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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.

 

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Review: The Big Wedding by Jamie

Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Weddings! They’re a joyous occasion that bring people together to celebrate the love of two individuals! Or they’re a ridiculously outdated concept that go against the natural instincts of the human animal! Whichever way you slice it, I think we can all agree that weddings are a thing that exist. And because of their existence, Hollywood makes movies out of them. The wedding comedy is a cinema mainstay that will probably around as long as the ridiculous tradition itself. It makes sense. Weddings are big, meticulously planned affairs where strangers are forced to mingle and there’s a great deal of alcohol. Any number of things can go wrong. It’s perfect comedy fodder.

It’s because of the familiarity of the setting and an almost inborn understanding of the premise that so many wedding comedies get produced. These are movies that will play to the largest possible audience because everyone understands them. Also they can be produced relatively cheaply. This combination of cheap production and large audience draw means that these kinds of films are always guaranteed to make some kind of money. They don’t even need to be big box office smashes. They just need to exist.

And so we come to 2013s entry in the big wedding comedy genre titled, erm, “The Big Wedding”. Has it got stars? It’s got Robert De Niro! Susan Sarandon! Diane Keaton! Robin Williams is there also! And you know what? Everyone in this film does a perfectly fine job. No one is terrible, nobody sucks. Everybody does just fine. It’s just that when you get a big cast together, they really should have something great to work with. The Big Wedding leave them with nothing.

Well, not entirely nothing. You’re average wedding comedy is generally not excessively crude. It’s the kind of thing a woman, her grown up daughter and the grandmother can all enjoy together. The Big Wedding decides not to go that route. Within the first twenty minutes or so, Robert De Niro has nearly eaten out Susan Sarandon and called his ex-wife (Keaton) a cunt. Am I shocked by this kind of humour? No, of course not but you know who hates the word cunt? Particularly when it‘s being used to refer to a woman? My mum. And that’s the problem with this movie.

Who is the target audience? You can’t have sophomoric, sub-frat boy jokes based on curse words and cunnilingus and expect an older crowd that would be attracted by the casting of De Niro, Keating and Sarandon in a wedding comedy and expect them to enjoy it. You can’t have a wedding comedy and expect a bunch of young guys who might be more inclined to laugh at your crude humour to show up. This movie does not know what it wants to be who or it wants to appeal to and therefore it ends up appealing to nobody. It’s like an adult version of the Smurfs movie. No, I don’t mean it contains Smurf porn but in The Smurfs they made a movie about tiny, blue cartoon characters but included a subplot involving an ad-exec who’s not doing great at a job, has a pregnant wife and he’s not sure if he wants to actually have a baby or not. You know, the kinds of things kids love!

So yes, just who this movie is aimed at is a massive problem but then so is everything else. It’s the same old tired plot line we’ve seen a thousand times before from exactly these kinds of movies but with a thin layer of crude comedy painted on top to make it seem freh. There are two characters pretending to be married, parents disapproving of the groom, a girl who doesn’t get along with her father, a boy trying to lose his virginity. Everything is telegraphed and you know exactly from the opening few scenes just where this movie is going to go.

In conclusion, it’s like I said nobody is terrible in this movie but no one is exactly acting their socks off. It’s pretty clear that this is a pay check for everyone involved. I’ll admit that I chuckled here and there but that’s about it. I saw this at a pretty full screening and I can’t really think of any times when everyone laughed out loud. In fact, it was kind of weird just how quiet the audience remained throughout. There was definitely a bad atmosphere projected from the crowd toward the movie and it did end up feeling weirdly uncomfortable. I will say that I kind of enjoyed Topher Grace’s performance the most but that’s because he was basically playing a thirty year old version of Eric Foreman, his character from That 70s Show and I used to love that show growing up. Oh, and I did enjoy some of the humour about Catholicism but I’m a sucker for jokes about religion so take that with a grain of salt. Overall there’s just not that much to recommend though. One pint out of five. Laterz. And yeah, I know I didn’t do a synopsis. Do you really care what it’s about. If you do then just watch the trailer below and you have my pity.

