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The heir to the hysterical, frenzied, toweringly at wit’s
end, woman-on-the-edge throne is apparent. In MAGIC MAGIC, Juno Temple has lost
her mind. We are all the more uncomfortable for it.
Popular opinion on genre remakes tends to be that they’re
soulless product, meant to capitalize on a mildly recognizable title and often
hampered by studio notes. Audiences, rightfully so, often ask that if they
remain a constant, filmmakers could at least be granted the space to be
creative and make it their own. In an age that sees more rehashes than ever,
Jim Mickle’s American interpretation of Jorge Michel Grau’s Mexican horror
film, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE could be a standard going forward.
UK director Jeremy Lovering’s feature debut was developed and filmed
unconventionally. He kept much of the story—its twists and turns and frights
and games— from his two leads, only revealing the entirety to Allen Leech; he
who plays the one playing tricks. While the average moviegoer rarely needs such
back story, viewing the film with context in this case feels a tad more
necessary. Although Lovering’s search for verisimilitude was not in vain, it
does materialize in both grounded, raw performance and a strong sense that no
one has any idea of what’s going on.
In its cryptic opening scene, Park Chan-wook sets the tone
of STOKER, his English-language debut, with a monologue and the sound of the
world in which the film takes place. STOKER prides itself on not being a conventional
genre picture by any means, but the hypnotic rhythm in which the film unfolds
will undoubtedly keep any audience transfixed.
Where V/H/S was a raw, lo-fi and frightening odyssey via
POV, its sequel is—and from the very outset—bigger, weirder and even reflective
of its predecessor. In the first few minutes alone, V/H/S 2 runs through almost
every format previously explored, from spy camera to camcorder to iChat; and
almost every perspective as well, from investigative to voyeuristic (often both
at the same time) to daily doings. And while less traditionally dreadful, where
it all leads is infinitely more thrilling.
With Ben Wheatley—one of the most electric and prolific new filmmakers working—and stars/writers Alice Lowe and Steve Oram crafting a
chronicle of new lovers on holiday, the last thing to expect is anything
resembling a traditional relationship drama. And that’s the last thing you get.
But within Chris and Tina’s mad love, their pencil museum visits, their vicious
murders and hysteric jaunt through the countryside is real poignancy about the
peaks and valleys of intimate connection and letting go of long-held restraint.
There’s a marvelous scene about a half-hour into MAMA, which
exemplifies what’s best about the film and also points up what it could use
A HAUNTED HOUSE represents the kind of surprise leading to
disappointment that crops up on the movie scene sometimes—the surprise being
that it’s not quite as awful as you might expect, and the disappointment that it
still isn’t nearly good enough to recommend.
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