Archive for the ‘horror’ Category

Movie Review: Don’t Breathe (2016)

Posted: December 9, 2016 in Action, horror

dont-breathe

Small-time burglars Money, (Daniel Zovatto) Alex, (Dylan Minette) and Rocky (Jane Levy) are tired of small robberies.  They hear about a man who got a six-figure settlement after his daughter was killed.  Rocky has a dream to steal the money and leave Detroit for good with her daughter, Diddy. (Emma Bercovici)While casing the house, they realize the man is blind.  Alex has second thoughts, but decides to go along with Money and Rocky.  The trio breaks in, but The Blind Man (Stephen Lang) finds out that Money is in the house.  They struggle, what happens next?  And what happens to Alex and Rocky?

Don’t Breathe tries to manipulate the viewer in several ways.  The kids are poor, one is a single mother, they are “clean cut,” they could be anyone’s kids, so they should get some sympathy.  The “victim” is an old, blind man, seemingly defenseless from the teens, so he should get some sympathy.  The problem with the script is that neither the kids nor the blind man is worth pitying and all of them seem damn near indestructible, an old horror movie trick.  The plot also seems to run out of steam pretty quickly, and the viewer gets a tour of every room in the blind man’s house, which is just another excuse for more mindless violence.  And when the writers get sick of gunplay and beatings, the script takes an uglier turn.    What’s the moral of the story?  Don’t give a blind man a gun. The real crime here is that this movie was made for 9 million dollars and grossed 89 million, which means the director will get a lot more work

The direction is interesting visually, there are shots in allies and in-between buildings, and all kinds of interesting angles, and they succeed in making Detroit look like a foreboding place, but the pacing was slow, it took forever to get to the end of a 90 minute movie. I don’t know if the performances were good or not, because there was such little dialogue.  Were these actors being paid by the word? Sam Raimi is the producer here, but its scares on a budget. But Raimi knows his way around a low budget horror flick.  He produced Evil Dead on a low budget with the same writers and director.

Don’t Breathe:  Don’t Waste Your Breath.

strangerthings

Chapter 1:  The Vanishing of Will Byers

In 1983, in Hawkins Indiana, scientists are working on something top secret in the Hawkins National Laboratory, which is part of the Energy Department.  A boy named Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) disappears after playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons with his friends, Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas Sinclair. (Caleb McLaughlin) Will’s mom, Joyce (Winona Ryder) reports Will missing to the local Sheriff, Jim Hopper. (David Harbour)

A mysterious mute girl, named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) walks into a diner wearing a hospital gown, and the diner’s owner, Benny Hammond (Chris Sullivan) takes sympathy on her. Popular high school boy Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) starts dating bookish Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) Where is Will?  Does his disappearance have anything to do with the experiments at the Hawkins Lab?  Who is Eleven, why is she mute?

This show reminds me a lot of early Speilberg, Close Encounters, Goonies, or the JJ Abrams movie Super 8.  There’s an abduction and kids are trying to figure out what happened before the adults do. Whoever the Duffer Brothers are, they must have watched a lot of Speilberg growing up.  Good comeback role for Winona Ryder, de-emphasizing her looks, playing a small town mom.  I like it, so far, it’s very suspenseful, with the right amount of strangeness.

Chapter 2:  The Weirdo on Maple Street

While looking for Will Mike, Lucas, and Dustin find Eleven in the woods.  Mike takes her back to his house, she seems to know Will, but where did she see him?  While looking for Will, Hopper finds Bennie, dead, and concludes that it is suicide, is it? Nancy goes to a party with Steve, while friend Barbara (Shannon Purser) tries to play chaperone. But then Barbara disappears.  Where did she go?

I still like the twin mysteries and the music fits in perfectly, in this episode it’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by The Clash.  But there are several dumb sci-fi/horror movie redundancies which are rearing their ugly heads.   Government conspiracies, pre-teen kids smarter than parents, teen kids dumber than anyone, smart girl looks frumpy, mom of missing kid looks crazy, those are such worn out clichés that I can’t stand the sight of them anymore.

Chapter 3 Holly Jolly:

Nancy realizes that Barb is missing, and fears she might be dead.  Mike continues to look for Will, with the help of Eleven, who has flashbacks to her life before she met Mike.  Is Will communicating with Joyce? Does Hopper find Will?

