Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Woods is Blair Witch

In a surprise twist, the upcoming horror movie "The Woods" has been revealed to be a new entry in the Blair Witch franchise. Helmed by genre veteran Adam Wingard, the film will aim to reboot the franchise that pioneered the found footage phenomenon.

To me, this can only be a good thing as the movie was looking fairly generic and massively overhyped up until now. I have complete faith in Wingard to reinvent this genre classic.

What do you think of the surprise?  Are you a Blair Witch fan?

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Conjuring 2 (2016): Review

The Conjuring 2 is a 2016 horror sequel. Directed by James Wan (Insidious, The Conjuring) and starring Patrick Wilson (Insidious, Bone Tomahawk), Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) and Francis O' Connor (A.I). The film focuses on the real life investigation into the Enfield haunting.

The film picks up with Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga) investigating the famous events that occurred in Amityville in the mid 70s. After a particularly intense séance, and a demon nun attack, The warrens decide to give paranormal investigation a rest and stick to the talk show circuit for a while. Meanwhile, in Enfield, the Hodgson family begin to experience intense poltergeist activity in their dingy council house, seemingly led by the ghost of an elderly man. As the haunting intensifies, the Warrens are brought across the Atlantic to help and quell the media circus developing around the family. However, as the poltergeist begins to reveal it's true nature, the Warrens realise they are more personally involved than they first thought.

James Wan has a real skill for walking the thin line between homage and parody when it comes to his classical style of directing horror. In terms of the Insidious franchise, the sequels stepped way over this line and were completely superfluous, cutting the legs out from under the entire series. However, I'm pleased to say that the Conjuring 2 is a triumph and will hopefully sustain several more entries in the franchise. The reason for this is no doubt the wealth of real life hauntings detailed in the Warren files and the strong central performances of Wilson and Farmiga that carry the film. The inclusion of an Amityville sequence felt a little weird since the film didn't focus on this otherwise, but I just saw this as them getting this out of the way to deal with other stories and I'm not keen on seeing another film about this infamous haunting

Wan's directing is flawless as usual and the trademark jump scares, accompanied by screeching violins, always feel painstakingly crafted rather than cheap. The setting of a miserable and rainy London is a refreshing change and gives the film a real gothic 70s feel. There were a couple of sequences that tiptoed into cliché, the cringeworthy "Crooked Man" is an ill advised Tim Burton-esque creation, but for the most part the scares are well built, well executed and unleashed on the audience in short bursts of terror. I found the "Demon Nun" character to be a fresh and original villain that resulted in some fantastic scares using light and dark and, unsurprisingly, it seems the character is going to get a spinoff movie (which hopefully turns out better than the tedious Annabelle).

With so many dismal attempts at horror remakes and reboots in recent memory (and probably plenty more to come) Wan remains a beacon of originality, even if his films often feel like mix tapes of various old school horror films, and The Conjuring is the flagship of this movement. A rare horror sequel that adds to the original instalment, whilst also supporting and improving the franchise, The Conjuring 2 is one of the best horror films of the year and I can't wait for number 3.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of the movie? How does it compare to the original conjuring?

Monday, 18 July 2016

New Kong image, trailer coming this week

A new image has emerged for the upcoming Kong: Skull Island movie set for release early next year. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has also elaborated on some plot details, revealing that the film will be set in the 70s and will not follow the originals "beauty and the beast" theme. He also talks about the new and improved size of Kong and the reasons for this, when in reality we all know it's for future Godzilla purposes.

This gives me hope that the film will be a true reboot and not another lame remake attempt (as the 2 failed remakes that have come before). The film's first official trailer will also drop later this week at the San Diego Comic Con. Stay tuned to TMMDI when it does!

What do you think of the image? How do you feel about Kong's upscaling?

Saturday, 2 July 2016

9th Life of Louis Drax trailer lands

A trailer has been released for the upcoming Alexandre Aja film, The 9th Life of Louis Drax. Since last week, more casting has been revelaed in the form of Aaron Paul(Breaking Bad), Sarah Gadon(Dracula Untold)and newcomer Aiden Longworth (Hector and the Search for Happiness). Looks like plenty of red herrings being dropped and watery dream sequences. Check it out...

What do you think of the trailer? Are you looking forward to this?

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Predestination (2015): Review

Predestination is a 2015 time travel movie. Directed by the Spierig Brothers (Daybreakers) and starring Ethan Hawke (Sinister, The Purge), Sarah Snooke (Jessabelle) and Noah Taylor (Submarine). The film was originally completed in 2014 and has been distributed over the last few years.

