Friday, October 24, 2008

See These, Not Saw

JA from MNPP here again. Well it's late October, and that means the human collective brain is turning towards the scary things... you see them on the tee-vees, hyping their doomsday approach. The day is imminent, they say! And not only do they plan on winning, but they plan on dragging us all to Hell with them. Oh sure, we might scream to the masses, "What about these past several years? This long National nightmare must be stopped!" But will the masses listen? Will they save us from the same tired horror-show, seemingly stuck in an endless loop?

No, I don't mean Sarah Palin & Co. - they're too scary for even a hardened horror vet like myself. I mean Jigsaw, that booby-trapping madman of the Saw franchise, whose series has dominated the past four Halloweens horror-movie release schedules. And he must be stopped, I cry!

I don't want to get into a "torture porn" debate here (though I am pro-Hostel for the record) but I find the Saw films to be painfully bad (I stopped watching after Part 3) and just haven't been able to fathom what audiences have been getting out of them year after year. The so-called moral conundrums that Jigsaw perpetrates with his "diabolical" schemes are at best on the level of how I imagine an especially dyspeptic Judge Judy would explain the concept of Murphy's Law to a class of first graders only able to use farm equipment instead of words, and at worst just window-dressing for cheap CG renderings of what a bone splintering would look like.

So with Part 5 coming out today and likely to dominate the marketplace yet again with its miasma of bullshit, I really would love to take this opportunity to direct you to the other horror movies coming out that you should see instead... IF THERE WERE ANY. But the brain-trusts at the studios have apparently ceded all control to Jigsaw - I'm especially pained that Warner Brothers has apparently given up on Michael Dougherty's supposed-to-be-great Trick'r'Treat - and once again I am forced to feel shitty for being a horror fan as this cursed franchise scrapes the barrel's bottom of what the genre I love could be about for one more year (and Part 6 is being prepped for '09, yeehaw!).

But wait - there are two! Two horror flicks - both foreign, natch - that are actually out this week to counteract this Saw madness... in LA and NYC. Which is fine for me since I live in New York but I don't think they'll really be making much noise elsewhere. Still let's have a look at 'em all the same so I can feel a little better about my beloved genre this weekend.

Fear(s) of the Dark, aka Peur(s) du noir, is an animated anthology film that I am calling the second best film that I've seen so far this year back at MNPP. Of specific interest is the section by Black Hole author Charles Burns, whose phenomenal artwork comes alive in creepy detail, but every segment has something wonderful to offer. If you can find the film, you won't be sorry - I guess it's playing on OnDemand now too. Watch the trailer here for a good idea of what you'll be in for.

Let the Right One In, aka Låt den rätte komma in, is a Swedish vampire film that's been getting raves for months. I have not seen this one yet but I assume some of our foreign readership has and can tell us if the general verdict is on the mark or not - still it sounds like a fascinating take on the ever-morphing vampire mythos. Let the Right One In will be rolling out in theaters across the country over the next few weeks - you can find where and when right here.

Ahhh... they smell like sanity, don't they? There are still horror movies worth seeking out, here and there, sprinkled through the manure. Sometimes ones forgets even when one is a die-hard fan.

So do yourselves, do us all a favor - if you feel the late October scary-movie bug nipping at the back of your neck... don't fall prey to Saw. Seek out one of these if you can, or just go rent Halloween! It's the treat that does the trick every year better, thirty years running!


Anonymous said...

Just because something is foreign doesn't make it any better. I bet if Saw was Russian, critics would be all over it as a piece of multi-layered, psychologically complex film-making.

Erich Kuersten said...

Thanks for tellin' it true - I can't wait to see both these foreign films. Jack, you're a little bit right, a little bit wrong. We've seen lots of crappy Russian horror films come through the mill and French too (Trouble Every Day, anyone?) - I cant really comment on the Saw films, having studiously avoided them, but I have seen their preview promos ad nauseum, and I do mean nauseum

Jason Adams said...

I've argued that same thing in the past, jack. I thought the critical praise heaped on the Korean monster movie The Host, for example, was way out of control with regards to what the film actually offered.

