Baby Blues (2008) – movie review

I owe this one to my friend Jimmy Ray Davis, who solved a puzzle and got himself a review of his choice as a reward.

As a matter of fact, I’m also quite happy about his pick, since it gave me the opportunity to watch and talk about a movie I haven’t seen or heard of before.

Baby Blues 1Co-directed by Lars Jacobson and famous Indian filmmaker Amardeep Kaleka, Baby Blues (2008) tells the story of a countryside family – mom, dad and four kids – who live in a secluded farm. Upon suffering from post-partum depression (the so-called baby blues syndrome), the mother loses it and starts to show a violent behaviour towards her children.

Loosely inspired by true events – check out the series of articles on the Andrea Yates’ case – this indie horror seems to me more like a general exploration of mental breakdown and psychosis. For instance, to support my thesis, the characters of the parents don’t have first names: they’re simply regarded as ‘mom’ and ‘dad’.

In this respect, I can’t help but appreciate the directors’ effort put into the movie: they, passionately, created a horror flick that has a message.

Baby Blues 3Is the execution good, though? I’d say that, for the most part, it’s above average, especially for a low-budget, indie horror flick. I wouldn’t call it a scary movie, per se, but it features an unsettling and creepy vibe throughout nonetheless. Some scenes are very effective, since they hint to extreme violence without becoming overly graphic.

Baby Blues 2The acting is great for this type of movies. Ridge Canipe, who plays the older soon, the ‘hero’ of the movie, is fantastic. Colleen Porch, who portrays the mom, is compelling and quite unsettling from beginning to end. I don’t want to be considered sexist, but she was also kind of hot in Baby Blues: I dug that!

Personally, I just wish she had a better development as a character, since she looks pretty messed up since the very beginning. This film is 77 minutes long, therefore it could have used ten minutes more of build-up during the first third of the movie.

From a technical standpoint, I liked the colour design, with its documentary-ish vibe, and the great choice of locations. However, I strongly disliked the editing, especially within the first half of Baby Blues. The overabundance of cuts and takes gave me a nauseating feeling, which is really a shame.

Another issue I have with the film revolves around the father character: I feel like the directors didn’t know what to do with him in certain bits and, therefore, he pops up on screen every now and then, distracting the viewer from the main focus of the story.

Besides that, Baby Blues is a quite solid indie flick, based on an intriguing concept and filled with enough memorable and disturbing scenes. I don’t know whether it’s a rewatchable movie or not, but I would still recommend checking it out. And, Jimmy, since this review is for you, I’m going to give the movie a grade:

3/5

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The Dark Avengers recruit another member. Annabelle: Creation – movie review

After watching Annabelle (2014) I had little anticipation for this prequel that fits in The Conjuring universe and revolves around a possessed doll.

However, the direction by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out, 2016) and, mostly, an astounding 69% on RottenTomatoes, got me curious and slightly less negative about Annabelle: Creation.

What’s my opinion on it, then?

First, the plot: a group of orphan girls move to the house of Samuel Mullins and his wife, Esther, who, 12 years prior, have lost their beloved daughter Annabelle – killed in a hit and run accident.

Annabelle Creation 2When one of the girls, Janice, a young orphan who suffers from polio, sneaks into a locked room, she finds a creepy doll, unwittingly releasing the demon who begins to terrorise the girls, with a special interest in Janice.

The film is set in the 50s, in an isolated house a few miles away from a small Americana town. Compared to the first Annabelle film, Creation smartly chooses a location and an environment highly suitable for a haunted story.

Furthermore, Sandberg had the clever idea to untie its movie from the awful Annabelle, going for a prequel that guaranteed him more freedom rather than continuing with the ridiculous storyline of the 2014 flick.

Annabelle Creation 1Although driven by young actors, the performances in Creation are compelling overall: Talitha Bateman (Janice) and her best friend Linda (well portrayed by Lulu Wilson) are amazing in their roles. Yet, Sandberg decides to switch the lead between the two girls, making for a fresh storytelling in an otherwise formulaic horror flick.

