Monday, June 27, 2005

"Horror Movie Review 2-Pack"

I saw a couple of horror movies this weekend. Nothing new. Just a couple of older films: Session 9 (2001) and Haute Tension (2003). Check it.

Haute Tension(2003)

I saw this movie first. Sean brought it over on Friday for Horror Movie Night. We played poker longer than we'd intended, so it ending up being the only movie we saw that night.

So, OK, I gotta get this out of the way: it's a French film. There, I said it. You can stop reading now, if you want. ;) But honestly, this movie does have some balls. Believe it, or not! In fact, I checked out the IMdB entry, and it turns out that it got edited in every other country when it was theatrically released. We had the privilege of watching the original uncut French version though. So, if you end up watching this movie, make sure you get your hands on the original French release with subtitles.

Speaking of subtitles, for some reason they were all fucked up when we watched it. They started out fine, but they eventually got way out of sync. I mean, at times the subs were up to a minute early! Normally, that would completely fuck up a movie experience, but fortunately, there was very little dialogue in this movie. Most of the talking took place early, when the subs were still synced, and after that, there were like 10-20 minute stretches with absolutely no dialogue. And even when there was dialogue, there wasn't very much of it.

So while there was little being said, there was a lot being done. After the obligatory set-up, the movie jumps right in with the slashing. And that's what this movie is: a straight up slasher flick. There are a few suspenseful scenes, but for the most part, it's all about the blood spurting everywhere. That's what ended up on the cutting room floor with foreign releases. A lot of the reviews I see on this movie say that it's really, really gory and gruesome, but I must be desensitized from all the killing I do in my spare time because it didn't really seem that bad to me. I think Japanese films like Ichi the Killer and Audition are far more brutal. But then again, this is France we're talking about here. Remember, I said this movie had balls, but I didn't say they were big ones.

It's worth mentioning that there is a twist to the thin plot, but it's not a very good one. It's got a cop out ending too. I could be a dick and ruin it, but some people still might want to see this movie.

Ultimately, what we have here is a movie with little plot, a moderate amount of suspense, and quite a bit of bloody slashing. Not too bad, but nothing great either. If you want a throwback to those 1980's slasher flicks, give this a shot. Personally, this gets a 6 out of 10.

Session 9 (2001)

I had rented this movie for Horror Movie Night, but I didn't get around to seeing it until Sunday evening. I pretty much just randomly picked it off the shelf at Blockbuster.

First impression: this movie is slow as shit. Second impression: David Caruso's in this?!? I hadn't seen David Caruso in anything since NYPD Blue. Anyway, David Caruso wasn't that bad in the film, but the slow start was sort of annoying. For the first 15 minutes or so I was like WTF is going on? It wasn't like surrealistic confusion. It was more of like "I came into this conversation late, and I don't know wtf is going on" type of confusion. Eventually, you get the picture, and we move on.

The premise to this movie is actually kinda cool. An old, abandoned insane asylum is going to be renovated. A small team of five people is hired to clean out the asbestos shit before the renovation can begin. They're offered a bonus if they finish the job in one week. Creepy shit happens. Personal secrets are exposed. People die. I have to point out though, that I don't consider this a true horror film. It's definitely more suspense/drama than horror. There is a fair amount of blood and whatnot, but it's not the main draw. This isn't a gruesome movie.

In fact, Session 9, in contrast to Haute Tension, is completely cerebral. I can dig that. It's always scarier to imagine things in your head than seeing monsters on the screen. Manipulating the viewer's imagination is the scariest technique that a horror/suspense filmmaker can use. For the most part, the director succeeds in making the viewer think. The problem is that we don't have to think that much. Being a contemporary suspense/thriller, it has the obligatory plot twist, and although it isn't as contrived as Haute Tension’s, it still not very good.

The best part of this film was how believable and real the characters were. There weren't any silly teenagers running around getting naked and getting themselves in stupid situations. That's not to say that the charcaters didn't do some stupid things sometimes (like hardly ever working on what was supposed to be a 'rush' asbestos removal job), but overall I liked them, and I believed their intentions were true.

Still, I don't know if that's enough to recommend this movie to others. I can see how some people would like it, but I can also see how some would hate it. I didn't know anything about this movie when I saw it, so I didn't have high expectations. That helped. Unfortunately, now you know something about this movie, so that angle is shot for you. ;) In any case, it's a solid 6 or a weak 7 out of 10.

Word of the Day: halcyon (adj) – calm and tranquil like the halcyon bird that was said to calm the seas. It can also mean the good ol’ days or a golden, prosperous age. Ex: Sometimes, I long for the halcyon years of gaming, so I fire up my dusty Atari and go to town on some asteroids.

Trivia of the Day: RDI, the company that created the Dragon’s Lair, Space Ace and Thayer’s Quest laserdisc games, released a home laserdisc game console named Halcyon in 1985. The cost? $2500. Yeah, I don’t have one. :(

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