Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 11

Last Saturday was the penultimate night of Holehead 2012. So here we go.

First up was the make-up screening of CELL COUNT, which which was supposed to play last Monday night but didn't. And it was more or less worth the wait. It's a bit of a mad scientist story about a horrible disease (they never name it, but it looks a heck of a lot like cancer) and the cure that might just be worse than the disease. In the opening scenes, a rather pushy doctor tells our hero Russell Carpenter (Robert McKeehan) that his wife Sadie (Haley Talbot) is terminal. He offers them a choice--he'll pay them $10,000 each to participate in a trial of his miracle cure and have a chance at life..., or she can die within a few months. He gives them fair warning, the cure involves unimaginable pain, but he swears he has survived it himself and is now completely disease free. So, of course, this seems like a good deal. And Russell is even allowed to stay by Sadie's side, since the trial needs some healthy participants...for control, I guess? Of course, this is a horror movie so the cure turns out to be something pretty extreme and horrific, but no spoilers here. I will say that I wanted to like this movie much more than I did (I liked it somewhat, I just didn't love it.) After the great setup, things got kind of muddled and the motivations of certain characters seemed to turn on a dime. Near the end, one character was often asking, "What's going on?" A question that I was echoing. But then, maybe that had a little to do with the couple of martinis I had before hand, but I don't really think so.

Next up was a film that injected a little new life into the "found footage" horror genre, specifically by taking some time to make it somewhat believable (not just that the events take place, but that they keep the camera rolling the whole time.) THE GARLOCK INCIDENT takes place in the wilds of Garlock, California. A van full of actors are on their way from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to shoot a movie. They decide to stop for a bit in Garlock to check out the abandoned mines. Then their van won't start. So they're stuck for the night. The next morning, their van isn't even there. And that's enough spoilers for you. It follows a fairly standard plot concerning some mysterious force fucking with them and people getting hurt. The twist was pretty good, and unexpected. But what really impressed me, as I alluded to before, is that they took the time to make it believable that they would still be filming. Case in point: the first night they're sitting in an abandoned cabin where they've sheltered for the night. At one point, someone asks the director/camera operator to turn off the camera. She points out that A) she has a room full of actors at her disposal, of course she's going to keep the camera on, and B) the camera light is their light source, so if the camera is off they're sitting in the dark. I appreciated this scene a lot.  Especially when compared to something like CLOVERFIELD--one of the biggest found-footage movies ever, and one I could never believe (not only would they have dropped the camera about 2 seconds in, but what's up with the scene where the guy is on his cell phone in the store and asks people to be quiet? Not only does everyone in the store shut up, but even the 50 foot monster and the army fighting him shut up so he can check his messages. I digress, but that was one of the most laughable unbelievable scenes in the history of cinema.) Anyway, my thanks to the makers of THE GARLOCK INCIDENT for allowing me to believe in a found footage film.

And then I ended the night with AXED, or should I say "FANGORIA PRESENTS AXED"? Eh, either way, it was a fun and funny family horror flick, marred only slightly by a few technical glitches in the projection. AXED, of course, has a double meaning--there's the literal "chopped up with an axe" and also the figurative "fired/let go/laid off/downsized/shown the door." I think the term "axed" for "fired" is more common in the UK, which is exactly where the movie was made and takes place (American audiences need to think for maybe 30 seconds before getting it.) Anyway, Kurt Wendell is axed (fired) in the opening scenes. He just can't bear to tell his family--his sissy son, his provocatively-dressing daughter, his...loving(?) wife. So instead he keeps the kids out of school and takes them on a nice outing to the countryside. Where of course he goes off the deep end and threatens all their lives (not to mention the guy tied up and tortured in the attic.) Sick, awesome and funny. And it kept teasing the audience with a pick-ax just outside the cabin door. About a half dozen times a character (especially his wimpy son) runs right by the pick-ax. I kept waiting for someone (preferably the son) to pick up the pick-ax and we could have a pick-ax vs. wood ax showdown. And then finally...I won't tell you because I'm trying to avoid spoilers.

And that was it for last Saturday. I didn't stick around for the late show of CROSS BEARER, because...I didn't like it the first time. Although I will say [SPOILER WARNING] it could have been improved if during the final scene when the cross bearer gets up and walks off screen they had put up text saying "Three Days Later..." [END SPOILER.]

I was a little conflicted that I didn't stick around for the short SHELTER, but I had already watched the screener online (I think they played it based on my recommendation) and I was pretty tired. From what I heard, it was well received.

Weirdly, this day started with a cure for cancer and ended with unemployment. And then just two days later (Monday) I got a call with a job offer working in radiation oncology. So my unemployment will end and I'll start working soon...on curing cancer!

Total Running Time: 259 minutes
My Total Minutes: 307,777

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