Monday, April 20, 2009

Not Bad, Except For the White Shoes: Shuttle (2008)

Lest you believe, dear readers, that I never like anything I see these days, let me put your fears to rest, because I saw a pretty good movie last night. The critics are harsh to it, but I liked it okay.

Sadly, there's not much to mention in the way of costumery, but we can't have everything.

Anyway, Shuttle takes as its premise a situation that I have actually been in before: arriving very late at the airport, finding it eerily deserted, luggage not arrived so you're the last one at the carousel, and nary a ride home at ground transportation to be found.

I don't know about you, but empty hospitals, libraries and airports creep me the hell out. I mean, this happened to me once at Heathrow, for god's sake. It's insane (and not a little freaky) to be in one of the busiest airports in the world at ANY time of day, and no one in authority is anywhere to be seen.

I digress. So, two attractive girls return from a Mexican vacation, find themselves in the aforementioned situation, and take a ride on a shuttle. FROM HELL.

Well, nothing supernatural, but the driver definitely has Other Plans besides getting his passengers to their desired destinations.

I'm not going to tell you any more about this except to say that while the plot sounds simplistic, and indeed maybe a little predictable to some, it certainly does keep you going.
Especially since the acting is pretty damn good, and the lead characters anything but two-dimensional. And it has one of the bleakest endings since Wolf Creek, aided by an incredibly haunting sound design. Sound design, IMHO, is a vastly overlooked and unsung cinematic element, and when it's done right it can MAKE a film.
There's also a fair few very deliberate red herrings, done in such a way that you say "Aha, I know why THAT'S important to the plot" and then afterwards it's all "aaahhhh, THEY TRICKED ME!!"

Since this is a fashion-in-horror blog, I would be remiss in mentioning that for me, personally, white pumps on anyone, before or after Labor Day, is never attractive. Seriously, they make the tiniest feet look like cruise ships on stilts. But somehow it adds to the sleaze factor. You'll see what I mean if you watch this.

But to each their own, I suppose.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sweeney Todd, Aussie Backwoods-Style: Dying Breed (2008)

Last night I went back to the land of my upbringing, Australia, for a bit of cannibalistic sleaze.

Dying Breed is one of those Afterdark Horrorfest films, a series which is pretty hit or miss for the most part. I'd probably give this one a miss, despite the awesome poster....

...partly because it stars Leigh Whannell, one of the whiniest, most ineffectual actors to hit the silver screen. Look, I don't CARE if he was an original creator of the Saw franchise, he's BORING AND WIMPY. Every time you see him in a film you just know he is going to get offed in a particularly grisly way, and he is NOT gonna take it like a man.

Anyway, the plot. Such as it is.

Tormented scientist Nina (Mirrah Foulkes, whose character I think is supposed to be from New Zealand, but has a pretty hefty Irish accent) heads a small (read: four people, none particularly scientifically qualified) expedition into the Tasmanian wild to carry on her late sister's search for the legendary Tasmanian tiger. Her sister is, of course, Dead By Mysterious Circumstances.

Meaning, the local descendents of a cannibalistic 19th century convict called "The Pieman" captured her and did ugly fast-edit things to her.

When the ever-present Creepy Child starts singing about "The Pieman," and bites wimpoid Leigh, you can pretty much tell where this is going, even if you missed the film poster.

Except that Tasmanian cannibals are not as handsome or well-dressed as Johnny Depp.

And you don't see Helena Bonham-Carter slaughtering puppies. Ugh.

Anyway, off go the intrepid explorers. One of them is this immature doofus (a shame, he was good in Wolf Creek), who makes loud obnoxious noises at crucial times, and shoots cute bunnies, marking him for instant viewer's pick for First Grisly Death.

Sadly, his hott girlfriend gets it first.

Now here is where I have my first WTF, costume designer? moment. The cannibal decides to have a snack before taking the rest of the corpse to be made into pies, so he eats the girl's foot. In the toe-munching closeup, which I have no picture of, she is perfectly pedicured, polished and wearing a fairly heavy toe ring.

A toe ring? For hiking through the wilderness? Really, sports fans? Let me tell you, I've been on some Tasmanian wilderness hikes, and that ring would be cutting off my circulation within FIVE SECONDS. They would have to remove my toe and the ring on it surgically before I even got attacked by foot-munching cannibals. And why would anyone be wearing a toe ring UNDER their socks and shoes? Not to mention, wouldn't the cannibal choke on it, or break his teeth?

Why did they do this? Well, for much the same reason Quentin Tarantino chose to use one of the best Japanese girl-garage bands around in Kill Bill and then said, "Hey, let's have them play barefoot and then film their feet the whole time."

God, I hate Tarantino and his foot fetish.

I got off track there.

Okay, so do I really need to continue with the plot? Since he only knows how to use a crossbow to shoot helpless bunnies, the obnoxious guy dies, sending up a general cheer from the audience.

The scientist leaps off a bridge, and whiny Leigh almost makes it out alive, but, naturally, gets recaptured, thus proving that he is the least helpful person on earth that you want with you when you are in ANY life-threatening situation. Actually, maybe he'd be the best, since he is so ineffectual that he is obviously going to get it first while you make your escape.

And there is a final-shot twist that is almost exactly like Welcome To The Jungle (a film I actually found rather watchable compared to this because I sort of liked Cannibal Holocaust).

Coda: I actually found a newspaper article wherein people were hoping this film created an increase in tourism for Tasmania.

Yeah, that's my idea of a great vacation. Getting made into a meat pie by the local cannibal clan. Right on.