Saturday, 1 November 2014

October 2014 in Review

Halloween came and went, and I attempted to watch many horror films. The results didn't include as much horror as planned, but definitely included some fantastic films. This month was especially notable for one of the years best films, and without a doubt, the worst film of the year. So, let's see what films I saw in the month that was October.

The Wicker Man (1973) - 5/5 - Robin Hardy's classic horror film takes a brave look at religion and the belief of people, unflinchingly holding a mirror to many of today's choice religions. Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee do superb work in their roles, while the various residents of Summerisle do fantastic work that can be called unnerving. The ending deserves special mention, as it ranks as one of the most effective, downbeat endings, up there with the ending from Se7en. And a wonderful touch with the opening card thanking The Lord of the Summerisle.

Gone Girl - 4.5/5 - There may come a day when the quality of David Fincher's work takes a nose dive, but I am pleased to say that is not today. Fincher does a marvellous job in directing this toxic marriage, while utilizing the media's effect on society to a clever degree. Ben Affleck does great work as Nick Dunne, but expect Rosamund Pike to bag the Oscar nomination, giving a career-best performance that helps make the film what it is. And who knew Tyler Perry could actually be funny?. Granted, tension is swapped for predictability during a particular moment with a white-trash couple, but this niggle in an overall brilliant picture. Fincher marvellously takes the twisting nature of Gillian Flynn's novel and combining it with a nerve-shredding score and brilliant performances to deliver an unsettling picture that will stay with you.

Grabbers - 3.5/5 - This Irish horror-comedy should be notable just for its fantastic premise, in that involves the residents of a town getting drunk as their only defence against an tentacled alien force. It's just a shame the laughs couldn't be more consistent here, but it knows when to hit the mark with the jokes. It's helped that the cast give entertaining performances, particularly when they have to play drunk. The attempts at scares are nothing remarkable, but remain competent enough to provide the horror part of the film, while a tacked on romance feels forced.

Horns - 4/5 - Daniel Radcliffe turns in a career-best performance yet, in this dark fantasy that's as sombre as it is blackly hysterical. The absolute highlight has to be the newsteam brawl which is present in the trailer, Unfortunately, things run out of steam by the final act, leaving the film to stumble towards the finish line.

Son of Batman - 3/5 - DC adds another competent film to their animated slate, giving great animation, good voice acting and well-executed action sequences to the proceedings. Would've been better if the dialogue wasn't so cringe-worthy, and if the only prominent female character wasn't relegated to the damsel role.

Best film of the month and Best film
rewatched: Halloween

The Social Network (rewatch) - 5/5 - David Fincher adds another piece of cinematic brilliance to his resume, pulling out Oscar-worthy performances from Spiderman and Lex Luthor Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg. The screenplay is a impressive piece of work, while the score is a piece of beauty that makes for an immersive experience when mixed with the gorgeous cinematography. This should have won the Oscars instead of The Kings Speech.

Miss Congeniality - 2.5/5 - Predictable and weakly written, with a mixture of moments which seem to empower women, while others demean them. Still, Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine and Benjamin Bratt are likable enough to add some charm in their roles.

The Inkeepers - 2/5 - Ti West focuses initially on getting to know the characters before the horror elements come into play, but these are initially dull proceedings. The tension gets raised near the end, but it's a case of too little, too late.

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari - 4.5/5 - Wow. This is the first true horror film, it's nearly a 100 years old, and it holds up better than most of the horror films that have been released more recently. An influential picture, holding a really fantastic twist.

Intruders - 1.5/5 - Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo helms a thriller which holds many interesting ideas within the dual tales that it tells. What's unfortunate is how each of these tales are dull and plodding, lacking tension from beginning to anticlimactic ending. The characters are far from compelling, with Clarice Van Houten especially getting a thankless role, but at least the cast do a good job acting in their roles.

Best film seen in cinemas: Nightcrawler

Irreversible - 4/5 - Gasper Noé frames the film around a horrific attack on one of the main characters, making for one of the most difficult watches in cinema. Framing it in reverse allows a curiosity as to what's happened, and then carries a foreboding sense of horror afterwards. But it really is a draining watch, and the dizzying camera work becomes incoherent at times.

The Game - 3.5/5 - David Fincher directs this atmospheric thriller that's led by great performances, particularly from Michael Douglas. It holds an intriguing premise, but it's tiring to see Van Orton keep running from place to place, with each person he encounters actually being a part of this Game. Also, it all feels oddly conventional.

Deliver Us From Evil - 1.5/5 - Scott Derrickson sets a gloomy mood with a creepy atmosphere, but lacks tension and original scares. Also, the procedural tone comes out on top, resulting in poor cop clichés.

Saw (rewatch) - 4/5 - And thus, a horror juggernaut was born. Things lack on the characterization front, but the twists and turns are compelling to watch, while The Jigsaw Killer is one of the best recent horror creations. Shame the sequels focused on blood and gore first and foremost.

