Andres Muschietti

47 Ronin

This is a special edition of Short Starts, where we look at the past year of disappointing feature debuts from filmmakers who previously wowed us with their short films. Short films can be good calling cards, but they aren’t always the best proof that a filmmaker has the skills to immediately jump into a feature. Especially a big Hollywood production. In recent years, thanks to the combination of the Internet, social media and cheaper tools for making movies on a personal computer, we’ve seen some awesome short films go viral and then get the attention of studio execs and big time producers. The filmmakers, in only a few minutes of screen time, display a lot of talent and imagination and, most importantly, promise. But they’re often handed properties that are too much to handle even for experienced directors, as we saw with Neill Blomkamp’s assignment of Halo as a feature debut. Fortunately, that never happened and instead we got District 9, an extension of his popular short, Alive in Joburg. It’s fitting that Blomkamp disappointed with his sophomore effort (Elysium) in 2013, a year that overall was pretty dismal for directors transitioning from shorts to features. Terrible movies from people who had broken out with acclaimed shorts isn’t anything new. In the past we’ve seen Oscar nominees like Stephen Kessler and Christian E. Christiansen move “up” to Vegas Vacation and The Roommate, respectively. The past year was particularly heavy on the disappointing newcomers, though. 2013 even finished out with what’s possibly […]

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monstersquad

Ever since Marvel Studios blew past the billion dollar mark by getting all of their various protagonists together and teaming them up in a big crossover movie, The Avengers, every other studio out there has been clamoring to find a way to recreate that success. Whether that’s Sony looking to build to a Sinister Six movie through their Amazing Spider-Man franchise, Warner Brothers looking to build to a Justice League movie through their Man of Steel franchise, or Fox looking to bring their two disparate X-Men franchises together with Days of Future Past, the message seems to be the same: team-up movies are the new go-to. The truth is, crossing over different properties in order to create big team-up movies is nothing new though. Universal was doing it with their popular monster characters all the way back in the 40s with things like 1943’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, 1944’s House of Frankenstein, or even the 1948 comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. These movies took classic characters like Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s monster, kept the original actors who made them famous where possible, and threw them all together into one adventure that kept the properties fresh in ways that more solo films couldn’t. It was a good strategy then, and The Avengers shows that it’s still a good strategy now, so it’s looking like Universal is getting ready to go back to it.

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muschietti

Universal has been making money off of its monster franchises for about as long as movies have existed, so there was never any question as to whether or not we’d eventually get another reboot of The Mummy. There was definitely a huge question surrounding what another crack at The Mummy would look like though. Would it be a moody, fairly contained film like the Boris Karloff-starring original from 1932? Or a big budget adventure tale like those Brendan Fraser-starring films from the late 90s and early 2000s? Well, when it was announced that Total Recall reboot and Live Free or Die Hard director Len Wiseman was going to be in charge of the project around a year ago, it seemed inevitable that it was going to be much more a case of the latter, and people were not happy. Who the heck wants to see a glossy, generic movie about an ancient, withered creature, after all? But, thankfully for everyone, Wiseman’s stay with The Mummy franchise was short-lived, and now it’s looking like a director who could give us something much closer to the former is being recruited to come on board and save the day.

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review_mama

Once upon a time… horror films knew how to consistently land their third act. The original Black Christmas, The Exorcist and John Carpenter’s The Thing build tension and escalate the scares without falling apart by the end, but you don’t even need to go back that far to find ones that get it right thanks to (relatively) recent movies like [REC], The Mist and The Innkeepers. But more than any other genre a lot of horror films from the last few years simply drop the ball before the credits roll. Andrés Muschietti‘s Mama continues that trend unfortunately, but truth be told its grip is pretty damn tenuous from the beginning. After Victoria and Lily’s father kills their mother and some co-workers he takes the girls on a drive that ends with a crash in the woods. The trio wander the cold, desolate forest before finding an old, seemingly deserted cabin and settling in for the night. Father of the year doesn’t make it to morning. Five years later the now feral girls are found and returned to their uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend Annabelle (Jessica Chastain), but something else has come home with them and it’s not too keen on sharing custody.

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MAMA

Why Watch? This January, we’ll be able to see Andres Muschietti‘s Mama, which finds Nicolaj Coster-Waldau and a goth Jessica Chastain adopting two feral girls (trailer here). The feature makes this short film a prologue to a much larger story, but it’s not hard to imagine what scared producer Guillermo del Toro when he first laid eyes on this gripping three minutes. Simplicity itself, the script for MAMA was probably less than a page, but the combination of screaming children, little feet running away in terror, groaning string music, camera work that seems to contort the space its in, and a jerking murder of humanity is more than enough to fray nerves. The 2008 short gets an improved presentation here, complete with an introduction from del Toro. [Aint it Cool] What will it cost you? Only 3 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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Mama 2012 Trailer

Blanket statement: let’s stop associating with feral children. It really hasn’t worked out too well, you know? Cinematically speaking, we have Nell from Nell (heartbreaking), Howie Mandel’s character from Walk Like a Man (embarrassing), Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th (yup, he lived in the woods), The Penguin from Batman Returns (yick), and the little monsters of the upcoming Citadel (monstrous). When it comes to real life, well, perhaps you can draw yourself away from this brief listing of feral children over at Wikipedia, which I’ve been studying intently for quite awhile now, but good luck on that. That all said, look! New feral movie children! What a terrible idea! In Andres Muschietti‘s Mama, a pair of kids are discovered years after their mother was murdered and also after they disappeared into some nearby woods. To live in. Ever since. For years. Let’s definitely adopt them! Of course, their uncle (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has no choice, and does just that. Too bad that his little nieces might not have been alone in the woods after all (cue creepy stuff). And, for added scares, the gorgeous Jessica Chastain goes Goth for her role. After the break, check out the first trailer for the full-length Mama and, for added scares, you can also watch Muschietti’s original short, 2008′s Mamá, which inspired the film.

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