Poster



Review: The Expendables 2 by Jamie

 

BANG!!! BOOM!!! FURTHER EXPLOSION NOISE FOLLOWED OR PRECEDED BY A CHEESY ONE LINER!!! Yes, I don’t think I’m giving away too much when I put forth exactly what’s expected of the sequel to The Expendables nor am I really entering spoiler territory when I say that, yes, the film has explosions, gunfights, gratuitous violence, call backs to the stars previous films and veins that bulge in a way that truly, truly disgusts me. Yes, it’s exactly what you expect, yet another throw back to the 80s when action heroes were real men, quick on the draw and even quicker with a quip and my sweet fucking God, it is awesome.

To write a synopsis of the “plot” would be an insult to the words synopsis and plot. The story is so threadbare that you couldn’t use it to make a sweater for a fly. Stallone good, Van Damme bad. There. Honestly though, the lack of a plot is fine with me. As long as I get to see some ass kickery and men who are old enough to really know better doing stupid, awesome things. More men who are old enough to know better join the cast in the form of the previously mentioned Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris. Hell, why not add an actor just to satisfy an Internet joke that’s almost as old as the main stars of this film? And no, Norris can’t act. Hell, I’m a better actor and my experience only includes playing a Roman Emperor in a school play when I was 9 and playing a pretty much non-speaking gangster when I was 15. Arnie and Bruce Willis return with expanded roles and they really, really seem like they’re having a good time.

Now there is perhaps one problem I have with this film and that’s that the violence seemed as though it had perhaps been toned down a little. Yes, there were still some pretty sweet deaths and sprays of blood but it didn’t seem anything like the chaos of the last film. On the other hand there’s also a lot less time spent watching Stallone running like the man 4 years away from 70 that he is so maybe it’s a fair trade.

So that’s about all for the review because, honestly, you already know if you’re the type of person who is going to see this movie so this is really more a reassurance than a review. Yes, everything you want is there. Go, watch it and hope that they get Kurt Russell for number three. Laterz.



Zombie Month: Beneath Still Waters by Jamie

Spain recently came onto the world wide Zombie scene with ‘Rec’, a film which I loved, and ‘Rec 2’, a film which kinda missed the mark for me. But two years before the original ‘Rec’, a film was released which also had what can be described as Zombies in it. And, like ‘Rec’, the film was tinged with Satanic myth and lore. That film was ‘Beneath Still Waters’ and it’s the subject of today’s Zombie Month review. Let’s dig in. Spoilers ahead

The film opens in Northern Spain in 1965. Two boys frolic through the Spanish fields before entering a village which has been fenced off. The reason for this is that the town is being slowly flooded due to a new dam being built. The water is already up to the boys shins as they wade through, playing and laughing and having fun. Oh, what a jolly thing to be a young boy in Northern Spain in 1965. Or so you’d think. Unfortunately, shit’s about to get real.

The boys stumble across a building with screams coming from and a firey glow in the windows. One of the boys decides they should go in and try and help these people who are clearly trapped in some way. They enter and soon find themselves in a basement where the occupants are chained to the floor, wailing and screaming and making all manner of unpleasant noises. The braver boy goes to help them when a voice in the corner calls him over, telling him to ignore them and free him instead which the boy does. The man, Mordecai Salas, who you know is evil because is name is Mordecai, immediately turns on the boy, forces his hands into his mouth and tears is head in two. Where was the Facebook child abuse status campaign when it was really needed in 1965 Northern Spain, huh? No where, that’s where. The other boy, understandably terrified by this, turns and runs, presumably shitting and pissing himself all the way home.

So then the movie cuts to 2005 and the people in the town that used to neighbour Floodville are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the construction of the dam. A photo journalist by the name of Dan Quarry is there, taking pictures of the submerged village and local TV reporter and daughter of the recently deceased town mayor, Teresa Borgia is reporting on the big party for the dam because I guess people really have nothing better to do in Northern Spain than celebrate big concrete walls that hold water back.

