Monday, May 20, 2013

The Innkeepers of Forbidden Worlds

at 3:19 PM
See? I watched two horror movies over the weekend, then I conglomerated their titles for this post. It is in this way that I have saved you the trouble of having to parse two separate ideas. Where once there were two, now is one. I've melded them into a singular entity, from which you can then extract the two again. It's like a zip file or brain transplant.

Forbidden World

Aw yeah. There's something comforting about a movie that knows how stupid it is. It doesn't need plot twists and macguffins and silly characterization. Forbidden World plays it safe enough to be an episode of Star Trek or Doctor Who, with guts and tits turned up to 11. This is Roger Corman, after all.

The basic premise of the movie is Alien minus the restraint. Some little alien thing hatches and is running around and growing into who knows what. Except that we get to see it a whole lot, and everyone does know what it is and that it's a murder-machine. And now instead of little ol' unassuming Ripley, we have the 'troubleshooter', space-fake-Bill-Murray, complete with space-fake-Ghostbusters attire. SFBM is beefed up by an introductory sequence where he has an extremely confusing space battle with one model spaceship attempting to play six. I say "attempting", because at no point was I deceived into thinking there were numerous ships. Great direction. During this battle - which is COMPLETELY unrelated to anything else in the movie - SFBM plays with a switch panel that reminds me of my grandparents' electric organ. This is how we know he's a tough guy.

We could also infer his masculinity from the fact that he's banging all the local space-babes within a day of arriving. This guy is so magnetic that these women want to get with him despite the dangerous alien on the loose and the fact that one of their friends just got brutally murdered. Someone was not trying very hard to fit the sex scene into this script. Kudos to the hilarious ~5 minute music video / porn shoot that goes down. They tried to keep it artsy by cutting to and from the debauchery (presumably to keep the R rating), but I love that they insisted on dragging it out for so long. Pure class.

The monster is a lazyman's xenomorph, there's no arguing that. If you look at it for too long, you'll start to think it could fit in on Sesame Street. Once we find out it understands English and can use a keyboard, I was half expecting it to break into a duet with Rick Moranis.

[drops by Wikipedia]

Are you fucking kidding me? The original Little Shop of Horrors is a Roger Corman production?

The Innkeepers

Maybe a half-year ago I enjoyed director Ti West's 2010 House of the Devil, inspiring me to pop his 2011 The Innkeepers onto my Netflix Instant Queue as well. Then I started reading about how much people hated West, and how his methodical pace was a gimmick, and I eventually started to doubt whether I truly had liked House. So I put The Innkeepers on indefinite hold, until I found a time when I couldn't find anything better to do.

Fuck the West-naysayers, this movie was excellent. It had an actual character-driven story to tell, much better than a bunch of goofy mythology and jumpin' jehoshaphats. The movie draws us into a young girl's fanatical ghost hunt. It isn't about demons and murders; it's about an unstable individual coming to terms with the futility of her own presence, on a quest to inject some purpose into her continuing existence. The depressing ending only lends more credence to this existential read.

West or whoever the motherfuck shot The Innkeeps also came up with some great camera angles. It has such an idiosyncratic look. The long shots, repeated angles, and static positioning lend a simultaneous rigidity and naturalism to the film, conveying the feel of "found footage" while still using formal framing techniques. Between this and the real (and really 'haunted') filming location, we're pulled straight into the film world, making the tension all the more immediate.

I look forward to watching this one again.

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