Showing posts with label vincent d'onofrio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vincent d'onofrio. Show all posts

10 February 2013

Sinister DVD Review

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Of all the horror films to make it to the big screen last autumn, Sinister, starring Ethan Hawke and directed by Scott Dickinson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), probably had the most attention. If you were to take one look at any respectable horror web site the stills, TV spots, trailers etc were proudly flaunted as if with some secret knowledge that this will be something to remember. Though the film isn’t exactly a deal-breaker, it’s definitely one of the most skilfully executed horrors seen in 2012.

The story follows Ellison (a top-form Ethan Hawke), a true crime writer who, for his new project, moves him and his family to a new home. Soon after arriving, Ellison finds a box of old films that show the brutal murders of numerous families by an unknown assailant. As he gets closer and closer to unravelling the mystery of the tapes his family are pulled with him into grave danger.

Sounds like a fairly standard horror tale, but it’s not. The thing that puts this film above most is its finely tuned understanding of its subject; the use of old celluloid pulls out a hundred references to voyeuristic horror, Peeping Tom and Psycho jump to mind, and then there’s the family under duress aspect which brings in just about any “haunted house” film you’ve seen. But under all this is the relentless beating heart of a genuine horror story. Take any sequence where Ellison watches the films and you’ll find some of the tautest in ages. From the second we lay eyes on the conspicuous black box of home movies, with their unassuming yet ominous titles, there’s a feeling of dread lording over all. All of a sudden, we want the family to get away from the house, but at the same time we really want to see those movies. Even after the first we want to know what the rest of those canisters hold. That’s where the voyeuristic guilt comes into play and we, the audience, are all of a sudden participants to something ghastly. Unfortunately it’s the film’s own ingenuity that really highlights how lazy it can be, particularly its jump-scares which leap-frog the suspense and capture a significantly cheaper thrill.

Derrickson’s tight direction and frantic style keep the film on track also lending a chaotic feel to some of the more brutal moments. Ellison’s slow-slipping sanity comes with the rapid cutting-in of super 8, an effect that in other hands might have been wasted but here gives a Shining-esque sense of schizophrenia. The speed of the film is important to its narrative: just as the characters very quickly become confused and assailed, the narrative flickers through “haunted house” past “serial killer”, and eventually spirals into a web of macabre beyond the isolated affairs of Ellison’s new home.

The film’s primary issue is one not unusual in modern horror: it shows too much. A lack of reserve in relation to some of the more terrifying concepts allows those concepts to become almost laughable through over-exposure. A scene which sees Ellison wake in the night to wander his creaky old house suddenly becomes an abstract ballet with ghostly children. Mr Boogie, a genuinely unsettling omnipresence, eventually becomes too familiar which is a shame considering he’s the reason you spend half the film wincing in terror and trying to burrow into your seat.

Special note has to be reserved for Christopher Young’s soundtrack, which doesn’t bother to come up with a specific melody; instead it focuses on blurring the lines between film and reality, which in turn leaks Ellison’s world into ours. The insect flickering of the finished celluloid film pops up throughout the film amidst abstract chanting and a host of other deeply unsettling sounds to illustrate Ellison’s mind state and keep us wondering whether he’s bothered to wake up (or fall asleep) once the films have stopped rolling. It truly is a masterful score to be put up there with Young’s work on Hellraiser.

Sinister may not be a film to induct into the canon, but it’s certainly a well-executed piece of nerve-shredding that will haunt you for some time, and it definitely has the potential to seriously disturb your kids. Don’t see it alone.

Scott Clark

★★★★

Rating:15
DVD/BD Release Date: 11th February 2013 (UK)
Directed By: Scott Derrickson
Cast:Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance , James Ransone , Clare Foley, Vincent D'Onofrio
Buy Sinister:Blu-ray/ DVD

31 January 2013

Chained Review

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First thing to note about Chained is: it is not a pleasant viewing experience.
Second thing to note about Chained is: it will probably rot your soul a wee bit.