Don’t worry, though, if you’re looking for the same, comforting bad acting that characterises the majority of horror flicks: Anthony LaPaglia (Samuel Mullins) drags himself around with the same facial expression he had while he was looking for missing people in 160 episodes of Without a Trace.

Besides some excellent performance, nice locations and good camera-work, Annabelle: Creation is as dull as Anthony LaPaglia in his role.

Without spoiling anything, this film doesn’t even have a plot twist: it’s predictable, the jump-scares are obvious (only one, in a staircase scene, got me) and the characters do what you expect them to.

Annabelle Creation 3Yet, Creation tries too hard to fit within The Conjuring universe and, simultaneously, to recreate Insidious (2010). The demon’s victims are all female (alike in The Conjuring), the jump-scares come from loud noises and hideous faces (Insidious), the prevalent colours are different shades of grey (The Conjuring) and the demon is the spit image of Lipstick-Face from Insidious.

The doll is just thrown in the mix, because, let’s be frank, the production company wants to fill up The Conjuring universe with spin-offs about the evil spirits that featured in the two Conjuring movie.

There is even a hint to the Nun in a scene of Creation. I expect Warner Brothers to come up with a Dark Avengers movie in a few years, featuring Annabelle, The Nun and The Crooked Man!

In conclusion, Annabelle: Creation is a massive improvement upon Annabelle. Although even a feature-length film about a dog pooping in the streets would be a better movie than Annabelle.

At the same time, though, Creation falls into all the stereotypical horror clichés we’ve seen tons of times before. It’s an enjoyable film based on a silly premise and unimaginative storytelling that, at the end, leaves you with nothing more than one hour and fifty minutes of mindless entertainment. Cheers!

The Classics of Horror #9 – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

When I sat through and played The Texas Chain Saw Massacre last night, my expectations were really high.

Not only is this film about Leatherface and his psycho-cannibal family an iconic horror movie, but I also remembered watching it a few years ago, and being struck by its powerful scenes.

Unfortunately, it didn’t have the same effect on me last time I watched it. Simply, it wasn’t as good as I remembered it to be – or as I wanted to remember it to be, if that makes sense.

You all know the plot of Tobe Hooper’s film, even if you didn’t watch it and that’s because the same plot has been re-enacted in so many flicks since The Texas Chain Saw Massacre came out, in 1974.

A group of five youngsters in a van are travelling to visit the grave of the Hardestys’ grandfather to investigate reports of vandalism and grave robbing. When they run out of petrol, decide to stop in an abandoned property which happens to be located near the house of Leatherface and its crazy family.

Texas Chain Saw Massacre - 2The villains are, by far, the best part of this movie. In particular, Leatherface figures as both an unbeatable monster and a traumatised big kid who is bullied and forced to be evil by his twisted family.

In between the clever madness of Norman Bates and the pure evil of Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees, Leatherface is a complex character which gives compelling results without the need for dialogue or exposition scenes.

Although quite overacted, the other family members – mostly Leatherface’s dad and brother – are effective since they are depicted in a gritty way.

Other than that, though, this horror classic is, in my opinion, a very frustrating film.

The Texas Chain Saw MassacreThe Texas Chain Saw Massacre lacks entirely of compelling ‘good’ characters. The main guys are not only quite disposable, but also extremely annoying, in particular the lead girl who survives at the end. Her dialogue in the last 30 minutes or so consists of constant screams and moans.

I get that Hooper wanted to convey realism through her performance, but her endless stream of yells got to my nerves quickly.

Also, the first 30 minutes are dull and boring, whereas the ending is just laughably bad.

What’s left between 30 minutes of boredom and 30 of frustration is merely 20 minutes of good cinema. In my humble opinion, not enough to list The Texas Chain Saw Massacre among the best horror movies of all time.

Nevertheless, this film fertilised the ground for a very successful sub-genre, whilst keeping room for improvement – eventually, we got The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (this time around with the right spelling) we deserved with the 2003 remake.

