Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Water Babies (a.k.a. What the Hell Did I Just Watch)

Started watching The Water Babies at the gym on my iPhone because my Netflix recommendations had been hounding me about it for a while and I am baffled at what I just watched.

In hindsight, this cover maybe should've been a hint...

The film starts out as a live action doodad set in London around the early 1800's. The main character is a boy named Tom, who we find out is a chimney sweep orphan working under the apprenticeship of Mr. Grimes (how appropriate) and his buddy Mr. Masterman, whose purpose is a bit unclear. Mr. Grimes and Mr. Masterman set out to the Yorkshire countryside under the pretense of sweeping some lord's manor house chimneys. Unbeknownst to Tom, they have a plot to go in and steal a bunch of this lord's silver and make off with it. One thing leads to another and Tom ends up getting blamed for the stolen silver. After the only hilarious scene in this movie (which includes a lot of yelling "Stop! Thief!"), Tom runs away for fear of being captured and sent to the gallows. He jumps into some creek and ends up turning into a cartoon himself and making friends with sea creatures on his quest to find the "water babies", the people he's been told will get him home.

Nothing more clever than a Scottish lobster I always say...

So I was actually looking forward to this a little bit. After getting over the appearance of the cover, I was like "Oh! Cool! English period drama! My favorite!" and then with the introduction of the little boy, I was kind of like "Huh, you're voice is kind of weird. But sallying forth anyway!" After the appearance of George Banks from Mary Poppins (whose real name is apparently David Tomlinson), I got super excited and waited for the action to kick into high gear.


The minute the boy jumps in the water, the live action opulence is replaced with seriously broken animation. Being a fierce Disney fan, I was really disappointed at the lack of fluidity in the cartoons' motions. Not only that, but all of the characters are like a punch in the face of personality. I don't know if it's their weird facial expressions paired with the jumping frames that make them seem almost scary, or if it's their voices paired with their strange clothing, or if its the fact that they look like they've been drawn by a fifth grader, but there is something seriously awry here.

Also, I couldn't figure out if this sea horse was supposed to be gay or not

Additionally, the movie takes about 45 minutes before you even reach the cartoon bits and then the ending takes another half hour of live action. I bet any kid would be bored out his mind before being let down by the terrible songs and disappointing drawings.

In short, if you didn't get it at this point, I really didn't like this movie. It didn't make much sense, even for a kid's movie. Would've liked to see the whole thing as a live-action thing.

Actually, come to think of it, what was the point in making this a period drama? This could've easily been set in present day with more money going to the animation crews than the sets. Boo.

3 outa 10. And the only reason it's not a 2 is because of David Tomlinson. Who I now love.

My man.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cloud Atlas is...What Exactly?

Is it bad that I am more excited to see Tinkerbell's Secret of the Wings than I am to see Cloud Atlas? It just seems so...complex... I mean the movie has three different directors and four different writers. It's also three hours long. This is going to be more like an experience than just a film. Hope it can stand up to popular audiences. Critics on IMDB seem to think it's okay, giving it an 8.3 outa 10. Hmmm...we shall see.

I mean these don't seem to be even half the 
characters from what I've seen of the preview...

Looking forward to trying to figure that one out...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chernobyl Diaries: What a Disappointment

If you had a plot that revolved around a bunch of teens getting stuck in the Ukraine it would be pretty scary on its own. When you up the ante and make their precise location in the Ukraine the very spot of the biggest nuclear disaster in known history, you'd think that would be ample fodder for a decent scary movie.

I mean, this place has horror written all over it.

What you get instead with this film is a no-nonsense Jesse McCartney (yes. really.), his girlfriend, her friend and his idiotic brother wondering around an abandoned apartment complex/woods for a day and a half and getting attacked by mutant human beings that we never clearly see.

Yes. That we never clearly see.

Let me elaborate. Jesse--I mean, Chris (McCartney) and his girlfriend are traveling around Europe along with his girlfriend's friend Amanda, ultimately going to Ukraine to visit Chris's unruly older brother, Paul-the-Idiot. Paul-the-Idiot somehow ropes the whole group into going on a tour of Pripyat, the site of the Chernobyl disaster. How fun right!? Little do they know that the site is actually occupied with people that never got out and are now the equivalent of mindless zombies that only hunt for food. Or something. While they're definitely not friendly we never really find out what it is they are after.

Wanna know how I know you're gonna die? Haven't 
you guys ever seen Descent? NEVER take a picture.
Terrible luck.

I just cannot get over this missed opportunity. They could've had a gem like The Hills Have Eyes going on here, made twice as creepy by the bleak skies of Ukraine. Yet they sell the story short by making it vague and focusing too much on the drama between Chris-the-Valiant and Paul-the-Idiot. The creepiest thing about this film is the abandoned feel of the replicated Chernobyl site (which I'm betting they blew most of their budget on). Other than that it's a lot of over-acting by an aged pop sensation and a lot of people being dragged away to nowhere.

Woops, there goes another one

Admittedly, it's always difficult to make a movie out of a horrible disaster, no matter the genre. A film about a tremendous human tragedy cheapened by Hollywood gore and cheap jumps doesn't really seem right, and maybe they were timid about this in production. (Seriously, Google some of the pictures from the real-life radiation side effects. That shit is no joke. It's actually horrifying.) That being said, better to not make a movie at all than to make one as half-assed as this one feels. Shame on you, Bradley Parker. Shame on you.

