Sunday, May 10, 2015

Three Films Make A Post: Evil Gets An Upgrade

Nightbreed Director’s Cut (1990): What surprised me most on watching Clive Barker’s preferred version of the film is how small the differences between this and the film’s initial version truly are, with little about them that’s fundamentally different. At least, the film still has all the flaws that always made it difficult for me to love it. So, while there’s certainly more to see of them now, the Nightbreed as a whole still feel more like alternative circus performers than any sort of ancient tribe of “monsters”, and they are still a pretty boring culture that seems based on all the least interesting clichés about oppressed groups you’ll encounter. Boone and Lori – the theoretical protagonists – are still complete non-entities, with no character traits beyond “being madly in love” and deeply stupid I could make out, which is a bit of a problem in a film that aims so clearly for the mythical and the archetypal, which might be simple but generally isn’t flat. But then, the Nightbreed probably got the destroyer/saviour there that fits them.

Faust: Love of the Damned (2000): This is Brian Yuzna at his least interesting, wallowing in the grotesque and the dubious of taste (which should be a good thing), but never really managing to actually do or say or think through it (which is a bad thing). There’s certainly a degree of joy to be found in the grotesque for the grotesque’s sake but the decisive something that would make me feel anything about the grotesquery I am seeing is missing here. The film isn’t exactly improved by lines and lines of horrible (and just awfully dumb) dialogue and a lead in Mark Frost who is certainly trying for the over the top approach that is the only reasonable one for this material but is more often than not ending up looking and sounding like a clown in a bad costume; and clown’s aren’t that frightening.

The Pact II (2014): I liked the first film of what I hope won’t become a long franchise a lot, and sequel directors Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath did make an interesting film before this in Entrance but – apart from the pointlessness of constructing a sequel to a film that really did tell the whole story by making the same film again while adding random clichés – this sequel just isn’t very good at all. Where the first film’s characterization was sharp and surprisingly deep, this one’s is trite, the characters never becoming more than actors saying words they learned from a script. Worse, some of the acting is truly atrocious (particularly Patrick Fischler is dreadful, though other performances by him I’ve seen suggest that he’s doing exactly what the directors want from him, for whatever reason), and where the first film was full of elegant and inventive moments of horror absolutely based in its characters, this one’s are mostly trite, or just jump-scaring up better set-ups from the original film.

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