Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Shorts: a function 이계도함수


Directed by Hyunsoo Lee, a function takes that all-too-familiar test-taking anxiety and turns it into a nightmarish short. I love the way it keeps the tension with just a bit of PG-13 violence, but lays out the potential for something much worse. A little blood and gore can go a long way.





Sunday, April 05, 2015

Sunday Shorts: ReCURSION


ReCURSION from NinjaSticks on Vimeo.

'Recursion' is the modern-day time-travel adventure of Sherwin, a best man who travels back in time after losing a wedding ring.

It usually takes me a while to find a noteworthy selection for the Sunday Shorts but this one fell right into my lap (via recent twitter follower @Recursionfilm).







Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wolves



I wish there was a way to send a print of David Hayter’s Wolves back to the 80s. It would fit right in with stuff like Fright Night, Lost Boys and Teen Wolf. Not as endearing as those movies, but the throwback feel is pretty strong. Alas, Amazon hasn't invented time travel shipping (yet), so I’ll have to judge it as a 21st century creation.

Underneath all the fangs and hair, Wolves is your basic coming of age story. A teen discovers that he’s not like the other kids, so after some violent episodes, he sets out on a journey to find himself. Instead of running into Professor X and his School for Gifted Youngsters, Cayden (Lucas Till) winds up in the quaint town of Lupine Ridge. (Get it?) It’s not long before hijinks ensue...



The usual characters archetypes are front and center: The Wise Sage (Stephen McHattie), The Love Interest (Merritt Patterson), and The Antagonist (Jason “Aquaman” Momoa).

As much as I like the spirit of these genre mashups, I have to admit, they’re hit or (mostly) miss with audiences. It gets even worse when werewolves are the main attraction.

Jeff Goldsmith's Q&A podcast has a really good interview with Hayter here.

As the writer of X-Men, X2, and Watchmen, Hayter obviously knows his way around action-oriented stories about people with special abilities. Clearly, Wolves was originally envisioned as a bigger story but was scaled back because of budgetary constraints.  The movie does a great job with the werewolf design -- kind of looks like Beast from the X-Men movies. It even has some clever cheats to explain why everyone doesn’t turn into a werewolf, too damn expensive otherwise.

Good cast, good creature design, so what’s the problem? Wolves is an $18-20 million dollar movie and at the end of the day, this:



Is going to have a hard time trying to compete with this:


(I couldn't find a good clip from X-Men or X2.)

A low budget movie like Wolves needed to focus more on character development, suspense, and horror to make up for the lack of spectacle. There's nothing remarkable or especially different about this take on the werewolf genre. Aside from a few twists, it all feels very, very familiar. Those 80s movies I mentioned had other things going for them.

I'm still holding out hope that we'll see a wildly successful werewolf movie at the box office... eventually. It's been rough for a while now. I have little faith in Universal's plan to relaunch their iconic horror monsters by focusing on action/adventure rather than horror -- I'll get into Dracula Untold later.

One final complaint: the title. Could it be any more generic?

FINAL GRADE: C







Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Shorts: REALM



This short introduces a clever wrinkle on your basic exorcism story. In fact, it was so clever that the feature length version of the script, written by Rebecca Sonnenshine, was purchased by Relativity Studios in a mid-six-figure deal. Flashy shorts often generate a tremendous amount of buzz that tends to go nowhere, but I think Realm stands a decent chance of getting made. It shouldn't be that expensive to produce, and with the Underworld and Resident Evil franchises winding down, this might be the perfect time for a new butt-kicking, female protagonist to emerge and snatch action/horror genre crown.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Shorts: DERAILED


Paris is known as the city of love and lights, but after viewing this short from Nicolas Simonin, they're not too shabby in the horror department either.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Shorts: WEREWOLVES



Hadn't planned on showcasing back to back werewolf shorts but since I'm going to be blogging about some recent feature length films (Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf, Wolves), it seemed appropriate. The comedy is also a nice change of pace from the other stuff I've posted.







Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Powers: A PlayStation Original Series | Episode 1


Set in a world where humans and super heroes co-exist, a homicide detective, who had his own powers taken from him, investigates crimes involving superhumans along with his partner.

The first episode of the graphic novel adaptation is up on youtube. I believe this was in development at FX for while but it never got past the pilot. While I'm surprised it's coming from the Playstation Network, I really shouldn't be. Everyone's trying to get into the content business these days. I hear overstock.com has stuff in the works -- seriously.

Pacing seemed a little off to me but pilots are difficult beasts so stuff like that happens. Reminds me of  a grittier Heroes. Sharlto Copley and Susan Heyward work well off each other as the leads. The budget is supposedly comparable to House of Cards, Breaking Bad, and Orange is the New Black. However, last time I checked, characters weren't flying, teleporting, or firing energy blasts on those shows. Something to keep an eye on over the 10 episode run. You have wonder how long this superhero bubble will last but with stuff like this and the upcoming Daredevil series on Netflix, I reckon it might be a while longer...
 




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