Friday, 31 January 2014

Carrie (2013)

Carrie (2013)
Director: Kimberly Pierce
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianna Moore and Gabriella Wilde
Running Time: 100 minutes

 To be honest, I really wasn't looking forward to watching this.  I find most remakes aren't done very well, (Texas Chainsaw, F13, NOES) and most of the times the people creating these films miss the point of what the original film was intending to be.  Carrie is one my favourite De Palma films and it has already been poorly remade once, so it's already behind the eight ball.

  Margaret White, played by Julianna Moore (Magnolia, Cast a Deadly Spell) gives birth to a baby on her bed.  She grabs a pair of scissors, not to cut the cord but to kill the baby, because she feels that she has sinned against god and the baby is evil.  However before she plunges the scissors into the newborn, something stops her and she makes a connection with her little girl.  Margaret decides not to kill the baby and bring her up on the same christian values that have obviously been working so well for her.
  Flash forward 15 years, Carrie White, played by Chloe Grace Moretz (The Eye, Kick-Ass) is an awkward teenager playing pool volleyball with her gym class.  She serves and hits popular girl, Sue Snell, played by Gabriella Wilde (St. Trinian's 2)  in the head with the ball.  Damn, you volleyball!  When the class ends, Carrie showers and has her first visit from her aunt flo.  Carrie freaks out and begs her classmates for help, but instead of help she is bombarded with tampons!  Luckily, the gym teacher, Ms. Desjardin, played by Judy Greer (Marmaduke, The Descendents) stops the brutal tampon assault.  Carrie is sent home and Ms. Dejardin goes on the hunt for the ringleaders of this tampon catastrophe.
  At home, Carrie tells her mother what happened in school and begs her to tell her why she hasn't been taught normal feminine hygiene?  Margaret White explodes into biblical verses and shoves Carrie into her prayer corner/locked closet/child abuse timeout room, because that is what Jesus would do in that situation.  Luckily, during that time of reflection Carrie notices she has the power to move things with her mind, which she thinks may come in handy.
  The next day at school, Ms. Desjardin forces all the mean tampoon throwing bitches to run laps.  However, main bad girl, Chris Hargensen, played by Portia Doubleday isn't having it, refuses to run and blames Carrie for being an easy target and for just being weird.  Ms. Desjardin threatens Chris with losing Prom, oh no!, if she doesn't co-operate with the punishment but Chris tries to rally her mean girl compatriots, saying "they can't kick us all out"  Unfortunately, no one, not even her sister in arms, Sue Snell back Chris up.  Chris leaves with no Prom, oh no!, and a ginormous chip on her shoulder against Carrie White.
  However, Sue Snell mysteriously feels bad, for some reason, about mistreating Carrie for the last 13 years and decides that she is going to let her popular boyfriend take Carrie to the Prom.  It's really the least she can do for treating her poorly all these years.  At first, Carrie is hesitant but Sue's popular boyfriend convinces her and they'regood to go.  Also, Carrie has been developing and learning to control her telekinesis powers from books and the internet.  You really can learn anything from the internet!  So, everything is good, except Chris Hargensen with her bad ass boyfriend, decide that they are going to mess with Carrie's prom experience.  Can Carrie escape the torment of her high school peers and even have them finally except her or will Chris Hargensen ruin another beautiful high school moment in the yearbook for Carrie White?  Can you guess?

Director Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don't Cry, Stop-Loss) does an okay job re-inventing Stephen King's Carrie.  She has updated the story by adding in a cyber bullying angle, which has prevalent during last few years.  Also, the chemistry between Julianna Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz is good and there are some alright scenes with them.  As well as the special effects team has done a very good job with a nice combination of CGI and organic gore.  The bucket of blood drop looks great!

  However, I think that Chloe Grace Moretz wasn't quite right for the role as Carrie.  No matter, how they tried to ugly her up, she still looked really cute and approachable.  Carrie needs to be an outcast and damaged and I just don't see that in her.  Ms. Moretz performance was fine, but I don't think she was the right person for Carrie.  Also, there was too much of Julianna Moore's character, Margaret White.  I love Julianna Moore, her and Judy Greer, who played Ms. Desjardin were the best characters to watch in the film but I would have preferred more time spent on the teens, than on the background and self mutilation of Margaret White.  That time could have been put to developing the evil boyfriend of Chris Hargensen, the relationship between Sue and Chris or even some development with Teeny, to find out why they hated Carrie so much.

  I was really disappointed by the Prom scene, there were a few good deaths like Teeny on fire, but I didn't feel rage wasn't there.  It was a lot more controlled and calculated, than pure angry destroying her enemies.  Instead of killing everybody she was picking and choosing who died, which turns her into murderer instead of a poor girl who can't control her rage.  Also, people lived and escaped, wtf?  And then after she brutally murders a bunch of kids at the Prom and destroys the school's gym,  she goes home and takes a bath.  Where are the police in this town?  And who shows up to help her, Sue Snell.  Really, you give this girl a hard time for years, she just killed all your friends, do you really think this is a good time Sue Snell.  It is just ridiculous, maybe if there was any indication of a relationship between the two in the film, I could see it or if Sue was there for revenge but she was there to help Carrie through this tough time.  Again, Sue walked there from the school but the police still hadn't arrived.  (shakes head)

