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Precious Cargo (2016)
Good Production, Good Type Casting, Some actors Weak, Script not as bad as director and actors make it.
Kelly need a lot of voice coaching, mostly to slow down, because she doesn't carry off 'thoughtful' well enough for the part. (Common Canadian acting problems - bovine energy) Kelly and Hull roles would have been better reversed. Willis hasn't brought energy to a role in years, and you see it in his private life as well. He needs the humor and edge to carry off the seriousness and he's settled into this retired state of mind that's projected dead on the screen. Forliani does her job well and she continues to carry the screen. Never thought she'd keep getting better. Pacing is wrong. Director should have slowed them all down. It's noir dialog filmed at summer blockbuster pace.
Let Us Prey (2014)
Excellent horror in the tradition of the western morality tale
Well developed characters, good casting, articulate script, well acted, well directed - particularly the flashbacks which are too often a weak point, and produced adequately if cost effectively, provide us with an unexpected gem, and one of the best in the genre in the past five years.
Little things matter. Loved the barbed wire work throughout. The director does not overindulge the characters or the actors. And conversely, he still retains sufficient bloodiness to invoke our primitive emotions and symbolism without trying to shock us with something new - the story is the story after all, and it's a character's journey. And he respects us along the way.
One of the things that struck me repeatedly, was the difference between the British and American acting schools, and just how much better suited the British technique is for presenting the internal moral conflict necessary for good horror. Thought still exists in such characters, where Americans favor the senselessness of the raw nerve. As if honest acting somehow prohibits rational moral conflict, and self reflection.
The director proves it's still possible to still produce a moral movie, a moral horror movie, in the western tradition of our pagan fairy tales and Christian horror tales. It's just not in possible to do in Hollywood, where our pagan and Christian morality is actively suppressed both by intent, and non-verbal consensus in the culture of the place.
Prey is how it is done. Without novelty of effects and gimmicks that can be put into trailers, it may be harder to sell to distributors and studios. But it's a nearly flawless addition to our visual libraries.
I hope we see a series of movies with the same character development, with the same basic effects, under the same narrative, hopefully by the same producers. They're profitable. We want them. We can't get enough of them.
So yes. More please.
And thank you.
Into the Woods (2014)
Absolutely worst movie I have ever paid money for - and that's saying something
Dreadfully bad casting that doomed it from the start. Painfully amateurish lyrics, painfully bad music, painfully bad storyline, painfully bad script that even the best talent and fair camera work cannot save. Absolutely painful. Depp's costume? My only emotional reaction was sympathy for the career damage being done to the actors. Despite seeing nearly every movie that is in wide release every year, this is only the fifth movie I remember having walked out of in as many decades. (Blount and Streep can carry these roles, but Depp? Kendrick as heroine? O. M. G. Seriously? Chris Pine? Did Maisler and Tesley farm it out to Canfield while taking a vacation? )
Fun. But Bad Casting Is a Distraction.
Bad couple = good casting. Good couple = bad casting.
Casting dramatically effects the suspension of disbelief. We do not give film actors the pass that give to stage actors. This is one of those films where the protagonist couple is so unbelievable it makes it difficult to empathize with the characters.
It's not as if there is a shortage of actors to choose from. Or a shortage of casting directors. The only reason that we see actors like this in a horror flick, especially given that they're such a great career venue for young talent, is that the casting director has some agenda that is contrary to the film's interest.
Frankly I don't understand some of the negative reviews. Each of the shorts was solid, well executed, free of predictability and morally loaded, as all good horror is and should be. I can easily watch it again and enjoy the second viewing as much as the first.
I can understand why it might be boring for some, given that the entire movie is quite long, and breaks the three act model - so the casual viewer is stuck looking for a climax that doesn't arrive. (The Heavy Metal movie suffered from this problem too.) But wanting that simplicity is looking for something in this movie that the producer didn't put there. It is what it is. It's a meaty anthology. And if they don't put that kind of meat together, and work with the three act model, the viewer is left feeling lacking.
VHS stands as a solid piece of work in a genre that needs solid work. As an anthology it's a tome of the Year's Best Horror, not a three act play. And having set out to make that anthology, the producer achieves exactly what he intends to. And it's worth watching. But it's not standard fare for the comic book crowd.
Well done, even for the well worn subject
Judge a movie for what it is.
This movie was made for 900k. Casting was respectable. Character development was excellent. Directing and camera work at that budget level was excellent. The director succeeds in making you care about the characters. The protagonist's moral dilemma isn't really clear enough for the pace of plot development, but that's to be forgiven. It's arguable that the pace of shooting was too long for the script - it could have been given M. Night Shyamalan long-shots treatment and worked, but again, not for that budget, and not without a lot of patience with the actors.
I loved that it wasn't over acted. Smart people acted like smart people - which makes for a more tempered pace. Makeup was a little weak, And they could have added five minutes of expanding despair by working in the fate of the other characters, but I'm sure the budget wasn't there.
I enjoyed it. I'll watch it again. The whole family gave it a thumbs up.
I'll bet it gets remade at a higher budget.