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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

VANISHING ON 7TH STREET REVIEW



  The trailer for this movie starts off by stating, “What if you woke up one morning and the world as you know it vanished?” Wow, that alone peeks my curiosity. After watching the rest of the trailer, I really wanted to know why everyone vanished. It kind of reminded me of wanting to know why everyone was dying in the trailer for The Happening. That trailer definitely fooled me into thinking that would be a good movie, so would I be fooled once again?
  Paul (John Leguizamo) is working the projectors at an AMC theater when all of the sudden the power goes out. Upon investigating the theater lobby, all he finds remaining is a mess of people’s clothes before getting knocked out. Luke (Hayden Christensen), apparently asleep through this power outage, wakes up alone after a romantic night with a co-worker. With no power, he gets ready to leave for work. Oblivious to what is going on, he walks outside to a deserted city.
  The movie opens showing glimpses of what is happening to three characters as a mysterious darkness overtakes the city. Right off the bat, it is hard to believe that John Leguizamo is playing a guy that runs the projectors at AMC. He looks nothing like anyone I see at the movie theaters. After Paul disappears, there is a transition to a woman, Rosemary, who is looking around a dark hospital. This scene is so quick, it almost seems out of place, but it works out because it is actually one of the creepiest scenes in the movie.
  Then comes the scene where the movie really tries to shock the audience. Luke walks out of his apartment building to find nothing but people’s clothes, crashed cars, and silence. He walks into the middle of the street and stops to look around. As he stands there, the camera spins around him, and they show an airplane in the distance crash. It is a decent and kind of stunning shot, but they ruin it by cutting away too fast. They don’t even show Luke’s reaction. On top of that, it didn’t seem to make sense that all of the sudden the plane lost power and crashed. Is it because it crosses into a certain territory where this is only happening?
  The movie moves to Luke arriving at the news station where he works to look for his co-worker, Paige. As he looks around, again he finds a bunch of clothes as the darkness seems to be closing in on him. The scene ends when he thinks he sees a shadow of someone in another room. Here comes another problem. The movie then cuts to darkness as it says, “72 hours later.” This is a total waste of the eerie situation they create. Instead of following Luke as he tries to figure out what is going on, they move forward to a time where he has some knowledge of the situation at hand. I liken it to the opening scene in 28 Days Later, where Jim wakes up in the hospital, and manages to make it out into the streets. Both Jim and the audience are taken back by how empty the streets are, and the situation he finds himself in. Now imagine if the movie stopped, and skipped forward a few days. You would miss out on all the emotion, mystery, and chaos of the situation.
  So what do they do after skipping forward 72 hours? They bore the audience to death in a bar that Luke takes refuge in. It is here that he meets James, a young boy who is waiting at the bar for his mother to return. Soon enough, Rosemary also joins the party. Just as the three begin to get acquainted, they hear some noise in the street. It turns out to be Paul, who has unexplainably managed to stay alive. To no surprise, he is rescued, and brought back to the bar in order to help bore the audience some more.
  While boring everyone, they use the extended bar scene to fill in the audience on what is going on. Basically, you must have a light on, or be in the light. If your light goes out, or you find yourself in the dark, a mysterious darkness will come and take you. It literally takes just you, and leaves your clothes behind. They try to make this scene all dramatic and suspenseful with the lights flickering on and off, and eventually showing the darkness creep into the bar. However, it gets old extremely fast. Also, it becomes less and less dramatic every time one of the characters loses their light, but finds it just before the darkness gets them. It is inconsistent how sometimes the darkness is right there to get the person when the light goes off, while other times it seems to take just long enough to allow the person to find a light.
  After all the debating about what they think is going on and what this darkness is, there is never a conclusive thought to what is happening. The trailer mentions, “without reason,” and “without explanation,” and that is what they give the audience. Nothing pisses me off more about a movie than when they leave the story open for you to guess what just happened. I’m all for twists, and some mystery, but you can’t just throw three or four explanations out there and say, “take your pick.” Please narrow it down, and make it at least reasonable. In this case, it leaves too many open questions about what the darkness is, why is it taking people, and how is it able to do this. I am not going to give the ending away, but it is just ridiculous as it brings up more questions than it does resolving anything. It also makes all of Luke, Paul, and Rosemary’s struggles look stupid.
  I was fooled again, as this movie turned out to be The Happening all over again. I wanted to see it because I had to know what was happening to everyone. Well, nothing happened in either of these movies. At least The Happening gave an explanation to what was going on. For Vanishing on 7th Street, it is as if they came up with a good idea, but couldn’t execute it, nor could they decide on how to wrap up the story. The movie starts off by creating this apocalyptic situation, but then ruins it by flashing forward 72 hours. It takes too long before you really learn enough about the characters to care for them. The worst part is that it just opens up question after question that is never answered while boring the audience in the process. It is a good thing that my money didn’t vanish in order to see this movie. I give it 1.5 pools of blood.

