Tag Archives: Horror

Anime-Breakdown: Ajin Part 1: Shoudou (2015) Recap Movie Review

Polygon Pictures is the name of the studio behind this film, and the anime series Sidonia no Kishi/Knights of Sidonia. I bring them up because despite only having seen one completed series from Polygon Pictures (at the time of this review being posted) it was enough for me to make them my most hated anime studio. This hatred is derived from Knights of Sidonia, or as I refer to it Sci-Fi: The Anime since it’s biggest piece of sci-fi trite I have ever seen in any form of media. Every single plot point was predictable, it didn’t put a new spin on any established sci-fi formula nor strayed from any common modern anime writing conventions, and it’s also the only piece of science fiction, and animation to ever put me to sleep. So before even starting the film, and Ajin anime series there was already the hurdle of low expectations. The only way Ajin couldn’t meet those low expectation would be if it turned out worse than Knights of Sidonia. Ajin went so below the bar of low expectations I could make a top ten list of the worst Ajin episodes in great detail by how much incompetence there is in each individual episode.

This film is basically a recap splicing together the first six episodes of the anime series Ajin. You might be wondering what’s the purpose of this recap movie if there’s no noticeable alteration between the anime series, and film. Both use the same footage with the same dialogue rendering it rather pointless to seek out the other product depending on what you decide to check out. As negative as I was towards the recap movie, Sword Art Online: Extra Edition, A1 Pictures did the logical in creating new material exclusive to it. Ajin Part 1: Shoudou only major difference with the anime series are scenes not having Izumi Shimomura (Tosaki’s secretary) cheeks turning red when blushing in two episodes of the anime series. I would like to point out this film came out in late November of 2015, and between that time all the way to mid January of 2016 when the anime aired. Someone, or several individuals at Polygon Pictures felt it was important to slightly alter moments of embarrassment by having Izumi cheeks turn red when she’s blushing instead bumping up the framerate to not make the animation look like it is always lagging. Just like the anime series, this recap film purpose is to simply be dead air. The metaphorical coaster of anime so to say.

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Sup! I’m Porcupine.

Ajin takes the classic premise of the “Human Parasite” (as I call it) trope where the focus is on a main character who becomes something he/she, or the world hates. If you read, or seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers (my go to association with this premise) you know for a fact this premise under right hands holds infinite possibilities. Especially horror since it could thrive on creating psychological fear of these creatures that easily blend into our world. However, Ajin doesn’t understand the basics of storytelling so when it tried to reach higher than possible never once does it bother to set up the building blocks for a stable story.

First issue for the film is simple; bad world building combine with bad context for exposition. In Ajin, it’s establish the entire world know the existence of Ajins, yet in a later scene in the movie a police officer is surprise there’s an Non Lethal Drug Gun specifically design to capture Ajins. Before you could be bother to ask what sense does it make that this weapon isn’t mandatory for all policemen to have in case of an emergency it throws another bad plot point at you. One being how high school students managed to find a leaked video of a Ajin being experimented on, and there being no mention of it in any news media outlet. The flimsy excuse of a student saying it could be fake cannot be assumed to apply to everyone else in the world which requires higher suspension of disbelief that does not come with the premise. In the anime series, the news media eventually discover this leaked video, but in the film the news media does not. Creating more plot holes that in sequel films Polygon Pictures will have to cover up instead of focusing on telling a story (not a good one at that).

We also have the Elephant in the room to address in that paranoia, hatred, disgust, or any feelings towards the public views on Ajin goes without setup. Aside from the first discover Ajin being a gun for hire in Africa, and if Ajin are turned in you’ll be rewarded there is nothing much to grasp from the Ajins presence in this world. The film even brings up the fact other Ajins were discovered, but mentions nothing if the other Ajins are commonly violent toward humans. If that was the case, than it would make sense for Kei Nagai (our teenage protagonist) not to trust anyone in his surroundings. However, if the story didn’t establish the public mindset on Ajins existence than the idea of them being turned in for a reward could still be a reasonable source of distrust for Kei Nagai. A simple, and not hard to shoe in solution for this issue is someone mentioning an Ajin who got betrayed by his friends for money. If this was done than you could have a less inferior reason for Kei Nagai not to trust his friends in the beginning of the film. It’s even brought up the reward could be just a rumor, but even if the reward is just a rumor than Kei Nagai fearing being betrayed by his friends from a story he heard would make a bit more sense. My solution sucks, but it could hold itself together much better compared to betrayal for rumored reward Kei Nagai just recently discovered imply by the film.

Reason number two this film is bad is because of main character Kei Nagai. I personally refer to him as Sam Blanderton since he has no personality, the writing pretends he’s a smart character, and has the plot armor of immortality. His younger sister describes Kei Nagai as a cold person so Vanilla Ice is also a suitable nickname for the protagonist. Jokes aside, you would also find Kei Nagai in that piles of jokes. Despite being told he’s a smart character, and studying to be a doctor he’s no smarter than the rest of the cast in Ajin that can’t phantom the idea of multiple people wearing hats. Having never gone to medical school I can tell you it is possible to knock someone out unconsciously with your fists. I bring this up since Kei Nagai can summon a Black Ghost which are basically an invisible humanlike manifestation Ajins can use. For some reason, when Kei is being tortured about an hour into the film, Kei seems to have forgotten everything he learned. This is a character who the audience is told wants to be a doctor. In a scene where Kei is being tortured he is also pressured into killing scientists, which you would expect someone who has been studying to be a doctor to do the logical, and knock out whoever is torturing him in order to intimidate anyone who wants to torture him in the future. Not wanting to kill is one thing, but if you have the power to knock someone out unconsciously like Kei Nagai has with his Black Ghost where’s the conflict in the situation. Kei doesn’t have to kill anyone when he’s being tortured, yet he seems content that he could only kill despite the fact he’s been studying to become a doctor. Good to know that knowledge goes to waste.

Kei Nagai acts however the plot demands him to without a consistent personality trait. In the film, Kei meets face to face with an old man who kidnapped his sister, but is okay with it since she wasn’t harm. (Tear out hair in anger). Yet, he is more concern with the idea of this same old man wanting to kill scientists who have been torturing him (Kei) for days none of whom he knows. Showing concern for their very livelihood despite torturing him. Just, huh? What makes this infuriating for me is Kei Nagai brings up the idea to handicapped those scientists while begging for them not to be murdered. So the series (along with this film) is telling me Kei Nagai gives a rat ass his sister got kidnapped who he known for basically his entire life, and shows more concern for saving people who tortured him for several days  to the point he’ll bargain to handicapped them to make sure they live. However, this completely goes against the established trait of Kei Nagai being a cold, but intelligent character which does not go well when you see this same intelligent character wear nothing to hide his face when out in public. This is never an issue since Polygon Pictures is too lazy to have background characters which is why there is hardly ever crowds of people in the film. What this means is that Kei Nagai is not a cold character since he bother saving random strangers who tortured him several days, and is not intelligent since he doesn’t use his medical knowledge in his situations to protect himself. There’s no moment of competency from this character since Kei Nagai either gets lucky by discovering a new ability to save himself when convenient, or needs to be save by another person.

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Glasses guy takes his groping seriously.

Finally, the reason the film is terrible, and the anime series itself is also terrible is pretty much everything else. Characters are one dimensional in the film with the only character using his head is Satou who is presented as the villain. Satou is refer by others as The Man in the Hat (even in the English dub for who knows why) because he wears a hat. Apparently, in Ajin, Satou is the only person in the entire world who wears a hat. This is proven whenever Satou is brought up simply mentioning someone is wearing a hat. Characters will immediately bring up Satou. Details like this makes it impossible to take Ajin seriously. What it tells me is a race of immortal beings is easily accepted in this world, but multiple people wearing hats is an entirely alien to concept those same people. Satou character also suffers the same issue, in this film, of having little character development, but compare to every other character he’s written the best. Satou is the only character who has a goal, and a motivation for what he does to a certain character. As you can assume, one character who’s passable doesn’t excuse an entire cast that’s disposable. Kei Nagai does virtually nothing to advance the plot, Kaito/Porcupine (Kei’s best friend) disappears after the second act without explanation, Eriko Nagai (Kei’s sister) is practically pointless contributing nothing to the narrative, and a slew of other unimportant characters amount to either explaining things characters in the world should already know, or just disappear after a while.

Pacing is a mess rushing through everything. This issue applies to the anime series too, but in movie format it’s boils down to throwing set pieces at the audience face without substance. There’s nothing of value to gain from constantly seeing the main characters in danger if there is no reason to care for them. No tension, no stakes, and no investment in the characters will have you constantly looking at the time wondering how long this train wreck is going to last.

