Saturday, June 30, 2018

Three Films Make A Post: Nothing can stop the Killer with a Blood Lust for Ladies - Naked and Dead.

Chang Chen Ghost Stories aka Be Possessed By Ghosts (2015): Xu Zheng-Chao’s mainland Chinese horror is quite the mess. Wildly pivoting from the rotest possible ghost shtick through psychological horror through thriller motives and back again without a care for coherence and believability, the film not only never finds its tone, it also features a plot that makes no sense at all in the possible worst way. The character’s are as bland and one-dimensional as is all too common in mainland China genre films, keeping the interest in anything that may or may not happen to them low, while Xu’s direction overstrains anything he tries to do, be it the simplest shock or the (patently absurd) psychological elements of the film.

Midnight Man (1995): This Lorenzo Lamas vehicle directed by John Weidner is a pretty decent piece of US martial arts action. It’s either not quite silly enough or too silly to make it high onto my list of beloved entries into the genre canon, but it flows pretty well, and the action is at least decent, while the plot is a choice series of clichés done entertaining enough.
Plus, how can you dislike a film that pretends Lamas is Cambodian (as are a slew of Chinese-American and Japanese-American actors), and features an evil member of an ancient warrior cult walk around in a hilarious kit with razor-sharp hems that look suspiciously like aluminium?

Lights Out (2016): And then there’s this curious film: a James Wan produced contemporary mainstream horror film that actually features a supernatural threat that has thematic coherence and abilities and works as a metaphor for mental illness (which you can, depending on your tastes, read as pretty offensive or as pretty insightful), uses not only jump scares, lacks an idiotic plot twist right at the end, and features expectedly great (Maria Bello) to good (Teresa Palmer and non-annoying kid actor Gabriel Bateman) acting.

It’s pleasantly small scale, quite atmospheric, and has a pleasant air of simplicity, Eric Heisserer’s screenplay and David F. Sandberg’s direction concentrating on a handful of characters and a single supernatural threat (that also isn’t a demon). A fun time is had by all, unless one is hit by the less kind interpretation of the film’s ideas about mental illness, which will leave one rather cranky.

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