XIPHOS FINDS SOME FOUND FOOTAGE FILMS

Apparently I’ve also found a love for alliteration which is just one thin hair above the lowest form of primate communication, the high five. Saturday, due to some patchy weather, I went to the movies and since we are coming up on Halloween I decided to go see Sinister and Paranormal Activity 4 because both use the same conceit, the found footage angle and I wanted to see which flick was better able to use that lame story telling device. I am happy to report that one movie used the found footage angle very well probably the best use in a film I have seen to date. The other movie was a Paranormal Activity movie so……

SINISTER

I am going to avoid spoilers here and be very general in my approach to this review because I think the movie works better not knowing much about it . Even though the trailer kind of sort of shows the bad guy it really doesn’t and the fun in the movie is traveling down the road of discovery through all the red herrings and twists and turns. I have to give credit to writer/director Scott Derrickson and writer C. Robert Cargill who was Massawyrm at Fattown. I can usually figure these kinds of flicks out fairly quickly but this time they misdirected me enough that my two theories on how the movie was going to end were completely and totally wrong. Good job gents, you wrote a tight taut film full of scares from the atmosphere created by good writing that was also fairly smart and not based on characters doing dumb stuff to further the story which is the Paranormal Activity MO.

The story is this: True crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) who had great success with his first book, has fallen on hard times. His last two books were not well received and his theories of the crime and cops were very wrong. Because of that, Oswalt and his family are looked on as pariahs by local LEOs and citizens in the towns where he investigate his books. Also because of poor sales and not being able to sell their old house they are near broke. With all that weighing him down, Oswalt decides to take on the story of a family that was murdered in their backyard via lynching. Oswalt sees this story as his redemption and legacy. More importantly it’s his ticket to fame, fortune and movie deals so Oswalt jumps into the story with both feet and his trusty bottle of whiskey. Oh yeah I forgot, he’s a drinker and he moved his family into the murder house. All that is a recipe for disaster and it is.

While checking out the attic Oswalt stumbles across a box labeled “Home Movies” full of Super 8 films marked with innocuous titles like Family Hanging Around ‘11 and BBQ ‘78. So this being a horror flick Oswalt watches the movies and sees that they are filmed murders of families going back to the late 60’s including the one at the house he’s living in. From there things go south for the Oswalt family. Oswalt himself is the target of weird shenanigans as he unravels the mystery of the murders and who might be behind them. The story becomes one of obsession and not doing the right thing until way too late.

The movie itself is not very violent considering the story nor is it torture porn. It is however very creepy and very atmospheric and a throwback to older style horror films like The Omen, The Exorcist and the first Alien wherein the horror takes place in your head and not so much on the screen. The use of Super 8 film to tell the story was a great conceit. I thought it added to the story because it combined old style tech with newer tech in order to dissect the movies. Like some sort of Kennedy assassination Zapruder film “researcher” weirdo, Oswalt transfers all the movies and others clues to his Apple laptop.

Sinister was perhaps the best work I have seen from Ethan Hawke. He was on screen for virtually the entire movie and he turned in a nuanced performance. Hawke as Oswalt was able to create a multi faceted character that felt real. Oswalt is a study in contradictions. On one hand he is a good father who wants to provide a nice life for his family. On the other hand he is a rummy with a titanic ego and a desire to be famous again. His first 15 minutes were not enough to satisfy his narcissism. Hawke was able to translate the top notch writing from the page to the screen and then he was able to really show the deterioration of Oswalt without crossing the line into camp. Great work Mr. Hawke.

I would also like to praise writer/director Scott Derrickson. He was able to stage one of the more effective and creepy scenes I’ve watched in a modern horror flick in a long, long time. The scene of Oswalt prowling around the house at night with a baseball bat and things going on around him was staged so effectively and so creepily that I actually sat up and really took notice of what was going on and that hasn’t happened to me in a horror movie in a really long time. Also I like the last shot of the film. Very good idea and title.

