Monday, February 24, 2014

Movie Roundup

I haven't posted a movie review in a while, but that doesn't mean I haven't been watching movies. Quite the contrary; I've watched tons in the last few months, and horror movies in particular, as per usual. Sadly, there hasn't been a one, fabulous or abysmal, that's inspired me to write a full review. I have, however, watched several mediocre-to-decent movies, and luckily-ish for you, I've rounded them up here! Just to prove my commitment to horror, no matter how disappointing it can get.

Dark Touch. Guys, do you watch Irish horror? Because you should. There’s been a recent rash of Irish horror films that have run the gamut from silly to terrifying, and Dark Touch is one of the creepier ones. A young girl, Niamh, witnesses the violent death of her parents and, utterly traumatized, is placed in the care of well meaning but clueless neighbors. Things spiral out of control as everyone, including Niamh herself, begins questioning the real cause of her parents’ death. The film is about as eerie and atmospheric as it gets, but the real power lies in Missy Keating’s portrayal of Niamh, which is both heart wrenching and terrifying.

Scorned. A not-so-subtle riff on the old saw, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” Scorned is your basic crazy lady torturing her cheating boyfriend movie, elevated only slightly above the level of a Lifetime movie by a solid performance from the leading lady. AnnaLynne McCord (90210) plays the wild-eyed torturer while Billy Zane (of Titanic fame, I guess… where has he been the last 15 years or so?) is the philandering beau. It’s pure, campy trash – which is its only saving grace. The supporting cast is weak, the soundtrack is ridiculous, the gore is cartoonish at best, and there’s barely an ounce of tension… but McCord’s self-proclaimed crazy chick schtick is hilarious and not without a bit of bite.

After the Dark. Not really a horror movie, or even a dystopian future film, this one is all speculation. Literally. The lean plot centers on a classroom full of over-achieving philosophy students at a high school in Jakarta on their last day of class. The final assignment: decide who to kill and who to save in a hypothetical apocalypse situation. Fantasy sequences (shot beautifully, I should add) supplement the class debate and show the audience things as they might have played out… but it never ups the stakes quite enough. By the third iteration of the apocalypse, the story crumbles under the weight of its lofty premise. Still, it’s an ambitious, not to mention very pretty, film, and worth a watch for those who find the premise interesting.

Devil’s Pass. This is a weird little entry into the found footage horror subgenre. It doesn’t break any new ground or even stand out among its peers, but I didn’t hate it. It centers on a group of documentary filmmakers who embark on a hike through Russia’s snowy Ural Mountains in search of the reason why a group of climbers went missing on the same mountain five decades earlier. The answer is one of the more original I’ve seen lately, and while it falls apart a bit at the end (in no small part due to some truly terrible special effects), the majority of the movie is surprisingly watchable for what appears to be a low budget endeavor.

Violet & Daisy. Okay, not a horror at all, but I saw it, liked it, and wanted to write about it anyway (and to be fair, it does have a little grisly violence and teenage assassins, so there’s that). Honestly, it’s almost embarrassing to admit that I enjoyed this movie, because while my love for Rory Gilmore (a.k.a. Alexis Bledel) knows no bounds, I don’t think she’s much of an actress, and her leading role in Violet & Daisy did nothing to change my mind. Even so, I got a kick out watching her play against type as a plucky (/creepily callous, kind of crazy) young hitwoman. The film is utterly derivative with its oh-so-clever, Tarantino-esque conversations, and it becomes more of a coming of age drama than an action thriller towards the end, but I don’t care – it has heart, I say!

Passion. I just… didn’t get this film. Noomi Rapace (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) plays Rachel McAdams’ put-upon, manipulated, and occasionally humiliated underling, leading to round after round of mental and physical sparring. I must be unaware of whatever style DePalma was attempting to emulate, because I found it neither sexy nor thrilling enough to pull off its purported label of “erotic thriller.” Alternatingly soapy and stiff, it just didn’t do it for me on any level.

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