FUNNY GAMES (2008) (REMAKE)

Written & Directed By: Michael Heneke 
Cinematography By: Darius Khondji 
Editor: Monika Willi 
Production Design: Kevin Thompson 
Art Direction: Hinju Kim 

Cast: Tim Roth, Naomi Watts, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, Devon Gearheart, Siobhan Fallon, Boyd Gaines 

In this English-language remake of a deconstruction in the way violence is portrayed in the media, a family settles into its vacation home, which happens to be the next stop for a pair of young, articulate, white-gloved serial killers on an excursion through the neighborhood.


Not as good as the original of course I think the real weakness of the film is not only going back and repeating something that was never wrong, to begin with just to expose it to a massive audience that might have not seen the film the first time just because it was in a foreign language.   

The remake doesn’t show growth but hey rockstars have to play their classic hits once in a while, Even with new band members. If they are willing to pay you to do it why not.


I think one other weakness this film has is that it is opened up more than the original, with more characters. Who are minor but it opens it up. which in the beginning was scarier and more intense because it was more intimate.


It’s not a shot-for-shot remake but is similar enough. Maybe the film doesn’t affect you because we already saw the original and know what’s going to happen. Whereas when you see the original it’s a shock and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Watching this is like watching an imitation even though it is by the same director. Maybe it is also because whereas there were no stars in the original. So anything could happen and It felt realistic. Seeing stars in this you know it’s just fake and doesn’t penetrate any of my emotions like it seems to be directed to. By bringing well-known actors into the film also gives them nothing to do but whimper in pain for two hours there are no great characters to play or great lines unless you have the villain’s role in this film.


you also notice that in the original the female star was in her underwear for a scene then gets clothed. Here Naomi Watts spends most of the movie in her underwear. Sure it’s great to look at but I guess it was meant to tap into American horror films as usually the females run around naked and in their underwear as they are stalked and killed rarely do they survive. In fact, there is no real violence shown only the aftermath. The only time there is violence it happens to one of the villains.


The main villain also doesn’t speak to the audience as much as he did in the original, maybe it was deemed annoying. The remote scene which seemed daring in the original seems like a gimmick here. Here in making it bigger, it is marketed as a thriller but shot like an art film with attention to detail and colors but with no real shown violence that the audience is waiting for.


It also plays with the conventions of films such as foreshadowing and making an excuse for the violent behavior, breaking the fourth wall, and the illusion that in the end, everything will turn out fine. The false hope that it can all turn around because that’s what happens in the film. They wouldn’t be that messed up.


It plays with the rules that you have come to expect and then just when you think it will follow narratives you have seen it switches it upon you.

The pacing also seems off that it makes the film almost seem boring. Some could look at it as satire. It is obviously a message movie because all that happens in the film makes you realize your own bloodlust and includes you as a co-conspirator in all that happens because you are sitting there watching for entertainment.

SPOILER:


Like the scene where Anna is then taken to the boat where she attempts to cut herself loose with the knife shown earlier in the film, only to have it taken from her as a way to mock the standard Hollywood foreshadowing. She is then dumped overboard and drowns as the two boys discuss school fiction and state the message of the film quite clearly by stating (in reference to a novel they read) “the family was real, the hero was in fiction”, demonstrating that violence is real and what occurs for entertainment happens in reality, however rising above the odds and becoming a hero only happens in fiction. And as a note, all of the killing is off-screen, this is a pro-reality but anti-violence film in its own brutal right

SPOILER END


Now I didn’t exactly write the last paragraph but it is summed up pretty well that I agree with it I say if you didn’t see the original this might be interesting but if you did you don’t really have to bother with this film. Trust me rent the original it’s a lot better.

GRADE: C

AFTERSHOCK (2013)

Directed By: Nicolas Lopez 
Written By: Nicolas Lopez, Eli Roth & Guillermo Amodeo 
Cinematography By: Antonio Quercia 
Editor: Diego Macho Gomez 
 Cast: Eli Roth, Andrea Osvart, Ariel Levy, Natasha Yarovenko, Lorenza Izzo, Nicolas Martinez

After an earthquake erupts in Chile, tourists discover that a neighboring prison in the area collapsed in the event, and all surviving criminals managed to break free. Soon they learn that the most terrifying thing, more threatening than Mother Nature, is what she created.