All in all, I suggest you to watch this film only if you want to know more about the origin of various horror sub-genres or are interested in checking out for yourself all the classic horror titles. Besides that, I wouldn’t recommend to watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

A shameless Annabelle and Paranormal Activity rip-off. Heidi – movie review

Released straight for DVD, Heidi has lately made a name for itself among a niche of horror fans.

The found-footage film (as if we needed more of this type of movies) features a creepy doll, not unlike Annabelle, that haunts two high school pranksters who found it, obviously, in a neighbour’s attic.

Consequently, hell breaks loose and our main characters get surrounded by mysterious deaths and inexplicable events. Which, of course, are documented by high quality cameras by our protagonists, although they come from needy families and are not supposed to afford such an expensive equipment.

heide-horror-movie-news-5Furthermore, as if the plot wasn’t dumb enough, there is no character development whatsoever: our main guys are only voices behind a camera, therefore impossible to side with. Similarly, every other character is insipid and dull, a device utilised purely to carry the plot along.

Due to its lack of interesting character and reasonable plot, some may expect Heidi to have good jump-scares and tense moments, at least.

Unfortunately, this is a boring ass flick in which nothing of any interest happens. The jump-scares are all false: a bird hits a window, a car horn honks, a sudden noise from upstairs just happens.

And the atmosphere is everything but unsettling. Most of the time, it’s so dark that the viewer can’t see anything and the only hint to tension comes from the main guy’s heavy breath. Which, by the way, is never followed by an action but only by a dull moment where not a single thing occurs.

This movie is joke. Or, I’d better say, a hoax. Not because of the film itself, which is still painful to watch, but since it was made purely to milk money out of people’s pockets off a ridiculous budget.

Indeed, my main issue with Heidi consists of the lack of passion and love for making a movie behind it. The marketing campaign clearly aimed to an audience particularly down for flicks like Annabelle and Paranormal Activity – which, despite being quite awful films, have made a humongous profit.

But even the target audience must have been disappointed by the result. Heidi is, in fact, a soulless movie that has no purpose whatsoever other than making money with the minimum effort. Don’t watch it, please. Cheers!

The Classics of Horror #2 – Frankenstein (1932)

Alongside Bela Lugosi’s Dracula (1931), James Whale’s Frankenstein is one of the milestones of the pre-Code, a brief era between the introduction of sound pictures in 1929 and the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code censorship guidelines.

Successful and quite faithful to the original novel, Frankenstein had a generally positive reception and, to these days, is considered among the best horror movies in cinema history.

Nevertheless, the film encountered many troubles straight after its release. The scene in which the monster throws the little girl into the lake and accidentally drowns her has long been controversial. Upon its original 1931 release, the second part of this scene was cut by state censorship boards in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York.

frankenstein-theredlist.jpgThose states also objected to a line they considered blasphemous, one that occurred during Frankenstein’s exuberance when he first learns that his creature is alive. The original line – “It’s alive! It’s alive! In the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!” – has been changed in many ways by censors.

Regardless, Frankenstein presents timeless themes and food for thought that survived censorships and controversy.

Alike Nosferatu (1922), the creature represents what’s different from the society and its values. It’s scary because unknown and incomprehensible.

Yet, the relationship between science and religion is a key elements, as well as the conflict between the inevitable death and the urge for immortality.

Filled with great performances – according to the standards of that time – Frankenstein still manages to be unsettling at points, more so for the angry outburst of the commoners than for the creature itself, which is presented as both culprit and victim.

frankenstein1931eSimilarly, Henry Frankenstein (perfectly portrayed by Colin Clive) shows a contrasting nature, in precarious balance between haughtiness and scientific curiosity.

Overall, still to these days Frankenstein is a modern movie – in regards to its contents – and probably the best adaptation of the novel of the same name. Obviously, there are editing and sound design issues that most of contemporary movies don’t deal with.

frankenstein-19752070-1579-1223

Nevertheless, this is a monster movie that has more to offer than what some could think. Give it a watch, it’s definitely worth your time and attention. Cheers!

