Friday, 24 February 2017

Ghostbusters (2016)

She thinks it's a sliding door. She thinks they're all doors. That's sad - she's a scientist.

What the hell is with all the hate for this film?

No, this film is not without problems, but what's with the backlash? Someone shit on your rose tinted glasses?

The plot is simple. Ghosts appear in Manhatten just as our team of intrepid, slightly bumbling, ghostbusters appear like a well timed punchline. Our four busters go on to fight city hall for the right to fight, and take on a city destroying ghost plague.

So first off, I'm not sure if this is a remake, reboot, soft reboot, or sequel. That's not a problem, but as a fan of the original, I was a little confused. There seemed reference that this sort of thing had happened before, and how easily people forget. Then there is the cameos by the original cast, in different roles. But that was done in Ghostbusters by both Ackroyd and Murray (Yes, they appeared in dual roles in the film) but were cut from the theatrical release.

So franchise wide, it's not unheard of.

But that's just a niggle.

McKinnon / McCarthy /Wiig

The cast is strong. Weakest of the main early introduced three was McCarthy, taking to throwing jokes at the screen, as opposed to being 'funny'. Not her fault, one would argue, but the screenwriters. Kate McKinnon by far the strongest, throughout the whole film.

Then introduced was Leslie Jones. Seeing the trailer I was worried that the makers had thrown in an African American for the sake of it.


She was portrayed in the trailer as oafish. She didn't seem to have much in the way of 'character'. But I was wrong. I think it was a mis-step of the producers of the trailer. She is truly funny. Not only that but she supports the scientist characters with grace.

Then there is Kevin. Chris Hemsworth portraying the extremely dim - very pretty - receptionist. An odd character choice. Not that he exists, or indeed is played by Hemsworth - those are clever choices - but that he is so one dimensionally stupid. Like he couldn't live through a normal week "stupid". I felt the character was unnecessary.

But the "My Cat" joke is a classic.

The villain is uninspiring - until an event takes place involving Hemsworth - but much like the original Ghostbusters movie, it really has little to do with villain, but rather the impending doom caused by them.

And the special effects are stunning. There is the obvious slip up - namely with Stay Puffed - and perhaps Mrs. Slimer (?). But apart from that, this:

Astounding SFX

All round, the movie is not without problem. But it is not bad. In fact it is quiet good. Better than Ghostbusters II for sure.

It's funny. Surely that's the point? The jokes land. The parodies are there in abundance. What was everyone's problem?

If you haven't seen it, see it now. It's a blast.


Friday, 17 February 2017

House Hunting (2013)

Indie gems are still out there. And this one is excellent.

Released as The Wrong House in some regions

Two house hunting families stumble upon the perfect getaway, acres of land, deep in the forest, but when they arrive, the house refuses to let them leave.

The two families are very different. The Hays come across as white collar, the Thomson, blue. We're introduced to the Hays first, led by patriarch Charlie played by Marc Singer. It's a clever ruse, feigning the watcher into siding with the family. At no point are we given reason to 'prefer' the Hays, it's just good direction.

Don Thomson (Art LaFleur) leads the second family, and as they try to leave they stumble upon a girl with no tongue, battered and bloodied.

Marc Singer / Art LaFleur

With each family having one child, the Hays, teen Emmy, and the Thomson boy, Jason, there are seven in the house. The food cupboard is replenished mysteriously with seven cans of food daily. And everything starts to breakdown.

As time passes the Hays start falling apart as a family. There are issues below the surface. Charlie starts to become villainous. The Thomson's stick together, but there's something wrong with Jason.

Based loosely on Sartre play 'No Exit', the parallel's between the families, and the purgatory nature of the house, the truth slowly starts to come out, and the body count rises.

It's a very cleverly directed movie, with the viewer's loyalty constantly being challenged. It twists. Turns. The performances are strong. Singer and LaFleur show why they have been stalwarts in the industry for so long. The matriarchs, played by Hayley Dumond (Charmed) and Victoria Vance (Skin Crawl) give as good as they get, and the younger cast are excellent.

