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Review: Twixt

The DVD Pile

Twixt DVD 001This film seems to have just appeared out of nowhere with no publicity despite being directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film is more of a supernatural mystery thriller than a straight horror film but the story seems to be just a series of things happening with no real sense of urgency to tie them together or have them make sense.

Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer) is a struggling horror writer touring around the country trying to publicise his latest book and he gets to small town where the locals seem completely uninterested. The local sheriff Bobby LaGrange (Bruce Dern) fancies himself as a writer and wants Hall to co-write a book based on an idea has based on series of murders. He offers to show Hall the body of the latest victim, a young girl with a large wooden stake stuck into her chest.

There was a terrible murder in the town in an old hotel where a paranoid religious freak that cared for bunch of young orphans murdered all the children to save their souls from corruption because he thought one boy had run away to join the vampires who live across the lake.

That night Hall has a dream that seems to have been inspired by David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. He meets a young girl called V (Elle Fanning) which is short for both Virginia the girl’s given name and Vampirella the girl’s nickname. He also goes to hotel which isn’t empty and abandoned like it is in the real world but has two people a strange old man who insists on fixing a clock and a woman who wants to serve him breakfast before picking up a guitar and singing Big Rock Candy Mountain.

V appears at the window and the woman tries to sneak out to catch her but V bites her and gets away. Hall starts following her but when he turns back to hotel he sees a dozen young children emerge from the hotel basement with a man who plays with them. V tells Hall that they are the dead kids so clearly that means the man is their murderer. Hall follows V in to the woods but she vanishes. Edgar Allen Poe (Ben Chaplin) appears so Hall asks him for help writing his story but that’s when Hall wakes up in his motel room.

The dream sequences are highly stylized with everything in subdued monochrome but there are splashes of red while V and the other children seem to be more brightly lit. Hal goes into this same dreamland a few more times, mostly to talk to Poe for advice on writing his next book.

Hall’s wife is desperate for money so Hall gets in touch with his publisher to beg for an advance which the publisher agrees to but only if Hall sends an outline with a fully fleshed-out ending. Hall’s search for a decent story with an ending is the main driving force of the plot and the murders really seem to only be a subplot.

Hall is so desperate for a story that he actually takes the idea from the outline LaGrange gave him and agrees to co-author the book with him. This is a strange decision because even if Hall is desperate LaGrange seems a bit unstable and even has model of a vampire execution machine that he has thought up for his story inspired by the stake murders.

It is a strange film that kind of wanders around feeling a bit disjointed before settling down to a bizarre ending that didn’t really wrap things up. I liked the dream sequences but the film did have a lot of them. The film features red quite a lot in the dream sequences and there are clocks all over the place which I’m sure is very symbolic.

Rating 5.5/10

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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Seven Below

DVD Review

Seven Below DVD 001Bargain DVD time and I admit I only picked this one up because it starred Luke Goss, Ving Rhames and Val Kilmer and the story sounded interesting enough if potentially a little cliché but at a couple of quid it would be at least worth a watch. And I was right – it is worth about a single watch, maybe if it turns up on SyFy and there’s nothing else on TV. This ghostly horror story has five people getting trapped in a house in the middle of nowhere on a dark and stormy night with a host they can’t trust in a house with a creepy history.

The film opens with that creepy history and Elizabeth McKnight (Brianna Lee Johnson) returns home to discover her husband William (Silvio Wolf Busch) having sex with his mistress. After he beats his wife he throws out the mistress. That night their young son Sean slaughters the entire household with a knife.

Forward to the present day and the five victims are getting into a minibus that is driving them to some resort that we never get to see for a holiday. There’s two brothers Adam (Matt Barr) who is a medical student and Issac (Luke Goss) who is a guy whose brother is a medical student. Their mother died recently and they are sort of still sad about that. There’s Bill McCormick (Val Kilmer) and his wife Brooklyn (Bonnie Somerville) who are trying to rekindle their marriage which is in trouble because Bill is interested in sleeping with every female except his wife. The fifth person is Dr Lipski (Christian Baha) who is from Europeland and who gives this group a higher than normal amount of medical people. There’s a driver on the bus too but he really doesn’t matter.

On the way the resort the driver stops at a gas station and tells them that this the last stop before their destination. Isaac, Adam and Bill get out to buy some supplies in the shop and Adam chats up the young cashier Courtney (Rebecca Da Costa) who protests she has a boyfriend. This doesn’t stop Bill from also trying to chat up Courtney while his wife is waiting in the bus for him. The film makes a point of the news on the radio mentioning a big storm approaching and the roads are going to be closed later.

They get back on the road and while they are having a dull conversation about reincarnation and past lives Adam fleetingly sees the ghost of the mistress of William McKnight standing in a field in white clothes but no-one else seems to notice her and they keep driving until the same ghost appears in the road in front of them just after a sharp turn. The driver swerves to avoid her and goes off the road smashes into a tree. The driver is killed but everyone else survived though Bill did get a nasty knock on his head. They are lucky that Jack (Ving Rhames) is driving past in his truck and he stops to help them. Dr Lipski thinks they should get Bill to a hospital but Jacks warns them that with a storm approaching a lot of roads are closed and they won’t get very far. Of course mobile phones are useless. Jack offers to take them back to his house where they can wait out the storm and they reluctantly agree.

