Tuesday, December 10, 2013

420 Reviews: Antiviral, The Seasoning House, Resolution, Among Friends, Embrace of the Vampire

The Seasoning House
This interesting twist on the well-trod rape/revenge formula is about as intense as it gets. I’m kinda baffled at how a movie with rape scenes this horrific doesn’t feel exploitative. Good gore, outstanding performances from Rosie Day and Sean Pertwee, a bleak as hell atmosphere, perfect pacing, and some killer art direction add up to a must see flick. Paul Hyatt’s directorial debut is both brutal and beautiful. 9/10

Resolution is proof that you do not need a big budget or flashy visuals to tell an effective, creepy story. The plot, while simple, throws in enough weirdness that you can never really predict the endgame. Vinny Curran is brilliant as good-hearted junkie Chris. His chemistry with costar Peter Cilella feels genuine, adding a “buddy flick” emotional core. The film’s downfall, however, is an unsatisfying final act. 7/10

Among Friends
Danielle Harris directs competently enough and has a nice fan-service cameo. AJ Bowden is predictably good. There’s plenty of fun, grisly violence and some clever plot twists, but something doesn’t click. I think it’s that all of the characters are so damn unlikable that there is no one to root for. The premise of airing everyone’s shocking dirty laundry isn’t as effective if we hate them all from the beginning. 5/10

Embrace of the Vampire
I don’t watch a lot of CW or WB teen dramas, but I have a feeling this remake is a lot like those. Boring cinematography. Routine plot. Generic, skinny actresses. Vapid actors. Bad CGI. Awful music. Unnecessarily convoluted vampire lore. It’s so hamfisted that the good girls are all blonde while the bad girls have dark hair. Wouldn’t want anyone to have to think, now would we? At least there are gratuitous tits. 2/10

Brandon Cronenberg delivers the kind of visceral, smart body horror that I wish his papa still did. Antiviral is as thought provoking as it is visually arresting. Caleb Landry Jones is impressive, Malcolm McDowell drops by to chew some scenery, and the ideas are original enough to carry the flick through some slow spots and plot holes. It may beat you over the head with the theme, but at least it’s a timely one. 9/10

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