Horror Marathon: Saw II (2005)

Back into the the Saw franchise, we hop into its direct sequel, Saw II. Where can the film go from the ending of the first? Thats pretty hard to see. Saw II has changed hands to a new director, Darren Lynn Bousman who is pretty green with this being its second full length feature. He however does take the reins for the next two. At least Leigh Whannell is still on as co-writer.

Lets check it out.

Saw II (2005)

Saw 2

Director (&co-writer) : Darren Lynn Bousman

Cast: Tobin Bell, Donnie Wahlberg, Shawnee Smith, Erik Knudsen, Dina Meyer, Franky G, Lyriq Bent

A detective and his team must rescue 8 people trapped in a factory by the twisted serial killer known as Jigsaw.-IMDB

Saw II is a peculiar direction to take. This time, Jigsaw is tracked down by the police and his only request is to have a talk with Donnie Wahlberg’s character, Eric Matthews whose son was kidnapped. As with most Jigsaw games, there is a countdown and this time, the time is ticking on the screen that is projecting where his son is cooped up with a few other people with different backgrounds. However, the familiar face appears here as we see last movie’s escapee, Amanda Young yet again be captured. The countdown turns out to have many meanings however, its main one is that Jigsaw says there is a toxic gas in the air that will kill them all if they don’t escape. The story and concept of this one seems a little cliche at parts and even if this is just the second film, the audience is pretty much smarter than the cast itself however, the true game and tension is in Jigsaw and Matthews chat. Saw II is really average however, the ending does have some clever twists, mostly in the finale.

SAW 2

Its important to talk about the characters here because when the movie finished, I had to think about certain characters and whether it was because the character is written dumb or the acting was lackluster. Perhaps it is the fact that now there are so many more players in Jigsaw’s game that the immersion is stripped from their importance or just our lack of connection to these characters. It sucks that they are in this situation but the key is why are they there more than who they are and even the minute chance that they will escape. Lets just face the fact here. A lot of the characters here engaged in petty arguments and deliberate prejudices and it lacked that natural flow of character development that the first had. The only one we needed to care for was Matthews’ son and Amanda Young. It turned its focus on the contraptions that the characters has to deal with related to their crime that Jigsaw had drawn out for them than the story itself. I honestly don’t believe the Saw was in its spectacles even in the first one. The direction definitely leaves something to be desired. The character that I really disliked the most was somewhat of the “villain” of the whole situation played by Franky G and somehow maybe its because he did capture the role correctly even if it was a very uninspired character.

saw 2

The joy of Saw was in its disturbing mind games and the psychological factor that it had. Sure, it was messed up in whatever Jigsaw contraption because of its extremity however we can already see in Saw 2 that in the hands of someone else the tone has shifted. Even the script is much weaker. The whole experience was still entertaining however it was more in the conversation between Eric Matthews and Jigsaw more than the 8 characters suffering the ordeals in a mystery location that needed to be saved. While the ending twist was quite clever, it didn’t help that getting there wasn’t quite as innovative.

A true shame that we can already see the slow demise of the franchise in this sequel. Maybe, it’ll come back in the third? We can only see since this one ended on somewhat of an open ending.

Have you seen Saw 2? Thoughts? Did you like it more or less than I did?

Fantasia Fest 2015: Cooties (2014) & Point of View (Short 2015)

Its really early in the Fantasia Festival to be feeling a little overwhelmed but after the showing of Cooties on Friday, I needed one because the late showing turned my schedule around and then the weekend was slightly crazy. Weekly Adventures coming up to explain that bit in more detail.  After a weekend of crazy, other than this one, I have two more Fantasia reviews to go up this week.  Thank goodness, the second week of Fantasia is a lot less hectic so I can catch my breath and get these reviews up.

Before Cooties started, we had a short film called Point of View open.

Point of View (Short 2015)

Point of View

Point of View

Its directed by Justin Harding who was present to introduce it a little. Running at 8 minutes long, its about “A tired coroner is stalked by the living dead — but only when she isn’t looking!” (Fantasia site).  Let me tell you: this short is awesome! The best way to start a movie like Cooties.  With an equally funny movie that had some little nerve-wrecking moments but all in 8 minutes that passed by faster than I ever imagined.

