4 Shots From 4 Films: The Conjuring, Mama, We Are What We Are, World War Z


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 2013 Horror Films

The Conjuring (2013, dir by James Wan)

Mama (2013, dir by Andres Muschietti)

We Are What We Are (2013, dir by Jim Mickle)

World War Z (2013, dir by Marc Foster)

LeonTh3Duke’s Favorite Films of 2013


I have to say, this might be the earliest I have ever posted one of these lists. For once I saw everything I wanted to see before the Oscars; and although I haven’t written as many reviews this year, I have loved A TON of what was released. For me, 2013 was one of the better years for film in a while. Which of course makes creating a list such as this so damn hard. But here goes…

…oh, and I should note, this list is ordered according to which films were my favorite/least favorite, not necessarily the best/worst; yes there is a difference if you ask me.

Least Favorite Films of 2013:

5 – “Star Trek Into Darkness” (dir. J.J. Abrams)

5 Star Trek Into Darkness

4 – “Don Jon” (dir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

4 Don Jon

3 – “This Is The End” (dir. Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen)

3 This Is The End

2 – “Mama” (dir. Andre Muschietti)

2 Mama

1 – “A Good Day To Die Hard” [Just so happens to be my least favorite AND the worst.] (dir. Satan… Hitler?…no wait, John Moore)

1 A Good Day To Die Hard

Favorite Films of 2013:

25 – “Prince Avalanche” (dir. David Gordon Green)

25 Prince Avalanche

24 – “Drug War” (dir. Johnnie To)

24 Drug War

23 – “The Wolverine” (dir. James Mangold)

23The Wolverine

22 – “Upstream Color” (dir. Shane Carruth)

22 Upstream Color

21 – “The Wolf Wall Street” (dir. Martin Scorsese)

21 The Wolf of Wall Street

20 – “Enough Said” (dir. Nicole Holofcener)

20 Enough Said

19 – “Frozen” (dir. Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee)

19 Frozen

18 – “The World’s End” (dir. Edgar Wright)

18 The Worlds End

17 – “Dallas Buyers Club” (dir. Jean-Marc Vallee)

17 Dallas Buyers Club

16 – “Blue Is The Warmest Color” (dir. Adbellatif Kechiche)

16 Blue Is The Warmest Color

15 – “An Adventure In Space and Time” (dir. Terry McDonough)

15 An Adventure in Space and Time

14 – “Stories We Tell” (dir. Sarah Polley)

14 Stories We Tell

13 – “Much Ado About Nothing” (dir. Joss Whedon)

13 Much Ado About Nothing

12 – “Blue Jasmine” (dir. Woody Allen)

12 Blue Jasmine

11 – “Mud” (dir. Jeff Nichols)

11 Mud

10 – “Frances Ha” (dir. Noah Baumbach)

10 Frances Ha

9 – “12 Years A Slave” (dir. Steve McQueen)

9 Twelve Years A Slave

8 – “Short Term 12” (dir. Destin Cretton)

8 Short Term 12

7 – “Inside Llewyn Davis” (dir. Ethan & Joel Coen)

7 Inside Llewyn Davis

6 – “Museum Hours” (dir. Jem Cohen)

6 Museum Hours

5 – “Stoker” (dir. Chan-wook Park)

5 Stoker

4 – “The Act of Killing” [The BEST of 2013 and possibly beyond.] (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer)

4 The Act of Killing

3 – “Before Midnight” (dir. Richard Linklater)

2 Before Midnight

2 – “Her” (dir. Spike Jonze)

1 Her

 

1 – “Gravity” (dir. Alfonso Cauron)

3 Gravity

 

These last three were honestly neck and neck and neck, and it wasn’t until I was ready to post this list that I bumped “Gravity” up to the top spot, replacing “Her”. As I mentioned above, this was such a great year for film and my favorite could change anytime in the future depending on when you asked me; but at this very moment I have to give it to “Gravity”.

 

(Some of My…) Favorite Performances of 2013 [No Specific Order]:

– Brie Larson (“Short Term 12”)

– Sandra Bullock (“Gravity”)

– Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club” & “Mud”)

– Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson & Amy Adams (“Her”)

(Some of My…) Favorite Filmmakers and Writers of 2013 [No Specific Order]:

– Filmmaker: Joshua Oppenheimer (“The Act of Killing”)

– Writers: Richard Linklater, Julie Deply & Ethan Hawke (“Before Midnight”)

Favorite Score of 2013 (Ran a Half Marathon To This Sucker):

– Steven Price (“Gravity”)

Hottie of the Day: Jessica Chastain


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Well, I might as well get on the Jessica Chastain bandwagon. She’s the latest pick for “Hottie of the Day” and also another addition to the redhead selections that’s growing (but still not the number 1 redhead on the site).

Jessica Chastain seemed to have come out of nowhere in the last two years. While she has been acting for many years before 2010 it wasn’t until 2011’s release of Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life which finally got her noticed. Since then she has been such films as Corialanus, Take Shelter, The Help, The Debt and Lawless. In each and every film she has been singled out as one of the highlight performances and from what I’ve seen she’s definitely deserving of the praise she’s been receiving.

Yet, it’s in 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty that Chastain may have finally gone from ingenue stage to full-blown star. She carries Kathryn Bigelow’s film from start to finish and all the accolades and acclaim she has been receiving for that performance may just snag her a Best Actress Oscar award next month. Even the box-office is not immune to the redhead’s growing star power as the top two films in North America for the weekend of Jan. 18-20 has her in the starring role with Zero Dark Thirty and the horror film Mama.

