Daily Archives: May 9, 2010

Black1

 

The other night I happened upon a little Australian thriller called Black Water.  I thought it was pretty good, but I’d never heard of it, so when it was over I looked up some reviews.  Although most reviewers were positive, there were two recurring criticisms from the naysayers:  the movie’s low budget, and its “unlikable” characters.  If that’s the criteria to go by, I reckoned, then we’d might as well dismiss The Godfather (all those unlikable mobsters) and gems like Paranormal Activity (which probably cost less to produce than Rupert Murdoch’s breakfast).

Black Water will never be hailed as a cinematic milestone, but it is deserving of comparison to a film like Jaws – especially when you consider that piddling budget.  That’s high praise for the movie’s directors, who manage to achieve and sustain high tension from a simple story, supposedly based on true events, about three people trapped by a ravenous crocodile in a secluded mangrove swamp.

I recently yawned through the big-budget remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.  God knows how much money was spent on the production, distribution, and marketing of that rehash.  And then I found an unheralded Aussie flick on TV that kept me riveted – low budget, “unlikable” characters and all.      Grade:  B+

 

Directors:  David Nerlich, Andrew Traucki  Cast:  Diana Glenn, Maeve Dermody, Andy Rodoreda, Ben Oxenbould  Release:  2007

 

Black2      Watch Trailers  (click here)

 

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Night1

 

The genius of Wes Craven’s original A Nightmare on Elm Street was its ability to seamlessly transition between dreams and reality.  Was Susie awake, or was she dreaming and about to encounter the psychopathic Freddy Krueger?  This kind of cinematic sleight of hand was ideal for Hollywood; who better to create nightmares than the “Dream Factory”?

A Nightmare on Elm Street, current edition, gets some of this stuff right with its darkly surrealistic sets, but not often enough.  Instead, Samuel Bayer’s remake relies on two tired, tired horror-movie clichés:  the sudden, deafening roar/bang/shout/scream on the soundtrack, and/or someone abruptly popping up out of a dark corner of the screen.

I used to work with a fellow who would jump through the ceiling if you snuck up behind him and did one little thing – softly clear your throat.  I suspect that it would not have startled him if someone were to instead sneak up and shout BOO!  The mild throat-clearing told his subconscious two things:  Someone is right behind me, and he or she might have been standing there for a long time.  Very unsettling.  The makers of movies like Nightmare would do well to learn that subtlety can be much more terrifying than, say, a screeching cat.

Still, if you are 15 years old and have not seen a gazillion horror flicks, like I have, this Nightmare does what it promises to do:  provide cheap thrills.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I have noticed one trend in recent horror movies.  Back in the good old days (1970s-’90s), it wasn’t really a horror film unless there was at least one gratuitous nude scene.  Nightmare does have a bathtub scene, yet there is no actual nudity.  I don’t understand this.  If your film is already a “guilty pleasure,” why hold back?       Grade:  C

 

Night3

 

Director:  Samuel Bayer  Cast:  Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Lia D. Mortensen  Release:  2010

 

Night2       Watch Trailers and Clips  (click here)

 

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