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The films will be listed chronologically to demonstrate this, and as such, only films which have at least a reasonably realistic premise will be added, and none that involve fantasy, or anything too over the top. Neither will I include slasher films which don't show the killer or offer any insight into his or her thoughts, as these films are merely made for blood and gore, and can't really be seen as portraying an aspect of society in most cases.
Each film scoring a 4 or 5 in a given category receives a star for that category.
✦ The green category ✦ rates the integrity of a film's screenplay, plot development and believability.
explained: I deem this category the most important, as without a solid sensible plot, all you have is a hodgepodge of badly connected scenes, regardless of their individual worth where the lines between surrealism and simply badly planned directing can be blurred. For feature films, this is integral.
✦ The yellow category ✦ rates the quality of a film's directorial and cinematographic flair, style, power, and innovation in scene construction, which may also include dialogue and music.
explained: A film may not have a sensible plot, but its individual scenes may be outstanding examples of artistry.
✦ The orange category ✦ rates the talent and assets in a film, including acting talent, hair/makeup, special effects, anything that can often be boiled down to the film's budget, but ultimately, how that budget is made use of.
explained: Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the greater a film's budget, the less likely it is to be a flop. Producers can always churn out a well funded formula based film, largely lacking in substance that will always please viewers adequately and make tonnes of money.
✦ The red category ✦ is to rate how much I personally simply enjoyed the film.
explained: It is intended as somewhat of a recap of the other three categories, but also goes to show, that try as we might, we can never be completely objective. More importantly though, sometimes the viewer simply likes or dislikes a film, and the reasons are not always easy to identify, or simply too complex to list. it could be a point of interest when the rating of this category diverges from the median of the other three.
No Men Beyond This Point (2015)
Really Lukewarm Stuff That Gives You Nothing To Come Away With
First of all, let me say I get the feeling that a lot of people will be enamored by this movie, or more precisely, feel pressed into treating it with a sort of reverence for what it is, a fake documentary centered around a pseudo controversial, pseudo thought- provoking subject: the extinction of man, being presented in as kosher and superficial a way as possible. By the same token, this is precisely why it left such a dry taste in my mouth, because it just doesn't go beyond being a documentary about a fake subject, crafted to be as close of a simulacrum to real life as possible, with a little bit of comic irony thrown in, in the attempt to give the audience at least SOMETHING tangible to come away with.
The problem is, it's not enough to make the film stand out. For one, the jokes just aren't clever or funny enough for this film to be appreciated as a comedy, in my opinion. The humour is very much in the vein of "chuckle chuckle" university hall type humour, and the entire film basically has one running joke going for it: male stereotypes that have already been done to death, combined with the situational irony of straight white males being presented as an oppressed class.
In that regard, it's very clear to see that the filmmakers were quite stealthily trying to walk the line between coming across as either feminist leaning, or anti-feminist. Contrary to what some commenters are saying, I think they largely succeeded to that effect, and I'm saying that as someone who tends to have a very strong repulsion to anything that comes across as preachy gender bias. Some commenters were annoyed that the film focused so much on men's needs, desires, and feelings, whereas others were, I guess riled up by the male stereotyping. One way or another, if you have trouble appreciating a light-hearted film for what it is, your own biases may very easily show, because that's what this is, a film that puts forth incredibly superficial and innocuous ideas, which isn't meant to be taken too seriously, as a result.
Indeed, this is lukewarm stuff that's not going to land or resonate with people in ANY meaningful way, and instead will have people arguing back and forth over whether or not it was taking a light jab (very light) at either gender (realistically it does so to both). It's not a thought provoking film in the slightest. It doesn't deal with the idea of gender as a social construct whatsoever, and somewhat surprisingly, it barely even scrapes the surface of the most obvious thing, the gay/straight issue, not to mention barely scraping the surface on how gender roles in society play out. Women achieve world peace and environmental causes. That's as deep as it gets. Do women really make worse engineers, and would certain male dominated fields like that end up disintegrating? This film wasn't about to touch those kinds of topics with a 10 foot pole, with good reason, to some extent.