After three episodes, the writing on this show is grating on me. Suddenly it seems like a badly written episode of the X Files.  The characters are horrible representations of high school and grade school kids.  Nancy is more concerned with her social life than looking after her best friend’s welfare.  Steve is a popular jerk, Hopper is a jerk too, the only likeable ones are Mike, Eleven, and Dustin. For some reason the writers made Lucas a wiseass, and Jonathan, Will’s brother seems like a weird creeper.  The writers seem to forget, that for a show to succeed, the viewer has to like most of the characters.  I’m starting not to care about this collection of creeps and oddballs.

Chapter 4:  The Body

Joyce is convinced that the body the police found is not Will’s.  Jonathan and Nancy team up to try to find Barbara. Can Eleven communicate with Will?  Mike seems to think so.  Dr. Bremmer (Matthew Modine) continues his experiments at the Hawkins lab.  Hopper gets some unsatisfactory answers from the trooper who found Will’s body, so he breaks into the autopsy room, and gets a look at the body.  What does he find?

This episode answers the cliffhanger from episode 3.  The viewer finally sees what’s going on at the Lab.  Nancy and Jonathan team up?  Is that good news or bad news for Nancy?  There’s not a whole lot to choose from for teen girls in Hawkins Indiana, that’s eminently clear. Whose bright idea was it to write that teenage boys had to make Eleven look more girly? Put her in a pink dress and a blonde wig?  Some chauvinist wrote that for sure.  This show also has hints of Poltergeist and Pacific Rim woven in, but the homages age getting to be a bit much.

Chapter 5:  The Flea and The Acrobat

Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Eleven think they know where Will is, and they’re off to find him.  Hopper tells Joyce what he found at the morgue. Jonathan and Nancy are off to find whatever Jonathan photographed in his pictures, but then Nancy disappears.  Where did she go? And after a fight with Lucas, Eleven disappears.  Where did she go?

This is probably the best episode since the first episode, Nancy is still annoying, and Jonathan is still strange, Steve is still a jerk, but they’re all looking for the same thing.   And finally Hopper and Joyce are on the same page.  And there are still some mysteries to be resolved.

Chapter 6:  The Monster

Dustin and Lucas go to find Eleven while Lucas tries to find Will, and finds the Lab instead.  Hopper and Joyce search for Terry Ives (Aimee Mullins) whose daughter Jane has been missing for 12 years.  Terry is in a drugged stupor, but her sister Becky (Amy Steinmetz) tells Hopper and Joyce about the experiments at Hawkins Lab. Jonathan and Steve fight over Nancy, and Jonathan gets arrested.  Dr. Bremmer starts to look for Eleven.

Even though the middle episodes were kind of bad, the last two episodes have really hooked me. There are references to Carrie and Altered States in this episode.  The kids bullying Mike plotline is getting old, and Steve is still a jerk, and Lucas is really badly written, but I really want to see how this season turns out.

Chapter 7:  The Bathtub

Joyce and Hopper help Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Eleven hide from Dr. Bremmer and the government officials chasing after Eleven.  Steve confronts Tommy and Carol and goes to find Nancy.  Nancy and Jonathan try to find whatever was in Jonathan’s photograph.  Eleven tries to find Will. Does she succeed?

The episode is mostly good, things are coming to a head between those trying to find out what happened to Will and Barbara, and those trying to cover it up?  Who will prevail?  One of the few missteps here is the writers tried to make Steve sound heroic.  After being a jerk for the most part of 6 episodes, it’s a little late for that.  Also, Barbara is treated like an afterthought, that’s not right.  The rest of the episode was pretty good.

Chapter 8:  The Upside Down

Joyce and Hopper try to find Will.  Jonathan and Nancy try to hunt down whatever Jonathan photographed, they are joined by Steve.  Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Eleven are hiding out in the middle school gym, with Dr. Bremmer in hot pursuit.

The finale did what the finale does, it wraps thing up.  I can’t say that I was surprised by anything that happened, I didn’t really care for the any of the Steve, Jonathan Nancy, characters but it seems like the writers want to create a love triangle between the 3, to waste time in season two.  Of course, like all horror movies, the writers hinted at what would happen in a second season.