  HorrO


Thursday, February 10, 2011

THE ROOMMATE REVIEW



  Minka Kelly from Friday Night Lights. Leighton Meester from Gossip Girl. Cam Gigandet from The Twilight Saga. Alyson Michalka from Hellcats. Nina Dobrev and Katerina Graham from The Vampire Diaries. Matt Lanter from 90210. Put them all together and what do you get? An estimated $15 million on opening weekend at the box office, but does that mean you made a good movie?
  Sara has just moved into a dorm for her freshman year in college. With her new roommate yet to arrive, she goes out for a night of fun with some of the other girls from the dorm. It turns out to be a pretty good night for her, as she has some drunken fun with new friends, and meets her soon to be boyfriend. Upon arriving back at her dorm room, she briefly meets her new roommate, Rebecca, before turning in for the night. Sara wakes up the next day to the nightmare that is her new roommate.
  As soon as I saw Sara walk into a dorm room, I was a little disappointed. I didn’t think the movie could get too scary in a dorm room, and on a college campus. However, I do understand the need to make the setting a little different from a movie like Single White Female. Along with the young cast, the college campus turns out to be the logical choice for this movie to take place, and they seem to make the most of it. Also, it helps that they eventually move some of the scenes off campus towards the end. 
  The movie follows Sara, and starts off slowly, as she splits her time between going to class, and spending time with her friends. Whenever Rebecca is around, there is a weird vibe coming from her. She is particularly nice to Sara, but gives the cold shoulder to Sara’s other friends. Sara goes out for another night of fun with Tracy. At one point, Tracy ditches her, leaving Sara with no choice but to call Rebecca for some help. This starts to fuel Rebecca’s obsession for Sara, as she insists that Sara spends the next day with her. The obsession starts with some odd behavior such as, waiting up all night for Sara, and wearing Sara’s dead sister’s necklace.
  As the odd behavior continues, it finally becomes more physical, and scary. Rebecca gets to the point where she defends Sara against anyone she feels has taken advantage of Sara. Tracy is the first to experience how crazy Rebecca is when Rebecca plays a game of hide and seek with her in the dorm showers. This is where you really realize this movie is PG-13. Instead of bashing her brains in, Rebecca scares Tracy enough that she moves out of the dorm. This is exactly why I was disappointed with the movie taking place at a college campus. There just wouldn’t be any murders, or brains bashed in.
  While Rebecca becomes stranger and stranger, Sara begins to think there might be something wrong with her. It isn’t until they spend Thanksgiving weekend at Rebecca’s parents home that Sara is really tipped off. Sara overhears an unusual conversation between Rebecca and her father, where her father asks her if she is taking her medicine. This is new to Sara, as she has not seen her take any pills. Then it gets weirder as the two girls go into the town to get coffee. Rebecca has an awkward run in with a so-called former friend. Rebecca approaches her like they are friends, but the girl makes it clear that they were never friends. While the medicine and this encounter are clues for Sara, the movie misses an opportunity to really dive deep into why Rebecca acts the way she does. Sara doesn’t seek out this supposed friend to find out what happened between Rebecca and her. Sara does find out what the pills are for, but the movie doesn’t go into what happened to Rebecca in order for her to need the pills. Basically it is a weak excuse for her to be crazy.
  I am split on the acting in this movie. Sara seems like the easier role to play, but I didn’t care for Minka Kelly’s performance. I never really felt sorry for her, and thought her character was too innocent. On the other hand, I was fully expecting Leighton Meester to have a hard time escaping her Gossip Girl character, but she did a nice job. She handles the transformation from nice and caring Rebecca to going completely nuts at the end. Some people feel that the movie should have been shown from Rebecca’s perspective as opposed to Sara’s. That probably would have made the movie better particularly from an acting standpoint. 
  Another performance I didn’t care for was by Cam Gigandet, who plays Sara’s boyfriend. Whether it is the character, or him, I was hoping Rebecca would get rid of him first. Alyson Michalka did a descent job as Tracy in the limited amount of scene time she had. Speaking of scene time, you really know they were casting certain people to bring in fans when they cast Nina Dobrev, and Matt Lanter in roles where their scene time wasn’t much more than 2-3 minutes. Anyone could have played those characters.
  Not long after the movie began, I started to wonder what I expected to see from this movie. There probably wouldn’t be any great death scenes, and it would pretty much stick to the storyline of someone having a crazy roommate. I couldn’t really expect it to be anything more could I? For those of us that saw Single White Female, it is a similar themed movie. With the use of all the actors mentioned, the movie is just a way to make some money, and get some exposure for these actors. If you are a teen, or young adult who never saw a movie like Single White Female, you may enjoy this movie. For the rest of us, I can’t say you will think of it has anything more than just another movie, so I give it 2 pools of blood.