Not terrible, but really such a waste of what could've been a really creepy and interesting plot.

4 outa 10. Womp womp.

Lovely Molly: I'm Both Scared and Really Confused

It is October, dear friends, and that means that everyone should be scanning the movies OnDemand for cheesy thrillers from the 60s, low-budget gore-fests from the 80s, and current horror flicks that fell under the radar. One such underrated recent film was what Nick and I ended up renting on Saturday night, called Lovely Molly.

Soooo I don't really know how to explain the plot of this one very well, but let's just go through the structure of what happens.

Nooormal, perfectly nooormal

Molly is a happy newlywed that moves into her parents' old house with her new husband.  Not long after they move in, strange things start happening. Something trips their burglar alarm and scares the crap out of Molly when she is investigating a noise downstairs. But to add to these strange happenings, certain changes start taking over Molly and make her behave bizarrely. Eluding to her father's abuse of her as a child and even her past use of drugs after his death, there is something deeply unsettling, and even perhaps demonic, about the spirit that is following Molly around. After being literally scared out of her mind (or maybe even possessed by this malevolent spirit) Molly reaches the point where she is doing things that simply are not normal. From attacking her husband to trying to introduce her dead father to him to the even more extreme measures she takes by the end of the film, Molly slowly is turning from herself into something else.

Maybe not doin' so good...

This movie is every film professor's dream. There is nothing concrete in terms of plot structure, yet the movie is deeply terrifying. Why? Maybe it's that old theory that something you can't see or understand is truly horrifying. Look at Paranormal Activity. Holy crap. Never been so scared in my life. Do you see anything? Nope! The same theory applies with Lovely Molly. Despite her (and your) mounting terror, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that she is anything but crazy until a shot near the end (which also scared the living daylights out of me). Even after taking a video camera to this spirit, the audience sees nothing that she claims to see. Her husband, her sister, and we don't see anything except for inanimate objects moved by this spirits energy (we assume).

And also the effects of her crazy

Maybe that's what's so creepy about this movie. She gets totally unglued for seemingly no reason. Yet you want to believe her and even sympathize with what she sees. The scary part of this movie is its power of suggestion, and boy does it work well.

4 outa 10, simply because of the muddled plot and the unclear occult symbols which never get explained. As a sidenote, probably a 6 or 7 outa 10 for scariness..

PS Just for the record, nothing is more unsettling than some weird chick roaming around a forest, spying on kids, and humming to herself.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sinister: Bughuul (With Cream Cheese...)

Well whadya know, a whole new month. I oughta be ashamed of myself. However, I have spent the better part of this month hounding new job opportunities and pulling my hair out and thus am not responsible for the slacking on the blog posts, as it were.

Now where was I?

Ah, yes.


Don't really know why they picked that title for this flick. Sometimes I feel like directors and script writers reach into a top hat full of scary words and just pick one. Sinister. Slither. Underworld. Suspiria (actually I have no idea what that means...but it sounds scary right?). Scream. So many one-words from which to choose. One-word titles are apparently pretty big. But I digress (as usual). This movie was actually pretty scary.

Now I'm kind of a baby about horror films. Honestly I only saw this one because there was a Q and A with the director and the writer of the film and I thought it would help me ground myself in the reality that there is no actual Boughoul (the Pagan demon in the film that, y'know, eats children's souls, nbd) and that hearing these words from the people in charge of the movie might help. Which it did. Sort of.

Me, sleeping that night

The plot revolves around Ellison, a true crime writer trying to make another best-seller, who moves his family into the house of a recently murdered family. Unbeknownst to them, however, (as no one but Ellison knows the house's history) there is something SINISTER lurking in the attic (see what I did there?). About a day into their new home, Ellison goes up to the attic to store a box there or something and stumbles upon an old box of Super 8 home movies.

You're doing it wrong...

Curious about these films, he begins to play them in his office downstairs, and discovers, to his horror, that they are home videos of entire families being murdered in various ways. Instead of revealing the tapes to the police, though, he decides to keep these films entirely to himself in the hopes of uncovering a murderer as he did in his first book. But as things in his own home get more and more dark, affecting both his psyche and that of his family, you start to wonder what the cost of a bestseller could be.

The film is really expertly constructed (as I realized, of course, after talking to the people that made it) by director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) and writer C. Robert Cargill. Combining the really popular found-film sort of cinema verite with old fashioned thriller horror and even super-scary demon themes, they sort of stumble on a hybrid genre that turns out to be very interesting. Instead of styles like Paranormal Activity, in which the audience is the person watching a lot of found footage, Derrickson and Cargill end up letting you see what happens to a person who has found footage and maybe should never have watched it. Additionally, the bulk of the footage that he finds is extremely disturbing (especially when you find out what the whole films entail at the end--ah!) with blood-curdling soundtracks. Showing you at first happy families about their business with light acoustic, it then jars you out of this happy was-reality with trippy, unnerving music that accompanies families being drowned, stabbed, set on fire, and hanged (as I'm sure a lot of you have already seen in the previews).

Little late for that, buddy

One thing to keep in mind as you are watching this as well, is to consider the double horror that this movie shows you: that you are being watched by something SINISTER (heh hehe...) and that some people will sacrifice the safety of their family to pursue their own dreams.

All in all, very interesting film with interesting themes. Well done, Scott and C. Robert! (I can call them by name cuz I met them and they borrowed my Sharpie and answered a few of my questions. Ya jealous.)