Ultimately, being thought-provoking is at the very end of the list of things that this film could have done to make itself resonate more. Worst of all, is it's a very ineffective character study. We really don't get to see the nitty-gritty of our male protagonist's daily life, because the film instead spends so much time building up the history behind this manless alternate universe that they've created, which I found impossible to get interested in. Simply put, the society is not strange enough or dire enough to be spellbinding the way stories like "1984" are. If the film was focused as more of a "day in the life of" style documentary, while leaving out the long boring history lesson, it would have been infinitely better. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen an ACTUAL documentary that attempts to do both in one movie, the way this film does. The film lacks focus, and really, that's what kills it.
All the while watching this, I just kept thinking to myself "This is stupid." or "Who cares?" because I could not in any way connect with, or emotionally invest into the characters on screen. No offence to anyone who actually liked this, but to me it was a film almost completely without purpose. They successfully created a very realistic-seeming fake documentary about the near extinction of the male species... So what?
A Little Insight Into The Real Lizzie And Public Service Speaking.
The girl who this is based on actually came to speak at my high school, way back in the day. She seemed like a total basket case to me, and nothing like the girl who portrays her in the movie. At the time, she was in her mid to late twenties, dressed and spoke in a very tomboyish juvenile sort of way, and kind of seemed like someone who psychologically had never left high school. She even admitted herself that when she first started doing public talks, which was part of her community service, many people thought she seemed too unstable to do it.
Not a particularly effective movie in my opinion, because it seems to gloss over a troubled and erratic personality type that led to such a great deal of self destruction, and attempts to reduce and condense it into a couple month period after the accident, in turn making most of the turmoil appear to be a reaction rather than the cause.
The real life Lizzie went on about her alcoholism, how she would lie cheat and steal to get what she wanted, how she would often steal money from her mother, knew what she was doing was wrong, and hated herself for doing it, but was in a vicious cycle of self destruction, where being in that place was too normalizing for her to do anything else. Kind of someone who's life was destined to be a long painful drawn out mia culpa.
Mostly, she garnered a fairly positive reaction from the kids at the presentation. In my day, it was very popular, and probably still is, for school administrations to try to shock kids into behaving in accordance with whatever the present mode of choice happens to be. Is unleashing complete basket cases who use kids as their own personal mode of catharsis a productive way to teach them reason? Who knows, but being able to postulate on all of this now as a result, sure is fun.
Broken Promise (2016)
Finally A Stalker Film With A "Real" Motive That's Not Ridiculous
The moral of the story is, don't do prison time for selfish bitches. Indeed it's NEVER a good idea to do time for a crime you didn't commit. That being said, this is the first stalker movie I've seen in ages where the stalker's motive isn't completely ridiculous. Arguably his position is TOO sympathetic, because if you do time for somebody, typically not just the expectation, but the OBLIGATION is a quid pro quo result.
If the mother wasn't going to stay in a relationship with the guy, she should have turned herself in from the start, but instead she let him serve a full sentence for a crime he didn't commit. That kind of makes the protagonist in this story SO much worse than the antagonist, not to mention the fact that she killed a guy on his own property within the opening minutes of the film. The irony I suppose, is letting the guy kill her boyfriend would have in fact probably made her less of a piece of scheisse. Films that deal with questions of moral turpitude sure are a lot of fun.
Overall it's a very basic screenplay with threadbare dialogue even, which is somewhat typical of most TV movies these days. Louis Mandylor as the jealous ex-lover, in large part, completely sells the movie as a concept, the main standout scene being his confrontation with the mother's husband. What this film really has going for it though, is the very atypical realism of the whole underlying "stalker" situation. As the viewer, you'll likely feel inner conflict over the scenario you've been presented with. It therefore succeeds very well in drawing the viewer in and holding one's interest, for the simple reason that, unlike most stalker movies, it deals with sacrifice and loss in a way that's relatable.