A dark fairy tale that will make you grip your chair. The Eyes of my Mother – movie review

Me: Baby, why don’t we watch a random horror movie? Let’s just google some lists of recent films and see what appeals to us.

A: Yeah, sure thing… there’s shitload of crappy movies, though.

Me: Fine, let’s just watch Moana or Safe Heaven then… wait, what’s this one?

A: What is it?

Me: The Eyes of My Mother, a low-budget indie horror which looks quite appreciated on IMDb… plus, it’s only 76 mins long, it won’t be too boring. Wanna watch the trailer?

A: Yup, play it… oh wow, it’s in black and white and looks creepy. I’m down for watching it.

Me: Me too, let’s do this!

 

Eyes of my motherMe: The cinematography looks really cool, there’s barely any dialogue and the atmosphere is indeed unsettling.

A: I love the camera work! Every shot is neat and immaculate… It looks like an artsy-fartsy movie, which I don’t mind like at all.

Me: What language are they speaking?

A: Portuguese

Me: Alright. It sounded familiar. Hey, some words are actually the same in Italian and Spanish, how cool is…

A: What’s that creepy dude doing? What’s he staring at?

Me: No idea, but so far it’s the most dreadful part of the film! Oh, fuck! What’s he gonna do now? This is making me feel sick… Why isn’t she reacting? Oh, the dad just got home and… oh shit! Did he use a hammer?

EyesofMyMother_Trailer2A: Nope, it was the pistol he threatened them with… look, the motherfucker is alive! Wow, she cut his vocal chords and ripped off his eyes.

Me: Gross!

 

Me: The relationship between Francisca and her dad is sick! And look, the psycho is still alive… they keep him alive, making him live like a freaking animal. Which he deserved, by the way.

A: Yeah, I don’t even know if he’s her real dad. Also, I think she has no idea whatsoever about human relationships… she’s been raised with no other contacts than her mentally ill parents – or whatever they are.

Me: Definitely… oh, what’s she doing with her dad?

A: I think he’s dead. She’s keeping the body and pretending he’s alive.

Me: She went out. So now she hooks up with this Asian lady… right?

A: Yeah, I don’t think she has any idea about sexuality, though. She’s just trying not to remain alone.

eomm2Me: This dialogue is so surreal. She’s so calm and threatening at the same time… what a great, subtle performance by this… Kika Magalhaes. Oh, she’s actually Portuguese. Great performance, no jokes.

A: She won’t let the other girl leave…

Me: No chance! Here it comes… that was very clever. I love when horror movies understand that sometimes less means more and not showing too much could make a scene more effective.

A: Where’s she going now?

Me: She’s going to visit the murderer.

A: Why’s she untying him? Oh, please tell me she’s not gonna do that! It’s disgusting!

Me: She’s sick in the head. Oh, boy, he’s trying to run away from her… that’s not gonna work, buddy.

A: That was brutal! And she shows no emotions on her face…

Me: Brutal, indeed! Hey, Francisca, I guess he was already dead at the 10th stab, the other 20 or so weren’t necessary!

 

A: Where’s she going now?

Me: No idea. But this shot is astounding. The photography is brilliant.

A: Oh, no! Why did you pick her up?

Me: Exactly, why would you do that with your baby in the car?

A: Because everybody will trust a seemingly fragile, young and quite pretty girl.

Me: Alright, now she’s screwed! Poor baby… and poor mom! She’s done the same procedure she did to the murder.

A: Her soundless scream gave chills to my spine.

Me: Agreed. This film is so cleverly unsettling and it gets creepier scene by scene.

A: Look, years have passed now. The boy grew up and the mom… for Christ’s sake, she’s still chained and imprisoned!

Me: I think Francisca’s doing with the boy what her “mom” has done with her before. She’s basically trying to build a new messed up family.

