Hereditary


Viewed – 02 November 2018. Blu-ray

Its easy to be skeptical these days when a horror movie gets a lot of hype. However this was getting some very good word of mouth and even Oscar buzz for its lead Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense). So I took a leap of faith and picked up the Blu-ray. This story follows a family coming to terms with the death of the grandmother which casts a matriarchal shadow who’s passing proves polarising to family members, especially Annie (Collette) and youngest daughter Charlie. However as grief and tragedy sinks its claws in, a disturbing past reveals itself.

The directorial debut of newcomer Ari Aster this carefully observed and eerie family drama-come-horror feels like the work of a seasoned pro, not a relative newcomer. The camera work, shot framing, set design and atmosphere is all first rate. It’s a fairly simple tale and may not exactly go places we haven’t seen before, but boasts several top-tier performances and brilliantly staged scares. Toni Collette may be a tad OTT at times and well, Alex Wolf can’t cry for toffee, but with a subtle, understated but convincing dynamic of a troubled, dysfunctional family’s descent into madness … I was left punch-drunk as the credits rolled.

It gets a little hokey at times what with some bizarre CGI and some plausibility going out the window in the final act. Yet the writing plays cleverly with expectation and cliché, leading this viewer in one direction with genre staples like creepy kids and miniature model houses, before sending expectations spiralling to a conclusion filled with nightmare-inducing imagery. It however failed to completely get under my skin and isn’t as scary as it thinks it is … but in all other aspects this was incredibly effective.

Verdict: 4 /5

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The Sixth Sense


Viewed –  April 2016  Blu-ray

Director M Night Shyamalan has certainly fallen from grace since the acclaim he garnered for this much loved supernatural drama.  Sitting down to watch it, I felt nostalgic for just how much buzz the director’s name created for a short while there.  Bruce Willis plays a child psychologist whose latest case involves a nine year old boy, Cole (Haley Joel Osment) whose bullied, an outcast in his community and a constant concern for his single mother, played by Toni Collette.  However Cole hides a secret; the fact he can actually see the dead walking around and often communicating with him, and this is something Bruce Willis tries to help him with.

The Sixth Sense

A slow burning but gripping with a stunning performance from Osment, truly one of the most gifted child actors of his generation.  He carries the movie brilliantly, proving both vulnerable, likeable and heart-breaking.  His plight of living with an ability that he can’t tell anyone about, least of all his mother is really incredible to bestow on the shoulders of such a young character … but Osment makes it utterly real.  Willis is also very good and conflicted, in a marriage that has obviously seen better days and fighting against his own demons.  Collette also gets time to shine and is especially good in the scenes with her and Osment (that scene in the car towards the end almost had me in tears).

bruce-willis-and-haley-joel-osmentThis is a very sad movie.  It’s bleak and moody and ominous, and also manages to be genuinely creepy, with Cole’s various encounter’s with different restless spirits.  M Night Shyamalan’s direction is faultless, full of little details and secrets – and that much talked about twist, which I won’t spoil is possibly one of the best.  I can totally understand why this movie is so regarded as it get’s everything right, standing out as a classic example of acting, writing and film-making coming together perfectly.  One of those movies everyone should see at least once … but to get the most out of it, see it again to view the movie in a different light.

The image quality is a little soft but suits the tone of the movie and colours, which are deliberately muted, especially help the use of red stand out.  Close-ups and street scenes are detailed though and overall it’s a good presentation.  Sound is also pleasing with clear dialogue, but apart from some decent ambient surround effects, is not about to be a 5.1 showcase.  Extras are plentiful however with a lengthy documentary ‘Reflections From The Set’ and a further doc on the supernatural called ‘Between Two Worlds’.  There’s also some shorter featurettes and a couple of trailers.  The lack of a commentary for this one is disappointing, but overall pretty good treatment for a genuine classic.

Verdict:

(the movie)  5 /5

(The Blu-ray)  3.5 /5

Krampus


Viewed – 26 April 2016  online-rental

I can’t say these days I’m really a Christmas person and well, stopped watching Christmas themed movies a while back.  It’s something about the traditions, the schmaltz and the build up that mostly leaves me cold.  However outside of Christmas is watching a Christmas movie wrong?  Well I did it anyway, thankfully this one spins such age old traditions on their head.

krampus

A dysfunctional family are getting together to spend Christmas eating, getting drunk and arguing.  There’s a few stereotypes, such as the moody teenage daughter, the annoying brother in law, the creepy grandma and the wise beyond his years little kid.  It wear’s its clichés with pride however and perfectly sets the tone for a decidedly old-school yarn – with a bit of a sting in it’s tale.  You see said kid has lost all faith in the spirit of Christmas and just wishes his family were ‘like how they used to be’ and then suddenly, there’s a power cut, the town is blanketed in snow and something is lurking in the shadows.

For this one think Gremlins, a clear inspiration with a smattering of Critters and Poltergeist for good measure.  We get demonic Gingerbread Men, a mutated jack-in-the-box and the Krampus itself; a horned, hooved and cloaked monster.  I had a ball with this.  It’s very 80’s in its look and feel, and the cast of mostly b-list actors (with Toni Collette of Sixth Sense and Muriel’s Wedding fame) all do a good job of portraying their caricature-styled roles.  Along with a fun animated flashback to when one character first met the titular demon, this is packed with energy and creativity.  The reasoning behind why shit-goes-down initially seemed a bit ‘really?’, and that final scene felt like a cop-out.  And yes, it could have been scarier (it still managed to be creepy in the right places) and more violent … but as a fairly audience-friendly horror this still managed to deliver a quality evening’s viewing that’s worth checking out Christmas or not.

Verdict:  4 /5