Alien

The Invasion

I love Nicole Kidman, though I think that most people do. Which was the main pull to watch this film. I enjoyed the other film adaptations The Body Snatchers that I’ve seen. Which is limited to the 1978, and 1993 versions. Though even with the addition of this version, my favorite is still the 1978 version. Because Donald Sutherland. The Invasion is close though, through the power of Nicole Kidman’s performance and the films many great moments.

The Invasion opens with a shuttle crashing and falling to earth during reentry. The debris from the crash is infested with an alien virus that can survive the freezing environment of space and the burning reentry. The virus infects people and taking them over when they enter REM sleep. One of the first people infected is the CDC director Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam). Tucker’s ex-wife Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) is a practicing psychiatrist, who has patient that thinks her husband is no longer her husband. Having a complete change of temperament. Slowly Carol starts noticing strange behavior in those around her. Including Tucker’s sudden interest in being a father to his son Oliver (Jackson Bond) and asking for visitation. As her fears mount and after the discovery of a strange skin is discovered at a party. Carol turns to her boyfriend Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig). He in turn goes to his friend Dr. Stephen Galeano (Jeffrey Wright), and they learn of the spread of virus. Which is being spread by Tucker through a flu vaccine. After realizing that Tucker is infected she goes to rescue her son, who she has also learned is immune due to being sick as a baby with a specific strain of the chicken pox. But as Carol searches for her son, things get more complicated after she becomes infected by Tucker. Forced to stay awake and find her son, before the infected learn of his immunity.

I liked the build up. The slow start of the familiar that builds upon itself as the film progresses. Layering upon itself. As it like its predecessors address the concept of a world with out violence is a world with out humanity and anyone is capable of anything in the right situation plays out beautifully.

My favorite parts were the quieter moments after the Carol has realized of the invasion. When other non infected warn her on the subway and later when she escapes. To avoid emotion as they dont have any. Something that’s used against us by them. The work great and add a great deal to the tension of the film.

It was the cast that really stood out to me. With exception of Daniel Craig, who felt dry and unemotional. Nicole Kidman of course did an outstanding job. But like he’s done before my favorite performance was from Jeffery Wright. Who, while only a smaller supporting role uses his screen time the most effectively.

Final thoughts, Overall I really enjoyed this version and while not my favorite I can still admit that it’s well done.  The acting is solid though not as well done in the 1978 version and the story is solid. I like the undercurrents of the film, though the get very heavy handed with them. But if your a fan of invasion films or the other versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers I would recommend giving this film a watch. 7/10

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Freaks of Nature

mv5bmtk2mtmymtezn15bml5banbnxkftztgwnte0mdywnze-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_I’m conflicted here, as I genuinely liked aspects of this film. But it’s so much a debacle? Boondoggle? Clusterf#$k? One of those three to be sure, if not all three. Freaks of Nature seems to just throw everything it can think of at the wall and see what sticks and what doesn’t. Very little sticks. The few highlights of the film for me that I loved were the character moments that showed a certain level of thought went into writing this film. Though I feel that what was intended didn’t come across or translate to the screen correctly.

Freaks of Nature takes place in the town of Dillford. Which is inhabited by humans, vampires and zombies. Dag Parker (Nicholas Braun) is a high school guy, with standard tv high school problems. Like being into the hot girl Lorelei (Vanessa Hudgens) whose your friend but don’t know how to express how he feels. Petra Lane (Mackenzie Davis) and her vampire boyfriend Milan (Ed Westwick) decided to go “all the way”. Unfortunately Petra and Milan misunderstand each other as Petra thinks he means sex when he means feeding on her. Resulting in Petra turning into a vampire after being bitten. Ned Mosely (Josh Fadem) is the uncool smart kid. His teachers work against him to crush he dreams of leaving this small town and his parents show blatant favoritism for his athletic older brother. With his future looking grim Ned lets himself be bitten by a zombie. As a means of escaping. As it happens all three go to the same high school. But as their high school dramas unfold aliens show up. This drives the tensions between the groups boil over as one group accuses for the aliens arrival. This leads up to a town wide melee, neighbor against neighbor. But as the aliens enter the fight until on Dag, Petra and Zombie Ned are left to stop them and save their town.

I liked the subtext of the vampire and zombie story lines. The vampire substituting for STIs and the zombie stepping in for depression and the sense of hopelessness. Both approach these subtly. Well not so much with the vampire one..

The acting isn’t so bad. Vanessa Hugens, Keegan-Michael Key, Ian Roberts and Mackenzie Davis are amazing fun to watch and do a great job. Bob Odenkirk and Joan Cusack delightful together. However Nicholas Braun is the films main characters and I am not a Nicholas Braun fan. With each film of his I watch, the less of him I want to see. That said he’s the one with an acting career, so he has to be doing something right.

My main issue is that this film tries to do way to much. With the zombie, the vampire and aliens on top of a high school drama(s). It all becomes a bit to much, resulting in everything fighting for your attention. Causing just about everything to come out feeling bland.

Final thoughts. I loved the numerous horror tropes that was worked in. That’s basically all this film is, horror and high school drama tropes are slammed together. But since the film isn’t taking its self seriously, I find it hard to be to critical of it. Freaks of Nature as parts that are worth looking into on a deeper level, while at the same time can be enjoyed as just a silly film. But for my personal views on the end product, I would have to say 4/10.

Dreamcatcher

dreamcatcherI remember the first time I watched this film, I didn’t really enjoy it all that much. I was hung up on some pretty shallow problems with the film. After watching it again, in a different point in my life I found Dreamcatcher far more enjoyable. But still, it’s not even close to King’s best adaptations. That would of course be The Green Mile. Though what I found delightful were the performances of the film’s main protagonists played by Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis, and Timothy Olyphant. All actors that I’ve come to love in the years since I last saw this film.

Dreamcatchers opens with a group of childhood friends Henry (Thomas Jane), Beaver (Jason Lee), Jonesy (Damian Lewis), and Pete (Timothy Olyphant) planning a trip to go see Duddits (Donnie Wahlberg), another childhood friend. This time also establishes that all four of the friends share special abilities ranging from finding things that are lost, telepathy and precognition. Though other than telepathy not all the abilities are shared among all of them. While leaving work after finalizing plans to visit Duddits, Jonesy walks into the road seemingly in a daze. Which results in him being hit and badly injured. Though he manages to make a near full recovery to attend the group’s annual trip to a cabin in the woods six months later. Though due to the damage to his hip and legs, he walks with a limp and gets fatigued quickly. We learn the that four boys meet Duddits, who is seemingly mentally handicapped while investigating an old building in search of a dirty picture. Duddits was being tormented by three older boys, who are trying to force Duddits to eat a dog turd after they stripped him down. The four boys stand up for him, causing the bullies to back down and forging a lasting friendship with Duddits. It’s also revealed that it was Duddits who had given the boys their mental powers, while searching for a lost girl. In present day Jonesy comes across a lost hunter in the woods Rick McCarthy (Eris Keenleyside), while hunting in the woods with Beaver. He takes Rick back to the cabin and tries to help him. Shortly after settling Rick down and noticing his swollen chest, Beaver returns. Beaver notes the red rash on the mans face, who casually dismisses claiming that it’s an allergic reaction to something. After a few moments Beaver and Jonesy help the man to bed, and while doing so Jonesy notices the swelling has moved from his chest to his stomach. The two then witnesses the animals of the forest fleeing something, many covered with a strange red rash. Much like the one on Rick’s face. A military helicopter flies over head telling them that the area is under quarantine. Meanwhile, Henry and Pete are making a supply run back in town. While making the return trips the two crests a snow-covered hill and nearly strike a woman sitting in the road half-frozen. The two manage to avoid hitting her, but wreck their car and Pete’s leg gets injured. After starting a fire to warm the woman and Pete, Henry leaves on foot back to the cabin to get help. At the cabin, when Beaver and Jonesy reenter they find a bloody trail leading from the bed where Rick was sleeping to the bathroom. After refusing to open the door for them to check on him, Beaver and Jonesy break it down. Inside they find a horror show, as the bathroom is covered in the red rash, growing along the walls floor and completely covering Rick’s face. They hear a “Clinker” drop into the toilet from an unresponsive Rick and when Beaver tries to rouse him, he falls over into the tub dead. Inside the toilet is a large slug like creature, Beaver quickly traps the creature by closing and siting the lid. After arguing about it, Jonesy goes to the shed to find duct tape to keep the lid closed. While gone Beaver is unable to keep the lid closed and is killed after fighting the creature. Jonesy returns to the bathroom and finds Beaver dead, but manages to close the door before the creature and kill him too. Though that does nothing to protect him from the large alien that possesses him. These events haven’t gone unnoticed by the government as Col. Abraham Curtis (Morgan Freeman) is the man who established the quarantine to keep the infection along with aliens that cause it contained. He’s aided by his protege Owen (Tom Sizemore), who’s set to take over his command. Though he’s deeply conflicted over Curtis heavy-handed measures, such as killing all infected, including children. Having gone slightly mad after spending a lifetime fighting the aliens. The alien, Mr. Grey possessing Jonesy uses his body to escape the quarantine. Pitting him against the remaining friends with the fate of the world in balance.

There’s a lot I didn’t cover in the synopsis, as this isn’t a short film clocking in at over two hours. The later part is much faster paced than the first sections as there’s quite a lot that needs to be established. Though you don’t really feel Dreamcatchers length as it never dawdles. Moving quickly to cover as much ground as efficiently possible.

The true strength of the film lies with the core group of friends as the actors who portray them do a great job. Their interaction is believable that these men are life long friends. Bound together not just by shared history, but also by the abilities gifted to them.

My issues with this film are small. My first one with actually with Morgan Freeman’s character as he feels out-of-place. Taking up time for crazy sake. The character does little but try to add extra tension, but in the long run adds little to the actual plot of the film. Much like Owen. In fact, most of the military scenes feel superfluous.

The second is Duddits, who all the men talk about in high regard constantly. With never a bad word shared about him. But all men admit to falling out of contact with him. Even becoming surprised when they learn that he now has late stage leukemia when he’s searched out to help with Mr. Grey. So my issue is how come these men, who owe so much Duddits have fallen so far out of touch that he doesn’t even come to the annual trip? One that partly held in his honor?

Final thoughts, other than a few glaring plot holes this is an OK movie. Though nothing special, well beyond the on-screen friendship. The effects are kind of bad as the CGI hasn’t aged the best. But, Dreamcatcher isn’t a film you should be watching for the effects. It’s the one you watch for the story and overall Dreamcatcher has a pretty good one. 7/10

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)

attack_of_50_foot_woman_poster_01All I knew about Attack of the 50 Foot Woman going in was that it’s considered a cult classic and is a bit of cultural touchstone. What I wasn’t aware of is that it’s also considered one of the worst science fiction films ever made. Which is a statement that I can’t help but agree with. I think a large chunk of why I had such a hard time with this film is I can’t relate to the era in which it was made, you know the rampant misogyny. This film really lacks for strong female characters and fails horribly at The Bechdel Test.  I am aware as well that this film is a bit of riff on other classic films involving growing people such as The Amazing Colossal Man. But as I have yet to see those films I’m forced to look at and judge Attack of the 50 Foot Woman by its own merits.

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman opens with a philandering husband Harry Archer (William Hudson) drinking with his woman on the side Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers) while discussing his less than happy marriage to Nancy (Allison Hayes). Along with her recent stint at a mental institution and ways for them to eliminate her while keeping her sizable fortune. While on her way home Nancy is driving through the desert when she comes across a space ship, or as she calls it a satellite and has a frightening run in with the ships gigantic inhabitant. She runs in terror, abandoning her car and running back to town. When she arrives no one believes her, though the local Sheriff Dubbitt (George Douglas) and his deputy Charlie (Frank Chase). Though when they arrive, they find nothing and Nancy drives off home. Seeing his chance to get rid of Nancy by having her recommitted, he calls her psychiatrist Dr. Isaac Cushing (Roy Gordon). Who feels that she is simply stressed and probably drinking again. The next day Nancy convinces Harry to go out into the desert to look the ship and prove that she isn’t crazy, to which he reluctantly agrees and borrows a handgun from the butler. As the night starts to fall, the pair find the spaceship along with the giant inhabitant. After firing at the giant with no effect Harry runs away leaving Nancy behind. She’s later found on top of her pool house delirious and is sedated by Dr. Cushing. Honey and Harry then decided to kill Nancy by injecting her with an overdose of her sedative and when Harry goes to her room to do the deed, discovers she’s starting to grow to gigantic size…

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is devoid of likable characters. Which is its biggest downfall. Well except maybe the butler, who I thought had a thing of Nancy, but that’s never really explored or even addressed. At best its mildly hinted at. Honey is the next closest and she’s the films major villain. She at least owns what she is. Everyone else is weak or comes off as condescending. Not what makes for an enjoyable viewing experience.

Another issue I have with this film is that it’s crippling slow. Most of the film is Nancy tries to get people to believe she saw something in the desert and even when that happens the film takes its time to make her large. Which doesn’t even come to fruition until the final moments of the film when she goes on her “rampage”.

Man I got bones to pick with this film for days, as I even disliked the effects. Which, is shoddy and in my opinion look terrible. Many of the large scenes those that are large, Nancy or the Alien become semi transparent which is very distracting. When she is large she’s rarely seen in the same shot as people, which should be doable as King Kong and Might Joe Young both managed that feat.

Final thoughts, I could keep griping on this film. As it is simply not a good film and the kind of not a good film that I enjoy. It’s simply not a fun watch, but that’s just my opinion. It is a cult classic and had to achieved that status on some kind of merit. Though what it is escapes me. 4/10

Honeymoon

honeymoon_ver2I was expecting a very different film, and while I can’t claim that I’m upset about that. I am very annoyed about purposefully misled. This comes from it being pitched as a film about a newlywed couple in a haunted house in the deep dark woods and only about a third of that is correct. So, going in expecting a ghost story and being delivered a very different experience was aggravating. Though, once I got past that I found Honeymoon to be a fairly decent horror film, one more fixated on the unknown and body horror, rather than that of spooks or wraiths.

Honeymoon starts with Bea (Rose Leslie) and her husband Paul (Harry Treadaway) heading to Bea’s family cabin on a lake, where she would spend her summers as a child. Their honeymoon starts off well enough, spending time together and doing all the things one would expect of newlyweds on honeymoon. On their second day they decided to go to the local diner to get something to eat, where they run into Will (Ben Huber), who runs the diner. After explaining very clearly and bluntly that they’re closed, he recognizes Bea as the two were friends during her summer at the lake as a child. Things appear to be on an upswing as he apologizes for his behavior and offers to make them something, but things go sour again once his wife Annie (Hanna Brown) arrives, acting strangely and telling Bea and Paul that they must get away. That night after bright lights shine through their bedroom windows and the power flickers throughout their cabin sets off Paul’s alarm to get up for fishing. After groggily getting his gear and starts to leave, he realizes the error and heads back inside to find Bea missing. After searching the house, Paul finds Bea in the woods naked and disoriented. Bea claims to be sleepwalking due to stress, shrugging off Paul’s questions and dismissing his fears of the situation. Fears the grow as Bea’s behavior grows increasingly strange and the discovery of strange marks on her thighs…

I have a few issues with this film, which disappear after about halfway through the film. First is just how insufferable Bea and Paul are, as they don’t feel human much less a couple in love. The come across as the cardboard cutouts of what people should be rather than what they are and the complete lack of chemistry between the actors doesn’t do anything to help the situation. Though this melts away once the couple in love section of the film starts to wind down and the mystery and dread start to build.