A: Good boy! There must be some good in him, he’s not been fully intoxicated by cruelty.

Me: Do you think she’ll be able to call the police?

A: Yup, can you hear the sirens?

Me: Yes! Finally!

A: Good ending, but this is one of those movies where I’d have liked to know more, go more in-depth…

Me: Which is good, this film surprised me beyond every expectation! I’m gonna review and praise it asap.

 

The Eyes of My Mother is an artsy-fartsy horror drama/ dark fairy tale which tells the story of Francisca, a young girl who will haunt your dreams. I decided to write a different review – which isn’t really a review, it’s the experience my girlfriend and I had watching this film – because this motion picture is so unique that deserves something more.

 

Shot entirely in black and white, this indie movie is an amalgamation between great acting, astounding cinematography, immaculate editing, amazing sounds design and a gripping story told in a highly unconventional way.

 

I’m not going to give anything else away. Just check The Eyes of my Mother out. You won’t regret it. Cheers!

 

 

 

Jordan Peele’s debut is a breathlessly clever, original and entertaining mixed bag. Get Out – movie review

 

Get Out is written and directed by the renown comedian Jordan Peele at his directorial debut.

 

The movie tells the story of the black photographer, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), who goes for a weekend trip with his wasp (no, not the bug) girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her parents, who have no idea Chris is black.

 

However, the interracial relationship is not a big deal for them, nor for any of the other family member who chat with Chris in the most “liberal-racist” way, if this definition makes any sense. Everybody is complimenting him and claiming to be big fan of Obama, Tiger Woods and a bunch of other famous black people.

 

get-out-keith-stanfieldNevertheless, this awkward behaviour develops alongside with an unsettling feeling which makes Chris feel increasingly uneasy throughout the movie, partly because of the excessive attention he gets, partly in regards to the weird attitude of the servants – black workers who seemingly come from another era.

 

I am deeply pleased to say this movie is an absolute blast, a mixed bag – in the most positive way possible – of true suspense, thrills and comedy. Yes, because Get Out is the definition of entertainment in modern cinema, being able to combine different genres subtly and successfully.

 

Speaking of comedy, Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howery) – Chris’ best friend and TSA Officer – steals the entire show every time he’s on screen. As a comic relief, his performance is hands down one of the best I’ve seen the whole year.

 

get-out-trailer-2In addition, Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington is fantastic, being able to carry the story on his own shoulders. Fun fact: Mr. Kaluuya is a Londoner whose accent in the film was perfectly American. You nailed it my friend.

 

untitledHonestly, one of the greatest strengths of Get Out revolves around the cast: nearly everyone was perfectly picked and gave a compelling performance. Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) as Rose’s parents simply knocked it out of the park by combining a tender appearance with a dreadful vibe. Rose herself (Allison Williams) was perfect for her role, as well as “the blind man” – whom I can’t talk about because I don’t want to spoil anything.

 

Perhaps, the only character I haven’t bought into was Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), whose acting is unnecessarily over-the-top and annoying beyond the limits.

 

Other than his performance, I only have a couple of tiny issues with Get Out, the first one being the soundtrack, which is very eerie and unsettling but also generic and formulaic.

 

Moreover, there are a couple of jump-scares (well-crafted ones, in all fairness) which serve no purpose other than startle the audience, without moving the story forward.

 

Nonetheless, I believe Peele has included them in his film to appeal to the mass audience that is used to conventional scares and shivers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not necessarily a negative, since thanks to this stopgap Get Out will probably be appreciated by everybody.

 

Peele has also proven himself as an interesting visual director, being able to use long, wide takes to expand the scenes. For instance, to my knowledge the opening scene has been realised with only one take, no cuts or editing. Gotta appreciate that!

 

What I also found positively surprising is the subtleness utilised to introduce to sub-layer of racism. This is not the kind of film where the bad guys are disgusting racist douchebags, nor the John Carpenter’s They Live type of deal. On the contrary, the racism Peele is referring to is the one that hides deep inside the consciousness of liberal people, those who are willing to say anything to prove themselves as everything but racist.

