The Devil Inside

9 01 2012

I’ve never heard a theatre audience get so angry about the ending of a movie. Just before the final credits of The Devil Inside started to roll, people were already talking about how much the movie sucked, and cries of “that’s it?!” were heard around the theatre.

It’s unfortunate, because the rest of The Devil Inside was almost half-decent.

The storyline follows a young woman named Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) as she travels to Italy to visit her mother, who was convicted of murdering three clergy members twenty years ago. The clergy members were trying to perform an exorcism on her, and now she’s locked up at a psychiatric ward in Rome.

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As with just about every horror flick nowadays, there is a movie being filmed within this movie. Film director Michael Schaeffer is following Isabella to film a documentary on her story. He interviews the characters along the way in order to make what they are thinking even more obvious.

After arriving in Vatican City, Isabella receives a crash course in exorcism. She attends a lecture at a fictional ‘exorcism academy’, where she meets Ben and David. David (Evan Helmuth) is a medical doctor who suddenly decided to become an exorcist, while Ben (Simon Quarterman) comes from a family of Catholic priests.

Unfortunately, the courses at the exorcism academy consist entirely of theory. Ben and David prefer a more hands-on approach, and they become involved with Isabella’s story.

The movie isn’t always scary enough to make you jump, but it definitely has some creepy moments. The first live exorcism that we see is disturbing (in a good, horror movie kind of way), and I had chills running up and down my spine throughout the scene.

However, there are only a couple moments like this, and the movie struggles to develop any intensity or emotion outside of these scenes.

In fact, the only time I really jumped had nothing to do with exorcisms. Instead, it had everything to do with a barking dog. And no, that’s not a spoiler. In fact, I can virtually guarantee that anybody who sees this movie in theatres will jump at a barking dog, even if you know about it in advance.

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The ending cannot be ignored. While many horror movies have a sudden ending, it usually occurs after a clear and obvious climax. The Devil Inside doesn’t have that. Instead, the action rises steadily before suddenly cutting out, which is a good way to make audiences despise your movie.

Ultimately, The Devil Inside feels like it was written, directed, and produced by students in a high school drama class, who then hired their parents to act as the stars.

While it has a standard horror movie premise and some entertaining moments early on, the rest of the movie is average, and it culminates in an ending that insults the intelligence of audiences. Unless you’re a big fan of exorcisms, it’s tough to recommend this one.

1 star out of 5





Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1

22 11 2011

I try not to dislike something until I’ve tried it at least once. Since I haven’t read any of the Twilight books or seen any of the Twilight movies, I’ve always reserved my opinion on the divisive franchise. With Breaking Dawn Part 1 the only major movie released this weekend, I figured the time had come for me to try something new.

If you’re looking for a review of Breaking Dawn from a loving and dedicated fan, this is not it.

The movie kicks off with the highly-anticipated wedding between Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). Prior to release, the internet was abuzz with rumors about Bella’s wedding dress. I would describe the dress here, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

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After the wedding, Edward and Bella go on their honeymoon. Sometime during the trip, she gets pregnant. However, this is no ordinary baby, and much of the movie is spent figuring out what to do with that thing inside of Bella.

Since I have no previous experience with the Twilight franchise, I felt lost at some points. I can forgive the movie for that, as it would be ridiculous to demand a full recap before the start of each instalment. Nevertheless, this did lead to some confusion over certain plot points.

I understand that there is some sort of love triangle between the three main characters, but is Edward really okay with Jacob smelling Bella’s hair? There are several scenes where Jacob and Bella get fairly intimate, and Edward never seems to care. In one scene, he is standing in the background smiling while Jacob slow dances with Bella. What’s up with that?

In fact, I never really figured out Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Why is he so angry all the time? Why does he care so much about Bella, a married woman? It certainly doesn’t help that Lautner’s acting is absolutely brutal. He shakes his head and furrows his eyebrows when he’s confused, and when he’s mad, he gets really loud.

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The rest of the cast doesn’t perform much better. I’ve always heard that acting wasn’t a strong point in the Twilight series, but it gets downright ugly sometimes. Kristen Stewart reads her lines like a supporting cast member of a high school play, and every word that comes out of Pattinson’s mouth sounds wooden and corny.

Ultimately, the poor acting takes a lot of emotion out of the plot. Since virtually the entire movie consists of dialogue, this is a very bad thing. Any action that does occur is limited and brief. Although the series appears to be building up to a massive, action-packed finale, Breaking Dawn Part 1 would have benefited by including a few more exciting scenes.

Ultimately, I don’t expect this review to have much an impact on Twilight ticket sales: fans of the franchise will continue supporting these movies regardless of their quality, and girls will still drag their boyfriends to go see it.

Maybe I’ll have to read the books to get the full Twilight experience. As it stands now, I just don’t see the big deal.

1 star out of 5





Tower Heist

8 11 2011

I thought comedy movies were supposed to make you laugh. In Tower Heist, I could count the number of genuinely funny moments on one hand. With an illogical plot and emotionless acting, Tower Heist is one of the worst ‘comedy’ movies I’ve seen all year.

The plot is easy enough to understand. Billionaire Arthur Shaw has just swindled half of New York out of their life savings using a Ponzi scheme. While he sits in his comfortable apartment looking down at the city below, three guys decide to personally reclaim their life savings, vigilante style.

Sounds cool up to this point, right? The plot is certainly relevant today, and I’m sure many of those who currently occupy cities around the world would leap at the chance to rob a corrupt billionaire of the ill-gotten fortune.

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Unfortunately, the movie’s interesting premise goes to waste. As we watch the four lead characters plan the heist, the movie quickly devolves into cheap, slapstick humor. And I’m using the term ‘humor’ generously.

