January 25, 2013
January 23, 2013
A remake in name only of the John Cougar Mellencamp classic (OK, it's not related to the song, but you ALL were thinking it), Jack and Diane is one of those films that just left me shaking my head in confusion. That doesn't mean it's a bad movie, per say, it just means that it's one of those movies that made me stare at the screen and shout things like "WHO ARE YOU?" as I tried to figure out its intentions.
The title characters, despite your preconceived notions, are two teenage girls who quickly and abruptly fall in love during late summer in the city. It's all well and good, except for the disapproving families and the fact that Diane is going away to school in two weeks and - oh yeah - the fact that Diane might also be a werewolf.
Now, if you're like me, you just heard the word werewolf and got really excited. That happened to me when I heard about the movie, I admit it. There was a time and a place - probably Italy in the early '70s - when abstract and surreal lesbian werewolves were probably a thing. But this one is a far, far cry from what that movie would have been like, because this is actually just one of those teens who are hip and different movies that indie filmmakers love to make these days.
(By the way, I was totally throwing crap against the wall on that "abstract and surreal lesbian werewolves in the '70s in Italy", but the good thing is that you can put "surreal", "lesbian" and "Italian" together with almost anything and throw it into a computer and you'll probably find a movie that actually existed. They're like RSTLNE on Wheel of Fortune when it comes to European horror.)
Anyway, back to Jack and Diane, which the viewer will quickly realize is not really a werewolf film by werewolf film standards. It's a dramatic love story that does all those dramatic love story things - like making the characters madly in love even though they've said seven words to each other or showing how awkward it is for them to actually express themselves to their beloved even though they TOTALLY love them - while randomly flashing some genetic animations and some bloody noses and a few random attacks from a pop-up monster that never really matters in the plot. I'm probably being a little harsh as I lay this out there, but the folks that are reading this are generally the people like me who are going to jump at the word werewolf and get excited, but unfortunately for them this is a movie where you can't take the world werewolf literally.
Now, of course, the movie's not bad just because it's a slow moving
Most disappointingly, Jack and Diane just never seems to muster up anything of importance in its plot or in its message. When you consider that the romance is as deep as a Twilight film and the monster metaphors are as hollow as a jack-o-lantern, you're left with the realization that Jack and Diane doesn't really muster up anything of relevance. A good lead performance, an adequate co-star, 12 seconds of monster action, and a hip indie soundtrack do not a movie make. Jack and Diane is an interesting failure - but it's a failure nonetheless.
January 19, 2013
January 11, 2013
looks like that grandpa from Silent Night, Deadly Night who ended up being the face of Chessmaster at this point in his career. Still, he's a good actor who adds a bit of pathos to the film while playing the "cool" grandpa to our animal loving kid. It's good to see him going toe to toe with the villains one last time; in fact, the film in general plays best when these powerful actors - also joined by Excalibur's Nicol Williamson as a police officer dealing with the kidnapping - are playing off each other. There's far more shouting than any movie deserves, and these actors seem to relish the opportunity to make the angriest kidnappers-and-a-snake movie of all-time.
January 9, 2013
A bizarre mixture of gore and the supernatural, Crawlspace is a film that wants to be profound without ever stepping off the gas pedal. The film is packed full of screaming and gun shots and an oppressive musical score, and the whole thing just felt abrasive to me as it went on. This is a real shame, considering the film's intriguing set up.
Crawlspace follows a group of soldiers who are sent in to a military base in the Australian desert, a base in which we find there are few survivors to be rescued and a mess of dead bodies in the (you guessed it) crawlspace between sciencey examination rooms. The most important of the survivors is (naturally) a woman, and we soon learn that she's got some unique powers that are more than meets the eye.
The idea behind the film - that this government testing facility was a training ground for weapons of psychic warfare - is far more interesting than the bombastic method with which it's presented. Though it's not based on any specific truth, the film's insinuation that governments may try to harness preternatural powers like mind control is no myth. There are plenty of reports of "psychic warfare" in the real world, taking place everywhere from Nazi Germany to the modern United States. You know that scene at the beginning of Ghostbusters where Bill Murray tries to get the nerd and the hot girl to guess shapes on cards? That stuff really happens, and the government spends millions on it so they can build a force of psychics to get an edge on the Russians or whoever else they don't like. For serious. Read The Dead Roam The Earth, which I just reviewed a bit ago, and there's a whole chapter on it. Or just Google "psychic warfare" or "remote viewing" and look at some of the crazy stuff out there. (And, if you're an American, remember that your taxes are paying for it.)
Crawlspace taps into this and goes a little further, as the woman at the center of the plot - Eve, played by Amber Clayton - is capable of a little more than just clairvoyance. The most interesting parts of the film come in the final act as Eve's abilities are tested and challenged, both by the overseeing scientists and the crew of soldiers that have come to save them, particularly one man who she may or may not have had a previous relationship with. Clayton is a stand out when she's empowered in the role, and there are plenty of memorable moments dealing with her abilities as the film builds to its finale.
Unfortunately, most everything else in the film feels muddled. The crew of soldiers seems like a direct photocopy of the kind of characters we've seen in plenty of films since Aliens, and the science side of the plot offers little of interest outside of the ideas regarding psychic warfare. The film is packed full of violence and there's rarely a lull in the action, but I got tired of this rather quickly. The film doesn't look like anything special either, with the crawlspace's lighting not creating any mood and some special effects failing to impress at all.
Crawlspace is a perfectly fine way to waste 90 minutes if you're looking for shouting, action, and a dose of science fiction, and I don't think the film does anything too poorly. But it also doesn't really seem to stand out much, aside from the few great moments in Clayton's performance. Crawlspace is a high concept genre hybrid that has plenty of great thoughts, I just wish it had done a little more with a few of them.
Crawlspace is currently available on VOD and in select theaters via our friends over at IFC Midnight. Feel free to check out more about the film over at their site or on Facebook, and don't forget to check out the trailer below.