If you've ever been in a relationship where you've given more than you got back, or maybe feel guilty for not reciprocating what you feel you should have or could have, you'll likely be getting JUST a little bit more out of this film, than you would out of, say, the typical thriller/stalker film where the antagonist is either ridiculously in love at first sight, with no real depth of character explored, or thriller/stalker films where the antagonist is seeking revenge for something often half-baked or accidental, in a way that's over the top, and where the ends don't in any way justify the means. That's what I'm personally all too used to seeing with this type of formula, so with this film came a slight refreshing illumination for the genre.
Whatever You May Expect Your Expectations Will Be Exceeded
Horror is almost always an excuse for talentless directors to create absolute poop. It caters to a very specific fanbase, it seldom ever garners any accolades or awards outside that fanbase, and in many ways it's on the same level of porn. That being said, when you see a film that's both comedy/horror, it may have an interesting premise and you may expect to be entertained, but you also overwhelmingly expect to witness absolute garbage. This film, I think succeeds as a horror/comedy in a way that you wouldn't expect and it's the only such film which I've seen to date that transcends being strictly a horror film.
It's able to be both funny and horrific at the same time as portraying a degree of realism. Sure the premise is a little bit staged, and things are somewhat over the top in terms of what you might realistically expect, but you never feel as though the characters are speaking to the camera as is so often the case in these films, what happens in the film is not so ridiculous as to be unbelieavable, and the action/violence is very well directed.
Both the comedy and the horror are extremely clever and co-dependent where one amplifies the other, and a lot of over the top clichés are avoided. For example the scene where one of them has his leg stuck in a trap and his co-workers keep trying to open the trap and it keeps slamming shut on his leg; because it's a bit funny, at least to me made the gruesomeness stand out so much more.
The buildup of the film starts off as a typical comedy film. For these types of films, this portion is almost always anywhere from tedious, uninteresting, to downright boring. In this case, none of the characters really come across as annoying or unlikeable as is often the case with slasher films, I was rather enjoying the team building atmosphere, and was kind of wanting the film to remain a comedy, but of course midway through, everything begins to go wrong for this group of colleagues. A horror film that actually makes you empathize with the characters in this way is not one that's going for cheap scares and shocks, but one that actually wants to draw you into the story, which is really the only way to give the viewer that feeling of suspense.
Christopher Smith's previous film "Creep" was a huge flop in my opinion, but the sheer cleverness of this one really puts a lasting notch in his belt as a director. Hopefully he continues to breathe new life into the horror genre as well as transcend it.
The Entitled (2011)
Idiotic Hair-brained Heist Scheme Made To Look Clever.
This review is essentially for anyone who has already seen the film, and thought it was amazingly intelligent, well done, and coherently put together. The end of the film presents us with a picture of finality, that our main protagonist pulled off the perfect crime, and got away with it without any suspicion or investigation against him, and made a slick easy 2 million dollars that was untraceable. If you accept this premise, then you accept that all the law enforcement investigating the case, as well as those involved had the intelligence of 5 year olds.
One of the most damning aspects I think, is the idea that no link could be established between the main protagonist and his 2 accomplices who he was friends with, the girl, who he was in a relationship with. To believe this, you have to believe that of the many people who had seen his 2 accomplices on university campus which is where he met them, NO ONE had seen him with them, and more than that, think about how they would have had to have not mentioned him to ANYONE they know; no mention of him to ANY of their friends or family, or on sites like facebook, twitter, phone records even; NOTHING; no link whatsoever. All it would have taken was a tiny link which is hard to believe didn't exist, especially in the case of his female accomplice who was in love with him, and he would be facing a very fervent investigation down his throat.
With that impossible hurdle aside, we come to the many flaws in the execution of the crime itself. Firstly, he gives his male accomplice a gun with blanks, yet he gives his female accomplice a gun with real bullets, and it just so happens she ends up shooting one of the 3 hostages, contrary to his plan. This firstly, looks very staged, and secondly it makes no sense that he would risk giving one of them an armed gun, and the other not. In terms of evidence of him being in the house, you see him gloveless touching quite a lot of things and the house does NOT get burned down, not to mention tire tracks of his own car in the surrounding dirt road areas which would have made his story inconsistent. In addition to this, the 2 remaining hostages DO hear the protagonist talking over the phone, yet they don't recognize his voice when he comes to the door. Picture being blindfolded, terrorized, and the only thing you hear is this man's voice. I guarantee that voice will be running through your head for weeks.
