Cloverfield

The Sacrament

While some horror fads like Asian remakes and torture porn burned out their popularity relatively quickly, one fad continues to dominate the genre: found footage. Part of the reason that it’s so widely used is because the movies are extremely cheap to make and can result in pretty large profits. However, with this sub-genre’s continued popularity, there are many people (like myself, for example) who don’t like it on the whole. Our biggest complaint is that, for using presumed realism to increase fear and anxiety, found footage movies are simply not realistic. But the concern got me thinking: how realistic are found footage movies?

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Matt Reeves Directing

When it was first announced that 20th Century Fox was making a prequel to Planet of the Apes that would star James Franco and a CG ape, not too many people welcomed the news with a whole lot of optimism. But once Rise of the Planet of the Apes hit theaters, it ended up blowing most everyone who saw it away. Director Rupert Wyatt took a less than appealing idea for a movie and ended up telling the sort of affecting, personal story that tentpole blockbusters rarely end up pulling off. So it was kind of heartbreaking to learn that Wyatt wasn’t going to be returning for the sequel and Fox was looking at a shortlist of directors to replace him. It turns out things might not be as bad as they originally looked though, because ComingSoon is reporting that the studio has found their Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director, and at first glance he appears to be a perfect replacement. The guy is Matt Reeves.

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Jurassic Park Mosquito

Movie trailers are one of the few things in the industry that you really can’t improve upon with technology. It’s just editing – that’s it. Nothing else can make a trailer better besides skill. This is also why it seems like they generally get better every year (not always the case though). It’s difficult to nail down exactly what makes a teaser trailer effective, which is why we’re going to focus simply on intensity. It’s the best part, especially when a film is already anticipated from the start due to being an adaptation or a sequel. So here we go – fifteen movie teasers that have your heart pounding before the feature presentation even begins.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Who wouldn’t love to have their own personal soundtrack playing wherever they went? An epic theme song that announced your arrival when you walked into a room or a electric guitar riff whenever you might need an extra rush of adrenaline – these touches would make every move you made seem movie worthy. And sure, you can throw in your iPod ear buds as you walk around town or crank up your car stereo as you hit the gas to get a similar effect, but without having someone follow you around with a boom box, having a personal soundtrack is not very likely because (unfortunately) that is not how things work in real life. In normal, everyday life music isn’t always playing, underscoring our more emotional moments and highlighting the intense ones. With the emergence of found footage films bringing a new style of filmmaking to the industry (with mixed results and reactions), the idea that these films are made up of footage anyone could capture if they were to pick up a camera and hit record leaves these films (as is the case in life) without much music. Real life is full of ambient noises, awkward pauses and people accidentally talking over one another so a film capturing these moments would break that unedited feeling if it had perfectly scored music fleshing out scenes because that is simply not true to reality.

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Boiling Point

The Devil Inside is the talk of the town for two reasons: number one, it made around $35 million in its opening weekend, which is big no matter what qualifier you tack on, but when that qualifier is a reported $1 million acquisition cost, it’s gigantic. Number two (heheh), it sucks. It sucks bad. That’s nothing new, really, as everything about The Devil Inside screams shitty movie. First of all, it’s from the team that brought you Stay Alive. Second, it’s found footage. Third, it’s an exorcism movie. I’m surprised that people went to see it, because you list those three qualities and I am about as far from interested as possible. But rather than just throw another voice on the “what the fuck” bonfire, I wanted to take a few minutes and examine what we can learn from this situation.

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Welcome back to Commentary Commentary, your weekly dish of directorial insight and/or, as indicated by last week’s column, shenanigans. This week we’re looking inside the mystery box with director Matt Reeves and uncovering what he has to say about our favorite recent monster movie, Cloverfield. Reeves did this commentary all by his lonesome, but something tells me J.J. Abrams was standing over him with a loaded gun lest Reeves divulge too much information. I’ll be listening intently for any Morse Code warnings or cries for help. Since this commentary track was laid down years ago, and since Matt Reeves has since directed Let Me In – more Morse Code messages. Hmmm – I have a feeling everything turned out okay. So here, in all of its Slusho wonder, is what I learned on the Matt Reeves commentary for Cloverfield. I wonder if there are going to be any Lost secrets. I hope there are Lost secrets. Or Star Trek 2. Okay, wishful thinking is over. Shutting up now.

