Men In Black 2 (2002, Barry Sonnenfeld)

Hey, I never saw this, always wanted to, but heard it was bad. Just the thing The Last Ten Minutes was invented for. The two mismatched partners are joined by Rosario Dawson with nuclear jewelry and pursued by Evil Lara Flynn Boyle till she’s eaten by a subway monster. Jones tells Dawson she’s the fifth element, Smith is attacked by shockingly subpar effects. Did you know there was a part 3? Neither did I.

[Rec] 3: Genesis (2012, Paco Plaza)

Previously watched [Rec] 1 and remake-sequel (remaquel?) Quarantine 2. Can’t find [Rec] 2 on netflix because their search is ridiculous, so let’s pick up here. Loving couple is trapped in kitchen by encroaching zombies until loudspeaker bible recitation stops them. Dude has a sword, which actually seems like a smart zombie weapon. Girl is bitten by an elderly fellow (bad hearing, immune to loudspeaker), guy cuts off her arm but he’s stupid and slow, and they both die. From one of the directors of the first one, but not shot first-person, so the title doesn’t make sense anymore. The girl was in Ramin Bahrani’s Man Push Cart.

[Rec] 4: Apocalypse (2014, Jaume Balagueró)

Oh, this is from the other director of the first one, and looks a lot worse. Stars Angela from parts 1 & 2. A guy with bad hair helps Angela kill zombie monkeys with a boat motor. Why does the bad guy have a snake-tongue? A boat explodes!

The Interview (2014, Goldberg & Rogen)

Those two guys are trying to escape N. Korea. Cue the loud action scenes. Katy Perry soundtracks the fiery death of President Randall Park (Danny Chung in Veep), then we get an anticlimactic escape from the country. One of the directors wrote for Da Ali G Show.

Horns (2013, Alexandre Aja)

The one where Harry Potter is a demon, from the director of the great Hills Have Eyes Remake. Dang, no horns, Harry must’ve had them cut off already (a la Hellboy?). His brother (Joe Anderson of Across the Universe) is sad, so Harry goes walkies with Max Minghella, and there are guns, and wow, Harry sprouts wings then turns into a full flaming demon and has homicidal maniac Max brutalized by snakes. I think Harry’s dead girlfriend is alive again but I stopped watching because my roomie locked his keys in his car. Is this Wolf Parade over the ending?

The Sacrament (2013, Ti West)

Sorry Ti, but after two-and-a-quarter disappointments you join Aja in Last Ten Minutes purgatory. Joe Swanberg in death cult compound is running from gunmen, everyone is dying, and it’s shot first-person a la [Rec] 1. Isn’t this the same plot as one of the V/H/S/2 segments from the same year, which West and Swanberg were also heavily involved with? Joe semi-rescues AJ Bowen (of every Adam Wingard movie) with the shakiest shaky-cam I’ve ever witnessed. Ends with unnecessary solemn title cards. Boo.

Maniac (2012, Franck Khalfoun)

Fuuuck, this is also shot first-person – and out-of-focus, no less. Co-written by Alexandre Aja. Khalfoun made P2 and acted in Aja’s Haute Tension – they’re as close as the West-Swanberg-Wingard crew. I think Elijah Wood kidnaps Nora Arnezeder then she stabs him with a mannequin arm and runs him over. Then she dies, so he marries a mannequin. Most of these movies are very bad, but this one looks unusually, especially, very very bad.

The Conspiracy (2012, Christopher MacBride)

Grainy first-person pinhole camera with blurred-out faces. Why do all these movies hate cinema? Dude wakes up in the ritual sacrifice room, then is chased through the dark woods while wearing an animal head. Finally a series of talking heads dismiss whatever conspiracy theory the hunted/murdered cameraman presumably uncovered. MacBride has made no other movies and hopefully it’ll stay that way.

