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[ATH] Tusk (2014)

Filed Under ( ) by Andrei S. on Saturday, 28 February 2015

Posted at : 10:22 p.m.

Man is the most dangerous animal.

addicted to horror

the story
An aging seafarer kidnaps a blabbering podcaster with the sinister intention of turning him into a walrus.

the good
+ disturbing and unnerving
+ hilarious and absurd
+ well-written characters
+ some great acting from the cast
+ good practical effects
+ Johnny Depp

the bad
- underemphasised main story
- shoddy special effects
- overdrawn, lengthy scenes
- uninspired conclusion
- Johnny Depp

the ugly
high level of violence and gore
low level of scares and frightening scenes
moderate level of nudity and sexual themes
high level of profanity

things I learned from watching this movie (may include spoilers)
1. Not all Canadians are friendly people.
2. If you get hold of a phone and are in trouble, call your friends instead of the police.
3. Never go full walrus.
4. Animal sanctuaries will accept human walruses.

Kevin Smith’s Tusk is based on an undoubtedly bonkers premise, yet it manages to be disturbing and graphic as well as considerably funny at the same time. It also has its fair share of positives and negatives. On the one hand, the characters in the film are well-defined thanks to good writing, and there is some great acting to be had from the various cast members – all the way down to an unrecognisable (and uncredited) Johnny Depp as a bit player. At the same time, Depp himself hams it up a little too much in the role, which ultimately gets tedious as the film’s scenes tend to overstay their welcome and feel quite lengthy. This also results in an underemphasised main story, as Smith dedicates a significant portion of his film away from the action. Ending on an uninspired final note, Tusk may well leave a bad aftertaste in many a viewer’s mouth, but on the whole there’s plenty here to like for those willing to overlook Smith’s missteps.

horror meter: 3 Canadian stars (out of 5)

A Guest Post: Horror from the Far East

Filed Under ( ) by Andrei S. on Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Posted at : 10:19 p.m.

Ghost and horror stories have been an important part of Japan's cinematic culture since the dawn of the motion picture at the beginning of the 20th century. Western audiences have historically been drawn to Japanese horror films due to their unique and unsettling way of portraying violence and supernatural elements. Often very little translation is needed for English speaking audiences to be completely horrified by what they’re seeing on the screen. There are a handful of Japanese horror films thought that do stand out from the rest:

    Dark Water

    Directed by Ringu's Hideo Nakata, this is the work of a filmmaker who has perfected the art of building tension, suffused with dread. In telling the story of a young single mother whose new apartment begins exhibiting some rather unusual characteristics, Nakata employs his signature style - off kilter camera angles, fleeting glimpses of creepy silhouettes, and naturalistic lead performances - to deliver scares that engage his audience on a psychological level.

    Battle Royale

    Though it boasts an incredibly similar premise, this thriller predates Suzanne Collins' bestseller The Hunger Games by 8 years. Unflinching in its brutal realism, the movie follows a class of 42 high school students as they are captured by the government and transported to a faraway island. Once there, they have but one objective: kill each other until there is only one survivor.


    One of the most influential horror films of the modern era, Ringu not only inspired a sequel and two Hollywood remakes (both of which are much easier to watch thanks to services like Netflix and DirecTV), but shook the American film industry out of the hackneyed blood and gore phase it was going through in that moment. Relying on chilling story and tense atmosphere rather than gore and jump scares, this low-budget delight follows a reporter's investigation of a videotape that kills anyone who views it in a week's time.

    Suicide Club

    This ambitious and thoughtful crime drama shows us a Tokyo in which large groups of students are killing themselves on a regular basis. Featuring a highly unconventional narrative structure and surreal touches a la David Lynch or Oliver Stone, this challenging story isn't for everyone, but those who do seek it out will find a true original with a strong social message at its core.

    Ju-on: The Grudge

    There is a Japanese legend that when someone is viciously murdered, the resultant ghosts seek revenge on whoever enters the house. That's the premise behind this simple yet effective ghost story. Director Takashi Shimizu, like his contemporary Hideo Nakata, excels at building fear in the mind of his audience without showing too much on the screen. Shimizu directed the Japanese sequel, and was also tapped to help with the trilogy of American adaptations, which were produced by the reknown Sam Raimi, which serves as a testament to his abilities as a maestro of supernatural horror.


    In the 6 decades since this classic hit theaters, monster movies and horror films have become 2 separate categories. Put this in context of its time and place, however, and it's not hard to see why Japanese film goers in 1954 were horrified. It had been less than 10 years since atomic bombs hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the images of devastated people and cities that populate Godzilla must have hit close to home for many audiences. The film makes no secret of its function as an anti-nuclear polemic: scientists discover that Godzilla is the direct result of atomic testing, giving this movie a resonance that other creature features of the era lacked.
The Japanese culture and perspective lends itself to a different kind of film making, and allows for examinations of topics that would be off limits to most Hollywood studios. That's why many of our most revered American directors, including Quentin Tarantino, Zack Snyder, and Robert Rodriguez, cite Japanese cinema and Japanese horror films in particular as major influences. If you're looking for something different and aren’t afraid to read some subtitles while getting scared out of your seat, don't hesitate to check it out.

Keep in touch with writer Spencer Blohm on Twitter (@bspencerblohm).

Weekly Updates #254 (1.12.2014 - 7.12.2014)

Filed Under ( ) by Andrei S. on Saturday, 31 January 2015

Posted at : 11:55 p.m.

We said we wouldn’t let it get to this again and yet here we are. Appropriate, isn’t it?


Hot Fuzz (2007) - 8/10
It’s been a long time since I first saw Hot Fuzz—five years, at least—but I remember immediately falling in love with it. I was utterly fascinated by the film’s unique blend of genres, as comedy collided with full-fledged action and the sinister tones of a town where not all is as it seems also crept in. It was an odd mix, and a volatile one at that. I caught glimpses and scenes from Hot Fuzz ever since I first watched it, but this marks my proper second viewing. Things haven’t changed all that much upon a re-watch, and the film remains as sprightly and fun as ever. I did, however, take extra note of the cast this time around. It dawned on me just how many recognisable faces filled the screen. The very first minutes of the film feature the likes of Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, and Bill Nighy in bit roles, and it doesn’t stop there. You’ve got names like Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Rafe Spall, Olivia Colman, and Bill Bailey making up the officers of the local police department, while David Bradley, Stephen Merchant, and many others show up in various cameos and small roles. Even Peter Jackson shows up in the film at one point. I was also surprised to find Rory McCann among the cast in a role far different—though, perhaps unsurprisingly, still considerably threatening—from his character in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Of course, the stars of the piece remain Nick Frost, the perfectly villainous Timothy Dalton, and, above all, Simon Pegg himself. In particular, I think Pegg’s performance in the film, while certainly lauded, is terribly underrated, and I found his ability to play the straight man—and the action hero, even—downright stunning as a change of pace from his usual comedic antics. He is thoroughly excellent in Hot Fuzz, as is everybody else, for that matter. This is a well-acted film, no doubt about it, but it’s also remarkably well-directed by Edgar Wright. It remains my favourite of his, I believe, and for good reason. Do seek it out if you haven’t done so already – it is more than worth it.


The Evil Dead (1981) - 7/10
Funnily enough, my introduction to the Evil Dead franchise was through, well, Evil Dead, the latest entry into the series. Mind you, I’ve been well aware of the rest of the films for a long time before then, but I never really got around to seeing the Sam Raimi-directed original trilogy. In spite of that—or perhaps because of it—the recent remake-slash-reboot Evil Dead turned out to be one of my favourite horror films of the last few years. As a result, it seemed only natural to return to the franchise’s roots and make my way through the other films as soon as possible. It did take me a little longer than I expected, but I finally got to see The Evil Dead (note the presence of the definite article). My reaction was positive, certainly, but I also found that the film was somewhat undeserving of being put on a pedestal the way many fans have done over the years. It’s an impressively put together little movie considering its meagre budget. The practical effects are loveable in their occasional goofiness, and the camerawork is no doubt ambitious. However, the film is brought down enormously by its paper thin, mind-numbingly dull characters and their respective actors’ acting. Yes, even by horror movie standards. The entire cast—and that includes Bruce Campbell—turn in amateurish and wooden performances, and it hardly helps that the characters they are playing have zero personality. Campbell has occasional moments of subdued brilliance which I’m sure will flourish in the subsequent two films, but that’s about it. Also, the plot is close to non-existent. The Evil Dead has a certain ‘fun’ quality about it, I will grant it that, but to call it one of the best horror films ever made would be rather misleading, in my opinion.

[ATH] Evil Dead (2013)

Filed Under ( ) by Andrei S. on Saturday, 10 January 2015

Posted at : 5:44 p.m.

The most terrifying film you will ever experience.

addicted to horror

the story
A group of friends who are staying at a remote cabin in the woods gradually become possessed by demonic forces.

the good
+ strong cold open
+ gore galore
+ genuinely frightening
+ gorgeous cinematography
+ remarkable make-up work
+ exceptional sound design
+ relies on practical effects
+ intense finale

the bad
- questionable character decisions
- schmaltzy backstory

the ugly
very high level of violence and gore
very high level of scares and frightening scenes
moderate level of nudity and sexual themes
high level of profanity

things I learned from watching this movie (may include spoilers)
1. A creepy-looking cabin in the middle of nowhere is not the best place to kick a drug addiction.
2. It might be a good idea to listen to the warnings carved in blood inside a demonic book.
3. Try not to have a mental breakdown while driving a car.
4. Thorn bushes are known sex offenders.
5. Don't threaten demons with a box cutter.
6. Nail guns have a surprisingly long range of fire.
7. Lightning-struck trees work great as outdoor lighting.

As far as horror remakes and reboots go, it’s hard to top the recent Evil Dead, which proved itself to be a remarkable piece of horror filmmaking that, while not forgetting its roots, can stand on its own as a spine-chilling and gore-heavy ‘cabin in the woods’ story. Hitting the ground running with an exceptionally sinister cold open, Evil Dead wastes little time on first-act introductions before getting right down to the nitty-gritty and ultimately concluding with a nightmarish and literally blood-soaked finale. There is some gorgeous cinematography here – the impressive make-up design and the film’s reliance on practical effects make a clear difference. Some questionable character decisions and a schmaltzy backstory aside, Evil Dead is a genuinely frightening and disturbing film that does the original 1980s classic proud.

horror meter: 5 defibrillated stars (out of 5)