Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Three Films Make A Post: They Live the Sweet Life But They Play a Game of Sudden Death!

Antiviral (2012): Brandon Cronenberg's Weird SF horror piece surely is a very accomplished film, walking the line between strangeness, repulsion and attraction with great care. My problem with the film is how little there is to differentiate it from a mid-period piece of the director's father David; Antiviral may have a personality, but it seems to be the one of David, not Brandon Cronenberg. It's a rather confusing state of affairs when the son makes movies that are more like his father's films than those his father now makes, and I'm not completely sure what to think about that.

Mama (2013): I would have loved to love Andrés Muschietti's feature film enlargement of his own short film as produced by the always welcome and enthusiastic Guillermo del Toro. The film's basic plot idea is certainly intriguing, and the acting's certainly fine (particularly from Jessica Chastain and the child actors), however, the film doesn't really have any idea how to develop that basic idea into an interesting story. My, it's as if someone was trying to turn a short film into a feature without actually having enough substance to work with. Worse, Mama stumbles badly when a horror movie can least afford to stumble, in the horror set-pieces. Those scenes turn out entirely predictable, and even manage to be barely creepy at all, centring as they are on what never looks like anything but a bad special effect.

Dark Skies (2013): Speaking of horror films with fine performances by their female leads (in this case Keri Russell who seems to get a minor second career wind playing brittle yet capable women) that are completely let down by their supposedly horrifying scenes, Scott Stewart's Dark Skies comes to mind, though, given that Stewart directed Priest and Legion, an uninvolving piece of mediocrity like this is still a step up in quality for him. Dark Skies does Mama one better (or rather worse) in that its horror scenes aren't only not creepy, frightening, horrifying or exciting but more than once merrily jump over the line separating the creepy from the unintentionally hilarious.

The rest is an alien abduction movie by numbers, with a little (but only a little) added spice in form of the economically obvious "oh no! the working rich stop being rich when they lose their jobs" dance working class people may feel an impulse to sneer at, but demonstrating little imagination otherwise.

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