Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bedevilled (2010)

I've always been a fan of Korean horror/revenge movies, but recent events in my life have sparked a renewed interest.  My husband and I have started the process for international adoption, and we hope our future little one will come from Korea!  So expect to see some more Korean movie reviews than usual.

Bedevilled begins in Seoul, where Hae-won works at a bank.  The stress of the job has been getting to her, and after flipping out on a co-worker, she is forced to take a vacation.  At first she just sits at home and drinks, but then decides to reconnect with an old friend Bok-nam, who lives on a remote island where Hae-won's grandfather used to live.

Life on the island is certainly...different...and Bok-nam basically gets treated like a slave by her husband, and the other older women who live there.  She only has love for her young daughter, who she finds out is being abused by her husband.  Hae-won tries to use the trip for rest and relaxation, but she soon realizes that everything isn't alright in the little community.

After a tragedy involving her daughter, Bok-nam snaps and decides to take revenge on those who have abused and degraded her for her whole life.  The result is a bloody revenge story, where Hae-won is caught in the middle.

I really liked this movie.  It was definitely a slow burn, and plodded along at first, but then turned satisfyingly gruesome.  It's one of the few Korean horror movies available on Netflix streaming, so check it out :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Oldboy (2013)

I loved the original 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.  ;)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Among Friends (2012)

I want so much to like this movie.  I love Danielle Harris so much and I'm just pulling for her to do well.  The concept of this movie sounds very much like April Fool's Day and I was a little confused at first as to whether this movie actually takes place in the 80s, or if they are attending a costume party  Seems like it's the latter.  But hey, Kane Hodder is the limo driver!  Yay!

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.