Thursday, December 3, 2015

Movie Review: I Spit On Your Grave (2010)

I wasn't surprised  that this was going to be remade. Some people wasn't fans of the original, including the late great Roger Ebert. Considering that it's an exploitation film, that's an understatement. But the thing about the original is that it had a gritty realism to it. What I like about was how it had no soundtrack or suspenseful music just to set the tone. And once horrible things start happening, it is as if you're watching a snuff film. Seeing the excruciating rape scene from almost a 30 minute running time is brutal and disturbing and it's kind of psychological how we see the main character's torment, anger and vengeance. Though by the end I didn't get how she would seduce the men and kill them one by one but since they're dimwitted, unsympathetic hillbillies, I'll let it pass. I don't know if I could call this movie a cult classic. Or even calling a feminist film is a bit of stretch. However, it is an interesting film study on the subject of rape and how it affects a person.
So then I wonder what would be different with this remake? Well, there's one thing. Instead of Jennifer seducing the men, why not take the torture porn route? Yes, this movie is, in fact, a torture porn. How. Fucking. Dated. It doesn't ruin the movie but it is far from realistic and it ends up being mediocre. As much as I want to point out the flaws in this remake, it is a vast improvement over the original. But still doesn't leave much of an impression.
The Story: Jennifer Hills, a young woman from the city, decides to go off to the country to work on her novel. But a bunch of out of control, deranged yokels try to break off her summer bliss. Terrorizing her, Raping her, and eventually killing her. But unbeknownst to them, Jennifer survived her ordeal and she's back for blood....

The acting was significantly better than the original.  I thought some of the male actors brought in certain menace into their roles but also express a sense of weakness to show pathetic these characters are. I wish the filmmakers would have a psychological method to their madness. A little character development would hurt. Even Jennifer Hills herself doesn't get any character development. Not major development but things that make the characters more human. Maybe that's one of the flaws of this remake.

Sarah Butler as Jennifer was...alright. She's not the best actress but she does an okay performance. It's just when the script give her these really bad one liners, it felt forced.

As for the character of Jennifer, we never really get to know her. There really wasn't much development on Jennifer in the original but the remake could've taken advantage of that. Like at least of how Jennifer was intelligent enough to set up those traps for her captives. Before the events of the movie, you just sort of see her lounging around, smoking pot, and procrastinating over her novel.

Sure, she is sympathetic once the traumatic ordeal happens but we never really get KNOW her and that's what's missing.
Now let's focus on the villains of this piece:

First we have gas station attendant Johnny, who's something of a Casanova wannabe but is ultimately not successful with the ladies. It's implied that a woman from the past bruised his ego, which is why he has such contempt/fascination with beautiful women. When I first known about Jeff Branson, I seriously didn't know he was daytime soap actor, so I saw really convincing his performance was.

Matthew is the weakest and far more vulnerable than the other men, being constantly bullied by them and is under their toxic influence. We never really know why Matthew is friends with these people but it would make sense to have one of the guys be a family member of some sorts. He is the one that is truly affected by what happened, usually seeing visions of a supposedly dead Jennifer. I thought it was quite effective of what he did really destroyed his state of mind. Chad Lindberg put in a pretty good performance once you do feel sympathy for Matthew, it turns on your head once he is just as brutal as his barbaric friends, choking Jennifer while raping her. And then you see why Jennifer gets him first.

Stanley is the fat slob of the group, who has a habit of committing voyeurism. That's his character in a nutshell, he is a camera fiend. Being the bumbling idiot that he is, he videotapes the whole incident which gets the men in a tight pickle. It's quite jarring to see Daniel Franzese, who was best known for Mean Girls, to see him in a gritty role like this but I wouldn't mind seeing what other versatile roles he would take in the future.

Then there's Andy, the more playful and most immature of the group. He's played by the very handsome Rodney Eastman, who I adored in Nightmare 3 and 4 but is quite unsympathetic in this movie, which for his benefit worked.

