Thursday, December 31, 2009

Carriers (Review)

Carriers

Carriers (2009)

Directed by Alex and David Pastor

It's New Year's Eve! What better way to end 2009 with a post apocalyptic movie, right? So with my last post of 2009, I bring you my review of Carriers.

Carriers is sorta a uber depressing version of Zombieland without the funny and kinetic moving zombies. There are 4 people (2 dudes and 2 dudettes), they have their own "rules" and they are traveling the US of A to get to a happy place. See what I mean? However, in Carriers it's more realistic and there is no search for twinkies. Also, the "infected" don't want to eat your flesh.

Other than that, it's the same formula. But Paramount Vintage ignored this flick giving it a small release this year whereas Zombieland went global. Carriers is a solid flick and for 90 minutes beats down the every man for himself theme down your throat. Survival of the fittest is the motto in this post apocalyptic world. And because they stayed true to this, it makes quite an effective flick.

But you know what I realized after watching this? If there is EVER a zombie epidemic or a national infection that can't be quarantined, the United States of America is NOT the country you want to be in. We turn into dog eat dog killers and only think of ourselves. Does this happen in the Bahamas?


Boring Plot-O-Matic

Four kids are trying to outrun the end of the world – and each other. No one is safe from the viral pandemic threatening to wipe out the human race. The four friends speed across the Southwestern U.S. to reach a place of safety while facing moral decisions no human should ever be forced to face. They discover that their greatest enemy is not the microbe attacking humanity, but the darkness within themselves.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

So Carriers has rules like Zombieland (5 total compared to the 33 in Z) Let's go through them shall we?

1.) Avoid populated areas at all cost.

The virus in Carriers is never explained and that's a good thing. We get thrown into the movie right smack in the middle as they travel the back roads. All we know when we start our journey with these 4 musketeers is that a virus has wiped out most of humanity and they need the essentials to survive: water, food, bleach and especially gas.

Carriers uses the open country setting well and shows us daytime which makes a infection movie even creepier. I've always thought zombie or virus movies should show us more daytime scenes. Makes us feel we're not safe at all.

2.) If you come into contact with other people, assume they have it.

OK let's introduce our characters. James T. Kirk himself, Chris Pine plays Brian who with his brother Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci) his pseudo GF Kate (Emily VanCamp) and Brian's GF Bobby (Piper Perabo) are our road survivors. Brian plays the rogue self appointed leader, Danny the obedient lap dog, Kate plays the damsel and Bobby who hottie with a heart.

The rules comes into play when they meet a father (Christopher Meloni) and his daughter (who has the disease) who need gas but as they follow rule #1, fate brings all of them together. The movie is one long road trip, we hear things about what may or may not be going on and they all end up at an abandoned school searching for a supposed cure.

Carriers is one depressing rest stop after another. The film gives some glimmer of hope, then coughs up and kills it without any remorse. It's this sort of without mercy storytelling that has an abandon all hope attitude.

Also, we get more in depthiness with our characters. The relationship between Brian and Danny is meshed with hostility and love and we get to hear some backstory of their lives before the virus. It's clearly a way to get us to care for these people and even at times dislike them. In many of these type of movies, the flick doesn't have time to let us know anything about our heroes. Instead, it's "Be chased! Run! Shoot in head!". Carriers allows us to get to know these people and all of them are a tad cool once you get to know them.

3.) The virus can survive on surfaces for up to 24 hours.

This rule should be combine with #4. So see the #4.

4.) Never touch anything that's not disinfected (or disinfect anything they've touched in the last 24 hours)

So obviously one of them gets infected. It's these moments that are as deeply human as they are real. I remember seeing the lines for the H1N1 vaccines and if you think about it, if there was a shortage, people would just be selfish and probably horde the vaccines. Would you do the same? It's easy to not care for a stranger but could you leave your husband, your wife, your kids just to save yourself?

It's always the same question these virus/zombie movies put to the test. As much as you'd like to think you'd take the high ground and be all Pope-ishly moral, I highly doubt we'd actually be civilized in an uncivilized world.

Carriers tries to answer this with hard truths.

5.) Take what you need and never look back (or the sick are already dead, they can't be saved)

After a confrontation with another survivor group at a country club, our scooby gang see the other end of the spectrum when they are questioned and all their supplies are taken. The ending is completely bleak and is the same tone throughout. No happy endings here, no reenacting Ghostbusters will Bill Murray.

Carriers is as depressing as you can get for a post apocalyptic movie (though I hear The Road is more so). Sure, I can dig a downer ending but I'd hope we'd have some hope of goodness inside all of us. Maybe I'm pessimestic about the human race (shit, it could be because I'm American) but I always thought the idea of an end of the world movie is to show how bad it can get and we can lose all our beliefs, but we can stick to at least one. I am a glass half full sorta guy. I think there are some of us that give a shit about each other.

Am I being naive? Maybe so, but that's why Carriers won't make my Top 20 list. I wanted to think we could be better than we are. It's that damn Star Trek vision of the future I guess.

Overall, Carriers is an effective film of post apocalyptic survival, characters you care about and a live and let die philosophy of who we are.

Wow, I'm totally depressed now. Maybe I'll move to the Bahamas.

Gore-ipedia

Infected ickyness
Virus trauma

Nude-ipedia

Oh I would have paid $5 to see Piper Perabo naked...but she isn't

WTF moment

Brian goes postal on some Christians

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

Happy New Year's Eve! Trust me, this is not the flick you want to see going into 2010. But I can see why this was put on many Top 10 lists for 2009. It's a gritty, realistic and depressing look into the infection doomsday genre and doesn't care to give you any happy ending. See this, then see Zombieland. Its total ying and yang.

Carriers comes out on DVD on December 29th. Head over to the official site for more goodies.

Rating:
1/2

Check out the trailer below.



