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Haunter is the new film by director Vincenzo Natali, who directed
the cult classic Cube (one of the best and most imaginative films I've seen).
It is about a family who live in a time loop inside their own house - every day
they wake up in the same calendar date, they eat the same thing they ate the
day before, they do the same chores, they have the same fights, etc. The only
one who is aware that this is happening is the teenage daughter Lisa, played by
Abigail Breslin. However, her attempts at convincing the other family members
that they are playing on repeat always fail because they perceive things as
normal. Eventually she starts noticing strange sounds and voices coming from
all over the house, and decides to investigate them. The investigation causes
the daily routines of the family to change, and a strange man warns her to stop
inquiring about her situation or else she will be sorry. She ignores his
warnings and dives further into the mystery of where she is and what is
happening to her and her family.
Haunter is the kind of film that we don't
often get in the horror genre - family friendly. It had more in common, both
stylistically and thematically, with a made-for-TV horror like the old
Nickelodeon show "Are You Afraid of the Dark" than it did with a more
serious genre offering. This isn't necessarily bad; a couple of years ago the
Innkeepers took the same approach to the genre and pulled it off quite
well, creating endearing and likable characters.
However, Haunter isn't as successful in its execution, despite a good idea to
work with. Virtually every aspect of the film was lacking a certain something
that kept it from being great. The characters aren't very compelling, the scares
fall flat half the time, the sets and mood zigzag between great and awful, and
most importantly the movie is so cheesy that you better hope you’re not lactose
Story-wise, the first third of the film
was excellent and kept my interest piqued. The idea of someone reliving the
same day over and over is not new for horror (I can think of several other
genre films which use this concept), but it was still different enough here to
be unique in my books. It was like a puzzle box unravelling slowly. And now that
I know the ending of the film, some of the smaller touches from this first
third (the missing clothes, the Pacman game, the car that won't start) show the
attention to detail that the writer invested in creating the story.
Unfortunately, the wider the puzzle box opens, the less enticing its insides
become. The middle third revealed almost all there was to know about the story,
and what it decided to do from there simply wasn't as interesting as the
mystery aspect of the repeating house. I just didn't care whether Lisa
accomplished the goal she set out for herself or not, because it related to an
uninteresting character who we barely experience in the film; thus I did not
care about what happened to this character at all.
While most of the overall idea of the film
was pretty good, the cinematic qualities made a lot of the scenes fail, even
those which were clever and unique in concept. My biggest problem was with how
damn cheesy everything was, and I really mean everything. Some of the dialogue was
so poor that the actors struggled to deliver it. There are many examples of
this, with the worst offenders being Lisa talking to the Ouija board and the
conversation in the car with the father. The ending scenes are like the
cherry on top of the cheesecake. I groaned at the fate of both the heroes AND
the villains. Truly Goosebump-y conclusion. And I understand the need to keep
the film visually interesting after so much repetition of content (due to the
nature of the plot), but the way they chose to do this did not feel inspired or
improve the monotony. They used standard filters and effects like “old movie
reel”, complete with blurred edges. The kind of stuff that is typical of TV and
not the big screen, for good reason.
I am not sure what contributed to this, but atmosphere was a major
problem in a large chunk of the film. It didn't even matter whether the scene
on screen was emotional, funny, or supposed to be scary – there was just something
off, either in the editing or music or pacing, that would drain the
humour/tension out of the scene. I still liked some of the jokes and scare scenes,
but I felt detached from them. I was never quite transported inside Lisa’s
world, and maybe that’s why I didn't care about the outcome as much as I should
The one saving grace of the movie for me
was Stephen McHattie as the Pale Man. You might know him as the lead from
another Canadian low budget horror, Pontypool. Here he abandons the cool cat
persona and plays a sickly looking stranger who can be intimidating by just
standing there. I really liked his chemistry with Abigail Breslin - they never
speak to each other but they do a great job playing off of each other's mere
presence. The movie probably would have been a bit better if they utilized him
for more of the scares and developed him further.