The film was originally rated NC-17 but had to be cut and re-edited in order to get an R Rating.

Now, this film could have easily gone the wrong way and been schlocky. The longer the film plays and you watch the more impressive it becomes as it truly shows you the terror and danger of the various situations, while setting up a time limit as an impending doom worse than anything they encounter physically and personally might becoming.

The film feels at times to just be punishing its characters just to do it. While it’s no torture porn. It’s quite cruel but maintains a certain reality while also following certain genre rules and tropes.

No one comes out of the film clean. They all end up becoming victims in some way, shape, or form.

The first act sets up the characters as we get to know them and see them enjoying their vacation setting up group dynamics, Relationships, and friendships. It works as act 2 and 3 then unspools and we feel more of a connection to the characters. We find ourselves caring about their fates. It feels like a continuation of co-writer, co-producer, co-star Eli Roth’s other horror films. Where a trip to a foreign locale, We see the fun and pursuit of sex that often backfires and leans towards comedic. Then all of a sudden moves into horror pretty quickly. Here it feels like a more mature version of it. I have to give both credits. I feel he is growing his talent more and this helps represent a newfound maturity. It shows.

None of the leads is completely evil or completely good. They do what they have to do to survive.

The film does reek of a B-Movie aesthetic at times. Mainly due to the disaster aspects.

There are no sacred cows as the film sets itself up pretty early, That anyone can be taken out and killed. This helps throw the audience off as you never are quite sure how far it will go nor what can and can’t happen. Just general randomness Through many challenges no one great villain just has to survive. No stalking monster though the tsunami warnings give the characters incentive to rush the experience and keep moving while working against the calamities.

The film shows what can be scarier than a natural disaster is the citizen’s reactions.

Of course, the casting of Eli Roth in the lead and him being a producer and co-writer. He will be accused of having this film be just another extension of his ego or just another project for him to star in. A vanity project almost as he has cameoed in his films and in others. Though the film doesn’t leave him in a heroic light. He does fine with the material

What sometimes disturbs me in films is that whenever it is more of a minority culture. When things break down. They are always shown as looters, Gangs, and rapists. Whereas Caucasians are usually the heroes or the victims. Rarely do we see them along as the ones going crazy and being just as bad unless it’s post-apocalyptic. Where they are the organized villains, part of a hierarchy. Here it happens in a foreign locale and directed and co-written by a native of Chile where it is filmed

Nicolas Lopez who I am a fan of ever since seeing the preview of the film PROMEDIO ROJO. 9 years ago and then finally seeing it last year. He has a vision and while the film includes a scene of the thing I hate most in films (Rape) it’s not as graphic as it could have been or still disturbing.

This is a bleak downtrodden tale that I have to say I found exceptional than what I thought it would be or easily could have become, truthfully the preview made this film look like a SyFy original film. Thankfully it’s much better.

It’s a movie to seek out more if you are a genre fan.

 GRADE: B

TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS: PENINSULA (2021)

Directed By: Sang-Ho Yeon 
Written by: Sang-Ho Yeon & Ryu Yong-Jae 
Cinematography: Hyung-Deok Lee 
Editor: Jinmo Yang 

Cast: Dong-Won Gang, Lee Jung-Hyun, Re Lee, Hae-Hyo Keon, Min-Jae Kim, Kyo-Hawn Koo, Do-Yoo Kim 

Peninsula takes place four years after the zombie outbreak in Train to Busan. The Korean peninsula is devastated and Jung Seok, a former soldier who has managed to escape overseas, is given a mission to go back and unexpectedly meets survivors.


The film builds the world that was set up in TRAIN TO BUSAN and while the film is inventive and Starts off with a bang from The beginning at the start to define the antagonist and place a proper history for him. 

Then the film Gets going with action pretty quick as well as the plot. The opening scene flashes to the all-new cast of characters and fleshes them out.

