Thursday, 7 November 2013

AOTD Recommends

In this column I (and hopefully other staff and guests) will be recommending horror films that you can watch on the UK's two biggest streaming services; Lovefilm and Netflix as well as the US Netflix.

Mother's Day
Editor Steve and I are planning a podcast on horror remakes which, generally speaking, I loathe.  Mother's Day, however, is one of those rare films that gives the idea of remakes a good name.  Based on a Troma film (which I am assured is absolutely bloody dreadful), Darren Lynn Bousman's take on the material is a brutal and nasty home invasion horror anchored by a set of impressive performances.

Rebecca DeMornay gets and relishes her best role in years as the mother of a criminal brood who invade her old home looking for money that they have been sending her from their jobs.  DeMornay is at first a calming influence, but behind that lies real psychosis.  She plays this dichotomy with her tongue just far enough in her cheek.  

The home invasion narrative works well and the film has a nasty streak a mile wide (a scene at an ATM is especially brutal, while not actually showing much gore).  It does go a little off the rails when the action becomes more overblown towards the end, but the performances (Deborah Ann Woll is another standout), the tension and a haunting, if not completely unexpected, ending more than compensate for that.

Netflix US
Don't Go In The Woods
Don't Go In The Woods is not a good movie, he said, attempting some sort of record for understatement.  The video nasties list has a great deal of crap on it, but this sorry excuse for a backwoods horror movie may be the worst of them.  So why am I recommending it?  Well, sometimes something is so bad that it passes right through badness and becomes highly entertaining, and that's what happens here.

Thrill to the abysmal dialogue, be stunned by the inept cast, gasp at the plot involving more aimless walking than four Tolkein movies (in barely 80 minutes).  It's probably also a good idea to warn you that the score for this film is likely to make you want to burst your eardrums with a rusty nail, consisting as it does of what sounds like a composer giving up and simply hitting random keys on a Casio my first keyboard.

The 'horror' scenes are no better.  The mountain man make up, which rips off The Hills Have Eyes, appears to have been accomplished on a budget of approximately 17 cents.  The violence is laughably choreographed: one death scene has the victim obviously holding the spear 'impaling' him under his arm and in another a character is decapitated in daylight only for his body to roll down the hill at night.  You can't afford to miss this, is what I'm saying.

Netflix UK
We Are The Night
Dennis Gansel's playful vampire movie isn't totally successful as it needs, among other things, an extra twenty minutes to add some psychological depth to the characters, but it is a great deal of fun.  The brilliant Nina Hoss (seriously, if you've not heard of her look her up, she's one of the best actresses working right now) plays a lesbian vampire queen who falls for and turns Karoline Herfurth's juvenile delinquent the same day Herfurth has met and fallen for a good-natured cop.

The rest of Hoss' small gang (Jennifer Ulrich and Anna Fisher) have great fun being vampires, but Herfurth is more conflicted, seduced by the fact that the vampires seem to drip with money and be able to do just about anything they want but repelled by killing and not really into the idea of becoming Hoss' latest plaything.  The performances are strong all round, with Nina Hoss having a ball hamming it up, her icy beauty both perfect for her casting and a counterpoint to the character and Herfurth trying to give the film an emotional centre, which is where it falls down thanks to some thin writing.

Still, We Are The Night is a lot of fun and also manages some strong, reasonably large scale, action and effects sequences and at the very least it will introduce you to some great actresses.

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