On a technical level Polygon Pictures 3D animation is dated, even by 1990s 3D television standards. It’s embarrassing that the Donkey Kong Country 3D animated series from the late 90s has more expressive facial animation, and a better framerate. Donkey Kong Country can make the simple action of Gorillas walking, and dancing for that matter move smoothly. In Ajin Part 1: Shoudou, in the beginning of the film, Polygon Picture can not make the simple action of walking move smoothly. Through the film (and the anime series) it seems like characters are moving in slow motion. Polygon Pictures is capable of fixing of this, but are too lazy to do anything about it. There are two sequences in the film where two Black Ghosts are fighting against each other using the technique of slowing things down briefly then speeding things up. This simple demonstration of being able to change the speed of motion freely should also apply to the frame rate. It’s done deliberately so Polygon Picture have the technology not make to their anime series, and films look like they’re lagging at all times. Polygon Picture is so lazy the film closing credits is the opening sequence to the anime series with just longer credits. Bravo Polygon Picture.

Ajin Part 1: Shoudou needed to be story boarded, and drafted at least once before ever entering production. If this was done than Polygon Pictures would have realize they have no motivation for people to hate Ajins which would have save them from a number of issues if it was addressed. However, even if Ajin did give a good reason for why Ajins are hated it wouldn’t do away with the idiotic plot filled with shallow characters, and a very lazy production. You could find better looking 3D animation from the late 90s than this film which came out in 2015 which is embarrassing. Whatever way you view Ajin in either film, or tv format it is an embarrassment display of Japanese animation, an embarrassment to 3D animation, and an embarrassment to storytelling.

1/10

Cinema-Maniac: I Saw the Devil (2010) Review

If there’s another genre that had a bigger fall from grace it would be the horror genre. Much like the action genre, allot of fans can agree the 80s was where it peaked in popularity. However, horror can still continue to push the boundary of what is acceptable both visually, and from a creative perspective. How much is too much when it comes to blood, and gore. How in depth of an character exploration can you create before you begin thinking like a killer. Horror has the ability, more so than other genre, to put viewers in a uncomfortable situations, and even scare them in some cases. As someone who doesn’t see allot of horror movies it’s unfortunate very few horror films from the 90s, and 2000s didn’t entice me in viewing the genre without a preconceived notion. What made matter worse is despite having seen very few horror films, most of what I was exposed to by friends, and family were generally trite films within the genre. There were eventually films that won me over like 1931 Frankenstein, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 1974 (the only horror movie to scare me to date), and George A. Romero’s original Dawn of the Dead which is my all time favorite zombie film. That’s why I’m happy to write about I Saw the Devil. A modern horror film that is hybrid with a psychological thriller, and succeed for all the right reasons work as well it should have.

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Choi Min-sik: “Mmm, I could use this arm for a pie.”

I Saw the Devil is about a secret agent exacting revenge on a serial killer through a series of captures and releases. While not entirely a horror film, one admirable trait that I Saw the Devil accomplishes far better than general horror films is contextualizing the blood, and gore. Too often do many films within this genre disregard characters, and story for the sake of bloodshed. The film is deliberately slow paced for this singular reason. For starter, it slow pacing helps it create an atmosphere of dread over it’s main Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee). What it also allows for is to display impatience within Kim Soo-hyeon witnessing him losing sleep over finding his wife’s killer. Showing Kim Soo-hyeon will do anything in his position in the name of vengeance. Splicing scenes of both Kim Soo-hyeon, and Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi) current activities in the film to never lose focus of time. Showing the two men psychology are similar in certain ways, but makes it easy to determine who the film wants you to sympathize with as Kim Soo-hyeon is going after killers while Kyung-chul goes after women to kill.

Another aspect of the story that is appealing is putting a twist on a familiar premise. In some horror films, if the victim of the deceased faces with the killer it’s either save until the climax, or becomes a film where the victim tortures the killer until someone dies in both scenario. By the end of the first act, the film victim Kim Soo-hyeon confronts killer Kyung-chul in which, surprisingly a choreographed fight scene ensues. After this confrontation, the film still continues by using a hunter, and the hunted mentality for its characters. At certain points in the film, this mind game between the two characters are discussed in the film. One attempted to be persuaded to simply let up on the vengeance, and ponder if there’s any value in it. For another he receives a taste of his own medicine while also deriving pleasure of how to get under the skin of whoever chasing him. In terms of characterization enough is given about Kim Soo-hyeon to understand his action. Simple things like having a wife, and caring for his family is as deep as it goes for Kim Soo-hyeon as a person. It’s enough to give an idea of his mentality before he decides to take revenge, and seeing how his act of revenge ultimately affects eventually becomes a dynamic characterization.

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Come at me bro!

The same cannot be said for those it represent as killers since the film never bother exploring the psychological aspect of what can motivate its criminals to do the things they do. There’s a cannibal in the film who loves eating people, but that’s about as deep as it goes. All the criminals function as criminals. They’re meant to be evil for the sake of being evil in order to take pleasure in their deaths. It could be debated the intention was to to debate in the act of revenge itself is justified, but on the other hand the film does not lay down any ground work for greyness. Nothing is more evident of this than the usage of its female characters. From the victims perspectives they respect women as people, but every time a criminal interacts with a woman it’s with the intent to do whatever the criminal desire to do with them. It’s portrayal of representing both sides is one dimensional at best. Just fine for a revenge fantasy film, but when the script tacked on a family aspect to Kyung-chul character it says it wanted to be something more thought provoking. Made even noteworthy when it wants to use Kyung-chul family to get across a specific agenda that doesn’t work out since they’re only included in one before popping back up again. It hard see the film for anything other more than just a piece of revenge fantasy where viewers takes satisfaction in seeing its main character harm criminals.

Other issues within the film are specifically connected to the horror genre itself. Moments in the film required higher suspension of disbelief in order for the film to function the way it wants too. One of these problematic plot point is not Kim Soo-hyeon not killing his wife’s murderer when he’s given three good opportunities to do so. It’s given context, and established motivation for why Kim Soo-hyeon won’t simply kill Kyung-chul. What is not explained in the film is how Kyung-chul manage to find personal information of Kim Soo-hyeon within a quick span of time. There’s no mention in the film he’s connected with anyone in the police force, nor has ties with many criminals that can provide this information. Another issues comes in the form of useless police officers for the film both as characters, and narrative devices. Within the film, the police officers biggest contribution is making an arrest after Kim Soo-hyeon has another encounter with Kyung-chul. As far as usage go they give minimal remarks on how they dislike killers receiving medical treatment in a hospital despite their crimes, and does not provide additional characterization for any of the criminals. A miss opportunity for the police officers is providing a semblance of a man hunt. Rarely is there a mention of the police making progress of finding a suspect who is going after serial killers. There’s is a moment where it seems like the police are close to tracking down Kyung-chul, but it ends up being forgotten plot point. I would mention that the police did provide Kim Soo-hyeon information needed to track down his wife murderer as a positive from the police inclusion, but he’s a secret agent so information gathering wouldn’t be as difficult to obtain if he was an ordinary citizen.

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Choi Min-sik ain’t happy with this buried alive prank. 

I Saw the Devil is entirely reliant on talent of two highly regarded actors from Korea who are Choi Min-sik, and Byung-hun Lee. Choi Min-sik as the psychaotic Kyung-chul is a  performance that is show stealing. Portraying a psychopath whose proud, and takes pleasure in the accomplishment of his killings. Embodying the truest essence of a killer without going over the top. Choi Min-sik subdue portrayal makes his character much more memorable because of it. Coming off as human as possible making it believable in one moment he holds your best interest to then later on want to chop you up into pieces. Withholding any urge to exaggerate his mannerism, and body language. At the same time, despite how often the viewer will see him get abused, Min-sik is a talented actor that he’s still manage to make his character despicable. The character of Kyung-chul has remotely no essence of any likable traits, yet Choi Min-sik understanding of his character paints a clear understanding of his mentality. In the all best possible ways, Choi Min-sik delivers a performance is very impressive to see unfold as much as it is capable to make you immerse within the film.

Byung-hun Lee who plays isn’t too shabby himself in the film either. Lee does a excellent job displaying a character whom seem to have all life sucked out of him. Remaining calm in any situation, even when to face with the killer. Despite displaying a humanless exterior for most of the film when the situation demands it Byung-hun Lee, in a few scenes is able to be emotional. There’s a final moment as the film closes where in a single moment Lee be expresses how mentality broken his character has become. When it comes to the sequences that require to fight him against actor Choi Min-sik, and neither of whom are expert in martial arts their performance of these sequences can fool anyone. Especially Byung-hun Lee whose swift movement can make a viewer further believe he encompasses his perfectly. As for the rest of the cast they’re at best character actor being good at playing off that one specific trait of their characters. It’s no exaggeration when saying the film is essentially a showcase for actors Choi Min-sik, and Byung-hun Lee than. Given the film aims that’s not a negative. The (I’m surprise to have) stunts work in the film are have good work put into them, and in certain scenes amaze by its creativity.

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I’m huntin wabbits!

