27 June 2011

Insidious (and 4 other horror movies) review

I’ve been catching up on movies I’ve wanted to see for a while recently. Pretty much watching 1 movie/night on my laptop in bed with earphones plugged in.  By chance most of these movies are classed as “horror movies” so I’ll make this a group review to save time and space.

First out, “Insidious

A movie I’ve heard of but not really knew what it was all about. Possessed kid “something something” was all that I’ve heard before watching it.  I can’t honestly think of a movie that I’ve watched that was more scary than this one. Without giving too much of the story away, the movie centers around a kid that unwittingly attracts evil spirits scaring the shit out of his mother and skeptic of a father as well as the two younger brothers. I loved this movie, it was creepy as hell even as the intro credits were rolling. It created a great atmosphere that almost made you sick with fear.

The movie has great buildup during the first act and will thereafter freak you out completely by a mix of disturbing scenes that are not jump scares and a few justified jump scares. And the jump scares are not created by cats or trash falling down on the characters. So I really liked that, and I’m also more of a fan of movies that create a sickening atmosphere and then slowly reveal something creepy just standing there rather than have it jump at you. Much more disturbing imo.

Halfway through the movie something rather weird happens, after having watched the movie I realized why, but – there is a ghost hunting/medium crew involved from the middle of the movie throughout the end. And the two ghost hunters are very nerdy looking and provide some goofy comic relief while the medium lady which is also part of their team makes a over the top séance.  It is all pretty ridiculous, but I think those scenes and that gang were included to make you relax and feel more like the skeptic father than to really make you laugh. I think it was done in a clever way because the movie will scare the shit out of you plenty of times during the second half of the movie anyway.

The story is very familiar and yet it has a couple of clever additions and plot points. The acting of the mother and the father are solid, the goofy ghost hunter/medium crew fulfill their purpose. One thing that sucked was the main evil spirit, first couple of scenes when you see it is kind of twisted – but the more you see it the more silly it looks and there is some bad CGI involving it towards the end. However, I would go as far as to say that the main villain is the one you will see in the opening credits and it also had the scariest scenes and affected the plot in a very major way. You could almost say that it shared the main villain part but in a more subtle and disturbing way. There is a sequence revolving around some exposition about the father that was really damn creepy.

I found this to be scarier than “Paranormal activity” and the Spanish movie “Rec”. So I really recommend seeing this one. There is no blood and murder in this one but it is a lot more about psychological fear. Give this one 4.5 out of 5 soiled pants LOL

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Next movie was a IMDB recommendation for Insidious viewers. A movie called “Dead Silence” that was actually made by the same guys who made Insidious (and the first Saw movie).

Story was about a guy haunted by the spirit of a murdered ventriloquist lady. The old lady had been a well received act during the early 1900’s until a boy heckled her for moving her lips while speaking through her dolls. That boy later went missing and of course the sensible villagers went apeshit and killed her thinking that she must have been behind the disappearance. So the main character receives this ventriloquist doll at his doorstep in the beginning of the movie. Thinking nothing of it he goes out to pick up some Chinese food while the doll kills his wife. This leads to him being suspected of murdering his own wife and being followed and harassed by a obnoxious yet funny detective played by Donnie Wahlberg whose career seems to be rolling downhill at a steady pace since Band of Brothers.  Trying to figure out what the hell is going on the main character goes back to his home town and starts poking around and asking questions on the legend of the ventriloquist while people get killed off left and right.

I was slightly disappointed with this movie, the plot seemed farfetched and too thin. It had a few creepy parts but after having seen Insidious the night before I didn’t find this to be that good at creating scares.  Often the movie seemed to be making things up on the go, especially the twist ending that shows you a flashback montage of a lot of scenes that would explain it all – but rewinding the movie in search of those scenes proved fruitless. It was also kind of dumb when you get to the end and realize it could all have been over 30 minutes into the movie.

I give this movie 3/5, it is entertaining but it is not very original or that scary. It features a few creepy scenes but it ends up just being confusing and slightly dumb.

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Drag me to hell

I thought would be a regular horror movie.  I was not only disappointed but felt insulted, grossed and in awe of how stupid the whole movie was. Btw, never before have I seen, or at least remember seeing – a movie poster that spoils the ending of the movie. The title on its own should be enough but add the poster picture and you don’t have to think of how it’s going to end.

