MOVIE REVIEW: THE STRANGERS (Bryan Bertino, 2008)

str_fs_hp_041608.qxd:Layout 1

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Strangers:

1. This might sound weird but the only times that I’d be really scared of ghosts would be a)  when somebody familiar died (also why I never looked at corpses and/or coffins), or b) after having watched a really creepy local show/film (think Magandang Gabi Bayan’s Halloween episodes). I guess that would explain my fondness for the horror genre and my strange aversion to lights (seriously, I would rather feel my way through the darkness than flip a light switch).

It might also be a result of my mother’s constant warning of “Matakot ka sa tao, huwag sa multo”, which actually made a lot of sense especially after watching all those Carlo J. Caparas massacre movies.

2. Speaking of, my definitive home invasion film would probably be the early 90’s cult classic The Vizconde Massacre: God Help Us! that started this tasteless trend of exploiting true Pinoy crime stories as popular entertainment.

I swear I was emotionally scarred for life at the sight of Lady Lee (as the young Jenny Vizconde) getting repeatedly stabbed on the back while trying to run away from her assailant that I never forgot to check the locks of our gate every night ever since.

3. I couldn’t understand why the characters in this movie didn’t act like any normal (read: paranoid) person and just made the dumbest horror movie decisions that were blatantly mocked in Wes Craven’s Scream series (“Never, ever, under any circumstances say ‘I’ll be right back’. Because you won’t be back.”)

Kristen (an atrocious Liv Tyler who kept cooing her lines) and James (Scott Foley) were so oblivious to the dangers around them that they readily opened the front door of their remote summer home when somebody knocked at 4 AM. And even with the presence of intruders inside, they chose to hide in a room instead of run as far away from there as possible.

In one scene, Kristen even broke a lamp (to fight a possible murderer with bubog, perhaps?) rather than do the most obvious thing to increase her chances of survival which was lock the freakin’ door. Sure, people would do the craziest stuff and stop being rational in a state of panic, but it was just too hard to sympathize with them when they were basically throwing themselves at their killers.

4. I think it was a smart choice that they never really showed the faces of the killers. This made their motives vague as well and created a more haunting atmosphere (“Why are you doing this to us?” “Because you were home.”)

5. There was one chilling scene where a masked person stood silently behind Kristen and I really thought that this would hold throughout the entire film. A horror movie that didn’t rely on banging noises and cheap jump scares would have been terrific. Unfortunately, even with a slim 90 minutes runtime, it lost steam halfway through and decided to utilize the same tropes of the genre (the entire thing even ended with a scream from a supposedly dead person, pfft!).

Also, I just realized that the chilling scene that I described earlier was the exact same one that could be seen on the poster. Now you really wouldn’t have a reason to see this anymore, no?

6. Robin Williams as an obsessed stranger slash trespasser using another family’s toilet in One Hour Photo was way more disturbing than this. Watch that one instead.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: YES MAN (Peyton Reed, 2008)

yes_man

Do you still remember the last time that a Jim Carrey movie actually made you laugh out loud? This movie definitely didn’t do the trick. Although he tried his best to contort his face and do an even more manic version of his usual characters, this was nothing more than Liar Liar Redux. And incredibly less funny.

There was an inspired bit involving Carrey singing Third Eye Blind’s Jumper to a man on the ledge but everything else was just ho-hum. Even the adorkable Zooey Deschanel looked depressed to be in this movie.

I’d gladly settle for another Ace Ventura sequel.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: TAKEN (Pierre Morel, 2008)

taken_ver5

Probably the best Luc Besson movie that he didn’t direct.

Liam Neeson gave a standout performance and secured his spot as the thinking man’s action star. This movie was the ultimate nightmare of all parents.

With this and Hostel, I actually had second thoughts on that European vacation fantasy. That said, the movie raised a lot of questions that would probably make the self-righteous’ heads explode. An eye for an eye might make the world go blind but it made one hell of a popcorn flick, too.

Morality got thrown out of the window for comeuppance? Talk about a different kind of action movie.

Rating: ★★★★☆

MOVIE REVIEW: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Danny Boyle, 2008)

slumdog_millionaire

I wasn’t a complete fan when I initially saw this movie a few years back. Most of the scenes felt contrived, all in the spirit of being the ultimate feel-good movie of the year. Surprisingly enough, it held up pretty well in repeat viewings and there were so many more things to love this time around.

This time around, I was able to appreciate all the metaphors, the general atmosphere, the frenetic jump-cut editing, and the eternal belief of happily-ever-afters. The movie was faulty to an extent but in the end, it was clear that you should never ever lose faith on an underdog.

Rating: ★★★★★