Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Theater Interruption (Evil Dead)

Evil Dead (2013)

Director: Fede Alvarez
Writers: Fede Alvarez (screenplay), Rodo Sayagues (screenplay), and Sam Raimi (1981 screenplay)
Stars: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci

In 1981 The Evil Dead erupted from the twisted brain of Sam Raimi - though a cult classic in its own right, the sequels became much more popular in playing up the comedy. The Evil Dead itself was often unintentionally funny, as the intent intent to make a true horror film was countered by the cheapness caused by the shoestring budget. So, here we are, over thirty years later and Sam is finally producing what he originally intended to show us - a straightforward, no-holds-barred horror film. So, how'd the original vision turn out?

First of all, the film is definitely worse off for not having a charismatic lead along the lines of Bruce's "Ash." To be honest, pretty much all of the characters are really watered-down, to the point where they make even the common horror stereotypes seem interesting. While the plot is still paper-thin, they definitely tried to flesh things out a bit more and provide more of a narrative. To those who are familiar with the series it won't make much difference, but I can imagine it might be appreciated by those going into this thing blind. Where this movie shines is in its dedication to completely over-the-top levels of blood and guts. The unbridled violence and gore is executed to technical perfection and is particularly awesome when much of it is handled without too much CGI. If "blood and guts" isn't your bag, don't bother, this movie has nothing to offer you. For those of you who love some hyperviolence... this is the hardest R-rating I can ever remember seeing and it literally rains blood during the climax. Do it.

Score: 6 / 10

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Theater Interruption (Stoker)

Stoker (2013)

Director: Chan-wook Park
Writers: Wentworth Miller, Erin Cressida Wilson 
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode

Stoker is essentially a twisted take on Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. But this isn't Code-era Hollywood here, as Park isn't afraid to crank up the violence and sexual tension to eleven when the story calls for it. Overall, the script is good but not great and really doesn't come together as well as one would hope in the final act, but there is still a lot to love here. Wasikowska, Goode and Kidman are all excellent in their respective roles, but it is Park's direction that really stands out. His use of sound and editing is particularly wonderful in complementing the secluded Gothic aesthetic, producing a tense and oppressive atmosphere throughout much of the film. An excellent Hollywood debut for Park.

Score: 7 / 10

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Episode Ten (American History X / American Psycho)

American History X (1998)

Director: Tony Kaye
Writer: David McKenna
Stars: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo

This film features an incredible performance from Norton and a few scenes that will undoubtedly stick with the viewer. The moments of brutality are particularly memorable and disturbing. Unfortunately, these are in support of a script and director that handle the film's themes with the subtlety and finesse of a jackhammer. There are several moments where the editing and music are trying so hard to make you realize the importance of what is happening that it ends up becoming unintentionally hilarious. A solid, though deeply flawed film. Oh, and Edward Furlong should never be allowed to do voice over, ever... ever.

Score: 5 / 10

American Psycho (2000)

Director: Mary Harron
Writers: Bret Easton Ellis (novel), Mary Harron (screenplay) and Guinevere Turner (screenplay)
Stars: Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas

The premiere "How To" guide for fitting in with upper-class society when all you really want to do is stab them to death and play around with their blood. While the film is endlessly quotable and deliciously dark, the main satirical thrust of the film is a bit too heavy-handed for my taste. The black comedy / horror elements hold up fairly well throughout, but much of the Wall Street excess message drags it down overall. Bale is so wonderfully campy as Patrick Bateman, the titular psycho with an insatiable bloodlust, that his over-the-top performance absolutely carries the film. Definitely not for everyone, but if you don't mind your humor being delivered in the form of an axe to the skull, you may just come to love this.

Score: 5 / 10