Now the incidentals, the worst of which is the female accomplice being killed by the male accomplice. Even though the guy was unstable, supposedly she was still his best friend, so although not impossible, it doesn't make any sense that he would kill her so glibly. Why this is important, is because if HE didn't kill her, the protagonist who is somewhat being presented in a sympathetic way would have had to kill his own girlfriend. This seems too staged and convenient, and none of it really seems to mesh. As a side note, I found it somewhat tacky how the third father ends up forking over a million dollars, when at this point he has seen or heard NO actual evidence of what his friends are saying. THEY could be scamming him for all he knows.
I am just a random idiot of average intelligence, so if these glaringly obvious inconsistencies are obvious to ME, just imagine how much more evidence and suspicion a highly intelligent crime investigator would have against our protagonist, and keeping in mind only a SINGLE ONE of my points would have had to catch someones attention for a large investigation to be launched against our protagonist causing them to realize "AHA! He was the son of the butler, now we have a connection. Now we have a motive. Now we know how he acquired access to the house. Now we know how he knew about this gathering". We the viewers in the end are supposed to believe that he was foolish enough to commit so many very simple errors, yet clever enough to work out an elaborate money laundering scheme and phone location rerouting system. I think not, and then the worst thing films like these can ever do is done by dipping the viewer's nose in the "cleverness" of this very flawed plot premise in the closing narration, rather than serving up a more ambiguous ending.
State's Evidence (2006)
What Motivates Youth Today As Dictated By Confused Middle Aged Men.
I honestly have to wonder if many of the other reviewers have seen the same film as I. Unfortunately, I went into this film with very high expectations, as the premise and the content warnings seemed very much like they would deliver something compelling and extreme. The main red flag however, is that this was a low budget movie from a director who made no further films. This can sometimes mean something brilliant, but in this case, the film just barely steps above the bar of "cheap amateurish independent straight to video film".
The Writing Style/Plot Development
One important thing to note is that this film is very dialogue driven, mainly with the monologues by the characters to the camera. I know well about the writing process, and as in plays, when your story is so heavily dialogue based, you're at a great risk of making your characters seem schizophrenic, because that dialogue is ultimately based on the episodic mood swings of the writer over a long period of time, crunched down into the short period of time within the material. The foremost problem with the material delivered by these young actors is that really, it sounds like dialogue written by a balding middle aged man who THINKS he knows how teenagers talk, feel, and rationalize, which is packed with tonnes of whiny pseudo intellectual nonsense, which because they're TEENAGERS, never goes full circle and often ends in vanity, triteness, or ambiguity, so in most cases a REAL concise reason for committing suicide is never established, and how each character's "inner thoughts" contradict from scene to scene shows that the writer himself did not BELIEVE the dialogue, and thus was unable to make it coherent and credible.
My first impression was that the directing was bad, but the story and idea were good. I began to think twice about this in how the instigator of the whole premise "Scott", tells his very eclectic group of friends about his idea one by one, who ALL think it's so cool and amazing, and that they too MUST commit suicide along with him. The young actors were fairly mediocre, aside from Kris Lemche as "Patrick" who was the only one really able to create a compelling character with some sort of screen presence. I personally did not like any of the characters, especially the main protagonist "Scott" who speaks like a programmed robot, so filled with technical analytical phrases, that he only comes across as a caricature, and his friends have a bit of this too. Even though they're supposed to be non mainstream, in this film, a hodgepodge of sub cultures and social backgrounds so that ALL BASES of teen anxiety are covered, it's hard to imagine anyone being that out of touch with the world they live in, and moreover, "Scott" is able to rationally convince the school bully to return their camera, that he stole, with this very irritating way of speaking.
