The Veil (2016): Despite some very decent acting and a fine enough basic idea, director Phil Joanou quickly falls into the usual traps and trappings of modern mainstream horror: there’s the script that needs to isolate its characters but can only find the most stupid way to do it, a colour palette so muted the film’s greyish brown and boring to look at, and of course an idea of horror that loves jump scares so much more than anything else it can’t live without at least one every five minutes. And there’s obviously the lame twist ending too.
Witchville (2010): This SyFy movie was for some reason and
to good effect shot in China, giving the affair some local visual influences on
the production design. There are also Chinese actors in smaller roles. It’s
basically a cheap sword and sorcery movie with Luke Goss enriched with mild
wuxia elements, and as such Pearry Reginald Teo’s film pushes a lot of my
buttons quite adeptly. It’s merrily paced, has a lot of perfectly decent Sword
and Sorcery ideas about witches and the way people fight, adorably small armies,
and is good, stupid fun all around.
The Mystery of Mr. X (1934): Edgar Selwyn’s film about a
cracksman (Robert Montgomery) hunting a serial killer of policemen because he’s
under suspicion himself (without much actual evidence, mind you) on the other
hand is very slow going. It seems to have the reputation of being a hidden gem
in classic Hollywood lover circles but I does very little for me. I’m a sucker
for the “charming thief hunts worse criminals” kind of tale, but I could do
little with Montgomery’s performance here, that for my tastes was more smug and
self-satisfied than roguishly charming.
The romance angle doesn’t work for me either, the romantic plot moments and
the mystery always getting in each other’s way while they’re only competent
looked at separately. So we’re safely in the area of “boring competence” here
again, and that’s something I have no love for in films made now or in 1934.