indiescream.

UPDATE

December 20, 2013
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Hello all!

I am writing to inform you that this page will remain pretty bare for a while seeing that I am now writing film reviews for INsite Atlanta and am being published on their site and in their paper. I really happy with the work I am doing with them and would like to focus my efforts there. I may post some here every now and then but don’t expect it often at all.

Thank you to all who read and be sure to keep up with me in the future!

 

-Christian

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Pacific Rim.

July 20, 2013
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Hello friends, it’s been a while but what better way to return than with the latest offering from one of film’s sharpest minds, Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim.

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Pacific Rim is a film that had I been twelve years old upon its release, it would easily have become one of my favorite films. It’s not all that deep and it’s not dark like most of del Toro’s other works but it’s cool. It’s really damn cool.

The story is simple (minor spoilers): giant alien monsters called Kaijus begin appearing from a portal deep in the Pacific Ocean and wreaking havoc on humanity so the military creates giant robots called Jaegers in order to stop them and it proves highly effective until the Kaijus start becoming stronger and the government opts to discontinue the Jaegers defensive in favor of a giant, Kaiju-proof wall. Naturally, the wall idea was a bust so the Jaegers must once again come in a fight the ultra powerful Kaiju.

The film is cool, pretty to look at, and just plain fun. Idris Elba is great as Stacker Pentecost, the Marshal who keeps the Jaeger project alive once it was shut down, and Charlie Hunnam carries the film well in the lead role as Raleigh Becket. Charlie Day and Ron Pearlman are also great comic relief although the comedy wasn’t really relieving the audience of anything. My only real complaints are that Rinko Kikuchi’s performance as Mako Mori was lacking and just seemed stiff and out of place and that the film wrapped up far too nicely. I knew how it would end but I was hoping for something a tad different just to spice things up.

All in all, I had a big, dumb smile on my face during all of the battles and, weak ending aside, walked out of the theatre very satisfied and that’s saying something especially with ticket prices today. Del Toro set out to make a fun, unpretentious, action packed flick and he succeeded. Go see this in theatres and bring some friends. Films like this deserve the box office numbers so go support it.

★★★★

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Upon reevaluation, my initial score of three and a half stars has been bumped up to four due the excitement I noticed in my voice when discussing the film with my friends. It’s just so fucking fun.


The Innkeepers.

April 18, 2012
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Writer/director Ti West blew me away with his horror flash back The House of the Devil so when news broke that his next film would be The Innkeepers, I was quite excited to see it.

The film takes place at the Yankee Pedler Inn during its last weekend in business. Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are the only staff on for the last few days and are required to stay at the inn until the owner returns from vacation to close up shop. There are few guests staying but other than that, no commotion. As the story moves along we learn that they have been keeping an eye out for workings of the paranormal, specifically the ghost of Madeline O’Malley.

The plot is a pretty straight forward ghost story but well done thanks to West’s dedication to characters. He’s not one to rush anything to get to the scares. It’s a slow build with fine character development that leads to a pretty satisfying ending.

There’s really not too much I can say about this one. Not because I’d be giving anything away it’s just that this didn’t really thrill me but it also didn’t really let me down. It just kind of was there. I enjoyed it and thought it was pretty effective but nothing too special. It was kind of a letdown considering how much I truly enjoyed The House of the Devil. Fans of West’s previous work, specifically House, will find something to enjoy here like I did and even horror fans in general could probably find something to appreciate. Sadly, it’s just not one to get all that excited for.

★★★☆☆


YellowBrickRoad.

April 17, 2012
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I went into YellowBrickRoad knowing nothing about it other than the fact that it had received some mediocre reviews from horror sites that I trust. It was between this and Hellraiser: Revelations and I know I made the right call.

To start, I love the concept. Writers and journalists head to Friar, New Hampshire to do a story on the 1940 disappearance of the town’s entire population who walked a trail (called YellowBrickRoad by the town folk) and never returned. That alone hooked me. I mean, that’s eerie in and of itself. Upon their arrival, they are met with hostility from mostly all of the town’s people, cursing at them or just shying away/shunning them all together. All except for Liv who seems desperately intrigued by their investigation and offers her assistance in exchange for being allowed to join them. This is an example of a fresh horror film to me. The concept is one I haven’t seen before and there are no ghosts, monsters, or masked murders hiding in the woods, just a group of people walking deeper and deeper into their own demise.

