Review: Texas Chainsaw 3D


It’s pretty disheartening that this was the first movie I saw in 2013. I hold out hope that my movie going experience is only going to get better in the next few weeks. Because this movie was bad. Bad because it breaks the number one rule of horror films: It is boring. So boring I considered leaving about 3/4 of the way in. So bad that it doesn’t really deserve a full review. Instead, I will simply do a pros and cons list.

Pros: Shaun Sipos first appears as a sketchy hitch-hiker in the rain, wet. His tight cowboy shirt wide open to expose his fuzzy chest. Scott Eastwood plays a cocky, slightly untrustworthy deputy, and is just as sexy as his dad was about 50 years before he spoke to an empty chair at the RNC. Tey Songz is shirtless in two extended scenes.

At least TCM3D had lots of eye candy.

At least TCM3D had lots of eye candy.

Cons: Where to begin? Well, the story takes place about 20 years after the 1974 original, but the movie appears to be set in modern times (unless smart phones were in Texas 15 years before the rest of the world). A dumb, undeserving heroine who falls three times (despite having a clear path) while running from Leatherface and hides from him in a coffin instead of heading towards civilization. A lazy, nonsensical script that is bad even by slasher standards. A serious lack of suspense, scares, tension, or anything that one expects from a movie that’s supposed to be, you know, scary. But, worst of all, the filmmakers try to argue that Leatherface (who chainsaws a person in half) is actually a sympathetic character because angry yokels torched his home and killed his family. Seriously, the last thing the audience needs for Leatherface is pathos.

Still, I am sure this movie will rake in tons of money. And I’m sure there will be another sequel. And I am just as sure that I’ll be there opening day.


January 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm Leave a comment

Horror Movie Hunk: Hart Bochner


One great thing about the interwebs is that it allows people to connect with others who share the same peculiar interest. Growing up, I thought I was the only one who thought about the hunky D-listers who so frequently appeared in my favorite horror movies. Mostly these actors were unknown “talents” who pretty much remained unknown and, well, not so much “talents” as footnotes in the history of horror movies. Yes, we all know Kevin Bacon starred in the original Friday the 13th. But for every Kevin Bacon, there are hundreds of Bill Randolphs, who essentially recreated the Kevin Bacon role in F13 Part 2. (Actually, I learned this week that Bill Randolph works as a designer for the NY Daily News.) Over the last few years, I have found other bloggers who, like me, have a slightly unnerving knowledge of the unsung hunks who show up, get shirtless, and (usually) bumped off by a mask-wearing maniac or possessed puppet.  So, I guess this weird, crazy, demented quirky interest of mine isn’t so unusual after all. That’s why I am starting this regular feature called Horror Movie Hunk. And, who better to start with than Hart Bochner. 


Naked in Apartment Zero

Sigh…Hart Bochner. Chiseled good looks, hairy chest, a never-ending smirk. He’s the bad boy of my dreams. Also, he’s had a bit of longevity in his career, including his role in the homoerotic urban thriller Apartment Zero opposite Colin Firth. But the first movie I ever saw Hart in was Terror Train, the 1980 slasher pic most notable for starring Jamie Lee Curtis (still in her scream queen days) and David Copperfield(!). The movie is pretty unoriginal (except it takes place on a moving train instead of a camp or the suburbs), so there’s no need for a plot summary. All you need to know is that Hunky Hart plays alpha male douchebag Doc Manley, the leader of a fraternity whose members are being stalked and murdered at a New Year’s Eve party held on a train. Damn, that was a plot summary. Oh, well. Hart is so gorgeous that the audience knows automatically to hate him. It also helps that the movie’s heroine (played by a paycheck-cashing JLC) constantly gets mad at Doc and storms away from him in disgust. Get it, he’s a bad guy! Supposedly the audience should rejoice when these d-bags get killed off. But, me? That’s usually the point I lose interest in the movie until the “final girl” showdown. Terror Train kind of cheats the audience, though. We don’t get to see Doc’s demise. The camera cuts away just before the killer’s knife does any damage to that perfect specimen of masculinity. Hmm, that might not be so bad, after all. This way, we can remember him in all his flawless glory. One note about the character’s name: Doc Manley. I must say that it’s both cheesy and embarrassingly swoon worthy at the same time.

Sure, I'll join you.

Sure, I’ll join you.

Doc in Terror Train. If only that were my hand.

Doc in Terror Train. If only that were my hand.

After Terror Train, Hart continued to act, write, and direct. He even showed up in the sequel to Urban Legends. Most people will probably remember him from Die Hard, though. And, guess what? He played another alpha male douchebag in that one. In real life, though, I am sure Handsome Hart is a good guy. in fact, Time magazine named him the greenest celebrities of 2008. All I have to say is he could compost me anytime he wanted to!

January 1, 2013 at 4:33 pm 2 comments

Review: The Moth Diaries

Is there a movie set in a girls boarding schools that does *not* involve some sort of  Sapphic menace? If there is, please let me know. In the meantime, let’s discuss The Moth Diaries, directed by Mary Harron. Based on a novel by Rachel Klein, centers around a group of young girls who attend the prestigious Brangwyn School. Our heroine, Rebecca, emotionally damaged by her father’s suicide two years earlier, is slowly healing with the help of her best friend, Lucy. At the beginning of their junior year, a new student, Ernessa, threatens Rebecca’s relationship with Lucy by insinuating herself as Lucy’s new confidante. The other girls notice that Ernessa is a bit odd, but Rebecca becomes convinced that the new girl is more sinister than anyone realizes. Ernessa’s pale skin, nonexistent appetite, seeming ability to hypnotize others, and penchant for midnight walks in the snow lead Rebecca to the conclusion that Ernessa is a vampire. As tragedies befall students and teachers at the school, and as Lucy becomes pale and withdrawn, Rebecca decides that only she can stop Ernessa and save her friends.

The Moth Diaries is enjoyable even if it seems satisfied with pulling only low-hanging fruit. Lesbian under- and overtones? Check! Inappropriate relationship between schoolgirl and hot new English teacher? Check! Heartless headmaster who ignores the heroine’s warnings? Check! CGI effects that make Ringer look like Avatar? Check and double-check! Director Harron, who adapted American Psycho for the big screen, hits the story’s highlights, but sacrifices any real emotional or character resonance in the process. According to Amazon, the book juxtaposes the Ernessa story with Rebecca’s life two decades later, so I am pretty sure there was enough source material from which to pull. Considering the movie clock in at 82 minutes, I think Harron could have spent a few more minutes with Rebecca and Lucy so that we care about what happens to either of them. Or better yet, why not extend the showdown between Rebecca and Ernessa so that it actually can be considered a showdown? As is, the big finale is as underwhelming as everything else in The Moth Diaries.

June 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm 1 comment

Review: Kidnapped

Kidnapped is an entertaining, if formulaic, thriller from Spanish director Miguel Angel Vivas.  Think The Strangers meets Funny Games with a little bit of The Collector thrown in for good (or bad) measure.   In fact, you could take practically any hostage movie made in the past decade and you’d have this movie.  Not that it is a bad thing, but I expected more from the movie after seeing its exciting trailer.

The movie opens promisingly enough with a hooded man waking up in the woods.  Hands bound behind him and unable to see through the bloody hood, the man makes his way to a nearby highway where he is helped by a passing motorist.  Using the motorist’s cell, the man calls home to warn his family, “Don’t let anyone in the house until the police get there.”  “Dad,” the voice on the other end says, “they’re already here.”  Fade to credits.  So far, so good.

After the opening scene, we meet a different family.  Jaime (the daddylicious Fernando Cayo), his wife Marta, and daughter Isa are moving into a new beautiful, spacious home.  Sleek and modern with a breathtaking landscape and pool, the house makes me envious enough that I suddenly don’t care if the family gets slaughtered.  It’s the first night in their home and Marta wants the family to celebrate together.  Isa has other plans; specifically, she plans to ditch the family and go to party with her boyfriend.  Isa is what the Spanish might call a “puta.”

Of course, it doesn’t matter what anyone’s plans are, because at nightfall masked strangers break into the home and take the family hostage.  What do they want?  Money, naturally.  So the men empty the safe and hold Marta and Isa hostage while the ringleader takes Jaime to a nearby ATM. What follows is pretty much what you’d expect.  The strangers terrorize the women, the women make failed attempts to escape, Jaime tries to outsmart the ringleader, the women eventually fight back in a bloody rage,  etc.  But you already know that from the formula for these films.  You also know the characters because they are in every hostage movie.   There are the calculating mastermind, mentally disturbed wild card, and morally conflicted tag-along who make up the villains.  And then there is Isa.  Why is it that every hostage movie requires one character to whimper and wine nonstop.  We get it, you’re scared.  But after 10 minutes of high pitched shrieking, I was rooting for the wild card to pistol whip the brat.

Kidnapped is not bad. In fact, director Vivas strives for something more artistic than exploitative.  He knows how to pace a thriller, effectively using split-screen to enhance a sense of urgency during the finale and incorporates creative camera work to suggest the gorier moments (mostly).  It’s just that we’ve seen this movie countless times before, down to the violent, nihilistic end.   I wouldn’t discourage anyone from watching the movie, but I don’t feel compelled to recommend it,  either.

June 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

Review: The Art of Getting By

A few months ago I saw the unspeakably bad Battle: Los Angeles.  At the time, I didn’t think it was possible to find a more irritating group of characters on film.  I was wrong.  The Art of Getting By features a cast of characters so unlikable that I was tempted to walk out of the theatre, something I have done only once in my life (damn you, Armageddon!).  Written and directed by Gavin Wiesen, TAoGB brings navel gazing to an abysmal low.

George Zinavoy (Freddie Highmore) is a privileged Upper East Side teen who floats through life not committing to or caring about anything.  When we first see him, he sits alone in the school cafeteria reading Camus (because, you know, he’s, like, deep).  In voice over, George misquotes Orson Welles by saying, “We’re born alone.  We die alone.  Everything in between is illusion.”  Because of this, George has detached from life and, as a result, become a slacker extraordinaire.  (Is this part of the 90s revival?)  Really, George, a quick search on ThinkExist would have given you better insight:

“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”

So this Holden Caulfield wannabe decides that everything most regular teens do without question simply are exercises in futility. That means no homework, no social activities, no engagement of any kind.  And I could actually appreciate a protagonist with this philosophy, except I found Highmore unbearably smug throughout the film.  (Maybe it’s because the Brit actor, so charming in other films, is saddled by his American accent.)  To make matters worse, everyone who surrounds George–parents, teachers, classmates–indulges him because, I assume, they think he is an untapped genius.  But let’s face it: Most teens who get into trouble or act out do so because they are a-holes, not prodigies.

The supporting cast mostly is made up of performers famous for having more famous family members: Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric, niece of Julia), Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks’ wife), and Sasha Spielberg, who delivers the most obnoxious performance of the year.  I would love to see everyone turn their inexplicable hatred of Rumer Willis toward Sasha Speilberg.  There is no way that girl would have a career if her dad weren’t the world’s biggest director.

It’s rare that I say I hate a film.  But as I write this review, I am reminded just how strongly I reacted to its self-absorption.  If you want to see a more enjoyable film about an over-privileged Manhattan teen whose struggles with existential crises are made more bearable by Emma Roberts, please rent the far superior It’s Kind of a Funny Story.  I promise, you will thank me.

June 19, 2011 at 12:30 am 2 comments

Celebrity Crush of the Moment: Andrew Garfield

I recently had time to kill between showings of For Colored Girls (kinda bad) and RED (kinda fun), so I decided to sneak into the last hour of The Social Network, David Fincher’s fantastic film about the birth of Facebook and the death of friendships.  Re-watching the film reminded me of two things: Jesse Eisenberg deserves an Oscar for playing Mark Zuckerberg and, most importantly, Andrew Garfield is the most crushworthy star to come along since Jean Dujardin.

In addition to The Social Network, Andrew has a major role in Never Let Me Go, Mark Romanek’s adaptation of the Kazuo Ishiguro novel that I will probably never read.  Both films perfectly showcase an irresistible sleepy-sexiness that few stars have like my Jake G.  But Andrew does, and he gets the added bonus of not dating Taylor Swift.  His voice, soft and deep, makes you feel like he’s whispering directly into your ear.  And, then, all you want to do is just protect him from the hurt that he endures in both movies.  I’m a little sad that his next role is going to be in the Spiderman reboot, because it means he’s on the fast track to superstardom, and I won’t be able to enjoy  the years of crushing on someone the paparazzi doesn’t follow into the men’s room.

If his wonderful performances in two movies this year wasn’t enough to solidify Andrew’s crush-ability, check out this interview.  Truly, a star is born.

November 13, 2010 at 8:38 am 1 comment

Review: The Switch

The weekend after Jennifer Aniston’s new movie, The Switch, opened to disappointing box office numbers, I saw a headline that screamed “Aniston Bombs!”  I’m not sure why certain types of media outlets get so much joy from Jennifer Aniston’s failures, but it does a disservice to a movie as entertaining and heartwarming as this is.  To be fair, I think a lot of people were turned off by the movie’s somewhat icky premise–guy drunkenly substitutes his own sperm for the donor sperm his best friend will use to get pregnant and hilarity ensues.  In fact, even I am slightly grossed out by the movie poster which shows Jason Bateman looking into a specimen cup that holds the aforementioned “donation.”

But back to the movie.  Aniston plays Kassie, a successful network news producer, who, against the sensibilities of society and Bill O’Reilly, decides to get pregnant using a sperm donor and raise the child alone.  Bateman plays Wally, Kassie’s best friend, who is a big ball of neuroses and cynicism.  After Wally drunkenly destroys the donated sperm, he replaces it with his own, blacks out, and forgets it ever happened until six years later when he and Kassie meet again.  By this point, Kassie’s son Sebastian, played by the cutie-patootie Bryce Robinson, shares most of the same neuroses as his unsuspecting daddy.  Among Sebastian’s peculiar traits: Collecting picture frames and imagining the lives of the stock models used in the picture inserts, perusing WebMD to self-diagnose obscure medical conditions, and asking to hold his birthday party at a local kill shelter.  Eventually, Wally realizes that his connection to Sebastian is deeper than he imagined, but Kassie has begun a relationship with the original sperm donor, Roland, played by my future husband Patrick Wilson.

In the real world, there would be no contest between the hyper-masculine, All-American, boy-next-door perfection of Patrick Wilson and the merely cute Jason Bateman.  But in the land of movies, the audience is supposed to root for Wally and Kassie to realize their true feelings and run crashing into each others’ arms.  And thanks to great chemistry between Aniston and Bateman, and, especially Bateman and Robinson, I found myself rooting for Wally to get the girl/boy.  The Switch in some ways is a hard film to market.  For a comedy, it carries a bit more gravitas than, say, The Other Guys, but as a drama, well, there’s that ick-factor I mentioned earlier.  But it is smart, and the leads are all winning, and it deserves better than the Aniston-haters are giving it.

September 1, 2010 at 9:10 pm 2 comments

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