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Movie rating system (0-2) The movie is balls (2-4) A few moments but mostly bad (4-5.5) Entertaining film but lacking something to make it good. (6-7.5) A recommendation meaning a good solid watch. (8-10) must watch films, they are usually leaders in their respective genre. I can also be found on Facebook or follow my blog at the bottom of this page. THERE MAY BE MINI SPOILERS AHEAD!!! But there will be no endings/twists/cameos/or large plot reveals given.

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Thursday, 25 October 2012

A Thousand Words

A Thousand Words
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 91 minutes
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Clark Duke, Kerry Washington, Allison Janney, Cliff Curtis
Directed By: Brian Robbins
Rating: 1.5 out of 10
A man must change his lying ways as his lifeline is attached to a tree in his yard. He has only a thousand words left before he dies so he must use them wisely.

I have been almost exclusively watching horror and thrillers in a lead up to Halloween so I decided I needed a break. Mainly because I can’t be doing myself any favors psychologically by watching so much blood being spilled. So to relax I threw this movie into the Blu-ray player for a little light hearted comedy. Damn you Eddie Murphy, fool me once with a bad comedy then shame on you. Fool me 13 times with a bad comedy then shame on me.  A Thousand Words is the story of literary agent Jack McCall. After lying to a spiritual guru Jack finds a tree on his property. He is connected to this tree with a 1000 leaves and for every word Jack utters a leaf falls off. If all the leaves fall off then Jack dies.

I think somewhere in a beautiful mansion in a cigar smoke filled room sits a poker table. Surrounding this poker table are four very ornate and antique wooden chairs. On those chairs sit Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, and Eddie Murphy. They are laughing and having the time of their lives as they have a running bet with each other. The bet is who can make the worst comedy and still bring in millions of dollars. I don’t have an answer for you on who the winner is but these four guys are starting to get to me. I had high hopes for this movie for it meant we were only going to hear Eddie Murphy speak around a thousand words. I should have known better. The film starts and we are introduced to the painfully obvious and obnoxious literary agent Jack McCall. He lies and cheats to get his way and make money. A scene where he pretends his wife is in labor to bypass a Starbucks line is as entertaining as this film ever gets. The film really doesn’t commence until he is linked to the tree. Not only can Jack not say more than a thousand words he also feels everything that happens to the tree. So of course things like squirrels playing in the trees branches tickle Jack, and the tree is sprayed for bugs which makes Jack high. Lots of things happen to the tree and I can tell you none of them are funny.

Jack McCall is played by Eddie Murphy and I can honestly say he didn’t make me laugh even once. Not only is his performance stale and forced it is downright uncomfortable to watch. He of course mimes his way through situations with his wife and at work and most viewers will not even crack a smile. His assistant Aaron is played by Clark Duke and he is the only redeeming thing about this movie. He is this awkward guy who gets to turn on his charm when Jack goes silent. Of course this leads him to blowing potential business deals with his funny street lingo confidence. Kerry Washington, Cliff Curtis, Allison Janney, and Jack McBrayer are all in this also if you are fans of theirs.

The film is very hard to sit through. The pinnacle of the awfulness that is this film is offered up in a conference call where Jack brokers a deal using talking stuffed animals (No one questions the strange sounding voices and his catch phrase answers.)  His married life and work life suffer as he cannot speak. So we are forced to sit through fights with Jack’s wife and meetings with his boss as he sits there stupidly in silence. They of course lead to misunderstandings that need to be resolved by Jack as he tries to figure out how to break the link with the tree. As the end comes about it is highly predictable and yet I felt it was touching so it was probably my favorite part of the whole film. Bottom line is the film tests the viewer with Murphy’s stupid facial mannerisms and tired slapstick. I even found when the tree was dropping its leaves annoying.

Director Brian Robbins just likes making awful movies with Eddie Murphy as the lead (Meet Dave, Norbit.) He takes a truly unfunny Steve Koran script and he punishes the viewer with it. This films content hovers between a restricted rating and its PG-13 rating not really appealing to either age range. He failed on virtually every scene that was supposed to be funny. The only thing he did right was casting Clark Duke. This was truly an awful film.

I cannot recommend this film as even when Eddie Murphy has a limited speaking role he can kill a movie.

T Factor + If you like Eddie Murphy as an actor this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like more risqué humor than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Liar Liar, The Invention of Lying.

The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs
Drama (Thriller)
Rated: R
Running Time: 118 minutes
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Ted Levine
Directed By: Jonathon Demme
Rating: 8 out of 10
A FBI cadet is recruited to interview a locked up mass murderer in the attempt to bring down a sadistic and brutal serial killer.

Sometimes a movie can be overshadowed by a single actor’s performance. I am on the fence if this movie would have been better or worse without Anthony Hopkins amazing portrayal of Doctor Lecter. I know that is a weird statement for me to make but I found I was always waiting for Lecter's next scene instead of enjoying this pretty creepy story. The Silence of the Lambs is the story of a young FBI cadet named Clarice Starling. She has been tasked to interview the incarcerated and notorious serial killer Hannibal the Cannibal. She is hoping he will help out with finding an active serial killer called Buffalo Bill who is kidnapping young woman and stripping them of their skin.

So this is a pretty gruesome story but it is done well so that it never seems too far out there. The film starts and we are introduced to a young Clarice Starling as she is recruited by the FBI’s behavioral science unit to interview the Doctor. From there the viewer is treated to a little bit of back story on the serial killer known as Buffalo Bill. The movie doesn’t really hit its stride until we are introduced to the man known as Hannibal the Cannibal. Really the movie seals the viewer to the story from the moment Lecter starts to speak. He is a man in the highest security hospital for the criminally insane and yet he exudes malice from his cell. The dialogue between Clarice and Lecter is mesmerizing as they discuss everything from psychology to lifestyle choices. This is where the film falters in my mind though. Because Lecter is such an imposing figure of raw evil that the story gets lost when he is not on screen. Sure the actual serial killer they are following is creepy but he seems normal in comparison to the Doctor. I know that is what they were going for I just felt the story always seemed secondary to Hopkins performance.

