Saturday, November 22, 2008

Review: The Strangers

I finally caught The Strangers on DVD after a short theatrical run here. Which is insane really, because I have seen a lot of crap in theaters this year that played much longer.

After attending a wedding, Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) return to James's family vacation home. Not long after their arrival, the young couple find themselves being terrorized by three masked individuals.

This is the kind of movie that scares me deeply, because it could actually happen. I grew up watching Freddy, Michael, and Jason but they don't scare me because of the fantasy element. I don't believe Michael Myers will be knocking on my door anytime soon. But real crazy people? They're out there.

One of the scariest things about The Strangers is that we don't get any info about the attackers. No motivation. They don't target Kristen and James because they hold a grudge. They target them simply because they are home.

The Strangers reminds me of two other movies: Funny Games and Vacancy. The first I haven't seen, but the latter I enjoyed, more than The Strangers. There's something so unsettling about The Strangers that makes it hard to enjoy and maybe it's not even the terrorizing. Kristen and James are having problems in their relationship. James has just proposed and Kristen said 'no' (ohww, you're a fool, Kristen!). They as a couple are hard to watch. In Vacancy, Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale are having marital problems, and, if I remember correctly, are about to divorce. Their arguing is more amusing than unsettling. They as a couple have more screentime together and actually work together to survive the ordeal. It's easier to relate to them than it is to Kristen and James.

Our unlucky couple splits up twice in the film. Both times we follow Liv Tyler around while Scott Speedman in all his gorgeousness is nowhere to be seen. I'm not sure why this is. Watching Liv as Kristen cry and crawl around is not all that interesting. I was half expecting her in horror movie cliché style to stumble across James's body and that would've been the last we've seen of him. Lucky for us the movie avoids that, but the reintroduction of James is not that earth shattering either.

And the ending.. my God! First, after all that terrorizing the maskies just sorta awkwardly stab them and leave them to bleed to death. They are eventually found and Kristen is not dead. Yet the movie announces at the beginning that it's unknown what exactly happened to them. If Kristen survived, how could people not know?

I'm not hating on this movie though. It's one of the better movies I've seen this year and it includes the most haunting scene I've seen in ages. When James's friend, the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia dude, is walking down the hallway and one of the strangers is following him with an axe.. well, that was just beautifully shot. I felt the atmosphere. The entire movie is well shot. The performances are good. The first half of the movie is pretty great.. too bad it falls apart in the second half. A 4/5.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

American Pie 4?!

Moviehole reported the following earlier this week:

Universal has decided to abandon those direct-to-video American Pie spin-off films in favour of making a third sequel to the original film – one that might possibly pick up on the whereabouts of now-married Jim and Michelle (Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan). Like the other three, it’ll be released theatrically.

YES! Finally! American Pie is one of my favorite movies EVER! I wasn't really satisfied with Pie 2 and Wedding though. The sequels lacked the heart of the original and certain castmembers were either missing or had throwaway parts. I dug up my original review of American Wedding, which I wrote in 2003. Here's how it ends:

Will we see American Pie 4? Probably. I hope. But not soon. I don't wanna see American Baby or American Pie: le Divorce. I don't even want to see a Stifler spin-off. I want to see American Reunion and I want to see it in 2009 DAMNIT! Let's have the ENTIRE cast return for their ten year high school reunion. I want to see what the gang is like all grown up, and I want to see Kevin and Vicky back together!

I stand by my idea from five friggin' years ago. American Pie 4 should be about their ten year high school reunion. It's the perfect device to get entire cast involved. I've read ideas that the movie should be about Jim and Michelle having a baby, but that plot alone doesn't leave much opportunity for the other original characters to return. A reunion does. And even if the movie's central plot is about the reunion, Jim and Michelle could still have a baby. All the characters need their own storyline anyways. And Alyson Hannigan is pregnant in real life so if they move quick, they don't have to make her wear a fake belly.

Now what's the likelihood that the original cast will return? Pretty big since most of them haven't enjoyed much success since the Pie movies. Let's hope we hear more news soon!

Review: Eagle Eye

I found a piece of paper with some notes I scribbled after I watched Eagle Eye weeks ago. Since I don't feel like writing a proper review anymore (because I barely remember the movie), I will just leave you with the following:

  • Eagle Eye is an attack on the sensory organs.
  • Entertainment for the MTV generation.
  • No substance.
  • No character development, except Shia and Michelle (somewhat).
  • I feel like I've seen this movie before.
  • The ending, WTF?
  • Shia once again proves to be a capable and appealing leading man.

Then I wrote down 'a 3,5/5' so obviously I didn't hate it as much as you would think based on the above. Shia is probably the reason it scored that high, because Rosario Dawson, Ethan Embry and Eric Christian Olsen are wasted here.