 

Also, the ending is fulfilling and flawless, mostly thanks to the cleverness and strength of our main character Chris, who’s miles away from your average horror movies’ hero.

 

In conclusion, Get Out is a great, fast-paced thriller surrounded by horror elements and a very well-executed social commentary, enriched by comic elements lighting up the darkness of the story. Highly recommended, guys! Give it a chance. Cheers!

 

Skull deer get outEXTRA: the trailer for this movie is something I really wanted to talk about. I usually don’t consider trailers; I try to avoid them as much as possible instead. However, I have a kind of love/hate relationship with the one of Get Out. On one hand, indeed, nearly every scene in the trailer happens within the first 20 minutes of the movie or so, which is a great market strategy. On the other hand, though, there is a brief appearance of a deer skeleton in the trailer that has no room in the movie and I hate this kind of choices, because it’s basically cheating on the audience’s expectations.

 

The movies of James Wan, part III – Insidious (2010) and Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

*Skip the premise if you read the previous posts*

Regarded by many as the best horror director working today, James Wan (27 February 1977) went on also screenwriting and producing many of his movie as well as various flicks connected to his works, such as the Saw and Insidious sequels.

Being able to revitalise several horror clichés, such as tiresome jump-scares and redundant possession-driven plots, Mr. Wan is surrounded by a claque of die-hard fans.

Independently from the single person’s opinion, throughout the last 15 years or so James Wan has had a strong impact on both the independent horror market and the public discussions on the genre. Because of his impact, I decided to analyse and review his movie from the perspective of a neutral horror-lover and passionate moviegoer. I hope you will enjoy this new series.

*Check my previous series on here and here*

Insidious (2010) tells the story of a married couple whose oldest son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) ends up in an inexplicable coma after falling from a ladder in the new house’s attic. After three months of treatment without result, Dalton’s parents Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Patrick Wilson) are allowed to take Dalton home where, soon after, paranormal activity begins to occur and involve all the family members, including the other children (Foster and Kali) and their grandma Lorraine (Barbara Hershey).

I can imagine what you all think: “I’ve been there, I’ve seen the same story thousands of times already!”. And yes, besides a small detour – “It’s not the house that’s haunted. It’s your son”, the famous quote referring to the out of body experience of Dalton – the plot has nothing new to offer to the hunted house sub-genre.

However, the execution sets Insidious apart from most of the similarly plot-driven films.

hero_InsidiousChapter2-2013-1Clearly executed in a highly stylistic, old-fashioned(-ish) way, the movie recalls an old style of horror filmmaking, relying on all the clichés you can think of but, at the same time, renewing them. The infamous jump-scares are revitalised in Insidious due to Wan’s direction, which relates them to those moments and situations when the audience is actually supposed to be frightened.

Beyond that, the unsettling atmosphere is established also through a great camera-work, supported by immaculate editing choices, and an eerie score which gets under your skin increasing the creepiness of the movie.

Insidious21Furthermore, the characters are compelling and the chemistry between them is palpable and feels real, mostly thanks to Patrick Wilson. On a serious note, why the guy doesn’t star in more films? If you’ve seen him in Hard Candy (2005), you can’t help but notice he is nothing less than a great actor.

Back to Insidious, there are three other characters I didn’t talk about yet: the demonologists Elise Reiner (amazingly portrayed by Lin Shaye) and her sidekicks Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). Called by Lorraine to help Dalton getting rid of the entity who is possessing hid body, Elise gives us the background to this world (the Further) where demons hide and people born with the ability to travel mentally to the astral plane (like Dalton and his dad, Josh) can get lost. Beyond being a bit too heavily exposed, this key concept introduces us to a universe we will be able to experience again and more in-depth in Chapter 2.

