Sunday, November 8, 2015

Three Films Make A Post: They were created to save mankind. Something went wrong.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004): It’s taken me a good decade to learn to appreciate Kerry Conran’s only feature film. And now I’m thinking “what the hell is wrong with me and why has it been taking me so long”? Of course, in that decade, I consumed a very fair share of the pulps, serials, and comics this is an updated homage to, and gained a bit more knowledge about the people who built the wall this particular ball is bounced off of. Though, honestly, even before that, I should have appreciated the detail-rich production design and costuming, the love and care taken with a peculiar yet effective visual aesthetic, the sure-handed way Conran handles his one-note (but the right one) characters, the fact that – unlike in many a film of this type – Gwyneth Paltrow’s reporter character Polly Perkins actually gets to do stuff beyond looking pretty and being a love interest (although she handles that part rather excellently too), the expert pacing of the one damn and awesome thing after another plot, and so on, and so forth. Seriously, what is wrong with me?

The Nightmare (2015): If you’re looking for an actual documentary about sleep paralysis and the people suffering from it, Rodney Ascher’s documentary won’t be for you, because it basically handwaves away the actual science, concentrates on its mostly cheesy re-enactments of the sufferers’ hallucinations, and ends up with a lot of rambling about Jesus, aliens, and demons, and never makes even the tiniest sceptical or critical gesture towards even the greatest bullshit story. Perhaps, if one doesn’t get quite as annoyed by the film and its approach, one might be mildly creeped out by the archetypal nightmare imagery, but honestly, there are quite a few films admitting they are fiction that are much better at that,

Hangar 10 (2014): I found myself positively surprised by Daniel Simpson’s POV horror film of the UFO persuasion, which makes use of the UK’s favourite UFO incident. It even makes good use of it, actually hinting at various bits of the mythology concerned during the course of the film instead of just waving its hands and screaming UFOs. Like with a lot of POV horror films, there are some moments of mild tedium around the end of the first act but the film actually escalates things from there nicely, going through various POV horror greatest hits but avoiding the most annoying ones and ending in a handful of effectively creepy scenes quite its own.

There’s an actual visual pay-off in this one, too. Add to that Simpson’s ability to frame atmospheric and effective shots while keeping in hand-held consumer camera mode, a decent cast, effectively creepy sound design and subtract the sort of automatic hatred many people have evolved towards the POV form, and you actually have a clever and effective little piece of low budget horror.

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