Letterboxd Reviews: October 2013

My Letterboxd account documents what films I am watching, usually films for the first time but occasionally a film I haven’t logged before.

Here’s a summary of the films I have watched this month, including a rating and short review for each.

This October I have watched 71 films. I also participated in a 31 Days of Horror Challenge, so 35 of these films were horrors:

Here’s what I thought of them:

Life in Flight

“An okay little indie drama about not doing what is expected of you. I guess there’s a lot to relate to in that, but you’ll find the way your mind goes off on its own tangent more engaging than the film itself.”

A Little Help

“Another decent-ish little indie drama that Netflix has to offer. Jenna Fischer gives a good performance but none of the characters are likeable and the story didn’t accomplish anything in the end. I wouldn’t watch it again.”

Identity

“Sometimes hysterical but brilliant at the same time, Identity is a great mystery mixed with a dab of horror. With an excellent cast including John Cusack, Ray Liotta, and Amanda Peet, the twist is completely obvious but it’s still well done – like one big game of Cluedo that ends up messing with your head.”

Teeth

“Not to be taken seriously, Teeth is twisted and outrageous all at the same time, but it ends up being actually rather good for a B-movie type horror. It is quite dark at times, but it’s hard not to laugh at it with such a bizarre premise at the same time. The mix between comedy and horror works well, though. The idea is bold and certainly original, but this pays off for first time director Mitchell Lichtenstein. It really could have gone either way, and I’m sure you won’t be expecting much from it at first either.”

Bachelorette

“With a great comedy cast including Rebel Wilson, Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, and Adam Scott, Bachelorette is funny in small doses but entertaining nonetheless. I don’t think it’s fair to comment that it’s a bad rip-off of Bridesmaids as it’s obvious that was never writer and director Leslye Headland’s intention. Instead, Bachelorette is aimed at a much smaller audience and is much more down-to-earth. For that reason, I found the story and its characters likeable and therefore enjoyable.”

Sinister

“Them last two seconds made me jump, but that was about it; I found the trailer a lot more creepier than the film itself. It was very slow and I found it very hard to get into, and the story itself wasn’t lacking any originality.”

She’s All That

“Every scene makes me think of Not Another Teen Movie because there is just that much to mock, but She’s All That is a great example of a formulaic high-school comedy drama; one that we can’t help but enjoy it for what it is.”

Arachnophobia

“I remember being made to watch this as a child and a lot of the scenes certainly stuck in my head, as watching it again around 15 years later felt like I had watched it only yesterday. I’m not scared of spiders but seeing them close up and in such large numbers is terrifying. But Arachnophobia is quite a fun film, too. Jeff Daniels is fantastic in the lead and he make this all the more enjoyable.”

The Edge of Love

“The stunning Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller are well cast in this heartfelt war time drama. The Edge Of Love thrives from its good performances combined with incredible chemistries, but its style is also visually impressive with beautiful scenery, set designs and costumes. Based loosely on the real life of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, the story is emotional and engaging, and it does well to distinguish itself from the many other Knightley-led romantic dramas.”

Gamer

“I was quite excited by the premise of this, but it let me down terribly. In theory it is a good story, but it didn’t work at all. I liked Michael C. Hall’s role though, but only because he is Dexter and he had a good presence.”

Candyman

“Let’s just say that I wouldn’t be afraid to say Candyman’s name in front of a mirror. The only part that scared me about this film was when something fell over in the room next door as I sat watching this in the dark and home alone. I’m sure it was a lot scarier back in the 90s but it felt like too much like an investigative thriller than a horror to me, and there was very little to be scared of.”

Carrie

“Based on Stephen King’s novel, Carrie is a fantastic horror purely because of its lead performance and character development. Sissy Spacek is excellent in the lead and I haven’t been able to watch her in anything since without feeling terrified. Them final few minutes too: jeez. I couldn’t leave my room for ages after this film ended!”

Pacific Rim

“Visually mind-blowing, full of exhilarating battles and impressive CGI, this monster sci-fi wasn’t quite the summer blockbuster I was hoping for it to be.”

