Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Quick Double-Shot

Haven't posted in a while, so why not break that up with two bite-sized "S@TM" mini-reviews?

First up is a little slasher movie called The Tripper, David Arquette's directorial debut. And like any good slasher movie, The Tripper's plot is astoundingly simple. Six ultra-stoned wannabe hippies head up to a redwood forest in northern California for a festival in the vein of Woodstock. But also in town is a psychopath obsessed with Ronald Reagan, and with a handy-dandy axe in tow, he's violently crashing the party.

I'm not exactly what you'd call a fan of hippies, so you'd think a horror movie about somebody hunting them down would be my kind of cinematic adventure. But when The Tripper starts throwing in the lame political satire, it loses me. I just plain don't care about politics whatsoever, so any movie where people are all "wah wah George Bush sucks, boo hoo we're so oppressed" bores me to tears. Not that I like Dubya or anything, but sometimes I get tired of hearing about how much people think he sucks. Though for all the mockery The Tripper deals towards the right wing, it does have a laugh or two at the expense of the left wing as well, so there's at least some balance.

There is some good to be had in The Tripper, though. There's some good performances from Lukas Haas, Jason Mewes, Thomas Jane, and Paul Reubens (and a funny cameo from Courteney Cox too), and when it tries being a straightforward slasher movie, it's entertaining. But all the political stuff really pulls it down. Maybe it's just me, but I don't want my slasher movies to try and make profound statements about the government. I just want my slasher movies to be slasher movies. I guess I could have stood all the politics if it just wasn't handled so... lamely, I guess is the word I'm looking for. So I guess I'll give The Tripper two and a half stars on my patent-pending Five-Star Sutton Scale.

The other movie on the docket is [Rec], a Spanish horror movie that I discovered through the Internet. The basic plot of the movie centers around a reporter who hosts a TV show, following certain people during the nighttime hours. I imagine it's kinda like Dave Attell's old Comedy Central show Insomniac, only without all the booze or the weirdos. Our fearless reporter's latest episode has her shadowing the Barcelona fire department, but things start going all to hell when she and her cameraman follow two firemen on a call to an apartment building. Soon, they and a small group of others find themselves quarantined inside the tiny building with a growing number of flesh-hungry zombies.

Seriously, [Rec] is an insane movie. It's done in a wild cinéma vérité style akin to The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, which works to make things more frightening. It allows things to sneak up on you, and turns regular jump scares scarier. And it helps that the cast all do fine jobs as well, especially lead actress Manuela Velasco, who I thought was very likable in her role as the inquisitive (to the point of being pushy) reporter. I'm not exactly sure how to properly describe it without giving things away, but [Rec] was definitely one of the scariest movies I've seen in a while. It definitely earns four stars on the Sutton Scale, and I'm totally looking forward to the eventual American remake.

And that's it for the two quickie reviews. I'm pretty sure I'll be coming back to [Rec] one day with a full-length review, maybe a double feature with a review of George Romero's Diary of the Dead. And what is it with all these recent movies using the Blair Witch style, anyway? Cloverfield, Diary of the Dead, [Rec], The Poughkeepsie Tapes... all of them are using the handheld camera thing. The Blair Witch Project is nearly ten years old, what took so long?


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