Tag Archives: 2009

Film Review: Paranormal Activity (2007) HorrorAthon 3

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Directed by: Oren Peli

Starring: Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat

Reviewed by: Brendan Graham (Phantomhour)

The Blair Witch Project paved the way for found footage horror back in 1999, with it’s slick ad campaign and it’s unseen level of tension brought on by unknown actors. Fast forward to 2007, Oren Peli creates his own terrifying vision. Two years later, Paramount Pictures sees the potential and starts a campaign to get people interested. It worked, and what followed became one of the most successful horror franchises of all time. With the release of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension today (Which isn’t playing in my town, so I can’t review it), I thought we’d look back and see what made this first film so special.

Continue reading Film Review: Paranormal Activity (2007) HorrorAthon 3

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HORRORATHON Film Review: Trick R Treat (2009)

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Starring: Anna Paquin, Bryan Cox, and Dylan Baker

Directed by: Michael Doughterty

Reviewed by: Phantomhour (Brendan Graham)

There are many movies about the night of Halloween, some of them are party movies, some of them are animated specials. For the horror fan, your choices are huge, but many fail to muster the feelings of joy and terror that Halloween is known for. Well folks, here is the movie you were looking for.

Continue reading HORRORATHON Film Review: Trick R Treat (2009)

HORRORATHON Film Review: Friday the 13th (2009)

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Directed by: Marcus Nispel

Starring: Jared Padalecki, Derek Mears, and Amanda Righetti

Reviewed by: Phantomhour (Brendan Graham)

Remakes. Everyone has an opinion about them, you either support them or loathe them, or hell, you may be in between. One thing is for sure, with a remake of one of the most iconic slasher movies in history, that things are going to get messy, either in a good or bad way.

Continue reading HORRORATHON Film Review: Friday the 13th (2009)

Film Review: Summer Wars (2009)

Kenji is just an average teenager, awkward (especially with girls), tech-savvy, and spends a ton of time online.  Huh, sounds like none of the Film Freaks crew…

Kenji works part time as tech support for what appears to be Google’s (or HabitRPG’s) next step: an intuitive, all encompassing online world known as OZ,  essentially an MMO that can run your life, from phone services, to email, to top of the line VR gaming. One day, his friend Natsuki offers him a job, no questions asked, telling him that all he has to do is attend her grandmother’s 90th birthday at her estate in the countryside. What he isn’t told, however,  is that he’ll have to pose as her fiancee for the time he’s there, and meet her quite extensive family.  Shortly after he arrives there, his account is hacked by a hyper intelligent AI known as Love Machine, leading to a temporary meltdown of the OZ servers.  Kenji must survive not just meeting the (fake) in-laws, but avoid being branded a terrorist, and fix the mistakes made in his online name….

What Works:

The films decisive strong suits are its amazingly beautiful visuals, as well as its deep storytelling, with themes of family, competition and advancing worldviews due to technology’s evolution taking the forefront. Love Machine is a fantastic, silent menace, making you know and fear it without having to say a word. Though, that could be attributed to the also good soundtrack. The action scenes, while not many, are visually great and memorable, often employing a mash up of the film’s unique visual style for the game world as well as  actual martial art styles. The OZ interface actually looks like something that could develop eventually.

Don’t let the name fool you, Love Machine is definitely not friendly.

Truth be told, ever since I’ve started going to school for film, it’s become more and more difficult to get me to be seriously emotionally invested in the large majority of a cast, much less an entire family of characters. But while watching this film, I was entirely invested in that of Kenji, Natsuke, and the Shinohara clan, especially because they were so reminiscent of my own large, crazy family, and as such, when tragedy struck in the middle of the plot, I cried just as hard with the characters themselves. Not to worry though, even though I teared up a few times in the film, only one was because of legitimate sadness. This film is no Graveyard of the Fireflies, there’s still plenty of joy, character depth, and humor to balance it out. In my opinion, it takes a seriously quality film to make me reach that point, as it gets easier and easier for me to identify blatant  emotional manipulation on a  director’s part, so I respect the director for making a film of this caliber, that I didn’t.

What Doesn’t:

The setup for the final game of KoiKoi in OZ’s reasoning, and part of it’s execution. Though it could be my perspective as a only moderately educated American, but I have mild issue with 13.8 million people both wagering their entire internet personas as well as having working knowledge of the game, enough to know when precisely to say those words. Also, without giving too many spoilers, the ending seems a bit derivative of Mamoru Hosoda’s directorial work on the Digimon Movie.

Final Score:

Legendary

What else is there to say? Check this oft-ignored anime out if you can. You shouldn’t regret it.

Review: Dragonball Evolution (2009)

Wow. It’s finally happened. A film so laughably, horrendously bad, I can barely call it that. This… product is horrible. Just horrible. And that’s speaking separated from my childhood love of the entire Dragonball franchise. From a filmmaking standpoint, this is an abomination. Ugh. Where should I start? The few good parts, I suppose?

