Have some extremely tiny reviews of a few movies I watched in the last couple weeks. You can get all of these on Netflix Instant Queue, and I got a dollar just for saying that! I hate numerical scores, so I'll give you a micro-recommendation at the end of each!
The House of the Devil - This 2009 indie movie has the feel of a student project; it runs as effectively an emulation of '70s proto-slasher horror. That means it's far more suspense than gore - you're kept as much in the dark as the film's babysitter protagonist and are taken on the thrill ride right beside here. A definite watch, especially for film geeks.
Small Soldiers - From the makers of Gremlins, it's a similarly dark satire of contemporary American commercial culture. This one focuses on violent and war-obsessed children's playthings. The commentary hits home, especially when the toys turn middle America into a war-zone, but one wonders who was the intended audience. Only the most jaded children would derive pleasure from the toys' homicidal antics or get the satire, and adults will yawn through the teenage love story. Of course, the great irony is that the movie came with a tie-in toy line. If you're bored and craving nostalgia, but keep those expectations low.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark - A modest chiller from 2010ish with a haunting Lovecraftian premise that is unfortunately a bit too liberal with its CGI ghoulies. The atmosphere is thick but underutilized; scenes climax too quickly and you're never too far from a comfort zone. The characters don't offer much to grab onto, the filmmakers seemingly unwilling to take them too far from cliches. The focal little girl in particular is too close-mouthed yet the adults are ignoramuses thanks to the amount of coincidence they're willing to dismiss just to disbelieve her. Hardly necessary, unless you're looking for an adaptation of The Rats in the Walls.
Rare Exports - This was a GREAT movie. A completely deadpan blackly comic send-up of the Santa Claus myth that avoids the belligerent "I had a bad childhood" Scroogism of other dark Christmas films like Gremlins or Silent Night, Deadly Night. The R rating is an exaggeration - with the exception of a momentarily naked old man (yeuck), there's nothing in this movie worse than what kids are certainly watching in Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. A combination of horror, fantasy, coming-of-age, and male-bonding flicks, the only reservation to a universal recommendation is that it is almost entirely in Finnish with subtitles. You're a prick if that stops you from watching though. Highly recommended for all viewers and all ages. Go watch it now.
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky - Extremely weird Chinese '90s prison flick. I've heard it called a gateway drug to outsider gore films. Gory it is, with scenes rivaling even Dead Alive (Braindead) in creative carnage (one villain is so determined that he won't relinquish even when his stomach is ripped open and his innards are strewn on the floor. What happens next is... well I won't spoil it for you). And brain-dead it is as well - the plot is completely moronic, the budget non-existent, and the acting in no way deserving of being called acting. Plus it's got an awful dub. Might not want to be sober for this one, but it has to be seen to be believed. Cult film fans will love it.
That's enough for you to chew on for today. Come back next time to hear about:
Friday the 13th
I Spit on Your Grave
Witchboard III: The Possesion
And many, many more!