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51 reviews in total 
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The Omen (2006)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Respectfully done with a few minor changes, 10 June 2006

First off, I think most "Omen" fans knew going in that they weren't going to see anything transcending or equaling the original. That would be a bit unrealistic. Julia Stiles is no Lee Remick, and Schreiber is certainly no Gregory Peck. Mia Farrow's role as Ms. Baylock does not come close that boorish original actress, whatever her name was. And finally, David Thewlis is no David Warner, at least not in this one. We do get some treats, actually more than a few; some of the stylistic additives the director decided to make work spectacularly, and I myself jumped at certain scenes as the other reviewer did. I liked seeing a different take on Damien as a little more threatening than Harvey Bernhard, although in the end I find this ineffectual. The scene in this film where Damien knocks Mrs. Thorn off the balcony with his bicycle is more maliciously done than in the first version. (Here Damien displays telepathic powers occasionally, too--that is how he and Ms. Baylock communicate and one of the ways that his mother ends up quite dead.

Whether you have seen the original film or not, some of this will be genuinely frightening--possibility for nightmare frightening. The ending was done beautifully and some of the classic scenes from the 76 versions were creatively enhanced. Not really remade, just enhanced.

The director wants the horror genre to survive, I think, and probably saw all the ridiculous remakes of decent ("When A Stranger Calls", etc) horror films and was unwilling to do that with "The Omen". God Bless him, no pun intended! Worth buying.

Saw (2004)
Not exactly "Seven", but damned close, 3 November 2004

While this is a movie that depends very heavily on mystery and concealment, sometimes to the aggravation and annoyance the viewer, there is substance behind all the grisly gimmicks and despairing scenes: this is what one would call an "existential" film, and not in the pretentious sense.

I can fully understand the criticisms of the film. The "flashbacks" that the acidic and whiny surgeon have are indeed a little bit of a cop out, as you sort of come into the movie expecting a Hitchcockian kind of experiment, a film made in one room in the tradition of "Rope". If that was the idea that turned you on to this movie, it might not live up to your expectations, as most of the important parts are outside of the bathroom in which the two men are imprisoned.

Right from the beginning we know none of this can end well. The two leading men are irritating, amoral, and unsympathetic characters to say the least. The surgeon is a workaholic and solicitor of prostitutes, and Adam, the young photographer, is a burn out moron in the vein of early Keanu Reeves. It's hard to care about either of the characters at all, but when wife and children come into play, we do.

You may think that you have the film when it is halfway through, but you don't, so stick with it. The ending of this movie is one of the only genuine, "I'd have no idea until I saw it" shockers I've seen in years. In fact, the *ending* (by no means the entire movie) of this one probably transcends "Se7en" in terms of the level of sheer surprise it generates.

There are seriously unforgettable scenes. Each one with "the puppet", for example, will not leave your mind for quite sometime. There's something so inarticulately horrific about it; if your friend showed up at an intense Halloween party with it on it would not be cool. The killer is trying to teach his victims a lesson which is in many ways deeper than John Doe's rather conventional, Biblically inspired message. He tries to get a drug addict to feel some value for her body by putting a metallic, explosive "Man In the Iron Mask" type thing on her face and promising her that if she doesn't get the key in five minutes her head will be blown apart by it. The way that she obtains the key ain't for the squeamish.

The only huge flaw this movie really has (aside from some laughable dialogue between Adam and the surgeon) is that we never really get to know the killer, who despite being a psychopathic monster seems to have some real lessons to teach. It would have been interesting to hear him comment on his own crimes in his own voice, not the baritone, digitially altered, ominous scratch which narrates it's own atrocities.

Flaws aside, this is a gut wrenching film, almost flawlessly blending horrendous gore and morality. Recommended.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
It sucked., 21 September 2004

Rob Lowe is mildly okay as Ben Mears, but his performance goes nowhere near David Soul's angst ridden, really convincing portrayal from the 1979 original. Donald Suterland is disappointing, and I don't think it needs to be said that his performance is less than spectacular, even absurd. He's no James Mason.

Rutger Hauer gives a better performance than this series deserved. His portrayal of King's Barlow is more accurate than the Nosferatuesque Reggie Nalder, but somehow this seems to work to the film's detriment rather than benefit. Rent the original film, or miniseries. I had high expectations, maybe that they'd build on the original a little, but it's just rushed, badly acted, trying too hard to be modern, and in general, a waste of celluloid.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Horrendous, 23 August 2004

It's a good thing they pastiched clips from the original "Exorcist" in the pre-release trailers to this movie, because if they hadn't people would have been laughing aloud without even having seen the entirety of this piece of garbage.