Finally, we have a new character in the mix. You remember when the ad for the 1978 film said Jennifer killed FIVE men when the actual film there was only four? Well, the remake at least corrected that mistake. The fifth guy in question is a sheriff but, then again, they should've made him a tad bit younger and wrote him in as the deputy. Anywho, if he was the town sheriff, this must be the smallest police station there is because there should be other policemen around. Beside the point, the sheriff is a family man with a pregnant wife and daughter, as it shown him talking to his daughter while the other men frequently terrorize Jennifer. it's like the movie is making it obvious for us. They never really explore why he does the things he do, even resorting to murdering one of his friends just to keep his dark secret. We never really see him mistreat his wife or kid in anyway. He's the perfect husband and father.

But then the movie never really tells us why one day he would decide to just rape and kill someone. It's a really big plot hole.

The actor did a good enough job but I wish they cast somebody more menacing, more intimidating. I just wasn't all the way impressed.

I would think the directing is okay. I do like how the movie sets in the mood, having this dreary, depressing feel with most of the shots with washed with gray. I know that's pretty generic in certain horror films though it does fit in right with the movie's tone. Though there were times where I felt like I was watching an hour long trailer.

The deaths in this movie are WAY more gory and brutal than the original, I'll give it that. Jennifer really put the ringer through these guys. She is a woman you don't want to mess with and even though I'm not a big torture porn fan, I did like the traps Jennifer set up for her victims. There is one objectification though, and that's Stanley's death with the cartoonish CGI crows. Again people, CGI is NOT effective or scary in away, shape or form in a horror movie. The script is a little 'meh.' Like I said it need more a psychological impact and more character development to make the characters seem real in some way.
Overall, I thought this was a good enough remake compared to the original but it's still not memorable and it's just a mediocre revenge film.
The Verdict? Both movies seem to stand on solid ground. They're not perfect movies, not great by any means but the 70's version could be looked at as a film study and the remake could looked at as a standard revenge horror film.
My Last Word: It could be worth a watch, but still nothing to be remembered by.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Movie Review: Mother's Day

Just in time for Thanksgiving. Well, the movie's not entirely based on Thanksgiving but you get the gist. Mother's Day, directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who's best known for the Saw Sequels and Repo: The Genetic Opera, is a remake of the 1980 cult classic Troma film. There's one thing I would say about the original, is how the tone is all over the place. You don't know whether you're watching a comedy or straight up horror movie. The first half is just some campy, silly road trip farce about three female friends and the second half becomes some rape-revenge thriller with some truly disturbing scenes. It's really jarring. It's a hard film to recommend but I say watch just because of how weird and offbeat it is. It's also hard to say this version is darker and edgier since the original was already in it's darker territories. Unlike most of these reviews, there's not going to be too much comparisons because it's a completely different movie. It's more of a psychological crime thriller than your usual horror film. And most of the "horror" that goes on is basically torture porn which have been fused out ages ago. Enough with the goddamn torture porn! But since the director is know for the Saw sequels, he said "why not?" Besides all that the acting was good, the directing was okay, though however, the weakest point of the movie is the writing. It would've help if the protagonists made more smarter decisions. It's like seven of them and five of the antagonists. But we would've had a much shorter movie. All in all, it's just forgettable. You can see why it had such a hard time getting distributed because the film is just a waste of time, it goes at a very slow place when it shouldn't be. And it's also quite frustrating to watch because of how dumb the characters are. It's not a horrible movie, but it's not great either.
The Story: On the run from the cops, A female fugitive and her criminal son are finding a hideout spot after a bank robbery gone wrong with one son wounded. Once they stop at their former home, they soon find the house owned by a married couple, having a birthday party with their friends. The criminals take this to their advantage and holds the group hostage, driving them deeper and deeper into their web of terror.

The cast was actually good. We have remake regulars like Jamie King from My Bloody Valentine, Briana Evigan and Matt O'Leary from Sorority Row, and Kandyse McClure from the awful remakes of Stephen King's Adaptations of Carrie and Children Of The Corn. Although the actors were great, What really bugged me was how incredibly stupid the characters were. Every little chance they had from escaping the villains and they screw up big time. BIG TIME. I never been so frustrated with a movie, I mean good god! So I'm going to explain this further in the review.

Rebecca De Mornay gives a chilling performance as "Mother." Just imagine her character from The Hands That Rocks The Cradle with three grown psychotic sons. It's pretty much like that.

Every line she delivers is lace with cold calculation. It's sends a chill down your spine and I appreciate that. Mother is rather complex villain is that although she does the most heinous of things, she still deeply cares for her children and is willing to do anything to harbor their needs. Which, yes, makes her really creepy.
Then we have the sons:

Ike is the older brother who takes charge of things. I mostly would say that the main characters are dumb but Ike would be equally dumb.

While forcing one of the hostages, Beth, to get money out of an ATM, they run into these two party girls (A.J. Cook and Alexa Vega in throwaway roles). Then out of nowhere, Ike forces them to play and choose and pick game, which results to them stabbing each other and I'm like what? Isn't he supposed to focus on the plan at hand? Why is he wasting his time with these girls? And I think Beth had the perfect opportunity to escape, but no, she just stands there like an idiot. It's just one of those moments that really frustrates me with this movie. But that's not even the thick of it.

Addley, is the hothead middle brother, who does most of the torture and usually puts his frustrations out on the hostages. He is definitely the most destructive and is considered the muscle of the three men.

Johnny is the youngest of the three brothers, who usually spends the rest of the movie, laying on a couch, screaming in pain. But then there's this one weird scene where Mother forces one of the hostages to deflower him. With a gaping wound, no less. It just comes out of nowhere and is unnecessary.

Deborah Ann Woll, best known from True Blood and the new Netflix series Daredevil, did a good job as the reluctant younger sibling who may or may not have been kidnapped as a infant. Deborah Ann Woll gave a really intense vulnerable performance and is a much better actress than people perceive.

We have Jamie King in another remake again, though I would say this is much better than her last one.

She plays Beth, the jilted wife of the very idiotic Daniel. I'll talk about him later. Overall, Jamie King did a pretty good performance and is equally as strong as Rebecca De Mornany. And when these two go toe to toe, it's awesome.

Now let's get to Beth's husband Daniel, and oh boy, what a jackass! Okay, not only does he cheat on his wife with one of his colleagues but he ruins the chances of his friends escaping.  Just as Kandyse McClure's character makes a run for it, he CHASES her down. Just as she's close to getting safety, he grabs her and takes her back, just to save his own ass. It just shows how selfish the character is. I seriously wanted to see guy get the shit beat out of him and thankfully by the middle of the movie he does.

Kandyse McClure's character is probably the only one with any common sense, which ultimately saves her in the end. To be sure, Kandyse McClure is a good actress, it just depends on what material she works with.

Briana Evigan did a good enough job, I guess. There really wasn't much of her to be honest other than playing the sexy bad girl type.

 I would say this though, her character puts up one hell of a fight. However, there was something that bother me about the character:

And that's her boyfriend. At first, I thought it was her dad (because he looks old enough to be her dad) but then once I saw her grinding up on him, I realized it was her boyfriend. Eww! Don't get me wrong, I do like older men, But this guy seems like a total sleazeball, it wouldn't hurt to cast a more attractive older guy.

Then lastly, we have Shawn Ashmore, who plays a doctor...That's his character. Besides the fact that his girlfriend gets shot by one of the criminals and is miraculously saved at a hospital, he's mostly there to tend to the wounded Johnny and tries his best to convince Lydia to help the others. I actually do like the scenes between him and Deborah Ann Woll. They have an intense chemistry that pulls through the more quiet scenes of the movie.

The suspense is thoroughly on a high level but only chunk of the scene is gratuitous torture porn, when it really shouldn't be. Sure, maybe some high intense interrogational scenes would work but the tension is lost once it goes into a typical gorefest. Not to mention the fact that the characters can easily fight off these people. Since Darren Lynn Bousman is known for the Saw films, he makes it quite obvious. What makes it even more obvious is that the writer named the family "Koffin." Get it? Ugh. Making more of a crime caper thriller in the vein of movies like Bloody Mama would work. Less of a horror movie with over the top gore and more of a home invasion thriller like, say, Panic Room.
The Verdict? I'm not totally sure if there is a verdict. Although this movie is okay, it's just forgettable. It has some well done scenes but there's too many stupid moments from the characters, it becomes tedious at the end. And I don't know about the Troma film version, it's pretty out there and it's hard for me to recommend.
My Last Word: It's watchable, but not worth your time.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Movie Review: A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

