Zombeavers – Review

Zombeavers movie poster

“Watch If Just So You Can Say You Do Did (Or You Really Like Bill Burr).  Other Than That, I’ve Got Nothin.'”

Bill Burr!  Bill Burr is one of the first people you see when Zombeavers starts, and maybe it’s just that he’s not too discriminating about the roles he chooses, but I was genuinely happy to see him.  That being said, I’m not too sure why because it’s not like he’s some sort of motion picture arbiter of quality (though he was in Breaking Bad, which was all sorts of awesome).

Though in this instance it’s his screw-up that sets events in motion (by not breaking for a deer).

By the way, under most conditions when deer are hit by vehicles they don’t explode like they’d swallowed a hand grenade or something.

Another surprise is that Chris Bender and JC Spink are listed as producers.  They’ve done some pretty interesting work, such as The Butterfly EffectFinal Destination and The Ruins, among many others).

Which still doesn’t mean that Zombeavers isn’t going to suck, though at least there’s a (admittedly slim) chance it won’t (And apropos of nothing, the origin of the zombified beavers is remarkably similar to that of Marvel’s Daredevil, also on Netflix. Coincidence?  Probably).

About midway the movie turns to ‘The Raft,’ from Creepshow 2, except dumber, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering that earlier, when three sunbathing women encounter a bear–the one who happened to be topless covered her breasts, as if the bear somehow cared how small they were.

It’s worth mentioning that the beavers were brought to life–so to speak–via animatronics and hand puppetry, which I appreciate.

There’s also little in the way to CGI to be found, which is good because it would have made the movie look cheaper than it probably was.

Zombeavers plays like a parody of horror movies in which a bunch of–in this instance sort-of-young–young people find themselves in a horrific  situation, which would be fine if it were as funny as the situation is absurd.

So when all is said and done, not even Bill Burr can save Zombeavers, though the theme song at the end comes awfully close.

Zombeavers aren’t resting easy on Netflix.

Carrie (2013) – Review

“Kimberly Peirce’s Carrie, As Far As Remaks Goes, Isn’t Terribly Necessary, Though It’s Worth Seeing Anyway.”

For the longest time I’ve avoided watching Kimberly Peirce‘s remake of Brian DePalma’s Carrie because I just didn’t see the point, especially since from what I had seen from the trailers it wasn’t saying anything that the original didn’t.

And for the most part, I was right–and also wrong.

I’ll explain what I mean.  Pierce’s remake modernizes the material in a way that you’ll never get from DePalma’s movie–for instance characters use cell phones as well as the Internet–but there’s a very good reason for that:  Cell phones didn’t exist and I suspect that Internet didn’t either, at least not in the form that we know it today.

It’s also worth mentioning that the original movie might feel almost quaint (and to be honest, a bit dated) to a contemporary audience that’s grown up in the age of touch screen phones and the wireless interlinking of devices.

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REC 4: Apocalypse – Review

“Ignore the naysayers.  REC 4: Apocalypse is a pretty good time.”

I’ve been particularly interested in the REC movies, because they’re quite possibly one of the most successful–in terms of staying faithful and uncompromisingly with what made them so interesting in the first place–horror series ever made (Unlike others, such as the Resident Evil series, which pretty much collapses after the first entry).

Each movie in the REC series builds on the one proceeding it, upping the ante in terms of horror, though the series veered slightly from the orignal formula with REC 3: Genesis, which puts forward that the source of the zombie infection was of a more supernatural nature.

REC 3: Genesis

I didn’t mind though, because there was nothing that invalidated what came before, yet it presented a novel perspective.

My expectations were pretty high in reference to the forth film in the series, REC 4: Apocalypse, though I few months ago I read a review that panned it.

So when it turned up on Netflix, I wasn’t expecting much; though I was pleasantly surprised because it was pretty entertaining.

REC 2

The fourth film in the series isn’t as innovative or as gory as the prior entries–and there’s way too much shaky-cam at a few crucial points–but overall it was well-acted and enjoyable.

This time the action takes place aboard a ship, in an effort to isolate the survivors of the last movie, as well as to find a cure.

The film, to varying degrees, sticks with the same found-footage format of the prior films, but used it sparing; though when it does it’s in a more logical fashion (in other words, the bulk of the movie unfolds conventionally, which is a good thing).

REC

When all is said and done, REC 4: Apocalypse is pretty satisfying way to spend an hour and a half, which is really what it’s all about.