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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Deadgirl (Review)

Deadgirl

Deadgirl (2009)

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel

"Wanna see a dead body?"

Deadgirl is like a depraved, warped up horror version of Stand by Me. Think an indie film with a horror element Romero-ed into it. Such is the beauty and the chill sicko-ness of Deadgirl, definitely one of the top 10 horror movies of 2009.

I've seen films where as I'm watching I feel really ashamed to be seeing this. Deadgirl so disturbing yet highly provocative that at the end you feel dirty, kinda ugh and your definitely not Jersey Shore fist pumping in the air. But when a movie like this comes along, you have to give it a standing O. It puts on screen images that challenge your morality, question your ethics, think of things a little differently and amp up your Klingon vengeance served cold. So many emotions are rushed into you in an hour 40 min, that even though they're not happy thoughts, it leaves an impact even the most logical Vulcan would feel. (yay! 2 Star Trek references in 2 straight sentences!)

Deadgirl is what a horror movie that runs fuel of all that is wrong, but somehow you want to see this Elephant Man car all the way to the end. That's the nature of seeing something so raw, so real and so disturbingly human.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

Two high school boys discover an imprisoned woman in an abandoned mental asylum who cannot die.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and JT (Noah Segan) are stoner high school friends, our stereotypical high school burnouts who discover in a abandoned mental hospital a decaying woman who is unbelievably alive. Their discovery and what they should do is shocking but also establishes who these kids are. Rickie is our anti-hero, whose ethically challenged and JT who basically wants to play with their new sex toy and has no qualms about doing some fucked up shit.

In the middle of all this, Rickie has a uber crush on JoAnn, who is the GF of jock douchebag Johnny. After JT brings their other friend Wheeler into the mix, the wheels start turning as we see JT and Wheeler violate the decomposing corpse and Rickie struggling with what do. The film focuses on Rickie, his family life, his obsessive stalker persona of JoAnn and keeping this fuckin huge secret...well a secret. Later, others "discover" what's going on, pay for their horniness and leads to a JT vs Rickie vs Deadgirl showdown. The core will have figured out the ending but the jabronis (the few who attempted to watch this) will be screaming bloody murder.

Got all that?
To review this movie you really have to strip the horror part of the zombie girl out of the mix. Because when you do, all your left with is a movie about men's perception of women, a teenage angst high school flick and the control of your destiny. Sure, we got zombies, some gore and splatter but Sarmiento and Harel could have easily made an ALIVE girl and not a Deadgirl and we would be talking about the same things (and worst, it would have made this movie 1 billion times more disturbing).

The misogyny engrained in Deadgirl is highly graphic. Not glamorized but highly gritty, the dead girl (played by Jenny Spain) is repeatedly raped and tortured. Treated as a piece of meat, the film takes the high ground in terms of torture porn. All the men who partake don't do it because they are evil (I mean they are...to do this, you gotta be fucked up) but because it's controlled and predictable. The opportunity is 100% guaranteed and in this adolescent world, it is - the peer pressure that overtakes all logic.

This segways into the teenage high school angst aspect. JT, Rickie and Wheeler get the crap beaten out of them by the jockiest jocks. With no control in the outside world, they are crawl into the basement of the mental asylum where they are in control. Deadgirl plays into the high school dynamic perfectly. In one way, Rickie goes back and forth between the two. His love for JoAnn in the real world is unpredictable and painful as opposed to this deadgirl world. But Deadgirl doesn't deliver us a John Hughes Bender/Claire happy ending. It's too smart to know we won't buy it. Instead, the reality of the 2 worlds clashes and in the end you get one that's blended like a bizarro world.

And that's why JT and Wheeler embrace the dead girl world. In a most WTF moment,JT puts lipstick and a glamor mag on the dead girl to make her "attractive". They have accepted that they'll be pumping gas or live a life destined to servicing the above classes. JT utters this to Rickie towards the end of the movie.

"Think about it, we're just can fodder for the rest of the world. Down here we're in control. We call the shots down here....you don't have to be the nice guy"

Three distinct issues are blended into a movie and throw in a zombie girl (fun fact! the term zombie is never uttered by any of the characters) and it all equals a horror movie that you want to recommend but are ashamed to admit you watched. What the Deadgirl represents is multiple ideas. Our objectification of women, our longing to be better than who we are and our motivation to control our lives and the moments in them because we thing it's the easiest route to happiness.

Filled with the most disturbing and fucked up scenes of human depravity and even some moments of ha ha's, Deadgirl has vaulted up on my list of the best horror movies of 2009. The performances from the no-name cast are solid as is the story from Trent Haaga and the direction from Sarmiento and Harel. The disturbing images and some scenes of drag and even a few hiccuping weirdness knock out a half from my rating. When I tell you a movie makes an impact, don't take that shit likely.

That's my way of telling you to see this film with a bag over my head.

Gore-ipedia

Oozing oozes
Corpse rotting
Face and lip trauma
Corpse yuckiness
Deadgirl ickyness

Nude-ipedia

Is corpse nudity considered nudity?

WTF moment

Zombie BJ
One hell of a shit
Big momma kicks the crap out JT and Wheeler

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

This is another movie I've watched towards the end of the year so I can come up with a clear list of my top 10 horror movies of 2009. I do this every year and every freakin year something gets bumped that I originally had on there.

The fact that Deadgirl is going to bump something off the list, says frakin volumes.

It's out on DVD, probably through Amazon and Netflix or wherever you get your movies these days.

Rating:
1/2

Check out the trailer below.



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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

After Dark Horrorfest 4 (Trailers)

Will any of these 8 movies actually be good? After watching 7 of the 8 movies from Horrorfest 3, I can say all of them were scratch your eyeballs bad. The shit I went through after seeing Perkins 14 summarizes this at its worst.

