Tag Archives: unsettling

The Woman in Black

I probably shouldn’t have watched this movie so late at night, but not for the reasons you’re thinking. I was falling asleep about 30 minutes in. I awoke for the more scary and chilling parts, but this movie really was your typical, “run of the mill” horror

A “dad” on a mission.

movies. It has the traditional elements (haunted house, ghosts and evil hags) you always see in films, but I think it attempts to rise above the others with one simple element. Daniel Radcliffe.

The Woman in Black is the story of Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe). Somehow a father at 22 (were they trying to pass him off as older with the facial hair?) but playing a 24 year old, I guess it’s not too far off to

The horrors pop up in places you wouldn’t expect…

assume this relationship was possible. A godfather to the son (Misha Handley) he has onscreen? That’s a bit weird… Anyways, Arthur is a lawyer sent to a small town out in the boonies (or British equivalent) in order to settle some business with an abandoned house that was recently vacated (or death-cated, wow, didn’t need to say that…).

While there, Arthur is shunned by the village folk, noticing a

Must… resist… eye…. twitch…

mysterious hint to the air around the town and what they’re trying to hide. With the help of an older gentleman, Mr. Daily (Ciaran Hinds), Arthur attempts to discover what’s wrong with the house and what The Woman in Black truly is. And, I’m telling you, it ain’t all pretty…

They killed Cedric! Wait…

As a whole, the movie isn’t that bad. It has it’s jumps and scares throughout in dark corners and at times you wouldn’t expect. In true haunted house fashion of the 1800’s, there are creepy old dolls (my favorite), squeaking chairs, and ancient vibes that make you feel unsettled because it is a time period so far removed from our own. I like that it chills in the traditional way. Doesn’t mean there aren’t its share of problems.

Daniel Radcliffe was picked, I feel, in order to raise buzz about the film. Plain and simple. It’s a damn shame that movies do this, but I don’t think this movie had anything else going for it anyways. In my opinion, I would’ve picked an older actor to portray a dad, because every fan of Harry Potter that went into this film was anticipating teenager Potter. I did too. And I was

One of the creepier parts of the film…

waiting for his lackluster acting and twitchy left eye to kick in as well… (Watch the HP series, you’ll see it all over every movie.)

The ending was sort of a dud of a twist, or a crappy cop-out. Arthur does what he needs to do. He sympathizes with the Woman in Black and lost his wife, all things that should’ve made him a worthwhile hero in this tale of horror. You were thinking man who conquers true life fairy tale. You get a relentless terror that doesn’t even know when the movie’s actually over. Arthur conveniently finds the clues he needs to solve the puzzle, moving quickly and not allowing any time to ruminate on the conundrum of the film. It’s a straight and away chiller with only a handful of good thrills. You know what’s going to happen

It’s not such a wonderful Wizarding world after all…

before it happens, leaving the plot as crap and the scary moments as the only things holding the film together. I don’t like to judge that harshly, but I have to put my foot down here.

So watch The Woman in Black if you’re not expecting much from a horror movie. If you are a horror fan, I would say steer clear of this one. You only feel disappointed by movie’s end. I give Daniel Radcliffe props for attempting to break the mold, but this wasn’t the movie to start it on. Better luck next time. 4.7 out of 10.

Advertisements

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.


The Red Shoes: Korea’s Hans Christian Andersen

First of all, this movie should be renamed the pink shoes, because clearly (unless I’m colorblind) those shoes were pink. Not that color matters, but it came off as weird… Anyways, this was a pretty satisfactory horror film from South Korea about the old fairy tale about the crazy broad who couldn’t stop shindigging in her red pumps. In this take, a curse is placed on the shoes and you should probably make sure to watch your ankles, cause you’ll get cut off by the shin.

The story centers around Sun-jae (Kim Hye-su) a working wife who is semi-happy with her life. Her husband doles on their daughter, Tae-su (Park Yeoh-ah) and leaves very little love for his wife. One day Sun-jae comes home a little too early from stalking their daughter on her way to dance class. She finds her husband cheating on her and

That’s how the movie kicks off. Bang.

promptly leaves with Tae-su in search of a happier life (a little Pursuit of Happiness, but completely different).

In a run down apartment opposite of the subway, Sun-jae is struggling to start up her eye clinic with the help of hipster before it was called hipster contractor, In-cheol (Kim Sung-chu). With a jealous daughter who misses her father and wishes he mother was gone instead, Sun-jae takes solace in her fancy shoe collection. And then, on the subway, the perfect pair comes along… of… pink, shoes.

A mother and daughter, on a mission… for shoes.

Things start going wrong, horrific visions, her daughter is becoming jealous of a pair of shoes she can’t even fit into, and life is just becoming stressful in general. The perfect elements for a gory psychological thriller. Except for the ending. When a movie has 3 different endings (2 short of LOTR: ROTK) then you know you have a problem. It means the writers second guessed themselves and thought the movie needed more closure/explanation than it actually needed. And that is exactly what happened. You’ll see once you watch the movie, it’s not that bad up until a bit of a struggle with the end. It was 20 minutes too long.

But I loved the way this movie delivered the horror. A lot of it dealt with the wait and spook (jumpy scenes) but the music really dictated the tempo. There were screeching violins, nails on a chalkboard, offbeat music rhythms that really made you feel unsettled. There were some of those psychological scenes that dealt with disturbing images (i.e., one example – not a ruiner – but bird in a bloodbath sink) and a lot of tensions between

Beautiful and tragic.

family members on some adult levels. The director and the cast/crew had a good sense of what creeps people out and what works in a classical sense, and they nailed all the major points.

This is one of those horror movies though that brings in a whole lot more than just horror. This movie tackles family relations, materialism and consumerism (with the shoes and all that, even an ad agency), a woman’s self image and outer appearance, and even feet fetishes. It was done in a very deliberately symbolic manner, and my analytical film mind actually picked up on those cues. This film ended up being a more intelligent horror movie than I thought it could be. That’s worth applauding. The acting was creepily good, special shout out to Kim Hye-su, the star, and a little girl who had to take on more than she probably bargained for, being yelled at by adults (proud of you, Park Yeoh-ah). Overall it was a very visually disturbing movie with an underlying message and too long of an ending. That all adds up to movie you should view for yourself and decide whether you like it or not. Have fun! 6.3 out of 10.

Is it over yet? Who knows…

 


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.

 


A Serbian Film: Those Serbs are Crazy

I have to say this right at the beginning as a disclaimer. If you are squeamish, if you find sexualized violence to be perverse and disturbing, or if you find horror in the 1st degree to be mortifying, this movie and this review are not for you. A Serbian film is the tale of an ex-porn star, Milos (Srdan Todorovic). A man of stamina and skill, Milos (pronounced Milosh) is down to no money and has a wife and child to feed. So what does this absurd bastard do? He decides to take one last job. A sort of “final bank job” if you will. What he doesn’t know is what comes to destroy him.

When I first heard of this film, my roommate had just come back from England. His roommate there told him about this film and told me to check out the trailer. I can’t post it on here due to graphic content, but I’ll post the tamer version below:

Anyways, this trailer blew my mind. From the look and sound of what it was about, I figured it was real. This is classified as a “snuff film”. That’s not a joke. The scenes depicted in the film are designed to look as real as possible. And throw in the ridiculous amount of pornographic content and you have one of the most messed up films since Hostel. Wait, scratch that. Since… Ever.

Should I even delve into the mind of this film? Should I tell you this contains quite a few of the most absurd fetishes to grace humankind? Let me reiterate this. There is the issue of child rape in this movie. That alone should say this movie is not for the weak. This movie wasn’t even for me. I consider myself a reasonable guy. I feel I can handle some of the images the world has to offer. But I have opened Pandora’s box of horror. And this isn’t all of it. There is an entire following of “snuff films” out there. This is just… one among many.

See?

A big thanks to ScuptingFragments for posting these videos on Youtube, opening me up to an entire genre of films I didn’t realize existed. You can tell, even from the length (and there’s a Part II to this video) that there is an unlimited amount of films out there about gore/torture/snuff. The names are ridiculous, the premises are absurd, but my eyes have been opened.

There are very few things I can show...

A Serbian Film is just the latest in a series of films that have been coming out for quite some time. Also identified as “torture porn”, this film is meant to unsettle the mind… and the stomach. And, you’ll hate me for this, but… It wasn’t as gory/horrifying as I thought it would be. Despite the ridiculousness of Serbia and the ability for a repressed country to finally make this film shocks me. And yet at the same time, there are films out there that would curb the sex and go for the same amount of torture and violence. I feel, with American films, the pornographic aspect is shunned (but what the Hell? Americans love porn and the sexualization of women…) due to the uncomfortable feelings it brings. A sort of taboo, if you will.

And what surprises me the most is that this film wasn’t trashed by reviewers or critics. Harry Knowles of Ain’t it Cool News said, “This is a fantastic, brilliant film – that given time, will eventually outgrow the absurd reactions of people that think it is a far harder film than it actually is. The film is an incredibly great film, where everything feels correct in the context of the film. It is never exploitive.” He even gave this film his Top 10 of 2010. Others said it was a movie with no substance. A film that defies you to find any deeper meaning. The director of the film, Srdan Spasojevic, said, “”As much as we try to deal with our life in this film allegorically, and with the corrupt political authorities that govern it, we are also dealing with today’s Art and Cinema and the corrupt artistic authorities that govern them in a similar manner here. The films that preach and enforce political correctness are the dominant form of cinematic expression today. Nowadays in Eastern Europe you cannot get a film financed unless you have a pathetic and

There are no words to describe the evil of this film.

heartwarming ‘true story’ to tell about some poor lost refugee girls with matchsticks, who ended up as victims of war, famine and/or intolerance. They mostly deal with VICTIMS as heroes, and they use and manipulate them in order to activate the viewer’s empathy. They make a false, romanticized story about that victim and sell it as real life. That is real pornography and manipulation, and also spiritual violence – the cinematic fascism of political correctness.”  Using the medium of realistic, pornographic violence, Spasojevic attempts to break the drabness of the former “Eastern Europe” in a way that will shock the world. I feel he achieved that.

Now I’m not gonna say whether or not I liked this film. It’s a basic plot. The acting, as far as I could tell from the Serbian language, was decent. The scenes are disturbing and I couldn’t comprehend how they made the sex look so real. But I commend them for going there. At the same time that I condemn them for exposing me to a horrid side of a world occupied by terrible human beings. It’s like a car accident you can’t look away from. Now, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 4.9 out of 10. I’m not gonna judge and allow you to find out for yourselves, if you dare. All I’ll say is… Newborn infant porn.