It works more as an action film with horror elements. Where most of the true horror is how the human characters treat each other in times of strife for survival.

At times the use of CGI zombies is obvious but used to make their threat grander and more epic but luckily not cheesy.

The film is post-apocalyptic where gangs of survivors run the streets and find others stragglers for sadistic games.

We are introduced to a human villain they are killing a character just to do it. No actual gain 

The film’s finale has a car chase that reminds the audience of THE ROAD WARRIOR. While the film feels like it was inspired by ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. With a planned heist that goes wrong, he becomes a man on a mission and rescue mission. So the film obviously wears it’s inspirations on its sleeves while trying to add its own flavor.

Wisely the film trims the fat early. As this film is more political, adventurous, it opens up the world. Like most sequels, this film is bigger and feels less emotional as a thing of the past.

In the end the film’s themes seem to be about family and the sacrifices you are willing to make for them. 

Grade: B-

SAINT MAUD (2021)

Written & Directed by: Rose Glass
Cinematography: Ben Fordesman
Editor: Mark Towns 

Cast: Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle, Lily Frazer, Marcus Hutton, Lily Knight, Noa Bodner

Deeply religious Maud, a tight-lipped live-in nurse with a dark past, takes a job in a humdrum English coastal town to look after Amanda Köhl: a once-celebrated, now terminally ill former dancer and choreographer. Convinced that she has been sent to sensualist, chain-smoking Amanda with a purpose, ascetic Maud soon becomes obsessed with saving her vulnerable patient from herself, and in the process, lead her to the light. However, is worldly Amanda prepared to receive absolution for her sins?


This is a film that I was looking forward to seeing. It was at the top of my must-see list for 2020, until it got postponed, and finally got to recently watch. It is definitely a case of a movie living up to my expectations.

You can tell that this film feels lien something special. Even for as dark as it is.

The film is a great production and has committed performances and is definitely the work of a gifted filmmaker. As the filmmaking is gorgeous and sumptuous. That doesn’t fit into expectations. 

The film offers a lot of build-ups. That has a bunch of elevated horror cliches. As the film Challenges the audience’s expectations. As they might be looking for more than what the film has to offer.

The film revolves around loneliness at heart. While going through mental illness and stability. It ends up with strongly disturbing images.

The film is a slow burn that takes it’s Time with it’s Story and characters. Where it is meant to be more than what you are seeing. This film wants to be more than entertainment. It wants to affect you. Say, present and experience its Story more. 

It deals with obsession which causes a mental undoing to someone who was already fragile. Where she punishes herself. When she is only

Trying to help and seeking forgiveness for her past through religious fundamentalism. Which strangely she turns into a kind of eroticism for herself.

Her devotion spins takes form In trying to awaken others and give them what they want to try and help them. While having more and more delusions.

Where eventually she keeps building an intimacy out of loneliness. That once making a connection in helping others to make herself feel better and not worthless. 

As we are given hints to her life before he became so devout that seemed aimless and wild before an accident that changes her. 

By the end, the film is Sad and depressing but effective. In the last act of the film, the film becomes more of a horror. as it becomes more tension-filled. Where it feels like anything can happen.

Grade: B+ 

ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE (2006)

Directed By: Jonathan Levine 
Written By: Jacob Forman 
Cinematography By: Darren Genet 
Editor: Josh Noyes 

Cast: Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able, Michael Welch, Edwin Hodge, Aaron Himelstein, Luke Grimes, Melissa Price, Adam Powell 


A group of high-schoolers invite Mandy Lane, an innocent, desirable girl, to a weekend party on a secluded ranch. While the festivities rage on, the number of revelers begins to drop mysteriously. The film has a sensational ending. 

The film is way too short, but there is a logical reason for that. Too much more would have made it feel long. Plus it was running out of victims and things to do between the killings after all. It is not a supernatural tale and there aren’t too many victims to go around on an endless blood lust. 

