My kid recently told me he wanted to stay five-years-old forever. When I asked him why he replied, "because I like the number five." Getting old sucks. Growing up sucks even worse.
For the kids in It Follows, adolescence is coming to an end. They cling to their youth by reminiscing about their more dull-witted days. But adulthood, like the mysterious force that has been haunting them, is inevitable. It is contracted via sex, the ultimate metaphor for innocence lost. It can be avoided for a time by having sex with another. Likewise, I have postponed the aging process by having children. I live vicariously through them.
The themes at work in the picture are timeless, but its design will appeal to those who grew up on the neon slickness and gritty atmosphere of the parachute pants and Garbage Pail Kids era. Its gliding camera and synth-driven score do not diminish the forcefulness of its ideas nor its nail-biting ambiance. It is an intelligent, original and most importantly, frightening experience.
- (look at past posts for a longer review of the picture)
Spring is a rough and gritty horror fantasy wrapped around a tale of romance and aimed at a sophisticated genre audience. Horror fans should take note of filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead.
One of the reasons the picture is so successful is that it takes its time developing its characters before delving into more gruesome territory. The first third of the picture plays like a painterly humanist pic, more interested in talk than action. California tough guy Evan is spiraling out of control following the death of his mother. He escapes to Italy where he embarks on a romance with Euro-hottie Louise, a woman harboring a deep secret, not to mention a pair of tentacles.
Once the movie moves into blood-curdling territory things get a whole more interesting. Scenes of transformational body horror exceed the picture’s minimal budget and add to the creative combining of genres.
Character, theme and slimy effects: you’re lucky now a days to get one or the other. Spring delivers all three.
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
The Flight of the Conchords guys celebrate the pre-Twilight days of vampires in their hilarious new mockumentary, What We Do In The Shadows. Vladislav, Viago, Deacon and Petyr are members of the legendary undead that share a flat in New Zealand. They sleep in closets and crawlspaces during the day and prowl the streets for victims at night. When Nick, the assclown boyfriend of their human servant Jackie, is turned into a bloodsucker, their routine is thrown into turmoil.
A charmingly entertaining romp, What We Do In The Shadows manages to squeeze laugh after laugh from its slight premise. The most ridiculous lines are the ones you’ll find yourself quoting days later. One particularly funny moment sees Vlad comparing a sandwich to the blood of a virgin. “If you are going to eat a sandwich, you would just enjoy it more if you knew no one had fucked it.”
What makes What We Do In The Shadows so good is the sanguinary delight it takes in depicting scenes of gore. We’re not talking casual droplets of blood, we’re talking gallons of life fluid spraying in violent jets of garish red across the screen.
The film plays best in an enthusiastic group setting, but no one can deny the exceedingly good time provided via its refreshing humor and gross-out visuals.
THE FINAL GIRLS
The 80s was an awesome time to be a kid. The Michael Jackson era of slap bracelets, boom boxes and trapper keepers also provided some of the finest slasher films not directed by John Carpenter. Friday the 13th, The Prowler, The Burning all told cautionary tales of girls showin’ their nudiddies before being punished at the hands of a knife-toting maniac.
The Final Girls is aimed at those with a soft spot for the dead teenager decade. Not only does it exploit the conservative message of its forebearers though, it also has something to say about love and loss.
When a fire breaks out at a screening of the slasher film Camp Bloodbath starring Max’s (Taissa Farmiga) late mother (Malin Akerman), she and her friends attempt to escape through a hole in the screen. What awaits them on the other side is not the backdoor but Camp Bloodbath. They must fight alongside Max’s mother and the other counselors to survive a masked killer.
A stylish and amusing send-up of slasher conventions (vice precedes slice and dice, character archetypes, flashbacks, voice over, end credits, sequels), The Final Girls is a must see for those who like their gore intertwined with humor.
THE GREEN INFERNO
It was recently reported that McDonalds has a secret menu. Among the items available is the McGangBang: a hearty, golden-brown bun stuffed with savory beef and chicken and a special sauce.
Speaking of off-the-menu food items, maven of grue and all-around kinky dude Eli Roth had a new movie this year. The spectacularly gory The Green Inferno follows a dim-witted group of student activists who go to the Amazon in an effort to save the rainforest only to run into a tribe of mondo bizarro cannibals. Ch(sh)ock-full of blood, guts and penises, Inferno is a loving homage to the (mostly Italian) man-eat-man films of the 70s and 80s.
I have a measured respect for Roth. Not only does he cultivate mainstream horror, he’s oiled the works for extreme horror to exist in multiplex theaters. But I’m not a huge fan of his oeuvre. He’s clearly in love with the genre, however, while his previous efforts mime the booze-on-blood stylings of horror’s perennial best, they often overlook the sociopolitical undertones that made them so successful. This time out he’s paid tribute to a genre not particularly known for its social commentary. Okay, so maybe Cannibal Holocaust has something to say about the fundamental nature of man, but give me a break. Roth may have wanted to make a point regarding the millennials’ reliance on social media, but that crashes and burns when his cinematic activists take a nose dive in the jungle. He's a formula guy and here he's nailed the formula. It’s a wildly entertaining feast for gore-hounds. Limbs are separated from bodies, torsos are disemboweled, brain-matter is heaved at the screen with aesthetic delight. Oh, and the cannibals get “the munchies” after accidentally ingesting some top-drawer marijuana. It's all really quite fun.
WHEN ANIMALS DREAM
A few months ago a number of researchers reported to The Economist the discovery of some wolf/coyote/dog hybrid thingy that has begun to pop up in a few of our nation’s largest cities. Apparently, the fluffy cousins started boning about 200 years ago as colonists forced them off their land.
Speaking of curious species, Marie receives the unwelcomed news on the eve of her 16th birthday that she and her mother are part human, part carnivorous werebeast. As if becoming a woman didn’t bring about enough problems, now Marie has to deal with a hairy chest and a town full of unhappy residents.
Subverting horror lore as metaphor for teen angst is nothing new. (Ginger Snaps was a refreshing treat in 2001.) But When Animals Dream molds the formula of its predecessors into an intimate and often creepy coming-of-age thriller. While not quite transcendent, its combination of intelligent writing with alluring photography make for a welcomed addition to the werewolf genre.
I also kind of liked: THE VISIT, GOODNIGHT MOMMY, POD, CRIMSON PEAK, THE HALLOW, MAGGIE, THE GIFT, CREEP, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, THE HARVEST
Films that got some buzz that I did not like: WE ARE STILL HERE, DEATHGASM, KNOCK KNOCK, THE GALLOWS, HELLIONS, STUNG, VISIONS, THE NIGHTMARE, LAST SHIFT, BOUND TO VENGEANCE, DIGGING UP THE MARROW