Tag Archives: menacing

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.


Ergo Proxy: Existential Confusion

Even after watching this anime and reading about it, I am still at a loss for words. This anime, in a word, is confusing. To a high degree. I mean, this is intelligent, philosophical musings about the world and the purpose of life. As seen by the praying AutoReivs. That is one of those images that has stuck with me throughout the anime. Those androids, staring up into the sky, arms brought together in prayer, a rare piece of imagery that will continue to perplex me as I muse upon the meaning of Ergo Proxy.

Let me give you a bare-bones explanation of what I took away from the plot of this anime. This anime is

What is a Proxy?

focused mainly around the upper class citizens of Romdeau, one of the last vestiges of life on Earth. This is because of some great ecological disaster that happened sometime in the past that has forced dome-like structures to keep out the pollution and destruction of the outside world. Humans and AutoReivs (androids who are created for specific purposes to help humans) like in harmony, helping one another in their struggle to survive. And, even in this devastated world, there are those humans who are considered not to be citizens of Romdeau. One of these immigrants is Vincent Law (Liam O’Brien). With no past and what seems to be no future, this lowly character has some connection to the murders and soon to be discovered Proxies of this world. It is up to Rie-l Mayer (Megan Hollingshead) to discover the connection, and it is up to Vincent Law to discover his purpose. A daunting task that leaves me in awe and confusion.

Dark and foreboding? I think so.

This being a crime/suspense/thriller anime, and my wonderful girlfriend recommending it/loaning me the DVDs, I knew I would like this anime. I just didn’t realize how confused it would leave me. But, in this instance, I was not confused in a frustrating way. This anime invites watchers to come back and re-analyze this anime more than once. I feel its the only way to really grasp what this anime is trying to put across. Every episode, although some may seem disconnected to the flowing plot, are important in their scope. (One of the episodes deals with a Walt Disney look-alike and cartoon characters.) But these episodes enhance the meaning of what these characters are trying to discover. And, if you watch very carefully (as I will again), I’m sure the meaning of the show is laid out right before your eyes.

One difficulty I had following this anime was the dark way in which it was produced. The artwork is all dark from the very beginning. It’s hard to see things onscreen (or T.V.) and I felt like I was missing things that were quite important in the first few episodes. Looking back on it now, maybe you are supposed to view the anime through this lens as if you are in the dark, just like the characters. For the anime does begin to brighten as it progresses. Maybe that was the intention. Either way, this anime was truly dark, visually and psychologically. The implications that lay just beyond the plot gave it the weight of the foreboding apocalypse of the world, a comment on our own and the theorized one presented in Ergo Proxy. The way in which these images are presented is a whole other story. The combined animated mediums bring together a visual experience unlike most anime I’ve seen. This gives it that sci-fi feeling that the show really goes for, and I quite enjoyed the ride.

There were a few, although not many, notable good voice acting performances in this dubbed anime. (I might watch it subbed for fun later.) Most notably was Liam O’Brien as Vincent Law. His voice really stood out to me in a way that’s hard to describe. It was as if O’Brien knew the anguish that Vincent Law was facing in not knowing who he is and what his purpose is. Travis Willingham does a great job as Iggy, Rei-l’s AutoReiv and friend. (Loose term.) As funny

Confusing and good. Thank you Dameon Clarke.

as he is for a n android with little/no emotions, he brings life to a character that comes to realization that his purpose is flawed. Some of the best episodes come when Iggy comes to terms with that. Bravo, Travis Willingham. Patrick Seitz is amazing as Raul Creed, my favorite character in the anime. This Security Bureau head is a character of duty and conflict that comes because of that duty. He is always being pressured by the Regent and feels he has no breathing room. But when he lets all that go, then Patrick Seitz’s voice really shines through (best episodes towards the end). Another two voices that I’d just like to commend in passing are Troy Baker (my boy) and Dameon Clarke as two of the Proxies in the show (I won’t be specific, might ruin it). These elegant voice actors really bring a menacing element to the table in the way they present their characters, and they really flesh out the plot and bring to light just what Vincent Law is. Really amazing work.

Besides all this, you really have to watch ┬áthe anime for yourself. If you’re a fan of dark, twisted, suspenseful anime, this is indeed for you. But make sure you’re willing to commit to a re-watch and thorough analysis. This may just existentially blow your mind. 8.8 out of 10.