Isnam777

IMDb member since December 2008
    Lifetime Total
    5+
    IMDb Member
    12 years

Reviews

Meadowoods
(2010)

Very Worthy Effort
Just to let you know off the bat, I'm in no way associated with this film. I just randomly watched it one day. That said, I actually think this is a very well-made piece of independent, low-budget cinema. I really don't see where all the hate for this film comes from with other posters on this site. I guess they were expecting something else. This is a horror film that uses subtlety and emotions to tell a story about the evil that meaninglessness can create.

The story is about three college friends who decide one day they want to murder someone and film the entire process so after they die their crime will be revealed, leaving their little mark on society. Their motive: they feel life has no point and that the only way they can make a difference is to commit a horrible act. We have Travis, the de facto leader, who on the surface seems like an amiable, carefree kid. We later see under the surface a twisted determination to keep the trio in tact as they get closer to committing the actual act. We next have Stephanie, who perhaps is the real motivating force behind the trio. She shows us repeatedly she is devoid of any compassion for others. She is angry and empty and uses this to fuel their mission. Towards the end, however, she displays some humanity concerning her other two accomplices that shows some spark, no matter how small, that she may still feel something. The last of the trio is Ryan who documents the events with his camera, bringing the story to us. Ryan starts out as a follower, someone who seems to be along for the ride for the sake of loyalty. As the movie progresses he becomes increasingly aware of how imminent and real the crime really is. When he begins to develop feelings for the intended victim he threatens to abort the entire plot, and this doesn't go unnoticed by his accomplices.

I felt this was a fairly mature attempt at human drama, addressing universal issues of meaning, friendship and empathy. Of the trio, props go out to Thorp (who plays Travis) and Roe (who plays Stephanie) as they really embody the characters they're portraying. Another actress who really did a tremendous job was Schactler (who plays Kayla, the intended victim). She brings a much-needed degree of humanity and warmth to the film, not to mention the terror she conveys at the climax is palpable. Overall the shortcomings of the film can be overlooked thanks to the story's strong focus and some amazing acting. This film is short on gore and heavy on character development. If you're not a fan of the found- footage sub-genre you may want to steer clear and if you're expecting horror in the form of violence and jump-scares you'll be disappointed. Those seeking an interesting story, intriguing characters and a strong sense of building dread should give this one a chance.

Undocumented
(2010)

Brutal and timely shocker!
There are a few movies I've seen where at the end I feel totally drained. I'm an extreme horror fan, and this film took me for a ride I hesitate to take again. This film falls in line with my favorite types of horror movies, the ones where the real monster is mankind, but this film took me to a place that was almost too dark.

The film, if you've heard anything of the plot, revolves around a young film crew that is shooting a documentary on the plight of illegal Mexican immigrants and decide to take it one step further by actually joining a group of immigrants as they cross the American/Mexican border. This highly illegal activity puts the entire operation in danger, but the immigrants are reassured since they have Americans in their midst. One young family in particular is featured as they express high hopes for a future free of the economic hardship they have back in Mexico. If anyone had any inkling about the direction their journey would take once on American soil, none of them would ever have taken it.

Enter the film's antagonists: so-called "Patriots". A group of paramilitary survivalist types who are nothing more than domestic-bred terrorists, who have taken it upon themselves to repel illegal Mexican immigration in their own special way. They are able rather easily to capture the group (including the film crew). They say they're willing to let the film crew go if they agree to shoot something of a "recruiting video" for their organization, which involves the most heinous tortures I can imagine (especially for the father of the young family I previously mentioned.) The director does an excellent job of placing us in the shoes of the naive film crew, as they are forced to document the crimes against humanity dealt out by the "Patriots". With their lives also threatened the crew sees little else they can do but stand by as the illegals are treated worse than animals. I personally felt the agony of the crew as you can see in their faces they are dying to do something to help the Mexicans. In many scenes, the actors apart of the film crew (Scott Mechlowicz, who I've been a fan of since "Mean Creek", in particular shows off his acting skills) have visible rage building up inside them. Several manage to try and help the victims, while others still try to escape and bring back help, only to be recaptured over and over again and degraded even further. Once they realize that their captors will probably kill them too, they know they must muster all their strength to try and somehow stop the madness going on around them before it's too late.

That's the gist of the movie, and while some may classify most of this movie as "torture-porn" I disagree. There certainly is torture involved, but anybody who might get off on this stuff is probably not right in the head. No, this film is different. This is a full-on assault of your senses and sensibilities.