A women working at a bank wants to get a higher position, her boss tells her to “make some tough decision and he’ll think about it”. So an elderly woman comes in to the bank, acting all fucking disgusting (understatement), and I have not been more grossed out with a movie in a very longtime. We get to know that the old woman had problems paying her loans for a very long time and that she has been given lenience twice already to sort things out. However a bank is a bank, and the main character bankwoman decides that enough is enough. This is not really making it a “tough decision” when the woman working at the bank says “no”. We are told the old lady will lose her house but she has several options to pick from and would not need to die in the streets. This single sound decision sends the gypsy woman into a psychosis, cursing the bank woman to hell.

The rest of the movie is the woman working at the bank being haunted by various ghosts, spirits, the appearance of the gypsy woman, a possessed goat (yes really) and being in a relationship with Justin Long (yes really… although it may not be classed as a horror element)
The problem with this movie is first and foremost – the whole premise is really stupid. The main character who we see is a good and kind person in every scene – in one scene she could even pass the curse over to her worst enemy but doesn’t! – is being haunted and cursed to hell for one thing that was not even evil to begin with. What the hell is going on. “Oh no, she had ambition for 3 minutes of her life – KILL HER!!”. Curse you rational thinking and lack of compassion for the third time in a row!

The second problem is that the whole movie is more of a horror comedy even though it has not been marketed as such, it is labeled Horror/Thriller. It has very much in common with Sam Raimis earlier work such as Evil Dead – but you knew Evil Dead would be campy and ridiculous. This movie, it almost made me throw up a few times times, and I’m a person who watched Human Centipede and felt nothing (that was stupid movie too). Scenes where the gypsy woman spits yellow phlegm on a tissue and squeezing it with her fingers, prosthetic teeth being all over the place, making out/chewing on the lower jaw of the bank woman with your toothless mouth and a scene where the bank woman knocks over a corpse that vomits yellow shit into her own mouth. Throw in a couple of idiotic jump scares and there’s your movie.  Disgusting scenes and jump scares.

The ending is spoiled by the fucking poster anyway (she is dragged to hell) while Justin Long looks on and has this face as if he wants to pass on his lessons learned from Dodgeball “if you can dodge hell, you can dodge a ball!”.
For all the disgusting scenes it was nowhere as entertaining as the Evil Dead movies or Braindead or any other over the top ridiculous B-movie, watch Planet Terror if you want a hilarious over the top disgusting and on purpose stupid “horror” movie. Had I known this movie would be like this before watching it, maybe I would have had the correct mindset. Now I just felt fooled.

Another morbid thing, is it just me or does the lead actress look like Natascha Kampusch? (google if you don’t know who that is).

I give this a very weak 2/5, and I can’t really recommend it to anyone. Just watch Evil Dead instead, at least there you won’t be able to predict the twists in the plot as the movie progresses.

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Tremors” is a campy old school monster movie. No explanation, just jump straight in and have some burrowing monsters attack the inhabitants of a, I wouldn’t even call it a village, secluded location. Kevin Bacon is in this one, as a hillbilly handyman character, making me wonder how he endured his early career choices. Not much of a plot here, characters discover there are monster about, characters try to flee, escape route is cut off, have to make a last stand against monster, humanity prevails. I will say this though; it was entertaining enough to make me watch it from start to end without complaints. Though I was more fascinated with the secluded “village” which always makes me wonder if places like that really exist in the USA and if you could actually run a shop in a “village” where the population is 14 people. The monsters actually look more believable than most of the CGI crap you get to see these days, I won’t say the movie had great suspense but it was interesting to see the characters trying to get around the problem of the monster senses that would locate anyone walking the ground above it. It would probably have been tenser if the “village” wouldn’t include 2 gun totting lunatics that had enough weapons and explosives in their cellar to equip the Mexican drug cartel twice over.

I rate it a 3/5 just on pure entertainment value and the monsters looking alright.

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Wrong turn” is a type of "horror" movie that I usually enjoy but only if characters, villains and atmosphere is believable. You have this secluded outback area with murderous inbred people straight out of a Lovecraft story. It is very much like the 2 recent Chainsaw Massacre movies but bears most resemblance with the Hills Have Eyes remake (first movie, not the crappy sequel). I would even go as far as to say it is Hills Have Eyes set in the forests of West Virginia, even though this movie was made before the HHE remake I think the movie makers were strongly influenced by the original HHE movie. Long story short a group of people find themselves on a secluded dirt road in the middle of nowhere as they tried to get around a traffic jam in an adventurous fashion only to find themselves in Deliverance territory minus the banjo duel. The best thing about this movie is that the only remotely annoying “teen horror movie” characters are killed almost instantly, leaving you with a couple of decent people to follow through the rest of the movie as they try to escape the “mountain men” as the freaks are called.

The setting is good as are the locations, in particular the mountain men’s home is pretty disturbing. But the movie itself is not scary or even that thrilling.  You will figure out which characters will survive this whole thing rather fast, which kills the suspense. Though it is still interesting and entertaining to watch them being hunted like animals through the forest. In the end it just ends up being a weaker Hills Have Eyes movie. The weakest point of this movie was a scene that reminded me a lot of the Disney Christmas special that is shown here in Sweden each year – where Mickey Mouse brings home a Christmas tree that has Chip and Dale living inside it and later to be chased by Pluto. A bit too much suspension of disbelief in that particular scene, but OK.

If you going to have a movie night with an “inbred freak killers” theme then I would recommend watching this one back to back with the “Texas Chainsaw massacre: the beginning” and the Hills have eyes remake. They are all great fun though I would rate this movie the weakest out of those 3 so you might want to start with this one.

3/5 just based on the main characters not being idiots or obnoxious and good acting from the two leads. The freaks look good too but don’t get enough screen time.

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A little bonus that is not a horror movie.I saw “Drive Angry” yesterday, a really cheesy Nicolas Cage movie with a story that made Season of the Witch look like an Oscar contender for best original screenplay.  However, this movie features the actor William Fichtner in one of the supporting roles. And I’m a great fan of his and think he is hugely underrated and underused as an actor. He’s like a less pretentious version of Philip Seymor Hoffman, both being stuck playing supporting roles. Fichtner always has a lot of screen charisma and steals the scenes he’s in. Especially in this movie, he plays a character that isn’t really well explained but then again nothing in this movie really is. His job is to chase Nicolas Cage in this movie. Despite the rest of the movie being a cretinous affair I still recommend seeing it just for Fichtner’s character if you are a fan of his. You won’t be disappointed! Best and funniest lines as well as coolest character who is just weird and hilarious. I don’t know if that character would be as good if played by anyone else.

10 comments:

  1. Have seen Tremors and Wrong Turn and I agree with your reviews, Drag me to Hell was bad and have a copy of Drive Angry to watch and will now probably give it a go now.

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  2. Also seen Tremors and Wrong Turn. I did not like Wrong Turn, but I love Tremors- it's campy fun!

    I had forgotten about Dead Silence. I saw that in the theater and must have blocked the memory out. It took up valuable brain space.

    Added Insidious to my queue- that sounds cool!

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  3. NI love Tremors. Here is a conversion for Burt Gummer and his wife!

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  4. To answer your question about trimmers, yes there are lots of small town like that in the US. There Usually satellite communities of other bigger or reganal hubs.
    I saw plenty of them when I was in NorthWest, northern great planes (Idaho,wyoming, Dakotas, montana) and honestly in between Las Vegas and Reno there is a whole lot of nothing over here in nevada. The joke sign of last gas for 200 miles still applies in some places over here.

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  5. @Christopher moody

    Thanks for the info, the small dust towns and old fashioned shops/gas stations always fascinate me. Would be one of the things I'd really want to see if I visited the US someday :-)

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  6. Loved Insidious and actually re-watched some of the scenes simply because I couldn't figure out what scared me so hard the first time around.

    Drag me to Hell was indeed a slap in the face, you've summed it up perfectly, even if you were benevolent simply in writing so many lines about it. :)

    Wrong turn was a predictable ride, nothing special.

    And a true story for you, about the secluded places in America.
    Two years ago my GF and her research group went to a competition in Boston and then took a flight to LA. They've rented a car and went for a tour of Death Valley and it's surroundings. A few miles out of Victorville they've stopped for a re-fill at a small, private pump and she went in to pay. Using a credit card, she was asked for an ID and they guy (a strange, if not entirely unkind fellow in her descriptions) made a comment about Slovenia (where the group was from). She joked if he knew where that was and the guy answered that yes, he does; it's near Austria-Hungary and there was a big war fought there and he's not sure if it's still going on. He then fell into a blank-eyed monologue about the horrors of war at which my GF tried to say goodbye and get back to the car, but the man remained largely detached, but increasingly loud/aggressive in his one-sided discussion on the collateral damage and injustices of war.
    Not a horror story per-se, I'll grant you, but the thought of this secluded man, a few miles from nowhere, who gets his reading from 19th C. textbooks and works at a family pump really caught my fancy and themes somewhat with some of your horror movies above. :)

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  7. Haha! That is a great story Luka, sounds really creepy and disturbing :-D

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  8. Wrong turn and Drag me to hell have been my all time favourite horror movies.
    Thank you so much for sharing the same.

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