Horror Trailer: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies


PrideAndPrejudiceAndZombies

It looks like they’ve actually gone ahead and made the damn thing. I remember writing about news of the Seth Grahame-Smith horror mash-up novel being green-lit for the big-screen all the way back in 2010. Yet, nothing much ever came of it. Directors were hired and the cast was set, but each passing year something would derail the project and things would go back to square one.

Now, over five years since that initial announcement back in 2011 we finally have proof that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has actually completed filming and will soon be up on the big-screen this February 16, 2016.

Quick Review: Carrie (dir. by Kimberly Peirce)


carrie2013bannerHigh School can be a rough time. Growing up, we always had Freshman Day, where bullies spent the first Friday of the new semester terrorizing the newbies. I spent at least one of those years either writing in the Library for lunch or on the run between classes until a poem/love letter I wrote on behalf of a member of the Varsity Football team left me in their good graces and under their protection. Needed to tell your girl she was the best thing since Ham & Pineapple pizza, but in an eloquent way? Go ask that geek in the back row of English reading Christine with the big round glasses. Oh, the joys of High School. I can’t even imagine how intense bullying can get today with all of the social media we have. It’s easy to imagine what you could do to protect yourself if you could be as cool as Nightcrawler and make yourself teleport, fight off your foes like Batman or best of all, Force Choke the crap out of someone like Darth Vader.

In that sense, the story of Carrie is still kind of cool, and mildly disturbing.

There was a point in Stephen King’s life where Carrie almost never happened. It was because of his wife, Tabitha that the story was ever finished and that the parts focused on women and their “monthlies” (as members of my family would say) were written the way they were. Carrie got King his foot in the door and set him for other releases like The Shining, Christine and Salem’s Lot. I think next to The Shining, it might be his most remade film.

I’m not sure if there’s anyone who never saw Brian De Palma’s Carrie from 1978 with Sissy Spacek. If not, Kimberly Peirce’s version is not bad at all as an introduction to the story. It actually has at least one element from the book that was never featured in the original film (though part of me does wish that it contained the newspaper format – something like John Larroquette’s narration for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Carrie is simply the tale of a young girl in high school who discovers she has telekinetic powers. Eventually, she gets pushed and loses it, unleashing her abilities against anyone in her way. No version of the story has ever gone into detail on how she got them outside of the puberty angle – they’re just there.

Peirce’s version moves just as well as De Palma’s, which is interesting because supposedly they happen to be friends. The main differences lie in DePalma’s choice of nudity versus Peirce’s lack of it, and DePalma’s lack of blood (a sign of the times) compared to Peirce’s extended usage of it. Other than that, it’s roughly the same film, any closer and you’d end up with Gus Van Sant’s shot for shot version of Psycho. Half of me wonders why it needed to be remade (again), the other half says, “You know what, it wasn’t half bad.” There’s nothing essentially wrong with Carrie, but it’s really hard to talk about the Peirce Carrie Film without going back to the DePalma one.

First, Carrie’s biggest strength by far comes in it’s casting. As the leads, both Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore are great in their roles – almost better than the film deserves. Granted, it’s kind of difficult to imagine anyone messing up something as simple as this. When it comes to young horror starlets, the first two names that come to my mind are Silent Hill’s Jodele Ferland and The Hunger Games’ Isabelle Fuhrman, both of which I thought would be interesting fits here. If Katharine Isabelle was just a little younger, that would have worked too. However, I forgot that Moretz had both The Amityville Horror and Let Me In under her belt (and we won’t speak of Dark Shadows – That wasn’t horror. That wasn’t even comedy. I can’t even identify what that was). Her role as Carrie is somewhat similar to Let Me In, being more reserved here than the Kick Ass films and with good reason.

Moore’s version of Margaret White spends some time self harming herself, which was a little eerie and reminded me of Paul Bettany’s character in The DaVinci Code, punishing themselves for their sins. She’s good here, but after coming off winning an Emmy for playing Sarah Palin in “Game Change”, she looks like she’s underused here. It’s like having an actor play a superhero after becoming a great director and winning tons of accolades. A job is a job, and Moore does a great one here given what she has to work with.