  HorrO

Monday, February 7, 2011

MY SOUL TO TAKE REVIEW



  Option one: the Ripper disappears and comes back 16 years later to kill the 7 children born on the day of his supposed death. Option two: the Ripper really dies and comes back in one of the 7 children born on the day of his death to collect the souls of the other 6. That is what one of the characters points out, and is basically what the audience is waiting to find out. Throw in some crazy talk about souls and condors (yes condors), and that is what makes up My Soul To Take.
  The movie starts off with the events of the night where the serial killer called the Riverton Ripper is caught, but soon enough mysteriously disappears. 16 years later, a bunch of high school students are celebrating the day of the Ripper’s death, and the birth of 7 students. Brandon, the bully of the group, introduces the 7, and talks about the annual ritual where one of the 7 has to face the Ripper. Before it can finish, cops put an end to their fun, and the story begins to follow Bug until the mystery of the Ripper is revealed.
  The opening scene is one of the better scenes in the movie. There is murder, blood, shooting, and some confusion. The funniest thing about it is how the Ripper just doesn’t die. Every time I thought they got him, some how he would come back for some more. That is until they leave it as a mystery to whether he died, or just disappears. It is a good promising start to the movie.
  Then the back-story sets up with the high school students holding their ritual along side the river where the Ripper disappeared. Brandon reminds everyone, as part of this apparent tradition, that one of the 7 must turn back the Ripper if he appears. I understand the need for the back-story here, but at least make it a little more realistic. Brandon mentions they have been doing this since they were able to. Then he makes it seem like 6 out of the 7 have already turned back the Ripper, as he appoints Bug this year’s choice to turn back the Ripper. Doing the math, it doesn’t seem to make sense that these students have been doing this since such an early age.
  So we have a good action packed opening scene only to be followed by a questionable ritual of some local high school students. What is next: the same old boring high school themes. As the movie follows Bug, the most important and definitely strangest one of the infamous 7, it displays several things that a typical high school student watching the movie could relate to, but is just more of the same for someone who has seen it time after time. There is the bully picking on the weaker students, and boys and girls talking about whom they like, and dislike. The only thing that is entertaining is a scene in a classroom where Bug and his friend Alex put on a very interesting presentation.
  The movie takes too long before the real killing begins. It spends too much time focusing on Bug’s unusual behavior. It turns out there is an explanation for the behavior, which is really just being used to further confuse you as to who the Ripper is. As for the killings, there is nothing exciting about them. The Ripper uses a knife, so all the deaths are by stabbing. Since they are trying to hide the Ripper’s identity, you don’t get to see too much more than a little blood, and the mask of the Ripper. Some of the deaths are too fake looking, while others don’t seem realistic after learning how the story ends.
  Ultimately it is just a guessing game as to who the Ripper is. I admit that I was guessing as the movie went along, and that I was mostly wrong. I should have known better because there are only a few possibilities as to what is really happening after seeing the Ripper kill off some of the 7. Actually, it kind of made me dizzy watching the combination of them hiding what happened to the Ripper, and Bug’s strange behavior. What is particularly odd is how one scene towards the end basically takes place twice. Once where you think the Ripper will be revealed, and then again where the Ripper finally is.
  Before watching this movie, I thought there would be more to it. However, it just boils down to the two aforementioned options. My curiosity to which option it would be is the only thing that kept me watching. The problem is that it takes too long before getting you to even think about these options. After a pretty good opening scene, there is a questionable set up to the story, lots of strange behavior by Bug, and finally some weak deaths. If you are looking for a guessing game, you may like it, but it is no Scream. On a side note, I did not see it in 3D and saw no scenes that would make it worth seeing in 3D, so I am sorry if you wasted additional money to see it in 3D. With that said, I give this movie 2 pools of blood.