Harlin should be arrested for public indecency--he whipped it out and within 2 hours had done a fabulous job of pissing all over Blatty's novel and Friedkin's original vision.

Skarsgard is mildly okay as the young Father Merrin, and his performance is the only saving grace of the film. The rest of it is a disjointed, sadistic, gory waste of celluloid strung together by tenuous plot elements. This film reaches such a pitch of absurdity that "The Exorcist II: The Heretic" starts to look halfway decent.

Even the better elements of the film are pretty hokey, such as Merrin's struggle with his dead faith. A little "Sophie's Choice" here and there combined with some gruesome scenes recalling "Schindler's List" (without the power) lets us know why Merrin can no longer call himself a priest. A Nazi Lieutenant forces Merrin to choose between Jews where he is living during WW2. From what I recall about history, the Third Reich had no qualms about shooting clergymen either, so I doubt this cute little piece of derivative drama would have happened in the first place.

Merrin is an alcoholic and a (sort of?) archaeologist who is suddenly chosen by the Vatican to go on a dig. This bitter drunk for some reason seems the perfect person to confront a tumultuous political situation and confront an unspeakable evil in the form of a church with upside down crosses and wolves with computer generated eyes. Sarah, a resident nurse living in this Somalian-like country, just happens to be a model who was also put upon by the Nazis as a little girl. I hope you're getting it by now.

The ending in the blasphemous church is funnier than some parodies of "The Exorcist" I've seen. As far as I'm concerned, "The Exorcist" and "The Exorcist III" are the only movies in the trilogy. The only strong feelings this one generated was a yearning for the 15 bucks I had in my pocket before I paid to see it.

The Ring (2002)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Confusion, 21 December 2003

Although the modern remake of "The Ring" does not even approach the eerie, subtle quality of the original, it does manage to create an ambiance of impending doom and a certain cosmic malevolence rarely seen in cinema these days. The long shots of ugly buildings and what I interpreted as a criticism of TV addicts (frequent scenes in which people are watching television, perhaps suggesting they are prime victims for the young woman in the tape) and the ultimate triumph of the evil and perversion crystallized in the film--all cement a Lovecraftian atmosphere. What is missing is the intelligence and uniqueness of the Japanese teacher in the original. Decent.

a complete and utter success, 9 July 2002

"taxi driver" is the one of the most subtle and yet genuinely disturbing films i've ever seen, and you really shouldn't watch this movie if you're looking for the usual optimistic BS we're fed about life by american cinema. i'm thinking that martin scorsese was going through a difficult patch in his life when he made this one--and how. travis bickle is a young vietnam veteran and a cabbie who "can't sleep nights" as he himself puts it, and throughout the movie we basically watch him descend into madness slowly but surely, the almost unbearable tension finally culminating in a really brutal (even by today's standards)shootout.

and yet i get the sense that scorsese was doing something more than simply trying to make us feel uncomfortable with this movie, although im sure that was part of it. this isn't just some sick psychopath losing the few marbles he had to begin with: this is about the fundamental loneliness and isolation, perhaps even misery, of the human condition. communication between human beings is, in a real and concrete sense, simply impossible. the horror of it lies in the deeper truth that this can never change. travis' short lived relationship with betsy was a temporary illusion of union, but only that--an illusion. looking at it in his light, i would say that this movie has less in common with the usual vigilante crap like "death wish" and more with samuel beckett's "waiting for godot". the pitch of hopelessness and doom that this film reaches is positively frightening, and you cannot be immune to it if you are sentient life, such is the power of it. a must.


Session 9 (2001)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
one of the best horror films in decades, 30 May 2002

"session 9" is undoubtedly the creepiest, most atmospheric haunted house/psychological horror film since "the haunting" (the original, of course, not the remake hollywood recently churned out). it far surpasses "the shining" in every aspect, including acting and pacing of the film, no matter what diehard fans of that overpraised film may claim.

peter mullan probably gives the best performance next to caruso as gordon, a more than slightly stressed and quite bossy scotsman who leads the crew of five sanitizers (ie 'fiber shuckers' as phil, caruso's character puts it) to get an unpleasant job done in the danvers state hospital, a dilapidated mental asylum in massachusetts that i would not go near if held at gunpoint. all five are blue collar working men with the language, attitude and rough lives to prove it, and seem to have an active animosity towards one another upon entering the hospital.

