Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Don't Breathe




Directed by Fede Alvarez and written by Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues, Don’t Breathe is the story of three young people who decide to break into a blind man’s home to steal things and make money off of it only to realize they’re in much bigger trouble. The film is an exploration of what happens when the plan to steal things at one’s home becomes something even more troubling. Starring Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, and Stephen Lang. Don’t Breathe is a gripping and unsettling film from Fede Alvarez.

Set in Detroit in which the city is in ruins making it easier for teens to rob homes, the film revolves around a group of three teenage robbers who get a tip to break into the home of a blind war veteran who is believed to have a substantial amount of money in his house. Getting into the house is the easy part but it’s getting out that would be hard part as the man who owns the home has a bigger secret and can sense any kind of movement, breath, and anything despite being blind forcing these three kids to try and survive. The film’s screenplay by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues revolves around these three teens as one of them in Rocky (Jane Levy) is eager to get out of Detroit to take her little sister to California away from their alcoholic mother. She seeks the help of her friends Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) to find a house as the latter would get a tip about the home of this blind man (Stephen Lang). Believing the job would be easy, they decide to get in and get out quickly but the blind man isn’t someone who can be easily fooled nor can is he vulnerable. Especially as he’s got something in his basement that is even more valuable than money.

Alvarez’s direction is definitely stylish for the way he would create some intricate tracking shots that would go on for a few minutes in order to establish the geography of the blind man’s home. While the few exterior scenes in the film is shot on location in Detroit, much of it is shot mainly in Hungary for a few exteriors as much of the interiors is shot in a house made as a set. The usage of medium shots and close-ups would play into some of the claustrophobic elements of the film as well as the suspense and horror. Most notably a scene in the basement where it’s completely dark as the teenagers have no idea where they’re at as they can’t see anything which gives the blind man an advantage.

The basement is also the place where the blind man has this secret as it play into his own reclusive persona as well as the sense of loss that he carries. There are some wide shots in the scenes set in the house and in some of the exteriors yet Alvarez prefers to maintain that intimacy that add to the sense of danger as well as creating a mood where the characters have no idea where to go or if they have to move. Even as Alvarez would use hand-held or Steadicams to capture a sense of movement from the perspective of the blind man. All of which reveal what happens when someone decides to rob the wrong house. Overall, Alvarez creates a riveting and eerie film about three teens who rob the house of a blind man only to be trapped in his home.

Cinematographer Pedro Luque does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of filters and lighting schemes to help set a mood for many of the film’s interiors as it’s mainly set at night to maintain that sense of dread and terror. Editors Eric L. Beason, Louise Ford, and Gardner Gould do excellent work with the editing as it play into the suspense and horror as it help create moments that are scary as well as building up the terror. Production designer Naaman Marshall, with art directors Adrien Asztalos and Erick Donaldson plus set decorator Zsusza Mihalek, does fantastic work with the look of the house from the way the rooms look as well as the basement and its secret as well as the attention to detail of everything that is in and out of the house. Costume designer Carlos Rosario does nice work with the costumes as it is mainly straightforward to play into something casual for all of the characters to wear

Hair/makeup designer Carla Vicenzino, with special effects makeup designer Ivan Poharnok, does amazing work with the look of the bits of gore in the film as well as the look of the blind man with his dead eyes. Visual effects supervisor Alejandro Damiani does terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it’s mainly bit of set dressing for some of the exteriors as well as bits of the interiors. Sound designer Jonathan Miller does superb work with the sound as it play into the tense atmosphere inside the house as well as the things that the blind man has to trigger something in his home. The film’s music by Roque Banos is wonderful for its usage of low-key orchestral music to play into the suspense and horror as well as creating some momentum for the former.

The casting by Rich Delia is marvelous as it feature some small roles from Emma Bercovici as Rocky’s little sister Diddy, Christian Zagia as a black markets dealer in Raul, Katia Bokor as Rocky and Diddy’s alcoholic mother Ginger, Sergej Onopko as Ginger’s boyfriend Trevor, and Franciska Torocsik as a mysterious woman named Cindy. Daniel Zovatto is superb as Money as the most abrasive member of the gang who is eager to break into the home of the blind man as he would put the gang into serious trouble.

Dylan Minnette is fantastic as Alex as the conscience of the gang as someone who is reluctant about breaking into the blind man’s home but knows he needs the money and to help Rocky get out as he also cope with all of the dangers at the house as well as be the one who can signal the alarm in case something goes wrong. Jane Levy is excellent as Rocky as a young woman who is willing to break into the home of the blind man in the hopes to get the money as she’s forced to realize what she’s dealing with and wonder if she’s really made a major mistake. Finally, there’s Stephen Lang in a phenomenal performance as the blind man as it is this eerie performance as a man who uses his sense of smell and hearing to understand who is there as well as provide a reason into the secret he’s protecting as it is one of his great performances.

Don’t Breathe is an incredible film from Fede Alvarez. Featuring a great cast, a minimalist premise, intimate setting, and eerie visuals, the film is definitely a horror film that aims for something simple without the need to embellish anything in order to tell a gripping story. In the end, Don’t Breathe is a sensational film from Fede Alvarez.

Fede Alvarez Films: (Evil Dead (2013 film)) – (The Girl in the Spider’s Web)

© thevoid99 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Village of the Damned (1960 film)




Based on the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, Village of the Damned is the story of a British village where its women give birth to children who are mysterious and have powers. Directed by Wolf Rilla and screenplay by Rilla, Stirling Silliphant, and Ronald Kinnoch, the film is a look into a home that is unhinged by mysterious children who want to take over. Starring George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, Martin Stephens, and Michael Gwynn. Village of the Damned is a mesmerizing and eerie film from Wolf Rilla.

Set in a small British village, the film revolves its villagers who suddenly fall asleep for hours and then wake up not knowing what had happened as some of the women in the village have become pregnant as the children they would give birth to are very mysterious. It’s a film that plays into a community that is baffled by this mysterious event as well as be disturbed by this group of white-haired children who are much smarter than normal children and can read minds. The film’s screenplay starts off with this typical normal day in the village of Midwich where everyone is just doing what they do until they all suddenly faint and fall asleep for some mysterious reason.

Leading the investigation is Alan Bernard (Michael Gwynn) who is a military officer that was talking to Professor Gordon Zellaby (George Sanders) when the event happened as he wonders what had happened and how his wife Anthea (Barbara Shelley) and the other women in the village became pregnant. A few years go by after the pregnancy and birth is where things become really strange as the kids grow up faster than the other children as well as exhibit certain powers and ask big questions.

Wolf Rilla’s direction is largely straightforward for much of the film in terms of the compositions and its approach to suspense by not delving into the horror and drama immediately in the film except in the opening sequence. There are a few moments of minor suspense early on but much of it is dramatic as Rilla’s compositions in the medium shots and close-up play into the characters coping with what happen and this new situation they’re in. By the film’s second half where the children have arrived and have these strange powers, it does become a more suspenseful feature where Zellaby tries to understand what is going on. There are some wide shots in the film as it relates to the number of children who have these powers in Rilla needing to get all of them in the shot.

There are also these scary moments where the power of these children where their eyes would lit up as it would play into something drastic as it harkens to the dangers of what happens with society if it’s under the control of people who bring fear as it harkens to the times of the Cold War in the 1960s. All of which would play into Zellaby needing to confront these children as well as what they’re planning to do with society. Overall, Rilla crafts a chilling yet haunting film about a group of children terrorizing a village.