But 2010 is a new year and we have a new batch of movies. So like I did before, I've posted as many of the trailers I could find for all the movies below. Also included are my thoughts on each of them solely based on the trailer.

Which of these do you think might actually be worth forking over a few bucks to see? I say none of them but that's the jaded viewer in me.

1.) Zombies of Mass Destruction




the jaded viewer says: Really? A political zomedy? Umm..err..I thought the zombie genre died in 2009? Could be like Dance of the Dead, could be utter crap. I'd go with the latter.

2.) The Reeds




the jaded viewer says: Oversexed teens vacation turned into survivor horror. ZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Yawn-o-rama.

3.) The Final




the jaded viewer says: The Breakfast Club meets torture porn. That was inevitable. Do high school teenagers even bully anymore? I mean when you see shit like this, I'd be scared out of my mind. Could be yay, more than likely it will be nay.

4.) Hidden aka Skjult




the jaded viewer says: I don't even know what they're saying and I can tell this is gonna suck. Oooh crazy images mixed with fancy editing and tons of bass. This is Norwegian (I think After Dark got this because they thought this might be Dead Snow 2)

5.) Dread



the jaded viewer says: You think the Twilight tweens will come en masse to see this because somebody from that flick is in it? OMG, this looks like MTV produced web series like crap. Oooh what's your fear? My fear is I'll accidentally see this. This looks like the worst of the lineup.

6.) Lake Mungo




the jaded viewer says: Making sure they are not left off of the Paranormal Activity bandwagon, After Dark picks up Lake Mungo. Yuppers folks. It's a faux documentary about ghosts and paranormal blah blah blah. Sometimes its too late to catch the wake of the shaky camp ghost flicks. Too little, too late Lake Mungo. WTF is a Mungo?

7.) The Graves



the jaded viewer says: Hot girls, road trip, evil possessed town, Bill Moseley and Tony Todd. Oh sure it looks like it might be good. It looks yummy but when you bite into it it's gonna taste like feces. From the trailer, this might actually be the best of all the flicks. But I've been wrong so many times. I can't tell anymore.

8.) TBD

To be announced

OK horror minions. Is there even one film in these 7 flicks so far that might be worth seeing? In any case, head over to the official After Dark Horrorfest site for more plot summaries and stills. They've also got a Facebook, MySpace and a Twitter pages.

After Dark Horrorfest will be in theaters from January 29, 2010 to February 4, 2010.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Thirst (Review)

Thirst (Bakjwi)

Thirst (2009)

Directed by Chan-wook Park

Where do I start? When a movie plays out so magnificently as Chan-Wook Park's Thirst, you applaud and you feel like a million bucks afterwards. It's simply genius that Park can take the vampire and create a story interwoven with identity, betrayal, moralilty and love.

I absolutely loved the film in all its awesomness even with a disjointed 3 part act. The critics will squeal it goes from a priest inflicted with vampirism and the conflict of his morals being compromised to a Buffy-Angel like forbidden love story to a Mickey and Mallory Natural Born Killers slant towards the end.

But each act works and any section of this movie could have been evolved into its own movie. Oh the comparisons to Let The Right One In are inevitable but Thirst delves into a world where the demon inside a vampire manipulates the personality of its host and it's this aspect I totally loved.

What I want to talk about that possibly other critics and reviews haven't gone over is that unique perspective on Thirst. When you can take the lore and utilize it to create conflict and raise questions others have not, the film begs to be talked about. So grab a bottle of True Blood and let's get started.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

A failed medical experiment turns a man of faith into a vampire.


Awesome Review-O-Matic

Act I:

"Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me."


Do I need to rehash plot here? Well maybe just so we can get it out of the way. Father Sang-hyeon (Kang-ho Song) is a Roman Catholic priest in Korea who gives Last Rites to the dying. With his faith wavering he decides to participate in a medical experiment to cure the deadly EV virus but a last minute transfusion of blood turns him into a night demon: a vampire.

Now hailed as a saint having survived, his transformation starts. The film approaches this in a stellar way. Blending black humor with a sense of wonder, Sang-hyeon tries not to kill at first but to get his fix in other ways. Realizing he has all the symptoms of vampirism (allergic to sunlight, superhuman strength and discovering he can heal from wounds after taking his first taste of blood from a car crash victim) he starts to think of inventive ways to quench his thirst. In one fantastic scene he drinks blood through a IV from a comatose "fat cake sponge guy".

The photography again is simply beautiful here as each scene is like a painting set in motion. The simple camera movements, the seemless CGI to see "wounds heal" is flawless. Sang-hyeon's life however is now a conflict filled with contradictions. Struggling to keep his morals he's been compromised and is now pretty much a walking oxymoron.

How does a man of faith live with the blood thirsty demon living inside him?

Kang-ho Song is simply fantastic as Sang. At times, he doesn't speak but his face emotes clear emotion. In a scene where his head priest wants some of his blood to live, you can see a spectrum of emotions engulf him. Love, duty, repulsion, hatred and fear. Solid stuff.

Act II:

"Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses; as we forgive those who trespass, against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

Sang meets up with an old childhood friend Kang-woo, his beautiful wife and Kang-woo's mother. He joins his friend's mahjong game but becomes infatuated with Tae-ju (Ok-bin Kim) who has led a troubled life as well (she being a indentured servant to her "mom" and wife to Kang-woo, a complete gross idiot). In one surreal scene she air stabs her husband's open mouth as he sleeps.
Later, Sang is overwhelmed by his new sexual needs and Tae-ju disgusted by her family they have an affair and a very arduous grunt-a-thon.


Happy Happy Fun Time!


Sang shares his secret with Tae-ju and we get a "hey I'm a vampire, look at the cool shit I can do" standard montage. Busting a lampost, jumping from a building and bending coins to impress the girl.

End Happy Happy Fun Time!

