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.
1 Comment | tags: 50's ghosts, A for effort, ample acting, Andrew Astor, apparitions, average acting, B-rated antics, baby girl, bad child actor, Barbara Hershey, Black Swan, cheesy chase scene, coma, comatose son, dad, Dalton Lambert, dark thriller, demons, disturbing images, downward slope, Elise Ranier, evil spirits, evilness, exorcism, extended sleep, final impression, Foster Lambert, freaky, gas mask, good scares, great use of music, haunted house, haunting, high school teacher, horror genre, husband, Insidious, James Wan, Josh Lambert, Leigh Whannell, Lin Shaye, loving parents, main monster, main plot point, menacing, mixed feelings, needs to stop, over the top at times, overall disappointing reaction, overdramatic, Patrick Wilson, poor deliverance onscreen, poor ending, psychic, pulse pounding beat, regretful attitude, Renai Lambert, Rose Byrne, sad, Saw creators, scary moments ruined, scary paced film, shadows, shrill violins, Specs, spectral beings, strange ending, strange events, surprising, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, tricks on the mind, Troy, two young boys, Ty Simpkins, unconvincing child acting, understated actor, Watchmen | posted in Movies
(Tagline not true)
So does anybody get the reference in my review title? If you do, this movie plot would sound familiar to you. I’m all for this movie, because I was all for that show back in the day. Kyle Chandler’s a pretty good character actor, and in one of my up and coming reviews, I’m going to discuss Super 8, a good role for his style of acting. Anyways, for those who don’t know, the plot of this movie and the plot of Early Edition is one and the same. One is just horror. In the short version, man finds a newspaper. It predicts terrible things that will happen that day (AKA day the newspaper dictates). Guy has to stop these bad things from happening for his own good. A perfect mix of the morality of stopping something before it happens and the supernatural. Let’s get it goin’.
So, in this particular film, Hideki Satomi is at an outing with his wife Ayaka and daughter, Nana. (Reference to anime, perhaps?) Stopping at a phonebooth in order to get service to submit a project he was working on like the unaware
This dad just cares too much.
working dad he is, disaster strikes. Hideki finds a newspaper clipping, quite old, of a 18 wheeler accident at their location. Not understanding, he turns around to find his wife out of harms way, but his daughter trapped in the backseat of the car. With no time to spare… Hideki doesn’t save his daughter.
Feeling like a failure of a dad, Hideki loses whatever job he had and goes to the degrading work of high school literature teaching. His wife, being as crazy and illogical as most mothers in situations like this, divorces her husband in pursuit of psychics and other fortune telling newspapers. That’s something I just really don’t understand. Why would parents divorce over the loss of their children, or, more to the point, the wife wanting to leave the husband. Maybe I’m not old enough or experienced enough to understand, but that would create a bond between me and my wife over that tragic loss. Unless it has something to do with seeing his daughter in his wife or something…
A husband and wife, reunited.
Anyways, Ayaka starts to discover a past of these predicting newspapers while her husband attempts to shut out all thoughts of the child he couldn’t save. In some way or another, the two are reunited and begin their journey to discover just exactly why these two were able to see and understand these newspapers. But all that is revealed is not necessarily good. In a spiraling torrent of evil and unearthed past, Hideki and Ayaka must escape the future in store for them for their pursuits of the deadly paper.
So, in comparison to the other Asian horror films I’ve been watching, this one probably takes the cake. Coming from Japan, the usual suspects of good horror films, this one had the most amount of jumpy parts and disturbing images. The plot was straight ahead horror. Unearthing a secret that changes their lives forever horrifically. Check. Discovering a not so good background. Got it. It’s all good. The acting is dec, (short for decent, get used to it) and the special effects are right there in the middle of the road, not spectacular, but good enough to make me squirm a bit.
A true dad sees his dead daughter, no matter the place.
But what this movie boils down to, as I’ve been told I’m good at deciphering, is the role of the dad. The father in this movie deserves to be subjected to exactly how good of a dad he is. For the record, there are three reasons he’s a good dad:
1. At some point in the film, Hideki attempts to/sacrifices his life in order to save his daughter. This gains any dad instant “dad martyr status.” In truth, if this happens, the surviving wife will tell their children about the courageousness of their father and just how great of a dad he was for dying for them.
2. Hideki’s life spirals into a terrible depression at the loss of his daughter. Any time a dad will grieve an entire life for their child just proves how much they care.
3. Last but not least, Hideki sees images of his dead daughter and it gravely shakes him. This achieves “prophetic depressed dad” status. Any dad, if they truly cared for their child, will never get over the last image they had of their deceased child.
Combine all 3 of these criteria and you have one great dad. Subtract those parts of the film in which Hideki departs from the path of the true dad, and Hideki ends up with about 145 dad points. (100 points if you sacrifice your life for your child.) There’s no particular cap on dad points, but that’s a pretty damn good score. (If you enjoyed this segment of my blog, please like this post or let me know through comment and this’ll come back in the future.)
Not this, Sandra, not this.
And now the rating. I’ll give Premonition (not the Sandra Bullock film) 6.8 out of 10.
1 Comment | tags: anime reference, Asian horror films, Asian version, Ayaka, car accident, character actor, dad grief, dad martyr status, dad points, dead daughter images, dec, decent, disturbing images, divorce, Early Edition, evil, failure dad, fortune telling, Hideki Satomi, high school teacher, horror version, Japan, jumpy parts, Kyle Chandler, loss of a child, morality, Nana, new blog segment, newspaper, newspaper clipping, phonebooth, Premonition, prophetic depressed dad status, psychics, role of the dad, sacrifice life, Sandra Bullock, special effects, Super 8, supernatural, terrible foretellings, tragic loss, true dad, unearthed past, working dad | posted in Movies