From Jennifer Lynch (yes, that’s David Lynch’s daughter) comes possibly the most brutal study in serial killers you’ll see this year and I don’t feel too pedantic saying that even though its only February. This truly intense piece of film, is unrelenting in its focus and painful in its portrayal of life with a serial killer.

A young boy (Evan Bird) is forced to become the personal slave of a serial killer cab-driver called Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio), after him and his mother are kidnapped and the mother murdered.  As a strange relationship forms between the two, not unlike a master-apprentice, the boy, (now older and portrayed by Eamon Farren) must choose whether to follow in his captor’s footsteps or make desperate attempts to flee the horror of the isolated home.

Even the first ten minutes is enough to deeply unsettle any seasoned horror fan, and it kinda roller coasters from there, reaching highs that have you so wound up you’ll want to look away and lows that will make you ponder the sad and inevitable lifestyles inherent to many abusive childhoods.  These lows are where D’Onofrio shows his true worth, in those sad wretched moments masked with rage and in the flashbacks of a life plagued with violence and cruelty. His quiet lisping voice and gaited wander are so adept at masking the strength and ferocity of a murderer, that at some points you can’t help but feel sorry for him. But then, that’s Lynch’s point: there’s a feeling that this piece doesn’t really have a villain in the traditional sense,  there’s too much cause and effect going about to simply mark any of the characters down as “evil”. By the end, though, he definitely deserves his comeuppance,

This careful characterisation allows the bizarre father/son relationship between Bob and Rabbit to grow without ever seeming laughable. Farrer’s barren performance is painful to watch but in that good way reserved only for truly distressing thrillers, kind of like Leland Orser in Se7en. Stuttered words and the furtive body language of a terrified child in a teen’s body all hint at years of systematic abuse and exposure to a life less cared for. Lynch is careful with which details of Rabbit’s life she presents to us, and which she holds back, since this is an intricate study in psychological horror it could easily be upset by anything too out-there.

There’s an ironic tone under all this misery matched with a deft and startling eye for detail. Bob’s taxi, scrawled luxuriously with the word Comfort is unsettling start to finish, Rabbit’s seemingly mile-long chain is near iconic, and Bob’s house in the middle of a lush green field seems like a prison island out at sea, to name a few wee details. That’s not to mention Bob and Rabbit playing trumps with the slain girls’ I.D. cards. There are a lot of clever little touches and beautiful framings which play with the restricted space of the house also, ensuring the film has merit as a cinematic construction as well as a heart-wrenching psyche-disturbance.

This is why it’s such a shame the ending flops.

A last minute dash for a twist leaves the film switching tracks far too late and the message gets thrown into the air. Its disappointing and does render the film slightly less than if it had stayed on its simple but strong premise.

Overall an intense and wholly unsettling affair thanks to careful scripting and a jaunting, claustrophobic style. D’Onofrio’s stellar performance is one of the best screen killers in a long time, whilst Lynch’s direction maintains an impressive near-perfect study of the cycle of abuse, spoiled only by an outlandish finale.

SCOTT CLARK

★★★★

Rating:18
UK Release Date: 1st February 2013 (Cinema) 4th February 2013 (DVD)
Director
Cast
Pre-order/Buy Chained: DVD / Blu-ray

29 September 2012

Sinister Review

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★★★★

Of all the horror films to make it to the big screen this autumn, Sinister, starring Ethan Hawke and directed by Scott Dickinson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), has probably had the most attention. Take one look at any respectable horror web site and the stills, TV spots, trailers etc are proudly flaunted as if with some secret knowledge that this will be something to remember. Though the film isn’t exactly a deal-breaker, it’s definitely one of the more skilfully executed horrors we’ve seen thus far 2012.