There is a problem and soon there are a series of mysterious deaths and disappearances, particularly around the reservoir. One early death is that of a friend of Teresa’s daughter Clara who’s also been having weird dreams lately about her dead grandfather warning her that someone is back. That someone is, of course, Mordecai Salas, who reminds me more and more of Keith Richards as the film progresses. Isn’t it weird that Keith Richards is now a part of a major Disney franchise? Anyway, the weird shit escalates including the odd Zombie like creature popping up here and there.

The first Zombie you really see attacks the dam supervisor, who’s hiding the fact that the dam has a huge crack in it for some reason. Anyway, the Zombie that attacks him kinda looks like a three way cross between the last Zombie from Rec, Nosferatu and the Dad from ‘Mac and Me’. If you’ve read my post about the Five Terrifying Monsters From My Childhood then you probably already know that this scene kinda creeped me out a little. Not as much as that bastard alien did but still, a little.

Anyway, Zombie’s pop up here and there, killer plants trap people and turn them into weird Zombie things too and the party at the dam becomes a massive demonically possessed orgy, much to my approval. Teresa and Dan decide to seek out the young boy, Louis, who lost his friends all those years ago. He explains that Salas was a student of Satanism and fuelled his power with sacrifices from amongst his followers in the village. Teresa’s father cottoned onto this and, in order to save the area from his evil, he bought up the land and had the dam built. As a final measure, he had Salas and his followers chained up in the basement of the building so that the flood would trap them forever. And everything would have gone according to plan if it hadn’t been for those two meddling kids.

So now that the old mayor is dead, Salas is back to wreak his terrible vengeance upon the people town that flooded his clan by letting his demonic influence infest the town and causing the dam to break. Apparently the only person who can stop him is Clara and so he goes after her. Louis, Dan and Teresa set out to stop him, with Louis getting torn apart in the process. Dan visit’s the submerged village in order to burn Salas’ magic book in the basement he was trapped and Teresa goes to find Clara.

Salas already has her and is about to tear her to head in two when Dan succeeds in destroying the book. Salas is defeated, everything returns back to normal and the dam doesn’t break. Except ten it does. The End.

So that’s the basic story. I’ve skipped over a few other plot points and storylines because honestly, this film has a lot going on. Too much really. And that’s the films biggest problem. There’s just too much going on here for me to really care about everything. There’s the backstory of Teresa and her father, Clara and her grandfather, Dan and his son, Clara’s best friend…. It goes on and on. Cut out a few of those extraneous plots and you could have had quite a neat little movie here.

The acting’s also a bit of a problem. I had no real problem with any of the major characters but some of the side characters were so woefully inept that it took it too a ridiculous level. Still, the special effects were pretty awesome and largely practical which was nice. In particular I really enjoyed the look of the Zombies and this one dude who was sitting there laughing maniacally whilst hacking his own limbs off. Awesome.

So ‘Beneath Still Waters’ was actually quite a surprisingly entertaining film. There were moments where it got pretty damn slow, mainly because of the mess of fucking storylines that it was trying to resolve all at once but on the whole, not bad. Three pints out of five.



Zombie Month: Beneath Still Waters by Jamie

Spain recently came onto the world wide Zombie scene with ‘Rec’, a film which I loved, and ‘Rec 2’, a film which kinda missed the mark for me. But two years before the original ‘Rec’, a film was released which also had what can be described as Zombies in it. And, like ‘Rec’, the film was tinged with Satanic myth and lore. That film was ‘Beneath Still Waters’ and it’s the subject of today’s Zombie Month review. Let’s dig in. Spoilers ahead

The film opens in Northern Spain in 1965. Two boys frolic through the Spanish fields before entering a village which has been fenced off. The reason for this is that the town is being slowly flooded due to a new dam being built. The water is already up to the boys shins as they wade through, playing and laughing and having fun. Oh, what a jolly thing to be a young boy in Northern Spain in 1965. Or so you’d think. Unfortunately, shit’s about to get real.