REC 4: Apocalypse is currently infecting Netflix.

Extraterrestrial – Review

The last film from The Vicious Brothers (who aren’t–biologically speaking–brothers) was the send-up of found footage reality shows, Grave Encounters.  It was one of the better examples of the genre because it was able to take many of the tropes that come with it (How is it that no matter what or where something happens there’s a camera conveniently located to capture it?  How are people are able to run with a camera in their hands and still manage to maintain an image that’s not nausea-inducing?  It’s almost as if they’re working with a steady cam or something) and at least make them interesting.

As a result I went into Extraterrestrial with higher expectations than I would traditionally, and was a bit let down.  Visually, aboard the alien spaceship–the last half hour or so of the movie)–was way too indebted to better alien abduction movies, like 1993’s Fire In The Sky.

Another problem was that the aliens were particularly murderous, which seems a bit at odds with the whole studying humanity part of their mission.  And speaking of violent tendencies, there’s a scene that plays with a joke earlier in the movie about the anal probing that aliens supposedly love doing on those they abduct.

Only this time, it’s used as an implement of torture. which makes you wonder what sort of highly advanced culture would travel seemingly light-years across the galaxy, just to kill someone by drilling into their ass.  Besides, if their intent from the start was murderous, then why bother bringing them aboard their ship at all?  Especially since these aliens–while resembling those from Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind–aren’t nearly as munificent.

This tonal inconsistency is particularly irritating in the last ten minutes of the movie, when it turns to The X-Files, complete with its own ‘Smoking Man.’  It’s an interesting homage, but it literally makes no sense because what would be the point of the military killing the abductees, when no one would believe them anyway?

And those that did would probably be so much on the fringe that it wouldn’t even matter.  The scene in question doesn’t ruin the movie, but the needless cynicism came pretty close.

Extraterrestrial has recently landed on Netflix.

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.

The Houses October Built -Review

The Houses October Built Is A Great Title In Search Of A Deserving Movie.”

Can we stop with the found-footage movies already?  Every since The Blair Witch Project started the trend in 1999–16 years ago–studios have been churning them out left and right.

And there’s a logic, the most crucial point being that they’re relatively cheap to produce.  I mean, if a studio spends $4 or $5 million producing one, and ends up earning somewhere in the ballpark of, let’s say, $50 million, it’s a huge profit for minimal investment.

Or let’s say the movie flatlines at the box office?  You’ve invested relatively little, so your losses are minimal as well.

After all, it’s the strategy that built Blumhouse Pictures.

Though I think that the whole point of such movies is that they’re supposed to make you feel as if you were somehow part of what’s unfolding on screen, which is a good time as any to take another look at the source of the infection, so to speak.

One reason The Blair Witch Project worked so well was that viewers had seen nothing like it before, though despite what one may think, there was some astute decision making going on.  In many instances the camera moved about so quickly that you couldn’t tell what was going on, though when combined with lighting that shifted unpredictably, odd sounds and ambient noise, it felt genuinely scary despite there that often wasn’t all that much actually happening–though you couldn’t tell even if there was.

Which is disconcerting, though the thing is, you can only do that so many times, which is probably why the sequel, The Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, was shot in a more traditional fashion.

It was also a flop in the theaters (which I never quite understood.  It’s by no means a terrible movie, and unlike the original, it made in a more traditional fashion).

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The Visit – Trailer

“Bedtime is at 9:30.  It’s probably best that you don’t come out of your room after that.”  

Oh yeah, nothing at all eerie about that.  No reason to suspect that something’s not quite right with Grandpa and Grandma.

When I heard that quote, taken verbatim from the trailer from M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming horror movie, The Visit, I got an odd feeling of deja vu, as if I have seen this movie before, and it wasn’t even that good then.

The Visit comes courtesy of Blumhouse Pictures, which means that it’s not only going to play–if the trailer is any indicator–like  a very well-shot home movie, but to make matters worse, it’s combined with Shyamalan’s typical over-estimation of his own writing prowess.

Which isn’t to say that he hasn’t had good movies.  The Sixth Sense was remarkable, and Unbreakable was pretty entertaining as well, though his others, not so much (mainly because Shyamalan can’t seem to make one without a ‘twist’ at the end, which more often than not was either pretty lame (Signs) or a ripoff of the The Twilight Zone (The Village), minus Rod Serling’s prose skills.

As a result, I get the feeling that The Visit will not overstay its welcome at the box office.