Friday, May 30, 2014

Simon Says (2006): More Like Simon Chews… Up Scenery!

Simon Says 2006

*Disclaimer!* I wrote a handful of articles for a now defunct e-zine called BthroughZ a number of years back, and when that site went belly up, so did the reviews I wrote for it. I didn’t want to lose the articles I worked so hard to write, so here I am, reposting them here, in all their imperfection, for your mild enjoyment.

Tell me if you've heard this one before: five college kids head out to a secluded wooded location for a weekend of rest and recovery, which is code for a weekend of alcohol fueled debauchery. On their way to this wooded party paradise, the group makes a quick stop at a shanty convenience store for supplies such as beer and zig-zags. You know, the essentials. It’s at this point that the group first meets the store's two proprietors, Stanley and his twin brother, Simon.

Simon Says 2006 movie

Now, if Stanley is the normal brother, then Simon––as you would guess from the film's title––is the oddball of the two siblings. However, despite being incredibly strange and just as awkward, Simon knows what he he likes, and when he meets the group of college students, he instantly takes a liking to one of the girls. Unfortunately for the kids, however, Simon has a funny way of showing his affection. Well, funny unless you consider it normal to stalk and kill her friends so he can have her all to himself.

Directed by William Dear, Simon Says is about as clich├ęd a slasher film as it gets. A group of teens partying out in the woods, only to find themselves in peril, has been done more times than Jenna Jameson. And thanks to a couple of Deliverance style town hicks, the teens even receive a firm warning, followed by a horrific story about an awful death that occurred in the very woods where the teens plan to focus on biblical studies and promise rings.

Simon Says 2006 movie 1

Yeah, bible studies…

As one would expect, the teen characters in Simon Says do an incredible job of fulfilling the average slasher quota for character stereotypes. You get the slut, the stoner, the ain't-no-fun/ain’t-boning-no-one girl prude, the cool guy and his almost as cool but tired of his bullshit girlfriend. This is a motley crew of truly abysmal characters, and as is often the case with any pairing of these specific stereotypes, I cannot help but wonder why the hell any of them hang out with one another?

If there’s one thing that makes Simon Says a worthwhile watch, it’s the characters of Stanley and Simon as brilliantly portrayed by Crispin Glover. I think it’s obvious to most movie fans that Glover is a bit of an odd duck, and I believe it’s the madness that burns inside of him that worked as an inspiration to play this dual role in Simon Says. And to say that Glover’s performance is over-the-top would be an understatement, as Glover simply GOES TO TOWN, chewing up scenery left and right, and it’s obvious that he’s having a total blast doing it.

Simon Says 2006 Cripsin Glover

The character of Simon brings about the bulk of entertainment value that viewers get with Simon Says. Simon has many a great moment as he stomps down on puppies, drops a few bad (good) puns (he must say "You Forgot to Say…Simon Says!" like 17 times) and runs around in a Ghillie suits like he’s on to catch a predator. Crispin Glover and his bizarre performance are cracked enough to lift Simon Says out of the depths. The acting is bad, the direction is bad, the film is bad, but it's oh so worth a viewing for Glover's performance alone.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Salute Your Shorts: S.L.R. (2013)

SLR 2013

S.L.R. opens with a shot of a gorgeous woman in a dress walking down the street. Within seconds of her introduction, the camera pulls back to reveal a man (Liam Cunningham) with a camera of his own snapping photos of the woman from an open window. The woman was clearly unaware that she was being photographed, but for the viewer, the fragment of beauty that comes from her presence is, within seconds, tarnished by the perversion of one voyeuristic man.

This brief moment speaks volumes about S.L.R.’s message. When the woman is introduced, many viewers would immediately find her attractive. As she briskly walks down the sunlit street; her beauty almost commands attention. However, that admiration takes an uncomfortable turn when it is revealed that we as an audience are watching her from the perspective of a pervert.

Things grow even more uneasy in the following moments, however, as a montage of imagery show the man uploading photos to a voyeur website that is filled with upskirt shots and video taken of women in changing rooms. It's very apparent that we're dealing with a deviant who takes no issue with exploiting women by uploading their photos and videos to the internet for the pleasure of other’s as well as his own.

While his introduction gives the viewer a glimpse of a man who is quite appalling, what is seen when the audience is actually faced with the man in his regular day-to-day life is completely different. From his appearance, he doesn't quite fit the mold of your typical scummy old man. Instead, he's a wealthy well-to-do gentleman with a nice home and car – not someone you would call the cops on for hanging around in a park, which greatly speaks to perception.

The man even seems to have a great relationship with his daughter (Amy Wren). Interestingly, though, the moment she is revealed, his previous actions become all the more creepy and disturbing. How could a guy with a daughter take photos of unsuspecting women, post them to the internet for others to leer at, and be okay with it? This would be where things take a fitting turn for the man, as seconds before masturbating to some voyeuristic photos of a gorgeous girl, he realizes that the photos are of his own daughter.

Written and directed by Stephen Fingleton, S.L.R. is a short form thriller that looks at just how easy it is for some people to treat others like they are objects because they have no connection to them. However, when it’s say, your daughter, or mother, or sister, or friend, or whatever, things become entirely different. The thought of some random pervert exploiting someone you care about is as alienating as it is infuriating.

Within its 20 minute runtime, S.L.R. features great performances from the scant cast, and the relationship between the father and daughter is believable. The short is also nicely put together, featuring great cinematography and editing that results in a clean, crisp and professional looking movie. There’s truly an incredible amount of talent on display here, and I can do nothing more than highly recommend giving your time to this fantastic, creepy little thriller.

Salute Your Shorts 5

Be sure to follow up S.L.R. with its companion piece, Selfie (2014), which I reviewed IN THE FUTURE!! It, too, is a great short, and the two films really compliment one another.

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