Category Archives: psychological thriller
The Nightmare Code
Tag Line: It finds the bug in you…
Guys. *pssst* Hey, guys! I have a secret. Know what it is? That this movie is f*cking awesome! (What? If you didn’t know, then it counts as a secret…) This is, hands down, one of my new favorite movies. Not gonna lie – I wasn’t a fan of the ending but it doesn’t detract THAT much from the “WHAAA-?” factor going on here.
So ya know how we live in the age of “Big Brother” (hello, 1984!)? Drones, people listening in on phone calls, Facebook messenger needing access to our birth certificate to work kinda stuff? That’s what this is about. Except what if “Big Brother” isn’t a person (or group of people) but rather…dun, dun, dun…a NIGHTMARE CODE???
“Nightmare Code” is a psychological sci-fi thriller about computerized behavior recognition, behavior modification and 24/7 surveillance.Our main guy, Brett, is this wicked hacker who’s also a whistleblower, who’s in a heck of a lot of trouble, who gets recruited to work on this super secret project that needs to be finished STAT. It’s called ROPER and it’s an all-seeing behavior recognition program (think Minority Report – the TV show at least, I haven’t seen that movie) intended to predict future behavior. Brett got recruited super fast for this project. Why? Oh, just because the last lead programmer went on a murder/suicide spree. Yeah, no big. Cotton was his name and he was apparently a genius – a MAD genius, mwhahaha. Now Brett’s holed up in this office building (seriously, he can’t leave for some reason, not even to get lunch apparently? Weird…TOTES) with a super small team of 4 other people trying to race against time to get this baby done. His only contact with the outside world is via video chats with his wife & daughter and his programming counterpart in India. Fun job, eh? One small, itsy bitsy problem though…the code he’s working on? It’s kind of alive. Yeah.
That’s right, the big bad of our thriller is computer code! You’re sitting there going, that doesn’t sound scary or thrilling at ALL. NO. You just watch the movie because ROPER is freaking terrifying. It’s like “Robopacolypse” terrifying. The entire movie is told from the viewpoint of the CODE. Yep, it’s the first movie told from the view of artificial intelligence. This ended up being a small problem for me at times, actually, because this involved a lot of security camera footage being shown on 4 split screens at a time. There was way too much going on for me to concentrate when different things were happening on those screens so I don’t know if I missed anything important. Otherwise, it’s wicked cool watching our protagonist, Brett (Andrew J. West), slowly lose his mind while unwittingly (at first) battling this entity.
As I said before, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. It was entirely too expected; it was exactly what you knew was going to happen. I spent the last half of the film praying it WOULDN’T happen but to no avail. It doesn’t take away from the overall kickaewsomeness of “Nightmare Code” but a less archetypal ending would’ve set this film so much further apart from other sci-fi thrillers than it already is.
Guys, this is some good, clean fun right here (and by “good, clean” I obviously mean blood + sexy naked time), and y’all need to get your asses in gear and go watch “Nightmare Code” NOW. Remember, I’ll know if you don’t, because someone’s always watching… 😉
Sexy Evil Genius
Omg, why was Sexy Evil Genius so boring???? This had a really good cast – Michelle Trachtenberg, Seth Green, Anthony Michael Hall, William Baldwin, Harold Perrineau. I mean, that’s a pretty darn good cast, right? I love Michelle ever since “Buffy” and c’mon, who doesn’t enjoy Seth Green?? (Okay, to be fair, some people may not). But he’s playing the straight man here and it’s awesome to watch. In fact, everyone does a great job in this movie. Even William Baldwin doesn’t suck. But my gods, was it a boring movie.
So the gist is that Nikki (Katee Sackhoff, who I am NOT familiar with) gathers three of her ex-lovers (Seth, Michelle and Harold) to meet with her and her new fiance (William). But she can’t just have a big group meeting and be straight about it. We find out over the course of the film that Nikki is either a really free spirit or one straight up psychotic bitch (my vote goes to psychotic bitch btw) so the whole evening is one big mind fuck. And the whole movie just spins in circles where you keep thinking one thing will happen but then it never does. And the whole movie is set in a bar and the action rarely leaves the one table the characters are at. Normally, I LOVE talky movies like this but this one I just could not get into.
