Sunday, July 31, 2011

INSIDIOUS


Punch yourself in the face.

RIGHT NOW!

Don't ask any questions. Just do it!

That's for not writing Insidious. Another successful low-budget, well-executed concept that a lot of us probably never even considered -- or quickly dismissed. Instead of dreaming up crazy, big budget, high concept stories like werewolves on the moon (which is a real project in development btw), maybe we need to pull back once in a while. Think small. Execute big. There are a lot more people capable and willing to make a film for $1.5 million dollars than for $50-100 million, especially in this economy. Just something to ponder.

As far as the film goes, it delivers what the trailer promises: scares. I'm not a gambling man, but I'm willing to bet that the filmmakers might have seen Poltergeist once or twice. Instead of a special little girl, we have a special little boy. And what starts off as a run-of-the-mill haunted house story soon becomes something entirely different. When a simple fall puts the boy into a comatose state that baffles doctors, family secrets are soon revealed. Mom (Rose Byrne) and Dad (Patrick Wilson) will have to risk everything in order to save their son.

Director James Wan makes excellent use of shadows and sound here. Screenwriter Leigh Whannell does an absolutely terrific job with foreshadowing. The only misstep is when the story attempts to inject some comedic relief. Almost takes you right out of the film, but it's rescued by a strong ending.

The days of me getting spooked by horror movies are long gone, but later on, I woke up in the middle of the night and for just a split second... there was a moment of
*uncertainty*.

So don't go stepping over some obvious or "easy" ideas. Find a way to make them work (especially on the cheap).

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any injuries that might have been sustained while reading this post.



Intruders Official Trailer



I mentioned this back in April and now we finally have the official trailer. Reminds me a little bit of Insidious — I'll be posting some thoughts on that shortly.

Although I wasn't crazy about what Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo did with 28 Weeks Later, aka The Misadventures of Zombie Dad, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. This looks creepy and the mystery has me hooked!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Déjà vu all over again


The 2011 Nicholl Quarter-Finalists were announced this morning. Didn't make the cut, but I received the same P.S. as last year: two positive reads. My scores just aren't high enough to qualify for a third read. The premise might not be strong enough, or maybe the writing is lacking. It's all so subjective.

I was really hoping for at least a Top 10-15% finish. Would've been a meaningful tidbit to add in my query letters. C'est la vie.

Almost finished with my potential 2012 entry: a character-driven supernatural thriller. I feel really good about its chances in contests and querying.

Congrats to the Quarter-Finalists!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Let Me In


It took me a while, but I finally got around to the DVD. Matt Reeves directs a solid film with some haunting performances. Chloe Moretz plays Abby with slightly more sympathetic guise than in the original and Richard Jenkins rates high on the creep-o-meter as her servant. So how does it compare to Let The Right One In? Although it takes place in the United States, the setting is almost identical. The subplot about Owen being bullied is intact... It's really difficult to point out the minor differences. There's no cat attack scene...and um, uh.... Look, there's not a whole lot to be said here. I tried to keep an open mind, but this is one of the most unnecessary remakes ever -- soon to be replaced by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Just watch the original.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dream House Trailer



I try to keep abreast of all the major upcoming supernatural/horror releases, but Dream House totally flew under my radar. I vaguely remember reading about it in the trades, but other than that, nada. The September release date doesn't inspire a ton of confidence. Looks intriguing though.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dreams on Spec

Twitter has made me a lazy blogger. Whenever I see a cool article or have a semi-interesting thought, my initial impulse is to tweet first and (maybe) blog later. I totally forgot to mention the excellent screenwriting documentary from 2007, Dreams on Spec. Ironically enough, it was an innocuous tweet that got me back on the right track. You can watch the entire film below:

Watch more free documentaries

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Howling Reborn



High school setting. Supernatural creatures. Angsty, horny teens. Yet another attempt to capitalize off the Twilight phenomenon. Fans of the original will not be amused. It also bears more than a passing resemblance to MTV's Teen Wolf series. But unlike Teen Wolf, this seems unfocused. Wants to be a paranormal romance for the tween girls, but also an action horror flick for the dudes. Might not please anyone with that strategy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cronos


My vampirism theme continues with yet another questionable and misleading poster...

