Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Swiss Army Man (2016): Review

Swiss Army Man is a 2016 black comedy film. Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka DANIELS) and starring Paul Dano (Prisoners, There Will be Blood), Daniel Radcliffe (The Woman in Black, Horns) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, The Thing). The film won the diecting award at Sundance film festival.

The film follows the plight of Hank (Dano), a depressed man who’s been marooned on an island and is about to hang himself when he is interrupted by the farting corpse of Manny (Radcliffe) washing up on the shore. After using Manny as a jet ski, propelled by the afore mentioned flatulence, the pair make it to a remote part of the mainland. Hank soon discovers Manny has several different powers that can help him to survive in the wilderness doubling as a well, a gun and an erection based compass, to name a few. As Manny is slowly brought back to life, Hank has to teach him about the world and society, even though Hank himself is a shy introvert and barely functioning member of society. Their mutual love of the mysterious Sarah (Winstead) eventually leads them back to civilisation, however, other people are not quite ready for Hank and Manny’s unconventional relationship.

Swiss Army Man garnered a lot of attention at its Sundance premiere owing to the fact that quite a famous actor was portraying a gassy cadaver. This is entirely understandable, however, this device is really part of a larger unique comedic style, intended to provide relief for Dano’s somewhat depressing character. What attracted me to the film was the brilliant cast. Dano has slowly been building a reputation as one of the best actors of his generation for a number of years, Radcliffe has obliterated any child actor stigma through a series of strong genre films and Winstead, despite being in a limited role here, is simply one of the finest actors in the world right now and I would watch her in anything (even Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter!).

The performances on display here are outstanding. Beyond Radcliffe’s quirky physical comedy there is a fantastic homage to Frankenstein’s monster as he transforms from a primitive, childlike brute into a fully emotive human, trying to remember a life that was lost. Dano is the straight man in this strange double act, lending real pathos to the film as we delve into Hank’s anxious romantic fantasies and the chemistry between the misfit characters is as heartwarming as it is perverse. Ultimately, the film has a lot to say on modern society and what is considered socially acceptable or not and many of the seemingly throwaway lines of dialogue exchanged in the style of the buddy movie, will linger in the mind for some time afterwards.

Dismiss it as “the farting corpse” film at your own peril, this is far more intelligent and sensitive a film than the sensational “sundance walkout” stories suggest. DANIELS are off to a great start and Dano and Radcliffe have another instant classic to add to their credits. Weird and wonderful in every way, for every 20 remakes or sequels there is a truly original film and, this year, it’s Swiss Army Man.

***** 5 Stars

What did you think of the film? Did you like the dark quirky comedy?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

John Carpenter "Reviews" Rob Zombies Halloween

It's taken nearly 10 years, but Horror legend John Carpenter has finally given some thoughts on Rob Zombie's remake of his classic Halloween (1978). Carpenter stated that “I thought that he took away the mystique of the story by explaining too much about [Michael Myers]. I don’t care about that. He’s supposed to be a force of nature. He’s supposed to be almost supernatural. And he was too big. It wasn’t normal.”

Whilst none of this is news to any of us who had to endure Zombie's abomination, and it's equally horrific sequel, it's interesting to finally hear Carpenter's thoughts on the most recent incarnation of his famous creation. As the widely acknowledged "Master of Horror", Carpenter had a streak of classic movies in the 80s, but is no stranger to making a few clangers in his career (whereas Zombie mostly makes clangers).

It is also worth noting that Carpenter stated Zombie was "a piece of shit" and he "lied about me", possibly indicating more personal feelings in the mix. Zombie's latest film "31" is out now, whereas, the Carpenter produced Halloween reboot is expected in the near future. The battle continues!

What do you think of Carpenter's comments? Is the Halloween remake really that bad?

Monday, 26 September 2016

Rings gets delayed...again!

Paramount's much delayed sequel to the American Ring franchise has received another setback on it's never-ending road to release. Despite being given a firm October release date and an extensive trailer, the film has somehow been pushed back to 2017. 

Considering Rings was originally slated for a November 2015 release, this can't be good news for the eventual project. There has been no explanation for the move.

Do you still care about Rings? Do you think the delays will improve the final product?

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Blair Witch (2016): Review

Blair Witch is a 2016 found footage horror film. Directed by Adam Wingard (The Guest, Your Next) and starring James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid and Brandon Scott. The film was known simply as “The Woods” until this July, when it was revealed to be a sequel to The Blair Witch Project (1999).

The film follows James (Allen McCune), who is putting together a crew to go and look for his sister Heather, who was never found following the events of the first film. After being contacted by some locals who claim to have information which may lead them to the mysterious house in the woods, he sets off with girlfriend Lisa (Hernandez) and friends Paul (Scott) and Ashley (Reid). However, soon after entering the woods, the group becomes lost as the locals confess they may have exaggerated their knowledge of the local area. This leads to them being pursued through the woods by the dreaded Blair Witch, culminating in a showdown at the creepy house where the original film’s characters met their demise.