Born near my neck of the woods of Sonoma, California, Jessica Chastain is a graduate of the famed Julliard School in New York City and worked her way through the Hollywood system by getting supporting roles in tv series after tv series before her breakout role as the mother in The Tree of Life.

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PAST HOTTIES

Review: Mama (dir. by Andres Muschietti)


Mama

In 2008 a young Argentine filmmaker made a 3-minute short film that caught the eye of one Guillermo Del Toro. The short film was titled Mama and it’s simple premise of ghostly mother chasing after two young girls in a darkened home was so well-received by Del Toro that he decided to produce a feature-length adaptation of the short film. He could’ve easily put himself in the director’s chair for the adaptation, but liking the work done by the short film’s original director the Mexican filmmaker gave the job to the original director, Andres Muschietti, and allowed him the freedom to make Mama the way it was meant to be made.

The feature-length version of the film works off of the screenplay written by the filmmaker Andres Muschietti and his sister Barbara Muschietti (with some help from Neil Cross) and expands on the brief sequence from the short film. We get a backstory as to the origins of the titular character and how she came to be throughout the film. We even get a much more detailed work up of the two young sisters who have become the obsession of the ghostly “Mama” and how they had gotten involved with her.

Mama opens up with a disturbing sequence where a father has murdered his partners in his company and his wife then taking his two young daughters out into the country where his grief at what he’s done leads him in an attempt to complete the cycle of becoming a family annihilator through the killing of his children then his own suicide. It’s only through the intervention of a shadowy figure in the abandoned cabin they’ve come across in the forest that this father’s plan fails. It’s a truly disturbing scene to see a father comforting his 3-year old daughter and at the same time hold a gun to her head. It’s almost a wonder that the audience feels both a sense of relief and horror at seeing “Mama” protect the young girls by killing the father.

We skip five years later as we find out that the father has a twin brother named Lucas (played by Game of Thrones‘ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who has spent the intervening years using whatever money the dead brother had left in an attempt to find the two young girls. Victoria and Lilly do get found by the scouts sent out by Lucas in the very same cabin where their father had taken them earlier in the film, but what the scouts find look more like feral animals than children.

One would think that the film would be about “Mama” wreaking havoc on Lucas to try and get her young girls back, but this film is not about mother versus father but mother versus mother. We’ve already met “Mama” briefly in the start of the film. The other mama in this fight for the girls’ love and soul is Lucas’ rocker girlfriend whose attitude in the beginning doesn’t shout maternal at all. Annabelle (played by Jessica Chastain) doesn’t think it’s her job to have to raise the two girls. It’s her love for Lucas that keeps her from bolting and trying to find a common ground with the two young girls. As the film moves forward Annabelle begins to feel protective of the two young girls and begins to believe that “Mama” is real and that she has followed Victoria and Lilly back from the cabin.

To say that this film is a horror film would be understating things. While it does have some jump scare moments and some creepy and disturbing images the story itself plays out more like a dark fairy tale set in a modern setting. just like another Del Toro produced horror film from the last couple years in The Orphanage, this film uses a fairy tale template to tell the story of the maternal love mothers have for their children. It’s interesting to note that the two mothers vying for Victoria and Lilly are not their biological mother, but surrogates who have come to love and care for the two girls in their own way.

Mama doesn’t break new grounds in the field of horror. It’s liberal use of gothic horror cliches and tropes by the Andres and Barbara Muschietti detracts from some darkly beautiful visuals and imagery that the filmmaker seemed very adept in creating to build that very sense of the fairy tale. What could’ve been a “been there and done that” and “paint-by-the-numbers” ghost story gets elevated by the performances by Jessica Chastain and the two young girls (Megan Charpentier as the elder sister Victoria and Isabelle Nélisse as the younger Lilly). Chastain in particular shines in the role of Annabelle as we believe her growth from reluctant caretaker to loving mother figure to protective mama bear by the time film ends on a very un-Hollywood ending.

Mama will definitely lose some fans of the horror genre who expect gore (which the film doesn’t have a drop of) and tons of scary moments (the film has jump scares but not much). This film will attract audiences looking for something familiar but at the same time with the added visual flair of a young filmmaker who looks to have a future in the genre, if not the industry, as a new creative eye who can work with something unoriginal and give it his own spin.

While the film is not on the same creative and storytelling level as Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Orphanage it is much better than Troy Nixey’s remake of the 1973 horror film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. The film does continue Guillermo Del Toro’s streak of finding new and upcoming young filmmakers in the horror genre and giving them a chance to break into the industry with him mentoring them through the process. Mama might not be a perfect film but Andres Muschietti’s work as a director shows that he has repaid Del Toro’s faith in him. I, for one, can’t wait to see what this filmmaker has up next.

Short Film: Mama (dir. by Andres Muschietti)


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This weekend sees the release of the Guillermo Del Toro produced horror film Mama. It’s the full feature length film from a short film of the same name by Argentinean filmmaker Andres Muschietti who also directs the full film.

I’m pretty jaded when it comes to horror films purporting to scare the hell out of people, but after seeing this short I could easily believe why Guillermo Del Toro jumped at the chance to produce the feature length adaptation and put the short film’s director back in the chair to the the adaptation. It’s a short film that’s barely 3-minutes long and it’s a wonderful exercise in setting the appropriate mood and atmosphere before the money shot when we finally see the titular character of “Mama”.

Anyone who lives in a home with a second floor and stairs leading up it will definitely need to see this short film to get an idea of what to expect when they finally see Mama in the theaters.