Jigsaw (2017)

One from the to watch pile…

Jigsaw (2017)

Film: Am I a fan of the so-called sub-genre torture porn? Oh yeah, you better believe it, though I think that ‘torture porn’ is somewhat of a misnomer. I don’t find a sexual excitement from the films labelled such, but I do find them to be thrilling and I can’t say that I don’t hate the gore of them either.

I’ve stated several times in my career writing horror movie reviews that I don’t find supernatural films in the slightest bit scary, mainly because I don’t actually believe in the supernatural, but I think I like these film is because I find the concept of being trapped horrifying. I just gotta be free…

Jigsaw is the 8th film in the Saw series, this outing directed by Australia’s very own Spierig brothers, who previously gave us Daybreakers and the oddly groundbreaking Undead. The script was written by writing team Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, whose previous outings include Piranha 3D, Piranha 3DD and Sorority Row.

Our film starts with a young man being pursued by the police, but he has an objective which is a remote trigger hidden on a rooftop, but when he is shot, it starts a series of events…

Five people, Anna (Laura Vandervoort), Mitch (Mandela Van Peebles), Carly (Brittany Allen), Ryan (Paul Braunstein) and another poor individual (who is namelessly dispatched as as an example of the violent nature of our killer) are chained to a series of doors in a room that has circular saw blades through them, and a mysterious voice (that we as Saw viewers have obviously heard before) tells them that to free themselves blood must be shed… this of course leads them on a series of trials that reduce their number one by one.

As the story of their trial continues, we are also introduced to coroner Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) who begins assisting the investigation on bodies that are being found with a jigsaw piece cut from them… but isn’t the killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) dead? If he is, who is committing all the murders? Could it be one of the members of the website of people obsessed with his work?

The thing about the Saw films is, just like porn, you want the ‘money shot’… the building of tension, and then a wad of gore exploding all over your face. The story is almost secondary to those points, and I’m sure if this were the age of VHS, the tape stretch marks would be all over the kills, which would be rewound and replayed over and over.

That’s not to say the story wasn’t a good facility to move from blood-soaked pillar to barbed-wired post, but I think that the straws are well and truly being clutched at. The persistence of there being a history of people working with Jigsaw is a plot device necessary since his early-in-the-series demise but the excuses for them helping are getting thin.

The murders in this film are fun but the innovation of the machines has become stretched to the point of being ridiculous. One must wonder exactly what type of connection Jigsaw had to be able to get his hands on some of the ironic additions to the devices.

The acting in the film is interesting. There seems to be some characters who are well and truly placed within reality, like Vandervoort’s Anna, and others, like Callum Keith Rennie’s Detective Halloran are over the top, almost parodies but somehow, they work together.. and I can’t figure out how. Maybe Tobin Bell’s John Kramer is the blue that holds it together, with his quiet manner and sociopathic hobbies.

The special effects are are nice and bloody, which is what you expect… though the occasional rubbery barbed wire might spoil the authenticity.

Basically, what we have here is another in a series that has a particular method to its delivery of the goods, and this doesn’t fail in that, it’s just we’ve seen all the gore, misdirection and torture before. It might be time for the good name of Jigsaw to be permanently laid to rest.

Score: **

Format: Jigsaw was reviewed on the Australian Region B Bluray which has both an impeccable 2.40:1 image and DTS-HD 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: A pretty cool bunch of extras on this disc that explore not just the making of this film, but the legacy of Jigsaw as well. Also I have to point out just how cool the menu is: it’s bizarre and creepy with a bunch of actors made up to look like Billy, and it reminds me of the Rammstein album ‘Sehnsucht

There is an amazing 7 part documentary, with each part exploring a whole different aspect of the film. They are titled A New Game, You Know His Name, Survival Of The Fittest, Death By Design, Blood Sacrifice, The Source Of Fear and The Truth Will Set You Free. I don’t know why they cut this into 7 mini-docs when one big one would have been a better plan. Maybe it was they assume we have short attention spans. The cool thing is though that it cover every aspect of the film, from the writing to the soundtrack and lots of cast and crew are interviewed.

The Choice Is Yours: Exploring the Props looks at the props that were created for the film. It was odd that this was presented separately to the rest of the mini-docos but it was still a welcome addition.

Score: ****

WISIA: I doesn’t matter if a Saw film is good or not, at some point I’ll end up watching it again whilst having a Saw-festival.

Rupture (2016)

One from the to watch pile…

Rupture (2016)

Film: When is a superhero movie not a superhero movie? When it is an exploration of ‘super powers’ and what it may take to get them to manifest in regular human beings! With the glut of fairly generic superhero films littering the cinemas, it’s nice to see someone doing such an exploration.

As one would expect, such a film would be made by people who are perhaps somewhat subversive with their previous productions, and in this case we are treated by the writer and director of the film Secretary, Steven Shainberg and Brian Nelson.

Reneé (Naomi Rapace), divorced, lives in the suburbs with her son, Evan (Percy Hynes White) but unbeknownst to her, her house is littered with camera, feeding the details of her everyday life to…someone?

After dropping her son off at his father’s house for a few days, Reneé is kidnapped and tasered by a group of people (including Fantastic Four’s Michael Chiklis) and taken to a facility, run by Dr. Nyman (Lesley Manville) and her team (including Peter Stormare) where she is subjected to a series of experiments by that are seemingly meant to test her endurance… it to what end? What will happen if and when she finally breaks?

Imagine making Hostel with a Twin Peaks color palette via a Croenenberg body-horror nightmare mixed with a Marilyn Manson filmclip hoping for a X-men styled result and you’ll get where Rupture is coming from. Mind you, if I’m totally honest, it’s a Diet Coke version of Martyrs.

Shainberg has an extraordinary mix of cast members who possibly shouldn’t work well together, but do so well, and to an increasingly odd effect as the film goes on.

It’s extraordinarily claustrophobic and the villains are persistently moustache-twirling weirdos with a mysterious agenda and that is what will keep you entertained for the entire film. Sure there are some inconsistencies, like the bad guys wiring up Reneé’s entire house with cameras, but there are none in the entire facility except portable video cameras carried around for the experiments, but I’ve seen far worse plot devices in my 15 odd years of reviewing films.

By the way, there is a couple of tributes to other genre films… keep a look out for them.

Score: ****

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Region B Bluray, which runs for approximately 101 minutes. The image and sound, presented in 2.35:1 and DTS-HD 5.1, are both perfect.

Score: *****

Extras: Not a single one.

Score: 0

WISIA: It’s a great story with an awesome cast, though once it’s secret are revealed a second watching probably isn’t going to have the same effect.

Intruders aka Shut In (2015) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Intruders (2015)

  

Film: Today is the day that I have to admit to the crime that separates a movie connoisseur from a horror movie hoarder. The thing that separates the highbrow champagne film critic from the lowbrow, beer skulling scumbag who is looking for the next film that he can cringe at whilst someone cops a claw hammer to the head.

Occasionally, I buy movies based on the picture on the cover. Even worse, this cover wasn’t a cool Roger Corman 80s schlock flick… It’s a modern, post-millennium, photoshopped cover.

Yes, I am hanging my head in shame.

I found this cover evocative though, and in my defence, like most ‘good’ items used to promote a film, it has very little to do with the story.

This film is the first feature film for director Adam Schindler, who is previously known for writing the 2013 horror film Delivery, and is written by T.J. Cimfel and David White, who previously worked together on V/H/S/ Viral.

This film is also known by the far better title ‘Shut In’ which certainly is more in tune with the story rather than the less interesting, and easily confused with the Clive Owen pic ‘Intruders’. I just don’t get why movies with good names get them changed when released in different countries/ regions.

  

Intruders tells the story of Anna Rook (Beth Reisgraf), an agoraphobic who has been taking care of her sick brother, Conrad (Timothy T. McKinney), who is suffering with pancreatic cancer. Her only real contact with the outside world are their lawyer, Charlotte (Leticia Jimenez) and a homecare meal delivery man, Dan (Rory Culkan). 

Tragically, her brother dies and due to her psychological disorder, she is unable to attend his funeral, and she hides inside from the outside world. Unfortunately for Rose, staying at home on a day she was supposed to be out was plain old bad luck, as a gang of three decide to rob the house as they have heard of money hidden within.  

What these intruders don’t realise is that Anna and her brother have a secret that they keep in the basement, and for their own good, it would be better if they stayed out…

Essentially the film is a combination of seventies home invasion films with Home Alone, but in this film, Kevin McAllister is replaced with a sexy, blonde female 20-something year old, and maybe, if I were the type to be a spoilerer, I’d suggest their to be just a drop of Saw.

I really liked this movie, and considering I knew nothing about it, was very pleasantly surprised. The intruders were great in their different levels of menace, though they may have watched Panic Room for inspiration, and Reisgraf’s performance remained delicate as her character reacted to misfortunes placed in her lap, even when it caused her to become aggressive  

Rory Culkan, on the other hand was the unfortunate exception. He plays his role like an actor playing an unpleasant, sarcastic nerd from an 80s teen comedy, but who has the memory of a goldfish and has to read his lines off a large piece of cardboard held up by an assistant director. I’d say this is an example of nepotism running rife in Hollywood, but how much pull older brother McCauley Culkan has I imagine would be dubious.

One other thing I definitely must point out with this film is that their are several elements within the house that require fairly large leaps of faith to believe that just two people could have set up. It’s difficult to properly explain exactly what I mean here without spoiling massive elements of the film, and I don’t wish to do that, but basically if you can believe the one-man-show aspects of some horrors and thriller antagonists, you should be OK.
I really liked this modern take on the 70s styled home invasion film, with the agoraphobic element thrown in as the first of a couple of twists… Not M. Night Shyamalan styled story-altering twists, just little tweaks. The quiet elements are balanced nicely with with the acts of violence, and fans of budgerigars be warned: this film contains scenes that may cause you to sit in your aviary and rock backwards and forwards for a few hours.
Score: ****

Format: A modern film in the digital format has no excuse for being bad, and this film looks great! The version watched was the Australian region B bluray which runs for 90 minutes and is presented in 2.40:1 letterbox and has a perfect DTS HD 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: None.

Score: N/A  

WISIA: I don’t think Intruders is going to make its way to the rewatch pile, even though it was a pretty good movie. Like a magician teaching others his tricks, once you know the secret, the interest diminishes. I will add that some of the dialogue between Anna and Conrad has a different meaning once you have seen the film, so it’s possibly worth one do over just for that.