As much as I like the film due to it’s limited budget and claustrophobic feel and relatively small production. 
Everyone being attracted to Mandy Lane is a little believable especially when Dealing with teenage hormones, but when the girls also begin getting attracted to her it feels a bit forced. Their attraction and her being so innocent and not realizing the peer she has over them. Feels a bit far fetched but realistic enough. As does the rest of the film. As the murders, the motivations. It becomes less of a mystery. As to who is doing it. Then When, who will be the next victim and how the killer will strike is more of the mystery in this film. 

From it’s visual arresting beginning set to the song “IN ANTICIPATION OF YOUR SUICIDE” by Bedroom Walls, I was hooked, I knew the film would be something special. A little different. –The direction is tight, but I feel the material is not sensational until the end and at that point the film makes you rethink everything. You have just seen and analyze it. 

SPOILER 

The ending finding out Mandy was part of the killings the whole time. Making her a kind of inside man, setting all the victims up. So her friend Emmett could get access and know each person’s location and her bobble cords of him. During what is supposed to be their murder suicide. So she can be the survivor and get more attention on a grander scale. Truly makes this film a portrait go a sociopath in a certain situation in which she is always the victim of most people’s fantasies of her. So she becomes everything to all people and realizes she is not what they think. She is a lot worse and wants to take control of her identity in a way, she lets them believe what they want. While secretly hating it and wanting to get revenge on them for it, but realizes that she gets what she wants because of it. So she deduced her best friend to do her bidding. So she can get away with everything. He is just as bad as the rest to her and the only person she finds a connection with is the one guy not going gaga over her and actually is moral and just. 

The most chilling part of the film is not that she just got away with it, but what will happen to future people who cross her path and dare to try and be close to her. It’s a sort of psychological story that makes you think through constant list of an innocent. This is what you create in that person. Thinking about the film probably makes the film smarter and more interesting then it actually is, but for the most part it is a solid film that tired to buck certain Conventions. While following them at the same time. 

SPOILER END 

The casting is good though only Amber head as Mandy Lane seems to be the only one who really benefited from the film and the role. She does look like a fantasy come to life. It is one hell of a role though. An impressive skeleton in the closet. As for awhile after this film she was the next big thing. It seems a bit more based on her looks as she barely has any liens through the film. Even though she is the lead. She is In Almost every scene. Sort of like Brandon Routh in SUPERMAN LIVES. Sometimes i wondered if her character was borderline autistic. 

Emmy Rossum was offered the role of Mandy Lane, but turned it down, stating that she did not want to be in a slasher movie.
 
The deaths throughout the film are not that spectacular. What takes the film down is that it believes it is smarter than the audience. So much so that it feels a bit glib. Especially when all of it’s power is in the ending. 

The film can be dull, while you are waiting for something, anything to happen. It tried to be atmospheric, but it doesn’t work. It’s an average film that has been hyped to be better than it actually is. Only because at the time the limited access to it. So this is a film that runs more on reputation than anything else  

Grade: C+

THE BANANA SPLITS MOVIE (2019)

Directed By: Danishka Esterhazy
Written By: Jed Blinoff & Scott Thomas 
Cinematography: Trevor Calverlay 
Editor: Michael P. Mason 

Cast: Dani Kind, Steve Lund, Celina Martin, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong, Sara Canning, Romeo Carrere, Maria Nash, Naledi Majola

A family attends a live taping of The Banana Splits television series, but are forced to survive as soon as the characters go haywire and start a killing spree around the studio.


You know what you are going to get from this type of film. Then again you might not of expecting this to be an exact big-screen version of the television show. Anyone going into this film can’t complain too much. As for how good or bad quality did you really think it would be?

As this is more a kind of reinvention. we have the characters more or less going on a murder spree. This is explained but seems a rather thin reason.

At first, the characters who are killed are generally unlikeable so you pretty much know they are going to be victims and the film doesn’t try to hide that fact, but then some rather likable and innocent characters start to get off.

The most enjoyable aspect of this film is the kills. The violence which like the show is very over the top and impressive in a ridiculous way. Keep in mind this Film was made to premiere in the Syfy network. Though bathes itself in gore.

The film plays like a dark comedy the only problem is that it really has no style. It just leaves the audience waiting for the kills. Then at first seems like a more demanding black comedy that at first is a revenge movie of sorts. Then just becomes a horror film. That flirts with killing children but then backs away from the edge that it tries to push us over.

