Monday, December 28, 2015

Carrie (2013)





We have yet another remake of Carrie, this time starring Chole Moretz and Julianne Moore. At first, I was in high spirits because both Moore and Moretz are really good actors and putting them together in a movie would be a solid match. I also read that the filmmakers were going to make it more faithful to the novel just like the TV movie but with more better special effects and better acting. Not to mention Kimberly Pierce, best known for Boys Don't Cry, one of her greatest achievement, who seem to be the perfect fit for Director. From my understanding, I thought the movie would have the same psychological tone from the Stephen King novel and the 1976 film. Boy, I was wrong.
It wasn't that I was pissed off or irritated by it. The movie just left me empty. Unsatisfied. There was nothing new or original brought to the table, when it had all the opportunity to do that. This had a lot of potential and great actors to play the main roles but it failed to keep my interest.
Now this is what I'm going to call an EPIC review, not only I'm I going to do comparisons to the 1976 original but also the novel and a little bit of the TV remake as well. So let's get ready folks...
The Story: You guys should know the story already: Teen misfit gets bullied by her classmates, including her mom all the while discovering a special power. She soon uses this special power to her advantage once one of her classmates take a prank too far on prom night unleashing her fury on those who wronged her....
The only actors that did really good performances was, of course, Chole Moretz and Julianne Moore but even they didn't live up to how memorable the performances were in the original.


Chole Moretz as Carrie was...okay. She is a decent actress but the script kind of hinders her acting. It's not a bad performance however it's just not as good as Sissy Spacek's. I would give the filmmakers props for casting an age-appropriate actress to make the character actually feel vulnerable around the environment she's in. Some would complain that Chloe Moretz is too pretty for the role but so was Sissy Spacek. There could've been ways for the filmmakers to make Chloe unflattering. But all they do is give her messy hair and drab clothing. I can clearly see a makeup foundation as well. A little blush here and little blush there.


But the biggest issue I had with Chloe's version of Carrie is her characterization. I know that in the book she is pretty aware of her powers and it's used to good effect. But in this I felt like I was watching a superhero origin story. You see there was a slow buildup to her powers in both the novel and the 1976 original. The filmmakers made the mistake by yet again making Carrie too powerful. Not that it matters but the realism to it is less engaging. The original had a low budget though it worked for it.


However with these effects here, it's too much handle. The scary part of the novel and 1976 film was that Carrie was an emotional timebomb, which triggers her powers and once her emotions get the better of her, it causes chaos. 2013 Carrie seem to use her powers at her own will and is pretty in control of her powers. Again, It's not a bad thing but it doesn't make the story effective.


Once we get to the prom night scene, it was kind of what I expected. But what I'm really trying to focus on is Carrie's reaction. Yes, it shows that in the book she is quite pissed off and kills everybody in murderous glee as she does in this version but she just kills them intentionally with out batting an eye. What I liked in the 1976 version is that Carrie is hurt, humiliated and therefore shocked and angry, all these emotions get this best of her which resulted in the prom scene massacre. In that version is where it worked for me because seeing Carrie with that shell-shocked look with all the mayhem around her is one of the most haunting iconic horror images seen on film. Sadly, this version and the interpretation of that character doesn't capture the same magic.


We have Julianne Moore in yet another remake, this time playing Margret White, Carrie's fanatical, psychotic religious mother. I thought Julianne Moore did an okay job but some part of me kept thinking both the script and how she portrayed Margret reserved somehow. In the book, she is a mentally unhinged heavyset woman who would speak in tongues and self-harm herself. She does indeed self-harm herself but it's done in a much more subtle manner. In the 1976 film, Piper Laurie brings in one of the most chilling performances. It's over-the-top but in good way. Julianne Moore's performance in this movie is nowhere near memorable. Moore does indeed try but she's not scary enough. Not intimidating enough. I think the filmmakers were trying to make her more sympathetic, which completely misses the point.


In the end though, Julianne Moore's performance was just safe. That's all I could say is safe. And when you play such a character, that's not how the way you go.


Gabriella Wilde as Sue Snell was bland. Just so incredibly bland. At least Amy Irving brought personality to the role and made the character likeable. Wilde, however, is nothing more than a walking, talking plastic Barbie doll throughout the rest of the movie. There is a lot depth to the Sue Snell character in the novel where she feels clouded by her morality and her somewhat wholesome, mundane life.