Overall, it was a pretty good series, but it left a lot more questions unanswered.  It also made a lot of references to 1980’s movies,  ET, Goonies, Poltergeist, Altered States, Alien, Stand By Me, Carrie, and even current movies like Super 8 and Pacific Rim.  And there are lots of references to Dungeons and Dragons.  This show was supposed to be set in 1983, but the look reminded of early 1970’s that was obviously a choice made by the director.  There was one mention of Atari, Atari was huge in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  MTV was huge in the early 80’s and no mention of MTV, I understand there are agreements that have to be signed to mention things in movies, but for a show that used music so well to set the mood, not to mention MTV, when MTV was ubiquitous in the 1980’s, seems a little odd.

There was also a little too much overreliance on bullying, it seemed that whenever the writers needed some plot filler, bullies would show up out of nowhere, and the teen bullies would attack Nancy, or Barbara, and fill up some more plotline.  And Eleven was used too much as a deus ex  machina, whenever the kids got in trouble.  Ironically it was the pre-teen kids roles who were the best written, I really liked Mike and Dustin, and Eleven.  Lucas could have been more compassionate at the start, but someone had to be the skeptic, and Lucas was that character.

The acting is better than the writing in some instances.  I thought Winona Ryder overplayed her role at first, but then either I got used to her or she toned it down.  I liked her performance.  I thought the opposite of  Matthew Modine’s performance, he totally underplayed the Dr. Bremmer role.  He was so calm, he was almost sedated, it was hard for me to dislike him, and he’s supposed to be an antagonist.

I really liked Finn Wofhard as Mike.  He played the sensitive friend of the three and was really convincing on that role, he always looked out for his friends, and tried to make his friendship with Lucas work.  His relationship with Eleven was sweet. He pulled off the awkwardness of a first relationship very well. Gaten Matarazzo was excellent as the nerdy science kid, it could have been a really stereotypical role, but Matarazzo made Dustin funny, and an all-around good guy.  Caleb McLaughlin played a tough role pretty well, so he must be a pretty good young actor.  Millie Bobby Brown did the best acting job of all, she displayed a lot of emotions with not so many words.  She has really expressive eyes and she expresses a lot of hurt with those eyes. I don’t know if the teens were badly written or just bad actors, I couldn’t tell.

The direction was pretty good, the pacing was good and brisk on each episode, they got pretty good performances from the “stars” and most of the kids, there was nice interplay between the music and the scenes following the music, they telegraphed whatever Jonathan photographed at Steve’s party with appropriate music and sound effects.

Should you watch it?  It starts well, there’s two or three clunky episodes in the middle, but it finishes strong, so yes, I think it’s worth a watch.  It’s not as good as the buzz and the critics say, but it’s not as bad as I thought it might be.  The good outweighs the bad for sure.

Stranger Things:  Stranger Danger

Buffy season 1

Episode 1:  Welcome to the Hellmouth

Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Geller) moves to a new school in Sunnydale, California.  Buffy does not know that the town sits on the Hellmouth, a demonic convergence of evil.

Vampire subjects doing the bidding of the Master (Mark Metcalf), an ancient vampire besiege Sunnydale until Buffy enters the picture, and tries to end the mayhem. The appearance of The Master is the dominant storyline in season one and this is a fitting introduction.  Excellent writing, acting and direction leave the viewer compelled from beginning to end.

Episode 2: The Harvest

Buffy and her newest pals Xander (Nicholas Brenden) and Willow (Allyson Hannigan) try to save Xander’s pal Jesse (Eric Balfour) from the Master’s minions, Luke (Brian Thompson) and Darla (Julie Benz) who are trying to bring about The Master’s ascension from his lair underneath Sunnydale.

This episode is a continuation of the Master’s storyline and is very interesting in the way that Whedon flips the religious symbolism, there is definitely a hierarchy involved. Except serving this master involves killing people. I enjoyed Mark Metcalf as the Master, he really seems to be enjoying himself under all that rubber makeup.  He reminds me of Robert Englund, who played Freddy Kruger.