Dr. Lecter is played by Anthony Hopkins and it is one of the best performances in Hollywood history. Talk about a brilliant portrayal of a character, you actually feel scared of this man even though this is a movie and he is in a secure cell. His piercing gaze and soft voice make it easy to see that he is capable of such heinous crimes such as murder and cannibalism. Jodie Foster plays Clarice Starling the young FBI agent interviewing Lecter and the two of them make the film so sadistically beautiful with their back and forth verbal exchanges. The movie is good but it truly is at its best when Starling and Lecter are conversing and psychoanalyzing each other. Even if you are not a fan of thrillers Hopkins performance alone is worthy of checking out this film. Almost lost in the mix is the serial killer Buffalo Bill played by Ted Levine. His performance is pretty great as a deranged man who kidnaps his victims for pieces of their skin. He is clearly mentally deranged only adding to the urgency of finding him before he kills again.

The film can get brutally violent and gory quite quickly as people suffer some horrible deaths at the hands of this sadistic killer. Also in one of the greatest scenes I have ever forgotten from a movie Clarice Starling actually has the Spiderman sex act done to her (Urban Dictionary it if you are unsure but do so at your own risk.) Sure Buffalo Bill leaves very obscure clues for the FBI and so does Hannibal but that can be forgiven when the rest of the story is so good. There are a few problems with the film though. The cops and SWAT team are very poorly portrayed in this film even laughable in their execution. They handle most of the scenes in an unbelievable and comical fashion detracting from the film. The film also runs a tad too long for my liking (118 minutes). This starts to be felt towards the end as the story does tend to drag. However I am mostly nitpicking as this is a movie most thriller movie seekers won’t want to miss.

It is hard to say that director Jonathon Demme did a great job with this film when Hopkins stole the show. You can say to cast Hopkins was brilliant though. The film has some great scenery especially in Lecter’s glass prison cell. The costuming also brings out maximum effect on the creepy scale. You have Lecter in his signature mask and Buffalo Bill in all his disturbing nudity that will make sleeping hard to do for a while. The story is dark and disturbing (Ted Tally, Thomas Harris) and really this is a crime film you want to see the end to. Besides the cop portrayals this film is spot on and the graphic violence only enhances the films edginess. The director did a good job on a great film.

I give this movie a huge recommendation especially to movie thriller fans who don’t mind a very disturbing storyline.

T Factor + If you like Jodie Foster as an actress this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like disturbing imagery this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Se7en, Frailty. 

The Wolfman

The Wolfman
Drama (Action, Horror)
Rated: R
Running Time: 103 minutes
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Hug Weaving, Emily Blunt
Directed By: Joe Johnston
Rating: 2 out of 10
A man travels back to his hometown in England to investigate his brother’s murder only to find it might be at the hands of a werewolf.

This movie falls under the category of what were they thinking? Hopefully this will be the final proof that stand alone werewolf movies just plain suck. Werewolves can work as part as an ensemble monster cast or even battling vampires but please stop making solo films about these creatures. The Wolfman is the story of Lawrence Talbot. He heads back to England to investigate his brother’s horrific murder only to discover a werewolf might be the culprit.

I am not even remotely sure what they were trying to do with this film. I am pretty sure the director and writers had no idea either. Werewolves are the tackiest of the evil monsters. They cannot sneak about or stalk you quietly as they are lumbering brutes. They can only attack viciously and without provocation and that gets tiring for a whole movie when that is all they can do. The film starts with a rather uninspired opening scene where we see a man being chased through the woods. It is a puzzling start and somehow the film never recovers from it. The film is a strange blend of period piece drama and over the top gore. What the movie isn’t, is a good watch. It goes from a scene where the Werewolf arbitrarily mauls some people into extended scenes of pithy dialogue. When the werewolf was on screen tearing off human appendages I was not scared, I was for the most part just bored. When the werewolf wasn’t on screen I was also bored and it will be a struggle for most people to get through this film.

This is not your run of the mill cast in this film but I won’t spend much time on it as the characters were as dull as the movie. I am not picking on anyone who acted in this film because no one could have done a good job. Lawrence Talbot played by Benicio Del Toro sporting a Moe haircut from the Three Stooges will shoulder most of the blame for this film as he was the lead. He does nothing to make this film work. He just shows up and spouts off some lines and end scene. His character is the worst in a host of bad characters. Emily Blunt, Anthony Hopkins, and Hugo Weaving offer nothing positive but are in this if you are fans of theirs.

The film is always slow and when it isn’t slow it is stupid. The werewolf terrorizes the local populace and kills off town folk and yet you are never sure who is dying on screen. Everyone looks a like so it is never clear if we are supposed to care about who is dying. When the blood spurts in generous amounts of gushes across the screen it is accompanied by a shrill and obnoxious musical score. The Werewolf kills lots of people and yet the town doesn’t ever seem that worried about it. There is the odd scene where a town member expresses worry but no real stress is evoked living so close to an animal that can shred your skin off in one swing of its claws. The Werewolf is everywhere in this from the forest to the heart of the city and even when he gets shot with silver bullets he never slows. When you finally do glimpse the wolf it is even more of a letdown then anything else in this movie. The werewolf reminded me of a computer generated Michael J Fox from Teen Wolf that will illicit little to no fear from the viewer. If somehow you are not familiar with werewolves they transform from human to werewolf at every full moon. For some reason full moons occur at a startlingly frequency in this. If the movie is good than that can be overlooked but because it was crappy it is another thing added to the list of why not to watch this. Bottom line is this movie failed on almost every level. The love story between Lawrence and Gwen (Blunt) is forced, the gore and frights are poorly executed or nonexistent, the dialogue is long winded, and the ending is in line with the rest of the story which is trash.

Director Joe Johnston knows kids movies (Jumanji, Honey I Shrunk the Kids) but he should stick with those types of films. His action repertoire (Jurassic Park 3, Captain America) is less than stellar and this shows he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He took a massive budget (150 mill est.) and really you will be hard pressed to find out where the money went. In Johnston’s defense this is one of the worst scripts ever penned in this genre (Andrew Kevin Walker, David Self). Having this type of film as an old fashioned period drama is both illogical and dull. The camera work is shoddy along with some odd editing and most importantly I was not afraid even once. The film sets itself up for a sequel that the masses will be screaming for the love of god no to. This should be proof positive that even with a huge budget and a great cast that werewolves films are just not meant to be.

I cannot recommend this film as you will be howling in disgust more than the wolf howls at the full moon.