The film is directed by Jee-won Kim who also has a writing credit in the film. His direction in the film is basically flawless. Despite sporting a beautiful look thanks to Mo-gae Lee it still manages to create scenes that master of the horror genre would be proud off. One important tool in Kim framing of a horror sequence is lightning, and showing specific details of the environments. In the opening sequence, Jee-won Kim makes it clear how helpless one of Choi Min-sik victims is in the environment. A recurring feeling Jee-won Kim goes for is making the viewer feel trapped in certain environments. Rarely showing what’s on the outside of an car, or building when a horror set piece is in place. His usage of wide shots is minimal in the film mostly being reliant on close on medium, and close ups whenever in buildings, and cars. What it accomplishes is not showing any blind spot to where an escape route is possible. Another aspect Jee-won Kim avoids is the common horror trope of people tripping while they run. Since there isn’t a high death count that never becomes an issue. If there’s any moments where Jee-won Kim becomes indulgent it’s mostly towards horror fans. He makes up for the lack of kills by going all out in showing good practical effects of body parts, makes sure lots of blood is spilled, and doesn’t cut away from hard to watch sequences. There’s a scene there you see a character cutting off an Achilles tendon, and the viewer sees the entire process. Another standout sequence execellent direction revolves around Choi Min-sik riding in a taxi with suspicious characters. Without being specific, this particular is carefully constructed to be bloody displaying Choi Min-sik stabbing people multiple times in a taxi, and having little blood spill on the camera as it spins around taxi. Jee-won Kim is relentless where it counts, but not overboard to the point where it’s indulgent on blood, and gore.

I Saw the Devil is wonderful combination of horror, and a psychological thriller understanding the best of both genre. The horror elements allows it to go into dark places as well as be bloody in presentation. Balance elegantly with the psychological mind games of two characters who simply hate each other guts to fuel it story after its first act. It’s a wonderfully twisted cat, and mouse game even when it’s clear at points it wants to be more than just revenge fantasy entertainment. On a technical level alone it offers two great performances from two good actor which alone makes it worth viewing. If you haven’t seen a good usage of horror within films, or simply a fan of horror movies I Saw the Devil will satisfy viewers who simply want the blood, and gore, while also offering viewers who are looking something more than just meaningless bloodshed.

8/10

Cinema-Maniac: Unfriended (2014) Movie Review

The following is an actual text chat between friends up on social media websites called “Facebook”, and “Skype”. This horrific event has been approved to be shared to the public by the authorities. Which ones specifically? Just, the authorities.

[The following is taken from Facebook]

Cesar: “Let’s watch Unfriended. Who knows you might enjoy it you said!”

Matoi: “The premise hasn’t been done to death in the horror genre.”

Cesar: “It’s no different than text chatting on literally any website with someone. Worse of all, I had to pay actual money for what was basically “Reaction: The Feature Length Film”. What a waste of day off. Thanks allot.”

Izanagi: “Hello suckas! That movie was eh.”

Cesar: “Eh? You’re telling me a whole film of people simply looking at their laptop camera classifies as an “eh” film for you?”

Izanagi: “It was realistic…”

Cesar: “Realistic? You’re telling me a teenager who grew up with the internet, and social media doesn’t know what a troll is? Not only that, but you expect me to me to believe this whole thing was recorded, and every one of the victims parents was apparently okay with this being shown to the public. Something like this isn’t public domain, you need people consent or they could sue you. You’re telling me the parents wouldn’t sue the film distributors for releasing this! There wasn’t even a text box that stated “We were granted the parents consent to show this”. That alone guarantees failure before starting the film since the number one thing 98% of found footage movies get wrong is simple logic!”

Matoi: “You’re thinking too much on that. What really bothers me is the fact despite YouTube strict regulations they apparently allowed a video where someone is being bullied to be up. Even though their policy strictly claims they do not approve of harrassments. The first sentence on their harassment, and cyberbullying policy says “We want you to use YouTube without fear of being subjected to malicious harassment”. If this was posted on a website like 4chan where any kind of content can be posted, or even the Deep Web I would have bought it. Nope, that didn’t happen so it invalidated the entire movie. That’s not even taking into account the title tells someone to kill themself.”

Izanagi: “Strict? YouTube is the website where you can find videos of people dying. So that’s far from its biggest issue. For the sake of this discussion that ruined the illusion for you. You don’t need to bring up the gap in logic by applying real world knowledge, streaming site policies, or even the law into it, but who stands around in a chat room quietly waiting for their one friend to finish writing to someone. I know what I would do, talk to one of the possibly 4 other people in that chat room!”

Cesar: “Seriously, the standards for horror films have fallen. I mean seriously, if the film was found footage why was the sound edited whenever Blaire played music. Or that one time the sound in the background was edited out so we could hear typing.”

Izanagi: “What did you expect? Need I remind you the awfulness that was M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Visit” even without my bet being made. People consider that a good movie by Shyamalan’s standard. If that’s a phrase that will get thrown around it’s no better than saying this movie was good by bad movie standards.”

Matoi: “Can we talk about the part where Cesar wouldn’t stop complaining through the entire thing. You were starting to get more annoying than the characters in the movie.”

Cesar: “Well when a fat guy takes the time to show us his blender of course I’m going to complain. Like I’m really going to question this guy has a blender in his house. It was unnecessary to deliberately show us he has a blender. That would like me showing you my dick to establish I have one, and then get killed by later on.”

Matoi: “No microscope would be able to see that tiny thing.”

Izanagi: “OHHHHHHHHH! You got burned!”

Cesar: “Walked right into that one.”

Matoi: “So you’re going to write about this garbage thing.”

Cesar: “You kidding me. It’s another awful found footage movie. They’re a dime a dozen. What am I going to say about this one that I can’t say for the majority of them. Bad acting, too polish on the production side to actually believe regular people recorded this, abusing jump scares, having no idea of proper cinematography in this genre, having credit sequences crediting actors playing these “real” people, and so much more.”

Izanagi: “Oh? Someone called the Phantom wants to join our chat?”

Matoi: “Well, clearly deny them access, and block them.”

Izanagi: “I’ll get on that.”

Cesar: “Even this basic action the film got incorrectly. Oh, also they could simply ignore the fake account, and go on with their chat. If not, simply tell everyone else to meet somewhere in person. Shut off the internet box in your house. You know, leave the laptop unattended if you believe it’s possessed. They could have done anything to survive, and the ghost didn’t have any power to force them to stay either in that one location. Don’t you find it funny the chick who committed suicide profile wasn’t already a memorial before the movie started?”

Matoi: “Says the guy who wrote a slightly positive review for Sharknado. Eh, still it’s a good point. At least in Sharknado, the titled tells you straight out the kind of logic it’ll have. In this, if I’m expected to believe this could happen to us it needed more researched to be done.”

Izanagi: “They won’t leave me alone, and the Phantom user might have multiple accounts. So why don’t we just text, or video chat on another site.”

During this time it’s unknown to account what happened to the three, but it is confirmed that a minute after that message the three went on Skype.

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Like what you here? Because this is how the entire movie is like.

[The following is taken from Skype]

Cesar: “So…”

Sex heard could heard in the background.

Matoi: “Cesar, are you watching porn?”

Cesar: “Uh no. I don’t watch anime when you’re around so what makes you think I’ll put on porn?”

Izanagi: “It’s me. I was watching an episode of Impractical Jokers.”

Cesar: “Sure you were.”

Izanagi: “No seriously I was!”

Horses could heard in the background.

Matoi: “The more you know. Ewww!”

Cesar: “Turned that off.”

Izanagi: “Fine. There you happy.”

Cesar: “Why yes I am.”

Izanagi: “Another unrealistic thing about the movie is Skype doesn’t record video chats. So how did the filmmakers get the footage? It can’t be found footage, if, you know, IT WAS NEVER RECORDED IN THE FIRST! Oh gosh. You infected with your cynical disease. Now how am I going to enjoy anything ever again?”

Matoi: “Stop exaggerating Izanagi. We all know you would have to be decontaminated if you’re infected with whatever Cesar was diagnose with. Any thoughts on the acting.”

Cesar: “The acting was nonexistent. They were given badly written characters to portray, and some awful dialogue to say. Oh, my favorite part of the film was the unrealistic moment when the power goes out in the of teens house, yet his internet is fine.”

Matoi: “Ghost Internet, a SyFy channel original movie.”

Cesar: “lol. I would so see that. Would be a much better movie than this.”

Izanagi: “What about everything else?”

Cesar: “I mean what else is there to talk about.”

Matoi: “Well there was Blaire who went crazy when her boyfriend didn’t reply to her immediately. Seriously, wait a bit for a reply.”

Izanagi: “Oh man that was boring. It’s one thing to actually do it, but seeing someone type a Facebook message in complete silence is not what I would call a good movie”

Matoi: “I seriously hate jump scares. I hate it more when it’s the only thing a horror movie tries to scare you with.”

Izanagi: “You know what my favorite part was? The fact the Ghost actually repositioned the webcams to show whenever she kills someone. How considerate of a vengeful spirit.”

Cesar: “So it unanimous among us this movie sucked. The writing is all over the place, the acting is nonexistent, relies only on jump scares to, and virtually nothing about it is redeemable.”

Izanagi: “I would say it’s unredeemable. It didn’t drag out, and the premise makes it reasonable for it to be called a “Found Footage” movie even if the writing is weak. It did something different in a tired genre. That was enough for me.”

