Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Road to 500: Fearing Itself

It's been a while, I'll say that. I got preoccupied once again with fruitless job searching, delaying me from here even more but here I am again. While the Road to 500 ultimately failed, I still watched a hell of a lot of movies for it so I need to get going on them. With this post, I'm clearing out the last of the Fear Itself installments. While it ended up being mostly a mixed bag of disappointment steeped in "meh"-ness, I still believe in the concept of the series. If they would have only moved away from aping well-worn story avenues and tried something fresh while keeping in mind the time frame of the show, I think it would have turned out fantastic. I'm sure it'll be a while before anything like this is attempted again so we'll never know, I suppose.

83. Skin and Bones

Larry Fessenden directs what's easily the best in the entire Fear Itself series. Doug Jones returns from a stint lost in the mountains that no man should have survived, only he's not quite the same man he was before. This is the only entry that I would go so far as to say it was actually creepy, primarily due to Doug Jones's performance. He's already an unsettling individual so it only takes a minimal of make up to push towards terrifying. His mannerisms come across as outright ghoulish here, obsessed with only one thing: meat. The ending takes place during one of the more grotesque meals I've seen prepared in a film. Even though not much is actually shown, the implication is enough to turn the stomach. Fessenden packs a lot of nuance in the too short running time, achieving more with his camera than any other director in this entire uneven film series. It carries the air of subtle menace that all of Fessenden films seem to excel at. This is the closest out of them all to feel like a true film. The only negative I can say is that it's not a feature length movie. I could see the ideas and characters easily being pushed into even greater limits outside of the confines of the Fear Itself format.
Sights within:
-World's worst case of anorexia.
-Dude, what have you been doing with those fingers?
-Art of cookery abuse.
-Great, another 13 year old being portrayed with the mannerisms of a bratty 5 year old.
-Try telling this guy to go vegan.
-Best performance by a bowl of stew.
Grade: A


84. Chance

See, this is the problem with going through the Fear Itself films: they're all so damn middle of the road and generic, how can you keep writing about them when you've seen everything in them done better a thousand times, save for a few examples. Here, Ethan Embry is screwed out of his savings and commits a crime out of panic, only to find help in cleaning it up from his doppelganger. What follows is what you've seen in a hundred Hitchcockian movies. Gee, you think cops might show up and narrowly miss seeing that blood stain over there? You betcha. Embry is alright as the main character, though still not stretching much further than his typical awkward guy roles. John Dahl's direction perfectly perfunctory but nothing to write home about. The real sad thing is to see Vondie Curtis Hall killing time on something like this when he's capable of making such great movies. See it if you want, just don't expect to remember it much the next day.
Sights within:
-Nothing like delivering the most interesting parts of the story through expository dialog shoved into the opening of the film.
-Best performance by a vase.
-Double the Embrage.
-Gridlock'd director abuse.
-World's biggest prick of a double.
Grade: D+

Fear Itself "Chance" - Exclusive Clip
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85. Spirit Box

Rob Schmidt does his goddamned best to shoehorn an entire feature length run of the mill teen horror movie into forty minutes. Two teens get bored and play with an Ouija...sorry...spirit board (damn Hasbro) and find out a classmate demands vengeance on her murderer. Cue the Nancy Drew twins running around, digging up clues in as efficient a manner as the running time allows. This thing pretty much covers every base that any PG-13 teen horror film has already beaten into a pulp, including the predictable twist ending. The only benefit here is that it takes about half the typical running time to be disappointed so that you can begin forgetting all about it even sooner. Schmidt, who made one of the better Masters of Horror installments, does a commendable job of keeping the look of the film slick and the performances are decent. The problem here lies in the script. It's the same filler we've been fed for the last fifteen years or so now. Should you care? If you're over the age of 13, not really.
Sights within:
-The morons probably spent three hours on just prettying their pizza box up.
-Best performance by the same goddamn swimming pool you see in just about every Canadian teen film.
-Gym teacher abuse.
-Yeah, just go on ahead and steal police evidence. You'll be fine.
-World's biggest waste of Martin Donovan.
Grade: C-


86. Echoes

Okay, this one wasn't so bad, especially considering it comes from the outright bastard behind the Fog remake, one of the most despicable movies ever unleashed. Here, Pyro from the X-Men films rents an apartment in the heart of New Orleans and begins to be haunted by the past inhabitants. The film plays with the resonance of memories and past lives, with the feeling of prohibition-era New Orleans giving it a unique feel that rises it above similar stories. The problem remains that this still isn't terribly original. You know what will happen, save for a small twist in the specifics, so there's nothing that really drives you through the film other than the interplay between the two time frames. Aaron Stanford gives a great performance while Eric Balfour appears slimier than ever. It's a decent watch that I think could have gone a lot further if given the proper breathing room.
Sights within:
-Best performance by people kissing. They were so good, they drove two seperate guys into a murderous frenzy.
-World's most unfortunately named couple: Maxie and Zelda.
-Curb stompin', 1920's style.
-Switchblade abuse.
-How many baths can one person take before being labeled amphibious?
Grade: B


87. The Circle

At last, the final fucking Fear Itself. Too bad it ended on such a bummer. Johnathon Schaech is a philandering horror writer who gets his when out on a celebratory stint in the woods. When his book begins coming true, he has to own up to being the asshole he is. This one has an intriguing idea, though not necessarily an original one as keeping in line with the rest of the series, but the execution is flawed. Even ignoring my dislike for Schaech as an actor, the film suffers from the lack of money and time it would take to successfully pull off what they were trying to accomplish. Things seem like they're heading in the right direction, and then they just stop, another victim preyed upon by the restrictions placed by the series's format. Decent, but, (once again) you've been here before.
Sights within:
-Best performance by quarts of oil.
-It's called The Circle, right? Let's shoehorn circles everywhere we can.
-World's palest imitation of Stephen King.
-What a random coven of witches.
-Once again, shaky cam abuse.
-Ah, here's where the witches come in, over-explaining where the air of mystery could have been much more effective.
-What's more horrible: being the story's characters and reliving everything over and over, or having to watch Fear Itself over and over?
Grade: C-

Movies Watched: 5
-Skin and Bones
-Spirit Box
-The Circle
New Movies Bought: 36 (Keep in mind, this is from the last five months or so. Even with almost no money I was able to either get these through gifts or found them for less than two bucks so unfortunately the glory days have not returned but I'm working hard now to get back to them.)
-Outpost Doom
-The Grand Horror
-Paranormal Activity (blu)
-Pig Hunt
-The Tomb
-Dark House
-Grimm Love
-Hunger (2010)
-Road Kill
-A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) (blu)
-Splice (blu)
-Halloween 2 (Rob Zombie) (blu)
-The Human Centipede (blu)
-Sorority Row (blu)
-The Wolfman (2010) (blu)
-Night of the Demons (2010) (blu)
-The Changeling (Eastwood) (blu)
-Black Kiss
-Head Trauma
-Scarlet Letter
-To Live and Die in LA (blu)
-Outlander (blu)
-Mega Piranha (blu)
-Lakeview Terrace
-The Recruit
-The Sweetest Thing
-Angel of Death
-Fast Food Nation
-Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties
-Year One
-Your Friends and Neighbors
-Tailor of Panama
-Talk to Her
Unseen DVDS: 3209
Unseen Blu-rays: 77
Unseen VHS: 119
Unseen DVD-R'S: 5

Is there something you need from me
Are you having your fun
I never agreed to be
Your holy one

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