Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

The WailingThe Wailing is a film that works – almost in spite of itself. It plays footsie with several genre conventions, while outright flouting others. It’s a horror movie that runs for 156 minutes. It’s a police procedural with an overweight, adulterous barely competent cop on the periphery of the investigation. One moment, The Wailing is about as subtle as a rake stuck in the head of a zombie (an actual image from the movie), and the next, it is as enigmatic as the mysteries of the world’s religions. It’s a Hitchcock mystery. No, it’s a gruesome hunt for a serial killer. Wait, it’s a biblical allegory.

You could spend the entire post film discussion arguing about the proper categorization for this latest offering from director/screenwriter Na Hong-jin, and not even have time remaining for a discussion of what the movie’s epigram from the Book of Luke means when it is uttered by a character in the denouement. (more…)

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The DarknessMom’s an alcoholic. Dad’s an adulterer. Sis is bulimic. And little brother is autistic.

Meet the Taylors!

If only it were a comedy, but, alas, those are the tormented members of the family in director Greg Mclean’s career altering mess of a would-be horror movie, The Darkness. Aficionados of the shock-and-slash genre will remember Mclean’s previous work in Wolf Creek and Wolf Creek 2 with respect and affection. In Mick Taylor, the sadistic killer/torturer of the Australian Outback, Mclean created an iconic monster that terrorized foreign backpackers who were unfortunate enough to cross his path. Throw another European on the barbie, mate! (more…)

ShelleyThere is a theory that horror films reflect social anxities and that the type of monster in the movie corresponds to a specific and prevalent fear of the moment. Under this theory, zombies are a fantastical manifestation of angst over invaders, foreigners, immigration or globalization. Vampires reflect the potentially dangerous results of sexual encounters – venereal disease, herpes, HIV/AIDS. Werewolves or a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde changeling reflect the duality of man and the beast within that can result in an individual falling prey to an uncontrollable rage.

And then there is Frankenstein, which since the Mary Shelley novel first appeared in 1818 under the title Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, has served as a metaphor for a society’s unease with scientific advances encroaching on what had previously been associated with religion.  (more…)

10 Cloverfield LaneThe only risk audiences rushing to see 10 Cloverfield Lane face are overinflated expectations from a brilliant guerrilla marketing campaign and sterling initial reviews (Rotten Tomatoes currently has a tally of 90% favorable). And, yes, there is the matter of the title which may lead some to believe this is a sequel to the 2008 monster movie, Cloverfield, which was a Godzilla found footage flick produced by JJ. Abrams. It’s not a sequel per se, although Abrams has said that this film, which he also produced, belongs in “the same universe.”

Forget about that for now. You don’t need to have seen the other film to fully enjoy this one, and, besides, the latest one is just a helluva lot better. In fact, 10 Cloverfield Lane is just about the best genre movie you’re likely to see this year. Right down to the batshit crazy third act, 10 Cloverfield Lane is pure drive-in fun.  (more…)

CreepyOften, the greatest threat to the success of a thriller is an insistence on providing answers in the second half of the movie to the questions that have been skillfully raised in the first half. Not knowing is invariably more suspenseful than having your suspicions confirmed. Such is the case with the new Japanese film Creepy that had its world premiere in Berlin in February. For the first hour, the movie successfully navigates between two distinct storylines, but when the plots begin to converge, the entire effort unravels. The last half hour of this too long film (130 minutes) is a chore to get through. Director Kyoshi Kurosawa, best known for J horror standards including Pulse, Loft, and The Cure, takes too long to get where we know he’s going and then doesn’t seem to have a very good idea of what to do once he gets there. (more…)

momentumGiven the preposterous casting of Olga Kurylenko as a jewel thief and discredited CIA operative, the largely phoned-in performance of Morgan Freeman (not a comment on the quality of his acting – his sporadic appearances in the film are almost entirely limited to being one half of a phone conversation a continent away from the action), and the start-to-stop silliness of the premise, plot, and denouement, the surprising thing about the new thriller Momentum is that it’s not absolutely awful. In fact, it’s even somewhat entertaining and enjoyable and not entirely in the “OMG, this is so bad, it’s good” way.

How can a film destined to be terrible wind up as not too bad? (more…)

office2The new Korean thriller Office has one of the most dramatic demonstrations of the power of image in recent memory. A single shot, some five minutes into the movie, showing a hand gripping a hammer in the foreground and a domestic scene within an apartment in the background elicits gasps from audiences anticipating and fearing what will happen next before it is even shown. That director Hong Won-Chan can capture such a moment in his first feature film merits kudos, and, even if that represents the dramatic zenith of this uneven effort, his talent is unmistakable.

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