Overall, Haunter wasn't entirely my type
of horror film (at least not past the first third, which was a fun puzzle). It
was heading in the right direction but took a serious detour at some point, I
went along with it, and didn’t end up enjoying the ride that much. It isn't bad though, at least it
is unique, and I hope the director keeps up with his streak of very different
Title: The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears (L'étrange couleur des larmes de ton corps)
Year of Release: 2013
Directors: Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani
RATING: 2.5 / 5.0
All I heard prior to seeing The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears was "giallo, giallo, giallo". Nothing about the plot, just "giallo". Having viewed it, I now see why people would struggle to describe it in any other way - there's barely a way to talk about it with words. To be honest, it shouldn't even be called a giallo because in my Giallo-fanboy opinion, it has very, very little to do with that genre beyond the sets and one or two tunes on the soundtrack. I know the directors were inspired by the old Italian films, but the product of that inspiration ends up too drastically different from them to be a blood offspring.
This awesomely titled film is about a man who comes back from a business trip only to find his apartment empty. His younger girlfriend has mysteriously vanished, with the door still locked from the inside. He meets a strange shadow lady who lives in the building and tells him the story of her own husband's disappearance into the building. There are constant strange noises coming from walls and ceilings, and it seems like someone lives behind the walls. He proceeds to look for his girlfriend everywhere possible.
Don't let my little synopsis fool you - the plot is about a hair away from nonexistent. However, it is clear from the beginning that the main attraction of this film is its approach to stimulating your senses, and providing them with an experience they have never had before. Think of films like Tetsuo or Eraserhead, but set in a beautiful European building. And way more experimental in cinematography/sound design. The entire style of filmmaking changes from scene to scene, so the movie showcases a very large variety of techniques you probably haven't seen before.
Most of the time, it honestly felt like the movie was angry at me (in a good way). It assaulted my eyes over and over again with jarring images, colours, movements, lack of movements, etc, all the while doing the same if not worse to my ears (some of the sounds still echo in my mind days later...like that damn buzzer). The opening credits alone felt like playing a virtual boy - those blood red letters on a black background burned into my retinas from the large screen in front of me. Maybe I am a masochist, but I loved taking this kind of beating from the movie (kinky!). It isn't very often that movies affect you physiologically rather than emotionally, so in that regard I am glad I experienced it. Nice change! Problem is, I doubt it will translate well to home viewing. The movie NEEDS that large cinema screen with the powerful sound system to act as its weapons against you. At home, your TV and stereo are like bringing a knife to a gunfight. It will fail to consume you. Anyone interested in seeing The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears better find a cinema showing it.
If you have any interest in this film, don't be deterred by my low score. In fact, the low score in this case is a reflection of the packaging of the content, not due to the content itself. If this movie was shown as a series of avant garde vignettes, fully independent of each other, and treated as an experimental visual and aural offering, then I would have bough right into it, because there was some fantastic work on exhibition here. Instead, they tried to fit a square peg into a round hole and forced a plot onto the images and sounds. It was as unsuccessful as it was unneeded. So if you go into it accepting that the extremely well-executed cinematic experimentation will occasionally be interrupted by pointless and incomprehensible "plot advancement", then you will have a much better time with The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears.
Title: Witching and Bitching (Las brujas de Zugarramurdi)
Year of Release: 2013
Director: Alex de la Iglesia
RATING: 3 / 5
Alex de la Iglesia is one of Spain's most prolific directors, with a long and downright excellent career (I love this guy, he is cool as shit). Often dabbling in the horror genre, he has had some great hits like Day of the Beast (one of my favourite horror comedies of all time) and The Baby's Room. This fueled a certain level of anticipation for Witching and Bitching in me, further amplified by my general love for witchcraft-related movies (it's an under-explored subgenre that needs to get a little more attention like it did in the 60s/70s). If I was looking for just a comedy offering, the Bitching part would have probably met my expectations. But the Witching part of the whole ordeal just didn't work. The horror aspect was so underwhelming for the majority of the running time that a straight up comedy would have fared far better.
Witching and Bitching is about a set of low-lives who get together to steal all the gold rings from a pawn shop where divorcees go to get rid of their wedding bands. They've dressed quite appropriately for the occasion, sporting Minnie Mouse, Spongebob, and other fictional character costumes. The whole gang is organized by a silver Jesus Christ (as I said, they're all fictional characters), whose 10-year-old son tags along for the heist. The gang, including the kid, tries to flee across the French border with the stolen treasure. Before they could get to the other side, they have to pass through a small village which is the birthplace of witchcraft. A coven of witches living there have foreseen in a prophecy that the newest sacrifice to their mother goddess should be coming through town any second; you guessed it, they're after the little kid. Can the kid be rescued from becoming witch food?
The main source of laughs in the movie is the topic of divorce, and men vs women in general. Iglesia's divorce from his wife Amaya Díez was clearly the main source of inspiration for the script, and he did well milking it for all it is worth. This film is drenched in bitterness and inter-gender rivalry, but in an always hilarious and never (too) hateful way. The jabs that both genders take at each other sting because they are very true. The one low point of the divorcée humour is that it is as literal as possible. It went beyond simple inspiration and turned into a blatant copy of real life. For god's sake, the main character, who is also recently divorced, has the hots for Iglesia's new girlfriend (he cast her as the daughter-witch of the coven). How much more literal can you possibly get than casting your wife's replacement as the wife replacement? I'm sure this was very cathartic for the director, but for the audience it means nothing, and her poor acting and lack of comedic timing hinders the film somewhat. The non-divorcée related humour was funnier due to having the leeway to be bizarre instead of realistic. The taxi passenger was my favourite; he was everyone's verbal and physical punching bag, and many laughs were had at his expense.
Again, I want to emphasize that if comedy is what you are after, Witching and Bitching will certainly tickle your funny bone. But since I run a horror blog, I have to keep my horror goggles permanently on, and, as a genre film, this doesn't quite cut it in quality. If the witches were given the same attention as the jokes, they would have been way cooler. Instead, almost their entire coven is, well, flat out lame. The oldest grandma-witch is the exception to this - the character was funny and unique (fat and senile old lady) and it was entertaining to see what dementia would do to a horror villain. The younger mother-witch was much less entertaining, and she didn't do anything other than organize the show. Boring stuff. And then there's the daughter-witch. She was an awful, awful, awful character. Her overly attached persona was one-note beginning to end, and it seemed like her character's only purpose was to be a "fuck-you" to Iglesia's former wife. I would have reworked that character completely to make her less annoying to watch. The secondary witches are fully disposable and the limit to their witchyness is that they wear hooded robes. Wow. The toilet brother was a decent idea but it didn't go anywhere or even matter in the grand scheme of things - they should have utilized him more and given us a break from the less-than-stellar witches, since he had potential to be fun.
On top of the not-so-great horror characters, the horror scenes were weak throughout as well. These witches don't do anything particularly cool, and there weren't any good chase/stalk scenes either. There are minor playful things that worked (for example, I liked those metal teeth...chomp chomp), and the mother goddess was awesome when she appears (you would think you're watching a quirky Japanese movie like Big Man Japan when she comes on, and not Spanish cinema), but the rest of the movie is just tied up people, lost people, cut people, shoved people. Nothing to get your undies wet over. I can honestly say that in the last 30-40 minutes, once the mystery is over and the humour loses novelty, I was plain bored. And I don't like being bored.
Where Witching and Bitching ultimately fails is wrapping the humour in a worthy horror blanket. Day of the Beast aced this, so I know Iglesia is capable of doing it. I just wish he hadn't been so tied down to his real life drama that he forgot to borrow enough from the make-believe and unseen. I remain a big fan of the director, just not a fan of this particular film. Still chuckled at the jokes, though.
