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Monday, September 12, 2016

Drag Me To Hell (2009) - Sam Raimi

Sam Raimi is a tried and true director in the horror genre. You should already be pretty familiar with his work in creating the Evil Dead franchise and bringing Spiderman to the big screen. He has a very distinct style that mimics graphic novels and comic books really well. It's very apparent here with Drag Me to Hell.

Christine is a loan officer at a bank that has the displeasure of rejecting an older gypsy woman for an extension on a loan. This proves to be bad for her as the woman attacks and places a curse upon her. She deals with many creatures and demons while surviving an incredibly creepy situations that will eventually lead to her burning in Hell forever if she doesn't end the curse.

The film has some really creative elements. It pulls from every horror cliche cache that Sam Raimi has in his mind. It just doesn't execute them properly and it over does it with CGI. One scene in particular has the corpse of the elder gypsy woman pulled over a distressed Christine. Our young banker screams for help as CGI embalming fluid flows freely and violently into her face. However, her mouth never fills with the liquid and she doesn't seem to be having a hard time yelling. It's gross but impractical. 

Justin Long and Alison Lohman do a great job with the story they are given. However, the movie seems flat and two dimensional. Aside from a few choice scenes, this movie doesn't really have enough to keep me fully engaged. The overbearing political commentary is too big to ignore here. This movie was made right as America was pulling out of the economic recession of '08. It used the real life plight of many poor Americans as a driving force behind the antagonist. This made it a kind of retelling of the Stephen King story Thinner. I thought Thinner was better. 

The movie has some really tremendous scenes that are creative. They actually make for some amazing stuff. But like I said above. The movie doesn't execute very well. It almost feels rushed. And that's a shame. The movie is still scary enough to give nightmares to kids so keep that in mind. This is a good one for horror movie parties or late October evenings. 

Director: Sam Raimi
Producers: Grant Curtis and Robert Tapert
Writers: Sam Raimi and Ivan Raimi
Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver and Dileep Rao
Studio: Ghost House Pictures
Release Date: March 15, 2009
Country: USA
Did ya know: Sam Raimi's car makes it's appearance. Alison Lohman did almost all of her own stunts. Ellen Page was cast as Christine, but dropped out to star in Whip It (2009).

Friday, September 09, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) - Dan Trachtenberg

Today I am going to review the "spiritual" sequel to J.J. Abrams viral hit Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane. The first movie was a titan of viral marketing success. However, it seemed that they had missed the window of interest with this latest outing. It did alright in the theaters but could have done much better. Some people that I had talked with hadn't even seen or remembered the original. That shows that it's been way too long since the last one. To help draw interest, the film-makers cast cinema veteran John Goodman and indie darling Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the starring roles. Which ended up being a good move. They do a fantastic job. 

Michelle is involved in a car accident and wakes up in a strange underground bunker in some unknown place. To make things weirder, in the bunker are two guys Howard and Emmett. They inform her that she was saved from some "biological attack" and she cannot leave as the world above is still toxic. Can they all get along and live out their days in this bunker? Can Michelle trust Emmett and Howard? 

There are some pretty interesting thing about this movie that make it scary. The unknown being the biggest draw for fear. You really had no idea what to expect going into this movie. You had no idea what to expect from the characters. The setting. The location. Anything! The first film was a "found-footage" Kaiju picture with some really great elements. This movie was a departure from that almost completely. The hand-held feel is gone. It's more professional. There is a narrative to follow. That makes it all the more sinister. 

In some areas this movie really succeeds. It has a really dark cloud overhead but it lightens up with some comedy. It would get more points from me if it weren't a movie in the Cloverfield universe. It doesn't need to be. It's a shame that they had waited so long for this to come out. I think that the delay really hurt the films potential. But, I like it for what it is. A suspenseful snapshot of life during an Alien invasion. 

Release date: March 11, 2016
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Box office: 108.3 million
Budget: 15 million 
Producers: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk
Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher, Jr.
Studio: Bad Robot Productions
Did ya know: The film's life began as a script called "The Cellar" (which had nothing to do with the Cloverfield universe, and was at one time also known as "Valencia"). The script was acquired by J.J. Abrams' production company Bad Robot and adapted to become "10 Cloverfield Lane".