2016 Review

Blair Witch

Blair Witch took the right approach as a follow-up to the original Blair Witch Project. It continues the story as Heather’s younger brother, who was four at the time of his sister’s disappearance, sets out with a larger search party to find some answers. You don’t need to have seen the first film to enjoy this one though: all the backstory is summed up in the first few minutes.

As a stand-alone movie, Blair Witch is superior to most mainstream horror being released today and as a sequel, it carries the torch well, offering fans new insight into the hauntings in the Black Hills. Intriguing elements open up more discussion whether the Witch is real, imagined, or something altogether different. The film even touches on a weird mind-bending alternative that I was not expecting. Like the the original, nothing is blatantly explained, but left to audiences to interpret. We had a fun and lively discussion after the movie tossing about various theories.

Cage Dive

We’ve seen a fair share of shark movies(about a dozen), and decided to give this one a chance despite the dodgy reviews. Making a good shark movie isn’t easy, and the same goes for found footage films. So with this in mind we didn’t expect too much of it and just hoped for some good shark footage and maybe some nice shark attack aftermath images.

Without spoiling what happens, there will be sharks! Yes! And they look real and credible. Any use of cgi looks pretty good, no obvious rubber or pixelated sharks. This is the best part of the film.

Sadly the rest of the movie is filled with a really bad plot carried out by 3 unlikable selfish characters. The acting isn’t awful, but the story and dialogue are. And it doesn’t compliment their dull characters.

Creepy

“Creepy”, by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, is quite a strange movie, strangely entertaining and gripping, but that loses steam as its running time advances, ending weirder than weird. Probably, twenty minutes less would have improved the product.

Takakura is an university teacher, former police detective, specialized in serial killers and the like. He decided to leave his job after a bad experience and has moved houses with his wife, Yasuko. But one of their neighbours, Nishino, seems to be a little bit… strange. At the same time, one of his former colleagues gets him interested in a cold case.

Cue a plot development that is a little bit of a head-scratcher, especially when it comes to the behavior some of the characters have. One thing is having people scared, afraid or worried, insecure. Another is stretching situations because they help the tension and the plot develop, even if they are not very realistic or make little sense. Sadly, Kurosawa falls a lot into the second part, mostly close to the end of the movie, where plot development after plot development will make the viewer go from: ‘no, don’t open that door!’ to: ‘come on!’ pretty fast.

And it is a pity because the direction is good, with a moody atmosphere, which makes the viewer feel they can’t breathe. The music, the light, the camera work… all helps to make it a suffocating experience. The acting is really good too, with Teruyuki Kagawa being the highlight again as Nishino. Kagawa can play shady or sleazy in his sleep, and he does a great job here.

Too bad that the movie falls for the cheap shocks instead of caring more about what is happening and giving sense to the story

De Palma

This interview/documentary on Brian DePalma’s work is completely fascinating and it’s not bloated with expert perspectives or critical assessment of DePalma’s work. Rather we get an unfiltered story from the director himself which works its way through the last 50 years of cinema and discusses in much candor the highs and lows of a directing career.

Particularly compelling are the practical steps DePalma took to stay relevant in a rapidly changing industry, as well as his pragmatic approach of dealing with hard-nosed movie executives, difficult actors and minuscule budgets. Throughout the DePalma’s interview narrative is supplemented with clips from his own movies as well as other contemporary pieces, which convey the story line brilliantly.

The documentary was filmed over the course of a view days based on dinner- time conversations between DePalma and Baumbauch/Paltrow. Wonderful editing, amazing perspective; a must-see for any film lover or aspiring director.

El Bar

It’s a thriller by Alex DeLa Iglesia that shows the true soul of the human being in limit situations. This is the main axis of the film, which begins with many comic touches through the dialogue of the characters, but as the film progresses they end up losing themselves and leaving a plot full of darkness and seriousness that makes us think about our own limits.

Álex DE la Iglesia really expresses the reality of the human being and shows it’s most cruel side in a limit situation. Fear, despair and prejudice are responsible for taking to the extreme all the customers of the bar, who will only seek their survival.

Much of the film takes place in that single stage that is the bar, but as the events happen to worse, the stage changes to a darker and darker one that seems to fit the plot. The direction of Álex stands out with a handling of the camera that transmits much more than it seems. It is not just a follow-up of the characters, but the planes also add tension to the scene. Of course, all this could not work if it were not for the sound work and splendid music, which also shows.

Fear.Inc

It’s hard to give a good review of a movie like this without any spoilers as there are a lot of twists, but let’s just say it’s VERY self aware. The writers and main characters don’t take themselves too seriously and that really makes it work.

The film starts off with a Scream like opening and a cameo from 90’s sports icon (you’ll see) and then turns into a very Cabin In The Woods-style movie within a movie type of story.

Main two guys are hilarious and I saw a couple of twists coming but definitely didn’t see others. If you’re looking for more of a serious or straight horror you may be disappointed, but if you’re looking for something fun like cabin in the woods, you’ll really enjoy it.
Hell or High Water

With Taylor Sheridan as the writer and David MacKenzie at the helm, I had high hopes for this movie. Both of their last respective projects (Sheridan – Sicario, MacKenzie – Starred Up) were gritty, violent, and engaging. All of those hold true for Hell or High Water.