T Factor + If you like werewolf movies than this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like to be frightened while watching horror then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Jeepers Creepers, Cursed.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street
Action (Horror)
Rated:  R
Running Time: 95 minutes
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz
Directed By: Samuel Bayer
Rating: 3.5 out of 10
A group of teens are terrorized by a man with finger blades and who can kill you in your dreams.

The first Nightmare on Elm Street scared the living bejesus out of me when I was a kid. Looking at that version now it is more comical than scary. However it is too bad they couldn’t just touch up a few things from the first like Freddy’s extended arms to make it more viable. Instead we are offered up a whole new film or retelling in this movie and it falls flat. A Nightmare on Elm Street (I will use NOES going forward) is the story of a group of high school kids that are being plagued by bad dreams. They are stalked while sleeping by a hideously burned man named Freddy. If Freddy kills you in your dream you are dead in real life. The kids must find away to stay awake and fight this evil man.

Out of the big three horror icons of the 1980’s (Michael Myers, Jason, Freddy) I was always the toughest on Freddy and the NOES franchise. I hated/hate the premise that he stalks you in your dreams. Sure Michael Myers and Jason can’t die but at least you can run from them. Freddy has complete control and overlooking the fact he can kill you in his dreams, (which they don’t even remotely try to explain, thank god) he should never fail at killing his targets so the story is flawed from the get go. An opening scene finds a bunch of teens hanging out in a late night diner. If I was to ever shoot a movie of this genre I would make sure to include a diner as they are a trippy venue for horror. I was pleasantly surprised that the first scene is surprisingly tension filled and shockingly violent. From there the film quickly falls apart with a disjointed story and some pretty tame kills and final body count. I like that the film pays homage to the original movie but it offered a sorry attempt to recreate some of the more shocking kill scenes. Not only do they repeat a lot of the material, it isn’t even as good as the first movie which is puzzling. There is too much story of the teens trying to figure out why Freddy is killing them all off. Too much story and not enough killing make for a lopsided horror. Freddy is supposed to make you fear his blades on his fingers and make you dread falling asleep. What Freddy actually will do is make you welcome sleep as the film has huge lulls in it.

The acting is not the greatest but the group of kids is trying and that is all you can ask for in the horror genre. They convey fear and stress from not being able to sleep so they actually add to some of the fright inducing scenarios. The burned skinned, dream killer Freddy was played by Jackie Earle Haley and he had some enormous shoes to fill. He took on a legendary role that Robert Englund perfected and he was less than stellar. It had more to do with the fact that he looked almost alien in design than burnt. The lack of facial definition lost his visual power of dread. He had an okay voice but didn’t capture the essence of the character which is the most disappointing thing about the film.

The film just throws way too much at the viewer. Guessing if the teens are dreaming, or in a dream with in a dream, or wake up from a dream only to be in another dream, was interesting at first but they do it to death. All the frights coming from the are they or aren’t they dreaming angle loses its power quite quickly. Freddy kills a teen with little ingenuity or thought. He slashes at random and for no reason taunts his victims. Trying to puzzle out why Freddy is doing this is a journey no one but the most ardent of fans will want to take. He is a man killing people in their dreams for pity sake we don’t need to know why just get to the cool killing. The surviving teens bounce from venue to venue from sleep to awake all in an attempt to stop Freddy killing and most viewers won’t get into this film after the opening scene.

Director Samuel Bayer makes his feature film debut with this movie and it was very hit or miss. He comes from the music video world and most would say he should have stayed there after watching this. I disagree with that though. The opening scene shows he has some modicum of talent for shooting horror. He just never recaptured that element of surprise. He lacks imagination in most of the kills and the film follows a pretty lame story. The camera work is decent and the casting is not the worst but when you are recreating a legend in Freddy you need to be on your game. His lack of vision hampered this film but I still think he could shoot a good film he just needs another chance.

I cannot recommend this film and while Freddy haunted my dreams as a kid he doesn’t cause a second of insomnia as an adult.

T Factor + If you are a fan of the original films this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you are a fan of the original films than this could also score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Halloween (Zombie), Friday the 13th (Remake)

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Devil's Rejects

The Devil’s Rejects
Drama (Action, Horror)
Rated: R
Running Time: 107 minutes
Starring: Sid Haig, Cheri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley, William Forsythe, Ken Foree
Directed By: Rob Zombie
Rating: 8 out of 10
The serial killing Firefly family is on the run from the police.

I was not looking forward to this film as its predecessor House of a 1000 Corpses was a tedious watch. This film quickly shows it is way different in both design and scope and I found I was captivated with this movie pretty much from the start. Devils Rejects is the story of the murderous Firefly family as they run from a vengeful cop and a murderous police force. For the purpose of this review Devils Rejects will be known as DR and House of a 1000 Corpses will be called HTC.

If you liked HTC this may not be the movie for you. DR has thrown out all the unnecessary gore and human mutilation and turned itself into a pretty captivating revenge movie. Don’t get me wrong there is still plenty of blood and a high body count but there is a sense to the madness in this film. We are back following the murderous serial killing Firefly family as they are on the run from the law. The film starts and the first thing you will notice is it is taking place under the blazing sun. A sense of realism is captured as no longer are these characters skulking around in the night. As the family runs from the law they never stray from their evil instincts. Instead of just fleeing in any direction they take the time to hole up in different locales and mentally and physically torture their captives. There is always a gritty sense that something awful could happen at any moment and that is a cool feeling. Throats are cut and people die and the nervous tension will never leave the viewer.

The acting and more specifically the characters themselves have been overhauled and perfected in DR. No longer are these characters monsters in human bodies. They are humans who are monsters and that is a big deal to change up. Mass murderers who eat ice cream, bicker, and even show affection, are even creepier then simply someone who likes to kill. Humanizing the Firefly family is the smartest thing director Rob Zombie could have done as it gives the film realistic texture. The acting is above average and the casting is spot on. Where they find some of these background people always surprises me as they are truly odd looking. The standouts in no particular order are: Baby Firefly played by Sheri Moon Zombie. Her character is cool with her good looks, nice teeth, and shrill voice. She is an unlikely killer and that is why she works. Next is Captain Spaulding played by Sid Haig. Clowns have always been creepy and Haig takes it to a new level with his rotten teeth and crazy laugh. Last is Sherriff Wydell played by William Forsythe. His barely contained anger as he searches for these killers is palpable. He stole the show when the Firefly family was not on screen.

