Saturday, April 21, 2018

Three Films Make A Post: The Nightmare Has Begun!

The Villainess aka Aknyeo (2017): I’m a bit confused by the immensely positive critical reception Jung Byung-gil’s South Korean reworking of Le Femme Nikita has received. Sure, the film’s first and final third do contain some incredibly inventive, brutal and slightly surreal action sequences that kick movies like the first John Wick down the ladder, and the double acting threat of Kim Ok-bin and Kim Seo-hyung is rather great. However, the middle is an even worse slog than your usual action movie middle can be, with a plot that suddenly moves at a snail’s pace, characters whose actions and motivations are vague and frankly often nonsensical (or could you imagine a secret organization worse at gaining their agents’ loyalty for what exclusively looks like reasons of DRAMA than the one here?), the film’s big plot twist obvious, and its gestures at trying to say something feminist about its protagonist unconvincing. Worse, the melodrama in the middle is never even mildly as visceral as the action in the first half hour or the final half hour, leading me into the grand finale with a light yawn after an hour of going through the motions of too worn plot beats.

Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017): Of course, Victor Salva’s third Jeepers Creepers film would be happy to feature anything as good as an hour of great scenes, seeing as it barely gets up to two decent minutes. By film number two, I asked myself if the quality of the first film might have been chance more than anything else; now, I’m absolutely convinced. How else to explain this film’s never-ending quest of turning the mythical monster of the first film into a gimmicky 90s horror villain, Salva’s seeming inability to shoot any scene with him without making his monster and the special effects looking worse than they need to look (hint: if your effects are this crap, you might not want to use daylight this much)? Dragging the film down further are a script that jumps from one group of characters I didn’t care about to the next and back again for no good reason whatsoever, terrible dialogue, a bunch of idiotic ideas and pacing that seems completely random. It’s the absolute opposite of what made the first film great and does even make the (pretty bad) second film look like art. Meg Foster’s pretty good, though.

Brackenmore (2016): Compared to that train wreck, Chris Kemble’s and J.P. Davidson’s very low budget little movie about a young woman’s (Sophie Hopkins) return – though she doesn’t remember the place - to a small village where her late (and basically unknown to her) uncle had property is a breath of fresh air. Yes, this is a movie about a British rural cult (I wish Germany had those), and as such not terribly original anymore, particularly since the cult isn’t terribly interesting either. The film’s edges also suffer from what must have been a shoestring budget, with the smaller roles not always convincingly cast and acted, and a couple of scenes you’d probably have reshot completely on a higher budget. The pacing’s a bit slow, too, but for all these flaws, there are a couple of very effective creepy moments, convincing acting in the lead roles and a sense that the film actually knows where it is going and why, until it finishes on what I found to be a great ending. That’s certainly much more than Jeepers Creepers 3 ever gave me.

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