Archive | March, 2013

Why ‘The Blues Brothers’ (1980) is an excellent musical.

31 Mar

The Blues Brothers posterContrary to popular belief, I don’t inherently despise all musicals – just most of them. For me, there are four categories of musical cinema: those with great tunes and an absorbing story (Singin’ In The Rain,  Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, most Disney cartoons), films with catchy music but an awful plot (RENT, Mamma Mia!), films with unacceptable or badly-performed songs but with an interesting story (Repo! The Genetic Opera, pretty much all Phantom of the Opera flicks) or movies in which everything is heinously wrong (any High School Musical incarnation, Rock of Ages, Les Misérables). Obviously the first of these is the preferred group, but aside from various Disney animations and Muppet movies, it’s rare to find a truly great musical which was made post-1960.

However, The Blues Brothers is the exception to the rule; a golden goose among the flock of turkeys, if you will. Released in 1980, the cult classic stars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues, two impeccably-dressed and hilariously deadpan fading hipsters who just adore the blues. Following a five-year stint at “‘the joint”, Jake reunites with Elwood, but the pair soon discover that the orphanage in which they grew up is in financial difficulty with the taxman. They have eleven days to find five grand, and they undertake a cross-country quest to group the original band back together in order to play one more, money-raising gig.

This film is loony. It starts out like a gritty crime drama, fooling you into believing that this may actually be a serious feature. However, it’s not long before women armed with RPGs, levitating nuns and white supremacists start showing up, amid a mish-mash of ridiculously catchy showtunes. It’s stuffed with insane car chases and features a massive amount of extras too numerous to count (the finale requiring five hundred alone) . Costing $30,000,000 to make and boasting the highest number of wrecked cars in any film – 103!  (before Blues Brothers 2000 broke one more), The Blues Brothers is an ambitious and gloriously over-the-top extravaganza which makes zero sense, but revels in the fact.

Apart from enlisting the stars and hiring a silly amount of extras, a lot of money clearly went into the locations, as this film is borderline Homeric in terms of getting from A to Z, via each letter in between. Chicago is ripped open as several sleazy locations are explored (most interesting is their apartment building, which doesn’t remain in one piece for very long). Friends and potential band members are found in music shops, saunas, gospel churches and diners, with random and unexpected outbursts of musical numbers dotted throughout. The film culminates in a car chase so grand and so unbelievable that its legacy as a surrealist masterpiece of epic proportions is cemented.

A mere handful of the number of cars totalled in the making of this film.

A mere handful of the number of cars totalled in the making of this film.

But put the batshit crazy story to one side for a moment: music is the focal point here, and The Blues Brothers has a surprising amount to say on the matter. Working as both an homage to a dying genre (this was the dawn of the eighties, after all) and a critique of country and disco, it’s one of those films which was clearly constructed with an almost maternal love for its subject matter. For those unaware, ‘The Blues Brothers’ were a real band, spawned from the lead actors’ hilarious minds while working on Saturday Night Live, and aside of course from their own original music, famous faces of funk like James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles all show up to belt out a signature tune or two. This film is basically a love letter to a bygone era of unique, unrepeatable music.

That’s not to say the film is perfect; The Blues Brothers starts off very slowly and takes a while to get rolling. It seems to begin with a vaguely religious tone, as empathy for the suffering (yet simultaneously terrifying) nun gives way to a raucous scene at a church, where James Brown preaches in the funkiest way possible and Jake experiences a divine revelation. The film seems to forget about this almost instantly though, as the spiritual odyssey gives way for battles with rednecks and neo-Nazis. Some may find it overblown and bloated, but I’m not sure if this criticism applies to musicals, which are inherently ludicrous. It might be a tad overlong, but to say that I was bored even once would not be telling the truth; this movie is a blast.

Paced like a rollercoaster as chilled out scenes give way for over-the-top musical explosions, which in turn calm down momentarily before throwing a gratuitous car chase at you, The Blues Brothers is thoroughly entertaining. I think its cult status represents the underground nature of the music after which the film is named; that said, it has aged wonderfully. A funny, batshit insane but still very real snapshot of the past, give it a look-see!

Simon says: ridiculous, nonsensical but never dumb, this film is a masterpiece.


‘Trance’ (2013) is a complicated Danny Boyle film.