I recommend this movie without any reservations whatsoever. One last observation, the scariest thing in the movie is Ethan Hawke’s wardrobe. What kind of man wears an oversized cable knit sweater AND Wallabees? I shudder at the memory.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4

Not a big fan of the series. I thought the first one was OK and since it had a budget of like $150.00 way overachieved but it had a lot of problems. The second one stunk outright like a can of tuna put in the vents of your buddy’s car. It had 10 minutes of pool footage and automatic cleaner FFS! Then the lamest demon in movie history, Toby, would rip it out of the pool. Ooooh scary. Though I will stipulate that the second one had probably the best single scene in the series, the one in the kitchen with the baby sitter. The third installment was overall the best one. The fourth one in most ways is the weakest because the writers played it way too safe and predictable but they did pull off one decent switcheroo so atta’ boy for that one.

Before I get into the meat of the review I have to issue a spoiler warning. I will be discussing specific plot points as lame as they are so if you don’t want to know don’t read further.

Ok so the fourth installment takes place about five years after demon Katie kills her sister, takes Hunter and disappears. We move from California to Henderson, Nevada (even though wherever they shot the flick looks nothing like Nevada.)


A quick character intro at a soccer game/picnic happens and we meet hot, blond, blue eyed, jail bait, virgin (who has Bugs Bunny teeth), NAZI, wet dream and star of the movie Alex (Kathryn Newton), brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp) who looks to be about 8 years old, smoking hot MILFY/JUGGY Mom (Alexondra Lee) and semi-absentee Dad (Stephen Dunham). We also get a quick shot of the weird neighbor kid Robbie (Brady Allen) watching the soccer game.

Later on we meet Alex’s friend/wannabe defiler/semi jerk off pervo stalker Ben (Matt Shievley). Some boring talking stuff happens then Alex and Ben go out to the tree fort and find Weirdo Robbie in it at 2200hrs so Alex takes him home. A few hours later a bunch of activity in the form of an ambulance and cops happen at Robbie’s house and we learn his mom is sick and will be in the hospital for a few days so of course Robbie goes to live with neighbors he doesn’t know A DAY LATER. This is the first of so, so many stupid plot points to further the story. Weird crap we’ve seen before starts happening at Alex’s house so she gets stalker boy to turn on all the computers as surveillance devices and stashes a camcorder in the den for the same reason then proceeds TO NOT CHECK THEM LIKE THE DUMMIES THEY ARE FOR THE REST OF THE MOVIE. If they had spent as little as 30 seconds reviewing the footage after the second night things could have been very different but the weak writing and plotting is reliant on characters doing something smart and then not following through on it. Way too much dumb shit happens over and over and over and over again. Then Katie shows up as neighbor Mom seemingly all normal. Then Demon Tobey starts in on Wyatt who we learn is actually adopted and is really Hunter. Robbie was a red herring and then they just abandon him. We never see him again after Katie shows up. I guess they killed him. Also the coven shows up for like 30 seconds so Indiana Alex a 15 year old girl armed with a camcorder goes to investigate all by herself AT NIGHT, yeah that’s some good writing. Anyway, more lameness ensues then Demon Katie kills Mom, Ben and Dad. Alex runs off into the night ARMED WITH HER TRUSTY CAMCORDER TO RECORD IT ALL and goes into Robbie’s house. Demon face Katie tries to kill her, she goes out the window, then something stupid happens and a big plot point is revealed and the movie ends. My write up sounds better than it actually is.

This movie would have seriously benefited from somebody telling the writers to stop being paste eating mongoloids and also to insert a hardcore lezbo scene between demon face and JUGGY Mom. As it stands the writing is trite, boring, predictable and awful. The actors try with what they have but I suspect they know it’s garbage. It’s a bad movie and the found footage adds nothing to the story unlike Sinister which was integral to telling that story.

