The Veil – Review

“Some Shrouds Obscure The End Of The World. “

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 12.56.37.png

Phil Joanou’s The Veil isn’t a particularly good movie, though it’s least interesting (and before I begin in earnest I have to mention the cinematography of Steeven Petitteville–according to IMDB and the movie’s credits that’s how his–I assume he’s a he–name is spelled–does great lighting.  His work is naturalistic, with lots of contrast between light and shadow, which complements the movie’s bleached-out color palate) and in its own way, quite ambitious–particularly when things go pseudo-Lovecraft.

Both Ti West’s The Sacrament (2013) and The Veil are at heart retellings of the  Jonestown massacre, where 909 Americans killed themselves, led by the Rev. Jim Jones (Thomas Jane, in The Veil plays Jim Jacobs–clearly a play on ‘Jim Jones’–like a fanatical Jim Morrison).

The difference being, while West essentially retells the story of the original massacre in the–at the time–present day, Phil Joanou introduces a supernatural element that at least serves to differentiate it from the horrific event that inspired it.  And while Robert Ben Garant’s screenplay is a bit dopey, it’s at least novel (and you can’t fault it for a lack of ambition).

As I wrote earlier, the movie itself is interesting, until it falls too deeply into the gyre of horror movie cliches (when things start going to shite people who should know better decide to stick around, as opposed to hightailing it out of there) and people start doing things because the screenplay says that they should, as opposed to any sort of human process of reasoning.

The Veil comes courtesy Blumhouse Tilt, though be careful, because some shrouds obscure the end of the world.

The Boy – Trailer

William Brent Bell’s The Boy is one of the first movies released by STX Entertainment, a new studio launched in 2014.

It reminds me vaguely of two movies. The first is 1973’s Arnold, which revolved around a woman marrying a corpse–not Rupert Murdoch, though I can understand the confusion.

The second is Gremlins, especially when the sitter is left with a list of things she needs to do in reference to her charge.

Which is a bit problematic when you consider that the boy, who goes by Brahms, is dead and the caretaker was hired to keep watch over a doll that was made in his image.

It sounds bat-shite crazy, and the trailer really sells the creepiness of the situation (it also stars Rupert Evans, who you’ve probably not seen since Hellboy) which I am not at all sure the movie can live up to.

It can go either way, though the trailer?  I like.

10 Cloverfield Lane – Official Trailer #1

original Cloverfield trailer

Can we just accept that found footage movies, as a sub-genre, are for the most part indescribably lame (The Blair Witch Project gets a pass because it was the first, and who doesn’t like shiny new toys)?

Most movies, especially genre-favorites like science fiction and horror (and increasingly dramas) require a suspension of belief to become immersed in the story.  The burden for found footage movies is particularly onerous because you not only have to accept whatever (typically outlandish) scenario animates the movie, but you also have to believe that a normal human being–when chased by a giant monster, a hockey-masked killer, inbred cannibals or whatever–will risk their lives to keep filming, despite that what typically happens when you film and run at the same time is a nausea-inducing mess (unless you have a Steadicam. that is).

This would bother me less if it weren’t for the fact that if I even think too hard while shooting video, it looks like the camera was caught in a hurricane (that’s an exaggeration, though not by much).

Which is why I feel a bit better about 10 Cloverfield Lane.  While not a sequel to Cloverfield per se, it at least looks like it was filmed as a film, so there’s that.

10 Cloverfield Lane trailer

The Abandoned – Trailer

“It’s an unfinished section.  They told us not to go down there.”  Says Cooper (Jason Patric) in the trailer for Eytan Rockaway’s The Abandoned.

You can be reasonably sure–mainly because it’s in the trailer–that someone will eventually do exactly what they shouldn’t, and terrible events will result for everyone involved.

Then again, without stupid people doing stupid things there would probably be few–if any–horror films (though to be fair, I would be the first person in because I tend to approach creepy stuff with a bravado accessible only to the foolish and/or ignorant).

Star Trek: Beyond – Teaser Trailer

I refuse to leave out the colon in Star Trek: Beyond because while I am not a grammar nazi, it feels incomplete, as if someone hasn’t quite finished the sentence.

“Star Trek Beyond….”

Beyond what?  Beyond Jupiter?  Beyond Imagination?  Beyond Getting On My Last Nerve!?

Anyway, the trailer looks fun, and while I know that that’s a bad word in some quarters, all I can say that I am interested in seeing it (though to be fair I also want see it because I am glad that someone came to their senses and replaced Roberto Orci with Justin Lin).

And while that’s no guarantee that the movie will be any good, I am reasonably comfortable in saying that there probably won’t be any magic blood or using time travel as a crutch-plot device.

Five Reasons Why Batman v Superman Will Not Be As Successful As Some Like To Think

 The full trailer for Batman v Superman dropped last night, and I get a very Transformers-like vibe from it (as in huge special effects in service of a pretty simple story.  And speaking of story, doesn’t this trailer seem to give away a lot of stuff that they maybe shouldn’t have?), which isn’t necessarily a good thing (unless you’re talking about box office, because the Transformers movies have the uncanny ability to get dumber every movie, yet become more profitable).

Though the worse thing is how familiar the trailer feels, with the feeling that Zach Snyder’s goal is to pummel viewers into submission, as opposed to entertaining them.

Though some things bothered me more than others, so here are five off the top of my head.

Continue reading

Late Phases – Review

“Late Phases Is An Interesting Diversion, Though Hardly The Best The Werewolf Genre has To Offer.”

When all is said and done, what separates great werewolf movies from also-rans is the quality of the titular beast itself, which unfortunately isn’t Late Phases strongest point.  The aforementioned monsters here look less like wolves than large hairy gnomes, which is interesting–and a little bit odd–because it’s not like research material–wolves–can’t be found in zoos or on the Internet.

In nature they’re beautiful, powerful creatures (and significantly larger than you’d think) that are in their way quite graceful.

The closest filmmakers have come to capturing the innate grace and power of the animals has been in movies like Dog Soldiers (where director Neil Marshall actually had them played by dancers, in an effort to give them a certain elegance of movement) and Joe Dante’s The Howling.

In John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London, while it had groundbreaking practical effects by FX virtuoso Rick Baker, the creature itself was more bear-like than wolf (which had a lot to do with how bulky it was.  Wolves aren’t massive in that sense, and they move with an ease that Landis’ monster lacked).

Where Late Phases does shine is in its depiction of relationships, in particular, those between fathers and sons.  Nick Damici does well as Ambrose, a soldier who’s blinded in combat, and whom can’t seem to put the war, the Vietnam War, behind him.

Ethan Embry holds his own as his son, Will, who’s doing the best he can for his father, though the tension between the two is always bubbling beneath the surface.

Damici plays blind well, though something’s a bit off about his performance.  Part of it is that he really looks like Charles Bronson, which is distracting.

Another is that he seems always tense, as if his sense of peace went along with his vision.

As I implied, the movie is for the most part petty well-done, though it’s at it’s weakest when the werewolves make their appearance.

Which is a pity, since it is after all a werewolf movie.

Late Phases is currently stalking on Netflix.