Here are four more reviews of family-related movies, even though they’re not really family-friendly movies:
A Simple Plan (USA, UK, Germany, France, Japan 1998)
Based on Scott B. Smith’s novel (which I read before, who also wrote “The Ruins”) and directed by Sam Raimi (the guy who brought us the excellent Evil Dead series and the not so excellent, but rather boring Spiderman movies), this movie looks and plays out similar to the Coen Brother’s film “Fargo”. Everything’s covered in snow and there’s soon blood spilled on it. Still there’s not much humor in it and there’s no kidnapping involved. Sounds like not enough reason to distinguish the movies? Family definitely plays a bigger role here than in the Coen’s film, as the relationship between two brothers is put to the test. In the end, the same question is asked: How far would you go for the money? How much is a human life worth? All in all no new answers, and the adaptation of the book suffers a bit at the end when it plays out like a normal crime story and not as violent or depressing than in the book. Still Billy Bob Thornton’s portrayal of the hinterland brother is a good reason to watch it anyway.
Taken (France, USA, UK 2008)
Sometimes action movies don’t need a lot of twists or interesting character developments. They just need a basic idea (daughter of a former special agent is abducted, special agent kicks ass to get her back) to entertain you for 90 minutes or so. And Liam Neeson doesn’t disappoint. The action scenes are fast, brutal and make you wonder how bad John McLane’s own attempt of getting his daughter back in “Die Hard 4” looked like. There’s not a lot more to say about this movie than “what it wants to be it succeeds”.
The Hamiltons (USA 2006)
Oh well, this is quite a weird film to rate or discuss. It’s more like a drama (with three brothers living together after their parents die), but with some torture scenes (after all, they ARE hungry and want to keep up the family traditions) which sometimes felt a bit too gratuitious. For its short running time of 83 minutes, there’s not a lot happening, so the suspense is mixed with boredom, especially since the acting isn’t that great. It has an interesting idea to have some cannibalistic “normal” people in the neighborhood, and the ending is done pretty well, but then again maybe there are too many other genre films that this one doesn’t really stand out that well in the crowd. But after all: familly matters most in “The Hamiltons”, that’s for sure.
The Devil’s Rejects (USA 2005)
Directed by Rob Zombie and being a kind of sequel to “The House of 1000 Corpses”, this movie is quite hard to categorize or to swallow, with all its violence and realism. I guess you can call it a twisted roadmovie (with one of the best endings I’ve seen since “Thelma & Luise”; it actually is MUCH better than that one). It’s interesting how the family who commits murders, rapes and mutilation for fun… is portrayed in a way that you sympathise with them, like in a scene where to go for some ice cream and singing/chatting in their van. So it’s sort of a family movie as well, but more in the sense of The-Manson-Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre-Family-Goes-On-Vacation. Maybe you sympathise with them because the other characters (like a religiously fanatic police chief) are even worse in their behavior and opinions. Definitely an experience one has to see in order to believe it… if one has the stomach to watch through it. Rob Zombie definitely knows how to set his movies apart from others with his distinctive touch of whatever it is he uses to make the audience cringe, laugh or look away disgusted. Something not many directors (especially in the horror, splatter or whatever it is genre) can say of themselves today.