Starring: Milla Johovich, Michelle Rodriguez and James Purefoy
Reviewed by: Brendan Graham (Phantomhour)
If you’re a gamer, you know about Resident Evil or Biohazard if you prefer the Japanese title. One of the many games to give birth to the survival horror genre, Resident Evil had it all. Scares, intense action and a story that was so involving, players felt as though they had stumbled into a real nightmare. Sony Pictures brought audiences into that world in 2002, but managed to screw up the story along the way.
Starring: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli
Reviewed by: Phantomhour (Brendan Graham)
Zombies. The media has a love/hate relationship with them. Whether you’re into The Walking Dead on AMC, or grown tired of walking corpses, you won’t be able to avoid brain munchers on TV. The latest undead spectacle arrived on The CW. Yes, the CW who shows Arrow, The Flash, The Vampire Diaries, all the shows my wife watches. How did my first adventure with iZombie turn out? Will I tune in for episode 2?
Remember what it felt like to be misunderstood at school? I sure as hell do, in fact I was often referred as a freak for my bizarre love for the macabre. Plus, I was very introverted, still am actually, so I know exactly what Norman feels like in this amazing stop motion feat pulled off by Laika Studios, the crew behind the bizarre and beautifully done Coraline.
Norman is your average young man. Well, average in the sense that he’s a young man trying to survive in a world that doesn’t understand him. But while other kids are playing football and going to the mall, Norman stays at home watching grindhouse movies and collecting zombie memorabilia, but Norman has an ability that he’s come to terms with, the ability to see and talk to the dead, an ability he must put to action when the ghost of a witch threatens the township as she awakens. That sums it up pretty well I believe.
It’s hard to really decide where to start because this film is truly incredible. First off, the screenplay is absolutely fantastic. A clever mix of playful puns that young and old, and all the horror freaks out there will pick up on, and meaningful lessons that are relevant to all ages that deal with very important issues that we all deal with on a daily basis. The cast is also fantastic, Kodi Smit-McPhee carries the film very well with a mix of innocence and a heartfelt nature that’s fun and draws you into his world. Anna Kendrick as his older sister is a riot, they nailed the teenage girl stereotype perfectly. Probably the best characters in the whole movie for me, were the brothers Mitch (Casey Affleck) and Neil (Tucker Albrizzi) who are absolutely hysterical, and carry some of the funniest bits of the movie. Jodelle Ferland was also a pleasant surprise, voicing the witch (can’t say more, it will spoil it) but she carries the emotional role very well.
The designs for the film are amazing; the sets are well detailed, the lighting rivals major motion picture sets in Hollywood, the character designs are weird and fun, and the animation is just beautiful, fluid, fun and heartfelt, the characters truly came to life.
What Didn’t Work:
My only real nitpick of the film is the pacing, it can’t decide the speed in which it wants to tell the story. Sometimes it moves too fast and may lose people in the details that are whizzing by, and others may get bored with how long they’re taking to get to the next point in the story. Doesn’t happen often, but enough to sort of wear you down.
Not a negative, but it’s worth noting for those who may want their kids to watch. This movie is incredibly intense, and has some very adult subject matter for a children’s film. Keep that in mind, and perhaps view the film first before showing it to your kids if you have any doubts about if they can handle it.
There was absolutely no way I could give this film any less of a score, the amount of care and detailing that it took to bring this amazing and exciting world to life cannot be ignored, and as far as kids movies go? This is one of the greatest, and is a must see for horror freaks everywhere. 9 Zombie Brains out of 10.
Some of the heaviest hitters of the horror genre today come from overseas. Films like Audition and Oldboy (both from Asia) are some of the ones that come to mind. But now we look to Europe, more precisely Spain for the next breakout scare fest, and one that should be on everyone’s Halloween viewing list.
[REC] follows the story of Angela Vidal, a late night reporter who follows different groups of workers and sees what their nightly routines are like. This particular evening, she is following the fire department around, seeing how they live, what their schedules look like. When a call comes in for an apartment complex situation, she gets to ride along to record them in action. When they arrive and all hell breaks loose, herself, the cameraman and everyone else in the apartment complex get locked inside until the outbreak is contained completely.
What Works: This film works on so many levels, I don’t know where to start! The characters and acting are fantastic, everyone feels believable, and Angela Vidal is a wonderful protagonist; she’s strong, energetic and her performance is incredibly emotional that you’d have a hard time not wanting for her to survive. That rarely happens in Found-Footage films; most of the time, the characters are incredibly obnoxious.
Speaking of the found footage element here, its not a distraction, it’s an enhancement, which you don’t normally get to say about these types of films. The movie is incredibly tense and scary. Yes, I said scary, and I don’t call movies scary very often. It has a great balance of jump and atmospheric scares, and they are all done in an effective and necessary way. I was on edge the entire time we’re in the apartment complex, and don’t get me started about the ending, that is the stuff nightmares are made of.
