Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 7

Two movies on Thursday, let's just jump straight in.

Speaking of jumping straight in, that's what ALL I NEED did, opening with an underwear clad young woman, bound in a room, she has no idea where or why. She looks around and sees other women, still unconscious, all bound, all in their underwear. This is not as sexy as it sounds. In fact this movie deserves quite a lot of credit for portraying the stereotypical costume of the damsel in horror film distress as being about vulnerability instead of pandering to the audience. Anyway, another woman is awake and tries to help her. But every once in a while--you never know when--a creepy, silent man in coveralls, gloves, and a hood walks in, drags a girl away, and butchers her (offscreen; while there's  plenty of blood in the film it's judicious in it's use.) So the film is about her escape. And it's about building tension perfectly. Much of the fear comes from waiting and dreading what will happen next, not the jump-out-and-scare-you frights (although it's good at that, too.) Caitlin Stasey is excellent in the lead. In fact, she's so good that when they needed to do re-shoots she was hired away to a TV series and they had to write in a subplot and change the ending. And the subplot works excellently, too. Just when the tension in the room reaches a pitch, we switch to a story of a man with money troubles, and the mysterious organization that offers him work as a delivery man--but that's just a test of his loyalty to see if he's up for something bigger. And that's a whole different kind of tension. Instead of her visceral fear, his is more of a puzzlement. I could even bring in some gender politics and point out that women fear losing their lives while men fear losing power. But maybe that's going a little to far. What I do know is this was a great movie, and one that brings fresh new energy and ideas to the damsel-in-distress horror sub-genre.

And continuing with the damsel-in-distress sub-genre, we had a special sneak preview screening of GIRL IN WOODS, and all I can say is I was terribly disappointed. It starts off looking great, it's got production values well above most Holehead selections. It's got great acting, starring Juliet Reeves as a woman who is still traumatized by watching her father kill himself when she was a little girl. She and her boyfriend are on a vacation in a cabin, when he proposes and goes from boyfriend to fiancé. And then, on a walk in the woods, just as they're heading back, her fiancé kills himself--a shot to the head, just like her father. And she's alone, traumatized again, not knowing how to get back to civilization (despite the fact that they only walked a few hours away from the cabin.) And that's where it loses me. She has no survival skills, not even basic common sense, but she survives anyway all while losing her grip on her sanity (many conversations with other versions of herself ensue.) Not only does she survive, her phone survives for 11 days, until she notices there's a map on it and then the battery dies. That was the crowning glory that broke my suspension of disbelief. This movie asks me to make too many jumps away from common sense, and I just couldn't do it. Sorry.

Now with that said, there is an interpretation (strengthened by the ending, which featured a "twist" that was telegraphed from near the start) that makes it all make sense, but it requires that 100% of the movie be false. And I'm just not up for going back and imagining what really happened while she was crazy the whole time. And explaining what works and what doesn't with that interpretation would take more effort than I care to give reveal too many spoilers. Yeah, I'm gonna go with the spoiler excuse.

Total Running Time: 172 minutes
My Total Minutes: 410,141

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