One giant built-up to a clever twist. Lake Bo(re)dom – movie review

It’s not a very smart pun, I know. Obviously, the real title of this Finnish horror thriller is Lake Bodom, a movie that came out in 2016 but had its wide release in 2017.

Regarded as one of the smartest horror films in recent years, Lake Bodom utilises an actual crime case that happened in the location of the same name in 1960, when two youngsters got stabbed to death. Following the investigation, a third 18-year-old boy who was in the tent with the victims was found innocent for lack of evidence.

In consequence, the movie revolves around four high-schoolers (two boys and two girls) who go camping in the same location some 40 years after the murders to find out if the Lake Bodom killer is just a legend or something more real. Continue reading “One giant built-up to a clever twist. Lake Bo(re)dom – movie review”

Advertisements

A slow-burn that will make you rethink outbreak films. It comes at night – movie review

A few films have been as controversial as It Comes at Night recently

In the case of Trey Edward Shults’s latest film, though, all the controversy lies in the polarised reactions the movie got upon its release. Something reminiscent of what happened with The Witch (2016), loved by critics and niche audiences; panned and literally hated by the majority of moviegoers.

Contrarily to my usual reviewing pattern, I will give my opinion on the film before even talking about it, with a little premise nonetheless.

If you are in for 90 minutes of challenging, demanding, unconventional plot and execution, check It Comes at Night out. It’s a very good movie which you can’t help but respect for its attempt to an original concept and an execution filled with intriguing imagery and symbolism.

It comes at night 3.jpgHowever, if you like more conventional horror flicks, with tons of scares along the way, maybe some gore and ounces of frightening creatures, stay away from It Comes at Night. You guys would hate it and rant about it to your friends, discouraging them from checking out a movie that might actually be their cup of tea and, therefore, forcing a viewpoint on a film that has to be seen with the right state of mind.

If you belong to the first group, you can proceed with this blog post that might tickle your curiosity; otherwise, read it if you want and I’ll try to explain why I think It Comes at Night is a good (and important) film.

I believe the best way to experience Shults’s flick is going in it completely blind. The lesser you now, the better.

Which is why I won’t describe the plot and I’d suggest you to avoid trailers and any web page telling you what this movie is about.

It-Comes-at-Night 1.pngIt’s just important for you to know that we follow 6 main characters (two families, each one composed by husband, wife and son) who are apparently locked up in a cabin in the woods where they believe they can’t go out at night but only in daytime with a good dose of precautions.

Without a single standout protagonist, the characters in this movie are very much able to carry the plot along and create intriguing relationships between them.

The casting choices are on spot, with Joel Edgerton leading the way in one of the best performances of his career (which is saying something…).

The cinematography is stunning and seems a character by itself, since through it the director is able to convey emotions and tension.

In fact, It Comes at Night is a very suspenseful flick, which plays with your expectations and cleverly reverts the horror clichés we are used to.

Yet, as I previously mentioned, this film has an ongoing symbolism which appears, for example, when a red door is shown on screen representing the passage between life and death.

However, to me the movie never looks too artsy or pretentious. The characters, for example, are extremely realistic as well as their interaction: crude and gritty at its core.

The true horror this mystery movie shows, is the one that lies within every human being when the situation gets desperate: sexual desire, uncertainty, lack of trust in others, family, love… all these feelings are implicitly explored in It Comes at Night.

The ending, which obviously I’m not going to give away, is not fully fledged but matches the rest of the movie. Most viewers will hate it, I personally think it’s okay but could have been better.

it-comes-at-night-trailer 4Yet, in the movie clearly emerges a lack of balance between dream sequences and real events. The horror scenes belong only to the dream sequences, which makes them less impactful and slightly frustrating.

I get their purpose within the dreams, but I still think the movie would have benefited from some more unsettling imagery with the characters awake.