Oh Platinum Dunes you foiled me again, just when you ruined Friday The 13th, you decided to ruin A Nightmare On Elm Street, turning into a generic piece of crap. Now I would say the original does have some flaws, it's not a perfect movie, however, it pretty much reignited the slasher genre and is declared an 80's horror classic. So how in the world can Platinum Dunes ruin this one? Here's a little backstory for ya. Director Samuel Bayer didn't even want to do this movie, I'm not sure if he's even a fan of the series. But dear o'l Michael Bay persisted, promising him that he'll make big bucks if he do this movie. Do I also need to mention that Samuel Bayer is music video director. I don't think his kind of visuals translate well into horror. Cause let me tell you, the movie feels like a full-length music video. This is nothing more than a CGI-infested, awfully-written borefest. I literally couldn't keep my eyes open at the movie theater. Yes, I saw this piece of shit at an actual theater because I didn't have anything else better to do. How can you take such an original, inventive horror movie and turn into a run-of-the-mill, generic, terribly directed mess. The cast was bland, the aesthetic was bland, hell even Freddy was bland. I mean I could go on and on.
To courtesy of Platinum Dunes, they just produced another shitty horror remake.
The Story: You know the drill. Teens have dreams about mysterious man. Teens investigate about the mysterious man. Mysterious man kills them one by one in their dreams. Badda Bing, Badda Boom.

The cast and acting is wooden and mediocre at best. There really wasn't much thought or character development put into the characters to make them relatable or likeable. I felt like most of the time, I was watching a lost pilot from a terrible CW show because of how beautiful the cast looked. Seriously, they looked like they got picked off from the fashion runway. And that's the problem with Michael Bay and Company, they're so concerned about how attractive the cast are without focusing on the talent. But the thing about the original films is that they actually look like teenagers. With this, I can honestly tell that the actors are in their early to mid twenties. But the worst crime that Platinum Dunes did with the remake is that the cast of characters aren't even friends in this version. That was the important part of the Nightmare series is that the teens are able to trust and confide in each other to beat Freddy, There was always that sort of connection of why we care about them. Since there is no connection, all is lost and we don't give a crap whether they live or die.

We have Katie Cassidy being in yet another crappy horror remake. Having three crappy remakes in a row is not good on anybody's resume. She plays Kris, which is pretty much a combination of Tina in the first nightmare movie and Kristen from part 3 and 4. If you have been living under rock lately you would know she would be the first to die. Well, not exactly the first.

Just to squeeze this in here, we have her boyfriend Dean in the opening scene played by the oh-so sexy Kellan Lutz.

He's pretty much written to be killed off. Just to add in some trivia, Platinum Dunes was literally trying to find male models to play the role of Dean. Wow. You see how dumb this film studio is?

Okay back to Kris, there really isn't much more to her other than being petrified or scared while looking pretty for the camera. I mean this girl has no personality at all, not even special little quirks to make her likeable. No NOTHING. She's just a blank piece of wood.

Speaking of blank piece of wood, we have Rooney Mara as Nancy. Good god, what a lousy performance! Don't get me wrong, I do like Rooney Mara, she' alright actress. I mean she did good with The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but she still has a long way to go. Rooney Mara does regret being in this movie which why she gives such a bad performance. I mean it seems as though she is literally falling asleep through her lines.

But the main focus is on Nancy, who is a combination of the original Nancy in the first film and Alice from part 4 and 5. Just to say, She is so BORING! She is so fucking boring! How can you make a main character so bland? I mean it's one thing to have the Tina equivalent to be wooden as hell but Nancy of all people? Come on! There could've been chances to make her more badass than she was in the original. Sadly though, no, she is nothing more than a lifeless, boring, lazily-written character. Period.

Kyle Gallner as Quentin at least tried. And I'll give him points for trying, given that he's a much more better actor than this shitty movie gives him credit for. Quentin is....there, most of the time. To be honest, there's nothing really to dwell over. There could've been some character development but he is simply defined by being Nancy's love interest.

The very handsome Thomas Dekker as Jesse is the Rob Lane Equivalent. The bad boy with a soft side who still have feelings for his ex Kris. You see why I compare this to the CW? The conflict with people is something out of a clich├ęd teen drama. But here's one thing that bugs me about him. After Kris dies and he's running from the cops, he BREAKS IN into Nancy's room just to tell her about Freddy and his creepy nursery rhyme. It's just so hilariously stupid.