Before jumping to the ending and my final thoughts on Insidious, I can’t refuse to mention Specs and Tucker: many viewers hate these characters and consider them the weakest part of the movie. On the contrary, I believe they are the show stealers to some extent. They provide this light, quirky comic relief which is vital in this movie, which thanks to them gets also funny and entertaining.

ade7f5246cbc933b0c9cd80495670300As the last two characters mentioned, the ending of Insidious is very polarising and I can, in all honesty, see why. The final head-to-head between Josh and the Lipstick-Face Demon (yes, I know its name. How nerdy is that?) looks a bit cartoonish and not as tense as the rest of the film was. But, seriously, it doesn’t ruin the film either.

Nevertheless, Insidious is a first-class horror movie. And me claiming it, really does say something, since I’m usually more intrigued and curious about hybrid and non-cliché films. In fact, Insidious might be one of those rare cases when a movie pleases both the average viewer – the one who says Paranormal Activity and Silent Hills are good movies, for instance – and the mature audience as well. Yes, highly recommended for everybody.

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) kicks off right after the events of the second movie and we are immediately immersed in the world we got to learn throughout the first instalment.

insidious-chapter-2-horror-movies-2013_0Same characters, same cast, same problems for our main guys to deal with – although the Red-Face Demon (A.K.A. the Lipstick-Face Demon. Gosh, I’m a freaking nerd!) is replaced by The Old Lady, which is a better and more realistic villain, in my opinion at least. She also resembles a lot Mary Shaw from Dead Silence, as I hinted in the review of that movie.

Anyway, this movie takes also a different direction compared to the first one. Indeed, there is a mystery/paranormal detective investigation which adds layers of interest to the story but, contemporarily, makes it drag a bit too much.

insidious-insidious-24669369-1280-536Nevertheless, what Chapter 2 perfectly achieves is the characters’ arc development. The protagonists, once again, look like real, reliable people.

Let’s get it out of the way: Chapter 2 is a great sequel because it fills the gaps of the first movie and, in general, it enriches plot and characters. Long story short, it’s a necessary sequel, not one made to milk more money out of people’s pockets.

Although I would slightly pick the first over the second instalment, I believe these films should be watched together as chapters of the same story (as the title suggests). Unlike the third movie in the franchise which, beyond not being completely terrible, is quite useless and disposable. But it’s not directed by James Wan either, so this is not the place and the moment to tackle it. Cheers!

28 Days Later meets Let Me In. The Girl with All the Gifts – review

The Girl with All the Gifts (2017) is an English horror-drama directed by the Scottish filmmaker Colm McCarthy and starring Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close and Sennia Nanua in the leading role of Melanie.

The young Melanie is part of an experiment which consists of testing the various skills of a small group of new-generation ‘hungries’, meanwhile they are being used as human guinea pigs to discover a cure for a disease which has caused the humanity to come close to extinction.

At the same time, the remaining military forces are trying to survive to the hungries – zombie-like creatures – and protect the scientists who are working on the vaccine.

the-girl-with-all-the-gifts-film-set-in-birminghamAs a consequence, tons of ethical issues are raised, since the guinea pigs are semi-human children who prove themselves intelligent and capable of feelings. Especially Melanie, who creates a strong connection with Gemma Arterton character, Helen Justineau. Nevertheless, Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close) and Sgt. Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine) are deaf to all the moral issues and, with different motivations, ruthlessly treat the kids as if they were monsters.

However, when a horde of zombies breaks into their stronghold, in the middle of the English countryside, the four main characters – and a couple of supporting soldiers – have to team up to survive.

locarno-festival_the_girl_with_all_the_gifts_publicity_still_h_2016Let’s talk about the pros of this movie. The characters are well-portrayed and developed throughout the runtime, their arc is explored in a compelling way and the two ‘villains’ – Caldwell and Parks – are driven by understandable motivations. In fact, every character is set into a grey area, which makes them interesting. Probably Sennia Nanua is the weakest part of the movie in regards to acting and sometimes she doesn’t keep up with the other stars, although I shouldn’t be too harsh to her, since she is only 14 years old young.

