Tag Archives: horror

Silenced: Korean Courtroom Drama

So, stereotypically, when it comes to Korean films, I watch horror and thrillers. It’s not often I stray from that path and end up watching something unique and beautiful like I did with this. Based on a true story, Silenced is a film about the injustice and legal accusations of a school of deaf children against their abusive and molesting faculty. This movie hits you hard with its brutality and tugs at your heartstrings with the emotions the child actors show in their voiceless anguish. Not what I was expecting, and so wonderfully done I don’t want to forget it. This movie could very well impact your life.

The basic premise of this film. Kang In-Ho (Gong Yoo) is a mild mannered teacher of

The utter grace of sign language, in all languages.

the deaf who comes to a new school. Working for his daughter with severe asthma and his mother (his wife has passed on), Kang In-Ho is forced to pay 50 million Won (50,000 in American dough) in order to work at the school, “without complications”. After noticing some strange activities, including the beating of a young male student, Kang In-Ho must do something.

And do something he shall. Enlisting the help of a civil rights worker named Yoo-Jin (Jung Yu-Mi), the duo brings to court the cases of three students, all tragically tainted by their experiences at school, and without the power to voice their cries. The added element of sign language in this film creates more of an impact when silent tears roll down the children’s faces.

Shocked into silence.

The acting in this film was phenomenal (as might be expected from the film festival reviews) and the dark atmosphere was superbly coupled with the cinematography. The subject matter is heavy and troubling, but you really get a chance to connect to the characters in the film and care about their well being. Hats off to any child actor who can deal with a role like this in a professional context. It has been a while since I’ve seen this, but I always enjoy a courtroom drama, and this one delivered on so many levels. The outcome is surprising as well.

What really sums up this movie is the message at the end. This being about real events, this movie was out to make people aware of the atrocities mankind commits on mankind. The troubling scenes and the feelings of hatred and injustice that spill throughout this movie make it for an emotional watch, but it is well worth it if you care about the issues at hand in this film. (It helps if you like Asian films as well.) Don’t know much else to say about this, other than to watch it ASAP. I’ll give Silenced more than a whisper on my rating scale: 8.4 out of 10.

Heartbreaking.

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Alice: Madness Returns

In this game of twisted returns to Wonderland, American McGee’s Alice returns with a vengeance. Featured on Windows, PS3, and Xbox 360, this game may leave you feeling a bit queasy and reeling. I haven’ played the original before, but this game got me pumped up enough for it. And you can buy the first one and play it on your game system via PS3 online or Xbox Live! All is wonderful in Wonderland…

This game takes place after the events of the first. The Red Queen is defeated and Alice feels she can return to a sense of normality. Or so she thought… Blaming

Now that’s what I wanna see (I loved her different dresses).

herself for the death of her family and sister Elizabeth in the house fire, Alice is sent to an insane asylum. After fighting back against her demons, she’s released, only to find herself slipping in and out of Wonderland.

Flying fanciful free… to your death.

But this isn’t the Wonderland I know and love. This Wonderland is deranged. There are dolls roaming everywhere, black liquid acid, everyone has been deformed and crippled! Steampunk has taken over! Alice must find what is going on and stop the Infernal Train that is haunting her dreams as well as her waking life. To save Wonderland, she must save herself… and vice versa.

This game had me off me tits for most of it. I had little semblances of what was real and where I was in space and time. The characters were familiar and yet bastardized at the same time. Up was down, down was left, right was wrong, and all that old shite. (You see the English mannerisms coming in, don’t you?) Alice has become snarky and meaner in her teen years, and it all goes to show that Alice had to grow up sometime. (She still loves her stuffed rabbit though…)

Oh, all the tools at your disposal…

The gameplay… was average. You jump and glide from platform to platform, hoping to don’t burst into butterflies, with that horrid far-off scream. You battle enemies, some easy, some impossible without the Hysteria feature that kicks in at low health. Whatever anyone says, the Infernal Ruin (the train mud dumps) are nearly impossible to beat, even on normal. I can’t imagine Nightmare mode… Most of the time you know the ways to get around, and every once in a while there’s an alternate route to take (thus, replay value). But for those really stressful times that come up in the game, I don’t really feel like going back and replaying stress. It’s not good for you, you know?

