Movie Diary 2019 by pahaK

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Two quick ones on the same post. Don't want to pile up a backlog and get stressed about it.

The House of the Devil (2009) N

A retro horror that emulates the 70s. It looks very beautiful and manages that old feel nicely. It's really, really slow paced trying to stretch its minimal content to full feature film length. I don't usually mind slow pace in horrors but this would have worked better in 60 minutes format.

Acting is very good and I like how it builds the characters in the beginning. After Sam is left alone the film doesn't know what to do with the remaining time. The brutality of violence comes as a surprise (the first death is brilliant - I totally expected it but not in such a graphic manner) and I like that. The last scene is totally unneccessary.

Good concept and technical execution but far too little content for full length film. You could probably edit a really good episode for some horror anthology from it though.


The Dirt (2019) N

A biopic of Mötley Crëw that's been advertised with all sorts of vice and moral degradation. I've never liked the band but I've been expecting this movie for a while now. The Dirt is definitely better than Bohemian Rhapsody but even it fumbles a little towards the end. Especially the part from Vince leaving the band to the reconciliation feels extremely rushed.

The story itself is the same old: sex, drugs and rock 'n roll with the emphasis on the first two. It starts light and comedic but gets darker and darker as the drugs and alcohol take the wheel. I liked the actors (but like I said, I'm not into this band so can't really comment how much they feel like them) and everything felt somehow more honest than in Bohemian Rhapsody.

The Dirt breaks the fourth wall on multiple occasions and while I usually don't like it it kinda works here. Early parts with drunken parties are probably the best, drama would have needed little more depth (e.g. Skylar's death felt like it was included just to be a tear jerker). Mostly quite entertaining film still.


Hands of the Ripper (1971) N

Jack the Ripper's daughter witnesses him killing her mother. 15 years later she's doing the killing but is she just sick in the head or possessed by her father.

Another good looking British horror from the 70s. Hands of the Ripper also looks awfully Italian for a Hammer film (especially some of the murders and the whole final scene are straight up giallo). Even the absurdity of the plot has an Italian feel to it. I don't mind that though and it's an interesting mix of Hammer, giallo and slasher.

Again the writing is rather poor at times and there are some funny goofs (like where's the point of the sword?). Pritchard feels like he's the crazy one when pursuing a cure for Anna with no regard for the lives it costs (perhaps getting killed was part and parcel of being a Londoner back then too). There's no character development at all and the script is very slasher-like (which I personally consider a flaw).

Acting is alright and Angharad Rees is very pretty as Anna. Lots of beautiful shots and settings but it's too much just style without substance. Murders aren't as brutal as in gialli but still way above average Hammer production (which obviously means that back in the day this was banned in Finland). Recommended at least if you're into Hammer films.

Dragged Across Concrete (2018) N

Two cops get suspended for using excessive force (or because of bad publicity caused by the event being filmed and sent to television). They're not happy about it and decide to get the compensation for their good work by robbing some criminals.

I liked Bone Tomahawk but thought it was longer and slower than it needed to be. Brawl in Cell Block 99 was a huge disappointment after that and Dragged Across Concrete continues Zahler's downward trend even further. Without any exaggeration at least an hour should have been edited off this film.

I think Zahler has watched some Lanthimos since his previous film and thought it would be good idea copy his acting antics. As a result we get to see slow, pointless and wooden dialogue that seems to go on forever (seriously, this film has some of the worst dialogue I've seen - anchovies). It's like combining the worst of Tarantino and Lanthimos.

The film doesn't build any story or add any depth to its characters (quite an accomplishment for 2h 38min movie). We have two cops who feel like some sketch characters, a black ex-con with all the family cliches out there and a gang of criminals who'd eat Krug and his mates for breakfast. Instead of fleshing them out Zahler does some "interesting" stuff like spends 10 minutes showing a random woman who doesn't want to leave her baby even to go to work. Brilliant, not.

I guess the only positive thing I can say about this is that it's not politically correct. Despite of that it's pretty much a waste of time (a way too large amount of time too).

Mosquito the Rapist (1977) N

Deaf and mute man lives alone with his dolls and secretly loves a girl who lives in the same apartment building. He also defiles corpses in local mortuaries and drinks their blood.

This oddly named (or translated at least - while rapist is also technically correct I'd much prefer something like defiler due to the fact that there's no raping in this film) Swiss eurotrash is quite interesting. I haven't seen Romero's Martin but I'm still reminded of it (both are apparently done about the same time so no copying either way), I'm getting some heavy Buttgereit vibes (though this is actually much better quality than NekRomantik) and even some similarities to Maniac.

