Vice Docs gone wrong

The Sacrament  (2013)
Dir: Ti West

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Three flannel wearing, New York hipsters who work for Vice (stay with me), go to the middle of nowhere to find some dude’s sister (“Patrick” being dude in question). In short she joined a cult dressed up as a rehab center, found God, and sent her brother a letter about it, which raised some alarm bells.

Patrick, Vice’s very nonchalant fashion photographer, hasn’t seen said sister (Caroline) in years. Contrary to what the film intends to convey, he actually seems highly inconvienanced by the idea of making such an elaborate journey to check on her safety, because it involves going all the way to Africa, and not hanging out with models in LA as he is used to. Great guy

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In the letter he’s given a non specific place in Africa to fly to, (maybe because TI West didn’t feel a geographical context was necessary), to then get picked up by a random guy in a helicopter and head to a secret location which he and his friends may or may not die in.

Cue another found footage movie.

At this stage you’ve gotta question how forced this initial interaction is. Now before anyone slams me with the “true story/Jonestown speech” I am perfectly aware that it’s based on the Jonestown Incident THANKS (click Jonestown Massacre if  you are unaware of the incident and for whatever reason and want to depress yourself and ruin your day with some nasty historical trivia). For the sake of simple narrative its just their basis for the journey and sudden concern over Caroline’s safety which remains a total mystery to me.
If I had a sister who turned into a junkie and went to rehab in Mississipi I may call in every now and again to check in on her progress, because it’s a bit extreme to move from NY to Mississipi in the first place. Then it might occur to me to possibly visit if I haven’t spoken to her in a while, like on a flexible quarterly basis (like a gas bill). What I wouldn’t do is just WAIT until I randomly  got a letter one day inviting me to an undisclosed location on the opposite side of the world before I thought “oh yea….my sister.”
If it’s gone THAT far without a visit, an email is sufficient…maybe Skype on a special occasion.

On their way to the location,  which we later find out is called “Eden Parish” we get the feeling that they’re really not fully comprehending  this whole “danger” thing. The people responsible for picking them up and dropping them off begin the pleasant exchange by pulling out a gun and threatening to shoot them if they carry on filming. Luckily super chirpy Caroline pops up to let everyone know it’s just a precaution because of where they are, and it’s all peace and love and they’re in Paradise now.

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Caroline then takes them on a very anti climatic guided tour of the “grounds”, which looks more like a handful of scattered shacks then paradise, and explains that Eden Parish is lead by “Father”. Father is a man who “saved” her, and seemingly did the same for dozens of other people living there. She tells them in a highly exaggerated charles manson-esque monologue that everything was built from scratch and they are the happiest people on earth.. BUT it wouldn’t have been possible without some level of secrecy.

And this is when the questions start….

I don’t really need to bore you with a spoiler alert, because you know what happens in Jonestown and that’s literally what happens here (sorry kids). Theres no axe welding killer in the commute,  no satanic worship, no supernatural forces, just some old creep who’s sadly managed to rob and manipulate a bunch of people and successfully detach them from all contact with the outside world.

There are times where his rhetoric and vision actually seems quite socialist and profound. Like a slightly nutty more religious left wing leader, but then you remember he’s literally just an opportunistic mentalist who’s using people for money, sex and to stroke his ego. Like a political leader, but with cyanide.

There are points where it’s slow, and a bit “where the fuck is this going” (basically like a Vice documentary), but then it gets really good when they have a one-on-one with father, and he manages to shit all over Sam’s questions. I don’t know why I found that so satisfying, guess I obviously like rooting for the bad guy.

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I will admit when I initially heard “Hi I’m Sam Turner….Vice….Williamsburg…Brooklyn…beard….fashion photographer….ginger beard…” I was like ok I hope you die soon.

Sadly you’ll have to watch the film to find out

Official Trailer

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Revisited: Orphan

Well…what can I say.

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Round of applause to the guy that made this. YOU sir, deserve a drink.

like…where do I even begin? I’ve spend the past hour shouting profanities at my laptop and wanting a 9 year old dead so badly (even though she’s really 33…we’ll get there), that my brain is actually overwhelmed with emotions.

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I first watched this amazing car crash of a film when I was like 23 and thought I knew everything. I was so pretentious and full of shit  at the time that I categorically refused to finish it deeming it “ridiculous”. man I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to lighten the fuck up. I missed out BIG time with this one. No amount of fellini will ever give me the same joy that an escaped lunatic from Estonia with dwarfism can.

