Showing posts with label David Roden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Roden. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Twixt (NetFlix Review)

Written by: David Roden

“…and when is this most tragic of melancholy topics most poetical? When it most loosely alludes itself to beauty.”

Here it is, the long awaited return to horror for director Francis Ford Coppola. This is something I have been waiting for since I first saw Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Needless to say, my expectations couldn’t have been higher. The idea of Coppola and Tom Waits working together again was enough for me. At least that’s how I felt before hand.

It was the expectations that ruined this film for me. If it had been from any other director the problems found within wouldn’t have been so glaring. It’s not the cheesy looking CGI that bothered me, it was a problem of story.

While this was marketed as a vampire film, it was the vampire element itself that brought this whole story crashing down. We have a struggling writer who comes across a great story of a priest who isn’t willing to let his children’s souls be damned by the goth kids across the lake, so he does the unthinkable. Here is the best part of all this, through dream sequences he is told this story by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe also teaches him (and us) a thing or two about writing. My question to you is, where do vampires fit in? They don’t.

What I described to you is interesting enough on it’s own, adding vampires to it muddied the waters just a tad too much. I just hope this wasn’t an attempt to capitalize off of recent trends…but if that were the case they would have been zombies.

Enough negativity, there were certain things that worked for me. Poe, for example, was brilliant. When he sits our hero down and explains to him how he wrote The Raven, my jaw hit the floor. This film should have just been Poe, the priest, and our writer. Too high concept, too little attention to story.

You can make up your own mind on how you feel about the look of the dream sequences. That is matter of taste and to me it was delicious. It felt surreal but not ridiculous.

Go see this film for Edgar Allan Poe, not for the vampires. If Hall Baltimore is the “bargain basement Stephen King,” then Twixt is the “bargain basement ‘Salem’s Lot.”


Saturday, June 23, 2012

French Horror

Written by: David Roden

Over the last few years I have seen some truly incredible French horror films. Something more than the paint by numbers type films American audiences seem to love so much. I don’t want to watch some tame, formulaic film where the hero wins and the opposing force gets its just desserts. Here are a few that are a must see for horror fans.

1. High Tension (Switchblade Romance)- Alexandre Aja’s first big hit, this movie really caught me off guard. In the beginning of the movie our killer gets head from a severed head. It was here that the film had my attention. This film is violent and shocking. Cicile De France was fantastic…and not just because she is beautiful, she was also a bad ass. When is the last time you saw a woman beat a man’s ass with a piece of wood with barbed wire wrapped around it?

2. Inside- Show me your favorite Home Invasion film and I will top it with Inside. Home Invasion films are always pretty rough, French Home Invasion films are brutal. This one follows a pregnant woman who is due the next day (X-mas) and a very disturbed woman who tries to cut out the unborn child with a very large pair of scissors. If that description alone isn’t enough to make you want to go see this immediately, then you should stop reading now and go watch a Pixar film.

3. Martyrs- The crown jewel of French horror as far as I am concerned. This film will take you on a journey that transcends the torture porn genre and takes you to places you never thought you’d go. It is almost impossible to pinpoint what I liked most about this film because it is everything I have ever wanted in a horror film minus a sense of humor. If you are laughing during this for any reason other than how shocked or uncomfortable you are, seek help. This film is much more than just violence for the sake of violence, it’s all purpose-driven. It all means something and that brings this film straight to the next level. Don’t turn your brain off for this one, you’re going to need it.

Don’t get me wrong, Americans do produce great horror films but few of them have the balls to go where these guys took me. I will forever be a fan of French cinema.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mum And Dad (NetFlix Review)

Written by: David Roden

So here’s a fun one, Mum and Dad is the story of a young woman who has been kidnapped by a sadistic family. We really get the full range of shock and disgust with this one. There were parts that were done well and many parts that weren’t.

Right out of the gate I was bored and a little annoyed by how hard it was to understand them. That might be the American in me. I really wasn’t expecting much and I was surprised. This is not what I would call a good movie but it did creep me out.

I always have respect for a film that can shock me, but there is so much more to filmmaking than that. So they nailed that part of it, what about the rest?

My first issue was something I’ve seen way too many times: victim gets knocked out and the scene fades out as she loses consciousness, the next scene starts when she wakes up. Is there no other way to film this? Maybe follow the assailant around a bit to see some more nastiness, just a thought.

Secondly, they kept showing us footage of planes leaving from a close by airport. In fact, they showed it so frequently I was just about convinced she would be escaping by plane. I get the symbolism, but honestly it was too much. We get it.

On the positive side of things, there was one character interesting enough to keep me watching. The father was by far the most foul and vile of the group, but I enjoyed almost every moment of him on screen. Something about him reminded me of Bob Hoskins only much more sinister.

The rest of the family just didn’t do it for me. The daughter was a brat and more than annoying, the mom wasn’t too bad but still lacking, and the slow son made decisions that just didn’t really make sense to me. As for our survivor girl, if she had just played the game things would have come out much better for her. I understand panic, but I don’t understand not thinking at all the entire time.

If you want to see what your gross-out limit is, go for it. If you want something more than shock cinema, go watch The Woman. Here’s to hoping this director will give us a more mature product on his next try.

Netflix: 3.1/5

David: 2.5/5

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Woman in Black (2012) Netflix Review

Written By: David Roden

"I believe the most rational mind can play tricks in the dark.”

