Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a column dedicated to all things horror on film.
I, Frankenstein slapped with seven-month delay – If it seems like we’ve been waiting forever for the release of Stuart Beattie’s comic adaptation I, Frankenstein, it’s because we have been. The bad news is that wait just got longer.
Lionsgate has pushed the film back to a September 13, 2013 release date – just over seven months later than its previous February 2013 bow. That’s disappointing to fans of Kevin Grevioux’s graphic novel.
Aaron Eckhart stars in the film, which finds Frankenstein’s monster surviving to modern times thanks to a genetic anomaly in his makeup. He then finds himself caught in a war between two clans of immortals – not from Highlander.
Sony will debut new Evil Dead and Carrie at New York Comic-Con – If you’re going to be in NYC for next month’s Comic-Con, make sure you book tickets to the Carrie and Evil Dead panels as attendees will get early looks at both upcoming features.
The panel takes place at Javits Center on October 13. Panelists for the event include Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore (who appear in Carrie) as well as Ash himself, Bruce Campbell. Trust us, you’re not going to want to miss that. Check out the NYCC official site for more details.
Red Band Sinister trailer is all kinds of creepy – The wait to finally see Sinister is almost over, and a spooky new red-band trailer for the film has us more excited than ever to finally see it.
Ethan Hawke plays a true-crime novelist who unleashes some supernatural fury when he views some horrifying home movies in the clip. The imagery in the new preview is definitely disturbing (particularly the final shot) and we’ll finally get to see if the film lives up to its potential on October 12.
IFC Midnight lands Errors of the Human Body – IFC’s Midnight imprint continues to bring fright fans festival favorites that might not have received distribution otherwise. Their latest acquisition? Eron Sheean’s Errors of the Human Body.
The film, which recently played the Toronto International Film Festival and is now on its way to Fantastic Fest, is about a geneticist doing controversial research who unwittingly unleashes a virus that threatens the very existence of humanity.
We suspect we’ll hear more about a release date for the film after it finishes its festival run, but tide yourself over until then with this teaser trailer for the film.
At this stage of my film reviewing career, I can no longer even guess as to whether I’ve seen more movies involving zombies or serial killers. Both subgenres have churned out enough titles over the past few decades or so to fill entire video stores – and frankly, at this point, I wouldn’t be opposed to a moratorium prohibiting filmmakers from adding more of these movies to the pile.
While we’ve reached the saturation point (and perhaps my own personal breaking point), I still find myself sitting down with titles about mass murderers and the walking dead pretty regularly. It’s an occupational hazard. Few of the titles surprise me these days – but occasionally one comes close. Those are the films that are worth sitting up and taking notice of. A recent example of this is Adam Wingard’s A Horrible Way to Die.
Wingard’s relentlessly indie serial killer flick is not a great film. A Horrible Way to Die occasionally falters under the weight of its own pretensions (the disjointed narrative flashbacks and jump-aheads quickly become annoying – and are obviously designed to hide some of the screenplay’s shortcomings) – but it still managed to surprise me with a twist toward the end that goes a long way in countering some of its other issues. There’s genuine talent on display here – and with a little more money and refinement, Wingard could be one of the next generation of genre filmmakers to keep an eye on.
The film follows Sarah (Amy Seimetz), a young woman working through the 12 steps not only to combat her drinking problem, but the personal demons that drove her to the bottle in the first place. Sarah, it turns out, had a boyfriend once – a really swell guy named Garrick. The pair is happy together, but there’s one catch: Garrick is a brutal serial killer. Naturally, Sarah has him put away when she uncovers this secret.
Our heroine then works to rebuild her life – going to AA, working, starting to date a new guy (mumblecore adherent Joe Swanberg) – but the newfound balance is shattered when Garrick escapes and starts cutting a bloody swatch across the Midwest in his effort to find and reconnect with his one true love.
What’s interesting about A Horrible Way to Die is that it plays as sort of a twisted romantic drama at various points. Garrick is a serial killer – but he’s oddly humanized in the film. He’s disturbingly polite – apologizing for bumping one victim’s head on the trunk of the car is but one example. He also doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with his compulsions. This is an interesting approach, given how many other films in the subgenre work so hard to make the killers soulless monsters.
Bowen and Seimetz are A Horrible Way to Die’s greatest strengths. Bowen manages to play a killer who almost inspires an uncomfortable sympathy, while Seimetz brings a very real vulnerability to her portrayal of a young woman trying to reassemble her shattered life. Swanberg is mostly along for the ride, but at least part of that is attributable to the way his character is written.
Wingard (who’s since gone on to earn accolades from festival viewers for his newest feature, You’re Next) is a talented filmmaker who occasionally goes a bit overboard in his attempt to create a unique look for his film. A Horrible Way to Die’s cinematography is largely a love/hate affair – and some folks will feel both extremes during a single viewing. The camerawork has a cinema verite style to it that adds a layer of realism to the proceedings, but is also so shaky and oddly focused that it can inspire headaches. It’s a great example of how a little goes a long way when it comes to some stylistic flourishes.
If you can get past that, the rest of A Horrible Way to Die is entertaining. The film features a late twist that I only saw coming right before it happened (which is impressive – I tend to spot twists early), and it really changes the tone of the film in an interesting way. Wingard and crew deserve props for creating an emotional viewing experience with such limited funds. The only real downside here is a script that doesn’t always quite work as well as it could have – but that’s a relatively minor problem when compared to the performances and other plusses. A Horrible Way to Die may not rewrite the book on serial killer cinema, but it’s still different enough from the norm that even those with mass-murder fatigue should give it a shot.
Horror on the Horizon
The parade of genre films marching to your local multiplex continues for the next two weeks – sort of.
September 21 sees the arrival of House at the End of the Street – not to be confused with The House on the Edge of the Park, The Last House on the Left or The Last House on Dead End Street (to name just a few…). Elizabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence star in this chiller about a mother and daughter who uncover some very unpleasant secrets when they move into their new home.
Meanwhile, the last week in the month brings us Adam Sandler’s animated feature Hotel Transylvania. While not the kind of blood-and-guts offering that will appeal to hard-core genre enthusiasts, this feature should be fun for the whole family. Maybe. It does have Adam Sandler in it – which could be scarier than anything involving vampires.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases
Sound the feasting horn because the deluge of great new titles on DVD and Blu-ray continues for the next two weeks as well.
The week of September 25 gives us a Blu-ray version of Lucio Fulci’s classic Italian gut-muncher Zombie, as well as the first season of FX’s American Horror Story (just in time for you to get caught up before season two’s debut next month), and Martyrs director Pascal Laugier’s new film The Tall Man.
The first week of October is a little slower (how strange is that? Apparently everyone’s holding on to their genre offerings until later in the month…), but fans will get a new Blu-ray version of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary and the debut of Jennifer Lynch’s serial killer film Chained – which stars Vincent D’Onofrio as a demented murderer. Maybe his Law & Order character can catch his serial killer character. That would be pretty meta.