Cinematographer Geoffrey Faithfull does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white cinematography as it help play into the film’s evocative look and tone for much of the daytime exteriors as well as some chilling scenes set at night. Editor Gordon Hales does excellent work with the editing as it help play into the suspense and drama with some rhythmic cuts including a few stylish cuts for some of the intense moments of the film. Art director Ivan King does fantastic work with the film’s sets from the look of the homes where the characters live and work at to the look of the house where the children would go to in their attempt to start their own colony. Sound recordist Cyril Swern does terrific work with the sound in creating something that feels natural but also unsettling for some of the dramatic suspenseful moments. The film’s music by Ron Goodwin is superb for its low-key yet eerie orchestral score that play into the drama and suspense.

The casting by Irene Howard is amazing as it feature some notable small roles from Jenny Laird and Sarah Long in their respective roles as a mother-daughter duo who both become pregnant, Richard Warner as a man who is angry over his wife’s pregnancy as he returns home from the sea, John Phillips as General Leighton who wants to destroy the town believing it is dangerous because of the children, and Laurence Naismith as Dr. Williers who would examine the women and notice something odd about the children before and after they’re born. Michael Gwynn is superb as Alan Bernard as a military officer friend of Professor Zellaby who is trying to understand what is going on as he would have a confrontation with the children only to nearly be killed by them.

Martin Stephens is fantastic as Anthea’s son David as one of the children who has these strange powers as he is the leader of sorts of these kids who is very intelligent and cunning in his determination for power. Barbara Shelley is excellent as Anthea as the woman who would give birth to David as she copes with his powers as she becomes unsure of what she’s given birth to as well as the chaos he’s caused. Finally, there’s George Sanders in a brilliant performance as Professor Gordon Zellaby as a man trying to make sense of everything as well as engage in conversation with his son and the other children where he realizes that something about them isn’t right.

Village of the Damned is an incredible film from Wolf Rilla. Featuring a great cast, eerie visuals, and a gripping story on a community unraveled by evil and mysterious children. It’s a film that explore what happens when something mysterious and unexplained can lead to chaos and put the lives of a community at risk. In the end, Village of the Damned is a sensational film from Wolf Rilla.

Related: Village of the Damned (1995 film)

© thevoid99 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Innocents (1961 film)




Based on the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Innocents is the story of a troubled governess who watches over two children who are supposedly possessed as she believes the house is haunted. Directed by Jack Clayton and screenplay by William Archibald and Truman Capote with additional dialogue from Jack Mortimer, the film is a Gothic horror story set in a home that might be haunted. Starring Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave, Megs Jenkins, Peter Wyngarde, Martin Stephens, Pamela Franklin, Isla Cameron, and Clytie Jessop. The Innocents is an intoxicating yet eerie film from Jack Clayton.

The film follows a woman who is given the job to be the governess for a man’s niece and nephew as her job is to care for them while he’s away on business as she becomes disturbed by their odd behavior as she believes the home they live in is haunted. It’s a film that explores a woman dealing with her situation as she tries to get to know as well as befriend these two kids living in this mansion which also house a few staff members include a housekeeper who probably knows more than she lets on. The film’s screenplay explores life at this beautiful and serene home that seems to be tranquil but there is also something off about the house once Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) has arrived into the home. In meeting the young girl Flora (Pamela Franklin) and the housekeeper Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins), Miss Giddens seems to have gotten herself a job that will make her happy and more.

Yet, that all changes when Flora’s brother Miles (Martin Stephens) arrives after having been kicked out at school where things start off a little odd and then becomes more troubling due to Miles’ personality as someone who acts very mature and say a lot of mature things. Miss Giddens would then see mysterious people at the home thinking they’re alive as it is believed to be previous inhabitants in the home including the children’s previous governess. Miss Giddens would learn more about those previous inhabitants as she believes they are possessing the children as she wants to know what these inhabitants want.

Jack Clayton’s direction is definitely stylish for many of the visuals that he creates as it help sets a mood into this massive estate and land which is a character in the film. Shot partially on location at a mansion in Sheffield Park on Sussex with much of it shot on Shepperton Studios in Britain. Clayton would use some wide shots to establish some of the locations but also use the wide shots for some unique compositions that play into some of the dramatic tension that looms throughout the film. Especially in the way he would frame his actors for a shot where there’s an extreme close-up of one character in the foreground and a medium shot of another character in the background. There are also some unique compositions in some of the medium and wide shots that would play into some of the things Miss Giddens would see during the course of the film as she wonders if it’s real or not. There are also sequences that are surreal as it relates to what Miss Giddens is dreaming about as it would also include moments that are very extreme as it relates to Miss Giddens’ relationship with Miles. While there’s scenes that are straightforward, it is only to build up the suspense as it would lead to this chilling climax as it relates to the previous inhabitants of the home. Overall, Clayton crafts an evocative yet haunting film about a governess dealing with children who could be possessed by ghosts.

Cinematographer Freddie Francis does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white photography to help create moods with its usage of lighting, shades, and shadows to play into the suspense and horror as well as the usage of candle lights for a few scenes set at night. Editor James Clark does excellent work with the editing with its approach to rhythms to build up the suspense and drama as well as the usage of superimposed dissolves to play up the dramatic suspense in a few scenes. Art director Wilfred Shingleton does amazing work with the look of the rooms inside the house as well as some of the things found in the mysterious attic as well as folly near the lake at the estate.

Costume designer Sophie Devine, under the Motley pseudonym, does fantastic work with the look of the costumes as it plays into the film’s setting around the 19th Century with the dresses that Miss Giddens look to the clothes that the children wear. The sound work of Daphne Oram, with sound recordists Buster Ambler and John Cox, is incredible for the mixture of sounds in some scenes that add to the sense of terror as it is widely considered to be the early ideas of sound design as it’s one of the film’s major highlights. The film’s music by Georges Auric is superb for its orchestral score that is only used sparingly as it pops up on certain parts to help set the mood for the suspense and horror.

The film’s marvelous cast include some notable small roles from Isla Cameron as the housemaid Anna, Clytie Jessop as the ghost of the previous governess in Miss Jessel, Peter Wyngarde as a mysterious ghost who seems to be haunting and possessing Miles, and Michael Redgrave in a terrific small role as Miles and Flora’s uncle who hires Miss Giddens to be the children’s new governess. Pamela Franklin is wonderful as Flora as a young girl who is full of life and energy though she is also odd for the fact that she sings a song from a music box as she has no idea where she knows the song. Martin Stephens is excellent as Miles as a young boy who is kicked out of school as he’s also full of wonderment but there’s also something about him that is dark as he would say things that would disturb Miss Giddens.

Megs Jenkins is fantastic as Mrs. Grose as the housekeeper who is trying to understand what Miss Giddens is seeing as she also knows about the history of the house while aware that something isn’t right. Finally, there’s Deborah Kerr in a phenomenal performance as Miss Giddens as a governess who is hired to watch over the children of a rich man as she copes with the environment she’s in as well as the troubling behavior of the children as it’s one of Kerr’s finest performances.

The Innocents is a spectacular film from Jack Clayton that features a tremendous performance from Deborah Kerr. Along with its gorgeous visuals, eerie music soundtrack and sound design, and a haunting story set in a haunted house. The film is definitely a horror film that is more about mood rather than cheap scares to create suspense as well as show what atmosphere can do to create scares. In the end, The Innocents is a sensational film from Jack Clayton.

© thevoid99 2017

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Jigoku




Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa and screenplay by Nakagawa and Ichiro Miyagawa, Jigoku (Hell or The Sinners of Hell) is the story of a student who succumbs to guilt after leaving during a hit-and-run where he is chased by an evil doppelganger who would lead him to Hell. The film is an unconventional horror film set in modern Japan where a young man deals with his consequences as well as facing what could be his doom. Starring Shigeru Amachi, Utako Mitsuya, Yoichi Numata, Torahiko Nakamura, Fumiko Miyata, and Hiroshi Hayashi. Jigoku is an astonishing yet horrifying film from Nobuo Nakagawa.