Mimic was the first film that introduced me to Guillermo Del Toro. While I didn't care for the Super Cockroaches Gone Wild story, the creature design really caught my eye. After Blade II and Hellboy, I became a huge fan of his work. Until recently, Cronos was the only Del Toro feature that I hadn't seen, but I finally got my hands on the Criterion Collection DVD. While Del Toro's often praised for dreaming up beautifully bizarre creatures and gorgeous sets, his talent as a storyteller is incredibly underrated.

An antique dealer winds up with an ancient device that can grant immortality — with the only drawback being a nasty craving for blood — but a dying tycoon will do anything to get his hands on it.

It's difficult to neatly place Cronos in a specific genre box. I guess the closest would be Dark Family Fantasy. It's kind of fitting that this post comes right after my thoughts about We Are The Night. There are several instances where the film could have gone down a schlocky b-movie path, but Del Toro's just too smart for that. This is an intimate and relatable story with a few fantastical trappings.

The DVD itself is excellent. Lots of extras: commentaries, interviews and a tour of Del Toro's Bleak House -- a shrine to all things horror, sci-fi and fantasy. A must for fans. Check out the trailer below:



Thursday, July 07, 2011

Wir sind die Nacht (We Are The Night)


The posters are curious. They all showcase three female vampires when there are actually four in the film. I wonder why that decision was made. More aesthetically appealing? The fourth actress must be ticked!

Back in the day, there was always talk about a Lost Boys sequel with female vampires, The Lost Girls. I even remember Britney Spears being rumored for the lead — waayyy back in the day. The project languished in development hell and never came to fruition. Instead, we got those Direct-2-DVD sequels starring the two Coreys. We Are The Night is probably the closest we'll ever get to a Lost Girls movie.

For centuries, a Vampiress has been searching for her soulmate and comes to believe that a homely delinquent is the one. It's kind of like Lost Boys mixed with a dash of Cinderella and pinch of Sex In the City (plus a dab of the L Word). Although the budget wasn't particularly high, the film certainly makes the most of it. Many of the special effects are subtle, but effective — there's a really cool makeover/transformation scene with the protagonist that you can see in the trailer below. Action sequences are above average and well done. To put it simply, this is a good-looking film. But when it comes to story...

There's a reason why newbie screenwriters are often advised not to write about ghosts, werewolves, vampires, aliens, etc. Everyone does them and it's very difficult to make yours stand out. The story here is predictable — especially the second half. Attempts to flesh out the supporting characters fall flat, the love triangle is forced, and there's a lot of telegraphing going on. Not every film needs Inception-like complexity, but you never want the audience/reader to feel bored. Even Lost Boys had a twist or two. Overall, a nice B-movie, but a stronger third act would have made a world of difference.

Here's a link to a great interview with writer/director Dennis Gansel.



Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Blade Anime

I've got a backlog of vamp-related material, so I'm going with Vampire Theme Week:



Looks like they borrowed the Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones look from the defunct Spike live-action series. Surprised this didn't happen sooner because it seems like a no-brainer. There's definitely an audience out there for more adult-oriented animation. Cost is obviously a factor, but Spawn had a pretty good run on HBO and the Afro Samurai movies seem to do well on Spike. Heck, remember my post about the Ultraviolet anime from a few years back? Perhaps it's a question of demand. Despite the success of the films, Blade has never been that successful as a solo comic.

On the surface, Blade appears to be an excellent character for anime. However, he's not much of a talker (not especially deep either). You'll need to surround him with a strong supporting cast. On top of that, your protagonist is only as compelling as his antagonist. This seems decent enough. It might generate enough interest for Marvel to consider that often rumored Blade reboot.

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