With that being said, I really wish I liked this flick a hell of a lot more than I did. The pacing is quite good, the acting isn’t perfect but definitely above average, and the directing/sound design/cinematography was pretty fantastic as well. The tone and sense of dread was pretty strong here and the few gore scenes were quite gnarly as well but the ending. That stupid damn ending. I was enjoying pretty much every second of this and then the damn ending happened. I don’t even know what to make of it. Yeah, the film is a mindfuck or sorts and I wasn’t expecting to have everything (or anything) really answered but what the hell, man?

So, should you see it? Yeah, I think you should. Horror fans will either feel how I did or hate it all together. From what I’ve read, that’s pretty much how it’s being received. There is some really cool stuff that goes on here. There’s one characters death in particular that I really found powerful and it’s not one of the gory scenes. Also, the use of music in this is rather magnificent it’s just that damn ending. Check it out if you’re curious. I do feel it’s worth the watch but be prepared to be disappointed with how things are wrapped up. That’s my only real grievance.

★★★½


The Cabin in the Woods.

April 16, 2012
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Horror fans rejoice! All ye weary fear not. Seriously, there’s no need to worry. If ever a film deserved praise, it’s The Cabin in the Woods. Go see it, my review is pointless. Really, stop reading. Stop it.

To say this film relies on a twist is selling it short. It is a twist but not in the sense widely known. It takes a stale and clichéd horror convention and twists it into something brilliantly original. Stop me if you’ve heard this: five college friends go to a cabin in the woods. There’s the jock, the slut, the stoner, the nerd, and the virgin. It’s a set up every horror fan has seen yet is warped into such a fresh and original way. Though the film isn’t scary, it is a perfect horror but I must stop there.

You’ve likely read other reviews for this if you’re reading mine so you know that I’m pretty much done with the review. There is so much that I want to say but I just can’t as a favor to you. I just can’t. If someone had spoiled it for me, I would have been furious but with that in mind, this is not a film that is only effective on first viewing. Yes, the reveal of certain details won’t be as mind blowing the second time around but this movie is so smart, so fun, and so fucking funny that I feel the fondness will only grow stronger with repeated screenings.

See this film. See it with friends. I personally haven’t shut up about it since I saw it. This is truly a love letter to the genre made for fans by fans. Those who aren’t avid horror fans may miss many of the references and allusions but I’d be surprised if they walked away having anything other than a wonderful time. Support this film and strap in for one hell of a ride with this instant classic. This is easily one of the best films of the year and I won’t be surprised if it gets my top spot. It’s a tough one to beat.

★★★★★


Top Films of 2011.

January 20, 2012
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Damn, it’s been a while. I figured that even though it’s quite late, I’d share my top films of 2011 with you fine folks for my first post of 2012. Now, I wasn’t able to see a majority of the films that are being nominated and I’m sure they’re great but I’m pretty damn pleased with what I did see and I thoroughly believe that no matter what else I saw, my number one pick would remain the same.

I want you to keep in mind that this list consists of films that I enjoyed the most. While I do believe some are borderline masterpieces, this list encompasses what I saw and had the best time with.

Notable Mentions (alphabetical):

Cedar Rapids
Chillerama (Expect for the god awful “Werebear” segment)
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hanna
Insidious
Paranormal Activity 3
Rubber
Source Code
Super 8

Top Ten of 2011:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Hobo with a Shotgun/Drive

Both films are fantastic throw backs. Yes, Drive is the “better” film but I had so much fun with Hobo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Melancholia

Most know that I love me some von Trier and this powerful examination of depression during the end of the world is damn brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Red State

Love it or hate (most hate it), there’s no denying that Kevin Smith has done something completely different and for me, it was just what I was hoping for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. The Woman

Dark, heavy, and macabre. Highly recommended but definitely not for everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. 50/50

Made me tear up and desperately want to call my mom and tell her I love her. Very moving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Pariah

This one was a huge surprise for me. I’d heard little about it before the advance screening I attended but I wasn’t expecting much. I left overjoyed with satisfaction. An extremely real look a young woman becoming who she was always meant to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Attack the Block

You’ve likely heard the hype and it’s pretty much all true. See it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. 13 Assassins

Of the the best modern films dealing with a group of unlikely heroes getting some much deserved revenge. One of Miike’s best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Hesher

Hilarious, sad, and surprisingly touching. Also, Natalie Portman is looking gorgeous as always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. I Saw the Devil

This is a masterpiece. I saw this too many times to count last year and loved it more and more with each viewing. It’s brutal, dark, and fascinating. A must see but be warned: this is not for the squeamish. Seriously.

There you have it. Here’s to another year of fine film and if you feel so incline, let me know how much you (dis)agree with this list.


Red State.

October 20, 2011
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Kevin Smith is no stranger to controversy and when he premiered Red State, a royal shit storm was cast upon him. I’m honestly not on either side of the coin when it comes to the issue and I’m not even going to detail it because, frankly, it not important. What’s important is if Red State is a quality film or not and this reviewer’s answer is a very strong: yes.

Now, this is a film that I followed closely due to anticipation of viewing it and really all I could find when reading about it was negativity and mention of the controversy. Now, it seemed to me like many reviewers took the distribution issues and Smith’s actions and judged the film on that. This isn’t right in my mind. The review should focus on the quality of the film and nothing more (yes, I know that I’m two paragraphs in and haven’t talked about the film but I’m going to do that now).

Red State is writer/director Kevin Smith’s first venture out of the comedic realm and it’s a big one. Going from comedies full of dick and weed jokes to a religious horror with a very dark tone wasn’t something anyone expected and many, including myself, weren’t sure he could pull off. Well, I’m here to tell you he did.

I can assume that those who would be interested in this film already know at least the basic plot for it but I’ll share it anyway. Red Sate is a religious horror that focuses on three male teens that, after a poor decision on their part, are kidnapped and held hostage by a radical evangelical group known as Five Points Church. That’s just the basic outline but that’s really all that’s needed to explain the film briefly.

The extremists are lead by the wicked Pastor Abin Cooper (played brilliantly by Michael Parks) who oozes with hate speech and the “word of the lord”. If the pastor and the church sound oddly familiar it’s because they are based on the Westboro Baptist Church and leader Fred Phelps.

To me, the story is perfect for a horror film. Anything involving religious whack jobs is normally quite frightening but in the same breath, that’s my only complaint about the film. The story and the film should be frightening but it’s not. There’s nothing scary about it at all. It’s definitely more of a thriller than a horror in my mind but regardless, not scary. That doesn’t mean it’s not unsettling though. Scary? No. A bit unnerving? Yes. Just knowing that people like this actually exist is enough to make the film engrossing. Yes, Red State is an exaggeration but it still just makes you think, “How far are these people willing to go for their beliefs?”

It’s a brilliantly written and acted and also quite well directed. Michael Parks delivers a long but extremely effective and unsettling monologue toward the middle of the film and that alone made me greatly enjoy it.

Since it’s a Smith film, it was safe to assume that it was going to be lathered heavily in dialog and it was but this time it was different. Yes, the beginning with the young guys had some of the standard sex jokes and whatnot but it wasn’t out of place and over the top and once things started gaining momentum, all of that was gone and serious speech took over.

I know I stand in the minority on this one but Red State is a damn good film. Every actor, every line, and pretty much every shot just works. Oh, and the running shots. If you see it, you’ll know what I’m referring to. For some reason I adored them.

Yeah, it’s not prefect but it’s a great addition to Smith’s filmography and proves that he’s not a one trick pony when it comes to style. Give it a chance. Don’t just brush it off because you think Smith is an asshole or because you read a few bad reviews for it. Really give it the chance it deserves and you may end up surprising yourself with how much you actually enjoy it.

★★★★


The Ward.

October 20, 2011
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Having not directed a feature film in almost ten years, it’s safe to say that as a horror fan, I was very excited to see John Carpenter’s return with The Ward. He’s the man behind two of my favorite horror films (Halloween and The Thing) and directed my favorite installment in the Masters of Horror series (Cigarette Burns). I hadn’t heard too much about The Ward other than some rather disheartening reviews panning it but I went in with an open mind just hoping that it would be a triumphant return or at least a return to form. Sadly, it was not. Not even close.

