Tag Archives: freaky

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.

Advertisements

Another: Ball Jointed Anime? Creepy…

Here’s another (different use) anime that I watched extremely quickly! (I have some free time on my hands and this is how I spend it. Time well spent.) Another is an anime based on a novel of the same title written by Yukito Ayatsuji. It’s a creepy story about ghosts and, what’s worse, ball jointed dolls. A popular thing in Japan and popular among people who like Japanese culture here, it is the freakiest thing to come out of Japan. Those things bleed evil and look like the devil himself. And that’s why this anime scared me, because they kept doing flash images of those creepy dolls…

So that’s where this story/anime is coming from. Another is the story of a death that happened wayyyy back in 1972. A high school kid died in some strange way and it was tragic. But as life moved on, people in the class said that they could see the student was still there. Even the teacher went along with it. They took the desk to

Those creepy dolls… Ugh.

graduation, and the student even showed up in the final class picture. Creepy, right? It’s another year and it’s been 26 to be exact. With a new transfer student coming in to Yomiyama North from Toyko, Koichi Sakakibara is about to discover what true horror is. In true Final Destination fashion people start dropping like flies from what appears to be the Class 3 curse.

The freaky students of Class 3.

When a show/anime/movie is based on a book, you hope it can be just as good as the original. Never having seen an anime based on anything other than a manga, I don’t have any basis for grading this anime. But I thought it was rather well done. Based around a small town with a secret, the whole story is about finding skeletons in the closet. There are a few twists and a supernatural element that isn’t too over the top as to believe in a situation like this. The animation style is creepy enough with all the characters drawn like human ball jointed dolls. It has plenty of shocking deaths and blood, and everything in the show (probably due to the dolls) has a frail quality feeling to it.

The Eye, anyone?

This anime deals a lot with conversations that happen between characters, and what is said is what matters. There isn’t a whole lot of action until the end, but that was okay with me. It seemed like a new change of pace to watch a show that didn’t focus all around motion, but took it slower and dealt more with the dialogue than what people actually did. It has its creepy elements and would do just fine if it was adapted into a horror movie. But that is what’s surprising seeing this as an anime. It takes a cartoon medium and turns it into something more adult, more Victorian (it’s the only word coming to mind). If you wanna watch an anime without all the bells and whistles, this is probably the show for you. A creepy look into dolls and the dead, this show gets a 6.5 out of 10.


The Dictator: An Actual Plot from Sacha Baron Cohen

I would say I’ve been a pretty big supporter and follower of Sacha Baron Cohen since his Ali G Show days. I loved all his characters when I watched it on HBO and to see them grow into full length movie characters is wonderful. Borat was a wonderful undercover comedy film. Then he followed that up with Bruno, my favorite of his alternate egos. And then, from all this talk about Hussein, Kim Jong-Il, and Gaddafi comes Admiral General Hafez Aladeen. His ability to focus in on one idea that plagues people’s prejudices and preconceived notions on the world around them is spot on as usual. But this one comes with a twist.

Aladeen (Cohen) is a dictator from the North of Africa. In the sweltering heat and tossing sands (a la Hussein), Aladeen lives his life as dictator in luxury. His WMD’s are coming

Aladeen and his majestic hawk, in luxury.

along, he has an all female amazonian entourage and guard, and his palace is so gigantic and wonderful, especially with his fleet of golden Hummers. He’s had sex with everyone (including the great Schwarzenegger. Megan Fox makes an appearance. I wasn’t surprised.) and he is an unforgiving ruler. He sends so many people to death that it’s expected.

As I expected Megan Fox to be in a situation like this…

And then, with the U.N. meeting in NYC looming, Aladeen is kidnapped and tortured. Clayton (John C. Reilly) is a forgiving CIA operative and lets Aladeen off with a shaven face (and then he accidentally burns to death). Stuck in America with only his wits and nobody who believes he’s the real thing, Aladeen’s uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) is planning on making Wadiya into a democratic country with the ability to sell their oil. Aladeen must stop them and keep Wadiya a dictatorship. This is the only time you’ll see a dictator as the hero/protagonist (unless you’re watching a film in their country, then probably you will).

This movie is full of a bunch of funny satirized stereotypes and Middle Eastern humor. As usual, Cohen self deprecatingly attacks his Jewish heritage once again. The Chinese law of one child per family is attacked with the baby birthing scene (as seen in the trailer) and masturbation has never been so patriotic. Sacha Baron Cohen is rather tame in this film in

The Man.

comparison to others, only one or two penises on screen and a handful of sexual references (unless you mention the Saw like birthing canal scene).

I really hoped this happened on the streets of NYC.

There’s a great supporting cast of cultural ecclesiastics  in this film. There’s Ben Kingsley, using his darker complexion to play a Middle Eastern man in this film. I’m always surprised when he pops up in comedies. Jason Mantzoukas plays Nadal, the weapons expert and friend to Aladeen in this movie. This man of Greek descent has been doing comedies for a while now and this is just another one. Bobby Lee rears his freaky head in this movie as a U.N. representative who can get a B.J. from whatever celebrity he wants (insert Ed Norton cameo here). His outrageous nature is made for this movie, and that dude will do anything to strip down into a thong. And one of my favorite appearances was Adeel Akhtar as one of Aladeen’s posse, Maroush. Throw in Fred Armisen and the revitalization of Anna Faris’s career as the love interest hippy, Zoe, and you got yourself a satirical comedy.

The best scene.

I really don’t think there’s anywhere that Sacha Baron Cohen won’t go. His terrorist attack scene in the tours helicopter is hilarious. Ironically, he and Jason Mantzoukas are speaking Hebrew. This points out the fact that a lot of languages, although all different may sound similar to an American audience. And all the iconic songs that he turned into an Aladeen medley! Everybody Hurts, 9 to 5, Let’s Get it On, how much that the way the songs were sung alone made me laugh! Cohen even goes to a black man’s funeral in order to procure a beard from a severed head that reappears constantly in the movie. With no bounds and no forgiveness, Sacha Baron Cohen delivers on all cylinders. 8.1 out of 10.


Cat Soup: Horrifically Cute

This little gem from Tatsuo Sato is the story of cats. It’s a messed up story about cats. These cats are strange. There’s a family of them. And a pig. Which they eat. By unzipping him. It’s strange. But at the same time cute. Yeah…

Anyways, basic plot is that the little boy cat goes on a journey with his brain dead sister (who has only half of her soul recovered) to recover the other half of her soul. The go to a circus, travel on Noah’s Ark, meet the most sadistically crazed man I’ve ever seen, and witness some ending of the world. You could say the little cat-boy really loves his sister.

Coming into this, I gotta tell ya, the trailer for this was freaky. And it ended up being so. Not all that freaky, but more the disturbingly quirky route. I mean, these two cats cannibalize and beat to death a pig, who seems to be their friend. He gets destroyed. Hardcore. Obliterated. And he takes it like a champ. You gotta give some props to a character in a short film whose only purpose is to die so that others can live.

And yes, this anime has some allusions to global warming or a second flood. Just in general some environmental end of the world. I don’t get it. But it was a cute little 32 minute film to watch. The characters are quite cute. The music that accompanies the characters is also quite powerful and moving as well. Although there are no audible lines, there are a few thought bubbles here and there, the anime is purely visual.

In all honesty, this short anime film was a breath of fresh air. I rather enjoyed the morbid humor and unique transformation of images that occurred throughout. It’s short and grabs your attention for every minute and, in that way, not a minute of the film is wasted. You can walk away from it however you like, but it’s a nice little horrifically surreal cat film. Worth a watch. 8.3 out of 10.