Dark Shadows (2012)

Tim Burton

A movie which falls flat even as it hints at what it could have been.

Eva Green is as always great even as she chews the hell out of the scenery and loves every second of it. As both actor and character Green dominates Johnny Depp who seems restrained and unsure of his choices. The basic story, based upon a 70’s TV show I’ve never seen, is ok and the fish out of water concept of a vampire waking up in the 1970’s is flimsy but fun even as the movie seems to seek to avoid period settings and the political spirit of the times.

This film could have been a lot of things. Even some simple editing changes may have been enough to fix it. I know characters are based upon tv source material but Chloe Grace Moretz’s character, as much as I love her and as fine as she is in this with what little she has, could have been edited out with little alteration to the story. The same could be said for Johnny Lee Miller who, too, is fine but seems to be given unnecessary screen time because… well… he’s Johnny Lee Miller.

A cameo from an old Alice Cooper breaks the suspension of disbelief while also acting as the only highlight in a film that in its third act becomes confusing and boring. This movie plays out as if perhaps in an earlier cut there was a longer running time which explained or justified some of the sub-plots. It is this kind of half commitment which is its biggest failing.

That said Eva Green is great even if it is a worry that she seems likely to become trapped in these schlocky genre films. She highlights too that this by now familiar Burton ensemble of Depp, Bonham-Carter, and Elfmen needs new life. After so many awful films over the last two decades I’ve no interest in seeing any film with Johnny Depp directed by Tim Burton. Green’s role in this film though hints at the possibility that Burton could regain a sort of relevance if he was to work with new people. He needs people that are actually thrilled and excited to be in his world. Who are fans rather than freinds, peers or ex-spouses.


Yoga Hosers (2016)

Kevin Smith

This is a hard movie to like. Even as a massive Kevin Smith fan and, on occasion, apologist. I admire his mantra of creation for creations sake as well as the merit value of the unusual creation.

I respected Tusk for its uniqueness, consistency and serious tone while dealing with otherwise ridiculous material. Yoga Hosers, by contrast, doesn’t apply the same consistency. The movie quickly abandons its light-hearted bubble-gum sense of fun and is distorted by the more recent tropes of the view askew universe and smodcast network. Such tropes in Tusk (other than the plot) were sidelined or hidden as Easter eggs.

Yoga Hosers becomes confusing as it references not only the early View Askew films but also the real world of Smith’s podcast network as well as also attempting to establish a new ‘true north’ universe. It’s a lot to pile on top of a movie not driven by a strong story. Instead Yoga Hosers is more about the central characters. Lilly Rose Depp is confident and great and Harlequin Smith has her own sort of charm as she nervously tests the waters of acting alongside her childhood friend. The girls’ chemistry brings a strange sort of meta dynamic to the movie. Meanwhile there are a range of great cameos including Tony Hale, Natasha Lyonne and Adam Brody.

Kevin Smith’s disclaimer to the bubble-gum colour palette, soundtrack and light-heartedness of this film is that it is aimed at teen girls. Unfortunately, though the third act becomes almost self-indulgent and extremely referential to Kevin Smith and Ralph Garmin’s Hollywood Babble-on podcast. This isn’t really a podcast anyone could expect teen girls to be familiar with. Also, the charm of that podcast is that it is recorded live and so is relatively spontaneous and chaotic. Scripted it feels contrived, static and robs the movie of momentum.

There are moments to like but the movie is too many different things jammed together. What could have been a sweet character based coming of age film driven by a fun sense of chaos is lost underneath all the other noise bursting in from around the film.

Dead Snow (2009)

Tommy Wirkola

I re-watched this film at the start of 2017. It was around this time I started keeping track of what I was watching and reading. Mainly because I was bored and housebound. I had wondered if perhaps some sort of pattern might emerge in my media consumption. Or, if nothing else, I might start to understand what I kept coming back to and perhaps what I should concentrate on in the future.

As far as I can remember I’ve only seen this film twice. The first time was circa 2004 when I hired it from a video store in Preston. It had a little more novelty then. Though consuming foreign indie film was much different as well.

*edit: the films wasn’t released until 2009. I had moved back to near Preston and was hiring videos from a different but similar store.

Twelve years (actually eight) later this sort of idea of the double hinged camp horror film has been fairly well mined and yet this film still holds up well. The zombies look great, it’s all shot perfectly and the acting is fine. The plot is bare and doesn’t try to do anything other than play as expected. Group of friends travel to remote location, a ghost story signposts coming horror, said ghost(s) materialise and kill and terrorise until what is left of the group can turn on and destroy the ghosts.

For the budget this is a good film and I respect how well they executed a flimsy concept. Still I don’t think I’ll watch this a third time. Though still I’m curious about the sequel even as everyone campily combines Nazis into their speculative/sci-fi/horror stories. It’s true there’s nothing more evil then a Nazi. It’s depressing though seeing true evil so easily defeated by sexed up bumbling Norwegian teens. Even Bed knobs and Broomsticks treated the concept more seriously.