29 Mar

Trance posterI love complicated movies; for me, an intentionally confusing film (Mulholland Drive, Inception et al) is by definition memorable, as your mind simply won’t let go until it’s done wrestling with the apparent inconsistencies. There is nothing quite like finally coming to a logical conclusion, and feeling like a superior example of humanity for having figured it out. However, much like a Rubik’s Cube, a fine line exists between a casual plaything and the perfectionist’s nightmare, and as such complex films enrage as much as they enamour. Which camp does the knotty Trance lie in?

In this remake of 2001’s movie of the same name, James McAvoy stars as Simon, a seemingly meek and unassuming fine arts dealer, who instantly informs us that theft at auctions is both alarmingly common and surprisingly easy. Upon giving us the guided tour of the various security protocols, and assuring us that no such robberies could possibly succeed, shit rather instantaneously goes down as the sale of a  $13,000,000 painting ends with guards being beaten up, cameras trashed and the audience gassed (the attendees at the auction, not us cinema-goers. That’d be an unexpected twist!). Simon gets knocked out and wakes up at the hospital. But where is the painting?

It’s next to impossible to have a worthwhile discussion about this movie without spoiling everything. It can be safely said, however, that nobody is being entirely honest about their true motives: Simon is a struggling amnesiac who can’t remember if he was an accomplice to the crime or not. The crooks (an assortment of nationalities, led by the vaguely Italian, kind of French but definitely European Franck (Vincent Cassel)), after ransacking his home, endeavour to convince him of his role in the scheme by enlisting a hypnotherapist, played by Rosario Dawson. However, she soon becomes wise to the situation, and demands a cut of the profits.

Playing the amnesia card is one of the eternal clichés of cinema, but Trance hides this particular narrative turkey with layers and layers of complexity. This film is great at handing you fake revelations, and then instantly tarnishing any conclusion you’ve just drawn by throwing even more twists and turns into the mix. By the end of it, you’ve been led so far down the rabbit hole that any and all specks of logical sunlight have vanished, and you’re left wallowing in the confusing darkness; I was mentally exhausted by the time the credits rolled.

This was my facial expression throughout. I was also wearing similar gloves...

This was my facial expression throughout. I was also wearing similar gloves…

Films like this rely fairly heavily on having a satisfying payoff at the end, and Trance doesn’t disappoint. Without giving anything away, it is miles ahead of the recent Side Effects while still refraining from being truly devastating; this is not the game-changer that Inception was. Hypnotherapy is a much realer and easier understood idea than either time travel or alternative dimensions, which are the two usual narrative putties which hold these movies together,  as it is an accepted medical practise. This grounds the film in the zone of believability, which adds realism while at the same time rendering it much less fun than something like 12 Monkeys.

The acting is great all round – you get the feeling early on that you can’t really trust any of the characters, and each one of them (save the goonish henchmen, who are devoid of all personality) leads you astray with fake smiles and convincing untruths at least twenty million times.  McAvoy is slowly proving himself to be able to carry a serious plot – this coupled with the recent Welcome to the Punch should solidify his career as someone other than an X-man. Kudos to director Danny Boyle for including some very nice camera shots, and whoever chose the music for this feature deserves mega recognition, as everything from tasteful orchestral flourishes to catchy avant-garde style indie gets an airing.

Rosario Dawson simply requires a special mention: she is amazing here, and this is easily her finest work to date. Playing the incredibly attractive yet far from brainless doctor, she steals the show. Again, without giving up the goods, her twist(s) ultimately prove to drive the plot forward with much more narrative strength than any of her male counterparts. This is the kind of film where she strips completely naked (with the 16’s rating, I was expecting ‘T&A’. But what I got was, what I have termed, ‘V, A, T’), but there is a significant, crucial and symbolic reason for doing so. She is leagues ahead of J-Lo in that Parker film of recent weeks.

While it’s no Jacob’s Ladder in terms of convolution derived from the reality/mentality divides being blurred, Trance remains a fascinatingly perplexing effort which demonstrates Boyle’s obvious knack for complex storytelling while simultaneously showing off his cinematographic flair. Gripping and intensely confusing, if that sounds like your idea of a good time, you’ll lap this up.

Simon says: I noticed no trance music in this. Thank Christ.

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ (2013) – a massive turd.

