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.

What to watch vs What not to watch this week.

I make these sacrifices so you don’t have to. I put myself through some of the world’s most terrible films so I can spare you the agony. It’s tough but somebody has to do it.
Warning: Grown up words have been typed here, not for the faint of sensibility!

What to watch this week:

Big Bad Wolves.

big-bad-wolves-uk

My regular readers know that I like to do the odd movie review, particularly when it involves horror. My go to movies are usually well cast but not so well known or a bit out there as far as theme is concerned. I’m a sucker for foreign movies, particularly horror, which are often done with more finesse than American versions, no offence to any American Horror Directors out there.

In recent weeks one of my friends has been bugging me to watch Big Bad Wolves which apparently Quentin Tarantino called the best horror movie of the year (2014).

BBW is an Israeli film and starts with a slightly surreal scene of a group of kids playing while the titles roll, by the end of which one of the girls disappears. It continues very ominously with a bunch of cops taking a man to an abandoned warehouse and beating the crap out of him for paedophilia. We are not told how this man has come to be their prime suspect, merely that they are all certain he is the one whodunit! Managing to get little out him, they let him go, and the overeager cop on the case is suspended for managing to get the beating caught on camera and posted to youtube. Deciding he will do everything in his power to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the teacher they were beating, Dror, is his guy, he tails him constantly and finally decides to abduct and scare him into confessing. In all, this movie places a lot of emphasis on extraction of information via violence.

Half way through his intimidation process Mickey (the cop) is unterrupted by Gidi, the dead girl’s dad, who decides to take over the interrogation. In true assasin style he moves them both to an abandoned property he’s bought purely for the benefit of torturing Dror and the two get to work.

He begins by reading Dror the police report of what his victims allegedly experienced and proceeds to adopt all the criminal’s methods in order to extract that elusive confession. Mickey, who has collaborated with Gidi up to that point, starts having second thoughts whether Dror is indeed their man and when he hesitates to further torture him is also handcuffed to the wall by Gidi who is dead set on getting his confession. At no point during the torture does Dror confess and the viewer is left to frequently wonder whether he is in fact guilty.

The movie progresses via a series of comic/tragic developments where even Gidi’s elderly parents get involved. There is also a Palestinian man peppering the film but I couldn’t understand if it was done as social commentary or just a bit of relief from the main story.

I won’t spoil the ending by telling you what happens next; I’ll just say that it’s worth watching even though I think Tarantino’s claim was a bit farfetched. I will mention however that unlike Hollywood films this movie is low on special effects. The blood looks fake, the wounds don’t bloat and in all you can tell it’s amateurish (which does somewhat detract from the suspension of disbelief) but as the movie’s strength lies in the acting, you learn to ignore it.

What not to watch:

The Babadook.

The Babadook is an Australian movie which came out last year and though all the reviews made me feel like I should watch it, I wish I hadn’t now.

It starts with a cunty kid who is afraid of monsters and cannot sleep at night making his cunty mother’s life a living hell. I disliked both the main characters straight off the bat. The kid is whiny, annoying and well… childish and the mother is bland, weak, unrelatable and has absolutely no saving grace as a character. Half way through the movie I actually wished the Babadook would get them and spare us all the torment of watching the rest of it.

When the kid starts exhibiting antisocial behaviour in school in the form of hand made weapons in order to protect himself from the monsters he sees, the mother takes him out of school as she feels they don’t understand his anxiety. I have to pause here and ask how a six year old can make projectile weapons (a mini cross bow and some kind of cricket ball hurling thing with straps no less) from what looks like a busted picture frame and some wire and bits of old wood and a can? I mean just how bad is his mother to not notice him cutting and sawing and nailing and possibly even welding bits of metal and wood. I’ve customised furniture in my day, I know how hard that shit is alright?

Moving on, swiftly. As the cunty mom goes on to indulge every single one of her kid’s unreasonable demands, she also reads him stories at night in order to help him go to sleep, and on one fated night the kid chooses “The Babadook” book. Presumably they have been living in the same house since her husband was alive, (he died on the night the kid was born, hence some of her distraction) so we’re not told how this Babadook book found its way into the kid’s hands. Apparently it was on the bookshelf. When the book encroaches more on her life she tears it up and throws it away, after being warned however that the more she denies its existence the stronger its hold on them becomes. So what does she do? She barbecues the book of course! Anyhoo to cut a long story short, the Babadook is a spooky under-the-bed kinda monster which slowly proceeds to make their lives hell and drive the mother closer to her wit’s end. Her increasing madness stems from the fact that the cunty kid’s former behaviour has alienated virtually every single person she knows, so currently has no one to turn to bar the very old next door neighbour. This situation goes on for about two weeks so I’m not sure how she keeps her job or her kid out of the hands of the social services in the interim. In all it was slow to pick up, repetitive and dull despite its attempts to the contrary.

Admittedly I did not see the end coming, which was probably the cleverest thing about it all. Is it worth watching to the end? Probably if you fast forward through the rest.

MV5BMTk0NzMzODc2NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTYzNTM1MzE@._V1_SX640_SY720_

Other Meh movies:

Contagion-promising premise but totally unemotive.
Redirected– I’ve seen it described as a cross between Hangover and Lock Stock. Only watch if you love Vinnie Jones.

Hugs y’all (and raise your kids right, so when the Babadook comes you have friends to call!)

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.