As the film progressed I realized the oddest sensation. I started to care about the Firefly Family even though they are serial killers. I wanted them to get caught at the start but by the middle and towards the end I was pulling for them. That is truly what made this film so special. The viewer will get wrapped up in the chase and the unbending revenge mindset of the Sherriff. DR comes across as a serious drama and at the drop of a hat someone gets violently removed from the story reminding you it is a horror. The viewer will love the very down to earth soundtrack and will love the odd joke thrown in to break up some serious and brutal scenes of death. As the film comes to a pretty satisfying end I couldn’t help but feel this is one of the most complete horrors I have ever seen. It has a generous amount of scary situations but also is super realistic making the film even more terrifying.

Director and writer Rob Zombie took this movie in a different direction from HTC and just rocked it. The characters are interesting and yet still command the murderous edge. The story is fantastic as it deftly entwines a cool revenge story and it makes the characters go from heels to likeable. The kills happen frequently but don’t overdo it. The music enhances the vibe of the film and the casting is great. Using grainy looking film and having the film shot mostly during the day were nice touches. Zombie just took this family in a whole new direction and it worked for me on almost every level.

I give this movie a huge recommendation especially to those horror addicts that like a good story with their blood.

T Factor + If you like Rob Zombie as a director this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you don’t like gore in your horror than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: House of a 1000 Corpses, Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  

Sunday, 21 October 2012


Drama (Thriller)
Rated: R
Running Time: 93 minutes
Starring: Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers
Directed By: Adam Green
Rating: 4 out of 10
Three young adults are stranded on a ski chairlift and must make some hard decisions if they are going to survive the ordeal.

Having a movie take place in only one specific location is one of the hardest ideas to make work. There are so many factors to try and pull off in a film with a singular locale, that it often gets led astray. This film fell for so many of the pratfalls that similar films before it have fallen victim to. What I am trying to say is these types of films usually get boring quickly, and also stretch the plot to make things exciting. Frozen is the story of three young adults as they enjoy a day of skiing and snowboarding. What should have been one last exciting run turns into a nightmare as they are left stranded on a chairlift high above the ground.

So you can see there is not much scenery and really not many choices for the trio to make to try and survive their dilemma. They either have to jump, starve to death, freeze to death, or wait for help and that’s it. Of course this film would be boring if those were the only hardships so they add some very persistent wildlife to add to the terror (and kill off a lot of realism in doing so.) As the film starts the viewer is treated to some background banality of the three college kids. Their conversations are pointless and their internal bickering is wearisome. If it wasn’t so against my nature I would simply tell you to fast forward to them stranded on the chairlift. How they get stuck on the chairlift is absurd both in how it happens and the fact the ski resort closes for an entire week in what looks like peak season. The film sees the three friends sitting there in the dark as the weather dips and no help seems to be coming. What I liked is the way it broke down their psyches. The three of them go from annoyance, to worry, to outright panic in such a believable way that the viewer is interested in their plight. As the weather plummets and the night deepens the viewer is treated to some very studio manufactured sounding wind and invisible breaths in supposed sub zero weather. Sometimes the camerawork is superb making you feel like you are trapped with them. Other times it insults you by overdoing the camera angles making you understand it is a long drop if any of them were to jump. Where the film fails the most is in its inability to scare the viewer even when it is a pretty trippy scenario to find yourself in.

The acting is what could have saved the film if it was better than what was presented. The three friends named Parker, Joe, and Dan have believable dialogue while sitting on the chair lift but their performances are on the poor side. Parker is played by Emma Bell and while her character goes through some of the harsher punishment on the lift I hated her performance. It is like she was channeling Kiefer Sutherland’s performance from Dark City (sorry for the obscure reference). Her forced emotional scenes combined with her shrill delivery were terrible. Joe played by Shawn Ashmore and Dan played by Kevin Zegers were barely passable but do enough with the roles to not detract. Who knows, with better performances this film might have worked. I also found it funny that Ashmore aka Iceman might freeze to death in this film (Had to make an X-Men reference sorry.)

The viewer is treated with some heart stopping moments as the trio is forced to decide on some life or death decisions on how to get down. While I might not have been as frightened as I would have liked I did find myself wondering how I would have gotten down which is a cool aspect to the film. The conversations of life and death are random but very believable in this crazy situation. As the weather continues to hammer them their fighting seems very genuine and not staged. As the film makes its way to its end it just didn’t do enough right to make it work. The effects of the weather and dialogue are a positive but the acting and the lack of frights is a negative. Not the worst thriller I have seen but it needed something more than what it offered. When I am indifferent to if the three of them live then the film has failed.

Director and writer Adam Green does and okay job with this film. He has some interesting shot scenes and his dialogue was sound after the kids are stranded. There are some great scenes as the trio deals with the frigid weather and their rising stress. The casting though was off and the viewer never really had any sense of panic during the entire film. I would give this movie a pass on the directing as I understood his vision and it had some decent moments.

I cannot recommend this film as skiing maybe a thrilling sport to do it is not as thrilling to watch.

T Factor + If you like films that are all shot in one location then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like your thrillers to be more nerve wracking then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Open Water, Phone Booth

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom
Drama (Comedy)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 94 minutes
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Rating: 4.5 out of 10
Two young kids run away to discover love and each other.

It is the curse of director Wes Anderson’s fan base to keep recommending his films to the masses. They find his films both poignant and touching and don’t understand how people don’t like his movies. It is the curse of the masses to hate on Wes Anderson films for they don’t understand the appeal of his dysfunctional characters and unfunny story lines. The masses don’t connect and even remotely see what Anderson is trying to convey. Neither side is wrong but both have to realize you either like Anderson’s films or you don’t it is just that simple. I am one of the masses as I have never liked even one of his movies and this film is no different. Moonrise Kingdom is the story of two kids who leave home to discover their budding love for each other. This gets the local populace up in arms as they form search parties to find the runaway kids.

