Tuesday, September 28, 2010

#38-Deadgirl (2008)


It seems like the only way to be a critical success in the horror-community these days, you must either be apart of an established franchise, or and indie darling with no studio ties. Deadgirl falls into the latter category, and was screened with mixed-to-positive results at many respected festivals. The film is a first for directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel, and is written by Trent Haaga a man famous for his low-budget horror writing, directing and acting. Awesome. Two new directors, and a man known for low budget work. Aren't we in for a treat.

The film also stirred up a little controversy for it's plot. It revolves around two young boys who skip school one day, and go to a deserted warehouse (of course). Inside they find a few rabid dogs, along with the "ultimate prize". That being a zombified woman they find taped to an operating table naked. Instead of doing the morally correct thing and taking her to a hospital or calling the police, the two boys who can't get a girlfriend decide to leave her there and continually rape her for their own pleasure. After mercilessly trying to kill the girl three times, they discover she is immortal.

"You're the man Johnny"

Now, I can deal with controversial, disgusting, raw, and all together just wrong material. I'm fine with it. I can deal, and I find it interesting how the directors deal with such sensitive ideas. However, the creators of Deadgirl did not take that into account. The screenplay is incredibly explotative, and annoyingly so. Most horror screenplays are sexually and violently explotative, but this one takes it one-step further, and on purpose. They know the material is sick and disgusting, and so they try to make it more sick and disgusting, not for artistic or idealogical reasons, but just to watch you squirm.

Not only is the film weak on and terrible on a mental level, but the film isn't well made techincally. Nearly the entire film takes place in a dark grey warehouse, with many forward facing shots. The music, while interesting , does not fit the film. It sounds exactly like the soundtrack from Donnie Darko, and in fact I wouldn't be surprised if it was. The two actors who play the teenage boys are obviously not in their teens, and could range anywhere from 25 to 30. They weren't very good actors as well, bad casting, and bad acting are a terrible mix. And I tell you, it is terrible.

I respect the fact that the filmmakers tried to make something daring and dangerous. But in the end they failed. It is shallow, rude, and terribly made. The whole thing feels like an amatuer hodge-podge of some ten year old who had just watched Friday The 13th and said: "Hey, I could do that!" And they could, but that doesn't mean that they are going to do it good.

I Give Deadgirl A:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sit Or Skip: October 1st 2010

I've decided to try out a new idea that I've had for awhile this month. It's a new...'segment' if you can dig that. What I try to do, is list most, or all of the major realeses and a few smaller ones that are slated for any given week (trailers, posters, and stills added to taste) and then a paragraph or two on why I'll be sitting through that movie in theatres or skipping it until it comes out on DVD, because I think that every movie should be given a chance. And with so many horror movies coming out in October, and so many horror movies being the same, I decided to try and whittle my way through them, for your entertainment. So what are we waiting for?

October 1st, 2010
-The Social Network
I am a facebook user, and I am nearly addicted to the site. It's well made, has a sleek design, and rarely crashes. That being said, the court-case behind the site is probably more interesting than most things people post, and so a movie coming out about Mr. Zuckerberg is somewhat of a little gem. With Jessie Eisenberg, -who is turning out to be Michael Cera's rival- in place of Zukerberg, and with rumors flying about the film potraying him in a negative light, this may be a turn for Eisenberg, and not have him playing his usual geek role. The concept is interesting a Facebook movie, whether not it will be completely succesful is unclear, but it will most likely be this weeks top box-office performer.

-Let Me In
Let Me In is an American remake of a Swedish film, that was based on a Swedish novel. Now I totally and completely adored the orignal film, though I have yet to read the novel. It all had this kind of pure innocence about it. Based on the trailer, the remake has me a bit worried. It looks like they are taking out the decent romance for brawly action sequences, which is not where it suppose to go. Add in that we're now trying to make money from an American audience, and it takes place in Utah instead of Sweden, and this could be one big train-wreck. But I still will be seeing this (even before The Social Network) because I sill hold out hope that this could be something excellent.

-Case 39
This is one that I will definatly be skipping. The film was suppose to come out a long time ago -I've had it saved in my Netflix queue for over a year now- and the film is just now coming out. When something like this happens, it usually means the the film isn't going to be that good, and it doesn't surprise me. The trailer makes the movie look very effects heavy, and that typically doesn't work the effects don't look that good. I'll most likely end up renting it because it has a decent supporting cast, including Jodelle Ferland and Ian McShane.