In the 1976 movie, it never really explores the relationship between Sue and Tommy but the movie at least tries do that even though I didn't see any amount of chemistry between the two actors. Another special plot point is Sue's pregnancy. This was scrapped in the 1976 and 2002 adaptation but with this version it never really hints at it and it's just a throwaway line to further enhance Carrie's Psychic powers.


Gabriella Wilde brought  in horribly wooden performance. I mean this girl could barely emote. And I think she was only hired for her looks than her overall talent.



Portia Doubleday as Chris was over-the-top and god-awful. You see Nancy Allen played the character in a way where you love to hate her. In this version, I just plain hate her. In the novel, she was just you're typical mean girl who was nothing more than an entitled, spoiled rich girl who just happen to be influenced by her delinquent boyfriend Billy.


Speaking of Billy, lets focus on the actor for a little bit. Although he's got the bad boy look going for him, I really wasn't impressed by his performance. Again, when it comes to a role where a person suppose to be intimidating and threatening in movie like this, it always turns out lackluster. Even if I liked him in Chronicle, he really didn't put any effort in this movie.


Okay back to Chris. In the 1976, She's still is the spoiled alpha bitch type, though, she's more of the puppeteer in the whole pig's blood plot. In this version, however, it's like the filmmakers are making her out to be this psychopath. They were trying so hard to make her the villain of the piece to the point where this is no realism to the character. For example, in the novel, Chris actually tries to stop Billy from running over Carrie. In this version, she encourages him because she is a straight up sociopath. The filmmakers could've taken a chance to put some humanity to the character. Yeah, sure she's still a horrid, entitled bitch but she actually feels bad about the prom night incident. However, she is reduced to a borderline maniac.


She finally FINALLY gets her comeuppance by getting a rather gruesome death scene. That is completely fine by me.


I'm glad that this version gave Tommy Ross a personality to see how likeable of a guy he is. Better yet the movie actually had the type of guy girls would obsess over. He's tall, gorgeous (of course) and a has an incredible smile. So I have complaint over that. Ansel Elgort is definitely the cat's meow.


Judy Greer was so sadly miscast as Miss Desjardin. She just wasn't believable as the tough but soft-hearted gym teacher. She just came off like the goofy best friend in one of her romantic comedies. A role she's usually good at. Okay for a special note, Miss Desjardin does, in fact, survive in  the novel. She's not quite so lucky in the 1976 film. That was one of the tragic moments of the movie because even though Miss Collins ( her name in the film) was sincere to Carrie, she still gets killed. However in this version, Carrie intentionally saves Miss Desjardin from the carnage. So yeah, Carrie just kill this people out of murderous glee while saving the people that was nice to her. Make sense but it still doesn't make the story effective.
I would give the filmmakers props for bringing in the same screenwriter who wrote the 1976 original but that's also a problem as well. There were scenes that has the same word for word dialogue and the some of it doesn't hold up in this version.


They also brought in Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa as co-writer, who's mostly known for writing comic books. And that's sort of the feel that I got from this film. It felt like I was watching comic book movie instead of a psychological horror movie. Now this leads to the special effects. When I think of a horror movie, I don't think of a big budget spectacle, which is exactly what this movie is. When I go back the 1976 film, I think of the story not the effects. When you adapt a story like Carrie, there has to be build up to those moments.





Now were finally focusing on the Prom Night scene. It was basic copycat of the Dark Phoenix saga and the death scenes were something out of a final destination movie. It was just so cartoony. And although the death of Billy and Chris was handled, most of the time it was a bit of an overkill. Bigger and grander is not always better.


Once I heard the filmmakers were set to remake this, I said to myself, they should get a director with some indie cred and Kimberly Pierce is that type of director. Sure, what does Stephen King and Brian De Palma know about teenage girls?  Kimberly Pierce was the perfect choice, since Boys Don't Cry was great movie with great direction. But I was really disappointed by the lack of vision this movie has. Pierce's direction is just so off. You never get any subtle quiet moments that made the original memorable.


The modern setting is the biggest problem that I had with the film. Okay, there's a part where Chris videotapes Carrie in the shower and uploads on the internet. What an idiot. That she's basically trying to get herself expelled from school. And that's why you can't have a story like this set in modern times. Sure, bullying still goes on tis day and age but it would've been more appropriate to set this in the 70's since both the book and the original movie was set in that era. What they could've done was set the movie in 1979 then go further to present time to interview people that had experiences with Carrie. I say this because the book is that same form where it had experts from books and interviews explaining Carrie's psychosis.





Though this is what totally pissed me off. There were missing scenes that was cut from the movie. Like a whole chunk of them. And the director's cut is probably a different and much better movie than the one we got here. I don't know who's idea to cut these, what I call, important scenes but it was probably studio interference how sad.



In fact, we don't get to see Carrie destroy half of Chamberlin. They have the special effects for that but it was still cut which baffles me because I'm pretty sure I saw the scene in the trailer somewhere.
The strongest part of the novel was how everybody is deeply affected in the aftermath. It was kind of sad and tragic in way. There could've been some potential to put that in this movie.
This leads me to the final problem I have with this film, it had no emotional impact. The 1976 film brought out many emotions from me. I was sad, I was happy, I was scared, and I was sad again to the point where there were tears in my eyes. That's how wonderful the original is. This version just ends with a hint of a sequel that we didn't ask for. I just felt nothing about this movie. It was empty and shallow and nowhere near as gut-wrenching or tragic as the original.
The Verdict? Always always always watch the original. It's an all time classic and one of the best horror movies of it's time. This version, however, is nothing more than a stale imitation. They have a good actress to play the part but it doesn't really save the movie from being bland. It's not as investing and it doesn't hook you in, it's just a run-of-the-mill, generic horror remake.
My Last Word: Like I said, go watch the original, far much better film.






























 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Movie Review: Evil Dead (2013)




Wow, I was definitely surprised how good this film turned out. I'm not calling it the holy grail or anything, I just thought it was much better than most horror movie remakes these days and that's saying something. But to be honest, it felt like more of a sequel than an all-out re-do of the Evil Dead series. There is more to it though: like character development, more mystery behind the deadites, and scenes that are just as intense and bloody as the original.
The Story: Two friends decide to help drug addict Mia by sending her out on a cabin the woods, instead of rehab, fighting her addiction. Along with Mia's estranged brother David and his girlfriend, the group soon experiences strange supernatural occurrences that seem to grow rapidly. Unfortunately for the group, there seems to be an evil entity grasping their inner souls and preventing them from leaving the woods for good.....


What I really liked about this movie is that the characters are not idiotic assholes and they just don't go in the cabin in the woods to party and have fun. What they're trying to do is to help a friend beat her  drug addiction. In a sense, that makes the characters more grounded and mature. The acting was also top-notch, the strongest one of the cast being Jane Levy.


Jane Levy plays Mia, a trouble young heroin addict, trying to cope with her mother's death and also trying to reconnect with her estranged brother, David.



She is the equivalent of Cheryl in the original but as it turns out (spoiler alert! Guys please watch this movie so I won't spoil it for you), she becomes a female Ash, chainsaw hand and all. One of the changes that was made with this is the sibling relationship with Ash and Cheryl i.e. David and Mia. You never really a see that caring sibling relationship with these two characters in the original, it almost seems as if Ash was annoyed by Cheryl, including his friends. In this you actually see how distant they are from each other at first but soon grow to love and protect each other once all hell breaks loose. That's one of the strongest aspects that I like from this version and adds much more to the story.


I have to say Mia is a badass! Here's a woman who's overcoming family heartaches, drug addiction, and even demonic possession, coming out on top either way. She is definitely a character to root for, cause when she triumphs, it's pretty much epic. Even a rain of blood falls on this girl to reward her success.



Jane Levy is just awesome in this. If anybody could win an Oscar for best horror performance, she would be it. Even Bruce Campbell would approve.


The hot and sexy Shiloh Fernandez plays Mia's brother David, the equivalent to Ash. He's come to make amends with his friends including his sister when he left everybody behind to leave for Chicago. Which contrast to him tying in vain to save everybody. You would think he turn out to be this pseudo-Ash type be he eventually passes the torch to Mia when sacrifices himself to stop the evil entity. Like I said, the brother-sister relationship is actually genuine and makes the character of David much more noble. Shiloh Fernandez pulls off an intense performance and is very, very, sexy to boot.


Then we have Lou Pucci Taylor as Scott, the typical snarky, opinionated hipster who is not too happy to see his former friend David, tagging along.


He is the one who uncovers the necronomicon. Even though it says do not read book with barb wire covered on it, he takes a look anyway. This doesn't make his character dumb, just curious. It's just like when your parents tell you to not see an R-rated movie but you do anyway if that makes sense. Once shit hits the fan, Scotty gets put into the ringer really BAD! I mean this guy literally takes a beating and soon enough succumbs to his wounds. Scotty was a bit more tolerable in this than in the original. The Scotty in this version is not entirely likeable but the movie does make you feel sorry for him once bad stuff happens to him. Scott in the original, however, was an obnoxious, self-righteous,  annoying, whiny, insufferable jerkass. But I'll leave that for another review.



There really wasn't much to the character of Shelly other than being the typical hysterical woman. So Olivia played by Jessica Lucas, who's the responsible leader type who tries unquestionable methods to help a friend. Like taking Mia out in the middle of the nowhere woods to overcome her drug addiction instead of rehab. Keep in mind that Olivia is only a nurse and not a licensed doctor.There times where she can be controlling and in spite of herself to the where I think that's her only character trait. Even though I don't care for her acting, Jessica Lucas did do a good enough performance for what she is given.


Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie was "meh". She's the equivalent of Linda, who wasn't much of a character either. She is David's girlfriend and that's pretty much all I have to say about her. She's blond, She's pretty, She's nice, She's bland. The actress's performance was average at best, not putting much to the role.






Woah doggy! The blood and gore is just as insane as it was in the original. At first, I was expecting CGI blood since horror filmmakers are too lazy to use real fake blood but I was pleasantly surprised. The blood and gore scenes are quite cringeworthy and effective, making you squirm with delight.



The makeup on the deadites were kind of cool and inventive, giving them grayish skin and golden demonic eyes to have the menacing factor up high along their animalistic nature.




Of course with the directing, there is CGI in this but it's not overwhelming or distracting and in some scenes it actually works like the Re-do of the tree attack scene.
There was actually effort put into this cause you can tell the director was fan of the series, putting his love and passion into it. Heck, Sam Rami and Bruce Campbell were the producers. Maybe Platinum Dunes could learn or thing or two. Although it's not the best of the series, I did enjoy the movie for what it is. Double double points for the badass final girl. Mia is definitely on my list. Overall, awesome remake.
The Verdict? both films are great with incredible special effects, good story, and definitely good directing.
My Last Word: Yes! Watch It!







 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Movie Review: Silent Night (2012)




Just in time for the holidays! We have yet another holiday slasher remake starring the one and only Jamie King. This time it's the loose remake of the 1984 slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night. Here's a little backstory on the original: It caused a huge controversy for featuring a killer Santa Claus. I laugh at the fact that no matter how much sex and violence we saw on TV back then, the parents would rather waste their time on a slasher about a Killer Santa. By the way, Its a horror movie TRAILER featuring a GUY dressed up as Santa Claus. That wouldn't make him actually Santa Claus, right? Anywho, the movie became a cult classic with most notably having a hot male lead. The final results are mediocre at best. It's an above average slasher with some interesting elements. It actually takes the time of developing the villain instead the victims. The rest of the movie, though, becomes a typical by-the-numbers slasher with the main villain going on a killing spree and the film just fades into obscurity from there.
So twenty-eight years later, Silent Night, which is a movie of it's own instead of an all and out remake. The only connection to the original movies (Yes, I said movies, not very good movies by the way) is references like the garbage day joke and a certain death scene involving antlers. My thoughts about this movie seems to be mixed. If it had the chance to take itself less seriously, I would've enjoyed it more. Don't get me wrong, it is watchable enough movie but half of the time I felt, well, bored. It's just as tedious as the original having a deranged Santa Claus going a killing spree. There is a story here somewhere but everything just falls flat by the end of the movie.
The Story: A deranged man dressed in a Santa costume wreaks havoc on a small town. It's up to Sheriff Cooper and Deputy Bradimore to stop his rampage just before completing his naughty list.
The cast really didn't grow on me. Jamie King was as good as always but her character came off bland to me. But then there's Malcolm McDowell and Donal Louge who pretty much stole the show with their over-the-top performances. The rest of the cast are, unfortunately, a bunch of miserable, selfish jerks who meet their maker. And there not much to go from there.


I like Jamie King as an actress and I thinks she deserve much better than this script because I really wasn't invested in her character of Aubrey Bradimore. I guess she supposed to be the audience surrogate, seeing how crappy her hometown has been, becoming one of the few sane people but it doesn't develop her character in anyway. The thing with her backstory is that her husband was killed in a line of duty and is still affected by it/


There's also a twist as well. Her father was the one who shot the killer's dad while he went crazy one night, blowtorching guests at a Christmas party. This all happens in front of the killer as a little boy, no less, which is the catalyst for his rampage.


Other than that, the character is a total bore. Yes, I said it, she is quite boring and interesting for the majority of the movie. She does have some moments of badassery but that doesn't happen until the end. She just a stick in the mud basically but at least Jamie King is a good enough actress to carry the role through, so no problems there.


Malcolm McDowell as Sheriff Cooper was a riot. Although he usually good at playing villainous roles, Malcolm McDowell is a versatile actor like his noble good guy role in Time After Time but he fits right at home playing a grumpy old asshole like in this movie. We never know if Sheriff Cooper is a truly competent, the film doesn't take the time to show that but what we do know of him is that he is a bitter, snarky man, who pretty much hates some of the people in his small town and rightfully so, though I'll get to that later. You would think that he would be a total badass in an all-out battle with the serial killer but no he is easily overpowered and receives the sharp end of the candy cane.


Donal Louge was equally hilarious as the resident town drunk. What could be just a small role is turned into a character of it's own. Donal Louge chews each scenery that he's in, including giving out this overly long monologue about how much he hates Christmas.
The rest of the movie might drag on most of the time, but Malcolm McDowell and Donal Louge carry it through with their hilariously crude performances.
The so-called "victims" include a guy who had an affair with a married woman, a predatory priest, a bratty twelve year old girl, the typical horny teen couple with the guy stealing his grandpa's money to spend time with girlfriend, a drug dealer, and a self-absorbed wanna-be model and her sleazy photographer. So yeah, these are not pleasant characters and I think that's the point of the film, seeing how these miserable degenerates spend Christmas only to see their comeuppance by the killer Santa Claus.


Speaking of Killer Santa, he had a cool look to him. Now I know the whole slasher movie Santa costume is not original but it's the aesthetic of the costume that I like.


The darkened eyes on the mask gives out a menacing look and the tall, imposing stature of the actor gives him an intimidating edge. And since he is based on real life serial killer Jeffery Pardo, he gets a blowtorch as his signature horror weapon. The killer's backstory is probably the most interesting thing about this movie because it's, of course, ripped from the headlines. But I wish the filmmakers went deep into this keep my interest.






The deaths scenes are extremely gory and over-the-top, to the point of being a bit cartoony but again, I think that's the gist of the film, given how obnoxious the characters are you would expect them to receive such deaths.


Let me get this off my chest, though, we have yet another scene of a naked woman being chased by a serial killer with close-ups of her derriere. Do guys have some sick fetish of this, I just don't understand. I really don't see why it's tantalizing to see a woman terrorized in the nude.


Not to mention getting a incredibly horrible death. Again, it puts a bad taste in my mouth.
I can't say if there was any suspenseful scenes but the climax, I thought, was handled well. At least, I'll give the film more credit for that.

I guess the directing was alright. You do have an occasional shaky cam, disoriented edit shots, and darkened areas where you don't see anything but for the most part it's okay. The director really isn't all that great. He had a certain potential but it never branches out. From what I know, his other films are not exactly high quality, so I think a more experienced professional director would've handled the movie much better. You just don't get the vibrant visual of Christmas with this directing.
the final case in this is that it's a mixed bag. Sure, the 1984 film needed a remake, however, there could've been ways to show this dark tale of the serial killer becoming who he is in a better way instead of some Joe Schmoe killing a bunch of randys on a Christmas holiday.
The Verdict? Both films seem to be forgettable and mediocre, not telling a proper story for me to be invested in. Both films seem to have enough potential but fail becoming typical by-the-numbers slasher films. So my thoughts end there.
My last word: It's a watchable enough film but in the end, it's not going to be highly remembered.