Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Vanishing (1988)

WARNING: May contain some spoilers.

The Vanishing is a Dutch/French language film about a heart broken boyfriend's obsession over his kidnapped girlfriend and, a film about the obsession of a sociopath. Rex and Saskia are on their way to a holiday weekend when Saskia goes missing. Rex, torn by her disappearance, takes on a three year search to find out what happened to her. Raymond, our kidnapper, is a family man, teacher, and incredibly intelligent. The film derives into his preparation of the kidnapping, even taking a comical approach to it as his first few attempts are a bit of a fail. Raymond, in respect of Rex, has decided to send him postcards awaiting the moment where they can talk face to face. Eventually Raymond approaches Rex in person and offers him everything he's wanted to know but only if Rex goes with him. This poses the question, would you go?

I can't relay what kind of viewing experience for this film might be to someone else but for me it was calm. Surprisingly for a movie about kidnapping I never felt anxious or overtly scared for Rex. The only thing was after the movie ended a creepy feeling over came me and I became genuinely disturbed by the entire experience. That was the movie's underlying effect. I attribute these elements to our killer, Raymond, who's very precise and in complete control of the movie and the viewers experience, which if you pull away is the utterly terrifying nature of the film. The movie might be a bit slow for some but if you are patient you'll see Saskia's disturbing kidnapping and her horrifying fate, which evokes a certain phobia (I won't mention it because it'll spoil the ending).

I don't watch a lot of Dutch films, in fact this is my first, so I can't say for certain how the acting fairs but from just what I like I thought the two male leads, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu and Gene Bervoets, were very interesting to watch. My favorite kinds of films are where the villain has more depth than just being evil and that's defiantly what we get with Raymond's character. His thinking process reveals to us that he doesn't kidnap out of sheer pleasure or from a psychological mishap during his childhood development. He just calculates that he can't be one extreme without the other. It's a bloodcurdling thought of a sociopath.

The directing and the writing are good. Tim Krabbe wrote the book and the screenplay and it's doubtful that he messed up his own novel, though I haven't read it. George Sluizer directs and later went on to direct the American remake which has mixed reviews. There's a lot of other little details that I appreciated about the film. Such as casual conversations about items that later show up in helps of the kidnapping.

If you can't tell I'm in love with this movie. From one horror fan to another, there are those who might be disappointed with the absence of gore. But the suspense, the ending, and the affair of watching these two men's obsession over the same woman compensate for it. It's a very good film, maybe of my favorites, but either way I'd say it's something to watch.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

They Live (1988)

John Carpenter's alien invasion/B-movie fest, and arguably his most quotable film.

They Live starts out with a beefy homeless man trying to find work. He makes a fairly solid place in a community of homeless workers, who are located on an empty plot of land across what is a seemingly abandoned church, open on occasion for a mysterious choir practice. After snooping around, due to suspicion that something bigger is going on, our main character finds a box full of sunglasses that give him the ability to see what we can't, aliens. It appears that aliens have been living amongst us for years and are slowly taking over our planet for profitable gain, they are entrepreneurs FYI. It's hard to say what I myself would do if I stumbled upon something as big as this, but it's easy enough for our main character, find a bunch of guns and kill them all.

For whatever reason I didn't catch our main character's name, so for the sake of the review I'm just going to refer to him as Big Beefy Guy with Mullet. Big Beefy Guy with Mullet is played by Rowdy Roddy Piper, a former pro wrestler. His acting is nothing less than appropriate for this role, since They Live is a parody and often cheesy. Keith David is also in the movie as Big Beefy guy's kind, maybe a bit angry at times, friend who helps Beefy out. But it's obvious that Big Beefy Guy with Mullet gets all the best lines, undeniably "Brother, life's a bitch...she's back in heat" is inimitable with the rest of the dialog.

The first half hour of the film is a bit slow, not really picking up until the police ambush the homeless people and the abandon church. The basic's of it could have been squeezed into ten - fifteen minutes, it's not like we'd miss character development or anything relevant like that. Then there's the six minute (yes I counted) fight scene between Beefy and his nice Friend, that could have been cut down significantly since it was a little bit more than absurd after the first four. I also wish we'd of gotten to see the aliens a little bit more, since they were actually a little creepy.

They Live is overall a fun alien invasion movie directed by a horror legend, it's got corny dialog, epic gun fights, and a hilariously memorable last scene/image. I'd recommend for anyone looking for a good B-movie that'll make you laugh.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Open House (2010)

If your like me than your a True Blood fan and the draw to this was Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer's names in the title. Although I hate to spoil anything think Janet Leigh and Drew Barrymore. I'd say five minutes total, and that's together. I'm guessing they were used as a marketing device to lure audience in to what would otherwise be an ignored film.

Aside from that and from not knowing anything about this film I came out liking it, for the most part. The plot lingers at the border of suspenseful thriller but it never truly picks up, yet somehow it remains interesting enough to where you have to watch it to the end. The original concept of it is decent enough, but the kills tend to be unmotivated and random. I also wished we had gotten bit more back story of our killers since they hinted at an interesting and possibly disturbing past but it doesn't get explored any further than a single conversation at the diner table.

The acting is good, especially from Brian Geraghty, whose relationship between his sister/girlfriend/wife (it's never fully explained) and the victim is the focus of the movie. If you're also a Burn Notice fan you'll recognize Tricia Helfer (Carla) who plays Brian's other half. Rachel Blanchard is also good as Alice, the victim and homeowner, but you're not going to see her face on the cover, which is sad considering she's as much of a character as David and Lila.

The gore was iffy since at one part, I swear, it looked like tomato soup. But the kills honestly keep your hold on the movie since it's a bit slow without them.

It's hard to say whether or not I can recommend this. Its not a bad film and not really all that awful for first time director Andrew Paquin (Anna's brother) but if your looking for a good thriller that draws you in this isn't the choice.