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The layers to this film are stupendous; you literally don’t know who to hate more. It gets to a stage where you basically want everyone to die because their middle class problems are more frustrating then the psycho dwarf in the tutu.

So you have the ex alcoholic mum, who has been dealing with a lot of issues since having a stillbirth  (understandable). She’s seeing a councillor (Dr. Bobby) who, it emerges, seems to know jack shit about her job ( nice, wildly inaccurate, observation of Esther… keep up the good work there buddy). Karen drives a lexus, lives in a beautiful house has a tense relationship with her husband and plays the piano to compensate her alcoholism. Fantastic

Then you have the passive aggressive cheating husband who obviously can’t spot a psycho dwarf when he sees one. he. He’s one of those annoying men who tries to act totally chilled about the fact that his wife doesn’t wanna sleep with him anymore, but you basically suss out that that’s potentially what lead him cheating on her in the first place…possibly, I’m just brainstorming here.  

Then you have the crazy lunatic posing as a 9 year old when she’s actually a grown ass woman who escaped from an asylum (SO brilliant)

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So they decide to adopt, (which it later materialises was a really bad idea). Said adopted child categorically ruines their already pretty unstable lives, and does so in the most manipulative and cinematically epic way possible.

In true “yuppie thriller” fashion (think the hand that rocks the cradle, fatal attraction) we see the husband and wife turn on each other and (surprise surprise) Karen looks like the crazy one for thinking that there’s something wrong with the creepy kid.

I won’t ruin the good bits by telling you all the amazing shit this crazy bitch does… but it is MIND BLOWING.

watch this with a loved one. they’ll appreciate you more.

The Visit….sure

Every now and again comes a director so mind-blowingly overrated you almost feel compelled to hate them just to level out the playing field a bit. Even though not all of them are as evil and self obsessed as say, Christopher Nolan (just picking names out a hat here guys), you’ve decided by default that you WILL dislike their over hyped work, and nothing will change your mind. Which is why when this came out i felt a weird sense of curiosity and sympathy.

Bless M. Night Shymalan…hes had a bumpy ride….

Noone likes M Night Shymalan

Although I’ve never been his biggest fan, I do, to a degree, get what hes tried to do. And that’s not because I hate The Sixth Sense (i do hate The Sixth Sense), or because I think all his films are like…the same, or any of that. I just don’t find him particularly effective as a director within the horror genre…as it were.

And none of his films have actually ever scared me in the slightest.

And I don’t like that his name sounds like a three part drama.

And i fucking hated the village

So I reluctantly watched this, because i was told I WOULD enjoy it by trustworthy sources, and felt i should give him one last stab at winning me over. Go on then Shymalan…do your worst.

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Premise of the story is that two teenagers have never met their grandparents due to family estrangement. They go and visit them (I missed this bit completely by the way, because i was in a line buying m&ms), and then some really odd shit starts happening. Becca, the older of the siblings, puts this erratic behavior down to age (they’re old, and old people do odd stuff). The younger one however (Tyler), has his cray-dar firmly fixed since they arrived, and picks up on said red flags pretty quickly.

Now i happened to walk in halfway through a ‘hide and seek’ scene, and noticed that (spoiler alert), the film was being shot entirely from the perspective of Becca, thus making it…

found

fucking

footage.

Lets just clarify right now that there is nothing more infuriating then found footage. Literally. nothing.

How can you time your filming so accurately with all the horrific things going on around you? How? How did you even know? Are you that confident within yourself that you don’t mind looking through a lens and possibly getting possessed or killed at the same time? that eager to capture the moment…really? that eager?

‘fine, lets sit through an hour of this, hate it, and then write something really scathing about how he couldn’t get funded and had to pay for it all himself’, I thought.

Surprisingly though, I actually didn’t hate it.

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There were moments at the start where it really could’ve gone left with my patience. and i mean really left. Like the grandma’s crazy eyeballing of everything around her, pop pop and his shed full of shit, and that story about going to the costume party (??!). Crazy nan pops up again scratching the walls butt naked and then there’s another story about sundowning, or sungazing, or something…which i’m really glad the kids googled the next day, because i personally wasn’t buying a single word of that crap.

Once you get past the obvious predictability that comes as standard with a found footage film (eyeroll), the end result was really quite great.

It was sharp, it was funny. Tyler was played by an exceptionally talented actor who’s going to get really far in his career, and the ending was phenomenal. Very fun to watch. very sinister (shock horror) and amazingly ticked all the boxes.

Well done Shymalan. you stopped listening to the voices.