The zombies, infected, whatever you want to call them, are absolutely terrifying; they’re fast, strong, and unpredictable, which is a recipe for success. Especially trapped in such a confined building, as the infected numbers grow, the film just keeps getting more and more intense, and it’s wonderful.
What Didn’t Work: A few characters, some of the other apartment residences, are a little too over the top at times, but not as bad as most recent George Romero flicks. Also, this is found footage, so at times the camera shakes quite a bit as the cameraman is running, it gets dropped, kicked around, blood spattered, and if you have a hard time dealing with your motion sickness with these kinds of films, this one may need to be avoided.
You probably know by now that there is a remake of this film called Quarantine starring Jennifer Carpenter, and while it’s pretty much a shot for shot remake, it did one thing better: a lot of the scenes are much darker in composition, which made it slightly more effective in that aspect.
With fantastic characters, realistic acting, and with intense and frightening execution, [REC] is a gem, it’s one hell of a thrill ride that you’ll want to revisit many times, and every time I’ve viewed the film, it has still managed to grab me and throttle my nerves. 8.5 out of 10.
We live in the age of the zombie movie. Almost every year, 2 to 3 zombie type movies or games come out, and with The Walking Dead dominating the TV airwaves, you can find the undead anywhere you go. But there are different types of the zombie plague, some involved rabies, some involve demonic activity, and in the case of 28 Days Later, it’s pure unbridled rage that throttles the world and drops mankind to their knees.
28 Days Later is a end of the world scenario, where a lab that has been experimenting with monkeys and apes of all kinds and subjecting them to acts of violence by human beings to see if there’s an effect, which builds into a viral pathogen that pretty much angers the victim to the point of mindless killing impulses. When those pesky animal rights activists try to save the animals in the lab, they let loose one of the scariest on screen viruses, which literally changes someone from a rational human being to a insanely fast and incredibly violent killing machine. 28 Days after the outbreak, we are introduced to Jim (Played by Cillian Murphy), who wakes up from a coma in a hospital in London, and he quickly realizes something is wrong when he walks outside and sees London completely…empty. When he discovers what is left of humanity, it becomes a fight for survival of the human race against hordes of the fastest and meanest monsters that were once human.
What Works: This movie is incredibly effective at hitting the audience hard with intense emotions. Emotions like Fear, watching the characters run from vast numbers of quick running infected people gets insanely crazy. Emotions of sadness, from all the letters put up in town squares of people confessing their love to the girl they always meant to ask out, or to the parents writing letters to their children letting them know how much they love them. You get incredibly involved with all the characters, especially with Hannah and her Father Frank (Brendan Gleeson), and it’s hard to see them suffer so much. That’s incredible writing to get you to feel for these characters so well. What’s also fantastic about this cast, is that even if you recognize them from other films, you don’t have that celebrity sense when you see them, they truly become their characters which makes this movie even more effective. Jim and Selena (Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris) have incredible performances throughout the film which drives everything forward.
The film is shot in a digital handheld sense, making it feel rooted in reality, and the cinematography is just beautiful in scale. The detailing on all the sets, from flyers from loved ones, to the gore splatter walls, and the bodies laying everyone all over London, is eerie and unsettling. The action sequences, whether running from the infected or from their fellow man, are well executed and exciting, pulse pounding if I say so myself.
The infected are also a prime example of how well a zombie like creature can be executed on screen. They’re not cheesy, they’re not to be messed with or killed for fun, these things are fast and scary. From their crazy eyes, to their psychotic demeanor, the rage virus is one of the scariest things I’ve seen on screen.
The story itself is an allegory about who the true monsters are in this world, and it’s mankind, the rage virus is something that is always inside of us at all times, and when unleash rage, terrible things happen. We see it on the news all the time, and it’s frightening to think about if rage hit us in such a wide scale.
What Doesn’t Work: Depending on how you interpret the situations, you may have been frustrated with some parts of the story. Why didn’t they stay in Hannah and Frank’s Apartment? How did Jim survive in the hospital for that long in a coma? Or maybe the movie fell apart toward the end for you when they got to the army base? The reason I bring these up, is because these don’t apply to my opinion of the movie, in fact those questions come from the IMDB page for 28 Days Later. In my mind, there’s nothing wrong with 28 Days Later.
You may disagree with my score, hell, you may not even like the movie, but for me 28 Days Later is one of the most incredible pieces of horror cinema I have ever seen, and to this day it’s still one of my Top 10 favorite movies. The acting is spectacular, the action scenes are breathtaking, and the emotional impact of this movie is incredibly powerful, this movie is too good not to give such a high score to. My score is a 10 out of 10.