the soundtrack is appropriately deranged and disturbing, and the minimalistic approach of the director simply works--it all falls into place like some kind of macabre symphony. and, contrary to what most would say, i did not find the ending weak or unsatisfying in the least. in fact, it exceeded all my expectations in terms of how utterly horrifying and unbelievably demented it was.

this is nothing less than classic horror.

one of the best movies ever made, 9 April 2002

"taxi driver" is a masterpiece of film without flaws substantial enough to mention or even notice. the broken dreams of the sixties and the pervasive sense of doom and nihilism that ruthlessly pervade every scene of the movie reflects the artistic mentality of the early seventies and create an unmistakable atmosphere of dark surrealism aided by scorsese's incredible visuals that make new york city look like a hell of loneliness and debauchery without hope or redemption. travis bickle, a taxi cab driver and young vietnam veteran, slowly slips into madness as the viewer watches and de niro's performance is so perfect that at times one must wonder if he felt some personal connection to the character or related to him in some profound way. it is not so much that travis is a 'loser' per se as a lucid but sick man who can no longer do what others do and ignore the horrendous depravity and inhuman indifference of his surroundings and the world as a whole. perhaps, in a strange way, he is the only truly 'sane' character in the entire movie, although this puts him in a tight spot indeed. the influence of dostoevsky's equally bleak "notes from the underground" is immediately apparent to readers of the book, and this entire film will strike a painful chord with those who have felt alienated and outcast at one time or another in their lives for whatever reasons. why, travis wonders, does no one care about him or what the world is coming to? how can scum like harvey keitel do atrocious things like prostitute twelve year old girls without anyone raising a finger in defense of the innocent? is there any sense or meaning in anything? and in defiance of conventional cinema, scorsese answers with a quite clear "no" to that question. there is not a glimmer of hope in this movie, simply a menacing ambiance of unrelenting sadness and hopelessness and that resounds in the viewer long after the film ends. although it temporarily satisfies travis, his act of vigilantism at the end of the film (the culmination of both his considerable personal neurosis and his legitimate perceptions of the evil and absurd nature of human society)really makes no difference and will only temporarily satiate travis' lust for vengeance on a world that has ejected him for recognizing the true state of things. a beautiful, unforgettable, haunting movie.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
overrated but still moving and poetic, 21 March 2002

first of all, no matter what anyone might say, "citizen kane" is not the greatest movie of all time. people have a right to their opinions, but it's a safe bet that those who profess to consider this the best movie they've ever seen are trying to look sophisticated and 'in the know'. there are parts of this movie which, blaspheme i might, drag like a dead corpse and put you to sleep quicker than tylenol PM.

on the other hand, there are very touching parts in this film, the highlight for me being the dialogue about the ferry girl. it points to the ultimate incomprehensibility and perhaps even the hopelessness of life, with it's ephemerality and occasional moments of beauty and inspiration. the other moment that got to me was when kane trashes his mansion in a fit of fury at the extravagant, luxurious and absolutely empty objects that surround him. welles does a damn near perfect job of playing kane, who seeks for meaning and purpose in all the places they do not exist, and ends up regretting it. "rosebud" is, ultimately, the failure of the american dream:pretty women and wealth only promote and quicken spiritual decay, and success in society can leave a person unbelievably impoverished and unworthy on the inside.

watch the movie, but don't buy the hype.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
excellent horror film, NOT mainstream garbage, 19 March 2002

"the blair witch project" is one of the most brilliantly conceived, best acted and directed horror movies I've seen in years, although it does have it's weak points. i hate mainstream movies, and never go to the theatre because i think of american film in general as corporate, ephemeral, whimsical crap. i mistrusted this movie and did not bother seeing it until i read the plot, which sounded ingenious and lovecraftian to me. the reviewers on this page who didn't like it were determined to respond negatively just because a lot of teenagers thought it was 'freaky' or whatever, and so they dismissed it offhand without really caring whether it was actually good or bad. it is suggestive, frightening, realistic, and everything in it is believable except that these none too intelligent twenty-somethings would keep the camera running at all after a certain point of crisis. while the character depth was almost nill and we never get to find out anything about the filmmakers beyond their names and ridiculously excessive use of foul language, the terrifying night scenes more than compensate for these flaws and their gradual descent into desperation and madness has a real ring of authenticity to it and is not at all affected or contrived, as i imagined it would be.

having thought the horror genre was thoroughly down and out, even beyond the point of no return, "blair witch" is an unexpected joy and, while not quite a masterpiece, certainly constitutes a cult classic and something that will be remembered for a long time to come.

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