Episode 3:  Witch

Buffy ties out for the cheerleading squad and meets Amy (Elizabeth Anne Allen) who wants to be a cheerleader in the worst way.

This is a non-Master episode, and a really good one, it combines the angst of high school with the occult in a great way.  There’s a twist, that turns this episode on its head, and makes it really fun to watch. A great performance by Robin Riker, as Amy’s mom.

Episode 4:   Teacher’s Pet

Xander falls for an attractive substitute teacher named Miss French.  (Musetta Vander) She is interested in him, but why?

Another non-Master episode that I really like, it concentrates on Xander and his search for love.  It also had a teacher that actually showed an interest in Buffy, and Buffy actually studying.  Low budget special effects, still managed to be creepy at times. Musetta Vander is attractive and has an interesting South African accent, but doesn’t really add much else to the role.

Episode 5: Never Kill A Boy on The First Date

Buffy dates a boy for the first time since moving to Sunnydale.

This wasn’t one of my favorite episodes, even though it included the Master.  It had an interesting concept of a guy fascinated by death becoming almost a Buffy groupie, I think that storyline could have been explored more.  The Master storyline wasn’t all that compelling in this episode. The guy who played Owen, Christopher Wiehl, was ok, just ok.

Episode 6:  The Pack

Xander and some other members of the school are possessed by demonic hyenas.

This is an excellent episode, because it uses the pack mentality of the hyenas as a metaphor for peer pressure, bullying and other negative teenage behavior.  Nicholas Brenden shows his dark side, and is very creepy as a guy who tells Buffy some uncomfortable truths about herself.

Episode 7:  Angel

Buffy learns Angel’s secret.

I didn’t like this episode, because when Angel comes on the scene, Buffy turns into Conventional Girl, a regular old damsel in distress, all that Girrrl Power stuff goes out the window. The chemistry between Sarah Michelle Geller and David Boreanz is unmistakable, and s the pairing was very popular, at the time.

Episode 8:  I Robot, You Jane

Willow has a secret online admirer, named Malcolm.  But who is Malcolm, really?

Not a great episode.  Early internet paranoia and poor Alyson Hannigan is stuck with a script where she is a defenseless victim.  Willow is smart, she should have been in on the solution.  Robia La Morte does a nice turn as Jenny Calendar the technopagan, who introduces Giles to the interweb.  She almost saves this predictable episode from doom.

Episode 9:  The Puppet Show

Sunnydale’s talent show features a demonic ventriloquist’s dummy.

This reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode, about a talking dummy that is a lot scarier than this episode.  There is a thin backstory, and a twist ending, but this was one of the filler episodes.

Episode10:  Nightmares

Everyone in Sunnydale sees their worst nightmares come true, and it all seems to be triggered by a little boy named Billy Palmer (Jeremy Foley)

This is one of the more interesting episodes, because Buffy’s dreams and Billy’s dreams are similar, both having to do with an authority figure or father figure.  Xander and Willow’s dreams are silly, but Giles’ dream has to do with psychological trauma as well.

Episode 11:

Out of Mind Out of Sight

An invisible girl torments students before the May Queen dance.

An invisible girl is not that exciting an idea, but how she got invisible is interesting and again the reason intersects with high school, and how certain people are treated.  There was a Vishnu reference which I had to look up, but it made sense, and preparation for the big finale.  The climactic scene is a bit too much like Carrie, but that’s ok. Good episode.

Episode 12: Prophecy Girl

The Master rises during the Spring Fling, but can Buffy stop him?  What does the prophecy say?

This is a fitting end to my favorite season of Buffy.  This was a really outstanding performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, and a fitting climax, she played the scenes with great comedic timing and also played the dramatic scenes extremely well. The one downside was that Miss Calendar, Willow, Cordelia spent most of the episode screaming like ninnies for help. Mark Metcalf is outstandingly creepy as the Master.   I still love this episode, even all these years later.

Buffy works as a show because it explores two genres at the same time, high school life, and the occult.  It is a tribute to the writing that the episodes blend both genres so well.  There’s the fact that Buffy is a Chosen One, so that adds an element of Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker to the story.  Buffy is also a girl, and that’s important, she’s strong physically, and emotionally, and that’s an important message to send to girls and women.  She also chose to be with the outcasts, she could have been with the popular crowd, but she identified with the bullied, and not the bullies. Season 1 is the best of the bunch, it hits the ground running and never stops.

