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Detention

Streaming on Netflix

detentionI have already reviewed a film called Detention with a similar basic premise to this film but this has very different style. In fact this film is all about its style and if you find its too-cool-for-school self-aware hipster hilarious then this will be perfect for you. I didn’t like it at all. I think that this film annoyed me so much because it wants desperately to be a cool, culty film but it’s so busy being impressed by itself I felt it vanished up its own fundament.

The hate starts right away with an introduction to some spoilt brat cheerleader character Taylor Fisher (Alison Woods) whose fourth-wall-breaking reality show style narration of herself gets interrupted by the film’s killer in the mask of a cheesy derivative killer Cinderhella from a slasher film series that is popular because it is cheesy trash.

The main character Riley Jones (Shanley Caswell) is introduced by a sequence that deliberate echo of the Angela’s introduction and she’s every bit as self-obsessed as Angela but it manifests as self-pity instead of arrogance. She is also cynical and judgemental and it’s this character who put me off the film because I found her insufferable.

Riley goes to high school to meet the other characters who are the usual bunch of clichés that never get deep below the surface of what the barely literate literati use as labels nowadays. There’s Carlton Davis (Josh Hutcherson) who is a bland adolescent but apparently cool because he doesn’t care and is so random and he has a cheerleader girlfriend called Ione (Spencer Locke) who used be Riley’s best friend until she got a bitch implant and of course Riley fancies Carlton because it is in the script.  Carlton has friend called Sander Sanderson (Aaron David Johnson) who is barely formed just like him but a virgin. Of course there has to be a bully and he is  … who the hell cares really he’s a cartoon character defined completely through the eyes of those who are not him and the film just at laughs at its own attempt to give him a backstory and he’s called Billy Nolan (Parker Bagley) just like theBully in Carrie and he’s a football player

There are various background clichés like the nerdy Asian student called Toshiba and the teachers at the school are the various types of caricatures of the types staff that populate the American High School movie such as the cartoonishly angry football Coach and the Headmaster Verge (Dane Cook) who hates all the kids. The story is so busy giving us all these characters and set up before it finally remembers that there is a killer.

There plot with the serial killer is still somewhere in there and he makes a couple of attempts on Riley but no-one believes her until after a drunken party where Billy Nolan gets killed and Verger puts the main cast and supporting characters in detention to prevent them going to the prom. This is the point where the plot starts piling on the absurdity in the hunt for the killer which includes time travel, an alien modified stuffed bear and a threat to the future of the whole world. The story is certainly not lacking in imagination or audacity. There’s an amusing scene where they are watching Cinderhella on an illegal streaming site and there’s a scene in that film with a bunch of students in detention watching an illegal bootleg DVD of a cheesy horror film which in turn has a scene of students in in detention who watch a bootleg VHS tape of a cheesy horror film. It gave me chuckle

I have been pretty negative about this film but I realise it is not being targeted at me. Many people will love this film and I can completely understand that. It has been compared to Scream and Scott Pilgrim vs The World and that is a reasonable comparison but I don’t think it succeeds like those films. I will not be surprised if this becomes a cult films as it will probably find an appreciative audience out there. I’m just not one of them.

Rating 4.0/10

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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Carrie (2013)

Cinema Review

Carrie 2013 DVD 001I wonder how much point there is giving a separate plot outline in the case of the is film since this remake sticks so close to Brian de Palma’s original film. Some remakes take the original story as a starting point for creating a different story and that can be a great success such as John Carpenter’s The Thing or David Cronenberg’s The Fly or total disasters such as Day of the Dead or the Wicker Man. Other remakes stick to the original story but update the setting and these tend to seem a bit pointless. Unfortunately this Carrie remake falls firmly in the “a bit pointless” category.

