Oldboy so much that I knew writing a review for the remake would be hard. I highly doubted that they would be able to translate this one to American cinema, and I heard nothing but bad reviews. Going into this movie, I expected very little, and I'll venture to say that I was a bit pleasantly surprised. This doesn't even touch the original, but there were a few little details about it that I liked. And a lot of others that I didn't.
In case you've missed the trailers or the original Korean version, I will summarize the idea of this version of Oldboy. An alcoholic advertising executive, Joe Doucette (Josh Brolin) is just a general asshole. He spends a large chunk of the beginning of the film cavorting about, inhaling alcohol, throwing up on himself and begging to be let into bars. As opposed to Oh Dae Su, who had one bout of drunkeness in the original, you feel no sympathy for this douche, who is pretty much awful all around.
He wakes up in a hotel room, which we later learn to be a prison where you can pay to stash people you don't like. Life is miserable -- same three meals every day, but he does still get his vodka fix. Joe is framed for the murder of his wife, and his daughter, Mia survives. He spends a lot of time going a little crazy, and I liked the addition of the mouse + babies, which added a little bit to the crazy. After seeing his daughter on TV in frequent check-ups for a America's Most Wanted-type show, he decides to stop drinking, begin writing letters to his daughter, and find a way to get out of the room.
Of course, before he can do that, he is released, and told he has a specific amount of time to find his captor, and his reason for this extended kidnapping. This is where Samuel L.Jackson appears, and in my opinion, he is totally miscast as the warden for the building where Joe was held. The female savior in this version is Marie (Elizabeth Olsen), who is a social worker with way too much enthusiasm for helping some weird dude she just met. Michael Imperioli is Chucky, Joe's favorite bartender in his drinking days.
The main "scenes" from the original are somewhat reflected in the remake, including the dumpling tasting, which not only falls flat, but makes little sense in an American movie, and the infamous hammer scene, which is downright laughable in this version. The backstory is different, and involves a weird father-daughter-son molestation situation, which effectively creeped me the fuck out. The final confrontation between Joe and his captor lacked the insanity and intensity of the original, although the infamous "twist" still managed to shock.
Overall, I didn't think this movie was as completely horrible as I expected, but it just really added no value, nor had much of a reason to be made. But isn't that kind of the case with all remakes these days? Well, except Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes. ;)
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
So the group of friends assembles at their rich friend Bernadette's house to play some sort of murder mystery. But right from the start, there's various drama going on, and it seems that one of the friends they expected to join them is actually missing. After searching for a few clues around the house, they sit down to dinner, where more clues are revealed. Unfortunately, most of the dinner guests become paralyzed from the waist down. All except Bernadette, of course, who reveals that she has been secretly videotaping everyone without them knowing. She says that they can each ask questions about what is going on, but she gets to do something to them in return. You know, like a little haircut:
Bernadette continues to show videos of her friends getting up to nonsense, all while making them pay for various transgressions like asking her to stop the videos, or begging to know what happened to their friend, Lilly. It turns out they've all been cheaters, hoes, and rapists, and according to Bernadette, they all need to pay. There's a lot of whining, begging, and pleading, a little gore, and a lot of vomit. There's this whole trippy sequence with this chick on mushrooms that gave me a headache, and then the whole movie kind of ended abruptly.
I'll say that even with it's flaws, this was a nice first effort from Danielle Harris. She makes a cheeky cameo in the mushroom scene as a grown-up Jamie Lloyd, and you know she wasn't going to make this flick without Jennifer Blanc-Biehn and Michael Biehn. The 80s theme was a cute nod to her roots, and although this one was definitely rough around the edges, it was a decent directorial debut.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
If you are planning on watching Prisoners brace yourself because it is a long-ass movie. But for me, it is one of those that did not seem to drag, and I feel it used its minutes wisely. This movie is about two families whose young daughters, Anna and Joy, go missing after a miscommunication during a holiday get together. Basically, they end up leaving the house alone when they were supposed to walk with older siblings. Immediately, a mysterious RV and its driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano) is suspected of the kidnapping. After much interrogation, Alex reveals nothing, and must be released on lack of evidence. But upon leaving the police station, he is attacked by Anna's father, Keller (Hugh Jackman). After implicating himself in quiet statement to Keller, he and Joy's father, Franklin (Terrence Howard) kidnap Alex, with the intention of torturing the information out of him.