Sang's sense of justice comes in when Tae-ju tells him Kang-woo has been beating her. On a fishing trip, he drowns Kang-woo with his new GF's help. But his first kill goes badly for both of them as they then start to have waking nightmares.

Park's visuals here are unbelievably dreamlike. They are true waking nightmares as Kang-woo's drenched corpse invades them in their sleep. At times, it plays off goofy but I didn't mind the lightheartedness of it all. In a film like this, you really have to take the prepostrous and inject some humor. Think Buffy-ized moments.

Later, mommy in law gets stroked and becomes a helpless handicapper and both Sang and Tae-ju confront and reveal their trespasses.

Here is where I believe the film transcends into uber-awesome. I theorize that when one becomes a vampire, the demon aspect slowly blends into the personality of the infected. As a man of faith, Sang struggles with the urges of the evilness of being a vampire and his humanity. Whereas a human who becomes a vampire with evilness already ingrained, the demon qualities manifest themselves rather quickly (as we find out later with Tae-ju).

It's the morality of this mad love couple that's so interesting see evolve. Sang is almost virgin like, keeping with the high ground. Tae-ju, a victim of a crappy life does what we would all do. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Park takes the time to make us feel for Tae-ju then rips it away from us when she "reveals" her true self. Sang is a representation of who we SHOULD be but Tae-ju is a representation of who we REALLY are. Beautiful storytelling, the viewer isn't prepared for any of it.

Act III:

"May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory, of his name, for our good, and the good of all his Church."


With Tae-ju now a newly transformed vampire, they both resort to killing new victims to keep the EV sickness at bay and quenching their never ending thirst. Tae-ju is consumed by her new powers and in a very Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon like scene, Sang chases after her from building to building.

After a massacre to feed their hungers, a new transformation occurs within Sang-hyun. Accepting who he is and what he's made Tae-ju, we get a glorious ending that doesn't miss a beat.

Wow I sure wrote a lot didn't I?

Let me just say, I LOVED THIS MOVIE. Thirst is a tour de force masterpiece of storytelling, bloodsucking and faith. There is a checklist of what I think makes a good movie.
  • An interesting concept/plot
  • Engrossing characters
  • Memorable scenes
  • Humor and WTF moments
  • A satisfying ending
Thirst accomplishes all of this and is 110% going to be on my Top 10 Horror Movies of 2009. Chan-wook Park established himself with his Vengeance Trilogy. Those movies revolutionized the action genre With Thirst he's done it again. The horror genre will never be the same.

Gore-ipedia

Blood sucking
Severed necks
Punctured lungs
Variety of blood in different forms

Nude-ipedia

Ok-bin Kim as Tae-ju boobies (very yummy boobies I might add)

WTF moment

Tae-ju's kills (all of em)

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

Trust me, you will never have seen a movie like this. This is a movie that will NEVER be remade by Hollywood. Well if it did, they'd turn Sang-hyun from a priest to a sanitation worker or some crap. Can you imagine if they did remake this? Conservative, church going Republicans would go ape shit. I'm surprised the Vatican didn't make seeing this film a mortal sin.

It's pretty long, 2 hours and 10 min or so and at times it tends to drag but taken as whole it doesn't disappoint. Thirst will definitely quench the rabid horror fan or even the most jaded viewer. Actually, it did!

Rating:

Check out the trailer below.



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Friday, December 25, 2009

Zombie Santa and the jaded viewer wish you a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! Here's hoping you got all the presents you wanted and some you can hopefully re-gift. Well I do have a gift for you all as well. My gift to you is some of my holiday themed posts I've written this year packaged for you in this nice bow tied post.

Check them out below.

Not enough for you? Well Black Dynamite has a message for you too!





You want more? OK, go ahead and watch Xmas Trees slaughter happy families on Christmas morning. It's Treevenge!!! (yeah I know everybody gonna post this up on their blog and site...what the hell, I might as well to)

Part 1




We will return you to your show after this brief horror Christmas related commercial message.....





We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.....


Part 2





Merry Christmas from the jaded viewer!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Best Movies of 2009 You May Have Missed (and others you saw multiple times)

Don't worry, my Top 10 Horror Movies of 2009 is coming next month (early January). But I wanted to make a list of some of the best non-horror movies I saw this year. I've broken out into the "Box Office Elephants" (your standard summer blockbusters) and the "You heard of these and you still didn't go see it" (straight to DVD, independents, DVDs picked up by US distributors, etc.)

Some of these movies were awesome, some were awesome if you went in with low expectations (ahem G.I. Joe, Terminator) and some were sleeper hits that totally shocked me with how mega-rific they were.

Let's look back on 2009 and see how Hollywood's summer elephants took on the mice of the independent scene.

"Box Office Elephants"

The LOLs

1.) The Hangover

the jaded viewer says: The best comedy of 2009. Nuff said.

2.) Bruno

the jaded viewer says: Not has good as Borat but the shock moments live up to the hype. Bruno brought about Middle East peace...in latex.

3.) Capitalism: A Love Story


the jaded viewer says: Love em or hate em, Michael Moore can turn our economic depression into ironic ha ha's.

The OMGs

1.) District 9

the jaded viewer says: Easily one of the best movies of 2009. The satire is pretty obvious but Blomkamp blends in alien buggers seemlessly into our world and they have personality!

2.) Star Trek

the jaded viewer says: Even if you aren't a Trekkie, you now know who James Tiberius Kirk is. But Spock easily steals the show by being more emotional than a WWE wrestler.

3.) Inglorious Basterds

the jaded viewer says: This jumped to #3 on my Best Quentin Tarantino movies (ahead of Reservoir Dogs!). Fear The Bear!

4.) Watchmen

the jaded viewer says: You really needed to read the graphic novel to get the subtleties of what Watchmen was all about. But Zach Snyder really did make a great movie out of the holy grail of graphic novels Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons Watchmen.