Automata (2014, Gabe Ibáñez)

It’s balding trenchcoat dudes with shotguns vs. slow, clunky robots. The robots are talking wise, getting themselves shot, when a fully bald Antonio Banderas arrives. His plan of action is poor but he still kills two guys and the third is dispatched by a Short Circuit lizard. Weird/nice to see a robot-future movie where some of the robots (not the lizard) are actual props, not people or digital effects.

I, Frankenstein (2014, Stuart Beattie)

From the trailer this looked like epic nonsense, but it’s actually more coherent than most of the others I just watched. Bill Nighy! The final battle: Frankenstein Eckhart vs. angels, gargoyles, a merman, lots of fire, men in suits, poor digital effects and Bill Nighy! Meanwhile there’s a bunch of computer progress bars and “access denied” messages. Progress bars are always a great source of tension in movies, eh? A massive Matrix-like chamber full of bodies begins to self-destruct. Eckhart (is he the monster or the doctor?) defeats demon-Nighy, saves some lady from a fiery apocalypse and collapsing castle. Beattie wrote the Pirates of the Carribean movies (and Collateral), his cowriter was an actor in Men In Black 2.

“I would never hurt you. I just came to do the things you couldn’t do.”

Nice, unusual twisty horror/thriller, with a different (slower) editing rhythm. Opens with a victim (pregnant woman whose belly is smashed by a street robber) who turns out to be less of a victim than once thought – and crazier. In fact, everyone here is somewhat of a victim, somewhat of an unsympathetically insane, traumatized monster.

The formerly pregnant Ester meets Melanie (Alexa Havins of Torchwood) at a dead-children support group. But wait, Ester’s jealous girlfriend Anika is actually the one who robbed/beat Ester, at Ester’s request. But wait, Melanie’s son isn’t dead or missing, she just enjoys playing the victim. Ester discovers this and solves it by sneaking into Melanie’s home and drowning her son, then gets shot by Mel’s husband Joe Swanberg (first time I’ve seen him in a good movie), prompting a revenge spree from Anika.

M. D’Angelo for Dissolve:

Still, the film’s excellence lies not in its “twists” (which are actually just straightforward actions made uncanny by the withholding of ordinary emotional cues), but in its unemphatic portrait of aberrant behavior. In more ways than one, Proxy doesn’t have a protagonist—just various individuals struggling to maintain a façade of normalcy.

Not the kind of movie I was looking for. It has realistic lighting instead of movie lighting, which makes all the difference. Also I’m not sure that it was a horror movie. Depends what happened, who any of these people were, and whether the one bloody action montage (preceded by a girl dancing topless in a wolf mask, but with poor lighting) was supposed to be actually happening, or was the movie they’re shooting, or something else.


Swanberg (his own lead actor, just like Polanski, except not at all like that) is casting a werewolf movie, frustrated with moviemaking, says it’s crap if it’s just filmed theater, that we need new forms (I suggest he watch some Guy Maddin). I think he’s casting a girl in his movie who makes his girlfriend uncomfortable. He goes on about how movies (making/watching them) doesn’t make him happy, and right now his movie isn’t making me happy, so I’m off to the IMDB. Interesting thing is this one stars two experienced actresses – Amy Seimetz (Upstream Color) and Kate Lyn Sheil (all the Alex Ross Perry and Ti West and Adam Wingard movies) – plus at least three four film directors – Swanberg, Ti West, Larry Fessenden and Antonio Campos – but I’m not sure who anyone played or what was going on. Maybe I could’ve paid closer attention. Anyway, first movie I’ve seen by Swanberg (not counting a V/H/S episode) and I was hoping I’d love it since he has made a hundred more.

A werewolf with a gun is twice as deadly:

Sample dialogue: “Fuck” “What the fuck” “Shut the fuck up” “Fuuuck”

I still think Betamax would be a catchier and scarier title (though I enjoy saying “I watched V/H/S on DVD”). This is a world where “online” exists, as do digital cameras, even tiny digital HD cameras with mics that hide invisibly in a pair of eyeglasses. So how come the movie opens with a bunch of miscreants filming their dirty deeds on VHS cameras? Since the kids have more than one VHS camera, the movie thinks it can edit as rapidly between angles as it wants (though not as rapidly as the sick-inducing trailer). These miscreants, clearly valued for their experience with analog cassette technology, are then hired to break into an old dude’s house and steal his special VHS tape. Each time a lone kid “finds” the tape (it was in the VCR, dummies) and watches a segment, he winds up missing. Fortunately once we’re through the stupid framing story (by Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, the duo behind A Horrible Way to Die) there’s less rapid editing in the single-camera stories within.