Meanwhile, the lead detective on the case, Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) has moved on from Alex to other suspects, including a creeper who buys lots of children's clothes, and runs from the vigil when Loki spots him. Keller and Franklin continue to torture Alex for information, in some pretty sadistic ways. There is also Alex's weird aunt, Holly (Melissa Leo) and a priest with a dead body in his basement. Throw in some bloody children's clothes, a bunch of snakes, a guy who draws mazes all over his house, and a history of missing kids in the area, and you've got a movie with a lot of moving parts.
I don't want to give too much more away, but I really liked how this movie played out. I sometimes find "plot twists" to be kinda predictable, but I was pretty surprised by the several in Prisoners. Captivity of any kind always gets to me, so maybe that's why this movie resonated with me so much. Also, I really found it interesting to see the lengths a person would go to in order to protect/save their children, you know, like locking a kid in the bathroom and torturing him for days. Either way, I would recommend Prisoners if you have a quiet evening ahead to really dig into it.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, so let's start at the beginning. A rich family gets together at a secluded house to celebrate their parents' anniversary. They also bring along their respective significant others, making for a sizable group. Randomly, one of the dinner guests, Tariq (Ti West!) gets shot by an arrow through the window and things quickly begin to go haywire, as masked intruders invade the house, bent on death and destruction. But instead of getting their shit together and fighting back, most of the people in the house are dead weight, whining and sleeping when they should be helping. This amusing uselessness had to be intentional, because it was pretty funny. Erin comes out of nowhere to be a total badass, while the others get picked off one by one.
We don't get a motive from the masked killers at first, but the deaths are quite brutal. However, Erin fights back just as hard...yay meat tenderizer! Her "traps" are so similar to Home Alone that Scream King and I thought it had to be part of the whole cheekiness of this plot. The reason for the melee, which is revealed sort of in two parts, brought everything together nicely, but leaves you to wonder how they ever thought this shit would work out in the end.
You're Next was a fun little gory romp, but I can't say I'd be in a rush to watch it again, or god forbid a sequel. I do enjoy these movies that are a little intentionally silly, but I'm hoping we see some more realistic scares come out of 2014.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
I remember when this movie first came out, in the early days of torture porn, when the sub-genre was all fresh and new and exciting. Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth were a lethal combination and Hostel was the movie that everyone was talking about. Of course, it was notorious that two people had to leave the premiere in ambulance due to being so affected by the torture scenes.
I love to travel, and I adore horror movies about wanderlust gone wrong. I never did the whole traveling around Europe thing, and I've never stayed in a hostel, but I just love the concept of this movie. In case you've lived on Mars for the last decade of horror, Hostel is about a couple of Americans (Josh and Paxton) and their Icelandic friend Oli, who are hanging out in Amsterdam when they hear about an area (and corresponding hostel) in Slovakia which is apparently overrun with beautiful women. Of course, they head there immediately without question.
Upon arrival, they find the hostel is too good to be true. They are sharing a room with two gorgeous girls, and the place comes equipped with a giant spa filled with topless women. They party with the girls, and declare the excursion a success. However, they can't seem to find Oli, and become increasingly worried throughout the day. But in the end, they decide to go to the disco with the girls anyway, since they are taking off for Barcelona the next day.
But of course, by this time they realize that the hostel is literally too good to be true, and is actually a cover for a crazy operation where rich people can pay to torture and kill people. As you would guess, to do this to an American is actually the most expensive. The blood and gore in this flick is cringe-inducing, and holds up well, even well after torture porn wore itself out.
There are lots of feelings you get from watching horror movies, but one of my favorite ones is the "trapped in the open" vibe. When any of the characters are wandering around looking for their friends (prior to being in the warehouse), it's not like they're locked in a physical tight space, but trapped all the same.
There are several striking/chilling moments in this movie (SPOILERS!): when Paxton speaks German in the warehouse, when the girls are in the pub with no makeup on, when the Achilles tendon gets sliced, hiding in the cart of dead bodies, and the dangling eye OMG THE EYE. I also distinctly remember cheering in the theater when Natalya, Svetland, and Alex got their due. In a genre where things get old in an instant, Hostel holds up well as a horror classic.