Unfortunately for Author Kipps (Radcliff) there are no tricks here, just a pissed off ghost and a great deal of sadness.

I want to start by saying I have not seen the original TV movie. This will not be a comparison of the two. I have heard great things about the original, so I’ll be watching it as soon as I can get my mitts on it.

The story follows a lawyer from London who is sent off to go try and sell an old house. Before he heads out we meet his son, played by his Radcliff’s actual godson. They did that to make the relationship between the two feel more genuine. It worked.

From the moment he arrives in town there is a feeling that something is off. They did a great job in creating an atmosphere of discomfort. It’s obvious the locals don’t want him there at all. I won’t go too far into the actual plot.

It’s very rare that I actually get creeped out watching a ghost story these days. The last time was Insidious and I can’t even remember a time before that. It’s all so formulaic these days. It goes a little something like this: angry ghost, jump scare, sad protagonist, jump scare, dark secret, jump scare, and a rushed attempt at appeasing the ghost…and a jump scare.

Jump scares are in my opinion the lowest form of scaring someone…there were five. With this wonderful, creepy atmosphere, there is no need for even one. Fortunately, that alone isn’t enough to make me like this any less.

Location, location, location; from the streets of London to the old house itself, these locations stepped forward and stole the spotlight. That might have something to do with how beautifully they were shot. Most notable were the aerial shots of the house and the road leading to the house.

I say give this one a chance. What it lacked in gore it made up for with genuinely creepy moments. So maybe they reached back in time for the majority of their scares, somehow it worked. There isn’t anything new here but from what I hear that was intentional.

The Woman in Black

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (Netflix Review)

Written by: David Roden

“I just think that so many conflicts and problems in the world are caused by a lack of communication, ya know?”

Here we have the perfect example of taking and old genre cliché and finding a way to do something completely new with it. At first glance it may seem like another in a long line of b-horror films that can easily be forgotten, but that isn’t the case here.

T & D isn’t a film about a group of teenagers camping in the wood and being terrorized by “hillbillies.” It’s about what happens when you combine stereotypes with a complete lack of communication or an unwillingness to listen. It’s a commentary on not letting your pre-conceived notions of people rule you.

Even though this movie’s title features two names, it is really only about one…Dale. Dale is one of the most likeable characters to have ever graced my TV screen. He drives this story with his heart…and jokes. While there is a fair share of violence and gore found on the steps of this cabin in the woods, it’s the heart and humor that made this movie what it is. Tucker plays his role and he plays it well, but he is still just another side character in the grand scheme of things.

Once again we see something that impresses me every time: The main theme of the film being explained in one line or one scene. In this case it’s the quote at the top of the page. It makes me feel like the man who made this really understood and cared for the material.

This film is a combination of equal parts violence, humor and intellect. It really delivered on all counts but I shouldn’t be surprised, Magnet doesn’t release bad genre films (Let The Right One In, I Saw The Devil). If you are unfamiliar, head on over to their website and look at their archive.

I really only had a problem with Chad. Chad was supposed to make you hate him and I did. Chad was also supposed to make you empathize with his struggle…I did not. Even with his awesome backstory sequence I couldn’t bring myself to feel a damn thing for this kid. I just can’t decide if it’s because of his double popped collars or my love for Dale.

Netflix: 4.1/5
David: 4.5/5

Other Netflix Reviews:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kidnapped Netfix Review

Written By:
David Roden

“Dad, they’re already here. They’re already here and they shot mom!!”

Let me just get this out of the way, I LOVE HOME INVASION FILMS. If done correctly a home invasion can be devastating (Inside). The whole idea is that you don’t have to have done anything wrong or be anywhere you aren’t supposed to be in order to suffer. The idea of someone coming into your home to deliver these horrid acts is more than chilling, it’s an attack on your very own sense of security.

Kidnapped is not the most violent film I’ve ever seen but I feel they found a good level of violence for this film’s purposes. It never feels cheesy or gratuitous, while still being able to shock the audience. I myself am as desensitized as they to come to on-screen violence but still found my jaw hitting the floor on occasion.

More important than all the gore and shock factor being tossed about is the technical achievements of this film crew. With a runtime of 85 minutes this movie has only 12 shots. Yes, you absolutely read that correctly. 12 shots. I support any filmmaker that wants to test his technical prowess with extended takes likes that.

What makes it the most impressive to me is the subject matter. Showing that level of violence without cutting away makes it feel so much more ruthless. In typical horror films they cut quickly to avoid you seeing too much. Here they used different ways to achieve this. Instead of seeing a character get hurt we hear it as we following a different character into a different room. This caused my imagination to do terrible things to this woman to cause her to make those noises. I love it when they do that.

I was very pleased with all three of the thieves. We’ll call them Head Thief, Strong Thief and Young Thief. They all played their part to keep the momentum of the film up. I was impressed with the relationship between Strong Thief and Young Thief. ST is clearly a bad ass who gives zero fucks and enjoys eating the family’s food and doing blow. YT is a compassionate young man who still has faith in people and wants nothing more than to keep the family safe. Watching those two interact is just priceless. Head Thief did what head thieves do, he handled shit.

If you want a tense, violent home invasion film, this is for you. No it isn’t a perfect film but it’s expertly shot and it will make you feel something for at least one of the characters. This is one I will be revisiting from time to time for sure. Enjoy

Netflix: 3.1/5
David: 4/5

You like this review? Then why don't you read another great Netflix reviewThe Woman .