Without even thinking twice about it, I am certain that Oculus is the best horror movie I've seen so far this year. It had that perfect blend of creepy factor, great acting all around, and an interesting and unique story conductive to showing you things you haven't seen before. What more can we possibly ask of our horror?
The story is about Tim and Kaylie, a brother and sister with some dark trauma in their lives. When they were little, their father went insane and killed their mother, and was then shot to death by Tim. Tim has spent the past several years in a mental institution, trying to accept the fact that he killed his father. But as soon as he is released, his sister shares her view on the events - she remembers that her father was possessed by an evil mirror which made him kill their mother. And the sister has hunted down the mirror with the purpose of destroying it. The movie goes back and forth in time between the past, showing what really happened to the mother and father, and the present, where Tim and Kaylee are trying to destroy the mirror.
It's always a pleasure when we get a meaty story to our horror. Oculus was flat out interesting to watch - you are always curious as to where the movie is going and how things are going to turn out. So the scares and the gross out scenes are just icing to an already delicious cake. I'm glad we got a little of both, usually movies focus on one or the other. My favourite scenes of the brutal kind were the band-aid and apple (fuck... fuck, fuck, fuck) and on the spookier side, that three sheet scene in the auction house put a grin on my face from ear to ear. That is some quality spooking, if I may say so meself.
The editor of this film deserves a damn Oscar, and truly made Flanagan's vision come to life. As the movie progresses, the jumps between past and present become ever more frequent and creative, eventually merging the two into a whole new entity. I was treated to a seamless temporal mindfuck, and I loved every second of it. I can't imagine the hard work that goes into pulling off that kind of continuity between shots, but I respect the hell out of this crew for attempting it and accomplishing it.
The acting in Oculus was another reason why I liked the movie quite as much as I did. Katee Sackhoff and Brenton Thwaites did very well as the mother and brother, and were both endearing and sweet. But who truly impressed me were Karen Gillan as the sister and Rory Cochrane as the father. Rory was in one of my favourite teen movies when I was growing up, Empire Records, so I was really happy to see him in movies again. He was both creepy and damn hilarious in his delivery of the few humorous lines that were included in the film. I don't know Karen as an actress (never seen Doctor Who, which she apparently is in), but she blew me away. She was always fully committed to her character, and was strong and in control throughout. She really anchored the movie and made me a fan. Come to think of it, the young actress who played the child version of her character was also excellent, and we all know how rare that is for child actors.
Any gripes I have with the film are minor and I almost feel bad for mentioning them considering how much I loved it overall. The pacing was just a tad off in spots - there was a 20 minute segment near the middle where not that much happens, and the last bit of the film is drawn out ever so slightly. Neither of these detracts much from the experience so you needn't worry at all. The bonus scene after the credits, on the other hand, really irked me. It was extremely pointless and generic; it was the kind of thing I'd expect from a cheesy straight to video sequel instead of a serious and beautiful contemporary horror film. If I were to re-watch the film (which I absolutely will as soon as possible), I'd turn it off before the credits are over.
Since Absentia didn't spark my interest in Flanagan that much, Oculus was an eyeopener for me. This is what real horror talent looks like, and I am already waiting impatiently for him to work on a new project. One thing is clear from both films - Flanagan is unwilling to make anything generic or trendy, and that is why he is worth following.
Director: Ti West RATING: 2 / 5
Having just finished watching The Sacrament a couple of hours ago at a TIFF screening, my first thought as the credits rolled is still fresh in my mind. And that thought was "Really, Ti West? This is it?"
The Sacrament is the newest entry in everyone's "favourite" subgenre, found footage. Apparently we don't get enough of those nowadays so even directors who were doing just fine without it are giving it a try. As for the plot: a rich guy's sister has joined a cult and disappeared out of the country. She sends a note to her brother; an invitation to come visit her at the cult's parish (somewhere in what looks like the Caribbean). He takes his two friends who work for Vice along, as they want to shoot a Vice documentary about the experience. They get to the parish and everything looks and smells like a standard suicide cult, a la Heaven's Gate. Then the cult does its completely derivative cult thing; the end.
