Don’t Blink – Review

Don't Blink movie poster

“”Don’t Blink” is a pretty interesting twist on an alien invasion story.”

Travis OatesDon’t Blink could have been one of the better horror films to come along in quite awhile, if not for one pretty significant problem, which I will go into in a moment.

Though the issue isn’t that it’s a bit of a slow burn, and takes its time getting to where it’s trying to go.  It’s worth mentioning that there’s little in the way of gore, though that means that the story has to hold up even more than is traditionally the case, because there little to distract you from what’s going on.

What helps immensely is that Don’t Blink is a good looking movie.  Too many lower budget movies–I don’t know how much it cost, but it couldn’t be that expensive–often look like they save money by skimping on things like lighting, which is never a good move.  Luckily that’s not the path taken in this instance, because the cinematography by Jayson Crothers is really good and makes things look more expensive and rich than they probably are.

Which leads to that problem that I alluded to earlier, which unfortunately is related to the story.  I don’t mean that it’s not well-written, though it does feel underwritten, and the characters being little more than sketches, as opposed to fully fleshed-out.

Remember that I mentioned that Don’t Blink was an alien invasion movie?  I honestly think it is, but you’re given so little information–other than people vanishing mysteriously and unexpectedly–that you have no idea why anything is happening.

For awhile it’s interesting to watch as things unfold, but soon you’re left wondering what’s the point and begin to come up with theories of your own, such as maybe it’s a people-eating house in the vein of Burnt Offerings?  Or maybe it’s like Poltergeist, and restless spirits are running amok?  That being said, it’s probably aliens, which I am reasonably sure of because of a cameo by a certain Doctor who goes all MIB on us (which he’s actually listed as in the credits).  The thing is, should anyone have to wait till the last five or ten minutes of a movie to hopefully learn what’s been driving the action for the past hour or so?

I don’t think so.  This lack of information doesn’t ruin the movie though in hindsight it bothers me a bit that the filmmakers didn’t seem to buy into their own central conceit.

Don’t Blink is currently on Netflix, by way of IFC Midnight (where some pretty interesting horror is coming from, it’s worth mentioning).

‘Preservation’ Trailer

In my seemingly never-ending search for some entertaining movies of the horror variety, I found the trailer for Christopher Denham‘s Preservation.  Things seem to start relatively simple: three people go camping, before some vaguely threatening weirdness starts.

We can’t tell who’s behind it, but considering one of the brothers on the trip is played by Pablo Schreiber (who can’t possibly be as intimidating as he appears in movies and television shows), who plays twisted like nobody’s business.

We don’t know who’s behind the mysterious happenings, though the trailer gives the impression that one of the three campers is a bit on the unstable side.

Or are they…

What Lies At The Heart Of Horror

I don’t claim to be a particularly deep person, though I think I understand what it is that’s at the heart of my enjoyment of horror movies.  I think that a good horror movie makes me feel.  Generally speaking, I have in the past been relatively numb to much that went on around me.

Living in such a way not only isn’t true to the way humans are supposed to live; it’s not true to what we are, which tends toward the communal.  it’s also not true to any attempt to being in touch with the Natural world around us, despite the glee which we tend to either to pave it over or otherwise beat it into submission.

A good horror movie–or a entertaining, well-done movie of any type, really–allows me for a little while to step out of the conventions and straitjackets that society impose, and to touch a purer, more primal self.

Which is probably why movies like Annabelle and Ouija are so mediocre:  They both hint at fears and emotions linked to something old and primal, but don’t deliver, because they do so so hesitantly and tentatively that it seems barely worth the effort (unless you’re talking about box office, which means that we are going to see many more Annabelles, because it was hugely profitable).

And if filmmakers are so afraid of revealing the Id, what could they possibly tell me, or anyone else, about it?

Which is why I am enthusiastic about movies like It Follows, The Babadook and Late Phases.  Not only are all three getting really good buzz, but apparently they touch upon the collective fears that keep us up at night, the things that turn a shadowy corner into something potentially dangerous.

It Follows International Trailer

The Babadook Trailer 2

Late Phases Trailer

StudioADI And ‘I Am Legend’

I liked most of I Am Legend, based on the story by Richard Matheson, though my admiration stopped at the computer-generated effects, which tended toward the cartoony.  What makes matters even worse was that StudioADI was actually working on practical special effects on the movie for a time (which actually effected the way that I looked at the director, Francis Lawrence for awhile, and not in a good way).