Cooties (2014)

Canadian Premiere

Cooties

Director: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion

Cast: Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, Nasim Pedrad, Ian Brennan, Jorge Garcia, Cooper Roth, Morgan Lily, Armani Jackson, Sunny May Allison

Clint (Elijah Wood) heads back home to Fort Chicken to hopefully work on his novel and gets employed as a substitute at the high school he used to go to when he was younger. There he meets a girl, Lucy (Alison Pill) that he used to go to high school with.  Lucy is dating the angry and awkward gym teacher, Wade (Rainn Wilson).  When contaminated chicken nuggets are sent to the school and a little girl called Shelly eats it, the virus spreads among the young kids and turns them into raging, flesh eating living dead.  As the school day progresses, the group of teachers and faculty that are struggling to survive try to find a way to escape the school.

cooties

You know how Shaun of the Dead was this really great horror comedy? Cooties is very much along the same lines except with a sillier sort of humor because its more Americanized? Its not meant to be offensive (in case you feel that way). Its just that British humor is in a league of its own. I always say this when I look at comedies: its totally subjective. While I’m not a huge fan of American stupid humor and there was a bit of it here, for the most part Cooties had a lot of effective laughs while being completely and equally effective at creating gory and tense situations. Even in horror comedies, kids being the ones infected or just in the scary side is incredibly creepy. There were really intense parts in Cooties, especially one of the kids who was just raging maniatic. The premise here and even the logic behind it is pretty great. Cooties essentially means that its a virus only in kids.  Plus, it even has some hidden messages about the education system…maybe I’m overthinking this but there’s one bit that made me feel like it was really poking fun at this new thing in school.  I don’t want to spoil it so I’m going to keep it vague. Point being, it works and does it in a really smart way.

Cooties

The next aspect I would like to talk about is the characters. We have a mixed bag with the teachers.  Our main character is Clint who is really the not so confident and not really a leader who kind of gets forced into the situation.  Wade is the weirdo angry gym teacher who has all the dumb lines but who actually is hilarious especially when they start running the movie references and all that stuff.  Alison Pill is the preppy teacher who isn’t really all that positive so we get a first taste of her layered characters.  Actually, all these characters have that.  In the more secondary role (and my favorite character) was the science teacher, Doug played by Leigh Whannell (also co-writer of the movie) who pulls the best hilarious lines.  I think almost everyone laughed whenever he said any of his lines because they were absurd and just so inappropriate most of the time, especially since he played the socially awkward dude and Leigh Whannell does it so well! As the movie progresses, even the secondary characters all collectively add to the awesome fun comedy that adds in a good level of tension.

Cooties

Overall, Cooties is a downright awesome horror comedy with just the right amount of comedy to satisfy your taste and very well balanced in the tense horror zombie movie its supposed to be.  With a fantastic cast that has script which gives us a variety of different characters that help create a balance that works effectively, it keeps the movie constantly entertaining. The premise of using kids (and having cooties) to be an actual virus that turns them into zombies is absolutely great.  The whole idea of it was simple but well illustrated during the movie as we learned more about this virus and just how it had spread.  Cooties ends with a bang and leaves it wide open for a sequel and you know what, if the same crew sat down to write the sequel, count me excited! You can bet that this one is going right into my movie collection when it comes out 🙂 Its really good and I totally think you should give it a shot!

Seeing as this is a Canadian premiere, I’m thinking its opened elsewhere.  Have you seen Cooties? What do you think of it? Are you a fan of horror comedies?