American Hustle (rewatch) - 4/5 - David O'Russell delivers a great impression of a Martin Scorcese film that may not be as compelling, but still stands well in its own right. What's assured is that this is an actors film, with the main 5 cast members doing phenomenal work. I still say that Jeremy Renner was more deserving of a Best Supporting Actor nomination than Bradley Cooper though. Also, the plot felt a bit drawn out at times, while the ending is a bit easily rounded up, and light on the landing.

Biggest disappointment: The Innkeepers

The Maze Runner - 3/5 - A competent start to the next YA franchise, bringing up the right level of intrigue, but at the cost of some much needed characterization. Dylan O'Brien does good work, but Kaya Scodelario is pretty wooden.

Lucy - 3.5/5 - Luc Besson aims high, taking inspiration from films such as Akira, The Tree of Life, The Matrix and Limitless. What comes out as a result is entertaining, but often convoluted. Scarlett Johansson leads things fantastically, while Choi Min-Sik is intimidating as the crime boss.

Maps To The Stars - 3.5/5 - 23 being regarded as old, celebrity faeces sold for $3000, converting to Scientology being considered a "career move". David Cronenberg delivers what can best be described as a severely fucked up satire of Hollywood that's well-made and bites straight to the bone. However, the problem is how familiar it all feels, and even derivative. The cast deliver good performances, with Mia Wasikowska, Evan Bird and Julianne Moore towering above the rest of the cast, and being the only characters worth actually following. John Cusack is especially dull outside of scenes with his on-screen daughter.

Near Dark (rewatch) - 4/5 - A fantastic film that combines Western and Vampire genre with great results. Bill Paxton gives a gleefully sadistic, career best turn as Severen, while Joshua Miller is great as Homer, a vampire trapped in a child's body for a long time.

Let The Right One In (rewatch_ - 5/5 - Tomas Alfredson delivers a vampire film that's as beautiful as it is haunting, led by two astounding child actors in this atmospheric tale.

Biggest surprise: The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

The Descent - 3/5 - Neil Marshall delivers a claustrophobic feel that rarely lets up, but things are let down by characters who are poorly developed, barring two of them.

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (rewatch) - 2/5 - Jack Black cashed in on his star power at the time to centre a film around his rock band. What we are given is pointless cameos, a forced rift in the band and a needless car chase, all driven by a nonsensical plot. The lead duo put good performances into dickish characters, and special credit goes to Dave Grohl for lighting up the finale in his turn as The Devil himself.

Bulletproof Monk (rewatch) - 2/5 - Ugly, poorly shot, weak dialogue, overly predictable plot, complete moments of utter nonsense. And yet, despite the competent performances, this film is more meh than bad.

Nightcrawler - 5/5 - Okay Jake Gyllenhaal, you certainly deserve a Best Actor nomination. Go see this warped film, it's one of the years best.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) - 2.5/5 - To be honest, i'm a bit surprised this wasn't god-awful. Could've benefited from a stronger lead, more comprehensible fights and better writing, but the fun rapport between the turtles made sure this wasn't a complete waste of time.

Worst film of the month: Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie

The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon (rewatch) - 3/5 - Talk about a mouthful of a title. Richard Gale presents these 10 minutes as a trailer, with the premise being a supernatural creature who kills its victims slowly, with a spoon. It begins amusingly at first, showing the effect the drawn-out attack has on Jack's psyche and life, but proves to be as slow and prolonged as the murder.

Trick 'r Treat - 4.5/5 - Why did it take me so long to see this? Michael Dougherty delivers a flick that absolutely oozes Halloween. It's an anthology tale, so not all parts will be as strong as each other (looking at the opening story), but it boasts some fantastic performances and great twists and turns to make each tale worth watching. What a wickedly enjoyable film.

Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie - 0/5 - It took some doing, but I found it. The single worst film of 2014. Not a statement I take lightly, but with it's need of a brutal edit, the lack of character development, the lack of acting and the need it had to poke fun at minority groups, there really are no redeeming features. As for the jokes, what jokes?

Housebound - 3.5/5 - It's unfortunate that, for a horror-comedy film, the scares remain pretty standard barring a few moments. The comedic moments have a more frequent hit ratio, with an ingenious fight utilizing a cheese grater as a weapon deserving of praise. Morgana O'Reilly does well as an initially unlikable protagonist, but becomes a well rounded figure by the end of things. It's also worth mentioning that the film had an air of unpredictability which felt refreshing, but things ended up with more of a focus on including the red herrings rather than building a coherent story.

Halloween (1978) (rewatch) - 5/5 - One of the few traditions I still partake in is watching this horror masterpiece on October 31st. You can tell that I loved it.


Best film of the month: Halloween
Best film seen in cinemas: Nightcrawler
Best film rewatched: Halloween
Biggest Disappointment: The Inkeepers
Biggest Surprise: The Cabinet of Dr Caligari
Worst film of the month: Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie

Number of films watched: 30

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