5.) Terminator: Salvation

the jaded viewer says: A lot of people really thought this was awful. Well, I didn't think so. I thought it captured the essence of the Future War that was always talked about. John Connor's scar origin, Arnold's cameo and Kyle Reese and Marcus are brought to life. McG did a solid job here.

"You heard of these and you still didn't go see it"

The LOLs with punches in the face

1.) Black Dynamite

the jaded viewer says: I gave this movie 4 spinkicks! What more needs to be said? Blaxploitation ha ha's at its freakin finest. Here's an actual line spoken by Black Dynamite:

"Your knowledge of scientific biological transmogrification is only matched by your zest of kung-fu treachery"


2.) Big Man Japan

the jaded viewer says: It's hard to describe this "superhero" movie from Japan but take a bit of Ultraman and mix in Godzilla and you have Big Man Japan. You gotta take my word on this. You will laugh yourself into a coma when you see this.

3.) Crank 2: High Voltage

the jaded viewer says: Not an indie by any stretch, you may have missed Jason Statham's return as Chev Chelios (and his faulty artificial heart). Chev, Amy Smart and a horesetrack. If you've seen it, you know what I mean.

4.) Ong Bak 2

the jaded viewer says: Tony Jaa makes it look so easy. Not as good as the original, the stunts and action sequences here are still vintage Jaa and you won't get bored when knees, elbows and spinkicks are clobbering henchmen.

Spectacular DIY Independents

1.) Ink

the jaded viewer says: The best independent movie to come out this year. It's visually eye candy, a lovely story and filled with characters and dreams you wish you could dream about.

2.) No Right Turn

the jaded viewer says: Grime and crime noir at its best. David Noele Burke's films echoes Tarantino but turns in a crime fairy tale. Good times.

3.) The Local

the jaded viewer says: It's like a Bukowski poem come to life. Crime drama with some kick, Dan Eberle's NYC indie is filled with lowlife characters and an anti-hero with a heart.

You've all seen the elephants, I think you should try to feed the mice. Many of these films are available on Netflix, Amazon and other big box stores. If you need to go to the official site to purchase, seriously buy yourself a present this Christmas and get em. You won't be disappointed.

Did I miss one's on your list? Got any recommendations for me? Go and leave a comment and let me know. Like I said, my Top 10 Horror Movies of 2009 is coming soon (once I see the flicks I missed this year).

Bring on 2010!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grace (Review)

Grace

Grace (2009)

Directed by Paul Solet

So is this what Blade's mother went through?

I've been watching the supposed "best" horror movies of 2009 so I can make a solid list of the years best. Grace has been put on many of these lists and I went in thinking this was a shoe in to be on there.

Well horror minions, its not going to be.

It's a very well made flick, the aura of the mommy and daughter bond is nurturingly depraved but all in all, I just didn't feel it pushed it into the stratosphere of OMG awesomeness!

For me Grace is an exercise of stretching a short (see the short via Freddy in Space) into a full length film and actually making it worse. It should have played out a little more surreal. Some have actually said its a stretch to call Grace a horror movie. That its much more. I disagree. It's pure horror. I mean its about a baby that craves blood! What's more horrorific than that?

That's not to say the movie doesn't have it creepy moments. It's a mixed bag of roasted peanut goodness plus some terrible tasting cashews in there. So as much as I wanted to love Grace, I just couldn't. And so we're going into a trimester breakdown of the film. Yup, I'm using gratuitous cliches.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

After losing her unborn child, Madeline Matheson insists on carrying the baby to term. Following the delivery, the child miraculously returns to life with an appetite for human blood. Madeline is faced with a mother's ultimate decision.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

The 1st trimester (aka the first 35 minutes)

Jordan Ladd and Stephen Park are Madeline and Michael Matheson, who have been trying to have a child and finally have one on the way. We meet Madeline's mother in law Vivian (Gabrielle Rose) who we get right away is one of those antagonizing mothers that can drive you crazy. Seems Madeline is a vegan, soy milking PETA endorsing type and she wants to deliver naturally so they go see a midwife Patricia (Samantha Ferris).

The first 35 is all set up to the birth and death of our newborn Grace. After a scare in the hospital, a car accident leaves Michael dead, Madeline alive and the baby...well we don't know what the baby's condition is. Madeline has the pregnancy to term and delivers via Patricia, a stillborn baby....very much dead.

The penultimate scene (taken from the short) is when after giving birth Patricia proclaims "You can't will a...". It's chilling and effective when the baby jumps to life. Very twistedly goosebumpy and you know this can only lead to successive WTF moments. The movie than goes into those moments via slow burn. Most of America has ADD, so with a 5 hour energy drink and a Red Bull I painstakingly paid attention.

So what do we get?

  • Grace deteriorating via a bath
  • Grace throwing up mommy's breast milk
  • And a closing shot from the POV of Grace lookingthrough the fly net with Madeline looking at the accumulating flies (this is one of the best scenes in the film)
The 2nd trimester (the next 30 minutes)

This is where we see mom and daughter bond and were the supposed transcendent portion of this bond. Madeline soon finds out Grace craves blood and she does everything she can to accommodate. The scenes of nurturing seem lacking for me. From sacrificing her vegan ways to a obvious murder, I could see the argument being made for the pro "What would you do for your child?" contingent.

It's a surreal motherhood in action and fascinating to watch but here's my beef. Sure, Grace shows sign of zombieness or vampire hybridy but for being the titular character should have been a little more anti-normal. If we saw Grace decomposing (yeah that does sound horrible I know) that would have made more of an impact on Madeline's actions. In the short, Grace is shown in q more gruesome fashion. I think we really needed that so we can see Madeline's transformation of mom to psycho mom.