The Directing/Scene Layout
The directing, combined with a very stagey unravelling of events is what I found amazing that so many other reviewers were able to overlook. The classroom scenes, with the protagonist goofing off with his camera were very badly handled. That just won't happen without the smart ass students as well as the teacher getting in your face about it, and most teachers would confiscate the camera, but no one says a word. Picture having a conversation on your telephone in a classroom. How ridiculous would that be? Also, Patrick's character, spying on everyone with his camera, looking up girl's dresses, masturbating in the girl's washroom, without being seen, heard, or getting in trouble, not to mention abducting a screaming 10 year old in a crowded supermarket, hauling her into the washroom where he rapes and kills her without being seen, heard or caught, is simply just not realistic.
The real crux of the issue however is the suicidal motives of the characters and how they were handled. of the 4 characters who state their cases for WHY they plan to kill themselves: Scott: inner freedom. Sandy: testament to true love. Trudi: domestic discord. Patrick: homicidal urges? None of these are given much background or ANY aside from Trudi's case, though still not convincingly, who ridiculously enough, in all 6 of them is the only one who is shown to have typical problems of depression, the kind you see in most real life suicide cases. The characters, Rick and Cody, who we are given no inner insight into, are wasted, and seem very full of life rather than depression, Particularly Rick, who in this film represents typical quasi hip-hop culture, who doesn't seem to fit in with this group of people at all.
Closing Notes/Film Message
I will close by touching on one of the very last phrases spoken into a camera by the character "Scott" and showing truly how badly the people involved in the making of this film do NOT understand their subject. "Do you want to know the real truth? I did it because I was bored. The number one killer of teenagers today isn't drugs or alcohol... It's just plain boredom.... AND I WAS BORED!". Not only is it hilarious, but it's just plain not true. Any deaths to teenagers caused by boredom result from "Accidental" not "suicidal" deaths such as car crashes, skateboard injuries, auto-asphyxiation or the like. The impulse of suicide tends to come from ANYTHING but boredom, and instead, derives from feeling horrible and emotionally destroyed for whatever causal reasons. True, the character can say anything, and it doesn't matter if it's true or not, but by now, he's been reduced to a talking point with a face, not a character. I watched this horrible film because I was bored, luckily, it did not make me want to kill myself.
Where does the reality begin and end?
I'm finding it hard to write an in-depth review about this movie, but of all the mass murder films I have seen, the imperfections of this film seem to make it a very good case in point to comment upon. The thing I most take issue with is how the film makers decided to relate the film to any real life incidents it was based on, by telling the viewer upfront at the opening of the film that it was based on the Montreal massacre, but saying all characters in the film are fictional. The purpose for this is clearly for nothing other than the capitalization upon real life human suffering, otherwise really why would it need to be blatantly stated if the film is a fictional account? When film makers do that, they knowingly attract the interest of people in such events, and moreover they place their film on a pedestal above fiction which tends to endear people towards the film, however this IS fiction and it is difficult to tell where the fiction and biogrqaphy begins and ends.
Adding to this tasteless fact, the film makers decided to make their film in black and white (for whatever official reason). The likely and common reason, is that it bestows a certain respectability and legitimacy to the film, a technique used many times before in action dramas which may otherwise come across as exploitative, for if it were in color like most films, it might have been regarded as "just another made for t.v. movie" which to be honest wouldn't be that unfitting.
As to the content, is the film in itself horrible? Not necessarily, though because the scenes depicted are very matter of fact, and mainly action driven with very little dialogue, not to mention that of all the films involving mass murder I've seen, this film shows probably the greatest amount of actual violence, it may not be intended to shock, but there is very little depth outside of what we instantly know the film pertains to.
"Polytechnique" can very easily be compared to "Elephant" in terms of the feel of the film, though Elephant really did seem to have a purpose and real depth and artistry, whereas this film seemed to be merely showing us events. While Gus Van Sant in "Elephant" badly messed up on chronological timing, there isn't much in "polytechnique" to scrutinize other than the fact that in the 30 or so minute range of time that the shooting takes place, it remains questionable that there would be so many people still simply milling about the institution unaware of what was happening for such a long time, though all things said and done, it is very hard to say exactly how such events would play out in reality.
