Saturday, May 26, 2012


What I liked:
The characters.  We had two main characters: Angela (the hunted: a driven, career oriented woman) and Tom (the hunter: a security guard at her office).  Angela did a great job at being freaked out, but also doing what she needed to survive (whether that was feigning interest in Tom or devising a plan to get away).  She may have been scared, but she kept a pretty level head throughout the movie.  Sure, there were a couple of moments where I screamed at the TV (“Turn around!  Don’t just stand there!  TURN AROUND!”), but, for the most part, she was aware of her surroundings and used what she could to escape.

Tom was great at being a psychopath.  Once she escaped from his office and into the general area of the parking garage, he was relentless in his pursuit of her, but he also knew that she couldn’t get far, so he tormented her psychologically as well.  He was a man in sick, twisted love.  He watched her on surveillance cameras for years.  He felt like he knew her, and he loved her.  So he kidnapped her, dressed her up in a dress, and chained her to a table so that they could eat a Christmas Eve meal together.  He loved her.  But he was also very crazy.

Also, there was a scene where he was wearing a Santa Claus outfit (complete with the beard), giving his best “Ho Ho Ho!” while Angela was still knocked out.  For some reason, that scene made me laugh really hard.

The setting.  The fear of walking alone in a darkened parking garage is one that we’ve all had.  “What was that noise?  Was that a shadow moving?”  Little Annie Adderall met her match in a parking garage in Scream 4.  If it could happen to her, it could happen to any of us, I suppose. 

And there were a number of moments that were done really well where Angela was sooooo close to escaping.  Whether it was being at a locked door while a taxi waited outside, or not quite being able to get to a spot with cell phone reception.  I just wanted to reach through the screen and help give her just that little push she needed.  I thought they did a great job in utilizing the claustrophobia that can sometimes accompany a big empty space.

 The date.  Using Christmas Eve was fantastic.  Not only did it establish Angela as someone whose job routinely got in the way of her family, it also had a bit of built-in hopelessness for her escape.  It was just Angela and Tom in the parking garage, and it would be for many days.  No one would be coming to the office for at least a few days, which meant that Angela was going to have to escape by herself.  Help was not coming. 
It also meant that it was very cold in the parking garage.  On top of all his other advantages, it seemed more than a little unfair that Tom was able to walk through the parking garage with a parka, while Angela ran around in a dress and no shoes.  The deck was hopelessly stacked against her at every turn.

What I didn’t like:
Length.  Honestly, it wasn’t that long (98 minutes), but it felt a little long at times.  They did enough different stuff to keep my interest for the most part (locking Angela in a trunk, watching Tom torture one of Angela’s co-workers that he was convinced tried to rape her, Angela trying to escape via elevator, etc.), but, after a while, it seemed to lose some of its edge, and the suspense died.  They were able to ramp it back up eventually, but there were a handful of periods in the movie where it didn’t really feel like anything was happening.  I guess those are your limitations when you’re working within the confines of a parking garage.

That’s really about it for my dislikes.  There wasn’t much I disliked about this movie.  And, while I liked a lot of things, I didn’t find that I loved too much about it.  It was an entertaining movie.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  But I can’t say that I loved it, and probably won’t be re-watching it at any point in the near future.  (Who am I kidding?  I'll be watching it this Christmas.)
It’s definitely worth a watch.  Angela was a great survivor girl.

Rating: 3.5/5

Notable actors: Rachel Nichols, Wes Bentley

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Dead

In an attempt to get through a lot of the horror movies I have watched recently, I'm going to shorten these reviews.  I thought the best way to do that would be to cut out the synopsis of each one.  So I'll try to give a quick "what I liked, what I didn't like" review, and that'll be it.  So brace yourself for a series of short posts.

What I liked:
It looked fantastic.  It was set (and shot) in Africa (from what I understand, it's the first horror movie to be filmed entirely in Africa).  So it looks different from any zombie movie I have ever seen.  It's pretty creepy seeing zombies shambling through the brush.  Or appearing behind huts.  Or shuffling off in the distance in the desert.  It's a terrific setting for a zombie movie.

And the zombies look terrific.  Even if they didn't have skin hanging off their bones, they had a very distinct look to them.  It's their eyes, mainly (which brought to mind images of Sugar Hill).

What I didn't like:
Pretty much everything not listed above.  We follow two main characters: Lt. Brian Murphy (the only remaining survivor of an American military group) and Sgt. Daniel Dembele (a member of the African army).  They didn't like each other at first, but they formed an unlikely alliance to survive, and blah blah blah.  They just weren't very interesting characters.  I didn't care about them at all.  Even when Daniel kept talking about trying to get back to his son, I didn't really care about that, either.  I had no connection to the characters.  And, when I'm watching a slow-paced movie, I need some connection to the characters.  Whether I love them or hate them, I need something.  And I felt nothing for either of these guys.  And a large portion of the movie was the two of them, driving around in a crappy truck, trying to stay away from zombies.  It was like a boring road trip movie.  But with zombies.

Also, since the movie was set in Africa, I was pretty excited about seeing some animals in the movie.  With a nod to Zombi 2, would a zombie fight a lion?  I was certainly excited about the prospect.  But there were no lions, rhinos, giraffes, hippos, monkeys, cheetahs, zebras, gazelles, etc.  Honestly, I was pretty disappointed about that.

Overall, I didn't really like it.  It looked cool, but that kind of wore off after a while.
But perhaps my expectations were too high.  I heard nothing but glowing reviews for this movie, so I was expecting something amazing.  Perhaps I'll watch it again at some point and see if I feel the same way.
For now, I'll be forced to give it...