Vanishing on 7th Street
– An apocalyptic thriller of sorts, from The Machinist
director Brad Anderson. One night, the vast majority of the population simply disappears, leaving nothing behind but their clothes. The few remaining humans quickly realize that it is the darkness itself that is taking people, but the how and why remain unknown. A handful of survivors (including Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, and John Leguizamo), find refuge in a bar from the shadows that pursue them, but they know that they can’t stay there forever. Eventually, the bar’s generator will stop working, and then the light that protects them will be gone.
I enjoyed this one (although it did occasionally get a little tiresome). After watching Transsiberian
, it was clear that Anderson knows how to create a sense of tension in a film, and he did not disappoint with this picture. There’s some good characterization here, as each survivor deals with the crisis in his or her own way. I also found it interesting that the movie never reveals exactly what it is that is happening. Is it some sort of Biblical rapture? Is it a natural phenomenon? Is it an experiment gone awry? Is it some sort of intelligence (which seems likely) trying to “reboot” the planet, so to speak?
I don’t know when it’s coming out or what sort of release it’ll get, but I’d definitely suggest catching it if you get the chance.
Never Let Me Go
– A beautifully crafted film: well shot, solidly acted, and achingly sad at times... but something felt missing. I don’t know. Even though it was a rather slow picture, a few things seemed glossed over (particularly when the film shifts from the 80s to the 90s: there were a couple of things that we’re told about in narration that I think might have been better as filmed scenes, but maybe it’s just me). I was also kind of curious about what the world is like outside of the lives of the principle characters; surely the fact that
But I guess that’s not what the film is about. Despite these nits, I’d recommend the movie: it might be a little on the dull side for some, but if you can emotionally invest in these characters and their story, you should find it well worthwhile.
John Carpenter’s The Ward
– John Carpenter helped to define horror films in the 70s and 80s. Movies like Halloween
and The Thing
are, IMO, classics, and I strongly believe that he deserves a comeback. Sadly, this middling flick isn’t it. It’s pretty much your standard “ghost seeking revenge” story, and an overly obvious one at that. There’s a few decent scares, and the 1960s psychiatric ward setting is mildly intriguing for a while, but there’s really nothing new here. Even the “twist” ending, which I’ll admit I didn’t actually see coming (though perhaps I should have), revolves around one of the hoariest and most-overused clichés in similar genre films. Here’s hoping that Carpenter’s next vehicle is something less mundane, and that he can recapture his mojo with it.
Let Me In
– I’m a bit conflicted about this. On the one hand, it is
a good film, but on the other hand, it’s kind of an unnecessary one. I just couldn’t shake the feeling of déjà vu while watching it. There are a few minor alterations, but for the most part, it’s almost a scene-for-scene, line-for-line recreation of the original Swedish film, Let The Right One In
. While I respect writer/director Matt Reeves for not “dumbing down” the American version (i.e. making the lead characters older, sanitizing the violence), I wish he had done a few more things differently. After all, why remake a movie if you’re not going to make it your own?
But hey, if you’re going to imitate something, it may as well be something good, and as the original film was pretty damn good, so to is this new adaptation. It may be a bit too faithful a remake, but it is nevertheless an effective one, with both style and substance. Visually, it’s a great-looking film, with some nice, tense moments and impressive performances by Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road
) and Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass
) as Owen and Abby, the bullied young loner and his new neighbour, who happens to be a vampire. As in the original, their developing friendship is both endearing and disturbing, given Abby’s true nature. McPhee particularly shines when he must grapple with the knowledge that his friend –his only friend- is a creature that subsists on human blood – blood she will kill to get. Can their relationship overcome this not-so-small hurdle? Well, if you’ve seen the original, you already know the answer.
If you’re interested in seeing this one, go for it; you probably won’t be disappointed (unless the whole “too close to the original” thing bugs you more than it does me). I will say, though, that you might actually get more out of it if you haven’t
seen the Swedish film – at the very least, it’ll probably seem more fresh.