So really that sums it up – great cast, terrible plot, great acting, very talky with no action which is normally a plus – I should’ve loved this thing…*sighs*
Anatomy of a Psycho
So I found this cool app on my Kindle where you could download like 99 classic horror films for $.99. Of course I wasn’t going to pass that up especially since I am severely lacking in the classic horror department of my education – it’s pretty limited to things like Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Haxan. I decided to watch them in the order they appear in the app and this was right after Bucket of Blood (which I’ve already seen and own) so Anatomy Of A Psycho it was.
Meet Chet. Chet here is apparently a teenager…ahem…whose brother has just been executed because he was accused of killing someone. Chet thinks his brother was innocent and is extremely upset about his bro’s execution while everybody else, including Chet’s sister believes the other brother was guilty and got what he deserved. Anyways, Chet gets increasingly delusional and paranoid (or something…really he just starts ranting a lot and getting into fights) until he finally attacks the son of the only witness to his brother’s crime – a boy who happens to be dating his sister. Dum dum DUM!!!! Oh and someone dies. Just fyi.
I don’t watch a lot of classic movies (remember how I was going to try to watch all sorts of classic movies in 2013 and it never happened??) so I dunno how I feel about this movie. Mostly I was confused that everyone was talking about going to school, a school with lockers, when they all looked to be in their 20s – did they not actually use teenagers in movies back in the 60s? Then I was annoyed by the sister because dear lord, all she did was swoon onto couches in hysterics. Seriously, woman, pull yourself together! Oy. And thirdly, I was confused about why this was a horror movie. I’d classify it more as a psychological thriller – a bit of a boring one but still. I also saw elsewhere that it was classified as exploitation…not sure how that one works either. Melodrama, definitely. Horror – not even.
But overall, it was okay. Yes, it was melodramatic at times and silly but it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen. It was fun to watch something I’m not used to, at any rate and I’m excited to check out the other 97 or so films.
Simple Mind is a simple, short tale of a man who isn’t entirely what he seems. We follow our main character as he talks with his therapist about his life, his obsession with a woman and how his obsession leads to her murder. Our guy has quite the anything but mundane lifestyle! Or does he….?
Timothy J. Cox is PERFECT as the psycho killer here – I don’t think I’ve seen crazy eyes that good since Jonathan Rhys Meyers. *shivers* I love everything Cox has down here with his character. I went from intrigued to repulsed to piteous all in the span of about seven minutes. And the film, thought it features other characters, is really all about him so kudos for not once letting my attention waver and for keeping me in breathless anticipation of what was going to happen next.
This is definitely an example of indie filmmaking gone terrifically right and storytelling at its best. If you’re a fan of the short film genre, like me, you’re going to LOVE this one.
Oh, 7 Below, you were such a disappointment. *sighs* I mean, I wasn’t exactly expecting too much from a movie I’d never heard of featuring Val Kilmer but still. How is it possible for one movie to be SOOOO boring?? Especially when you’re supposed to be a horror/mystery/thriller…at least I think that’s what you were attempting to be…
K, so we start out with these kidlets and the rest of their family back in old-fashioned times (yes, that’s what I’m calling it now when I can’t remember what the actual year was). Creepy boy there decides that it’d be super fun to kill his whole fam so he does. Then we flash forward to the present where there’s a whole bunch of people on a bus going…um…somewhere…maybe a retreat? Anyway, Val Kilmer is there and he STILL does not look like he did when he played Jim Morrison and was totes a hottie and I think that makes him a little sad sometimes. But his character is this total jerkface who cheats on his wife. Then there’s a pair of brothers and a doctor with an accent. And a girl who works at a gas station who has an accent. Then there’s Ving Rhames, who when this bus breaks down, shows up and invites them all to his house. And when they get there he’s like, “Yeah, there’s no phone. You guys are fucked.” Totes random and weird.
Then people start dying or something but it’s really boring so I stopped paying so attention. And the doctor with the accent is a terrible, terrible actor who basically repeated the same line over and over “I don’t know how this happened!” in a wooden, emotionless voice. We get it Dr. Accent, no need to repeat yourself 800 times seriously. I think he was the 2nd to die though so that was good. And then, I dunno, there was something about the house being a time warp (but not the fun Rocky Horror kind) and everybody on the bus was a reincarnation of the family from old-fashioned times or something and Ving Rhames was the devil. I think. It really didn’t make a lot of sense.
Tis a silly movie, no fun whatsoever. Boo hiss!
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!
Cinema Schminema’s Favorite Horror Movie Moments
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!*