Saturday, October 20, 2018

Three Films Make A Post: Great things come in bears.

Mon Mon Mon Monsters aka 報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!(2017): I like grimdark, “Man is the greatest monster of them all”, everything is horrible, everyone is horrible, and so and so forth movies as much as the next guy, but boy, does Taiwanese director/writer Giddens Ko go overboard with that stuff here. The problem when you fill your film with characters with not a single character trait that isn’t horrible, doing horrible things to horrible monsters while being horrible, until things end horribly, is that there really rather seems to be no point at all to proceedings, for when everything and everyone is horrible all of the time, there’s really not much of a conclusion to reach anymore. It’s also rather monotonous and becomes a bit boring quickly. Hell, even serial killers, unlike everyone on screen here, aren’t monsters 24/7. I’ve seen this praised as incisive criticism on the state of The Youth, but this interpretation suggests that every kid is a sociopath or a psychopath, which just isn’t true.

The Witch Files (2018): This – if not officially – POV semi-remake of 90s classic/”classic” (your choice) witchcraft movie The Craft as directed by Kyle Rankin, on the other hand, a film clearly made for a YA audience, is clearly of the opinion that there are indeed problems with The Youth, but most of them are caused by an evil witch, and can be solved with a bit of hocus pocus and teenage girls learning some valuable lessons. Like a lot of contemporary YA cinema, this suffers from a rather lukewarm script; where Mon Mon etc is much too cynical, this one’s just a little too nice to its characters. Otherwise, there’s little here that’s terribly interesting or insightful, the plot developing competently but without any actual surprises.

It’s an okay enough film to while away 90 minutes of your time, mind you, there’s just little substance and only a degree of excitement to be had. The cast is pretty good, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing them in movies that give them a bit more to do.

Don’t Leave Home (2018): I was neither terribly surprised by the plot of this tale of an artist working in diorama form getting invited to the estate of a former Irish priest (Lalor Roddy) and painter who was involved in some possibly supernatural disappearances decades ago. You’ll never guess what the man’s dominating housekeeper (Helena Bereen) and he are actually going to sell. However, director Michael Tully sets up such a fine mood of the strange and the ineffable through landscape shots, creatively staged dream sequences and often ambiguous dialogue, complete originality is not really necessary at all for the film to work. The acting for the three central characters is fine too, and there’s a lot to be said for the intelligent way Tully interweaves his soft horror with elements of the folk tale. I also do appreciate a film that knows how to do something of a happy end that fits well into this particular genre space.

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