This is rather later than usual. I have been writing a little less to recover from the epic CIFF 2014 effort and currently have a sprained joint in my back, which is never fun. That has left me lying on the floor, unable to sit to write or head to the cinema for an entire week now. Anyways that also meant writing this in short little spurts over a few days. A mixed, fittingly horror-centric bag for October. Share your thoughts on all of these in the comments below.
- The Good Wife Season 1 (2009), Robert & Michelle King – It’s a shame how novel a show with a true female protagonist is. Julianna Marguiles is great as the woman re-entering the workplace after 15 years. The show is immediately concerned with gender roles and sexism. Along with the courtroom scenes it has a cool whodunit vibe to go along with it and successfully weaves in a broader conspiracy subplot. Even though it can be a touch melodramatic, the script writing is good throughout.
- See No Evil (2006), Gregory Dark – Everything about this film – marketing, DVD menus, religious overtones, the fact it stars a professional wrestler in character – screams that it is a real throwback. And it is basically the best 1980s Elm Street sequel made this millennium. The set-up is classic – juvenile delinquents are sent to clean up a creepy abandoned hotel overnight on some sort of day release program. Of course nothing could possibly go wrong there. There are some nice touches, the camera is used well to create movement and it is never totally clear who the ‘main’ and therefore final to die character is, which makes for some surprising kills. Highly recommended for classic slasher fans.
- The Good Wife Season 2 (2010), Robert & Michelle King – There are concerns early that this season is going to be overly contrived. A new partner brings with him a new investigator and the battle between him and the firm’s Kalinda is a distraction the whole way through. But it picks up after a slow start. Cary being all of a sudden in the public defenders office makes for a fresh dynamic. And it also deals with big issues quite well, the tense race against the clock death penalty ep is a highlight and cuts to the heart of that issue. The show really benefits from spot-on casting, both amongst the regulars and guest stars.
- Crawlspace (2012), Justin Dix – The director has a pedigree in design and effects work, making it unsurprising that the ‘look’ of this is its strongest aspect. It’s smart enough not to overuse the cool looking gimmick shots. The big scares don’t always land, but the film creates a decent enough sense of tension, with the fast moving combatants and sound design lending a kinetic energy. All this helps to overcome a slight story and dialogue which occasionally clunks.
Not Worth Watching:
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Jonathan Liebesman – This is even worse than I imagined a Michael Bay driven turtles film would be. It looks surprisingly cheap and is shot with bullshit angles and shaky cam stuff. Everything is wrong and even worse, nothing is true to the spirit of the turtles and the film dispenses with so much of the mythology. It’s unnecessarily violent and the voices off the turtles are so off. They look garbage too. Worst of all is the objectification of Megan Fox which is just constant and atrocious. We need to put a stop to that shit, in all films but especially those targeted at young people.
- A Lonely Place to Die (2011), Julian Gilbey – Begins with an awesome sense of place in the Scottish Highlands. But following that, the film offers next to nothing. Melissa George turns in a terrible performance and accent. The characters are uninteresting and there is no build-up in terms of atmosphere. It doesn’t look good either, with weird and ill-advised use of slow-mo. It’s a horror film with no sense of build or tension. Such an uninteresting film.
- Annabelle (2014), John R. Leonetti – This is a good example of how a horror film can be utterly terrifying, but still pretty awful. Weirdly (stupidly), the film does not focus on the freakyarse doll that much. The bloated narrative simply feels derivative of a bunch of better Wan and co. movies. All the non-doll centric plot points, which make up most of the movie, are totally standard and unengaging.
- Dracula Untold (2014), Gary Shore – Somewhat refreshing to see an origin story rather than the 4 billionth Stoker adaptation. But the first two thirds of this are terrible. By the numbers character building, lightweight narrative, garbage dialogue and it looks damn ugly too. That last one can mainly be attributed to its reliance on mid-90s standard CGI. Absurdly out of nowhere, the final third becomes a cracking origin story payoff. Just wish there was more of that brilliance in the rest of the film.
If you only have time to watch one The Good Wife Season 1
Avoid at all costs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles