Archives For horror

At this point, it’s no secret that I’m a sucker for horror movies, but this one takes the cake. This is one of the funnest horror movies I’ve ever seen (yes, I might even like it more than Jennifer’s Body, which is a statement I haven’t yet uttered about a horror film until now). Not only was The Cabin in the Woods a celebration of all things horror, it was clever, shocking, and different. It gushed (pun intended?) with originality, a rarity in contemporary horror.

In the era of the postmodern smarty-pants viewer, well versed in genre constructions, we are in the age of meta-horror. It seems that every film since Scream has tried to point out its own constructedness, paying homage to the horror genre and referencing the horror conventions that have come before. The Cabin in the Woods (we’re talking the 2012 version here, of course) forces this agenda to a new level, pushing the purpose, commentary, and conversation of contemporary horror. This isn’t self-referentiality for the sake of street cred– this is self-referentiality that propels itself and the genre to something new, one of the markers of a great work.

And in case you were wondering, yes Joss Whedon is an incredibly talented writer who has grown a lot since Buffy and Angel. Moments of serious horror and gore are undercut with witty and thought-provoking humor that fits into a story that pushes its premise to its limits. I can’t wait to see what this guy does with The Avengers. To all you nervous, Whedon nay-sayers who worried if he’d be able to shine on the silver screen, I just want to give you an inelegant and irritating (but well deserved) “I told ya so.”

I know I haven’t blogged in forever, and this review is less than relevant, since the movie is no longer in theaters, but I feel it is my duty to make this report (and this is the last film I’ve seen in theaters that I’ve been truly impressed by… I’m looking at you, Bridesmaids and Hangover II… okay Thor was pretty good– nobody kill me). I really enjoyed Scream 4 (and I don’t appreciate any pretentious eye-rolling at the suggestion that the third sequel in a horror franchise might have some artistic merit). This film echoed back to the self-aware genre witticisms of the first film, but this one took the meaning of meta to a whole new level, and I laughed out loud at a lot of jokes pointed at itself. This was the smartest horror film I’ve seen since Jennifer’s Body, and I urge you to not be turned off by the “4” in the title. It was well-paced and well-written, and I look forward to seeing it again, which is a rare thing for me to say in the horror genre. I dare say I will purchase the DVD, and I hope others will be motivated to give it a rent.

Okay, so this is a little late coming and it’s kind of a no-brainer (no pun intended) but if you’re not watching The Walking Dead, you’re missing out on the best zombie story ever put to screen. I love zombie movies, but The Walking Dead puts them all to shame (yes, I’m talking to you, Romero). This television experience shows you what a zombie story should be.

Not to get too gushy, but this show continually blows my mind. From the first episode, I was hooked on not only the writing and the story, but the way it’s shot. It’s one of the most cinematic shows I’ve ever seen– pure gorgeousness (amongst all the guts and gore). All along the way, there are brilliant and beautiful decisions made in the framing, juxtaposition, and angles of shots. This is the first zombie story to take itself seriously.

If you’re not particularly gripped by the cinematography, I promise you the story will grab you. It’s packed full of interesting, complex characters, dramatic irony, and writing that gives you a perpetual sense of anxiety– I feel like they will kill off whoever they please, with no respect of persons. Not to mention, the gore is pretty fun.

If you’re not able to catch it Sundays on AMC, watch it online. You’ll be sorry if you don’t. And if you didn’t hear, the show has officially just been renewed for a full 13-episode season next year. Oh yeah!

Before you see this film, the less you know about the plot, the better. I sat down in the theater armed only with the expectation that I would see crazy people, and I walked away from the experience pleased with the structure, pacing, and style in which the film unveiled the plot. So I’m trying to refrain from spoiling anything, in hopes that you’ll see this better-than-expected refreshment.

The Crazies is a remake of George A. Romero’s forgotten 1973 film by the same name. (I’ve never seen the original. In fact, I’d never heard of the original until recently, but George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is one of my most cherished DVDs.) I sensed some of George A. Romero’s playfulness shining through in The Crazies, but for the most part, the film took itself pretty seriously. Sure, this film fulfills a lot of stereotypes (the far-fetched scenarios, some predictable deaths, the hopeless romantics), but it is also much more sophisticated than most films in its genre.

From the very first scene, I was hooked by the storytelling. Not only did the film waste no time establishing tension, but from the beginning the characters were fleshed out and more multi-dimensional than most horror representations. As the plot progressed, the storytelling only became more refined—clean, intelligent, satisfying. When I wished for a character to do something smart, it was like they heard my thoughts and took heed.

Aside from the writing, this film was shot as a masterpiece in tension-building. My favorite scene starts with people talking in a dark room where they have no escape. Pretty typical horror stuff, right? But the scene sets itself apart as something special when the characters start to hear a peculiar noise—an unsettling scratching of metal. Instead of jumping to the action, the scene allowed just the right amount of time for the audience to sit in the dark and hear the metallic noise come closer and closer, finally culminating in something much more disturbing and awesome than I could have imagined while waiting in the dark. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire movie.

With most true-blue horror movies, I don’t recommend them to people unless they’re actually into horror for its own sake. But this film pushes the plot and writing into the realm of “good,” where most horror films fear to tread. So, fear not.

My vote for the most underrated film of 2009 might shock my readers, but please, hold your rotten tomatoes until you actually see Jennifer’s Body. Like most discriminating movie-goers, I felt the film’s ad campaign worked hard to convince me this was your run-of-the-mill sexy teenage horror romp starring Megan Fox. Let me set a few things straight. First of all, contrary to what the previews imply, there are zero scenes with nudity. Yes, Jennifer uses her charms to lure boys into her professionally-manicured grip, but the movie is much more concerned with exploring strong female characters than it is with teasing horny teenage movie-goers. After I saw the film, I wanted to beat up whoever was the film’s director of marketing. Every time I rave about this film, I have to combat the expectations set by its terrible previews.

Written by Diablo Cody (writer of Juno), this film teems with crunchy dialogue that’s funny, surprising, and smart. The writing and cinematography strike a nice balance of paying homage to classic horror films and toying with the expectations of the horror audience. Above and beyond most films in its genre, it has some unexpected plot turns, great pacing, delicious irony, and even a satisfying ending.

Another secret that the previews keep from you is that Amanda Seyfried steals the show. Sure, Megan Fox makes a great high school demon-girl, but the story really follows Seyfried’s character, Needy, and it’s her sharp narration and endearing perspective that pushes this treat into a sophisticated, delectable concoction.

With such empowering female roles, this is not a film targeting puberty-riddled boys. If anything, this is a horror film geared toward women— a rare specimen indeed. Don’t get me wrong, the gents will love it, too. But the characters, humor, and restraint in gore have a slight female-minded slant. Like in Juno, the women are strong, witty, relatable characters in a realistic high school environment. In this case, there just happens to be supernatural forces at play.

Now that I’ve let you in on this gem of a secret, it’s time to find some friends and watch this baby, pronto. You have my personal guarantee that it will surprise you, make you laugh, and leave you with feelings of anger toward certain marketing departments.