Evil Dead is a remake of the Sam Raimi classic of the same name. While most remakes often suffer artistically from being confined to the original framework and audience expectation, this particular remake has the dubious problem of overcoming not only a classic, but one beloved by a pretty voracious fanbase.
Olympus Has Fallen is a sure fire action film that will have viewers rightfully comparing it to Die Hard. A lone gunman fights his way through the bad-guys to save the kidnapped, in this case, President and his staff. It’s been done and seen before elsewhere, including Air Force One, but now the action has landed in the White House.
Dead Sushi is the latest film by Director Noboru Iguchi. Known for such cult classics such as The Machine Girl and RoboGeisha. His latest film is a horror-comedy romp of epic proportions. Light and mocking, it never takes itself, or even the premise, very seriously.
When Keiko (Rina Takeda) runs away after her overbearing Master Sushi chef father (who wants her to be a boy) berates her for not being good enough at either making Sushi or martial arts, she finds a job in an inn that specializes in Sushi. Keiko doesn’t get hired to make it, only to serve as waitress. The other employees mock her and the owners scold her. The only friend she has is Sawada (Shigeru Matsuzaki). When the management of Komatsu Pharmaceuticals shows up at the end, disgruntled employee, Yamada (Kentarô Shimazu) infects sushi with a reanimating drug. What ensues is mayhem and chaos, with Keiko and Sawada teaming up to try and save the hotel and its guests from the food gone wild.
While this ridiculous premise might seem too far beyond good taste and acceptable filmmaking, it the blended concoction of action, horror, farce and slapstick works quite well together. The playful manner with which Iguchi uses the cast and crew helps the material and cast bring this cartoonish movie to life. With an eye squarely set on the fantastically funny, the over the top effects and situations never stop amazing and amusing. Not only do the individual pieces of sushi and sashimi kill, but they fly, mate, mock and even sing. Keeping the pace and tone throughout it 90 or so minute runtime might seem like it’s either overly long or could be tiresome, but is funny enough and whimsical enough to carry the entire film through without getting boring or tedious.
Some people may be offended or confused by cultural differences, on top of which there are multiple outrageous, violent, gory scenes that will bother others. The effects are a mix of CGI and old school props, but they never rise above the cheesy quality the film so richly deserves and gets. Had they gone for real effects, it would have ruined the mood of parody so carefully created. Takeda carries much of the film on her shoulders. Cute and vulnerable, she also comes across as tough and determined as she kicks and chops her way through the film. A completely gonzo spirit marks her performance, as well as the film, as she gives it her all. The band of back up performers, most notability Sawada as a knife phobic sushi chef, are as dedicated and fun to watch as she is, but she is the star, and the star attraction.
While a fun and fantastic film, it will not be for everyone. Horror fans will find much to enjoy here, as it’s lightly, enthusiastic mocking of monster films does so with knowing what fans find funny, and gives them a reason to laugh at the genre, and themselves.
Sushi Girl is a crime thriller set to the tune of revenge and redemption. Exuding violence and intensity, it spins a yarn of a robbery gone badly, and the length men will go to get the spoils they stole. Featuring a star studded cast giving stellar performances, the film grabs you early and doesn’t let go until the final frame.
Fish (Noah Hathaway) has spent six years in jail and upon the day of his release, is picked up by a limo while Duke (Tony Todd) is busy setting up a dinner for him, and greeting gang members Crow (Mark Hamill), Max (Andy Mackenzie) and Francis (James Duval). Dinner consists of Nyotaimori, the practice of serving sashimi or sushi from the body of a woman, typically naked. After all the assembled criminals are gathered, Fish explains the meal before them and suggests they eat. Fish, thinking the only reason for the assembly is to get information about the missing loot from the robbery that sent him to jail, insists that whatever ill plans they have for him commence without all the niceties. The group is more than willing to fulfill that request. Interplaying the gang’s attempts to elicit information from Fish are flashbacks showing exactly what happened on the day of the robbery, and ultimately, what became of the loot.