Before I go further, a note to not just Mr. West but also to all directors who choose to dabble in found footage. This isn't 1980s Italy or 1990s USA. No one is going to think your found footage film is real. Using Vice isn't going to be seen as authentic and credible, it will be seen as cheap and annoying marketing for Vice that didn't belong in the movie at all. If this forced advertising was the only way you could get your movie funded, then I apologize for knocking it considering I would do the same to get my creative baby out of my mind-vagina and onto celluloid. But if this was an artistic choice that had nothing to do with funding, then I must say it was a very poor one.
Now that I got that out of my system, let us move on to the movie. The Sacrament simply didn't go anywhere or do anything as a film. I assume Ti West read the story of the Heaven's Gate cult, or maybe some other mass suicide cult, and was inspired to make a similar story. That's fine, but it should have gone one of two ways - he should have either done major research and made a very detailed and complex film exploring all sides of the issue and the motivations of people who join such cults, OR he should have added some kind of twist to the whole story to make it interesting as a horror film. Instead, The Sacrament literally summarizes the entire cult experience as "we want to live in heaven on earth, but then we commit suicide when things don't turn out perfect". It barely touches the surface of what a cult is all about, and it doesn't do anything else either. Very, very disappointing treatment of the subject matter.
On top of having no plot beyond "hi, we are a cult", none of the individual scenes in the movie are particularly interesting either. The first half is a buildup where the Vice guys interview the various people of the parish. This was completely standard fare of characters pretending everything is normal while it is obvious they are hiding something dark. This kind of stuff can be seen in countless other films, and nothing was different here to make it interesting. Then the movie goes into mass suicide mode, and here I expected something else to happen. Nope, nothing, not even interesting suicide scenes. So, both the before-punch and after-punch parts of the film were poor, but the one thing I enjoyed was the transition between them. It happens with the passing of a note, and it was kind of cool to see the entire movie go from very upbeat and bright to very dark in every way (sound, editing, lighting, etc) with a single event. It provided a lot of contrast and that was nice. If only this transition joined two worthwhile halves.
The same lack of interest is true of the characters as well. The brother and the two Vice guys are all pretty much the same person personality-wise, so they are not at all compelling to watch. The sister was one-dimensional and not much motivation or explanation is ever provided as to why she'd want to be in the cult (the one thing she seemed to be getting out of it is something a rich girl like her could have easily gotten back home in California, so that's not much incentive). The only decent character was the cult leader, who everyone referred to as Father. The actor was pretty compelling and was responsible for some of the only scenes which weren't boring to watch. That vestigial arm gait, those glasses, that voice...a total carwreck of a human being, but so enticing to watch. Unfortunately even he is given the one-dimensional treatment, so he is memorable only for his mannerism and appearance, not his ideas or purpose.
I was saddened to find out that The Sacrament is a major step down from West's previous feature, The Innkeepers. He was showing improvement in both his storytelling and his visual flair, both of which were disregarded here. As a feature, The Sacrament is not even as good as the Safe Haven short in V/H/S/2 (another found footage cult-related film that at least tried to add something different, whether it succeeded or not).
I'm not going to hide it - I am a huge Lucky McKee Fan. May and
The Woman were both excellent character studies drenched in symbolism (unless
it was all in my head), and The Woods, while failing to come together in the
end, still has a long list of things going for it that make it enjoyable
anyway. So I went into All Cheerleaders Die expecting to love the shit out of
All Cheerleaders Die is about a group of high school kids who are days away from starting their senior year. A newly recruited cheerleader has a grudge against the
captain of the football team and is plotting to sabotage his life. Things get
out of hand and one or more people get hurt and/or die. He/She/They are revived
using magic stones that grant your wishes (courtesy of a wiccan lesbian
stalker), and go back to school to do some hurting of their own. A war of boys
against girls ensues. The pen is mightier than the vagina...OR IS IT?