I will try my best not to pan this film as I never really connected with it on any level. I didn’t hate it and at times I found it touchingly simple but for the most part it befuddled me. The film starts and quickly you will notice the interesting camera work as it changes from scene to scene. While it is great to see Anderson thinking outside the mainstream I also felt it added an unnecessary quirkiness to the film. Also like all his films it looked like once the film was done someone applied the Instagram app to it to make it look old fashioned. I find the films tints and hues depressing in nature causing the casual viewer to be duped into being bored. We get introduced to the lead kid character Sam as he has just escaped from the local scout camp. From there the film introduces his love interest Suzy and the two of them get lost in the woods together. This is where the film works best I felt. The two of them are both robotic and socially inept and embark on a pretty touching story of young love. Things like piercing Suzy ears with fish hooks and dancing awkwardly to a record player speak volumes louder than words. If the film continued on that path of self discovery it would have worked but it was not to be. The films humor mostly flows by not undetected by me just merely unappreciated. A tree house in a super tall tree, a written name on a turtle thrown back into the water, and an armed standoff between Sam and his scout troop goes by and illicits little reaction from me.

I normally hate child actors but they stole the show for me in this movie. Sam played by Jared Gilman and Suzy played by Kara Hayward are great as social outcasts discovering each other. They are great individually but shine when interacting with each other. Their odd and quirky deliveries coupled with overly adult thoughts and dialogue makes this film easy to watch when it is just the two of them. The scout troop is funny but the rest of the cast is a bunch of strange characters usually found in Anderson’s films. Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton fill out a very impressive ensemble cast. They are all decent in their given roles but their characters failed with me across the board. Characters speak with megaphones for no reason, the scout master takes his job too seriously, and the social worker is called the social worker. Too much strange and not enough background development seriously hampered this film when the two kids were not on screen.

About halfway through this film I felt it totally breaks apart and loses all cohesion. The two kids run from the adults with the help of some locals and what follows can only be described as flawed. Some people might like the absurd notion of scouts running their organization like an army camp. Some people might even like the in your face emo characters. It is just not something I can recommend. Little things impressed me with this film though. Like a scout carrying a nail bat. Or a private talk between Sam and Suzy that sees a kid hilariously jumping on a trampoline next to them. Moments like that gave this film little reprieves from some of the drudgery but not much. If I had to sum up this film it would be the first half worked the second half failed.

Director Wes Anderson knows his audience and so I am sure he won’t lose any sleep over me critiquing his work. I just find he is trying too hard to be different. A perfect analogy is he is a hipster in the Hollywood scene and while some people will love him most will just not understand. He uses too many strange and depressing characters with too many flaws. His comedic styling and delivery is also shaky and most of the film comes off as random. What I will say is this might be my favorite film of his so I can only imagine that this will be gold with his fans.

Not only can I not recommend this film I don’t understand the appeal.

T Factor + If you like Wes Anderson as a director then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like indie films than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Action (Horror)
Rated: R
Running Time: 91 minutes
Starring: Jordana Brewster, Diora Baird, Taylor Handley, Matt Bomer, R. Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski, Lee Tergesen
Directed By: Jonathan Liebesman
Rating: 4 out of 10
Four friends must survive a murderous family as they are trapped at their secluded family home.

One of my best friends once said that he doesn’t watch movies of this nature because nothing good can come of it (both mentally and socially speaking.) I disagree with his blanket statement of the horror/gore genre as a whole. However I can’t help but feel his comment is bang on with this movie. The first Texas Chainsaw Massacre film (remake 2003) coupled an okay story with well thought up frights and scares. While of course there is plenty of blood and guts in the first film it still falls in line with the story of a dude killing people with a chainsaw. It also left some of the deaths to the imagination so it wasn't all gore all the time. This film threw all discretion out the window and proceeded to try and disgust the viewer with every form of depraved act imaginable. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is the story of two brothers and their girlfriends as they road trip across the country. The brothers are on their way to serve in Viet Nam when they find themselves at a secluded house in an abandoned town. The house is out of someone’s worst nightmares as it is filled with murderous tenants.

This film is clearly made for the hardcore fans of this franchise. Did The Texas Chainsaw Massacre really need a prequel? Of course it didn’t and as in true Hollywood fashion this film falls shockingly short of the first for many reasons. Why anyone needs to know how Leatherface was born, How Sheriff Hoyt loses his teeth, How Monty loses his legs, and other such morbid and inane answers are beyond me. If however these questions were bothering you after the first film then they do get addressed. The film starts and it looks very much like the first and even unfolds in very similar ways. The kids are heading cross country in a jeep and wind up at the disturbing looking Hewitt household. Of course the buildup has the usual amount of cheap frights as people pop up out of nowhere and sudden loud noises happen at random intervals. For some reason a group of bikers straight out of the video game Road Rash show up to add to the stupidity of this film. They were incorporated for a larger body count but seamlessly built into this story they are not. The film is already been there and done that so they try to make up for it by shocking and grossing out the viewer instead of trying to scare them.

The acting is about on par with the first as a new cast of twenty something’s try to survive this movie. Jessica Biel stole the show with her half a white tee shirt in the first one. She is equaled in this one by Jordana “eyebrows” Brewster in a very low cut pair of jeans. What is it about Texas and killing sprees that bring out these types of outfits is beyond me (I am not complaining.) Brewster plays Chrissie and does a good job as the lead for most of the film. Her character has bouts of misplaced bravery which are hard to watch but she did a good job overall. The two brothers, Dean and Eric played by Taylor Handley and Matt Bomer are passable and do not detract from the film. Dean’s girlfriend Bailey played by Diora Baird is basically in this movie for her looks and vocal chords. She can scream and look good but can do little else. I found her performance one dimensional. The Hewitt family is all back from the first film and they all do great jobs as creepy, inbred hicks. Their performances are mainly visually based as they have the look and that is all that is needed.

As this is the second installment you know they were going to unnecessarily up the ante with everything in regards to this movie. There is going to be more bodies, more blood, more chainsaw, more torture, and that means less of a good story. I didn’t find this movie scary at all I found it off putting. People are dying in the worst possible ways in this film. Leatherface is not just killing people he is dissecting them. He is peeling back skin and cutting off appendages for no reason. As the film progresses it is hard to feel anything for these kids as they try and survive the house of death. It is just non-stop disgusting scene after scene. So much so that you are desensitized to every scare they even remotely go for. The film is hard to sit through as it leaves nothing to the imagination. People violently get removed from the story and the viewer could care less. This film will most likely have an audience I just found it a tiring and uninspired horror. As the film heads to its predestined end I couldn’t help but feel this film lost its way and lost it early. When cannibalism and bloody discharges from birthing are the mild things happening you know this film is swinging for the fences of awfulness. Being chased by a maniac with a chainsaw is the payoff not the chainsaw cutting into torso after torso.