To wrap this up, skip the movie it isn’t good. Further, in a movie that has demonic possession, witches and what not the most fantastical and most unbelievable part of the movie was an upper middle class white suburban Mom doing her own cooking and cleaning and not whining about being “overworked” and needing a Mex maid to help. I can buy into (which I can’t really) demons long before I would believe that from an over privileged suburban broad with a massive sense of entitlement and an obnoxious attitude towards her hard working husband who’s largess allows her to stay at home and not work.

This is an interesting little nugget of info, the mother and father were actually married in real life and he died last month of a heart attack. So I guess Toby killed him in real life. Hey I started my very first dumb fuck conspiracy theory!

BONUS: QUICK REVIEWS OF SOME ATTACHED TRAILERS FROM BOTH MOVIES

Django: This thing looks like fried shit on a stick. Jesus Cokey is a talentless fucking hack. Save it Conti, we will have to agree to disagree about the giant melon head.

Hansel and Gretel: Can somebody explain to me how the main characters as kids looked to be about the same age yet as adults there is at least a 15 year difference in their age and like a foot in height, she being taller? Oh yeah the trailer reeked of Van Helsing awfulness.

Broken City: Marky Mark and Bud White facing off in a police/political thriller? Color me intrigued until I saw the January dump date. Still it might be worth a rental both actors looked to be in scenery eating mode.

Texas Chainsaw 3D: Jesus titty fucking christ this thing again? Is there anything left to that horse’s corpse?

Jack Reacher: Trainwreck of epic proportions. They also did what I figured they would do, turn Reacher into a Karate man. I can’t wait to see this steaming pile of crap and I don’t even particularly like the source material and I was offended by the trailer laziness.

Carrie: Hiring smoking hot Jailbait Chloë Moretz was a mistake. Sissy Spacek was weird looking and fit the role. Moretz would be a popular girl. It’s the way of high school since she is a POA.

Chasing Mavericks: Come on, a movie about surfing based on a true story and it involves somebody I’ve never met, Jay Moriarty, but whose father I have? I’m in. It’s probably the one movie I’m looking forward to. The surfing scenes look kick ass.

Xiphos

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56 responses to “XIPHOS FINDS SOME FOUND FOOTAGE FILMS”

  1. Droid says :

    I mostly agree with you on Sinister. The biggest thing I disagree on is the story being surprising. I had it pretty much all figured out around the halfway mark. One of those rare cases where everything I concluded was accurate. But otherwise I agree. Good performances, particularly from Hawke. Effectively written and directed. Mercifully minor key free. I really loved the scene you mention, and the way it explains a creaky house in a horror movie. Overall a pretty good movie. They lucked out with the super 8 film. Having the story stretch back to the 60’s allowed them to use that old film and projector set up, which really lends the film some creep. I disagree that it’s a found footage movie though. It uses amatuer footage as part of its plot but it’s shot as a conventional film.

    As for PA4. I’ve not seen any PA, and don’t plan on doing so. No interest.

    I also disagree with this…

    Hiring smoking hot Jailbait Chloë Moretz was a mistake.

    Not that it was a mistake, that she’s “smoking hot”. She’s not. But it is a mistake. She’s not vulnerable and awkward enough for Carrie. Julianne Moore is good casting though.

    I’ll see Reacher. Not read the books and don’t know much about it apart from what everyone says. “Tom Cruise is a foot too short to play Reacher.” Doesn’t really bother me if it’s a fun film. Hoping for some of the WOTG magic to shine.

    I’ll see Django, but I’m not especially interested in it. I don’t hate QT as much as you guys.

    Saw the Chasing Mavericks trailer a few weeks ago. The surfing scenes look good, but absolutely zero interest in the story. May check it out on dvd.

    No interest in Chainsaw 3D.

    Last night I saw the trailer for Rust and Bone, from the director of A Prophet. Looks really good. Can’t wait to see that one.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      SPOILER WARNING

      Sinister is the first movie in a very long time that didn’t telegraph for me where it was going. I thought Barney Fife/Senator Thompson were going to be involved more then they were and then I thought Pvt. Pyle was going to be maybe the bad guy then they revealed the ghosts and boom it came into focus.

