I’ve considered Adolph Hitler and the rise of Nazism fascinating for quite awhile now, though not for what I believe are typical reasons. What interests me is that there was literally no way Hitler could have done what he did without the defacto acquiescence of the German people (at least initially, before his mad enterprise built a momentum all it’s own).
After all, military force can only go so far when someone has to make government function so by default you’re dealing with lots of ordinary people, doing whatever it is that they do, perhaps only distantly realizing they’re–in ways both big and small– in league with a monster.
And that’s of course assuming they didn’t agree with his ‘final solution.’
Vincenzo Natali’s Cube is one of the better examples of a movie where people are placed in a situation where they–literally and figuratively–have to deal with a situation, a process doing whatever it is designed to do seemingly without oversight or accountability.
This brings me to J.J. Abrams’ Overlord which appears to fit firmly in the ‘Germans Are Bad Department,’ but appears to play with Heinrich Himmler‘s fascination with the occult.
And…it feels like something we’ve all seen before. In fact, what separates it from more other examples of Nazi-based horror is what looks like a relatively healthy special effects budget (in fact it virtually a gorier version of Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy).
And I’d be the last person to criticize horror movies in general though I wish this one had aimed for something more than what appears to be fairly obvious.
Alex Garland‘s (the writer of Sunshine, 28 Days Later, The Beach, etc) directoral debut, Ex Machina, looks at least superficially like it covers similar territory as Transcendence, though hopefully more successfully.
That being said, I assume it’s only coincidence that Ex Machina feels very similar to another film that came out earlier this year, The Machine, the trailer which I have included below.
Though considering that the trailer looks to have more than a little bit psycho-sexual game playing going on, perhaps a more apt comparison would be to Vincenzo Natali’s Splice (which, since Halloween is just around the corner, is worth a watch).
It seems that every studio is trying to produce the next “Hunger Games” or “Twilight,” no wonder considering that the two films so far released have earned close to a billion dollars while the five films that make up The Twilight Saga have earned significantly more. The thing is, for every “Hunger Games” or “Twilight” there’re films like “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” or “The Host,” that don’t manage to catch lightning in a bottle.
The latest entry is James Dashner‘s “The Maze Runner,” which has an intriguing premise. It deals with a bunch of young people trapped in a mysterious maze, with no idea how they got there, what they’re supposed to do, and most importantly, who put them there.
If the trailer is at all accurate, it plays like Vincenzo Natali‘s “Cube” for the younger set.
There’s a bleakness to the proceedings that I find appealing, though I get the feeling that at the end of the film the mystery of the maze will be solved, and everyone will go on their merry way.
“I thought I told you to mind your own business. You are a Busy Betty. And I don’t like Busy Betties.”
–The Pale Man
There’s a memorable scene in the first ‘Matrix’ film where Morpheus gives Neo the choice of taking the blue pill, which would mean that he could return to his everyday “life” free of the uncertainty that has become plagued him of late.
Or he could take the blue pill, and have the thin veneer that hides the true nature of reality removed, to finally exist the the world of the real.
It’s a choice Lisa (Abigail Breslin) is denied as she’s thrust into a battle with a demonic entity in Vincenzo Natali’s “Haunter,” the followup to “Splice.” While that latter film revolved around the dangers of genetic engineering, his latest is somewhat smaller, and plays like a more sinister version of Harold Ramis’ “Groundhog Day” as Lisa–for reasons unknown to her–ends up repeating the same ordinary day over and over again, a fact that her parents and little brother seem oblivious to.
What most surprised me about “Haunter” is how it harkens back to more family-friendly scare films. And speaking of scares, they’re present, though primarily atmospheric, and there’s no gore to speak of.
Though the movie has an ace up it’s sleeve: Stephen McHattie (“Pontypool,” XIII: The Series” among many others) who’s ability to look sinister with seemingly no effort at all is so potent that it’s almost a superpower.
Natali has a tendency in this film to telegraph its themes more often than I would like–you’ll know what I mean when you see it–but that’s just a small distraction in what is a very smart, engaging horror thriller.
I don’t see how I missed this one. The last film Vincenzo Natali released was “Splice,” which was executive produced by Guillermo Del Toro. It’s a fascinating film, even though you could see that the director didn’t quite make the point that he was working at.
His film before Splice was “Cypher,” and while it’s a pretty interesting take on a spy drama, though for my money “Cube” is his crowning achievement.
His latest film, “Haunter” stars Abigail Breslin as a ghost who appears doomed to spend her time in a limbo of sorts unless she solves the mystery of her own murder. It looks interesting, though truth be told, I would see this movie knowing that Stephen McHattie (Pontypool) – who’s got to be one of the most awesome character actors ever – appears to be playing the killer (who also seems to be a ghost!).