The acting is superb.  Geller doesn’t play Buffy as an airheaded Valley Girl, she is very sophisticated, juggling the Slayer and personal lives, and Geller brings that sophistication to that role.  She made a couple of bad Scooby Doo movies and bye bye career, but she was at peak level here.  Allyson Hannigan is wonderful as the demure, bookish Willow, her character evolves in later seasons.   Nicholas Brenden is also great as the dorky Xander, too bad about his recent troubles.  Anthony Stewart Head is also superb as stuffy British librarian and Watcher Rupert Giles.  He’s the adult in the room, not only doesn’t he scoff at the otherworldly events, he has moldy books to prove the prophecies. Charisma Carpenter is fabulous as Mean Girl Cordelia.  The only fly in the ointment is David Boreanz as Angel, his acting is as wooden as a lumberyard, and he’s had the most success of any of the cast, with Angel and Bones.  I don’t get it. An added treat was Mark Metcalf as The Master. He played Doug Niedermeyer in Animal House, and plays this role with depth and gusto.

If you want to know why Joss Whedon  is such a big deal in Hollywood these days it started with this show.  He wrote several episodes and directed a few I’m sure, although he is uncredited.  He writes high school as if he just graduated, and he writes interesting horror, not just scary horror.  He took a movie that nobody liked and turned it into a tv show that became appointment watching in the late 90’s. And he did it with a tv budget on a network nobody watched.  Amazing.

10CLOVERFIELDLANE

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a woman on the run from an abusive relationship, when she gets into a car accident.  She wakes up in a bomb shelter, handcuffed to the radiator.  The man who handcuffed her is named Howard. (John Goodman)  Howard tells Michelle that there has been some kind of chemical or biological strike against the U.S. and he’s rescued her and brought her to his basement to save her.  Howard gives her the keys to the handcuffs, and while exploring the shelter, she also meets Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) who actually fought to get in the shelter after seeing red beams from the sky and seeing explosions. Emmett helped Howard build the shelter and is completely comfortable living in the shelter with Howard.  Michelle, however, is not comfortable with the regimented, quick tempered Howard, and she is less comfortable with him the more she learns about him.  She wants to escape, does Emmett help her?

10 Cloverfield Lane is a suspenseful character study for about one hour and 20 minutes.  Little details emerge about each character as the suspense build.  I also like how Winstead’s character evolves from a woman running from dange r to a woman ready to face whatever is in front of her.  There is just the right amount of comedy to break up the tension.  As long as it stays with the three main characters, it is a focused, tension-filled, thrill-ride of a movie.  The last 25 minutes gets sloppy with the details, and a big reveal, but overall, this is a pretty good suspense thriller. I had low expectations given JJ Abrams’ similarly titled Cloverfield, but this story goes in a totally different and more satisfying direction.

John Goodman is one of the best character actors making movies today, and he just enriches that opinion with this role.  He plays the obsessive compulsive, survivalist, with a “black belt in conspiracy theories” with absolute ease.  He modulates his voice in the beginning of the movie making it higher and thinner than usual, and then the voice drops, and it is masterful. Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives her character lots of complexity, and makes the character’s transition believable. She also switches from the comedic scenes to the dramatic scenes with ease, and that’s not easy. John Gallagher Jr. is mostly in the film for comedy relief, but is effective in that capacity.

The director is not well-known, but he achieves the necessary claustrophobic feeling to heighten the suspense, and keeps the pacing going strong.  He gets great performances from the cast, and shoots the film from some interesting angles.

10 Cloverfield Lane:  A great performance from a Good-man.

goodnight mommy

Lukas (Lukas Schwarz) and Elias (Elias Schwarz) are living with their mother (Susanne Wuest) in a stylish resort house in Austria.  Mother has had some reconstructive surgery, so she’s got bandages all over her face.  The mother warns  the kids not to bring animals into the house, while she’s recuperating,  so naturally, the kids bring a cat into the house, and the cat ends up dead.  Lucas and Elias surmise that this can’t be their mother, that this woman with her new face and cruel demeanor is someone or something else.  They run away from home, to the town to find a priest (Hans Escher) to help them, but the priest only takes them back home.  Is this woman really Lucas’ and Elias’ mother?  Do they get anyone to believe them?

Goodnight Mommy is a horrible movie.  It is so filled with misogyny and sadism that I could barely believe my eyes.  The violence is so unnecessary, and so beyond the pale, that I lost all sense of story and nuance and just became angry at whoever wrote this monstrous screenplay, and so I will name them, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala.  I am shocked that one of the writers of this garbage is a woman, I guess I should not be.  I saw the movie Audition and the violence in that movie made more sense in context than the violence in this movie.  Sadly, when I see torture perpetrated by Germanic types, I’m reminded of Nazi atrocities in WWII, I’m sure that’s the last memory that Austrians want to evoke.  The writing is also so sparse in detail that the viewer has to put the pieces together, and there is still a lot missing.  The ideas are not original either. The violence is something out of Misery,  the twist ending borrows a lot from The 6th Sense, and also Fight Club.  The last scene tries to redeem the movie with some pseudo-religious imagery, but by then it’s far too late to save this movie from its own violent excesses. The writers had a good premise, and blew it to bits, or should I say burned it to the ground? Last, but not least, it is not scary, not in the least, it builds up some suspense, and fritters it away.

The acting is ok, the twins are robotically stoic, the mom is understandably strict and at the same time vulnerable.  The acting is nothing extraordinary.

Whatever problems this movie has, it’s not with the direction, from the first shot in the corn fields this movie’s visuals hook the viewer and don’t let go. Here’s the thing, the directors are the writers, they are obviously much better directors than writers.  Franz and Fiala try to make an arthouse horror film, and while I’m not a fan of the genre blending, the visuals make this movie appealing.

Goodnight Mommy: Good riddance!

Movie Review: Thirst (2009)

Posted: May 14, 2016 in Drama, horror
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thirst

A Korean Catholic priest named Sang Hyeon  (Kang Ho Song) goes to a monastery to become a test subject to develop a vaccine for the deadly Emmanuel Virus.  The blood transplants Sang Hyeon receives work to cure the virus, but now he must drink human blood in order for the virus to stay latent in his body. Sang Hyeon can’t go out in the daytime, and must continue to drink human blood in order to stave off the virus. He moves in with a childhood friend, Kang woo (Ha Kyun Shin) his mother, Mrs. Ra (Hae Suk Kim) and Kang-woo’s wife, Tae Ju. (Ok-Bin Kim) The blood transplant that saved Sang Hyeon form the virus also has awakened desires for Tae Ju that make him question his vows of celibacy. To complicate matters Tae Ju says she’s being beaten by Kang-Woo.  How does the priest get human blood without killing anyone?  Does he suppress his desires for Kae Ju?

I like Asian horror, A Tale of Two Sisters is a great example of Korean horror. Thirst is not scary in the least I don’t know what Thirst is trying to be, it tries to be a morality play, but this movie has only a superficial view of religion.  The priest doesn’t even wear a cross.  Why would a priest move in with his friend and wife in the first place? It makes no sense.  Then the priest tries to be the hero to the wife’s damsel in distress.  The twist in the film wrecks that angle, then it tries to be some kind of farce, or black comedy, then psychological horror, and finally a bloody slasher movie.  Forget about morality how ethical is it to contemplate sleeping with someone while carrying a communicable disease?  Has anyone ever heard of AIDS in South Korea?  I guess not. The writers (one of the writers is also the director) doesn’t stick with one storyline long enough to make any of them successful.  They are trying to say something deep about human nature I guess, but the message is garbled by the mixing of so many genres. The whole movie should have been about a righteous man, fighting temptation, in the form of the woman, obviously, but also he should have been tempted by the idea of immortal life, which is a very Christian idea indeed. But the movie went in another direction, and not one I cared for.