So what will you be watching? I for one am definatly excited for, and will most likely see, both The Social Network and Let Me In, but will be skipping over Case 39. If I could only pick one, Let Me In would be the one, but I might have to go double feature this week, as they are both are getting rave reviews. I am right? I am wrong? Tell what you think, what you'll be watching, and we'll find out this weekend.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Recent Readings 2

The Hobbit/By: J.R.R. Tolkein
I was forced to read this book as a Summer project for the English class I am taking this year. I never enjoy books I am forced to read and this was no exception. I am not much of a fantasy person either so this book just wasn't for me. I can see some people liking it, but I just thought it was dull and boring.

Gomorrah/By: Roberto Saviano
A non-fiction novel about the violent under-ground crime families that rule Italy, Roberto Saviano was sent into hiding after the book was published. It was later adapted into a film, which I have yet to watch, and it's an interesting little read. I'm not a fan of non-fiction either, but this was pretty good.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower/By: Stephen Chbosky
A book in the vein of The Catcher and the Rye, simply about growing up, and being a teenager, and being an outcast. Now I didn't enjoy Catcher and the Rye (even though it is a classic) because it's telling me how hard it is to be a teenager. And my thought process is 'I am a teenager, why do I need to read a book about some stuff I can already tell you about'. But the characters in Wallflower were different and interesting enough that I didn't feel it talking down to me, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Nirvana's Children/By: Ranulfo
Another novel about growing up. But with slighly more fantastical characters than real life could possibly create, and a central character who is different enough from me that I could get into what he was experiencing over myself. Not as good as Wallflower, but still decent.

Dr. Hasley's Journal/By: Unknown
Yeah, I'm a fan of the Halo series of video games, so when the new one came out, I bought the limited edition which came with this little journal thing, and though it wouldn't be interesting to people who don't play the games, I flew through it like nobody's bussiness. A cool little add on to the games story cannon, and if you're a fan you probably already read it, and if you're not, you probably don't care.

Friday, September 17, 2010

#37-Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father (2008)

Dear Zachary:
A Letter To A Son About His Father

Dear Zachary is an interesting and unsettling documentary that premiered at Sundance in 2007, and has been shown on MSNBC several times since then. Created and conceived by Kurt Kuenne, he takes a camera across the country to get interviews from people who’s lives were changed by his close friend Andrew Bagby, who had been murdered by an ex-girlfriend. After many trials, re-trials, and sentences, the woman accused of murdering Bagby, Shirley Jane Turner, announces that she is pregnant with Bagby’s son. Kuenne set out to make a collective effort of love for the young boy about his father, whom he will never know, and who was killed by the woman he will be forced to live with.

This is an incredible film to watch. Defiantly not for those who are weak of heart. It is sad, heartbreaking, and very unnerving. Now, documentaries (the good ones) often prove their point enough to make you think about what the filmmakers are saying. However because there are not always main characters in documentaries, nor is there ever much narrative, it is very rare that we actually feel emotionally connected to what is going on on-screen (for me anyway). Dear Zachary is the rule-breaker. It had me in tears, it had me screaming in anger, and most importantly, it had my heartstrings, that it was able to pull and manipulate anyway that it wanted, which is exactly what it should do.

With that being said, the film is emotionally rich, but isn’t particularly well made. It feels awkwardly paced and a little choppy at times, and so many names are thrown around in such a quick amount of time, I often couldn’t remember who was who. This film was made nearly entirely on Kuenne’s own back. He did nearly everything. He is listed in the credits for: Writing, Directing, Starring, Editing, Cinematography, Producing, and doing the music for the picture. It is obvious that he had a clear vision, and made the film he wanted to make, but so many jobs for one man begins to wear down on a person, and it shows in an almost amateurish way throughout the film.

This isn’t to belittle the fact that what happened was a tragedy, and my thoughts go out to all people and parties effected, but being fair, there are better made documentaries out there. But there are few that can control its viewer as emotionally well as Dear Zachary. It’s a matter of opinion what makes a better film, feeling, our artistry, and for me it is both. But the sheer power of the story in itself, created by some well placed moments and montages, make Dear Zachary a powerhouse.
I Give Dear Zachary A: