Category Archives: psychological thriller
Back in October I did a review over at Rogue Cinema about a cyberpunk thriller called Modified (just click the link if you wanna read the review!). Anyway, the director just got in touch with me to let me know that the full length film is now available for viewing over on Youtube and asked me to help get the word out. So without further ado, I present Modified – a dark sci-fi thriller set in the underground world of technological body modification. If that sounds like it might float your boat, head on over and check it out – I thought it was pretty good, pretty entertaining and a lot of fun!
Every year, round this time, t.v. stations start playing things like “100 Scariest Movie Moments!” and “100 Scary Movies You’ve Never Seen!” and so on and so forth (and did I just totally sound old there by saying “t.v. stations”? Can you still refer to them as such?) so I thought I’d do some things along similar lines here for Halloween Month. Hopefully, you find it fun (and if not leave me a very nice comment asking me to never ever do this again, please). I wasn’t entirely sure what to entitle this since some of these may be scary, some may be stupid and some may be just WTF? so we’re just going to go with “favorite” horror movie moments. This is also (obviously) not a full list just my current top five. There may be more forthcoming. Oh and….
*WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD*
So if you haven’t seen a particular movie and don’t want to know what happens in a certain part, get the heck outta here now!
My first favorite horror movie moment comes from my all-time favorite Korean horror flick EVER. A Tale of Two Sisters is an ethereal, stunning vision based on an old Korean fairytale/folk tale full of WTF? that only Asian can bring. It’s a quiet horror with much more going on psychologically than anything else (although there is the requisite “girl with hair in face shot”). Every one that I have made watch this has liked it and been frightened and there’s several jumpy moments through out but my very favorite punch in the gut from this flick is when the viewer discovers that Su-yeon has been dead the ENTIRE time. Even better, Su-yeon finds this out at the same time as us.
To some this may not be a horror movie but to me it is. There’s lots of reasons why but I won’t go into them here, mostly because I’m doing a guest post for Tyson over at Head in a Vice on Black Swan and that sort of thing will be throughout. There’s a ton of favorite scenes for me in this one (and no I am NOT going with Mila and Natalie getting it on, even if it was totally hot) but my absolute favorite moment in this film is when Natalie is walking home one night from rehearsal and she passes herself. Only it’s not herself, right? One tiny insignificant moment but it explains so much about her character and sets us up for the visual trip that’s about to happen.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Suicide Club (Unrated) (English Subtitled), then I highly suggest you get on that right away. This was the first Asian movie I ever saw and it blew me away, mostly because it was crazy and even though I’ve now seen it countless times, I’m still not entirely sure what happens here. My favorite moment from this movie is actually at the beginning. 54 schoolgirls link hands and throw themselves in front of an oncoming subway train. THAT is how this movie begins. Everything about the moment chills me from their smiling faces to the blood splattered other passengers who witness the whole thing. Perfectly executed in my opinion and from there it only gets more WTF? In fact, you can watch the entire clip below:
Alice by Jan Svankmajer is another film that is purely subjective as to whether it’s horror or not but if you find skeleton puppets, homicidal rabbits, stop animation and lots of Freudian dismality terrifying then this absolutely counts. The film is full of disturbing moments but for me the most disturbing moments here are when Alice becomes a doll (because dolls are CREEPY) and her time spent with the Mad Hatter. This is one of my favorite movies of all time and Svankmajer is one of my favorite directors of all time. You can actually watch the whole thing on Youtube for free!
Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed while not nearly as wonderful as the original is still a treat as it furthers the lycanthrope lore. The sequel finds B. constantly on the run, doping up on monkshood till she finds herself in rehab where she befriends a little girl named Ghost. An EVIL little girl named Ghost. That kid is twisted. And frightening. But the best moment here is at the end when we find out just how scary little Ghost can be when after trying to (claiming to) help B the whole time, she instead turns quietly psychotic and locks B up in wolf form to be her playmate forever and ever and ever. The monster here isn’t B as a werewolf or even the abusive drug dealer in rehab, it’s something far more sinister.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to check out some local cinema, in the form of Cesar Cruz’s Dark Passages. Local talent always gets me excited because I used to work a bit in film and it’s always exciting when something you’ve poured everything into finally gets a premiere and recognition. There was also the added bonus of it premiering at the Darress Theatre, where my play will be opening next month (ergo, my new home away from home!).
I arrived a little bit early amidst a throng of people (several of who were clearly involved and running around getting things in order). I bought a soda and settled in to wait for the show to begin. Pre-show involved “The Twilight Zone” (I believe) on mute with some really great music playing.
Now the man behind the magic, Cesar Cruz, is someone I’m not familiar with but it seems he now works at my old company, which is how I found out about this showing. He has a production company called Outworld Entertainment and it seemed that not only was this a premiere but their 14th anniversary so CONGRATS!
The showing opened up with a few general comments and jokes from the MC then it was onto the films. While Dark Passages is my main concentration here I do want to mention Window, the first short that was shown. Window opens with a radio announcement about biochemical warfare and from there the action starts. It’s not a lot of action because the entire movie is set in an apartment but it works. A man with a weird finger tic starts roaming around this apartment. Who is he? Why is he there? He’s clearly looking for something but at the same time something or someone seems to be looking for him. Window was vaguely Hitchcockian, with a tense atmosphere and an ending that left me wondering who was a victim of the biochemical warfare and if the whole thing was merely fantasy. A nice short, perhaps a bit too long.
Next was a music video but I’ll skip over that to the main event: Dark Passages.
Dark Passages opens fast and furious in the center of the action. We’ve all seen (and discussed here in the past) those people in a locked room scenarios. This takes from that and expands to a group of people lost in the woods. They’re not lost together however. We open with heavy conflict in a guy and girl who obviously have a past but haven’t been together in quite a while. They respectively wake up, look around and start to fight about where they are and who’s fault it is. Various other characters start to enter the scene – a screaming, crying woman…a tough as nails, takes no attitude lady…and a guy who looks oddly like Jensen Ackles. Seriously, like dead-on ringer. Insert this guy:
And things get really serious, really quick. While at times the story gets a bit convoluted (I was a little confused at times because the film jumps back and forth through the use of flashbacks and other locations), overall the concept was great and I’d love to see a longer version as I left with questions. The cinematography and makeup were aces and the acting was mostly good (although there was one guy who just did not seem to care that he was about to brutally die. Not even an, “Oh no!”). My favorites by far were the no-nonsense lady and the guy from the beginning that woke up with his ex-girlfriend. Those two actors were fabulous and their character arcs seemed better plotted than some of the others. Here’s the opening scene (note this is a color test so the final version was a bit different):
Overall, an enjoyable time and I can definitely see a future for this filmmaker. I’ll be interviewing Cesar in the near future so be sure to check back for that!
Hailing from the UK and starring Thora Birch (after her successful turn in “American Beauty”) and Kiera Knightley (in her first significant role in a feature film), The Hole is a tense psychological thriller with an ending that leaves a significant question. Or at the least attempts to leave one with questions….While it starts strong with a well shot scene of Thora Birch stumbling down a road littered with “missing” posters featuring her own face, the movie tends to dwindle from there.
“The Hole” takes the age old equation of locking people in a fairly small space with no way out and diminishing supplies and does nothing new with it. This time it’s four teenagers who, according to the different versions of what happened, are either really great friends or just semi know each other. After ditching a school field trip to party in an abandoned underground shelter, Liz, Frankie, Mike and Geoff, find themselves locked in on the day they were supposed to leave. As usually happens in these situations, the teens begin to fight amongst themselves, with accusations thrown and tempers starting to ignite. Amongst the drama, you have an outer story wherein Liz (Thora Birch) tells a psychologist that it was a happy-go-lucky time except for that part where her friend, Martyn locked them in. However Martyn tells the police a different story altogether. So who’s telling the truth?
This is where “The Hole” tries to take a twist turn by revealing at the end what really happened. It’s not a huge twist, fans of the “locked in a room” movies will have seen it coming a mile away but it did leave me with a vaguely unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach (although think this had a lot to do with Kiera’s character’s flaws…..)
Not horrible by any means and not the best either. Purely formulaic with both male and female nudity, this one’s good for a rainy day.
*I just started reading the book upon which this is based…..will update later with how they compare!*
I think the people who wrote this sat down with the thought in mind that they were going to write the worst movie ever made. But not in a fun “worst movie ever made” way but in a “Let’s take ourselves very seriously” worst movie ever made way. That’s the only explanation I can think of to explain away this atrocity of a “horror” movie.
The story goes something like this (and by that I mean, this is what happened to the best of my deciphering abilities because plot was not a key ingredient here): There’s a new student at med school who is first shunned and then accepted by the cool clique of pathology students (insert: My friend in med school informs me that this is ridiculous in and of itself because NO ONE wants to be in pathology. Anyone care to weigh in on this?). He gets to be a part of their little group as long as he plays their game wherein they take turns murdering people in complex, hard to detect ways and then guessing how it was done. Tell me–what student in med school has time to do this?? I’ve known people in med school and they didn’t have time to eat much less go around sneakily killing people. *sighs* Anyway, the game gets complicated (because it was SOOOOO easy before), people start turning evil (more evil?) and all ends in catastrophe (even if no one was caught, you all are still going to flunk out of med school because you were too busy to make it to class). And along the way just for kicks there’s lots of kinky sex (seems corpses, blood and entrails are a HUGE turn on for these people).
The cinematography features darkness, darkness and more darkness just to drive home the point (I suppose) that the movie is “SCARY”. I disagree but will say this.
Pathology is totally evil in that “Why isn’t it over yet, why? Please let it end, please let it end….” kind of way.