This version actually starts with Carrie’s birth and we see Margaret White (Julianne Moore) in labour and sure she is dying of cancer. When the pain goes away she finds she’s given birth to a baby girl and she is about to kill the baby with a pair of scissors out of guilt at her sin of fornication. Fortunately she doesn’t but then it would have been a very short film if she had. It is clear that Margaret White is manically religious and even though she should seek medical help her beliefs won’t allow her to.

Forward to Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) being just as crap at water volleyball as the original was at volleyball.  We get to shower scene which where Carrie has her first period and thinks she’s dying while the other girls pelt her with tampons and shout “plug it up”. Carrie is hysterical with fear and humiliation by the time the PE teacher Ms Desjardin (Judy Greer) arrives and puts a stop to it. Almost unnoticed in the chaos are clear signs of Carrie’s telekinetic power. Another update for modern times is that one of the girls Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) films it on her mobile phone.

The headmaster and Desjardin talk to Carrie about what happened and assure her that nothing is wrong with her. When they tell Carrie that her mother is coming to collect her Carrie gets upset and lashes out with her nascent power breaking a water cooler. When Margaret arrives it’s clear that her religious mania has not diminished and Carrie has been on the receiving end of her very extreme views all of her life. To Margaret there is her God and herself and the rest of the world is of Satan, especially the school.

Desjardin punishes the whole class with strenuous exercises and let them know what she thinks of their stunt. Most of the class accept their punishment with resignation but Chris is a sociopath and refuses to accept that she did anything wrong. She tries to get her classmates to join in her selfish little rebellion but they refuse especially Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) who really regrets what they did to Carrie. That leaves Chris stomping of in a huff on her own vowing vengeance so Desjardin suspends her meaning she can’t go to the Prom.

Sue decides that she wants to do something for Carrie to make up for taking part in humiliating her so she talks her hunky jock boyfriend and really nice guy Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort) to take Carrie to the Prom. Carrie is sceptical as is Ms Desjardin but Tommy and Sue is determined and eventually Carrie agrees.

Carrie is really looking forward to the Prom but there are two dark clouds on the horizon. Chris is plotting a way to get back at Carrie and convinces her violent older boyfriend Billy Nolan (Alex Russell) to help her out. Then there is the problem of Margaret White who won’t stop going on about sin and evil and trying to undermine Carrie’s confidence

I won’t talk about the last act at the Prom but if you’ve heard of the story you’re probably aware that everything comes together in a horrific combination of good intentions and petty vengeance resulting in the force of a lifetime of anger breaking free tragically.

The story is strong and this film certainly does a fair job bringing it to the screen and I have no problem with any of the performances of the cast. It does update the story so I guess this film is for anyone allergic to seeing it set in the 70s with 70s fashions but it really doesn’t do anything De Palma’s film didn’t do. For me the main problem it just didn’t make feel the emotions at play the way the original one did and that is most obvious when the film gets to the Prom scene.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Detention

DVD Review

Detention dvd 001My first review of 2013 is this fairly run-of-the-mill story of high schools students being terrorised by a vengeful ghost I actually mistook this for a different film also called detention but this film came out two years earlier. It has a low-budget which means cheap CGI and most of the time it manages to work well without using them but when they do appear they aren’t very good. This film features the late David Carradine in what must have been one of his last film roles. At first I thought the character clichés would get annoying but they do try giving a couple of them a bit of depth

The set-up is that in the 70s a bunch of high school students are involved in a prank that goes tragically wrong and a boy gets burned to death.

Forward to the present and we see the two main characters nice hot jock Paul (Preston Jones) and nice hot girl Lisa (Maitland McConnell) getting given detention for arriving late by Principal Hoskins (David Carradine) while he is talking to a new history teacher Miss Cipher (Alexa Jago). Hoskins also hands one to a passing Goth girl Sara (Zelda Williams) who accepts it like it is a daily ritual.

The unused incinerator where the boy was killed is still in the boiler room in the basement but Hoskins is finally getting the go-ahead to get rid of it and so he has two workmen getting it dismantled. The spirits make the metal incinerator door slam shut on the hand of one of the workmen severing some of his fingers and halts work while the other workman takes him to hospital.

At the end of the school day the whole school is getting whisked off  on buses to watch some sort of big match so the school will be empty except for the pupils in detention, their teacher Coach L (Thomas Calabro) and Miss Cipher who turned down the creepy offer of a seat next to Hoskins at the match.

The usual bunch gathers in the detention room. Paul and Lisa meet up with Paul’s friend Jack (Billy Aaron Brown) who is an immature pest. They also meet up with Mimi (Rachel Sterling) who has bitchy slutty spoilt rich girl persona and Sam (Michael Mitchell), a weird boy who stalks Mimi and she tolerates his attention and even lets him claim to be her boyfriend. Sam deliberately got detention after Mimi got detention so he could look after her. As they walk to the detention room they don’t notice the black CGI ghost smoke flying around the corridors and it flies around Sam before entering his body and knocking him to the floor like he’d been punched. He gets up asking if anyone saw it but like I said no-one did.

In the detention room Sara is already there as well as the final student and to complete the list of shallow stereotypes we have T-Loc (Jonathan ‘Lil J’ McDaniela black student with an aggressive persona. He enjoys making remarks about Mimi who is capable of giving as good as she gets but it winds up Sam. Coach comes in and takes control, first by taking away all phones, I-Pods and knives and locking them away in a desk drawer. He then makes them get on with whatever pointless busy work they have been assigned. Now the creepy stuff starts with Sara seeing a face at the window in the door. Coach is doubtful until he sees shadows of someone passing the door. He goes to investigate and runs in to Miss Cipher who was just about to come in. They hear noises in the school so Coach goes with Miss Cipher to investigate and he locks the detention room door behind him which is a very stupid and irresponsible thing to do. Remember he also locked away all their phones too which is was also very stupid but seems to be required for the plot. Miss Cipher had come to tell the Coach that the police had called to tell them that because of a storm that is raging outside the river is too high and bridge too dangerous so they are trapped there for the night. They make their way to Hoskin’s office but the CGI ghost smoke appears and they get separated.

Back in the detention room after the usual pointless bickering they start wondering if something happened to the Coach. They are locked in the room but T-Loc brings out a lock pick. Before he can use it to open the door Sam grabs it out of his hand and tries to open the door but because he’s a klutz he just break the lock pick.

They start seeing ghosts who are replaying the events of the day the boy was killed. Sara starts to freak out and wants to leave. No-one even talks about leaving by the fire exit but I think Sara tried the window once and then they just left it. Paul knows another way out of the room – a door hidden by furniture and boxes and labelled Fire Exit but it isn’t a fire exit, which is lucky because I’m sure blocking off a fire exit is a criminal offence. Everyone goes out through the door which leads down to the service tunnels and eventually to the boiler room. Sam pushes his way through first so he can check if it’s safe for Mimi and he goes rushing on blindly. Mimi and T-Loc keep together which naturally leads to heavy petting when they find somewhere quiet. Paul, Lisa and Jack go off another way. Sara refuses to leave because she’s got claustrophobia so she stays in the detention room and now everyone is split up into isolated groups, all the better to be picked off the spirits haunting the school

The film was bearable but it’s just not very interesting or memorable. The characters are pretty thinly drawn though T-Loc, Jack and Mimi do get a bit of fleshing out. The same cannot be said about Paul and Lisa who remain pretty and bland. I already mentioned the cheap CGI but another problem I had was that the background noise was pretty loud all the time and it was often difficult to make out what the characters were saying.

Rating 5/10

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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Carrie

October Horror Month

Another late one, I need to get better at time management. This is one of those rare creatures, a film adaptation of a Stephen King story that King is happy with and although are some changes they are not significant.  This the story of a lonely girl who only wants to be accepted and when there’s the hope that might be starting to happen a cruel prank leads her to unleash years of rage in an awful demonstration of her psychic powers.   

It opens on a high school PE class and they are playing volleyball. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is an awkward girl and not very co-ordinated so when the ball gets passed to her she drops it, to the general disgust of her team-mates. In the locker room afterwards while the other girls muck around nude in slow-mo Carrie showers alone. Suddenly she has her period and is terrified because she just knows she’s bleeding but not why. She pleads for help but they all just make fun of her and they start throwing tampons at her and chanting “plug it up, plug it up,” The bulb in the shower blows and it’s the first small sign of Carrie’s powers that barely gets noticed in the noise.

The PE teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) hears the noise and goes to investigate and Carrie is hysterical and Miss Collins is not happy with any of them. She can’t understand why Carrie is reacting so badly to having a period until she realises that it’s her first and she doesn’t know what’s happening. Miss Collins sends the other girls away and calms Carrie down and explains it to her.

Miss Collins talk to the head teacher Mr Morton about how Carrie was never told about periods or anything else about sex either and teacher blames her extremely religious and extremely crazy mother. They call in Carrie and Morton keeps calling her Cassie which she corrects quietly and makes an ashtray sitting on his desk wobble with her mind as he talks to her. She flips it right over when he gets it wrong again and corrects him loudly and leaves. As Carrie walks home a young boy on a bike rides around her and teasing her, calling her Creepy Carrie so she makes bike his tip over with her powers.

Mrs White (Piper Laurie) is visiting her neighbours, proselytizing door-to-door and giving out religious tracts. She goes to see Mrs Snell (Priscilla Pointer), whose daughter Sue (Amy Irving) is in Carrie’s class. When she is getting into full flow about the evil that grips the world Mrs Snell interrupts her and gives her $10 donation to shut her up and get rid of her. Mrs White takes the money and leaves but she’s not happy.

Mrs White goes home and Carrie is upstairs in her room when the phone rings. It’s Miss Collins telling her about Carrie’s period. Mrs White tells Carrie to come downstairs. She smacks Carrie over the head with the bible and reads out passages about sin. Carrie wants to know why she didn’t tell her about periods but she just carries on forcing Carrie to repeat passages about Eve’s curse of blood for her sin. Her mother says she knows Carrie sins and drags her into a cupboard. In the cupboard is a gory explicit statue of St Sebastian full of arrows. When she comes out of cupboard later she thanks her mother for abusing her who says she can go to bed and Carrie makes a mirror break with her mind powers.

In school next day the English teacher Mr Fromm is reading poetry to the class. It is apparently by Tommy Ross (William Katt) but Fromm seems to doubt that he wrote it. He asks the class what they think and quietly Carrie says she thinks it’s beautiful and Fromm gets really nasty and takes piss and Tommy curses him under his breath

Miss Collins is with the PE class, all except Carrie, and she is punishing them for what happened with Carrie. None of them cared about Carrie’s feelings. Miss Collins wanted a really harsh punishment for them but Morton made it one week detention with Miss Collins on the athletic field.  Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) says she’s not coming and Miss Collins says the punishment for skipping detention is 3 days suspension and no prom tickets. She drills them very hard and the jaunty goofy music slows down as the all get tired. Chris whines that she’s had enough and swears at Miss Collins who slaps Sue really hard. Sue says she’s going to report her but she gets no back-up from other girls and walks away raging and planning vengeance.

Sue Snell goes to the track to talk to her boyfriend Tommy and she wants a favour from him. Sue is genuinely feeling bad about her behaviour in PE class and wants Tommy to invite Carrie to the prom instead of her.

Chris is with her boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) in his car driving around. He’s drinking beer and talking to other people cruising around like his buddy Freddy and a car full of girls. Suddenly a police car appears and Billy panics and hides the beer spilling it. Sue gets mad at him calls him an idiot and he slaps her. Sue and Billy get to a party and in the car she kisses his fingers then is making out but she stops to fix her hair she calls him dumb and he slaps her again.  She kisses him to talk him to doing something for her. She gives him oral sex and while she’s got her mouth full she say she hate Carrie White and Billy just says “Who?”

