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Saturday, April 30, 2011

BEING HUMAN (US) SEASON 1 REVIEW

(there is a spoiler alert in this review)


  The first season of Being Human came and went rather quickly. So quickly that some people didn’t even notice. A lot of people were skeptical of it, especially those that have seen the UK version. Friends, who I trust, that watch the UK version say that it is a great deal better than this US version. I hadn’t seen a second of the UK version, so I really didn’t know what to expect, but was intrigue by the idea of a vampire, werewolf, and ghost living together.
  For those that aren’t familiar with the show, let me start with a brief summary of the main characters, and storylines. As stated above, the basic idea here is that a vampire, werewolf, and ghost all live together in the same house. The vampire, Aiden (Sam Witwer), is trying to turn his life around by not killing people, and drinking their blood. As with the usual vampire storyline, he struggles with this, along with trying to distance himself from his past. His creator and leader of the Boston vampires, Bishop (Mark Pellegrino), continuously tries to rein him back into this group of bad vampires.
  The werewolf, Josh (Sam Huntington), is also struggling with who he is because he hasn’t been a werewolf anywhere close to how long Aiden has been a vampire. With help from Aiden and others, he learns more and more about being a werewolf. In the process, he gets heavily involved with a young woman, Nora (Kristen Hager). Of course, there is always that awkwardness in their relationship because of his secret.
  The third piece of the puzzle is the ghost, Sally (Meaghan Rath). Not long after Aiden and Josh move into the house together, they discover there is a ghost living among them. Sally is tied to the house because that is where she died not long ago. Just as Josh is learning about being a wolf, Sally learns what she can, and can’t do as a ghost. Most importantly, she learns that one day her door will appear, and her time roaming around the house will be over.
  Now lets get into the good and bad things about the show. As I said, I was intrigued by the concept of the show, and it didn’t disappoint me. Seeing three different creatures connect and help each other out is very interesting. What makes the show unique is Sally. While there is plenty of the same old vampire-werewolf tension, Sally is a new part of the equation. She gives the show a different storyline, while still being able to include her in the lives of Aiden, and Josh. Actually it is kind of funny how one of my first reactions after she appears was, “Is she going to wear the same clothes for the entire show?” Well, she did, and I am glad they didn’t over look that detail.
  Whenever there is a vampire around, there is sure to be blood. In one episode, Aiden and Rebecca, who he changed into a vampire, share their affections for each other in a blood binge. Also, there is a scene where he goes on a similar binge with several ladies who have offered up their blood to vampires. As far as the scares, there aren’t many, but there is one scene where Sally’s goes from friendly ghost to one who you don’t want haunting your house. It is one of the more memorable moments of the season.
  I wasn’t expecting top of the line acting, and while at moments it is a little hard to absorb, it didn’t detour me from watching. Right off the bat I wasn’t excited to see Witwer play Aiden because I didn’t really like him on Smallville. I can buy into his performance as the mean vampire, but not when he is playing Mr. Nice Vampire. Rath seems to grow more and more comfortable in her role, as Sally becomes more comfortable as a ghost. Huntington does the best acting job, as he handles all of Josh’s strange behaviors well.
  Pellegrino is a great pick as the bad vampire. There is just something about him that makes me think he is up to no good. Speaking of Pellegrino as the bad vampire, it is good how they reveal little by little about what these vampires are up to. The mystery kept me guessing what they were up to all the time. The season finale definitely leaves this storyline with something new to look forward to.
  There are a couple of things I have specific problems with. As I mentioned, I immediately thought that Sally shouldn’t change clothes, and she didn’t. Along with that, I wanted to know why the vampires could walk in the sunlight. They make the audience wait for a while before giving an explanation. Well, maybe not much of an explanation. Aiden brushes it off, and quickly mentions that vampires have evolved. Evolved! That is the best they could come up with?
  The other problem, or question is a spoiler alert, as it concerns the season finale.


  
  If you have been watching, you know that Josh’s girlfriend is pregnant, and the baby apparently changes like Josh. So this led me to a series of questions. How fast has this baby grown because it didn’t seem as if she is pregnant for that long? Does the baby have nails when it changes? If it does and you become a wolf by getting scratched by one, then why do they also show a scratch on her arm? Also, wouldn’t it have torn up her insides? And I guess it is a cliffhanger, but did she have a miscarriage, or is the blood just from the wolf inside?



  I didn’t know what to expect from Being Human, but I’m glad I watched it. While not perfect, it offers some of the usual back and forth between vampires and werewolves, but adds something a little different in a ghost. The storylines are descent, the characters are interesting enough, and there is some blood. The acting could be better, but I don’t think you could expect much more from a show on Syfy; a show no one expected to make it through a full season. This might not be the show for people that have seen the UK version, but might be one for those that haven’t. With hopes of improvement in the second season, I give the first season of Being Human 2 pools of blood.