Matoi: “Horny teenagers getting killed in a horror movie isn’t new.”

It’s at this very moment the power went out, and this is where it is presumed the three of these individuals made contact with aliens.

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Wasn’t joking. Ever chatted on Skype for 90 minutes? Basically like seeing this movie minus entertainment.

[The following is taken from a Facebook text chat]

Izanagi: “I still can’t feel my face! Seriously, they asked so many questions in 12 hours.”

Cesar: “You are lucky your rich okay. My boss, the first thing he does when I tell him I spend my day being questioned by the police is yell at me for not going to work. I seriously got no idea how I put up with him.”

Matoi: “12 hours? I was out in half an hour. Afterwards I went on a date.”

Izanagi: “With a cop?”

Matoi: “Nah! Some guy from my dorms. He wouldn’t let me talk so it ended quickly.”

Cesar: “Well, I’m just happy all three of us turned out fine. ”

Izanagi: “Later guys!”

Matoi: “You’re leaving already? Then what was the point of you joining this text chat.”

Izanagi has left the chat room

Cesar: “It’s just us now. Oh man. I do not look forward to tomorrow.”

Matoi: “How come?”

Cesar: “I’m suppose to meet some filmmakers I’ve never heard off. They want to turn our story into a found footage horror film.”

Matoi: “Really? Who’s playing me?”

Cesar: “Um, I think I overheard Dakota Johnson. I think she was in Fifty Shades of Grey, and Selena Gomez when walking out. I got some paper they gave me with potential casting.”

Matoi: “I guess I would be okay with Dakota Johnson, but not Selena Gomez.”

Cesar: “The part of Izanagi has been offered to Simon Yam, and Jacky Wu Jing!”

Matoi: “Who are they?”

Cesar: “Simon Yam is only one of the most acclaimed actor from Hong Kong, and Jacky Wu Jing is, well, a martial artist with some famous fight scenes under his belt!”

Matoi: “Well that’s lame. Why do I get the lame actors.”

Cesar: “You? What about me? The producers are contacting Justin Bieber, Kellen Lutz, and Lucas Cruikshank. The guy who played Fred on YouTube to play me. That is just terrible. No way am I’m giving them the rights to tell this story.”

Matoi: “Yeah, don’t give them permission.”

Cesar: “So, before I end the chat.”

Matoi: “No.”

Cesar: “Shot down again. This will be another chapter in the Biography of Heartbreak.”

Matoi: “Haha. You’re so lame.”

Cesar: “Oh well. Remember, stay awesome!”

Matoi: “You…you’re okay I guess. Bye!”

Matoi has left the chat room. Cesar has logged out of Facebook. The next day Cesar went back to talk to the film producers, but no one has seen since that day. Scary.

Public Disclosure: As a spokesperson for the authority, I, writer Nelson Greaves, and my colleague, writer/director Levan Gabriadze of Unfriended encourage all readers to not seek out the actual story of what transpire today. It was very disturbing, and very true what happened. No matter what, with caution, the internet can be a wonderful place. So please be careful, and do not ask Cesar, or his friends what happened as they’ll only feed you lies. Now, in the future please look forward to our next feature film titled Followed. It deals with the harassment of being followed on Twitter, and from our extensive research is the number one public stalking site on the internet. Very terrifying indeed when the whole world is given the power to stalk you. Also, currently in production there’s “Lying Faces”. A gut wrenching documentary about false friendships. You won’t believe profiles with insane lies in the film. We met a person who had around 500 friends on Facebook, but actually only knew around 30 of them. The truth of Facebook will be reveal to all. Finally, we’re proud to announce “PornHub: The Movie” which is our most accurate film to date. We had our entire production do research on this site to discover that all videoes on the site are actually recorded sex tape from real couples, even the animated ones! We were disturbed to see hundred of videos of mothers having sex with their children, people being held prisoners in sadistic dungeons, Angels having sex with humans, and so many others things. The world is a sick place, and we must inform the people.

 

0/10

Cinema-Maniac: The Visit (2015) Review

Pre-viewing discussion:

(interrupting a quiet day as a cashier)

Izanagi: “So will you see The Visit with me?”

Cesar: “Do Pigs sweat?”

Izanagi: “No”

Cesar: “There you go”

Izanagi: “You got to stop your bias thinking on M. Night Shyamalan”

Cesar: “Really? Okay, starting from 2002 all the way to 2010 M. Night Shyamalan was only ever attached to one good movie.”

Izanagi: “The Sixth Sense?”

Cesar gives Izanagi a grim look, and a head shake of disapproval.

Izanagi: “You didn’t even like The Sixth Sense!”

Cesar: “I did like Unbreakable, but that’s about it. In my book Shyamalan is a mystery. Kinda like Neill Blomkamp, minus starting off with a great movie, and then declining. Shyamalan was bad for me out of the gate.”

Izanagi: “Come on! See it with me!”

Cesar: “You have two things working against you. One I already mentioned, and to reiterate M. Night Shyamalan is a terrible writer. Second is the found footage format, and I’ll stand by my claim by saying 98% of found footage movies are garbage. Also, if it is like his other movies it’s going to have a plot twist.”

Izanagi: “Even if it does you won’t guess the twist.”

Cesar: “Give me the setup”

Izanagi: “It’s about two kids visiting their grandparents…”

Cesar interrupts Izanagi to say what he believes is the twist.

Izanagi: “If that’s so, only one way to find out.”

Cesar: “Fine, but if I win you buy me a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Izanagi: “Jigoku no!”

Cesar: “There you go I win.”

Izanagi: “Fine I agree, but if I win you have to…see Jack and Jill”

Cesar: “No way. I could barely tolerate one Adam Sandler. I don’t even want to picture two of him in one movie”

Izanagi: “Afraid now are we?”

Cesar: “Fine, but if anything happens to me….”

Izanagi: “Like the time Ooga Booga made your soul leave your body, or the time you had a bomb inserted in your balls, and timed to explode when you reviewed Diana. I’m sure you’ll survive this”

When I heard about “The Visit” I immediately lost interest even before knowing who was involved in it. The title alone kept me away, but when I discover the two other factors; M Night. Shyamalan, and the found footage format it was “No Zone” film for me. One thing I hate about the found footage format is that it’s the most insulting sub-genre in film. Allot of found footage movies claim they’re real which immediately discredits them. Not only that, but virtually everyone in a found footage movie has an HD camera to record whatever incident they are in. Cameras have gotten better from their conception, but I’m expected to believe every single person has an HD camera to record what they’re seeing. To further explain my distaste for found footage films are the force justification for a character to film everything they’re doing, and not let go of the camera. If some of these movies incorporated traditional scenes along with the “found footage” scenes I would believe what I’m seeing a lot easier. Except I’m not, and the first found footage film, Cannibal Holocaust, has hard to watch content (actual animals are killed on-screen) is still a high point in this sub-genre. Combine a movie with one of my most hated writer of all film, and my most hated sub-genre you have “The Visit”.

The Visit I will not provide a synopsis for. I want to reiterate this is an M. Night Shyamalan film so by nature if you know his writing any description of the premise can spoil the movie. Therefore, any review that has a synopsis for the “The Visit” fan or no fan of the director should consider them spoilers. Now, the first thing that raised a red flag about the poor writing skill of Shyamalan was a mistake in the first five minutes. We’re told the mother of the main characters was contacted by her parents through the internet, and the grandparents want to see their grand kids. So this would have not caused any suspicions if the mother did not established she had a rocky relationship with her parents, and has not seen them for 15 years in the first two minutes of the movie. First of all, by simply saying she got a phone call would have been believable, but nope the mother simply says the internet is how her parents found her. You know, that thing is basically a digital ocean of information. Two, the protagonist’s mother found out about her grandparents being counselor through the internet also.

(Cesar drinks an entire beer bottle.)

You gotta be kidding. I was hoping I would never have to say this because there is bad filmmakers, and then Jorge Ameer who is worse. M. Night Shyamalan writing has crossed over into Jorge Ameer territory. In 2013, Jorge Ameer wrote a movie called D’Agostino where the main character found an entire backstory for a pet human slave by simply typing his name, D’Agostino, on the internet. Shyamalan writing is similar to that of Jorge Ameer in this instance. Third, is the mother keeping tabs on her parents at all times? It would explain how she quickly  manage to found out about her parents started counseling. Four, the main character, Becca, is an aspiring filmmaker whose filming the events for a documentary. One important thing about documentaries would be research. So how come Becca didn’t tell her mother to show her a picture of her grandparents? I found this suspicious which is extremely good for those like me who just love to prove the overly hated, overly criticized M. Night Shyamalan “talent” has been overlooked.

Izanagi: “Dude, get on with it!”

Cesar: “I would, but I still got to complain about the first five minutes.”

Izanagi: “Man you suck!”

