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The Holiday Horror Round-Up!

Oh how the working life affects blogging. It's taken me a month to compile this post! It's not even holidays anymore. But hey, it's a holiday in my heart.

Anyhow, this past Christmas break, I got to catch up on a slew of horror flicks that I missed this past year. None were really exceptional, as they ranged from terrible to okay. But regardless of, they made the holidays a bloody good time!

Fright Night

Of the 4 horror movies here, this one was probably the most polished. Fright Night is a remake of the 80’s classic of the same name. It follows a teenager and his young friend who suspect that their brooding, mysterious neighbor might be a vampire. Surprise! He is! I never would have thought much of Colin Farrell as a vampire, no less a villain, but he does a pretty darn good job here.

The movie was enjoyable, definitely not as campy as the original, but enjoyable nonetheless. It’s a shame that this movie didn’t do so well at the box office. Has the vampire craze run its course? Could this movie have been served better with an October opening versus a late summer opening? It’s an enjoyable horror movie.

Shark Night

At first when I saw the trailer, I was sold! A killer shark in a remote lake (!) eating off college students. Ahhh! Horror gloriousness, I thought. Done right, it would have been a merger of two of my favourites: Jaws and Friday the 13th! How much do you want to bet that it failed on both accounts?

On one hand, the movie is what you would of expected. A bunch of young-20-somethings (i.e. sharkfood) and some hungry sharks. The math is simple. Yet, it failed somehow. I think in large part it had to do with the cast. No one is really given much character and for such a zany story, they weren’t even caricatures. They were all just wooden dolls waiting to be eaten. It really took the fun away.

I’ve enjoyed David Ellis’ previous movies (he brought the fun to the Final Destination franchise with FD2, he brought the snakes on the plane in Snakes on a Plane… as far as I was concerned, he was 2 for 2), so I was much disappointed that he failed to deliver this time around. Going into it, I thought it was a winning formula. Ellis + Sharks. What could go wrong? Everything.

Paranormal Activity 3

Not as great as the previous two, but still entertaining. They’re definitely pushing the limit with this franchise. PA3 serves as a prequel to the first movie, following the childhood of Katie, the main girl in the first movie. The movie attempts to expand the lore and Paranormal Activity and indirectly explains how things got so messed up.

The most interesting thing was that the movie (and apparently PA4) was directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman who made Catfish, one of my favourites from 2 years ago. They did a fine job of transitioning from non-ficitional shaky cam to fictional shaky cam. If you saw the previous 2 and enjoyed them, you’ll like this one. Otherwise, it’s not going to do much for you.

Hostel 3

I enjoyed the first Hostel movie, and still think it’s one of the better, if not the best of the torture horror sub-genre. The sequel was flawed, as horror sequels tend to be. The fact that they’ve released a direct-to-video sequel is a good indicator that they’re running on fumes. Instead of the euro-trip background of the previous two movies, they’ve now moved the horror into the US.

The movie follows a bachelor party in Vegas as they celebrate the final days of bro-ness. As luck would have it, one of their friends is mysteriously kidnapped by the Elite Hunting Club, who is tortured and killed, to the delight of the club’s viewing audience. His friends, on the trail of their lost comrade, are also dispatched one by one.

There are some twists and turns to the story, but nothing that you don’t see a mile ahead. They also had some gruesome deaths, but unfortunately, just didn’t have the story or characters to make you really care about any of it.

Final Destination 5

Of the three movies, I think I enjoyed this one the most. I think I’ve got the formula down in how to make an Final Destination movie:

1. Introduce the young cast.
2. Witness a disaster that kills the young cast.
3. Just kidding, everything you saw was a premonition!
4. Lead plus friends narrowly escape disaster.
5. Watch Rube-Goldberg type devices kill off each survivor.

In each movie subsequent to the first, they’ve tried to add a little new element to try and increase the Final Destination mythology. This time around they claimed that if you were a survivor and killed someone, their life would take your place in the kill order. These new elements to the mythology are quite inconsequential and I think are only added just to prevent each movie from being a carbon copy of the last. But, it’s not like you watch a Final Destination movie to be blown away by story. You watch it for the outrageous and outlandish deaths. And this movie is filled with them! The deaths are zany, impossible and outright cartoony. I suppose that’s the “fun” with them. Compared with the two movies above, I think that’s why this movie worked for me. Just like for most of the franchise, the movie never takes itself too seriously, and the characters are exaggerations. The formula breeds fun.

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