There was very little buildup, very little contemplation on the event, and since I came away from the film feeling empty, and really asking what the point of the film was, ultimately the film just doesn't have very much to say. What it does, is it merely coldly shows us a horrific event without giving it much of a face other than (The shooter hated feminists... so he killed them.) Again, not a horrible movie, but it doesn't possibly in any way do justice to the actual event that took place, which is really a bit shameful.
Held Hostage (2009)
Another Canadian Movie...... This One Isn't Too Bad.
Canadian films have a tendency, when they're of better ilk, to still have no real star-power in and of themselves, and of course, being a made for t.v. movie, more often, that is the best you can hope for. That being said, this is a fairly decent movie. It more or less accomplishes what it sets out to do, and it's message, quite well delivered in the ending with the juxtaposition of the victim, and the kidnapper, both having come from troubled backgrounds, yet both ending on opposite sides of the law as a result of inner strength, shines through rather poignantly.
All in all, the film carries with it a sense of realism and plausibility, though of course, there are ways that it could have been better. Personally I think the hostage taking scenes needed to be more brutal and traumatic since after all, the end of the film has a statement saying "The real life woman who this is based on is working to promote awareness for violence against women and children." WHAT violence... WHAT abuse... As someone who is not particularly sympathetic to the feminist bend of this film, which of course indirectly implies that violence against men is alright, as a viewer I don't feel THAT bad for the protagonist if all she's suffered was being yelled at for a few hours, and even being a made for t.v. movie shouldn't limit this.
One highly positive thing about the film is that it was so well cast. Brendan Penny, the lead kidnapper is a rather interesting character. I worked with him incidentally in a scene on the show "Whistler". He comes across as someone who pursues acting because he genuinely loves it in all it's craft, which is rather refreshing, and that trademark bizarre bitter sardonic rage filled presence he seems to regularly bring to the screen with him, is quite well placed in this film. Julie Benz, while possibly coming across as annoying to some ALSO fits the bill, because realistically if you imagine the character of a reformed stripper, THAT is exactly how they would be, at least in my mind, though unfortunately I wouldn't be surprised if she came across this way in most of the films she's been in.
After the criminal deed is done and finished with, the remaining half of the film is dedicated to presenting how harsh the legal process can be on victims, and why many find it hard to face. It is indeed a point worthy of stressing, though it is done in a way that comes across as slightly tedious. In essence, the directing, and the exemplification of the character's emotions shows lack of artistry. The court scene was overdramatised to the point of being a bit of a farce. The amount of balls that the defence attorney would have to have to present his defence would have to be quite immense, shamelessly dragging the protagonist through the mud and alleging that everything was planned entirely by her, and that she forced his client to go along with it when he had a mountain of evidence against his client, including the dozen prior bank robbery convictions, the fact that none of the recovered money was found in the possession of the protagonist, not to mention forced entry of the house. But in the end, he may have just been a dumb, arrogant, overly ambitious lawyer, as may have been emphasized when he had the audacity to object to the closing statements of the victim.
A decent film overall in terms of being solidly put together. Not over the top to the point of being unrealistic, though it brings nothing new, interesting, or shocking to the table either. At the same time, Assuming the reader has no general prejudices, I can't think of a reason for them to not watch it.
Without a doubt, the most interesting aspect of this film is the fact that it was shot in the space of three years, specifically so we can watch the characters as well as the actors grow on film, and Malmros makes a point in showing the female lead grow LITERALLY. In terms of the pathological side, this technique, something I've always wanted to see on film, happens to work well on some of the character's/actors better than others. The male lead was probably more convincing in his development overall.
That being said, what new does this director bring to the screen aside from this one point of interest? Virtually nothing, as this is yet again ANOTHER period piece from a man seemingly inescapably trapped in the past, which he can never get back. A film almost identical to his prior, and probably more successful film "Kundskabens Trae" merely for it's own ambiguity, both films end almost identically. However, In attempting to establish a more focused storyline here, in my opinion he succeeds LESS at capturing what his other film did; a glance at life in the past, which here, 40 as opposed to 20 years later seems rather like a painful step back, and the entire film falls into melodrama as with the sub plot involving the female lead's father, or how the male lead reads the secrets in his girlfriend's diary.