Five, the protagonist’s mother went to her parents counseling website, and finds no picture of them? Now, because this is a Shyamalan film within the first two-minute I figured out the twist. At least in Signs (2002), the twist wasn’t easy to spot. Sure it turned to be plot breaking, and rendered the premise broken, but I wasn’t able to predict the twist. Here, everything that has been established in the first five minutes of the film, and the lack of logic in it only serves to giveaway the twist. Six, if Becca actually saw a picture of her grandparents the film itself wouldn’t exist. This leap of logic is needed in order for there to be a film. If there’s no sound foundation for the story to begins then it’ll serve hurt it more in the long run with more mistakes.

Seven, the mother despite telling her kids not to go still lets her kids go visit their grandparents. If this was written competently than the mother would accompany the kids instead of leaving them on their own despite what her kids wanted. You know, like a reasonably concerned parent. Shyamalan could have used the mother memory against her. A simple “It’s been so long. I don’t recognize you mom, and dad” would have been enough to buy into this setup. It’s established that the mother hasn’t see her grandparents in fifteen years, and some of these simple changes would have removed these plot holes. I was willing to look past this immediate failed setup by Shyamalan until, Tyler (one of our main characters) attempted to make Vanilla Ice rapping seem like Tupac Shakur in comparison with the following rap.

Tyler: “Girl. I’m chilling again. I feelin again. I am like Iron-Man and Batman. I’m a hero again. Ugh. You think I’m little, but last month I grew an inch, and a quarter again. You think you’re 2 good for me. But that’s really a joke, cause you c. That doesn’t bother me. Cause I’m not a sensitive blough. Ugh. Now in the end, you’ll be in my bed. We won’t be just friends. You’ll write inappropriate text, and hit send. We share a Starbucks frappuccino blend dog. And see this isn’t just philosophy. It’s based on science you see. My Mista Pediatrician disconfront for me. You tall skanks! I’m going through puberty. Hoe!”

Izanagi: “Oh, man. That was just painful.”

Cesar: “Pass me the mic.”

Izanagi: “Dude, just forget it please. That rap was awful. Let’s just move on.”

Cesar: “No, no. I need to illustrate how incompetent M. Night Shyamalan is at writing.”

Izanagi: “You eventually will with the rest of the review! It’s already bloated enough.”

(Cesar grabs a mic out of thin air, and begins rapping)

Cesar: “The same old boring day just keeps rewinding. Everybody’s fear just keeps on binding. Still they act tough, like they’re hot stuff, but it all doesn’t matter cause it’s all a big bluff. The same routine everyday is boring. Need to get outside and start exploring. Thoughts in my mind are overlapping. I’m running out of lines to keep on rapping. What did you think?”

Izanagi: “…That was good.”

(Cesar, drops the mic.)

Cesar: “M. Night got nothing on me. I wasn’t raised the streets foo!”

Izanagi: “Well, he was nominated once for an Oscar for his screenplay for The Sixth Sense”

Cesar: “Stanley Kubrick received a Razzie nomination for Worst Director for The Shining, and Brian De Palma received one for Scarface (1983). Awards, and nominations does not make talent factual.”

With the first five minutes of the film alone I already have enough material to post a satisfying review. Not only did I bring up issues with the premise itself that it never fixes, but also presented solutions to some of those problems that could have led to a better film. However, if I stopped at just the first five-minutes that would leave many to discredit my position on the film, even though I just proved, and provided reasons as to why the writing is broken.

The Visit is meant to be a comedy, and horror film preferring the former genre for its overall tone. However, Shyamalan does not know when to implement comedy. There’s a scene where Tyler goes into a tool shed of sorts that is setting up a horror scene. Tyler enters this dark shed, and says throughout the scene how much it smells. This destroys the atmosphere the scene was going for, and misleads the viewer into thinking they’re meant to be afraid of what’s in this shed. When the scene is solely comedy it doesn’t hit well. Besides timing, the cast is filled with only two major characters to follow, and aren’t written to balance the horror, and comedy of the movie. Becca is mostly serious in the film so she is not reliable for humor. She hardly breaks out of her serious mold, and when she does it simply to set up a horror scene with no payoff. Then there’s Tyler who has the role of being comedy relief. He has to rap terribly in the movie for comedy relief, and also be taken seriously. He’s a character whose poorly written because little about him is developed beyond the fact he wants to be a rapper. As for his backstory revolving around dealing with his father leaving from his life at a young age affects Becca more than it does Tyler. With Tyler constantly shown without concern for serious issues until the last act rolls in. Tyler is never an engaging character.

There’s a moment in the film when Tyler says, and I want to emphasize M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN WROTE THIS! Tyler says, “No one gives a crap about cinematic standard. It’s not the 1800s. Have you seen reality TV? Housekeepers of Houston has like a billion viewers!”.

Cesar cynically clapping.

Thank you M. Night Shyamalan for reaffirming your negative attributes from your ego, not listening to criticism, and sheer ignorance for proper filmmaking with this dialogue. You dare insult the audience telling them they don’t have cinematic standards? Not only that, but you’re only defense is reality TV is popular? Have you missed Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Oz, The Twilight Zone (1959 – 1964), and other great series so you could cherry pick only reality television? M. Night, you just can’t assume you’re critical stance is correct with a narrowed mindset like yours. Maybe if you know, you were anything like Steven F$%@ing Spielberg you might be taken seriously with this claim. You do have Becca counterarguing Tyler claims, but the fact is M. Night Shyamalan is solely credited as the writer, and told everyone (including his fans, who might even hate reality TV) they do not care about cinematic standards. If professional film critics, and audiences didn’t have cinematic standards Shyamalan people would be eating up “The Last Airbender” just on name value alone.

There’s also the introduction of two characters in the movie that go absolutely nowhere. On this trip, what were the chances that Becca would filmed two completely random adults who used to be actors. One during the train ride in the beginning of the film, and another twenty minutes in when someone came up to check up on the grandparents. These two characters don’t do much from the single scene they are in besides being more evidence to assure viewers who made predictions on the twist. Another person is brought up in the film is a stranger who just appears in an empty neighborhood to just get beat up by the grandpa.

Why this stands out so much is before grandpa, and the our main kids characters arrive at the high school their grandparents met each other. We’re shown the drive to that destination, and there’s hardly any people walking on the streets. Sure it’s winter, but another trick to good horror movies is removing the suspicion of there being any scares in a scene which can’t be done when the one time we’re shown the outside of this house is an empty neighborhood. Becca encourages her grandpa, and brother to play a game where they make up a story for a person in a building. I spotted the house where M. Night Shyamalan good ideas never existed.

Another aspect about this scene that also gave away the twist was the grandpa feeling like he was being followed. Now, we’re told these old people are counselor so when the grandfather acts funny by believing someone is following him it doesn’t add up. I mean, it’s part of his job to talk to people so this scene was also reaffirming my prediction on the twist, as well as breaking what’s established. If the grandpa simply stated one of his patients has it out of him problem solved, and nothing seems out of character. Except grandpa, and grandma never talk about their jobs, nor mention the people they help in detail.

The last secondary character that is worth mentioning is a young woman who brings food to the house. Seeing the lack of attention for establishing any form of normality this character also goes nowhere. If the lack of secondary characters didn’t giveaway there’s something clearly wrong with the situation then the interaction will. Shyamalan problem was immediately making the grandparents awkward for the kids to talk too. He does not show a gradual change from a welcome home environment with the grandparents to unsettling visit. This decision cost Shyamalan to write himself into a corner. Without establishing a sense of normality, or a nice family moment viewers will expect something bad to happen at the end. Also, there’s not a single shot of Becca, Tyler, and the grandparents all together in the same frame. Hmm, nothing suspicion is there. You think Becca, an aspiring filmmaker would at least want one shot of the entire family together for documentary, except the thought never pops in her mind. Hm, completely makes sense to me. Unfortunately, something bad did end up happening in the last act.

Izanagi: “No! Why?!”

Cesar: “I was right! I told you M. Night Shyamalan is a terrible writer!”

Izanagi: “I don’t know who I hate more right now. You for acting obnoxious for being correct, or the fact M. Night is still writing twists into his movies!”

Now the twist wasn’t hard to see to coming. Before the twist is revealed there is not a single scene in the film with the entire cast all together. The two kids, are never shown sharing a scene with both grandparents together besides when they meet for the first time. They either hang out with the grandpa, or the grandma. On top of that, every scene where the kids interact with the grandparents is written awkwardly. One way to counteract this would have been writing a single scene of the entire family having fun together. Except that never happens. Something has to go aray whenever the kids are with their grandparents. Then there’s the plain problem that the kids are mostly together implying they hardly hang out with the grandparents. Also, let’s not forget the counseling job is mentioned once in the beginning, and is briefly brought up again in the middle of the film. So connecting the dots wasn’t a difficult task for me. It wasn’t being used in the film to drive the plot so I made a note of it. The broken premise, combine with awkward interaction between kids and grandparents, the lack of secondary characters written in the film, the lack of the grandparents talking about their jobs or seen doing it, no nights at the grandparents house without some odd occurrence, and that it is written by M. Night Shyamalan made me confidence about my prediction. Also, the fact I dread being correct goes to show I take no pleasure in being correct about a bad piece of writing, and the whole film in general.