The opening scene of this movie was pretty much perfect. The energy was through
the roof, the editing was fantastic and unique (especially those cheerleading
routines overlayed with the hard music, some very interesting sound editing
there), and the culmination of it all was like a sudden punch to the face.
Kudos for making it so enticing before the opening credits have even
graced the screen. This mood is mostly upkept for the first third of the film,
and I was having a good time reliving some of my high-school nightmares. So up
until the death(s), the movie really worked for me.
The middle third, starting with the revival, still had tonnes of
charm and some interesting concepts. For example, I liked the idea of the
people affected by the stones being connected and experiencing physical
sensations together. However, the "mythos" of the stones, if I can
even call it that, wasn't very well defined or consistent. Sometimes you die
when they leave you, sometimes you don't. Some people act as if nothing
happened and it's not weird that they are back from the dead, others are 100%
self-aware about their own situation and are very distraught by it. It seemed
like a free-for-all where every character was living in their own little world.
Yeah, I know, that sounds exactly like high-school so you'd think it would fit
the movie, but this wasn't some deliberate deep symbolism, it was just sloppy
writing. This is also where some of the
movie's bigger problems become much more apparent, especially the lack of
attention to the horror elements (more on that later).
The final act is where All Cheerleaders Die really began to lose me. The
editing, the pacing, the fun, they all go out the window (save for one or two
good lines and scenes). They tried to jam half a movie worth of kills (given
that almost all of them happen at this point) into 20 minutes, so everything is
done half-assed. Any fan of horror comedies like this one can attest to the
fact that the kills are vital to the enjoyment of such a movie. We want them to
be crazy, we want them to be over the top, we want them to be gory. Was I ever
disappointed to find out that all the kills were pretty much afterthoughts. They're not just boring, some are bad enough to be in a
Twilight film (person flung at tree...person stabbed by knife...person
bitten...cutting edge stuff). Only one or two of them struck me as pretty good
and in the spirit of where I thought the movie was going. Most importantly, the
final showdown between cunt and cock was such a major letdown that I would
struggle to think of a more underwhelming conclusion (at least the surprise right
after was nice).
The thing that amazed me the most about this film were the characters. All the
actors seemed like really cool people who I would want to hang with - in real
life. That did not at all translate to their characters. Even the leads were
completely underdeveloped and had the dimensions of a point. All the
secondaries were so paper-thin they might as well have been non-existent. At
least the two girls who weren't leads had some kind of stereotypical attire to
differentiate them (Jesus Freak and ShySchool Mascot Nerd... it
certainly isn't much but it's something). The boys, on the other hand...I couldn't
even tell you any of their names directly after watching the movie. Other than
the main guy, none of the other ones do much, say much, have more than 1 or 2
minutes of screen presence, or matter in any way at all. This movie could have
been way tighter in its final act if they cut the characters from 10 to 6, and
actually created a personality and a fitting death for at least a couple of
Despite these problems, I'm still a Lucky fan. Him and Chris did a
really great job at adding subtle and humorous touches to the movie's look and
feel. Cheesy but deliberate music here, rom-com camera shots of lesbian action
there, it was all actually quite charming and made me smile. The dialogue
was also one of the stronger aspects, and really captured the spirit of
dumb-as-bricks high school kids. Several lines in the movie were so flawless
and well-delivered that they set me off laughing like an idiot. There is
definitely room for improvement though, and I hope any potential sequels (not
that I have a reason to think there would be any) take the established ideas
and characters and refine them to something much more polished and consistently
good. And oh yeah...add some fucking gore and great kills, please. I know not
every movie needs that, but I assure you that this one did.
