Thursday, May 21, 2015

Three Films Make A Post: Crawling, Slimy Things Terror-Bent on Destroying the World!

Preservation (2014): To my surprise, I found myself quite taken with this new variation on the old, old theme of people (in form of the excellent Wrenn Schmidt) having to unleash their inner beast to defend themselves against other people hunting them through the woods. At first, the film seems a bit talky and smug, but soon enough director Christopher Denham demonstrates a nice eye for mood, and all-around inventive yet subtle direction, and the film becomes pleasantly ruthless.

Sure, there’s little that’s new here, but Denham executes particularly the scenes taking place after the hunted has become the hunter™ very suspenseful, always ready to surprise with a minor twist on the formula or just a particularly well executed example of it. That’s really more than enough to keep me happy.

John Wick (2014): Take one painfully miscast lead actor, a bunch of great but underused character actors, dialogue so painfully stupid not laughing seems utterly impossible, some cool action scenes, just as many action scenes that are by far not as cool as they obviously think they are and go on and on and on and on, obnoxious loud music playing obnoxiously loud, and you have Chad Stahelski’s application for the job as the new Neveldine/Taylor or perhaps the new mid period Luc Besson. The resulting film is at times inadvertently funny (seeing as it concerns Keanu Reaves’s bloody vengeance on the Russian mobsters who stole his car and killed the little dog his dead wife gifted him from beyond the grave), at times actually exhilarating if stupid, and at other times painfully annoying in its permanent attempts at overstylizing everything and at overselling Keanu’s supposed badassness.

Dark Summer (2015): About half of Paul Solet’s film is a fine, subtle ghost story centring on ideas about love, desire, and the inability to get these things to work in a way that isn’t messy among teenagers, with two excellent lead performances by Keir Gilchrist and Stella Maeve and direction that makes a virtue of the film’s limited means. Alas, the other half – at times running in parallel to the good parts - is working hard to undo that good work with way too much stuff about black magic, eyebrow-raising twists, and the sort of scenes you put in your film when you don’t trust your audience to stay awake if you don’t shout at it “look, I’m a horror movie!” from time to time. Needless to say, it doesn’t work out too well for the film as a whole.

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