Dead Silence (2007)

When I can fit two movies in a weekend, you know I’m slacking off on writing my novel.  Either way, I know I was and I’m not proud of it.  There’s still a few days to redeem myself though.  We’ll see how that goes.  Anyways, at least my blog seems to be benefiting a bit.  Dead Silence has been intriguing me and even though Eric at theipc advised me to forget it, I didn’t listen. Maybe I should have? Either way, lets see how that was.

dead silence posterDirector: James Wan

Cast: Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, Michael Fairman, Joan Heney, Bob Gunton, Judith Roberts

Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) and his wife (Joan Heney) are happily married until one day, his wife was murdered in a gruesome way while he was out to get takeout.  It makes him into the prime suspect for her death, especially in the eyes of Detective Lipton (Donnie Wahlberg). Following clues, he ends up taking his wife’s body back home to Raven’s Fair to bury and at the same time, look into what had happened.  There he learns of the story about a past ventriloquist called Mary Shaw whose name haunts the town after her death.

There is no doubt in my mind that James Wan (with his writer Leigh Whannell) is pretty awesome together in the world of horror.  After all, despite many people feeling that Insidious was missing a good ending, I still felt it was pretty strong as a horror movie.  Thats coming from my inexperience and lower tolerance of horror movies, I think.  Still, whatever it is, I was convinced that James Wan knew what he was doing.  I haven’t seen the Saw franchise so I have no comparison but that is also one of the reasons why I decided to watch Dead Silence. The second reason was that Ryan Kwanten (not in True Blood being a simple-minded Jason) would be interesting, at the very least, it’ll bring something nice to the screen.

dead silence billy

The only thing that scared me when I was a child was clowns and being never revealed to ventriloquist and that whole world of creepiness, I didn’t exactly find this scary.  It just felt REALLY slow.  Like I like slow but this was just nearing boring. So I paused this movie..umm…*counts on fingers* forget it, I don’t remember how many times.  I just didn’t feel like there was anything making me want to wait for the next thing because I sat there and predicted what would happen for most of the movie.  So what was wrong with this? It comes to the point that in comparison with Insidious, that one was creeping me out throughout the movie and didn’t have just an epic ending but this one was the other way around.  Honestly, by the last bit and of course, he always has a twist, it changed the game a bit, so why couldn’t the rest of the movie be like that? Sorry, this review is more of a rant.

dead silence jamie marion

Okay, I’m not hating on the movie.  I did rate it like 3 out of 5 stars on Netflix, means I liked it (apparently). The characters were done well.  I mean, for the most part, James Wan and Leigh Whannell seem to really agree on what is creepy and Mary Shaw plus ventriloquists are definitely in that arena.  Rotting old ladies are also very scary.  I’m totally on board with that.  Dead Silence had decent scares. The scenes all had nice eerie atmosphere to complement it.  A lot of the details were actually quite good.  As usual, its his style to use atmosphere to build up the fear than with excessive gore (maybe thats not the case with Saw? I know nothing of that).

kinopoisk.ru

I always look at the characters a bit.  The characters aren’t exactly in depth here but one I hated was the detective. That guy was stupid and I wanted to punch his face because he annoyed me. Ryan Kwanten was definitely different from how I usually see him.  It actually makes me want to see The Right Kind of Wrong.  I think that might more be his ballpark.  All the characters weren’t around enough to give me any deep feeling or attachment so if and when they did die, it really didn’t make me feel anything much, plus, everyone dies the same way so after a while, its not extremely surprising.

It seems like Dead Silence really caught me on a bad day but I guess, its hard to follow a pretty awesome movie like Children of Men that had a great storyline.  However, Dead Silence does have many many hints of the works of James Wan.  If you appreciate his work, this might not be a bad choice, especially if dolls and that sort of thing tend to freak you out.  My suggestion is to tough out the first half because its filled with not so great dialogue and a really slow plot but by the second half in Ravens Fair and the investigation is getting deeper, the tension really builds up for the big finale/twist 🙂 So no, not all bad, the ending really pushes it in the good area.

Insidious (2010)

I am crazy! I admit it…I don’t know why I do this to myself.  I’m mega chickenshit and somehow I felt like Tuesday night was a great idea to put on Insidious.  Just to check our James Wan‘s skills.  The movie started and the DVD menu went on, eerie music going on, opening credits start…and I start regretting already.

insidious posterDirector: James Wan

Cast: Rose Byrne, Patrick Wilson, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Barbara Hershey

*IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS MOVIE, YOU MAY WANT TO SKIP THE SYNOPSIS, as much as I tried to keep it spoiler free, it might still ruin the full experience*

Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh(Patrick Wilson) Lambert are settling into their new house with their 3 children.  When their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into a coma, they search to figure out what is causing it.  As this starts to strain Renai and Josh’s marriage, Josh starts dreaming up weird images.  At the same time, Renai starts experiencing eerie unexplicable events at home which leads her to believe that her house is haunted.  It is then she urges Josh to move out of their home in hopes that escape this.  However, at the new home, these events still occur and its then Josh’s mother  Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) advise them to seek the help of Elise (Lin Shaye) and her team Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). It is here they learn about The Further.

insidious dreams

I almost didn’t want to write a synopsis for this one because there is no way that you can talk about this and not feel like I ruined something.

This leads to me saying that this is a super awesome horror.  It scared the $&!% out of me but I am not alone.  This makes me feel good to say because basing this on my scare level is inaccurate, seeing as I’m scared of most horror movies.  On this note, you really want to check out The Horror Online and their awesome post on the “How Scary Is It?” Scale.  Just click on it and you’ll get to that post! This one (and The Horror Online agrees) is definitely a Stage 5.  I did not cry…I screamed at the top of my lungs.  Decibel levels flew off the charts! I’m still sleeping with my lights close and watching comedies.  Oh, and I don’t walk around my house with the lights off…and the boyfriend has after dark water duty for moi, because I refuse to go down into the dark…I’m sure you get the idea…

 

insidious group

 

This horror flick is hardcore.  This would’ve been good for the theatres though. The copy I got made me have to watch subtitles because I did not hear those effects that makes it a bit eerie until last minute.  Although eventually I learned that I had to turn it off because every time something happens, we get an alert with an “eerie sounscape” in the background.  Even though it was hinted eventually, it always provided some form of surprise.  Freaked me out every single time.  As much as my boyfriend laughed at it, by the end of the movie, those discordant violin sounds were MEGA CREEPY! Background music or lack of at times was really effective to make this horror factor increase! It made for a good compliments to some pretty crazy awesome jump scares, along with some built up moments!

insidious dalton

On top of that, everyone in this flick was convincing.  Maybe it had to do with the incredibly awesome storyline.  Patrick Wilson was fantastic and Rose Byrne was definitely no Helen (from Bridesmaids).  She went all out to prove to us that she can do horror genre equally well.  She lead a good part of the movie and was the focus for a lot of solo scenes.  She convinced me that there was evil at every corner of that house.  Plus, as little as screen time as the kids had, the little boys were both very convincing!  Elise and her team was pretty interesting.  They had an amazing vibe on screen to amplify the scare factor. Loved the character of Elise! She had to be all over the place with her reactions.  The same applies for her assistants! The cast was just outstanding!

insidious elise specs

 

James Wan is awesome in these spirits and evil horror genre.  I have seen nothing else from this guy.  However, I do have a little issue with his camera work.  However, if he does apply that to Fast 7, I think it might be alright ;).  I just can’t see this guy jumping into the action flick area though.  On another note, I’m excited to see Insidious Chapter 2 because it is what I need to wrap up this scary piece of entertainment.  At least I hope it will…its just how I am with horror flicks.

This is a definite YES! Horror fans should see this! Its awesomely scary with a mix of jump scares, eerie music and lots of creepy scenes! The music compliments it and the acting is pretty decent.  There was a lot hidden in the scenes if you look hard enough which makes it very intelligent.  I may be cursing myself and saying that I won’t see another horror for a while.  Whats sleep, right? Especially if its lost over a great movie 😉 This is most positively one of the scariest movie I have seen!

I’m usually the slow pokes at horror movies, so tell me, have you seen this?  Did you like it? Was there something you didn’t like it? Is it something you want to see? Anxious to see the sequel (which I think is coming out later this year)?