Story and character development are a bit shaky but perhaps the film is just trying to reflect the obsessions of the protagonist (it seems to work that way but maybe I just want to see something that isn't there). There's not much happening all the time but it never starts to drag too bad. Acting is rather fine (especially Pochath who genuinely feels disturbed) and technically it's better than I expected.

There's not much violence per se but the corpse defiling scenes are definitely sleazy and watching the man suck blood from corpses through glass straw is really something. It's bleak and quite heavy film and something that probably couldn't be done today. It barely misses being good but well worth a watch if you're feeling sleazy.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011) N

A boy with Asperger's loses his father in 9/11 and goes on a quest to find where the mysterious key he found fits.

I don't think the film is supposed to be a satire but the boy reminds me of a modern snowflake and a future professional offendee. Just like our society his family chooses not to intervene with his mania but instead plays along to help him feel special. This goes to such lengths that I started to consider it funny.

Other than that it's pretty hollow drama that uses the recent tragedy as a background for its generic story. For the film it wouldn't matter if 9/11 was changed to any other real or fictional tragedy. It tip toes around the subject so carefully that it never even mentions who flew those planes or why - it's like a mystery that just happened and has no connection to anything (and drawing conclusions or expecting something to happen again is as crazy as the boy's fears).

Nothing in the film feels real (family dynamics, grief, the way strangers respond, etc.). I'm not sure if it tries to be like a fairy tale but the result is just fake. It made me feel nothing. Even the sympathy for the boy was dulled by him being so annoying and unlikable. At least the acting was good and I generally like this type of films (though I prefer more fantasy elements like I Kill Giants or Tideland).

Not the worst of the worst but quite bad. Amazed to see that this was best picture nominee.

Altered States (1980) r

A scientist is experimenting on himself with hallucinatory drugs and isolation chamber. He's chasing primordial memories stored in DNA but there are consequences.

While Altered States isn't as weird as I remembered it's still very much a Ken Russell movie. Especially some of the hallucinations are exactly what one expects from him (like the crucified Jesus that has a goat's head with many eyes). Lots of religious imagery and even the evolution is totally mystified.

While the science in the film is what it is Jessup himself feels rather believable obsessed scientist. Characters in general seem real but not very deep. Acting is kinda odd but it seems to have been mostly to piss off the writer whose script Russell hated but wasn't allowed to change.

There are some interesting concepts in Altered States but the film falls little flat on majority of them (like Jessup's regression that suddenly becomes fully magical and then just reverts). Also the ending is really lame and forcedly happy. It's very OK movie but it wouldn't have needed too big changes to be good.

Triple Threat (2019) N

A daughter and heir of a deceased billionaire becomes a target for local crime syndicate that sends a group of mercenaries to kill her. She ends up with three men who all have their own reasons to fight the mercenaries.

The cast of Triple Threat should make every fan of martial arts films smile. It's who's who of the genre today; Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Scott Adkins and others like former UFC star Michael Bisping. Even though I knew better from past experiences with such star studded casts I couldn't help but have high expectations.

Because Triple Threat is what it is I'll start with the action. Violence is quite bloody like it usually is in these Asian martial arts films today. Gunfights have very 80s feel to them (while this isn't completely negative thing it's not good either) and they lack the flamboyance of modern action. Hand to hand combat is also surprisingly lame (there are some good sequences though and lame with this cast doesn't still equal bad) and due to too many big names the fights tend to drag on for too long.

The story or more precisely the lack of any is the real downfall of this film. The writing is quite stupid even for the genre and acts only as a poor excuse to take people from one fight to another. On a positive side vengeance means killling everyone and Triple Threat (like most Asian action movies) doesn't give a damn about diversity (all the good guys are Asian while all whites and blacks are bad guys).

Decent action flick but the cast promises so much more.

The Highwaymen (2019) N

A familiar story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow but told from the viewpoint of two former Texas Rangers hunting them.

It's been ages since I last saw the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde but I remember it being quite good. Based on The Highwaymen I'd say that the villains are more interesting in this specific case and the Netflix production never gets truly going and doesn't seem to have anything new to say about the topic.

Costner and Harrelson are two old men playing two old men who grumpily trudge along their old ways and tell the tales of even older times (I hope I repeated "old" enough to make my point). Both are fine actors but they're characters are just boring and can't carry the film. Also Harrelson is a bit too much like he's in almost every film of his (too much a comedic relief) and doesn't fit otherwise low-key film.

The whole old Texas Rangers vs. the new law enforcement is very cliched (obviously the old farts and they're cowboy antics solve the case and FBI with their silly radios are just stupid kids in their way). I mean, as far as I know The Highwaymen tells the big story quite accurately but I could have lived without the usual bickering between the two groups or over-emphasized conflict between the old and new.