Director Jonathan Liebesman knows how to do bad horror (Darkness Falls). He takes a decent first installment and does nothing with it. He does capture the gore element and creepy character factor quite well but that is at the expense of the story and frightening moments. I never felt nervous tension like I did with the first film and that is the most disappointing thing. He took a franchise with built in scares and transformed it into something grotesque and abnormal. The camera work is decent and the film does not run long but it just never clicked the way it should have.

I cannot recommend this and while I know this has a fan base it goes way past horror for my taste.

T Factor + If you like mindless gore then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you need a strong story in your films then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: House of a 1000 Corpses, Hostel.


Drama (Horror, Thriller)
Rated: R
Running Time: 127 minutes
Starring: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Emery
Directed By: David Fincher
Rating: 8 out of 10
Two cops are on the trail of a serial killer using the seven deadly sins to commit his murders.

The weather has been super dark and dismal in Toronto the last few days so I decided to throw the movie Se7en into my PS-3. This film is best enjoyed when the rain is beating down on the roof and the sun is a distant memory. The movie Se7en is the story of two cops named detective Mills and detective Somerset. They are trying to track down a serial killer who is using the seven deadly sins as his template for killing.

Se7en has the uncanny ability to stick with you long after it has been watched. There is something so bleak and haunting about this film that it will make other cop/serial killer movies pale in comparison. It is a well drawn out story of human atrocity and vileness. The film is brilliantly shot as it always seems to be raining or it is in the blackness of night (or both.) When the sun does show up it makes the movie even eerier as it seems out of place in this city of despair. The film starts and we get to see the new guy Mills and the old veteran Somerset investigating a serial killer of mass intelligence. I loved this film because for once the killer wasn’t leaving super easy or unbelievable clues to follow. His biblical messages are shockingly detailed and macabre making the victims a disgusting sight to behold. Everything in this film works magic on the viewer. The buildings where the victims are found are dark and decrepit. The bodies are in varied states of torture and decomposition. The killer is not one step ahead of the cops he is ten steps ahead making this film a great watch.

Detective Mills and Detective Somerset are played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman respectively. They both make this movie work as well as it does. Pitt plays this brash and inexperienced detective while Freeman plays the introverted and highly intelligent one. There are like night and day together but both seem to be able to deliver this movie in the right direction. I obviously won’t say who the killer is but he is fantastic and delivers his maniacal message with calm and precision. The acting only enhances the power of the story and the two detectives budding work relationship helps out more than one would think.

The film never seems to falter as it makes its way from crime scene to crime scene. The viewer will get caught up in the varied array of techniques that the detectives use to bring down the killer. They use anything from forensic science to classic literature to bring down this biblical monster. The viewer will also get caught up in killers motives which is another cool aspect. Bottom line in the world of thrillers Se7en ranks among the best as it has the ability to creep you out and couples that with an awesome story. The beauty of this film is as the end approaches it hasn’t spoon fed you the conclusion. In the days of tired and clichéd stories this film separates itself from that mode. The ending doesn’t disappoint and that is saying a lot when the rest of the film is so spot on. If you love thrillers this is not to be missed.

Director David Fincher is one of my favorites and this is one of his best in a pretty great career (Fight Club, Zodiac.) He takes a fantastic script (Andrew Kevin Walker) and shoots a story that hits you full force. The dark cinematography and inclement weather set the tone for a truly dark and depressing film. The characters are brilliantly portrayed and are believable which is really hard to do in films of this nature. The film never seems to drag even though it is a shade over two hours running time. This film ranks as one of the best thrillers of all time.

I give this movie a big recommendation as it sets the standard for cop/killer thrillers.

T Factor + If you like Brad Pitt as an actor this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like more action in your thrillers this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Bone Collector, Kiss the Girls.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Return to House on Haunted Hill

Return to House on Haunted Hill
Action (Horror)
Rated: R
Running Time: 81 minutes
Starring: Amanda Righetti, Cerina Vincent, Erik Palladino, Tom Riley
Directed By: Victor Garcia
Rating: 1 out of 10
A group of people head to a house with an evil history in search of an expensive relic.

Just what the world needs, a sequel to one of the worst horror movies of all time. Instead of burning down this house that kills everyone who enters, they just let it sit there to kill time and time again. No one will learn their lesson of not entering this place and the viewer is the one left to suffer. The Return of House on Haunted Hill is the story of another group of people entering this accursed house (former mental institution.) This time they are in search of an evil statue called the Baphomet idol. The problem is the house’s former patients and staff is still there and they are still very hungry to kill.

Right away you will notice the production value is way down on this flick. While some horror movies can pull off low budgets (Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity) this film most definitely could not. Its cheap camera work detracts from all sense of realism and terror this film might have induced. Now it is hard to pick on a film that went straight to DVD but really why make this movie? The films lackluster start does nothing to make the viewer think this is going to be any better than the first installment. The group heads to this house with a sinister past and shockingly gets locked inside. From there it is all about splitting up into small groups and letting the house pick them apart in random ways. The funniest thing is if you have watched the first film than you will notice the inside to this house is completely different. Same house on the outside but there are many more rooms and flooded sections along with much different medical tools to cause death in this one (It gets left unexplained.) People get mutilated, ripped apart, drowned, burned, and much more but it is so low rent that it will barely register as scary.

The acting is pretty sad right across the board in this film. It is a sad state of affairs when the performances are so weak. The bad guy of the group Desmond played by Erik Palladino is the stand out worst. Mainly he is cast wrong but he does not have the right look, voice, or delivery to be the bad guy. Add the fact he uses lip balm on a regular basis and it makes his performance just dumb. No one stands out though. The quasi army guys who accompany the group into the house are stereotypically bad and rigid. The lead girls played by Amanda Righetti and Cerina Vincent are in this to fill tight clothing instead of offer anything meaningful to the story. The acting was off in every way.