Deliver us from tired scripts

Sometimes I go and watch horror movies and I’m all like “meh”. The usual haunted house/scary Japanese chick with long hair/young possessed catholic girl/ hillbillies who eat people situation. As a horror fan you get so used to these formulas then eventually you’re just like immune…and often jaded…and that’s fine I guess, just a bit disappointing.

It’s nice to occasionally see something, y’know, different

The Pact. That was different. That was pretty cool actually. I liked The Pact. That was some scary shit.

Cockneys vs. Zombies. (see last post), also different, funny, really well acted, not the most terrifying, but whatever, it was pretty cool.

Sometimes different can be bad. Like when P-Diddy did that song “come with me” or when David lynch made that experimental movie with all the rabbits, and the shaky camera. That’s when different starts to unnerve me and make me wish things were normal again.

And then you get films like “Deliver Us from Evil”, which ironically fulfils it’s title in more ways then you can ever hope for.

So let’s just clarify one thing- this is not a horror movie. It thinks it’s a horror movie, in fact it actually dresses itself up as one; the trailer, the demonic possession “storyline”, the music box and the scary stuffed toy, the dude who’s covered in Latin writing carved into his skin….we get it, you’re trying.

Only it’s not really a horror movie.

It’s basically a really long episode of CSI, with some supernatural shit thrown in for good measure. It’s actually not even CSI, it’s borderline “buddy” movie, you know those 80s buddy movies, like Beverly Hills cop or Miami vice? Where they love their partner in a non homoerotic way, and yet seem to spend more time with them then with their wives? Those movies. It was one of those movies.

Steven Segal could totally be in this movie. That’s how 80s this shit is.

 

Ok so what’s it about? Fuck knows to be honest. Three disillusioned soldiers go nuts in Iraq after stumbling on a possessed ancient burial ground/ gates of hell (it’s not made clear, but you get the gist). They all go nuts and come home and do cray cray shit.

The police officer, played by an extremely boring Eric bana (who looks like Matt Dillon a LOT), is doing his best at a New York accent, and gets a “radar” when he knows he’s onto something. His partner, played by some unknown who looks like Fred durst, is the most annoying “bro” character known to MAN. Not gonna lie, when he died I didn’t even care. Like not even a bit. Sorry yo, I just didn’t.

So they find these guys doing isolated nutty stuff (beating their wives, scratching shit into their walls, killing cats) and realise the Iraq link.

Then there’s the possession stuff.

Then there’s this priest.

Ok so I really need a MOMENT to talk about this priest. This guy has got to be some type of inside joke, because there is no way in hell the writers were keeping a straight face when they included a sexy, ex junkie catholic priest who looks like a Latin jazz singer and sings in Spanish whilst performing exorcisms….

oh and works out….and smokes slowly….and drinks whisky….whilst sweaty…..

No seriously you guys, seriously. Don’t even..

So in a nutshell this is forgettable, uninspired and really overlong.

Olivia munn is also in this and she annoys the crap out of me, so there’s another reason to avoid it.

Save your money and buy a ouji board instead. Much more entertaining

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Maniac: Revisted

Even though it wasn’t actually out that long ago, (fine…its only recently become available on Netflix). I feel that this month’s revisited should go to Elijah Wood for acting like a crazy fool.

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Or Frodo goes Loco as Total film put it.

He’s actually so mind-blowing crazy in this film its beyond words.The worst part is that we don’t ever really find out the specifics into why he enjoys murdering so many women, but we do know he LOVES hair. Later there’s some flashbacks of his mum snorting coke and having threesomes, while he’s like 5 and watching from a wardrobe (I’ll assume this lead to some of his angst), but no definite ‘I’ve decided to murder chicks’ epiphany. We know he likes to stalk. That we can be sure of.

In the opening scene he full on stalks this poor girl from outside the club right to her door (ladies, get a ride with your friend yo), and then he scalds her…and then staples her scalps onto an awkwardly standing mannequins back of house, (thankfully he’s intelligent enough not to put that shit in the window). He likes to chat to the mannequins (full on Conversations), and scrubs his hands profusely with bleach a lot. It’s all so damn Freudian.

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To be fair who the hell would trust a guy who works in a mannequin shop? I know who…Anna does. Anna is a French Chick who’s equally as obsessed with mannequins and wants to use them for an art installation thing (like really though, who you expecting to meet in that field girlfriend?) So Anna and our Maniac strike up an unusual friendship, which seems to tip him over his killing threshold. In fact I’m pretty convinced as a way of NOT killing Anna, he just goes on a mad killing spree so he can expel those angry feelings.