There’s still other elements to write about though. Those the are the characters which don’t have depths to them. Becca is an aspiring filmmaker, but talks about film in a snobish way. There is no enthusiasm towards her approach in filming. There’s also a subplot brought out of nowhere of how she doesn’t like looking at herself, even though there was a moment fifteen minutes into the film of Becca looking into a mirror when talking to Tyler. This would be better foreshadow if she turned around in that scene, and talked to Tyler. Also, she’s an aspiring filmmaker, and does not like looking at herself? There’s also this plot point of the kids father leaving them at a young age which also get brought out of nowhere at times. This eventually connects with why Becca is filming the documentary…but it’s very silly. A simple phone call would fix everything if all the mother was looking for was forgiveness. Then the plot twist opens up more plot holes, and brings up the serious lack of police world in this small town.

Now, the acting is surprisingly good. The dialogue is written awkwardly, and the kids don’t talk like kids, but they are convincing in their roles. Olivia Dejonge who plays Becca deliver convincingly her role of a troubled young teen. She sounds like she has built up resentment, sounds like she’s into filmmaking, and shows uncertainty on to how to feel in situations. Dejonge does not come across wooden in her performance. Dejonge comes across convincingly as her character. Ed Oxenbould best trait was his chemistry with Olivia Dejonge. I believed him, and Olivia Dejonge were siblings. Their chemistry felt natural in every sense of the word. However, Ed Oxenbould was the most annoying out of the cast. I blame Shyamalan for giving him his awful rapping scenes, but Oxenbould takes the blame for confusing shouting for comedy. Ed Oxenbould does not have the acting chops to sell good jokes because he has no charisma behind his setup, and punchline, let alone selling a film filled entirely of bad jokes. Making matter worse is he ends the film with another one of his terrible rapping scenes.

Deanna Dunagan plays the grandmother in the film. Aesthetically she fits the role by simply having to look old, but her appearances is her greatest attribute in this film. Managing to come across as some nice old lady, and flipping the switch into insane crazy old woman. She shows fear whenever she does anything odd which adds to the character uneasiness towards the kids. Dunagan comes across convincingly as a senile person. Lastly, Peter Mcrobbie gets a less showing performance compare to his co-star Dunagan. Mcrobbie comes as sincere in portrayal which is to his credit. He’s makes a character that little to explore, and acts naturally in it. There ain’t much to his performance besides being the more normal acting grandparent. The supporting don’t have screen time to make an impression making most of their inclusion in the film mostly pointless in one scene.

Night Shyamalan’s The Visit is just plain bad. It’s not a good movie by Shyamalan’s standards, nor ties for the worst films he’s made in his careers. By found footage standard, the acting is better than the genre generally provides, but the writing matches those of the worst in the genre. Then finally, the same mistakes 98% of found footage movies do The Visit also falls victim from audio being able to be heard despite long distances, the characters filming everything, and acting against reason. For instance, there’s a scene where the grandmother picks up a camera, and film herself attempting to enter her grandkids room with a knife with the intention to kill them. So despite losing her marbles this old woman has the sense to pick up a camera, but not destroy the footage? Shyamalan is not successful enough in creating a fictional illusion barely comprehending makes work of fiction engaging. Whatever made him think he could sell something else as reality to viewers is about as nonsensical as his writing.

2/10

Izanagi insisted I include this epilogue.

After-viewing discussion:

Izanagi (furiously looking at Cesar): “You’re such a buzz kill!”

Cesar: “I told you so Izanagi. This is M. Night Shyamalan we’re talking about.”

Izanagi: “You’re so obtuse on the guy! Other people enjoy his works. If you don’t, then don’t be a dick about it! There is no one out there who shares your same viewpoints on movies”

Cesar: “Fair point, but think about this. From my perspective, the hack that is M. Night Shyamalan gets more attention, articles, and discussions for his films over talented filmmakers like Charles Burnett who made a great biopic called Selma, Lord, Selma in 1998 for Walt Disney Pictures.”

Izanagi: “There is no way Disney made a film on Dr. King. I mean, hello. They’re Disney!”

(Izanagi takes out his phone to check if it’s true. Much to his dislike CM is correct.)

Izanagi looks at a smiling CM: “I hate you so much.”

Cinema-Maniac: Session 9 (2001) Review

Session 9 follows a cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back. The characters we followed are never meant to be viewed as humans, but rather are treated as story elements. Our characters get a fair amount of development that instead of building an emotional bond are use to create anxiety. No one in the film has an ideal life as conversations hint at their life issues. While professionally the cleaning crew are more cooperative with each other they are on bad terms on a personal angle. This direction does away with some trappings of horror movies. For starter the cheater plot point adds to understanding the relationships between the crew not becoming a revelation when nearing the climax. It also makes sense whenever characters react to the situation given their relationship and their job priorities. Another right choice is the inclusion of the backstory given to the setting. Becoming more than just the place where the story takes place. Understanding what activity occurred in the mental hospital, an overview of the kind of patients that were instituted, and how it came to be abandoned. Surrounding it setting in another reality that the characters both accept it existence and refusal to acknowledge anything supernatural.

Incorporating an abundance of paranoia elements that are further reinforced with it setting. A mental hospital that said to have experimented on patients, and hearing dialogue of old therapy sessions. Allowing it to work thematically in two ways; one being the recordings are only heard therefore it’s possible that the patient has a split personality or there are many patients in these therapy sessions. Building a vague bridge that connects with the possibility of greater force beyond our comprehension without distancing the story from reality. Second reason for these recording working is the amount of depth given to the backstory. There is a patient that reappears in the story and virtually all the recordings that are played are from her various sessions. We get the full picture of the victim story that adds to the debate of how much of presented to us is grounded in reality. However, the script does have it problems like mention before the characters are story tools and never actual people. The development given to them while breaking some conventions are given little personality. Characters that never show up on screen have more depth than the characters we follow. Another issue is the ending presents a theme, but not character conclusions. It just a means to an end to express an idea not so much as to tell a story that ends on all two traditional note compared to it’s non traditional build up.

Filmed on handheld cameras sporting a sort of pseudo-documentary feel, not dissimilar to a found footage horror. Attempting to come across as one of those old therapy sessions that was videotaped. The quality of the video is sharp, although it looks extremely unnatural. Much like one of the characters in this film, the video just seeps into you like it’s possessing you. At first, the look is off-putting, but as you get further and further into the movie, you begin to accept its presence as if it’s been with you the entire time. As more is slowly revealed the audience is bombarded with seemingly unrelated footage of the area that hints at a darker and more sinister truth behind the ghost stories. Brad Anderson takes his time in telling the story therefore familiarizing the audience with the unsettling hospital. Even with shadow filled room our vision is never obscured. With its twisting hallways and dark basement passages, it clearly personifies the proverbial house of the damned. Anderson does a superb job in dealing with spatial relations in the film making some rooms ominously large, while others are claustrophobic and tiny. The cast are routinely impressive, injecting some life and humour into two-dimensional characters and it’s Mullan who is the standout, creating an astonishing level of intensity with little to no substance. Peter Mullan subtly suggests a growing disengagement from reality while David Caruso is a mix of hooky fun and leering creepiness. Josh Lucas handles a variety of different personalities sloppily. He’s the most underwhelming of the cast. Brandon Sexton never becomes his character due to his lack of showing much range, but makes it count when it comes to the horror centered scenes being consumed by fear.

Session 9 is an atmospheric horror movie that builds a tension instead of a body count. Brad Anderson slow pacing allows time for themes to materialize and let the viewer become familiar with the not so comfortable mental hospital. While the characters are never sympathetic nor are they memorable in the slightest they do breakaway from conventions. It avoids some horror film trappings in the first two acts it builds up to the climax. Ending on a final act that is more traditional and less thought out than the journey. It doesn’t end as strongly as it begins, but it’s a horror film that knows how to engross the viewer into its mentality.

7/10

Cinema-Maniac: Spirits In the Woods (2014) Review

I’ve been visiting the “Indie Scene” less frequently since it can take seven hours to reach my destination with good traffic. Also, the lack of any film property catching my attention. This year I tended to bat an eye away from them. However, “Spirit in the Wood” is different as John Lepper (a producer of the film) attempted to convince me it was worth my time. Once Lepper mention it was a found footage horror film I started walking off, but told me about it came into production. Apparently it was only possible through the fundings on Kickstarter.

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Anthony Daniel who’s the writer, director, producer, music supervisor, casting manager, first degree idiot, and editor who despite not being able to get the budget he wanted still made the film. I can respect that in an aspiring filmmaker. With that finished I gave it a shot out of kindness knowing full well I might end up not liking it.

Once the film got started it was thankful enough to wait seven in to provide a title card that said, “All this footage is found and real. Viewers discretion is advised”. Thank goodness for that warning too since the acting in the first seven minutes is horrific. Not a single a movement, not a single line reading, nothing about the actors made me believe I was seeing real people. It didn’t help either the small audience didn’t buy it either. All that was presented in the first seven minutes are some college students mysteriously vanished (like the audience attention) when entering “Spiritual Woods” known to be haunted. Also, I should note that within these seven minutes it insults horror movies by claiming their plotlines are basically a fabric of fiction and nothing could compare to the real story of “Spiritual Woods”. Once your horror movie has “found footage” labeled to it your horror film lost all rights to trash talk any other horror film.

