Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Martyrs (2008)

Director - Pascal Laugier
Writers - Pascal Laugier
Production Company - Canal Horizons, Canal+,CineCinema

So I got this wild hair to start this blog for myself a couple of months back.  As I worked my way through the Internet reading people’s thoughts on the best horror films out there Martyrs is one that almost always came up on peoples lists, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Martyrs is written and directed by Pascal Laugier, and as I mentioned it in a previous post it always seemed to get lumped in with Frontiers and Inside – I don’t think Martyrs is anything like these two films.  Don’t read any further if you haven’t watched it, you should definitely go in as a Martyrs virgin as I read in one interview conducted with Pascal, it’s best you know as little as possible.

Lucie at the very tender age of 10 escapes a very brutal captivity - the opening scene is fabulous, dark, and gritty looking.  Once found she is placed in a home of sorts, and becomes friends with another girl living there name Anna.  Anna very tenderly deals with Lucie and the very real affects that captivity has had on her life.

And then we fast forward 15 years, and when I say fast forward I mean it.  Pascal Laugier has said that when he wrote Martyrs the family massacre scene is the one he started off with and built the story around that.  The scene is brutal when Lucie (who’s never been able to let go of what happened to her) stumbles across a picture in the paper of the people who she believes held her captive. 


A family is enjoying what seems to be a nice family breakfast when all hell breaks loose, I love how the director made the family so normal and average, and then quite literally had Lucie blow them away.  The action is wonderful in this scene - the look on Lucie's face says it all.  But does she have it right? Are these the right people, can she possibly remember them?

Enter Anna, who is made aware of what’s happened with a very short phone call from Lucie – they’ve never parted since childhood.  I loved the way their relationship is continued throughout the film.  Anna is drawn to Lucie, almost like a mother.  She enters the house and is sickened with Lucie, but sad for her in the same breath.  The relationship they have is quite deep given the movie is only 99 minutes long – I appreciated the rich history these two had and it made me feel deeply for them.

Anna deals with Lucie over the middle part of this film, she deals with the aftermath of her friend’s massacre and the unfortunate detrimental affects of Lucie’s sad history.  And then it all changes, Lucie’s despair and the endless itch to make things stop in her head changes everything about the direction of the movie, I was taken aback to have a new lead in the film beings I thought Lucie was the prime character - but suddenly Anna is watching someone she is physically and mentally attached too kill themselves, I loved this turn. 

The rest of the movie is captivating, distressing, and very emotional.  Anna finds proof of Lucie’s ordeal with the very shocking discovery of a long kept captive.  Anna tenderly deals with the woman in very heartbreaking scenes, and after the sweet taste of life and the caring hands of Anna touch her for just hours - she is erased from the movie in seconds, and Anna is propelled very deeply into the world she had only heard about from Lucie as a child.

Anna meets a very shocking character named Mademoiselle, now you might say how can and old lady with a head wrap be shocking – well to me her overall look is frightening because you would expect that a person that’s been holding people captive for so many years would be a large 220 pound man with sick perversions…but aha!  That’s never in the cards for Martyrs, and it’s quite refreshing.  There is no rape, no sick perversions, unless you count wanting to find out what lies beyond death a sick perversion.  I loved this idea, it made the Mademoiselle character so compelling and it made the means to the end well…meaningful to the story.  .

Anna, like the rest will be martyred for the sake of this group run by Mademoiselle finding out what lies beyond.   To this point, none of the captives have been able to relay any useful information back to Mademoiselle, but Anna will be different.

What follows is very long, constant, dulling abuse of Anna – but it’s there for a reason.  I felt the anguish, grief, and splintering of Anna from life.  With every scene and every fade to black you get a sense of the time passing, and you actually dull to the torture – like Anna even the viewer comes to except this reality and not be scared of what you’re seeing anymore.  This place in the film is filled with stark violence, but I believe it is not overdone and is perfectly measured out to place you in that room with Anna.

At the end one final blow is relayed to Anna, and it is discovered that she’s entered into the zone of Martyrdom – Mademoiselle is phoned immediately and arrives to hear Anna’s testimony, which is whispered into her ear.

What follows is a gathering of the people involved in Mademoiselles group, you go from being in a very dark dungeon like atmosphere to very excited people arriving at the house to hear Anna’s testimony.  This scene also affected me, people just driving in their cars, living their lives, and arriving at the house where they are about to hear a martyred woman’s testimony – that they funded no doubt. 

As Mademoiselle prepares to tell Anna’s testimony to the group she is slowly removing jewelry, make-up, and her head wrap.  It’s quite scary to see her removing this outer fa├žade, when you think she’d be making herself look nice for such a presentation but to me this represents what is about to happen. To me it was a representation of her now separation from others on the earth.

