Monday, January 27, 2014

We Are What We Are (2013)

Director – Jim Mickle
Writers – Nick Damici, Jorge Michel Grau
Production Company – Belladonna Productions, Memento Films, Uncorked Productions
Stars – Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner
IMDB Page (2013)
IMDB Page (2010)

I saw the original We Are What We Are quite some time ago, but I remember I was decently impressed with the atmosphere and storyline.  I think my only gripe was that it might have been a tad bit boring at times.  Fast forward to this weekend and I finally talked my husband into watching the American version.  I was pretty excited as I heard pretty much all praise for the remake.  I have to admit, I was bored out of my mind.  I get really sad when my husband, who hates horror movies, agrees to watch one and we dislike it.

The movie looked beautiful - it has that in the bag.  But the story is bare, and boring.  In the original there’s a pretty kick-ass ending, in my opinion.  This one offered up something that was just from left field, considering the kids didn’t seem into the family’s tradition in the first place.

It will be difficult for me to fully compare the two, since I’ve got the memory of a goldfish.  In the 2010 version I loved the grittiness, the fumbling of the family to secure their food, and the complicated relationships between the older children.  In the 2013 version you get nice little loving siblings, a nicely kept home, and a very ceremonial and neat aspect of devouring the body – I disliked all of these things.  By everything being so nice, neat, and discreet – It just made it boring to me. 

The endings, I was glad when the 2013 version ended.  I felt like I had watched a 3 hour long movie, and the period flashbacks made me chuckle.  When we finally got to the end I was still waiting to see what impressive tweak or twist would be applied (not that every movie needs one but I was falling asleep here people!!), I was not impressed.  So you’re telling me that the kids are so suddenly ravenous to either hurt dad or continue the tradition they decide to eat him alive - and he just lays there for it?  Not in my book folks!  I much prefer the 2010 ending, if you haven’t seen it…stop reading.

2010 Poster

In the 2010 version you have 2 boys and a girl, teenagers.  The families being chased down by cops (they’re not the smartest but they do find them!).  In tight quarters the police are on their tails, at one point one of the brother’s bites the sister, handing her a nice little heartfelt note in the process.  So the cops end up seeing her as one of the cannibals victims, and she lives to see another day.  The brothers aren’t too lucky, in a very nice poetic way.  I quite liked that ending, not to mention the mother in the flick pays the price from a group of hookers she pissed off earlier…and you cheer for it.  Because the characters in the original are just a little more dirty.

You know, I think I need to re-watch the 2010 version again.  I think I might have been too hard on it the first time I watched it.  Now that I’ve seen the 2013 remake, I think it deserves more praise.

I realize I didn’t quite dig deeply into either film, but I was just really let down on the remake. PS, I  highly enjoyed Mulberry St also by Jim Mickle …and that one has an incredibly cheesy concept – It’s just done right.  This one only gets a 3 because visually it was nice.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Big Bad Wolves (2013)

Director – Aharon Keshales
Writers – Aharon Keshales
Production Company – Lasennac & Associes, Canal+, CNC
Stars – Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, Tzahi Grad

A tablespoon of dark humor mixed with an ounce of unpleasant subject matter = Bid Bad Wolves.  Let me tell you two things, I enjoyed this movie and Tzahi Grad is a bad ass of the most awesome kind - I would watch this movie again just to watch the man play Gidi, the father of a murdered child whom many people in the movie are out to revenge.

The premise is quite simple, it’s the way this movie is written and made that makes it unique and special.  Kids are disappearing, molested and brutalized.  There’s a main suspect but he’s released back into the public after a rogue cop makes some wrong moves.  A man whose daughter was murdered and the rogue cop seek some quality time with the main suspect, beyond the reach of the law.

This man is a bad ass

Light Spoilers (BBW is available VOD right now!)

The movie starts off with a lovely scene of a girl dressed in little red riding hood garb, perfectly tying into the movie’s title – great music and gorgeous cinematography let you know you’re in for a nice little ride.  Can I just say that I just loved how they placed the title of the film on the tin roof of an abandoned home the children are playing in = that looked great…and sometimes it’s the little things that really stand out too me.

