Movie Madness

My movie reviews and rants at your fingertips.

Monthly Archives: October 2009

Paranormal Activity

Like it’s fellow steadicam predecessors Blair Witch and Quarantine, Paranormal Activity aims for the jugular. Not right away, however. It allows the tension to build in an almost snail pace. But in doing so, the poltergeist activity becomes more pronounced and spooky. I admire the director and cast of this film. They made a movie for about $11,000 dollars and have shown that talent doesn’t need to have 6 zeros.

The movie centers on a couple, Micah and Katie. Katie has been hearing odd sounds at night. So Micah purchases a camera in hopes of capturing it on tape. What enfolds is the recordings of what happens while they sleep, and the growing discomfort they have because of it.

It takes sheer imagination to develop what could be a flat story and balloon it into a remarkable piece of horror cinema. I wish I would have seen it at midnight in a packed theater. I wish more horror films took notes from this film. It proves that you can scare someone just as much (in my case, more) if you don’t let them see everything. Gore is overrated, and this movie is the thesis of such. The night recordings are only clued when the time-lapsing stops or the lower register of the microphone is emphasized, creating a sense of “oh no, what now” without saying anything more. Some of the sounds/images are barely visible for more than a second or two. And the audience knows this, so they start looking closer and closer…and then something does happen which shoots everyone back in there seats. A slight of hand if you will.

I recommend not going to this movie if you are a light sleeper. Otherwise, one of the best horror films of the year (and perhaps, decade). 4.5 out of 5 stars.

In the Spirit of Halloween

As a fan of classic horror movies, it takes a lot for me to get scared. And when I do, I get this rush that I have become addicted to. Of all the horror movies I’ve ever watched though, only a few scared me. And some non-horror movies scarred me for life. So in honor of one of my favorite holidays (a tie with Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July), here is my list of the movies that actually scared me. F.Y.I. Some of my favorite horror movies aren’t on the list because they weren’t scary to me.

–Rosemary’s Baby– The last twenty minutes are unbelievable. You lose your mind trying not to look away

–The Blair Witch Project–How they build this “is there/isn’t there” tension that is perfectly topped with an ending that stops your heart

–The Fly (Chronenberg)–Geena Davis has a dream sequence in the movie that made me scream like a little girl

–American History X–All of it. But especially the curb stomp. The look on his face afterwards will haunt you.

–Jesus Camp–I’m a Christian, but these people scare the living shit out of me. And using my religion as rational for what they’re doing is truly disturbing.

–Elephant–Gus Van Sant basically reenacts the Columbine massacre. Minus the irrelevant homosexuality of the characters, it shakes you at your core. It puts you in the accident as you watch yourself react.

–Session 9–The dream sequence was what gave me goose bumps. The fact that the hospital used was an actual mental institution shut down for inhumane therapy makes it much more real.

–Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers–not a really great movie, but it’s the first horror movie I saw beginning to end. This is where it all started for me.

–Paranormal Activity–a no-budget movie that sneaks up on you and scares the shit out of you. An ending that is truly pitch perfect.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

What a fun experience! 3-D definitely made a difference. The vocal talent was awesome (when you got Bruce Campbell and Mr. T in the cast together, magic happens).

The movie revolves a boy named Flint, a wanna be inventor. But instead of the fame he strives for, disaster and failure always follow in its place. That is until he invents a new food processor; one that realigns moisture particles in the atmosphere into food. Finally, Flint has the spotlight. But all doesn’t stay that way. With a mayor constantly pushing the definition of obesity and trying to capitalize on Flint’s creation, and the townsfolk requesting more and more food, the machine starts to overload.

The plot is strong enough to get you through the picture. The strengths are its understanding of human connection, and portraying it in such depth that it moves you. From the cop and his son, to Flint and his father, to Sam (the weathergirl he likes) and Flint. Each shows a rich understanding of love.  The scene-stealer is Steve (voiced by Neil Patrick-Harris), a monkey who can vocalize his thoughts with one of Flint’s older inventions.

Fun for the whole family, 3-D or otherwise. Laughs and heart abound. Not as good as Up, but pretty damn good in it’s own right. 4 out of 5 stars.

Zombieland

This movie succeeds at something very few before it have tried: a horror comedy. Evil Dead, Slither, Drag Me to Hell; all had the ability to both scare and make fun. Jennifer’s Body had potential to be funny, but it’s successes were small. I liked Jennifer’s Body, but for different reasons.

God Bless Woody Harrelson! He took a character and made him leap off the page. I can’t think of anyone more suited to play Tallahassee than Woody. This goes up there with Natural Born Killers and The People vs. Larry Flynt as one of his best roles.

The movie centers on Columbus, a neurotic hermit with a meticulous list of rules he uses to keep himself safe. Tallahassee is a red state hillbilly in search of the world’s last Twinkies. They form an unlikely duo, until they meet up with Wichita and Little Rock (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin). The boys get duped by the girls a couple of times as they all head west. After they reach L.A., they decided to crash at one of the estates in 90210 to set up camp. This of course leads to a cameo that takes the movie to a whole other level.

A road trip-horror-zombie-comedy and then some. Definitely give this movie a view. 3.5 stars out of 5.

Whip It!

Ellen Page is what will bring most of the audience to this movie, and for good reason.  This movie is a film about following your heart, which Ellen clearly has been doing with the films she has picked since her Oscar nom for Juno.  Once again she shines through, giving this movie a character you love and root for.  Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut is definitely a crowning achievement on Barrymore’s otherwise uneven career.  Casting fellow comedians and friends just brings this movie to life, laughing all the while.

        The story follows Bliss, a debutante-to-be.  She doesn’t enjoy the pageant circuit though her mother keeps trying to live her pageant days through her.  One day, mom and Bliss go shopping in Austin (this film is steeped in Texas) where Bliss sees an ad for roller derby.  She cons her parents into letting her go and she quickly becomes involved in the sport.  This is a sports film that doesn’t push all the clichés down your throat.  There are some clichés, but they are handled with a delicacy that eliminates parody.  The scenes involving the derbies (which included actual roller derby girls) become visceral and exciting, like watching a good football movie.  The humor in this movie hits more often than it misses, and is way more broad than Diablo Cody’s Juno zeitgeist speak.  All in all, a great movie. One you can enjoy with almost anyone. 4 out of 5 stars.