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Review: This is the End

Cinema Review

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credit: Sony Pictures

There seems to have been a rash of films about the end of the world recently but though the word apocalypse get thrown around a lot to describe these films this time it’s actually the original apocalypse as featured in the all-time best-selling horror compilation The Bible (also still topping the charts as the book bought most often without ever reading).

It is refreshing that in this film there are no actors playing other characters as every one of the main cast is playing themselves or at least a very embarrassing parody of themselves or in the case of Seth Rogen the same part he plays in all his films so far. The story is that Jay Baruchel goes to visit his friend Seth Rogen in Los Angeles for a quiet session of talking drugs and playing computer games. While there Seth talks the reluctant Jay into going to a house-warming party at James Franco’s house. At the party everyone is acting really over the top especially Danny McBride and the smooth hairless bubble butt of Michael Cera. Everyone is pretending they are all great friends though Jay is feeling uncomfortable being stuck with Seth’s new LA friends and is determined to be the party’s buzzkiller.

While Seth and Jay go to a local grocer for cigarettes The Rapture happens, taking all the decent people to heaven. There is no religious thing here; decent people get zapped up by blue light and the selfish, greedy and angry get left behind. There’s chaos with earthquakes and driverless cars crashing and fires breaking out.

Seth and Jay make their way back to Franco’s house where the party is still in full swing, oblivious to what’s happening outside since no-one at the party got “raptured”. No-one believes Jay about the apocalypse and even Seth doesn’t back him up when Jay faces ridicule over it. When another earthquake comes everyone runs outside and a giant pit to hell opens up, swallowing many of the celebrity guests.

Some of them manage to get back into Franco’s house including Seth, Jay, Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson. James Franco had never left. The five decide to stay put and check what supplies they have while they wait for help to arrive since they still don’t believe it’s the apocalypse. They go to sleep and wake up to find Danny McBride has used all the water and cooked all the food. It doesn’t take very long before the friendly masks start slipping and the selfish egos and childish insecurities come out.

Comedy is very subjective and this film’s humour is very crude and broad. It isn’t particularly clever but I did get a few laughs especially at the party and the last act of the film. The middle of the film feels a bit flabby, when they are bickering with each other and parodying Big Brother but it does have a couple of nice bits like a section where they make a sequel to Pineapple Express on a camcorder and later when Jay tries to exorcise a demon possessed Jonah Hill with lines from the Exorcist.

Needless to say there are various cameos including Emma Watson who smashes through the door with an axe looking for food and water but she quickly moves on when she hears the idiots taking about rape. Channing Tatum’s butt also has a small cameo but that’s hardly a rare sight in films. If you are a fan of the type of comedy Seth Rogen writes you’ll probably enjoy this. I thought it was okay for a few laughs but it’s probably a bit over-stretched and not funny enough in the middle.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Film

 

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Review: The Wicker Tree

The Wicker Man is a well-crafted horror film that is fun and outrageous but carefully builds to a truly horrifying climax that retains it power even when you know that it’s coming. The 2006 remake is so bad that it has gained a reputation as an unintentional comedy. I was pretty pleased to hear the director of the original was making another take on the story. If anyone could capture the magic of the original film the surely he’s the man for the job? Tragically, no is the answer. As I watched I found it hard to believe how bad the film is.

The film introduces us to a young  American gospel singer Beth Boothby (Brittania Nicol) getting ready for a trip to the Scottish Borders. Beth used to be a successful pop singer but has joined an evangelical church and been “born again”. Beth and her boyfriend Steve Thomson (Henry Garrett) are going as missionaries to spread the word of Jesus to the heathens of Scotland. I think we’re supposed to laugh at these people but they all act nice and honest and sincere in their beliefs even if the acting is pretty poor and the southern accents are just appalling. Beth sings and says farewell to her friends. I had a horrible feeling about this film right from the start. The music was not unexpected as it in fit well with the original film that had a lot singing. There were some very broad lazy stereotypes being used here and the worst was cowboy Steve who has a cowboy hat which he hardly ever takes off.

Next we’re in Scotland and Beth and Steve are being welcomed by Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish) and his wife Lady Delia (Jacqueline Leonard) who are sponsoring their visit to Scotland and take them into the city while Lady Delia talks to Beth and Steve about their Christian beliefs while also talking about her own pagan beliefs. They have arranged a concert back at their own village the following night but in the meantime Beth and Steve are going to go door-to-door proselytizing to the heathens. We get a montage of them failing to convert anyone and they return to their hotel room feeling bit down. Now this pair seems very unworldly and innocent but we learn that they aren’t. They both have past that they’re ashamed of.

Next day Lord and Lady Morrison take Beth and Steve back to their village which seems to be full of truly terrible actors. The acting up to this point has been poor but the village is full of the worst acting I have seen, school plays included. They are all weird and enthusiastic and everything is played very arch and creepy. Beth and Steve seem oblivious and think they are being welcomed by friendly locals who are eager to hear Beth’s sermon and join in singing her songs. Steve and Beth are happy to take part in some old local customs and Beth agrees to be the May Queen, while Steve is persuaded to be the Laddie in their ceremonies, but if you have seen the original you know that something darker is going on. The ending is not the climax of a carefully orchestrated plan, but instead we just get extended scenes of stupid things happening and lots of semi-naked amateur actors singing.

Summing up, this is nothing at all like the original film. It liberally insults Christians, pagans, Scots and Americans with a stupid ham-fisted story that is incompetently acted. I really hoped I would like this but I don’t at all. There was never any time where I could suspend my disbelief and accept any of the performances. It has only one saving grave, Henry Garrett gets naked and the camera lingers for quite a while on his rather pleasant naked rear. Oh yeah and in spite anything you heard Christopher Lee only has a tiny scene in a flashback scene. And the Wicker Tree is totally pointless.

Rating 1/10

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Awakening

This is not really a horror film. That is not to say that it does not have it share of tension and scares but just that this film deals more with grief than with horror. Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) is an author who is interested with investigating paranormal claims and is especially obsessed with busting fake mediums scamming members of the public. The film starts with her busting one group and having them all arrested because pulling these sorts of scams used to be illegal in Britain. This is in 1921 and it is only 3 years after the end of the First World War where Britain nearly lost an entire generation of young people to a war conducted by rich people sitting in map rooms. There is a lot of grief and desperation for these ghouls to feed on but the victim of the con is not happy about the bust. The fake mediums were selling the woman hope but Florence has nothing but cold hard reality to offer.

Florence is a bit of an evangelist of science and rationality but she hates her victories against the supernatural because Florence lost her fiancé in the war and each time she finds a logical explanation or con trick to explain away any mysteries she comes across it confirms her belief and fear that death is really the end and that this is all there is.

She gets a visit from John Mallory (Dominic West) a history teacher at a boy’s boarding school. He wants to use her skills to bust the ghost stories at the school which have led to one boy at the school dying because of his fear of the ghost. She has been recommended to the school’s headmaster by the school’s matron who is a big fan of Florence’s books. Mallory himself is not a fan. He shows Florence the school photographs and each year the same ghostly figure can be seen at the end of the group of a boy the same age as the boys at the school. This intrigues her and she agrees to investigate the school.

At the school she gets introduced to the groundskeeper Edward Judd (Joseph Mawle) who drives Florence and Mallory from the station. Florence detects a frosty attitude between the men and it turns out that while Mallory fought in the war and was injured and lost all his friends Judd avoided being conscripted. At the school we see another teacher McNair (Shaun Dooley) who is supervising the boys while they run across the school’s grounds and he coughs and downs tonic. The matron Maud Hill (Imelda Staunton) is waiting for them at the entrance and she almost seems star-struck to meet Florence. Mallory takes Florence inside to introduce her to the headmaster Reverend Purslow (John Shrapnel) who greets her then leaves her in the care of Mallory.

Florence gets he equipment set up and start investigating the ghostly mystery that scared a boy to death. She does succeed in uncovering schoolboy pranks and doe manage to solve the mystery of the boy’s death but she has a sense that she is missing something and investigates further. Any more about the story would be a spoiler but I was not very satisfied with the way the film turned out in the last the third when the film springs a little twist on us. I may change my mind about this but I thought it was just not up to the standard set by the first two-thirds of the film. I’ll probably see it again because I think this film does need more than one viewing just to see if questions I have about the story are actually answered. If you like low moody ghost stories that are light in blood you may enjoy this.There is some sex and nudity both male and female so that’s either a warning or a bit of fan service.

Rating 7/10

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Someone’s Knocking At The Door

Perhaps this review should start with an explicit warning. The film features many scenes of male and female nudity, gore, sexual violence and drug taking. Despite having one or two funny scenes the film really is not a comedy. This film really isn’t for everyone and I’m not even sure at this point if it was for me.

Ray (Jordan Lawson) is sitting in his flat injecting a drug from vial into his vein. Before he can relax and enjoy his buzz he hears someone knocking at the door. He’s delighted when he opens it and there’s naked woman standing there and she tells him she wants to screw him death. They back into the flat and start kissing and touching. Then in the mirror he see he’s kissing a man who still wants to screw him to death. The man tears Ray’s clothes off and rapes him to death with an enormous penis. This film really does not waste any time getting straight to the action.

Ray was a student a medical school. His classmates are all very worried about the brutal way he was killed but they are just as concerned about the consequences of their drug use being put under the spotlight by the police investigation into his death. The other students are the typical five man band of victims you see in many horror films which is not to say that this like other typical horror films but it certainly does have this convention. They are the nerd Joe (Ricardo Gray) who has a bad speech impediment, Sebastian (Jon Budinoff) who is a complete prick, Annie (Sylvia Spross) who is a party girl and there’s Meg (Andrea Rueda ) who doesn’t take illegal drugs or screw around very much. The last of the group Justin (Noah Segan) who is in his flat having strange dream about meeting Ray in the morgue and talking to him. Justin is leader of the group and he has strange ideas of the mind based on the work of a Dr Tolstoy (Vernon Wells) who used psychedelic drugs in treating his patients

The film takes it time to investigate what happened to Ray and two police detectives interview each other five friends and while they get nothing evasion from four of them Justin gives them a frank and full account of the six of them going to a restricted storeroom and looking at the records of Dr Tolstoy’s work with two serial killers in the 60s called John and Wilma Hopper (Ezra Buzzington and Elina Madison) While listening to a therapy with the two killers the students all inject some of an experimental psychedelic drug except Meg who is reading the side effects with increasing horror. This is what seems have allowed the Hoppers into the present to kill again.

This is filmed like an experience of a bad trip with choppy images and a mixture of mundane everyday images with some very bizarre elements. The death scenes were both brutal and hilarious with John’s monster penis and Wilma’s shark-toothed vagina as weapons of death. There is very good use of sound in the film too. There’s a nice little cameo too from Joe Pilato as the ageing hippie Dean of the medical school Dr Ottie giving a bumbling speech to students and press about the murder of Ray

I think I’ve described this film enough to let you make your mind up if you want to watch it. I find it hard to rate this film so I’ll just give it a non-committal score and realise this may go up or down after a second or third viewing

Rating 6/10

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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