The film follows a man that had everything going for him as he’s engaged to his professor’s daughter and is set for a nice future until he is pursued by a mysterious doppelganger who would get him involved in a hit-and-run where the man who was hit dies. It’s a film that isn’t just about the exploration of guilt but also a man dealing with the consequences as his life descends into total chaos due to these strange events that would have some form of involvement from this mysterious stranger who is there to stir things up. The film’s screenplay by Nobuo Nakagawa and Ichiro Miyagawa takes a simple three-act structure that takes place in three different locations during the course of the film as it relates to its protagonist Shiro Shimizu (Shigeru Amachi) and his life in Tokyo where he’s just this theology student trying to live his life as he’s constantly followed by this mysterious man in Tamura (Yoichi Numata) who always says very dark things and would put Shimizu in danger. Notably as Shimizu would encounter things that would affect him as he tries to right the wrongs only for everything to go wrong.

The second act takes place in a rural retirement community where Shimizu is visiting his dying mother where he meets a young woman named Sachiko (Utako Mitsuya) who looks a lot like his fiancée Yukiko. Yet, Tamura would follow him as would two women who are related to the man Tamura and Shimizu hit and ran during a night in Tokyo. One of these women is the man’s girlfriend who would have a brief tryst with Shimizu as she and the man’s mother would follow him where a lot of chaos ensue into what Shimazu’s father is doing in creating a tenth-anniversary party for the retirement community. The film’s third act is set in Hell as it’s about all of the sins that Shimizu has committed as well as those who had been around him.

Nakagawa’s direction is definitely stylish for the way he would present the film as it would start off with a brief surreal sequence of what Shimizu would endure in Hell to something more normal as he’s in a classroom. Much of Nakagawa’s direction for the scenes in Tokyo and at the rural retirement community does have bits of style but much of it is straightforward to play into the drama of what Shimizu is dealing with. There are a few slanted angles in some scenes as well as moments that are surreal whenever Tamura would pop up as it play into the sense danger that Shimizu would encounter. Nakagawa would use some wide shots to establish some of the locations though much of it is presented in medium shots and close-ups. That approach to the compositions would play into the moments of chaos including a meeting with Shimizu and Yoko (Akiko Ono) on a bridge as it is very tense as it relates to everything Shimizu had done as it relates to the hit-and-run. Eventually, the aftermath as it relates to this anniversary party would showcase these elements of horror as it sets the tone for what is to come in the film’s third act.

The film’s third act which takes place in Hell is definitely one of the most horrific and terrifying sequences in film. It has these vast settings where Shimizu and many of the characters he encounter would endure their own ideas of Hell. The usage of the wide shots play into the look of Hell from this eerie river to images that of a pool of fire and people walking endlessly in circles. In Hell, Shimizu would have some revelations about himself as well as seeing the sins of people he know or had just met as show a world where it’s torment that never ends. Even as Shimizu learns more about who Tamura really is and why he had been involved in Shimizu’s life. Overall, Nakagawa creates a rapturous yet unsettling film about a man’s consumption of guilt that would lead him down to Hell.

Cinematographer Mamoru Miyagi does incredible work with the film’s cinematography from the natural lighting approach to the scenes in Tokyo and in the small town to the more stylish array of looks for the scenes in Hell with the help of Hiroshi Ishimori in the lighting to help create moods for these sequences. Editor Toshio Goto does excellent work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts for some scenes as well as freeze-frames and other stylistic elements to play into the suspense and horror. Production designer Haruyasu Kurosawa does amazing work with the look of Hell in all of its settings as well as the way the community retirement home look in its party scene. The sound work of Kihachiro Nakai is fantastic for the array of sound effects and textures that are presented for the scenes set in Hell as it help create this atmosphere that is very unsettling. The film’s music by Chumei Watanabe is brilliant for its mixture of jazz, pop, and traditional Japanese music to play into this array of styles that play into the drama as well as the suspense and horror.

The film’s phenomenal cast include some notable small roles from Kanjuro Arashi as Hell’s king in Lord Enma, Sakurato Yamakawa as a fisherman who would catch fish that would later be poisoned, Hiroshi Shinguji as a corrupt police detective who desires Sachiko, Koichi Miya as an immoral journalist, Tomohiko Otani as a neglectful doctor at the community home, Jun Otomo as Sachiko’s father who is a troubled painter that is struggling with alcoholism, Kimie Tokudaji as Shimizu’s ailing mother, Akiko Yamashita as Shimizu’s father’s mistress Kinuko who would pursue Shimizu, Fumiko Miyata as Yukiko’s fragile mother, and Torahiko Nakamura in a terrific performance as Professor Yajima as Yukiko’s father and Shimizu’s mentor who is coping with a picture presented by Tamura that has him coping with his own sins from the past. Hirisho Ayashi is superb as Shimizu’s father who runs the community home which he uses for his own selfish reasons while cheating on his ailing wife with a young woman.

Hiroshi Izumida is wonderful in his brief role as Kyoichi “Tiger” Shiga as a gang leader who is the victim of the hit-and-run that Shimizu was involved in while Akiko Ono is fantastic as Kyoichi’s girlfriend Yoko who is a prostitute that had a brief tryst with Shimizu only to learn more about what he did. Kiyoko Tsuji is excellent as Kyoichi’s mother who vows vengeance for the death of her son as she is eager to find out who did it with Yoko’s help. Utako Mitsuya is amazing in a dual performance Shimizu’s fiancée Yukiko and the neighbor girl Sachiko as two figures of purity and morality who give Shimizu a reason to do what is right and to remind him of what is good in the world. Yoichi Numata is brilliant as Tamura as a mysterious man who constantly follows Shimizu as well as have a mysterious sense of knowledge about what everyone has done as gets them to face their own guilt. Finally, there’s Shigeru Amachi in a remarkable performance as Shiro Shimizu as a theology student who gets involved in a hit-and-run as he copes with the guilt of his actions as well as the chaos in his life that would eventually lead him to Hell.

Jigoku is a phenomenal film from Nobuo Nakagawa. It’s a film that is definitely a must-see for anyone that is interested in Japanese horror as it is widely considered to be the film that laid the groundwork for a lot of modern J-horror films in the years to come. Notably for its immense art direction, dazzling visuals, unsettling score, and themes of guilt and torment all taking place in a world called Hell. In the end, Jigoku is a tremendous film from Nobuo Nakagawa.

Nobuo Nakagawa Films: (Vampire Moth) – (The Depths) – (Black Cat Mansion) – The Ghost of Yotsuya

© thevoid99 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Ghost of Yotsuya




Based on a play by Nanboku Tsuruya, Tokaido Yotsuya kaidan (The Ghost of Yotsuya) is the story of a samurai who wants to marry a woman against the wishes of her father by killing him only for things to go terribly wrong due to his ambitions. Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa and screenplay by Masayoshi Onuki and Yoshihiro Ishikawa, the film is an exploration of greed and ambition. Starring Shigeru Amachi, Katsuko Wakasugi, Shuntaro Emi, Ryuzaburo Nakamura, and Noriko Kitazawa. Tokaido Yotsuya kaidan is an eerie yet gripping film from Nobuo Nakagawa.