      END SPOILERS

      We’ll agree to disagree about Moretz she’s rounding out nicely unlike most child stars who become hideous looking trolls by 16.

      Reacher is going to be an epic train wreck they looked to have added things that weren’t in the story and for a Lee Child book the story the movie was based on was arguable the “best” one. That thing is going to gloriusly bad and Reacher’s size is integral to the story when you take out a bed rock part of a character you’ve already screwed yourself.

      • Droid says :

        SPOILER WARNING

        I think it was on the second home movie he watched when I asked myself the question “Who’s filming it?” They’d already firmly stated that the child was missing (from the hanging), and I knew that would be pertinent. So that lead me to (what turned out to be) the correct conclusion. Also, as soon as the movie said that two families had lived in the same house (at separate times), I knew everything that would happen.

        END SPOILERS

        The biggest compliment I can give the film is that I still liked it. It’s still an effective horror movie despite the fact that I was able to work it out early.

      • Droid says :

        As for Reacher, all the issues you have with it are comparing the book to the film. As I don’t know anything about the book, and I don’t know why size is intergral to the character, I don’t have anything to object to. If it’s fun, then that’s good enough for me.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        yeah but the trailer looked laughable and shitty and if you totally change the character what’s the point?

      • Droid says :

        The trailer just looked like the usual Tom Cruise beat em up. I tend to like them as entertainments.

        I understand your position on the character. I just haven’t read the book(s) so I don’t have an opinion on it. I may read one to see what all the fuss is about.

      • Jarv says :

        I’m torn on this one, because while I think the books are utter shit, they do make a huge issue out of his size in every one. The dude is 6ft 4 and 18 stone of solid muscle.

        He wins fights through brute strength and physicality. Cruise is completely and totally miscast. It basically is not now a Jack Reacher adaptation.

        Having said that, though, the books fucking stink so I’m all for taking liberties with them.

      • Droid says :

        The writer is British? Aren’t these flag waving good ol’ american boy beats up the bad guys type stories?

      • Jarv says :

        Yes.

        And he knows less about the American Military (MP’s are the baddest of the bad, apparently), than is a good idea for an author going down this route.

        There’s one with an imaginary checklist on how to spot a suicide bomber that’s particularly bad.

      • Droid says :

        Killing Floor (1st book) has an average of 5 stars out of 5 from 13 reviews on Play. 4 out of 5 from 200+ on Amazon. Although one reviewer gave it 1 star, saying that it was written from the POV of a complete moron.

      • Jarv says :

        I’ll lend it to you. In fairness, that one’s nowhere near the worst. I’d go for 2 out of 5 for it, mostly for the conspiracy and an image late in it.

        The next one, Die Tryin’ I’d Orangutan of Doom, and ditto the Suicide bomber one.

      • Droid says :

        Okay, cheers. Saves me a couple of quid.

        Although this guy isn’t making me want to read it…

        As the blurb on the back cover gives away, Reacher is an artificial creation by Child designed to appeal to female readers as well as male. As such, he’s a bit of a loser who’s always going on about how the love interest in the book has “amazing eyes” or something (rather than how fit she is, which you would imagine a red-blooded hard man might mention).

        http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/0553826166/ref=cm_cr_dp_hist_one?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&showViewpoints=0

      • Jarv says :

        He’s not read it.

        That fundamentally doesn’t happen. Although he is a bit of a loser.

      • Jarv says :

        And he’s a neanderthal or a teenager. Because when he does talk about eyes or whatever, it isn’t like a Jane Austen novel. He’s, basically, a thick twat and the book’s target market.

        They’re basically airport fiction. That’s all there is really to say about them.

      • Droid says :

        What about cars always “nosing” around corners? Does that happen?

