THE BABADOOK REVIEW

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The Baba-boo-k!

A well-acted low budget horror that fails to live up to the hype. The wait for a decent horror movie goes on . . .

After all the buzz and promise, I came out of the cinema not in tears from fear and anxiety but tears of laughter.

After enduring a slow burning 40-odd minute build up, the moment arrives. The moment in which the dreaded Babadook finally makes its appearance and boy, oh, boy . . .

His cry sounded like a demented sheep. Baaa Baaa Dook. His appearance? *POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT* Nothingy more than Noel Fielding in his Hitcher get up from The Mighty Boosh. Minus the polo mint for an eye. And too much black lipstick. Oh! And of course, not forgetting those rubbery gloves that the Penguin wore in Batman Returns to complete the look.

To be honest, The Babadook felt like it was going through the motions. Or more importantly, through the checklist. Creaky floorboard here. Closing door there. Predictable. It doesn’t help that when the creature finally makes its appearance, it disappoints on every level.

It’s always a risk. I mean, look at Signs! After all the little teasers, the shadows in the night, the fast moving shapes and then we get that dreadful CGI thing. I was more freaked out by the demented pop up characters in the Babadook book (Totally rhymed there) than the actual demon. Thanks to the brilliant stop motion animation of Michael Cusack.

A little harsh you might say. Now, there are some plaudits to be had here and it’s not all bad just a little disappointing. Writer/director Jennifer Kent actually tried to tell a story. One that deals with grief and overcoming fears. Commendable in this day of shaky handcam and found footage horror movies that are in need of some serious exorcisms from the cinema.

And more importantly with two characters that you actually cared about. On first impressions, I was afraid that Daniel Henshall would annoy the hell out of me as Robbie. His initial monster hunter spiel was a little OTT but it did make for some comical moments as an exhausted Amelia (Essie Davis) must check every cupboard and nook and cranny.

However, as his character continued acting out and we learn more about his behaviour, I applaud the young lad’s performance and by the end I was routing for him. Essie Davis (The Matrix Revolutions – I know? I’m still trying to work out who?) was fantastic and played the grief stricken mother. She works well with Henshall and they make a great and believable pairing.

The film does deal with depression and paranoia quite well. And to be honest, there was a reasonable story beneath the surface. Amelia and Prue’s (Cathy Adamek) fractious sibling relationship was interesting and made for some heated drama with Prue prying into Robbie’s wellbeing. To be honest there were parts where I thought that maybe Tim Purcell’s Babadook wasn’t needed at all.

Don’t get me wrong, the bumps in the night, the Babadook popping up in books, neighbour’s homes and televisions was eery and the strange noises did create good moments of suspense but the big pay off wasn’t worth the wait. The scuttling and the door knocking was creepy enough but you kept wanting more. Oh . . . And the finale!

I could feel the burning eyes of my fellow cinema goers as I struggled to fight back the snorting. It actually made me snort with laughter.

Without saying too much. It felt like something out of Home Alone with little ‘ol Robbie doing everything to protect his family. With his little arsenal of weaponry in tow, he fired cricket balls, set up trip wire on the stairs. Comical.

The ending wasn’t bad but it was a little flat after a frenetic and tense few minutes. In fact it was a little weird and a little predictable. It had good moments, a couple of jumpy bits and tried to be a little more than your bog standard horror but it just didn’t polish off as well as you hoped.

Certainly not the worst. In fact, the best one (So far) and it’s great to see a low budget Australian horror film prove what the big dumb commercialized American hybrids are failing to deliver. But at the same time, I am comparing it to the likes of As Above So Below, Oculus, Ouija and Annabelle, which doesn’t say a lot. And with the Pyramid approaching, I fear the wait for a decent horror film will continue.

3/5

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CARRIE REVIEW

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Films cannot Carrie on like this. Yeah time for some bad punnery!

Random reactions through out the film – Why is Julianne Moore banging her head like Dobby from Harry Potter? All that’s missing is a . . . Oh nope there it is . . . putting her in a cupboard under the stairs. This remake is just a demented Hermione if she didn’t go to Hogwarts and her mother was a bible preaching loony. She just punched her with the Bible. Dayum!

Chloe Grace Moretz is quite pretty. Wait, how old? 16? Moving on . . . Bit uncomfortable watching this shower scene with four dudes, feel dirty. What is the deal with the gym teacher? Is she grooming the students? Please tell she is not walking around with that on her shorts. Oh, she is. Yikes. Blasted CGI. Did Carrie just do a Hulk Smash?!

Evacuating the cinema – Verdict: (Shakes head and shrugs) Watchable at best.  Played parts well. But the CGI? Really?! Original way, way better than this!

Best line of the film: “I can see your dirty pillows!”

What’s it about san? Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is the high school weird girl, tormented by her classmates and psychologically abused by her Bible-bashing mother (Julianne Moore). And then she discovers her telekinetic powers and so it begins . . .

What do you think bruv? Firstly, I wasn’t happy to hear a remake had been done. I didn’t feel the original had lost any of it’s suspense and horror, apart from the 70s garb. However, I felt slightly relieved in hearing Moretz and Moore were the lead protagonists. After a creepy opening sequence, it seemed promising. Moretz and Moore played the parts perfectly and a lot of the crucial plot points were covered. However, this film raises that unfortunate question, if Carrie was made now, what would you expect it to be like?

