I had all sorts of scathing things to say about how predictable this movie was and how it telegraphed its every move, but the ending was sort of neat. So I’ll say a bunch of scathing things and one or two nice things. This is a cookie cutter tale of a family who’s had a stillborn baby, but adopt Esther, 9 year old girl, because they have so much love to give, and their two existing kids apparently already have enough love. As the movie unfolds details are disseminated that completely give away future plot points. Tree house? Someone’s falling out of that thing. Iced over pond in winter that youngest daughter almost drowned in? Someone’s going through that ice. There wasn’t anything specifically wrong with the movie other than the fact that I’ve seen it all before. Not surprisingly the family’s son picks up on the new member of the family’s weirdness and is scolded by the parents. Then Esther successfully pits the parents against one another. It’s all very predictable save for the final twist, which I didn’t see coming. I could identify all the clues as they were revealed, but I didn’t put them together. If Orphan were 90 minutes long, it might have been more fun. As it stands it feels like a really long two hours.
Esther is played by Isabelle Furman, who was 12 at the time. Her performance pretty much kicks ass. Also, Aryana Engineer who played the hearing-impaired daughter Max gave a pretty good, wide eyed performance. Usually kids in movies irk me, this time only the brother was boringly standard child actor fare.
You could do worse than Orphan, but be warned, there’s very little in the way of new ground broken here.
Okay, so this one may not technically count. BUT it was the movie I watched today, and I spent almost the entire thing with that really dialed in feeling of tension that a really good horror movie gives. And it’s my 31 days of horror, so I get to choose the movies. So there.
In space, no one can hear you scream. That may be the tagline for my beloved Alien, but Gravity really dialed it in for me. Hovering at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes (the same RT score as Alien, by the way. And there the comparisons end—except Sandra bullock looks almost as hot as Ripley out of her space suit…), this is a story of a space disaster wherein two astronauts on a spacewalk become the only survivors after their shuttle is destroyed. I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind that things spin in space. This movie hammered the point home. While all the science wasn’t quite dead on (Neil Degrasse Tyson has something to say on that topic) sources say a lot of the space imagery was pretty realistic. Not since the floating blood in Event Horizon has zero gravity looked so scary. The movie had two characters, played brilliantly by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. IMDB trivia says that director Alfonso Cuaron and Bullock really focused on Bullock’s character’s breathing. Oxygen is an issue in any good space thriller, and at times she panted, at times she had to hold her breath, resulting in a really stressful atmosphere. The tension throughout most of the film was dialed up to 11.
I’m pretty lukewarm on 3-D. Most of the time it feels like a cheap gimmick. I’m generally opposed to any movie that’s shot in 2-D and ported over to 3-D. When it serves the film I’m a fan of it; examples being Avatar and the wickedly amusing Piranha 3-D. I would totally recommend seeing this one in 3-D, because it adds another element of weightlessness to the zero gravity scenery and provides the beautiful animation with another layer of texture.
Look at that and tell me that’s not horror.
Check this one out. And while it might not be a horror movie, it’s pretty friggin’ terrifying!
Did Hunger Games leave you feeling vaguely unsatisfied, wishing for more blood and more ruthlessness? Well, look no further. The 2000 flick Battle Royale is the tale of an entire class of Japanese school children (41 of them to be exact) dumped on an uninhabited island. Everyone has a tracking device on their neck, which monitors sound and can explode at command from the powers that be. Each kid is given a bag with a little bit of food, some water, and a weapon. Weapons range from a machine gun to a pot lid to a scythe. The battle lasts for three days. The island is a grid, and certain quadrants at certain times mean instant death (via the collars) for anyone who goes there. Two “transfer students” are added at the last minute–survivors from previous games.There can only be one winner–if more than one person is alive at the end, then everyone dies.
It creates a nice little petri dish of violence. Grudges are aired, crushes come to light, friends kill themselves rather than harm anyone else. A group of students sets to work hacking the system. The most visceral scene was one where a group of cheerleaders camped out in a lighthouse. They were working together, laying low, when the male lead Shuya, wounded, sought refuge there. One of the girls tries to poison him but accidentally poisons another girl, and the thin veneer of trust explodes and all the girls kill each other. This scene shows the simmering tensions that the artificial situation has wrought on the students.
The pacing was spot on, the characters were sympathetic and interesting. I don’t have a whole lot else to say other than go watch.
First off, start here and watch this:
Okay. So Guillermo del Toro saw this, told the writer/director Andy Muschietti he’d produce it if he wanted to expand the short to a feature film. That short is extremely powerful—the mystery of it all is part of its charm. Expanding something like this tends to cause them to lose some of their power.
But not a whole lot. This isn’t a flawless film, but it’s a pretty good one. It has a lot of fantastic moments, and the imagery is phenomenal—I suspect del Toro has something to do with that. A horror movie technique that gets me every time is when a character is facing forward, into the camera, and there’s something behind them that they don’t notice. The audience sees it, but the character is oblivious. There’s a lot of that in this movie and it freaks me out. Mama herself is played by Javier Botet who has Marfan syndrome, which means he’s very tall with very long fingers and abnormal joint flexibility. The only CGI for Mama is her hair. There are some moment when she’s just hair chasing people around—that sounds silly but this image is disturbing as shit.
The dreamy Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was in this flick, and at one point he falls down a flight of stairs. All I could think that this was some kind of just desserts for pushing Bran out that window…
Mama’s plot sort of wanders away from itself, and there are some elements of the story that are pretty repetitive. I didn’t see the end coming. I didn’t think the movie would go there, and there it went. I give PG-13 horror movies a bad rap a lot of the time (often with good reason) but Mama proves that they can still be frightening without an R. The film reminded me a lot of Don’t be Afraid of the Dark which I liked a lot better than most everyone else did.
Dread Central does a really nice review of the movie, and I agree with a lot of what they had to say. I’m sure having a hard time finding good images for this movie…they all show Mama in direct light and don’t capture a lot of the creeping and lurking that so freaked me out.