Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Three Films Make A Post: Come to the get killed!

V/H/S (2012): I actually think the anthology movie is a logical direction for the POV horror sub-genre to take, but despite the inclusion of directors like Ti West and Adam Wingard, V/H/S isn't really doing much for me. It's clear the stories that make up the film are attempting to use the immediacy of the form for some urban legend style horror with a bit of a messed up ick factor, but the end product leaves me cold at best. It's difficult to bring up much interest for stories that tread well-trodden horror movie paths even when they are going for surprises, and it's equally difficult to have any interest for what happens to characters when they are only some mumbled dialogue, some shaky close-ups and nothing else; especially when most of the episodes go out of their way to also look like utter crap. I know, that's a stylistic choice (and the only time the word "style" can be used when talking about the film's aesthetic), but I'm really more interested in films that make stylistic choices about the way they picture the things their audience sees rather than the choice to shake-shake-shake that camera and put some mock-VHS post-production effects on.

Dead Hooker In A Trunk (2009): This indie movie by and with the Soska sisters Jen and Sylvia on the other hand seems to have its style well in hand, despite an obvious backyard budget. What this one has going for it are a sense of fun, an often rather uncontrolled imagination and the resulting weirdness. It's far from slick, but a great reminder what's actually good about the possibilities of contemporary filmmaking: that a handful of semi-professionals (I had too much fun with the film to use the term amateurs, plus there's more professional filmmaking coming from this direction) can just go out and make a movie full of private jokes, silliness and bits and pieces of the films they love, and it might even be one other people will be able to enjoy too like Dead Hooker. In this particular case, the film works via energy, attitude, some decidedly clever low budget direction and editing, and the fact that at least half of its jokes are pretty funny.

Toshi Densetsu Monogatari Hikiko (2008): A one-part OVA that looks like ass, full of characters with plastic faces and horrifying teeth that move through low detail backgrounds with all the grace of zombies while pulling faces that don't have anything to do with humanity as I know it; in other words, visually, this is your typical piece of CGI animation.

However, what the piece lacks in visual graces, it contains in its script (and voice acting), telling a creepy and rather disturbing tale of quotidian bullying and abuse, just as quotidian cowardice and the inability to face up to the truth. That tale is emphasised by expertly timed ghostly going-ons which mirror and amplify the short film's more natural horrors. It's a demonstration of the concept that timing and an intelligent script can make up for a multitude of flaws in a movie.

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