High Tension: Director's Cut (2003) directed by Alexandre Aja
I'd heard that this was a great movie except for the ending. For six years, I carefully kept myself spoiler-free, not wanting to ruin the movie should I get around the seeing it. Well, I got around to seeing it. It's just a slasher movie with the Fight Club twist, nothing more.
The slasher component is one horror movie cliche after another. The female protagonist hides from the killer in the bathroom. We think she's in the bathtub, but, nope, the killer flings the curtains open and she's not there. Whew. She tries to call the police, but the phoneline in the house is cut. She hides in a closet and sees the killer though the slats in the door. She asks a gas station attendant for help and he's promptly killed. Homage though it is, I found it a bit boring as a veteran slasher fan.
The Fight Club component wasn't constructed very carefully, I don't think. You'd expect, if you went back and watched the movie a second time, there'd be an explanation for every time the imaginary character does something. I don't think that's the case for the car accident scene near the end. Marie is in a car chasing herself driving an old truck. Fine: one of the vehicles is imaginary. The car crashes and she gets cut pretty badly. We know these cuts are real, because she has them in the institution at the end. However, she later pulls Alex out of the back of the truck she imagined she was chasing. So the truck is real for having Alex in it and the car is real for cutting Marie... how did she drive two vehicles at the same time? (6/10)
The Twilight Zone: "The Toys of Caliban" (1986) directed by Thomas J. Wright
I've had strange memories of this episode stuck in my brain for 23 years. As a wee lad of nine, I watched it with my dad when it originally aired. I never knew what the title was or even which anthology series it was in. I finally googled a vague description and discovered I had the episode in the house. It's about an old couple with a retarded son. The son has the ability to teleport anything he sees a picture of. They allow him a picture book filled with toys, but keep every other photo in the house locked up. Part of the problem is that any living thing he "brings" arrives dead. He's also starting to figure out how to teleport things from memory. Things begin to unravel when he brings himself some food-poisoned donuts and his weary parents have to take him to the hospital.
As a kid, I think part of what disturbed me about this episode -- besides the obvious scare of when he brings his dead mother back, who appears as a gross corpse -- is the same reason Bizarro is Superman's scariest enemy. A mental incompetent with super powers is terrifying. You can at least understand why Lex Luthor does what he does. You can try to reason with him. If Toby from this episode sees you on the street and telelports you home with him, you're gonna die and he won't understand what's he done.
The episode's actually not made to scare, though. It's really about a parent's unwavering love for his kid, no matter what the kid can do. Though it ends on a depressing note, it's really quite touching. (7/10)
A bit off topic, but jesus this pisses me off. Apparently, there's a petition in support of Roman Polanski signed by tons of cool actors and directors. I'm so goddamned disappointed in some of people I recognized in that list:
Guillermo del Toro
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Are none of these people parents? What the hell is Terry Gilliam thinking? At least Lynch has the excuse that he's not exactly sane. John Landis obviously empathizes with escaping punishment for harming children, so I can see why he signed. But, why does the director of my favorite movie have the be there? The next time I watch Taxi Driver, am I to think Scorsese's really sympathizing with Sport? Goddammit.