Friday, December 20, 2013

Favorite Movies of 2013

Top 10 Movies of 2013
10.The Battery - Took me a couple viewings to really like it.  It’s slow.  It drags in parts.  The characters aren’t overly likable.  But it feels like a realistic depiction of the impending zombie apocalypse.  It’s a different look at the genre, so it’s something even Renfield may be able to appreciate.
9. The Last Will & Testament of Rosalind Leigh - If I ever finish editing the film club entry on this, you’ll see my full thoughts.  Slow, but a good sense of tension throughout.
8. Star Trek Into Darkness - Exactly what I expected.  Lots of fun.  Great performance by Cumberbatch.
7. Best Friends Forever - Kind of cheesy in parts, but I really loved this.  Had a great feel to it.  Loved the interaction of the two main characters.  A cool little apocalyptic road-trip movie.  I adore this film.
6. World War Z - Nothing like the book, but I didn’t expect it to be.  It starts fast and doesn’t let up.  I could’ve done with less of the pointless cut-backs to Gerry’s family (because I’m a heartless fiend), but that didn’t really ruin it.  Just a fun, fast-paced action movie.
5. The World’s End - The weakest entry into the Cornetto trilogy, but I still loved it.  Much better the second time around.
4. Mama - I totally understand the complaints about this movie, but I didn’t have those same issues.  I choose to overlook the ending and the glaring plotholes and look at the story and the performances of everyone involved.  The final showdown on the cliff looked like something straight out of a Universal monster movie.
3. Evil Dead - I was so excited about this coming out that I figured I would be disappointed.  That was not the case.  I loved this movie (it helped that I went with a squeamish friend).  It had a myriad of problems, but I really don’t care.  It was crazy and bloody, and I had a lot of fun watching it.
2. Maniac - Gave a sleek makeover to the scuzzy original.  Kind of felt like Drive, but with a more scalpy protagonist. I had no idea what to expect going in, and this absolutely blew me away.
1. Pacific Rim - MONSTERS AND ROBOTS FIGHTING!  I felt like a little kid watching this.  I giggled during every fight.  I excitedly punched my knee during a few parts (“They have a rocket that makes them punch harder!”)  I’ve seen this 4 times now, and I get excited every single time.
Honorable mentions: Kill Me Now, John Dies at the End, Grabbers, You’re Next, American Mary, Inside Shadows
I don’t have a hated list, but here are a couple I didn’t love.
Escape From Tomorrow - I had such high hopes for this.  It just feels like a waste opportunity.  Instead of a slow descent into madness at Disney World (which would’ve been amazing), we were treated to a middle-aged man trying to bang every woman he sees.  Kind of surprised he didn’t use pick-up lines like, “Hey baby, you wanna see the real Magic Kingdom?”  Then point to his johnson (“Johnson?”).  Anyway, this movie was kind of terrible.
Lords of Salem - Decent idea.  Absolute mess of a film.
Frankenstein’s Army - I heard this was good.  “The creature effects are amazing.”  They weren’t bad.  The rest of the movie was wretched.
The Purge - Not horrible.  Just really boring.  Again, a really cool idea, but not a very good movie.

This is also posted over at Horror-Writers.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Inside Shadows

Short synopsis (from the film’s website):
When a young couple move into a converted shop, they are filled with excitement and ideas as to how they will make the house their own.  But it would appear the property is still clinging to its past, and unbeknown to them they are living inside its shadows.

My thoughts:
Having recently watched The Orphanage (again), The Awakening, and The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh, it seems clear that I’m a sucker for a slow-developing ghost story.  This really isn’t a surprise, but it’s something that is reinforced with each movie I watch.

Inside Shadows fits comfortably into that genre.  Calling it a slow-developing ghost story is a completely accurate description.  It may even be even slower moving than the aforementioned films, which is really saying something, seeing as how none of those movies move at a breakneck pace.  It’s very good once it gets moving, but it takes a little while to get to that point.  It would be extremely easy to lose focus before the good stuff kicks in.  The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh was slow, but it had a sense of tension that started early and kept up throughout the entire film.  There was none of that here.  This was more like Entrance: a slow-building movie that doesn’t really even try to build tension until late. 

Once it gets going, it’s pretty good.  And there are a handful of moments that hint at the upcoming insanity.  They do a pretty good job at teasing it.  But, like I said, it would be pretty easy to lose interest before it gets to that point, especially if you’re not in the right mood for this type of movie.  It’s less a “slow burn” and more “lighting fireworks with punk sticks”.  

Even when the craziness started, I had a couple issues with it.  They felt the need to give a big musical blast every time the ghost appeared for an instant.  It was somewhat reminiscent of the musical goosing we got when Michael Myers showed up in Halloween, but this less subtle.  It was extremely distracting, and completely unnecessary.  Seeing a shadowy figure appear in the background is startling by itself; there’s no need to throw it in our face.

I also had a pretty major problem with the decision-making of some of the characters late in the film.  For spoiler reasons, I can’t really get into the specifics.  Suffice it to say that a couple characters had some highly dubious logic late in this film.  It almost ruined the movie for me.

Overall, I would say that I enjoyed this movie, but I didn’t love it like I hoped I would.  Superficially, it suffers from the same problems that plague a lot of low-budget movies: mainly, poor lighting and inconsistent sound (although I will say that the sound was better here than a lot of low-budget movies I’ve seen).  I’ve never had a problem getting past those things as long as the story is good, but, if you have a problem with those things, you should probably stay away.
But, if you like a good ghost story, it’s definitely worth giving a shot.  It was pretty well-acted, and had a pretty cool style to it.  Pick a quiet night, shut off all the lights, and dive in.

Rating: 3/5

Inside Shadows is now available on VOD.  Check it out here.