Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

13 April 2008

Welcome to the Jungle, dir Jonathan Hensleigh (2007)

NIKKI says:
Here's how this goes: We're watching Southland Tales and the phone rings. It's my dad. "Why aren't you at the Club," he asks? Oh crap -- we forgot we had a family dinner. We stop Southland Tales and get ready to go out. We're 29 minutes into the movie.

I'm brushing my hair, and Steve says to me: "So, what do you think of the movie?" I reply: "Um, I was gonna wait until the end before I said anything ... what do you think?" He says: "So far, I'm not impressed." I can then release my held breath and blurt: "I'm hating it!"

We discussed our issues a bit on the way to the Club. On the way home, we decided to pick something else. I looked through the movies and preview tapes and happened to pull out Welcome to the Jungle, the cover of which is adorned with bloody skulls. Perfect -- when in doubt, Crappy Horror. I tell Steve the rating on it says it has cannibalism, strong horror violence, and gore.

He says: "You had me at cannibalism." And we went with it.

OH MY GOD. Welcome to the Jungle was as far from crappy as we could ever expect to get. It was some of the most compelling, frightening, shocking filmmaking EVER.

We fucking loved it.

It starts out fairly well -- four friends get together to hang out in Fiji, and decide to shoot over to New Guinea, specifically Irian Jaya, to find missing rich guy Michael Rockefeller. They go, and it's all fun, and then they realise, as we do, that New Guinea may not be the most inviting nation to solve great mysteries in. The good thing is, these are not your average horror movie teens. They're actually smart and funny, and we like them. A-plus.

The friends get shot at, briefly captured by some sort of border rebels, before heading into the wilderness in search of Mr. Rockefeller. I kept waiting for the shit to really hit the fan, but it just wouldn't. Instead, a power struggle erupts between the four friends, and the playful ones begin to break away from those more focused on the plan at hand.

Eventually, the camps separate. And ... mmm, yes.

Jonathan Hensleigh has some good credits to his name. Die Hard 3, for instance, which was kinda cool. I'm surprised this wasn't more popular the way horror movies are going at this point. Why does shit like See No Evil and Catacombs get on the New Release wall, while this one lingers in obscurity? Especially when it is just so good?

This is effective, smart horror. Its handheld, doco-style and unknown stars add a realism, and the director knows how to build tension, and when to reveal his hand. The least graphic scenes, such as the natives walking the riverbanks (ahhh!!), are some of the most tense film moments I've encountered. Just superb. I want to buy copies for everyone.

We have decided that we will go back to Southland Tales. Someday. Bad as it may end up being, it inadvertently pointed us to this great movie (oh my god, the spearmen!!), so it already has points.


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