      • Jarv says :

        Yes. That’s late in Killing Floor. There’s definitely some Automobile/ proboscis action.

      • Jarv says :

        To be honest, though, I can barely remember much of that (aside from some idiocy about a shotgun’s “lethal arc of death”.

        It’s an inoffensive thriller with a good idea and a cracking late image.

      • Droid says :

        Whether he’s read the book or not, this is a well timed punchline (having earlier set up cars “nosing” around corners).

        The plot hinges on a million-to-one coincidence that is never explained and we are just expected to accept; there are also other plot holes that a truck could “nose” through.

      • Jarv says :

        The plot hinges on a million-to-one coincidence that is never explained and we are just expected to accept;

        Is this still Killing Floor? Or DIe Tryin’

        Because if it’s KF then he’s talking shit. KF is basically an example of a man who turns up in the wrong place at the wrong time and kicks some ass. It’s just a convention that you accept.

        If it’s Die Tryin’ then he’s right- the coincidence is astronomical and doesn’t work.

      • Droid says :

        The review is on Killing Floor. Maybe he’s reviewing the wrong book.

      • Jarv says :

        it’s certainly not going to impress anyone who’s read Stieg Larsson, put it that way

        Christ. Setting his standards low.

        It’s bollocks. KF isn’t a mystery. You know who the bad guys are from word go and Reacher just puts it together. I have, however, thought of what the coincidence is, and he’s right, it is a doozy. The plot doesn’t hinge on it though- in fact it’s relatively unimportant and would make no difference to the basic narrative if you take it out.

      • Jarv says :

        Someone blows it a few reviews down. This is true though:

        This book is just not worth the read. Jack Reacher, detective mastermind, can look at a man and know that he’s a divorced, ex-smoker, Harvard graduate, using his incredible skills of deduction. Yet he completely fails to deduce the criminals nefarious scheme, when the information is so painfully obviously laid out in front of him that I felt the need to scream “HE’S BEHIND YOU YOU FRACKING TIT!” at my kindle.

      • Droid says :

        I think that might have been meant as a dig. Like “it wouldn’t even impress a fan of Stiegg Larsson”. Otherwise he’s just shot himself in the foot.

      • Jarv says :

        No, in context he’s holding it up as been good.

        This, from another person, is spot on:

        A modern version of the oldest American cowboy story. Overly macho gun slinger arrives in a backwater town,becomes the (fall guy) for a crime he didn’t commit, saves snivelling wretch of a man…falls in love with girl..Oh excuse me… has torrid encounters with girl,cleans up the bad guys with lots of blood and gore. and moves on leaving girl behind

        That’s the plot of KF in a nutshell. Which is why the Plot hole isn’t as he said.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        the only reason to read the story since you know who the bads guy is like 50 pages in is to watch Reacher stumble around trying to figure it all out and beat people up when needed.

      • Jarv says :

        There’s a bit in Die Tryin’ that goes into great detail about the mechanics of sniper shooting. Seriously overblown detail.

        Having set that up though, Reacher then does something that even I, as a complete ignoramus when it comes to this kind of thing, know is downright impossible.

        IT’s genuinely some of the worst writing I’ve come across.

      • Droid says :

        Is the previous book called Get Rich? I hope it is!

      • Jarv says :

        Ha!

        I wish.

        No, the title comes from a passage about half way through when Reacher’s old CO says something like (and I’m not far off here) that “He’ll do whatever it takes, or Die Tryin'”.

        That’s unforgivable writing.

  2. Jarv says :

    Nice write up Xi.

    I also think that Django trailer looks horrible. Fucking boring as all hell, but I’m sure I ‘ll see it at some point.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      the very first scene fucked the movie for me why were slaves being herded through the California desert? Then the bad music choices started and Jamie Fox looked both ridiculous and constipated with a dash of mongoloidisim.