Set during the era of ancient Japan, the film revolves around a ronin samurai warrior who wants to marry the daughter of a lord only to be rejected as he responds by killing her father and another lord. It’s a film that explores a man’s need for position in the world of the samurai and lords as he does whatever it takes to do that as he would marry the daughter of a lord only to reject her in favor of another lord’s daughter. The film’s screenplay explore the desires of Iemon Tamiya (Shigeru Amachi) as a samurai with no master who is eager to rise up the ranks in society as he approaches a couple of lords who were walking on their way home as they reject Iemon’s offer only to be killed with the help of Iemon’s co-conspirator Naosuke (Shuntaro Emi).

After killing the son of a lord in Yomoshichi (Ryuzaburo Nakamura), Iemon takes Oiwa (Katsuko Wakasugi) as his wife while Naosuke would take Oiwa’s sister Osode (Noriko Kitazawa) his bride in the hope they would raise their own social status. Even though Oiwa would give Iemon a son, it’s not enough until Iemon gets the attention of the revered lord Kihe Ito (Hiroshi Hayashi) who would hand his daughter Ume (Junko Ikeuchi) to marry him. He and Naosuke would conspire a way to get rid of Oiwe as they would involve an admirer of Oiwe in Takuetsu (Jun Otomo) where it would only cause a lot of trouble for Iemon.

Nobuo Nakagawa’s direction is definitely stylish for the way he would open the film with this scene from a kabuki play as it sets the stage for what is to come. The following sequence is this long scene that is presented in one entire take where Iemon talks to two lords about marrying Oiwa leading to a samurai duel where it’s presented in a wide shot with a dolly track to capture everything that is happening. Nakagawa’s usage of the wide shots would play into a lot of the coverage into this area where it show the air of ambition in Iemon as he is determined to rise up in the ranks. Much of the film’s first and second act is about Iemon’s desire to be important as Nakagawa would use some close-ups and medium shots to capture his life with Oiwa in their small and dilapidated home. The film’s third act is where the horror would emerge as it relates to everything Iemon has done where it involves ghosts, snakes, and surreal hallucinations as there’s elements of guilt but also revenge on the part of those Iemon had wronged. The film’s climax isn’t just about Iemon dealing with the consequences of his actions but also be confronted by those he had affected both dead and alive. Overall, Nakagawa creates an entrancing yet eerie film about a ruthless samurai warrior who kills and manipulates those for his thirst of power and status.

Cinematographer Tadashi Nishimoto does incredible work with the film’s colorful cinematography with the usage of the Eastman color film stock and Shintoho Scope format as it captures a lot of detail into the way many of the exteriors setting look as well as the array of lighting for some of the interiors and the horror scenes are presented. Editor Shin Nagata does excellent work with the editing as it’s largely straightforward to play into the impact of the suspense and drama as well as going into more stylistic form for the film’s third act. Production designer Haruyasu Kurosawa does amazing work with the look of some of the exteriors in the ponds and places in rural Edo as well as the home that Iemon lived in with Oiwa. The sound work of Yoji Dogen is fantastic for its approach to sound effects from the way it captures natural sounds to the moments it would play into the suspense. The film’s music by Michiaki Watanabe is brilliant for its mixture of discordant string music as well as the usage of percussions that help add to the sense of terror in the film.

The film’s superb cast include some notable small roles from Hiroshi Hayashi as the warlord Kihe Ito, Junko Ikeuchi as Ito’s daughter Ume that Iemon is pursuing, Jun Otomo as a kind admirer of Oiwa in Takuetsu as a man who becomes a pawn in Iemon’s scheme, Noriko Kitazawa as Oiwa’s sister Osode who finds herself married to Naosuke as she wonders what is really going on, and Ryuzaburo Nakamura as Yomoshichi as the son of a Japanese lord who is trying to go after a samurai who killed his father only to be targeted by Naosuke and Iemon early in the film. Shuntaro Emi is excellent as Naosuke as Iemon’s assistant and conspirator who helps him rise to ambition in the hope he can get a share of the money and glory as he later starts to see strange things.

Katsuko Wakasugi is brilliant as Oiwa as the daughter of a warlord who becomes a victim of Iemon’s ambitions due to neglect and manipulation where she copes with everything she’s dealing with and her eventual discovery of his ambitions. Finally, there’s Shigeru Amachi in an incredible performance as Iemon Tamiya as a ronin samurai who is determined to be important in the rank of the samurai as he would marry the daughter of a warlord only to neglect her in favor of another warlord’s daughter as it’s a very dark performance of a man who schemes and such only to deal with the consequences of his actions.

Toikado Yotsuya kaidan is a phenomenal film from Nobuo Nakagawa. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous visuals, a compelling story, and an eerie music soundtrack, it’s a film that is this unconventional ghost story of sorts that showcases the fallacy of ambition and greed where a samurai would face his own actions. In the end, Toikado Yotsuya kaidan is a sensational film from Nobuo Nakagawa.

Nobuo Nakagawa Films: (Vampire Moth) – (The Depths) – (Black Cat Mansion) – Jigoku

© thevoid99 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks (Halloween Edition): Dolls




For the second week of October 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. It’s the second week of the Halloween edition of the series as the subject is on dolls who either come to life to create a shitload of chaos or be used as something for the protagonist to cope with. Here are my three picks:

1. Child’s Play



An obvious pick as it revolves around a kid who gets a popular doll for his birthday unaware that the doll had been possessed by an infamous serial killer who just wants to kill. It’s a fun horror film that has a kid haunted by this doll as the kid is accused of killing people when it’s really the doll. There’s some fun kills in the film as it would lead to a very popular franchise with a bunch of cool kills and other funny shit.

2. Pinocchio’s Revenge



This straight-to-video film from the 1990s is also about a serial-killing doll but it’s Pinocchio who is given as a present to a young girl. It is a rip-off of Child’s Play but the puppet is wooden and plays innocence. It’s an OK film that is most notable for a scene in which Pinocchio stares at the babysitter who is seen in the nude as she’s taking a shower. That’s the highlight of the film.

3. May



Though it’s not really about a doll but rather a portrayal of a troubled young woman trying to connect with other people as well as be fascinated by aspects of their bodies. Still, it is a great film from Lucky McKee that features Angela Bettis in an incredible performance as the titular role as the film is edited by Rian Johnson of Brick fame. Yet, the film does involve a doll that May has which she keeps in a glass case as it’s her only friend as it would play into the film’s third act that relates to May’s desire to find the perfect friend.

© thevoid99 2017

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Rope




Based on the play by Patrick Hamilton, Rope is the story of two college friends who kill a friend inspired by their philosophy professor in the idea of committing the perfect murder. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and screenplay by Arthur Laurents from a story by Hume Cronyn, the film is the first film of Hitchcock to be shot in color as it is set entirely inside an apartment. Starring James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger, Joan Chandler, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Constance Collier, Douglas Dick, and Edith Evanson. Rope is a thrilling and evocative film from Alfred Hitchcock.

Set entirely in a New York City penthouse apartment, two college friends kill their roommate and hide him inside a chest where they hold a dinner party for guests who are unaware that there’s a body inside the chest. Among the guest that is invited to this party is a philosophy professor whom they admire as he becomes very suspicious of what is happening as one of the hosts acts erratically during the course of the party. Arthur Laurents’ screenplay, with un-credited work from Ben Hecht, never steps out of the setting with the exception of the opening credits sequence outside of the penthouse.

It begins with two young men in Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger) strangling David Kentley (Dick Hogan) to death as they put him in this chest in their belief that they have committed the perfect crime. It’s all part of their plan to prove that their intellectually superior to the people they invited including the man that gave them this idea in Rupert Cadell (James Stewart). During the course of the party, everyone is wondering where Kent is including his father (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) and his aunt Mrs. Atwater (Constance Collier) as Cadell notices something is off as he is also wondering about Morgan who starts to drink heavily.

