Title: Troll Hunter (2010) Runtime: 103 minutes Director: André Øvredal
I make no qualms about enjoying the hell out of a good found footage movie. I started loving the subgenre with the release of The Blair Witch Project when I was much younger, and the Paranormal Activity sequels of recent years (not the original, mind you) have cemented the fact that I simply like these types of films. Are there problems with these movies? Of course there are – namely, justification – but I am willing to suspend disbelief if the story is interesting and engaging.
Troll Hunter more than fits that bill, and is one of the finest found footage movies I’ve seen since my introduction to the genre in 1999.
The Norwegian film follows a group of students who start out believing that they are hot on the heels of the country’s most notorious bear poacher. The three students follow deaths of bears, interview professionals and get fed stories by the wildlife patrolman. As the trio gets closer to the poacher in question, they start to follow him late at night as he routinely disappears from his trailer. What they discover is that this “poacher” is actually a hunter, but bears are not his area of expertise. Instead, he hunts gigantic, ugly, deadly trolls for the government. Continue reading →
Title: American Movie (1999) Runtime: 107 minutes Director: Chris Smith
American Movie is a perfect title for this quirky and engaging documentary about one man’s fight to find that fabled “American Dream” that we’ve all heard so much about. The way American Movie presents this search is fascinating, thanks in most part to its subject: aspiring filmmaker Mark Borchardt. His struggle to complete a movie is comical, inspiring, and just damn fun to watch.
When we first meet Borchardt, he is writing the script for a radio play that a group of actors will soon perform. Borchardt reflects, after the evening’s activities of smoking weed and drinking beer, that the radio play was nothing but a waste of time, and in order to be happy and successful, he needs to make his feature-length film, Northwestern. We follow the eccentric Borchardt as he starts gathering his family, friends, and local talent to help create his vision for Northwestern. We sit in on a few meetings, some for creative purposes and others for financing purposes. A few days before filming is scheduled to begin, though, Borchardt faces the harsh reality that he simply does not have enough money to make a feature-length film, and Northwestern gets put on the back-burner. Continue reading →
Title: The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Director: James Whale Runtime: 75 minutes
Now this is a classic Universal monster film! Bride of Frankenstein manages to do almost everything right, mixing a ton of classical horror elements like murder, mayhem, mad scientists, love, storms, and grave robbing.
The opening scene comes out of nowhere, with Mary Shelley (author of the original novel) being characterized. She and two male friends discuss the original – footage and all – basically giving viewers a refresher of what happened in the first film (which was released 4 years prior to this sequel). Shelley then tells the two men that that wasn’t the end of the story, but rather just the beginning, and Bride of Frankenstein is off, picking up directly where the first film ends: in the burning windmill. Continue reading →
Title: Jeepers Creepers (2001) Runtime: 90 minutes Director: Victor Salva
Jeepers Creepers is an underrated horror gem whose minor flaws are outweighed by its wonderful direction and focus. The story, though meek, has just enough substance to make this memorable. The acting, though, is why I will keep coming back to Jeepers Creepers years down the road.
I make no qualms over the fact that I am a huge fan of Justin Long. This is, in fact, the first thing I ever saw him in many moons ago, and I’ve liked him ever since. His roles after this one really sealed the deal for me (Waiting…, Accepted, and Idiocracy are ones that immediately spring to mind). What I like about his work here, and in films like After.Life and Drag Me to Hell is that he showcases his dramatic talent, which is arguably even stronger than his comedic talent. Though this was one of Long’s first major roles, he handles it with the same ease and believability as his later roles, and fits perfectly alongside Gina Phillips, who plays his older sister in the film. Continue reading →
(And my always-and-forever admiration for Ben Affleck, this film’s director and star, is affirmed.)
I was late to the game on this one—it’s been out for over seven weeks now—and yet the audience in the half-filled theater on the day I saw it cheered when the protagonists succeeded (though everyone knows how the based-on-real-events story ends). That’s pretty rare nowadays, with today’s audiences being jaded and blasé about almost everything. Continue reading →
Compliance is a film that you might want to turn off at multiple points, finding it too ridiculous and unbelievable to work. That was the case with me. There comes a point in the movie where it just gets too much. I literally laughed out loud, and said “no way; it’s not possible”. I quickly picked up my laptop and did a search.
The results are more terrifying and disturbing than the movie itself.
Compliance is based on true events, as revealed by the movie at the very start (with giant, full screen lettering so that no one can miss it). What’s more shocking is that the events in this movie are not a singular moment of bad decision making, but rather just one of over 60 other events just like it, each with their own brutal and messed up story to tell. Continue reading →
Title: Little Deaths (2011) Runtime: 94 minutes Directors: Sean Hogan (House & Home), Andrew Parkinson (Mutant Tool), and Simon Rumley (Bitch)
And I thought torture porn was dead.
When it comes to the fine line between horror and porn, Little Deaths falls just on the horror side. Barely. This film is incredibly graphic, insanely brutal, and absolutely sexual. Little Deaths pulls no punches, so to speak, and it’s admirable because of it. Continue reading →