Monday, September 26, 2011

La Casa Muda: The Silent House Is Mean

Don't you hate mean people? People that cut you in line, people that don't hold the door open for you. People that don't give me their seat on the train, even after puffing out my stomach so it looks like I'm a few months pregnant....the nerve! La Casa Muda while not a person, IS a creepy movie that is mean for several reasons. The most important being that it scared me unfairly at several different moments and now I feel all jittery and on edge. Of course my overall opinion of the film is slightly muddled and I have no idea if I liked it or not. Again, La Casa Muda is just plain mean!

La Casa Muda is a Uruguayan independent film made on a very small budget. It borrows a similar technique found in Hitchcock's Rope--the one continuous shot technique. Of course while Hitchcock employed several little tricks to break the filming up, La Casa Muda supposedly is the real deal. The story focuses on Laura and her father who have come to help in the renewal process of an old house. Laura soon starts to hear strange noises from above but after her father goes to check on it, Laura's real nightmare begins. This is a vague summary but I promise, it's all you really need to know.

It should be known that I greatly dislike AND love movies filled with high levels of tension. La Casa Muda is packed to the gills with high levels of tension. Therefore I both disliked and loved La Casa Muda. Because of its continuous shot motif, the angles used to show the story are very restrictive and allow for very little preparation time. By that I mean....the camera in many ways acts as the eyes of Laura so we are almost forced to be surprised and scared. La Casa Muda however also employs several other mean scare tactics, like having a blackout and using a Polaroid camera to observe the surroundings. Anticipating the next flash is extremely painful for my low tolerance of being scared...especially when a creepy little girl/ghost is suddenly in the room without warning!

Overall most of the film is filled with some extremely well done moments of suspense and good old fashioned creepiness. Sounds and footsteps above, creepy music, dolls strategically placed around the house, creepy photographs and paintings. It's exactly what I yearn for in every failed attempt at a creepy ghost-like story. I suppose some may get annoyed with how slowly it moves at times, but I tended to enjoy that slow build up immensely.

Of course with most movies that I really like, something must go wrong and such is the unfortunate case with La Casa Muda. If you wish to be unspoiled then you may skip this part...La Casa Muda falls prey to the common ailment of a ridiculous and confusing plot twist. To the point where barely anyone who has seen the movie can really tell you what happened. It's also the kind of plot twist that completely negates everything you just watched, which is my least favorite kind of plot twist. Although, once I dove a little deeper into the explanations people gave, I found myself feeling a little more open to how things turned out. This doesn't mean I wasn't still angry or confused, it just means that I think there is at least some point behind the ridiculous. At any rate, yes it's one of those endings so just be warned.

Alright I still don't know where I stand here. La Casa Muda has left me feeling conflicted and funny on the inside. But I still maintain it's a solid entry into the spooktastic world of creepy isolation. You'll all just have to find out for yourselves how you feel about it. This is actually being remade by the people that brought us Open Water. The remake stars Lizzie Olsen AKA the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley. It got extremely positive reviews so all those of you who do not enjoy reading subtitles will hopefully get your chance soon. For those of us that can read--La Casa Muda is available to rent on Itunes.

Tell me how you felt if you saw it--I just don't know what to think!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Trollhunter: Put Your Hans in the Air

I've been excited to see Trollhunter for quite a long time now. So excited in fact that when I saw that it was available to watch instantly, I did an actual giant fist pump into the air. Before we go any further, I would like to take you on a magical trip to back when I was a wee one. When I was a wee one, my sister and I had a pretty impressive Troll collection. Norfin Trolls that is.

We kept our trolls in a Norfin Troll lunchbox and we had such wonderful additions as the policeman Troll, the ballerina Troll and the clown Troll. I also had a few Troll picture books.

Yes, Trolls for some reason were the apple of my eye.

Perhaps that is why I felt an almost immediate connection to the found footage mockumentary out of Norway dubbed Trollhunter. That and because I had heard it was fantastic. Plus I love the idea of incorporating country specific folk lore into horror movies and doing it well.

Trollhunter, definitely does this well. Three film students set out to make a news expose on the illegal poaching industry of Norway and end up trailing who they think is a powerful poacher by the name of Hans. Hans stays out all night, has a car with visible claw marks and is surprisingly mum about his nighttime activities. One night when the crew follows Hans into the woods they find out that the mysterious man is not quite a poacher after all. He's a Trollhunter.

Mockumentaries are definitely becoming the new zombie fad of horror these days. Trollhunter however manages to stay interesting, original and just plan cool. Trolls are seldom spoken of these days and seeing these monstrous creations come to life in front of your eyes is truly a sight to see. The trolls are done entirely with CGI but it's a Jurassic Park level of CGI---one that makes you excited rather than skeptical. The CGI is well done and doesn't take away too much from the film. Rather than filling us with a sour note of disbelief, Trollhunter makes us feel like children again hoping that Trolls haven't migrated to the United States.