The Mist

“Also based on a Stephen King novel, The Mist is a more than decent creature-feature sci-fi horrror. I love the ending of this film! Everything else I find pretty mediocre – the poor effects of the creatures themselves, the huge gaps between scares – but I do enjoy the focus on the individual people in this situation, especially the crazy religious preacher.”

Silent Hill: Revelation

“I enjoyed the first Silent Hill film because the ‘monsters’ or whatever they were terrified me: the rigid movements, the slow pacing – everything about them had me crawling into a ball and hiding behind a pillow. But the monsters weren’t so good in this film and I didn’t feel scared in the slightest, even if they were the focus of it. The story just seemed pointless, making the film come across as an unnecessary sequel.”

Filth

“James McAvoy gives an excellent performance in the lead, making you both despise and sympathise with his character, even if he is pure filth. With McAvoy giving such a strong lead, churning out every emotion with his best efforts, this film will certainly have an impact on you. The story and his character development really does mess with your head, but by the end Bruce Robertson will undoubtedly become a character that you will love, making the ending even more dramatic.”

Demon Under Glass

“It’s obvious that the film is low-budget – average actors that you’ve never heard of before, dodgy camera angles and slightly awkward pauses between dialogue – but it should still be credited for its unique plot, dodging the typical vampire clichés that are currently dominating our screens. The film offers an original take on the oh-so-many vampire films we see lately, focusing on trying to understand this mythical creature by working with it. It skips the decorative toping of the use of attractive cast members used in today’s films that has completely changed the meaning of a vile, blood-sucking monster, and instead sticks to the mysterious legend that has intrigued us for centuries.”

FearDotCom

“Just going to go with the obvious Shitdotcom.”

The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)

“There’s too far, and there’s TOO FUCKING FAR!! I genuinely think Tom Six should be locked up after this film. Obviously this is a film we already know to go into with an empty stomach and a very open mind. The first film was successful[ish] because it worked well as a horror film, despite its outrageous and stomach churning premise. But this is something different. This second instalment seemed to take every opportunity to be the most disgusting film ever made, going to the extremist levels to be as disturbing as it possibly could. If there wasn’t that scene with baby then I probably wouldn’t feel so strongly – although I was gagging long before that – but that scene really did push the boundaries. And I didn’t even watch the banned version! I don’t think I’d even recommend to watch this one out of curiosity, just to stay far, far away!”

I’m Still Here

“It was like the inbetween scenes of Walk The Line… Oh wait, it wasn’t real? That’s hilarious. It gets an extra half a star for fooling me. (Of course, I only half believed it was a real documentary! I wanted to, at least, and I’m glad I went in that way as it was so much more enjoyable.)”

The Evil Dead

“Evil Dead is an early low budget horror at its best. Having seen the remake earlier this year, I wasn’t expecting to like the original with new and exciting technological advances to compare with, but it was brilliant to see where the 2013’s Evil Dead was derived from. The use of sound is absolutely terrifying, this being my favourite quality of the film, and the gorey effects are actually pretty impressive. It’s obvious that a lot of these effects are real, which is slightly laughable at times, but this is what also makes the film so scary and effective. Its age and low budget certainly show but that’s definitely a beneficial characteristic, showing you exactly why people called this one of the most original horrors of its day.”

The Girlfriend Experience

“A film that follows a call girl around should be exciting, and Soderbergh knows how to mix serious topics with a somewhat ‘sexy’ edge well, but when all these men want to do is talk about the economy and global financial crisis, there’s just nothing to enjoy about it.”

Great Expectations

“Surprisingly, and somewhat embarrassingly, I have never seen any other adaptations of Great Expectations or read the classic Dickens’ novel, so I thought this was okay. I know if I had seen more of the many, many adaptations then I wouldn’t have thought so highly of this latest one, but the performances were good from a decent British ensemble cast, the style was quite impressive, and it told the story well, for a first time viewer at least.”

