Tag Archives: shadows

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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Naruto: The Realest

Cover of the first manga.

Naruto. What is there to say about Naruto? What is there to truly say about one of the most ballin’ animes currently running? Well there’s a lot more to say than that it’s just balling. This show fulfills every young boys’ dream of becoming a ninja. And not just any ordinary ninja, but a true Shinobi with Ninjutsu and Thaijustsu for days. You got the Kunai and Shuriken, and the classic substitution technique. These young children Shinobi put legitimate ninjas to shame. They are unstoppable. And this show is infectious.

But there’s just one debate we have to deal with before we move on to the plot of Naruto. And that is: Naruto Dubbed vs

Naruto and the power of his Nine-Tailed Fox.

Naruto Subbed? There are those younger kids who would argue dubbed, due to an ability to watch a show (not read, though not a valid argument) and a lot of younger kids watched this on Cartoon Network. There are a handful of good voice actors in the show that make it worth watching it. But there’s the flipside of the coin. The subbed version, when it comes down to it, is better done. There’s swearing, and Rock Lee’s secret technique isn’t called Loopy Fist. That was a bit of a disappointment. For a more serious tone for the older fans of Naruto should watch the subbed version. But it all comes down to a preference of English vs Japanese. It’s the same show, just a different feel. It’s all up to you.

The starring team: Sakura, Sasuke, and Naruto!

So, Naruto is a show about Naruto Uzumaki (Maile Flanagan). He is a ninja in training and hoping to become the leader of the village he lives in one day, known as The Village Hidden in the Leaves. The Third Hokage, leader of the village, sees much promise in Naruto and hopes that his sensei’s, Iruka Umino (Quinton Flynn) and Kakashi Hatake (Dave Wittenberg). With his teammates Sasuke Uchiha (Yuri Lowenthal), the cool calm-headed prodigy out to prove himself, and Sakura Haruno (Kate Higgins), the hot-headed and pretty much useless book smart girl,  Naruto can’t fail in his mission to become the best. Believe it!

So many great characters in the world of Naruto!

There’s a lot of arcs and sections in this show. There’s the introduction of all the characters, the Chunin exams (the test that sees if you’re ready to become the next level ninja), and the battles between Orochimaru (Steven Blum) and his henchmen. With each trial for Naruto comes more responsibility and more powers. The show culminates in a huge twist and leaves more than 60 episodes of fillers that have nothing to do with the main plot. That’s not to say that there aren’t fillers throughout that aren’t cool and entertaining, I personally found a lot of the fillers to be funny and not so much a detraction from the show as an enhancer of the lesser characters. And how many cool characters there are.

There’s the 12 Ganin, 3 of which I’ve already mentioned. There’s Kiba Inuzuka (Kyle Hebert), the dog master of Akamaru and a master of, well, I’ll let you check everyone’s powers out. Shino Aburame (Derek Stephen Prince) is the master of bugs, and one of my favorite Shinobi in the show. Filling out Team 8 is Hinata Hyuga (Stephanie Sheh), the master of soft palm. She has a huge crush on Naruto but never

Team 10, led by the great Shikamaru.

reveals it in the original Naruto, an unfortunate thing.

Team 10 is made up of some real destructive masters as well. Choji Akimichi (Robbie Rist), the expanding fat kid with a penchant for lots and lots of niblets and chips. Shikamaru Nara (Tom Gibis) one of my favorite characters in the show and one of the only truly gifted in the series. His ability with shadows will leave you… breathless. And then there’s Ino Yamanaka (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), the useless girl who is more useless than Professor X. (You’ll see why.)

Look at Shino back there, bein’ all wiznerd and whatnot.

And then there’s Team Guy, the most masterful of all the masters. Led by Might Guy (Skip Stellrecht), his mastering of the physical Thaijustsu is just too legit to quit. Under Guy’s tutelage is Rock Lee (Brian Donovan), the only kid who will never quit and always fights to the end with his Flying Leaf Hurricane. Tenten (Danielle Judovits) is a weapons master and is always twirling and releasing weapons on everyone’s asses. And the semi-leader of the team is Neji Hyuga (Steve Staley) master of his cousin’s soft fist and intelligent as Hell.

All of these awesome characters flesh out a show about honor and friendship, being the best and doing everything in your power to prove your self worth. There’s self discipline, training montages, and

And Team Guy, they pack a whallup of a punch.

everything you wanna see in a shounen of this magnitude that needs to be seen by all young men out there that need a great role model in their lives, or just a great action cartoon/anime. Oh, and don’t forget the villains! I already mentioned Orochimaru, but there’s the best character and best voice actor that needs to be mentioned, nay, worshipped. Gaara (Liam O’Brien) is a disciple of the Village Hidden in the Sand, and a true beast of a fighter. With a gourd full of sand that does his every bidding, there’s more than meets the eye to this character. And he will completely slaughter you. Two words: SAND COFFIN.

And don’t ever forget Gaara. SAND COFFIN.

So watch this show for sure. The production value gets better as the show goes along, and for those that like dubbed anime, it’s not the worst in the world. And that brings up an issue. Maile Flanagan ruins this show. She may have a similar voice that can mirror the tone that Naruto Japanese version can do, but that’s just a bit of a stretch. Maile Flanagan’s whiney voice and childish lines leave a lot to be desired from a leading role. Oh, and, well, it’s just gross. Sorry there, Flannie old pal, but it’s probably for the best the dubbed version was cut off in the middle of Naruto Shippuden. But, for overall story and deliverance, Naruto as a whole, for all it’s worth, deserves a 8.8 out of 10. Definitely top 10 anime of all time to watch before you die. (You can skip the fillers.)