Review: The Woman In Black (2012)

The Woman In Black is the latest release in Hammer’s modern revival, coming hot on the heels of less-than-stellar fare Wake Wood, Let Me In and The Resident. Loosely adapted from Susan Hill’s novel of the same name by up-and-coming screenwriter Jane Goldman, The Woman In Black attempts to reclaim the spark that’s been missing from modern day horror productions through an eerie atmosphere and slow-burning minimalism.

Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a solicitor and father, is sent to a secluded village on the East Coast of England to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased Continue reading “Review: The Woman In Black (2012)”

Review: The Resident (2011)

The Resident, a home invasion thriller directed by Antti Jokinen, is Hammer second shot at commercial horror after the marginally successful Let Me In.

The film centers on Juliet (Hillary Swank), a doctor who, after a messy break-up with her boyfriend (Lee Pace), rents a spacious apartment in Brooklyn, subsequently finding herself beset on all sides by a mysterious, unseen force of evil.

Jokinen’s direction, from the offset, is shaky as he tries to build quiet suspense and an eerie atmosphere on the shoddy premise and haphazard script. That said, he does make effective use of CCTV security footage captured on motion-sensitive cameras, using them to instill some low-key terror. The problem is he’s too timid to take it anywhere.

What works, is the fine fine examples of Hammer’s classic horror film aesthetic embedded within the action; from ripe dialogue, and enthusiastic cast to fog-thick atmosphere and some tense camera-work. It’s a breath of fresh air to see these techniques being used once again, it’s just a shame so see them go wasted.

In terms of casting, Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan both bring adequate shading to their respective characters, delivering equally respectable performances. Neither of then, however, feel comfortable enough with the source material to truly captivate us, and make us sympathise with their characters.

Sadly, Christopher Lee – in his first Hammer film for close to three decades – is shamefully wasted as August, who immediately – despite his limited screen time – brings a smidgen of credibility to the film.

The Resident is not outright awful, but it’s nothing more than a routine Hammer horror film that fails to create any atmosphere around its premise.

DVD Releases: March 14, 2011

Let Me In

Director: Matt Reeves

Starring: Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Richard Jenkins

Jackass 3D

Director: Jeff Tremaine

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and Bam Margera

The Arbor

Director: Clio Barnard

Starring: Kate Rutter, Christine Bottomley and George Costigan

Altitude

Director: Kaare Andrews

Starring: Jessica Lowndes, Julianna Guill and Ryan Donowho

Mammoth

Director: Lukas Moodysson

Starring: Michelle Williams, Gael García Bernal and Marife Necesito

GasLand

Director: Josh Fox

Starring: Josh Fox, Dick Cheney and Pete Seeger

Review: Let Me In (2010)

Matt Reeves’ Let Me In is the second film to be adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s acclaimed horror novel Let The Right One In; the first being Thomas Alfredson’s skilfully directed companion piece of the same name.

Let Me In is Reeves’ difficult second film following his debut Cloverfield, 2008’s found-footage smash-hit, and sees him tackling altogether different themes.

The story, for those not already aware, deals with a bullied young boy, played by Kodi-Smit McPhee, who befriends a young female vampire, played by Chloe Moretz, who lives in secrecy with her guardian.

In many ways, Let Me In feels darker and explicit than Let The Right One In, perhaps as it’s aimed squarely at the American horror market. Reeves’ version, although almost identical to Alfredson’s, is more accessible.

This is not necessarily something that benefits the film as a whole, as he relies too heavily on expensive, yet cheap-looking special effects and over-bearing, Americanised dialogue, which in turns makes the entire film feel like the exact thing Reeves was hoping to avoid, an American knock-off of a truly excellent foreign language horror film.

However, when it works, it works very well indeed. The sequences between Owen and Abby are subtle, honest and afflicting. Some of the horror sequences towards the beginning of the film work well in creating tension and providing chills.

Chloe Moretz and Kodi-Smit McPhee as Owen and Abby respectively, provide two of the most disturbing, restrained, afflicting and daring performances of the year. There chemistry and underlying troubles are captured perfectly by Reeves’ direction and convincingly by the dialogue.

Michael Giacchino’s score is sombre, moody and a masterpiece in it’s own right. Against the film, it fails to achieve it’s set goal and maintain the tension throughout the film’s tedious running time.

Let Me In undoubtedly struggles to match up to the cinematic masterpiece Let The Right One In is, even failing to meet it’s own purpose. Reeves tries valiantly to craft a individualistic adaptation, one that reignites the Hammer horror genre, but ultimately creates a cheap-looking, sometimes effective, showcase for two bright stars.

Let Me in is still a stunning piece of cinema at the heart, with some truly excellent performances and unnerving horror sequences. However, none of that excuses the terrible, Americanised dialogue and over-used special effects. It felt far too meticulous at times, which is a shame, as it certainly possessed the potential to be quite magnificent.