Sunday, 26 May 2013

Buck vs "Aliens vs Predator": or, shouting at screens



Colin and Greg Straus, 2007, USA

So the trailer looked faintly, vaguely promising and my friend said let’s see it, and I thought hell why not? So the pending incomprehensibility starts early… what the hell is happening, you ask? Who is where…?… hey, turn on a light so I can see… ah, that’s a Predalien. Alidator. Whatever. Another fanboy conversation makes it on the big screen: what if an Alien and a Predator, you know, did it! At this point of development, the fan boy gets his Alien and Predator action figures out and starts to dismember them and alternate heads and limbs, etc, to fully explore the potential of the concept to his friends. And at some point they decide that it should totally like have Predator dreadlocks… but more so.

Whatever. So...

The kid gets it.

There go the disposable winos, hahaha.

A women steps out of a taxi… in full military fatigues. Bet that will come in handy later. ... what's happening?... badly lit, badly edited, etc.....

Halfway through, an alien slaughters a man in front of his wife and daughter, who then have to run for their lives and luckily stumble upon other survivors. The child is put to sleep and one of the other wafer-thin characters asks whether the little girl is okay, and the mother answers, “She’s had a bad day.”

And at this point, having been laughing quietly and squirming at every cliché and inanity, I said out loud at the screen, “What does that even mean?!” Honestly, I could not help myself. It was such a redundant, preposterous character response in the supposed context of alien invasion and seeing your husband/father killed. But it was okay because the rest of the audience had been laughing unashamedly at the ridiculous execution, the tired obviousness and incomprehensible fight scenes. I don’t believe I have ever shouted out loud at the cinema screen before… that’s what the stupidity of this film will do to you.

Another fanboy fantasy sabotages a franchise. Of course, that wasn't the end of such shenanigans and weirder things were still to come.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

"Evil Dead"

Fede Alvarez, 2012, USA
It is probably inevitable that “they” would get around to remaking that notorious and beloved horror classic “Evil Dead”. Early reports were that this update was surprisingly pretty good. Raimi was overseeing it… they made a bold decision to de-Ash it, which seemed to me to be the kind of move that opens up the original premise to other interesting ideas… I went in to be won over.

This Fede Alvarez remake is justabout minute-to-minute awful.

The dialogue is so weighted down with exposition and stupidity and so badly rendered that it is stillborn upon delivery. The group of twentysomethings that go to the cabin in the woods are a bunch of rejects from “Scream” and “Final Destination” sequels who can barely muster a decent line-reading between them, despite the cast having mostly respectable resumes. Badly acted; terrible dialogue; characters behaving like total idiots (did I mention all that?); a Book of the Dead that looks like some teenager’s home-made “Evil Dead” graphic novel homage… nail-gun action which feels more stupid than goofy; bad post-Japanese horror demons; goopy, brutal and unintentionally hilarious; po-faced and nasty, not to mention ill-considered, especially in regards to re-representing the tree rape… And then, hey, she’s resurrected all clean and angelic like? And then she gives some stupid kick-ass punchline and… well, even Ash only got around to dumb-fun punchlines in the sequels… Oh dear oh dear.

I went with a couple of good pals on the first afternoon screening; there were just three of us in the cinema and we spent the entire time, beginning to end, heckling and ridiculing and snorting with disbelief.

Its twenty-first century nastiness is very much in vogue and that has perhaps obscured its overall redundancy with some, but when I think of bad remakes, this is exactly the kind of thing I am thinking of. It’s worse because it seems so in earnest. All that insistent backstory is a bore and doesn’t matter one fig because the characters are so bad and uninteresting. More backstory and more explanation! This seems to be a first strategy for remakes … but for the most part it does not help. I shall argue that this does work in Rob Zombie’s Halloween” (and like 2012’s “Maniac”, that is how you “re-imagine” if you are going to do that “re-imagining” stuff) but… well, this “Evil Dead” remake has a screenplay by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues and, by all accounts Diablo Cody too, but the film sounds and acts as if the writing chores were outsourced to a fourteen year-old horror fan. In a world where everything we liked as youths is being regurgitated, this could be thrown on the heap with other victims of fanboy sabotage. For all my problems with “Cabin in the Woods”, at least that had an agenda to wrestle with: this “Evil Dead” offers nothing but murkier lighting, bad characters and a more thoughtless kind of brutality to its source material. It is ultimately un-scary and uninvolving as a consequence.

And the Bruce Camplbell cameo is the bonus insult.

Go back to the original to see how this stuff is really done. Nothing to see here.