Unexplained why the camera-glasses sometimes show text reversed:

Amateur Night
Clint wears his videoglasses out to the bar with buddies Shane and Patrick and they pick up a couple girls and go to a hotel. Lisa passes out and the guys reluctantly decide not to rape her, so they aim their attention at large-eyed Lily, who has only ever said “I like you” quietly to Clint all night long. It’s unclear how/if she and Lisa were friends, since Lily turns out to be a hellbeast who kills them all, but not before Clint falls down the stairs and breaks his bones trying to escape. Written/directed by one of the guys who made The Signal

Yay, East Atlanta:

Second Honeymoon
Stupid couple Joe Swanberg and “Stephanie” are on a road trip, taking a vacation video which plays like an actual vacation video. This is a compliment to realism but an insult to cinema. While they sleep, a drifter girl breaks in and films them sleeping, which is honestly creepy. Then more vacation video. Then the girl again, but this time she straight-up kills Joe Swanberg. Turns out the girl (Kate Lyn Sheil of Impolex) and “Stephanie” knew each other, and this was a terrible plot to kill him and escape together. Writer/director Ti West also made The Innkeepers and House of the Devil, and I might be finished watching his movies.

Hotel intruder:

Tuesday The 17th
Ooh, a good segment for once, by Glenn McQuaid (I Sell The Dead). Wendy with traumatic past returns to wooded scene of horrible murders with three friends – but they’re not very good friends, and she invited them as bait to the killer, who appears as a red-stocking-headed glitch on her videocamera. “Why can’t I film you?” she asks, but it never explains if she can see him with the camera lowered. The camera also sees dead people, presumably from her last voyage to this spot, making this the only segment that uses the handheld camera for something interesting (the other stories would be no different if their characters had no cameras at all).

Digi-glitch-monster hovers over a victim:

The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger
Guy witnesses his girlfriend’s haunted house in their nightly video calls. She seems to be going nuts, seeing little people (we see them too) and digging in her arm with knives looking for foreign objects. Turns out the “boyfriend” is setting her up, has implanted a tracking device in her arm and is letting aliens lay eggs in her, or something. Directed by Swanberg, written by Simon Barrett (A Horrible Way to Die).

Another good one, written/directed/starring five guys who walk into a seemingly empty house looking for a halloween party, finally stumbling upon some attic ritual where rednecks have got a girl tied up. After some pretty awesome supernatural stuff happens, they rescue the girl, who proceeds to unleash supernatural stuff upon the survivors (then she gets their car stuck in front of a train). Didn’t recognize any Atlanta scenery, but someone is told to take Spring street.

A Horrible Movie To Watch

Okay, I’ll try a little harder. Sarah (Amy Seimetz of Joe Swanberg’s Silver Bullets and Alexander the Last) meets a nice guy (Joe Swanberg himself) at an AA meeting. Turns out he’s in a group of serial killer super-fans, and they want revenge on Sarah for turning in her serial killer boyfriend (AJ Bowen from Marietta, murderous son in House of the Devil) – who I think kills them all, having just been released from prison. I dunno, slept through the middle third, sick with the flu and angry at the movie for looking so terrible. At the end of certain shots and scenes, the cameraman appears to get confused then pass out, adding the only stylistically unique element to the movie. I actually came to enjoy those moments, to look forward to them, wondering if one of the two cameramen is narcoleptic or if this is an effect anyone would plan. Wingard (from Alabama) contributed to recent horror anthologies The ABCs of Death and V/H/S.


NY Times liked it, calling it “commentary on our willingness to tune out evil for the sake of emotional connection.”