Carrie wants to know more about her powers and goes to the library to look up miracles and reads about telekinesis in several books. Tommy comes up to her makes a bit of small talk. He invites her to the prom and she runs off, so used to being teased she is sure this happening again.  Miss Collins finds her outside and Carrie tells her about it. Carrie thinks it’s a trick which it isn’t but it isn’t totally honest either. Miss Collins tries to tell her she an attractive young woman

Miss Collins talks to Tommy and Sue, thinking that something is going on. Sue says it’s really to help Carrie out by getting her out talking with people. Sue really wants Tommy to try and talk Carrie into accepting as she really thinks it will help her. Miss Collins is frustrated as there’s little she can do but she’s on her guard.

Tommy goes to Carrie’s house and fortunately she answers the door but stays behind the screen to speak to Tommy.  He tries to persuade her to go to the prom and won’t take no for an answer. Tommy says it because she liked his poem. Eventually she agrees and goes back inside quickly before her mother hears them.

Sue, Billy and Freddy break into a local slaughterhouse and climb into a pen full of pigs. Freddy is talking tough about how he’s going to kill a pig but craps out and hands the hammer to Billy who brutally smashes a pig to death with it.

At dinner Carrie isn’t hungry and tells her mother about the invitation to prom and it’s not too hard to guess her mother’s crazy overreaction. Carrie knows everyone thinks she’s a freak and just wants to be normal and go to prom. Carrie begs and pleads while Mrs White goes into a crazy religious rant and she forbids Carrie to go. Carrie uses her powers to make windows close and says she’s going and things are going to change. Carrie tells her about things she’s learned about her powers and of course her mother talks about and Satan tells her to renounce her powers. Carrie is not listening to her mother’s crazy talk any more Carrie and says she’s going to the prom.

Chris, Billy and Freddy break in to the school hall where the prom will be held and set up a bucket full of pigs’ blood above the stage. They fix it so that they just pull on a rope and it tips the blood over whoever is standing underneath it.

The day before the prom there are scenes of everyone getting ready for the big night. Carrie makes herself a dress and goes to a shop to buy herself lipstick.

Sue gets Freddy and one of her friends Norma to volunteer to do the collection of ballots for the Prom King and Queen to ensure her despicable plans works out.

That evening Carrie is getting ready putting on make-up and not listening to her mother who runs her down and says Tommy won’t come and they will all just laugh at her. When Tommy does arrive Mrs White tries to stop her leaving but Carrie forces her mother back down onto her bed with her power and leaves. Tommy drives them to the dance and Carrie is nervous and they wait in car before they go in while Tommy talks to her until she  relaxes.

Inside there’s a rock band playing and people up dancing. Carrie gets talking to one of the othe rgirls who is dating Tommy’s firend and she admires Carrie’s dress and is surprised to hear the Carrie made it herself. Tommy asks her if she wants to dance but Carrie says she wants to just sit for a while

Miss Collins comes up and talks with Carrie about her own prom and Carrie is starting to relax and have good time. Tommy invites Carrie to a party after the prom then asks her again if she wants to dance but Carrie says she doesn’t know how. Tommy shows her what to do and as they dance he kisses her. She asks why she’s here. Why? Why? Why?  Tommy calms her fears and says that they’re here and they’re together they like it.

They hold the vote for King and Queen and they see that their names are on the ballot. Tommy says they should vote for themselves and Carrie protests but Tommy say to hell with modesty.

Chris and Billy are hiding under stage ready with the rope to tip the bucket of blood. Their pals are collecting the ballot papers and they dump the papers they collected and replace them with their own pile of papers.

The result is announced and of course it’s Tommy and Carrie and Carrie feels so happy and accepted as they walk to the stage to the applause of the crowd in slow-mo. Sue has actually sneaked in to the hall and is so happy watching Carrie having a good time, getting her picture taken.