Oh and get this, after he dies, the guy in his jail cell screams "I didn't do it!  I didn't do it!". It was so fucking funny!

Oh god, now it leads me to Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Kruger. How? How can anyone fuck up such an iconic horror villain? How?

Jackie Earle Haley is a good actor, depending on the move he's in. When it comes to a bad script with even more awful dialogue, to be sure, this is one of his worst performances. He does try, though, he could never be as good as Robert Englund. Hell, I don't think any other actor would. And to just add this, Freddy had less lines in the original, I think it would've been a benefit if Freddy had less dialogue in this movie. A BIG benefit. He just comes off as so damn whiny and needy in this one. Now I'm going to point out the massive mistakes that the filmmakers did with Freddy:

1. They show his appearance too early. Freddy works best in the shadows, he's a lot scarier and intimidating and you see why the later films fail because of how much screen time Freddy gets.

2. What the hell is up with Freddy's makeup? He looks like a goddamn alien from some crappy made-for-TV Sci-Fi movie. There could've been ways to make him inventive. But no, this has got to be one of the worst makeup effects Freddy's ever had. The makeup on Nightmare 5 and 6 looks better than this.

3. The one-liners have got to go. You know why I said Freddy should have less dialogue? Yeah, that's the reason.

4. Freddy as a pedophile. We all know good and well that Freddy was a child molester, however, it was only implied. When the filmmakers wanted to put this out in the open, it wasn't a big deal to me. But the more I thought about it, the more I got confused. You see that the parents had the evidence to put Freddy in jail yet they still want to put the law into their own hands. That makes them, kind of well, stupid. But then the debacle comes to this, if Freddy touch those kids or not. OF COURSE HE DID! When did this become some unsolved mystery crap? Knowing Freddy, he's a despicable human being, He's horrible! And once Nancy and Quentin DO find out they he, indeed, molested them, you're not surprised. This is why it bugs me so much of why this gotten remade at all. It just loses the mystery of the original.

Oh god, here we conclude this with the horrible writing and directing along with the most shittiest of special effects I ever seen. Wesley Strick, known for the well-received Cape Fear remake, does a terrible job at trying to convey a story here or develop the characters in any way. The bit about the micro naps was clever though it's just an excuse for a jump scare scene. Lots of jump scares in this movie people, trust me. I have the feeling that Wesley Strick didn't give a crap and did it for the money as well. Of course, not caring for a project or beloved movie series, will make you do a piss poor job, just ask Samuel Bayer (or Ronny Yu). Seriously, this guy should just stick to music video directing.  All I see is jump scare after jump scare after motherfucking jump scare! Don't even get me started on the CGI because that's what define the whole special effects in a nutshell. I mean what the fuck?

First we have the atrocious re-do of the wall scene. I'll say this so many times but CGI IS NOT SCARY! The original film had a low-budget but the liberties the filmmakers had with the special effects was an achievement. I mean how can you ruin such a cool effect? I can ask these questions all day. It's so incredibly cartoonish.

But this is when things get really hilarious. Kris's death scene, which is a re-do of Tina's death. Am I watching Looney Tunes right now? I mean WHAT THE FUCK? How can you take a truly disturbing death scene and make it so cartoony? It reminds me of that pinball scene in Freddy Vs. Jason. People were literally laughing in the movie theater.

Things get even more hilarious when there's a scene involving this character Marcus (played by Aaron Yoo of the equally awful Friday The 13th) doing some sort of vlog about his dreams. When he does his last video, all of a sudden he hits his head into the camera. Did Freddy help upload that or what? it is so fucking dumb and nonsensical. And that's when I knew this movie was going downhill. Down, down, down it went into a murky pile of shit. That's it and that's all. I'm fucking done.
The Verdict? Of course watch the original, it's an 80's classic and the sequels are pretty fun to watch too. WAY better than this boring piece of crap. Never trust a Platinum Dunes logo, you guys. And soon enough, Michael Bay and his henchman stopped making horror films and stuck with what they were good (or bad) at: Action films. It just goes to show that they don't know shit about horror films. They obviously suck at making them and stopped when they were ahead. People, please do me a favor and try to empty this atrocity from your mind. Because the only nightmare I had was wasting my five dollars in the movie theater on this horrible movie.
My Last Word: Never, never see this film. That's how utterly bad it is.