  The Blu-ray looks good and it has some alright features.  There is a piece called "Creating Carrie" where Kimberly Pierce talks about her vision of Carrie and how she approached making the film.  As well as some of the actors talk about their take on their character.  Also, a piece called, "The Power of Telekinesis" and talk to some of the cast and the director about Telekinesis, whether they believe in it or not.  Finally, there is a prank at a coffee shop, where they do a Carrie mock up of a girl who gets coffee spilled on her.  There are no notable actors in this and it looks kind of cheap but you may find it funny or not. 
  Also, the Blu-ray as an extra 2 minute scene with Sue and Carrie that wasn't shown in the theatre, I didn't see it in the theatres, so that attraction was lost on me.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to the commentary, but there is one with Kimberly Pierce but after the "Creating Carrie", I think I knew where she was going.

This wasn't a bad movie, it just wasn't great.  In a wasteland of horror remakes nowadays, this film is mediocre and disappointing at best, especially considering all the great talent that is involved.  This is one of those rainy day films, when you can't find anything on Netflix or your VOD but you have a hankerin for horror.  However, I could be wrong because it somehow won the 2014 People's Choice Award for Horror, but then again, these are the same people who gave the award for Best Comedic Male Lead to Adam Sandler for Grown Ups 2.  Just sayin.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Bad Milo (2013)

Bad Milo! (2013)
Director: Jacob Vaughan
Starring: Ken Marino, Gillian Jacobs, Patrick Warburton and Peter Stormare
Running Time: 85 minutes

I've wanted to see Bad Milo since it came to the Calgary Underground Film Festival (C.U.F.F) but unfortunately it wasn't in the cards, so I was really excited when I heard it was coming out this month on disc.  I really liked the idea of the film, it was a strange concept with a horror twist and anything this far off the beaten path is already cool in my books.

  It stars Ken Marino (Party Down, Burning Love) as Duncan, who has some serious stomach issues, which he and his lovely wife Sarah, played by Gillian Jacobs (Community), believe are from ulcers caused by his stressful job as an accountant, his father's issues and probably, listening to his mom and her younger boyfriend talking about their sex life.  That would make any sick to their stomach, eww.  Anyhoo, the doctor suggests that Duncan see a psychiatrist and with some prodding from Sarah, he goes to see Dr. Highsmith, played by Peter Stormare (Fargo, Armageddon).  After a couple of sessions and using his hypno therapy (Don't try this at home!), Dr. Highsmith discovers the horrifying secret to Duncan's stomach pain.  Duncan has a demon that lives in his bowels and will kill anyone who irritates them!  With this information, Duncan tries to make a connection with his butt monster and tries to control his insatiable rage but how long can he soothe the savage ass beast?

  Director/co-writer Jacob Vaughan and co-writer Benjamin Hayes create a very original, amusing and dare I say, touching horror tale of a man connecting with his butt demon.  I like that they create an "organic" creature feature and use puppets inside of CGI, like in classic horrors, Gremlins, Critters and It's Alive.  Frank Langley and Bob Mano, the puppeteers, do an amazing job and they really bring the Milo character to life. 

  I was also really impressed with the human casting for this film as well. Ken Marino (Eastbound & Bound, In a World) is incredibly funny in this, playing it straight as his friends and family try and help him with the little boy who lives in his bowels.  Peter Stormare (The Big Lebowski, Dancer In The Dark), is hilarious as his psychiatrist, who forces Duncan to push out his inner demon, literally.  Patrick Warburton, Mary Kay Place and Gillian Jacobs, all shine throughout the picture but Stephen Root (Office Space, Monkey Shines) really ties the picture together as Duncan's father, who has abandoned his family and is living off the grid. Root even had me laughing when I was watching it again with the commentary on.

*Spoiler Alert*
   My only issues with the film are there aren't as many horrible deaths in this as some peopel would expect.  Milo only attacks a few people, they are done off camera and you only see blood spatter .  However, one of them is a incredibly gruesome dick mutilation shot but I'm afraid hardcore horror fanatics may be expecting more blood shed.  Also, Milo isn't able to get a proper comeuppance in this because if be dies it turns Duncan into vegetable.  So, it's a kind of a jarring scene at the end when Duncan is in a fever pitch hacking Milo to bits in one moment and then does a 180 and he and his wife, who was fleeing for life a moment ago, cuddle with what's left of a dismembered Milo and carefully shove him back up Duncan's ass.
*End Spoiler Alert*

  I was sent a DVD which looked good, so I ASSume the Blu-ray looks really good as well. There are some good special features on the disc.  They have some extended scenes and some very funny deleted scenes that people will dig.  I was surprised that they didn't do more on the development and choreography of Milo puppet but there is a brief "Behind the Scenes" on it using the raw footage.  The commentary for the disc has some interesting notes on the film and is voiced by Jacob Vaughan, Benjamin Hayes, Ken Marino and Gillian Jacobs.

Bad Milo is an fun film and has some better twists than your intestinal track .  With so many rehashed and remade of horror films being flushed out right now, I really enjoyed the originality of this story and I think this film is a breath of fresh air compared to some of the stinkers that have come to the big screen.  It may get a little sappy at times but it's a movie about a demon that lives in somebodies butt, which has to count for something.