Despite having a star-studded cast that includes Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda, and Matthew Broderick, Tower Heist never comes close to achieving its true potential. Ben Stiller seems bored and moody as former hotel manager Josh Kovacs, and reads his lines with bored disinterest.

Meanwhile, Matthew Broderick’s character is just a sad, washed-up Wall Street executive. He complains about being driven towards male prostitution to pay his bills, and gets forcibly evicted from his apartment at the tower. His scenes end up feeling more depressing than funny.

The first half of Tower Heist generally makes sense. As we head towards the climax, however, any sense quickly flies out the window. Cars start driving up and down elevator shafts, FBI agents are miraculously oblivious to the world around them, and Eddie Murphy starts shouting at nobody in particular.

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And yes, I know that comedy movies are often unrealistic, and that the point of the plot is to create funny situations. However, in Tower Heist, the climax doesn’t even begin to make sense, and, worst of all, it doesn’t even lead to many funny moments. Is it too much to ask a movie to obey the laws of physics?

Small bright spots, like Alan Alda’s portrayal of super-billionaire Arthur Shaw, do not balance out the rest of the movie’s faults. At least there are a number of large-scale action sequences that justify Tower Heist’s $85 million budget.

As it stands, Tower Heist is short on both laughs and common sense. While the ‘steal from the rich and give to the poor’ storyline is fun, the movie quickly derails. I entered the theater hoping for something like Ocean’s Eleven, and I left feeling confused and bored.

1 star out of 5





Apollo 18

5 09 2011

To my knowledge, there have been few – if any – horror movies set on the moon. Apollo 18 bucks that trend. Unfortunately, there is a very good reason why horror movies do not take place on the moon: there isn’t much there.

Officially, Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to the moon. However, as you may have figured out from the title of the movie, one more mission did, in fact, take place. During this mission, two astronauts landed on the South Pole of the moon in order to carry some samples back to Earth.

It doesn’t take long before the mission starts to go awry. Strange tracks are seen around the spaceship at night, and the astronauts begin to have trouble communicating with Earth. In the most isolated environment ever traveled to by mankind, the astronauts start to feel increasingly alone.

Apollo 18 tells its story through a series of ‘found footage’ clips. These short videos consist of events that either the crew has recorded on their own cameras, or footage that the landing craft has saved onto its on-board memory systems. Apparently, these videos are supposed to have been found after the events of the movie take place.

So what does that mean for the audience? Basically, you can expect to see a number of blurry, unfocused shots of confused crew members trying to figure out what is wrong with their ship. While this type of footage worked well in movies like Paranormal Activity, it gets old quickly when you see the same boring spacecraft interior, followed by the same desolate lunar landscape.

To derail the movie even further, there aren’t even that many scary moments. Any tension that Apollo 18 builds up during the beginning is quickly erased once the cause of the disturbance is revealed. In fact, some of the scariest moments of the film occur when crew members open their eyes while lying in bed.

The cause of these disturbances is what puts the final nail in the coffin of this movie. When the astronauts finally discover what is going on with their spaceship’s systems and transmitters, it is a huge letdown, and will have many audience members laughing in disappointment.

In previews for Apollo 18, the movie seemed to be advertised as Paranormal Activity on the moon. And, if the movie was written better, I’m sure it could have lived up to that lofty target. As it stands, Apollo 18 has far less tension than most horror movies, and will fail to entertain most of its audience.

Put simply, the setup to the film is far more interesting than what ultimately happens. While the movie is less than 90 minutes long, the lead up to the big reveal feels like it takes much longer. By the end of it, most audience members will be left asking themselves, “Really? Is that it?” For that reason, Apollo 18 is nothing more than a forgettable and stale horror movie.

1 star out of 5





The Dilemma

28 02 2011

NOT FUNNY ENOUGH TO BE A COMEDY, NOT DRAMATIC ENOUGH TO BE A DRAMA

The trailer for The Dilemma quickly establishes the situation: one man catches his best friend’s wife with another man, and on the eve of a major business presentation, must decide whether or not to inform him. The trailer also presents The Dilemma as hilarious and fun, of which it is neither.

The script crawls from one lengthy, humourless scene to another throughout its hefty 110 minute running time. However, that’s not to say that it would be any better if it was a half hour shorter.

While the movie boasts some big names such as Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, even they can’t save this plot. Through a series of obvious scenes and speeches, we clearly see the pair’s brotherly love, yet we are given no reason to care about it. Without this relationship, the entire movie becomes meaningless.

The Dilemma could have been slightly redeemed if it had some good laughs, or an interesting supporting character, but it does not even have that. Instead, it relies on slapstick humour and lifeless performances by its four main cast members.

What are we watching?

For some unknown reason, The Dilemma also tries to be a serious movie. Ronny (Vince Vaughn) is dealing with a gambling addiction, which has little consequence on the script, and Nick (Kevin James) is far from faithful in his marriage.

Ron Howard’s direction unnecessarily accentuates the ‘serious’ aspects of the film. There is no reason that so much of the movie has to take place at night or in dark rooms. Whatever the reasoning was behind this, it makes The Dilemma even more depressing.

While it is easy to blame the actors, the real problem is in the script. The second half of the movie is pointlessly long, and most of the audience will discover the solution to ‘The Dilemma’ long before the characters realize it. For what is marketed as a comedy, there are too many painful, sombre scenes from which no humour could possibly be derived.

As the trailer showed, there was potential for a funny movie here, but it gets lost along the way. If The Dilemma was trying to be the worst movie of 2011 thus far, then it has succeeded.  It never makes up its mind as to whether it is a drama or a comedy, and ends up failing as both. The only ‘Dilemma’ is whether to leave the theatre early or not.