The boys stumble across a building with screams coming from and a firey glow in the windows. One of the boys decides they should go in and try and help these people who are clearly trapped in some way. They enter and soon find themselves in a basement where the occupants are chained to the floor, wailing and screaming and making all manner of unpleasant noises. The braver boy goes to help them when a voice in the corner calls him over, telling him to ignore them and free him instead which the boy does. The man, Mordecai Salas, who you know is evil because is name is Mordecai, immediately turns on the boy, forces his hands into his mouth and tears is head in two. Where was the Facebook child abuse status campaign when it was really needed in 1965 Northern Spain, huh? No where, that’s where. The other boy, understandably terrified by this, turns and runs, presumably shitting and pissing himself all the way home.

So then the movie cuts to 2005 and the people in the town that used to neighbour Floodville are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the construction of the dam. A photo journalist by the name of Dan Quarry is there, taking pictures of the submerged village and local TV reporter and daughter of the recently deceased town mayor, Teresa Borgia is reporting on the big party for the dam because I guess people really have nothing better to do in Northern Spain than celebrate big concrete walls that hold water back.

There is a problem and soon there are a series of mysterious deaths and disappearances, particularly around the reservoir. One early death is that of a friend of Teresa’s daughter Clara who’s also been having weird dreams lately about her dead grandfather warning her that someone is back. That someone is, of course, Mordecai Salas, who reminds me more and more of Keith Richards as the film progresses. Isn’t it weird that Keith Richards is now a part of a major Disney franchise? Anyway, the weird shit escalates including the odd Zombie like creature popping up here and there.

The first Zombie you really see attacks the dam supervisor, who’s hiding the fact that the dam has a huge crack in it for some reason. Anyway, the Zombie that attacks him kinda looks like a three way cross between the last Zombie from Rec, Nosferatu and the Dad from ‘Mac and Me’. If you’ve read my post about the Five Terrifying Monsters From My Childhood then you probably already know that this scene kinda creeped me out a little. Not as much as that bastard alien did but still, a little.

Anyway, Zombie’s pop up here and there, killer plants trap people and turn them into weird Zombie things too and the party at the dam becomes a massive demonically possessed orgy, much to my approval. Teresa and Dan decide to seek out the young boy, Louis, who lost his friends all those years ago. He explains that Salas was a student of Satanism and fuelled his power with sacrifices from amongst his followers in the village. Teresa’s father cottoned onto this and, in order to save the area from his evil, he bought up the land and had the dam built. As a final measure, he had Salas and his followers chained up in the basement of the building so that the flood would trap them forever. And everything would have gone according to plan if it hadn’t been for those two meddling kids.

So now that the old mayor is dead, Salas is back to wreak his terrible vengeance upon the people town that flooded his clan by letting his demonic influence infest the town and causing the dam to break. Apparently the only person who can stop him is Clara and so he goes after her. Louis, Dan and Teresa set out to stop him, with Louis getting torn apart in the process. Dan visit’s the submerged village in order to burn Salas’ magic book in the basement he was trapped and Teresa goes to find Clara.

Salas already has her and is about to tear her to head in two when Dan succeeds in destroying the book. Salas is defeated, everything returns back to normal and the dam doesn’t break. Except ten it does. The End.

So that’s the basic story. I’ve skipped over a few other plot points and storylines because honestly, this film has a lot going on. Too much really. And that’s the films biggest problem. There’s just too much going on here for me to really care about everything. There’s the backstory of Teresa and her father, Clara and her grandfather, Dan and his son, Clara’s best friend…. It goes on and on. Cut out a few of those extraneous plots and you could have had quite a neat little movie here.

The acting’s also a bit of a problem. I had no real problem with any of the major characters but some of the side characters were so woefully inept that it took it too a ridiculous level. Still, the special effects were pretty awesome and largely practical which was nice. In particular I really enjoyed the look of the Zombies and this one dude who was sitting there laughing maniacally whilst hacking his own limbs off. Awesome.

So ‘Beneath Still Waters’ was actually quite a surprisingly entertaining film. There were moments where it got pretty damn slow, mainly because of the mess of fucking storylines that it was trying to resolve all at once but on the whole, not bad. Three pints out of five.