There's nothing terribly wrong in the film but it just has this constant drag, like a movie equivalent of a rollator.

[Series Review]
Hanna - Season 1 (2019) N

Pretty much a remake and expansion of the 2011 movie with the same name. There are some definite changes too but it's understandable due to different formats.

So first things first, I like the concept of Hanna a lot (I like this kind of stories even when they don't center around young girls but obviously that's a bonus). I had high expectations for this and really liked the pilot when it was released about two months ago. You've probably already guessed that there was at least some sort of a disappointment.

Pilot is great. It's pretty much an expanded intro from the movie. Next two episodes are little weaker but still good and the story starts to divert from the original. Episodes four and five are the worst of the season. They go too far from the main point of the show and focus too much on being a silly teen. Sixth is little better. Last two episodes are good again but the story goes a little too close to Bourne.

I liked both main actors (Creed-Miles and Kinnaman). Enos didn't feel like the right actress to play Marissa. Sophie and her family were good (but really annoying). Action was little disappointing and I didn't like how Hanna was doing all those Hit-Girl style acrobatics in fights (they worked in silly comic book movie like Kick-Ass but felt out of place here).

It's close but I'd say that the weak middle part barely knocks this from really being good but I still hope it gets another season because it's promising.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) N

A Disney classic about a pretty princess with one bitch of a stepmother.

It's not my movie. Besides animation looking really good there's very little to stir my interest. The story is so minimal that even at only 83 minutes there's time for multiple (rather awful in my opinion) musical numbers. And yes, I know it's from an old fairy tale by the Grimm brothers but the queen's actions to get rid off Snow White are rather pathetic.

The characters are extremely thin. Snow White feels like a simpleton whose only purpose is to find herself a husband. She doesn't exaggerate when she sings that she only knows one song. The dwarfs have their whole character profile in their respective names. It's kinda sad that all the random bunnies and birds feel as deep (or actually shallow) as the titular characters.

A princess fantasy for little girls that doesn't seem very relevant today (whether that's a good or a bad thing is not an easy question to answer). I can't say that I enjoyed this but I can kinda see why people in the 30s did.

Dead & Buried (1981) N

A local mob kills random visitors in small coastal town. Local sheriff is trying to investigate but doesn't like what he finds out.

A combination of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and zombies that has a smell of The Twilight Zone's trash bin. No real suspense, no proper characters (though there's kinda reason for this) and the story is shaky at best. It's not a comedy (it has some comedic elements though) but otherwise it's a good example of a bad B-horror.

For most of the time Dead & Buried alternates between the wooden sheriff wondering what's going on and some unimaginative random killings. While the concept isn't exactly terrible it falls apart when it's blown out of proportions. Ending and the explanation is hilariously bad. Moderately high IMDb score is surprising.

The Coming of Sin (1978) N

A superstitious gypsy girl comes to live with a reclusive female artist. The girl has nightmares about a man that stalks her while riding naked across the countryside. When the man arrives to the house a hot and twisted love triangle begins.

I had absolutely no idea how the movie was gonna be. Some reviews compared it to Jess Franco films which to me is a bad sign (only tried one though but couldn't even finish it). It ended up being a mix of softcore porn, Harlequin romance, erotic thriller and arthouse film made with really small budget.

The Coming of Sin is quite beautifully shot film. Especially the dream segments have great atmosphere and are very good looking for the money. Soundtrack is also very fitting, Spanish guitar stuff that sounds awesome. Acting is OK and there's good chemistry between the trio.

It's quite hot and sexy film that uses every opportunity to show some skin. The erotic tension is pretty well built. The ending is little forced and writing in general is little lazy. The Coming of Sin isn't exactly my type of film but I was pleasantly surprised by its overall quality. Will need to find some of the more liked films by Larraz as this one's apparently one of his lesser films.

Stray (2019) N

Japanese woman is found dead in an empty warehouse. A female detective back from personal leave after losing her baby begins to investigate and discovers some weird stuff while also befriending the dead woman's teen aged daughter.

Above average fantasy thriller B-movie that's not highly inventive but does its thing nicely. Stray doesn't explain the whats and whys of its mythology but the story itself is brought neatly to conclusion. It deals a lot with themes like loss and loneliness and rejection but doesn't wallow on negativity (I personally wouldn't have minded some wallowing though).

Visually Stray is very dark and minimalist. It looks better than your average B-movie these days and even the effects seem to fit its overall tone. Characters feel like real people and aren't reduced to just one trait or emotion. It has that sad atmosphere that J-horrors often have but unlike them it also has a strong emphasis on hope.

Not a masterpiece in any way but solid little movie. Definitely better than I expected.

The Wind (2018) N

A couple lives in the middle of nowhere surrounded only by the ever windy prairie. Solitude is relieved by new neighbours but is there something else out there as well?

I saw the trailer for The Wind about a month ago and it seemed interesting. The film itself ended up being little different than I expected and also a mild disappointment. It's technically solid and does the feeling of isolation convincingly. Settings are beautiful in their own way and the slow pace accompanies the solitude and long waits well.

The main flaw of The Wind is that it tries too hard to make its story complicated and to do that it spends majority of its time just obfuscating what's really happening. It's filled with temporal shifts that aren't always clearly noticeable, it's achronological to a point where it's hard to say anything about the time between events and in the end it even made me question whether some events (or even people) were ever real. This time I kinda think the answers are in there but I just don't feel The Wind is good enough as it is to rewatch only for those answers.

Despite its flaws The Wind has quite nice atmosphere and few creepy scenes. I liked how it used the shadows and silhouettes instead of really showing anything. The potential was there but someone should have told Emma Tammi (she must have Finnish roots because that's completely Finnish name) that often simpler is better.

Lord of Chaos (2018) N

In the early 90s churches were burning in Norway as the black metal was making its presence known to the world. At the centre of it all was Mayhem and its leader Euronymous. And, of course, Varg Vikernes who murdered him and became Norway's most notorious musician.

I don't like Åkerlund's choice to make Lords of Chaos so comedic and almost a mockery of the subject. Maybe he felt that his involvement in Bathory was too close to them and he needed to redeem himself by making all of these people look like clowns and idiots. Whatever the reason the only feeling I get from the movie is his contempt.

As far as I know current members of Mayhem aren't too happy about the film and Varg's been raging about it on multiple occasions (I know Varg may have personal interests in the matter but his comments gain little more weight from others disapproving the film too). Lords of Chaos makes black metal seem like irrelevant trash that was accidentally born from the minds of few sick individuals, something that has no value, something that Åkerlund wishes to go away.

Acting is mostly average and there are some casting issues (especially Varg). It's odd that the film concentrates so little to the actual music (probably because they didn't get the rights from many artists) and the whole scene is reduced to handful of people (hell, they didn't even mention Faust's band - he felt like Mayhem groupie instead of a member of another major band Emperor).

I doubt Lords of Chaos has much historical value and it's barely mediocre as entertainment. It had some surprisingly brutal scenes (especially Dead's suicide - best wrist cutting seen in movies, I think) but the overall tone was totally off. I can't escape the feeling that the main reason for this film was to slander Varg.

Eye in the Labyrinth (1972) N

A psychiatrist goes missing and his girlfriend starts to investigate.

I still don't know if I'd call Eye in the Labyrinth a giallo or not. In many ways it's more like Agatha Christie's whodunit with giallo aesthetics (quite a bit of nudity, some blood, Italian small town setting and perversely odd people). In the end it takes a bit more Italian turn of events that probably makes it to be considered one.

Like whodunits so often Eye in the Labyrinth tries to mislead the viewer a lot and while the eventual murderer isn't necessarily a huge surprise (I suppose the film being labeled giallo led me towards that direction) the explanation doesn't make much sense in the film's context. Besides the murderer's identity the plot is decent (though again the ending is kinda silly).

So quite atypical giallo but unfortunately I'm not too much into whodunits. It's OK looking film but nowhere near the visual flamboyance of directors like Argento or Fulci. Soundtrack is weird but I think its jazzy tunes actually fit the film. Acting is OK as well though some of the dubbing is pretty bad (but that's hardly new).

The Silence (2019) N

Cave explorers unleash some nasty flying creatures from the cave they've been trapped in for millions of years. The film follows a single family in this monster apocalypse.

A Quiet Place was mediocre film. Bird Box was mediocre book and pretty bad film. The Silence is a rip-off of these two and also the worst of the bunch. Monsters are blind and they follow the sound. So lots of whispering and signing (such luck that the family has deaf daughter so they can all sign). I really hope this "lets focus on one sense" trend dies soon.

The premise is really dumb. Creatures that have been (according to the news report on film) trapped for millions of years in a collapsed cave deep underground have evolved into fast flying predators. I have no idea what they've eaten for all that time (they don't even seem to have any cannibalistic tendencies) or how they've multiplied to such vast numbers that they take down whole North America in a matter of days.

None of the characters are interesting at all (to me it seems that even the actors are bored). The whole family is so cliched and one dimensional. The doomsday cult that has appeared like two days into the catastrophe is totally out of place and the ending is like from some YA book. Bad film even by Netflix standards.

28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
The Silence (2019) N

Cave explorers unleash some nasty flying creatures from the cave they've been trapped in for millions of years. The film follows a single family in this monster apocalypse.
Seems about what I expected. I'm sure I'll hate watch it.
"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

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