Besides Mechlowicz, another stand-out in the cast is the great Peter Stormare (the lead nihilist in "The Big Lebowski"). He plays his role "Z", the leader of the "Patriots", convincingly and with considerable menace, and even with a certain amount of charm. To his credit, he does all of this without really showing his entire face throughout most of the movie. Alona Tal, the female lead, also plays her role well as one of the bravest members of the film crew, several times standing up against "Z" and his demented patriotism.

I wouldn't call this a political movie, but I do think it says something about people who think they have some sort of right that makes them better than others. Keep in mind this film repulsed me while at the same time showing me it was a very well-made little film. If you are willing to watch a challenging piece of quality cinema, with no fluff and lots of in-your-face cruelty, I suggest "Undocumented" is a great film to start with.

Charlie Chan at the Race Track
(1936)

One of the best Chans... my favorite in fact!!!
If you've read my title you'll know you're going to hear praise for this Chan entry. You should know this is the one Chan film I could watch over and over and never tire of it. The entire Chan series is great, but this entry is perfect in my view.

Charlie's old friend Major Gordon Kent, former owner and promoter of champion race horse Avalanche, is killed after getting too close to a gambling syndicate responsible for his horse's defeat in its latest race. Chan is called in when Kent's ocean liner reaches port in Honolulu. What initially is believed to be an accidental death blamed on Avalanche stomping Kent to death is quickly proved to be murder by the clever Chan. As the ocean voyage continues on to Los Angeles, Chan (along with #1 son Lee) come aboard to try and solve the murder before the horse's next race in California. As Chan closes in on the killer (and the gambling syndicate) his life and the life of his son are put into jeopardy. Despite all this will Chan and son stop the syndicate's ultimate plan from succeeding, and will justice be found for Kent's murder? It all comes to a whirlwind conclusion as Chan finally solves the puzzle and figures out the many angles of this mystery.

This entry is such a good one because it contains so many elements of my favorite Chan films. We have Chan and #1 son working as a team, a good portion of the story takes place on a passenger ship, the movie beginning in Honolulu but ending in another part of the world, there are more than one angles involved with the murder only playing a piece of the bigger puzzle, Gangsters, cool action sequences, a great cast and director, a romantic diversion... everything that I have liked about previous entries wrapped up into one, and neatly done as well.

For my money, this is the gold of an already great film series. If you like Chan films, or great classic mystery movies from this era in Hollywood, watch this one!

Charlie Chan on Broadway
(1937)

Another Chan hit, just more fast-paced!
I can never get upset with a Charlie Chan film, they're all simply classics. That being said, I already have a bias in favor of the Chan series so my review may be tainted.

In this Chan outing, Charlie (Oland) and #1 son Lee (Keye Luke) find themselves hot on the trail of the murderer of an infamous ex-mob lady Billie Bronson (played by the sultry Louise Henry). Added to the fray is her missing diary which contains secrets that could blow the lid off of New York's underworld. We have the usual Chan formula, with a fast-paced, New York twist. You have the usual suspects (who more often than not turn out to be not guilty) and the big surprise ending where we learn who the real killer is. I can honestly say I didn't see it coming.

The things which separate this film from others in the series are the hectic New York setting and a few very interesting characters. Huber's character Inspector Nelson seems to be one of those characters you either love or hate. I'm a lover because he adds so much flair to the movie. We even have him telling a woman to shut-up near the ending, which is something you don't see in many (if any) Chan flicks. A woman has never been treated so crudely up until now and I just love it. I found myself cracking up and rewinding the scene just so I can hear its delivery again.

Lastly, this film's killer shocked me in more ways than one. He/she was actually a character I liked and cared for and I was a little heartbroken when I found out. That's something a Chan film hasn't ever made me feel, sad. But boy this movie sure is a wild ride and it ended up being one of the Chan films I like to watch over and over.

Be sure to see this one soon and enjoy. You can thank me later!

Children of the Corn
(2009)

No apologies for calling this a fantastic remake
It's hard for me to understand why so many people hate this film. In a time like ours, when Hollywood is remaking so many classic horror films that don't need to be remade, I'm impressed by all the recent remakes of Stephen King stories... and all these are TV movies! This film follows closely to the actual short story by King. The story follows a young, married couple on a road trip in 1975 Nebraska. Burt is a Vietnam veteran and his wife Vicki is a preacher's daughter who has been poisoned against organized religion due to her upbringing. Their marriage is on the verge of collapse when they plow into a boy in the middle of nowhere. Burt's war experiences lead him to believe the boy was mortally wounded before they hit him, so they load the corpse in the trunk in the hopes of handing it over to the law. Unfortunately, the nearest town is Gatlin, which at first glance seems to be deserted, but the couple realize all too late that something is wrong in this town when the only signs of life appear to be children, and fanatical ones at that.

