Cinepub


31 Days of Horror 8: V/H/S 2 (2013) by Jamie

Yesterday I poked a little fun at the format known as VHS, in particular it’s tendency to have a serious decline in quality with repeated viewings. Having watched today’s movie, however, I wish to take that criticism back. I was wrong and I can admit that. Ok, I wasn’t wrong. This was indeed a genuine problem that VHS suffered from but in the movie ‘V/H/S’, these artefacts that resulted from multiple viewings managed to add to the film’s charms somewhat, though I’ll admit that at times they did seem a little like the lens flare in Abrams ‘Star Trek’ films being perhaps a little overdone. Still, they leant something of an air of authenticity, grittiness and even nostalgia on my part. Sadly, those artefacts are all but gone in the sequel ‘V/H/S 2’ and that’s one of my problems with the film.

This sequel just feels polished compared to the original, every things seems neater, tighter and cleaner and strangely enough that can be a bad thing, especially for a horror film. It’s no coincidence that one of the best segments in this film is ‘Safe Haven’ about an Indonesian cult which seems to capture some of he grunginess of the first film.

This film also managed to capture my attention at lot less than it’s predecessor. I know I complained about V/H/S’s length a little yesterday and this film was about half an hour shorter. On reflection, perhaps that extra time was necessary for building the tension and general creepy feeling that managed to keep me so interested in the first film. Let’s just say I knew that this one was gonna be less interesting when Zombies showed up. Yes, I love Zombies but the first V/H/S seemed to have some pretty interesting and original ideas. Throwing Zombies in just seemed, well, a little too simple to be honest.

Still, it’s not a terrible film and there were moments that felt like watching the first one just not as many. Overall I’d say watch the first one and if you find yourself wanting more of the same kinda stuff then you could probably get something out of the sequel. 2.5 pints out of 5.

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31 Days of Horror 7: V/H/S (2012) by Jamie

Ah, the horror anthology. It’s a tradition that dates back to a time immemorial when cavemen would sit around campfires telling tales of Neanderthal ghosts, trying to scare each other before all piling into their foot-powered cars and heading to the local fast-food eatery for some giant ribs I assume. That proud tradition returns once again with ‘V/H/S’.

Ok, first I feel as though a quick history lesson is in order. VHS cassettes were large, rectangular blocks of plastic filled with tape that allowed you to view your favourite films in ever decreasing quality. They had no way to skip between chapters meaning, if you were so inclined, you’d have to fast-forward to your favourite scene which essentially involved still having to watch everything that came before it but at a slightly higher speed. Oh, and you had to rewind it all the way to the beginning once you were done. Rental shops in particular got very angry if you didn’t… Ok, rental shops were basically Netflix but you had to go outside to get the movies on the ever-decreasing quality plastic blocks and then return them, rewound of course, after a set period of time. It was a dark and barbaric time.

The premise then of V/H/S is that some twenty-something ne’er-do-wells discover a cache of old VHS tapes and discover that each one contains an horrific story filled with terror! So yes, this is another found footage movie much like yesterday’s entry The Bay. Unlike The Bay, however, V/H/S is nowhere near as well shot. In fact it has some of the shakiest shaky-cam I have ever had the misfortune to see. Seriously, I contemplated turning it off during the first segment because it was borderline unwatchable. Still, I figured that then I’d have to figure out what movie to watch instead and changing my mind after coming to a decision is difficult because I find myself paralysed by near-infinite choice, so I decided to stick with it. And I am actually kind of glad I did.

V/H/S is by no means as satisfying a film as The Bay, not by a long shot but It certainly has moments of genuine creepiness that compelled me to keep watching. One of the problem with the film is that some of these segments, whilst building quite a decent amount of tension, end rather disappointingly. On the other hand some of them work too well, leaving you feeling as though they actually might work better as a stand alone feature, given a little time for the story to breath a little better. Still “a mixed bag” is often the best way to describe any horror anthology movie and so it I with V/H/S

Over all, I would definitely say this is worth a watch. The good segments are genuinely good and the even the mediocre ones have something to keep you hooked for a while. Perhaps it’s biggest fault is it’s running time. A movie like this didn’t really need to be nearly two hours long and I can think of at least one segment that the loss of which might have improved it slightly. Still, other than that a generally enjoyable experience. Three pints out of five. Laterz.



