25 October 2012

October 25th

The Woman in Black (2012) directed by James Watkins
Highly recommended by a couple of guests at the Flint Horror Con, I popped this movie up to the top of my Netflix queue.  There's no doubt it's well made.  The cinematography is beautiful, filled with natural lighting and misty vistas.  The locations are amazing, with Eel Marsh mansion being a creepy old house in the grand tradition.  Never having seen a Harry Potter, I wasn't distracted by the casting of Radcliffe and thought he did a great job with his lead role, much of which involves no dialogue and no other people to interact with.  The film is often able to create a very cool mood in its silence and darkness.  But, in the end, it's a ghost story.  Those just don't work for me.

It's starts out promising.  When lawyer Kipps decides to spend a night in the mansion to get some work done, he begins to catch glimpses of things that should not be there.  A few times, he spies a woman dressed entirely in black far out in the yard.  When outside, a hideous face appears in an upstairs window.  I like these briefs peaks at the ghost; they're effectively disturbing.  Alas, the ghost cannot keep this much distance for the entire movie.  Once the film gets up close to the thing -- they are very fond of jump-cutting to the ghost screaming like a banshee -- it loses its power and becomes, for me, like an actor in a haunted house attraction trying to scare people by shouting "boo!"

The ending is quite interesting.  The ghost makes Kipps' son jump into the path of an oncoming train.  He dives after the kid and they're both run over.  We then get a Jacob's Ladder ending in which the man and son walk into the light, happily reunited with their long-dead wife/mother.  I've never seen a horror movie in which victims of the killer monster are shown walking happily off into heaven.  It's very bizarre.  Think of how we can re-spin every Friday the 13th this way: don't worry, Jason is doing everyone a favor by sending those sweet teenagers to heaven early!  In fact, this is something I've always wondered about people who believe in a post-death paradise.  If that's what you think lies ahead, shouldn't you -- if suicide is a sin -- be seeking the absolute most dangerous jobs possible in order to maybe get a lucky early trip to those pearly gates?  Are Alaskan crab boats filled with true believers, perhaps?

Just, it's very strange.  The ending makes the child-killing ghost of the film into a hero.  She's sending these innocent kids directly to heaven before they're old enough to do something to damn themselves.  Plus, she's sacrificing her own stay in paradise by hanging around this ball of dirt to do it.  What a nice, nice lady!

Watched: blu-ray from CBS.

The Walking Dead 2.12: "Better Angels" (2012) directed by Guy Ferland
It had to happen in one of these two final episodes: increasingly out of control Shane is finally killed.  I was still hoping that, as in the comics, it would be Carl that pulled the trigger in order to save his dad.  It was such a huge moment early in the comics: so damaged by the harsh world he lives in, Carl had no problem blowing away a living person.  It casts a pretty grim shadow over the future of this world if this is how children are going to be turning out.  Here, they wuss out a little.  Or, they prefer to develop Rick's character more than Carl's.  Carl still gets to shoot Shane, but only after he's turned into a zombie.  It's still significant, as this is the first time TV Carl has had to shoot a zombie, but not quite as horrifying.

The Walking Dead 2.13: "Beside the Dying Fire" (2012) directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
I love the intro to this episode.  Why is there a zombie herd suddenly headed towards Hershel's place?  Blind, stinking bad luck. The dumb zombies follow any sounds that catch their interest, starting with a helicopter flying over Atlanta and ending with Carl's gunshot at the farm.  Along the way, the sheer weight of their numbers topples any obstacle in their path.  It's about the best illustration of why these things are so incredibly dangerous en mass as you can get.

As expected, the final episode of the season is pretty exciting.  Chaos ensues at the farm as the herd arrives.  People are ripped apart.  The beloved Winnebago is abandoned.  Hershel's barn burns to the ground.  People lose each other.  The most powerful bit, though, is when Rick's truck begins to run out of gas on the road.  They stop and the reality of how grim the situation is begins to set in.  They have no gas, no food, it's beginning to get cold out, and they are untold number of zombies walking around unseen in the woods that surround them.  The feeling of hopelessness is palpable.  Welcome to the real zombie apocalypse, people.

Over the past year, I've seen a lot of complaining online about season 2.  I think people are being far too hard on the show.  Yes, the search for Sophia went on for too long.  I also think they spent too much time at Hershel's farm living comfortably.  More of the beginning of the season should've been spent living the hard life on the road.  Overall, though, this is still an incredible piece of television.  I think it's pretty easily the best horror TV show ever made and I think us horror geeks are pretty lucky enough normal people watch it to keep it going.

1 comment:

  1. I had a similar opinion on "The Woman in Black." The atmosphere is there and the cast is good. But all those damn jump-scares are just... Annoying. At the very least, in-between this and "Let Me In," the New Hammer is doing better then I would have expected.