Off with her silly little head…

I think the game designers need to make Alice 3, and really vamp up the graphics. For an Xbox 360 game that was 10 years coming, it was rather lackluster. Alice’s hair is flying all over the place (actually cool) but glitches that weren’t even meant to be in Wonderland abounded frequently. If I have to play that game again and constantly fall into oblivion because there’s a glitch, I may become mad myself.

The voice acting was fine but not a lot of work was put into the cutscenes. You find out all this information in a right hurry, and it doesn’t seem to come to you where you can add up the dots. The picture cutout scenes were quite cool, but the in between mini games with the Japanese 2-D jumping and the doll’s head pinball, that has to go.

Get some of that sick depravity.

Overall, I loved the feel of this game. It was creepy, unsettling, and really focused in on my fear of dolls. Nothing feels childlike in this game and you feel that every second is your last with constant death and restarting. To analyze madness in such a way with the characters and the feeling of 19th century London, Alice Liddell really has things stacked against her. To question what is sane and insane was cool, the gameplay left something to be desired (got a bit repetitive towards the end), but, for an Alice in Wonderland fanatic, this game is just what I ordered. I own different copies of the story, different artwork, I’ve seen a dozen films, and this game combines my love of Alice and the gang with horror. What could be better? (Maybe better gameplay…) A solid 6.1 out of 10.


Audition: Let’s Have a Call for All Killers

I was in a state of shock and awe after this film. I thought I had found my favorite horror films, but Audition really blew those out of the water. This perfect balance of horror and troubling thriller really sets the bar high for any films after 1999. Takashi Miike has made a masterpiece of a mindf@#$k with Audition. And the fact that Rob Zombie, John Landis, and Eli Roth said this film was difficult to watch, it has to be golden.

Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a recently widowed movie producer. He’s been quite distant and lonely lately, and his son, Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki) has noticed it. Encouraging his dad to at the very least start dating again, Shigeharu turns to his

The audition begins. This is one of those other shots they held really long so you couldn’t see her face. Chilling.

friend, Yasuhisa Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), a fellow movie maker for ideas. This is where he has a stroke of genius. In proposing a new movie idea, these two scoundrels will have an audition (hey, there’s the movie title!) for the leading lady. Shigeharu can choose his top 30 and narrow it down from there, giving the lead to the best actress, but he can claim his favorite choice for his wife.

Ballin’ disturbing images.

Feeling slightly uneasy about this, Shigeharu goes into it half-assed. He dawdles around until he finds a young woman who stops his heart still. Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) is a former ballerina with a very high guard and a delicate personality. He tragic past and broken dreams intoxicate Shigeharu and he must have her at all costs. After a few dates, Shigeharu starts to notice something different about her. And once she disappears, he digs up a past he never wanted to find.

I have to say it, this is a dope ass film. It’s such a twisted film with a plot that leaves you with no idea what’s going on. What people talk about is the torture scene at the end. Needles, dismemberment, blood, this scene houses the entire NR rating for the

A feeling of unsettling fear…

whole film. People have left disgusted and sickened, but that’s what would have kept me in the film. I’ll admit it, I love torture and horror. Anything that makes people, as an audience, feel unclean is wonderful. For someone to go into a movie like this and realize something about their sensibilities by the time they leave is an experience worth having. It taps into our minds and shows us just how terrible the world can be. But shouldn’t be.

I was impressed with a lot of things about this movie. Eihi Shiina’s performance in this film was chilling and horrific. She seems to be such a nice little girl, but her unemotional, uncaring side is what frightens people. It makes people feel uncomfortable with how relentless and completely honest she is as a character. She hypnotizes the bugs into her web and leaves them there to die by her fangs.

You’ll never wanna guess what happens…

A lot of the film has these extremely long held camera shots in it. The action will stay on one angle and deliver a whole piece of dialogue without moving. You’re anticipating some movement (like you would with most films) but it doesn’t come yet. It waits, and waits, and waits until you feel uncomfortable. The whole movie is made to feel unsettling. It’s a tortuous waiting game of when will the knife fall, until it does (and only in the last 15 minutes).