31 Days of Horror 6: The Bay (2012) by Jamie

In 1975, a film was released that made people afraid to go into the water. That movie was, of course Jaws and it is probably my favourite film of all time. Despite having watched it ever since I was a little kid, it has never made me particularly afraid of sharks or the ocean. Perhaps this due to so many repeated viewings having desensitised me or perhaps it’s due to living in England where the chances of being eaten by a shark are comparatively low. Still, I may have finally found my Jaws.

Don’t get me wrong. The Bay is not as good as Jaws but fuck me if it isn’t an effective horror movie. It manages to build tension through creative edits and managing to weave different characters story lines in an effective manner. Yes, this is a found footage movie but it might just be the best damn found footage movie. Trust me, I’m sick of them too but The Bay is different in that it manages to be somewhat original in it’s use of the format.

Rather than tell the story from one group of people’s point of view with one camera, it rather links together various different camera sources such as a budding reporter, an internet chat between a doctor and the CDC, a teenagers phone and many more to tell a cohesive story that gives you the sense of a town completely ravaged and breaking down. There is one scene where… Well, I won’t say except that it involves a n otherwise complete silence being interrupted by distant sounds that I found utterly chilling. It was incredible.

See, I’m not even gonna tell you the story since I think you should just watch it already. Seriously, it’s great. If I have one complaint it’s that the acting can be a little ropey at times, a symptom of found footage movies where people try and act realistic which never comes of a realistic. Still, I fully recommend this goddamn movie. Four pints out of five.

 



31 Days of Horror 5: Room 237 (2012) by Jamie

So I decided to take something of a different route for this entry into 31 Days of Horror. I honestly haven’t had that much to say about the films that I’ve watched so far. The ‘let’s randomly watch a film that I just stumble upon’ approach has been, let’s say, unrewarding for the most part. So I reckoned I’d take a look at a film that I’d heard a lot about. It’s not a horror film itself persay. Rather it’s a documentary about one of the greatest horror films of all time, a little film called ‘The Shining’ by Stanley Kubrick. It is not, however, a film about the making of The Shining. Instead it is a film about all the conspiracies and secret meanings that certain fans have read into it.

Now, I don’t think I’d be causing any waves if I said that Stanley Kubrick was undeniably a genius filmmaker. Many of his films are considered among the greatest of all time with The Shining in particular often topping horror film list and with good reason. He was also something of a perfectionist and a somewhat private person. This privacy garnered him the somewhat unfair reputation as a recluse. It is this famed attention to detail plus this supposed reclusiveness that has certainly helped some of the conspiracies and myths build up around him. There is also the fact that some of his films are, well, kinda batshit insane.

Still just because The Shining has something of an aura that is conducive to conspiracy does not mean that conspiracies actually exist as is true of any conspiracy theory. And this is one of the problems with ‘Room 237’. The film is literally just voice over of people explaining their particular conspiracy theories over often slow motion shots of the film. In terms of style, the film I could most compare this to is ‘Zoo’, a film which I was not exactly a fan of. So all you get is the someone talking largely nonsense about how The Shining is actually about the genocide of the Native Americans or the Holocaust or how Kubrick faked the moon landings or some other bull crap. I’ll admit, some of the conspiracies are somewhat interesting though still so loosely cobbled together as to be laughable, all the result of random coincidence and self-delusion. Seriously, if I watched it enough times I could probably come up with a theory about how ‘Freddy Got Fingered’ is actually a treatise on the Kennedy Assassination that reveals the identity of the true shooter.

The truth is that conspiracy theories aren’t nearly as interesting as the people who come up with them and that’s what could have made this film a whole lot better. Show me the people behind the conspiracies. Let me get to know about them and more about why they think this way. As it is, all I have is a collection of faceless voices giving me their secret meanings about a film. In essence, someone has made a documentary about an internet message board. Well done.

In summation this could have been a really interesting film if it had delved just a little deeper than the surface it offered. Still it has left me wondering just why the fuck Jack Torrance is reading an issue of Playgirl while he waits to meet the hotel manager? Two pints out of five. Laterz.

Room 237



31 Days of Horror 4: Apocalypse Z (2013) by Jamie
04/10/2013, 11:18 am
Filed under: 31 Days of Horror, Review

Uwe Boll is the king of the crap, a man who’s complete lack of talent is almost stunning in it’s enormity. He has never been involved with anything of any value. With that in mind, I decided to watch this piece of crap that he produced and actually has a cameo in playing the President of the United States. For those unfamiliar with Boll, he is most definitely not American. Yeah, this is a stinking shit-pile.

