Between Let the Right One In and Raw. The Transfiguration – movie review

Transfiguration 1.1.jpgOutcast teenager with shady past and obscure life meets youngster who’s bullied and abused by a bunch of assholes. They team up, go through that stuff and grow up together.

No, guys, I’m not reviewing the ground-breaking Swedish horror drama Let the Right One In (2008). Instead, the one mentioned above is the storyline of The Transfiguration, a 2017 film written and directed by Michael O’Shea at his filmmaking debut. Continue reading “Between Let the Right One In and Raw. The Transfiguration – movie review”

Once upon a time, there were a Demon, a Vampire and a Skinwalker… The Monster Project – movie review

It seems like the beginning of a twisted fairy tale, instead that’s the premise The Monster Project is based on.

Combine this simple (although a bit childish) premise with some found-footage style, isolated location, a solar eclipse and you basically know what film you will get. Sounds lame, right?

Monster Project 1If you ask me, this doesn’t look promising even in the slightest. Fortunately, in this case, what you have on paper doesn’t turn into reality in the execution, because The Project Monster is a very entertaining flick.

We follow aspiring filmmaker Bryan (Toby Hemingway, the only familiar face in the movie) who assembles a crew of misfits to film a documentary with real-life monsters: specifically, a demon, a vampire and a Skinwalker.

This movie runs for almost 100 minutes and, as soon as the action kicks off (around 40 minutes into the film), it becomes fast-paced and non-stop entertainment, with one impactful jump-scare after the other. Besides the ending, which has a silly plot twist I don’t really care for, The Monster Project is a constant adrenaline rush, a sort of The Blair Witch Project (1999) on steroids.

If you are into this kind of movies, I suggest to check this one out as soon as possible; just don’t expect anything more than that, okay?

Obviously, though, I wouldn’t call this a good movie. This time around, I am going to explain the main issues with the movie by figuring out a fictional, alternative version of what we got. An alternative cut, if you will.

Monster Project 2.jpgFirst of all, the ‘HorrorWorld&Reviews cut’ would be 70 minutes long: no characters’ introduction or formulaic backstory, the viewer would be dragged into the action straight away. In fact, the first 30 minutes or so of The Monster Project seem to be there just to make the flick get to the feature length. Also, every time this movie comes back to the characters it loses impact. In my fictional cut, all those elements would disappear.

Monster Project 3.pngSecondly, I would elongate the interviews with the monsters, which are the most original and enthralling part of this flick. Mostly Demon and Vampire (the Skinwalker not so much) are scary and intriguing and I would have liked to see a deeper exploration of their persona, which is what I would include in the ‘HorrorWorld&Reviews cut’.

Finally, I would film The Monster Project through a more traditional third-person narrative. The found-footage style is tiresome and has used up its impact in horror cinema, in my opinion. The main reason being it’s supposed to show the audience real and truthful events through the eye of a camera; however, in The Monster Project the viewer is bombarded with professional soundtrack (where does it come from?), awkward angles (why filming yourself kissing a girl?) and perfect audio recording (even when a freaking demon eats you alive).

The point is that a movie makes much more sense within its story and its ‘universe’ when it’s not filmed in found-footage fashion, because it doesn’t need to explain how this or that has been recorded. Therefore, my cut would rely on traditional filmmaking techniques and shy away from every form of found-footage.

A quick recap: I’d keep all the good stuff included in The Monster Project and make the segments about the monsters’ interview longer; I’d get rid of any attempt to character development; I’d film the movie in third-person and probably make the ending a bit less over-the-top and silly. What do you think? Would you watch it?

While we wait for Hollywood to hire my, as I said before you can still enjoy The Monster Project for what it is and you’ll probably end up having some mindless entertainment, filled with scary bits and extremely effective jump-scares, as long as you don’t overthink about it for more than two seconds. Otherwise, you’d realise that nothing makes sense. Cheers!

 

Thanks to DreadCentral for the images!

The Classics of Horror – Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu instilled in the mass audience the fear for vampires before the blood-thirsty creatures became a cult, before the story of Dracula was buried alive in clichés, jokes, marketing and more than 35 following movies.

And no, I’m not talking about that abomination against humanity known as Twilight, because even in the later – and better – performances, from Bela Lugosi to Cristopher Lee to Frank Langella to Gary Oldman, the vampire comes across like a flamboyant actor, instead of a man suffering from a dread curse.

This happens instead through the acting of Max Schreck, the actor who portrays the character of Nosferatu in such a unique, inimitable way that he’s able to convey an overall sense of dread.

Which is something exceptional, considering that Nosferatu is a silent, black and white movie, where the narration is carried by slides.

It’s, indeed, obvious to state that the movie is old and quite difficult to judge through modern standards. Some might think, for instance, that the acting is mostly laughable and over-the-top, but that’s a consequence of the strong influence theater had played on cinema in its early stages.

Copy_of_nosferatTherefore, this film must be observed as a piece of cinema history – and, in my opinion – the first, fundamental milestone of horror cinema and, thus, its value should be measured in terms of the impact it had in those years.

None was reported as fainting while the movie was playing – contrarily to what the production company claim today in their taglines about flicks that wouldn’t scare a toddler – but it nevertheless had a huge shock value among the viewers at the time.

However, Nosferatu contains the seeds of recurrent themes in the following better horror movie: the fear for what is different, the loneliness of being excluded from the society, the relationship between mortality and immortality.

nosferatu-shadowAlso, from a technical standpoint, the movie directed by the German Expressionist F. W. Murnau presents a few astoundingly modern elements, such as the use of shadows to create tension and sense of threaten.

Nevertheless, other techniques look obviously ridiculous nowadays. For example, the editing doesn’t hold up anymore and seems very sloppy.

All in all, though, Nosferatu is the first, great horror movie in cinema history and, although quite aged, it’s still inspiring numerous directors working today. Give it a take if you’re passionate of cinema. Cheers!