13 January, 2009

Horrorfest - Part 3

I suppose you could expect it from the "A" schedule, but tonight's films weren't quite on par, in my opinion, with the past two nights. Still, at least 5 out of the 8 films were really good, and it's hard for me to pick just one or two as my favorite (although Autopsy...). Anyhow, here's what tonight's films were like:

Dying Breed

Dying Breed has an interesting idea, if not altogether original - something like a Hills Have Eyes with an added adventure element, since it's set out in the Tasmanian wilderness. Unfortunately, the main characters are downright idiotic, and thus I found it very hard to sympathize with them whatsoever. Especially the obnoxious one. Bad idea: taking a misoxenist on an international trip. By the way, if you're taking your car out into the Tasmanian wilderness, don't expect it to come out still in brand new condition! God, that guy was a jerkass. At least his head ended up in a mantrap (a beartrap set for people).

As for the reasoning behind the adventure, it's all about trying to get proof that the Tasmanian Tiger is not extinct and still lives in seclusion in the Tasmanian wilderness. One girl went out and got a photograph of a paw print in the mud, but didn't make it out alive. Now, her sister is going back to finish the job. But what's waiting for them is not just a presumably extinct species of tiger, but also a secluded town harboring an ugly secret involving inbreeding and cannibalism. The Tasmanian Tiger's existence quickly takes a back seat to the characters' own survival.

The shots and locations were pretty scenic and set a good atmosphere. Unfortunately, as I said above, the obnoxiousness of the travelers distracted from the film. And ultimately, I think I would have enjoyed it better if there was more tiger and less inbred cannibal...

From Within

Now here's a movie that surprised me. It's hard to get a feel for a film from just a poster and a quick synopsis - even trailers are often misleading. So I wasn't sure what to expect from this film. What I got was an interesting story of good vs. evil in a suburban setting with a summery "Sunday morning service" kind of atmosphere. The town featured is a *very* religious town, which takes care of their own, but is especially vindictive towards those who prefer to follow different spiritual beliefs.

In a nutshell, a gothy pagan initiates a curse which presents itself in the form of a string of suicides jumping from each victim to the next, as a form of revenge against the town which wrongfully burnt his mother, believing her to be an agent of Satan (or, if you like, a witch). The struggle plays itself out between the strong-faithed residents and the misunderstood pagans (of which there are only a few). And I think the film does a fairly good job of making the point that a person's faith doesn't make them good or bad, but their choices in life do, as there are villains and heroes (arguably) on both sides.

Watching this film as a pagan, it's obviously pure fantasy, in terms of the curse, but getting past that, it's quite enjoyable. And wow, hey, the high school kids actually looked like high school kids for once! The setting of the film is a suburban-like area, but with woods and a lake, which looks very nice. And the whole religious character of the town itself really plays a large part in setting the mood of the piece. It almost has a retro "family values" kind of feeling to it which, despite my penchant for exploitation cinema, is refreshing in a way. And of course, it's still a horror movie, so there are some creepy scenes, too.

For me, it was especially satisfying watching the pastor's son turn into such a jerk and a creep on account of his passion for god. But like I said, the film doesn't seem to make any kind of statement about religion itself, but more about the people who follow it and the path they choose. I thought it was a very enjoyable film, and it deals with issues that are close to my heart, being something of a misotheist myself.

Butterfly Effect 3: Revelation

This is Butterfly Effect with an urban flavor, and an extra helping of gore. I don't think it's anywhere near as effective as the first Butterfly Effect movie, though. The whole serial killer idea is interesting, but the execution is weak. When you make a film about time travel, there's gonna be a heapload of time paradoxes. You can either ignore them or piece them together for a clever story. In this movie, they seem to ignore a lot of them, and the ones they do use, which they use to drive the whole plot idea, don't seem to be explained or pieced together very well. I dunno, it feels like a good idea, but it just doesn't quite work out that well.

The best part of the plot is the idea of having the character who can time travel using his abilities to become a freelance psychic helping the police close cases by traveling back and observing various murders. He can't interfere, of course, because that would trip the butterfly effect and screw everything up. Which is bound to happen, or else there wouldn't be a movie. Well, the character in question gets pushed into going back to solve the mystery of a murder close to him - that of his once-girlfriend - and he inevitably screws things up. Back in the future (present?), he finds that not only was he unable to prevent the murder, but he also seems to have created a serial killer. Why he doesn't just stop there is beyond me, but he seems to have an iron will to keep screwing things up worse and worse, thinking that one of these times he's gonna manage to fix things.

And that's where things kind of fall apart. There's an interesting twist at the end - I knew the identity of the serial killer would turn out to be significant, but I was still surprised - but it's hardly worth the ride. Besides, "this is so Scooby Doo"? Not a convincing serial killer. There are some pretty emotional turns which serve to reinforce the whole "changing the past is dangerous" idea, but honestly, just watch the first Butterfly Effect movie. It's far more...effective.

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