Alfred Hitchcock’s direction is definitely entrancing for the fact that it’s got a lot of long takes and takes place almost entirely inside this penthouse as the only scene not in the penthouse in the opening credit sequence. In using the penthouse as the setting for the entirety of the film, Hitchcock’s usage of tracking camera shots and long takes would allow him to capture what these two men are doing as well as this dinner party. All of which is taking place in real time where there is a lot of coverage into what Hitchcock is capturing with the camera. There are close-ups that would zoom out to go into a medium or a wide shot while there are also these unique compositions of what is happening as it’s all about the attention to detail of what is happening while a character is talking to someone. Even where Hitchcock is focused on a certain object or whatever thing the character is talking about as that person is off-screen. It would eventually lead to Cadell trying to see what is really going on as well as confront his own theories about superiority and inferiority. Overall, Hitchcock crafts an inventive yet intoxicating film about two men who hold a dinner party while hiding a dead body in the middle of the living room.

Cinematographers Joseph A. Valentine and William V. Skall do brilliant work with the film’s gorgeous Technicolor cinematography in creating a look that is colorful while providing some unique lighting early in the film as well as creating different mood for the exterior background. Editor William H. Ziegler does excellent work with the editing as it is very straightforward for a film that only contains ten shots in total with invisible cuts coming during close-ups of a character’s attire. Art director Perry Ferguson, with set decorators Howard Bristol and Emile Kuri, does fantastic work with the look of the penthouse apartment in all of its interiors including many of the objects in the living room as it help play into what is really inside the chest that the guests don’t know about.

Dress designer Adrian does wonderful work with the look of the dress of one of the guests who is baffled by the lack of her appearance of her fiancée. The sound work of Al Riggs is terrific for its naturalistic sound in the way many of the events in the room are presented as well as a few sound effects played outside of the apartment. The film’s music by David Buttolph is superb as it is mainly an orchestral score that appears in the opening and closing credits of the film with additional work from Francis Poulnec that is played on piano by the characters as well as other piano pieces provided by music director Leo F. Forbstein.

The film’s incredible cast feature notable small roles and performances from David Hogan as the unfortunate victim in David Kentley, Edith Evanson as the part-time housekeeper Mrs. Wilson who is also suspicious over what is going on, Douglas Dick as a friend of David in Kenneth Lawrence who is wondering where David is as he also has feelings for David’s fiancée Janet, and Constance Collier as David’s jovial aunt Anita Antwater. Sir Cedric Hardwicke is fantastic as David’s father Henry Kentley as a man who is aghast into Shaw’s view of things while wondering where his son is while Joan Chandler is brilliant as David’s fiancée Janet Walker as a columnist who is eager to meet David as she is concerned about his absence as she also deals with her former boyfriend Kenneth.

Farley Granger is excellent as Phillip Morgan as a co-conspirator of the murder who becomes consumed with guilt as he tries to keep it together throughout the party. John Dall is amazing as Brandon Shaw as another co-conspirator of the murder who is convinced nothing go wrong as he is a man of arrogance that thinks he had committed the perfect crime and has succeeded in being smarter than everyone. Finally, there’s James Stewart in a remarkable performance as Rupert Cadell as a former professor who had been the one who gave Shaw and Morgan the ideas of superiority and inferiority as he becomes very suspicious about what is going on at the party as well as being baffled by the way Morgan and Shaw have conducted themselves.

Rope is a tremendous film from Alfred Hitchcock. Featuring a great ensemble cast, a unique premise, and an unconventional yet rapturous presentation. The film is definitely one of Hitchcock’s quintessential films in terms of laying out the suspense as well as keeping it inside an apartment where many aren’t aware there’s a dead body inside a chest. In the end Rope is a spectacular film from Alfred Hitchcock.

Alfred Hitchcock Films: (Number 13) - (The Pleasure Garden) - (The Blackguard) - (The Mountain Eagle) - (The Lodger) - (A Story of the London Fog) - (The Ring) - (Downhill) - (The Farmer’s Wife) - (Easy Virtue) - (Champagne) - (The Manxman) - (Blackmail) - (Juno and the Paycock) - (Murder!) - (The Skin Game) - (Mary) - (Lord Camber’s Ladies) - (Rich and Strange) - (Number Seventeen) - (Waltzes from Vienna) - (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934 film)) - (39 Steps) - (Secret Agent) - (Sabotage) - (Young and Innocent) – The Lady Vanishes - (Jamaica Inn) – (Rebecca) – (Foreign Correspondent) – (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) – Suspicion - (Saboteur) – (Shadow of a Doubt) – Lifeboat - Bon Voyage - (Spellbound) – (Notorious) – (The Paradine Cage) – (Under Capricorn) – (Stage Fright) – Strangers on a Train - I Confess - Dial M for Murder - (Rear Window) – To Catch a Thief - (The Trouble with Harry) – (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 film)) – (The Wrong Man) – Vertigo - North by Northwest - Psycho - The Birds - Marnie - (Torn Curtain) – (Topaz) – (Frenzy) – (Family Plot)

© thevoid99 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Babadook




Written and directed by Jennifer Kent that is based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is the story of a woman taking care of her troubled six-year old son when their life turns upside down by a book that features a creature the boy has been dreaming about. The film is an exploration of a woman dealing with grief as well as the things that could be troubling her son. Starring Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney, Barbara West, and Ben Winspear. The Babadook is an exhilarating and entrancing film from Jennifer Kent.

The film follows a widow who lost her husband in a car accident on the day her son was born as the boy has been erratic and energetic until she finds a book about a monster that would eventually come to life to haunt both of them. It’s a film in which a woman copes with loss as she tries to move on as well as dealing with her six-year old son who is wild and claims he sees a monster which got him kicked out at school. During the course of the story, the woman in Amelia Vanek (Essie Davis) is dealing with these situations as she would become haunted by this mysterious creature known as the Babadook.

Jennifer Kent’s screenplay starts off with Amelia trying to maintain some normalcy in raising her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) who has an active imagination and wants to do magic but is also troubled claiming he has strange nightmares. Upon finding this book to read to him at night, she thinks it’s just a simple book but it appears in strange places only to see Samuel act more lively and scared than usual with some telling Amelia that he's got some serious problems. Yet, Amelia would also unravel upon seeing things as it adds to what she read and what this mysterious creature would do.

Kent’s direction does have a sense of style in its approach to suspense and horror yet it is very straightforward in terms of playing into the drama as well as building things up. Shot on location in Adelaide in South Australia, the film does play into a world that is typical of suburbia where Amelia works at a nursing home to care for the elderly while her son goes to school and such. The air of suspense and horror doesn’t come until the second act during Amelia’s attempts to get rid of the book as well as Samuel’s increasingly erratic behavior. Kent would use some wide shots to establish bits of the location as well as emphasizing the space inside the house yet much of the compositions would have Kent use medium shots and close-ups. Especially in the scenes where Amelia becomes unhinged by these strange images she’s seeing as well as what Samuel is claiming to see.

One aspect of the film that is key to its horror is the book that is created by its illustrator/designer Alex Juhasz as it is this pop-up book that is about this monster that haunts those who call for it. By the time the film reaches the second act where Amelia starts to see things and wonder if she’s really hallucinating or this monster in the Babadook is actually preying on her. Things definitely intensify during the third act where Kent’s approach to suspense and horror really come ahead where Amelia would start to lose aspects of herself as if the Babadook had possessed her just like the book had predicted. All of which would eventually lead to this climax into what the Babadook wants and Amelia needing to protect her son from this mysterious creature as it also forces her to confront loss. Overall, Kent crafts a chilling and gripping film about a woman trying to protect her son from a monster created from some mysterious book.

Cinematographer Radoslaw Ladczuk does excellent work with the film’s cinematography with the natural look of the scenes in the daytime to the array of lighting queues and set-ups for the scenes set at night. Editor Simon Njoo does brilliant work with the editing as it has some inventive rhythmic cutting to play into the suspense and horror while knowing how to build it up. Production designer/co-art director Alex Holmes, with set decorator Jennifer Drake and co-art director Karen Hannaford, does fantastic work with the look of the house that Amelia and Samuel live in as well as the basement which features some of the things Amelia’s late husband had. Costume designer Heather Wallace does nice work with the costumes as it is largely casual with the exception of a magic cape that Samuel wears.

Hair/makeup supervisor Tracy Phillpot does terrific work with some of the gory makeup for some of the film’s climax while much of it is straightforward. Visual effects supervisor Marty Pepper and prosthetics supervisor Dale Bamford do amazing work with the look of the Babadook with the usage of puppets, stop-motion animation, and some computer-created visual effects as it is one of the film’s highlights. Sound designer Frank Lipson does incredible work with the sound for some of the sound effects as well as the way the Babadook would make sounds to help create that sense of terror. The film’s music by Jed Kurzel is superb for its orchestral-based music to help play into the suspense and horror without using it as a crutch as well as not appear in certain places while music supervisor Andrew Kotako creates a soundtrack that mainly feature a few contemporary pieces as well as some pop and whatever was playing in Amelia’s television.

The casting by Nikki Barrett is great as it feature some notable small roles from Chloe Hurn as Samuel’s cruel cousin Ruby, Adam Morgan as a police sergeant, Benjamin Winspear as Amelia’s late husband Oskar, Daniel Henshall as a co-worker of Amelia’s in Robbie, Hayley McElhinney as Amelia’s sister Claire, Barbara West as Amelia’s elderly, Parkinson’s stricken neighbor, and Tim Purcell as the model for the Babadook. Noah Wiseman is remarkable as Samuel as a six-year old boy with an active imagination who is dealing with the strange things he is seeing claiming that the Babadook exists as it is a terrifying yet energetic performance. Finally, there’s Essie Davis in a phenomenal performance as Amelia as a single mother still dealing with the loss of her husband as she is also overwhelmed by her son where Davis displays a physicality in the scenes during the third act that is intense as well as showcase a determination in that balance of fear and insanity as it is a performance for the ages.

The Babadook is a tremendous film from Jennifer Kent that features spectacular performances from Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman. It’s a film that plays with the conventions of the horror genre while maintaining its focus of the relationship between a mother and son as well as how they cope with death and what they could find though grief. In the end, The Babadook is a magnificent film from Jennifer Kent.

© thevoid99 2017

Monday, October 09, 2017

Lifeboat




Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and screenplay by Jo Swerling from a story by John Steinbeck, Lifeboat is the story of a group of passengers stranded on a lifeboat after a passenger vessel had been struck down during World War II. It’s a film that is set entirely in the sea where a group of people cope with trying to survive as well as wonder if help will arrive. Starring Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn, and Canada Lee. Lifeboat is a riveting and intense film from Alfred Hitchcock.

Set in World War II in the Atlantic Ocean, the film revolve around eight different passengers who are stuck on a lifeboat trying to survive as they deal with limited resources, injuries, hunger, thirst, and each other. It’s a film that takes place entirely on a lifeboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean where a mixture of British and American passengers and crew are on this lifeboat. Jo Swerling’s screenplay doesn’t just explore the tension among the people on this lifeboat but also the many differences of these people who come from different backgrounds. At the same time, there would be passengers who are either injured, traumatized, or just secretive like this German man named Willi (Walter Slezak) who is a German U-boat crew member many of other survivors are suspicious about. Even as the drama is heightened early on when a survivor is too distraught over the loss of her baby as it adds a lot of tension to the eight survivors trapped in this small lifeboat.

Alfred Hitchcock’s direction is definitely engaging for the fact that is set entirely on a lifeboat in the middle of the sea though it’s really shot inside a soundstage with lots of water. While Hitchcock would use some wide shots to capture the scope of being in the middle of the sea. He would emphasize more on medium shots and close-ups to play into the danger of these eight people on this small lifeboat as they have to adjust to their situation. There are bits of humor in the film as well as lighthearted moments where everyone gets to know each other but there is still that air of tension and suspense that looms throughout. Especially as there are moments that are intense including a scene where a man named Gus Smith (William Bendix) has an injured leg that’s become infected forcing Willi to be the one to cut though nothing is shown. By the time the film would reach its climax as they endure a storm, lack of food, and lack of drinking water, the drama and suspense is at its peak where no one can be trusted as well as what happens if help will never arrive. Overall, Hitchcock crafts a gripping and rapturous film about a group people stuck on a lifeboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Cinematographer Glen MacWilliams, with additional work from Arthur C. Miller, does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white cinematography in the way it captures everything that the exteriors would look in day and night in the middle of the sea. Editor Dorothy Spencer does excellent work with the editing as it help play into the suspense with its usage of rhythmic cuts as well as in capturing the close-up of objects crucial to the film. Art directors James Basvesi and Maurice Ransford, with set decorator Thomas Little, do amazing work with the look of the exteriors of the way everything looks on the outside as well as the size and shape of the lifeboat which is a character itself.

Costume designer Rene Hubert does nice work with the costumes from some of the stylish clothes of the women to the casual look of the men. The sound work of Bernard Freericks and Roger Heman Sr. is superb for some of the sound effects that is created for the sea as well as other bits that is happening on the boat. The film’s music by Hugo W. Friedhofer is fantastic for its usage of orchestral music to play into some of the drama without overdoing the arrangements as well as creating pieces for the suspense.

The film’s marvelous cast include a couple of notable small roles from William Yetter Jr. as a German sailor and Heather Angel as a woman named Mrs. Higley who was carrying a baby upon her rescue in which she would lose her mind. Canada Lee is terrific as the steward Joe Spencer as an African-American man who can do a lot while try not to be involved with any kind of serious discussions while Hume Cronyn is superb as the radioman Stanley “Sparks” Garrett as a surviving crew member who tries to handle things on the ship as he falls for Army nurse Alice. Mary Anderson is wonderful as Alice MacKenzie as this U.S. Army nurse that tries to help the injured Gus as well as cope with surviving and being on the ship. Henry Hull is fantastic as the wealthy industrialist Charles J. “Ritt” Rittenhouse who organizes everything that is salvaged as well as try to make sense of everything while being at odds with some of the passengers who resents his wealth.

John Hodiak is excellent as John Kovac as an engine crewman who isn’t fond of having Willi on board as he dislikes German while takes a liking towards the columnist Connie Porter. William Bendix is brilliant as Gus Smith who works on the ship as a man that deals with a serious injury in his leg that becomes infected as he copes with thirst and returning to his old life. Walter Sleazak is amazing as Willi as a German U-boat crew member who doesn’t speak any English prompting Connie to translate for him as he observes everything around him while keeping a few secrets of his own as it’s a very cool and low-key performance. Finally, there’s Tallulah Bankhead in an incredible performance as the revered columnist Connie Porter as a woman who is the first on the lifeboat as she struggles with losing some things as well as dealing with the chaos on the boat as she provides a sense of wit and humility to a woman who deals with losing everything but also gain some perspective of what is happening on the boat.

Lifeboat is a tremendous film from Alfred Hitchcock. Featuring a great ensemble cast, a simple premise, and a minimalist setting, the film is definitely one of Hitchcock’s finest films in terms of its suspense and study of characters in a precarious situation. In the end, Lifeboat is a spectacular film from Alfred Hitchcock.

Alfred Hitchcock Films: (Number 13) - (The Pleasure Garden) - (The Blackguard) - (The Mountain Eagle) - (The Lodger) - (A Story of the London Fog) - (The Ring) - (Downhill) - (The Farmer’s Wife) - (Easy Virtue) - (Champagne) - (The Manxman) - (Blackmail) - (Juno and the Paycock) - (Murder!) - (The Skin Game) - (Mary) - (Lord Camber’s Ladies) - (Rich and Strange) - (Number Seventeen) - (Waltzes from Vienna) - (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934 film)) - (39 Steps) - (Secret Agent) - (Sabotage) - (Young and Innocent) – The Lady Vanishes - (Jamaica Inn) – (Rebecca) – (Foreign Correspondent) – (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) – Suspicion - (Saboteur) – (Shadow of a Doubt) – Bon Voyage - (Spellbound) – (Notorious) – (The Paradine Cage) – Rope – (Under Capricorn) – (Stage Fright) – Strangers on a Train - I Confess - Dial M for Murder - (Rear Window) – To Catch a Thief - (The Trouble with Harry) – (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 film)) – (The Wrong Man) – Vertigo - North by Northwest - Psycho - The Birds - Marnie - (Torn Curtain) – (Topaz) – (Frenzy) – (Family Plot)

© thevoid99 2017

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Blade Runner 2049



Based on the characters from the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep? by Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel to the 1982 film Blade Runner by Ridley Scott as it involves a police officer who makes a chilling discovery that would lead to the end of humanity as he turns to a man who had disappeared thirty years ago who had his own experience with replicants. Directed by Denis Villeneuve and screenplay by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green from a story by Fancher, the film is a futuristic sci-fi film set in Los Angeles where a cop tries to save humanity as he also cope with what is at stake as the role of Officer K is played by Ryan Gosling with Harrison Ford reprising his role as Rick Deckard. Also starring Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Barkhad Abdi, Wood Harris, Carla Juri, and Robin Wright. Blade Runner 2049 is a sprawling yet intoxicating film from Denis Villeneuve.

Following a blackout just a few years after the events in 2019, an LAPD cop who hunts older replicants in order to rid of them for society where he makes a discovery that would change humanity. It’s a film that follows up what Rick Deckard had discovered years ago that eventually lead to his disappearance and what cop in Officer K is trying to find upon this discovery he made when he was trying to arrest an older replicant in Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista). In this discovery, K is dealing with what he’s found as he wonders if there is more to him than just being a cop who lives alone with a hologram AI named Joi (Ana de Armas) as his companion. The film’s screenplay by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green isn’t just about this sense of identity that K is dealing with but also in this discovery that everyone wants to know including a replicant manufacturer in Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) who sees it as the next big step into his creation.

The first act revolves around what K has discovered as he would meet with Wallace’s enforcer Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) who gives him some information about his discovery as it involves Deckard. Yet, K’s journey would lead him to try and find something as he would report to Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) who believes that something is off as she wants K to find out what is going on but in secrecy as he’s later pursued by Luv. The second act isn’t just about what K is discovering but also more about his identity as he turns to Joi for help with that identity as it relates to a toy horse he believed he had when he was a child. Upon finding this toy horse and numbers on that horse that he also found on a tree when he was arresting Morton, it would eventually lead him to Deckard who has been in hiding. Upon meeting Deckard, K would realize what is at stake but also why Deckard had to leave as it relates to something bigger than himself as well as his own personal involvement.

Denis Villeneuve’s direction is definitely grand in terms of the scale of what he is creating as it is set in 2049 Los Angeles with futuristic versions of the state of California and Las Vegas as this mixture of farm country, cities, and wastelands. Shot mainly in Budapest, Hungary with some of it shot in Iceland, Spain, and other locations, the film definitely has a unique approach to the visual presentation as it begins in this kind of desolate yet beautiful land that is a place for synthetic farming as Villeneuve’s usage of the wide shots would showcase the scope of these locations. The scenes set in Los Angeles is cramped yet vast in terms of the holographic ads and other things that play into something that is futuristic as Villeneuve would create different look and feel for certain places and locations throughout the film.

The direction also utilizes some close-ups and medium shots for some unique compositions in the way characters interact with each other as well as some of the moments in the action. Villeneuve would include bits of humor in the film but much of the film is dramatic with some suspense and action as the drama relates to K’s loneliness and the revelations about what he discovered as it add to him questioning his own identity. By the time Deckard arrives in the film, it does recall elements of the past that includes this very eerie meeting between Deckard and Wallace into what the latter could do and why he needs this discovery that K made. All of which would have K play a big part into giving Deckard something he had lost and find peace over this loss as well as give K some meaning in his life. Overall, Villeneuve creates an exhilarating and rapturous film about a blade runner trying to save humanity by uncovering a discovery that could help those as well as stop a creator from playing God.

Cinematographer Roger Deakins does phenomenal work with the film’s cinematography as it is a major highlight of the film for the way he would give various locations a different look and feel from the grey exteriors of the farming land and garbage wasteland to the usage of sepia-drenched lighting for the exteriors of Las Vegas and the array of lighting and shades for many of the film’s interior scenes. Editor Joe Walker does excellent work with the editing as it has some jump-cuts for some of the action as well as some straightforward cutting for the drama and suspense. Production designer Dennis Gassner, with set decorator Alessandra Querzola and supervising art director Paul Inglis, does brilliant work with the look of K’s apartment as well as the LAPD building and the place where the Wallace Corporation is and other aspects to make Los Angeles look really futuristic. Costume designer Renee April does fantastic work with the costumes as it does provide the characters some personalities into some of the clothing that Joi wears as well as the clothing of other characters to play into the futuristic world.

Hair supervisor Lizzie Lawson and makeup supervisor Csilla Blake-Horvath do terrific work with the look of some of the characters including a few prostitutes as well as Joi in the different personalities she takes to please K. Visual effects supervisors Pierre Buffin, Richard Clegg, Paul Lambert, Petr Marek, Viktor Muller, and John Nelson do incredible work with the visual effects from the look of the city in some parts as well as the holograms and some of the action sequences as it is top-notch work. Sound editor Mark A. Mangini and sound designer Theo Green do amazing work with the sound in creating some sound effects as well as in the way guns and the flying cars sound. The film’s music by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch is great for its mixture of electronic bombast and ambient textures to create a score that is always engaging and help to play into the action and suspense while music supervisor Deva Anderson brings in some music that K listens to like Frank Sinatra as well as a couple of songs by Elvis Presley and variations of Tears in the Rain by Vangelis.

The casting by Zsolt Csutak, Francine Maisler, and Lucinda Syson is marvelous as it feature a couple of cameo appearances from two characters from the original film in Edward James Olmos as Deckard’s old colleague Gaff and Sean Young as the replicant Rachael with help from Loren Peta as Young’s double. Other notable small roles include Wood Harris as a cop named Harris, David Dastmalchian as a police scientist named Coco, Barkhad Abdi as a black markets analyzer in Doc Badger, Lennie James as a wasteland businessman in Mister Cotton, Hiam Abbass as a mysterious underground leader in Freysa, and Dave Bautista in a superb small role as the replicant Sapper Morton. Mackenzie Davis is terrific as a replicant prostitute named Mariette who is asked by Luv to follow K while being very discreet about her true motive while Carla Juri is wonderful in a small role as a mysterious memory designer in Dr. Ana Stelline who creates memories for replicants.