Second is the dialog between Bea and Paul, which comes across stale and stilted. Which once again seems to go away once the film starts to hit its stride by the middle of the film. Though I can’t conjure to mind a film that gets couples in love down in such a way that it doesn’t feel artificial. But here, it’s pretty glaring.

Those two things said, I don’t have much else to hate on. Once Honeymoon sets down the romance and starts in with horror, it really starts working. You’re left questioning what’s going on with Bea and can relate with what Paul is going through. Becoming attached the characters and though I would say being concerned is still a bit of a stretch. Though it quickly becomes apparent that Honeymoon isn’t the haunted cabin is seems to be often pitched as.

The gore in this film is minimal, but what it has is effective. This might be due to my personal revulsion to body horror and mutilation over that of genuine tension. Rather than relying solely on blood, Honeymoon makes due with mood and atmosphere. Two places in which it excels.

Final thoughts, it’s good, though flawed. I would have liked to see a pair of actors with more chemistry in the romance department. But when things start getting rough, Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway step up their game to deliver engrossing performances. Leigh Janiak does some impressive work for a first time director, most notable when it comes to pacing and the use of light and dark during the final act of the film. But would I recommend it? Yes, but be prepared for a slow start. 6/10

Monsters (2010)

rt3o5dMonsters, a 2010 British film is a film that the more I learn about the production, the more I like it. Something about people filming without permits makes me happy. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but a character driven horror film was not it. Which is what Monsters largely is. But what I think I enjoyed most about this film was how organic it feels to me. It’s not just with the beautiful locations, the improvised dialogue or the fact they just bribed people who happened to be around while filming to act in it. It’s the mixture of these elements that got me invested in the characters and the danger of their journey.

Six years after a NASA space probe carrying samples of alien life found in our solar system exploded over Northern Mexico, causing monstrous new life forms to appear. Which cause the creation of an Infected Quarantine Zone with both the United States and Mexico struggling to contain the monsters. Photojournalist Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) is on assignment, when he asked by his boss to escort his daughter Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) back to the United States.  He finds her in a Mexican hospital with a brace on her arm, but mostly fine. They board a train, but are forced off when they learn the tracks are damaged. After which they learn that if they don’t leave country within the next three days, then they will be trapped there for the next six months. Forcing the pair to find a way home anyway they can…

I feel like the main star of Monsters is the journey itself. With Andrew and Samantha being somewhat secondary as both characters are a little bland. It’s not they are in any way unlikable, it’s just their melodrama felt forced and with the film being so organic everywhere else it stands out.

I also liked that the monsters, while an ever-present threat aren’t all over the place. I like a film that shows the goods, but only doing so briefly and lets the threat of the monster be the driving force. Over it just being the monsters, as all monsters all the time grows stale incredibly fast.

Final thoughts, if two people having to transverse a monster ridden country to get back home sounds up your alley. You should see this. Heck, if you wanna see a good horror film with more than a dash of sci-fi then still wouldn’t go wrong. Just don’t go in expecting flashy fights and your pretty much set. Gareth Edwards did a great job and put a lot of work into this film. A lot and the end result really shows it. While not heart racing or spine tingling, Monsters still provides a great viewing experience. 7/10

The Faculty

faculty-posterFor a film that soundtrack drips 90’s and was described as “Hip” when released, which was in 1998 mind you, The Faculty has aged pretty well. This might be due to the star packed cast with such names as John Harnett, Robert Patrick, Elijah Wood, Famke Janssen, Usher… there’s a lot. But just because it’s aged well doesn’t mean that it’s aged perfectly. As being made in the 90’s most certainly shows and not always in the best way. I have no particular nostalgia tied to this film, which is odd because this was when I was first really getting into horror films. I just remember that I had enjoyed it when I saw it when I was younger and simply decided to re-watch when I was presented the opportunity.