I just watched this film for the second time, and on viewing it again I realize how well the filmmakers did in capturing the sense of building dread present in the original short story. Where this film differs from the 1984 version is the protagonists. In 1984, the couple were lovey dovey and the film has lots of fluff. This version however portrays a sense of hopelessness through the ever present tension between the couple.

Lastly, the children did a fantastic job in this film. There is not much cheese and campy fun like in 1984. These kids are dead to rights playing the youngest cult ever. The relationship between Isaac and Malachi seems more solid in stark contrast to the 1984 version. And the added relationship of Malachi and his young wife is also a treat. The children are a united front against the crumbling alliance between Burt and Vicki. Stay tuned after the credits roll, you won't want to miss this ending! For other Stephen King remakes that are more faithful to his original work with clever twists see: Trucks (1997), The Shining (1997), Carrie (2002), Salem's Lot (2004)

Pet Sematary
(1989)

A wonderfully scary and depressing film
Don't let the fact that I said depressing in the summary scare you out of seeing this movie. You'd just be cheating yourself out of one of the best Stephen King film adaptations out there. Director Mary Lambert weaves this movie, twisting its characters into some demented, dark fairy tale of human tragedy that seems to hint at something deeper and more important than your average, run-of-the-mill horror film presents.

We start with the Creed family moving to a small, rural Maine town so the father Louis can take a job as a doctor at the local university. There are high hopes for this young family as they move into their new home the first day, but even as their new lives begin it is disrupted by their daughter Ellie falling and hurting herself from the tire swing in the front yard. This tiny tragedy is soon forgotten as we are introduced to greater dangers around their new home. First off, just beyond their yard is a busy highway where trucker traffic is a constant threat day and night. Second, though it doesn't appear to be a threat at first, there is a pet cemetery in the woods surrounding their house, and beyond that is another cemetery of sorts, an ancient Native American burial ground, but, get this, the natives stopped using it long ago because the ground is "sour".

Their old, friendly neighbor Jud (played brilliantly by Fred Gwyne) helps them adjust to their new surroundings as they settle in. Then the family cat is killed by a passing semi one day when Louis is home alone. Knowing how much the cat means to Ellie, Jud shows Louis to the ancient burial ground and instructs him to bury the cat there. The next day, the cat shows up on the front step. It's alive but it seems to have gotten mean and nasty since its resurrection and frequently threatens Louis around the house. Sadly their cat is not the only member of the family to die on the busy highway and (in a disturbing and emotional scene) tragedy befalls the Creed house. This leads to Louis once again using the burial ground to restore his family, against Jud's adamant objections. But if you thought the cat was bad, people brought back to life from the burial grounds are just plain wicked, as if they are angry about being brought back to life, and they will seek revenge on those who were closest to them.

The tone is dark and oppressive, and this movie is ultimately about tragedy, death and the destruction of a once happy and hopeful family. All the actors play their roles greatly, especially Midkiff (Louis) who gets increasingly numb and devoid of emotion as tragedy after tragedy takes his family from him. If you are looking for a horror movie that takes itself and the subject matter seriously, while also accompanied by worthy acting and directing, look no further than this title.

Pet Sematary II
(1992)

Not bad, despite its reputation
Many will lump this into the sequels of Stephen King based movies, which is correct. This one was not written by King, but despite this lack of originality it is a fairly good sequel to an excellent movie.

The mood is dark, just not as dark as the first film. We have Geoff and his veterinarian dad relocating to rural Maine (and the location of the Pet Sematary) after Geoff's mom is accidentally killed in front of him while shooting a movie. In their new small town, Geoff's dad opens up his own practice while Geoff has trouble adjusting to his surroundings. He befriends another outcast, Drew, who has an abusive stepfather named Gus to deal with at home. One night, out of meanness, Gus shoots and kills Drew's loyal dog Zowie. Drew then gets Geoff to help him bury Zowie in the notorious cemetery in hopes of bringing his dog back to life. It comes back, just different, mean and nasty, like it's mad about being resurrected and now hates everything and everyone (like all things brought back to life in the cemetery act). This starts off a chain of events that leads to the destruction of the lives of everyone involved (and some who aren't involved incidentally). Now its just a matter of who can survive the supernatural terror engulfing the town. The storyline is fun and the acting is good enough. The gore and other special effects are great.

I can easily look past the bad points in a film and see the good in it. This film is like that for me. The film also posses qualities that make me automatically like it. It is an underdog film (meaning it's not very popular with most people on this site). It also has that early 90s disillusioned grunge youth generation feel to it. Some may see this quality as making the film darker, even mean-spirited, but I love that era and love its influence in movies. This is just the frosting on the "cake" for me, and overall the "cake" is worth a viewing on its own merits, even if it's just so you can judge for yourself.

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