It is a bleak and depressing film in that there is no real conflict but simply subtle aggravation revolving around an unconsummated unfulfilled romance where the 2 character's bounce back and forth, treating the relationship that the film focuses on, more superficially than is needed to be a worthy basis for a film in my opinion. It would seem that all the characters have bleak uninteresting academically oriented lives, and while aspects of youthful naivety are there, they are not well rounded. All you really get comes from the main character, and he entirely consists of two simple notions "I like to study hard, and I am involved in quasi relationship that I don't know how to interpret".
The bottom line is at this stage in his career as a director, the ambiance and FEEL of the period he is working in does not seem authentic or encapsulating anymore, but more like a cry of help. On one hand you could argue, at least he is showing us what he knows, rather than embarrassingly attempting to show us what he thinks the youth of today are like, as with directors like Larry Clark, and largely failing, but what I will say, is that any artist has to grow and see and express new things from new angles, whereas this man seems to be stuck in the narcissistic deconstruction of his own life in every one of his films, and here it becomes a bad thing, as some scenes are becoming more stagy, The director needs to take his experiences and apply them to today, not simply re-hash them, but like many directors, he seems to be one who has only one message to deliver, the first time successfully, followed by a series of hickups. It is really not that it is a horrible film, there is simply very little of note about it.
As Good as Dead (2010)
Stagy With Slapped Together Twists And Turns
While the general premise, in other words, the motivating factors of the antagonists, is quite good in that it's atypical, interesting, and makes a lot of sense as the motivating factor for these people to make the protagonist's life a living hell for most of the running time of this film, it was thrown into a ridiculously overstaged package.
Firstly, the guy they're after just HAPPENS to be one of two of the last holdouts preventing the demolition of a building in the way of a big real estate venture. And why is he in this position unlike virtually every single other apartment dweller in New York? So the bad guys can make as much noise and be as sloppy as they want while they interrogate the guy in his apartment without having to fear any intervention by police or neighbours. Regardless, if they wanted to interrogate him and not kill him outright, to avoid getting caught, the only sensible option would be to isolate him on his own, probably at night, throw him into a van, and drag him out into the country or the woods.
However, these criminals clearly WANT to get caught since they don't even wear gloves. One of them reveal's he's an ex-con who REALLY doesn't want to go back to prison, so to me, right off the bat this movie becomes impossible to take seriously. In addition to this, they happen to be very LUCKY and strangely brazen as they break into this guy's apartment a mere 30 seconds after the police visit him, and it happens to be the one time his door isn't locked for fear of his landlord's goons, and only because his dog distracted him. Another example of how lucky they are, is when the mother and daughter show up and the daughter runs away with one of the bad guys following her. She runs into a woman and doesn't ask for help or say what's going on, and simply waits for the bad guy to catch up, who pretends to be her father and calmly walk her back into the building. This really made no sense at all.
Also, The way the protagonist escapes being bound by suddenly producing a pocket knife that seemed to come out of nowhere and breaking free at the perfect time seemed so ordained to happen as yet another tacked on plot device. I won't give away who comes out on top at the end, but it's important to note that burning bodies doesn't wash away their identity, as their teeth would almost always be able to match their dental records, so to be effective you would have to individually pull out the teeth from the dead bodies.
this film would be a total waste of time altogether if it wasn't for the presence of Frank Whaley who's acting is simply amazing, and I'm surprised he's not more widely recognized because as a character actor he's right up there. Andie Macdowell as the mother on the other hand basically came across as a lame phony southern caricature, which seemed false and irritating. Altogether, It's an OK film for one time viewing, as you certainly don't get bored, but if you're a thinking person you might want to give this one a miss, because the staginess, and the characters stupid actions which I didn't fully get into, will irritate you.