The scary one was the online date he goes on, with the girl who takes him back to hers. That annoyed me a bit I must say. If you look at the guys hands, they SCREAM serial Killer, I was literally shouting  ‘please dont fuck him’ really loudly at the TV hoping it would shift the plot. Nope.

Its been labelled by many as trashy gore, with lots of unnecessary explicit scenes, so yes it got a lot of bad reviews, but i actually loved it. The POV thing totally works, except for a few times when they forget its POV and randomly zoom out and you’re like ‘woah…its POV, what are u doing to my mind’, (like the scene in the garage with the girl who runs off the train), so I guess if they kept it a touch more consistent it would be miles better.

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I also love that its Elijah wood, and he’s just creepy as fuck, all the time. Even when he was Frodo I was like if this guy didn’t have a ring, he’d be out murdering elves for no reason. So that helps.

Also the fact that its set in a very unglam downtown LA, and LA looks scary. Forget all those images of Beverly Hills and Laguna Beach. This is a grim LA and you don’t wanna be there on your own at 3am.

So all in its worth the watch. Theres a few weird bits where the mannequins come to life and it gets a bit surreal, but try to gloss over that.

And don’t eat. It’s really gory.

 

Funny Games Revisted.

Everyone pretty much jizzes their pants whenever you talk about Michael Haneke. I’ve sat through endless conversations with film grads, excitedly discussing how profound Haneke’s work is; how his subtle social commentary and take on violence is “unbelievably thought provoking”, how his meticulous and flawless filmmaking practices will haunt you for months, and so forth and so forth.

In particular I have heard time and time again that Funny Games would be the most ‘disturbing’  and ‘intelligent’ thing I was ever going to see in my adult life, that it was literally so mind-blowing that he was forced to make it twice, in two different langues, ten years apart, shot by shot.

 

So I watched it. In both languages.

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Big cat

What’s Big Cat?  We don’t get it in the UK, so I just assumed it was a Lion bar-esque type of chocolate treat. I googled it and much to my dismay, nothing came of my search. So apparently you can’t get it anywhere in the world, unless the manufacturers specifically specialise in snacks of the apocalypse, which is fine by me as long as its tasty, and I’m around long enough to find out why Michonne looked so disappointed when it was snatched away by greedy little douche. He not only took the Big Cat, but let her keep something called ‘Cruncho’ (potentially a bootleg brand of chocolate, like that shit you buy in the market for 10p, or the overseas stuff they import from Lithuania with 2% chocolate in it). The funniest part of the exchange was that Rick got NOTHING not even a ‘want some?’ He then kinda just stood there, fake smiling. That was really awkward. I used to kind of fancy Rick. Growing up in the UK I got to see Andrew Lincoln play some really edgy characters in his career, including a coked up young lawyer in 90s drama ‘This Life‘ (to my American friends, it was like ‘party of five’ but with more sex and lots of drugs).

 

So to see him now, with his fake southern drawl (he’s English btw), grey beard, slightly baggy-eyed, getting snubbed by his dickhead child, you cant help but feel sorry for him. He just stood there and took their shit, and acted like he didn’t care that they were bonding, and leaving him out. He lost all his charm. You’ve been stripped of your badge in more ways than one Rick.

Was It Shane that kept his spark alive? Or that nagging wife that would make me slash my wrists way before the zombies got me? Who knows…

All I know is that one critic refered to this new ‘family’ unit, as the ‘glimmer of hope’ during such a bleak time in human history. I think the glimmer of hope comes in the form of Daryl’s crossbow, but call me a realist. I’m not suggesting I don’t dig their playful banter, and their bad jokes, I’m just saying eventually they’ll grow to despise each other and potentially eat each other in terminus.

Speaking of which…

Some other shit happened recently. Carol confessed to Tyrese that she killed everyone and surprisingly her brain wasnt blown out, Lizzie murdered her sister during an escalating spiral of crazy, and looking at flowers will never have the same meaning ever again. We find out the key elements to a ‘white-trash brunch’ thanks to Daryl, Beth gets kidnapped and we havent heard her sing for 2 episodes, and most importantly Maggie and Glen (yawn) are reunited, and true love conquers all.

Oh and some of them get to Terminus

And find a man-sized barbecue

And a fuller figured woman with rosy cheeks and an apron

and a menu??

Ok no menu. Even though I’m sure BBQ Beth is the starter.

Luckily Lizzie gets reincarnated as Martin’s daughter in true detective, so there is still hope for her career.

 

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