When I first became aware of “The Woods” I thought it appeared an incredibly generic horror movie, despite my appreciation of Adam Wingard’s previous films. Then, when it was revealed to be a Blair Witch sequel, I was intrigued as I have a great affection for the original movie (being the first horror film I saw in the cinema) but, I was wary of that all important word “sequel”. Nowadays, directors are terrified of being perceived as a remake so often masquerade as a sequel/prequel (see 2011’s The Thing) in an attempt to preserve the integrity of their film and, I’m afraid, that’s exactly what’s happened here.

Despite some excellent direction and atmospheric sound design, Blair Witch follows the plot of the original extremely closely failing to take any risks and lacking the subtlety of the original movie. The film is rife with horror clich├ęs, jump scares, plot holes and lazy characterisations such as the useless female character that keeps falling over. Other than the mission to find Heather, the motivations of the characters never really became clear and several sub plots were half baked to say the least, strange objects being pulled out of wounds and the irregular passage of time. Not only were the mysteries in this film left unexplained, the filmmakers also seemed intent on demystifying the franchise by actually showing the Blair Witch, clearly missing the entire point of the original movie.

For every effective scare and authentic found footage moment, there’s a lazy jump scare or a baffling plot decision. Blair Witch commits the cardinal sin of a sequel in not only failing to support its predecessor but actively undermining it. This is a remake of The Blair Witch Project, and a disappointingly by the numbers remake at that and Director Wingard, and writer Simon Barrett, are so much better than this.

** 2 Stars
What did you think of the film? Did it copy the original too much?

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Don't Breathe (2016): Review

Don't Breathe is 2016 home invasion horror film. Directed by Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) and starring Jane Levy (Evil Dead), Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps, Let Me In) and Daniel Zovatto (It Follows). The film premiered at South by Southwest festival earlier this year.

The film follows three young burglars looking for one big score so they can escape the harsh realities of Detroit life. Money (Zovatto) discovers an army veteran that appears to be sitting on a fortune after his daughter was ran over and killed by a rich girl. Desperate to escape her domestic hell with her younger sister, Rocky (Levy) convinces Alex (Minnette) to join them and utilise his father’s security credentials to stage the break in. However, Money fails to mention that their target is also blind and will seldom leaves the house. This leads to obvious complications as the blind man turns the tables, trapping the burglars in the house and revealing he’s got a few more secrets in the basement.

Sensory based home invasion thrillers are like buses, you wait years for one, then two come along at the same time. I’m referring to Mike Flanagan’s Hush and now Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe, films featuring a deaf protagonist and a blind antagonist respectively. Both films use sound and vision as key plot devices but, it has to be said, Alvarez’s flawless direction pushes Don’t Breathe into a more ambitious arena. It took me a long time to like the Evil Dead remake(2013), but it eventually won me over with its intensity and vision and Don’t Breathe is no different.

However, like Evil Dead, it’s not without it’s flaws. I found the central characters to be pretty unsympathetic (perhaps intentionally) and unconvincing as seasoned burglars, apart from Money who was a parody of a criminal (I mean,his name's Money!). Similarly, although certainly imposing, A jacked up blind guy with a gun is not the most imaginative villain (I personally found the dog a lot scarier). Also, I felt they could have left the blind man as a more ambiguous character rather than going all Fritzl on us as, up until the third act, I wasn’t quite sure who was the villain and who was the victim.

A vintage home invasion set up with a sensory twist, Hush might have got there first, but Don’t Breathe manages to weave a more unpredictable plot around a neat gimmick. Alvarez has proven he’s capable of much more than gore soaked remakes and shows his flair for suspense, whilst not being afraid to “go there” (Jizz pipette anyone?). Don’t Breathe will thrill you, confuse you and disgust you.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of the movie? Did you prefer Hush?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The Toxic Avenger being remade

In one of the more odd choices for the never ending remake machine, The Toxic Avenger appears to be next. A schlock classic from the infamous Troma studios, the film is the classic tale of nerdy janitor turned heroic mutant that spawned several sequels. With the creators of Sausage Party and Archer on board, time will tell if Toxie is cut out for the 21st Century.

Are you a fan of the original? Will the remake work?

Monday, 12 September 2016

Full Death House trailer

A full red band trailer has emerged for upcoming horror ensemble Death House. Styling itself as "the Expendables of horror", the movies features an all star cast of horror legends such as Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Barbara Crampton, Sid Haig and many more. The trailer features all the cheesy mayhem you would expect as well as some great lines such as "some are dosed with JUST lsd" and "I will fuck you in hell". The film is released next year, check out the trailer...

What do you think of the trailer? Is it too over the top?

Friday, 9 September 2016

Ben Wheatley returns with Free Fire trailer

A trailer has emerged for the next Ben Wheatley film, the dark crime caper Free Fire. After this years fantastic High Rise, Wheatley will return to direct a great cast in the form of Cillian Murphy, Brie Larsson, Sharlto Copley and, of course, Michael Smiley.

Wheatley is my favourite director in the country right now and he gets better and better with every movie. This one also appears to be a return to the comedic gangster style of his first feature Down Terrace (2009). Release is March 2017, check out the trailer...


What do you think of the trailer? Are you a Wheatley fan?