What Worked:

Ummm… my favorite Ghostbuster was in it for about 30 seconds? …The Piccolo makeup wasn’t terrible…?

What Didn’t:
So much was wrong with this film, even without aforementioned bias. The script was terrible, jumping from random location to random location without any sense of worldbuilding or character development. Most of the acting was downright atrocious, as were many of the effects. I’ve seen some of my close friend’s unrendered digital FX work that they’ve only been messing with for an hour that looked better. Let me rephrase that, their work looked like Peter Jackson’s WETA masterpieces in comparison.

Evidently this is high budget?

I don’t know if he’s gained some skill since or just didn’t care during filming, but Justin Chatwin’s acting was horrid in this. It appeared like the only way he could emote was through the vein in his forehead. Though he wasn’t even the worst part, acting-wise. , the man playing Yamcha, clearly did not know the English language, and seemed as if he were always reading off a cue card slightly off-screen.

Final Score:
If you want to see how bad an evidently big-budget film can get, check this out. Otherwise, stay away.

&^#$#!
&^#$#!

Movie Review: The Revenant (2009) HORRORATHON

This is yet another film in our HorrorAthon series that saw a much delayed release, though not quite as bad as All The Boys Love Mandy Lane.  This film only suffered a 3 year delay from the end of production to widespread release, being finished in 2009 and officially being put out on DVD and BluRay last year. And thank all that is good (pizza, steak, beer, etc…) this film is nowhere near as awful as that in quality either. Truth be told, I was on the hype train for this film since about the first announcement hit the interwebz, and I’m really happy to share a review on what I probably consider my favorite cult film.

The Revenant is about one Bart Gregory, played by David Anders, who, while on a military tour in Afghanistan, gets ambushed and killed. Three weeks later, after his family, best friend, and girlfriend have all grieved and tried to move on, Bart wakes up in his coffin (luckily unburied), and gets up and tries to figure out what’s going on. Of course, the first place he heads is his best friend Joey’s house… Needless to say, Joey’s a little freaked out by his decomposing best friend arriving at his doorstep at 3 AM, and tries to get him a little medical help. This doesn’t work out well at all, so the two are forced to retreat back to Joey’s place until they can get some answers. Luckily, they have a Wiccan friend who reveals that Bart is certainly undead, and will need human blood on a regular basis to stay alive(ish), and she insists Joey decapitate Bart to prevent any further misery to anyone. Of course, Joey can’t do that, so they have to look for alternatives… This leads first to a hilarious blood bank robbery gone wrong, followed by Joey’s proposal that they take advantage of this curse and “get rid of the dregs of society”. After they nearly get mugged, and Bart gets shot about 6 times, they realize what they have to do: become Vigilante Gunslingers, taking out injustice however/whenever they see fit.

Let’s get all Boondock Saints up in here!

What Works:

Hand’s down, this film’s strongest feature is the dynamic between Chris Wylde’s Joey and Anders’ Bart. They have an onscreen bromantic chemistry that I personally think has only been topped by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Though to be fair, those two have had many movies and a few TV shows to work on that, while these guys have had just one. There’s a fantastic give-and-take between the two of them, showing all the facets of a best-friendship, the juvenility, the love, and the knock-down-drag-out brawls that can happen.

Contrary to popular belief, becoming undead does not turn you into Robert Pattinson…

Aside from the bromantic relationship between the two, the film also has some fantastic makeup FX, really witty dialogue, and solid cinematography. Bart suffers a ton of injuries throughout, and he appears at various points of decomposition, and still looks pretty great for this not being a mainstream Hollywood affair. The dialogue, though pretty crass at times, is still a lot of fun to listen to, especially in the first third of the film while Joey and Bart are trying to figure out Bart’s strengths and weaknesses. The gore is pretty prominent and effective, definitely making this a splatterhouse affair, so if that’s not your thing, I wouldn’t recommend this film.

What Doesn’t:

As was mentioned earlier, this film contains a lot of juvenile humor and language. Normally, I’m not one to bash these two, but wow, it’s prominent in this. This seems to blow both District 9 and the average Tarantino film out of the water. As for my earlier mention of the dialogue being pretty good, I’ll still stand by that, but the script as a whole seems a little disjointed. The film runs just a little under 2 hours, (110 minutes) and you can really feel that drag on in the final two acts, which is never a plus, especially in a horror comedy, where things are expected to be nice and quick and breezy. Also, there’s some confusing political commentary at the end, something I never really have enjoyed in my zambie movies.

Final Score:

Good

Don’t get me wrong, I still like this film a lot. It creates a solid reinvention of classic horror mythos, but in the end, the final two-thirds of the film are sort of lackluster. Buy it if you love gore and horror comedies like Shaun of the Dead. Otherwise, rent it somewhere. It’s still worth a single watch, especially when you know about all the love and hard work that got put into the production, like I did. 7.5/10 severed heads.