27 Mar

Oz the Great and Powerful posterPerhaps you know the story? A tornado arrives and whisks some poor soul away; however, this time it’s Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a travelling circus magician with too many girlfriends and a knack for swindling. After defying what would in normal circumstances be certain death, he in fact wakes up in the mystical land of Oz, where plants herald his arrival with music and the locals exude a borderline narcissistic sense of glee. Running into a friendly witch (Mila Kunis) with whom he must team up, Diggs sets out on an epic quest to liberate Oz from the clutches of the Wicked Witch.

From the first few scenes of the film I strongly felt that something simply wasn’t working. It took me a while to figure it out, but then it hit me like the debris of a hurricane: I didn’t buy Franco’s character for a second. I simply could not believe that someone as uncharismatic and doubtful as Diggs could actually sell the bullshit he spends the entirety of the movie peddling. At this stage it’s common knowledge that Franco wasn’t the first choice for the role (Robert Downey Jr., of Iron Man fame, was the intended face of Oz), and frankly he is massively miscast here. Through no fault of his own, he’s simply the wrong guy for the job.

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that Mila Kunis is only ever used as little more than eye candy. A beautiful and (judging from interviews) seemingly quite intelligent lady, in Oz she is either wearing tight leather pants, is gratuitously ripping off her own clothes or just generally yelling. Her dialogue is so awkward and clunky, and there is zero chemistry between her and Franco. When she loses her temper (and all of the witches do forgo their composure at various occasions) she sounds so whiny and non-threatening; all I could think of was Meg from Family Guy (who she voices) yelling at Chris to get out of her room. Her performance is so overblown and silly, and when she’s calm she is the most lifeless witch ever committed to the big screen.

So the two leads are each a travesty, how do the minor characters fare? In truth, not much better. The other two witches are so blatantly hiding ulterior motives, and Michelle Williams’ blindingly white spellcaster is so overbearingly pure and saccharine that I just can’t take her seriously. Of the two sidekicks, one is annoying and the other is interesting (a great play on the phrase ‘China Town’ must be applauded) though under-developed. The established Munchkin army make their contractual appearance, and continue to infuriate me by spouting the most irritating nonsense. Basically, all of the dialogue in this movie is terrible.

From left to right: The Screech, The Loser, The Sickeningly Sweet and The Least Awful One.

From left to right: The Screech, The Loser, The Sickeningly Sweet and The Least Awful One.

All of this said, I was totally down for this, and am generally willing to overlook a film’s narrative or character design flaws so long as it remains entertaining. Alas, Oz is BORING BORING BORING! Although there is no lack of attempted dramatic action, it is not even slightly engaging or interesting. The major character issues construct an impenetrable barrier between the viewer and what’s happening on screen, which results only in keeping us at arm’s length from the events of the film. The jokes are unfunny, the drama is dull and I frankly couldn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone involved in the story.

Several parts of it were clever. The big showdown near the end (which are virtually guaranteed in modern fantasy movies), while incredibly dumb and needlessly elaborate, does endeavour to explain some of the wizard’s power displayed in the original Wizard of Oz. Also, near the beginning, when Franco is transported to this new magical world full of crystal-clear lakes and welcoming flowers, I was reminded of James Cameron’s Avatar in terms of coming into contact with a beautifully-rendered CGI paradise. However, saying that my favourite part of the movie was when I was reminded of another better film just speaks for itself really.

Oz the Great and Powerful looks and feels identical to that horrifying Alice in Wonderland remake of last year, which is a crime of the most heinous sort. Boring, joyless and way too long (127 minutes felt like 127 hours), I hated this film from start to finish.

Simon says: another film with a grossly inaccurate title.

Did I adore ‘Lore’ (2013), or did I snore?

24 Mar

Lore posterA long-understood formula for success has been to throw likeable, innocent or unassuming characters into the nightmare that was WWII. In doing so, the horrors of that particular era are juxtaposed with the positiveness of the protagonists in order to emphasise both the virtue of the latter and the hellishness of the former. Films like Schindler’s List and The Pianist are testament to this established theory, but aside from the odd exception like Grave of the Fireflies or The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, very few movies focus on the lives of children in these situations. Lore is a welcome addition to this under-represented subgenre of WWII-themed cinema.