There is an interesting part of the movie when a character cracks and becomes a totally different type. One that actually might relegate a sequel.

Though the film ends up being pretty predictable and comes off as a rushed Canadian horror feature. That is generic except for its pop-culture tie-in. That seems the best way to use the characters as we have already had a kind of animatronic live-action feature film in WILLY’S WONDERLAND

It doesn’t seem anyone including a studio was interested in trying to update it into a Family Comedy. So this seems an inventive way to go or at least a way to make a quick dollar for the franchise and bring them up to date maybe even be slightly subversive.

GRADE: D

SLAXX (2020)

Directed By: Elza Kephart Written by: Elza Kephart & Patricia Gomez Zlatar Cinematography: Steve Asselin Editor: Miranda Ouellet

Cast: Romane Denis, Brett Donahue, Sehar Bjojani, Kenny Wong, Tianna Nori, Jessica B. Hill, Erica Anderson, Hanneke Talbot 

When a possessed pair of jeans begins to kill the staff of a trendy clothing store, it is up to Libby, an idealistic young salesclerk, to stop its bloody rampage.


This horror-comedy is better than the premise might have you believe. As a film about a killer pair of jeans can be.

Obviously, this film is the anti-SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS. As the film has a ridiculous premise but manages to not be as embarrassing as it might seem.

The film is definitely a satire on consumerism. As the main directive to for these characters to sell these jeans and it becomes more of a lifestyle. As we are served a diverse cast who all have more of a liberal outlook, but remain either bitchy or unlikeable.

As this is almost paint by numbers you can tell who is going to die in what order and who the eventual final girl is going to be. Luckily the filmmakers make it fun to go through all the usual cliches and keep the audience entertained and invested.

While the film offers gore it still feels. For like a lite comedy. It feels more full of fluff rather than anything substantial or strong. This is fine as it keeps the film moving along at a fast speed for a movie that is under 90 minutes.

This is the type of film you more watch to see how creative the kills will be.

The first two-thirds of the film is horror with a cynical comedic edge. The third act is where the film all of a sudden tries to be more serious and point out issues of child labor abuses. It is understood the film has been building to that point throughout and chooses to take it more seriously. Though it does make for an abrupt change of tone. 

It gives the movie something to stand on with such a silly premise. That makes the film more of a tragedy and gives it the strength of some kind of legitimacy. 

Grade: C+

WILLY’S WONDERLAND (2021)

Directed By: Kevin Lewis 
Written By: G.O. Parsons
Cinematography: David Newbert
Editor: Ryan Libert

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Kai Kadlee, Caylee Cowan, Terayle Hill

A quiet drifter is tricked into a janitorial job at the now condemned Willy’s Wonderland. The mundane tasks suddenly become an all-out fight for survival against wave after wave of demonic animatronics. Fists fly, kicks land, titans clash — and only one side will make it out alive.


This is obviously a film that throws many winks to the audience and expects the audience to know what kind of movie this is.

Nicolas cage gives a wordless performance. Where he comes off like the man with no name. So he seems almost like a western character of sorts. A drifter who wastes no time on any character development. 

His character never seems surprised by anything that is going on. He keeps working showing a strong work ethic and moral code to a degree. As long. As it doesn’t interfere with his breaks. As he more fights them in self-defense than seeking to stop them.

His presence makes sense with this kind of film, but cage seems barely invested. 

There is barely any blood if there is it is darker, So that it looks like grease or oil representing blood. So not too gory. 

The stereotypical teens make it feel like a true horror in the fact that most of them are here only to be victims. Whose fate we know is coming. 

It’s a horror film yet the killing/death scenes don’t even feel notable or original. It comes across as workman-like and so basic. it just comes across more as means to an end 

The film is not expected to take seriously, more random than the recent THE BANANA SPLITS movie. Which more had something to live up to and something to prove. 

The film seems to have lucked into star casting to anchor an audience for a film with more expectations. 

The film comes off as more ridiculous than scary or even noteworthy violent. As everything feels strangely expected or goofy 

The film is obviously lower budgeted that it feels more like a first film or DIY passion project. One that you never take seriously.