Sue sees the bucket and follows the rope down to where she sees Chris and Billy hiding under the stage. Miss Collins sees Sue looking up and following the rope from the bucket and thinks Sue is up to something and she tosses her out.

Chris pulls the string and the blood tips all over Carrie. Everyone is horrified except Chris’s friend who laughs loudly. Tommy is really angry but he gets knocked out by the bucket falling and hitting him in back of his head. There is only really that one girl laughing but Carrie has gone crazy and her mother’s word echo in her head and she sees them all laughing at her and she sees Chris and Billy sneaking out the back door.

Carrie is full of power fuelled by her rage and she forces all the doors closed. She unrolls the firehose and uses the blast of water to toss people around violently and on the stage the mixture of water and electricity kills Fromm and Morton at the microphone. Miss Collins gets crushed to death by the basketball backboard swinging loose. Then Carrie starts a fire and walks out of the hall as it rapidly becomes an inferno with the screams of the dying behind her. As Carrie walks down the road Chris is driving Billy’s car and she aims straight for Carrie to run her down but Carrie just tosses the car aside and it spins over and over then it bursts into flames.

Carrie goes home. Mrs White has the house full of lit candles. Carrie goes upstairs to her room and she goes into the bathroom, not seeing her mother hiding behind the bathroom door. Carrie peels of the dress and has a bath to clean the blood off her. Once she’s clean she calls to mother and Mrs White hugs her as she tells her about them making fun of her. Mrs White doesn’t offer much comfort and tells Carrie she regrets getting pregnant to her drunken father and she believes Carrie is her sin and says she should have killed her when she was born. As Carrie weeps in her arms Mrs White picks up her knife and stabs her in the back

Carries falls down the stairs into the kitchen backs away from her crazy mother who is coming to finish what she started but Carrie uses her powers to stab her with knives and other sharp things from kitchen in her hands and body. Mrs White is groaning like she’s in ecstasy as she dies with eyes in the same pose as the statue of St Sebastian. Carrie struggles to her feet and screams. She takes her mother down carries her into the punishment cupboard and collapses the house down on them and drags it into the ground.

Sue is the only survivor of her year and in a dream she goes to Carrie’s house to lay flowers and Carrie’s hand reaches out and grabs her arm and she wakes screaming.

This film has some pretty great performances especially from Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie and director Brian De Palma must get the credit, or blame in some cases, for this. Carrie is such an underdog you can’t help but  get dragged in by the happiness of the moment before the blood and the hope that Sue will manage to stop Chris. I’m always bit puzzled by the use the split screen at the end which felt gimmicky and appeared at just the wrong moment  but it seem De Palma regrets it too. There’s a re-make on its way next year it but I won’t be getting my hopes up for that and I’m sure it’s been re-made before

Rating 8.5/10

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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Chronicle

Before I saw this DVD I had heard a lot of praise for this film but for one reason or another I didn’t get to see at the cinema but as soon as the DVD/Bluray has come out I got the chance to check it out and I found it is as good as the reviewers said it was. The unknown cast was very convincing and it had an interesting story and I really enjoyed it

Three high school boys find a hole created by some large crystal buried in the ground. The boys touch it and it reacts causing a cave-in that the boys manage to escape. Later they find out that they have telekinetic powers, the ability to manipulate objects with their minds. The boys are Steve (Michael B. Jordan) and Matt (Alex Russell), two popular boys at school and Andrew (Dane DeHaan) who is a quiet unpopular boy but he is Matt’s cousin who looks out for him a bit. Andrew is taping everything on his video camera which he started doing to record all the crap that happens to him such as being abused by his drunken father or bullied by people in his school. He easily shifts to recording the three of them testing out their new powers instead.

They realise that with practice they are getting better at using their powers and have fun trying out new things and playing tricks on people. They are all getting stronger but it seems that Andrew is getting stronger faster and has developed quite good fine control of his power. This might be because it means more to him because he is now powerful and now has companions and, while Matt and Steve still have their social lives, Andrew spends all his spare time practising using his powers. Andrew even starts to gain a bit of social status when he gives a small demonstration of his powers disguised as a conjuring act at a school talent show.