  HorrO


Friday, April 15, 2011

SCREAM 4 REVIEW



  I tried not to catch a preview of this movie because I didn't want to have any preconceived notions about it. Unfortunately, I saw the preview, and immediately became concerned. I was hoping for a Scream that relied more on the mystery of who the killer is, and the deaths as in the original. However, the preview made it appear this one would rely on a lot more laughs than I would hope for. I began to fear I would be watching another Scary Movie sequel instead of Scream.
  What would Scream be without Sidney, Dewey, and Gale? Sidney returns home on the anniversary of the original murders as the author of a new book. Just after Sidney and Gale get a second to catch up, Dewey and the entire police force show up looking for a cell phone that was used in the murders the night before. They find it, along with some blood smeared on posters for Sidney’s book, in the trunk of her car. The big three immediately fear that they are about to relive the events that put the small town of Woodsboro on the map.
  A lot of people would agree that the first 10 minutes or so of the original Scream could be the best 10 minutes of that movie, maybe even the trilogy. Well, this movie comes right out and tries to top Drew's 10 minutes of Scream fame. I’m not going to spoil it, but it quickly reminds you what Scream is all about, and sets the table for what is about to come: comedy, commentary on the state of horror movies, and death scenes. None of this is a surprise, as it is the Scream formula. 
  Even though the opening is quite enjoyable, it is where my fear became reality. I understand that in the Scream movies there is always that quick-witted humor from time to time. The movie doesn’t take itself seriously, which is somewhat refreshing but can be equally annoying. There is that on going battle between pretending to be a serious horror movie and a comedy with deaths sprinkled in. It makes the movie entertaining, but also frustrating for someone that looks forward to the death scenes, and mystery of who the killer is.
  One of the most interesting things about Scream is how it comments on the state of horror. It is not afraid of reminding the audience about the key elements of a horror movie. It is almost awkward to hear, but an amusing and important part of the storyline. Flash forward to Scream 4, and more commentary on where horror stands today. For all of those people who hate remakes, considered your voice heard (but don’t think for one second that Hollywood will change anything). The movie makes a point that it is hard for remakes to top originals, and how most come up short. In an effort to save her friend from Ghostface, one-girl names just about every remake she can think of in 30 seconds. It is a funny reminder of just how many remakes there have been.
  They also point out what a remake needs to do to have any chance at topping the original, which leads to an extended ending to the movie. Playing on the idea that Scream 4 is trying to top the original, the story takes several twists and turns before finally ending. Again I was hoping the movie would act like a serious horror film, but it almost becomes ridiculous by the time it finally ends. There has been some talk about this being the start of another trilogy, and I thought they had the perfect opportunity to stop the movie for a sequel. Too bad they shot right pass that, and dragged it on, in typical Scream fashion, to the point that I was like “enough already!” 
  I might have missed it in all the rapid-fire jokes, but I was surprised they didn’t mention 3D horror movies. Next to remakes, it currently might be the most hated form of horror movie. They bring up “torture porn” like in Saw, movies with Asian women ghosts, and some other types of horror films. Maybe they feel there haven’t been enough 3D horror films to bash them, or wanted to keep the focus on remakes. Quite possibly they are saving the jokes for Scream 5 in mind blowing, earth shattering, top of the line cinema quality 3D, where Ghostface will be closer to you than you ever thought possible!!!!
  While I might not have gotten a movie that focused on the mystery of who the killer is, all is not lost, as there are plenty of deaths in the movie. Along with Sidney, Dewey, and Gale, they introduce a bounty of new characters. Some are there to make the few audience members, who are trying not to get all caught up in the humor (like me), question if they are the killer, while other characters are just lambs about to be slaughtered. There are two things you can always count on Ghostface doing well: making a scary and intimidating phone call, and stabbing a person to death. He does such a good job stabbing people; sometimes I have to look down to make sure I wasn’t stabbed as well (maybe in Scream 3D). However, in one scene, they push the envelope a little too far. Ghostface stabs one of the characters right in the forehead. Come on now, everyone knows that can’t happen. On top of that, the character continues to move, and even whispers something before dying. Also, in another scene, there is a girl that is killed, and an exaggerated amount of blood is sprayed all over the room. As much as I enjoyed the death scenes, even some of those scenes can’t escape being used to mock horror movies.
  In my review of Piranha 3D, I said that if you took the movie seriously, then you probably wouldn’t enjoy it. I guess you could say the same thing for this movie. It sticks to the usual Scream formula of laughs, a State of Horror Movies Address, and plenty of death scenes. I was hoping for the seriousness of the movie to be on par with the original because there are only so many jokes about horror movies I can take at one time. No, the humor isn’t as extreme as it is in Scary movie, but this movie comes closer to being a parody than a true horror movie. On the bright side, it is a lot better than My Soul to Take. Whether you are expecting the movie to be funny, and/or bloody, there is still enough here to entertain you, so I give it 2.5 pools of blood.