Rising dread gives in to horror in the last third of the movie, and the conclusion is as surprising as it is chilling.

Definitely late night viewing.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Holidays (2016)

I love anthology horror movies. This, like many, has ups and downs.

Surviving the holidays...

Unlike most anthology movies, this one has no wrap-around segment. There are eight tales, each differing in quality, and each focusing on a different holiday.

There are several middling efforts. St. Patrick's Day, directed by Gary Shore (Dracula Untold), tells the story of a teacher desperate for a child, who falls pregnant with assistance from a creepy little girl. The performances are strong, but the ending odd, and left me wanting more. Mother's Day, fell into weird, with a woman who couldn't stop getting pregnant, and is then kidnapped by a cult. Again, the ending let it down. New Years, a serial killer, looking for love on the last day of the year finds more than he expected. And Easter. Directed by Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact) tells of a strange incarnation of the Easter Bunny. The ending let it down.

So there's a pattern to the average segments. Poor endings. Which is frustrating to say the least. The direction was good across them all, and pretty strong performances. It was as if none of the film makers had seen or read this sort of material before. Still. It could be worse.

Madeleine Coghlan in Valentine's Day

So, the bad.

Christmas. I really wanted to like this one. Directed by Scott Stewart (Priest) and staring Seth Green, it was a simple story of getting a VR headset that purported to show you your true self. How a short can leave you with some many questions, is unimaginable. That, and having no ending. Actually, there was little middle.

And the worst.

Poor Kevin Smith. Halloween. Starring his daughter (of course) it told the tale of Cam-Girls getting revenge on their 'pimp'. Smith has written and directed some of the finest movies. This, however, is a mis-step matched only by Cop Out. Which is sad, because it actually does tell a story. It has an ending. It's just not very good. And I know he likes to put her in things, but Harley Quinn Smith is not a great actor.

Ruth Bradley in St. Patrick's Day

But, then the good.

The opening segment, Valentine's Day is the old story of a young girl having a crush on her teacher. And murdering people. Directed by Kevin Kolsch, the film has strong undertones of Carrie. Well acted by a young cast, and confidently produced. It has a beginning, middle, and end, and is a fantastic start.

By far the superior story, however, is Father's Day. Told almost entirely by a voice playing on a tape recorder (Michael Gross) and emoted wonderfully by star Jocelin Donahue in a near silent performance. A solid story, oozing with style and foreboding. Director Anthony Scott Burns should be proud.

It's a mixed bag, but worth watching.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Black Dynamite (2009)



He's a powder keg of black fury that's about to explode!

70's blaxploitation from 09. And it's glorious.

When Black Dynamite's brother is killed by street dealers, no one will get in his way. Yep. That's the plot synopsis.

Consistantly laugh out loud funny, BD riffs on the popular low budget 70's movies of the ilk. Think Shaft.

The movie follows a solid story line, with BD himself trying to track down the killer of his brother, and stumbling onto a nefarious plot to poison African American men with a liquor that shrinks your penis. I shit you not. And although the film is hilarious, it's played straight.

Can you dig it?

Towards the end of the movie we skew off thread, introducing two new villains to the piece. One of them is Nixon. Yeah. BD and Nixon fight with nunchucks.

The film is littered with continuity errors and filming mistakes, all placed in to replicate the 70's exploitation style. You can't watch it without beaming. It's ridiculous, and so non-PC, it's scary. But you know what? I can dig it.

Michael Jai White stars, and takes the role in great grace, playing a bad mother wonderfully. He also co-wrote. Acting across the board is amazing. Straight faces in daft places. 

Certainly for adults, with piles of swearing, violence, drugs, nudity... the list goes on, if you want a beer and a fantastic watch, go watch this. 

Because donuts don't wear alligator shoes.