One expected more from the film. As the film comes off as a mainstream Troma film only minus the nudity and sex jokes that This film might even be too tame for them. Even as it feels like a UP ALL NIGHT movie that is trying to be a cult film. 

Like an attraction that knows it’s bad and has little to offer. So it tries to dress it up with a star as best it can to bring in an audience. 

Grade: D+

A BLADE IN THE DARK (1983) LA CASA CON LA SCALA NEL BUTO

Directed & Edited By: Lamberto Bava 
Written By Dardano Sacchetti & Elisa Briganti 
Editor: Gianlorenzo Battaglia 

CAST: Andrea Occhipinti, Anny Papa, Fabiola Toledo, Michele Soavi, Valeria Cavalli

A composer, working in isolation on a score for a horror movie meets two women who used to know his house’s former tenant. When the women disappear, he’s forced to look into the film he’s working on to determine what happened to them, and who’s responsible.


The film is obviously heavily influenced by the movie PSYCHO with a new wave twist.

The film has a good premise. Though could have been worked out a bit better. As it feels like it strives to be artsy yet comes off like a typical slasher in the right hands of a more skilled director. This could have been something worthwhile and noteworthy.

Also the Film seems real into showcasing slitting throats to finish off the female victims

The film does have a good fake-out inventive opening. Which continues throughout the film with plenty of fake scares and mystery suspects and wondering exactly what is going on. It has plenty of set up’s but fails to excite.

The protagonist stays very calm despite his suspicions. The film could have been played up his paranoia stronger to have it be contagious for the audience.

The film has so many pauses and dead moments in between the action. And when the action does happen it feels more schlocky than anything.

The killer’s voice is so creepy and unnerving messes with your thoughts and fears to be much worse than the actual eventual reality

For a movie about a horror movie composer. The main score of this movie is monotonous.

Grade: C

TORSO (1973)

Directed & Story By: Sergio Martino
Written By: Sergio Martino & Ernesto Gastaldi 
Cinematography: Giancarlo Ferrando 
Editor: Eugenio Alabiti 

Cast: Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, Luc Merenda, John Richardson, Roberto Bisacco, Ernesto Colli, Angela Covello 

A string of appalling lust murders shocks the University of Perugia as a sadistic serial killer strangles to death beautiful college girls with a red and black scarf.


This film is bathed in sex and nudity more than expected. Even though at times the film tries to make it more artistic but still feels excessive.

This should be a teenage boy’s dream in the 1980s and 1990’s before the internet came forward. This is the type of foreign film you were hoping to catch on cable television that the TV guide said contained nudity and sexual situations but was usually more on the artistic side.

This film is more a murder mystery slasher where most of the characters who survive are suspects.

The actors playing college students in this movie all look way too old, but that is to be expected. 

In living up to the film’s title, the killer carved up their victims after death. The film makes it feel fetishistic. As the camera and the killers’ hands Roam the victim’s naked body

Usually the torso before dissecting it and poking out the eyes. (Trust me the violence sounds worse in the description than what is shown) other times the camera lingers on the actress’s beauty also bodies.

As a product of The Times when it was released the film is definitely misogynistic. As most of the victims are female and the male victims are either afterthoughts or killed more aggressively and gruesomely. The male characters’ attitudes towards women are just as gruesome.

The final reveal is so ridiculous. As usual with a bit of a far-fetched initial motive for the killer.

As the film seems to maleness the death scenes more iconic while the Women look to live up to the killer’s view of them As living dolls.

With a happy-go-lucky soundtrack and each death explained except for the one person of colors. Who the film leaves as more of a discarded accessory’s. As they all gawk and the female characters are mo resemble fashion models at the time.

The film also has the male characters have ugly attitudes towards women. So that each seems like they could be the Killer. No matter how minor the character. Though her crime might be that she is a lesbian also for the film.

It offers very fun surprises and almost seems to get tired of creating more elaborate Murders.

Also seems that some characters are added to only be victims and up the body count as well as seem fairer in the number of male viewers 

GRADE: B-