Hostel

“I quite like an Eli Roth horror, he certainly knows what he’s doing. But then if you have the support of Quentin Tarantino behind you things are always going to be the creepiest and goriest that they possibly can. Take the eyeball scene, for example. Brutally horrific. Hostel is a good horror, making sure that you’ll be terrified of any hostels you may visit in the future, and throwing so much gore and violence at you that you have to turn away from the screen constantly.”

Passion

“Directed by Brian De Palma, Passion is certainly full of intrigue, but in the end I found it laughable. I can’t decide if that made me love it or hate it, but I’m sure that wasn’t De Palma’s intention. A remake of the French film Crime d’amour, it was as if De Palma directed from a script that was an exact translation of the original film in terms of dialogue. It was all very basic and clichéd which weakened the film’s tension quite early on. The twists became constant and almost unpredictable towards the end which made it a good thriller/mystery, but I found it very hard to take seriously at the same time. Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace were both great and their chemistry was spot on, though I’m sure I’m not the only one when I say that there needed to be a lot more opportunities for their passion to show; its flaws would have been much more forgiveable then.”

House of Wax

“If only this film was as scary as its poster. But with a cast including Chad Michael Murray and Paris Hilton, were you really expecting that much? It is quite creepy and has a few scary moments, but the characters are awful and the violence and gore is just terrible.”

Dead End

“Strange and twisted, but you can really laugh at it so it’s a fantastic horror… in its own way. It’s still pretty scary despite how absurd and oddly fun it is, as well, so despite how terrible it comes across it’s still very likeable.”

Death Race 2000

“It was like a violent Wacky Races. There was something I really liked about this but I can’t really pinpoint what it was. I guess it was just quite… entertaining. The acting was terrible and the visuals were poor, but it really suited this trashy, futuristic 70’s style.”

WarGames

“I liked the nostalgic 80’s feel to it but that was about all. I really don’t like Matthew Broderick.”

Little Women

“The first of five adaptations of the Alcott classic that I have seen, Little Women is a lovely family drama. With a great cast including Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, and Christian Bale, the characters each have great chemistries and they’re all developed well, really tying this film together to make it a heartfelt and engaging drama.”

Tuck Everlasting

“Kind of a pointless story that lacks any emotional engagement. Alexis Bledel and Jonathan Jackson are okay but their performances won’t be breaking any hearts.”

A Nightmare on Elm Street

“I’ve only seen some of the more recent Nightmare On Elm Street sequels and spin-offs so it was a treat to see the original. This is a real horror classic, one that scared me a lot more than I thought it would with its slightly dated appearance, but the gore was effective and the effects were pretty decent. Some of the performances may have been poor but that’s typical for most horrors, and with Johnny Depp supporting it couldn’t be faulted really. The lead as Freddy is incredible, however. Wes Craven has created an excellent character and Robert Englund suits him perfectly.”

The Princess and the Frog

“Didn’t quite feel the magic, emotion, and warmness of most others Disney films. I did enjoy the contemporary story and setting, however.”

Won’t Back Down

“Loosely based on true events, Won’t Back Down is a powerful community based drama. Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal give great performances but it was obvious why they were chosen for their roles with Davis giving a similar role in the Help and Gyllenhaal in Sherry. Everything was quite predictable but it always had purpose and meaning behind it which kept the story running quite strongly.”

House of 1000 Corpses

“Rob Zombie certainly knows the horror genre well, and he works with some of the best characteristics of a good horror to make his own. But the story was a little too fucked up and messy for me to enjoy it fully. It was one of those horrors that didn’t scare me, just uncomfortably crept me out. The beginning and the end were the best parts, I felt, tying the film together well, but it all felt very similar to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, just with additional psychopaths.”

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

“I’m a big fan of Sam Rockwell at the minute, he’s fantastic to watch. Based on the cult memoir of game show impresario Chuck Barris, the story is unbelievable yet brilliant and hilarious. Rockwell plays the role excellently making it really easy to get into the story. The directorial debut of George Clooney, I really like the style of his films and this felt very close to Leatherheads in that sense. It’s stylish without lacking any substance, and he incorporates comedy excellently.”

Child’s Play

“They really don’t make horror films like this any more. You don’t need horrible clichés, just a creepy, ginger doll.”

