The setup is simple: four grown siblings with their significant others in tow head up to their parents extravagant but isolated home to celebrate their 35th anniversary. Shortly after arrival, their reunion and celebration is cut short by homicidal men in creepy animal masks.
Not normally a huge fan of home invasion flicks, I admit I was skeptical going in to the theater. This sub-genre, at least for me, tends to take itself far too seriously and end up coming across as drab. So early on, You’re Next had me utterly confused with it’s twisted sense of humor and certain moments of overacting had me questioning whether the humor was intentional. It is. As if this isn’t enough, the movie takes a surprising but very pleasant turn of events that turns the home invasion movie on its head. From this point on, the movie became a very fun thrill ride that had the entire audience cheering in glee. To say anymore would be a disservice; the less you know going in the better. This is definitely the type of movie best viewed with an enthusiastic crowd- the cheering, raucous laughter, and clapping only enhances the experience.
Also noteworthy is appearance of horror vets Ti West (The Innkeepers, The House of the Devil) and Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, Puppet Master) in smaller roles.
A highly enjoyable movie that manages to add something new.
Friday the 13th
Something I’m considering attending. Not sure if I have the attention span to sit through three consecutive movies, but the price is low and Graveyard Shift events are fun.
I wouldn’t normally count natural disaster flicks as horror, but Aftershock most definitely is. Co-written, co-produced, and starring Eli Roth, Aftershock is modeled after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Chile. The beginning of the movie is an endless montage of Roth’s character, Gringo, partying in Chile with friends Ariel and Pollo. Somewhere in the middle of the non stop clubbing they cross paths with three attractive women: a Russian model, a wild child party gal, and her responsible older sister who has Final Girl written all over her from her first frame. There’s even the most bizarre cameo I have ever witnessed; Selena Gomez looked just as confused as I felt in her brief appearance.
The revelry and light mood is shattered in an instant when, while in a club together, a massive earthquake hits. Chaos ensues as the building crumbles around them, and our group bands together to not only get out of the club but get out of the city as aftershocks continue to ripple through. Sirens sound out through the city warning of a potential tsunami, and if the stakes aren’t high enough the earthquake tore down the prison walls and the prisoners are now rampaging through the streets.
This movie lives up to expectations of a Roth film; it’s both very brutal and very bloody. These characters meet some of the worst ends in their fight to get out of the city alive. The tension is heightened dramatically with the inclusion of the escaped prisoners; our group is hunted down throughout the movie from a pack of convicts who are desperate to get their hands on the women. It’s this layer that pushes this movie fully into horror.
This movie isn’t perfect by any means. Similar to Roth’s Hostel, the movie spends time at the beginning introducing you to flat characters without depth so you’re not as invested in their fate as you should be. Also, the carnage could be inconsistent in tone- sometimes you want to laugh at people getting smooshed like ants, and other moments your jaw drops at how dark and twisted it gets.
Overall, it’s a disaster film worthwhile for horror fans. Go watch it, then let me know your thoughts.
Can you imagine running into this on your morning hike in the woods??
Another entry in the found footage genre, Home Movie revolves around the Poe family: Lutheran pastor patriarch (Adrian Pasdar), child psychologist matriarch (Cady McClain), and their twin children Jack and Emily. The film features a series of home video clips from the span of Halloween to Easter, and it is quite clear right away that something is off with Jack and Emily. You can pretty much guess right off the bat where this movie is going to go, but don’t expect any definitive answers.
The problem with this sub genre of horror is that to propel the movie to the finish line, the protagonists often have to ignore the painfully obvious or make asinine decisions that foregoes any common sense. The former is the case in Home Movie. The father spends the first half of the movie behaving like a child while he frolics in front of the camera while his children are acting completely creepy and bizarre in the background. When the bad behavior ramps up, both parents are visibly upset but dismissive until it becomes too much to ignore.
This is one of the things the movie gets right. How do you parent your misbehaving children when you come from two very different backgrounds? Dad believes there’s evil in the house and it may have embedded itself inside his children. Mom believes her children are cracked and in need of psychiatric care. Naturally this leads to discord between the spouses and shatters any chance of preventing the inevitable. The movie also gives hints that both parents may be right: certain scenes indicate the children are just psychotic whereas others creep you out with hints of possession.
The twins spent most of the film mute, adding to the tension as you are never sure what they were going to do next or why. At a very short run time, the movie is taut with foreshadowing, build up, and tension.
Unfortunately it falls flat in the end. The last ten or so minutes are meant to be shocking but I just kept wondering why the parents let it get this far. I found myself very confused by the last shot. I’m assuming its intentionally ambiguous but there wasn’t enough there to leave me with any other thought than, “Why?”
Overall, I’m giving this a C. There was plenty to keep me interested, but in the end there was no real payoff. There is far worse you could endure in this genre.
Currently available on demand, Grabbers is a horror comedy from Ireland released last year. Erin Island’s local cop, Ciarán O’Shea, is an alcoholic. He’s not amused at all to be partnered with straight laced city cop Lisa Nolan when his partner goes on leave for the next two weeks. Of course, Lisa shows up right after a mysterious green light plummets into the sea nearby and a resident drunk catches something not quite of this Earth in his lobster trap. The small town’s quiet is almost immediately disrupted.
Turns out a male and female tentacled alien pair crash landed, bringing a multitude of eggs with them. They thrive on blood and water, of which there’s an abundance on Erin Island: aside from being on an island there’s a storm coming, and the aliens can feast on the locals.
But this is a comedy, right? The comedy is played up hardcore in the form of the aliens’ weakness, an allergy to alcohol. Yup. So they cannot feed on anyone drunk. And they’re in Ireland. On a secluded island where people flock to the lone pub. So naturally, Ciarán and Lisa hatch a plan to get everyone drunk while they battle the aliens and much hilarity ensues.
The c.g. of the aliens was well done; any flaws hidden in a clever tangle of tentacles. The setting of the movie was stunning. Though the writing was a little disjointed in the awkward scheme of getting the two mismatched leads together, overall it was a fun ride. I laughed quite a bit once their drunk scheme was enacted.
Light on gore and horror, but high on comedy and drunken shenanigans. B-