Weekly movie wrap-up: Eighties horror is back!

March 16, 2010 at 10:35 am (Movies, Reviews)

Because lately I failed to update the blog with film reviews and opinions about what I’ve watched, I decided to start a weekly wrap-up post with a quick rundown of all films I’ve seen during the past week. Hopefully this will happen each Monday. This way, you’ll be able to stay in touch with the shit I loved, hated or couldn’t care less about.

So, without further ado, here’s the week of March 8-14.

Open Graves (dir. Alvaro de Arminan)
A straight-to-TV release that I watched only for Eliza Dushku. No hidden gem here. A toothless, formulaic, and often plain dumb horror that mimics The Final Destination, but fails miserably on all accounts. Some decent kills and OK cinematography save this from being a total dud.

Planet 51 (dir: Jorge Blanco)
Animated reversed “ET”, but with a script that completely lacks any personality. Once the novelty of the situation wears off, all you’re left with are the vibrant colors. Technically accomplished, with some funny jokes once in a while, but unfortunately way too dull. Pixar has set the bar so high, it’s very difficult for smaller animation studios to come even close.

My Life in Ruins (dir: Donald Petrie)
Another very bad romantic comedy that fails on both romance and comedy. It’s set (and shot) in Greece, which adds to the overall decent look, but the script is so awfully bad, full of uninteresting characters and horrendous dialogue, it’s really hard to sit through. Plus, it uses every cliche in the book, and lacks any kind of originality. The only good thing I can say about this film is that it looks somewhat decent, and that, because it sets the bar very low, it doesn’t actually disappoint.

Carol I (dir. Sergiu Nicolaescu)
Worthless piece of junk.

Alice in Wonderland (dir. Tim Burton)
Unlike most critics out there, I kinda enjoyed Burton’s Alice. I even found the 3D part to be well made – again, contrary to most opinions. The movie looks brilliant, is genuinely eerie, and teases you with flashes of Burton’s style. Unfortunately these are only teasers – cause at the end of the day, Disney prevails, and the horrific third act takes away some of the magic that has been spread throughout the rest of the film. I really wish Disney would’ve let Burton to make this flick his own. Not the case – but still an enjoyable film for everyone to see.

The House of the Devil (dir: Ti West)
Girl needs money. Girl gets gig as babysitter. Girl arrives at spooky mansion. Girl walks around doing nothing. That’s all that happens in this film, until the very last ten minutes, when all hell breaks loose. However, I didn’t find any of this boring at all. First of all, the film looks great. The action is set in the ’80s, but it looks like the film is made in the ’80s as well (and no, it wasn’t. It’s a 2009 film). Secondly, the awesome cinematography is complemented by the very spooky atmosphere set by (obviously talented) director Ti West. The film is creepy as hell, but without the fake gimmicks of pointless “boo” moments that today’s horror is littered with. Tension is built by atmosphere alone. Unfortunately, it drags a bit towards the end, and the payoff isn’t nearly as memorable as it should’ve been, after all the build up. I also didn’t like a couple of scenes that seemed out of character for the main protagonist (like the dancing scene – what sane girl puts headphones on and starts dancing by herself in a creepy house – after the character has been established as extremely laid-back?). But, all in all, for a low-budget horror flick, this is a great homage to the ’80s style of creepy, atmosphere-built horror.

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