Much Ado About Nothing

“A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s classic comedy. I found it a little hard to get into at first but by the end I was really feeling the impact of the characters and their relationships. Alexis Denisof is excellent and he stole the show throughout, but the whole cast were well suited to their roles and they each played their parts well enough for you to really feel part of the story.”

Only Yesterday

“Ahh, a story of nostolgia suits this Studio Ghibli animation perfectly, I almost began to believe these stories were my own. When you see an animation like this it’s hard to decide whether you prefer Studio Ghibli’s more realistic stories or their fantasy ones. But in the end, why choose? Only Yesterday tells a lovely and heartwarming story full of memories and flashbacks. Beautiful in its story-telling and animation, this really is amongst the best as it fills you with joy.”

I Know What You Did Last Summer

“It’s a decent enough American teen horror movie, but it’s horribly predictable and, from the same writer, it’s not nearly on the same level of Scream.”

Catfish

“I still don’t know whether to fully believe this or not but I guess that’s what makes a good documentary. Catfish keeps you guessing throughout, about the story it is telling but also of its authenticity. The camera does seem to catch too many of the important moments, with nothing being left uncaptured, but that’s not to say that it isn’t real either. We could all debate whether it’s real footage or not, but in the end – whether it’s all real, if some of it was re-enacted, or even if it is just a well disguised mockumentary – it could easily be a true story, one that happens on a daily basis, and that’s what makes you think.”

Scream

“It’s hard not to think of Scary Movie with every scene, but that only shows why this was a good horror to begin with, showing that the horror clichés of high school girls, creeky doors, and weak attempts to fight back can work well when they are used right. Then again, with director Wes Craven behind the screen, you wouldn’t expect anything less.”

Kick-Ass 2

“I didn’t like the first Kick Ass film because I felt it was weakened by high school clichés and the cringe-worthy moments that follow. Whilst its sequel still had a hand-full of these situations, it was much more enjoyable in that it brought together better characters and that it focused more on these rather anything too nonsensical. Still, I can’t help but think of Kick Ass in two halves – the first as a great superhero comedy/action, and the second as just a really bad comedy. There’s just too much that ruins these films for me, with constantly bad gags and comedy that you would expect from the likes of Danny McBride. I think the absence of Nic Cage helped an awful lot, too, as I hated his relationship with Chloë Grace Moretz in the first film. Moretz was able to flourish without her creepy father by her side, as well, and with the addition of Jim Carrey and Donald Faison the cast certainly made a big improvement.”

Hollow Man

“I remember not being allowed to watch this when it was first released, but also peaking behind the door to certain scenes that have stuck in my mind since. With this and the look of the poster, I thought I was in for a real scary horror when I put this film on. Whilst in small parts I would still put this under the horror genre, it’s more of a suspense thriller than anything else. But still, full of suspense (rather than fear) I was. Kevin Bacon is excellent whether he’s on screen or not, and the effects for its time are excellent.”

Halloween

“This is the first film I have watched this ‘Horroctober’ that I have been disappointed in. Usually the first film in a big horror franchise like this is the best in the series, so let’s hope that’s not the case this time around as I’m not sure I would want to sit through this again. For a starter, nothing happened until about 80 minutes in after a decent but brief introduction into the story. Then I was just angered by everything that did happen. Let’s just say that if I had to face a psychotic murderer then Jamie Lee Curtis would be the last person I would choose to face my odds with, but if I had to choose the killer, it would probably be this guy. They were both so useless.”

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

“I’ve not read the books but all I know is that Jim Carrey was excellent in this. The rest of the cast is great, too, though, and there are some great surprises in which actors show their face in this film. With excellent cinematography, A Series of Unfortunate Events is very funny and a great family film.”

Captain Phillips

“Based on the 2009 true story, director Paul Greengrass tells the story exceptionally well. A multi-layered examination of the hijacking, he perfectly captures a real, personal side to it from both sides, looking at the story through the eyes of the pirates as well as their hostages. The pacing is spot on, never allowing the film to grow tiresome or get boring, or by letting the intensity fall in any way.”

