Saturday, 19 January 2013

[[REVIEW]] - Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Directed By : Timur Bekmambetov
Starring : Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper

The title says it all really! An alternative "biopic" about President Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) and his side job as a vampire hunter! 

I was never totally sold on the idea of taking an american president and turning him into a Helsing like character. At first I thought it was an April fools joke! I should start from the beginning. Abraham at the age of 9 witnessed his mother get bitten by a vampire and from then on swore he would take his revenge. Later in life he meets Henry (Dominic Cooper) in a bar. Henry saves his life when he faces the vampire that killed his mother and teaches Lincoln to become a vampire hunter, giving him names and locations until he is ready to face his nemesis who he kills but later finds out that Henry is a vampire and turns his back on the hunting to follow his politics career and start a family with his wife Mary (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). It's only when more of his family is taken by a vengeful vampire that he goes back to his old job to save his country. The biggest flaw in this movie is it's CGI. There is a scene where Lincoln and Adam (Rufus Sewell) a bloodthirsty and cruel vampire are fighting among hundreds of wild horses. The horses are so obviously fake it's almost embarrassing to watch. The slow motion is cringe worthy and quite annoying because of how frequent it is used. There is plenty of blood splatter and gore but I feel like it hid too much and the blood was very cartoon like. A lot of what was done in CGI could have been done practically with make-up and prosthetic.

It's not all complaints however. I liked the story and it provided great entertainment. I loved how it tied in historically with facts from the real Lincolns life and career. The acting was pretty good and the script was adequate. A few ham lines but nothing too big.

Over all it was OK  Worth watching if you have an hour and 45 minutes to spare and nothing better to do. I wouldn't say it was disappointing because I didn't expect much from it anyway but I won't be rushing out to buy it. Rent once only kinda thing.

My Rating

Saturday, 12 January 2013

[[Review]] - The Loved Ones

Directed by Sean Byrne
Starring Xavier Samuel and Robin McLeavy. 

Brent (Xavier Samuel) is a teenage boy who's father was killed after Brent swerved his car to avoid a bloody figure in the road, crashing and killing his father instantly. Six months later and it's the end of school year dance. When Lola (Robin McLeavy) asks Brent to the dance he politely turns her down as he's going with his girlfriend. Later on Brent finds himself kidnapped, tied up and things don't look good for him as a vengeful Lola and her father torture boys who upset the little princess. 

I loved this movie. It was a real thrill to have a torture movie that wasn't the same old Saw and Hostel kidnap someone, torture, kill, rinse and repeat. The story is a simple one, we don't have any majorly complicated back story. Brent is obviously disturbed by the death of his father and self harms and has become detached from his mother. The only ray of sunshine for him seems to be his gorgeous and caring girlfriend, Holly. While we don't see much of them together you can tell they really like each other and she is his reason for getting up in the morning. Lola is the complete opposite to Holly. A very plain looking chubby girl who you can see has been rejected numerous times. Shy and sweet looking at first glance. There is a lovely scene where she tries on her pink prom dress for her father and the joy on her face when she gets his approval is childlike and innocent. This is far from the real Lola. I was expecting to feel for her going by just the descriptions alone you expect Brent to somewhat deserve some payback so to watch an innocent young boy who's had his fair share of hell be tortured by the mentally unstable duo of Lola and her father can be quite painful to watch. The most interesting part of The Loved Ones is the dynamics between Lola and her dad. Sometimes I couldn't tell if the Father was a role model for Lola or if Lola had complete control over him. It becomes apparent that they've done all of this before but who started it? There is the character of "Bright Eyes" who is Lola's mother. She appears to be a vegetable and it's unclear if she was Lola's victim or daddy dearest. But one thing that I was sure of, she was not a part of it and that is probably why she had fallen victim to the pair. There is a side story going on throughout between Brent's best friend and his prom date which seems a bit out of place but all does become clear later on.

In conclusion The Loved Ones is for me, the best Australian horror I've seen and is exciting, unflinching and enjoyable. I will be adding this one to my Blu ray collection. Sadly it didn't see a wide release which is a real shame because it's a gem. Hopefully if horror fans spread the word the demand will lead to a wider release.

My Rating

Saturday, 5 January 2013

2013. What I'll be looking forward to!

2013 promises a range of horror, with four notable remakes and a horror comedy coming up in the next 12 months that has me very exciting and apprehensive for the year!

Texas Chainsaw 3D .. 4th January

A young woman heads into Texas to collect her inheritance. She soon meets the famous psychotic family including our favourite insane chainsaw wielding villain, Leatherface!

It's more of the same with Texas Chainsaw. Groups of friends going to Texas and getting attacked by Leatherface and his clan of murderous inbred family members. I can't see this being any different from the slew of remakes, imitations  sequels, prequels and reboots we've already seen but if you're a fan of Leatherface it's certainly worth a look in. There's a nice new young cast including singer Trey Songs (what a slasher without a token singer eh) and plenty of gore to go around. This could be a great reimagining of a classic or it could be like many remakes before it. Pants!