Mademoiselle is alone in a room, a man speaks to her through the door, asking if the announcement Mademoiselle has - means that Anna saw something and told her, Mademoiselle says that she did, and that it was clear and precise. Mademoiselle asks the man if he could imagine life after death and he says he could not. While Mademoiselle is sitting on the edge of a bathtub, she takes a gun out of her purse. She calls to the man and tells him to “Keep doubting” before shooting herself in the head.

So what does it all mean?  What did Anna deliver and reveal to Mademoiselle?  I know that sometimes when I read and think about God and the afterlife some of the mere glimpses I have into it are to large and immense for my brain to hang on to for even a second.  I trust that what Anna told Mademoiselle was clear, precise, the truth, and much to grand to possess and still pursue human life as she knew it. 

I believe by saying "keep doubting" she was actually giving everyone in her group a chance to live, but Mademoiselle was paralyzed and numb with the info and could no longer exist - as soon as the concepts of what Anna told her entered her brain she was truly erased.  She was letting everyone know that we're not meant to know the truth, she was passing on the proper message to everyone there "keep doubting" - this is the answer, abandon the project.

With our doubts, by our pondering, seeking of answers, isn't this reflective of lives being lead in it's current form? What happens if we know the answers to all of our questions?  Would it blow our mind, like Mademoiselles?

<End Spoilers>

I really did love this movie is was a very emotional experience the whole way through, the music is also quite moving though I do think that is one part where this movie could be improved on to evoke even more response from a viewer.  The movie this totally reminded me of and I'm not sure if anyone else would make the connection, this movie overall reminds of Sunshine by Danny Boyle.  I know, I know, not the same story at all but the overall feel just points me to that film.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Inside (2007)

Director - Alexandre Bustillo
Writers - Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo
Production Company - La Fabrique de Films, BR Films, Canal+

Inside is a movie written and directed by Alexandre Bustillo.  Before watching this movie and after lots of reading many people seem to lump this movie in with Frontiers, HighTension, and Martyrs.  I loved all of those movies but this one just does not fit that mold for me.

Sarah played by Alysson Paradis is a recent victim in a car crash that takes her partners life, she’s left alone and pregnant.  Sarah has pulled away from life some, she’s jaded, she’s sad, she’s angry – despite her great catastrophe I did not feel much for her.  Her character was pretty unlikeable. 

Sarah is preparing for the arrival of her fatherless child in a mere 24 hours when she is targeted in her home by La Femme, played by Beatrice Dalle.  La Famme is after one thing and that’s Sarah’s unborn baby..although if she would have just waiting 48 hours she might have had an easier time simply kidnapping said baby – but anyways, there’s much more to these twos relationship that you find out during the course of the movie.

What follows is a string of events that can only be called “how the hell can characters make such poor decisions and how on earth can this tiny woman beat the living crap out of anyone and everyone in this movie”.  To me the answer was just to show gory footage – which looked great by the way!  But I simply can’t accept such horrific beauty with such idiotic characters making the worst decisions of their lives.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times there was a chance for a character to escape, frankly there’s too many to count.  Screaming often gets on my damn nerves during a horror flick, but Sarah can only mutter some cries – she lives in a damn neighborhood, screams might get attention lady.

The Police in this movie are complete morons. Their personal decisions on dealing with the situation are laughable in a very bad way.

Now there are good things about this movie.  The cinematography is gorgeous – which is why I hate that I was so disappointed in the overall story.  The blood is campy and fabulous, the lighting is just perfect allowing you to see everything in its full glory, and the basic concept/plot is great and easy to work with…or so I thought. 

Inside fails in the details of its characters and script for me, for a movie to be so pleasing to the eyes and with its overall atmosphere it really has to deliver a fast paced well written dialog.  The writing could not live up to the overall look and feel of the film. 

For the overall look I can't possibly rate this lower than a 5, but the script overall is just terrible.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Omnivores (2013)

Director - Oscar Rojo
Writers - Oscar Rojo
Production Company - Brutal Box

The movie opens with a pretty dark twisted scene, but the movie overall is pretty tame and a little bit boring.

It centers around a guy named Marcus Vela, a food critic.  Marcus accepts the job of an outside publisher to write an article on “clandestine” restaurants.  The publisher gets Marcus into his first secret dinner, by allowing him to use an invitation she had received for an event.

At first I thought it strange that any secret organization would allow a publisher or food critic to attend such a function, but these secret dinners start off quite mundane at first so I think it’s just the fact that I knew what was coming which made me think it weird to invite them…I mean who wants their escapades in the paper?

Marcus meets a very unique group of people at this first secret dinner and he manages to hook up with a true insider to this world.  The pair attend many of these secret dinners together.  At one of them he runs into another reporter he had a relationship with, and she puts the idea in his head that there’s secret dinner out there where human flesh is consumed. 