The Faculty opens with Coach Willis (Robert Patrick) ending practice and is depicted as an angry kind of fellow. After he sends the students off he stops to mess with a sprinkler when he’s approached by an unseen person. That night Principle Valerie Drake (Bebe Neuwirth) at a board meeting refuses the requests of the other teachers, from field trips to new computers and absolutely no musicals. Because all the funds are going to football team. Since the parents want the football, so that’s where the money is going to be applied. After the meeting, she forgets her keys and has to return to her office to retrieve them. When she gets there she is attacked by Coach Willis, who as a noticeable change in both tone and demeanor from when we last saw him. She manages to narrowly escape him with the aid of one the teachers, Mrs. Olsen (Piper Laurie). Who has also had a change in behavior takes this as an opportunity to stab Principle Drake to death. The next day we get introduced to the love-able scamps that make up this films main cast, Stan Rosado (Shawn Hatosy) the popular jock, his girlfriend Delilah Profitt (Jordana Brewster) the popular cheerleader,  Stokely Mitchell (Clea DuVall) the goth, Casey Connor (Elijah Wood) the nerd that gets beat up, Zeke Tyler (Josh Hartnett)  a genus student that spends his time manufacturing and selling drugs and finally Marybeth Louise Hutchinson (Laura Harris) the new girl from Georgia. While on the football field Casey notice a strange insect looking creature and takes it to his biology teacher Mr. Furlong (Jon Stewart). He declares it to be an unknown species and mentions bringing to his friend at the university. Later that day Delilah takes Casey into the teacher’s lounge looking for a story for the school newspaper. While inside are forced to hide in a closet when the teachers return. The pair witness two of the teachers violently attack the school nurse and regurgitate one of things found on the field into her ear. This is when they find the body of another teacher, who we learn was to old and didn’t take. The pair manage to escape, but no one believes their story. The next day the teen cast is gathered and discussing how they think aliens are invading. Mr. Furlong proves this when he attacks them and tries to infect them. But he’s seemingly killed when Zeke stabs him in the eye with a pen loaded with personal brand drug. With Mr. Furlong’s attack being the proof needed, the group gathers to fight off the growing invasion. But fear and suspicion of infection stress threaten to tear the group apart.

My most serious complaint is that it might actually have too much character development with an hour and forty minute run time. By the time the credits rolled I was more than ready to be done with this movie. So while there’s a lot of good stuff in this film at times it does feel like you’re slogging through it.

My second beef is the use of cliche and stereotypes as a crutch for every single character. Turning all of them into cookie cutter characters that for all the screen time they get. Still feel hollow. That said, the acting is great. Every perform uses said stereotypes to get every mile out of it, they can out of them. Though that said while good, no one really stands out. So I can see why with so many now famous names, The Faculty is rarely talked about.

I’m not sure if The Faculty was paying homage to Night of the Creeps, or if they were blatantly ripping it off. But the similarity’s between the films is noticeable to say the least. The other film The Faculty pulls heavily from being invasion of the body snatchers. But the film references it directly several times so homage feels applicable.

Which brings me to my final gripe, after Scream horror films felt the need to be mildly self-aware. Here it doesn’t work to its betterment, as this aspect is the only part that makes film feel insanely dated…. excluding the 90’s soundtrack and hair.

Final thoughts, overall a pretty good alien invasion. The plot is tried and true works well in the school setting. The cliche characters mean that no mater who you are you can identify with one of them and the films fun. While I would never call The Facility a comedy. I can say that it was despite the flaws I’ve mentioned, The  Faculty was a fun way to spend and evening. Even if it did take it’s time doing it. Also, Robert Rodriguez directed it. 8/10