There's also plenty to be insanely wowed by here. The first sighting of a Troll, the details surrounding the cover up operation and the TSS forms that must be filled out after every Troll death.

The idea that Trolls can smell the blood of a Christian man,

the different species of Trolls, the giant Troll syringe....I could go on for hours.

One of the greatest and most stress filled moments however is when our film crew and Hans take a trip into a mine that has been an active house for a clan of Trolls. Despite the Trolls not being inside at the moment, we get a giant sense of worry as soon as our characters take their first steps inside. The monstrous cave is filled with splotches of blood and bones, Troll stenches galore and just bad feelings all around.

When the group starts hearing troll sounds off in the distance our bad feelings are thrown into overdrive. They almost make it out as we see one giant mountain troll, followed by another, another and another. Deciding the only thing to do is flee back into the cave, the group hides out in a small crevice as the troll clan sits in front of them unaware of the four humans invading their home. It's a moment filled with just the right amount of suspense and dread and it ends in one of the greatest ways ever.

To top all these great moments off, we find that there is no hero better than the Trollhunter himself--Hans. Hans is a quiet badass. The kind of badass that wears bulky sweaters and indestructible metal suits to claim blood samples from trolls, and hangs troll tails from his camper. Hans' character is so great and likable that he becomes an instant candidate for having his own poster in my bedroom.

Next to my other heroes--Snake Plissken,

Earl Basset,

ZAP from American Gladiators,

and Boba Fett.

In short, Trollhunter is a movie you will not want to miss. It's funny, scary at times, suspenseful, entertaining and just plain awesome. Sure, the Trolls may not be Norfin style with jewels in their belly buttons, but they are big and scary. Plus they smell and sometimes have three heads. Why would you not want to see this again?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dorm: Showers in Thailand 101

I can't believe I survived for almost 2 weeks without a computer. That's probably the saddest sentence I've ever written (not counting when I asked if it was okay to dip a peanut butter cup into a jar of peanut butter) but I'm not ashamed. Sure I didn't grow up on computers per say, but I do like to think that writing on my blog is one of the few "vices" I have left... not counting when I dip peanut butter cups into a jar of peanut butter and also gin.

I would also like to state that not having a computer is boring and forces you to do things like read or play Angry Birds until you get carpal tunnel in your wrist. By the way, Angry Birds? Fuck you. But hey, I made it out alive and now I'm back here and typing on a brand new and excuse me for saying sexy Macbook Pro. When did they stop making regular MacBooks? I'M SO OLD.

While dwelling in that land called computer-less hell, the movie Dorm was taunting me on Netflix. I was drawn to it immediately due to its suspicious 4 star rating and the fact that it seemed like the kind of ghost story I was looking for. I don't know if you've noticed this but seldom do we see horror movies on Instant Watch with ratings higher than 2. This is why my interest was peaked. However I could not watch it until getting a new computer because I'm so in love with screen grabs and all. So tonight was the night. And Dorm and I became one.

When I first read the description of Dorm I was quite dubious of the storyline. Read it for yourself and decide.

When 12-year-old Ton (Charlie Trairat) transfers to an all-boys boarding school, he's taunted by his peers and terrified by their tales about the ghosts that inhabit the school. Ton is utterly miserable -- until he befriends a mysterious fellow pupil (Sirachuch Chienthaworn).

After I read that description I said something to the extent of, "YOU DUMMIES I bet his friend is a ghost...TWIST!" What I did not know when reading that summary is that yes he is a ghost and that my friends is the whole point.

Dorm is one of those movies that I love without apology. Sure it has both ups and downs but generally I found that Dorm is beautiful, sad and extremely well done at certain pivotal moments. There are such wonderful quiet moments of awe in this that it even made me rewind and rewatch scenes over again which is something I rarely do on Netflix because for whatever reason Netflix decides to be all, "Oh let me just take 5 hours to load that scene that you just watched 2 seconds ago".

The main character Ton is one of those rare characters in horror films that we truly love. Although I would say classifying Dorm as a horror movie is pushing things a little but whatever. Ton is quiet, so quiet in fact that we barely get to hear him speak aloud in front of people until about a half hour into the film. You just can't help but feel for the kid. There's one scene where he's eating dinner in the crowded and loud dining hall and he just starts crying, BUT not like sobbing crying. The kind of crying you do when you don't want anyone to notice. The kind of crying that hurts so badly to hold in. This kid performs this feat of acting effortlessly, and the moment is portrayed so unbelievably delicately.