Spirit in the Woods is about five college students getting lost in the woods. For those wondering that’s the whole movie. Ideas are so scarce that every single thing wrong with the film can be generalized without in depth detail. You’ll find this hard to believe, but the film actually attempts to build up the sense that something is wrong by oddly positioned tree branches. Well they are in the woods and there are tree branches everywhere in the woods. I’m expected to sympathize for a couple of college students that believe there’s a correct way to position tree branches in the woods? Good luck trying to get anyone to a feel any emotions for these “real people”. Every scene is repetitive, conversations are repetitive, absolutely zero likable characters all of whom are annoying, lingers it deadweight proudly, and a ending that shoehorned in promotion for a sequel. So here’s a rundown of the plot without skimping on any details. Five college students get an assignment, five college students decide to do their assignment on “Spiritual Woods”, they go into “Spiritual Woods”, get lost, and killed. That is all folks that happens. Dialogue generally goes back and forth between “I heard something. Oh it was nothing”, “Wait I think I saw something? Oh never mind it was nothing”, and “We’re lost”. For sixty minutes the repetitive dialogue drive these points across. Around the twenty-eight minute in this lovely screen appears.

spirits in the wood

Dream Comet Studios (founded by the film director Anthony Daniel) had time to “fix up” the footage, but couldn’t be bothered to do a proper spell check. To get the point across to the filmmakers especially Anthony Daniel. Here’s an example so you’ll remember to how tell the two words apart. You use “are” as in these filmmakers are clueless about making a tolerable film. And “our” as in you wasted our (the audience) time with this technically unviewable film with no story. The rest of the film beyond that point is the same thing repeated. Five college students talk about hearing or seeing something that turns out to be not there and being lost. It isn’t until the final fifteen minutes that it breaks away from a cycle of repetition that hammers that perhaps something evil is in the woods. They get killed in by last minute plot twist by girl that just went insane. This twist is just spontaneous as the character never shows ever collapsing into a mental state of insanity by any signs.

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Actual still from the movie.

The acting is atrocious by the non actors. Their performances prevents the film from selling any dreary mood in the haunted woods. They all come across as just bunch of annoying, dumb college students. As you noticed the image above that’s a picture I took right from the official Facebook page of the film. This pains me to say it, but it doesn’t look like it cost $1,300 dollars to make. At best the filmmakers got three cheap cameras, some gasoline, and some food which consider the talent behind the camera should be around one hundred dollar. Anyone could literally film their friends getting lost in the woods for around eighty minutes which is this biggest problem. Nothing about it presents any good quality from good filmmaking. The editing is a mess and the “fixed up” footage looks worse than the already grainy looking film. There’s no reason for every single moment to be filmed as contradicted by the “real people”. Whenever they say they should stop filming they immediately turn on the camera seconds later. It’s just horrible on every level. Even during the final ten minutes credits roll over a still playing film. Don’t these people know the important things in a movie come before the closing credits not during it.

Spirit in the Woods is the absolute holy grail of bad found footage horror movies. Presenting every negative aspects without a care like using its format as a gimmick, lingering in a deadweight plot where nothing happens, and the nerve to sell itself as “real” while insulting horror films for the same reasons itself fails for. This film is a complete failure in every conceivable way and should have remain lost to never punish any unsuspecting human being.

0/10

Extra: Personal Side Story

So right before the first of several closing credits sequences it has a badly photoshop missing persons poster that says to visit its Facebook page to learn more on the true story. Naturally I did and imagine my shock when the film official fan page posted updates mourning those who died in 2013. Then I go to director Anthony Daniel Facebook profile to find those same people who were considered dead in photo from this year thanking its cast. Just wow! That deserves a sarcastic round of applause as Anthony Daniel does give a VAN DAMME on the integrity of his own fiction and creation.

spirits in the woods

Cinema-Maniac: Scream (1996) Review

Every genre has a formula none more repetitive than in horror films. Several films has proven if done right can still work, but as a reliance for a genre it grows repetitive and tiresome resorting to the same tricks that audiences are accustomed to spotting them whenever they appear. Scream takes established expectations and turns it around using it strongly to its advantage combining witty humor and tension.

Scream is about a killer known as Ghostface killing off teenagers, and as the body count begins rising, one girl and her friends find themselves contemplating the “Rules” of horror films as they find themselves living in a real-life one. Self aware of its own existence as a film and one in the horror genre it defies expectation with a witty deconstruction of its own formula. Characters are self aware of the rules applied to them in the film often bringing them front and centered to our attention. Whether or not the film chooses to take a route it gives to the audience is up to the writer to decide. Diverging between avoiding a pitfall cliche or embracing it raises greater possibility of shock. With options open to itself it not only follows a simple narrative, but also adds a layer complexity in its story and subtext that analyzes the gears of the working of average horror film. By playing against expectations every chance it has to mislead the audience is taken. Just about every character in the film can be suspected as being the killer each being more off putting in their timing when they appear. Misleading in confirming the identity of the killer maintaining uncertainty in trust to characters and anxiety when moving forward. Although not every dissection is done cleanly with several of the horror rules being used for cartoonish effect. While humor generally doesn’t detract from the horror element. What does subtract from the experience are some contrived murders and contrived reasoning for a particular characters survivor.

Dialogue is intentionally artificial with nearly every conversation sounding as unnatural as possible. Tossing references naturally, odd analogy, and rules how a horror film functions. Serving two great purpose in the film; one is the already established playing against expectations and the second is developing cliche characters. Not only are its characters walking and living cliches in an film knowledgeable about it functions, but also written with personality. They go beyond the standard genre trope establishing a clear background on characters, their current relationship with one another, and the part they all play in the film. Even Ghostface is also giving human traits having trouble killing his victims that equally pose the capability to escape. While none of the characters ever earn emotional attachment you will care about them in the dire situation they play a part in.

Was Craven made sure Scream was exciting with a creative deaths and tension. In particular his technique of using the camera to follow the victims and move it around his location, adding excitement and intrigue. He knows how to build suspects and he does keep you guessing framing shot in way not revealing everything in sight. Creating suspense in places where one would assume to be safe. The used of music is accompany the more horror oriented scene to create an bleak mood and not spoil the potential scare. Neve Campbell really finds the true essence of her character. Fragile emotionally to be sure, but she can also muster up great emotional and physical strength when necessary, as well as be very resourceful. Jamie Kennedy is great as a movie geek who revels in the rules of horror and even Courtney Cox does a good job of being an annoying television journalist. Matthew Lillard and David Arquette all get to provide the laughs and the differences makes it work. The rest of the cast are just great playing a different variation on familiar horror tropes.

Scream brutally dissects the conventions of its genre to hilarious success while delivering legitimate suspense by playing with expectations. Using a template and seemingly playing by it rules, but constructing it owns path add needed complexity and intelligence in a genre that wholly remains simplistic.

9/10

Cinema-Maniac: Japanese Hell (Jigoku) (2000) Movie Review

The 1960 original Jigoku (Japanese word for Hell) is not a film I would consider a classic due to it’s unintentional humor to its serious plot, but it’s a film I would have no problem recommending because story structure is perfect for it, has amazing visuals (especially the impressive third act), and a meaningful message through relatable human actions. As for the remake I could only say bad things about it to the point that I would be send to Jigoku. It’s soulless from the unsalvageable story right down to the half baked force message will encourage viewers to do certain things to the filmmakers than make you think about your way of life as intended.

Japanese Hell is about the goddess of death name Enma (“terrifying”) giving a tour of Hell to an innocent young women and showing the consequences of sinners past, present, and future. I’m going to give a scenario to best get across why I hate this story and the meaning it’s hoping viewer will find in it soulless message. So picture a sick dog who has a terrible, incurable disease suffering for days. It’s constantly coughing up blood, unable to eat anything solid, and crying on a day to day basis from pain. Finally having had enough of seeing the dog suffer you decide to euthanize the dog much to your displeasure. According to this film you earn your ticket to Hell. The fact you ended a living creature life with a good intentions and you had no pleasure in putting it down doesn’t matter one bit to this film. Things like morals are a joke in this film. You either have to be 100% perfect good or 100% percent evil with no middle ground to be accept in either Heaven or Hell. If the film wasn’t trying to say something towards its audience this simplistic view on humanity would have been fine, but it deliberately set up to send a message you have to follow someone to be “saved” by force not will. Conformity is not the answer for everyone as it could work the other way making people do questionable activities. Oh the film ending….okay one of the deadly sins is Lust and the last thing we see are naked women. Why after taking a tour of Jigoku (Hell) would the last thing we want to see are naked women? Backward thinking like this is one of many, many, many, many, many, many, many reasons this film story is worthless.

