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A Visceral and All-Too-Believable Nightmare
Picked randomly from the Pay-Per-View menu, UNDOCUMENTED is my surprise find of the year. I hesitate to call it my pleasant surprise, because while the discovery of a true horror gem flying under the radar can really warm my cockles, once the action here gets rollin', I was feeling more cold chills than warm fuzzies.
A group of young filmmakers in the process of making a documentary about illegal immigration across the Mexican border are apprehended by what we (and they) think are the police. In the trailer, we are told by an off- screen tormentor, "Whatever you think this is it's far worse." Unfortunately, for our young heroes he's not lying."
What starts off as a fairly routine shot-on-video, found footage movie quickly turns into a visceral and all-too-believable nightmare of American patriotism run amok. Our heroes and the immigrants they were following have been captured by a group of extreme nationalists who are looking to save our country by cleansing of the scourge that's ruining it. In other words, undocumented Mexicans sneaking over the border.
What really drove this home for me was how possible every horrific image or idea you're subjected is. As a country, we seem to have lost our minds on this subject. The inhuman acts going on right now in Arizona are not that far off from what's happening at the abandoned slaughterhouse in the movie. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be surprised if something like is actually was going on right now. Our villains here are not raving madmen. On the contrary, they are well spoken .charming, even guys you'd probably love to have a beer with sometime in other circumstances. These men spill poison from their mouths, calmly. Rationally. Indeed, there might be a nugget of truth to it; a truth twisted into something hideous, but truth nonetheless. And part of me started to believe it. Just a little .teeny .tiny bit.
Therein lies the horror.
This somber yet deeply unsettling film managed to give me the willies even in the less-than-ideal Horrorhound Weekend screening.
Not soon after a pregnant woman (Katie Parker) declares her missing husband (Morgan Peter Brown) legally dead, she begins to having terrifying visions that hint that maybe she spoke too quickly. Writer/director Flanagan pulls off an incredible feat with this film. He manages to reinvent the ghost story, then takes it to an unexpected, even creepier place.
Don't be fooled by the show-burn pacing, because the almost-suffocating tension had me squirming in my seat, forgetting to breathe.
It's been almost a year since I've seen ABSENTIA. What haunts me most is not the disturbing visuals or even the deeply unsettling story line. It's the mood. When I simply think about the title, I hear in my head its stark, two-note funeral organ score and my chest wells up with emotions not usually incurred by watching a horror movie: grief, loss and perhaps the most terrifying of all the dread of inevitability.
Toss in a pitch perfect cast, including a heart-wrenching cameo from the always delicious Doug Jones, and BOOM! You've got my favorite horror movie of 2011.
Low budget filmmakers, sit up and take notice!
THIS is how you maximize a minimal budget and put out a product that looks like a million bucks.
D4 tells the story of hired mercenaries on a simple search-and-rescue mission in the woods that goes quite askew when they are beset up on by a very big, very angry monster of a man, a product of science run amok. On the surface, this appears to be a fairly straightforward tale. However, the filmmakers' choice to tell the story non-sequentially adds layers of ever-deepening mystery and nail-biting suspense to the proceedings. Just how deep does this conspiracy go? Well, let's just say, just when I thought I had it all figured out, I was wrong.
Dickerson manages to elevate D4 miles above its micro budget with excellent camera work, a talented ensemble cast, and pulse-pounding action helped out by tight fight choreography and stunts (believe me, I'm a stickler.)
I hope D4 gets the attention that it deserves, because the love and care and attention to detail that was put into it really shine, and it should be held up as a model for other low-budget movie makers to aspire to.
I have spoken.
The Feeding (2006)
Quite easily, one of the most gawd-awful films I've ever seen!
I made the mistake of renting this on pay-per-view while I was alone one night. THE FEEDING might have been bearable with a crowd to make fun of it with, but flying solo, it was just excruciating. In addition to being dreadfully acted, the characters (and the script) is simply imbecilic. I was especially irritated because the dumbest, most volatile fool of the bunch...the one who's stupid actions get I lost track of just how many people killed....survives in the end. There are maybe one or two decent gore effects, but overall, they're as bad as everything else. Oh, and the monster suit wouldn't scare a kitten. But the nude scenes might! YIKES.