The surreal quality at the end of the film also really spoke to me. You fade in and out of the torture scene, you see past events as Shigeharu couldn’t have seen them. The past is rewritten. You lose all sense of control and awareness as the drugs settle into Shigeharu. You completely give your control over to Asami, something that is unsettling for people to do, even in real life. You lose yourself to this poisonous flower and have no feeling of waking up. There is a bit of a jarring from this final scene that didn’t need to happen. No happy ending was necessary, and yet Takashi Miike allowed it to happen. It would’ve had such a sweetly unsatisfying ending if it had the villain succeeds ending…

But, all in all, this movie delivers on a horror lovers level and a thriller/psychological level. You feel off either way after you’ve watched this. And that’s what horror movies like this set out to do from the start. No wonder this has a cult

WHAT’S IN THE BAG?!?!?

following. It should have. Asian filmmakers know how to do the horror genre right, and this is no exception. This is the movie that made the rule. 9.4 out of 10.

 


Prometheus: Astounding

Astounding is the only word I can think of and use to describe this movie. It has stunning visual effects (didn’t see it in 3-D, didn’t need to), gut wrenching gore and horror, and this air of mystery that hangs over the whole film. It is a part of the Alien series (5th installment) but at the same time it is set apart completely as its own film. A great cast was selected and an amazing backstory/ prequel was born and thus named Prometheus.

In this epic tale of just what happened before the Alien films, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) are two archaeologists who have stumbled upon something fantastic. In different locations all around the world,

It all begins here.

spanning centuries, the same symbol of a gigantic man pointing to a specific star region, as if to say “Come find us.” Interested in this speculation, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) finances the whole thing with his massive amounts of dough and creates a ship, named Prometheus.

Janek and Vickers. Opposites attract?

Piloted by Janek (Idris Elba) and watched over by the android David (Michael Fassbender), after two years of flying, the crew lands on the distant planet the star map told them to come to. Under Meredith Vickers’ (Charlize Theron) watchful eye, the crew must find what they’re looking for, even if what they’re looking for is no longer around. What they find is more than they bargained for, and the must stop the deadly trap from making its ways to Earth.

Where should I begin in my shining review of Prometheus? Well, I think that finally technology in special effects has made its way up to Ridley Scott’s vision of what he has wanted the Alien films to look like. It’s space agey, cold and

An unknown marvel awaits.

clinical, and full of wonder and horror all at the same time. The planet storm was breathtaking, the creatures and surreal caverns were creepy and mammoth sized, this movie incorporated everything you wanted to see in our race discovering a planet in… 70 years.

Noomi Rapace, giving her heart and soul to Prometheus, as only she can.

This strong cast of actors all did their jobs in developing their roles in what you would expect of a spaceship crew. Idris Elba did a great job as the ship’s commander. Slightly minor, but he didn’t take shit from anybody as you would expect. Charlize Theron (in one of the only roles I applaud her in) plays the oddly robotic and bitchy overseer of the entire operation. She tows the line between sci-fi amazonian and unemotional human in a very convincing performance. Michael Fassbender stole the show again as the android, fully immersing himself in what Theron had to hint at. His intrigued and distanced character embodies what sci-fi novelists and movie makers have seen as a human robot for years (think Ian Holm in the original, but add the quirkiness of Jude Law in A.I.) And then there’s Noomi Rapace. This Swedish actress from The Dragon Tatoo series put her heart and soul into the part. She tired herself out, did some terrible yet necessary things to her body, and did it all with a British accent she had a coach for. Seeing her dive into a character that has to deal with all these terrible revelations was both disparaging and inspiring. She didn’t let what was happening put her down or stop her from her end goal.

The only true scene I wanted to see in 3-D.