You can't tell me the vagueness of whats Grace is didn't bother you. This is a horror movie and some subtle hint would have been nice. Ladd is solid in her performance as we see her succumb the demands of servicing Grace. Mentally and physically we see her deteriorate just like her baby. It's a good parallel and I would have liked to see more of it.

The 3rd trimester (the last 15 minutes)

The conclusion is filled with reveals and discovery by all those involved. I did like the poetic last moments of Madeline being a mom to the very end. But for a film that built up a intensity of this mother-daughter bond, we end on such an odd note and with a tad of black humor. Why the black humor now? This could have easily been inserted throughout the film to relax the audience and the viewer and play on their natural instincts.

For 70 or so minutes, Grace doesn't give us moments to breathe. It's psychologically and disturbing throughout. That's not to say I wanted some ha ha's on such a serious toned movie, but we are dealing with a bloodsucking infant here.

Overall, Grace is stretched out from a short to a feature and you can see some of the stretch marks on what didn't work. The idea is sound, the performances solid and the bits of gore are well done. But at the end of it, Grace's message doesn't resonate intensely on the "What would you do for your child" theme like say The Children or Orphan does (killer kid movies that emanate that theme perfectly).

Grace is definitely unlike any horror film I've ever seen (I do agree on that). But if I were to be the midwife on this movie and help it deliver, my suggestion to Paul Solet would be this.

Push the boundaries and go beyond the beyond. In other words, not just make a feature out of your short but challenge the viewer thematically and visually with something they will never forget.


Gore-ipedia

Fly trauma
Blood gushing
Hammer to the head
Bottle blood drainage

Nude-ipedia

See WTF moment

WTF moment

Old people doing it!! My eyes! My eyes!! I'm blind!!!

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

This is the 2nd time this week I haven't fully liked one of the supposed best horror movies of 2009. I don't get caught in any bandwagon hype and I stick by my thoughts. Like em or hate em, I review a film in a way where the average horror moviegoer gets represented as well as the typically jaded viewer.

Grace is available on BluRay and DVD via Amazon.com.

Rating:

Check out the trailer below.



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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

5150 Elm's Way (Trailer)

Courtesy of Bloody Disgusting comes this little French-Canadian psychological horror mind f*ck of a film. After watching the trailer, it has the feel of Inside and a mix of Funny Games. Something just resonated and impulsed me to put up the trailer.

Here be the plot.

5150 ELM'S WAY is located at the end of a quiet street in a small town. When Yannick fell off his bike, he knocked at the door of the Beaulieu residence so he could clean the blood off his hands. But Jack Beaulieu and his family had other plans for Ian. Beaulieu is a righteous psychopath and fanatic chess player who wants to rid the world of evil. And even though Ian has done nothing wrong, he is beaten, tortured and tormented before Beaulieu makes him an offer: win at chess and he is free to go. And so Ian is now a pawn in Beaulieu 's game. A game in which he will either lose his mind or his life.

Check out the trailer below.



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Monday, December 21, 2009

Drag Me To Hell (Review)

Drag Me To Hell

Drag Me To Hell (2009)

Directed by Sam Raimi

There was some ying but no yang.

That's the best way to describe my feelings towards Drag Me To Hell. I too was excited by Raimi's returning to his horror roots. So going in and finally watching this, I was a little hyped. But as I watched the movie I noticed something that bothered me.

I couldn't watch the movie without flashbacking to what I liked about Raimi's other flicks. Evil Dead series, Darkman even Spiderman.

And then it hit me. Drag Me To Hell was making me remember everything I love about Raimi's work except one thing.

It didn't have a hero (or in this case a heroine).

And this is why I'm going to give it the rating I give it. And I'll explain why.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

A loan officer ordered to evict an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse, which turns her life into a living hell. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

The critics can't be wrong right? 92% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is on numerous top 10 lists and praised by numerous mainstream horror sites and the blogosphere. OK here is where I become a salmon and swim against the current. I'll tell you what I liked, what I didn't like and just because I know everybody saw this, I'm not going to rehash plot and shit. I will try to just summarize my thoughts with Evil Dead quotes...hopefully you won't throw feces at me after reading this review.

"I know now that my wife has become host to a Kandarian demon. I fear that the only way to stop those possessed by the spirits of the book is through the act of... bodily dismemberment."

-Voice on the recorder

OK lets go through the awesome shit of Drag Me To Hell. The Lamia demon is pure mega-rific Universal monsters fun. All the great Raimi's angles and closeups and wicked camera movements are in full effect. Raimi going back to solid basics is always good stuff. Adding to the effect are all the awesome shock scare moments. Pure, vintage Raimi.

Rattling pans, curtains fluttering, shadowy glimpses, window breaking and the best jump scares are all back in action. From gushing bloody noses and mouths to gypsy lady in a closet and anvil droppings. All good shit. Eye popping action, flies on our lens, talking goats. Yay. I also really never get tired of regurgitation in my horror comedies. The entire sequence as Christine fights off Grandma Ganush in the car is brilliantly yummy. No complaints. Keep the poop in check for now.

Henrietta: I'll swallow your soul! I'll swallow your soul! I'll swallow your soul!
Ash: [Aims shotgun at Henrietta's face] Swallow this.

Alison Lohman as Christine does a decent job screaming and just has that Pam Beasly look to her. Act tough! Act scared! Act concerned! Act loan officer-ish! Justin Long is OK as the everyday guy who is clueless but Dileep Rao as Rham Jas gives us a good ole seance guy and makes us believe the demonology.

"Then let's head on down into that cellar and carve ourselves a witch."
-Ash

OK. Here is why I think the movie lacks. The problem lies with Christine. She never goes into hero mode. Not even an anti-hero mode. I'm not looking for her to be Ash or Spidey or Darkman but I need her to believe that the forces of evil are real. Each of Raimi's other heroes BELIEVE in the impossible, the supernatural and the tech. And then they kick the shit out of it.