Things start coming apart when Andrew lashes out with his power and he nearly kills someone. Steve and Matt are horrified and it becomes clear that there is real danger to their powers, especially when possessed by someone who has spent years as a seething ball of anger and resentment, powerless to change his miserable home life. Things come to climax when even with his power things at home only get worse.

This is a really good film. It is a found-footage type film but there is very little of the nausea-inducing shaky cam and I thought it was quite well done. I know some people have mentioned it is like superhero origin story and there are definite elements of that but the characters do feel more real, thanks to the direction and performances, especially Dane DeHaan as Andrew.

Rating 8/10

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: My Soul to Take

I have read people claiming this is a terrible film and one of the worst films ever made so when I watched this it was with low expectations. While this not a brilliant film I thought it was entertaining with an interesting concept and characters that were likable and fairly engaging. Director Wes Craven is perhaps suffering from a reaction to his films based on higher expectations than those by which most other B-movie horror is judged.

The small town of Riverton is being terrorised by a serial killer call the ‘Riverton Ripper’. A TV news programme has an expert talking about what they know and he says the killer has multiple personality disorder and probably doesn’t know who he is as he lives his normal everyday life. Abel Plenkov is watching the TV as he works on building a rocking horse for the child his wife is pregnant with. Security camera footage shown on-screen reveals the weapon used by the Ripper. To his shock Abel finds the same knife in his hand and his hand is showing some skill at opening and closing the knife. A voice in his head then demands his cooperation or his family will be killed. It turns out that Abel is possessed by multiple personalities and one of them is the Ripper. Abel refuses to cooperate and discovers his wife has been killed by the Ripper. The Ripper then goes after his young daughter but the police arrive and shoot him. They have to take him down several times and as he struggles on the way to the hospital the ambulance he is in crashes and burns. Meanwhile the police discover that the baby is still alive inside his dead mother. Someone makes mention of the miracle of seven children all being born on that night in that small town.

Sixteen years later those seven children and all their friends from school are gathered for an annual ritual at the burned out wreckage of the ambulance. One of the seven must face someone in a scary costume that is supposed to represent Abel Plenkov who local legends says is still alive and will one year come back for the seven . This year it’s the turn of Adam, normally called Bug (Max Thieriot) to drive Abel Plenkov back and keep them safe. Even though it’s clearly just a costume Bug freaks out but before he wets his pants a police siren interrupts them and everybody starts running away, including the guy in the costume.

Jay (Jeremy Chu) an Asian student and one of the seven is making his way home alone and as he crosses a bridge a figure wearing the Ripper costume chases him and kills him on the bridge then tosses his body into the river below. It really isn’t a very scary scene and it is all over so quickly so there was no real build-up of tension. This first death scene is unfortunately the standard of the subsequent death scenes as the Ripper goes after each of the seven.

It turns out that Abel Plenkov suffered from multiple personality disorder but someone’s granny apparently used to say that it’s not multiple personalities but multiple souls and since that is just crazy that means since it’s a horror film it’s true. So when Abel died all his souls were reincarnated in the seven children born that night and one of them is the reincarnation of the Ripper.

Just want add a bit about some the other characters I haven’t mentioned. Penelope (Zena Grey) the fundamental Christian was a pretty strong character good at using just enough crazy to undermine the school bully Brandon (Nick Lashaway) with what she knows about him. Brandon is the muscle for Fang (Emily Meade) the heartless manipulative Queen Bee of the school and Bug’s big sister. Alex is Bug’s best friend and main target for punishment beatings from Brandon under orders from Fang. Bug fancies pretty blonde Brittany (Paulina Olszynski) but she’s under strict orders from Fang to keep away from him. Oh yeah and incidentally there’s another character Jerome (Denzel Whitaker) a blind black kid who gets about 20 minutes screen time. He’s one of the seven so you can take a guess at his odds of seeing it to end of the film.