Mama .. 22nd February

A couple are given the task to raise their nieces who have been living alone in a forest for 5 years.

Produced by one of my favourite horror names, Del Toro, Mama looks very interesting. Supernatural terror throughout with some wild children to boot. It kind of reminds me of something like Case 49 or Don't be Afraid of the Dark. Everyone loves a creepy child and in this we get two! The movie was originally a short directed by Andres Muschietti back in 2008 and this is his first full length movie. He's a new name and one worth keeping an eye on based on his shorts.

Warm Bodies .. 8th February

A zombie falls for the girlfriend of one of his victims.

A romantic comedy with zombies directed by Jonathan Levine, director of  "All the boys love Mandy Lane" and "50/50". This looks fun and is based on the Shakespeare favourite "Romeo and Juliet" with all the character names being somewhat similar to the characters from the timeless play. Hopefully better than Levines earlier entry into the horror genre, Mandy Lane wasn't brilliant. Warm Bodies looks promising if you don't take it seriously, one of those you have to just go with. I highly doubt it'll be the deepest romance we've seen on screen but I'm looking forward to it just for laughs. The zombies almost seem more "human" than I've ever seen before and the love story looks kinda cute. Nicholas Hoult stars as the undead teen who falls in love with the girlfriend of a guy he just ate. You might remember Hoult was the cutesy singing kid from About a Boy way back when he was all little. He's all grown up now and has a few staring roles under his belt including a stint in the UK coming of age series Skins. John Malkovich also makes an appearance.

Maniac .. 15th March

A remake of the 1980's slasher starring Elijah Wood as Frank, a repressed psychopathic mannequin shop owner with a taste for scalping.

I liked the original and when I heard it was being remade I did groan. While the original was far from perfection I didn't feel it needed a remake. It was good in its own way and to some is seen as a classic. The POV shots were creepy and the remake will be keeping this aspect. The biggest shock for me was Elijah 'Frodo Baggins' Wood. I just couldn't imagine him as Frank. He's always been such a sweet boy. But given the fact Wood is an extremely tallented actor with some great roles under his belt I have high hopes for this especially with it being directed Alexadre Aja. It is essentially a romance with very dark overtones. Of course Frank is a serial killer so it'll be interesting to see how his relationship with the female lead develops. In the original, Franks relationship with the photographer was lost a little among the chaos so I'm hoping that this remake doesn't do the same.

Stoker .. 1st March

When a young girls father dies her uncle moves in with her and her mentally unstable mother. The girl becomes increasingly suspicious of her uncle and what his motives are.

Park Chan-Wook is my favourite thriller director. Oldboy and Lady Vengeance easily slot in my top 10 movies of all time with Oldboy dancing near the top spot. This is his first English language movie and is written by Wentworth Miller. I admit, Millers name did make me blanch a little.  The cast looks impressive and as Park is directing I have high hopes for it being great. It has echos of The Stepfather and A Tale of Two Sisters.

Carrie .. 5 April

Carrie is an abused, unpopular and timid school girl who's telekenetic powers create distruction after school bullies push her too far.

We all know the story of Carrie, either from the favourite movie or the Stephen King novel. Carrie is one of the most sympathetic characters I know of, it's hard to see her as a villain even though she is responsible for many deaths. The remake is causing a lot of heat among horror circles with people demanding a reason why they are touching perfection and I somewhat agree. The original aged well, it's still relevant and to me is as terrifying now as it was in 1976 but I think by going into it with an open mind or even seeing it as a standalone movie, it could be enjoyable but I do fear that many fans, me included, will be comparing it from the minute it starts, especially the young actress challenged with the task of taking the crown from Sissy Spacek. I don't doubt, looking at Chloe Moretz's CV that she's the right actress for the job. Julianne Moore co starts as the terrifying Mrs. White.

The ABC's of Death .. 28th February

26 directors each given a letter of the alphabet and a small budget to create a 5 minute short each relating to the letter and a way to die.

Ambitious and could go horribly wrong. 5 minutes isn't very long but so far reviews are looking good. As with all anthologies there will be amazing segments and there will be dire segments and with 26 of them there's bound to be a few you don't like. Trailers look brilliant. The red band is highly explicit and with directors such as Ti West, Simon Rumley and Xavier Gens involved it looks really exciting. There will be something for everyone here, the question is, is it worth sitting through 26 horror shorts in one sitting to find just one or two good'ns? Surely can't harm!

Evil Dead .. 19th April

You know the plot! It's age old and the plot for so many others. It's the granddaddy of cabin horrors. 5 friends go to a cabin in the woods on a weekend break where they come across the book of the dead which unleashes an ancient evil!