While all this dinner going is happening you also meet who I like to call the “butcher”.  The butcher’s in charge of procuring meat for the most upscale, costly, and clandestine restaurant of them all.  This character had lots of potential, he certainly looked menacing but the movie let me down.  He would just tap people on the head and knock them out for the taking, shoving them into the back of whatever vehicle he was in and looking around to make sure no one saw him. 

Moving on, Marcus talks his lady friend into spilling the beans over the human flesh meals and he scores himself an invite.  From the get-go he cues in his publisher on this, as she need to foot the very expensive bill for the meal…another plot hole if you ask me - wouldn’t the people in charge question the wiring of money?  Like “Hey Marcus, we noticed that this money you transferred over is coming from this publishing house that likes to writes books and stuff “.

Marcus makes his way to the party and is introduced to the host and many of the guests, they try to make him feel nice and cozy since it’s his first time.  Guests are presented with a lovely spread on a table of fine meats and the heads of the victims (because people like to see what they’re about to eat!).  The guest go ahead and start bidding at this point on the selections in front of them, I did not quite get this part??  I figured they already paid so you get what you get, but apparently not…so..

Again during all the down time with Marcus and the other Guests you get a little peak into the back room where all the prepping is going on, there’s really not much gore or torture – It’s quite boring actually.  To me this movie was going to promise some intense scenes with the victims but pretty much all you get are some people hanging from hooks and boobs.  So if you like boobs there are some nice fake ones here for you, might tide you over. 

I feel like the director should have spent more time in the house with Marcus, the Guests, and victims - it could have been made gnarly if some of the victims escaped and the guests where put in limbo and actually had to face the victims, alive – but that’s just my 2 cents. 

The ending wraps in with something you experience towards the beginning of the movie, a sort of twist – and don’t worry if you don’t catch what it is because they will spell it out for you since you we’re probably dosing off at that point..

In the end it’s missing that edge of your seat factor, which is crazy because it’s about these fancy folks who like to pay to eat human flesh – It has so much potential.  I love how in Hostel you have rich people paying to torture people, I feel like Hostel did it right though. Omnivores is just way to tame, the acting not really great, and the butcher couldn't scare a turkey on Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Loved Ones (2009)

Director - Sean Byrne
Writers - Sean Byrne
Production Company - Screen Australia, Omnilab Media, Ambience Entertainment
Fun Fact - This movie was shot in 27 days.

Our movie opens with an accidental car crash by the resident school bad boy Brent.  Let's just say Brent and his dad have a run "in" with an already mangled pedestrian.  What does this have to do with the story, you'll see.

Fast forward to the not so distant future and we meet Brent again after a day in high school.  Situated by his locker chatting it up with his buddy Jaime (who I LOVED in this movie, he's hilarious).  Jaime is on the prowl for a date to the big dance and he finds him self super lucky to get the thumbs up from Mia - a hot little Gothic chick who also happens to be the police chiefs daughter (duh!).  Enter Lola, obviously not the coolest chick.  Lola asks Brent to the dance, he declines - But he declines in a very nice way!  I liked how they didn't make him out to be an asshole cool boy.

Brent meets up with his girlfriend Holly, a sweet girl who obviously has put up with a lot of emotional bologna from Brent since his car accident.  Brent let's on to Holly about being asked to the dance by someone else but it's obvious that Holly's his chick and they decide to go together - even if Brent can't muster the words Holly wants to hear.

In between the set-up of our characters and when the action kicks in you will also get introduced to Brent's mom, and get a feel for why Brent is so emotionally unavailable.  Being emotionally unavailable also means you need to take a good old walk and clear your head - this is where someones crazy dad might come to find you since you turned down his precious daughter to the dance...PUNK!

So while Holly, Jaime, and Mia are all getting ready for the dance and making there way to each others houses poor Brent is about to find out about Lola, and the fact that she's sick of "not feeling pretty enough". There's a really cool song that plays throughout the movie that perfectly suits Lola.

From here the fun really kicks in, sure there's torture - I don't really have to get into that.  No matter how many times you see some things it'll make you squirm.  During this torture you also learn about the sordid past of Lola and her dad and the fact that they've actually been screening lots of chaps over the course of her life.  Daddies got to find his lady a prince.

While all this torture stuff is going on we of course have Holly and Mom making a mad dash to try and find out where Brent has gone - and they suspect the worst.  But I found a great way that the director cuts the torture was to add in some deliciously hilarious scenes of Jaime and Mia going to, and being at the dance.  I love this little addition, did it add to the movie - to me it did.  I like knowing just how great of a time some were having, while Brent's night was the worst thing imaginable - not to mention that little fact that Mia's dad is the Police Chief and at some point she lost a brother...coincidence?

Did I mention there are flesh eating brain dead zombie like people in the basement?

I have to say that this movie was quite fun.  I loved the story, the acting, the subplots.  Is it perfect?  Heck no, is it a little gem?  Yes, Yes it is.