Nothing however tops the greatest moment in the entire film and one that I watched at least 3 times. While out on a school trip to a huge outdoor movie theater, the school boys reenact what they see on the screen. In a sort of Nosferatu/Ghost hybrid, the characters hold their breath to fool the ghost. Apparently by holding your breath and blocking your nose from expelling heat ghosts cannot see you. All the boys mimic this action and suddenly Ton looks at his new friend Vichien who has stood up confused at where everyone had gone.

This is the pivotal moment where Ton realizes his new friend is a ghost. The scene is scored beautifully and shot with a careful and brilliant eye. I'm obsessed with it. OBSESSED.

Ultimately the film does tend to veer off into silly territory now and again. The ending seemed suddenly bizarre and the continuity of Ton's haircut really started to bother me. There's also some weird inferences involving why Ton's father sent him off to boarding school. Who was that woman again? As I said earlier, horror is really a strong word to describe this one. The beginning has some Sixth Sense inspired chills complete with sudden jolts in the soundtrack but other than that, Dorm is really just a film about friendship and letting go.

For those of you that prefer a little heart and soul with the horror fare, this one is strongly recommended.

PS is that really how showers work in Thailand?

I was way off.

The Viscera Film Fest Comes to Boston

It's no secret that Boston doesn't have the most public horror following out there. Horror events seem few and far between and when they do happen they're often masked in Independent Film Fests or Sci-Fi events. However, thanks to my buddies Chris and Mike of All Things Horror, this has been steadily changing. Every 1st Wednesday of month Chris and Mike showcase independent horror films at the Somerville Theater. It's an amazing opportunity to see some films made by people who truly love horror.

Going to these screenings has always been something I look forward which is why I am so tremendously excited to tell you about what's happening this weekend....This weekend All Things Horror and The Horror Digest proudly bring the Viscera Film Festival to Boston.

The Viscera Film Festival was started by Shannon Lark and Heidi Honeycutt and is dedicated to expanding opportunities for female filmmakers and educating the public on the changing roles for women in the film industry. Viscera comes full circle every summer where an amazing film festival is put on in LA showcasing horror films made by women. It's an event that always makes me sad to live on the east coast.

This will all change this weekend however when Viscera comes to Boston! So if you're in the mood to watch some truly mind-blowing and spectacular films, come to the Somerville Theater this Friday and Sunday.

The line up is as follows...

Friday, September 23

8 pm – Program of Viscera Selection of Short Films

Adventure Girls by Dara Jade Moats and Don Deitcher
Aftershock by Lori Bowen
Mockingbird by Marichelle Daywalt
Nursery Crimes by Laura Whyte
The Ghost and Us by Emily Carmichael
Candy by Sage Hall
Bon Apetit by Kate Shenton
The Many Doors of Albert Whale by Marichelle Daywalt
The Bride by Ana Almeida
The Key to Annabel Lee by Staci Layne Wilson
Belle Nouveau by Cassandra Sechler
Box by Nikki Wall
The Party’s Over by Gigi Romero

10 pm – Screening of Maude Michaud’s “Bloody Breasts” Documentary and Shorts (Director in Attendance)

Sunday, September 25

5 pm – The Short Films of Izabel Grondin

7 pm – Program 2 of Viscera Selection of Short Films

I’m a Little Teapot by Sallie Smith
Barbee Butcher by Sophie Lagues
The Date by Jennifer Gigantino and Natasia Schibinger
Blood Bunny by Molly Madfis
I was a Tranny Werewolf by Lola Rock’n Rolla
Belated by Valentines Lover Ruby La Rocca
7/28/1989 by Mae Catt
12/15/1996 by Mae Catt
Doll Parts by Karen Lam
Gasp by Thomai Hatsios
A Fever and a River by Rachael Deacon

9:15 pm – Screening of Karen Lam’s Feature Film “Stained”

Ticket prices are $8 in advance or $10 at the door.

$15 gives you access to a special "double feature" either Friday or Sunday

and $25 gives you access to all the screenings.

Buy tickets or get more information here

So honestly, how can you want to miss this? If you're in the Boston area and you're a horror fan, I'd better see you in attendance at the wonderful Somerville Theater. If not then we may have some difficulty continuing to be friends.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Ward: Broke My Computer

The Ward is not a very good movie. In fact, it's a terrible movie as evidenced by the fact that once I was done watching it, my water bottle, acting out of its own free will, decided to douse my Macbook with water and destroy it. Now because of The Ward, I have no computer and am forced to use Emmy Doomas' Dell which likes to randomly highlight things and also the keys are too close together so I'm typing like a 4th grader or a really really old person. Seriously, thanks a lot The Ward. Thanks.

In all honesty, I knew that John Carpenter's long awaited return to horror in the form of The Ward, was not met with a lot of happiness. I however like to give things a chance and therefore I decided that before I refused to ever hang out with The Ward, it would do me good to get to know it on my own terms. My own terms have now been achieved and the verdict is of course that The Ward totally stinks. Here is why.