An Australian-made German-language film, the first major twist is almost instantaneous… Turns out Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) is actually a person! A German girl in her late teens to be exact, and she along with her younger sister, twin brothers and baby bro Peter travel with their parents to a remote farmhouse in the middle of the Black Forest (though not before suspiciously grabbing all of the silverware and burning lots of be-Swastika’d paperwork). However, both parents eventually vacate, and the kids must travel across the German countryside in order to reach the great city of Hamburg. The journey involves hostile locals, bugs, hairbrushes and many puddles of mud.

While their quest is fraught with dangers, it starts to get boring very fast, mainly due to the lack of anything happening on screen. While the kids, lacking any adult supervision in war-time rural Germany, are undoubtedly in danger, you really feel a noticeable lack of tension. Their very situation should leave viewers on edge but the only occasion where any sort of mutual anxiety is felt is during scenes where their lives are in direct danger. Had the film featured background sounds of explosions or gunfire in the distance (which would be perfectly plausible, given the context) the film would be an infinitely more enthralling experience.

This is a film which relies heavily on dialogue and character development rather than action or storytelling. That said, unfortunately the kids in this film have paper-thin personalities which really makes it tough to invest virtually any degree of empathy or solidarity for their predicament. Here’s how they breakdown: Lore, the eldest girl, is a semi-resourceful but ultimately quite cranky young adult with the oddest seduction tactics I’ve ever seen. The next oldest (12-ish?) girl is better with baby Peter but even more unlikeable from a personality perspective. Of the twin boys, all we know is that one is a trouble-maker. They are wholly two-dimensional and lack practically any depth whatsoever.

The costume design and makeup is all top-notch, but the characters themselves are lacking.

The costume design and makeup is all top-notch, but the characters themselves are lacking.

A big problem with Lore is that the story is both meandering and consistently unclear. At more than one instance I was left figuratively scratching my head, wondering “how exactly did they get there?”. Other than the obvious “they walked”, it’s never clearly explained how they got from point A to point B. About a third of the way in, they reach a bombarded former city, which I initially thought was Hamburg (their ultimate destination). However, within ten minutes they were back on the road again! I was confused for a significant portion of this film.

This may sound like I hated this movie, but I would like to make something clear: Lore is well worth seeing. The cinematography is stunning, with beautiful locations and very convincing makeup. There is one scene by a lake, where one character is hanging upside down from a tree, and the camera is shot through their eyes. Gazing at a friend in the water, whose head is poking out so as to be equal with their reflection, the mirroring of the faces in the water from an inverted perspective is wonderful. The acting is convincing (the chain-smoking mother (Ursina Lardi) is the pick of the bunch), even if none of the characters are friendly, and the emotional payoff at the end has its intended punch. A tentative recommendation.

Simon says: not explosive, but not a bomb either.

‘Earthbound’ (2013): the Irish film and NOT the video game!

22 Mar

Earthbound posterPremièring earlier this year at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, Earthbound is a quirky Irish indie film that is far more entertaining than it has any right to be. Written and directed by Alan Brennan, Earthbound is a comedy sci-fi romp starring Rafe Spall as Joe, a timid, unassuming alien from another planet disguised as a human. Living in Dublin, he meets Maria (Jenn Murray), a shy and reserved girl with a really nice apartment. Following his father’s (David Morrissey’s) instructions, Joe becomes interested in Maria as her genetic structure means that she is the ideal mate for him. Conspiracy, awesome special effects and hilarity ensue!

One thing is clear right off the bat: this film has an unashamedly Irish context, meaning that many non-Irish viewers simply won’t get many of the jokes. From national landmarks shooting into space to jokes about work visas, much of the humour will hurtle over the heads of people outside Ireland. That said, the hiberno-centric giggles aside, Earthbound boasts many great one-liners, facial expressions and slapstick that should appeal to virtually anyone with a sense of humour. While other comedic science fiction pictures may rely on self-deprecating sci-fi references to deliver the laughs (lookin’ at you Paul), Earthbound is a witty and smartly funny film.

Intelligence is not saved for the comedy alone; this is an intricately crafted, well made movie that constantly surprises. The story, without giving anything away, is a figurative rollercoaster, as hilarity switches to depression which in turn morphs into the most awesome episode of Stargate never shownLittle throwaway, seemingly inconsequential lines of dialogue and symbols, which are fleeting in their appearance, often times prove relevant later on. For example, a certain allergy to a certain material turns out to be a major plot device in its own right. Earthbound is like one of those magicians who can pull a coin out of your ear: you know it’s logical, but you’re surprised nonetheless.

