Tag Archives: Barbara Hershey

Insidious: The Downward Slope

I cannot speak highly enough of Saw creators Leigh Whannell and James Wan, but this movie in the horror genre is in a whole other ballpark. I had been wanting to see this movie since the day it came out but I could never rouse any of my friends to locate that spine and see it with me. So I sat down with my girlfriend and watched it instead. I was rather surprised with my final impressions.

The movie starts out like any other haunted house film. Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) are loving parents of three children: one baby girl and two

Old decrepit ladies scare people, right?

young boys. Foster (Andrew Astor) is their other son, but they don’t care about him. He gets one scene. The son they do care about is Dalton (Ty Simpkins). Some strange things are going on in the house, and one day Dalton decides he’s got some explorin’ to do. He climbs up into the attic and tries to turn on the light. He fails, falls off the ladder, and screams the most unconvincing scream you could ever think of. Long story short, he ends up in a coma that is just actually an extended slumber.

A dad in peril.

Here’s where things get good. Renai is being constantly bombarded by evil spirits and apparitions that appear to her and freak her right the hell out. Josh, the high school teacher husband, avoids his comatose son and the evilness in the house at all costs. He wants his son to be okay, but the months drag on (meanwhile their other son is nonexistent. The baby girl gets more face time than he does…) He can’t handle it and the wife is becoming fed up.

With some evil man presence being the last straw, the family moves out into another house, only to experience the haunting all over again. So what could it be? It must be something…

I like the direction that Leigh Whannell was taking this movie, despite the deliverance onscreen. James Wan did a good job of some scary pacing and using shadows to his advantage. The scene everybody talks about? If I had been in the

Save us, Lin Shaye!

theater, I may have jumped. The scaryness aspect that sold me though was the use of shadows and tricks on the eyes. Many times in the film, and everyone has experienced this, you see things in the shadows that are tricking your mind. A coat on a chair in the right light looks like a menacing sitting figure. A space behind a door hides demons. All that sorta thing. James Wan played that up so well that the main focus of the camera wasn’t even on these things. It left images for your mind to wander over and think, “Wait a second, didn’t the camera just miss that evil demon there in the corner?” That’s a first for a film I’ve seen.

Classic Leigh Whannell hipster move.

After this haunted house first half, comes the strange second half. In a strange way to explain away these occurrences, the family employs the help of a psychic who talks with the other side (Elise Ranier played by Lin Shaye). With her gas mask in hand and Specs (Leigh Whannell) by her side, it’s only a matter of time before the movie gets into exorcism and spectral beings. People with fears of 50’s ghosts in proper attire, beware.

I really felt the movie was carried a lot by the music it employed. There were plenty of scenes that were enhanced by the shrill violins and pulse pounding beat. Hell, I was scared of the movie’s use of Tiptoe Through the Tulips. That song and the voice it is sung in are freaky. But, at other times, the music came across as overdramatic and ruined the seconds after the scary moment happened with this over the top dramatic piece. You have to know when to play your hand.

The demon as it should have been.

What really ruined the movie wasn’t the reveal of the main monster, but the constant use of him. What is not seen as much is more frightening than what is. To describe the demon and then see him cheesily chasing the young boy through the house is just the kind of B-rated to C-rated antics that caught this movie so much flack. And the ending as well. Just when you didn’t want another twist, they throw you back in.

The acting was 50/50. I am a huge fan of Patrick Wilson, have been since I saw him in Watchmen. He has an understated way of acting that comes off as truthful. In this movie I considered him one of the best, and it showed in his dad-like ways and regretful attitude towards the end. Rose Byrne could have been better. I’ve been hesitant about her acting since Troy, and maybe that was right to doubt… Ty Simpkins, the main plot point of the movie does not know how to sell

GTFO, Barbara Hershey…

acting. Especially not a horror movie. He made it more comical. Pretty unremarkable. Also, get Barbara Hershey out of these dark thrillers. She may have had a heyday in films, but it has past. And these movies (I’m including Black Swan) are not meant for her. It needs to stop.

So with all these mixes of good scares and ample acting with a strange ending leads to an overall disappointing reaction from me about this movie. My girlfriend especially was disappointed. Sad. I’ll give this movie an A for effort, but when it comes to an actual rating, it’s pretty average. 6.1 out of 10.

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Black Swan: I Kinda Laughed.

People may get pissed off at me for this one. I… laughed quite a bit at Black Swan. It wasn’t a bad movie overall, but the things I found strange or wrong with this movie made me laugh out loud, kinda like watching a dark comedy. Although this movie wasn’t a comedy. Oh well, it can’t be helped. I hope Natalie Portman never sees this post and hates me for the rest of eternity if some infinitesimal chance allows me to meet her. Let’s just keep this post a secret.

