Wednesday, September 12th 2012
Surprise, surprise wherever you are!
The interesting thing about expectations and no expectations is that you never know how a movie turns out to be. Today was one of the weakest, but also one of the strongest days of the festival. Movies I thought would be cool (13 Eerie or Grabbers) became a test of endurance (leaving the cinema or not?). Movies I thought would be just another trash fest (Universal Soldier) became never-before-seen cinematic experiences, movies I thought would be a good late-night-sleep-fest (Blind Alley) were quite entertaining. And with the rest, well, they surprised me as well for different reasons.
Is Universal Soldier too strong, or are you too weak?
What was also surprising, or maybe rather annoying was the fact that like in other festival cities, Universal Soldier was not shown in 3D. A huge disappointment for such an amazing movie.
What was also quite strange was that there weren’t a lot of people standing in line for Grabbers (after all it was prime time) and even fewer for Universal Soldier. Could it be that the regular movie goers were pissed off because of the festival organization’s inability to provide what was written in the program?
Apparently there was another reason: I’ve seldom watched people leave so quickly after the first few minutes. People with shocked expressions on their faces? Yes, I was surprised as well what was on offer in that movie, and I was shocked in a good way. Does it mean movie goers only want to see light entertainment, have watered-down experiences? Let’s hope not…
(Canada 2012, director: Lowell Dean)
Some forensic undergraduates are tested on a remote island, first for their job skills, later to survive some resilient zombies.
The main idea and setting is interesting, even if a bit daft. Gore effects and zombies are done nicely, the only problem the movie has is that it takes itself too seriously. Character introductions are longer than one usually expects from a slasher or splatter movie, and are just as forgettable. When the action starts, the audience is either already asleep or doesn’t care anymore for anyone.
An old-school splatter movie with no story, but also no suspense or memorable scenes and characters.
(South Korea 2011, director: Seung-wook Byeon, original title: Go-hyang-i: Jook-eum-eul Bo-neun Doo Gae-eui Noon)
Strange accidents or murder happen around a mysterious cat, which also seem to be related to the appearance of a ghost child.
When do Asian horror movies stop to be relevant? When they’re not scary. Prime example: The cat and ghost child which have been overused countless times before. Nearly two hours of boredom with an ending which makes the whole killings pointless. A waste of time if ever there was one. Please, Asian cinema, try something new or bizarre or whatever, just stop making these movies, otherwise people won’t remember the good stuff. Oh, and please no more cellphones ringing all the time in a movie. People complaining about illogical actions of characters in slashers or Hollywood movies, beware: it can be MUCH worse.
The Aggression Scale
(USA 2012, director: Steven C. Miller)
Hitmen want to silence a witness and his family, but they don’t know what’s in store for them when the son fights back with his own weapons and skills.
Home Alone meets Rambo…this is not, at least not exactly. It takes quite some time until the young boy fights back, and there isn’t much of a story or character development to make the movie more interesting. A straightforward survival flick which could have used some more creative kills and action, even if the soundtrack is excellent and creates enough tension.
(UK/Ireland 2012, director: Jon Wright)
Tentacled aliens invade Ireland, and only alcohol can save the day.
The only movie during which I had to leave, because I was getting annoyed by the not-funny-at-all humor, the uninteresting characters and simply a boring plot. Okay, so I missed how they all got drunk and fight the aliens. I went back in (after finally having something to eat which was a better use of time than watching the flick) only to watch some pretty standard finale with bad special effects.
It’s true I’ve seen worse, but if a movie tries to be funny all the time and relies on the performances of rather good actors and actresses, the overused-monster-movie-template doesn’t save it from being a pretty big disappointment. The most disappointing movie of the festival, even worse than Cockneys vs Zombies.
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning
(USA 2012, director: John Hyams)
After the brutal murder of his wife and daughter, a man wants revenge and gets more and more lost in a web of lies about cloning and military operations.
First thing off: I can’t say anything about the 3D, because it was shown in 2D. But even watching it like that, it was more powerful than anything I’ve seen in the action cinema in the past. Not really expecting much, this is an unusual take on the (let’s say it) trash original movie(s). Arthouse-action would describe it best and still wouldn’t do it justice as there’s also a very good story in it as well.
The action scenes are so well-choreographed and brutal one barely has time to breathe, putting The Expendables or any other action-movie to shame. Then there are some quiet moments, maybe too long at some points, and one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a while, complementing the merciless action experience.
A film to be reckoned with, one of the most surprising ones of this festival and of the year. Watch it, if you get the chance to get the uncut version. If the first movie is still on the Index in Germany, this will most probably not see an unaltered release…
(Span/Colombia 2011, director: Antonio Trashorras)
A young woman alone in a laundromat at night…with a serial killer.
Back to the Giallo-slasher-roots from the 70ies, aesthetically reminiscent of the atmospheric Amer, it goes without saying that there is not a lot of story or character development here. Due to its short running time of just around 70 minutes, not a lot is to be expected.
But it still manages to create a nice atmosphere, with interesting visuals and a good soundtrack. The beginning and ending are quite surprising, even if they are a bit over-the-top. Then again I felt this was much more enjoyable than Amer, even if one doesn’t find a lot of content or suspense.
It’s too bad there’s not even a teaser or trailer available as the movie deserves a bit more attention.