Sunday, February 06, 2011

Tales From Netflix: Horror roundup

Haven't posted DVD reviews in ages (aside from my zombie reviews on my Zombie Related blog), but had a handful of exciting new genre movies at home this weekend, so thought I'd give a rundown!

LET ME IN - the 2010 US remake of the Swedish vampire hit, Let the Right One In, from the director of Cloverfield, and featuring "Hit Girl" as the young blood sucker. Let the Right One In was a huge genre hit a couple years ago, but aside from having a great tone and mood, I was fairly underwhelmed and found it pretty lackluster. So, I wasn't too excited about a US version, that was going to stick close to the original. Matt Reeves' Let Me In does just that, and I found it a challenge to sit through. He does some nice stuff, again with mood and tone, but knowing the story arc, plot, and pretty much everything to come neutralizes any improvements. Not to mention, if most of your movie is going to have one set, please make that set believable... the snow covered apartment playground looked like, and undoubtedly was covered in fake snow, with the jungle gym at it's center being capped in what looks like plastic/pizza dough snow drifts.

Cute story, but very tedious.


HATCHET II - The original Hatchet from a couple years back was somewhat heralded as a slasher on par with 80's franchise originals. It wasn't. It was a generic low rent premature effort in most every way, aside from it's filmmakers passion for the sub-genre. Hatchet II, while still a bit low rent, improves in nearly every aspect from the first. While it's basically the same plot, utilizing the Aliens twist, reversing the hunter and prey this time by arming the invaders into Victor Crawley's swampland, the story is fun.

The sequel manages to find a couple solid performances from it's very pedestrian cast too. The original had an ensemble cast of bad and uninspiring actors, and while the new effort doesn't really improve on that much, it does have a couple players who actually shine. The clown of the group Vernon, who starts out your blueprint antagonizer, turns in some genuinely inspired comedic moments (well, by comparison at least), and the much overused b-movie horror all-star, Tony Todd, aka Candyman, who tends to just sleepwalk through his endless roles, gets properly utilized here, so that he's not just a useless placeholder.

But mostly Hatchet II shines for fans of slashers and gore, because Victor Crawley, while pretty forgettable as a character, does some inspired things with his hatchets and shed tools!

If you like dumb horror fun, Hatchet II serves up a heaping bowl full.


Here's the main event folks...
MONSTERS - Basically a mix of District 9, and Cloverfield, but with a much smaller budget, and is therefore quite minimal and character driven. That said, what they do in with the simple story, in terms of effects and effectiveness, is inspired, and haunting.
Yes it's a monster movie, but like any good genre work, it hangs on the core story of the people we follow, and how they bring us into their world and extraordinary journey. In this case, half of Mexico has been quarantined, and a photographer must help the daughter of the media mogul he ultimately works for cross back into the US safely.
The writer director, Gareth Edwards, has a background in digital effects, and he employs that craft seamlessly here to subtly change and build the Central American scenery and bring this extra terrestrial trek to life. Destroyed buildings, warning signs, fences, walls, shot out military or civilian vehicles, and fighter jets engaging giant creatures can be found at almost every turn.

Monsters is a rich, low key, character driven giant monster movie of the highest order.


FROZEN - Since we reviewed Hatchet II by Adam Green, I should also mention his last film that only just recently hit Netflix too, Frozen. Like Monsters, Frozen uses a simple horrifying setup to spin gripping character driven drama... all on a lift chair (with Iceman no less!).


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