Personal hatred aside here are other reasons why it’s an unsalvageable story regardless whether or not you seen the original. Narrative structure is messy, sloppy, and nothing connects it together. As a traditional narrative it doesn’t work because it has no central protagonist and deviate too much from the central characters preventing any meaningful to be gain from their journey. In the form of an anthology narrative it’s a bigger disaster because it only has two different story making it very evident which had more focus. One of the two sinners story is short while the other one overstays its welcome. The first sinner is a person who takes pleasure in killing young girls with no redeeming values. Automatically there’s the main problem as this kind of character will relate to a slim number of its viewer if any at all. Never does it bother to look into why the sinner temptation controls him and never bother to explore why this sinner is unable to gain a positive change. This also applies to the second sinners which is a false religious group who scam their believer out of millions of dollars for personal gains. At no point does the film attempt to use these characters wrongdoings as a correlation to how some outsiders might view religion in general. None of the characters are ever developed only being split into good or evil with no reasonable middle ground nor a reason why the character are who they are. Also, for a film with its setting in the title it does a terrible job incorporating Hell into its story. We never spend that much time in Hell never coming across as this unspeakable place of never ending sufferings of the essence of evil. Not to forget the most annoying thing is yes the lord of evil Enma who punishes people comes across as a hero. I’m might be looking to much into this, but this film supports the goddess of death more so than it does any positive religious figures.

Production values are a joke. Upon entering Jigoku and traveling on the Sanzu river we see a gate shape like a demonize women va….better that I keep it vague. It also has rejected costume from I could only assume are for a lost gritty reboot of “The Flintstones”. Apparently the minions of Hell are a compilation of cavemen with horns, a horse-man creature, and a very disfigured old man. The attention to detail given to these costumes is impeccable rivaling those you would see at a cheap costume store. That same amount of care also went into creating Hell which is constantly being covered in fog only adds an extra layer of detail to hide the blank canvas of the sets. Gore effects are cheap made more evident when the sinners punishment take a long time to get their point across. Another trait aside from the fog are the constantly spinning backdrops that attempted to give the allusion of an otherworldly place, but just makes the viewer think how the poor use of it budget was this bad. Acting like everything else is of the lowest quality. Ranging from over the top to no effort was even into put into that performance. If anything this film does serve as a blueprint on how not to spend your money in a low budget flick. It’s nothing short of amazing how director Terui Ishii manages to not only destroy all essence of good filmmaking, but absolutely have no understanding of the original film execution of its message nor the value behind the existence of Jigoku which is quite sad.

Japanese Hell is about as soulless and phoned in you can get with a horror remake. Nothing that made the original worthwhile is present and this new version of the story does nothing more than encourage its viewer to do things to the filmmakers it wants us to avoid. It’s a film that both believers and non believers could agree is unsalvageable, soulless, preachy trash. If you ever have more good things to say about Satan than you do the actual film focusing on Hell you pretty much know just how little hope you have left after it’s all over.

0/10

Cinema-Maniac: House on the Edge of the Park (La casa sperduta nel parco) (1980)

Ruggero Deodato name will forever live in infamy in the horror genre. Stirring outrage and countless debates with his most influential film “Cannibal Holocaust”. Challenging audiences stomachs on it contents becoming a film where someone else thoughts on the film won’t tell you if you’ll like it or not. “House on the Edge of the Park” comes across as the polar opposite being insultingly boring with a twist ending that attempts to justify the lack of characters, nonexistent narrative pretext or context, and nothing validating it should even exist.

House on the Edge of the Park is about two lowlife punks inviting themselves to a party holding everybody there hostage. Beginning the first two minute of the film with a rape scene is manipulative. For starter the film tells us nothing about the rapist, nothing about his victim, nor even establishes our location in the story. Since we know nothing about the rapist we immediately must hate him because the first thing we see him do in the film is rape an innocent woman. This opening is cheap solely created to make this character despicable. The rest of the film is constructed in similar fashion. Characters are introduced with an intent to be innocent, to be unlikable, and downright questionable. It’s plot is so thin I’m having a hard time thinking of an object thinner than the plot to compare it too. Characters do not receive basic development, only have one characteristic, and a singular purpose in the story. We don’t receive a single character instead we get artificial beings more intent to fulfill a mundane function. Carrying over with tropes from the horror genre there dumb character choices, opportunity to escape that aren’t taken, villains despite causing a ruckus does not cause any suspicion to neighbors, and the final nail a twist that downgrades already bad material. All the while nothing in the plot is ever elevated. Becoming even more underwhelming with each passing minute.

The clear intention of the film is to disturb the viewers, but with abysmal writing that intention is never realized. With nothing to latch on to the actors don’t earn any sort of sympathy or hatred. How could David Hess come off as menacing when being force to utter dated phrases like a “It’s too late to boogie” is the we most ever learn about him. Also working against him is the fact the film tells very little and what it does tell us is made up on the spot. Leading to David Hess to awkwardly transition from playing a creepy nice guy too clumsily impersonating what acting is. Having nothing work with regardless what the actors do nothing is convey across aside from pure boredom. Music is used to play a theme what the rapist that what he’s doing is seen as innocent in his eyes. In a much better movie this is would come across as a disturbing insight, but here it feel tacked on even though it clearly not.

House on the Edge of the Park is more thinly plotted than air itself, contains horrendous acting, and a sense of astonishing loathe from gaining nothing from it. It’s neither thought provoking, disturbing, competently made, but it is a piece of filmmaking that’s easy to avoid.

0/10

SPOILER: The Film’s Twist

After enduring around an hour and twenty minute of thin plotting the film finally reveals the twist. Apparently one of the party member made the party as a setup in order to kill his sister rapist to pass it off to the police as self defense. This brings to mind several questions that are never answered. Like if the mastermind knows the identity of his sister rapist how come the rapist doesn’t face any sort of consequence? Did the mastermind sister not tell the police she was raped? If so, why not? How in the world did the mastermind discover his sister rapist location? In what way did the mastermind convince his friends to go along with his plan? All of these questions and more are to be left a mystery.

Cinema-Maniac: I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1989) Movie Review

Looking through my countless review drafts I notice I’ve seen too many good movies recently (mostly ones I would award 100% to). In hindsight that doesn’t like a problem of any sort, except for as much as I love to write about good movies there’s only so many praises I could give out before repeating myself like a heavily cliche film. Thus with a title like “I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle” do you really need any other reason to see it? No and sadly it’s goofy nature is what ends up killing itself in the end.

I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle loose narrative is about an evil spirit inhabiting a motorcycle for vengeance on the bikers that killed his fellow vampires. First and foremost the opening of the film gives no context for the bikers murdering vampires. Much like the writers of the script things just happened in the film just because they can. Protagonist dreams about getting killed by his own talking feces is one notable example. Nothing about the narrative feels connected as comedy overtakes the horror elements that the film was so eager to mix together. Emphasis on comedy is done poorly as the script demands you give up three things; 1.) continuity in plot , 2.) your brain to oversee it flaws, and 3.) interesting characters. Shutting off your brain is easy, but difficult while viewing the film. Plot points created on the spot contradict earlier scenes logic (like never explaining if a vampire motorcycle runs on blood, oil, or both). Characters are nothing more than archetypes not committing an single word for a variation on the archetype. An annoying girlfriend who does little in the story, a priest who performs an exorcism on a possessed motorcycle and gets crucified (no doubt a secret metaphor that represent the writers desire to be forgiven for their sins for creating such as travesty), the best friend that’s murder (don’t worry, his best friend doesn’t care either), the incompetent cop, and vampires weaknesses. These are some of the elements that are chosen only for the approach to be straightforward comedy. Problem being that a comedic situation is given a horror treatment. Since the characters goofy nature imbalances the horror tone and without a care for death there’s no fun when a killer motorcycles goes on screen. Treating it nothing more than a everyday occurrence.

As for the true horror side of the film it’s uninspired. Creativity is lacking for a film titled “I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle” when it comes to its kills. Severely decapitating most of his victims heads is tiresome, although the gore effect are adequate in small numbers. Adding to the tedium are when its victims are given large windows of time to avoid death. Not only are most of the death easily avoidable, but most of his victims aren’t important to the plot. One of the best aspect about horror is fearing which character might die. Here it’s made abundantly clear which main characters live. Painfully moving at a high velocity for of four miles per hour is a lack of speed. Everything in the film is slow from actors performing physical movements even spoken dialogue is done slowly (especially in delivering its punchline). Don’t worry about the bad dialogue as the sound editing is even worse. Music tracks play on way to long, vehicles sound are compress or at times sound like a train, and whenever an actor is talking background noise can drown them out. Everything from the look, the editing, the acting, and the poor writing are scream cheap. Unlike some films were a cheap look can add to the appeal in this case it serves only to further to highlight everything wrong with it. Deciding to do nothing with its premise including having fun with its goofy concept.

I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle bad comedy overshadows uninspired horror elements. Mixing both of the horror genres negative aspects (logic gap, continuity, desire for heroes deaths) and bad comedy (nothing ever becomes of anything, no characters cares anything, a single trait reused as jokes) that you’ll be left without a laugh or scare.

2/10