Review of “The Loved Ones” for Doom Generation.

Those of you who are regulars on this blog will know that from time to time I get invited to do horror movie reviews for Doom Generation, which is my go to site for “reviews for the sublimely weird.” If there’s a movie they haven’t got on there, I am allowed to view and review freely and without censorship, which is quite the boon in my book! This week I had the pleasure of contributing to them once again and as always I really enjoyed the experience. It is something I will strive to do more of in future, time permitting.

Let Daddy help!
Let Daddy help!

The film I chose was a 2009 Aussie production, though from what I gathered it was only released in the States in 2012, hence the discrepancy in dates.

Before watching I did some cursory research starting with IMDB, though I always seek their advice with a measure of reservation. In this case my concerns were justified because IMDB left me stumped. The same site that gave After.Life a 5.9 rating gave The Loved Ones a 6.7, which for a decimal system is close-ish but competely subjective. If you asked me, I would equate the difference between these two movies as the distance between the earth and the moon; not much if you’re looking at it from where we’re standing but a whole other kettle of fish if you’re trying to walk it.

The Loved Ones is an Australian movie which was released in 2012 and from what I understand it’s a bit of a hidden gem in the world of teen horror films. The star, Brent (Xavier Samuel), is a typical 17 year old having his first taste of adulthood via the mediums of sex, drugs and punk rock but like all good protagonists he is a little tormented by his past. Though I do say protagonist, it’s fair to point out that as far as acting goes Brent is more like the supporting male to Lola’s (Robin McLeavy’s) Hamlet, ‘cause she’s the movie’s chassis, frame and engine, everything else is the fluffy dice hanging from the mirror.

Read the rest here.

After.Life, cos I bet you missed me complaining.

This week I’m happy to announce that I’ve written another guest post for the Doom Generation movie review site, an experience I’m finding thoroughly rewarding of late. In fact, I can’t watch a movie anymore without thinking I should be reviewing it for them.

True to form I’m grumbling again but I’ll leave you to decide if it’s justified:

AFTER.LIFE

When I first read about After.Life I was very excited. On paper it was an easy sell, Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci and Jason Long are the three main stars that should have made this movie phenomenal. Plus the blurb had everything going for it: A young woman caught between life and death… and a funeral director who appears to have the gift of transitioning the dead, but might just be intent on burying her alive…

So what if IMDB only gave it six stars? Liam Neeson gives start quality to anything, especially after Taken, right? Not right. Wrong in fact!

This was another one of those super promising movies which left me feeling cheated and used by the end. Though it was well acted, I was left longing for a better story once again. It’s very sad when a movie is full of potential but sacrifices plot for the benefit of visuals.

It starts with a young couple, Paul and Anna, having sex. Half way through the deed Anna stops having fun and goes to take a shower. Her boyfriend protests that she used to enjoy it, but now suddenly doesn’t anymore. Why? We’re left to wonder. How is this plot going to thicken and how will this affect their relationship? To add more spice to the mix, she goes to take a shower and has a nose bleed. Big hint that something is wrong with her health, right? Right? After all, each scene in a movie serves as an indispensable tale telling device which propels the plot forward. Or is that just me?

The following evening Paul takes Anna out to dinner and after a botched wedding proposal she gets into her car and drives away during a rainstorm, upset that he’s just broken up with her. Despite the “what the…?” exclamations you’re all probably making, this part was actually done quite well, which is a testament to the skills of the cast. Next thing we know Anna shows up in a funeral home and Paul has to find out from her mother that she was killed in a car accident. Though he tries to see her, he is denied access by the Mortician/Funeral director Mr Deacon, played by Neeson, on the grounds that he is not really family. He goes to the police station to ask for their help (being as he is a lawyer) and is turned away, but not before seeing Anna’s wrecked and blood spattered car, implying that she was quite seriously impaled in the accident… Read the rest HERE for the spoiler and sarcasm enhanced version.

After.Life

Night Watch Review Guest Post.

A few weeks ago I was invited to write a review on a movie of my choice for the Doom Generation review site, which in their own words is a site of “movie reviews for the sublimely weird.” The site is a real treasure trove of quirky movies and offers an eclectic mix of mainly horror but also other titles which divert from the main stream. As an added bonus it has really high production values (if that term is applicable for a site), a clean look, and is super user friendly.

I loved the experience of guest writing for another site and it is definitely something I’ll be repeating in the future!

My movie of choice was Night Watch, a Russian language film with a supernatural theme. Feel free to read the review below or on their site which features pretty pictures and the trailer too!