A reincarnated killer is hardly the most original of concepts but I thought this film carried it off quite well for most of the film but it seemed there a bit too much rushing about in the climax and I don’t think it was very clear about what had happened. I liked the cast especially Max Theriot who is pretty good as Bug. The killings were a bit bland and for some reason CGI blood was used. The story mainly relies on the whodunit aspect of trying to figure out who the Ripper is rather than lingering on the students’ deaths and features a few false leads and twists before the not very surprising reveal at the end

Overall it is an engaging enough film and if you can forget about the legend of director Wes Craven you may also find this film is not as bad as reviewers have said.

Rating 6.5/10

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Howling – Reborn

In the 80s The Howling was one of a pair of very well-received werewolf films about a TV news reporter discovering a colony of werewolves living among humans. The Howling also spawned a load of sequels and I cannot remember any of them except that at some point they had some sort of ridiculous marsupial werewolf. Now many years later another film appears with The Howling name in its title. You can probably guess that there is nothing connecting this to the original film at all apart from it being about werewolves.

We get a prologue of some heavy breathing POV following a pregnant red-haired woman around as she heads to her apartment. We see her get attacked and lying unconscious then the film cuts to the present.

A teenage boy Will Kidman (Landon Liboiron) is talking to someone holding the camera, warning them that they may have to be the one who kills him. He then starts telling his life story to the camera and go back to few days earlier. Will is a mediocre student who lives alone with his father, his mother apparenty dying years ago in the attack we saw at the start of the film. He is barely noticed among his peers but gets noticed by a bully called Roland (since when are bullies called Roland?) and by the girl he has fancied from afar Eliana (Lindsey Shaw). She invites him to party being held secretly in the school’s unused pool. There meets the pack of bad boys from his school who greet him with a skank who slips him ecstasy on her tongue. Eliana finds him and forces him to dance with her. While they dance Will gets disoriented and thinks he can see the shadowy shapes of werewolves.

Next day Will asks his friend Sachin (Jesse Rath) about werewolves and isn’t it so convenient that Sachin is an expert on the subject. He later gets confronted by Roland in the toilets who is upset that he went out with Eliana. Something stirs inside  and he punches the bully, knocking him out cold. Will leaves him lying there but Roland gets up and chases after Will with a gun drawn. He follows him to the stairs where he gets attacked by a werewolf who pushes him to his death down the stairwell.

At lunch in the canteen Will has a taste for meat despite being a vegetarian. The cook serves him some hot dogs but Will ends up throwing up when he finds Roland’s ring in the hotdog planted by one of the wolf pack dressed as a cook. Will ends up in hospital where a docotor is dismissing his symptoms (finding rings in hot dogs is a symptom?) as being down to stress. Sachin comes to see Will in hospital (why?) Will wants to know about tests for being a werewolf so Sachin tells him that since only silver or fire can hurt them any other injury won’t and they heal fast from those. Will slashes a wrist open with a scalpel (that’s just left lying around?)  There’s blood but sure enough Will watches the cut heal itself over in seconds.

Not long after discovering he is werewolf Will discovers than a pack of werewolves are after him to join them in their plan to attack the humans. This gives the film its main conflict with Will fighting his nature to assert his own identity and protect those he loves from the pack especially Eliana who he has gone from perving over to  loving her.

This film comes doesn’t come anywhere near the original film but the plot is okay and some of the acting is competent. The writing just isn’t very good. I felt a bit puzzled about where the film is set since there seem s many strange names and it looked like it was pretending to be set in an American high school. Werewolf films are made or broken by their transformation scenes but this film just goes for a quick change from one form to other, mostly off camera but sometimes shown with a flash of CGI. This is a disappointing cop-out. The werewolf costumes are passable, nothing too special. I think this film is destined to follow the other sequels in this series into obscurity.

Rating 6/10

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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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