Evil Dead

Ever Needed a Reason to Kick Drugs?

Evil Dead

Evil Dead is probably the most extreme anti drugs campaign that I have ever seen. The film follows a group of young’uns as they spend a few nights in a cabin in the woods in an attempt to help one of them get through going cold turkey from…. well…. I’m not sure so I’m going to go with…… ‘DRUGS’. Naturally they find an evil book of witch craft in the basement and of course read from it, because why not, releasing the forces of hell upon the cabin. A whole load of disgusting and gory scenes follow ending in *and don’t read further if you don’t want to spoil it* the drug addict surviving and all her friends and her brother being brutally murdered. So what did we learn? Drugs are bad. Being a drug abuser will result in the gruesome slaughter of your friends and family. It will result in being possessed via the privates by a tree and end in a fight to the death with hells most dangerous creatures.

So don’t do drugs!

Anyway once you get past the underlying message of the film, the film itself is pretty much everything you’d expect. It’s another remake that did not need to exist. It would have been easy to make a very similar film without calling it an Evil Dead remake, simply attaching that iconic title for me is a way of guaranteeing an audience and nothing more. It definitely does not stand up to the cult qualities of the original. However, it is a decent horror, in a sense that it’s creepy, disgusting and ‘jumpy’. It’s pure entertainment which is worth watching for horror fans but most probably a film that you will forget the minute it’s finished. The film does use a lot of similar effects to the original in a sense that it has zero CGI use (or at least minimal) which is interesting to see when looking at how far special effects have came since the 80s. That is a desperate attempt to find something interesting about the film I know but it really is as obvious and simple as you no doubt expect it to be.

If you are a big horror fan or if you really are struggling for a reason to chuck drugs then you might as well give this film a shot, otherwise, just avoid it.

Dave

Twitter: @DavidSAdamson

Oblivion

 

Oblivion

The End of the World Never Looked so Beautiful

Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion is a beautiful film. The films view on nature is inspiring. The landscapes depicted, as desolate as they may seem, only highlight the power, scale and beauty of the earth. The last Sci-Fi that I saw of this magnitude was Prometheus and although that also looked fantastic it failed to deliver in terms of narrative. So the question is, how does Oblivion?

The film has a number of twists and turns, a few of which are apparent in the trailer(!). I would say all of the twists bar perhaps one, are rather predictable. However this still doesn’t prevent my enjoyment of the film. The jist is this. Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) live on a destroyed earth, after a war with an unknown species called ‘Scavs’ leaves the planet and moon in ruins the remaining population of earth has moved to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Jack and Julia are assigned as the mop up squad on earth, maintaining robots that work to protect a large structure that absorbs energy from the ocean in order to provide that energy for the colonies of Titan. Jack begins to question his position in the role he has undertaken and shortly discovers that all is not as it seems.

The overall story arc of the film seems to have been done time and time again however there are smaller plot elements that make this story much more interesting. Its intertwining of twists often overlap each other making, at times, more questions arise. I read in an article that said it seems Kosinski presumes that the audience know as much about the narrative as he does making the story hard to follow and difficult to understand. I think this is rubbish. The film doesn’t spoon feed its audience and never directly tells the audience what they are supposed to understand through the visuals but for me this is great. It often makes you question your theories of what seems like a straight forward narrative. This is what I enjoyed about the film, although the narrative was predictable, Kosinski has thrown curve balls at the audience to deter them from what they think is happening.

The film most certainly looks amazing. It’s as though every shot is a money shot and is a prime example of how the often over used method of CGI can create superb and exhilarating settings for a film. There was never a moment when I questioned the landscape of the film, which in a Sci-Fi is integral. The costume and set design were both astounding although Jacks gun did remind me of the old SNES Super Scope and the soundtrack was emotional and exciting.

Oblivion is not a perfect film and I don’t think it will be for everyone, but it’s a great Sunday night watch, in a dark room with those speakers turned right up.

Dave

Twitter: @DavidSAdamson

Sightseers

AN UNUSUAL TAKE ON A HOLIDAY IN THE COUNTRY

Sightseers is a dark comedy and is the third feature from British director Ben Wheatley and it’s been a while since I’ve seen a film quite like it. The story follows two characters, Tina (Alice Lowe) and Chris (Steve Oram) as they embark on a tour of rural Britain discovering everything that the countryside has to offer. The trip soon turns sour after a tourist drops his Cornetto wrapper on the floor. This sparks a homicidal rampage from both Chris and Tina. They begin by reversing their caravan over the Cornetto man and from there they escalate their brutal yet hilarious string of murders.

The story feels like a series of episodes where you find yourself wondering who they will kill in this situation and how will they do it. The link between the killings is that Chris, who is a struggling to write, finds his muse in Tina who then decides that murder is Chris’s way of drawing inspiration. So she encourages Chris to kill. Tina also kills in a desperate attempt to get Chris to like her. This concept accompanied by the hilarious dialogue and ridiculous setting takes you on a journey that will have you laughing for days. The killings for Tina and Chris aren’t necessarily a big deal, more of an annoyance against the enjoyment of their holiday. Chris says after running down the Cornetto man that he (the Cornetto man) has “ruined” the tram museum for him.