From the opening scene you’re quickly introduced to our main characters, Lior Ashkenazi (Miki the cop) and Rotem Keinan (Dror the main suspect).  I already told you that Gidi is a total bad ass but Miki & Dror are both very well acted too, top notch all around.  Side characters such as the real estate agent and Gidi’s dad, who we’re introduced to later, are simply stellar.  I can’t say enough about the acting in this movie.

Hilarious and a bad ass

So once Miki makes his blunder and the Dror is let free, he decides to take matters into his own hands.  Little does he know Gidi (dad of a girl who was murdered) has the same idea. The two meet in a most unique and hilarious fashion, everyone is watching everyone and a little dog pays the price!

Once the two have united you get to go on a very dark yet humorous ride with them as they decide to take on Dror.  Eventually our three main characters are all in a house together, things get crazy as Gidi tries to extract some information from Dror about his daughter.  A few times I was questioning if they had the right person, will he spill the beans, what’s going to go wrong here??? Plenty goes wrong – from the hilarious and awesome introduction of Gidi’s dad, to a very tragic outcome for Miki.

I really enjoyed this movie, through I’ll admit - perhaps so much detail goes into it that it might have felt a bit slow a few times.  Since I loved the characters so much, even watching them bake a cake was fun…and yes they really do bake cake.

Monday, January 13, 2014

In My Skin (2002)

Director – Marina de Van
Writers – Marina de Van
Production Company – Lasennac & Associes, Canal+, CNC
Stars – Marina de Van

Written, directed, and starring Marina De Van, In My Skin is nice little flick that follows a woman named Esther. Esther becomes increasingly obsessed with inspecting and mutilating her body after a very strange accident she has at a party one night.

My crazy notes, it helps my goldfish brain remember things...Spoilers 

I’ve never been to a movie set, nor do I have any reel (get it reel…lol) knowledge of film making.  I do know that I get super impressed if someone directs a movie. I’m crazy impressed if someone writes and directs a movie.  I’m just floored when someone writes, directs, and stars in a film – How on earth!!  That’s damn impressive.

Esther is at a party one night and she’s insanely wounded by a trip she takes while taking a walk.  Esther doesn’t first notice this gaping wound, in fact she only discovers it when she notices blood all over the carpet of the house she’s in.  She eventually has the wound looked at, and as you can imagine the doctors perplexed that she didn’t first notice the wound.  Esther almost seems impressed with herself during the scene, or at least very fascinated.

Esther starts to get urges throughout the film, first glances, then touches, then the actual mutilation.  It’s very terrifying to see something come over someone so strongly that they need to take control back and feel normal by harming themselves – but I guess there’s many off putting things that folks do these days.

The people that surround Esther are her boyfriend, Vincent and her “best friend”, Sandrine.  Vincent is almost always suspicious and concerned with Esther. Sandrine is plagued with jealousy towards Esther as she’s surpassed her ranking at the office.  This plays itself out in one of the most heartbreaking and high intensity scenes.

Jealous and bitter to Esther, but highly aware of what she’s going through.  Sandrine lets some fellow co-workers come severely close to finding out Esther’s secret. Sandrine lounges back and watches as some other people almost expose Esther’s leg to everyone at the work function.  It almost played out like a group egging on a beating, and then one person comes to their senses seeing the absolute panic and terror of the victim.  Her dual personality is almost exposed, I was completely nervous for Esther to be found out, my heart raced.  Marina did a wonderful job with this scene.

Throughout out the rest of the film Marina becomes increasingly fascinated with herself. You find this fascination in shocking and subtle ways.  The subtle is an arm falling asleep and Esther’s fascination with that feeling, it’s almost a turn on at this point.  The shocking is a wonderful little dinner scene where her feelings of being cutoff and unrelatable to the group are represented in a most visual way.

The film does get a little more shocking as time goes on, as Esther gives in more and begins an almost affair with her body.  She becomes highly erotic with herself, almost making love to her own body – but with mutilation and very long gazes where she takes in every inch of herself.

