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

There’s seem to have been an all out hate-fest on this film and I not going to try rebalance it with my own views on the film .Sure it’s not a classic and maybe it isn’t as good as the original made for TV film that I have never seen or heard about or even heard anyone talking about. I have to just give an honest assessment of how I found the film I watched with no regard to other people’s views on it and I found it was a creepy film that was well acted but perhaps let down some hoary old clichés making an appearance in the writing.

In a short prologue we learn that an artist called Blackwood had his young son stolen from him by a race of ugly tiny creatures who can’t stand bright light and live behind a grate in his cellar. He kills one of servants to give them the teeth that they are after but they told him they only want children’s’ teeth and they take him instead.

Eight-year-old Sally (Bailee Madison) is flown across the country to stay with her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his partner Kim (Katie Holmes) in their big old house that they have bought to restore and sell on. Alex is an ambitious architect who wants to use the restoration as a demonstration of his skills to potential clients. While he loves his daughter he’s not very happy that his ex-wife has dumped Sally on him during a time that is important in his career. Kim is uncomfortable helping Alex look after Sally since she has no experience with children and worries about getting it wrong. Sally knows all this so she’s feeling a bit unloved.

Sally goes exploring the garden of the house and she hears voices whispering her name, the voices of the nasty little creeps from the prologue. Sally follows voices that leads her to a window to basement that neither Alex of Kim new existed but we saw this place in the prologue. It’s the place where the servant was killed and there’s the grate with the little creatures sealed up behind it. Sally is fascinated by the voices and when no-one is looking she sneaks down into the basement with a wrench and unscrews the bolts holding the grate in place. Harris the gardener goes back down later to put the grate in place because he knows what’s behind it, but the little creatures attack him and he ends up badly injured in hospital.

The creatures are after Sally and they appear in her room, whispering nasty little half-truths about how her parents don’t want her but they do. At first she thinks the creatures are friendly but its not long before their hostile nature shows. When they rip up Kim’s clothes her father he blames Sally but Kim doubts she did it. The creatures attack her in her bath and still her father blames her but Kim knows she is showing signs of genuine fear. Alex insists on calling in a psychiatrist who prescribes pills to make her less annoying to Alex. This leaves Sally feeling so alone and desperate that she calls her mother and pleads with her to let her come back home but her mother brushes her off. Naturally she is terrified because she thinks she is on her own against creatures that want to steal her away to some unknown but no doubt horrible fate.

This film had a lot real nice scary atmospheric scenes and Bailee Madison was very convincing as Sally. There  were a few clunky bit of exposition but I’m not too put off by that and it didn’t drag me out of the film. The CGI creatures were definitely scarier when they were in dark than when we get to see them but they were okay.

Rating 7/10

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Film

 

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