It wasn’t intentional, but Bub the zombie has been the mascot of this year’s Shocktober. He was the face of our draft and, out of this whole month of movie madness, Day of the Dead is the only film we all three watched together. So I thought it would be appropriate to bring everything to a close by introducing everyone to Bub’s twisted nephew, Max. He sucks and I hate him, but he’s about the best thing the 2018 remake of Day of the Dead, subtitled “Bloodline,” has going for it.
Most of the time when I watch a movie for the second time, I have an agenda. I’ve made up my mind based on the experience I had in my prior viewing and so the second time I’m looking for evidence that supports my stance. Oftentimes, that means a comedy movie seems funnier or a action movie more exciting. Horror, thriller, and mystery movies suffer under this level of scrutiny, most of the time, because those genres all rely on exploiting the unknown. But truly great cinema can rise above that – I’ve always said that if a spoiler can ruin a movie, it probably wasn’t that good anyway – and Take Shelter is one such film. Because I remembered vividly how it ended, and when I got to that last shot again, I still couldn’t make up my mind 100% about what it means.
The stories we read, listen to, and watch have to go to extremes. Everyday life is boring, you don’t want a movie about someone having a regular day. So instead we get tales featuring disastrous mistakes, shocking epiphanies, whirlwind romances, and brutal violence. That last one is tricky, because everyone hates violence and it’s not really a part of most people’s lives. Writers often clear that hurdle by finding a reason to justify violence, and the easiest one to come up with is having bad guys kidnap or kill some guy’s spouse. They do that, now we’re OK watching our man do some heinous shit to save her/get revenge. That’s kind of fucked up, right?
Why is this called “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”? You don’t see Lisbeth’s (Noomi Rapace) back art until around halfway through the movie, and it’s not like anyone cares. She’s more recognized for her piercings or the black clothes she wears. This movie is a story about hacking, detective work, and sexual violence, not Lisbeth’s appearance. So let me propose a new title: Hackers. Oh wait…
In my last Shocktober review, I talked a lot about perspective – how horror movies especially put the audience in the shoes of their protagonists. I’d like to continue drilling into that cavity as I write about Timecrimes, because it does an exceptional job showing how depending on your point of view, these movies could just as easily be a dark (or even slapstick) comedies or depressing dramas.
When you watch a horror movie, it’s really hard not to imagine yourself in whatever predicament the characters are facing. That’s part of what makes the genre scary; as you empathize, you start to experience the dread as if you were the person in danger. Of course, this is a double-edged sword, in that it can really hurt a movie if the protagonists continually make decisions that you would not, turning the experience into something more frustrating or comical than terrifying. But when it’s really good, like in Battle Royale, a horror movie can have your mind racing for a better solution for its entire duration.
“When your mind becomes obsessed with anything, you will filter everything else out and find that thing everywhere.” These words spoken by Mark Margolis’ Sol echo through Pi, the feature debut of Darren Aronofsky. It is the story of Max Cohen (Sean Gullette), a mathematical genius who becomes obsessed with finding the numerical pattern that can explain everything. Unemployed and socially isolated, Max suffers through his daily life as he fights through terrible headaches and screams at his computer as he searches for that pattern in the stock market. Unfortunately for him, he might actually be getting close to finding the number at the center of everything, feeding his obsession and bringing a world of trouble.