Every zoom in Kubrick’s The Shining – synchronized – Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a masterful film and arguably the best cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s work to date (even though King would beg to differ…). Much has been written about the film’s bizarre use of space, the directorial technique, and Kubrick’s penchant for dozens (and hundreds) of takes before he was satisfied.
That being said, this Vimeo video from user Ian Kammer may well be the first time someone has chronicled all of the various zoom shots Kubrick employs in the film. Kammer has synchronized each shot in a mini-window inside of the main viewer and the effect is really quite stunning. Don’t take my word for it, though – watch it below. Now I want to watch The Shining again…
Dr. Dre set announces first film foray with Thaw – Don’t look now, but hip hop super-producer Dr. Dre is set to follow fellow NWA member Ice Cube into the movie business.
Dre has selected writer Vik Weet to script a horror film entitled Thaw for his Crucial Films production company. Details are scarce, but we do know the story is about an ancient evil that is freed thanks to global warming and the rapidly melting ice sheet in the Yukon. We’ll keep you posted on this one as more details come to light.
Red band Piranha 3DD trailer promises lots of fish with a craving for silicone – I was a big fan of Alexandre Aja’s remake of Piranha. Sure, it wasn’t high art – but it did have a great cast (Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Elizabeth Shue…) and tons of bloody death.
Feast filmmaker John Gulager takes over for Aja in the sequel, which looks to up the quotient of boobs, blood, and bodily dismemberment in a pretty significant way. IGN has debuted the official red band trailer for the film, so make with the clicking and see what’s in store for us when Piranha: 3DD swims into theaters later this year.
Warning, this is NSFW:
New Poster for Eduardo Sanchez’s Lovely Molly debuts – Everyone expected that filmmaker Eduardo Sanchez would become a big Hollywood player after the runaway success of The Blair Witch Project (Sanchez co-directed the indie hit), but it never really happened. In the intervening years, the filmmaker has continued to make genre pics (including the under-appreciated Altered), and he’s just unveiled the poster for his latest – a chiller entitled Lovely Molly.
I’m no optometrist, but there’s definitely something wrong with that girl’s eyes. She should see someone posthaste.
Here’s the official synopsis:
When newlywed Molly Reynolds returns to her long-abandoned family home, frightful reminders of a nightmarish childhood begin seeping into her new life. She soon begins an inexorable descent into an evil that blurs the lines between psychosis and possession.
Lovely Molly debuts on May 18th.
Borrowing liberally from both The Blair Witch Project and the Paranormal Activity franchises, it would be easy to dismiss Grave Encounters as just another derivative found footage hoping to cash in on the success of two of the form’s most well-known examples. It is that, in some regards (it’s certainly derivative), but it’s also something more – what starts out as just another found footage flick soon morphs into one of the more interesting (and frightening) entries in the entire subgenre.
Directed by The Vicious Brothers (the pseudonym of filmmakers Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz), Grave Encounters follows a popular Ghost Hunters-styled reality program as they shoot their sixth investigation. Led by host Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson), the tiny production crew aims to spend the night locked inside a supposedly haunted mental institution, not unlike the one seen in the brilliant Session 9. They get far more than they bargained for – and the footage on display (presented as “reality” that’s only been edited for time constraints) serves as the chilling revelation of just what went on inside the building.
While Grave Encounters never manages to overcome the core problems of found footage horror films (we always have a basic idea that they’re going to end badly – we’re just not sure how we’ll arrive at that moment), it manages to craft a narrative that’s engaging enough that we don’t really mind knowing that things probably aren’t going to end well for these people.
Part of the film’s success springs from the fact that the characters – while not particularly likable – are at least realistic. Preston and his crew aren’t hardcore paranormal believers convinced that everything is a sign of the supernatural (but they’re not above spinning things – or bribing a grounds keeper to make up a spooky tale about the building – to make their show work), but they’re not complete skeptics either. This makes the film interesting tonally, because the audience tends to take on the “maybe this supernatural stuff is real or maybe it isn’t” attitude early on – and then it shifts completely in the film’s latter half.
What’s so interesting about that is how we as an audience tend to feel about the characters. Despite their suffering and terror, we tend to feel pretty judgmental about them. They went out and doubted things that are best left alone and now they’re getting their comeuppance, we think to ourselves smugly – yet we did the same thing in the first act. A lot of horror filmmakers would botch the handling of an idea like this, but Minihan and Ortiz slide it into their film quite subtly.
That’s about the only subtle thing in Grave Encounters, though. Once the film gets rolling, the frights escalate on a steady scale. What begins with a sort of Blair Witch-esque time and space manipulation coupled with Paranormal Activity’s penchant for things moving in the background of shots soon gives way to more visceral scares. This is one area where the film trumps its inspirations. Where Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity never give you the found footage equivalent of porn’s “money shot”, Grave Encounters does. The film moves beyond the strange noises and objects moved by invisible hands and actually gets to the ghouls. Whether those ghouls are scary or not is subjective (I think they work), but at least the film makes the effort instead of just teasing the viewer for 90 minutes.
Ultimately, Grave Encounters isn’t likely to change anyone’s opinion of this subgenre. Those who don’t like found footage films won’t suddenly develop an affinity for them after the credits roll – but for fans of the form, this is a pretty impressive little low-budget outing. Grave Encounters may not break from the found footage mold in any particularly meaningful way, but it does a lot of little things right. Hopefully it finds an appreciative audience – and helps The Vicious Brothers land more work.
Horror on the Horizon
There’s only one horror film opening theatrically over the course of the next two weeks – Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s Intruders. Clive Owen stars in this chiller as a father trying to protect his child from a strange monster named Hollow Face. While we love Fresnadillo’s work, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Intruders is set to become another rote Hollywood genre flick.
Horror for the home video market fares slightly better. March 27th features the release of the hilariously titled Camel Spiders, but more importantly, a Blu-ray release of cult classic giallo Strip Nude for Your Killer (starring the lovely Edwige Fenech).
Meanwhile, April 2nd features the debut of Lamberto Bava’s classic Demons on Blu-ray, with the less impressive sequel following a week later.
Finally, while it’s not really horror, Capcom’s Devil May Cry series features enough gothic atmosphere and monster-killing action to appeal to most genre fans. The HD collection, featuring the first three games in the series, is available for the Xbox 360 and PS3 on April 3rd.