Saturday, July 15, 2017

Three Films Make A Post: Your ally could become your enemy

The Precipice Game (2016) aka 魔輪: A bunch of arseholes – alas not interesting arseholes – takes part in a dumb game for the prize of a million dollars that takes place on a mostly empty cruise ship. Boredom ensues, for this is a mix of the old, cheap corridor runner genre, the sort of Saw-ish murderous game show and a whole lot of nothing. The characters have the inhuman and antiseptic quality all too frequent in Chinese mainland cinema of the last decade or so (and without any inherent star qualities that might make up for that little problem) and the plot makes little sense. Actual suspense or thrills just aren’t happening because neither the script nor Wang Zao’s direction seems to put even the tiniest amount of effort in.

Don’t Knock Twice (2016): Compared to that mess, Caradog James’s horror film with more than decent lead performances by Katee Sackhoff and Lucy Boynton is a shining example of good writing and direction. Realistically, it rather rests in my most unloved category – movies of boring competence. Apart from the surprise twist that will surprise no one (and that doesn’t make too much sense), there’s little here to annoy or outright bore. The horror sequences are utterly generic 2010s style horror sequences, unfortunately, so about as exciting as watching grass grow, but browner, the visuals are of the usual desaturated type with little to look at that might excite or frighten, and the script has an interesting plot line about a woman trying to regain the trust of the daughter she left Sackhoff and Boynton could get their teeth in but never gets around to meaningfully connect that with the horror parts of the plot (not to speak of the twist ending). It’s really not a bad film at all, but it is terribly bland. I can’t help but ask myself why anyone should spend time on this when there are quite a few films out there that are actually good instead of not being bad.

47 Meters Down aka In the Deep (2017): Johannes Roberts’s film about two sisters (as played by Mandy Moore and Claire Holt) trapped 47 meters under water in a shark cage threatened by (you guessed it) sharks is certainly the cream of the crop of these three. Sure, it’s not terribly original in the way it follows the thriller rules for films concerning people trapped somewhere unpleasant quite strictly, the characters aren’t wildly complex, and it’s not as riveting as the comparable The Shallows. However, Roberts does build tension carefully, escalates things with a sure hand and not always in the most expected manner. The director also manages to make a film that mostly takes place underwater (and which isn’t going for pretty nature documentary shots) not look boring. In fact, I found myself excited enough during the proceedings I cared not a bit about things like probable shark behaviour, the correct application of the laws of physics or if or if not wet suite diving works this way but cared quite a bit about what happened to the main characters. More, I could not ask of a film.

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