Increasingly her urges are represented visually so that you can understand what’s going on in her mind, when she’s set off. I did find some of the split screen imagery to be distracting during the end of the movie.  Once the split screens are no longer used I was really haunted by some of the shots though.  Esther just fully taking herself in, covered in blood.  It seems like she was really “jiving” with her body.  Maybe she was actually seeing herself – maybe she was at one with herself and her mutilation and the real feeling it was giving her?

I dug this film, mostly.  There was something missing for me, I wasn’t connected to Esther in a large way – except that I was nervous for her to be found out.  I didn’t want her to be shamed – but I also didn’t quite compute what she was trying to accomplish because I’ve guess I always thought about self- mutilation as a way that released pain and I wasn’t completely aware of what pain she was experiencing.  Then again, maybe her pain was her disconnect from her body?  I have no true knowledge of what drives the general population to have this sort of behavior – but it definitely wasn’t this version - and by this version I don't mean I think it's wrong.  I think it's just a very original interpretation both story wise and visually.

I guess I have a lot of questions I would ask the film maker, but maybe she’d rather I draw my own conclusions.

If I take Esther’s story as being hers, and only hers – I liked the movie just fine.  I wasn’t enthralled or deeply moved except for empathy for Esther, but I was definitely interested in this film makers story and direction.  Worth a watch for sure.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Nailbiter (2013)

Director – Patrick Rea
Writers – Patrick Rea, Kendall Sin
Production Company – Ministry Machine Productions, SenoReality Pictures
Stars – Meg Saricks, Erin McGrane

Nailbiter is an independent film made with a low budget. I can’t seem to find how much of a budget, but the Internet never lies so I’m going to go ahead and believe it. So in believing that the Director and all involved had very little to work with as far cash, I can say that I see a lot of promise in Patrick Rea.

Nailbiter has a simple story that blossoms.  A family is forced to hide for safety in a random storm shelter, during horrific storms that are taking place. The family is trapped by debris.  While trying to break free they encounter scary creatures in many forms.

Now that I have that out of the way I have to say this movie has a fantastic premise, but the script and acting were mediocre.  I took some notes during my movie watching.  I’m not the best at reviews so I thought for now on I would share my random notes, and perhaps discuss a few key points.

Spoilers in Notes

I really liked the intro to Nailbiters, you get lots of TV Newscasts and EB messages warning of crazy weather.  The only thing is - with such stern warnings on impending doom, you'd think the family might decide to wait on driving to go pick up their father from the airport.  However with watching horror movies, I've come to realize that sometimes if you accept a few faults it won't damn the rest of the movie for you.

Now the biggest fault in this movie to me was the actual script, not the story, but the dialogue that conveyed the story.  The lines that people utter are just really dry and super conventional, and the acting - well it's hard to say if the acting was really all that bad with what the actresses and actors were working with.  To me most of the performances come off as first time tries.

There's some really cool characters in this movie that I didn't expect.  Let's just say that there's more monsters than you think.  This was the coolest part of the story to me, super original - or maybe I've just not seen enough movies to know if it's a rip off.  This is the part I enjoyed the most.  You go in thinking it's one maybe two pesky creatures, and then the actual story gets really big.  

But again while the story is super cool, and they even manage to make things look really great on a small budget - the dang script and acting go and mess it up.  I think what I'm really trying to convey here is that this movie could be really awesome, but it just wasn't.  I want a re-do, with a re-write of the script!  The worst lines come when the mother actually utters these lines to her scared daughters "We're all going to die here!!". Actually that whole scene is just terrible with a capital T.

I thought the creatures, during their very brief screen time, looked fantastic.  There were some other effects that didn't work out so well - can you said Moonshine bomb?  No, well neither did this movie - very well at least.  

So this whole story ends with quite a bang, let's just say that the whole town joins in at the end. Were even left with an ending that can lead right into Nailbiter 2.  I probably have come off like a seriously disliked this movie, but that's not the truth.  I think this movie has a ton of potential, but hey, it's done and it's made - so that's that.

Don't watch this movie if you can't handle a bad script and questionable acting, do watch this movie for a little breath of fresh air in the story department.  And do watch this movie if you're into low budget flicks with a little heart.

So basically this is what it is - great story with poor execution.  I have to rate it fairly in comparison to other things I've seen.  So I'll give it a 4 with a strong heartbeat, though the overall story I would rate much higher.