“The child is not yours anymore”
I must admit to being surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. There is nothing original here, coupled with a small budget, patchy SFX & even patchier (is that a word?) acting, it shouldn’t have been as much fun as it turned out to be. It does what it says on the tin with a real zeal & relish. Although I will give a plot synopsis in the next paragraph this movie is basically Inside crossed with Frontiers topped of with a little splash of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Adjie & his heavily pregnant wife Astrid are traveling to the airport with three of their best friends, where Adjie & Astrid will leave to start a new life in Sydney. Along the way they stop off to see Adjie’s estranged sister Ladya. Ladya is persuaded to join them in traveling to the airport to see them off. No sooner have they set off when they come across a woman Maya, wandering aimlessly at the roadside. Maya tells the group she has been robbed & the group agree to give her a lift home. Once at Maya’s home she introduces the group to her mother Dara, a soft-spoken, elegant woman who insists the group stays for some dinner as payment for their kindness. Adjie & Astrid go to one of the bedrooms so Astrid can rest, the others sit down for the meal. They are joined at the table by Dara’s other two children, both male. The wine they drink from is drugged & soon the friends wake to find themselves bound & gagged in a makeshift slaughterhouse & what does Dara want with Astrid’s unborn baby?
The first twenty minutes of this movie moves very slowly, establishing cast & characterisation. Once the friends are drugged the movie really picks up the pace & copious amounts of blood is split. As I have already stated the movie “borrows” heavily from other films. The scene with the police in Inside is lifted straight from that movie & placed in Macabre. You could easily spend the entire movie spotting all the homages (that’s a better word than ripoffs don’t you think?) from other genre movies. The SFX are a mixed bag, sometimes highly effective, the scene where a guy’s face is pulped by a rifle butt springs to mind. Yet at other times awful, the CGI flame effects are laughable & the blood has a horrible orange tinge to it, much like the blood in Romero”s Dawn Of The Dead. The acting from some of the supporting characters is straight from the Keanu Reeves School Of Ham. Despite all of this, the film has some decent plot turns, some imaginative splatter & moves at a good pace. But it is in it’s two stars that Macabre really shines. The movie’s heroine Ladya is played by Julie Estelle who is quite frankly stunning (sorry I’m male I can’t help it) Her performance strikes the right balance between plucky & vulnerable & gives you someone to root for. The film’s biggest plus is Shareefa Daanish, her performance as Dara is chilling. There have been some great villains in Asian cinema like Kyung-chul from I Saw The Devil. Daanish’s Dara is up there with the best of them. A soft, almost monotone spoken elegant psychopath, Dara is truly a horrifying creation, capable of truly extreme acts of violence & quite handy with weapons ranging from a chainsaw to a hairpin. It’s worth seeing this movie just for Daanish’s performance.
Macabre is never going to be considered a classic, but you know what, fuck it. It entertains, isn’t that the whole point. Despite it’s derrivative nature there is enough in the way of freshish ideas to make it work. Just a real funtime & as mentioned before worth the rental price for Daanish’s performance alone. Recommended.
“Everything has changed”
Bloody Reunion is something rare in Asian horror, it is at heart a slasher movie. This fact alone combined with an interesting film poster piqued my interest in seeing this movie. The movie itself has much more depth than your usual by the numbers slasher but the end result is slightly muddled.
Bloody Reunion is the story of a group of primary school children who return years later to visit their old & now terminally ill teacher Mrs Park, who we learn in a prologue had a deformed baby she kept in the basement & this caused her husband to hang himself. Quite soon it becomes apparent that Mrs Park wasn’t the kindest of teachers to put it mildly & her ex pupils all seem to have simmering feelings of resentment towards her. It’s not long before the former pupils are systematically murdered one by one.
The above synopsis only scratches the surface of the movie. There are several plot twists & a lot of psychological horror that elevate the movie above the usual slasher trappings. The characters are well-developed, each given time to explain their own reasons for hating Mrs Park. One of the women in the group was ridiculed about her weight by Mrs Park & is now obsessed by her own self-image, resorting to endless amounts of cosmetic surgery to try to feel better about herself. Another of the group was an aspiring athlete until his knee was perminatly damaged by a punishment Mrs Park inflicted on him. These elements are the movies strongpoints. It is as the murders start the movie begins to lose its way. There is an obvious attempt at misdirection as to who the murderer is & it fails completely & is blatantly obvious who the culprit is. This would be true if the makers of the movie hadn’t thrown several more plot twists into the film as it approaches its conclusion. The ending itself borrows heavily from a certain classic French horror movie (whose title I obviously can’t give away here) But it fails to tie up all the loose ends & finishes up looking contrived & ill thought-out. it’s the kind of ending that has you thinking WTF? It just doesn’t quite make sense. The final plot twist is comprehensible it just doesn’t logically pan out with the back story. It’s a shame really because this had the potential to be great.
Bloody Reunion is by no means a bad movie, it’s certainly worth an hour & a half of your time & it will entertain. It just could have been so much more if the ending had been presented more coherently.
“Its all so quiet”
The Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre is a slasher film from Iceland. It’s a film that has been compared to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, in my opinion it’s closer to The Hills Have Eyes in respect of plot & style. It does have one thing in common with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre & that is Gunnar Hansen (The original Leatherface) a good actor who has sadly made some truly awful movies. It should be noted that while Gunner Hansen receives top billing on the promotional material for RWWM, he has a small cameo role in the movie, nothing more.
The movie’s plot is simple enough. A group of tourists head out to sea to go whale watching. During the trip there is an accident & the ship’s captain is badly injured. For the group it seems that salvation is at hand when they are picked up by another ship. Unfortunately for them, they are picked up by a now redundant whaler & its crew are a family of deranged killers.
In truth RWWM is a bog standard slasher that fails to bring anything new to the table. It does have its moments, including a decapitation that almost makes it worth watching the whole movie just for that scene. Sadly it all gets a bit muddled, watching the film, you’re never sure who the lead character is. I accept it’s an ensemble piece but the focus of the movie keeps switching between a couple of the characters as if they were vieing for the lead. Added to that an entire strange subplot involving Endo’s escape. It’s other major flaw is one which it shares with so many slasher movies, people doing really stupid things at really stupid times. For example when one of the tourists knocks one of the killers unconscious, he leaves him with his shotgun rather than taking it for his own protection! The strangest being a traumatized woman who sings Bjork’s It’s All So Quiet over the ship’s tannoy! If this had been an American slasher I don’t think I would have been as critical but I expected more, this got me thinking…
I think when I sit down to watch a foreign language film, be it European or Asian, I expect more than if it were a Holywood movie. Lacking the kind of financial clout that the major US studios have & can throw at a movie. It seems to me that the foreign language films have quite simply had to be better movies to survive. A point that doesn’t seem lost on Holywood who now seem to be remaking any foreign movie they can get the rights for. The sad fact is that even with a decent template (the original movie) they still manage most of the time to completely fuck it up. Shutter, Quarantine, A Tale of Two Sisters, Mirrors, the list goes on. I know this may make me sound elitist & snobbish, maybe i am but I stand by my view that the foreign language movie industries produce better movies than Holywood. Of course Holywood has its place & has made some truly wonderful movies but certainly in the horror genre it is some way behind Asia & Europe.
Anyway back to RWWM, I cannot, in closing recommend this movie. There are so many better slashers out there & sadly despite an eye-catching title RWWM is just too derivative.