I recently saw (and reviewed) Anthony Waller’s first horror film, Mute Witness, and thought that he had a great eye for staging scenes and
framing shots. I looked up his filmography on IMDB and saw
that he had directed this relatively new horror film called Nine Miles Down. I
tracked it down to see if the quality of his junior effort was a fluke. Nine Miles
Down did not wow me quite as much as some aspects of Mute Witness did; at the
same time, it was different enough to keep my interest and was still better
than the average American horror.
The plot of Nine Miles Down carries a very strong nostalgic
feeling for me personally. It is based on an urban legend that circulated
around 20 years ago, which my friends and I used to scare each other with when
we were in primary school. It was a news story, fabricated by some guy in a
Scandinavian newspaper if I recall correctly, which ended up spreading to the
rest of the world as truth. It told of a supposed Russian expedition which
aimed to drill a hole through the Earth’s crust. When they got to a depth that
no one had reached before, they began to hear strange things coming out of the
hole. Upon lowering a microphone as far as they could and making an audio
recording, they discovered that the sounds were those of people screaming in
agony, as if being constantly tortured. The Russian expedition had reached hell!
In the movie version of the far-fetched story, a group of American
scientists are sent on a drilling expedition to the Middle East, where they
have drilled the deepest hole ever recorded. All of a sudden, the drilling
station stops responding to communication attempts from the outside, and a cop
is sent to investigate the premises and discover what has happened. When he
gets there, he finds the main base empty, except for a dead body (or maybe it
was two). He also overhears strange
voices being carried on the wind. After hours of not being able to find any
further info beyond some satanic graffiti sprayed on the walls, he runs into a
woman who has been living in sleeping quarters detached from the main
base. She says the rest of the crew went
insane and killed each other, and she wants him to drive her back to town as
soon as humanly possible. But his partner back in the police station can’t find
any info on the crew containing female members. As time passes, the cop grows
more and more suspicious of the woman he finds. His life depends on finding out
who she is and what is going on at the base.
The most disappointing aspect of
Nine Miles Down were the visuals, which are a colossal leap down from the
director’s previous horror effort. It’s not a poorly shot movie or anything,
but the cinematography and editing are extremely unexciting. Don’t expect any
visual treats going into it. The sets themselves also look relatively cheap and
bland. The only parts of the film’s aesthetic that I dug were the non-CGI
effects. The couple of scenes that featured good old-fashioned latex monsters
brought a smile to my face and reminded me of 1980s horror ghouls and critters.
Story wise, I enjoyed the way that
they handled the well-known urban legend. The film barely had any plot development;
instead it relied on constantly making you question who the characters are and
what motives they have. It did a decent job at not making it too obvious what
was going on at the base. Every time the cop discovers something strange about the
supposed surviving crew member, she provides a reasonable justification on why
it doesn’t necessarily imply anything bad. What I didn’t like about the plot
was the backstory of the cop’s former wife. It wasn’t interesting enough to
make you care about it. The movie also has a bit of a double ending. The first
one was fine with me and was a fitting conclusion to the film. The second one
was pointless and only worked to decrease the quality of the overall
Most of the film contains only the
two lead actors – the cop and the female crew member he finds at the drilling
site. Because of this, the actors were pretty damn important to the overall
movie watching experience. When I first saw the woman, I assumed that she was
only hired for her beauty, and didn’t expect her to be very
good. Surprise, surprise! Despite her role not being all that well-written, she
did as much as she possibly could with it. She had to keep going back and forth
between angelic and demonic. The sweet parts seemed genuinely sweet; while darker scenes were reminiscent of a succubus. Unfortunately, I can’t give any praise for the male lead. His acting
was one note (and terrible) beginning to end, and he was so damn boring that I couldn’t care
less what happened to him.
Nine Miles Down is nowhere near an
amazing horror film, nor do I anticipate that I will have a desire to watch it
again. Still, I wasn’t bored, and I didn’t regret seeing it either. At least it
was something different that didn’t adhere to any specific subgenres, and
wasn’t overly pretentious. See it if you have already seen all the 4+ rated
films and need something new to watch.