You’re Next (2013)

You're NextReleased: August 23, 2013. Directed by: Adam Wingard. Starring: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen. Runtime: 95 min.

I love horror films. It’s one of my favourite genres. A lot of them aren’t that great, but I think if there is a great one – it’s always a lot more pleasing than say, a good animated film – because that’s a consistent genre. One good horror film of 2013 comes in the form of Adam Wingard’s You’re Next, that actually premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival back in 2011. It’s the latest film to enter an indie horror sub-genre called mumblegore; so I guess that name indicates you should have a tolerant stomach for gore.

It follows a mildly simple premise that, upon hearing about it, you probably wouldn’t expect much out of it; but I couldn’t help but be excited about it because of the trailer’s effective use of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.” The plot: The Davison family are having a wedding anniversary at their house that’s isolated and a run through the woods away from their neighbors. In some brilliance – and evident premeditated planning – the neighbours get killed off in the opening scene. During the family’s dinner, an arrow flies through the window. They are under attack. Little do the attackers expect, there is a guest in the home that has a knack for putting up a wicked fight. 

The pretty Australian Sharni Vinson portrays Erin, the true badass of the film. It’s nice that it turns the way films portray women as weaker than men right on its head. It’s also refreshing that this film gets set up like one’s average revenge horror flick, but turns out to be a really fun, lite satire, in the way that the title is self-aware (you’re next, guys!) and filmmaker Ti West portrays a character who is a filmmaker, to name a few examples. It’s just self-aware a lot of the times, too – and a lot of the kills are really fun. 

That’s the point, right? Movies like this are just very entertaining. It’s told with the thrills of The Strangers and the witticism and entertainment value in the vein of Scream. While it not be as scary as the former or as hilarious as the latter, it still has its fair share of each – and it turns out to be a film where a lot of the characters aren’t helpless. Some still make some pretty crappy decisions, but that’s expected. The only type of horror where usually the characters don’t make the worst decisions is in psychological horror. This is definitely not that sort-of film.

There’s a great amount of surprises in this film. Don’t worry, none will be spoiled. One criticism I have is a scene at the end, which I didn’t think was necessary – but it did show this film is just here to entertain the hell out of you. Simon Barrett writes the film very well. One aspect that is really cool are the animal masks the villains wear: a fox, a lamb, and a tiger. Their animal masks, and their crossbows as weapon of choice, says that they’re predators (well not so much the lamb). Also, and more importantly, that humans have animalistic instincts. I think that’s a hidden meaning in the film – and one that’s some great food for thought to be found in a horror flick. 

Score80/100

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Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

Freddy vs. JasonRelease Date: August 15, 2003

Director: Ronny Yu

Stars: Robert Englund, Monica Keena, Jason Ritter

Runtime: 97 min

Mostly everyone loves a good slasher with a great villain. There’s that great Michael Myers in his HALLOWEEN franchise, and my personal favourite, Ghostface, of SCREAM fame. I haven’t seen any of the FRIDAY THE 13th movies (except for the remake), and I’ve only seen the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The thought of putting Freddy Krueger, the Christmas sweater wearin’ killer who kills people in their dreams (when you die in your dreams, you die for real…), and Jason Voorhees, the hulking, machete-wielding killer, in the same movie is thoroughly awesome.

Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees set out to terrorize the teenage population. Freddy needs Jason to remind the teenagers (who are really in their early 20s) that Freddy still exists, in order to fuel his power once again. But when Jason Voorhees starts having too much fun killing off teens – Freddy needs to stop him. A true battle royale ensues.

None of the writers are A-listers, so there’s really not a great story at hand; and it’s hard to find good writing for a horror slasher movie. They’re essentially all the same, and this one really isn’t so different, once one dissects it. It is a clever premise, mashing up these two successful franchises. Even if you don’t like either of the franchises, this is still an incredibly fun movie. The body count is high, so that’ll keep the target audience happy. The first pair of tits is also three minutes in, so that is sure to keep male audiences hooked.

The movie is simply 97 minutes of pure horror fun, and that’s really all anyone can ask for. Now, the movie isn’t as amazing as the extraordinary premise might suggest it would be – it’s good for what it is: A fun horror movie. The acting is admittedly horrible (save perhaps Christopher Marquette and the always extraordinary and witty Robert Englund), but what do you expect from a horror movie? Jason Ritter is often good, but not this time around. Monica Keena has huge boobs, but her acting is some of the worst you’ll ever see. But the teenage target audiences won’t be focusing on her acting.

The movie is kind-of an insanely fun and it features a Destiny’s Child member being thrown into a tree, so, suffice to say, the kills are thoroughly awesome. There’s also some great fight choreography. I’d love to see another one of these movies done slightly better. It’s not particularly scary, so it’s mostly just an effectively fun actioner with already-dead horror icons fighting to a further death, I guess one could say. The acting is poor and the story needs work, but horror fans aren’t there to see a great story or good acting (even though that would help my enjoyment), they’re there to see a battle royale between Freddy and Jason, and the battle is well worth the wait.

63/100

Scream (1996)

Release Date: December 20, 1996. Director: Wes Craven. Stars: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette. Runtime: 1hr, 51 min. Tagline: Someone’s Taken Their Love Of Scary Movies One Step Too Far!