It’s this kind of character interaction that brings such hilarity to the film. It reminds me of the work or Martin McDonagh on In Bruges or Seven Psychopaths. Although Tina and Chris are both murderers and generally very strange individuals you find yourself truly enjoying their company in the 88 minutes you spend with them.

This film has put Ben Wheatley on the map for me after I was beyond confused with his previous film Kill List. He is without a doubt a unique film maker, one of which we all need to look out for. Another thing I really like about him is that he is a British director making British films.

Dave

Follow on Twitter: @DavidSAdamson

Side Effects (Spoilers)

Side-Effects

Side Effects (Dir. S. Soderbergh), unfortunately, feels like nothing more than that – an annoying, added portion of something you think may be good.

If you have watched Michael Clayton or The Constant Gardener, then you will be extremely let down by Side Effects, which struggles to live up to the aforementioned films level of ingenuity.

The substantially basic narrative is barely aided by a solid performance from Jude Law, playing the films protagonist, whilst the rest of the cast seem to be taking a medication that induces ‘wooden performances’. The films lead lady, Emily Taylor (played by Rooney Mara), is nothing more than a two dimensional role, even though the character (as do many other characters in the movie) has so much more room for manoeuvre but is let down by a poor narrative.

Side Effects gives the audience no emotional connection whatsoever to any character in the film. Let’s use The Constant Gardener as an example. With a similar plot, The Constant Gardener delivers a level of emotion because the films hero, Ralph Fiennes, is fighting to reveal a pharmaceutical companies exploitation of millions of Africans, and trying to stop drug testing that is killing them; he is fighting a good cause, and he is a likeable character. In Side Effects, Dr. Banks (Jude Law) is struggling to prove that Taylor did indeed consciously kill her own husband, and has framed it all on the drugs she was taking. As the film whirlwinds through his very brief, home made investigation, we are given tiny spits of scenes where the film strains to give some emotionality to the characters, but, instead, just leaves you frustrated. It doesn’t focus on how Banks has hit rock bottom in his life, losing everything, but instead, show you what the audience has already worked out half an hour before, that she murdered her husband for money.

Banks is a likeable character, but there is nothing more to him than that, he is just ‘Okay’.  What was needed was for more time to be spent focusing on him, instead of on Taylor (which is what the first half of the film does).

If the film had added an element of emotion into the story line, there might have been some connection, which could have lead to this film getting near a level of smart. But, unfortunately, it has wasted what could have been an interesting plot and leaves you with nearly two hours lost forever and £3.80 shy.

Ben

So Christmas has passed and one of my many kindly received gifts was a small book called ‘The 101 Horror Movies You Must Watch Before You Die’. It’s basically exactly as it sounds, a long list of horror films recommended to audiences based on their popularity and influence on the genre. What’s great about it is that it gives you all the films in chronological order from 1919’s The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to 2007’s The Orphanage and separates them into decades. Naturally; I jumped straight to the 80’s. Something about 80’s horror always appealed to me, American Werewolf in London and John Carpenter’s The Thing being my two favourite horrors of all time. I think it was the way they experimented with special effects during this era that had me fixated with it as a child.

Anyway, the first film in the 80’s section was Italian film maker Ruggero Deodato’s controversial film Cannibal Holocaust. I had heard about this film. I knew that it had been banned on its original release. I presumed it was probably going to pretty fucked up. Yet; I immediately got a hold of a copy and started to watch it. It would be an understatement to say that it shocked me.

At first I thought the film was just mindless violence and sexual violence because, well, it was. But I still didn’t turn it off. My book had recommended it so I was going to sit through it. Scene after scene passed by with people being killed and eaten and women being sexually assaulted, it was truly disturbing t watch. Then there was a scene where a man cuts open a musk rat. This scene was different. It looked different, felt different. The special effects seemed to be a step ahead of what I had seen in the film so far. Still I carried on watching. More people were eaten. More heads stuck on spikes. More bones made into necklaces.

Then there was another scene with an animal being killed. This time a large turtle/tortoise, I don’t know the difference. Again this was different; these scenes did not look fake. I couldn’t shake the thought of it so I grabbed my book. Having not read anything but the title of the film to avoid reading spoilers I began to read. It turns out the reason for the film being banned was not just for its disturbing subject matter. The animals killed in the film were all real live animals. This shocked me more than watching the film. The film suddenly became real. It pleased me to find out the director was put in prison for four years for the cruelty he showed towards the animals in the film.

Weeks on I still couldn’t shake the thought of Cannibal Holocaust from my head, the reason for this blog; I started to think whether or not, the film had succeeded in some way. Yes killing the animals in this film was brutal and wrong. But Deodato’s goal, like most film makers goal, was for his film to be noticed. It has certainly stuck with me. It made me think about the lengths people would go to in order to be successful and it kind of creeped me out a little.

Despite all this the film did have some redeeming qualities. Most of the second half of the film was in the style of the found footage movie. Very popular today and thought to have been pioneered by The Blair Witch Project in 1999, it again made me think. Maybe if Deodato hadn’t killed those animals and got his film banned, perhaps the film would have made it into the headlines for an entirely different reason to why it did and his career might not have gone down the shitter.

If you haven’t seen Cannibal Holocaust I’m not recommending it. Yet it is rather interesting in a slightly fucked up way. So for those of you who like stuff like that, you should definitely watch this.

Dave. @DavidSAdamson