The Bay

“At times this felt like the parts that happened off camera in Paranormal Activity; I wasn’t that scared by what we did see and it could have gone a lot further. I liked the way the story was told with its documentary style, but it worked more as a mockumentary.”

An American Werewolf in London

“Probably the best werewolf horror ever made, and the only one that will leave you scared of walking alone on a country road late at night. An American Werewolf in London is a fantastic horror, with the classic scary soundtrack to top it off.”

Jackie Brown

“Whilst this is my least favourite Tarantino film, Jackie Brown is still excellent. Probably the least violent, disturbing, and bloody of his filmography, Jackie Brown excels with Tarantino’s well-executed dark comedy and perfected character developments. The soundtrack, as always, is class, and all of the performances are fantastic, with Pam Grier giving a strong long and Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro supporting at their best.”

Logan’s Run

“I enjoyed the dystopian setting and thought the story was absolutely excellent, but having seen Austin Powers before this classic science fiction, I couldn’t take Michael York’s character seriously enough.”

Dreamcatcher

“Having spent the morning catching up with Homeland, it was an excellent surprise to see Damian Lewis in this. The cast was pretty decent and I looked forward to the four main actors chemistry, but unfortunately they weren’t together long enough to make the most of that. Then again, it is a horror so that’s to be expected, and certain scenes did put me off my ice cream, at least.”

Shadow of a Doubt

“Hitchcock is the King of not giving anything away. Shadow Of A Doubt is yet another well-paced thriller full of suspense and mystery. Famously Hitchcock’s favourite of his own movies, it’s great to see what this year’s Stoker was referring to so often. Here, the performances are all excellent and the scenes constantly tense. He really did know his stuff.”

Night of the Living Dead

“Thought I had put on the wrong film just because of the sheer quality of this film; it has ages incredibly. I didn’t love it because the pace was slow (albeit suiting the zombie genre) but it’s obvious what a big influence this early horror was and still is.”

Sabrina the Teenage Witch

“Ah, Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina the Teenage Witch – what a big part of my childhood that was. This film is poor compared the TV show but I can’t rate it any lower because it’s what I was excited to come home from school to. Also, I can’t believe Ryan Reynolds was actually in this.”

The Innkeepers

“Slow, boring, and scary for a mere three seconds. There was no atmosphere or suspense despite the story heavily relying on these two things, so I couldn’t get into it at all. I’m pretty sure the ghost was only a Tim Burton styled Johnny Depp, as well.”

Ocean Waves

“If this wasn’t an animation then I think this would have been a film I loved, but as an animation the dramatic story feels very out of place. Making my way through the Studio Ghibli collection, this is the first film that I have found hard to get into. The story felt far too personal for it to be told through animated characters, and I think it needed two real-life actors to pull off the emotional reaction it was trying to enforce. Instead, I just couldn’t engage with it, but at the same time I really enjoyed the story behind it.”

Flowers in the Attic

“This was one of my mum’s favourite films, so I grew up watching this at least once a year… I’M NOT EVEN JOKING. What was wrong with you, Mum?! As a child I didn’t really pick up on a lot of the darker subject matters, I just knew that the mother was a very nasty person. Growing up, it’s so much darker than I ever could have imagined. I hear the books are much better, but without having read them I felt that the story was disturbingly engaging, even with poor acting and bad dialogue, so much so that it will leave you rigid in shock by the end.”

Maniac

“From the very start, distinguishing that every shot is filmed from the murderer’s point of view, it’s obvious that Maniac is going to be a film that will draw you in to its disturbing and psychotic story. From then on, it’s hard to pull away. This camera work has such a big impact, as Maniac could have very easily been just another mediocre remake of a horror classic if it wasn’t for this one characteristic making it original and more powerful. I’m yet to see the original so I can’t compare, but as a stand alone film I found Maniac to be just what I wanted from a horror film; gorey, creepy, even somewhat emotional, but at the same time, a character story that’s interesting to see unfold.”

