Movies For Halloween: Short Version 2

I too ended up falling off on the blog posts. Anyways this is a brief summary of the movies I’ve watched since my last post.

Black Swan

After watching this for my third time I think it’s safe to say that this is a horror film. While mining elements of several different genres Darren Arronofsky has created a movie that truly does get under your skin. From the beginning of the film everything feels off. Nothing is as it appears to be and the audience can never be sure if what they’re seeing is from an objective viewpoint or from Nina’s own diseased mind. Like most of Arronofsky’s work Black Swan deals with obsession. Nina mirrors Mickey Rourke’s character in The Wrestler and the two films are surprisingly similar. However, The Wrestler is mostly about Rourke’s external struggle, whereas Black Swan focuses on Nina’s emotional state of mind. Arronofsky shows how Nina slowly loses her grip on reality until the insane finale where everything goes wrong, yet everything ends perfectly. Just as in The Wrestler the screen fades to white with cheers and chants from the audience. Another truly unforgettable film from Arronofsky 10/10

The Last Exorcism

I decided to check this out on a whim and for the most part I’m glad I did. The first 2/3 of the film is really good. We’re shown a young girl who is supposedly possessed, but we’re never quite sure if it’s supernatural or just a mental breakdown. The film is done in the tradition of the Blair Witch Project and it works really well. The main character (an exorcist) is very engaging and he himself doesn’t believe in demons. The film contains some very tense scenes. However, the whole movies comes off the rails in the end. The filmmakers decidedly answer the question of whether she was possessed or not and do it an a really over the top way. What makes matters worse is that they spoil their own ending 30 minutes before it happens with a drawing the little girl does. Overall I wouldn’t recommend this movie because the ending just ruins everything that came before it. A really good effort, but a horrible ending. 5/10

Red State

I was very skeptical of this movie. I love Kevin Smith’s earlier works (Clerks/Mallrats), but have just gotten tired of him as of late. It doesn’t help matters that his last movie was Cop Out. So I went into Red State with no expectations and was relatively satisfied. The first 40 minutes or so are absolutely fantastic. Sadly the rest of the movie doesn’t live up to that standard. The film begins with three kids driving out to the country to meet this girl they were talking to online. It soon gets revealed that a church, lead by an absolutely crazy pastor, lured them with the fake woman. They soon find out this church is going to kill them on the altar because of their “sins”. The first half of the movie is really tense and really violent. It doesn’t feel or look like a normal Kevin Smith movie and I loved it. The actors were fantastic and I was ready to see these three boys take down the church. However (and I never thought I’d say this), John Goodman’s character (government agent) gets introduced and really takes away from the film. We immediately lose focus on the boys and it becomes a huge anti-government message. I’m okay with a movie that is taking on the government, but Kevin Smith gets too distracted and ends up losing focus on both plot points. This also takes us out of the church and we lose a lot of tension and suspense. Overall the film is still worth seeing and really good. It just ends up losing steam and getting really unfocused. The last scene of the film is really awful as well and features a bunch of “Kevin Smith” dialogue that is unnecessary. 7/10

Stake Land

Imagine The Road with vampires and you have the gist of this Indie horror flick. This is actually probably one of my favorites that I saw from this October. It takes place in a future where America is destroyed and all the survivors have to make it to a place called Eden where the vampire plague hasn’t reached. Also this Eden is in Canada (political allegory anyone). In addition to Vampires most of America is overrun by a gang of religious zealots hellbent on spreading the plague to hasten humanity’s demise.  The story is mainly between a grizzled vampire hunter and a young boy whose family was murdered. It’s one of the few horror films that actually puts characters to the forefront of the story and we’re introduced to a great ensemble of characters throughout the film. The action itself is swift and brutal. One scene in particular stands out. The survivors reach a safe camp with others and they soon relax. Music begins to be played and for the first time since his family died we see the main character relax. Suddenly a helicopter sounds and vampires begin raining from the sky as they are dropped from helicopters piloted by the zealots. Stake Land is tense, scary, funny, and just a great story. Really good movie 9/10

Dagon

Based on the H.P Lovecraft short story of the same name, Dagon is about a man who stumbles upon a village on the coast who worship a God named…well Dagon. These villagers need humans to sacrifice to him in order to continue getting fish and gold from the sea. This film is directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) and it’s a really well done, old-school horror movie. The plot and twists are fairly typical of a movie like this, but it’s so much fun that it’s hard to care. This is another movie that has some really tense scenes and some great, old school effects. The villagers themselves are a cross between fish people and zombies. Some of them have fins and gills, while others show hardly any signs of mutation. If you’re in the mood for a good, somewhat cheesy, somewhat scary horror movie this is it. 8.5/10

Three Extremes

The last movie of this October. Three Extremes features three 40 minute films from three different Asian countries. The first one is called, “Dumplings” and is directed by a Chinese filmmaker named Fruit Chan. This movie is about a woman who finds a way to stop aging. That way turns out to be dumplings made out of fetuses. The film does not shy away from this visually and there are some really disgusting scenes in the film. The final scene of the movie is one of the most repulsive things I’ve seen on film, not just for what it does visually, but for what it implies. On the whole this is a really good horror movie. Right from the beginning there’s a sick fascination with these characters and you want to find out more about them and why they do what they do. This might be my favorite of the three films in the anthology 8.5/10

The second film is called, “Cut” and is directed by none other than Chan-Wook Park. He is the infamous director of Oldboy and Thirst. He definitely knows his way around a horror films and Cut shows it. Cut has an incredibly simple premise. The killer ties up a man’s wife and a little girl. If the man strangles the little girl his wife and him can leave. If he doesn’t the killer will cut off his wife’s fingers, one by one, every 5 minutes. Oh and she’s an acclaimed pianist. The tone is surprisingly varied throughout this 40 minute movie. At times it’s comical and at other times it’s really brutal. The end in particular is ironic, brutal, and just sad. The more I think about this movie the more I like it. A really good effort from Park. 8/10

The final film is from Takashi Miike and I was expecting a lot of violence. He is the director of Audition, 13 Assassins, and Ichi The Killer (a very disturbing movie). However, his film is actually the least violent and most restrained. It’s called Box and I really can’t talk about it because it’s whole plot shifts and turns throughout it’s course. The ending basically requires you to watch it a second time to fully realize the symbolism and analogies at play in the beginning. It’s basically about a woman who has a nightmare come back to haunt her in the shape of a Box. This was initially my favorite of the three and it’s still up there. It’s a really good movie and there is one scene in particular that hits you really hard. 8.25/10

Overall Three Extremes is a great anthology that should be watched on Netflix Instant.

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