I mean c'mon, they play Q-Zar. How more Dublin can you get!?

I mean c’mon, they play Q-Zar. How more Dublin can you get!?

It’s clear that the producers were on a tight budget, not necessarily from effects or costumes but from the fact that ‘sponsored by the Irish Film Board’ appears at the beginning, who are notoriously stingy with delving into their coffers. However, what is even more obvious than that is the remarkable level of detail that went into the outfits, set design (Maria’s flat is amazing and I want it) and special effects. Not emphasising the spacey element of the ‘sci-fi’ tag and being (mostly) grounded here on Earth means that the effects are sparse, but well done. The ending in particular has some wonderful chaos happening on screen, it’s a real feast for the eyes.

If there are any criticisms to be levelled at the film, they lie in the characters. Both leads turn out to have science fiction experience: Spall was in Prometheus, while Murray had a casting accolade in the short-lived Day of the Triffids TV series. While the former is charming and portrays the nerdy loner expertly, the latter is less convincing. Bits of clunky dialogue coupled with a simply unbelievable backstory (she spent at least four years at nursing school?! She looks about seventeen years old!) do not ruin her completely but do render her performance a tad wobbly. David Morrissey is an excellent stoic older gentleman, as fans of his Walking Dead day-job can testify to.

I honestly can’t recommend Earthbound enough. Is it the best Irish film I’ve ever seen? If not, it’s bloody close. It makes Veronica Guerin look dire, The Guard look mediocre, and The Commitments look decidedly forgettable, and for that final crime, I shall never forgive it. Regardless, it’s certainly the best sci-fi comedy I’ve ever witnessed. Get up and go see it now!

Simon says: a genuine masterpiece. Loved every second.

‘The (not so) Incredible Burt Wonderstone’ (2013).

21 Mar

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone-PosterThe Incredible Burt Wonderstone… A movie with such a self-gratifying title could only be setting itself up for disaster really. One could, logically and understandably, stroll into the cinema with the assumption that this film is not only A) incredible, but also B), wonderful. However, if one sets the bar this high then disappointment could only follow: this film is about as far removed from incredibility as it is from wonderfulness. Far more honest and informative titles could include “The Inherently Unlikeable Burt Douchbagstone”, “The Surprisingly Unfunny Burt Mulletstone” or “The Tasteless Burt Averagestone”, though they would admittedly sell less tickets than the bestowed name.

Steve Carell plays Burt Wonderstone, whom in the opening scenes was clearly a gentle kid who found solace in dazzling his (non-existent) friends with magic tricks. He and the equally introverted Anton Marvleton (Steve Buscemi) team up, and eventually become bigshot entertainers with a top spot at a big Las Vegas casino-hotel. However, the apparent ‘magic’ of performing magic tricks has been lost, and combined with the presence of a competing street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) sever both their professional and personal relationship. Can they reconvene and let the show go on?

My two favourite Steves (and my favourite Jim) of Hollywood conspire to confuse me: the two Steves play characters with unique names, yet Carrey plays a ‘Steve’! The puzzlement does not end there, for this film manages to defy the impossible and render Steve Carell, one of the best living comic actors around, irreparably unlikeable. For the first two thirds of the movie he is an asshole of the highest order; a vehemently sexist egomaniac, he works so hard to build a barrier of hatred around himself that we as an audience simply cannot empathise with his woes. We are meant to feel sorry for him, but he is such anathema to basic human decency that doing so is insurmountable.

This film is odd in that it presents an interesting (and probably unintentional role reversal. Jim Carrey’s character, an antagonistic David Blaine/Chris Angel hybrid, is the villain of the story yet manages to be far more entertaining than either of the leads. While one may not go as far as to root for him, had the film not featured Burt’s laughable name in its title the viewer could be forgiven for being a bit perplexed regarding who the good guy is. Buscemi is a reliable veteran, as is Alan Arkin (playing the magician who influenced Burt) yet neither are given nearly enough screen time. A waste of both.

Carey almost saves this. Almost.

Carrey almost saves this. Almost.