One person I was particularly impressed with was Guy Pearce. I’ve loved him since The Time Machine remake (and Memento, of course) and think he was born to play in sci-fi films. His air of bravado and poise resonates in entitled sci-fi characters. And not to mention he’s playing an old man for 15 minutes of the film that you would barely recognize. And a great little cameo from another one of my favorite actors (since Watchmen), Patrick Wilson.

The music was orchestratedly stunning. At all the moments you feel fear or exhilaration in this newly discovered planet, it fills in with the proper soundtrack. Much as Gabe would describe it as a soundscape

No words can describe it.

that fills in all the spots of your imagination, this soundtrack did that for me. (Was it similar to the other Alien films? Let me know.)

Another thing that was so great about this film (haven’t I said enough?) is that you don’t have to be a die hard Alien fan to watch this movie. This movie itself can get you hooked in (being a prequel and all). I’ve only seen the first Alien and the AVP series (always been more of a Predator fan, sorry), and this movie makes me want to watch all of them. This movie tackles the mythology and world of a film that is also a film! Something made up and fantasized analyzing something else in the same manner? That’s wild! And I thought it was so well done and handled from such a organic and basic place that it made itself into this mythological God that could spark films and analysis for years to come. Until it becomes a reality.

… What started it all.

With all this ranting and raving about the film, why haven’t you X-ed out of my blog and already started up your car to go see this in theaters? You need to see this in order to boost the ratings and maybe someday prove that a genre other than drama can win the Oscar for best movie of the year. Because I would argue that this film is in the running for 2012. Just saying. I have no complaints and was mesmerized from the start of the film. Go see it. Now. 10 out of 10.


Repo! The Genetic Opera

In a crossover genre that reminded me a bit of the only other big exposure I’ve had to operetta style plays/shows (i.e. Cats), Repo! The Genetic Opera was a twist and melding of something I’m not used to seeing at all. And, big plus, in the form of a movie. And what more could seal this musical deal? Darren Lynn Bousman, director of Saws 2-4, was the director. That’s a pretty sweet marmalade right there. And I was surprisingly not bored during this horror/rock opera/film extravaganza.

In a strange dystopian intro scene that may remind those of us who have seen Mystery Men of a similar grimy town flyby, there is a new way of living in the city. And that is prologued by the GraveRobber (Terrance Zdunich). In this new dark and sinister world, people are living longer. How, you may ask? Through the use of artificial organs. You

GraveRobber, the teller of our tale. (Is that a cat from Cats right next to him?)

can pay for these organs with a monthly fee, but it must be paid on time to GeneCo. If not, “Rotti” Largo (Paul Sorvino) will send his RepoMen after you and remove it from you.

The story focuses around a doctor Nathan Wallace (Anthony Head) and his sick daughter, Shilo (Alexa Vega). In a story of sick and twisted nip/tuck pleasure, betrayal and love, and discovered identities, Repo! The Genetic Opera combines the operatic style of singing with the gruesomeness of shock rock. What I found surprising, coming from a director who has done such a violent and intestine filled series, gave a bit of humor and poise to the blood and guts. I was never grossed out (as if this film or any other could do that) by the events unfolding before me, it was more with the type of music and subject matter. It was a winning combo, to be sure.

Paris Hilton, can you tell?

I liked the subject matter (dystopian world of the morbid) and found it to be a simple enough plot to get across with how many underlying motives were at play. What I was semi-impressed with was the singing. Anthony Head, star of Buffy and featured on my favorite British comedy, Little Britain, was a phenomenal singer. Alexa Vega, a bit weak, which surprised me. Terrence Zdunich was a phenomenally good stage presence in front of the camera. I enjoyed his pop out of a trash can every once in a while. He had the Cats vibe down. His morbid look was appealing and flashy, almost like a Rum Tum Tugger (although this guy didn’t do any theater before this, so far as I can tell…).

Some surprising cast though in this film. Paul Sorvino, star of musicals and dramas and a couple of Italian Mafioso films, was a good presence, but weak as a counter character/villain to Nathan (Anthony Head) the age difference was a bit of a problem for the plot device they had to deal with, and so it just came off as odd. His singing was a bit weak too, but I think that’s something that happens when you have to speak/sing lines in a rock opera. Sarah Brightman, English singing extraordinaire was delightfully pleasant for as small of a role as she was given. Her

A little bit of blood never hurt Buffy…

singing sent a few chills down the old spine.

