Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Halloween challenge no.s 1 & 2

The Last House on the Left (2009)

Well, this was an ignoble way to start off the halloween challenge. I saw that this had both Aaron Paul and Garret Dillahunt in it and thought that, perhaps, it was one of those remakes with good reviews, such as Dawn of the Dead or The Mist. I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

This movie is TERRIBLE. It isn't scary. The entire point would be to ratchet up the tension, or to at least identify with the protagonists, and the direction is so haphazard that neither of those things happen. The basic premise is that a murderous family is on the loose, and they come to spend the night with a couple out in the country, citing car trouble. The couple is unaware, initially, that these are the same people that just raped their daughter and killed their daughter's friend. Anyways, I don't know if the original was any better, but that seems like a premise that you could do a lot with in a horror film. And instead it just goes nowhere. It's all just sort of awful and without purpose. The camera work is shoddy and annoying. And there is an extra scene tacked on at the end that is laugh-out-loud hilariously bad.

DON'T SEE IT. Any episode of Breaking Bad (or Dillahunt's FABULOUS scene with... I think it was Paul Schneider in the Assassination of Jesse James) is tenser. And way, way better.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Not one of my favorite silent films that I've ever seen. However, it deserves recognition for apparently being the first twist ending in cinema and for the phenomenal art direction.

The plot centers around a carnival barker who displays a somnabulist in the town fair. During the fair, a rash of murders breaks out (a bevy of murders? What is the collective noun for murders? A raven?). Now, I always thought that a somnabulist was just a sleepwalker, but within the confines of this film, this guy can be woken up briefly to play the role of psychic as well. I don't know. Anyways, everyone runs around to try to figure out who the murderer is, one guy suspects the somnabulist, there's a girl (obvs.) and the barker tells the somnabulist to kill her, but he's so captivated by her beauty that the somnabulist simply kidnaps her instead.... it goes on. There are some red herrings and then a twist ending. It's all okay. They best part is that all the sets are painted and constructed at odd angles and with strange curvatures, so that the perspective is always off and a little hallucinatory. Anyways, it's an interesting bit of film history, but there are better silent films to see.

Hopefully the next installment will have actual recommendations...


Karen said...

I don't know the collective noun for murder, but the collective noun for ravens is a "murder."

Jessica said...

Well - yes. That was the point...