This is it, the one I've been waiting for. I know that most of us will have sat there when we first read the headline, where ever we read it that Evil Dead was being remade in despair. It was our worst fears realized, nothing was sacred. But then rumors circled, cast lists were confirmed. No Ash character! Raimi and Campbell being on board. And then that red band (that I have included) it looks likely that we'll get the 18 BBFC rating that we want! I cannot contain my excitement for this. I do believe this will be the horror movie of 2013. Or it'll fall completely flat on it's face and we'll desperately try to forget it. I'm an optimist.

So that's it. That is the few that I think will be the horror movies to look out for in 2013. I think the year will be a great one for horror I have a good feeling about 2013. Are they on your list?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

My year of Horror

So this is my first blog entry, what's better than a look back on the past year and what I've discovered in my journey in horror over the past 12 months.

Well 2012 is over, it's been a slow year for horror and I have to admit, I've not been watching much of it. I've been catching up on earlier movies that I somehow missed. Before 2012 I was a horror fan but not the same kind. I didn't hunt down movies but casually watched movies with a preference for gory, scary stories. This past year I've begged stole and borrowed to see some brilliant movies and not so brilliant from the past decade this was also the year I finally invested in a Blu-ray player to experience horror in HD! Here are just a few that stood out for me.

The Crazies (2010)

 A toxin spread in the water causes ordinary people in a small town in Iowa to act out violently while a sheriff (always a sheriff!) struggles to save a small group of people including his pregnant wife.

It's a remake but it's a good one. I enjoyed it for what it was. Nothing too serious and I wasn't completely ignoring it's good points like so many people do with remakes these days. I like viruses too. I'm not a great zombie lover, I find them rather tedious and nothing really changes with them. The Crazies has a none stop action quality, rarely is there a slow scene but when there is, it's short and sweet. What I really loved about this was the gore. It isn't over the top out of this world wacko gore but it's still pretty nasty! The best part for me was a fight between the Sheriff and a truck driver, humorous but tense at the same time.

Cabin in the Woods. (2011)

Your typical story of five college kids go to a secluded cabin in the woods for the usual sex, drugs and partying but there's something more than the undead rising going on!

I loved this. It was everything I love in a satirical horror comedy. I did a good job of avoiding any talk, spoilers, reviews even trailers so to not spoil this for me. I'd been excited about it's release since the first poster was revealed. When I seen Joss Whedon, one of my TV hero's was writing it and collaborating with Drew Goddard, writer of several Buffy episodes on his directorial debut I knew that I was going to love this. It starts out pretty typical but as the story unfolds you can see this is lovingly crafted by a duo of true horror fans. The fun lies in spotting the cliches and homages and the final act gives the biggest reward for a gore hound I've seen in years.

Red White and Blue. (2010)

Simon Rumleys Red White and Blue centers around 3 people who meet by chance and who's lives all effect each other in tragic ways. Erica is a young woman lacking in self respect who lets any man go what he wants with her, Nate is a kind hear-ed but dark person who takes Erica under his wing in a platonic relationship. Frankie is a young man who takes care of his sick mother whose chance encounter with Erica sets off a chain of in such an explosive way it left me shaking!

Simon Rumley is a name I've heard mentioned among horror circles for a while but didn't really think too much about his work. Red White and Blue really shook me to the core. It's tragic, miserable and shocking. One thing I have to applaud other than the visuals is the acting from the three main characters especially Noah Taylor who plays Nate. I didn't even realize it was Taylor until the credits rolled. Someone who I usually see in a comedic or child friendly role to play such an oddball and terrifying character rocked me. I have never felt so conflicted by a movie. There are no clear “good vs bad” lines in this one. I look forward to seeing more of Rumley and hope this isn't his last full length project.

The disappointments?

Prometheus (2012)

OK it's not a horror but it has horror themes and some horror imagery, a certain explicit medical procedure gave me the willies and those are some scary aliens. It's the prequel to alien and a much awaited come back by Ridley Scott. Sadly, it fell short of its expectations and that's the reason I say “don't read anything!”. It was just a bit flat. It could have been epic, a great that would become an instant classic. Quite a shame really. 

Kill List. (2011)

I didn't get to see this at the end of 2011 when it was released and a lot of horror sites were raving about it. What looks like an exciting Brit horror flick is actually much different. The first hour or so is a hit-man movie. With, granted, some very cool and brutal kills but the final 10 minutes where the horror shows its face is just not worth the wait and the ending is frustrating. Not good frustrating either. Apparently I missed the point here somewhere.

So that's just the movies that stood out for me that I have seen in 2012. There will be more, in depth reviews of the movies above and many more over the coming months along with some features on sub-genres I've been interested in. There will also be a look at what horror fans are looking forward to in 2013.