Besides, the other issue I have with the film revolves around the director’s intentions. Specifically, I believe Shults pushed it too hard when he claimed: “a lot of questions are left unanswered intentionally, for a reason and I hope it sticks with you. I hope it doesn’t frustrate”. Although this lack of explanation makes for an anxiety-inducing, on the other hand, it gives the annoying impression of faulty creative flair.

it-comes-at-night 2In conclusion, It Comes at Night is not a film for everyone. Very susceptible to generate frustration and confusion in certain viewers, it is mandatory to go into this movie with the correct approach and a deep interest in cinema. In other words, if you prefer disposable horror flicks, please avoid It Comes at Night and go watch Annabelle: Creation. To be clear, I don’t mean this in a demeaning way, I’m serious when I warn you about this film. You’ve been warned. Cheers!

Final Destination meets Jacob’s Ladder. Camera Obscura – movie review

A war photographer affected by severe PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) picks up the camera again after more than one year of inactivity due to the terrible things he’s seen and photographed in war zones (presumably Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria).

Jack Zeller (Christopher Denham), the titular character of Camera Obscura, is given an old camera from his fiancé Claire (Nadja Bobyleva), who desperately wants him back on track.

camera Obscura 1.jpgHowever, the photos Jack takes are black-and-white – despite the rolls being coloured – and, mostly, show dead bodies that lay in the locations he shot.

What started off quite premising, with a first half hour that features non-linear storyline and good character development obtained without exposition scenes, soon enough turns into a bloody mess that doesn’t know what’s aiming for.

Although rather original, Camera Obscura tries too hard to resemble the Final Destination movies and Jacob’s Ladder (1990) in its themes and development.

Unfortunately for the director Aaron B. Koontz, the film falls short in its attempts: the campiness of Final Destination is replaced by an unnecessary seriousness, whereas the social commentary on the horrors of war are completely avoided. What a missed opportunity!

The overall movie is quite confusing.

Camera Obscura 3More or less 40 minutes into Camera Obscura, the main character is convinced he has to do something extreme to protect his fiancé from an impending doom. The decision to include this sudden change of tone in the script, makes Jack less compelling (he was rather relatable up to this point) and the plot take a convoluting route involving paranormal elements.

Yet, an initially psychological thriller/horror begins to include supernatural features and a good dose of laughable gore that adds up to the general confusion.

The ending, which I’m not going to give away, is probably the pinnacle of frustration in Camera Obscura, since it doesn’t resolve any question or sub-plot brought up throughout the runtime.

Camera Obscura 2.jpgAgain, the characters are overall formulaic: we have the main character (fairly portrayed by Denham), his screaming and confused fiancé, a police officer who knew everything before the audience, another one who couldn’t figure out the simplest clues and the junkie, silly protagonist’s best friend who is helpful like a toothbrush on a desert island.

Especially Walt, Jack’s best friend, is highly disappointing. He represents my biggest disappointment with the direction: Walt is, in fact, portrayed by Noah Segan, a more than decent actor who proved himself in the past to be able to pull off complex roles.

Seemingly, Koontz has no idea what to do with him, since he randomly throws Segan in many scenes without developing the character’s arc or purpose.

Nevertheless, this is the only mistake made by Koontz. Besides that, his direction is really good for an indie horror. The cinematography is impressive and the editing cleverly resembles a sequence of photos projected on a wall.

Entirely shot on location (in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA), Camera Obscura makes good use of the environment, whilst the bright colours are toned down to make the atmosphere gloomy and sumber.

On a side note, Koontz’s direction avoids silly jump-scares and futile loud music to mark a moment of tension. Instead, the soundtrack is persistently earing and purposely irksome.

Since the direction is, overall, pretty decent, I’d say that the script is what scales down the film. It simply doesn’t make any sense and hides the redeeming qualities of Camera Obscura.

If you ask me, Camera Obscura is not a completely shipwreck, but the script for it is plain awful nonetheless.

Quoting directly from the movie: “this seems one of those weird episodes of Goosebumps!”. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend to watch it, but neither I’d say it’s a complete and utter waste of time. Cheers!