And there’s even more! Throw in Bill Moseley, actor from a shit-ton of horror films, including a few Rob Zombie vehicles. And Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy (industrial metal band for those of you who don’t know)? Who knew? I could barely put the names and the faces together with this nip/tuck of a performance. Oh, and Paris Hilton for sex appeal. No big surprise there.

Enjoy that open wound, guy.

In an hour and a half of rockin’ and a rollin’, you’re exposed to the world of blood and guts, drums and guitar. I’ve never seen a movie like this before, and this sets the bar sort of high on expectations (and no, I won’t be watching Rent anytime soon). So move aside The Wiz, because there’s a new favorite musical film in town. And it’s got more of an edge to it. So strap in and hide your organs for Repo! A 6.4 out of 10.

 


100 Feet

It’s not every day you see Famke Janssen under house arrest for killing her husband. And it’s not every day that you see a vindictive poltergeist wreaking havoc all over her life for killing him. In this version of what I would consider Jennifer Lopez’s “Enough” gone wrong, Famke Janssen is haunted by her husband she killed in self defense. There are some frightening scenes and I really enjoyed the way that the jumpy scenes are strewn throughout without warning, not just built up until the end. With a minimal cast and quality acting, this was a horror movie that was unfortunate that I hadn’t seen sooner.

Marnie Watson (Janssen) is a newly paroled felon who has just been released from prison and given house arrest in her house. This is the very house that she killed her husband in in self defense. A little twists is that her husband was a police officer, and the partner cop to the man who will stalkingly watch her for the rest of the film, Officer Shanks

Famke Janssen, terrorized all over again.

(Bobby Cannavale). I was semi-impressed with Cannavale’s performance in this film, only because it wasn’t a stretch for him to play a hardened Brooklyn cop. He’s a character actor and it’s all good.

So Famke’s ass gets locked up with a house arrest anklet that only allows her to go within a 100 foot radius in her own house. If she leaves the confines of the house, the alarm will set off and she has only seconds to return to the barrier. This is a problem because parts of her huge and nicely furnished house are off limits to her, including the basement. Plot device, anyone? So Marnie returns to a semi-life of normalcy and goes about buying groceries, cleaning house, ad finding anything she can do to keep busy.

The face of a wife beater…

It’s not any help that the entire neighborhood doesn’t believe that she fought in self defense to save herself. Looked down upon by everyone, only one delivery boy, Joey (Ed Westwick) finds no problem with her. Attempting to be her friend, Marnie copes with a life of solitude. Until her husband starts attacking her from beyond the grave. In a series of scenes that bust up her and her house, Marnie starts reliving all the horrible beatings her husband gave her in life. And this time around, Marnie has had enough of this poltergeist B.S. She’ll fight back at any cost necessary. Without being able to leave her house, this plot restricts her from running away. It’s time to kill again.

I really liked the simplistic plot of this film. It was a creative idea, although I’m not sure they would lock her up in the same house she killed in, as poetically justified it may seem. There are some great haunting scenes in the movie involving a lot of things breaking (including some bones). Ed Westwick plays a reasonably real character in this film, although he’s a straight tool for his work on Gossip Girl. I’d say this is one of his better works. Hauntings and devilish exorcisms and demons are more my style when it comes to horror, so this movie was right up my alley. There’s a great kill scene in the movie, and, although the CG effects in this movie are a bit Syfy channel middle of the road, it doesn’t detract from the whole overall

I know I’ve been stalking you for a while now, but did you know you look like that read headed wench from X-men?

experience of the movie. It’s brutal, and it does the job of performing as a threatening and horrifying film (didn’t scare me much, but all the same, the lights were on).

Most of the time, I’m a tool.

