"REPO! The Genetic Opera" The Horror Musical Gone Mad!

7/31/2010

“Repo!” is a very unique film that almost never gets made. It is an attempt to recreate a movie experience in the same vein of the 70’s cult phenomenon “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. Director Darren Lynn Bousman who created the Saw franchise really has puts his heart and soul into making Repo, but it is made for a very select audience.

“Repo!” takes place in a distant future where organ failure is a worldwide epidemic. The Geneco Corporation will provide you with the new parts and financing, but miss a payment and the Repo Man will come to collect. Earlier this year a very similar movie with Jude Law and Forest Whitaker called “Repo Men” was made with mixed results. Thank got it wasn’t a musical as well; although it would be worth the price of admission to see Jude and Forest sing a duet.

More than anything “Repo!” seems to be a big exercise in style over substance, but saying that I have to admit I did buy the DVD. The storyline is pretty average and melodramatic. Being that it is a musical; the songs are pretty good but not great. All the metal and modern rock songs do fit the movie well and compliment the films bleak and gory landscape. Now looking at the acting, I never thought I would say this until hell froze over, but with a cast that includes Paris Hilton, the acting was pretty good. Paris plays the surgery addicted daughter of Geneco’s president Rotti Largo, played by Paul Sorvino. Opera singer Sarah Brightman plays, wait for it, opera singer Blind Mag, in her first acting role. Horror genre favorite Bill Mosley is cast as one of Rotti’s son’s. Mosley is a character actor who is just about perfect in every role he plays from all the Rob Zombie films to the little independent movies.

“Repo!” is an interesting little experiment of a film and a good addition to your Netflix Queue. Also to set the record straight “Repo!” is really no “Rocky Horror”.





"The Ruins" Tropical Horror Starring Jena Malone

7/16/2010

“The Ruins” is author Scott Smith’s second novel to be made into a feature film, with the first being Sam Raimi’s “A Simple Plan” in 1998. Whether a movie ever lives up to the book is always up for debate. Some of the things from the book are shifted around and changed but it does still keep its framework and essence.

“The Ruins” is the story of four American college kids who are vacationing in Mexico, when they decide to go with a few others to visit some ancient Mayan ruins. These ruins are covered with a green flowering plant that seems to be alive. Director Carter Smith and the filmmakers had the tough job of making these plants scary. With any horror movie it’s only as scary as your killer, case and point Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers. So how do you make plants scary? Sound effects, CGI, and some pretty decent acting.

As the group reaches the sacred ruins they are surrounded by a bunch of angry and armed locals who since they came in contact with the plants are not allowed to leave. The locals scream at them in a language they don’t understand. Just like in Eli Roth’s Hostel movies, the filmmakers really make the point that today’s young Americans that venture into other countries have this cocky air of invincibility. When things start to go wrong they basically think, somebody has to be looking for us, were Americans. And people wonder why some countries around the world hate us.

They are suppose to be meeting there German friend Mathias’s brother, who is researching the ruins. His stuff is there but he isn’t. There is a pulley system to lower people down into the darkened abyss of the ruins and when they hear a cell phone ring, Mathias is convinced it’s his brothers. As he is lowered down the rope breaks, we then come upon what I’ve said before is my favorite disgusting injury, the compound fracture. This is where the real horror starts as they wake up the next morning to realize that the plants vines are slithering into their wounds. The vines act like parasitic leeches drawn to blood. They move just under your skin like worms. Eeeewwww! Then the real blood and gore is put into motion. They cut of Mathias’s legs with nothing more than an oversized pocket knife. Another girl is obsessed with cutting out the vines from her body, making a horribly bloody mess of herself. Being in the deep jungle these civilized people slowly turn into barbaric savages who will do anything to stay alive, with little or no hope of rescue. They did tack on a typical Hollywood ending that will allow for a possible sequel. Overall this was a pretty decent movie, the gore effects were top notch, and I’ve got to say they did a pretty good job with the plants. I mean who isn’t afraid of homicidal parasites. It’s a pretty bleak movie, but hey its horror.

"Orphan" 2010s Sleeper Horror Hit!

7/14/2010

“Orphan” has to be at the top of the list when it comes to evil kid movies. It’s a rare studio made (Warner Brothers) horror movie that is not a remake or a neutered PG-13 attempt. With quality first rate actors like Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard and the unforgettable Isabella Furhman as Esther, it brings this movie to higher level. It has one of those big twist endings that you will probably either really love or really hate. I’m on the really love side as I though it is what made this movie completely crazy and enjoyable.

John and Kate are a pretty well to-do couple that live with their two kids in a house that John designed. Their daughter Max is hearing impaired, while Daniel is your typical older brother. When Kate has a miscarriage they decide to adopt. The fact that Esther comes from an orphanage and does such nasty things aroused a bit of controversy, but with the ending those claims really don’t hold water. Esther came from Russia to live with her first American family, but tragedy struck as the house burnt down, killing everyone except her. She speaks in a very believable accent and dresses in a peculiar way which gets her teased at school. Like a lot of girls Esther is a master manipulator who likes to play people against each other and will do anything to get what she wants. The movie also seems to really explore the social dynamics of kids. How they socialize at school, home, and at the park.

The acting of the three kids is nothing short of remarkable. Aryana Engineer, who plays Max, was 7-8 years old when filming and is actually hearing impaired. I personally think there is nothing better than to see little kids swearing, as they sprinkle in a few f-bombs here and there. It just gives the story a bit of uneasy edginess that lets the audience know that the filmmakers are not afraid to go there. The violence is also quite raw and brutal. Esther successfully turns John and Kate against each other, when Kate keeps blaming her for a string of “accidents”. John refuses to believe her and that is one of the movies short comings, as it drags on to ridiculous lengths. I won’t give away the ending but I’ll say again that I though the ending was a fun and surprising jolt that really makes this movie memorable.


"Cube" A Brilliant Low Budget Mindbender!

7/1/2010

American Director Vincenzo Natali’s latest film “Splice” opened last month for a short time and is one of the better movies I’ve seen so far this year. Hopefully it will find a following on DVD. His 1997 debut feature “Cube” has become a low budget cult classic. This incredibly inventive and creative film holds you from the very first frame to the closing credits.

“Cube” could be described as a thrilling and suspenseful mathematical mind fuck. The plot revolves around a group of strangers who are being held captive in a maze of cubed rooms. Why are they there? Who is doing this? These are the two biggest questions asked, and I applaud Natali’s decision to keep these questions ambiguous.

The group of seven characters is composed of a cop, a doctor, a teen girl, an autistic man, an ex-con, a mysterious twenty something guy, and another older man. Although the acting could’ve been better they do the best with what they are given. Made for under a half million dollars, the production values and visual effects don’t suffer. Some of the rooms are booby trapped, and this made me think that this film was likely a big influence on the “Saw” series. Although the Saw movies take the torture and gore to extreme levels, while Cube is more character driven. The rooms all have a certain color and ID numbers with which they must try to figure out what it all means in order to get out alive.

The real genius of the film is that these people are just there for no apparent reason and they don’t know how they got there. Nobody is watching them; they’re no cameras in the rooms. Is this some kind of military experiment? Where exactly is this cube structure located? Who built it? This question is only slightly answered. The cubes eventually start to take its toll on the inhabitants and some start to lose their minds. Themes of claustrophobia, panic and paranoia run throughout the film. Of the seven people trapped inside only one is able makes it “out”.

There was a sequel made in 2002 called “Cube 2: Hypercube” which is not half bad, it is equally mind bending as the original but with gratuitous use of obvious CGI, but in this kind of movie is just seemed to fit.