The main characters, Chris Pine and Ben Foster turn in great performances. Ben Foster plays the ex-con brother. And as usual, he turns in what I think was the best performance of the movie. He has a knack for playing a top notch supporting role, and often times gets overlooked. Chris Pine also nails it as the more straight laced brother. For a pretty boy of Hollywood, his portrayal is authentic. Jeff Bridges also compliments these two well as the older, sort of jaded officer. Both him and Foster even provide a good amount of laughs, but neither overdo it.

The setting of the movie really sets it above others in the genre. I would say this movie is more crime/drama or heist film than Western, but it definitely has a Western vibe due to its northwest Texas setting. The area has been hit hard by the recession, a failing farm industry, and big oil. It all makes the recklessness and danger Foster and Pine engage in that much more enjoyable, and even sort of relatable. The audience can at least sympathize with them as they do what they think is right and overall this film is well worth a watch.

Herederos De La Bestia

We have to own up to the fact that we’d never seen the original film but there was nothing else on at this time and we love a good movie doc so were looking forward to it and weren’t disappointed.

From what’s given in the movie, it is Impossible to imagine the current Spanish cinema without El día de la Bestia. Two decades after its première, Álex de La Iglesia’s film is still a big influence on Spanish genre cinema, mixing the most brutal horror and fantasy genres with Spanish freak tradition. This documentary interviews the team that created that masterpiece and explores their influence nowadays.

Whilst we don’t really have an urge to see El día de la Bestia after this, we really enjoyed the documentary

I Am Not A Serial Killer

Obsessed with a spate of bloody murders in his hometown, a disturbed teen begins to stalk his elderly neighbour.

Mostly a tale of alienation in a decaying society, but with a light-hearted touch. The hero is presented in the unusual scenario of a family that runs the local mortuary, and there’s some nice gore on the dissecting table as the vascular pump ticks away in the background. Also sets up a nice sight gag for the credits music at the end.

It’s well shot and paced, but only picked up for me at about the half hour mark, when the horror element was introduced. At about 54 mins there is a well thought out and skillful jump scare. But the tone never gets heavy, so this is horror lite. Maybe they should have gone full horror once the ambiguity over the killer’s identity was cleared up. Instead we had to wait for some over-cooked CGI at the very end.

Max Records as the Lead Actor is very good, and special mention goes to Christopher Lloyd as the villain too – though some of his lines were obscured by the aged voice. There are too many characters, some of whom seem significant but don’t matter to the story or only appear in scenes that could have been cut – mostly the high school stuff. So the screenplay is not the tightest but overall a whimsical horror that needed a heart transplant somewhere along the way.

In A Valley Of Violence

In a Valley of Violence follows a travelling cowboy who, after stopping by a small town, unintentionally starts conflict among the more powerful members there.

Let’s start with the obvious part: Ethan Hawke. He’s fantastic, as per usual. I don’t think I’ve ever not been impressed by this guy, and that trend continues here. John Travolta pulls off a solid performance as well, playing one of the most interesting characters in the movie with James Ransone doing the same, pulling off a good ol’ western hothead. Personally I don’t think that Taissa Farmiga was very fit for this role, but she did her best and thankfully fails to take anything of significance away from the movie.

The writing is good and the movie builds the characters and conflict for a while before anything of real significance happens, and it makes it all the more effective. It excels at building tension, making the last 40 minutes of this movie just that much better.

Speaking of the last 40 minutes, they’re awesome. After an hour of solid build up, we are treated with some great western action. It’s tense and exciting, yet not over-the-top. It’s just right.
The Autopsy Of Jane Doe

While investigating the murder of a family, Sheriff Sheldon (Michael McElhatton) and his team are puzzled with the discovery of the body of a stranger buried in the basement that does not fit to the crime scene. He brings the corpse of the beautiful Jane Doe (Olwen Kelly) late night to the coroner Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and requests to have the cause of death until the next morning to have an answer to the press. Tommy’s son and assistant Austin Tilden (Emile Hirsch) is ready to go to the movie theater with his girlfriend Emma (Ophelia Lovibond), but he decides to stay to help his father in the autopsy. Along the stormy and tragic night, they disclose weird and creepy secrets about Jane Doe.

“The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is a creepy, claustrophobic and scary low- budget horror movie. The screenplay is very well-written and the tension increases as long as the mystery about Jane Doe is discloses by the coroners. The limited use of special effects is another plus in this little gem.

Operation Avalanche

Operation Avalanche is a mockumentary/found footage genre movie which really twists the genre around and brings along an interesting point of facts. Some people call it the most illegal movie ever made which it does almost live up to.

This movie focuses how the USA could not land a man on the moon and how 2 CIA agents find this out and how they think up of an idea which really makes you wonder. The film consists of many funny moment, an intense car chase and a cluster of interesting ideas from the 1960s and references to the future.

The fantastic actors, clever script and good plot make up for the low budget it had. Definitely a must watch!

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