Red Sands (very minor spoilers)

Red Sands – 8/10

Red Sands

This really takes its time to build up to what is going to happen, and then goes about doing it in mostly character-driven ways. I really enjoyed this low budget but well made film.

It mixes subtle moments of weirdness with the occasional gory bit, into a mostly quite effective horror piece. Some of the effects are a bit obvious, but they serve to tell the story.  Some of the best effects moments are brilliantly restrained and fleeting, helping to enhance to weirdness. They’re moments where you want to go back to see them again because they were just so quick and odd.

It certainly makes me want to check out the director’s earlier efforts.

My only real complaint is that the opening bit that mentions and talks about the Djinn feels like an unnecessary add-on. I think it may have been an even stronger movie without any of that there to tip the audience off. Then again, some people would have been put off by the lack of any explanation, and there’s nothing to suggest what they are up against actually is a Djinn.

I could see people being a bit divided on this one. It’s certainly not a perfect film, but in terms of telling an interesting and different character-driven horror tale, I thought it was very good.

 

For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.
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The Vanishing on 7th Street (some spoilers)

The Vanishing on 7th Street – 7/10

vanishing-on-7th-street

I liked this in spite of what was, to me, a massive, massive flaw in how it chose to tell the story. Basically in this the shadows suddenly come to life for no explained reason and people in the shadows vanish. It’s a cool idea and mostly well executed.

Except for the overwhelming lack of subtlety.

There are CG shadows everywhere. They’re almost constantly moving, right from the start of the film. I don’t care that they’re computer generated, the effects are very well done, but the fact that they’re often shifting and moving removes 90% of the drama. Instead of you wondering about whether any of those shadows are going to come after the characters, you’re constantly reminded that they’re going to. And the fact that the characters get out of so many scrapes further removes the drama.

It means that a scene very early on in the film, where a character sees a shadow of a person move in another room, has no oomph whatsoever. By that point we’ve already seen so many shadows move, we just assume it’s another one. In fact it would have been more of a shock if it had turned out to belong to someone still alive.

It is a good film, and certainly is worth a look, but Uzumaki really spoiled me for great direction and clever film-making.

 

For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.

The Forgotten (I completely ruin the film and tell you the ending)

The Forgotten – 3/10

forgotten

Look, it’s a good film, but I had some serious issues with the scripting of it so I’m basically going to ruin the ending to explain why it rates so low.

The basic premise is, a woman whose son died in a plane crash is still not over the death of her son 14 months later. Then one day, everyone denies she had a son. And there’s no evidence she ever had a son.

There are some early scripting issues I had. Within the first half of the film, on two occasions the people chasing her get stopped by blind chance placing a car or person in their path so they lose her. Then in another scene, someone looking for her is practically right on top of where she’s hiding and… they get called away.

It all happens very close together and is basically really poor writing. Or directing – maybe the writer had her getting away using her wits and the director thought this was better visually. Who knows? What I do know is that it added up to some bad storytelling.

Later in the film, we meet the unfeeling power that has been screwing with people’s lives. It tells her it was all an experiment to see if it could make people forget their kids, but she’s a threat to the idea that it is possible. That was all fine, but when it suddenly lost its temper and screamed at her and talked about the personal cost to itself should it fail… that was shit. It’s a way to humanise the baddie, which is the exact opposite of what should have been done.

Which leads to the ending, which for me, seriously buggered the central conceit of the film.

Right at the end, when it becomes apparent that she’s not going to forget her son, the powers that be take away the bad guy, and basically give her her son back.

Why?

Seriously, is there any reason to do this other than to give the film a happy ending? Because it makes no friggin’ sense in the context of the entire movie. If they didn’t care about experimenting on these people in the first place, why would they care enough to give them back their kids? In fact, why would they even keep the kids alive? Or on ice? It doesn’t work, especially given that anyone else who seemed to be a threat to the status quo was simply removed, so why not simply remove her at the end of the experiment?

I would have preferred her to find out her son was still alive, living with another family somewhere in the world, and for her to decide she would keep looking for him. I can imagine the beings that started the experiment in the first place thinking that this would be a worthy follow-up. How many years would she search? What would she do? Could she find enough evidence to track him down?

It is a good movie, the acting is solid, it has some nice concepts, but the ending guts the central premise.

For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.