  3. Continentalop says :

    Nice write up, but really nothing here interest me (ok, the way you describe Sinister has made it slightly piqued my I interest). The movie droid brought up from Un Prophete guy I’m more curious about than really any of these…thin pickings.

    As for QT, I’ll just say he is a talented filmmaker who continues to disappoint because he says nothing in his films (or worse, says stupid shit). He’s like a great architect who builds a magnificent looking bridge that unfortunately leads absolutely nowhere.

    • Jarv says :

      What’s worrying about QT is that he’s getting progressively worse.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      if Cokey was in fact “talented” wouldn’t he make more good movies then bad? becasue he hasn’t except for Jackie Brown(and that was due almost entirely to Elmore Leonard) and parts of KB 1. Also Jarv is right he’s regressing and not progressing he’s the anti-Affleck.

      • Jarv says :

        I really like Dogs, though.

        However, I think he’s sucked since KB2, so no real hope for him any more. I think he needs someone that can say “no” to him.

      • Droid says :

        Dogs is good. Pulp is good. JB is great. KB 1 is good. KB 2 is okay. And then there’s the other two.

        Probably his best scene in any movie is, ironically, the anime sequence in KB1.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Dogs is OKish has zero rewatchability I usually forget about it. Pulp is garbage and re-inflicted Travolta on me. JB is excellent because hack didn’t mess with ELs words/story much. KB1&2 mostly sucked DP and IB were truly terrible horseshit and there’s a longer cut of DP? FUCK THAT noise.

      • Continentalop says :

        I iked RD, PF and JB. I thought all were good movies. Since then, nothing.

        And yes, he should be making more good movies. That’s why he’s so disappointing. He’s shown he has the talent if he applies himself. Even in his latest crappy movies he’s at least had one or two obsolutely great cinematic moments – the single tracking shot through the geisha house in KB 1, the scene were the Bride tries to sneak up in Bud in KB 2, and even DP the actual car chases and death scenes were incredibly well done. The rest, though, embarrassingly vacant.

        He’s like a guy who won the NBA MVP award 3 years in a row but has now turned into a ball hog who doesn’t care about his team being last in the league as long as he gets his 50 shots a game and wins the scoring title.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        That’s the frustrating part with banana chin he does one or two things in a movie very well but then buries the good stuff under pounds of bad choices horrible writing and plain dumb choices.

  4. tombando says :

    Harold will be watching Moretz a few dozen times I am quite sure.

    Which one of them needs Giant Robots the most?

  5. Droid says :

    Here’s a question for you Xi.

    SPOILERS

    Why are there only 5 ghosts? If the deity dates back 1000 years or however how long, why does it employ just the last 5 kids to do its dirty work?

    I think there was a line in the film about the gradual consumption of the childs soul, which may explain it. I’m not 100% clear on this one.

    END SPOILERS

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      SPOILER

      I missed that line of dialouge I think maybe the reason there is only five is that hand held cameras only became popular and wide spread in use since the 60’s its a relatively new piece of tech. Remember when, I think it was Pvt Pyle, was showing representations of the demon throughout history in diffrent mediums? I think its the same thing with the camera its how its done now instead of frescos or wood carvings. I wonder why the ghost kept putting their fingers over their mouth in the hush symbol?

  6. ThereWolf says :

    Good stuff, Xi.

    I’ll have a look at both of these someday. I haven’t seen ‘PA3’ yet, it’s on my Lovefilm list – but a bloke at work said it’s shite. ‘1’ was effective but I didn’t rate ‘2’.

    Nothing must-watch from those trailers… they’re doing ‘Carrie’ again? O-boy…

    Longer cut of ‘DP’? God, no. But as Conti sez, the vehicular action was decent – just too little of it.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      Of all the PA films 3 is the most coherent and best story, with the most likable cast. 2 is absolute garbage but had the single best scene in the entire series. 4 just treads water. Number 1 is pretty good but a few of the choices they made to forward the story were sort of dumb.

      Thanks for reading this I’m glad you like it.

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