The movie opens with a "temporal agent" (Hawke) trying to prevent an explosion planted by "the fizzle bomber", resulting in horrific facial burns. The agent then travels back to 1970s New York where he poses as a bartender in order to recruit John/Jane (Snooke). Through a series of flashbacks, we learn the elaborate life story of Jane and how her life was ruined by one particular man. The agent offers to take Jane back in order to kill the individual on the condition that she take over his position in the Temporal Agency. She agrees, and the agents continue to bounce back and forth in time in an effort to stop both the man who ruined Jane's life as well as the fizzle bomber so that the agent may retire to mid 70s New York and live happily ever after.

Predestination is a slick and clever little sci fi movie and draws influence from indie movies like primer (2004) whilst also aiming for big budget stock like Minority Report (2002). I liked that there was no preamble and it threw you right in at the deep end to begin, with the time being taken to explain key points further down the line. The story is your usual time travel fare with some neat twists and plenty of paradoxes and strands set out in order to keep you thinking long after the credits roll. Extra praise should also be given for getting so much out of so few characters.

In terms of pacing, there were some problems, particularly with the amount of time being devoted to the flashback sequences versus how much actual time travel action occurred. As a result, the 3rd act feels a little rushed and underdeveloped and, when the film ended, I didn't really feel that it had been resolved to it's full potential. For example, what do the spacecorp do and how does Mr Robertson (Taylor) factor in to the bigger picture? I was also able to see several of the plot twists coming but maybe I've seen too many time travel movies for my own good.

Fans of time travel and convoluted sci fi (what I call "pen and pad sci fi") will get a kick out of this and it is an effective blend of the genre with more noir sensibilities in the tradition of Phillip K Dick. By the same token, There's nothing massively new on offer here and some of the more potentially mind bending twists ended up feeling a little predictable (I had the same feelings on Synchronicity earlier in the year). It sticks in the mind for a few hours but nowhere near as long as a good time travel movie should.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of the movie? Are you a time travel fan?

Monday, 27 June 2016

"Morgan" gets a 2nd trailer

Upcoming sci fi thriller Morgan has released a 2nd trailer this week. The directorial debut of Luke Scott (and being produced by his father Ridley), the film boasts an impressive cast in the form of Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Paul Giamatti (John Dies at the End). 

There seems to be a genetically engineered angle here and it reminds a little of Splice (2009) and Ex Machina (2015), let's just hope it doesn't end up like Lucy (2014). The movie drops in September, check it out...

What do you think of the trailer? How do you think Luke Scott will do?

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Superior Remakes #5:The Thing (1982)

The Thing is a 1982 sci fi horror film. Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Fog, They Live) and starring Kurt Russell (Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China), Keith David (they Live) Wilford Brimley (Cocoon) and Thomas G Waites (The Warriors). The film is a remake of 1951's The Thing from another World as well as an adaptation of the novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell.

Set in an Antarctic research station, the film opens with a neighboring Norwegian helicopter chasing a husky into their camp in an attempt to kill it. Puzzled by this, MacReady (Russell) takes a few men to investigate the Norwegian camp only to find it abandoned apart from a bizarre twisted corpse. After realising that the Norwegians had uncovered an extraterrestrial being in the ice, the thing begins to work it's way through their ranks, imitating and assimilating. After uncovering the science behind the creature's behavior, Blair (Brimley) goes mad and it is down to the rest of the team to figure out which of them is human, and which of them is the thing.

Released to little fanfare in 1982, the studios blamed E.T and Blade Runner, The Thing has gone on to achieve cult status and quite rightly be hailed as a masterpiece. This should come as no surprise to those familiar with the work of John Carpenter, a man who produced several masterpieces at the peak of his powers, and also marks the high point of Carpenters numerous collaborations with Kurt Russell. The film has all the qualities you expect from a Carpenter film: crawling steadicam shots, creeping atmosphere and a tremendous score (This was actually credited to Ennio Morricone but has Carpenter's style all over it). The cast are also on top form and, although there may be a few characters too many, really capture the wild eyed suspicion that defined the novella.

Amidst the ground-breaking special effects work being done by Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London) and Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead) at the time, Rob Bottin is a name that seems to have been lost in the shuffle and that is a real crime. Only 23 years of age at the time, Bottin's special effects are mind boggling and helped to create many memorable visuals that have been burned onto people's retinas for decades. I'm still unable to figure out how many of the creature effects were achieved and this could not (and in the case of 2011's remake in disguise, would not) be done better with CGI.

As a remake, it is vastly superior over Howard Hawks' The Thing From Another World, a film which unfortunately relied upon a walking vegetable as it's monster. As an adaptation, it takes all the interesting cold war paranoia found in Campbell's novella whilst cutting through the dry, and needlessly complicated, science of the alien. The Thing is a perfect horror film, a perfect science fiction film and proof that, in the hands of a master, remakes can be superior indeed.

***** 5 Stars

What do you think of The Thing? Have you seen the original?