  HorrO


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

THE RITE REVIEW



  It is interesting to hear some people say they are tired of exorcism movies. Are there that many more exorcism movies that have recently come out that I don’t know about? I guess people feel they are seeing the same thing in exorcism movies. Well, I am not sure what else you can expect with titles such as, The Last Exorcism, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, or The Exorcist. The titles reference an exorcism, so the movie should be about that. Maybe they want more imagination to come from the exorcism itself. So with a movie titled The Rite, did it become just another movie centered on an exorcism, or is there something else to it?
  Michael has struggled with the death of his mother for a long time. He is not all that happy working with his father in a funeral home, so he decides to go school to become a priest. Michael continues his life struggles, as he is not sure if he really believes in God or not. Just when he decides to drop out of school, Father Matthew convinces Michael to go to an exorcism school in Italy. This is where Michael meets Father Lucas, and his faith is ultimately tested.
  Let me go ahead and start off with something that shouldn’t surprise many people. Anthony Hopkins puts on another great performance this time playing Father Lucas Trevant. Rarely will I go to the theater because of an actor. However, Anthony Hopkins is one of the few actors that can get my butt off the couch, and into the theater. There is nothing in the character of Father Lucas that he doesn’t master particularly in the events that happen towards the end of the movie.
  If you are looking for head spinning fun, and a vomit shower, then you might be disappointed. Hell, even Father Lucas tells Michael that he shouldn’t expect to see any of that. It is a nice way to sneak in a reference to The Exorcist. What you mostly get are some minor body contortions, a change in the possessed person’s skin, and a lot of interesting one-liners from the demon. The craziest thing that happens during the exorcisms is when the person coughs up blood leading to them spitting out nails.
  What makes this movie kind of different is that it is more about Michael, and his battle to believe than the actual exorcisms. I didn’t have a problem with this because I didn’t expect the movie to rely heavily on them. The Last Exorcism disappointed me because I expected the movie to rely on the exorcisms, and to be scary. Instead, everything that seemed scary in the previews happened in the last 10-15 minutes of the movie, and weren’t really scary to begin with. Even in the first exorcism that Father Lucas performs you get that feeling that he is not taking it all that seriously. The Rite is based off a supposedly true story, which is one of the reasons they don’t go too overboard with the exorcisms, and stick to Michael’s story.
  My only real problem with the movie is Michael. I never really feel a connection to the character. Yes, I feel sorry that he loses his mother at an early age, and hasn’t found his way in life, but there is just something missing. Maybe if they had brought up his mother’s death earlier in the movie. It isn’t until the end, where there are flashbacks of a young Michael at his mother’s funeral that I even really feel a need to root for him. Michael just seems lifeless as he tries to figure things out. He cares about people, such as the possessed pregnant girl, but there isn’t an overwhelming outflow of emotion from him. When the demon is trying to convince him to believe in the devil, I just didn’t care enough to want him to resist it. Actually, I kind of wanted him to say yes to the devil in order to spice things up, but it isn’t that type of movie.
  Some of the shots in the movie are really nice, while others are sort of creepy. It is easy to get nice shots when you are shooting pictures of Italy. It is such a beautiful place that it is hard to take a bad shot. Besides the shots of the country, there is one scene where Michael seems to be lost in his thoughts, and he hears a weird noise. He looks around to see a mule. This mule is different because his eyes are a glowing red color. I can’t remember too many other times where I saw a creeper looking mule. Also, there is an eerie scene at the very beginning where Michael is preparing a body for a funeral. As you see him stuff the body, and close the dead woman’s mouth, it reminds you of how cold, and final death really is.
 I wouldn’t say this is just another movie with an exorcism. If you are tired of exorcism movies, you may like this one because it is a little different. While exorcisms are part of this movie, they don’t try to scare you out of the theater, which some exorcism movies try to do. This movie stays centered around Michael, and his path through life. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t thoroughly enjoy the movie because I just couldn’t feel enough for Michael until too late in the movie. However, if you end up liking his character, you will probably enjoy the movie even more. At the least, Hopkins gives another great performance that is well worth seeing. Too bad he doesn’t get more screen time. Overall, this is a pretty descent movie, which I give 3 pools of blood.

  HorrO




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