The Ward tells the story of a young woman named Kirsten (Amber Heard) who is found by the police burning down an old farmhouse at the start of the film. She is taken to a mental hospital for reasons neither herself nor the audience are aware of. She isn’t there for very long before strange things start to happen and it’s revealed that the building is in fact haunted. As she learns more about the ghost, she tries to rally up the other female inmates in an attempt to escape but all efforts prove futile as the girl’s are picked off one by one by the medical tool obsessed entity.

The Ward is at best a cliché, seeming to take every cue from every psychological horror/thriller before it and managing to do absolutely nothing interesting or new with the material. The characters are one dimensional and honestly just plain irritating. It’s bad to the point that you kind of wish the characters would just die but when they do, even the death scenes are lackluster. You simply do not care about anyone in the entire film. As I was watching it with my roommate, a death sequence was happening and I literally shouted at the screen, “I don’t care!” The film was a tiring disappointment.

I wanted so badly to enjoy this movie. I’m a huge Carpenter fan and hoped that this would be the return that horror fans and I were waiting for. As previously stated, it’s not even close. It’s a boring, dull, run of the mill addition to the genre and a stain on the director’s catalog.

I read a lot about a twist ending and though it technically has one, it’s one that’s been done to death. For me, the only redeeming aspect of the film was that Amber Heard is quite an attractive lady but that was the only good thing I can think of. The camera work was standard and it looked like a direct to DVD horror flick that would be found in the Wal Mart bargain bin. It was just uninspired in all aspects.

I tried to enjoy it, I really did, but there is just nothing redeeming about it. I was bored, frustrated, and upset while watching it and even now as I’m thinking about it, I am feeling the same emotions. I want to give away the “twist” right now so I can save any who are interested in seeing the film their time and energy but I won’t. Just know that it’s a psychological horror/thriller that takes place in a mental hospital. Reread that and just think for thirty seconds and it should become clear to you.

I know horror fans will more than likely see it regardless of bad reviews. I mean, that’s what I did but you seriously do not need to waste your time. Nothing about it reminds me of the days when Carpenter was truly a master of horror and I’ll be damned if anyone would disagree. Thankfully, he was not responsible for the atrocious script so there’s still some hope in me the he’ll churn out a new original horror story in the coming days but after this mess, that hope is quite small.


Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.

October 12, 2011
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I had no previous knowledge of director Tsui Hark before this film but according to what I’ve read, he’s quite known for his visionary work in film and it definitely shows in Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame’s grand aesthetic.

The film is a historical fantasy chronicling the rise of real life empress Wu Zetian as she becomes China’s first female ruler. Before she is able to take the throne though, a supposed supernatural plague in the form of spontaneous combustion begins to wreak havoc on many of the powerful officials in Zetian’s rule. In order to solve the mystery behind the seemingly unexplainable deaths, she calls upon a man who she imprisoned for eight years, Detective Dee.

Hark’s directing in Dee is hands down the strongest thing going for it. The way Hark establishes the background landscape is so fantastic that at times you may catch yourself focusing on the sights behind the characters rather than the action at hand. That is until the fighting is on screen. The choreography for the action sequences can best be described as smooth, precise, and whimsical. Watching the movements of the characters as they fly around the screen and wield their weapons is extremely entertaining.

That’s just what this film is. Entertaining. I mean, there an action sequence where Dee has to fight a bunch of deer. Yeah, that was really neat and entertaining. The story is good and keeps you interested until the end but as it progressed certain “mysteries” of the plot seemed to unravel a bit too early and there was just something about it that wasn’t completely captivating. Also, the CGI was a bit weak though I am unsure if the screener copy I received is actually to blame for that.

With that being said, it’s a good flick that fans of the martial arts, action, and/or historical fantasy genres are sure to fully enjoy. For this reviewer, it was a fun ride that I am happy to have taken and wouldn’t mind going on again.

★★★


T is for Truth.

October 2, 2011
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Hey all! You should watch this cool short and vote for it! A few of my pals did it and my best buddy Maklov did the music. Support independent film and music! Do it. Don’t be a dingus.

http://26th.theabcsofdeath.com/t-is-for-truth-1/

http://www.facebook.com/MaklovOfficial

 

 

 

 


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