May 14, 2013

Movies At Dog Farm Trailer Park, Volume II - May 14, 2013

     I was pleasantly surprised by Mama (2013).  I'm not sure why it was so harshly received.  It's rare that I'm able to watch a movie knowing almost nothing about it beforehand.  In this case I knew only that Guillermo Del Toro's name was attached (Executive Producer) and that it had something to do with feral children.  Though secondary plot threads are clumsily integrated, I was otherwise enchanted.
     Does enchanted seem an odd word to use to describe a horror movie?  Well, I believe many of the harsher reviews stemmed from the fact that the reviewers didn't seem to understand that this was a fairy tale.  I'm not sure how people who get paid to review movies for a living failed to catch that.  It seemed pretty obvious to me.  Mama has a strong emotional core.  It benefits greatly from the viewer's investment in the characters.  Many scenes - including the conclusion of the movie that a number of  reviewers deemed overwrought - are, in fact, downright touching.

     There was a lot of carping about the CGI in Mama, too.  Once again, if a viewer recognizes and accepts that Mama is a fairy tale, those complaints are unfounded.  Did Mama always look photo realistic?  Well, no, she didn't, but she was a fantasy character, so the complaints about the CGI are moot. 

     Don't worry, though.  Mama packs in the scares, too.  Adrienne watched it with me, and she caught me several times with a big, goofy grin on my face because I was so tickled by how technically well constructed many of the scares were.  Director Andres Muschietti makes effective use of shot composition and carefully timed reveals of pertinent details to get the most from his shocks.  If only more directors understood the mechanics of good cinematic terror.  Critics be damned, Mama is one of the most satisfying genre movies I've seen this year.

     . . . and then there was The Lords Of Salem (2012).

     I understand why Rob Zombie is a perennial whipping boy on genre websites, but I think at least some of the scorn regularly heaped on him is undeserved.  Yeah, he's got a tin ear for dialog.  In fact, the biggest favor Zombie could do for himself is finally deign to direct someone else's screenplay.  Still, he's got a distinctive aesthetic and a damn good eye for memorable shot composition.  At the very least, I always look forward to seeing what he's going to do next.  Admittedly, I look forward to what he's going to do next in the hopes that it will finally deliver on the promise shown in House Of 1000 Corpses (2003).

     The Lords Of Salem still doesn't quite deliver, but Zombie is getting better.  He's reigned in the superfluous cameos by genre vets.  At least some of the cameos this go round wound up on the cutting room floor.  He attempts - and occasionally achieves - a tone of creeping dread markedly different from his previous efforts.  And he does achieve several of those memorable visuals.  Some are memorable for the wrong reasons, but still . . . The last fifteen minutes or so of The Lords Of Salem is one of the most memorable examples of WTF cinema I've seen in a long while.  You take the good, you take the bad.  I hope Zombie doesn't abandon genre movies altogether - as he claimed in recent interviews that he intends to - because I truly still believe he has a brilliant genre movie in him.  . . . and no, The Devil's Rejects (2005)  wasn't that movie.

     Sightseers (2012) delivers pitch black humor, random acts of violence, and two versions of "Tainted Love". 'Nuf said. See it.

     Apologies to Bob for the non-Creature Feature post, but this had already been brewing for a while.  I've been finding marginally more time to watch movies lately than to write about them, so this was a bit of "catch up".


  1. I understood that Mama had fantasy elements to it. I just couldnt get invested with any of the characters or the story

  2. I haven't seen Lords of Salem, but I am a staunch Rob Zombie fan. He's amazingly creative in so many mediums that I can't help but be in awe. And his interviews have me glued!
    Mama sounds good, but I didn't like The Orphanage as much as Del Toro's work (as opposed to his productions). But I will check it out on your suggestion.

    Thanks for keeping my posted, Brandon!


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