And this delivers my expectation. Cliched characters regurgitating covered ground with an over-indulgence on CGI. The gory finale was watchable, if utterly ridiculous. The original was simple, basic, and created more tension. It was Spacek’s stare that freaked me out more than the attack. You were awaiting her fate and feared what she would do. You genuinely wanted to know where the film was going.

To keep the attention of younger film-goers, Carrie deals with her telekinesis very early on and the film zips along, rushing to the finale, afraid to let the film linger and built suspense. It seems that you’re just looking at your watch waiting for the finale to appear. Portia Doubleday played the bitchy high school bully brilliantly, whilst Gabriella Wilde’s Sue Snell character is so passive, that if it was not for her “act of generosity” in allowing Carrie to go to the prom with her boyfriend, she would have been completely irrelevant.

Moretz brings dimension and sympathy to her character and the bullying shower scene is dealt with well. Judy Greer’s gym teacher is fantastic, to start with, being the mother figure that Carrie desperately craves.

However, as the film progresses, it skims across points more and more and the finale is mental. The CGI killed all suspense and I could hardly call this a horror, more a gory thriller to an extent. People being whipped with electrical wires, Carrie floating around and her Hulk like concrete stomping. There were a couple of inventive gory death scenes.

However, despite the best efforts of a great cast, the story borders on self-parody, especially with Julianne Moore’s brilliantly creepy, if hilariously mental, mother’s punishment of Carrie White. Greer turns into a sassy teacher that grooms her students and flirts with the younger teenage lads. It seems to throw the plot out of the window for an-all out frenzy!

Carrie (2013) exemplifies that film production companies need to stop remaking films that were, and still are, good. Okay, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo remake is the exception! Why not remake something that was shit to begin with? Why remake Robocop and Spiderman? Talks of a Lethal Weapon remake are still circulating.

Hardly the worst film of the year. Doesn’t completely soil the original but doesn’t help it. Scary? Hell no. Weird. Not bad, quite creepy. Suspenseful. Nope. Bordering on Scary Movie territory? Tragically, almost. For lovers of the original, avoid but for those who haven’t and love gore, worth a watch. I can’t Carrie on watching films like this 2.5/5

Currently ranks #143 out of 178!

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Review

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Or Paranormal Activity 5 (because it is the same rubbish just in a Latino neighbourhood). My first film of 2014, new year, new start and you would think the big dogs American Hustle, Mandela, Twelve Years A Slave, nah, PA5 innit. Horror films have always been a guilty pleasure. I say guilty pleasure because let’s be honest the horror films of today have nothing on the classics by a long shot.

So PA goes street and for a moment you think, “Are they going to break the format?”, “Is this going to be different?”. Others may have thought there’s a fifth one? Haven’t even seen the first. Now the obvious stuff; if you despised the PA franchise then obviously do not bother. If you’re a longtime fan, it’s not bad, in fact surprising watchable. I will do my utmost not to spoil anything but consider this my warning.

Now I’m not going to lie. I got caught up in the PA craze when the first one hit the screens, I found it tense, chilling and scary. Freaked me out. Great to see a small low budget film that cost $15,000 to make become a sleeper box office phenomenon, spawning a franchise. Unfortunately, in doing so, more sequels emerged, regrettably more CGI emerged and a format that worked soon became tired and predictable very quickly. I personally was not impressed with the second and fourth efforts. The third installment went back to basics and was quite good.

Now the story has moved on to college student Jesse celebrating his graduation in his beaten down apartment building. In fact it was almost reminiscent of an urban Rear Window. While Jesse and pals are playing around with, what do you know, his father’s brand new handheld camera, strange goings on occur from the suspected witch from the apartment beneath. And before you know it, Jesse has been marked for possession by the same maniacal demon that has haunted the franchise. Now to it’s merits, where it lacks in scares and originality, guiltily playing through the same format despite removing the Night #1, Night#37 captions, the cast bring to life, real and more importantly likeable characters that make this predictable horror, well I say horror, watchable.

To be honest, the film attempts yet again to build up the tension and the scares to somewhat of a mixed bag. Friends popping out from corners, see it done it, craaap! But a creepy scene in which a playful game of Simon, you read that right, leads to an Ouija interrogation with a demon? Brilliant. The crazy shaky handheld camera work is back again. However, a neat little trick in which the guys play with Go Pro makes for some genuinely tense scenes. The opening act is genuinely typical of the format but makes it up with college humour, some say lazy, I say enjoyable. If me and my little bro had Go Pro and had demonic abilities, we would probably have played around before the sinister stuff kicked in. At times, it borders on parody. Some of the visual works in unleashing the little scares is brilliantly done.

Now POSSIBLE SPOILER it inevitably leads to a big climax with a revamped visit to the ranch featured at the end of the third and fourth installment respectively. I won’t say much more than that with the obvious impending doom approaching. However, there is an unexpected twist. Unexpected for this franchise if slightly half-inched (stolen) from another horror film, Insidious Chapter Two. That’s right for those that have seen it.

So to sum it up? Rubbish? Not entirely, quite watchable. Scary? Couple of jumpy bits, not a lot. For a PA fan, where does it rank? I rank the franchise as 1,3,5,2 and 4 personally. So it managed to make a tired format watchable with a twist that will make a sixth, no doubt, installment worth checking out. But one thinks it is time to wrap up the back story of this demon and put this to it’s grave before it overstays its welcome like this irritating demon. 2.5/5

Where does it rank? For now, #76 out of 119