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.

18 June 2008

Lake Dead, dir. George Bessudo (2007)

STEVE says:
I'd have sworn there were Zombies in this movie. Go watch the trailer and see if you too aren't convinced it's a Zombie movie. I was thinking Zombie Lake, Oasis of the Zombies, Shock Waves, that sort of thing. Instead of Zombies, though, we were treated to a not-so-interesting tale of murder and incest that was strung together about as tightly as those candy bracelets you used to eat as a kid.

I won't bother to recount the plot, as I'd rather forget this whole exercise anyway. I'll say only that it wasn't as hilariously bad as Garden of Love, but it wasn't as boring and predictable as Prom Night, either. Somewhere in between lies Lake Dead.

Incidentally, this is from the After Dark Horrorfest of 2007. Most of the After Dark films we've seen have left us with the same impression: Nice effort, but way below the bar. It's like the Masters of Horror for beginners. I think we'll give them a miss after this.


NIKKI says:
Wow, what a let down. The trailer made this look like a genuinely scary movie reminiscent of classic slashers I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left -- people getting ruthlessly tortured, while they shriek and cry in overgrown weeds.

It ended up just another bullshit knock-off that tried to take the horror that extra gruesome step, but ended up resorting to boring old hangings and gunshots for its kills. In a movie this silly, the kills need to be top-notch to keep me remotely interested. Garden of Love upped the ante with each kill, so did Mandy Lane. Here, though, right at the start, a girl gets hogtied -- a hollow metal tube inserted through her ankles which is then chained to a huge stone. After that, it all just gets boring. So boring, in fact, that some of the gunshots even have CGI blood-sprays.

As Steve might say: They just didn't care.

So... high points? The kids weren't all bad. The main couple was actually rather likable. Um... it was short -- that's a plus. The set-up was alright -- kids inherit a hotel from a grandfather they've never met. Their supposedly unloving father warns them against going to collect their inheritance, but they are feisty babes and will do whatever they like. So, that was okay.

Low points, though, were many -- aside form the boring kills, the suspense was terrible. The scene in which one character drops his wallet in the lake had the potential to be really scary -- he drops it right near the hogtied girl, now floating at the bottom -- but it's over quickly, and we have very little time to get even small goosebumps.

Then there are the baddies -- so cartoon, so stupid. There's a pair of raging twins going around offing everyone and they look like a couple of wrestlers wearing Fabio masks. Just horrid, with hair dangling in their faces presumably to hide the bad make-up.

And the plot veers off, beginning to make no kind of sense. How did this hotel exist out here for so long? Why did the grandfather decide to change his ways? What made them this way? Why is Fabio about to kill those kids at the end? Was it about the bloodline, or just a raging kill-need? I have no idea. But then, I was so bored I could barely pay attention after about halfway.

So, yeah -- the After Dark movies are nothing to scream about. This seemed to be a wannabe horror movie by a filmmaker who may only have watched horror movies made post-Cabin Fever. Boring, CGI-infused, all about the kills without tight plotting or subtext.


Margot at the Wedding, dir. Noah Baumbach (2007)

NIKKI says:
What has happened to Noah Baumbach? He used to be clever and insightful. He used to make movies about human beings, believable ones with foibles and idiosyncrasies you could relate to. He used to create characters just like you, and you laughed with them because you'd been there: Young, crazy, insecure, jealous, in love.

Now he just makes movies about reprehensible people who talk and act in ways I've never encountered. Perhaps I'm from the wrong side of Brooklyn, but I just don't know these people.

So, I understand there are crackpots out there. I also understand there are damaged men and women floating on this planet that crave destruction, of themselves or those around them, that thrive on the devastation they create. I also know there are people out there who remains utterly blind to the machinations of others, or who choose to ignore it because the pain of confrontation is just so great. I get that. What I don't get is why I'm supposed to find a story about those people that never seeks to explain them, explore them, or redeem them anything but a waste of my time.

Further, why do I want to watch a movie about these people with no discernible plot, with no beginning, middle, or end? So we open with Margot on the bus, and we leave with her on the bus. In the middle, we just get bunches of random, unexplained activities that do very little to enhance the story or its characters. It just smacked of that much pretension. Watching Margot climb the tree was embarrassing. Watching her do just about anything was embarrassing. I was forced to question how she'd ever succeeded at anything in her life. She was so horribly abusing her son with her esteem-destroying comments that I wondered how they'd even managed to co-exist together for any length of time. Why did her husband care for her? She was never presented to us as anything but a monster. How and why did anyone care enough to give her the time of day?

Is abuse in her past supposed to explain her? Make us feel sorry for her? That part of the story was alluded to and dismissed -- if the movie didn't care to go into it, did it even matter?

What good does it do me to involve myself with these people for an hour and a half? What am I supposed to get from this? A woman rolls into town and sets about destroying her sister's marriage, does that, then leaves. She leaves NOT KNOWING that her sister was about to rekindle the destroyed relationship. So, somehow everyone gets what they want, but no-one really ever comes to know why. Why did Margot have to destroy Pauline? What does it mean to her that it ultimately didn't work? How is Margot's derangement supposed to affect me when SHE WAS RIGHT from the outset that Malcolm wasn't perfect?

Why does Margot get to be right?

Ugh -- the whole thing just infuriated me. Kicking and Screaming remains an American classic. Mr. Jealousy will always be watchable and wonderful. Everything beyond that can go to hell.


STEVE says:
Noah Baumbach is dead to me.

Kicking and Screaming is and will always remain one of my favorite movies, but everything he's made afterwards has left me questioning whether he should be allowed continued access to film making equipment.

This is just revolting.