Tag Archives: Movies

Sinister 2012 directed by Scott Derickson

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Sinister 2012, DVD Cover

About a month ago, I decided to rent Sinister from the DVD store, the macabre cinematography and the unique storyline definitely provides quite a shocking finale. This 2012 horror flick stars Ethan Hawke who acts as a successful author who discovers a range of disturbing videos that endangers his entire family, towards the end of the film, everything spirals out of control and the true villain is revealed to all!

So why am I talking about this film anyway? While I was browsing through the local video store, the DVD cover immediately captured my attention. On the very front features a young child smearing blood onto the wall; the pattern does remind me of a skull, this particular image does becomes a significant part of the film, although I wont explain too much for those who have not watched the movie!

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Sinister 2012, Ethan Hawke standing in front of the projector

The very first time I watched Sinister, I was confused, baffled and slightly disturbed, although the actual storyline was quite different to anything I have heard or seen before! The visual effects were impressive, although Sinister was not particularly horrifying, the film was creepy more than anything! The music also provides a disturbing element to the film, I was anxiously waiting for something to jump from behind the corner, although the film did provide a very unexpected twist.

I was particularly inspired by the make up, the villain does feature very disturbing characteristics that does become rather unsettling towards the end of the film. The make up appears very similar to a human skull, i’m not entirely sure if this is intentional, although this does provide the character with a dark and macabre appearance.

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Sinister 2012, The Boogyman

This dark, mysterious figure, known as the ‘boogyman’ is the most intriguing aspect of the film, the grey wrinkly skin and the dark eye sockets are definitely unsettling, the character doesn’t even have a dialogue, in fact the character doesn’t appear to have a mouth in general, which is rather surreal!

At first I thought Sinister would just be another clique horror film, although I was pleasantly surprised! At one particular stage, I thought I knew exactly was going to happen, although the film did take a completely different direction all together. I had to watch Sinister for the second time in order to fully appreciate all the subtle hints within the film that were actually connected to the storyline.

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Sinister 2012, Boogyman

While Sinister wasn’t the scariest film I have ever seen, the plot was definitely thought provoking and the ‘boogyman’ was quite an impressive character! For all those Horror fans out there, if you’re looking for a disturbing film with an interesting storyline, then I would recommend Sinister, the ending will provide quite a shocking surprise!

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinister_(film)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1922777/

Image References:

http://www.containsmoderateperil.com/sinister-2012/

http://www.welovemoviesmorethanyou.com/2013/02/14/movie-review-sinister-2012/

http://puremassacre.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/sinister-creepy-yes-groundbreaking-not-quite/

http://www.gbdh.sadiron.com/archives/12737


The Evil Dead directed by Sam Raimi

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The other night I decided to watch the original Evil Dead that was directed by Sam Raimi in 1981, for such an old film it was far better than what I was expecting. The special effects were rather impressive for a film that was produced in the early 80’s, Evil Dead also features some claymation towards the end that also adds a humorous twist to the overall film.

So what is Evil Dead and why do I like this film so much? Well the very first Evil Dead did scare me believe it or not, although there were particular sections of the film that were just hilarious! The claymation actually provided a very interesting effect to the film, the stylised violence features a unique aesthetic that is quite imaginative for a 1980’s horror flick.

So if you haven’t watched Evil Dead I would definitely recommend visiting your local DVD store, especially if you enjoy cheesy horror films! In fact, the violence and the claymation is rather cheesy, although the visual effects are throughly entertaining. So Evil Dead features four young adults who decide to travel to a deserted cabin within the middle of woods where they discover ‘The Book of the Dead’ that welcomes evil spirits to the living world.

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The film explains that “the Book of the Dead was written in blood and bound in human flesh”, I must admit the book does feature highly detailed drawings of skulls, skeletons and other supernatural beings; whoever designed the book in the first place has impressive drawing skills thats for sure. So what really happens in Evil Dead? Well the main protagonist, Ash discovers ‘The Book of the Dead’ along with a tape recorder within the bottom of the basement, Ash’s friend Scott decides to take these new items back to the cabin where the entire group begins to listen to the unusual recordings from the tape player.

As the group continue to listen to an old man speaking in Latin, the words suddenly conjure something evil within the woods. As a result, each person is possessed by a demon that was summoned by the Book of the Dead, meanwhile Ash tries to find a way to escape from the haunted cabin that becomes rather difficult when his possessed girlfriend tries to kill him. One thing leads to another and everything turns completely pear shaped, as the holiday retreat gradually turns into a disastrous blood bath.

