Wow, 7 months have passed since I last posted here. As many of you will know, my beautiful daughter Ava was born on Halloween and I’ve had no time for anything really except marvelling and obsessing over her. Now she’s in a sleeping routine, she is letting me watch a few movies here and there. I worked so hard to start this blog and build up a community, and I feel very lucky to have done so. Whilst I hoped the blogging world would just stand still and mourn my absence, I am guessing it continued and thrived and I’m hopeful there is still some kind of audience I can tap into. But we shall see, so I’m here to test the waters and try to entice some people to keep checking this little place out. The caveat is that WordPress and the UK had some ISP issues, and whilst that appears to be fixed, I have lost all the sites and people I followed/was followed by, so please shout out below, drop a like or let me know if you’ve seen anything I’ve reviewed so I can find you and your site again!
My old style of reviewing will have to be revamped, and in a time-saving effort my posts will now be in a new format. I’ll be talking briefly about some movies I’ve seen and posting them all in one big post. A lot to read in one go I admit, but since I probably won’t be posting more than once a week, this way I’ll get more reviews out there, and then have more time to check out all your sites and get back in the game.
Thanks to everyone who emailed/tweeted/facebooked me whilst I was on hiatus, your messages and support was much appreciated. You know who you all are, and I’m hoping this time I’m back for good. Until baby #2. Anyway, enough rambling, and here are my thoughts on a few films I’ve seen in the past few months.
Written by and starring Eli Roth of Hostel fame comes a film I had heard pretty much zero about. Most of the time I find that to be a bad sign but every now and again I get a surprise and this was definitely one of those times. A 4.9 IMDB rating and 24% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes differs massively from how much I liked Aftershock. The story is about a group of travellers in Chile who are in an underground nightclub when a massive earthquake hits. They quickly learn that reaching the surface is just the beginning of their nightmare.
It went to places that shocked and surprised me, and not knowing much more about it definitely worked in my favour, so I’ll give you the same grace. Definitely a bit graphic for some people, but if you like a dark disaster movie, you could do a lot worse than checking this out. It even has a weird cameo from Selena Gomez, yet I still couldn’t hate it.
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)
When a group of friends enjoying a bachelor cruise in the Caribbean stumble upon a research facility on a remote island, a deadly virus is unleashed. The group must find a way to survive before the flesh-eating virus consumes them all.
The third in the Cabin Fever series brings us a prequel and lets us know how the shit hit the fan in the first place. Starring Sam Gamgee himself, Sean Astin is the main draw in this decent enough chapter which brings the gore and some new info on the nasty virus. The highlight would be a girl on girl fight to the death……not for the faint hearted and certainly a memorable scene. The effects here were very good, and whilst far from perfect I enjoyed this entry more than the others in the series. That’s maybe not saying too much but there is enough good stuff here to keep horror fans entertained at the very least. Even if it’s just to see some bloody and gruesome deaths.
The Human Race (2013)
This was a tough movie to write about. I’m still not even sure how I really feel about it and I watched a few weeks ago. It just seemed to me that for everything positive that I liked there was always a negative to trip it up and lower my score. The plot gives us 80 people taken from their everyday lives and thrust into a race, quite literally for their lives. People of all ages, races and abilities are here, trying to stay alive whilst figuring out who or what is doing this to them and why.
The film opens with a really cool and bold move, and that twist alone boosts its score. But then some corny dialogue and poor acting detracts from an otherwise interesting and enjoyable experience. I do recommend it, even though my score may not look that great. I just couldn’t get over some of the annoying aspects I saw, and as soon as I started to get into the mystery of it, and obviously the race, a character would open their mouth and say the most ridiculous thing and all the good work was undone.
Maybe I’m too harsh……I just feel that with a bigger budget and better script this could have been a really good time as the idea was original to say the least. The ending was suitably ambiguous but gave me enough, so that’s a definite positive, yet overall I just found too many negative points that kept grating on me during and even after it all finished.
I Spit On Your Grave (2010)/I Spit On Your Grave 2 (2013)
They are both basically the same movie, so this is a 2-in-1 for you. I’d guess most people have heard of the infamous 1978 version of this film, and how it was banned because of the rape and torture etc. Well, compared to the newest instalments, in the same way the original Evil Dead movies look tame in comparison to the remake, these modern-day Steven R. Monroe directed versions are certainly more shocking and extreme. To say I liked them makes me sound strange, and they aren’t something I’d happily re-watch, but taken in the context of what they are, they actually aren’t bad movies.
Of course, most people will be put off by the horribly realistic humiliation and torture/rape that goes on, but if you can look past that (I know, but bear with me) we get some straight up hardcore revenge movies. Credit where it’s due, no watered down Liam Neeson style revenge action here. Both these films are about one womans journey from being a victim to getting her revenge. Like a cheaper, fucked up Kill Bill imitation with less swords & added rape by dodgy male actors. You’re either interested in this kind of film or you’re not. A little like The Human Centipede or A Serbian Film. Some will watch to see what all the fuss is about, whilst the majority will avoid it. I kind of enjoyed them in the same way I liked Irréversible or those I mentioned in the line above. Plus, part 3 is on its way next year.
The Jungle (2013)
Directed by Andrew Traucki, who gave the world Black Water & The Reef (which I loved and previously reviewed HERE), The Jungle follows a team of conservationists who set out to explore the dense Indonesian rainforest in search of the legendary javan leopard. But the deeper into the jungle they journey, the more nervous the group’s native guides become – local legend has it that a deadly werewolf-like creature roams the dense jungle. Whilst the found-footage genre is definitely wearing thin, sometimes there’s a valid reason why these characters in movies film themselves and luckily in The Jungle it works well.
Obviously if I tell you what they find, there would be no point watching it. I will say I’m glad I watched it, and whilst not as nerve-wracking as being hunted by a great white shark like in The Reef, there were a few scary moments hidden in The Jungle. Creepy atmosphere, great build up just maybe let down by the pay off. It’s definitely not a typical paint by numbers Hollywood style movie where everyone lives and all the questions are answered and spoon fed to the viewer. Lots to think about after the credits roll on this one……….
When checking up on my A-Z I couldn’t believe I hadn’t reviewed the original Korean masterpiece. That’s a bona-fide 10/10 for me, just an incredible piece of cinema. Like any fan of that movie, the remake wasn’t exactly something I was looking forward to. Despite a stellar cast including Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharlto Copley and a personal favourite of mine (Sopranos #1 fan here) Michael Imperioli, the remake just feels so unnecessary and pointless.
For those that don’t know, the plot of this American remake version of Oldboy is as follows: Obsessed with vengeance, a man sets out to find out why he was kidnapped and locked into solitary confinement for 20 years without reason.
Is it a good movie? I mean, yes and no. Obviously it’s not a patch on the original, but then again the story is pretty much identical aside from minor changes (years imprisoned for example) so parts of it are still good. The famous one shot fight scene from the original is repeated by director Spike Lee, albeit with one cut in it and it just fails in comparison. Props to Brolin who gives his all, but for a man locked up for 20 years he doesn’t look a day older. Just seemed a little lazy in the make up department.
I guess it’s a lose-lose situation as a fan of the original. If the remake does what it does here and repeats everything pretty much shot for shot then it looks boring and pointless. If they detour away and do something totally different you can alienate the fans who would go mad you changed something so sacred. I’m sure there’s a way, not all US remakes can be terrible can they? Maybe the planned remake of The Raid will surprise us, but I won’t hold my breath. I’d be intrigued to hear if any of you have seen this and not seen the original, maybe you took more away from this than I did. Once you know the twist the movie can never have the same impact again, so going in fresh with no idea, perhaps this remake would work on a first time viewing.
Wolf Creek 2
In a rare move, I actually enjoyed this movie more than the original (which I reviewed HERE). I’m always dubious of sequels, and when I read that Wolf Creek 2 was all about our bad guy Mick (the amazing John Jarrett) chasing and hunting people through the Australian outback, I worried that all I loved about the first film such as the intimate setting, worrying about people trying to escape, the suspense etc would be replaced by a serial killer out in the open and on a rampage. That’s something that shouldn’t work…….but boy does it work and then some. Credit to Greg Mclean, who returns to write and direct this sequel, for giving us something bigger, badder and better.
Maybe the best thing Wolf Creek 2 has going for it is the interaction between the two leads. John Jarret has created one of the best (and most fun) serial killers on the big screen, and facing off against him is a young man named Ryan Corr who is excellent here, and nothing like your usual victim. Of course there are some unbelievable moments, and maybe one or two of your usual horror clichés, but nothing that detracts from the overall film.
It’s one of the most randomly bat-shit crazy movies I’ve ever seen, and I mean that in a really good way on this occasion. For example, one moment we are treated to something which reminded me of The Hitcher, then there is a messed up Kangaroo windscreen accident, and of course where would a Wolf Creek movie be without some violence and torture. I cannot recommend this highly enough. Mick is back, and I would be there day one to see a Wolf Creek 3.
Would You Rather (2012)
Eurgh. When the best actress on show is a former porn star (Sasha Grey) that should tell you all you need to know. Desperate to help her ailing brother, a young woman unknowingly agrees to compete in a deadly game of “Would You Rather” hosted by a sadistic aristocrat. Sounded quite cool from the synopsis, but I was bored all the way through, and there was literally nothing to redeem it. I always try to find a positive in any film, after all these people have got something made and released which is more than most of us will ever do, yet I’m really struggling here.
Literally the plot is the best thing about it, although even that sounds like a SAW knock-off. On rare occasions, you have to call a spade a spade and say you flat-out just didn’t like a movie. Just wasn’t my cup of tea, and if you have seen it and enjoyed it, I’d love to know why! Yet it has a higher IMDB rating than Aftershock. Wow.