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The Cain Complex (2015)
Well-executed, good film
It may look like a basic home invasion thriller from the description, but there's some interesting sub-text and generally good performances in the film.
I won't rehash the plot details, but to begin the film is definitely worth a watch. It is well-acted, has an interesting mystery element to what is real, good shooting, and a number of interesting details. I like what happens with the woman in the final sequence involving the sheet. The use of positive and negative touching. The designs of the bad guys.
Some technical details are smart too. This is the first film I've ever seen that has someone break a window quietly in a believable way. It's also one of the first lower budget films I've seen that gets technical details of firearms and responsible gun ownership correct (of course, it's evidently a Texas film, so I probably shouldn't be surprised). The flashback reveals are built up, and done well. The editing is solid.
I will add there are some religious elements to the film, a bit involving faith and choices. I'm not religious, but I still feel these elements work well and are part of characterization in a way that I liked. Do I have any complaints? I guess I wish more could have been done to hide the puzzle mats (they basically are inexpensive mats useful to break falls when sparring, if you don't know). That's probably a budget issue more than anything though.
So, why not a higher rating? I think a bit more oomph would have helped, in a way that is kind of hard to describe. Basically, the film feels small, in a way that would have been fine in a shorter movie but not in a 90 minute feature (film feels like it could have worked just as well in half the time, even though it's never boring). Just a little bit more would have been good. Compare it to You're Next, as an example. Very different film despite surface similarities, but You're Next has multiple conflict levels between different characters and successive resolutions of them. This film is basically a single character piece, and there isn't *quite* enough to the character and his conflicts for it to be 100% successful. Maybe a little more development with the wife and kids would have helped, a bit more going on there.
I don't want to be too negative, as I quite liked the film and definitely recommend it.
Not that bad.
Has a lot of issues, and the fact that it started as a short film project is obvious now that I've read that on here. But, still, there is some skill and talent in this production.
First, the good. Some of the action in the latter half of the movie is actually pretty good. Way over-edited, but it is still decent. The best part of the entire film is the soldier guys (including Radius) killing all the corporate types. Much of this sequence is handled well. While much of it is ludicrous and defies belief, the sequence is still well put together.
The bad is obvious. The plot is scattered and hard to follow, much of the acting is bad, characters appear and disappear for far too long, etc. In particular, I think this film could have benefited from a major cut down of footage. It could have been 20 minutes shorter, easily. Also, I found the Radius part of the storyline much more interesting, even though it is only half-finished in some ways (like a guy who says he knows Radius's father - but then this is never referenced again). The alien stuff almost seems like an afterthought, and the film would have been better without it.
Still, this is not a piece of crap. It's worth a watch.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
Definetly good, but I was a bit disappointed...
After reading a vague reference to this film in someone lamenting about the decline of horror films (he stated this was the best horror film in many years), I decided I had to look this one up. Finding many more glowing reviews, I decided to rent it. It was quite enjoyable, but I must admit, it was not as great as the reviews made me think.
The plot is described in many other reviews, so I will not bother retreading that. The storyline is simplistic, but very effective. It's the same setup as countless other films, with people trapped in a building assaulted by many. It goes back to the 30s, and is best characterized by Night of the Living Dead. As far as I know, this is the first time this kind of plot has been used with werewolves. Being a big fan of werewolves and their movies made me want to see this movie almost immediately after reading about it.
The werewolves themself are good, while it is obvious they were working on a limited budget, the werewolves are quite well-done considering. Most reminiscent of the designs in The Howling, they are thankfully not the 'Wolfman' type of thing, where it's a guy with little more then a beard. The gore effects (plentiful, but not as many of them or as extreme as some reviews would have you believe) are also well executed.
The actors, pretty much across the board, are excellent. Especially the Sarge, he was great, as well as being the only actor I recognized. The only weak link I saw was the girl, she wasn't so great.
Some of the characters are memorable, I especially liked Spoon. Everyone seems to like him though, he gets the best line in the movie as well as the best scene. Towards the end, when he gets trapped with a werewolf about to break into a room, he holds up his fists like a bare knuckle boxer. Then beats and stabs the heck out of the werewolf. It was hilarious and superbly executed. Good stuff.
Now, all the good above, why was I disappointed? The reviews seem to proclaim this as the next Evil Dead 2 or other such landmark film. This is just not true. The whole film is well-done, but it just seems to lack the genius and flair of, say, Evil Dead 2. I can't quite put my finger on why I feel this way... It just wasn't quite the sum of its parts, I guess.
Overall, I give it a 7.5 out of 10.