With all the devlish demons of hell tormenting Christine, she still seemed surprised by it all. Oh yes, she believes eventually but towards the end Rham Jas asks her to repeat the line: "I welcome the dead to my soul" and then Jas tells her "You must believe it! It's like Christine was playing the "this is still not real" perception even after everything that happened to her.

My main point is this. Christine continues to play the victim until the very end (and we know what happens at the end). It's debatable to speculate if she deserved what happened to her but I needed her to fight back. Be the heroine, femme up and be a pseudo vintage final girl. Instead, she pays 10gs and hires backup.

But Raimi is also at fault. He built up a high octane demon vs medium seance then unleashes a deux ex machina on us which of course is to give the button to somebody else, thus passing the curse. This is what he ends the movie with which is like a roller coaster going to its highest point then dipping down at 200 mph. I mean who didn't see the envelope switch. It was rather obvious. But that's not the point.

The point I'm trying to make is were suppose to have good vs evil. It's what makes a good horror movie. Yes you can make the hero grey or muddled, possibly even non likeable but there is suppose to be a give and take. A ying and a yang. Demon attacks, hero fights back. Hero fights back, demon attacks. Ultimately good triumphs over evil (though I do love when evil wins too).

The fact Christine suffers and gets attacked and only waits until the end to metaphorically load up her chainsaw with some mediums do we get any fight from her. As a character, Lohman plays her as sympathetic but fuck it, she's not. She screwed the old lady and deserves the shit that's coming to her. She probably is the cause of the entire United States economy going into a depression. Damn banks and loans lenders can go straight to hell as far as I'm concerned (pun so well intended)

Drag Me To Hell is vintage Raimi but it shows off his rust as he comes back into the horror genre (OMG! You guys just threw poop at me didn't you?) I did love some of the moments but as I said I think we encountered a few hiccups along the way. If you step back and think about the film, you'll see what I mean. Throughout the entire movie I wanted Sylvia Ganush and the Lamia demon to drag that money grubbing bank employee to hell.

I gave her a chance of survival of about 10%. Why?It's not like she's a hero or anything.

Gore-ipedia

Vomitous Gratuitous
Ocular trauma
Stapler trauma
Feline trauma
You know the rest

Nude-ipedia

Nada

WTF moment

Ganush can kick ass

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

So I'm giving Drag Me To Hell 2 spinkicks. And no, its probably not making my Top 10 list of 2009. This is what I thought and you can brand me a Raimi traitor if you wish. I just didn't think the movie was spectacular as everyone else did.

OK, let me know what you think. I can take it. But please, no more poop. Don't you have tomatoes?

Rating:

Check out the trailer below.



DRAG ME TO HELL: Movie Trailer - Watch the best video clips here

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Friday, December 18, 2009

The WTF List: The Box

Oh this is going to be an interesting WTF List. Why? Because as a Richard Kelly fan (I absolutely loved Donnie Darko and hated Southland Tales) I was totally pulled in so many different directions wit this flick.

It's 2 freakin hours and I had seen the episode called "Button, Button" on the new Twilight Zone. I posted up the trailerand the episode a while back. So I knew there was a kinda twisty twist in here. But its all the rest of the confusion that gets to you. It's the most understandable of all the Richard Kelly flicks yet the most illogical and the most confusing.

If you've seen it, you know what I mean. If you haven't, well this is just a list of random thoughts and mumbo jumbo after having seen it.

So let's get to the WTF list shall we? (spoilers obviously)

1.) It's 1976! Why? Because 1 million dollars is alot of money in 1976!
2.) Cameron Diaz can't do a Southern accent..its like a shrieking noise on the subway
3.) Frank Langella is missing half his face because well he looks more V like
4.) They get The Box and get the offer from Steward. Push the button and get (cue Dr. Evil voice) "1 million dollars" but somebody dies that you DON'T know...(ahem pay attention!).
5.) Push the button! Push the button! Push the button! Push the button! Push the button!
6.) Don't push the button! Don't push the button! Don't push the button! Don't push the button!
7.) Push the button! Push the button! Push the button! Push the button! Push the button!
8.) Don't push the button! Don't push the button! Don't push the button! Don't push the button!
9.) Well she pushed the button which of course had to happen or there wouldn't be a movie right? I mean what would happen if she didn't? Would we watch a flick where Cameron Diaz went to work, has to choose b/w 2 different guys and hilarity ensues (like all her chick flick movies)
10.) Well some waiter dude is acting all creepy, which prompted me to get a juice box
11.) Yay for philosophical quotes and Arthur C. Clarke references
12.) Yup. The Box has elements of Body Snatchers for no apparent reason
13.) Gratuitous running in a library
14.) My theory is proved true of what The Box really is for and whose behind it (about 45 or so minutes in)
15.) Pick #2! OMG why is this dude suspended with water? Thank you Richard Kelly for making shit up
16.) There is a guy dressed up as Santa ringing a bell
17.) Can you believe this 10 page short which resulted in this half hour long Twilight Zone episode made this movie 2 freakin hours long?
18.) I'm sure there's a message by Kelly in this movie, damn if I care at this point.
19.) Well now our couple has to make a choice...Hellen Keller or shoot Cameron Diaz. Hahahaha. I've been hoping they we're going to shoot Cameron Diaz since the beginning of the movie. Shoot away!
20.) Simultaneous button pushing equals crazy logic problems with this entire movie!

I decided to peruse the IMDB message boards after watching this and everybody was:

A.) Confused
B.) Didn't get it at all
C.) Hated the movie
D.) Loved the movie
E.) Bashed Kelly
F.) Praised Kelly

But the best part of reading these discussions is hearing about the logic problems of the ending.
It does have some of the best "well I didn't think of that" moments. If you haven't seen this flick, LOOK AWAY!
  • If the lady at the end doesn't push the button, would that still result in Cameron Diaz dying?
  • Also, the fact that aliens are behind this test to see if humanity is worth saving or becomes extinct, well this test is really a shitty way of determining that.
What did you guys think?