All of this aside, my main beef with the film is this: it’s not funny. The cardinal sin of any comedy picture, I am willing to forgive any lack of aesthetic or intellectual ingenuity so long as it makes me laugh. Aside from a few sparse chuckles here and there, I never guffawed once and when I did snigger, it was never at Carell or Buscemi. If any pros are to be found in this movie, they lie in the score: everything from jazz to Judas Priest gets an airing, and for that I say kudos to director Don Scardino, who incidentally has the most Mafia kingpin-style name I’ve ever heard.

An unfunny, blazingly sexist romp with a misleading title, I can’t decide whether The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a parody of glitzy Vegas-style magic, or defending it from the Blaines and Angels of the world, and frankly I doubt it’s subtle enough to be either. Hopefully all the actors concerned will use their not-so-well-earned paychecks to fund a satisfying project with results. Carell, go back to The Office where you belong!

Simon says: it’s a bad title.

‘The House of the Devil’ is the most 80’s film of 2009.

17 Mar

The House of the Devil posterHorror movies can (generally) be divided into two camps: those which horrify and those which terrify, to borrow 18th century Gothic novelist Ann Racliffe’s classic distinction.  The former are easily digestible; they shock and surprise you, they make you jump and the viewer could well have nightmares that night. But there is nothing lurking under the surface: what you see is what you get, and this very act of seeing the monster, serial killer, ghost etc. is crucial in the distinction. This umbrella term encapsulates everything from ‘found footage’ films (see Paranormal Activity and the like) as well as ‘torture porn’ series such as Saw and Hostel.

Terror, on the other hand, is a Hitchcockian brand of slow-burning, insidious and surreptitious scariness which builds up inside of you like an ever-expanding virus. Subtle nuances, which may not terrify on their own, collectively combine throughout the film to form a sense of dread. While one may not actually see anything frightening, one feels a certain uncomfortable omniscience. You just know something is there, and it’s coming to get you. This sort of ‘horror movie’ is much more scarring, as the viewer could have trouble sleeping for days afterwards, yet may not scream once in the theatre.

The House of the Devil fits neatly into the latter category; a drawn-out, mostly quite harmless storyline in which a university student is called for a babysitting job. However, three things are noteworthy: the old couple who requested her service are mysteriously spooky, there is a rare lunar eclipse taking place that evening… And a cautionary note in the opening frames of the film warn us of the popularity of Satanic cults at the time. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where the film is going: while a chimp could probably foretell the events which unfold, what should theoretically be undermined remains resolute: the tension.

Hello? Is it me you're looking for?

Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

This movie is tense as all hell. Small details, which take the form of seemingly irrelevant set pieces or throwaway lines, which initially appear meaningless, all prove crucial in some form or another later on. This is an expertly crafted movie in that it is gradually added on to as the film goes along, much to the viewer’s ignorance, so that the final payoff is even more worthwhile, as the audience remembers these little nuances. However, the time spent leading up to the grand finale is immensely entertaining; that exasperated sense of a knowing danger, a potential doom for our femme fatale is teeth-grinding in its effectiveness.

Speaking of which, the acting is great all round.  While so many modern horror films tend to render the protagonists as little more than targets at which the murderer, zombies or aliens aim, here they are actually developed quite a long way. Jocelin Donahue is the good-intentioned and rather quite innocent teenager who doesn’t quite realise what she’s getting herself into. Greta Gerwig is her hip girlfriend who provides her lift to the creepy mansion, and Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov shine as the wonderfully creepy elderly couple with the ulterior motive.

In addition to working perfectly as a terrifying horror film, The House of the Devil also succeeds in the aesthetic department: it is the most deliciously eighties-flavoured film ever crafted outside of that bygone decade. High-waisted jeans, portable cassette players, old-school diners and gloriously awful pop music are as integral to this film’s brilliance as the violence and the Satanism; it’s like a bizarre hybrid of the original Halloween and Back to the Future (aka The Most Eighties Film Of All Time). Everything from the décor to the music to the overall feel of the film is commendably retro.

I was very impressed with this movie and also, by extension, director Ti West. He continued this tradition with 2011’s The Innkeepers, though perhaps faltered slightly with last year’s wobbly V/H/S.  A resounding success for ‘terror’ cinema!

Simon says: probably the best horror film of 2009. It’s amazing.

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