Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Parting Shot
(Part 1)

So there we are, this year’s rundown.

Now, in any given year, there are always a bunch of titles that didn’t make the final cut, some of which might actually have been on the list for a time, before being bumped off by other films I subsequently viewed and found more worthy of the honour.

The past 365 days have been busier than some other years, and a number of noteworthy films came this close to the final list. Now, since the Iguana isn’t as populated by current reviews as it once was, I figured I should at least make mention of the titles that almost made this year’s cut.
As I said, it was a busy year, a good one for horror. How else to explain the fact that both Christopher Smith’s latest and a Guillermo del Toro-produced title ended up off the main rundown?
At any rate, here are the ones that nearly made it this year…


(January 2007)

Now, I owe this to Adam Green, whose Hatchet I wasn’t terribly fond of (the review’s lurking in the Archive; go on and hunt it down); I owed Mr. Green the fair shake of mentioning Spiral (which he co-directed with Joel David Moore), even if it got bumped off the main list…

Spiral is a tight, well-constructed and excellently-acted film, that’s, hands down, one of the best psychological horror pieces I’ve seen in a while. It’s also a labour of love, brought to us by Green, Moore, and their other friend, Chuck Bartowski.
Well… actually Zachary Levi, who also appears in (and co-produces!) the film, alongside Joan of Arcadia herself, Amber Tamblyn.

If you haven’t seen this one, make an effort. If you require added incentive, Six herself, Tricia Helfer, is also in this in a small role.

So hop to it, yeah? Psychological horror and Tricia Helfer. How can anyone resist?


(September 2007)

I love this movie-- how could I not when it puts Blondie’s “Picture This” on such prominent display?-- but this was one of those instances where other titles that wound up on the main list were clearly more “horror,” among them, another entry that dealt with pretty much the same themes. That film is one of the 2010 13, thus, Nacho Vigalondo’s Los Cronocrimenes isn’t. Still, if you haven’t checked this one out, please do. It’s been optioned for the English-language remake treatment, so no better time than the present to check the original out.

Heh. “Time.” “Present.”

See what I just did there?


(October 2009)

If I could only have one faux documentary in this year’s rundown, it most definitely would be (and is) Lake Mungo.

Still, Olatunde Osunsanmi’s The Fourth Kind deserves some attention.
The conceit of bridging purported “actual” video and audio recordings with “dramatizations” featuring the likes of Milla Jovovich and Elias Koteas may not have been 100% effective (some telling bits that betray the fiction can be found in them), but it was certainly interesting, taking the audience one welcome remove from the Hollywood trend du jour of the “found footage” format.

The harrowing events surrounding Dr. Abigail Tyler (played in the “re-enactments” by Jovovich) are ultimately unsettling and involving, and it’s interesting to note that while the more overtly horror movie elements-- the dead language bits, the Exorcist contortions, all a tad too Hollywood compared to your standard documented UFO/abduction cases-- are those that more readily point to the fictional nature of the entire film, they’re also some of the most disturbing aspects of The Fourth Kind.

The distorted recordings (video and audio) succeed in getting under the skin and go a very long way in clothing the proceedings in an air of authentic inexplicability.

In the end, The Fourth Kind may be an elaborate fiction dressed to the nines as a purported “truth”-- in many ways, it’s the anti-Lake Mungo, with all its narrative bells and whistles-- but that really shouldn’t deter you from appreciating it for what it is: an unsettling and effective piece about the unknowable things of our world.


(May 2010)

If Christopher Smith could only have one slot in this year’s rundown, it most definitely would be (and is) occupied by Triangle.

Still, his latest effort, Black Death, deserves some attention. (Have I said this before? This sounds awfully familiar.)

In it, Sean Bean plays a crusading soldier of God tasked with retrieving a necromancer purportedly keeping a village safe from the plague through diabolical practices. It’s a grim little number that puts faith and belief under a harsh spotlight, and features Severance alumni Andy Nyman and Tim McInnerney in roles quite unlike their past work with Smith.

It’s also worth noting that, a) this is the first time Smith has directed a piece that wasn’t written by him as well; Black Death’s screenplay comes to us courtesy of Dario Poloni, who also wrote Wilderness; and b) Black Death took home 4 awards in the recently concluded Screamfest in Los Angeles: Best Director, Best Actor (for Bean), Best Cinematography (for Sebastian Edschmid), and Best Score (for Christian Henson).

(Reviews of Severance and Wilderness can be found in the Archive, while Triangle, is of course, on the ¡Qué Horror! 2010 list.)

(Spiral and Timecrimes OS’s courtesy of; The Fourth Kind OS courtesy of;Black Death German OS courtesy of


Reg said...

I saw Spiral and have to say it was psychologically disturbing.

And I was surprised how good Time Crimes was! What a trip!

space monkey said...

yup. both all sorts of awesome, which is why i felt i needed to mention them even if they didn't get onto the main rundown this year. :)

-- dave