Review: Buried by Jamie

Oh boy, this one’s going to be difficult because to do a decent plot synopsis, I feel that I’d have to give away far too much of the story… So, for a synopsis let’s just say that Ryan Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, a truck driver working in Iraq who awakens to find himself buried alive with nothing but (initially) a lighter, a knife, a pencil, his empty wallet and a mobile phone. Throughout the course of the film he uses the phone to contact various people, including the police in America, his family, the hostage takers themselves and people at a group set up to help people taken hostage in Iraq, in order to try and get him released from his predicament.

That’s pretty much the basic outline of the film and all I feel particularly comfortable telling you about the story without giving too much away. What will say is that this film is fucking awesome. It’s hard to believe that such a simple idea could produce such a tense and intriguing story but it does and it does it excellently. It’s the perfect antidote to ‘Devil’ if you had the misfortune to watch that as well. It’s incredible how a film about five people trapped in a box is so utterly and completely dull whilst this film about one man trapped in a box kept me on the edge of my seat.

Now, I’ll admit that this film probably isn’t for everybody. I heard a few people moaning and complaining that the film was crap but I have a feeling this are probably the small minority. Also they were laughing like fucking retarded hyenas during the film so I don’t think their opinions are exactly the ones you’d really want to trust anyway. Douchebags. If you‘re not that kind of person but instead you can actually sit there and allow yourself to be drawn into what is a fantastically engaging story then I‘m sure you‘ll enjoy it.

That’s not to say that the film isn’t without it’s problems, the main one being that I’m fairly sure an episode of ‘Mythbusters’ proved the basic premise of the film, that someone could be buried underground for any extended period of time, to essentially be highly, highly unlikely if not outright impossible. Still, maybe the writer didn’t see that episode.

The stand out performance in this film is, unsurprisingly, that of Ryan Reynolds. I didn’t realise just how good of an actor he actually is. His panic in this situation is palpable and yet it still occasionally tinted with the sense of humour that still keeps me hoping he’ll play Deadpool someday (and properly this time). It’s actually made me look forward to the Green Lantern film something I didn’t really care about that much before because, if I’m honest, I’m just not that big a fan of the character.

So in conclusion , if you’re not a fucking idiot, go and see this film. See it as soon as humanly possible. The last scene in particular left me shaking when I walked out of the cinema and only one film I know of has ever done that to me before and that was ‘The Dark Knight’. Four and a half pints out of five.



Review: The Expendables by Jamie

How do you review a film like The Expendables? You certainly can’t use the same standards you would when reviewing a film like Inception. You can’t judge a film like this based on it’s deep storyline. The Expendables sits in a class of it’s own in today’s movie landscape. It’s a throw back to a simpler time when action heroes were rarely introspective, were more muscle than man and used an array and amount of weaponry that would make militaristic dictators seethe with jealousy. That time was the 80s, when men were men unless they were New Romantics in which case men were god knows what.

This is possibly going to be my shortest review ever. I don’t wanna give away too much of what happens in the action scenes. I’ll just say that this film is everything you were hoping it would be. If you have testicles and even a passing interest in 80s action films then you owe it to yourself to see it. A warning to women though. There is so much testosterone on screen that you may leave the cinema with the beginnings of a beard and a voice that’s a few octaves lower. Things explode, people quip and Mickey Rourke in particular is awesome in the few scenes he’s in. Oh, and the scene between Arnie, Stallone and Willis is one of the most entertaining things I’ve seen all year. In short, this film is fucking awesome.

Is there anything bad? Well, whilst the film is a throw back to the classic 80s era of action the camera work certainly takes a bit of a cue from modern action films. At times it’s frantic, too close up and it can be difficult to make out what’s going on. Whilst Mickey Rourke is awesome, the rest of the acting is a little sub-par but then again these are action stars. You don’t go to see masters of the craft. Finally, for what little plot this film did have, it actually could have done (and this may be the only time I say this) with a little less. I suppose the story and sub-stories did lead to some pretty sweet action scenes so swings and roundabouts I suppose.

To sum up, go fucking see The Expendable. Do it! Do it now! It’s just really fucking fun. Four and a half pints out of five. Laterz




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