Hyper violence is intermixed with intensely intimate moments, giving rise to a series of characters driven as much by their greed as their desire to commit violence. Mark Hamill is brilliant as Crow, a bloodthirsty sadist whose temperament and style is nearly a mirror image of fellow psychopath Andy Mackenzie‘s Max. Hamill’s gay character is light spoken and intelligent, Mackenzie is a lowbrow lout whose one redeeming feature is a willingness to kill. It seems two things keep them from killing one another. The desire for money, and the calm nature of ringmaster Duke. Tony Todd excels as being charmingly menacing while directing the focus on obtaining information from Fish. Todd oozes style and instills fear. Never does Fish have confusion about why he is in this room, or what his ultimate fate will be, to him, it’s just a matter of how long. James Duval has an interesting role as Francis, an addict just off the wagon who is less interested in participating in the extraction methods than he is why. Through the long periods of dialogue, we are given expanding details about the men, their actions and how this group dynamic works. As for the Sushi Girl (Cortney Palm), she comes off as merely a prop to the criminals, but her subtle performance conveys a wide rance of emotions, mostly fear and disgust, that laying still under Sushi might not immediately seem possible.
Overall, the mystery of the missing loot, diamonds, is central to the films construct. While the setup early in the film is sex, money and food, the real reason for the gathering is torture. And there is plenty of that to go around. This is a violent movie, graphically violent. The banter and bickering between Crow and Max goes deeper than mere mutual dislike, its professional jealousy over the conflicting styles. This actually works very well to create some fun and interesting moments between the two, as well with the rest of the group. Several times Duke has to insist on one or the other stopping or the other from just killing Fish outright. Fish, well, he actually has made peace with his fate, and has no problem confronting and mocking his tormentors. All the time, the girl lays with Sushi on her, the men eating bits as the interrogation continues. First time director Kern Saxton co-wrote the script with Destin Pfaff. His treatment of the material shows an understanding of the medium that belies his limited experience.
Stylishly shot, it takes place mainly in a single room, with minimalist sepia shots during the flashbacks, and only the restaurant exterior. Such spartan settings allow the characters room to move and come alive without overly complicated filming techniques. With the exception of the flashbacks, it precedes much the same as a stage production might. Bright and colorful, it is wonderfully lit for maximum effect. The score weaves its way into and out of the film in a predictable, but no less excellent way. It emphasizes the action taking place rather than trying to set the mood alone.
While some may understand where the film is heading long before it gets there, the purpose of the film isn’t the destination, but the journey. It’s watching veteran actors playing angry, psychopathic criminals in action. It shouldn’t be nice, and it isn’t. It’s rough and graphic, harsh and mean, and ultimately it is exactly as it should be.
Recommended for those wanting an adult, dark crime thriller with more than just a touch of violence.
Resolution is a tense and well thought out horror mystery that goes much deeper than your typical “cabin in the woods” type affair. Complex in the telling, the solid acting takes a well written script and brings it astonishingly alive. A compelling mix of friendship, drug addiction, isolation, fear and the unknown make for an interesting and unique horror film.
Michael Danube (Peter Cilella) receives a video from best friend Chris Daniels (Vinny Curran) that shows Chris smoking drugs and shooting up the skyline with various weapons. Seeing the video from home, being concerned for his friend, Michael leaves his pregnant wife and travels to where Chris is currently held up to help him. Finding the video to be accurate, he chains Chris to the cabin wall and tells him he has a week to get clean. Testing the limits of their friendship, Chris has the reaction and painful attitude that any junkie suddenly cut off from supply would. Michael settles in and prepares for Chris to eventually come around to his way of thinking. During this, Michael starts taking walks, and along the way discovers a bevy of characters. There are drug addicts that want either drugs or money from Chris, who is hazy on the actual location of the drugs. The owner of the house wants them gone, sooner rather than later, and implies a threat of violence. A UFO cult, mental patients, various hobos and some unseen supernatural force that may or may not be ghosts, the result of devil worshipers, native spirits or a physics experiment gone awry are all present in one form or another and are given as a cause of unfolding events. Then again, they might not be. There is little gore or violence in this film and nearly everything is implied or alluded to, making it a much more interesting puzzle to figure out.
