Another beautifully composed and assembled cavalcade of sweet sadness. I’d been over-adequately warned about all the sadness, so had to feel bad about myself afterwards for not feeling sad enough. Somehow I’d not been warned at all about the awful music – maybe it’s an acquired taste for over-loud choral arrangements – nor about the warm humor that weaves around all the sadness.

Casey Affleck (I know who he is now, thanks to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) is Lee, who lives a life of lonely bar fights in self-imposed exile after accidentally killing his three kids in a fire years earlier (revealed gradually in flashback). His big brother Kyle Chandler dies of heart failure, leaving teenage Lucas Hedges (The Zero Theorem) to Casey, who acts properly responsible towards his beloved nephew, but also tries to rid himself of the responsibility as fast as possible and return to his basement-dwelling solitude.

All the actors are terribly, achingly good, each experiencing their own version of grief. Especially terrible is the scene where Casey’s ex Michelle Williams confronts him, and he responds with quietly stuttering denial. Reading this back it sounds like I don’t love the movie, but I mean “terrible” in a good way, and I hope all the attention it’s getting (best actor at the globes, six oscar nominations) makes up for Margaret‘s mistreatment.

Reminds of Heat in its attempt to build drama with a career criminal’s romantic relationship endangered by his line of work. But here the girl (Rebecca Hall, Christian Bale’s wife in The Prestige) was a hostage in the gang’s previous job – Ben Affleck was supposed to check on her afterward, eliminate her if she knows too much, but falls for her instead. She is traumatized by her heist & hostage experience so it’s no surprise at all when she’s working with the FBI at the end, although somewhat surprising that Affleck manages to escape the huge shootout after their final Fenway Park heist, killing boss Pete Postlethwaite then escaping to Florida.

Solid crime flick, though Ben is better at Boston-accented dialogue scenes and filming criminals wearing weird masks in cool poses than assembling distinguished action sequences. Jeremy Renner (between Hurt Locker and Mission Impossible 4) got an oscar nomination as the hotheaded, trigger-happy second in command (so, the Joe Pesci role), whose druggie sister (Green Lantern’s Blake Lively) the FBI gets to. FBI is led by Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, are very good investigators but not the best marksmen. Small roles for Victor Garber as a banker and Chris Cooper as Affleck’s imprisoned father.

“I don’t like this place. It’s… depressing.”


Umberto Lenzi (hilariously credited as Humphrey Humbert) made this seven years after Cannibal Ferox: Make Them Die Slowly. Fortunately he’d stop making movies soon, but not before he put out Demons 3: Black Demons. Produced by Joe D’Amato, the director of Cave Dwellers, Porno Holocaust and Anal Instinct. Unfortunately, I didn’t look any of this stuff up before watching the movie, or I might not have, because as the resumes of those men would imply, the movie suuuucks.

Opens with a girl named Henrietta in the basement, which is the only possible Evil Dead connection (movie was titled House 3 for its Italian release, to boost sales off the rep of the Evil Dead movies, titled House 1 & 2 in Italy. See also my sequel theories for the Japanese movie called House).

Boston, Italy:

Movie is shot in Boston for some reason, and in English. A girl with a really strong Euro-accent (she was also in Tenebre) is named Martha. Someone mentions Simon LeBon, which would prove this is a 1988 movie. Everyone is into HAM radio (was that big in ’88?). There are creepy/annoying baby-talk noises on the repetitive carnivalesque soundtrack. Lightbulbs and bottles explode to build tension. Dialogue is sooo awkward, badly written and sometimes dubbed. Atmosphere is extremely un-scary, then when a character does something extremely stupid (like go back into the haunted house where her friends have just died to take a quick shower before she leaves), that music kicks in and gory death ensues.

“Maybe there’s something supernatural about this, guys.”
“I don’t know. All I know are computers.”

…and HAM radio:

I may dislike Italian horror, but junk like this is leagues away from lamely-plotted but crazily awesome-looking movies like Inferno. Gonna have to choose my directors more carefully next time. Oh, but the actors suck too, and they’re nobodies, all except for Donald O’Brien (below), who has also appeared in Zombie Holocaust, Inglorious Bastards, Django Rides Again, a couple John Frankenheimer flicks and a Robert Bresson film! He’s the only actor who gets a screenshot – the others can bite me.

D. O’B:

killer klown:

would’ve sounded better with dolby:

whichever P.A. pissed off the director had to wear the maggot mask: