Sunday, February 1, 2009

Film Review: "The Uninvited" (B-)

I desperately need to go back through my DVD collection so that I avoid seeing PG-13 horror movies one after another.

However, comparing "The Uninvited" to the flood of other PG-13 horror out there right now, it's not half-bad (but it's not half-good either). The entire movie is simply ... okay. I've never seen the original material it's based on, so I won't even comment on it like it's a remake.

One of my chief pet peeves with all these PG-13 movies is that they go straight to the lame scares and the jerky/contortionist ghosts walking about. It was fun while it lasted, people. Stop using it - it fails to be anything but lame at this point. That being said, I do have some respect for the plot. It was mildly intriguing towards the end (although I'd figured it out before that), but the film lacks any energy prior to that. I found it difficult to care for any of the characters, except for - oddly enough - Rachael, played by the always fantastic Elizabeth Banks, who definitely amps up the creepy atmosphere. The teenage leads, particularly the eldest sister, are annoying and I just didn't feel the actresses really ... tried. I'm not sure they had to.

As for the material, the script is passable and generally a cut above the crap that has hit theaters lately. I wasn't a big fan of exactly how the film ends - I fail to see why directors always seem to go for the lame "dun dun dun" moment at the end of the movie. To be honest, most of the time I believe it is because they feel they need it, but I don't think this one did. I also felt the pacing was a little off - the film seems to take forever to get to the point. I'm not sure if that's because I was bored (.... I was) or if the movie is just a series of "boo!" moments before the last twenty minutes.

There are a few moments that surprised me during the film. I'm pretty sure commenting on them doesn't spoil anything, so I'll go ahead and ask: who else didn't know that you could show a vibrator in a PG-13 flick? I was shocked when it came up on screen and it isn't a "hidden" thing - it is very blatantly the focus of a conversation. I had no problems with it, but I just didn't think PG-13 movies could show sex toys.

All in all, "The Uninvited" is not a complete waste of time, but it wasn't exactly enjoyable. Like I said, I really didn't feel "into it" until the final twenty or so minutes ... and by that point, I'd already figured out how it was going to end anyway. That being said, I think anyone who is in high school and/or isn't a hardcore fan of the genre will find it an enjoyable 90 or so minutes. It seems like the kind of DVD that is destined to be picked for a slumber party.

And the fact that those kinds of movies are what horror fans get nowadays is seriously depressing. I really hope the "Friday the 13th" remake does not let me down - I need some good rated R horror, even if it is a remake of one of my favorites.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Film Review: "The Unborn" (D)


You know, I give PG-13 horror movies a lot of flack on this blog. It is extremely rare for me to like one. And I have reasons for that. They seem to be chiefly made to make money off the hordes of teenagers that crowd movie theaters on Friday nights, but they're never developed fully because ... well, they don't really need to be, do they? If you've ever been in a crowded movie theater with a bunch of high school students on a Friday night, you know like I do that only a few of them actually pay attention to the movie.

This is very obviously a movie that was underdeveloped from the beginning. It's poorly directed, poorly acted, and by god it's poorly written.

There's not one thing I like about the film ... except for maybe that Gary Oldman is in it. And I'm not quite sure how they got him to be in it, although I suspect it was one of those "well, I'm still getting paid" things. Unfortunately, the script isn't magically any better because the words are coming out of Oldman's mouth. Also, while I'm on the subject of actors taking roles I wouldn't ever see them in - why is Carla Gugino in this film? I've seen her work - including a play on Broadway - and I know that she is much, much better than this.

Here's my one line review: Tries to steal from "The Exorcist," only it doesn't work at all.

While watching the film, I could hear people react to the creepy ways in which some of the possessed people walk as if it was all that original. That's straight out of "The Exorcist" my friends. And how do I know that? Because when I first saw the unrated version of that film, the spider-walk was burned into my brain. I get that directors and writers often want to pay homage to the films they grew up with, but here's the thing:

If you don't have a strong story or script to begin with, putting in these scenes as a sort of kickback to your favorite films from your formative years, it just comes off as stealing. It looks cheap and like you're going for the easy, quick scare. People forget that the reason the spider-walk worked so well for "The Exorcist" is because the rest of the film was so strong. It's not as if the spider-walk made that film what it is.

That being said, this film doesn't fail purely because it's PG-13. If it was rated R, I probably would have thought it just as bad ... only perhaps slightly more fun to watch. This film mostly fails for the same reason I hated "The Happening" - it comes off as if every part of its making was lazy.