Night Watch
Russian Language
Original Title: “Nochnoy dozor”
Director: Timur Bekmambetov

As long as humanity has existed there have been others among us. They are human yet they have abilities beyond those of ordinary men. Witches, sorcerers, shape shifters, the others are as varied as stars in the sky. The others are soldiers in the eternal war; the struggle between dark and light. Light others protected mankind from dark others who plagued and tortured humans…

Night Watch begins with a scene of two fantasy/medieval armies marching towards each other as the above narrative takes place. One is the army of light Others while the opposite is the army of dark Others. As the two armies cross paths on a gothic style bridge a battle erupts.

Geser, the leader of the light Others realizes mid battle that the two forces are equally matched and that mutual assured destruction will be the only outcome of this war. Geser and Zavulon, the leader of the dark Others, agree to a truce under the condition that a body of light Others (the Night Watch), will be formed whose task will be to protect mankind from their dark counterparts. Equally an opposite body of dark Others (Day Watch) will do the same, though it is unclear who they’re protecting.

Fast forward to Moscow in 1992, where a man named Anton tries to procure a supernatural abortion for his estranged wife’s bastard foetus under the pretext that he wants her back from the lover she’s eloped with. The witch who performs the deed, (a dark Other) is interrupted by the Night Watch (in invisible form) in the nick of time, and thus the child is saved. During this exchange it is revealed that Anton is a light Other and can see the response team as they write up the witch for violating the truce. Fast forward another 12 years and now Anton is an active member of the response team and his particular duty/skill is to catch Vampire Others. He tracks a Vampire and his illegally turned girlfriend to an abandoned building as they attempt to drink from a child. In the scuffle that ensues Anton accidentally kills the male Vampire while the boy escapes. Anton must now find him before the starving Vampire girl does. Injured and upset at having killed an Other, Anton returns to Light HQ and is healed by Geser. In assistance to his quest for the Vampire, Geser gives Anton an owl and together they try to find the boy Yegor and stop the Vampire girl. They trace him to his house and there Anton realizes that the boy is in fact the son of his former wife and also an Other.

Night Watch is one of those movies that I’ve wanted to watch for a while but after seeing it I was in two minds about writing a review on it. Visually it is not in the same calibre as a Hollywood blockbuster but it definitely holds its own. It is gritty and pungent with a wonderfully European aesthetic, which was probably the most interesting thing about it. It is peppered with striking details that give it a very quirky feel. When Anton rejects the owl for example, she follows him home and messily takes human woman in the middle of his kitchen. After a bath for which she has waited decades, Anton asks his neighbour for women’s clothes so the owl woman ends up with a 70’s wardrobe and is left wondering if she’s in fashion. It was little touches like this that made an otherwise disjointed movie worthwhile.

I say it’s disjointed because in the middle of trying to find and protect the boy, the narrative appears to go off course. After losing the boy, Anton happens to see a woman on the train with a vortex above her head and reports it to his boss. Gesel tells him the story of a legendary cursed virgin whose powerful spell once opened a vortex allowing the forces of evil into the world. The prophecy forecasts that a cursed virgin will walk the earth once again and a final battle between light and dark will erupt, disrupting the balance forever. In the midst of all this a Great Other will appear and if he takes the side of light, then light will triumph, but there is also the risk he will choose the dark. With a storm brewing and the city plunged in darkness by a power outage Anton and his Other buddies manage to find the Cursed Virgin and undo the spell saving the city from the Vortex. While Anton’s attentions are on the Virgin however, the Vampire girl finds the boy Yegor and a fight ensues in order to save him from her desperate clutches.

The impasse is ended by the arrival of Zavulon who attacks Anton and suddenly the battle of the prophecy between light and dark erupts on the roof of Yegor’s building. In the final scene as Anton and Zavulon fight, Yegor tries to give Anton a protective charm against the Overlord Of Darkness, and in the confusion that ensues the child is almost killed by Anton. Feeling betrayed he asks Anton if he really intended to kill him when Zavulon reveals his trump card, the arrest report of the witch hired 12 years earlier by Anton to perform the supernatural abortion on Yegor’s mother which convinces the boy that Anton wanted him dead and which inevitably forces him to join the forces of Darkness, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

As far as Sci-Fi films go, Night Watch it is unusual and entertaining (though with similarities to Star Wars), but it leaves the viewer with several unanswered questions which is my bugbear with movies of any sort. Never the less, the story had potential and had it been done a little bit differently it could’ve have been an epic film. As it stands however, many parts of the story needed tightening in order to reel the viewer more convincingly into the narrative and the overall universe. I frequently found myself wondering how certain parts fell together as some scenes left me with a sense of the ridiculous rather than in awe; case in point the war on the roof and Zavulon’s use of his own spine as a sword. (Yes seriously!)

Even though it was a really good effort, there were several instances where I felt like I could virtually see the screws that held the plot together and though I wanted to be reeled in, hook, line and sinker, I felt myself sitting on the shore waiting for the line to tighten. Never the less, the atmosphere and the visuals created a movie good enough to be a cult classic and one which is definitely worth a watch.