The story, to use a kinder word than this film deserves, concerns a small town Romania that has fallen victim to a secret Government project which turns them all into Zombies. The military send in a crack team of commandos who are just like every crack team of commandos you’ve seen since Aliens. It turns out that they’ve been double crossed for some reason and now they’re fighting for their very survival I guess.

Look, I get it. Zombie movies are relatively cheap and easy to make but that doesn’t mean you should. Everything about this is terrible. There is basically no story, the dialogue is all clichés, the acting is comparable to that of actual corpses and Boll reads his line in a way that is reminiscent of a drunk, retarded Tommy Wiseau. I cannot recommend this less. Fuck Boll and fuck this movie. 0 pints out of 5. Laterz.



31 Days of Horror 3: Carved (2007) by Jamie

Ah, Japan. Home to big titted zombies, executive koalas and battlefield baseball. Yes, the land of the rising sun is often a source of fascination for those in the West because sometimes their cultural output can seem a little… odd to our sensibilities. Awesome but still odd.

So hey, I thought, let’s go for a good ol’ fashioned Japanese horror film for this edition of 31 Days of Horror. Something different to excite the blood a touch. And was I disappointed? Well, yes and no. Carved (aka Kuchisake-onna or Slit-Mouthed Woman) is based on a modern Japanese urban legend about a woman with her mouth slit open from ear to ear, ala the Joker from ‘The Dark Knight’. I won’t recount the entire legend here so I shall point you to the wikipedia entry here. Needless to say, it is exactly the kind of thing that kids come up with, no different really than something like Bloody Mary or the like.

And the legend actually makes a fairly decent, if somewhat subdued, movie. It’s obviously something of a low budget film as the few times that you do see make-up effects, they are clearly a bit budget but they are used sparingly enough that it doesn’t really matter that much. Despite it’s low budget, the movie manages to serve up a few creepy and shocking moments, particularly moments involving children that I don’t think you’d ever see in an American horror movie.

Despite the fact that the film was enjoyable as a whole, I did feel as though it did start to drag towards the end and I found my mind wandering a little. There is also some kind of message about child abuse (the hitting kind not the catholic priest kind) that is a little lost on me. So if you hit kids you become a slit-mouthed crazy lady? But people who didn’t abuse their kids were also possessed by her and… No, I’m just not sure I’m getting it. As for the acting, well, I can’t really comment. When someone’s talking in a different language, they could be Japanese Tommy Wiseau and I’d be hard pressed to tell.

So overall not a terrible film but nothing spectacular either. I guess it’d fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum so 2.5 pints out of 5. Laterz.

 

Eeek!



31 Days of Horror 2: Walled In by Jamie

Part of what I was hoping to uncover during this 31 Days of Halloween adventure were some hidden gems, some little seen movies that were actually deserving ofway more attention. When I saw Walled In on Netflix, I hoped that it might be one such film. The premise seemed interesting. It was abut someone who trapped people inside walls and the image on Netflix showed a screaming woman buried up to her waist in wall. Awesome, I thought, already imaging a twisted psychopath surrounded by people wailing in horror as they were trapped halfway inside walls.

Unfortunately, this was not the film I got. It in fact takes place 15 years or so after a maniac trapped people inside the walls of a building and suffocated them by pouring concrete in with them. The film is, in actuality, an attempt to be every other film, lifting plot points, shots and even sounds from other films. Sometimes it’s Nightmare on Elm Street, sometimes it’s Psycho, sometimes it‘s The Shining. Sometimes it’s the tale of a woman haunted by the ghosts of those who had died in this building before her, sometimes it’s the tale of a psychologically damaged person torturing and tormenting another out of a twisted sense of vengeance. Walled In is many, many things but the one thing it isn’t is good.

It’s boring, the acting is about one degree above that in Birdemic, the plot is nonsensical at best and I fell asleep a couple of times, leading me to have to rewind the damn thing to try and see what I’d missed which served to only prolong my misery. I’ll admit that there were a couple of moments where I found myself a little engaged by the plot but these were few and far between. Overall a deeply disappointing experience. One pint out of five. Laterz.

Walled In




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