  HorrO


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

INSIDIOUS REVIEW



  While looking for movies to add to the Pics and Previews page, I came across Insidious a few weeks ago. It hadn’t shown up on any of my other searches so it took me by surprise. Since it kind of just popped up there, I was expecting just another horror movie that would come and go with no one taking notice. Well, that turns out not to be the case. Everyone in the theater certainly took notice of this movie.
  Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) Lambert, along with their three children, move into a new home. One of their children, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), who is quite the explorer, decides to check out the attic one night. While climbing a ladder to turn on the light, the ladder breaks, and he falls down. He appears to be all right until the next morning when he won’t wake up. They take him to the hospital, where the doctor says that Dalton is in a coma, but isn’t sure why. Eventually they bring Dalton, who is still in a coma, back to the house just in time for some scary stuff to start happening.
  As with most horror movies everyone wants to know: is the movie scary? I’m not going to waste anytime here, and tell you that Insidious is scary, and creepy. I know some people got all scared during Paranormal Activity, but that really didn’t do it for me. Paranormal 2 got me a little, but nothing like this movie. Since most people knew the point of Paranormal was to scare you, I think some people were prepared for it, while others exaggerated the amount of fear they had. I don’t think people were ready for this movie to actually be scary. For the theater audience, it was all fun and games when the movie began. Once the scares started happening, they were a lot quieter as they braced themselves before literally jumping out of their seats. People actually left the theater, and never returned. I don’t remember that happening when I saw Paranormal. I would really love to talk about a few of the specific scares, but I don’t want to spoil them for anyone.
  Whenever the audience sees a house start to be haunted, their first response usually is, “why doesn’t the family just move?” Well, the audience gets their wish in this movie. After some strange things start happening in the house, a scared to death Renai convinces Josh to move. So are you happy audience? You finally got a family that actually got the hell out of the house. Oh wait, little time is wasted before the scares continue coming. Now what? I really enjoyed this change in the storyline because it shows the audience that leaving the home isn’t always an easy solution. As is the case in this movie, there could be something else going on that you are not aware of.
  Several things about this movie remind me of other movies. James Wan, who is the director, is known for his work on Saw, but there isn’t much of Saw in this movie. Insidious has more similarities with one of his other films, Dead Silence. In particular, some of the ghosts towards the end remind me of the puppets in Dead Silence. The producer of this movie also produced Paranormal so there are hints of that, but I am glad that it went more in a different direction. The main ghost is a combination of Darth Maul from Star Wars and the goat creature from Drag Me to Hell. It also has a bit of Freddy in it. Speaking of Drag Me to Hell, there is a scene where the parents sit down for a ritual that reminds me of the ritual that is performed to save Christine’s life. I am not sure which of these rituals is more bizarre.
  As creepy as the movie is, it isn’t without its flaws. With all the scares, it is almost too easy to overlook the bad acting. The character with probably the biggest role is Renai, and Rose gives a very average performance. The only time she is believable is when she is being scared to death. All though Josh doesn’t become really important until the end of the movie, Patrick is the only one that does a halfway decent job of acting. I don’t really want to bash a kid, but when Dalton isn’t in a coma, Ty isn’t that convincing as a frightened young boy.
  Maybe the actors did a bad job because of the writing, which is questionable at times. I didn’t mind the explanation to why Dalton is in a coma and why everything is happening, but it is what they call it. It isn’t a bad idea, but the terms they use make the whole concept seem a little ridiculous. Again, I don’t want to give the storyline away, but I think you will know what I mean when you hear it. Also, they kind of split the movie in two, where the first half they seriously scare the audience, then in the second half they decide to add a little comic relief to the story. They introduce a psychic, and her two employees, who are Ghostbuster rejects. While they are sort of funny, I could have done without the comic relief.
  There is also one scene, which is plenty scary, but had me scratching my head. After hearing a noise, Josh comes downstairs to investigate, and just opens the front door. How come the door doesn’t appear locked? He puts on the chain lock after closing the door, and then turns on the alarm. Shouldn’t he have done that before going to sleep? Then there is the other son, and the baby. Once the family moves to the second house, they are never seen again. What happened to them? I don’t remember hearing anything about them going anywhere, or someone watching them. I could see the other son staying with relatives, but I don’t see the mother leaving her baby with someone else.
  On a side note, there is something that caught my eye, and I want to know if you caught it too. There is a scene were Josh is sitting in his classroom, and they show the chalkboard behind him. Just over his shoulder is a small picture of a face. Is it me, or is that a picture of the puppet in Saw? I also thought that could be a picture of the old scary woman that is in the movie, but I’m not sure. If it is the puppet from Saw, it wouldn’t be the first time we see it in another movie. Wan includes it in the room full of puppets in Dead Silence. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, be on the look out for it.
  It is really refreshing to see a movie come right out, and try to scare the audience, especially when they aren’t expecting the movie to actually be scary. As many people have said about the movie, it brings the audience back to the days of classic horror movies. None of the scares seem cheap, and they keep you on the edge of your seat. If you aren’t analyzing the movie like I was, you probably won’t even notice some of the movie’s flaws. The acting isn’t great, and it appears that they spend so much time with the scares that they miss out on some minor details. Watching Insidious is probably the closest I have been to truly being scared by a movie in a long time, so I give this movie 3.5 pools of blood

  HorrO
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