The World’s End

“The final instalment to Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy, The World’s End has been one of the most highly anticipated comedies of this year. Set around the apocalypse, the film has an excellent cast boasting the brilliantly typical comedy of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, but whilst I laughed from start to end, it is my least favourite of the three.”

Let the Right One In

“I watched this without realising I had already seen the English remake, Let Me In, but from very early on I picked up on the similarities and familiarity in its setting. Watching Let the Right One In has certainly made me think more highly of the remake, but this original is something else. Watching the original, it’s more obvious to see that Let the Right One In, and the novel it is based on, isn’t just a horror story. It may be centred around a character that is a vampire, but it is also a coming of age drama centred around friendship, family, and love.”

Let Me In

“I re-watched this after watching the original, Let the Right One In. After seeing the similarities and familiarity in its setting, I think much more highly of this remake on a second viewing. Not only is it a great remake, but it is also a good stand alone horror. This remake may be slightly unnecessary with such a classic original film that was released only five years ago, but it’s so rarely that remakes are done this well.”

Antichrist

“I understand that Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg work closely with director Lars von Trier, but you have to wonder what an earth possesses them to get involved with such a script. Gross.”

The Collector

“Intended to be a Saw prequel, The Collector is an intense horror with a great villain obsessed with torture. With more story than expected from such a horror, this is one of those films all about the gore and how the next death will happen. I’m looking forward to watching the sequel anyway, because like the Saw franchise, this film can go anywhere and even if the story doesn’t, it’s bound to get gorier.”

Upside Down

“If you believe everything you are told in this film then you may just find it likeable. I had been wanting to see this for months, but since it didn’t get a UK release date I had to wait for Netflix US to upload it. It might not have been the drama or romance of the year that I was hoping for, but it was certainly a decent watch. Set in an alternate universe where twinned worlds have opposite gravities, Upside Down was never going to be a film that was based on a believable premise. With too much explanation in the first five minutes, it was obvious that the needed detail was going to be lacking. And that’s where a lot of the criticisms will be coming from; a lack of depth. What suffers most from this is the relationship between the two leads, played well by Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst. Whilst the two have a good chemistry, their relationship didn’t push any emotional boundaries as it was supposed to, seeing as it was one that was set to change the world. The execution could have been a lot better, but the idea itself is what will draw you in to this film. The visuals are stunning with a really fitting use of colours, so whilst you may not believe what you are seeing, you will like the look of it.”

Good Luck Chuck

“Awful in many ways, but some scenes made me laugh quite hard. The bit that made me laugh most was when a guy goes down on a toy penguin, so I think that sums this film up well enough. I was obviously in a very immature mood.”

The Call

“I loved this until the final ten minutes, but the conclusion really lets this film down. The Call has an original and gripping premise and it plays out as well as its suspenseful car chases. I’ve read many describing its flaws with the term “third act syndrome”, and that really is where it all goes wrong. Everything before that, however, was exciting and well worth the watch. Halle Berry gives one of her best performances in a long time, and Abigail Breslin is great, too. My only other disappointment was not getting to see what was in that back room!”

Halloween II

“I can’t get into these Halloween films. I’ve loved all of the other early horror franchises I’ve started watching this October (Nightmare On Elm Street, Child’s Play, etc.), but the Halloween franchise is the only one that is letting me down. Nothing ever happens until the final ten minutes, and by the time it starts to get interesting it ends.”

Prisoners

“Prisoners is a chilling, dark, and at times terrifying, dramatic thriller that will result in you questioning your own morality. How far would you go? Not as far as Hugh Jackman does, that’s for sure.”

Thor: The Dark World

“Set a year after the events in The Avengers and the latest Marvel superhero film since Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World shows that it’s just getting better and better, posing us to question: Is Thor the most consistently entertaining superhero there is? I’m starting to think he is, but I also think that Thor is the most surprisingly entertaining of the franchise, as well, as I never expect to love his films as much as I do.”

V/H/S/2

“I didn’t overly enjoy the first V/H/S film but it had its scares and it felt like it was showcasing some great work. This sort of prequel of anthologies, however, felt very uninspired. Gorey and creepy each in their own ways, I didn’t enjoy any of the four short films on their own.”

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