So I do find the visual effects rather impressive especially for a film with such a low budget, what  I do find rather unsettling are the camera angles. The film provides the perspective of the demon, evil spirits that lurk around the cabin and the fast paced motion does create a level of suspense and anticipation. Bruce Campbell does play an excellent role as Ash Williams, the main protagonist who finds himself trapped within the deserted cabin with his girlfriend, sister and best friend that are all possessed by some kind of Demon.

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According to Kate Egan, The Evil Dead is an American cult classic that was produced by a group of university students including Sam Raimi and Robert Talbert during the late 1970’s, early 80’s. Raimi throughly studied other recognisable horror films, such as The Last House of the Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, although the actual production of Evil Dead proved to be rather difficult due to financial circumstances.

I personally believe that Sam Raimi has produced a very successful horror film with a low budget and a very small production team, which is quite remarkable really. There were some aspects of the film that did cause me to jump, although the acting and the visual effects do provide a level of humour, that do cause me to laugh uncontrollably.

I have also noticed that the original Evil Dead has inspired the contemporary horror genre, The Cabin in the Woods for instance does feature a strong reference to Raimi’s 1980’s production. The narrative does feature a parallel to the Evil Dead, as four young college students travel to an isolate Cabin within the woods, although the director, Josh Whedon does provide a very unusual twist that would take anyone by surprise.

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So I have also realised that the skull continually reappears within Raimi’s Evil Dead, in fact I have noticed that the skull has become a very popular symbol within the horror genre. I’m not to sure why, although I would assume that the skull is used as a symbol of death, mortality, even danger. I have also noticed that the skull does appear when something dangerous or violent is about to occur, as soon as Ash opens ‘The Book of the Dead’, the cabin turns into complete chaos.

So the other day I have realised that The Evil Dead is an actual trilogy, there’s Evil Dead 2 and Evil Dead: The Army of Darkness, which are two fantastic films produced by Sam Raimi. So Evil Dead 2 is basically a parody of the original Evil Dead that is one of the most entertaining horror films I have ever watched in my life. The violence is exaggerated to the extent where it’s almost impossible not to laugh, there are amputated limbs and laughing clocks flying left right and centre, that’s right laughing clocks along with laughing lamps and a possessed dear’s head that seem to haunt Ash’s Williams who cannot find a way to escape the cabin.

The skull constantly reappears throughout Evil Dead 2, Ash finds his girlfriend’s necklace on the floor which forms the shape of the skull, in a way the skull is used as some kind of subliminal message. Evil Dead: The Army of Darkness on the other hand makes a rapid transition from a comedy horror to an action adventure, Ash somehow travels back in time in order to defeat the ‘undead’ that form an army of skeletons.

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So Ash decides to steal ‘The Book of the Dead’ from the graveyard that suddenly resurrects the dead, all of a sudden there are hundreds even thousands of skulls and skeletons that begin to attack the castle in order to retrieve the book. As ridiculous as it sounds, the film is extremely entertaining, the visual effects do add a level of humour, parody and satire.

So if you are looking for something to watch then I would recommend watching The Evil Dead Trilogy, you can even watch the original Evil Dead and the Army of Darkness on Youtube! The DVD cover for Evil Dead 2 does feature some impressive advertising / marketing, the very front of the cover features a skull that significantly contrasts with the dark background, the advertisement definitely summaries the nature of the film.

It would be interesting to compare the original Evil Dead within the 2013 remake that was released a couple of months ago, due to censorship I haven’t been able to watch the film at my local cinema but it will be interesting to see how Fede Alvarez appropriates this 1980’s classic.

References:

Egan, Kate in ‘The Evil Dead’ (Columbia: Wallflower Flower, 2011), http://books.google.com.au/books?id=DuiJoSKHOdUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+evil+dead&hl=en&sa=X&ei=7
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The Evil Dead, directed by Sam Raimi (USA: Renaissance Pictures, 1981), DVD

Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, directed by Sam Raimi (USA: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group & Renaissance Pictures, 1987), DVD

Evil Dead: The Army of Darkness, directed by Sam Raimi (USA: Dino De Laurentiis Company, Renaissance Pictures & Universal Pictures, 1992) DVD

Cabin in the Woods, directed by Josh Whedon (USA: Lionsgate, 2012) DVD

Image URL Links:

1. http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/columns/the-bloodstained-balcony/evil-dead/

2. http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2013/sam-raimi-plans-to-write-evil-dead-4-this-summer/

3. http://goregirl.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/the-evil-dead-1981-evil-dead-2-dead-by-dawn-1987-the-dungeon-review/

4. http://drnorth.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/the-evil-dead-randomised/

5. http://stcatharines.cityguide.ca/army-of-darkness-is-back-on-029584.php

YouTube Links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odtcORs7VwM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW38E98fdBw


Donnie Darko

4/8/12 – Image of the Skull in Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko 2001

Yesterday I decided to watch Donnie Darko for the first time, which is quite a thought-provoking film. Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko (2001) features outstanding visual and audio effects, which engages with the audience from the very beginning of the film right to the end.

The image of the skull often appears throughout the duration of the film, which may have been used to symbolise death or ‘mortality’. According to Charles Derry Donnie Darko is a “horror – science fiction film”, which features a confused or a troubled teenage boy who begins to converse with a dark, grotesque rabbit. (Derry, 2009 p.314)

Darko’s delusional and compulsive behaviour is reinforced by the rabbit, which results in random acts of violence. The film reinvigorate moments in time and space through the use of slow motion, which intensifies the visual sound effects. Darko’s investigation into time travelling also delivers a very unexpected twist towards the end of the film, which finally reveals the actual meaning in the narrative.

There are images or drawings, which refer to the image of the skull although their actual significance within the film is unspecified. A well rendered image of the eye for instance, which appears towards the end of the film may imply one’s ability to predict or apprehend their own death. Perhaps the pupil of the eye symbolises mortality, which may encourage the viewer to question the meaning of life and death. According to Charles Derry the drawing is rendered by an artist also known as MC Escher, although the skull may emphasise the connection or the relationship between Donnie Darko and the rabbit. (Derry 2009 p.134)

Mikhail Epstein, Aleksandr Genis & Slobodanka Vladiv-Glover explain that M.C Escher’s Eye, which was produced in 1946. Escher’s Eye symbolises death through the image of the skull, which may provoke an uneasy response from the viewer who begin to gaze into the pupil. (Epstein, Genis & Glover 1997 p.65) Throughout the entire film, the image of the skull may symbolise Darko’s own interpretations of death, which begin to change towards the final sequence of the film.

The rabbit also features similarities to the image of the skull through the shape of the eye sockets or the jaw line, which is intensified through the lighting, the angle of the camera and the monochromatic undertones. The rabbit also creates a dark and an unsettling atmosphere, which intensifies the dialogue between Donnie Darko and his recent acquaintance.

Towards the final sequence the Darko household decides to throw a Halloween party, although the camera angle does highlight small plastic skulls that are used for decorations. Donnie also wears a skeletal costume during the party, which almost appears similar to an x-ray scan that also distorts the character’s physique. The film may feature a reference to Popular culture through the costumes and the props within the film, which may emphasise materiality or the importance of consumer goods.

Charles Derry quotes “Donnie Darko is also filled with postmodern references to other films or works of horror: to Stephan King, to Halloween, to Frightmare, to the Evil Dead, to Pretty Poison to Jimmy Stewart comedy Harvey, and to the Last Temptation of Christ” (Derry 2009 p.314)

There is another part within the film, which refers to death through the interaction between Roberta Swallow and Donnie Darko. Roberta Swallow is an old lady who regularly walks to and from the letter box everyday, although she whispers to Darko “Every living creature dies alone”. (Donnie Darko, 2001)

Darko is perturbed by the woman’s comment and he begins to recall a personal experience from the past, which Darko begins to discuss with his therapist. One could argue that the lady’s comment is very subjective and it’s quite difficult to determine whether living beings do die alone. The film features a very strong reference to death, which is evident throughout the entire narrative. Kelly’s Donnie Darko is a highly influential film, which questions the relationship between time and memory, life and death.

Richard Kelly. “Donnie Darko.” 113 Minutes. California: Santa Clarita, 2001

Derry, Charles. Dark Dreams 2.0: A Psychological History of the Modern Horror Film from The North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., Publishers, 2009 p.313 – 314

Epstein, Mikhail, Genis, Aleksandr & Glove, Slobodanka.V, Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives of Post Soviet Culture (USA, Berghahn Books, 1999) p.65

Image Citations:

http://www.heyuguys.co.uk/tag/donnie-darko/

http://www.closertogod.net/main/thoughts/worlddetail/darko.htm

http://whatculture.com/film/50-reasons-why-donnie-darko-might-just-be-the-greatest-film-of-all-time.php

http://collider.com/donnie-darko-10th-anniversary-edition-blu-ray-review/108624/