Friday, June 27, 2014

Movie Review: Cursed (2005)

What exactly is it about the werewolf subgenre that makes me so weary? Maybe it's because I have seen so few werewolf movies, and even less that I was really impressed with. But why is that? Was I ruined on them after watching seven Howling sequels in close succession? What is so hard about making a good werewolf movie? We'll have to discuss that more in depth at a later time, because right now I want to talk a little bit about Cursed, a movie that I thought I had seen a long time ago and probably did but just forgot about...

Anyway. Cursed is about a brother and sister who are attacked by a werewolf one night after a car accident. They must soon figure out who the werewolf is that bit them in order to save each other and the cursed line that the wolf has created.

Though Cursed was helmed by my much beloved Wes Craven, along with his previous screenwriting collaborator Kevin Williamson, I can't really say that I loved the movie all that much. Craven does indeed have a distinct style where many of his later movies are quick, snazzy affairs with a cheeky sense of humor and a camera eye that doesn't shy away from the action. This makes Cursed at least a fun movie to watch for an evening, but nothing that groundbreaking in the werewolf genre. I did like how the mythology of the wolves in this one was a bit closer to The Wolf Man from 1941 with the gypsy girl and the marks on the palms of those bitten. Everything else in the movie was pretty standard fare that's been seen before.

The characters are nice enough, if not a bit cliché. Brother and sister pair Jimmy and Ellie are played by Jesse Eisenberg and Christina Ricci. Eisenberg acts basically the same as he does in everything else I've ever seen him in, so no surprise there. He's your typical high school reject who gets picked on for no reason by the school jock and has a crush on a girl who is out of his league. It's again no surprise when he's able to use his new werewolf abilities to fight back at the bullies in a not-as-exciting-as-they-want-it-to-be wrestling scene in the gym. Ho-hum.

Ricci has always been a favorite of mine (not to mention a serious girl crush) so I immediately liked her. The only backstory given on her is that she's obviously the older sibling and is all stressed out from her job and from having to take care of herself and Jimmy after the death of their parents. She finds hope in boyfriend Jake (Joshua Jackson), but he's a former playboy and not to be trusted. He's one of the red herrings for the werewolf that has killed two girls and is now after Jimmy and Ellie - but I sort of had that situation all figured out anyway. The whole cast is actually pretty good, with all recognizable names and faces - Portia deRossi, Judy Greer, Shannon Elizabeth, Mya, Michael Rosenbaum, etc. Oh, and Scott Baio, for some reason, playing himself.

The werewolf scenes are not amazing, but workable. The one transformation we get to see is pretty horrible - all CGI and just plain bad when compared to the greatest transformation ever from An American Werewolf in London. Shannon Elizabeth is offed first when Ellie rams her car off a cliff and then a werewolf pulls her out and kills her. I always see online a picture of the aftermath of her death with just half a body, but either I wasn't paying attention or Netflix has some edited version of the movie because I didn't see it this time. Mya is killed next in a parking garage after a pretty nice chase sequence where we actually get to see the full-bodied werewolf, which is surprising because you don't usually see that this early on in the film. There is also one kind of ridiculous but hilarious scene where Jimmy's dog Zipper has become this weird werewolf-Labrador mix. It looks totally silly but is obviously supposed to be, and it's something new so I was actually okay with it.

Things get more interesting and fun when the action moves to the main set piece - a club designed by Jake called Tinsel, which is pretty much like a wax museum, complete of course with a scene of Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man. There's a nicely effective scene in the Hall of Mirrors and some nice fighting sequences with the werewolf, despite the horrible transformation. The werewolf's death has a little nod to Scream, which made me chuckle. There's a double ending to the film overall, though, and I was happy that this one was at least a little more violent and exciting than the rest of the movie. A decapitation and fire - not bad. Not all the way good, either, but not bad.

A small part of me has to like Cursed because of Craven, but I don't really have any problem saying that it's not one I'll be watching all the time. I like the kitschy sense of humor - it has a werewolf flipping people off, for crying out loud - and the fun that the actors seem to be having with the movie, but there's definitely something missing. I guess it's just that this isn't really how I like my werewolf movies. I need them more bloody and serious, maybe, and not so silly.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: Geek and Sundry's "Spooked"

A few weeks ago, I was sent an email about this show called "Spooked." Produced by Geek and Sundry, a production company and commercial YouTube channel, the comedy show is in 20 minute episodes and follows the Paranormal Investigation Team (or "P.I.T.") as they travel to different locations when contacted to investigate cases dealing with the supernatural. I didn't want to write a review after only watching one episode, so I decided to wait. After watching the first three episodes in a row, I can officially give "Spooked" my approval! It's great!

The team consists of the leader Connor; his clairvoyant little sister Piper; occult specialist Morgan; ghost hunter Elliot; and Lindsey, who provides the video equipment and bankrolled the operation. In the first episode, "Paranormal Professionals," you get the basic character introductions while the team takes on a very basic first case - a poltergeist. A lesbian couple, Donna and Carol Anne, believe that Carol Anne's father is haunting them because he didn't approve of their marriage. My favorite part of the episode is when Elliot says, "Carol Anne? Really?!", because that's obviously a reference to my favorite horror movie.

The show has a very self-referential sense of humor all around, constantly doing the cliché thing on purpose for comedy. Piper is the 11-year-old clairvoyant who doesn't talk, so of course she has to sit there looking all creepy with her long dark hair, sipping on her juice box. There's a séance scene, and basic poltergeist activity like banging walls and moving objects around - all stuff that you have seen before a million times over, but somehow they keep it fresh in "Spooked."

Much of the fun and success of "Spooked" comes from the amazing acting of all the talent involved. Everybody on this show is practically a comedic genius with perfect timing and delivery, and people acting just as much when they are background as when they actually have dialogue to say. Ashley Johnson as Morgan is the only actor that I recognize and she is fantastically funny and adorable. I can't really even say yet that I have a favorite character because they all have great moments throughout all the episodes. The one exception would be Piper, who is not really good comic relief but is an important member of the team. Maybe her age is what stops her from getting more screen time as opposed to the adults.

Episode two of "Spooked" is titled "Mixed Signals" and deals with aliens - not really my favorite thing, but they make it work for them with what little they have. The paranormal plot takes a backseat in this episode to the growing relationships of the main characters, and things definitely get a bit more interesting here. A love triangle develops among Connor, Morgan, and Elliot. The show still treats this situation as mostly comedy, and never really gets all that serious. If the show goes any further, I hope they can find the balance between keeping the show's comedic tone along with adding a bit more seriousness and maybe some drama here and there. It's possible, I'm sure they could do it.

The best episode is by far episode three, "Brotherly Departed." Not only does it guest star one of my favorite people, Tom Lenk, but it is also the best written episode so far. Matt (Lenk) calls P.I.T. because his brother Andrew's ghost is haunting their apartment after drowning in the pool. The twist comes when Matt reveals that Andrew didn't actually die and is not just pretending to be a ghost. So then there is another, much better, séance scene where Andrew comes "Whoooooooo"ing in wearing a white sheet while the team has to pretend like he's not there. Funny stuff. The ending (which they hint at way too much so it's hard not to guess what happens) is close to being the line between funny and serious and I loved it.

Geek and Sundry is produced by actress Felicia Day and I certainly like what she has created so far and the people that she has gotten to be involved with it. "Spooked" is a wonderful show with plenty of room to grow and plenty more paranormal experiences to explore so hopefully we see a lot more of this in the future.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Giallo x2 Review: Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971) and Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)

If there is one thing that I love about these giallo films, it is that they have fucking great titles. My favorite giallo so far also happens to have my favorite title - Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key. I don't even know what that means, but it's awesome. Today I'm dishing out a double dose of giallo and awesome titling with Twitch of the Death Nerve and Four Flies on Grey Velvet, both from 1971.

Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971)
Netflix had this movie listed under the title A Bay of Blood, and I would have watched it a helluva lot sooner if I had known that this was really Twitch of the Death Nerve, a movie that I've been wanting to see for a long time. It has as big a reputation as it does a list of other alternate titles, and it is by far the most confusing giallo I've watched so far. The plot is not really explained fully until the movie is almost over, so much of what you are left with is some random people in some place getting killed by somebody. Not that there's really anything wrong with that by definition, I just had a hard time following it. Twitch of the Death Nerve has a high body count (like, almost everybody in the movie dies) with some very fun and cool kills in various ways and with various implements - hanging, spear through the body, hooked machete to the face, beheading, etc. I liked how four of the victims were just some random couples who chose the wrong day to break into the wrong house for a little party, while the rest were actually a part of the plot. Nice way to up the carnage. I was stoked to recognize the actor playing Albert - he's Luigi Pistilli from my beloved Your Vice is a Locked Room. He actually plays a semi-good guy in this movie, despite most of his actions, so he proves himself readily able to play both good and evil. The ending to the film is so crazy and out there that it is just awesome, and after all the other craziness that Twitch of the Death Nerve has put you through before that, you're more than willing to just go with it. I mean, what is with that strangely sexy shot of Brunhilda with her legs crossed like that as she lays on the ground dying? And the squid on the dead man's body? That messed up plot where everybody is killing everybody else? The whole thing is cray-cray, I tell you, CRAY-CRAY. I personally don't think it's one of the better giallos out there (I have some other favorites in mind) but Twitch of the Death Nerve is hella fun and for fans, it is definitely a must see!

Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)
Probably my second favorite title ever right here. Four Flies on Grey Velvet is another fantastic output from the master, Dario Argento. One reason I liked the movie is because I could actually follow the plot and characters, unlike some other previously mentioned films. The movie follows musician Roberto as he accidentally kills the man he believes is stalking him... but his torment doesn't end there. Someone saw him commit the crime and is slowly trying to drive him crazy as the people around him start to die. Argento's camerawork is another reason to appreciate Four Flies, as he lets us know right from the beginning of the movie that we are going to see something from the eyes of a master. The opening credits have some very cool shots (love the one from the inside of the guitar), and throughout the film there are many other stand-out sequences - the shot of the guy in the creepy mask in the balcony; the camera following the phone line from the booth where the housekeeper is talking to the killer all the way to the killer's phone; great shot of the killer twisting a wire around a victim's neck; and a one very trippy shot of a victim's upside down head hitting every step as she falls down a staircase. None of this is to mention the equally trippy finale of the longest slow motion car chase ever put on camera, and the reveal of what the title is referring to. The only disappointment I really have about the film, or the plot really, is the somewhat lame explanation of the killer for his or her actions. But I guess you don't really need that much of a motive if you're just plain crazy. This movie also has some of the more interesting characters I've run across in giallo - mostly the gay private eye, Arrosio, and Roberto's friend Godfrey. Four Flies on Grey Velvet is just an all around awesome film - so much greatness to be found here, from the acting to the camerawork and editing. It's a new favorite of mine, for sure.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Review: "The Devil's Woods" by Brian Moreland

So as I mentioned a few weeks ago in my write-up of Texas Frightmare Weekend, one of the cool things to happen at that event was that I finally got to meet author Brian Moreland, a new favorite author of mine for whom I have read and reviewed several books. At Frightmare, he was kind enough to give me a copy of one of his latest books, The Devil's Woods.

Kyle Elkheart is a horror author haunted by a painful past. He sees an opportunity to reconnect with his spiritual self when he and his brother and sister return to the Cree reservation they grew up on when their father goes missing after taking a crew on an archaeological expedition. They dangerously ventured into what locals call The Devil's Woods, a forest long-thought haunted. As Kyle and his siblings search for the elder Elkheart, they will learn that the legends of the giant, black creatures that inhabit the woods are true, and that their childhood home holds a dark and evil secret.

The Devil's Woods is another story from this talented author that floored me with its creativity and depth. Moreland has proven to never be scared to go completely out there with his novels and create stories that go far beyond the standard horror fare, and The Devil's Woods is no exception. Always approaching such fantastical and supernatural stories with maturity and respect, he certainly has found his niche in the horror genre and one that he is getting better and better at with every new book.

Most impressive about The Devil's Woods for me as the reader were the wonderful characters Moreland created. I was very happy to be reading a book where I actually liked all - okay, most - of the characters, and that they were given real and relatable personality traits. The only one of the main characters that kind of sucks is Eric, but he's obviously written so that he's supposed to be unlikable, so that's okay. Eric is a womanizer with not much of conscience, and he has trouble seeing the good things that are right in front of him, like his girlfriend Jessica. A beautiful Aussie with an effortlessness about her personality and style, it's easy to see why two men end up fighting over her. Kyle and Eric's sister Shawna is a rebellious, tattooed druggie but essentially with a good head on her shoulders. Likewise, her boyfriend Zach also proves himself to be a better man on the inside than he presents himself on the outside.

I always hate how in books or movies, the creators always try to force two characters into a relationship way too soon and way too easily. Moreland gradually grows the characters of Kyle and Jessica (initially Kyle's brother's girlfriend) together, and doesn't base their attraction solely on the physical. Their relationship evolves in a natural way that is a turning point for Kyle's character, so that by the end when he is risking his life for Jessica, you have no problem believing it at all.

And because all these characters were so likable, the brutality with which they are faced is that much harder to take for the reader. Indeed, Moreland really gets down and dirty this time around, with some sickeningly descriptive instances of creatures attacking and killing people in very gruesome ways, and also some very gritty mentions of rape by both creatures and humans. A lot of perverts in this book. Was this really written by that same nice guy that I hung out with at Frightmare? But this is what I love about horror, and the people who create it, so I was with Moreland all the way on this one, with everything that he did. Each new twist of the plot brought out something surprising and unexpected from characters that we thought we knew, and from a plot we thought we knew. The end reveal of what is happening in the woods and the town is just as shocking and unreal as such reveals in Moreland's previous books, and I loved it.

And it won't take you long to get to the jaw-dropping conclusion, because The Devil's Woods is another lightning fast page-turner from this talented and inventive writer. I've sung his praises before and will continue to do so as long as he keeps entertaining the hell out of me with his stories. Get a copy of The Devil's Woods (or any of his previous books) and discover Brian Moreland today!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Short and Sweet: "Tuck Me In"

Can't get more short and sweet than one minute. But this short "Tuck Me In" manages to get right to the point and pack a quick punch in just 60 seconds. Check it out.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Movie Review: Big Bad Wolves (2013)

As soon as I read the description for Big Bad Wolves, I knew it that it was a movie that I was not only going to see very soon, but also love completely. And I was more than right! I have no problem calling this Israeli dark comedy thriller a full-blown masterpiece. With its brave take on a very tough subject, you won't see this one coming, that's for sure.

In Big Bad Wolves, a rogue cop gets in the middle of a bereaved father's quest for justice when the father kidnaps the prime suspect in his daughter's murder, and the murders of several other young girls. He takes both the cop and the suspect, a school teacher, to a secluded cabin to make the suspect tell him where he hid his daughter's head.

Big Bad Wolves is a brilliant movie, told in a darkly funny way that is both entertaining as hell and immensely uncomfortable. How can they tell this story of a father torturing the man who brutally raped, tortured and murdered his daughter and make me laugh about it? But I'll be goddamned if the tone isn't spot-on the whole way through, often leading the viewer into a false sense of security about what they might see. The title of the film immediately puts you in the frame of mind to see this whole thing as a fairy tale - and indeed there are a few fairy tale references thrown in there - and what are fairy tales but morality tales? This tale is of course a look at vigilante justice and the rights and wrongs of it, told in a way that makes you continually change your morals until you end movie maybe not knowing what to think at all.

Our three main actors are perfect in each of their individual roles. Gidi, the father, looks unassuming enough with his big glasses and cute little sweater, but plays out his fantasies to hurt the man who killed his child in a very cold fashion, never becoming overemotional. The cop Micki provides a lot of comic relief even during some pretty difficult scenes. His character actually got to the suspect before Gidi in the movie's first scene where has some goons beat the snot out of him and which leads to his removal from the case. Micki, though again not really showing that much emotion, is obviously determined to prove this guy's guilt for whatever reason he has, maybe simply for the fact that he has a daughter himself. Dror is the curly-haired Bible studies teacher that is at the center of this story. He plays the role in a such a way that there is totally believable doubt about his guilt, one of the things that will constantly nag at you while watching. While he certainly looks like the stereotypical pedophile, his unchanging pledges of his innocence are convincing enough to make you wonder if Gidi and Micki even have the right guy.

Much of the film's brilliance comes from the perfect shooting style and cinematography, and even more by the fantastic use of music. The score is used in all the right places and is wonderfully kitschy and whimsical, but always with a definite foreboding tone underneath. They manage to make perfect use of the Buddy Holly song "Everyday" as Gidi makes a cake full of tranquilizers. The look of the film is crystal clear and gorgeous, with not too much by way of fancy camerawork, but rather just some very expertly framed shots. One of the best shots in the movie is when Gidi's daughter's body is found at the beginning. A trail of gummy worms leads one detective to the horrific sight, of which the viewer thankfully does not get to see all. It's disturbing to see the girl's bloody ankles tied to a chair with her underwear pulled down, but when it is revealed later that the murderer also decapitates his victims, you realize that the sight could have been much, much worse. Later on, the torture scenes are also quite squirmy, really getting at the core of what freaks people out with fingers being broken, toenails being ripped out, and blowtorch flames to the chest.

Throughout all this, you think that the humorous nature of the film is setting you up for a nice, juicy, satisfying ending with everything turning out the way you want it to. One of the things that I both loved and hated about the movie is that it does not do this at all. The last plot twist has you tense with anticipation to see it all work out, but as events quickly go downhill, the audience ends up being left with nothing more than a final shot that will absolutely crush your hope and your soul. I actually found myself yelling at the TV, "You sons of bitches! You can't end the movie like that!" But of course, they can end the movie like that, and that is perhaps the most right ending for this tale. I don't want to make assumptions about the filmmakers' intentions without knowing for sure, but it does seem like their message is decidedly against the idea of vigilantism, in effect saying that no matter how right it may feel, it's always wrong in the end for all involved.
I could spend many more paragraphs gushing over Big Bad Wolves but the only thing that will convince you of its greatness is to see it yourself. Again, a masterpiece of filmmaking from beginning to end, Big Bad Wolves will have you literally entranced and so invested in the story that what you see will make you keep thinking about it for days afterward.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Movie Review: Screamtime (1986)

So there are a lot more anthologies out there than I initially thought. I came across this random little British one from 1986 and decided that it couldn't hurt to give it a go. Predictably, it turned out much like most anthologies do, wherein it has definite hits and misses when it comes to the quality of the short films included.

The wraparound story is really nothing of interest - two jerks steal some videos from a rental store and then barge in on the apartment of their lady friend Marie to watch them. Guess they never thought to steal a VCR player to go with it.

"That's The Way To Do It"
If anything, That's The Way To Do It was the best one to start the anthology off with because it was the stupidest and most boring, and therefore you can think that maybe there is something better to look forward to. The story is about an older man, Jack Grimshaw, who is obsessed with his job as a Punch and Judy puppeteer. His wife wants him to give it up so they can take better jobs somewhere else, and his stepson Damien thinks he's a loser and is pissed at him for never showing him any attention. Whine, whine, whine. All the people in Jack's life give him shit in every scene about his puppets when I really don't see it as a big deal at all, but what do I know?

The biggest problem with this short is how unbelievably predictable it is. I may not have seen that exact conclusion coming, but when Jack's people start to die by way of a bit of wood like in the Punch and Judy routines, I never once thought that it was actually the puppet that was doing the killings, though they of course try to make it look like that is exactly what is happening. It's pretty obvious that it is actually Jack going all crazy like, murdering his wife and stepson, and also a poor doctor who gets in the way. It's kinda funny to watch a puppet just bludgeon the shit out of these people in the kill scenes, but other than that, That's The Way To Do It is way too lame for me to get behind.

Though not by any means perfect, Dreamhouse is the best short in the bunch here. A newlywed couple, Tony and Susan, have gotten a house from Tony's parents for a wedding gift but things keep going wrong in it. Bad electricity, bad plumbing, and the fact that it may be... haunted! Susan keeps seeing things that aren't there - probably helped in that regard by those god-awful huge glasses that she wears. Anyway, the characters aren't really that likable in Dreamhouse - Tony is a shit sometimes, and Susan is just plain annoying. The most interesting person is the clairvoyant that Susan brings in to look at their house because she is hilarious, one of those people with no filter between their head and their mouth.

Unlike the previous entry, I was not able to predict the ending to Dreamhouse, much to my dismay! It was good to be surprised with this ending because it was a really good one, and one that I appreciated very much as something different and unexpected. There is a bit more gore in this episode than the first but it is not that good, very quickly and cheaply done from the looks of it.

"Do You Believe in Fairies?"
Okay, so we have one lame short, one good short, and one just completely random and weird short. Do You Believe in Fairies? is about a young man named Gavin who needs money to fix his stupid dirt bike so he takes a job as a gardener/caretaker for two old biddies who tell him that fairies guard their yard. Gavin and his friends soon learn whether they are telling the truth or not when they decide to break into the house and rob the ladies. I give this one points for being slightly interesting and different but I'm just not behind the whole fairy/garden gnome angle they went with. Is that a big thing in the UK or something? Who talks about fairies anymore? There's also a crazy backstory with the old ladies' ancestor and her dead lovers buried in the yard...

If nothing else, this setup allows the short to go to some pretty hilarious places plot- and situation-wise. The garden gnomes that work for the fairies stalk one character until a hilarious scene where a little person dressed like a gnome jumps on his back and attacks him. Of course, the aforementioned dead lovers also make an appearance in a scene that is perhaps supposed to creepy or scary but is really just stupid. Gavin is murdered in a way that completely rips off Carrie, so I was none to happy about that and was really ready for this whole mess to be over with.

Finally, we come back to the wraparound story in the dumbest way possible where the three idiots are somehow magically disposed of in ways similar to the movies they were just watching. Eh, I can't fully recommend this one. Its poor quality doesn't help the lameness of the stories, and though Dreamhouse is the one shining star in the bunch, it's not enough to make it a must-see.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Short and Sweet: "Certified"

Digging through some old emails in my inbox that I never got around to, I found a link to this very wonderful little short film that is the epitome of what it means to be short and sweet. "Certified" has a brilliant setup and an even more brilliant (if not somewhat devious) payoff at the end that will surely leave you chuckling. Top-notch acting, especially by the little girl, along with beautiful costuming and directing deftly bring you into the world of the story so you can really just sit back and enjoy it. And that's what you should do right now! Watch "Certified" and have a good laugh this evening.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Non-Horror Roundup: Mud, The Frozen Ground, and A Fantastic Fear of Everything

Been a bit distracted from my horror duties as of late. Much of it has to do with finding this incredible piece of awesomeness at Best Buy for only $20:

I know it's old news now to those savvy in videogamedom, but for me it's pretty great because I LOVE Tomb Raider and this new game is so freaking good. So that takes up a lot of my time.

I also found me a couple of non-horror movies that I really liked, so let's change things up for one post and talk about them a bit.

Mud (2012)
Did I watch Mud mostly for Matthew McConaughey? Um... yes. I would say that is a fair guess. My friend and I used to have fantasy celebrity husbands in high school and he was one of mine, okay? I had also heard that Mud was actually a good movie, too, so I wanted to check it out. It turned out to be a really wonderful coming-of-age story that centers around 14-year-old Ellis and his best friend Neckbone. They come across Mud, played by McConaughey, hiding out from some bad guys on a little island down river from them and they decide to help him out. There's actually a pretty good cast all around here - McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Shannon, Sarah Paulson, Sam Shepard, Ray McKinnon, etc. - not to mention the two young boys in the lead roles. They are truly fantastic and, in many scenes, they manage to stand far out from some of the big name actors they are working with. The movie's story is about love, trust, and friendship and Ellis learning about all these things the hard way sometimes through the various relationships he has in the movie. The setting is perfectly rural Arkansas and looks like most of the towns around here that I am used to, and the cinematography really shows off the downhome and woodsy beauty of the location.

The Frozen Ground (2013)
Seeing Nicolas Cage on a movie poster has made me a bit weary lately (still have horrible memories of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans), but John Cusack also intrigued me, and the Alaskan setting, and the fact that The Frozen Ground is based on the true story of a serial killer in Alaska in the 80s. Robert Hansen murdered up to 20 women - keeping them chained in his home and raping them before using his plane to take them to remote regions of the state and shoot them. Cage plays the detective on the case, and Cusack plays Hansen, which surprised the hell out of me. Never thought I'd see him playing a rapist/murderer, but he does great here, especially in his interrogation scenes with Cage. And Cage... hell, he's not bad either. The story they both have to work with is pretty typical of movies about the pursuit of a serial killer - dual storylines showing the killer out doing his thing and killing, and showing the police work that eventually leads to his capture. Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical fame makes a turn as Cindy Paulson, the 17-year-old prostitute who was a victim of Hansen's but escaped. The Frozen Ground definitely gets into the gritty realism of a case like this, and doesn't spare the viewer from any of the horrific details of Hansen's crimes. There's one scene with Hudgens and Cage where she's giving him details of her ordeal... really hard to take in that kind of stuff, especially knowing that it really happened. Really interesting and beautiful film here, one to check out for sure.

A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)
Now what the hell was this? Again, it was the star of the movie that attracted me to A Fantastic Fear of Everything, and this time it was the wonderful Simon Pegg in that role. The movie itself is beyond weird and fantastical, with Pegg playing a children's author now writing about serial killers and becoming more and more paranoid that somebody (or everybody) is trying to kill him. He also has a strange fear of Laundromats that eventually manifests in one of the oddest and most incomprehensible chain of events that I have ever seen put on film before. This movie is reminiscent of others like John Dies at the End where the story is so removed from reality but it presents itself in a way that lets you accept it for the time being. For one thing, Pegg is of course a comedic genius and has no trouble at all dealing with the insane script. Watching the movie was an interesting time to say the least, though I think it is one that might be a bit too much for some people to handle! Even now trying to accurately describe it is really difficult, but I still can't help but have a strange affinity for the movie, if only because I love Simon Pegg. Give it a go if you think it will be your quirky cup of tea.