The supporting cast was interesting. I didn’t expect to like Judy Greer’s gym teacher as much as I did, and Ansel Angort’s Tommy Ross was good. I hope that this film leads to bigger and better roles for him. A surprise was Chronicle’s Alex Russell as Billy Nolan, the character originally played by John Travolta. He pulls off a villain well. Portia Doubleday’s version of Kris Hargensen may actually be better than Nancy Allen was, though this could also be in part due to the way the story is written.

So, on with the plot. Carrie White (Moretz) is a reclusive loner, living with her overprotective mother (Moore). In the school shower, she has her period for the first time and not realizing what’s occurring to her (and having never been told just what to expect), naturally panics. This leads to an all out humiliation by her peers that’s even recorded. Carrie later learns about her abilities, while her nemesis, Kris is kicked from the prom and vows to take her vengeance against Carrie. Some of the main sequences are actually expanded upon, which I thought were actually good.

I think the only problem I had with Carrie was the technique used for the Telekinesis. It almost seems a little CGI heavy, but when I think about it, I’m not sure how else they could have pulled off much of what they did here without it. Additionally, Moretz’s version of Carrie uses her hands a lot, which almost makes it seems like she’s either dancing or is trying to conjure up something. It’s not a terribly bad thing and you may actually get used to it after she does it once or twice. Part of me kept expecting her to scream “Unlimited Power!” at one point but it was just a minor “Wow, that’s kind of weird.” Reaction, at least for me.

Carrie’s not really meant for little kids. Anyone who’s a fan of Moretz by way of Diary of a Wimpy Kid might not be ready to handle Carrie, but if you’ve followed any of the Kick Ass films, Carrie’s actually lighter than those. Overall, it’s one of the better remakes out there and a very short film (I’m writing this while watching the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, so I like to think I have a good basis of comparison). If you never saw the original, it might be worth a try. If you don’t wish to spend the money for the ticket, you can always watch one of the other versions and wait for this to come out on Blu-Ray.

Horror Trailer: Carrie (by Kimberly Peirce)


We finally have the first trailer in the upcoming horror remake Carrie starring Chloe Grace Moretz and directed by Boys Don’t Cry filmmaker Kimberly Peirce.

When news came out that the classic Brian De Palma film adaptation of the Stephen King novel was being remade there wasn’t much of a positive reaction to the news. The usual grumbling about another horror remake being put into production and how Hollywood was running out of ideas was heard throughout the blog land. Then more details surface of who would play the title role which was made famous in the original film by Sissy Spacek. When it was announced that Chlie Grace Moretz would take on the Carrie role then grumbling subsided somewhat.

While there will always be detractors of the film even while it’s still in production the word coming out that the film will not be a straight out remake of the film but more of a faithful adaptation of the novel has made me cautiously optimistic. The fact that the last horror remake Moretz was involved in turned out quite well (Let Me In) is another reason to hope. Plus, Peirce as the director should help put the focus of the film’s narrative on where King originally intended it to be and that’s the social divide between the popular kids in the dangerous world of high school who end up bullying the weaker outcasts.

The teaser trailer gives a hint at how the film looks to follow the novel more than the De Palma film by showing the town in flames and not just the school. Carrie is set for a March 15, 2013 release date.

Triple Quickie Reviews: Quarantine 2: Terminal, Devil’s Playground, and Attack the Block


Quarantine 2: Terminal is the 2011 horror sequel to 2008’s Quarantine which was a remake of the much better Spanish horror film [Rec]. This sequel goes off on it’s own different path instead of just remaking the sequel which followed the Spanish film. As directed by John Pogue this sequel dumps the “found footage” style of the first film and instead just goes for a traditional film style. The film also goes it’s own way in explaining how it ties into the previous film.

Where the Spanish sequel had it’s events set at the same place this time around we find our new cast of characters on-board a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Nashville that soon gets diverted to Las Vegas when one of the passengers suddenly becomes violently ill. Once they land the film mirrors the first film in that the surviving passengers, crew and a lone airport maintenance crewmember get locked in the terminal they’re at. The very bio-weapon that was unwittingly unleashed in the apartment complex in the first film has made it onto the flight and one by one the cast succumbs to it’s “rage zombie”-like symptoms.

Quarantine 2 is not an awful as some would like to tell people, but it is also not a good film. It’s pretty average with little to no tension or scary surprises. It’s a horror film almost done by check-list.  We also don’t get fully realized individuals to root for so that when one becomes infected there’s no sense of loss. In fact, there’s not even a character to root against. That’s how bland the characters ended being in this film. The story itself has built on the details presented about the virus in the first film and it’s an interesting premise that deserved a better film. Maybe a couple years from now the series will get rebooted and remade Bollywood-style and get some energy into it.