The story follows Ellison (a top-form Ethan Hawke), a true crime writer who, for his new project, moves him and his family to a new home. Soon after arriving, Ellison finds a box of old films that show the brutal murders of numerous families by an unknown assailant. As he gets closer and closer to unravelling the mystery of the tapes his family are pulled with him into grave danger.

Sounds like a fairly standard horror tale, but it’s not. The thing that puts this film above most is its finely tuned understanding of its subject; the use of old celluloid pulls out a hundred references to voyeuristic horror, Peeping Tom and Psycho jump to mind, and then there’s the family under duress aspect which brings in just about any “haunted house” film you’ve seen. But under all this is the relentless beating heart of a genuine horror story. Take any sequence where Ellison watches the films and you’ll find some of the tautest in ages. From the second we lay eyes on the conspicuous black box of home movies, with their unassuming yet ominous titles, there’s a feeling of dread lording over all. All of a sudden, we want the family to get away from the house, but at the same time we really want to see those movies. Even after the first we want to know what the rest of those canisters hold. That’s where the voyeuristic guilt comes into play and we, the audience, are all of a sudden participants to something ghastly. Unfortunately it’s the film’s own ingenuity that really highlights how lazy it can be, particularly its jump-scares which leap-frog the suspense and capture a significantly cheaper thrill.

Derrickson’s tight direction and frantic style keep the film on track also lending a chaotic feel to some of the more brutal moments. Ellison’s slow-slipping sanity comes with the rapid cutting-in of super 8, an effect that in other hands might have been wasted but here gives a Shining-esque sense of schizophrenia. The speed of the film is important to its narrative: just as the characters very quickly become confused and assailed, the narrative flickers through “haunted house” past “serial killer”, and eventually spirals into a web of macabre beyond the isolated affairs of Ellison’s new home.

The film’s primary issue is one not unusual in modern horror: it shows too much. A lack of reserve in relation to some of the more terrifying concepts allows those concepts to become almost laughable through over-exposure. A scene which sees Ellison wake in the night to wander his creaky old house suddenly becomes an abstract ballet with ghostly children. Mr Boogie, a genuinely unsettling omnipresence, eventually becomes too familiar which is a shame considering he’s the reason you spend half the film wincing in terror and trying to burrow into your seat.

Special note has to be reserved for Christopher Young’s soundtrack, which doesn’t bother to come up with a specific melody; instead it focuses on blurring the lines between film and reality, which in turn leaks Ellison’s world into ours. The insect flickering of the finished celluloid film pops up throughout the film amidst abstract chanting and a host of other deeply unsettling sounds to illustrate Ellison’s mind state and keep us wondering whether he’s bothered to wake up (or fall asleep) once the films have stopped rolling. It truly is a masterful score to be put up there with Young’s work on Hellraiser.

Sinister may not be a film to induct into the canon, but it’s certainly a well-executed piece of nerve-shredding that will haunt you for some time, and it definitely has the potential to seriously disturb your kids. Don’t see it alone.

Scott Clark


Rating: 15
Release Date: 5th October 2012 (UK)
Directed by: Scott Derrickson  
CastEthan Hawke, Juliet Rylance , James Ransone , Clare Foley, Vincent D'Onofrio

19 September 2012

New Red Band Sinister Trailer Will Intensely Disturb You

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When it comes to film’s with such an amazing buzz I like to tread on safe ground and call it potentially great film but Scott Derrickson’s Sinister since it’s SXSW premier the buzz has been steadily been growing and tonight we have a new Red Band Trailer! Pardon my French but holy shit this is genuinely looking a scary film!!! This been a red band trailer so you’ll be expecting a few f-bombs,nudity your disappointment will become fear as what we get is some truly disturbing imagery and as no words are uttered it gives this trailer a truly atmospheric level of dread. Sinister is one Horror film even hardcore horrorphiles will have to admit we have a potentially scary film on the cards.