The acting is ok.  Kang Ho Song is kind of a bland hero, or is that anti-hero? He didn’t seem very emotional about anything, about his vows of celibacy, Song’s performance was very matter of fact.  There should have been more of a struggle between his moral calling and his animal yearnings. Ok-Bin Kim on the other hand, gives a complex performance as a woman suffering at the hands of an abuser, but there’s more to her story than meets the eye. Ha Kyun Shin is around for mostly comic relief, and as a bad guy.

The director, Chan Woo Park, director of Oldboy, seems too interested in making an arthouse movie and not a serious horror films, there are all these shots from different angles, gratuitous nudity, and blood used like red paint, against a blinding white palette.  And then there are the Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon Wiuxia visuals, visual overload abounds. The visuals actually take away from the movie. I have not seen Oldboy, but I have seen cut and the violence in that short, is reminiscent of the violence in this movie.  Wong Kar Wai is the best Asian arthouse director I’ve seen, and romance lends itself much more to an arthouse backdrop than horror, so Chan Woo Park is still far behind in my book.

Warning:  There is gratuitous violence and nudity, this is a well-earned R rating.

Thirst. Vamping  about religion.

Crimson Peak

Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is an independent woman growing up in Victorian era America. Ever since her mother died when she was a child, she is plagued by visions of ghosts.  She is unmarried and likes to write ghost stories.  There are two potential suitors who show interest in Edith, one is an eye doctor named Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) and one is a baronet and inventor named Sir Thomas Sharpe. (Tom Hiddleston) Sharpe has invented a drill for clay mining and is seeking investors in the U.S.  Edith’s father, Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver) is highly skeptical of Thomas and hires a private investigator named Holly (Burn Gorman) to look into Thomas’ background, and when he finds information about him Carter then pays him to go back to England and break Edith’s heart, which he does. After her father is suspiciously murdered, Edith runs off to England to marry Thomas and live him and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) in England in his mansion. As she goes to England, the ghosts that infest Edward’s mansion continuously warn Edith about her new surroundings.  Soon she is coughing blood and Thomas and Lucille are acting more and more suspiciously.  Back in America, Alan is trying to deduce who killed Carter. Who did kill Carter?  What are the ghosts trying to tell Edith?

I like Crimson Peak It reminds me somewhat of Jane Eyre, Edith is an independent girl who goes to England to marry a baronet.  Jane is an independent girl who starts out as a nanny and seeks equal footing with Rochester. Jane Eyre had the gothic touch, Bertha, Rochester’s wife is stashed up in the attic, in Crimson Peak, Lucille complains that she was kept in the attic by her mother.  There’s also a bit of Shakespeare, Hamlet and Ophelia thrown into the mix with the Thomas and Lucille relationship.  There are also elements from “Fall of The House of Usher” and “The Grifters.”  With touchpoints so familiar, it’s simple to see why this plot is so inviting.

“Ghosts are real.” says Edith in the very beginning of the movie, and she seems neither scared nor intimidated by them.  That is a refreshing viewpoint. There are some less than stellar moments, why would Edith, a smart girl, run off to marry a guy her dad warned her about, so soon after he was suspiciously murdered?  And for a movie that strives to be an intelligent film, and often succeeds, why does the last 15 minutes resemble a slasher film? But overall, Crimson Peak is a creepy suspenseful mystery film.

The acting is very good.  Mia Wasikowska  is very good as the spirited Edith, and yes she did play Jane Eyre in 2011.  Jessica Chastain is excellent playing the sly, seductive, secretive Lucille.  The more the viewer gets to know her, the more repulsive she is, but the more the viewer wants to know. She is proving to be a versatile actress.  Tom Hiddleston plays Loki in the Thor movies, so playing a bad guy is old hat for him, and he does it well in this movie.  He is a shyster, but a charming shyster. On the negative side, Charlie Hunnam plays the protagonist blandly, and again like Pacific Rim, struggles mightily with an American accent. Burn Gorman, who played one of my favorite roles in Pacific Rim, had a small role in this film.

Guillermo Del Toro is one of my favorite director/writers.  Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim are two of my favorite films.  Del Toro never forgets that film is a visual medium , and in this film everything seems to be bathed in red, and there is one interesting close-up of ants devouring a monarch butterfly that amps up the creepy factor.  There’s always something visually provocative in his films and I like that.

Crimson Peak:  A peek inside a creepy aristocratic family.