 

Moving onto a much better film that also share’s the above film’s fast-moving “zombie”-like infected is 2010’s Devil’s Playground by British horror filmmaker Mark McQueen. It is set in present-day London where it begins in medias res a hard-looking man all bloodied going by the name of Cole (played by Craig Fairbass) who uses a computer’s webcam to record the events which has transpired to bring him to his current state.

We soon go back to the beginning of the crisis which starts from the human-testing of a new drug by the pharmaceutical company N-Gen. Of the 30,000 test-subjects only one doesn’t succumb to the deadly side-effects of the drug which causes those injected to transform into ravening, cannibalistic killers who also happen to have had their agility amplified that they’re able to parkour their way towards the uninfected.

Yes, you heard right, parkour zombies. That gimmick alone attached to the current trend of fast-moving zombies gives this film an edge over most fast-running zombie films.

Devil’s Playground doesn’t just try to make things interesting with a new brand of zombie-infected killers, but manages to create a story around the usual “man on a mission” plot. Cole has to find the only test subject who didn’t succumb to the experimental drug’s side-effects in hopes that this person carries the means to help end the spread of the virus. The cast itself helps in making this horror film rise above the usual dreck that gets released on video. While I’ve never been a fan of British “tough guy” actor Danny Dyer he wasn’t as annoying in this film as he is in others and it’s due to the performance by Craig Fairbass as the hardened mercenary Cole which makes Dyer’s dishonored cop Joe from chewing everything in the scene he appears in.

Director Mark McQueen does a good job in keeping the story moving forward even as he juggles subplot involving a couple of London river cops trying to find a safe haven in a city that’s going through a deadly crisis of apocalyptic proportion. Even the free-running zombies don’t come across as laughable and at times even come across as quite horrifying when Cole and his small band of survivors try to move from haven to haven in the hopes of getting the one who may be the key to solving the crisis to the right people.

Devil’s Playground may not join the ranks of the classic zombie films since Romero’s Night of the Living Dead changed the world of horror in 1968, but it manages to be both entertaining and scary despite the parkour zombies.

 

The best of this triple-bill of horror comes courtesy of one of 2011’s festival darlings. Attack the Block by writer-director Joe Cornish was able mash together scifi, horror and comedy and do so seemlessly. It’s a genre-busting film that doesn’t lean too heavily on either three but allows the great script written by Cornish to dictate when the horror begins and when it transitions to some sharp comedic scenes and dialogue.

This is a film that could’ve sunk under the weight of it’s cast of British teen and child actors, but instead gains much of it’s appeal from these fresh, young faces. Even for those across the Atlantic in the US the British slang used by the kids in the film doesn’t confuse as much as it could. The writing and performances by these kids (especially by John Boyega as the teen gang leader Moses) don’t come across as forced, but flow naturally from scene to scene. Their reactions to finding and killing what turns out to be an alien looks and sound exactly how any group of young hoodlums and ragamuffins would have. In fact, some of the film’s funnier scenes was due to how each of them arm themselves in their attempt to protect the block of apartments they all live in.

It wouldn’t be an alien invasion film of any quality if we didn’t get some memorable aliens. Fortunately we do get aliens that come across not just menacing, but also not fake looking. Nothing takes an audience away from suspending their disbelief and enjoying a film than a badly pulled off visual effect. Cornish and his effects crew use a combination of practical and CG effects to bring to life a horde of alien invaders who look like a cross between apes and the ball of fur and teeth from the 80’s cheesetastic scifi-horror film series Critters.

Attack the Block doesn’t skimp on the death and destruction. The film doesn’t treat the young characters with kid’s gloves either as they’re not exempt from the mortal danger posed by the aliens who have invaded their Block. The fact that each character (both young and old) were written to be rounded characters with distinct personalities that we feel each death no matter how minor the role. It’s a rare horror film that actually made great use of character development in-between scenes of action and terror. Even during those particular scenes each character on the screen adds a new layer of complexity to the role. This is a testament to director Joe Cornish who also wrote the excellent screenplay. The fact that this was his feature film debut as a director also makes Attack the  Block such a surprise wonder.

So, our tally for today when it comes to the three films mentioned above would come down to….