We are catching the film in just over a week’s time, but you can read the Frightfest review our friends at Blogomatic3000 gave us, You can catch Sinister on October 5th (UK, Ireland and USA) starring Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Clare Foley, Juliet Rylance and James Ransone


Desperately in need of a best seller to revive his struggling career, true crime writer Ellison (Ethan Hawke), moves his family to the scene of his most recent story; the unsolved, gruesome murder of a loving, happy suburban family.Shunned by the local community and strained by his obligations to his family, the discovery of a batch of home movies in the attic offers Ellison shocking proof to the crime he is investigating. Ellison notices the same unidentified figure appearing in each of the 8mm films, leaving him convinced that all the incidents are linked by a truly bizarre connection. As his investigations uncover the terrifying truth he starts to lose his grip on reality and it soon becomes clear that he is placing his own family in harm’s way.

source Yahoo Movies

29 August 2012

Frightfest 2012: Sinister Review

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The “found footage” flick. Possibly the most derided genre of horror, even more so than the slasher movie these days. With film after film seeing light of day via DVD you’d think found footage films are heading for burn out. But then along comes Sinister. Playing on the “found footage” conceit, the movie is however less a found footage film than a film about found footage. If Paranormal Activity and Insidious captured the imaginations of cinema audiences everywhere then Sinister is surely set to do the same. With a similar “found footage meets haunted house” premise to the aforementioned films, the movie tells the story of true-crime writer Ellison who, desperate to repeat the success of his earlier work, moves his family into a home where a horrific quadruple homicide took place (footage of which opens the film in a stunning fashion). Of course Ellison doesn’t tell his wife and kids the truth about their new home, however it doesn’t take too long for them to find out… Discovering a box of ‘home movies’ in the attic, Ellison spins the Super 8 reels, sitting stunned as the gruesome murder footage plays out. As he comes to realise that the murder he is investigating goes a lot further than just his house, he also realises the toll his investigation may take on his family. When it comes to horror movies everything has already been done, from slasher movies to found footage films there really is nothing new under the sun. So it takes a lot for any new movie to feel refreshing and new. Thankfully Sinister is one such film. Directed by Scott Derrickson, who was responsible for the better than average The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister is a masterpiece film-making; not only playing on genre tropes but using them to spectacular effect. From the grindhouse style Super 8 footage of the grisly murders, to the creepy haunted house bangs and bumps, we’ve seen it all before but here it works – so much so that it made even this horror fan jump out of his seat a couple of times! Best of all the script, by director Derrickson and film critic C. Robert Cargill (aka Massawyrm from Ain’t It Cool News), doesn’t treat the audience like idiots. Characters spout lines that the audience are thinking and just when the events reach a terrifying crescendo Ellison moves his family out of the house! If you’ve ever seen a haunted house film you’ll know the feeling of shouting at the screen, almost begging the characters to movie out – here they do. It’s a very small thing but it’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the nuances found in the films fantastic script. Ethan Hawke gives an astonishingly strong performance as crime writer Ellison, a man whose behaviour is less than exemplary. He lies (and keeps lying) to his family about the house; he lies about why, as his family falls apart, he is really forcing them to stay; and he lies to himself about his real motivations – money and fame rather than trying to solve the crime. However despite all that Hawke manages to imbue Ellison with a likeability – after all deep down he’s a man who’s only trying to provide for his family the way he knows how. Hawke’s performance also goes a long way to convince the audience of the believability of the more supernatural aspects of Sinister. Speaking of which, the films “villain” Mr. Boogie, is on the surface yet another stereotypical movie boogeyman but between the skillful way in which the character is revealed, and later his true ideology, the cliche of a “boogeyman” can quickly been forgiven. Especially given the movies stunning final twist… Sinister really is one of the best, and scariest, American horror films I’ve seen in years. Someone give Derrickson and Cargill the greenlight to make another – I’ll be first in the queue. This was a review by Phil at Blogomatic3000 Rating:15 UK Release Date: 28th August 2012 (Frightfest) 5th October 2012 (UK&Irish cinema release) Directed by:Scott Derrickson Cast:Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Clare Foley, Juliet Rylance,

