Saturday, April 30, 2011

Candidate # 19



(October 2010)

These days, like the zombie movie, the found footage genre boasts a new title every couple of seconds it seems. But it’s titles like André Øvredal’s Trolljegeren (The Troll Hunter) that make wading through the clutter such a rewarding experience.
Plunging headlong into the deep, dark woods and sprawling mountain ranges of Norway, Trolljegeren is an absolutely fun ride through folklore and conspiracy as a camera crew stumble onto the most darkly amusing secret a government could ever hope to cover up.

“The most important film of our time is Norwegian” trumpets one of Trolljegeren’s trailers. And with what it manages to blow the lid off of, you’d better believe it!

Michael Moore (name-dropped in the trailer as well) would be proud…

(Trolljegeren OS courtesy of

Candidate # 18

(March 2011)

Take Pet Sematary and transplant it into the grand British horror tradition of The Village with a Dark Secret, and you’ve got the makings of David Keating’s Wake Wood. As the third title from the recently reconstituted Hammer Films, it’s the second one to garner ¡Qué Horror! attention.*
With Timothy Spall, The Children’s Eva Birthistle, and a creepily effective score by Michael Convertino, this one disturbs on some very primal levels. The script by Keating and Brendan McCarthy, from a story by McCarthy, also, quite incidentally, explores some of the themes I delved into in my horror novella, Craving. So if you happen to have read and liked that (and if you may forgive me my shameless pimping of my own stuff in this mention), then Wake Wood should be right up your alley.

Parting shot: Brendan McCarthy has produced some notable titles in the past like Freeze Frame, Isolation, and Breakfast on Pluto. He’s also one of the producers on Wake Wood, as well as another title I’m keeping an eye out for, Outcast.

* The second title, The Resident, with Hilary Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, didn’t really rise above, as Let Me In and Wake Wood did, despite having old school Hammer poster boy Christopher Lee in a brief role.

(Wake Wood UK quad courtesy of

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Candidate # 17


(January 2010)

There isn’t much more you need to know about Rodrigo Cortés’ Buried other than that it’s a cracklingly intense bit of film-making that, unlike other recent examples of “experiential horror” (like Devil, or Frozen, or Altitude), never once leaves the environs of the protagonist’s circumscribed agony; we spend the entire running time of approximately 95 minutes trapped in a coffin alongside Ryan Reynolds.
And here, as in John August’s The Nines, we really do realize that Reynolds can honest-to-goodness act, as opposed to playing Ryan Reynolds on camera, which, sadly, he seems to do most of the time.

From its great Saul Bass-inspired opening title credits (by Spain’s Royal Cow Studios), on through to that final, telling shot, this is tense, claustrophobic cinema executed with dollops of skill, talent, and bravura.

Parting shot: As I’ve mentioned ‘round these parts before, Buried won last year’s Méliès d'Or Award for Best European Fantastic Film.
Do yourself a favour and see why…

(Buried OS courtesy of; UK quad courtesy of

Candidate # 16


(May 2010)

Being a Hideo Nakata fan, having missed Kaidan and having been rather disappointed by Death Note: L Change the World, I waited for Chatroom with relish, and I’m glad it turned out to be a disturbing picture of how today’s technology, ostensibly bringing all of us together in one global digital village, can still be the avenue by which manipulation and deception can harm the unwary.
Written by Enda Walsh (based on his play of the same name), Chatroom follows five youths trying to make meaningful emotional connections in their own ways and how that simple urge to be a part of something bigger than one’s self can potentially be a dangerous, and possibly fatal thing.
Chatroom’s got some fine performances from Kick-Ass himself, Aaron Johnson (also impressive as a young, pre-Beatles John Lennon in Nowhere Boy), and 28 Weeks Later’s Imogen Poots. Matthew Beard (Chatroom is my first exposure to his work) also proves to be a promising name to keep tabs on in the future.

Chatroom doesn’t give any easy answers to the only-too-real possibilities it raises. The truth is, the young, the angry, and the misunderstood have always sought comfort from each other, closing their ranks to adults, shutting themselves off from the world they’re meant to be a part of. And lies and manipulation happen everyday in the real world. The ‘net simply makes things easier for the unscrupulous, because of that filter afforded by physical distance, by the interaction through keystrokes. It’s so much easier to escape the consequences of our actions, of an unthinkingly dropped word here, a callous comment there.

This is the everyday horror of the Internet Age. The interesting thing about Chatroom though, is, it’s not so much about the dangers of the Internet, but about the dangers of parents’ inability to effectively communicate with their children; it’s about the dangers of children acting out in ways their parents are ignorant and oblivious to.

At the very least, Chatroom is a film that should open up discussion, not just between peers, but more importantly, between parents and children. Perhaps, it’s not really cyberspace that needs to be watched over, but our own personal circles of friends and family.

(Chatroom OS courtesy of