The one thing that will either disappoint you or make you laugh will be the end of the film. There’s some strange confrontation and a ridiculous explosion of an ending that would give Michael Bay a boner. It ruins the whole otherworldly feel of the movie and gives rise to a really dumb explanation of why he’s haunting her and how to stop him. Everything is resolved and, in a really sloppy style for a poltergeist, Shanks believes her and gives her the happy ending she wanted from the beginning. It just really comes down to the sub-par dialogue at the end and that explosion. I can’t get over how that ruined the movie.

But, from beginning to middle, this movie was well executed. It has the right amount of horror and plot, jumpy scenes and furthering events. Famke Janssen did her job (not as Phoenix from X-men, obviously) and gave the woman in peril role new meaning. She fought back with a butch attitude I wasn’t entirely expecting. She doesn’t frighten away like most women do in films and really sticks it to her husband in the film. There’s a real in your face attitude about this horror movie and that made it a breath of fresh air. It’s only the ending that takes down the rating. I’ll give this little horror film a 6.2 out of 10.

Janssen won’t back down easily.


Blue Gender

I’m not usually a fan of pre-2000’s anime. I love some of it, but a big killer for me of such a wide array of anime is the choppy animation. I know the times have been a-changin’, but that’s just the kind of person I am. I’m excited with the direction that anime is going, and this is one of those shows that kicked it off. Blue Gender is the show of a post-apocalyptic Earth that has been disheveled by gigantic bug creatures called the blue. One of those mecha shows in line with Evangelion and a little bit of Gundam, this show provided more than action, it provided mental breakdown and disaster.

Blue Gender is the story of one man, Yuji Kaido (Eric Vale). Let’s start off by saying I was happy to see Eric Vale do good justice to another hero in a series of heroic mecha shows I’ve seen him do. Anyways, Yuji is a sleeper, one of thousands of citizens of the world that were sent to sleep in the 2000’s. Now, 22 years after his slumber began, Yuji is abruptly awakened into a newly advanced world that is being slowly destroyed by a gigantic race of bugs. You may be wondering, “How did these bugs get so damn big? Are we in Honey I Shrunk the Kids?” No, that’s a strange assumption to be making. It will all be explained at the end.

Eight legged freaks?

So Yuji is accidentally awakened and he spends the first episode yelling and running around this scientific facility, trying to figure out what’s going on. He nearly dodges death and finds his way into the arms of a young, unfeeling cadet, Marlene Angel (Laura Bailey). The two of these spend a big majority of the show attempting to get into space to regroup on Second Earth. And that’s not where the show ends. That is a big discovery and a secret I will keep. Well worth the wait that this show still delivers all the way until the end.

Yuji, always emotional and humming.

At first this show started off similarly to Casshern Sins (refer to earlier blog if you need a refresher). Yuji and Marlene’s gang of soldiers are in a race to beat the clock back to Second Earth. But a lot of people die along the way. But a lot of new people are met at the same time. The first half of the show, basically, is Yuji’s discovery of just exactly the difference is between living on Second Earth. The schism between the two is brutal and astounding to him. This is where the heartfelt apathy is felt for humans in general. Then the show picks up with a lot of action and some role reversal, and you’re left with a “we must save the world” situation.

I don’t mind this construction in anime. What I did mind was a not so subtle undertone of sex in this sci-fi/horror/mecha anime. With this whole idea of

Yuji and his B.A. mech unit.

free love and no consequences came off as strange. Nobody cares about each other and this is really emphasized through Yuji’s eyes. But what I don’t get is that all this free sex is unabashedly displayed and done in front of everyone else. I get that this is a common theme in sci-fi novels, but I think it reflects poorly on the genre in that it really doesn’t have to do with anything and just comes off as awkward.

This show gets steamy.

Animation-wise, the show looked fine. There was a good deal of gore and mature content, and I was okay with that. I can imagine its stint on Cartoon Network’s Toonami must have been greatly edited. The recording of the dub was a bit low and I missed some key lines throughout. I don’t know if it was Netflix, but that was a bit of a problem and detracted from watching it. But that opening song sure is bumpin’.  Overall, I really enjoyed that this show was more than your average mecha fighter. The characters had fight and soul, and it made out for a better plot and drama. I’m sure some other anime could take some cues from this formation. A well deserved 8.4 out of 10.