Did you knowOriginally titled “Scary Movie” which was later used for a parody of the Scream and other pop culture horror films like it: Scary Movie (According to IMDb). [No wonder those two titles are sometimes confused by people!]

Scream is a fresh spin on the horror genre, and it oozes with sheer brilliance. It follows Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), an average teen whose mother was killed last year, living in the town of Woodsboro. To add stress to the dreadful upcoming anniversary, a killer called Ghostface surfaces and begins to kill local teens one by one. As the body count begins to rise, Sidney and her friends find themselves contemplating the “Rules” of horror films as they find themselves living in a real-life one.

That premise is really one of the most original and best to ever hit the horror genre. The real treat about Scream is that it’s both a great satire and a great horror movie. It embraces the horror genre while simultaneously mocking it, in such a refreshing way. It also turns psychotic killings into something hilarious, and satirical  Assuming one can find the humour in stabbings, and it is satirical because it’s all really ironic, such as the time where Tatum says “You’re starting to sound like a Wes Carpenter flick or something,” or when Jamie Kennedy is watching Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween, shouting “Come on, Jamie… Behind you!” at a time where he should look behind him. In this way, it feels like a self-aware film, even when the characters themselves are not aware they are in a movie. The characters discuss the “Rules” of horror films, while they themselves are trying to survive what is actually a horror movie.

The movie warns that, in most cases, if you have sex, drink or do drugs, among other things, you’re pretty much screwed. The movie dissects the genre and gets silly, scary and all-around intense. The concept is incredibly scary, because if one gets a prank call and the prank caller becomes increasingly violent, and the victim doesn’t have a good knowledge of horror movies, they’re basically screwed. Even when the scenes are incredibly long (the 42-minute party scene near the end, the crew made t-shirts that read “I SURVIVED SCENE 118”, and the Drew Barrymore scene at the very beginning lasts 12 minutes), it’s never boring. There are so many aspects of this film that could make this one of someone’s favourite horror flicks.

The primary characters are easy to care about (but when most are killed off, it really isn’t the end of the world) and it’s always suspenseful because the killer could be literally anyone. It could be you, the one reading this right now. Probably not. Ghostface is also hilarious because he’s so clever and witty and just downright psychopathic. He’s having so much fun, that, it’s really hard not to laugh along with this film.

Everyone is also incredibly well typecast and embrace their stereotypes. Sidney’s the virgin, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) is the number one suspect in the film, Tatum (Rose McGowan) is really just the slut, Stu (Matthew Lillard) is Tatum’s boyfriend, and Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) is the horror movie (and general movie) buff, who’s kinda secretly head-over-heels for Sidney. And what cinephile cannot love a movie with a funny movie buff in it? We can’t forget Dewey (David Arquette), the Deputy of the town, and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), the selfish news reporter trying to keep the apparently innocent man, Cotton Weary, who was incarcerated for the murder of Sidney’s mother, off death row. We also grow to love her for her backbone and fine badassery. Is that a word?

This movie is practically just the perfect treat to watch on a Friday night with a few friends and a bucket of poppin’ corn. It’s hilarious, edgy, intense, mysterious, scary, it always keeps its viewer guessing, and it’s overall brilliant. It also has an amazing premise that it executes extremely well, and that’s easy to admire. Scream is one of those movies that one can watch over and over because of its iconic characters, its pure entertainment value, and its tremendous amount of originality. And there’s lots of blood and horror references. It also always should inspire a Scream-athon (I think I’ll watch them all in the summer, when I have them all on Blu-Ray) because the sequels are fairly entertaining. This is truly a bit of a wet dream for horror fans. Only one thing is left to be said: What’s your favourite scary movie?

100/100

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

The Cabin in the Woods

Release Date: April 13, 2012

Director: Drew Goddard

Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison

Runtime: 95 min

Tagline: You think you know the story.

As I’m not very experienced at reviewing films just yet, I thought the best way for not spoiling that much of the film is by keeping it kind of short and sweet.

A group of young adults go for a getaway vacation to a, you guessed it, cabin in the woods; where things start out alright, but they soon turn into a wicked nightmare.

It’s quite admirable that this has some reminiscent themes of two extremely different films: Scream and The Truman Show.

It does have some delightful twists and turns and was a real pleasant and fresh surprise, and is the greatest horror gem of 2012 I’ve seen thus far. It’s one of those films where I walked out of the theatre and wanted to watch it again, and told all of my friends to see it, and searched the DVD release date (which by the way is September 18). If I had to pick a flaw I guess I’d saw the pacing was a bit off. All of the cast fitted their roles perfectly, so the casting director shall get a gold star from me. This film was filmed in 2009 and was put on the shelf because of budgetary issues and the studio wanted to convert it to 3D, but I’m so glad they didn’t do that because I would have hated to see this great horror flick to have potentially bad 3D effects.

The film stars Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford (that schmuck from Billy Madison) and a sweet cameo from a horror icon (seriously, don’t even do research, you’ll want to be surprised when you watch it).

You don’t want to miss this horror treat from the minds of Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) and Joss Whedon (The Avengers), and is Goddard’s directorial debut. It’s a must-see, has big scares can be really funny at times, and is the most original horror film I have seen since Scream.

90/100