Wednesday, May 11, 2011

PCP on DVD - Horror Movie 6-Pack

Time for your next hit of PCP:  Pop Culture Panorama.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have developed about a 50 movie backlog of films to review, of films I’ve watched over the past couple months.  I’ve had enough time to watch the movies and jot down some observations, but not enough time until now to actually write the reviews.  So, I will be doing shorter than normal reviews of these films until I am caught back up, in convenient multi-packs of movies by genre.  Today I’ll be tackling 6 creepy horror/thriller movies I’ve caught on DVD:  The Crazies, A Perfect Getaway, Orphan, The Orphanage, Drag Me to Hell, and Splice.

The Crazies – 2010; Rated R.  101 minutes.  Starring:  Timothy Olyphant; Radha Mitchell; Joe Anderson; Danielle Panabaker.  My rating:  7 out of 10.

The Crazies is a remake of a 70s horror film of the same name.  It’s similar to small town zombie outbreak films, but instead of the infection causing everyone to become the living dead, they instead go completely insane.  It has a couple mid-way decent scares, and some impressive gore sequences and creative violence, but overall it isn’t as scary as it could have been.  It is interesting to see Timothy Olyphant play a normal, noble guy however.  I’m so used to seeing him as a villain or as an anti-hero that to see him playing the true hero was a new experience for me.  I also liked the overall larger conspiracy behind the disease causing the insanity, and the lengths that the conspirators were going to attempt to keep things under wraps.  Not a terrible film, but not as good as it could have been either.

A Perfect Getaway – 2009; Rated R.  98 minutes.  Starring:  Steve Zahn, Timothy Olyphant; Milla Jovovich.  My rating:  7 out of 10.

A Perfect Getaway was really more of a thriller/mystery than a horror film, much to my disappointment.  I had been expecting more of a slasher film, so I was a little bit bummed that it wasn’t one, but it was still a decent movie.  The film is a mystery about the murder of a couple on their honeymoon in Hawaii.  As the movie progresses, we meet 4 potential couples that could be the killers.  The movie throws out a lot of deliberate red herrings along the way, trying to keep you from guessing who the good guys and who the bad guys are.  Steve Zahn’s and Timothy Olyphant’s characters even discuss red herrings and their roles in movies, Zahn’s character mistakenly calling them red snappers instead.  Ultimately, about 2/3rds of the way into the movie you find out who the killers are, but it is interesting twists and turns until you get there.  It’s worth taking the time to watch, but there have definitely been better mystery movies in the past year than this one, such as Shutter Island.

Orphan – 2009; Rated R.  123 minutes.  Starring:  Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, and Isabelle Fuhrman.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

This movie was just creepy.  Youngster Isabelle Fuhrman was extremely spooky and weird as the orphan of the film’s title, Esther.  Some of her scenes in this film were so intense that I wonder if in real life the actress herself developed nightmares.  The film does a good job of ratcheting up the tension slowly, building it kind of like a Hitchcock film.  Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard are good as the adults in this film, the couple that has some trouble in their marriage that Esther helps bring to the surface.  The writers did a good job of making Esther into a super manipulative crazy orphan, and they threw in an interesting albeit 100% unrealistic twist near the end of the film to explain why the girl was the way she was.  I’d say more but I don’t want to spoil the ending.  A good film worth watching, but there are definitely better horror films out there with creepy children, like the original version of The Omen for example.

The Orphanage – 2007, Rated R.  105 minutes.  In Spanish with English subtitles.  Starring no one you’d know, unless you watch a ton of foreign films, but it is produced by Guillermo del Toro.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

This Spanish language film (with English subtitles) was actually a pretty good horror flick.  I’m surprised they haven’t rushed to remake this in English like so many other foreign horror movies.  They apparently have sold the rights to remake it though, and it might be remade in English in a couple years.  Don’t wait until then though, this film was actually an enjoyable ride.  This ghostly mystery has some good twists and turns, with some elements that I have seen in other more recent movies such as Shutter Island that came out after this film.  The lead actress, Belen Rueda, is great in her role, as is the boy who plays the missing child Simon.  This film was produced by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy), a man that knows his horror films, so if you enjoy spooky ghost stories and mysteries, definitely check this one out sometime, its worth it.  Also as a side note, del Toro has recently partnered with author Chuck Hogan to write a trilogy of vampire books.  The first two, The Strain and The Fall, are out now, and the 3rd comes out later in 2011.  They’re definitely worth reading.  Hogan is a great writer (he wrote the book that became the movie The Town) and the two of them add some new twists to the vampire genre of horror books.   

Drag Me To Hell – 2009, Rated PG-13.  99 minutes.  Starring:  Justin Long and Alison Lohman, directed by Sam Raimi.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

For a PG-13 horror movie, this one is actually quite entertaining.  It’s nice to see Sam Raimi (Spiderman trilogy) return to his horror roots (Evil Dead trilogy) for directing this project.  Alison Lohman, who I’d never seen in a film before this one, is great as the tormented loan officer cursed by a gypsy woman who she had to foreclose on.  I look forward to seeing her in more films in the future.  Considering the economy, this movie was actually timely, but it was actually written many years ago by Sam and Ivan Raimi.  The scares are good, and the vibe of the film pretty creepy.  A lot of gross out scenes with blood, gore, and rotting insects and corpses, but nothing too over the top or super disgusting.  The film also has a low body count for a horror film, but there’s still enough deaths to keep the audience on its toes.  I really liked the ending of the film too, even if I did see it coming a mile away.

Splice – 2009, Rated R.  104 minutes.  Starring:  Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, and Delphine Chaneac.  My rating:  5 out of 10.

I really wanted to like this movie, especially after Stephen King said it was one of the better films of last year.  Unfortunately, he was wrong.  It wasn’t particularly scary, nor was it particularly good.  It was just kinda creepy and weird.  I’m convinced that Sarah Polley’s character in this film was just straight up out of her mind mad scientist from the get-go.  You start feeling very sympathetic for Adrien Brody’s character as you realize what a giant biz-natch his character’s wife is during the film.  This film was too light on scares to be considered a horror film, and instead it was rather boring.  Don’t waste your time on this one.

That wraps up PCP: Pop Culture Panorama for today.  Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. Splice just felt wrong on so many levels. The Orphan was very creepy...made me not want to adopt. I think what I've learned from this movie is to never adopt a Russian kid. Just kidding! Still creepy though. My favorite was A Perfect Getaway. It was a good mystery (and I agree, it's not really a horror film).