As the film progresses it just gets sillier and sillier. A woman soldier starts to have a lesbian encounter with two attractive ghosts. The furniture comes alive and attacks the group. There are a multitude of flashbacks of the hospitals origins for no apparent reason. Some of the ghosts or apparitions are helpful and some are malevolent but that is not explained. Sure there is a super high body count and sure there is plenty of blood but when the story is so weak it is hard to get invested in the film. This film is super short at 81 minutes so it is not hard to sit through and when the end of this film does come it is one of relief. Hopefully this is the end of this franchise as it has been nothing but wasted film watching for almost the entire two films.

It is hard to pick on director Victor Garcia for this film. When you don’t have the budget to pull off something like this it is hardly your fault. One would argue why even make this film then but people want to work I guess. Everything is off in this film but most noticeably is the camera work and poor casting choices. The film does have many kills and lots of blood but few frights. It never engages the viewer and has too many weird storylines.

I cannot recommend this film as not only is this house not scary it is not fun either.

T Factor + If you like lots of blood in your films then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you need good storylines in your films then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Haunting, Silent Hill. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods
Action (Sci-Fi, Horror)
Rated: R
Running Time:
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchinson, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford
Directed By: Drew Goddard
Rating: 8 out of 10
Five kids try to survive a night in a cabin in the woods.

A cabin in the woods is the most clichéd setting for a horror movie there is. It has been done so many times before that this film was pretty much destined to fail. I should never have doubted anything Joss Whedon had his hands on though. This film is so far from clichéd and such a fun watch that I always was wondering what was going to happen next. Cabin in the Woods is the story of five friends who head out for some rest and relaxation. What starts off as a nice vacation turns into a fight for their lives as there is more to this simple wood cabin then they ever bargained for.

In a time where Hollywood struggles for originality and are remaking everything Cabin in the Woods stands out like the North Star. If you have an open mind when it comes to movies then this surely is the film for you. This will be a hard review to do as this film is not like anything I have seen before and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. People have panned this movie calling it stupid and a waste of time. I strongly disagree with that statement but can understand why people might not like this film. If you go in looking for straight horror then this will surely disappoint. I also have heard people say this is the best horror of all time and say it redefines the genre much like the movie Saw did. This film redefines nothing when it comes to horror as it has too much Sci-Fi in it to even call it a straight horror. The brilliance of the film is how incessantly boring and purposely predictable everything is. Then when you least expect it something happens that turns the film on its head. A basic start sees an introduction to the kids and them driving out to the cabin in the woods. Of course on the way there they stop at a rundown gas station and have an encounter with the creepy owner. From there they make it to the cabin and settle in. The film is so simple that you are not sure what is going to happen. The cabin is filled with old items and creepy décor. Puzzling out what is going to happen is part of this films charm. There is clearly something more than meets the eye to this cabin and the viewer and the five characters get to discover it out together.

True to the stories form even the characters are absurdly cliché. We have the five of them represented by; the stoner; the jock; the popular girl; the virgin; and the nerd which is great. The acting is perfectly adequate in a film of this nature. While it is nothing exceptional it never detracts from the film and more importantly doesn’t detract from the scares. Chris Hemsworth is in this if you are a fan of his.

As the film rolls along it is the perfect blend of suspense, gore, and comedy. I would brand this film a hor-com if I didn’t think I would receive nasty emails about that title. The five friends must find a way to survive the sinister creatures of the night that are hell bent on their murder. It is crazy to me that a film can work on so many levels and yet I always seemed on edge when the scares come. When the end finally happens and this test of survival unfolds the film doesn’t disappoint with a final scene that will shock most viewers. Bottom line is the movie NEEDS to be seen by people looking for a fresh story and a solid amount of frights and laughs.

Director and co-writer Drew Goddard collaborates with writer Joss Whedon and designs a film that is so simple it is awesome. You can see elements of Buffy the Vampire Slayer writing in this story (A show they both worked on) incorporated with horror. It is a unique blend that Whedon fans will love especially if they like gore. The story is so basic, there is sex, pot smoking, drinking, a game of truth or dare, and a cabin in the woods, and yet it is all part of the charm. The blood is gushing by the bucketful and the story is a journey you won’t want to miss.

I give this movie a huge recommendation especially to Whedon fans and anyone looking for an interesting take on the horror genre.

T Factor + If you like Joss Whedon’s resume then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you are a fan of traditional horror then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Sixth Sense, Cabin Fever.

House on Haunted Hill

House on Haunted Hill
Action (Horror)
Rated: R
Running Time: 93 minutes
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Peter Gallagher, Chris Kattan, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras.
Directed By: William Malone
Rating: 0.5 out of 10
A group of strangers must survive a night at a haunted house to win a million dollars.

Normally I don’t have a hard time writing reviews but this movie upset me so much that I have been sitting here for a while unable to start. Sometimes movies are so bad they just aren’t worth talking about (If only it were that easy.) This movie is easily on my top 100 films to avoid list and that is the scariest thing about this film. House on Haunted Hill is the story of an eccentric millionaire offering a group of strangers one million dollars each. The catch: they must survive the night locked in a house with a murderous past.

Okay I am taking a big breath and here we go. This film is a remake from a movie of the same name from the 1950’s and trust me it should have stayed in that decade. The film starts and we are treated to a tired flashback story of the house. A former mental institution where the patients are abused by a twisted and deranged doctor is blah and uninspired. Fast forward to present day and the film does not get any better. The house is this absurd looking building sitting on a precarious cliff. The only fear that it inspires is will it fall into the water because of erosion. The inside of the house isn’t any better. It looks like a recently built movie set not a long abandoned mental hospital. The lights flicker for the whole movie just spoiling scene after scene. There are random machines lying around that include a hyperbaric chamber and an electrolysis box. There are also weird demonic sculptures lining the hallways. Everything just seems set up and lacks realism. We are introduced to the motley group of strangers as they prepare to spend the night for the promised cash. The eccentric millionaire has asked them there so he can play a joke on them at the expense of his ex-wife. The house accidentally gets put in lockdown mode and someone or something starts killing off the group one by one. As the characters split up and search the house for escape routes, the film gives you answers to questions no one has asked and you will have to try your hardest not to turn this film off.

