Friday, June 5, 2009

Movies

Just want to add my two cents on a couple films.

This Wednesday was Chelsea's birthday and along with the cake eating and present giving (I got her a silver necklace with a heart on it) we saw a couple movies.

Drag Me To Hell
Honestly, I was never sold on this movie. I love the Evil Dead films, but pretty much everything else Raimi has done, aside from Spiderman 2 I guess, has been pretty mediocre. I was excited that he was returning to horror, but the trailers just looked so generic and not all that interesting.

I'll preface me mini-review by saying Chelsea loved it. She was screaming and cowering the whole time. It was basically what my reaction was the first time I saw Evil Dead. I'm sure you're all familiar with the story, girl pisses off witch woman gets curse put on her, but I'll try to be spoiler free.

First the good. The acting was decent (nothing awful, but nothing mindblowing either), the writing was solid, and it was scary. Raimi certainly knows how to craft terror and create tension. Many of his old Evil Dead techniques return for this film (weird noises, askew angles, tight closeups and zooms) and they're still as effective as they were 28 years ago. All the characters were fairly fleshed out (although a little superficially so) and had believable emotions and experiences, at least as believable as you can get in a horror movie. Plus the whole thing just looked and sounded great.

Now the bad. It was boring as hell, and almost nothing happens the entire movie. Aside from an interesting opening, a near 'finale of the film' seance scene, and the actual ending, the movie is basically just Alison Lohman in some sort of house walking around slowly waiting to be scared. The scares are potent but it just seems like Raimi and team (sadly a total reunion from his Evil Dead days ie. writers, producers, director) just wanted to pack in as many jump out scares as possible in an hour and a half. I didn't really care about any of the characters (minus the fantastic Dileep Rao as the shaman who helps Lohamn, he really stole every scene he was in) and the cool mythological story stuff was barely touched on.

It's very odd, and perhaps hard for you to understand, how something could be both scary and boring. But when the movie consists almost solely of pop out scares and mounting tension it becomes both repetitive, draining, and ultimately annoying. It's like when a child learns a new trick or joke, and they keep wanting to share it with you over and over. It's funny and cute the second time, and you don't hate the kid the more he does it, you just wish they'd find something new.

I know Raimi isn't new to the horror genre, but it felt like he was trying too hard with this film to prove that he's still got it. Yes Raimi, we get that you can create a scary ride, but next time can you try to craft a compelling and enjoyable film around it?

My Bloody Valentine 3D

And here's where things get weird.

While waiting for DMTH to start, Chelsea and I went to CD Warehouse where we found this film on sale. We were going to rent it earlier but then remembered we wouldn't get the 3D glasses with it, so we decided to split the cost and just buy it to watch later that night. I know that the technology used in theater 3D movies and home 3D movies is vastly different, but I just wanted to see what it was like.

Overall the film was damn enjoyable. I don't usually like remakes, or even new horror movies, but I hated the original Bloody Valentine, so I figured at least this one couldn't be worse. And it sort of wasn't.

The characters were still archetypal, the acting was passable, and the story was kind of secondary, but the gore effects, and the 3D made up for all the shortcomings. No one goes to a 3D movie looking for a compelling story. You go to see what weird ways they can use 3D with. This movies shots were mostly relegated to punching, kicking, axe swinging and throwing, protruding body parts etc. But what I was really impressed by was how amazing the depth of view was in 3D.

Anyways it wasn't the greatest movie, and perhaps I only liked it because of what I witnessed earlier in the evening, but it was still fun. Not great, but fun. Kind of the opposite of Drag Me To Hell in fact. Poorly made, but still hokey and fun. Funny that.

2 comments:

Ian said...

Ok. I'll do my best to be concise. Maybe beef this up into a review on my blog in the next couple of days.

I agree that the jump scares were kind of a cop out. But the strength of the movie is in the comedy (from Justin Long in the background at the first visit with the psychic, to the anvil) and in the ending (without spoiling it). Up until that final frame I wasn't sold, but when the movie finished I couldn't wait to see it again when I would be able to distance myself slightly from the jump scares (knowing roughly when to expect them) and more fully enjoy the creepy atmosphere, and the campy fun.

If the Evil Dead Trilogy is viewed as a spectrum from horror to comedy, Drag Me to Hell falls somewhere between Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 (closer to the first). At least in my opinion. And while The Evil Dead is my favourite of that trilogy, Drag Me to Hell (pending a second viewing) felt like The Evil Dead honed to perfection. Just as scary and funnier, without going too far into camp like Evil Dead 2.

But again, it was the ending that really brought the whole film together and sold me on it.

Plus, imagine Justin Long as the next Bruce Campbell, and tell me that isn't awesome.

Totally writing a full review in the next couple of days.

gord said...

I honestly did not find the camp in the movie either at all, or to be successful. I think it played its hand too close to the horror side of things and when the camp came along it was just odd. Other than the seance scene which was completely perfect.

I know people have been saying it's such a funny, fun ride, but I didn't find it so. As a completely visceral movie experience, I suppose it succeeded. But, for me Evil Dead is a visceral experience and yet it still succeeds far above Drag in terms of creating an interesting story, great characters, and creepy mixed with camp. And it takes place in one place the entire film! Something that Drag did, but really bothered me.

And if we're comparing to Evil Dead, it certainly wasn't as imaginative or full of piss and vinegar. If I'm to compare it to anything it would be The Frighteners, another odd little film that mixed too many genres with not all too successful results.

Also, Justin Long as the next Bruce is alright. He's the best part of Dodgeball and Zack and Miri, and the only reason I bought Accepted. Hell he's basically the only reason I watched Drag Me to Hell. But I don't think he's quite campy enough, nor does he have the same charisma as Bruce. He just seems too self aware.

And yeah, I really enjoyed the ending too. It was a great moment, totally unlike the rest of the film. It had mounting dread, without then giving way to a 'boo' moment. Boo's can scare you, but I thought the ending, and the beginning scene, gave us great scary moments without being cheap about it. It was more the gradual realization of what was happening and the impending sense of dread that really made those scenes successful.

Anyways, I'll definitely be watching the film again, as you said to hopefully pick up on other things and enjoy it in a different way. Hell I'll probably even buy it, pending what special features go on the disc, but I'm still not totally sold.

Also, Army of Darkness might be my favourite of the trilogy, even though I find no faults with the other two (well actually I find there's too much screaming in ED2).

Look forward to your review so we can nitpick all over again.