Michael has little to do beyond ensuring Chris stays put, and being chained, that isn’t very difficult. Boredom soon sets in and all the junk lying around seems like an interesting distraction. What at first appears to be novel soon becomes a little morbid as the things Chris is finding seem to not only contain a theme, but are linked oddly. Linking themselves in an odd pattern, the begin to point to something or someone directing the events currently taking place, including the original video sent to Michael. Chris, in the throes of withdrawal, only wants to be unlocked to do more drugs, isn’t particularly interested in the finds or their meanings. Eventually, even he sees there is something far more ominous and powerful at work. In dealing with not only Chris’ problems, and the other problems presenting themselves Michael acts with a confidence all will be well in the end. Even lying to his wife about the exact nature of the situation seems acceptable. Through the mist of the metaphysical, the two try to find reality and a solution to the growing presence that, well, wants an end to their particular story.
The key to this film is the lead actor’s ability to bring writer Justin Benson‘s script to life. Well acted by both leads, the material seems fresh and vibrant, with interludes of humor scattered throughout. Natural and believable as complete people, this film works as well as a character study as it does on every other level. The chemistry between the two actors has a particular authenticity that one tends to find in long standing friendships, easily relating stories and antidotes about one another as if from memory, rather than by script. Without this, the film could have easily fallen apart, or descended into silliness. Co directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead make the most of the leads acting abilities, creating a rich and subtle relationship between the two men.
In the end, what this film is about is horror. It’s a horror film for horror film fans. They want exactly what this film promises, and quite well delivers on. Clever, subtle, subversive and witty, it achieves a much greater whole than its parts might suggest. So much the better for those who might feel every plot element is random will discover it all has meaning, and purpose.
Grave Encounters 2 is a surprisingly better made horror film than was expected. This film draws from many sources and ideas that have been seen elsewhere, but manages to blend them nicely into some solid chills and lots of fun. Capturing the tone of the first, it expands the mythos in interesting and creative ways.
Starting with various vloggers speaking about the first film, we are introduced to Alex (Richard Harmon), a film school student that initially thinks the first film is fiction and poorly made. We are introduced to his friends, Jennifer (Leanne Lapp), Trevor (Dylan Playfair), Tessa (Stephanie Bennett) and Jared (Howie Lai). We see them living their college life, with Alex shooting a movie and slowly becoming obsessed with the original Grave Encounters after he tries to find out what the actors are up to. Using social media, he gets contacted by DeathAwaits666. Alex is told if he comes to the site of the original, all the truth will be revealed. His friends are convinced to come, and manage to get into the hospital. Once there, of course, the truth is revealed.
This is another found footage film, though we do have a survivor to bring it out, and uses some effective ways to have multiple angles of the same scene. By early on placing several cameras on tripods, the viewer gets a much welcomed break from the constant motion usually evident. We also get, quite literally, another viewpoint of the same situation. This immersion works quite effectively in placing the viewer right in the middle of the action. As the group size decreases, so do the number of cameras, which further emphases their predicament. Keeping the view limited in such a dark and dank place, works well to enhance the claustrophobic atmosphere and sense of dread.
The Vicious Brothers managed to write a relatively solid script for Director John Poliquin. In an effort to create real people rather than just characters to be killed, the time between opening credits and the hospital is overly long. The inclusion of footage of them as goofy college kids only show a lack of seriousness on their part that allows them to be sucked into this, yet the film dwells on the growing obsession of Alex longer than was needed. Poor choices are made, multiple times, about things that should have been obvious to a serious horror fan. If a place is haunted, and managed to kill an entire crew once, why would you think you could go in and come out ok beyond the arrogance of youth.
Once there, things move at a fairly good pace, doubling back on thoughts and ideas as the increasingly smaller group works its way through an ever more complex system of doors and tunnels. The addition of Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) from the first film having survived deepens the mystery of what is going on. He has gone insane, but still manages to be a hinge on which the final segment of the film rests. Having spent so much time on the college kids, they felt it was only right to let everyone in on what Lance has been up to. It’s not pretty or nice.
Longtime horror fans, and gamers, will find plenty to be familiar with, and will have seen parts of this film before. Overall it’s a solid film, both serious and casual fans should find plenty to enjoy.