What a beautiful pout. Still in love with her since I was 9.

So this is a movie about the ballet Swan Lake. The twist? The ballet she is performing is Swan Lake and she is living out the events of Swan Lake. Oh the twist! Other than the WTF middle section of the film, yeah, it follows it pretty closely. Prince has party, Prince meets White Swan, fall in love, Black Swan tricks Prince, Prince and White Swan commit suicide for love. The end. I think it’s the liberties that Darren Aronofsky took at assuming ballet is synonymous with sex. I would sayyyyyyy… No. That is an artistic leap and assumption I wouldn’t necessarily associate.

So… plot now. Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is an up and coming ballerina at her dance studio. She’s nice and quiet and just hopes to make a bigger name for herself. And then her dance director Mr. French McCreepy Bastard, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) announces they’ll be having a Swan Lake run at their production company. He, like every other pompous director who thinks they’re a visionary, says they’ll be doing it differently than ever before. I guess he was going for more rape and sexy. Alright there Leroy, that’s your own choice.

Ah yes, the creepy mother.

Nina begs for the position and gets mouth fondled by Cassel, because for some reason in 2011, it’s still shocking for a director/boss to take advantage of his cast/employees. With all that said and done, Nina takes on the lead role of the White and Black Swan. From this point on comes some “messed up” and thriller like elements that push the boundaries of what’s real and what’s not. The arty version of The Matrix, if you will. And don’t call me sexist or naive or ignorant at this point. People can have their opinions about a film, negative or not. I can say these ignorant things because from what I’ve seen of the hundreds of movies I’ve seen before, this movie isn’t necessarily anything impressive in the way of

Vincent Cassel, crossing toolish lines since… this movie.

groundbreaking. It seems more important for me, at this point, to say how disappointed I was with this film. Because, as serious and mentally disturbing as it was supposed to be, I still laughed.

Should I talk about my problems with this film? Let’s go. I knew there was going to be a conflict when Nina’s mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) flips out. She’s bought Nina this nice big cake for getting the part and Nina simply says no, I can’t eat right now, my stomache is upset. Reasonable reason right? “Well that’s fine, don’t have any.” The music becomes serious and tension filled, she heads towards the can with the cake. A simple pleading no from Nina and you see the smile instantly and bizarrely  return to her face. I laughed. Hard. Yes, this was supposed to point out the stressed and overprotective relationship that sparks Nina’s problems in the film. But it was campishly delivered and I enjoyed it. For any Tim and Eric fans out there, this scene may tickle your fancy.

I wanted to put this next to the word “lesbian”.

All the lesbian/finger banging scenes in this film feel out of place. That’s probably because I don’t make an automatic connection in my mind between ballet and sex. For me, ballet in particular, is a purist sport. It has a set amount of moves that allow you to express a gamut of emotions. Other forms of dance, sure, why not? There’s sex everywhere at a high school dance. Just not with ballet. Nina is exploring her sexuality and, for the whole film, until she said it, I thought she was 18, maybe 21 at most. Living with her mother threw off my radar on her age and calling her Mommy (with her room and clothing choices) I assumed 18. Why would a 28 year old dancer be attempting to get big in dance? Her prime is gone. Error right there.

I disliked Vincent Cassel in this movie. I think you’re supposed to. To the extent I did, maybe was a bit extreme. Not death threat level, I’m talking more ruined any scene he was in for me. As a sex icon in the movie? Didn’t really believe it. Mila Kunis though? She was her normal, old relaxed That 70’s Show self in this one. Typical Mila out for a good time, who just happens to be a diabolical dancer. I did love

You made this movie better Winona.

Natalie Portman’s performance in the film. She did have to do a lot of things you never typically see her do in this film. And I was IN LOVE with Winona Ryder’s performance in this film. The fallen dancer and raging spurned lover? That was a convincing and devastating performance for her.

Let the weird begin.

Other than that, I don’t really wanna shit on this movie too much. I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t my cup of tea. I do see how this movie didn’t beat The King’s Speech for best film. It was too edgy for the Oscar community. But it was a well done film itself. The cinematography was jarring and uncommon, something I just can’t stand. Watch this movie again and see if the still shots outweigh the fluid and nauseating moving shots. You’d be surprised. The acting for the most part is what you would expect from a movie with Oscar buzz and all that good stuff. Just not my film. And because I’m the one rating for my own interest, I have to give this movie a 4 out of 10.