Included in the video are concept drawings, clay maquettes as well as actually makeup tests on models (it got that far before the approach was abandoned).

The makeup work looks pretty awesome and would have made a decent movie significantly better, which is why I am mystified they didn’t go with it.

‘Prometheus:’ Neither Fish, Fowl Or ‘Alien’

What I referring to is in interviews how Ridley Scott often says that he feels as if he’s taken the Aliens as far as he’s able–keeping in mind that Prometheus as originally written was firmly entrenched in the Alien universe, till Damon Lindelof joined the project and excised most of those elements from Jon Spaiths’ screenplay–yet he keeps throwing in ideas peripherally related to Alien, though not nearly enough to satisfy fans of those movies.

And while I hate to sound to sound cynical, it feels to me that he knows damn well that fans of the Alien franchise–hungry for new material–will see just about anything that has xenomorphs in it.

And I get that “Alien fatigue” may have set in and that Scott feels as if he’s taken the property as far as he possibly could.  That being the case, why not leave it alone and let someone else handle it; though admittedly the Alien sequels done by other directors have been uneven at best, with Aliens being the most watchable and Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem the least.

And while I wouldn’t call myself a fan of either Requiem or to a lesser extent, Alien: Resurrection, I’d rather see the movies embrace the material wholeheartedly and unashamedly, as opposed to the tentative way that Scott seemed to approach Prometheus, and how I am reasonably sure he’ll approach Paradise, its sequel, as well.

Though what’s really odd is that Ridley Scott intends to include Aliens in Paradise at all, which bothers me because, while Prometheus is a gorgeous to look at–it winds up being neither fish nor fowl.

Or maybe I am irritated over Vickers running in a straight line when the Juggernaut happened to roll in her direction.  Or how the pseudo-Facehugger not only survived decontamination in the Med-Pod, but somehow thrived.  Or…since showing is always preferred to telling, why don’t I just let CinemaSins give you a guided tour.

‘Late Phases’ Trailer

I know that this is going to sound odd, but I have a pressing need for Adrián García Bogliano‘s Late Phases to be a entertaining, well-done horror film, of the werewolf sub-genre.  For a start, I have seen Bogliano’s Here Comes The Devil, and it’s pretty mediocre.  I haven’t yet seen Cold Sweat–it’s currently on #Netflix, though for whatever reason I have had a only passing interest.

Late Phases has been getting quite a bit of good buzz, so that’s at least reassuring–then again, so did Here Comes The Devil, so I guess that I shouldn’t get my hopes up too much.

More recently, I have seen Annabelle and Ouija, neither of which meets my strict definition of what a horror film could–or should–be (which is that the film doesn’t necessarily have to be overtly gory, or even violent–though it helps–but it does have to be suspenseful, create a sense of tangible unease and/or discomfort, and make the viewer uneasy and perhaps most importantly, get the blood racing, pardon the pun).

Late Phases stars Ethan Embry–an uber-talented and extremely under-rated actor if there ever was one–and Nick Dimici (Stakeland) which makes me want to see it even more.

What’s In A Name?

Gallows HillWhat’s going on with #Netflix and movie titles?

I’ve just finished watching one of the most recent horror movies to turn up on the streaming service, Víctor García‘s The Damned (a decent horror film, though the story treats some pretty outlandish material in a very reverential fashion, when perhaps a more “comedic” approach, in the vein of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, would have suited the material better).

Though the premise of the movie is an interesting one, which revolves around a witch who can’t be killed because doing so would enable her to possess whomever did so, while she kills for pretty much the same reason.  The Damned is also much more entertaining– and with much better cinematography–than another film García helmed, Return To House On Haunted Hill).

While The Damned is a more immediately recognizable, as well as dramatic, title, the house were the story takes place is called Gallows Hill, which also works when you take into account what a ‘gallows‘ actually is.

What’s a bit odd is that if you type inGallows Hillinto the Search box on the Netflix site, The Damned comes upThough if you type The Damned, or just ‘damned,’ it doesn’t, which is a bit confusing.

The Evil WithinThe only other time that I can recall this happening was when watching the movie Mine Games, which was originally titled The Evil Within.

Though what’s a bit weird is that, unlike in the case of The Damned, if you type ‘The Evil Within’ into search on Netflix, nothing comes up, though it works fine if you use Mine Games.

This weirdness around their titles doesn’t distract from enjoying either movie, though it is a bit strange.