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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Orphan (Review)

Orphan

Orphan (2009)

Directed Jaume Collet-Serra


"If I find out that you're lying, I'll cut your hairless little prick off before you even figure out what it's for. Do you understand me?"

-Esther

They don't call me the jaded viewer for nothing.

I am totally being honest here. I called the twist in the Orphan once they introduced her character which was 30 or so minutes in (once I saw her paintings). I've seen alot of these type of movies and I'm good at picking up on the hints and clues. I knew going in there was a big reveal at the end. So through a level of Sherlock Holmes-ing, I kinda figured it out.

But that doesn't take away how good the movie is. Oh its not the twist or the scares or the suspense or tension of the movie which were all candy cane sweet, but its Isabelle Fuhrman's performance which is by far one of the best performances by a kid I've seen in a horror movie in quite a long time.

Kids in Hollywood movies always play...well kids. But in Orphan, Fuhrman plays a well mannered fashionista with a twisted mentality and WITH a Russian accent. And she pulls it off effortlessly. How does a little American kid actor pull this off? I'm speechless. Seriously, her performance is Oscar worthy. Truly remarkable.

I've been tardy when it comes to seeing mainstream American horror because I've just given up hope on the Hollywood system taking chances on creative scripts, pushing the boundaries and making Rated R flicks. So yeah, it took me this long to watch this. But now that I have maybe there is still hope. Maybe.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

A husband and wife who recently lost their baby adopt a 9-year-old girl who is not nearly as innocent as she claims to be.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

The opening scene of a bloody baby should have been a clue this was no ordinary kids horror movie. Like the Sixth Sense, clues are all over the place for you to figure out the twist (the professional paintings, piano playing, her speech and dress). But if your a jabroni, you might be oblivious from these things. But instead of rehashing the story which is summed up above let's just go over the hit points on what was good and what was bad on a scale of 1 to 10.

+10

Like I said before, Isabelle Fuhrman's performance is top notch, high level stuff. So convincing in her acting I am still clapping. The 9 year old Esther is given so much life by Fuhrman you begin to think she isn't even acting. She speaks with a tad of a Russian accent making it so believable. And to top it all off, everybody knows sign language! Fuhrman goes from lovable, gothy kid to master manipulater and deceiver and her performance during the course of the 2 hours is outstanding. She turns good, then bad, then good in so many scenes and always pseudo winking to the audience. We know she's bad and we can't do anything about it. So perfect.

+5

The performances of Vera Farmiga as Kate, our mommy are good as well as Peter Saarsgard as John the oblivious father. Max (Aryana Engineer) is quite a cutie pie as a deaf sister and brother Daniel (Jimmy Bennett) are solid as well as they play the "we know Esther's evil but we can't do anything about it" fodder.

+8

The level of evilness displayed by Esther grows throughout the movie. From a pigeon, to a playground "accident", each built up some level of WTF as we went along. As Esther covers up her deadly deeds, the rest of the movie is the adults trying to figure out what's the what. Once Esther takes her vengeance to adultland, all hell breaks loose. Each kill scene becomes so vicious, it was a no holds barred hardcore-ness I haven't seen in a Hollywood production in quite a long time. Hammers, knives, arson and a quick game of Russian roulette take this to a new level of awesomeness.

I really couldn't believe I was seeing this on screen. No cutaway scenes. They showed it all. Kudos to Jaume Collet-Serra for showing us everything full frontal.

+6

So what's wrong with Esther? Well then there's the reveal. Even though I called a variation of it, I kinda knew what the what was. It really is a twist I've never seen before in movie. The explanation is perfect for a movie like this and it works. Some may find it dumb or kinda stupid but its based on something. And if you can give me a reveal that doesn't make me slap my forehead in disgust and go WTF?!?! then you've kinda accomplished your job. Let's say her transformation was handled very slick and cleverly. That ending gave me the wiggins.

-3

My gripes for the movie are just how perfect each of the character's problems or circumstances were set up. Mommy was an alcoholic, daddy pulled a Tiger Woods. It was easy for Esther to manipulate and set them up. Max being deaf was the most blatant of all as she was handicapped to do anything about Esther's evil. Also, logic problems erupt in the form of the orphanage records and the institute. Seemed a little off.

I sometimes hate movies where only one person knows the truth and all others think he/she is crazy even though all the evidence points to the contrary. For once I'd like to have seen Fox Mulder go to Scully "See there are UFOs! Just Believe!" It's right in front of you.

But that's how the characters and these type of movies work and you just have to deal.

All in all, Orphan plays its genre to a tee. Like The Children or The Omen, it follows the conventions and pits our hero (or heroine) against our killer kid. The beauty of these killer kid movies is the taboo of hurting a child. This is what I wrote for The Children review.

"The overall moral theme that gets grappled is one that encompasses all these killer kid films. Would you be able to kill a kid or *gasp* your own child to save your own or another child’s life? Many of the characters struggle with this and the paternal and maternal instinct are so ingrained, their logic becomes illogical and more emotion. Many might not be able to view such a film where kids wink with such evilness, especially parents."

The Orphan plays this theme out perfectly and is definitely one of the best horror movies of 2009.

Gore-ipedia

Smashed pigeon
Broken ankle
Multiple stabbings
Hammer to the cerebreal
Various splatter and gore

Nude-ipedia

Nada

WTF moment

The reveal of course

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

This will get a solid 3 spinkicks and will be in high consideration as one of my 10 Best Horror Movies of 2009. When you look back on 2009 in horror, Orphan will be on many top 10 lists for sure. And now you know why. Definitely see this flick or get a hammer in the head.

Rating:

Check out the trailer below.



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