The Ward centers around Kristen, a girl who gets picked up by police after burning down a house. She has no idea why she did it and has no memories of anything prior to the house. She gets put in a mental institution with other girls and soon finds out that a mean corpsey ghost is haunting the ward and killing off the girls one by one. Who is this corpsey ghost and wait a minute, aren't we supposed to be finding out why Kristen is there?

See, that's one of the main reasons The Ward does not work for me. We are set up thinking that we are watching a movie where little by little we come to find out the truth of our heroine's past. This however gets immediately shoved to the side by the existence of a ridiculous and stupid "ghost". Suddenly, The Ward falls from being an eerie psychological thriller, to an Asian movie with a ghost. This is forgive me for saying, stupid.

Stupid because the parts with the ghosts AKA the entire movie are centered around the very idea of cop outs. There is NOTHING scary about The Ward and we know this because the "scares' are represented by jumps and things that force us to be scared. Instead of building up the creepy atmosphere of the ward, the corpsey hands and stupid face of the ghosts are crammed down our throats. It's so disappointing. Any movie that completely wastes the atmosphere of a creepy mental institution is an asshole in my book.

Additionally, the acting is entirely unconvincing, complete with lines like "No! Noooo! Not that!" really awful stuff. The ghost also apparently studied torture at the school of nonsense because honestly--why is a ghost taking the time to strap someone down and use various forms of psychotherapy to kill them? It doesn't make sense.

Which brings to my final point---The Ward does not make any sense. Once the twist is revealed, the Ward becomes one of those movies that suddenly loses all of its creditability. It almost seems to come as a sort of disrespect for the audience in a way--to completely negate every single thing they have just watched. It's so ridiculous that it makes you laugh out loud. If you want to talk ridiculous involving the plot twist, do so in the comments section and I will join you.

So in closing---The Ward is horrible. Please do not watch it unless you want to waste an hour and 30 minutes of your life. And since The Ward is so sucky and because it destroyed my computer, you can expect posting to be minimal until payday when I can buy a new computer. I'm not sure how much more of this Dell I can take...............

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Google Doodles: Freddie Mercury and Horror Character Anthems

I know I've been slacking on my newly launched Google Doodle posts but it's not my fault that Google only decides to put them up when I'm having a super lazy day right? That's what I thought. In any case, once I found out what today's Google Doodle was, there was no way I could pass up an opportunity to talk about it.

Today marks what would have been the 65th birthday of Freddie Mercury. Here is a heart warming story for you in regards to why I feel I have a special love of all things Freddie. Back sometime in the wonderful decade of the 1990s, my Dad brought home our very first CD player. Yes, yes all you oldies can pish posh all you want, but in my day CD players were a big deal. The first CD my Dad bought along with our brand new CD player was Classic Queen. A CD that I would play nonstop and dance to by my lonesome in the living room. It is due to this I think and the fact that Queen was one of the only CDs my Dad played in the car---that I love them.

Therefore in order to pay tribute to who was perhaps one of the greatest musicians of all time, I am going to dedicate a few of Queens greatest hits to some of the greatest horror characters and movies of all time.

Somebody to Love

Frankenstein's Monster in...
Bride of Frankenstein

Defining Lyrics:

Everyday, I try and I try and I try
But everybody wants to put me down
They say I'm goin' crazy
They say I got a lot of water in my brain
Got no common sense
I got nobody left to believe

A Kind of Magic

Corky and Fats in...

Defining Lyrics:

It's a kind of magic,
A kind of magic,
One dream, one soul, one prize,
One goal, one golden glance of what should be

I'm Going Slightly Mad

Miss Giddens in...

Defining Lyrics:
I'm going slightly mad
I'm going slightly mad
It finally happened - happened
It finally happened - ooh oh
It finally happened - I'm slightly mad
Oh dear

Under Pressure

Robert Thorn in...

Defining Lyrics:
It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming let me out
Pray tomorrow - gets me higher
Pressure on people - people on streets

I Want It All

Herbert West in...

Defining Lyrics:

I´m a man with a one track mind,
So much to do in one life time(people do you hear me)
Not a man for compromise and where´s and why´s and
living lies
So I´m living it all, yes I´m living at all,
And I´m giving it all, and I´m giving it all,

I want it all, I want it all,
I want it all, and I want it now

I Want To Break Free

Rosemary Woodhouse in...

Defining Lyrics:

I want to break free
I want to break free
I want to break free from your lies
You're so self satisfied I don't need you
I've got to break free
God knows, God knows I want to break free

Bohemian Rhapsody

David in...
An American Werewolf in London

Defining Lyrics:
Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine, body's aching all
the time
Goodbye, ev'rybody, I've got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth