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Movie Reviews 2012: Part 3

Here are the movies I watched close to or during the Halloween period, so there will be quite a few horror movies in this and the next post. I am not going to use any scary images though, I promise! Must keep up the rainbows and sunshine image of my blog hahaha.

15. ATM (0.5/10)

atm film

Probably the worst ‘trapped in one single location’ movie ever, it was terrible and made no sense. It calls itself a horror film but is in no way thrilling or intriguing, nor does it have any buildup of suspense and mystery. “Reviews for the film were extremely negative…” says Wikipedia, which I find amusing since they rarely use strong adjectives such as ‘extremely’. Usually they just write “mostly negative” etc.

While it is all right for movies to never reveal who the killer was even at the end (Zodiac, The Collector, The Strangers etc all made it work effectively), the killer in ATM didn’t even have any motive or personality. The only clue we got regarding his background was that he’s experienced and does this all the time. I felt no interest nor intrigue about his character at all, which made an already boring movie even worse.

I didn’t care for any of the three protagonists either, all of whom were incredibly stupid and annoying. They were so impulsive, hot-headed and even accidentally killed the wrong person; someone that could have potentially saved them. Argh! In fact, they were so retarded that one of them died after falling off her friend’s shoulders and breaking her neck, and not because the killer managed to get in -_- Times like this you just can’t help but ask, “What were they thinking????”

Two factors saved the film from being a complete zero. The first was that I think the opening scene was good effort since it gave that aforementioned clue about the killer, by showing him making meticulous plans in the forms of maps, etc. The other factor was that it was pretty unconventional how the remaining survivor had the murders of his friends pinned on him, which goes to show how much the killer had thought into planning this.

But other than that… meh.
Other one-location films I recommend: Identity, Buried, Frozen, Exam, Devil, The Descent, Panic Room, Phone Booth.

16. Project X (5.5/10)

project x

Many people disliked this and it does actually seem like something I’d hate, but surprisingly I didn’t. I think it was mostly because I knew what to expect; 88 minutes of teens doing stupid things, partying and getting wasted. That’s basically what the film was about and not only did it achieve what the makers set out to do, it also didn’t pretend to be something it wasn’t or take itself too seriously. So I viewed and rated it exactly for what it was, and if they delivered what they promised to deliver.

I live vicariously and vivaciously through the characters in this film okay, since I read about such parties in books all the time but no one I know here actually throws such parties in their homes. Do we? I don’t think so actually. In Singapore, the cops will probably come knocking almost immediately. We don’t even have all the proper school events and dances you read about in young adult fiction. Even our so-called proms aren’t really proms… not what I imagined from reading anyway.

Weirdly enough, I didn’t find the characters annoying either. In fact, I liked seeing all the damage caused and I was rooting for the main lead to go all the way with the girl but they got interrupted lololol why would you do that.

I love that the film wasn’t preachy in the least. It ended in a rather light-hearted manner as well despite the characters having to face consequences for their actions. We usually watch movies to be entertained and not to get lectured. It’s up to the viewer if he or she learns something from it. Sometimes you just want a no-brainer movie as a break from all the mind-boggling ones.

17. V/H/S (6.5/10)

vhs film

This was actually not too bad and unlike most horror films. It is an anthology of short stories, but framed by one larger narrative and separate story, which makes the film all the more unconventional. I enjoyed most of the stories as well, in this order: 1) The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger 2) Second Honeymoon 3) 10/31/98 4) Amateur Night 5) Tape 56/frame narrative 6) Tuesday the 17th (in fact this was like the only sucky one).

It was quite scary as well, and I found myself having to lower the volume, exit full screen and put my laptop further away at certain points — which is what I do when I feel scared. This is all the more so since most of the stories are unexplained and end the same way, adding to the fear and creepy factors. I know most people felt that the film was stupid and didn’t make sense, but I liked it this way. Trying to explain things would have ruined the effectiveness of the film.

There was a good mix of horror sub-genres too, from aliens to succubi, ghosts to killers, and other weirdness. Some twists here and there; not overdone but enough. In fact, none of the stories were cliche or predictable. It’s not the greatest movie ever, but it’s still a lot better than many horror flicks these days. Just downloaded the sequel which was released last week!! 😀

18. Premium Rush (8/10)

premium rush

The idea and premise is simple, but wow this was really good and the storyline was fresh. I love how the film cuts back and forth instead of being shown in chronological order. It’s probably why they executed the regular idea of a bike messenger caught up in illegal stuff and the cops so well. I mean, such kinds of films have done countless times before even if they didn’t involve a bike messenger. But I was really absorbed by this movie and didn’t find it unoriginal or boring at all.

Characters were great and realistic (even the villain was portrayed well); I found myself cheering on the good ones. Joseph Gordon Levitt’s strong performance added to the film’s value. I love the added touch of visual effects too! So pretty and unexpected. Another factor that sets the film apart from those with similar ideas. The stunts are amazing too and keep audiences on a high. I might have teared a little towards the end when the mother and son reunited.

All in all, a thrilling and engaging ride despite a slightly typical plot. It’s not a movie that sticks with you or makes you think, but it was a good theatrical experience and definitely worth the time, money and a watch.

19. The Cabin In The Woods (6.5/10)

cabin in the woods

Okay so, all those talk about this being the ‘Greatest movie of the decade’ or ‘Scariest film ever’ and whatnot? Completely false, I tell you. Yes I can see why it was so well-received, because of the satire element poking fun of other movies and the dominance of torture porn in modern horror. It’s not a spoof film but more like funny hate mail. The idea behind the movie was good but the same can’t be said for execution.

I mean, they are using the same typical cliche storyline and characters to address the issue, which makes it like any other horror flick, just with an added underlying theme. It’s hard to be impressed over something you’ve seen so many times before, regardless of the motivation behind it. Of course, it does have its moments and some parts were funny.

It was fun being able to identify the satire elements/cliches/sterotypes that they were poking fun of, and interesting when I read up on those that I’d missed later on. The elevator scene was definitely classic and memorable. I found the ending and ‘big revelation’ pretty silly though. I mean, an ancient ritual? I know The Ancient Ones represented us audiences but still. Anyway, that’s as good as it gets for me, I wasn’t overly awed or anything.

20. Chernobyl Diaries (6/10)

chernobyl diaries

Your typical stranded-at-somewhere and mutant flick… which I enjoyed anyway despite the cliche plot, predictable storyline and silly characters — the standard recipe for a typical horror movie. Sometimes you know a movie isn’t going to be great  but you watch it anyway, just to be entertained and because you’re naturally drawn to anything remotely horror, no matter how trashy.

This movie uses the real-life Chernobyl disaster for its backdrop and has a group of people exploring the abandoned town, only to discover that there’s more than meets the eye and being unable to leave. The atmosphere was spooky and certain part were quite tense and scary, especially the kitchen scene and the one with the young child. I love how the characters had no way out other than to go deeper, where the dangers increase as with radiation levels.

However, I found the film to lack effort despite a good setting that gave it a lot of potential. Rather than maximising this potential, we got endless cliches and dumbass characters instead.  The most interesting character was killed off too quickly since I think people were expecting a twist involving him.

Which brings me next to the ending: It sucks. What a sloppy way to end the movie like the makers couldn’t think of anything else and just shoved this crap inside. To be honest, I’m still not sure what exactly happened. Were the mutants results of the Chernobyl disaster or was there some science experiment by the military gone wrong? What do you mean by they ‘escaped’? Meaning they weren’t from the abandoned town?? What? What????

I mean, why introduce the military with only five minutes left in the film, offer no real explanation and leave the movie hanging like that. It was just so sudden and abrupt the way it ended. Apparently there’s an alternate ending which I can’t find anywhere though from what I read, it seemed like the better ending.

21. Looper (8/10)


Super interesting film which I really enjoyed. The idea was fresh, original and executed very well. The characters were interesting, intriguing and well-developed, made even more outstanding by the cast who played them. Has Joseph Gordon Levitt even appeared in a sucky film before though? He appeared in quite a few films in 2012 and I enjoyed them all.

The storyline might get a bit confusing and messy to some, but nothing too hard to grasp. For me, it’s one of the movies whereby you watch, try to understand and accept without asking too many questions. I feel that people are ruining the experience for themselves when they keep nitpicking at the supposed plotholes and going on about how they don’t understand the story.

The ‘everything-explained-at-the-end’ approach does not work for every movie! I’d would rather enjoy a great movie with small plotholes than think about all the details that don’t add up and spoil my experience. There wasn’t anything about the movie that I found sufficiently explained or dissatisfied about even when it ended, and that’s enough for me.

Despite being a sci-fi AND time travel film, the movie wasn’t in anyway ludicrous or unrealistic for some reason. Really loved the themes as well, particularly the one about how everything was a loop and things would end in his death, regardless of the time, hence the title ‘Looper’. All the character arcs and storyline come full circle. Brilliant, isn’t it? Definitely not an ending that I was expecting.

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