When I said that both of these films I was hyping here were "both foreign, natch" I meant that the only horror films that anybody will even bother to release around Halloween here in the US right now are obscure little thing like these, and that no big horror movie is daring to challenge the Saw franchise. Next weekend The Haunting of Molly Hartley is coming out, but word on that's been dire and it just looks awful.

Kevin Christensen said...

cool! I recently saw the trailer for 'Let the Right Ones In' and I really want to see it... I love foreign horror, and throwing kids into a vampire movie is a genius idea... very creepy.

thanks for the post.

Glenn said...

I wasn't quite as taken with Let the Right One In as others. I thought it wasn't scary enough to work in that regard, and then it wasn't quite as well done as something like Buffy to work as a kids-movie-that-just-happens-to-have-vampires. Ya know?

The first half hour or so is GREAT though when it's actually setting up the horror, but then it ditches that and goes off onto a different track. That end is quite a treat though, I must say.

Michael Parsons said...

The first Saw film I thought was creepy, but not scary, just kind of sick, and the idea was kind of genius.....too bad the acting was horrible.
A true horror film is one that actually terrifies you while watching it. One that makes you want to leave the theater 'cause you can't take the suspense...not because you want to vomit.
I mean I for one will have to question my sanity if I were to ever get desensitized to what the 'Saw's' and the 'Hostle's' depict.

Give me suspense and shocks over torture and gore any day.

(the only reason I saw Saw 1 was cause it starred Shawnee Smith who was in 1988 'I Saw What you Did' and I used to LOVE that movie!

Anonymous said...

I saw Let the Right One In at the After Dark Film Festival last week in Toronto. It was the opening night film, and I was deeply moved and affected by it. It's definitely not your standard horror film, and those who go in expecting to jump out of their seats will be sorely disappointed. For the rest of us, it's an intense treat. It's a bizarre coming-of-age love story unlike anything I have ever seen. It has elements of horror, but that's not what drives the story. The scenery and mood is eerie and depressing, reminiscent of Bergman, yet the film manages to be very tender, moving, and at times, even uplifting. The audience i saw it with really enjoyed it. I recommend it to anyone who is sick of the standard gore and horror flick that hollywood loves churning out (Saw, anyone?) especially around this time of year. Let The Right One In is not anything like those films at all. It's a film you won't easily be able to shake off or forget.

Headquarters 10 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Headquarters 10 said...

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is the best film of the year, as far as I'm concerned. I saw it in July and nothing has topped it and I doubt anything else will.

Bob Turnbull said...

I too saw "Let The Right One In" at Toronto After Dark and kel captures it perfectly above (much better than my own review).

Two other strong horror films I saw there would be "4bia" from Thailand (4 separate spooky tales with contributions from the directors of the original "Shutter") and "Home Movie" (a U.S. made "found footage" film). The first was a lot of fun with the crowd anticipating the different scares and the second was wholly effective in creating a very creepy mood. I doubt you'll see either in a theatre near you, but one can always hope.

The worst film I saw at the fest was "Repo! A Genetic Opera". I really wanted to like it, but it's a mess. And it's directed by Darren Lynn Bousman - of Saw II, III and IV fame.

Anonymous said...

I regret not getting tickets to 4bia at After Dark! I loved loved loved the original Thai 'Shutter'. It gave me the heebie jeebies, especially the ending.

I saw Home Movie. Bob is right, the film has great tension build-up. I also saw Tokyo Gore Police and it was a rollicking good time, though a bit long and by the last 30 minutes it was overkill. The Japanese definitely have a sense of humor- albeit a very twisted one! I saw I Sell The Dead starring Ron Perlman, and it was alright. I was very tired and fell asleep thus cannot rightfully judge it. I regret not seeing Mirageman- the Chilean superhero film.

Bob Turnbull said...

Not to rub it in kel, but both "MirageMan" and "4bia" were loads of fun.

Otherwise, I'm right with you on all your descriptions. Tokyo Gore was insane, but it kinda wore on you after awhile. But holy crap there was some beautiful looking moments...And croc lady was pretty cool. B-)

I liked "I Sell The Dead", but I nodded off for a bit as well...The episodic nature was great (and several people I talked to later thought a regular TV show based on the adventures of those characters would be something they would watch), but the heavy dialogue in between was a bit slow. If they could tighten that up a bit, they might have something...I'd love to see it again with a real print.