Tag Archives: Kevin Bacon

Wrapping up the Halloween watchlist!

So I capped off my Halloween watch season with two final movies — last year’s disappointing Japanese remake of “Cube” and this year’s truly unnerving “Smile.”

The new “Cube” wasn’t terrible — it was better than the glut of lackluster low-budget horror films that we fans endlessly contend with.   But it’s still a watered-down, somewhat milquetoast facsimile of the devilish 1997 Canadian original.  The makers of the new film seem to have consciously traded booby-trap horror for some belabored personal drama.  (If you see this movie, you might note that the plot-driving booby traps in the titular futuristic prison get surprisingly little screen time.)

This decision doesn’t pay off too well … the melodrama slows the film down without making the characters any more engaging.  And the overused flashbacks disrupt the claustrophobic setting that is supposed to be essential here.  Maybe this script was written to better anticipate the expectations of Japanese audiences?  Or maybe the movie simply had a limited special effects budget — the deadly traps that we do get to see in action are depicted by CGI that is a little unconvincing.

“Smile,” on the other hand, was scary as hell.  Yes, it bears a striking resemblance to another well known horror film (which I won’t name, as that might be a general spoiler).  And some of the twists and jump scares are easy to predict (or were spoiled by the trailer).

But … goddam.  This movie worked.  I can’t knock a horror film that had me genuinely scared.  The supernatural plot device is undeniably creepy, and writer-director Parker Finn wisely employs methodical pacing to gradually ratchet up the tension.   Sosie Bacon (daughter of Kevin Bacon!) was also convincing as the protagonist, and created a sympathetic character to root for.

“Smile” is strong stuff.  I’d definitely recommend it.



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TAP THAT ASK.

Everybody.  PLEASE.  This is my formal request to the world to stop using the word “ask” as a noun.  (“I have a new ask.”)  PLEASE only use “ask” as a VERB.  Merriam Webster Dictionary agrees:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ask

The word you are reaching for is “REQUEST.”  (Please see the first paragraph.)  I have no idea why this bothers me so much, but … it DRIVES ME NUTS.  Seriously.  I even think that hearing the mispronounced “axe” is less unsettling.

The “ask-noun” happened all the time in New York, it seems mercifully absent among Virginia’s population.  The ask-noun is still around, however.  (Hint: notice how it rhymes with “ass-clown?”)

It has gained currency in TV-Land.  The latest offender is “The Following” (This season’s episode 13, I think.)

Anyway, if you DO use “ask” as a noun, then just LOOK at the shame and disappointment it has caused poor Kevin Bacon after it was used on his program.

I SAID *LOOK* AT HIM, DAMN YOU.

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The Lazarus Effect on the Flatliners’ Jaunt. With Dark Phoenix.

[THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS FOR “THE LAZARUS EFFECT.”]  “The Lazarus Effect” (2015) is a good horror – science fiction movie, just not a great one.  I’d give it a 7 out of 10.

It’s well put together.  There are some scary parts, and the characters are likable, if thinly drawn.  One part of this movie expertly recalls Stephen King’s amazing short story, “The Jaunt,” which I believe is the scariest story I’ve ever read.  The closing moments of the movie are damn creepy.   (Watch carefully until the end.)

If you think you recognize Eva, that’s the talented young Sarah Bolger, who was troubled by a vampire prep-school classmate in “The Moth Diaries” (2011).  The smart-mouthed lab assistant?  That’s none other than Quicksilver from “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (the likable Evan Peters).

But here’s it’s problem — this film’s story device was already employed a hundred times better 25 years ago by the far superior “Flatliners.”  That 1990 classic exceeds it on every level — even visually, despite today’s CGI.  I just can’t recommend paying to see “The Lazarus Effect” if the star-studded, funny, genuinely frightening “Flatliners” is available at home.

Even “The Lazarus Effect’s” modern special effects are nothing new.  When Zoe (Olivia Wilde) completes her horrifying transformation, I swear she looked exactly like Jean Grey after her transformation into Dark Phoenix in “X-Men 3: The Last Stand” (2006).

We’re also left with a lot of questions.  (Again, I’m trying to keep this generally spoiler free.)

1)  Are we seeing the real Zoe?  A possessed Zoe?  A traumatized Zoe?  An angry version of Zoe?  All four?  I’m still not sure.

2)  Why does Zoe’s transformation appear to happen gradually?  Why not immediately?

3)  Why is one character made to face consequences for a childhood mistake, no matter how serious it may have been?

4)  What exactly is the significance of the side effects we are told about (increased brain activity and aggression)?

5)  Given what we know about what’s happening to Zoe, does it really make sense that the dog should have a comparable experience?

6)  Can the process we see have a happier outcome for a different subject?

7)  Why does Zoe object to the lab assistant using e-cigarettes in the laboratory?  “Vaping” produces no smoke or odor, and contains no tobacco — it’s just a water mist.

Anyway … do any other horror-sci-fi fans remember “Flatliners” the way I do?  I never hear it mentioned.  Its contemporary, “The Lost Boys,” (justifiably) still gets praise and brings tons of nostalgia to 80’s horror movie fans.  Why not “Flatliners?”  EVERYBODY talked about “Flatliners” back in the day.  It was even better “The Lost Boys,” and it’s served up with both Kief AND Bacon.

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