Quarantine 2: Terminal – Pass (watch on Netflix Instant if there’s nothing else to watch)

Devil’s Playground – Definite Watch (can be seen through Netflix Instant)

Attack the Block – Must-See (buy the blu-ray to add to your collection or rent if you’re not into that)

Trailer: Resident Evil: Retribution


The Resident Evil film franchise seems to be the franchise that just keeps on going and going. Like the undead which forms the bulk of the danger to the characters in the film, this film series just won’t die. It’s success has both confounded critics and audiences alike. It’s turned Milla Jovovich into an action star whether we like it or not. It’s also a series that despite some major flaws continues because it makes it’s studios money.

We now have the first teaser trailer for the 5th film in the series, Resident Evil: Retribution, and just like the 4th film in the series it will be in 3D. It will also have several characters from past films who we saw die make appearances in the film. Whether they come back as themselves in the film’s present storyline or in flashbacks has yet to be determined. The trailer itself looks like a major advert for Sony smartphones, PS Vita and tablet products. In fact, I’d say that almost 40% of this teaser is all about pushing Sony products.

If that’s the case then this trailer does teach me one thing: Sony products will lead to a global zombie apocalypse. I think this event would never happen if people bought iPhones and iPads.

Resident Evil: Retribution is set for a September 14, 2012 release date.

Quickie Review: Legion (dir. by Scott Stewart)


Scott Stewart’s film about the Biblical Apocalypse was one film that I was very hyped to see in the first weeks of 2010. I had heard some very good buzz about it when a red band sizzle reel was shown in at 2009 San Diego Comic-Con. This was Stewart’s first major work (he had made a smaller film in 2000 called What We Talk About When We Talk About Love) and with his background in the special effects industry I thought that this film of his would at least be a feast for the eyes. I knew going in what to expect from something about God, Angels, the Apocalypse and uneding amounts of guns and ammo. So, it was with a profound disappointment when I finally saw Legion and, despite my low expectations, was roundly disappointed with everything about it.

Legion is about God deciding that he’s had enough of humanity’s bullshit and shenanigans (a term I would put on this film) and turned his angelic hosts loose upon the world to start things new. This was God’s version of shaking the Etch-a-Sketch that is the world. He has his two favorite Archangels in Michael and Gabriel leading the vanguard of this Apocalypse with Michael tasked with making sure a baby doesn’t get born before the divine enema has been completed. Well, Michael being the introspective sone decides that he still has faith in humanity and refuses to do God’s bidding. We see Michael go through removing his wings (which also unlocks the very BDSM God collar all the angels wear) then find a huge cache of weapons inside a toy company warehouse. Seems removing the wings makes him human and minus all the cool angelic powers. He says something about the Apocalypse having started then makes off towards Bethle…I mean the diner out in the Nevada desert to protect the prophesized baby who will save humanity.

Yeah, the premise for Legion sounds awesome on paper. Militant angels led by badass Archangels like Gabriel about to go “Terminator” on mankind. The story itself was like a mish-mash of some of the best cult fantasy/horror of the past. There’s some of the cool Christopher Walken film Prophecy in the plot and, of course, one cannot but see some parallels with Cameron’s Terminator. Plus, we have a humanized Archangel Michael with guns and guns and guns to battle his former brethren with his coterie of human sidekicks to help out. The trailer for this was very cool and full of action. A trailer which pretty much had all the cool parts in this film. One can watch the trailer and actually enjoy Legion more than when they watch the film itself.

For a filmmaker with a special effects background the film looked pretty lifeless with action sequences that lacked any sort of memorable action. The dialogue wasn’t awful, but everyone’s performance made it sound worse than it really was. Even Bettany in the lead role of Michael looked tired and bored with his role (a sign the film was going downhill and downhill fast). The possessed humans who made up the bulk of the opposing force against the good  guys were uninteresting with the exception of Doug Jones’ “Ice Cream Man” character shown in the trailer. A scene the trailer pretty much showed almost in its entirety. That character was on the screen for less than two minutes then gone.

I actually think that people should just watch the trailer for Legion then pop into their dvd player Prophecy and Terminator. Doing that will pretty much give them the whole story of Legion and have a kick-ass time doing so. This was a film that looked good to great on paper, but once they actually started writing the script and started filming went down the septic tank. It’s films like these that makes one shout “shenanigans” at all those involved in its making. I think Kyle Broflowski would agree with me.