Monday, September 26, 2011

John Dies At The End: The Movie

What feels like ages ago, I wrote a short bit on the David Wong book John Dies At The End, and while I feel I couldn't quite capture what I liked so much about the book in writing, it'll have to do. The reason I'm bringing it up again is because, as I mentioned, I had heard rumors that Don Coscarelli was working on a movie. Of course, my long and bountiful... well, long, career as a nerd have taught me one thing, not to get overly excited as to rumors such as these. At this point, it's very tempting to go on a little rant about Guilermo Del Toro and At The Mountains Of Madness, but this isn't the time. This is the time for discussing actual tangible evidence that Coscarelli is making this happen, yes, a trailer. 

So yes, that will probably seem pretty incomprehensible to anyone who haven't read the book, but from what I can see, it seems very faithful to the original. As a fan of the book, I'm pretty excited about this, but it could also backfire, there are some parts of it that might not work as a complete transplant. I'm interested to see how they do the pacing, since the book was a mite unusual in the dramaturgical department, but at least there's an escalation all in all.

As I mentioned in my initial post, I believe the story is very much in good hands, since JDATE seems like a story that Coscarelli could do well with. The Quirk-To-Serious ratio kind of reminds me of Bubba Ho-Tep, a story of an aging Elvis and a wheelchair-bound, dark-skinned John F. Kennedy (or two old men convinced they are Elvis and JFK, depending on your interpretation) fighting a mummy in an old folks home, only replacing the melancholy of Ho-Tep with my favorite filling, horror. The horror elements also seem similar to his most famous film, Phantasm, being some less bleak version of cosmic horror with a strong focus on how knowing or seeing certain things will attract attention you really don't want.

So, here's hoping this thing pans out well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Before And *After*: YellowBrickRoad

Oh, hey, I had almost forgotten about this thing. Blame shenanigans if you feel like it. But anyway, I finally got around to watching YellowBrickRoad. First, some corrections, our heroes are apparently a mix of cartographers and scientists, and this is the reason they go for the expedition, both to figure exactly what happened and to map the area. You wouldn't think the latter part would be much of an issue in this age of  ridiculously detailed satellite pictures all over the place, but I'm no cartographer, maybe it's a "woods" thing, I don't know.

So, my fears of this being a stupid slasher is certainly assuaged. Sure, there's a couple of kills, but something about the way they're done makes them more surreal than indulgent, in retrospect that'd probably be an interesting direction for a slasher to go, but never mind, that's not this movie. So yeah, the kills are odd, somehow, although I can't quite put my finger on why. Probably an editing thing. It doesn't work well as far as immersion goes, since it kind of draws attention to the fact that somebody made it this way. If that was the filmmakers' intention, way to go.

As for story, I'm not sure, I get the impression there's a lot of underused potential here. The expedition psychologist tapes everyone, doing interviews for reasons that frankly escape me at the moments. You'd think this would be a nice horror element, but as soon as things really starts going south, the point where such video logs would be interesting, there aren't any.

When it comes to horror, there's clearly a tendency towards slow build horror, and atmospheric freakyness, but I feel there's something missing. I don't really have a problem with the threat being vague, being a Cosmic Horror fan, I'd be a strange duck if I had, indeed, but there's something about the threat that doesn't quite work  in my eyes. Don't get me wrong, there are elements that are very interesting, and the one that chiefly comes to my mind is the use of sound.

See, as our heroes come closer to their destination, to the degree that they get any close, there's some possibly non-euclidean shit going down here, the sound of music from a LP player somewhere keeps haunting them, and the way our heroes react to it seems to hint that there's some nebulous other influence going on. Fairly clever, as long as you like things Lovecraftian. As I mentioned before, I do, so no complain from me, the music bit is probably my favorite part.

On the other end of the spectrum, the ending is just... ugh. I have no problem with endings spinning into wild metaphor as the climax approaches, as long as it's interesting, it can work, just look at Paprika, for one, but this one? Not so much. Of course, I don't know how I'd end this thing, but honestly, if you're going to end it up with some sort of vague hell/purgatory metaphor.... I hope you're aware that doing so may be the most cliched ways to wrap up a story I can think of, save that oldie but goldie "It was all a dream" chestnut. Granted, I could be wrong here, and if the ending's supposed to be something else, then egg on my face, but I still maintain that the ending's pretty bad. I might end up writing about the "WTF ending" phenomena at some later point, but that's it for YBR. I was pretty set to enjoy this film, but I feel it didn't quite measure up. Granted, there were some interesting ideas and some creepy atmosphere, but it wasn't quite enough, thinks I.