27 August 2012

Frightfest 2012: Chained Review

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L’enfant terrible Jennifer Lynch, whose previous flick Hissss is yet to see the light of day in many territories (at least legally), is back with Chained, a serial-killer flick that looks like something that has stepped off 70s US television, yet plays like the the more sleazier side of the decade as seen in the grindhouse cinema of 42nd Street and movies such as Taxi Driver – with shades of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer thrown in for good measure! Chained tells the story of Tim, a young boy who following an outing to the cinema with his mother, is abducted by Bob, an unlicensed taxi driver whose cab they hail. Driven out to the wilds of Saskatchewan and to the isolated home in which Bob lives, Tim’s mother (played by a cameo-ing Julia Ormond who also starred in Lynch’s Surveillance) is brutally murdered in front of Tim by the unflinching Bob. Taking Tim under his wing, Bob teaches Tim how to be the obedient slave come son-he-never-had, making him cook and clean and wait on his new “father”, not only that but also clean up after his kills and bury the bodies in the basement. Starting with Tim’s mother. Years pass and Tim, now re-christened “Rabbit” by Bob, remains in non-indentured servitude. However Bob is soon eager to teach the grown Tim the ways of the human body and have him experience a woman – in more ways than one. In short Bob’s looking for an heir to his serial-killing empire, and Rabbit is it. If you’ve seen Lynch’s Surveillance you may remember her fantastic use of stark, almost empty locales, which gave that film a weird ethereal nature. Well with Chained she does it again, shooting the film in the wilds of Saskatchewan which, whilst contrary to the typical claustrophobic nature of the genre, still manages to make proceedings feel closed-in and isolated despite the vast open landscapes on which the film takes place. The sparse setting is also translated inside Bob’s home, with only enough furniture to make the place liveable whilst remaining a functional “lair” for his serial-killing exploits. But Chained is not about the landscapes or the locales, it’s all about the characters of Bob and Rabbit; and it’s here where Lynch has once again pulled off somewhat of a coup in her casting choices. With character actor turned TV star Vincent D’onofrio (whose performance as Agent Goren in NBC’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent is one of the television greats) in the lead role as Bob, Lynch has an actor that once again brings his chameleon-like quality to this role. The antithesis of Agent Goren, Bob is a lumbering brute of a man who has a no-nonsense approach to life and to death; and D’onofrio plays the role with an air of pathos, which works to humanise the man even if his deeds are reprehensibly monstrous. However the real revelation is Eamon Farren. Last seen in the less-than-stellar wannabe exploitation flick X: Night of Vengeance, Farren brings a quite, often disarming, calm to his portrayal of Rabbit – this is a teenager teetering on the edge of sanity and he balances fragility and strength (both mental and physical) to perfection. And come the films final act you’re never really sure whether Rabbit has given in to Bob’s indoctrination. It’s credit to Farren that his performance is never lost alongside powerhouse D’onofrio. Director Jennifer Lynch isn’t afraid to go to some pretty dark places in Chained, there’s an incredible streak of black comedy running throughout – nowhere more so than when Bob and Rabbit play “Go Fish” with the driving licenses of Bob’s dead victims. She also mounts an assault on the ears as well as the eyes, often cutting away from Bob’s actions and leaving the audio to tell the tale; and come the films final denouement it’s sound that continues the story… A tense, bleak drama about a serial killer and his charge, Chained is for the most part a barn-storming success. It’s just a shame that Lynch chose to throw in a final twist that dampens the effect of all that has proceeded it. This was a review by Phil at Blogomatic3000 Rating:15 Release Date: 26th August 2012 (Frightfest) Directed by: Jennifer Chambers Lynch Cast: Vincent D'Onofrio, Eamon Farren, Julia Ormond, Gina Philips, Jake Weber, Conor Leslie, Evan Bird