Jack’s house turns out to be the same house the McKnights died in but Jack doesn’t mention that until later. He goes out of  his way to act creepy and suspicious and even though he clearly told them they could make a call from his house when they get there he tells them he hasn’t got a phone. This makes Bill very paranoid and when he starts hearing creepy ghost noises no-one pays any attention to him because of the bump on his head. Adam insists on borrowing Jack’s truck to drive back to the gas station and phone for help for Bill.

On the way to gas station Adam finds Courtney stuck at the side of the road looking for help because she’s ran out of gas. There’s a lot of tedious flirtatious chat and eventually Courtney accepts his offer of a lift back to the gas station. They don’t get very far because just like Jack said the road is closed so they drive back to Jack’s house.

Now the creepy stuff really kicks in and everybody starts seeing the ghosts of the McKnights. Bill is found dead with signs that someone strangled him to death. Then when they decide to go get help the find out the engine of Jack’s truck has been trashed. Accusations start flying but when they suspect Jack he just laughs at them.

There really wasn’t too much that was very original about this film and when it did start wandering off in its own direction in the final part of the film it wasn’t very scary or exciting. Twice the script uses the old dumb horror film trope of gathering everyone together then splitting them up to look for someone who is missing and then somebody gets killed. The film feels drawn out and it has a lot of scenes shot in bad light so it’s difficult to see what’s happening. There’s also not very much gore in sight with most deaths off camera in order to preserve the ending twist. It’s okay for a single viewing as I said above but not very satisfying.

PS Can anyone who has seen the film tell me what the title means since I can’t recall the film explaining it?

Rating 5.0/10

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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Deja Vu

Writers just love getting their hands on an excuse to do a time travel story. This shallow tale wades out into the murky waters but rarely immerses itself fully in the potential scientific and philosophical implications of what the characters claim they are doing. The result is a story that only works if you go with it and just accept things happen for narrative reasons and the magic time travel device is just there to do whatever needs it needs to do to accomplish that

ATF Agent Doug Carlin is this film’s identity of the standard Denzel Washington investigator savant character, so he’s a no-nonsense clear thinker with Sherlock Holmes’ observational skills and deductive reasoning abilities. A ferry full of sailors blows up while it crosses the Mississippi at New Orléans on Mardi Gras. Doug is one of several investigators on the scene. He gets spotted by FBI agent Paul Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) who is impressed by his cool investigator skills so he recruits him to a super secret squad who have a magic time traveling spying machine that can give them a God’s eye view of anything anywhere within the range of the machine but it can only see what happening 4 days 6 hours into the past, no earlier and no later. It has something to do with Einstein’s rosy bridge according Dr Alexander Denny (Adam Goldberg) the scientist who accidentally tore a hole in the universe. It is two-way but it takes a lot of energy to send mass through it and it kills animals going through it (or crushes them into a tiny massively dense points of unspecific matter). You can probably see how this will go, but for now they use it to spy on people to see any sign of someone who might want to blow a bunch.. sorry, blow-up a bunch of sailors. They want Doug to use his unique abilities to tell them where to point their magic cameras. Doug has info on the dead body of Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton) who was found in the river but had died before the ferry explosion from the same type of burns as the victims on the ferry. The car bomb that blew up the ferry was also in her van so Doug has them spy on her (you can see why they needed Doug’s amazing deductive skills here).

Doug had the hots for Claire when she was a crispy-fried corpse so obviously he falls for her when he sees her walking and breathing (and showering) in the past. But Doug’s really not satisfied with just watching what happened in the past, he wants to change it. He sends a message back for himself but his partner Larry picks it up instead so rather than dying on the ferry Larry gets shot and his body is fed to the alligators. To get there was a pretty amazing, and very stupid, car chase with Doug following the bomber in the present day as the bomber drives to his base in the past, using a portable helmet version of the big magic box. Now they know the bomber is Carrol Oerstadt (Jim Caviezel) who is one of those paranoid nuts engaged in a personal war with the American Government. He is arrested and the FBI are happy with lone maniac story so they shut down the magic box.

No film would be accepted with a story that ended like that and we already have the rest all set up so inevitably Doug is going to back in time, rescue the girl, get the bad guy and save the day. At this point there is plenty of hints that this not the first time, lots of little clues that another version of Doug had already tried and failed to change events at least once before (or three times according this timeline from Wikipedia). I have to say this plot is clearly driven by the director’s desire to tell the story his way with little attention to logic or stopping to explain itself to anyone thinking “Wait a minute , what…” There is something exhilarating about being along for the ride on Tony Scott film and despite my snarky tone I did enjoy this one.

Rating 6/10

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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