The concept for V/H/S (2012) was genius - an anthology horror film with alleged found footage on video cassette tapes (remember those?!) - but the execution was woeful. Despite the collection of talented writers and directors (Ti West, Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, Jo Swanberg and more) working presumably independently, they each came up with the same repetitive, misogynistic muck. Every short had a sleazy college jock who wanted to film people having sex and a trampy young chick who wanted to get her boobs out for the camera. Instead of doing this to make some sort of comment on society, it was done to appeal to the lowest common denominator. The “characters” in each segment were deplorable, the scares almost non-existent and the wrap around story that hangs it all together lacklustre. One of the most dispiriting cinematic experiences this reviewer has ever endured.
Browsing: MIFF 2013
How does a celebrated director turn murder, scandal, manipulation, kinky sex and lesbianism into a trite affair? I am still pondering exactly how Brian De Palma, someone who has demonstrated skill in previous years making the same topics the highlights of riveting yarns, managed to drop the ball on something that he should know how to handle with ease. Seeing young hot stars Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace locking lips should have made our pulses race. Instead, our heart rate remains at a comfortable level.
There is something missing from Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Sometimes it is hard to put your finger on, other times it is glaringly obvious. A vague description, I am aware, but it is fitting for this ill-defined film. Writer/director David Lowery’s independently made drama is an unusual piece. Not in the way that, say, Upstream Color (which Lowery served as editor on) or A Field In England are in their story content or the way in which they trade convention with experimentation. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ techniques in getting its message across is straightforward. Instead, it is unusual in that it is surprisingly, disappointingly emotionally aloof from its audience, despite the power of the narrative.
We are in such short supply of original horror movies Down Under that it is a bit of a novelty when one of the few that does exist is remade. Never mind that the word “remake” has become a dirty word thanks to the unbroken string of American horror film remakes since Marcus Nispel turned a souped up The Texas Chain Saw Massacre into box office gold, there is a renewed sense of curiosity when one of “our own” gets a chance at a new life. Curiosity as to which one has been the chosen one (there is so little to choose from in the back catalogue of Australian horror films) and how it will turn out. Will it be a pointless, embarrassing rehash like the dreadful The Fog (2005) or will the one at the helm mix it up like Rob Zombie surprisingly did with Halloween (2007)? The mere fact that an Australian horror film original or not may be enough to get gore hounds excited - they are so few and far between save for a handful of recent post-Scream goodies like Wolf Creek, The Loved Ones and Lake Mungo in the last 10 years.
It has been a while since I was giddy with joy, while at the same time shaking in my boots, at the end of a really great horror film. Something that moves me to pure joy from seeing something fresh, enjoyable and most importantly scary is rare. For me, Wes Craven is usually the responsible party for such a reaction with New Nightmare and Scream. Only two years apart, yet light years ahead of the competition (the late 80s/early 90s were dire for the horror genre), those two self aware, meta exercises in terror brought a new level to the genre with an eye for pop culture and intellectualism. Craven (and Kevin Williamson) pumped much needed life into a sagging genre.