Tag Archives: thriller

Arang: Creepy Korean Folklore

…Not Japanese Cinema, mind you.

Now here’s a movie that stood out to me. The South Koreans did it again in this creepily well done horror movie with a great plot and ending twist to boot. Arang is based on a Korean folk tale about a young woman who was conspired to be raped and stabbed to death by her evil nanny. After succeeding, the corpse of the girl would come back to haunt the area in which she was killed. This movie, more or less, is loosely based on that. In a very similar vein to the Thai film, Shutter, this movie is a revenge/horror/thriller/detective film all in one. Let’s get it goin’.

The film starts off in a bit of the surreal, with the main detective

A haunting and surreal feel for a great thriller.

character, So-young (Song Yun-ah) encountering a salt storehouse she’s never seen before. A young girl is outside crying in the rain. Obviously this has some significance to the story right? You would be right in assuming so.

Next we move to a series of murders that appear to be the work of a vengeful ghost out to kill those who wronged her. With the help of her rookie forensics partner, Hyun-gi (Lee Dong-wook), So-young must

The dynamic duo strikes again!

discover the reason for these supernatural killings. The ending may leave you in a state of shock, and I was very happy with the way everything turned out. It’s up there with the satisfying endings of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance trilogy (currently re-watching now).

The acting in this movie was fairly good. You can always see the American influence on South Korean films and the like (i.e. Gangnam Style being so successful here and whatnot. Particularly, I’m in love with Hyuna). The crime aspect of it and the justice behind it is very

This keeps coming up about the folklore, and I keep laughing at it.

American based, and I hate to attribute that to the Korean War. It’s a jagged pill to swallow, but Koreans just do American style dramatic films better. More than 20 films have affirmed this for me.

It was creepy, but not to the point of scaring me with any of the disturbing images or frightening scenes. This was an underrated film to find on Netflix, and, as per usual, I thank Netflix for providing me with an adequately good selection of foreign films. You can never go wrong with Tartan Extreme films either.

It has been a while since I’ve seen this one, but I do plan on re-watching/buying it. It was a worthwhile film to watch. So check it out at least once. And don’t ever be crushed to death by salt. 8.1 out of 10.

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Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne

What is there to say about Mnemosyne? This short 6 episode, 45 minutes per is one of those anime you watch without really being able to explain it. Set in 4 different time periods (1990’s, 2011, 2025, and 2055) these episodes display a pattern that is constantly broken. Rin, a private investigator and femme fatale, takes the ordinary and mundane in her cases and uncovers the surreal and supernatural. And this isn’t unfounded. Rin herself is an immortal. How did she get to become an immortal? Well you’ll just have to watch to find out.

There’s not a lot to say about this show, so this’ll probably be a short review. The plot becomes intricate as it

Too sexy Rin.

develops, so it’s not too hard to follow despite the changes in time. There are some consistent characters though. Besides Rin (Colleen Clinkenbeard), there’s her assistant Mimi (Jamie Marchi) the other immortal computer wiz of the ever changing duo. And, as the show progresses, Koki Maeno (Robert McCollum) and his descendants become integral parts of the plot.

See what I mean?

This anime is quite graphic as well. Known as a grotesque and erotic anime, there’s some pretty gruesome and pornographic scenes. I mean this thing borders on straight up Hentai. (Not for the kids, mind.) These elements mix to make a suspenseful thriller mystery unlike most anime I’ve ever seen of any of these anime by themselves. I mean there are scenes of sodomy, scenes of overwhelming erotic passion, and bondage with torture. Who doesn’t love that?

I initially wanted to watch this anime because of a really cool AMV I saw (I’ll post it at the end) and I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. I had originally planned to watch this subbed and found a respectable english voice class. Todd Haberkorn did a great job as Apos, the slightly devious and strangely evil… well… angel. (Now you have to watch it.) I’ve not seen Haberkorn

Rin. A different experience.

ever voice act for a villain, but it was slightly chilling. Christopher Bevins gave a respectable performance as Tamotsu Yanagihara, the hardened investigator who’s career develops over the course of the anime. And I give all the credit to Colleen Clinkenbeard for her performance as Rin, the amazingly sexy protagonist of the series.

So, all in all, this is a little anime that gives the creeps. Tastefully sexual and quite intricate, it’s worth more than one watch. Check out Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne, straight out of The Abyss. 7.2 out of 10.

And here’s that AMV I was talking about.


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.


Sucker Punch: Everything You Want From Zack Snyder

There is only one word that can completely encompass what this movie truly is.

Incredible.

Sucker Punch. Yes.

Plain and simply incredible. When I went with a crew to watch this movie, some didn’t know what to expect. Others were excited. Even few others, me and my roommate/best friend Ian were just about ready to cause some mayhem up in that theater because of pure joy. This movie, as of this year, is my favorite movie of 2011. Heck, best of the past two years, let’s just throw 2010 in there. I thought, hey, The Fighter will clinch my favorite and do okay at the Oscars. Granted. Now… If only Sucker Punch had come out in 2010. It would have blown The Fighter out of the water. This movie was some ridiculous shit. Hands down.

You really will be unprepared.

Let me try to explain this without giving anything away. Not much to give away though, it’s really all just about the experience. Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is a supposed mental patient accused of killing her sister and almost murdering her father. She became deranged after her mother’s death and couldn’t take it any longer. Her father takes her to a mental asylum in Vermont and she is held there until she’ll be lobotomized in a week.

Parallel to this runs Baby Doll’s inner fantasy of being taken to a bordello in which the girls dance for their clients. Baby Doll, being that unattainable virgin, is being withheld for the high roller (Jon Hamm) that is set to come in five days. Baby Doll plans on escaping before that day and enlists the help of four other girls at the bordello. Sweet Pea (Abby Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), and Amber (Jamie Chung). With their help, Baby Doll further escapes from reality into her mind as she dances to obtain the four items she needs to stage an escape. And that’s basically it.

Let me just start off by saying that Emily Browning was amazing in this movie. She’s beautiful, talented, and really come into her own in her early twenties.

Emily Browning. New Favorite Actress.

I’ve seen all her movies since 2000, major and minor roles (Ghost Ship, Darkness Falls, Lemony Snicket’s, The Uninvited, now Sucker Punch) and enjoyed every one of them. As she’s grown up, she has taken on a wide array of movies, from horror to children’s to action and the occasional drama. If I had to pick a favorite actress that I’m going to watch from now on, I’m going to place my bid on Emily Browning.

And that’s not to demean the rest of the girls in this film. I really enjoyed the Abby Cornish/Jena Malone combo. Acting as sisters who followed one another to the bordello, these two really did feel like sisters. I’ve found Jena Malone great since Donnie Darko with her alternative look and quirky acting, and now I’ve got a new actress to look out for. Abby Cornish, a new up and

Sweet Pea & Rocket

comer from Australia, was quite the actress, and I didn’t even know she was from there! In other movies she’s done (Bright Star, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) she stuck to her roots and did more period pieces. But I find now that she’s broken more into action and other forms of drama, I feel we’ll be seeing a lot more of Abby Cornish.

Blondie & Amber. They're okay.

And then there’s Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung. Let me put it this way. Vanessa Hudgens is attractive. She may be talented in the way of singing and Disney Channel acting. But the part as a supporting cast member in Sucker Punch was about the only thing she could play. She was more for show than for play if you catch my drift. Jamie Chung on the other hand was a bit better. Playing as the fragile transporter bordello girl in this movie was not a stretch for a girl I’ve only seen in Sorority Row (not bad, I must say, even though most critics wouldn’t agree. It was brutal, at least.) Oh, AND SHE WAS IN DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION. Enough said.

Who I have to give it up to in this movie is Oscar Isaac. That man can act. As Blue, the bordello boss and mental asylum orderly, he switched between roles flawlessly at the end and kept up that “don’t mess with me, I have a short fuse” type of acting style. Although he may seem not that strong or menacing, he pulled it off with his voice and actions throughout the entire film. The first thing I’d seen him in was Pu-239 (great film) and I remember him distinctly in

Oscar Isaacs, Prince John. Better in Sucker Punch

Robin Hood as Prince John, quite the effeminate, yet brutal character. I guess if I had to compare him in acting to anyone, I would say Joaquin Phoenix (like in Gladiator).

Now, let’s talk about the special effects. I’ve heard people liken this movie to a two hour Final Fantasy cutscene. Yes. I agree. But about 1,000 times better. This movie was insane when it came to special effects. No need to see this in 3-D, this movie was just as badass in 2-D. This movie has everything (probably why they called it Fantasy, Sci-fi, Suspense, Thriller, Action… etc.) There are zombie WWI German soldiers, Orcs, Dragons, killer robots, you name it, this movie has got it. And it’s not cliche. It gives an authentic feeling to the old classics that every man in the world has imagined battling. And then it does it. Zack Snyder directive attention to the details of the small things, example, the texture of bullets and shell casings, the way glass looks when it is rained on, the inner workings of a functioning robot. All present and accounted for, slowed down, and shown in detail. That’s what I call devotion to the art of art direction.

All in all, this movie is hands down the best movie I’ve seen in a year. But what else do you expect from Zack Snyder. Let’s recap, shall we? 300, Watchmen, Guardians of Ga’hoole, Sucker Punch. That beginning of a laundry list of badass movies is what I like to call ridiculous. Zack Snyder is fastly becoming one of my favorite directors. 11 out of 10. Yes. 11.

Oh, and the SOUNDTRACK. Check it out, it’s quite amazing.