In the suburbs, there’s a feeling of camaraderie. If you need a hand fixing the minivan’s broken taillight, Joe from next door can help you out. If you’d like a date night for Italian food and a romantic comedy in theaters, Christine from up the street can take the kids. No one ever shows up empty-handed to a neighborhood barbeque. With so many families packed into such a tiny space, who could possibly feel unsafe?
Mama is a movie of weight and a certain dark beauty. It is unlikely to change history, and has a handful of minor problems, but it deserves more than a January release, the exile by which many unwatchable horror movies go to die quietly. Mama is not only watchable, but engaging and at times even powerful.
The lead two actors have good chemistry, Clancy Brown is always a welcome sight, and the script is funny. Even when the plot falters, the movie maintains its sense of humor and commitment to the premise of showing how two painfully average 20-somethings would fare when given the task of saving the Earth.
At least in the first film, the various creatures and characters were new and well done. There was a shrewd, unsubtle (some might even say shrill) commentary on dogmatic thinking, rape, and female villains. The second film features nothing new, lacks even the most rudimentary analysis of its own mythology, and is laid out like an increasingly stupid haunted house.
For those who came in late: Paranormal Activity is the continuing saga of a family whose long history with the occult has led to a spate of possessions, polter-violence, and vigilant home surveillance. Series creator and producer Oren Peli constructed the concept around handily placed cameras capturing “true life” hauntings with a seemingly bottomless barrel of visual tricks. Now, however, one can hear distinct scraping sounds as the bottom comes into view.
Sinister has its flaws; it’s all a little too neat, the ghosts too visible. The “twist” ending isn’t, at least for anyone watching carefully. Everything is tied up at the end, packaged with a neat, bloodred bow, and the director can’t resist getting in one last jump scare. If it weren’t for these things – which could have been imposed by the studio for all we know – it would be a nearly perfect horror film.
No, Resident Evil isn’t an exemplar of well-crafted story, subtle dialogue, or flawless continuity, but it certainly is fun to watch. During an impressive chase scene involving a colossal dog-like zombie creature thing, I grinned like an idiot, shaking my head at the implausibility of it while enjoying every second.
Early in the film, we meet Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) as they are excavating a cave located on the side of a remote mountain. Inside they find drawings on the walls that match other images they have found at different sites all over the world. We jump ahead four years to 2093 where Shaw and Holloway wake from cryo-sleep aboard the Prometheus. The ship is on a mission to a very distant moon called LV-223 which Shaw and Holloway believe is the home of the alien beings that left the cave paintings.
What it is, though, is a robust specimen of a very particular kind of movie. It is a midnight movie. It is a drive-in flick. It is a B-movie in the most favorable sense. It was made to be seen in as crowded and rowdy and theater as possible. It aspires to nothing more clever or edifying than exactly that.
Most of us have seen the horrific fate of teens in the wilderness played out countless times. From getting to know the characters on the road, to the creepy “last chance” gas station, to the first sexual encounter and subsequent slaughter and so on, your average horror fan can tap a foot in time to these plot points. What, then, are we to make of a slasher film which begins with two scientists (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) trading jaded, mundane banter as they suit up to oversee the massacre from a high-tech underground bunker?
As far as Silent House goes in the remake department, those responsible have managed to pull the original film apart gently, sand off some rough corners, grease a few rusty plot twists, and present the humble horror tale in a more palatable form. Writer and co-director Laura Lau apparently realized that while La Casa Muda had several important scares worth preserving, the audience might appreciate a little more to digest.