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


Fright Night 2: New Blood

fright_night_2_-_new_bloodFright Night 2: New Blood, the sequel to the 2011 Fright Night is every bit the let down that I thought the 2011 remake was going to be. It managed to be a let down from the very first moments as it is in fact not a sequel at all. Fright Night 2: New Blood is another rehashing of the 1985 Fright Night and it’s sequel. Though it has jack all to do with that sequel other than the antagonist being a female vampire. Fright Night 2 completely ignores the previous film with none of the actors returning to reprise the roles. Making me wonder, if the story in no way bares any connection to the film prior, is it still a sequel? Shouldn’t the title of this film be Fright Night: New Blood?

Charlie Brewster (Will Payne) is on a week-long student exchange program in Romania with fellow students, including his friend Ed (Chris Waller) and ex-girlfriend Amy (Sacha Parkinson). Amy and Charlie having recently broken up because Charlie cheated on her, maybe… it’s never explored that deeply. On the first night, Charlie watches two women across the street from his hotel window get frisky, when one notices. Though she doesn’t seem to mind. Charlie notices that the other woman is bleeding, but the time he calls Ed over the curtains have been closed. At class for European Art, he meets his professor Gerri Dandridge (Jaime Murray). Who just happens to be the woman who noticed watching earlier that night. Later while on tour of a local castle, Charlie sneaks away and comes across Gerri get personal with another student. She once again notices him, causing him to look away and when looks back they’re both gone. When he and Ed return to the hotel that night the police are present and after inquiring to what happened, he learns that the student from earlier is missing. When in his room while watching the police leave, he notices Gerri in the window across the way. Then he witnesses her leap from the window with what appears to be  a body wrapped in black trash bags, load it into her car and drive into the night. So he does what any idiot would do and sneaks into her home, where he finds a strange sacrificial chamber. When he hears Gerri return, he quickly hides inside a coffin and watches as she kills and drains a woman of her blood. She then bathes in the woman’s blood returning her youth, she then notices him. Though due to plot armor he manages to get away. He goes to warn Amy, though when he arrives Gerri is already there and manages to make him look crazy. Though the next morning Ed is more willing to believe Charlie and even identifies Gerri as Elizabeth Bathory a powerful vampire. Armed with this knowledge Charlie and Ed seek out the Peter Vincent (Sean Power), a TV personality that host the reality monster hunting show Fright Night. Who agrees to help them for an exorbitant fee. Though he quickly abandons them after they meet up with Amy, when he realizes they looking for a real vampire, something he doesn’t believe in. While riding the subway Gerri appears once again and in full vampire glory attacks them, with Ed sacrificing himself to let Charlie and Amy escape into the tunnels…

Where I cut off is actually where the film gets good, which is about sixty percent of the way through this slog fest. The first chunk of this film is poorly paced and at times criminally boring. As if you’ve seen the film that this film is supposed to follow your basically just relearning all the things you already know. Vampires are real, Peter Vincent is a fake, ect. But once we reach this tipping point and Gerri develops some actual fangs things get marginally better.

Speaking of Gerri, Jaime Murray is by far the best actress in this film and manages to hold it together. She manages to be sexy, scary and intelligent. Though that last attribute wanes as the film goes on. Murray nails the role here and seems to be the only actor to be pulling their weight. She also manages to be the film’s most like-able character behind Amy. Though she lacks any real defining feature beyond being the love interest.

The effects are straight up laughable when they actually try to use them for scares. Gerri’s full vampire form is simply ridiculous. The film manages to more tension and fright with the camera work, like when Gerri chases Charlie and Amy through the Subway tunnels then the catacombs. Also when she enters the blood bath an old woman only to emerge young and beautiful once again.

Final thoughts, of all the Fright Nights this is by far the most skippable as it’s just another rehashing of a story that was already retold once and just a few years prior. While I never expect much from straight to home video horror films, Fright Night 2: New Blood is the bottom of the barrel. With only a couple of strong points, though non strong enough to be a saving grace. 3/10

Fright Night (2011)

fright-night-2011-poster-686x1024I’ve had this film on my to watch list for quite some time. The main reason I’ve been putting it off, is frankly that I love the original and I’m not a fan of Colin Ferrell. The only film that comes to mind of films I thought he was good in is Crazy Heart, well and Daredevil. My dislike of his acting is profound I never even tried to look further into this film after learning he was in it, which is basically the first thing you learn about it. Though after I started it, I realized that Anton Yelchin (God rest his soul) stars and David Tennant was also in it. Those two more than make up for the blandness I find in Colin Ferrell.

Fright Night is basically just a semi retelling of its predecessor. Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a high school senior that just trying to make it through the new year have traded up in social standing. Now friends with popular kids and dating Amy (Imogen Poots), the films resident hot girl. When his childhood friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) uses embarrassing footage along with secrets from their childhood making Charley check in on a missing friend of theirs with him after school. When Charley arrives at the friend’s house they find no one home. Ed confesses that he and their missing friend have been tracking disappearances and murders and believe it to be the work of his new neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell), who happens to be a vampire. Charley not believing Ed leaves after the two have a heated falling out. On his way home Ed is attacked by Mark (Dave Franco), one of Charley’s new friends and resident bully. After narrowly escaping Mark, Ed is attacked by Jerry. Who attacks and turns Ed. After Ed doesn’t come to school the next day Charley gets suspicious and goes to check on him at home. While searching through Ed’s room, he comes across evidence that makes him believe that maybe Ed was telling the truth. When he returns home, he encounters Jerry who claims to need of beer since he’s invited over a lady for drinks. But forgot the drinks. Charley gives him the beer in the fridge, but doesn’t invite Jerry in and notices that Jerry is unable to cross the threshold of his home. That night he hears a woman scream from Jerry’s house and calls the police, who arrive and do nothing. So, he does the logical thing and sneaks in, finds his latest female victim and sneaks her out of the house. Only for her to explode into ash when she hits daylight. Armed with this new information Charley goes to Peter Vincent (David Tennant), stage magician and known vampire enthusiast. Though not believing in Charley’s story has him thrown from his suite. When he returns home Jerry is waiting and lays siege to his home, with his mother Jane (Toni Collette) and Amy inside. After repeatedly refusing to invite him in Jerry burns down the house, forcing them to flee into the desert where he pursues them…

My favorite part  of Fright Night is Anton Yelchin. This is due to him playing Odd Thomas, so throughout the film I just kept seeing him as Odd Thomas. Which made the film much more enjoyable and still somewhat fitting. Once again Anton Yelchin did an amazing job. Though his character does come off as a douche, especially where his willingness to ditch a childhood friend from social status is concerned.

David Tennant was by far the funniest and most enjoyable character to watch. Though that is no surprise. Once his character really gets involved in the film third act and his backstory is reviled is where his character really shines.

The vampire effects were… ok. This is due to me really missing the practical effects of the original as the CGI effects here looked silly. Even only a mere five years after it’s release where the effects from the original still hold up. But once I was able to get past that the effects served their purpose, but aren’t worthy of any kind of praise.

Final thoughts, it was good with some genuinely funny moments. The best being the cameo by Chris Saradon, which honestly made me smile. Though I would never recommend this film over its namesake and would only suggest to those who might feel the 1985 version too dated for their taste. 6.5/10

Cabin Fever (2016)

cabin-fever-2-1This is a film that didn’t need to be made as it brought nothing new to the table. First off rebooting a franchise that’s only fourteen years old seems more that little ridiculous. Coupling that with the fact that this remake uses the same script, just edited down slightly and tweaked to add some current pop culture references, I don’t get why this film was even green lit in the first place. One word can sum up all of this film, unneeded. As that’s what this is film is, completely unneeded. Having somehow kept all the awful aspects of the original and none of the charm.

As this remake is an exact copy of the original, names and all. So I’m not sure how to cover this. Basically look at my review for the first cabin fever. Which goes kids go to a secluded cabin for spring break, meet sick Hermit, everyone gets sick and substitute the actors names, Paul (Samuel Davis), Karen (Gage Golightly), Jeff (Matthew Daddario), Marcy (Nadine Crocker), Bert (Dustin Ingram), Henry (Randy Schulman), and Deputy Wilson (Louise Linton).

The fact that this is an exact rehashing made this film very hard to get through for me. This might be because the original was still so fresh in my memory, but I think that other than the production value. Nothing was handled any better. The characters are still unlikable and stupid. Just this time around these no camp humor to fall back on, making the film a bleaker viewing experience.

The removal of the old man at the general store seemed odd given that as far as I can tell, he’s regarded as the best character by just about everyone that’s seen in that I’ve talked to. Beyond his complete removal the other changes are completely cosmetic. The couple that chases of one of the kids when they are looking for help because of peeping have had the genders flipped and more notably as far as gender reversal goes is Deputy Wilson is now played by a woman.

While on the topic of Deputy Wilson, while Louise Linton isn’t as memorable as Giuseppe Andrews. She’s still the best performance in this film. Not that she had any real competition. Her Wilson comes off as less inept and far more predatory than Giuseppe’s did and might be the second best thing about this remake.

The best being the production in the gore effects. which, while never chilling or unsettling are remarkably well done. Dr. Mambo in particular took on a much more gruesome appearance and actually looks sick this time around. The bathtub scene also gets redone though here it feels like they tried to push the bounds of the last film and it comes of feeling cheap.

Final thoughts, beyond passable. I can’t think of a single thing, other than Louise Linton and the effects, that would cause me to recommend this film. At least never over the original in any case. Where the first film had a lot of heart and some decent vision, all of that feels lost here and what’s left is a pretty hollow shell of a film that wasn’t all the great to begin with. 3/10

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

hills_have_eyes_ver2_xlgSo I’m going to end this month on a film Wes Craven Produced, but didn’t write or direct. Those being handled by Grégory Levasseur, who along with Alexandre Aja wrote the script with Alexandre Aja also directing. Now my opinions are a little split here, as I feel this updated version does a better with the sets, violence and the desolate atmosphere. But beyond that, there is no improvement of source material and in a few areas is actually worse. The Hills Have Eyes follows the original script so closely I’m surprised that Craven isn’t given a writing credit as incredibly little has changed. To the point where this remake feels incredibly unnecessary and I fear that just because it’s the most recent, it will pull viewers away from the original. Which I will argue is superior if for no other reason is, it was actually telling an original story, rather than just rehashing one half assedly.

Once again we are following the Carters, Big Bob (Ted Levine), his wife Ethel (Kathleen Quinlan), their children, Bobby (Dan Byrd), Brenda (Emilie de Ravin), and Lynn (Vinessa Shaw), along with her husband Doug (Aaron Stanford) and their baby daughter Katy (Maisie Camillleri Prezoisi). The Carters are on their way to California, for Big Bob’s and Ethel’s silver anniversary. They stop at a gas station owned by Jeb (Tom Bower) to gas up, when their dog Beauty gets away Lynn follows and finds her in the back room of the gas station. Inside, she finds a purse full of money and jewelry, trade taken by Jeb from the people who live in the hills, brought to him by Ruby (Laura Ortiz). Jeb finds her in the back room and she quickly leaves, but Jeb notices that she’s seen the purse. So Jeb tells Big Bob of a short cut, that will take him out into the desert. Out in the desert the families truck tires are punctured, causing them to wreck. After surveying the damage Big Bob decides to hike back the way they came, while Doug is hike off ahead. While Big Bob and Doug are away, Beauty runs off and Bobby chases after her. When he finally catches up, Beauty’s been killed and gutted. Bobby runs back to the camper. But trips, falls into a small ravine and is knocked unconscious. When Big Bob reaches the gas station he finds the purse along with numerous clippings and realizes he and his family were sent into danger by Jeb. Big Bob finds Jeb outside who commits suicide in-front of him, before he’s attacked by Jupiter (Billy Drago). Big Bob is then dragged off into the mines by Lizard (Robert Joy) and Pluto (Michael Bailey Smith). Doug on his end finds a giant crater filled with seemingly abandoned cars. Bobby awakes in the desert and returns to the camper, but doesn’t tell anyone about Beauty. After Doug’s return, the family see’s Big Bob set aflame in the desert and rush to save him, to no avail. While they’re out trying to save Big Bob, Lizard rapes Brenda while Pluto smashes and loots the trailer. When Lynn and Ethel return to get supplies to help Big Bob, Lynn is molested by Lizard, who’s holding her baby hostage. But he’s wounded when Ethel comes in diverting his attention, allowing Lynn an opportunity to attack. This results in both women being killed. Lizard and Pluto flee into the night before the men can return with Lizard vowing to come back for Brenda. Now with his baby taken Doug is forced to follow the mutants into the hills to find his baby, while Brenda and Bobby try to think of a way to save themselves from the mutants return…

So, as I said the film is so close to the original I don’t see why Wes Craven felt it was needed. With the only improvements being the amped up violence and Ted Levine as Big Bob. The changing of Jupiter’s family into mutants caused by radioactive fallout was a nice touch, but is never explored enough for it to be anything more than a gimmick to make them into monsters. In fact, Jupiter and his brood are less developed in this film than they were in the original. Which is kind of criminal as this version runs about fifteen minutes longer.

The sets are vastly improved though, and the inclusion of the old mining town was a great idea. It works beautifully for the backdrop to Doug’s descent into savagery to save his daughter as he fights back against the mutants, with his battle with Pluto being particularly savage and the highlight of the film. The mannequins add a great touch of eerie emptiness that invokes a very chilling effect. But the atmosphere only lasts long enough for Alexandre Aja to throw in some CGI mutant children and the fight scenes, abandoning the atmosphere and tension for revulsion.

Final thoughts, this version is ok. I like it better than the original but not by much and only on the shoulders of Ted Lavine. Other than Ted Lavine, I prefer the cast of the original 1977 cult classic and can’t see this remake ever attaining that kind of status. But, I’ve been wrong before. 6/10

The Last House on the Left (2009)

lasthouse021009Continuing on with my Wes Craven month and in continuation of the last post, The Last House on the Left was remade in 2009. While still flawed, I find this version to be the more tolerable of the two. While still a rape-revenge film, at least this film has a better depiction of the sheer amount of damage the human body can sustain. Also the focus switches from the brutality of the rape to the visceral brutality of revenge. This version is also more constant in tone lacking the bumbling police officers, so I can now say with certainty that the lack of police does in fact increase the enjoy-ability of the film.

Rather than do a blow-by-blow of the story line as the story is virtually identical I will point out the films differences from the original’s story. Mari (Sara Paxton) this time around is an athlete a swimmer to be exact, that excels in her chosen sport. When she and her parents, John (Tony Goldwyn) and Emma (Monica Potter) visit their summer home on the lake, Mari simply goes to visit her friend Paige (Martha MacIssac) rather than attending a party. While visiting Paige at work they meet Justin (Spencer Treat Clark) and go back to his hotel room to get marijuana off him. They end up staying and get taken hostage when Justin’s father Krug (Garret Dillahunt) along with Francis (Aaron Paul) and Sadie (Riki Lindhome) arrive. While in the car Mari notices she’s near home and tries to escape causing the car the crash in the process. Paige tries to flee, but is captured and brought back to the accident where she’s stabbed to death. Mari is then raped by Krug and after the rape attacks him with a rock, thus managing to escape to the lake where she tries to swim to safety. Unfortunately Krug still manages to shoot her in the back. Krug and his gang now trapped in a storm find their way to Mari’s parents home and seek shelter. Inside Justin realizes that they’re Mari’s parents. After realizing this he leaves Mari’s necklace on the counter, outside John finds Mari on the porch, having survived the bullet wound, swimming home and crawling her way from the lake. Emma finds the necklace realizing that Krug and others are the ones that did this. This prompts John and Emma to take revenge on Krug and his fellows, eventually aided by Justin while searching for the boat key in order to get Mari to a hospital.

First off, like I said the absence of the comedic relief style police vastly improves this film. This due to making the tone of the film far more consistent when compared to the 1972 cult classic. Slap-stick comedy simply shouldn’t be in a rape-revenge film, it’s simply too insulting to the subject matter being addressed.

Next while certainly not downplayed, the rape and attack against Mari and Paige is far less brutal than the attack in the 1972 version. This version simply doesn’t linger as long on this aspect, instead focusing more time on the parents reaction to their daughters attack and their revenge. Which in my opinion matches the brutality of the attack on Mari and Paige. Where in the last one the revenge portion took up a scant 14 minutes of the films run-time, in this version that amount of time is more than double. Which works far better.

All that said. I do have to say that the 1972 version is the better horror film, for a number of reasons. Primarily this is due to the somber ending of the original, where here it has a happy ending that feels nearly forced. But not to such a degree where I feel that it detracts as there is still enough negative feeling and connotations to go around. Another issue I have is with the character of Justin, who once again feels like a weak character, but not nearly to the degree of his previous incarnation. Here he does stand with the parents rather than kill himself and fighting back against his father does give the character a more solid arch as a character.

In fact, this time around all the characters feel more complete and fleshed with much stronger story lines. While I want to claim this is due to better writing, its most likely has to do with longer running time allowing the characters more time to grow in complexity. Also the film has a much better cast than the 1973 classic, but due to the actors being recognizable makes them feel less real. It’s harder to be drawn into a character when I keep thinking, wait didn’t you betray Patrick Swayze in Ghost?

Final thoughts, the more upbeat ending even if a little forced I feel gives the film a sense of closure that it needs. The on-screen brutality of parents revenge feels more visceral and therefore enjoyable. As I want to root for the parents and their quest for revenge, not the rapists. My only real issue with this version that heavily detracts from the film is one thing, the death of Krug. Which is campy and honestly laughable. So 1972 is a cult classic that leaves you feeling hollowed out and mildly insulted. The 2009 remake feels toned down and has a forced ending, but is the easier watch. So here it’s very much a pick your poison and if I have to choose, I choose this one. 7/10

My Bloody Valentine 3D (Video Review)

my_bloody_valentine_3d_ver3_xlgI didn’t like this film. This 2009 re-imagining leaves a lot to be desired, mostly in regards to story and likable characters. I have many issues with this film. But most of them boil down to one thing, this film is a lazy attempt at the genre. Dead Mary is arguably a better Slashers and it’s not even a Slasher in my opinion. I thought that starring Jensen Ackles and Kerr Smith that this film would be at least entertaining. But it fails their more than it succeeds. I feel that this film handicapped itself from it’s inception. As one of the genres main strengths is adaptability, something lost in a project that can be as confining as a re-imagining.

That’s all for this month and I will see you again next month when I talk about 2013 Slasher, Bloody Homecoming.