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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

House at the End of the Street: Tanks for the Mammaries

House at the End of the Street PosterSomewhere up the road from the House on the Edge of the Park and just around the corner of The Last House on the Left, you will find the House at the End of the Street. I suppose if you were a little more optimistic, you could consider it the beginning of the street, but optimism isn’t a trait that will do much good for you going into this urinal stain of a film.    

Directed by Mark Tonderai, House at the End of the Street (or #HATES, if you’re a big Twitter user) is a psychological thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence as Elissa, a young woman with a voice so beautiful she sounds absolutely perfect whether she’s singing in the woods or a garage, but I digress. Elissa and her single, overprotective mother (played by Elisabeth Shue, who looks fantastic despite the tiredly written character) have just moved from the mean streets of Chicago to the not so mean gravel roads of some place in the woods. A place that, on the surface, seems safe, but little do they know that just four years earlier a little girl slaughtered her parents... in the HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET!

Being the new gal in the wooded ‘hood as well as being the lead singer in the sickest band in Chicago, Elissa is getting a lot of attention from all the boys, specifically a young loner type named Ryan (Max Thieriot). Ryan has a bit of a bad rep around town due to the fact that he is the oldest son of the people who were gruesomely murdered in the HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET! Worse yet, he still lives in the very house at the end of the street where his parents were killed, something that really ticks everyone off. Regardless, Elissa and Ryan hit it off, and it seems that all the negativity driven towards Ryan is unwarranted, so she’s all ready to drop her drawers for him at any minute. However, when your parents were slayed by your very own sister in the very house at the end of the street that you still live in, you are more than likely not to be trusted. Unfortunately for Elissa, this is the case.

It’s okay, though, because the power of song will protect us like a warm blanket on a winter’s day.

House at the end of the street Jennifer Lawrences

House at the End of the Street gets full use out of the word ‘generic’ in terms of storytelling and character development. In fact, it’s only a few dollars and a handful of good actors above a Lifetime movie, though at least most Lifetime movies can be pretty entertaining. While mostly a technically well-made film, hashtag hates is plagued by some horrific, random editing choices as well as strange attempts at stylized camerawork. I almost applaud the fact that there is an actual attempt at style, but unfortunately it’s as successful as me “attempting” to be Mr. Universe. The dialogue also shines about as brightly as sandpaper, as there are moments where characters barf out some utterly atrocious dialogue. One specific moment in particular is a scene where Elissa and her friend are talking about one of the boys in school:

Friend: “He’s a dick!”
Elissa: “He’s worse than a dick... he’s a dickhole!”
Friend: “Dickhole’s the new asshole.”

*laughter*

Me: “What the fuck.”

House at the end of the street 1

Moving on (and thankfully so), I feel as a member of society I am obligated to talk about one of the biggest stars of hashtag hates:

Elissa’s White Tank Top

House at the end of the street

The white tank top is THE perfect attire for the slightly dirty (but not, like, gross dirty), sweaty girl in peril, who also happens to have a very healthy amount of milk in the fridge. Oh, how the snuggly fit and slightly translucent fabric moves so gracefully around JLaw’s breasts as they swing around like a tilt-a-whirl covered by a tarp. It almost seems as if this wardrobe choice was intentionally exploiting her upper body... I mean, who needs good dialogue when you have nice titties in a tank?!

House at the end of the street Jennifer Lawrences tits

“Are you looking at my tits?!”

I’d #HATES to be so harsh on this film because it is at least bearable enough to sit through, but you still might be better off spending your time drinking toilet water. On the other hand, if you do decide to spend some time with House at the End of the Street, please feel free to try to beat my “I called the plot twist!” time of 4 minutes and 50 seconds.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Paracinema ‘Kills’ it with Issue 19!

Paracinema 19

The latest issue of Paracinema Magazine is out and ready for you to jump head first into what promises to be the greatest issue of all time! And why, pray tell, might this issue be so off the chain?! Well, as the fantastic Garry Brown cover illustration shows, issue 19 features some serious love for one of my favorite film/films, Kill Bill. In fact, the issue features not one but TWO articles about Quentin Tarantino’s martial arts revenge epic, one of which comes from a very good friend of CNAMB, Zach from The Lightning Bug’s Lair, with the other Kill Bill piece coming from the one and only me.

Here’s a peekaboo of our epic Kill Bill coverage:

It’s Complicated: An In Depth Look at the Evolution of Bill and The Bride’s Turbulent Relationship in Kill Bill
by Matthew House

The Devil’s in The DeVAS: The Many Foes of Beatrix Kiddo
by Zachary Kelley

Soooooo what are you waiting for? Head over to Paracinema’s website and pick up a few copies for yourself… you deserve it!

Click Here!!

Of course, there are plenty of other goodies to be had, so if reading a couple of pieces about Kill Bill isn’t enough to sell you on picking up issue 19 (then how dare you), then check out all the other tasty little treats that are in store:

Phoebe Moves in Stereo: How Fast Times at Ridgemont High Gave Birth to a Classic Scene
by Mike McGranaghan

John Carpenter and the Apocalypse: A Study of Three Films
by Justin LaLiberty

Lost Video Archive: Skatetown USA
by Seth Goodkind

Aural Enigmas: Sound Design in Ti West’s The Innkeepers
by Todd Garbarini

Japan’s Direct to Video Explosion
by Josh Johnson

Firing Broadsides: Creating a Horror Canon
by C. Rachel Katz

Corpse Fucking Art: A Guide to Necrophilia in Horror Cinema
by Samm Deighan

“I’m sorry if the end of the world makes me a little nervous.” An Interview with Kelli Maroney
by Chris Hallock

What’s In A Name? The Rise and Decline of Hollywood Fall Guy Alan Smithee
by James Gracey

Last Words: Burn the Innocents with the Aggressors
by S. Patrick Gallagher

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Frankenstein Theory: Footage that Can Stay Lost

The frankenstein theory“From the creators of The Last Exorcism comes The Frankenstein Theory! And when we say creators, we mean one guy who produced The Last Exorcism, not so much created it, but them is details! Just watch our damn movie already!

YOU LIKED THE LAST EXORCISM!!”

Directed by Andrew Weiner, The Frankenstein Theory injects the classic movie monster, Frankenstein, or Frankenstein’s Monster if you’re being a dick, into the found footage subgenre. The film all but completely follows the plot of numerous found footage films (Blair Witch, Troll Hunter, etc.), where a group of documentary filmmakers go to a dangerous, unpopulated area to find a mythical “creature.” In this case, the creature is the one and only Frankenstein, who according to the film’s lead character, Professor John Venkenheim (Kris Lemche), is not just a piece of fiction created by author Mary Shelley but a flesh and blood monster waiting to be discovered.  

Finding Frankenstein (which would be a great reality show title) has become Professor Venkenheim’s life’s work; an obsession that, due to his outrageous theories, has resulted in him being suspended from his university job as well as created a rift in his relationship with his wife. These roadblocks only seem to fuel Venkenheim, so naturally this leads to him and a documentary film crew going to the rim of the Arctic Circle in order to prove his theory and gain back the respect of his colleagues and family. What ensues is, as I already alluded to, a very stereotypical found footage style of traveling to a remote location in search of Frankenstein which, naturally, goes awry.

The frankenstein theory 1

The Frankenstein Theory is played off as a “documentary gone wrong (a subgenre of Girls Gone Wild),” and as is the case with most docs, it looks good, as opposed to the shaky, amateurish lensed found footage flicks recorded by non-filmmaker types. This "tactic” gives the opportunity to make a good looking film. On the other hand, however, it also lacks that feeling of authenticity that makes better found footage movies effective. The film is a little too glossy to be believable, but that isn’t quite the worst of the issues that I have with The Frankenstein Theory.  

To go along with the pedestrian narrative, The Frankenstein Theory is filled with generic, uninspired characters that we’ve become accustomed to in this subgenre. The obsessive character trying to find proof of something mythical, the snarky and skeptical film crew, the sympathetic character who wants to believe in Venkenheim, and so on and so forth. Things don’t get much better when it comes to the horror elements, either. In fact, nothing that any person would ever consider to be “scary” really happens for at least the first hour. And there’s not even much build up outside of the ‘sounds outside of a cabin’ Blair Witch tactic that, unlike Blair Witch, isn’t effective in the least. This approach could be considered a slow-burn in a better crafted film, however, the fire never even gets started in The Frankenstein Theory.     

The frankenstein theory 2

One last thing I need to touch on is the cast (all of whom are very good, actually), specifically Kris Lemche. While Lemche gives a good performance as Professor Venkenheim, having an established genre actor in a film that’s going for the found footage angle is not a great idea. Seeing Lemche in the opening seconds of a movie that’s playing itself off as real is the fastest way to take me out of the story. How many found footage films have you seen that stars actors you are very familiar with? I can’t even think of one, but I’m not really trying, either, so take that as you may.

I’m a total sucker for found footage movies, and I’ve enjoyed most that I have seen (and I have seen quite a few); however, The Frankenstein Theory is one of the weakest that I’ve come across. Regardless of the fact that the film is decently made, has some good performances and even has a great winter setting, it simply doesn’t deliver the goods as a horror film. Worse yet, it’s intensely uninteresting, and an uninteresting story piled on top of a total lack of actual horror results in a completely forgettable experience.

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