Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer of Scares: The Loved Ones (B-)

For each single individual, the iconic staple of teenaged life, prom, means something unique and separated depending on the memories, or an infinite variety of other factors related to the subject. Because of the decades worth (or at least the 80's and beyond) of romantic comedies related to the special night, grand expectations caused by the cinematic romanticism can easily be created, and be absolutely demolished even faster. In the age in which John Hughes movies such as Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink dominate our perception of how prom works, the assumption of it being a night of sentimentality and emotion largely prevents even excessive enjoyment to be a small disappointment. When media tells you that the experience will be unadulterated perfection for your entire life, and the result is anything less, wouldn't you be disheartened, even minutely, as well? If this is any cold comfort to the disillusioned and disgruntled prom goers reading this review, no matter the disappointment which may ensue, it will certainly go far more successfully than the characters of the Tasmanian exploitation flick, The Loved Ones.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Samaritan (B-)

If there's any particular sub-genre in cinema that I'd be inclined to enjoy more than anything other, it would be the slightly idiotic, pulpy thriller. Though nearly all follow the same conventions, forcing the  predictability to the point where entire lines of dialogue can be recited due to sheer repetition from viewing multiple films from the genre, they're almost always able to provide, at the absolute least, cheap face-value entertainment with some thought involved. The expectations are always fairly low, and for me personally, the film only necessarily has to supply the satisfactory distractions of its genre to be enjoyed. However, it should be noted that enjoyment doesn't necessarily imply recommendation. Earlier in the year, I surprised even myself when I non-ironically praised the near universally panned Nicolas Cage thriller Seeking Justice. It was a throughly entertaining thriller, which achieved every low hanging goal set. But while I admittedly liked the film, I wouldn't recommend it because it never crossed any expectation, and failed to detach itself from the genre formula in any way. Seeking Justice was merely satisfactory pulp, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but isn't particularly excellent either. The Samaritan, an independent Samuel Jackson vehicle, sadly falls into the same trap; it's pure satisfactory pulp, and little more.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Summer of Scares: Piranha 3DD (D)

Despite only being my second entry into the freshly conceived "Summer of Scares" running feature, I'm already beginning to rethink whether the benefits obtained from viewing these hypothetically terrifying features will be greater than the costs involved. I developed the idea mostly because very few horror movies had been reviews on the site (The Cabin in the Woods and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil were the only two, and both were more dark comedy than actual horror) despite it being a genre I'm very interested and compelled by, and believed the more diverse set of reviews, the better. It also helped that by coincidence, I'd watched both indie horror flicks Keyhole and the Australian shocker The Loved Ones within a three day period. However, all this setup leads me to the question; what necessarily makes a horror movie a horror movie? Is it the brutality of violence, the lengths a director is willing to go for shock value, a screenwriter's desire to play to the genre's conventions, simply focusing on a disturbing subject? While this definition changes individually, to me, the answer to this question is that the film must be unsettling to a certain extent. Blood, gore, jump scares, kills, and psychological torture are the bonuses; being troubled by the film itself is what includes it into the genre. It's because of this definition that I'm slightly rethinking the feature, or at least its criteria: Piranha 3DD, John Gulager's ludicrous, tedious sequel to the 2010 unexpected surprise success, despite containing a decent amount of decapitation, fails to meet even my fairly low expectations for the genre.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summer of Scares: Keyhole (C)

What an odd little experiment.

From the mind of the seemingly indisputably, seriously disturbed surrealist filmmaker Guy Maddin, comes the perverse bizarre nightmare of a neo-noir Keyhole; a film whose very plot description seems like a rejected ramble for the equally strange, though much more likable, SNL character Stefon. A group of 30's styled gangsters led by the charismatic Ulysses (Jason Patrick) hide out in a dreamlike haunted mansion after committing an unmentioned crime. However, Ulysses has ulterior motives when choosing the hideout; he is a former resident of the mansion, and seeks forgiveness from the ghost of his wife for the death of their three children. Though that synopsis may sound relatively normal, here are a few more unmentioned plot points and characters which should change your opinion fairly quickly...