24 October 2010

October 24th

Room 205 (2007) directed by Martin Barnewitz
A ghost story from Denmark.  I think maybe the only way to make ghosts actually threatening in a movie is to give them the power to hurt people.  Ghosts, as they are described by believers, are just a projections of strong emotions on a place.  Being scared of such a thing would be like being scared of a rainbow.  So, movies often give the ghosts the power to harm or kill people (or take them into a TV), as is the case here.  I will admit that when the ghost appears, accompanied by a really loud musical sting, it's often surprising.  But, after that, it's just a lady with bad cataracts making faces at people (and smushing them in elevators).  It doesn't do anything for me.  If there's a killer ghost haunting your dorm... move the hell out.  Problem solved.  I'm pretty sure this is the first Danish movie I've ever watched, so there's that. (5/10)

The Substitute (2007) directed by Ole Bornedal
And another Danish movie from Ghost House Underground.  They must have gotten a deal or something from a production company over there.  This one's much more enjoyable that the other, but it's not much of a horror movie.  Like The Faculty, it's the body-snatcher scenario in a school.  This time, it's only one snatcher and she is ostensibly here just to learn about love.  Her species completely lacks empathy and is constantly at war with each other.  Humanity's unique ability to care about each other seems like something that might help them with that problem.  She takes the guise of the titular substitute in order to study empathy in children.  Eventually, the kids figure out what she really is and try to convince their parents.  The parents, as is always the case in these films, refuse to believe the kids.  Lacking in empathy, the substitute isn't really a nice entity and plans to snatch the kids to her planet for further study.  She is stopped at the last minute by one of her students and all is right in the world.

Paprika Steen does an excellent job as the alien teacher.  She has lots of fun controlling her facial expressions in the film, all smiley-happy when talking to parents and scary-emotionless when speaking to the kids.  She's sort of reminds me Terri Garr, both physically and in the way that she acts.

Other than the afore-surmised deal, I'm not sure why Ghost House bought this for their horror line.  Outside of the alien eating a miniaturized guidance counselor, there's nothing really horrible in the movie.  I suppose the whole "my teacher is an alien who wants to kidnap us" is scary, though.  This'll be a good one to watch with a 10-year-old in the future, I bet. (7/10)

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