Jared Leto is fantastic as the replicants creator Niander Wallace as a man who is trying to create a new form of replicants as a way to get rid of humanity’s flaws as he believes this new discovery would be the key to what he wants. Robin Wright is excellent as Lt. Joshi as a LAPD official who orders K to find out about this discovery as well as question his own offbeat behavior as she is aware of what is at stake. Sylvia Hoeks is brilliant as Luv as Wallace’s replicant enforcer who is tasked with finding more about this discovery as she is this dangerous and powerful individual who is eager to get what she wants by any means necessary. Ana de Armas is amazing as Joi as an artificial-intelligence hologram who serves as K’s companion that tries to help him understand as well as wanting to feel alive to prove that there is more to her than just some program.

Harrison Ford’s performance as Rick Deckard is incredible as he provides this sense of a man who had seen and experienced so much in his life as he tries to cover his tracks while dealing with this newfound revelation over this discovery that he was involved in that also includes Rachael whom he mourns for. Finally, there’s Ryan Gosling in a sensational performance as K as a cop who copes with his identity upon this discovery he’s made as well as wanting to get answers as he is quite tough but also flawed as it is a very grounded and restraint performance from Gosling who brings a lot to a role of someone dealing with loneliness and himself.

Blade Runner 2049 is a magnificent film from Denis Villeneuve that features top-notch performances from Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. Along with its great ensemble cast, gorgeous visuals courtesy of cinematographer Roger Deakins, a hypnotic score, and a compelling premise that explores the idea of identity and humanity. It’s a film that manages to be not just some sprawling sci-fi adventure film with elements of film noir, suspense, and action but also a film that says a lot about people and who they are as well as what can happen when one wants to use that power for his own reasons. In the end, Blade Runner 2049 is an outstanding film from Denis Villeneuve.

Related: Blade Runner

Denis Villeneuve Films: (Cosmos (1996 film)) – (August 32nd on Earth) – (Maelstrom) – (Polytechnique) – Incendies - Prisoners (2013 film) - (Enemy (2013 film)) – Sicario - Arrival (2016 film)

© thevoid99 2017

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Maggie (2015 film)




Directed by Henry Hobson and written by John Scott 3, Maggie is the story of a young girl who had been bitten by a zombie as she turns to her father for help who struggles to take care of her just as she is declining. The film is an unusual zombie movie where a man deals with what happened to his daughter as well as struggling to contain her humanity. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, and Joely Richardson. Maggie is a chilling yet somber film from Henry Hobson.

Set in a post-apocalyptic zombie epidemic in the American Midwest, the film revolves a man who takes his daughter home after she had been bitten by a zombie as he struggles with her condition and wonder if she could be cured or not. It’s a film that is about the possibility of death coming as well as what a father is dealing with as he wonders if he would lose his daughter. John Scott 3’s screenplay begins with the titular character (Abigail Breslin) talking on her phone though it’s only heard through dialogue as nothing is shown until her father Wade Vogler (Arnold Schwarzenegger) drives through a war-torn city to pick her up as he is forced to face the reality of what might happen to his daughter. Upon returning home where his wife Caroline (Joely Richardson) is getting ready to send their two youngest children Bobby and Molly (Aiden and Carsen Flowers, respectively) to their aunt out of fear that Maggie might harm them.

It adds to the dramatic stake as Caroline is wondering when her stepdaughter will change as she eventually leaves while Wade also realizes what is happening around him as he would encounter two people he knew who have become zombies prompting to take action. Yet, he also copes with the fact they were once people as he has to contend with what will happen to his daughter who is aware of what is happening to her. Even as she tries to maintain some normalcy, she also knows what will happen as she doesn’t want to be quarantined where other zombies that she know would be sent to. Especially as there’s local police who are telling Wade to do something or else they would have to handle it themselves prompting Wade to decide on what he will do for his daughter.

Henry Hobson’s direction is straightforward in terms of the compositions as it doesn’t go for a lot of style by maintaining a sense of restraint in terms of the zombie violence in favor of the dramatic stakes of the film. Shot on location in areas near New Orleans as parts of Kansas and Kansas City, the film does play into something that does feel like a Midwestern film with its fields and farms as some of them are being burned with people no longer part of traditional society. While there are some wide shots, Hobson would emphasize more on medium shots and close-ups for the dramatic elements including a few scenes of suspense such as Wade encountering the two zombies. Still, Hobson just keep things straightforward while maintaining that air of suspense of when Maggie will fully become a zombie as he builds up very slowly and with a restraint. Especially in the third act as Maggie’s condition worsen where she struggles to retain whatever is left of her humanity and Wade doing everything he can as he tries to accept the inevitable. Yet, there are a few moments during the second act between Wade and Maggie as they talk about Maggie’s late mother whom Wade loves as it would be a simple and tender moment that would be key to its climax in what Maggie wants to retain the most. Overall, Hobson crafts a riveting yet touching film about a man dealing with his daughter becoming a zombie.

Cinematographer Lukas Ettlin does excellent work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on low-key yet de-saturated colors for much of the film to play into stark weather of the exteriors as well as some scenes set at night. Editor Jane Rizzo does brilliant work with the editing as it is straightforward for much of it with some rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense. Production designer Gabor Norman, with set decorator Ryan Martin Dwyer and art director Frank Zito, does fantastic work with the look of the hospital in the film’s early scenes as well as the home where Wade and his family lived in. Costume designer Claire Breaux does nice work with the costumes as it is mostly casual for what the characters wear.

The special makeup effects work of Bailey Domke, Marcos Gonzales, Elvis Jones, and Matthew O’Toole is amazing for the way the zombies look as well as how Maggie would look through each passing day through its effects. Visual effects supervisor Ed Chapman does terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it relate to a fox as well as a few of the flashbacks involving zombies. Sound designer Chris Terhune does superb work with the sound from the way it creates sound effects to what Maggie is hearing in her deteriorating condition to some of the things that are presented naturally on location. The film’s music by David Wingo is wonderful for its low-key score that is mainly driven by piano with some string instruments to play into the film’s somber tone while music supervisor Laura Katz creates a soundtrack that features some contemporary music in the background including a song performed by Oscar Brown Jr.

The casting by Ryan Glorioso is great as it feature some notable small roles from Aiden and Carsen Flowers in their respective roles as Maggie’s half siblings Bobby and Molly, Raeden Greer as a friend of Maggie in Allie, Bryce Romero as another friend of Maggie in Trent who is also infected, Jodie Moore as Dr. Vern Kaplan who examines Maggie, Rachel Whitman Groves as a neighbor of Wade, J.D. Evermore as a cop named Holt who wants to take Maggie to quarantine, and Douglas M. Griffin as Sheriff Ray Pierce who knows Maggie and wants Wade to deal with her. Joely Richardson is excellent as Wade’s wife/Maggie’s stepmother Caroline who is concerned about what is happening to Maggie as she tries not to create any problems knowing there’s tension between the two as she realizes what she has to do when she knows what will happen to Maggie.

Abigail Breslin is incredible as the titular character as this teenage girl who deals with being bitten by a zombie as well as her deteriorating condition as she struggles to retain whatever humanity she has left as well as know what will happen to her. Finally, there’s Arnold Schwarzenegger in a sensational performance as Wade Vogler as Maggie’s father who is forced to deal with what is daughter is becoming as he also carries a sense of loss and need to protect her as it’s this very restrained and world-weary performance from Schwarzenegger who sheds the action badass persona he’s known for to play someone normal without overdoing it.

Maggie is a marvelous film from Henry Hobson that features great performances from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin. Along with its ensemble cast and unusual take on the zombie sub-genre, it’s a film that does contain some of its trope but is more about a father and daughter relationship in which a man copes with the fact that he might be losing his daughter. In the end, Maggie is a remarkable film from Henry Hobson.

© thevoid99 2017