Also, the cinematography, the locations and the practical effects are well-crafted, even though they took a bit too much inspiration from 28 Days Later. Above all, the sequences filmed in the ‘abandoned London’ are placed into a successfully realised cinematic environment.

Yet, the fast-paced hungries are quite scary – even though zombie movies are little frightening by definition, at least to me – and their makeup is pretty convincing.

The problems, though, come towards the ending. In all fairness, the concept behind it, is provocative and self-conscious, which is an absolute merit. However, the execution turns out to be silly and unconvincing, especially because a couple of cathartic scenes are clearly made solely to complete the arcs of the characters.

All in all, The Girl with All the Gifts is an unconventional horror film, filled with the latest British cinema features – and this is a compliment – but it doesn’t reach the same level of 28 Days Later, which it clearly tried to imitate. And the ending, while being interesting due to the social commentary, is mostly disappointing and cheesy. Still worth checking out. Cheers!

 

The movies of Fede Alvarez – Evil Dead (2013)

Premise – Fede Alvarez is a Uruguayan filmmaker who directed four shorts, one TV series and two feature length horror movies – Evil Dead (2013) and Don’t Breathe (2016). In this ‘list’ I’m going to talk about the last two.

Being a young director, he’s not much experienced and his two films convey many different influences, among which Sam Raimi and David Fincher stand out. Not bad as landmarks, right?

Both of these movies are rated as horror, but in my humble opinion Don’t Breathe is more a thriller with horror elements every now and then, rather than a pure horror movie. Whilst Evil Dead is a horror flick in a more traditional way. Let’s dive into it, then.

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Evil Dead (2013) is the remake of The Evil Dead (1981), which was directed by Sam Raimi and stared Bruce Campbell, who both return as producers in Alvarez film.

However, Evil Dead could be seen more as a re-imagination than a remake of the cult B-movie, since there are many difference between the two products.

The plot is kind of similar to the original, though: David (Shiloh Thomas Fernandez) and his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) arrive at a cabin in the woods, where the pair meet up with his younger sister Mia (Jane Levy), his friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas). The group plans to stay in the cabin while Mia overcomes her addiction to heroin.

Mia’s addiction gives the group a motivation to stay in this desolated cabin, which is already a clever and unconventional element in these movies sub-genre, where usually the characters decide not to run away from the place, although there is plenty of hints pointing that the situation is going to be screwed.

When Eric, the pivotal character, opens up a book sealed in many ways, shit starts to go bad. And to me, this is the weakest element of the entire film. A dumb choice made by a stupid character that cause everything to go wrong. It’s a very cliché thing in such movies.

The other issue I have with Evil Dead consists of the blandness of Eric, Olivia and – above all – Natalie, who do nothing in the movie but being there to get possessed or brutally killed.

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Luckily, our main characters are well developed and fairly acted, especially Mia, who is portrayed perfectly by Jane Levy. The young actress is able to transmit a sense of fear, desperation and anxiety through her both physical and linguistic interpretation.

Other than that, Evil Dead flows with no hitches throughout the 92 minutes long runtime, which consists of a scary and unsettling blood-fest.

Yeah, there are tons of blood in this movie. It’s actually one of the goriest Hollywood film made in the last years, since the blood is combined with mutilations, violent fights, gruesome lacerations and so on and so forth.

What’s really impressive about all of that, is the fact that the 95% of the movie is realized through practical effects and the CGI is at its smallest level. The camera work is also astonishing, considering that this is the first product of a rookie.

Also, the Raimi’s film has a strong sense of humor developed throughout the runtime that made up for the lack of good film-making values, while Alvarez movie has a sumber tone distinguishing it from the original. And to me personally, both the idea of making something different and the beautiful fulfillment of the concept elevates Evil Dead above the level of The Evil Dead.

In conclusion, Evil Dead is a good horror movie, where all the things we have seen thousands of times before are realized in a refreshing, innovative way, which turns the movie into an entertaining, edge-of-the-seat film.

So, yes, do not miss it out. Good job, Alvarez! Cheers!