The acting was the worst thing about the film both in performance and in the characters themselves. The eccentric millionaire Stephen Price is played by a great actor in Geoffrey Rush.  I was shocked by how bad he is in this film. What he gives us is a tired Vincent Price impersonation with pencil mustache and over emotional delivery. I am not going to go through the rest of the cast as they all sucked for various reasons. Some people are there to double cross, others there for the money, some are there unintentionally, others are there for murder, some people are there for fun, others are there for a television deal, some are there accidentally, and others are there for pranks. There are only 8 people in the house so it is anyone’s guess as to why they needed so many different motivations on being there. I would be wrong not to point out that the owner of the house is Watson Pritchett played by the truly unfunny Chris Kattan. This is one of the worst performances I have ever witnessed. He gets stuck in the house and he just ruins ever scene he is in with his loud and truly bizarre delivery. He seems to know that the house will kill everyone in it and tells them that at frequent intervals. Why he would ever step into the house in the first place is ridiculous in on itself. If you have a film that needs drama Kattan can ruin it in a heartbeat

As the film rolls along I said to myself and many times over “good lord this is a piece of shit”. I could go on all day about this movie and truly I hope you don’t watch this film. It is like the writers got a bingo calling machine and loaded it with plotlines written on the bingo balls inside. They spun the machine and picked balls at random and that is how this movie plays out. The characters are all ridiculous, there are evil ghosts, the building is alive, people hallucinate, the characters conspire against each other, there is malevolent mist, there are demons, there are good ghosts, everything is thrown in and yet nothing is scary. The end is somehow worse then everything else as the survivors run around the house trying to escape form an evil that looks like it was drawn with crayons. PLEASE DO NOT WATCH THIS. I am going to Frisbee throw my DVD copy out my window as soon as I am done here.

Director William Malone is known for low grade horror and so I shouldn’t have been surprised that this was bad. I was surprised at how bad it was though. I know there are people who like this type of film I just don’t understand why. The director takes a god awful script (Dick Beebe) and fails on every level. I was never scared and truth be told I laughed at most things that were supposed to be frightening. There are just too many things and story lines going on and this film has no direction whatsoever. The characters are atrocious and their personalities are worse.

I cannot recommend this film and I know horror tends to be critic proof but please listen to me for once.

T Factor + if you like low budget horror then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – Pick anything and this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Thirteen Ghosts, The Haunting. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Action (Comedy, Zombie, Horror)
Rated: R
Running Time: 88 minutes
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard
Directed By: Ruben Fleischer
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
A man travels cross country to see his parents. The problem is the world is in the midst of a zombie apocalypse and he doesn’t know if they are even alive still.

It is no secret that I have a love for all things zombies (Yeah yeah insert obligatory ex-girlfriend joke here.) It is the reason I can sit through zombie films shot on a 2 dollar budget. People laugh when I bring up that the zombie apocalypse will happen in our lifetime and all I can do is nod and smile as I picture shooting a crossbow bolt into their Zed cranium. Zombieland is the story of the world during a full blown zombie apocalypse. It follows the story of a guy named Columbus as he travels cross country to see if his parents are still alive. Along the way he meets some unique characters and not really together they try and survive the zombie hordes.

Bottom line is you need to watch this film. Any movie where a lead character says "Nut up or shut up" must be viewed in my mind. George A. Romero is the godfather of zombie films and Shaun of the Dead is the originator of the Zombie Comedy (Zom Com). I know people will throw many examples of other zombie comedies that predate Shaun but you are just being obtuse and nerdy if you do so. Now we find ourselves with the movie Zombieland and I couldn’t have been more impressed and entertained with it. The movie starts and right off the bat you know this film is going to be great. It has a quick intro to the character Columbus and a few of his many rules to survive the apocalypse. From there you are presented with a clip with cast introductions where you see zombies chasing people in everyday life. It might have been my favorite part of the movie. Zombies in three legged races, bride zombies, stripper zombies, and many others are all chasing down humans in slow motion to take a bite of flesh. It just sets the tone of the film and was an ingenious start. From there we follow Columbus as he details how he has survived so long in a world where everyone else is either dead or a walking corpse. His numbered rules of survival are not only practical but show up in the background as he enforces them. This film never lets the viewer down. When it isn’t making you laugh out loud like when a fatty tries to outrun a zombie on a football field, it has the blood and gore element down like when a guy has his guts ripped out in the toilet.

Columbus is played by Jesse Eisenberg and I was skeptical when I heard that but not anymore. He is a fantastic lead and his delivery and zombie rule book make this movie flow perfectly. His sidekick Tallahassee is played by Woody Harrelson and if ever there is a perfectly played role than this is it. He is this red neck, gun loving, Zombie killing maniac who is just cruising the country looking for Twinkies. After the two of them meet and become quasi partners the film never falters. The two polar opposite personalities talk about life and love and in this relationship there is humor in almost every sentence. There is something so resplendent in a homicidal maniac and a neurotic dork teaming up to kill zombies. They meet two girls on the road named Wichita and Little Rock played by Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin. These two characters are incidental in making this film good or not. Sure they don’t detract from the story and add some comedic plotlines but Eisenberg and Harrelson are so good together that the women are merely extras in this film. There is also a fantastic cameo in this movie that you will not want to miss.

The film continues on its entertaining path and the viewer is blessed with Tallahassee taking a perverse pleasure in killing zombies in unique ways. Everything from baseball bats to musical instruments is used to kill the walking dead and he is quite proficient at it. A film where people try to kill zombies in interesting ways to pass the time and win something called the “zombie kill of the week” is genius in my books. The film does take the obvious love story angle and sometimes can lose focus at times but that can all be forgiven by the time the ending rolls around. The ending somehow doesn’t disappoint as everyone has to battle a vast horde of zombies. Liberal amounts of blood is splattered everywhere and the viewer is left sated in nearly every category in regards to this film. There are copious amounts of jokes, zombie kills, zombie rules, funny situations, and the film is never slow.

Director Ruben Fleischer takes a hilarious script (Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick) and makes one of the best zombie films ever produced. His casting is perfect and supported well with a great cameo. The humor never seems out of place even when they are fighting for their lives. He uses great camera work especially the slow motion opening credits and a scene where they trash a Native American themed trade store. The ending somehow lives up to the awesomeness that is the rest of the movie and that is hard to do. It is just a great job on his first full length feature.

I give this movie a huge recommendation but especially to zombie enthusiasts. A search for Twinkies has never been so laugh out loud funny.

T Factor + If you like zombie movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like Jesse Eisenberg then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Shaun of the Dead, Juan of the Dead.