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Boiling Point

Previously, on Boiling Point… I bitched about Hollywood not releasing enough horror movies in October. This week, I’m taking aim at them for not releasing any monster movies – pretty much ever. I’ve come to ask where all the monsters have gone. Monster movies have a special place in any horror fan’s heart. Whether you’re a fan of giant mutated ants, hybrid beasts, strange aliens, or any crazy old weird thing someone dreamed up that crawled out of a swamp and raped a cheerleader, monsters are awesome. The bigger, badder, and bloodier the better. It seemed for years that even if you weren’t looking for a monster, one would come out of the darkness and tear your face off. Nowadays, you’re hard pressed to get your shit packed in by a mythical beast even if you go defecating on Native American burial grounds.

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Movies We Love

You did it, godammit. They just invited us to dinner. Synopsis A small band of American filmmakers departs for the Amazon to document the lives of warring cannibal tribes. Two months after they’ve vanished into the so-called Green Inferno, a rescue team led by anthropologist Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman) discovers the documentary crew died at the hands of the Yanomamo tribe. Monroe retrieves the crew’s footage and brings it back to New York. The found footage depicts an orgy of shocking sadism – perpetrated by both the cannibals and the “civilized” Americans.

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Universal has signed Cloverfield and Let Me In director Matt Reeves to helm a new science-fiction film. Reeves will be adapting a famous Ray Nelson short story called “8 O’Clock in the Morning,” which tells the tale of a man who wakes up one morning and suddenly realizes that a lot of the people around him are secretly aliens, and that they’re controlling the planet. If that sounds a little bit familiar to you, it might be because “8 O’Clock in the Morning” is also the story that inspired the John Carpenter-helmed, Rowdy Roddy Piper starring, B-Movie classic They Live. This isn’t going to be a remake of Carpenter’s film, but instead a more faithful adaptation of the original source material. While Carpenter’s character used special glasses that allowed him to see the existence of aliens, the protagonist of “8 O’Clock in the Morning” has a much more psychological, nightmarish relationship with his newly discovered alien overlords. Reeves says that, “Carpenter took a satirical view of the material and the larger political implication that we’re being controlled. I am very drawn to the emotional side, the nightmare experience with the paranoia of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or a Roman Polanski-style film.” I liked what Reeves did exploring the emotional side of things and various nightmare experiences in Let Me In, so I think this project sounds like it could be very cool. Producer Eric Newman says that Reeves was the right man for this job because of his use […]

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Boiling Point

Most of the time I try not to revisit past boiling points. Once I get it out of my system, I like to pretend I’ve cast out the anger. This, however, is not true. The anger never subsides. No. It grows. Grows and grows and boils over again and again. Still, to keep things fresh, I try to point my anger in new directions. But sometimes thinks deserve a second chance. With that said, I’d like to take a second to just remind everyone that putting a big name on top of a movie is complete and utter horseshit.

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The Week That Was

With every week that passes, it feels like things just keep getting better and better around here. It’s becoming increasingly easy to put this very column together. New writers and very soon, we’ll have some new columns to tout. There’s a reason why the tagline “The Cure for the Common Movie Blog” now graces our homepage. Because if we’re anything around here, it’s uncommon. And you can find out why with the links that I’ve strategically placed after the jump. It’s all part of a little game I like to call The Week That Was.

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We live in cynical times, so it (at least seems) like a rare thing when a sequel doesn’t immediately follow a box office-ly successful movie. It’s even enough to cause a single tear when a filmmaker or producer says essentially what fans would say when it comes to the money grab. Cloverfield was a hit – the highest grossing movie of any January release when it came out. It propelled director Matt Reeves and J.J. Abrams into the world of movies, so it seemed obvious that a sequel would start rolling immediately. It didn’t. And it may not ever. Matt Reeves can explain why, and it’s a statement that deserves applause.

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Boiling Point

If you’re a long time reader of this column (be honest, you can’t start your week without it) you may recall me blasting off against films that are “presented by (big name)” or those that otherwise try to capitalize on a big name that, in reality, has little to do with what you’re about to watch. Like “from Executive Producer Steven Spielberg” or “Quentin Tarantino presents.” Nothing against these gentlemen, but hell, more than 99% of the time they’ve had absolutely zero to do with what you’re watching. I think the last time I went down a similar road was when JJ Abrams was getting all the credit for Cloverfield and less than 10% (made up statistic!) of people knew who Matt Reeves was, despite the fact that he directed a smart and enjoyable film. The recently released Devil faced a similar situation, though one in a much more negative way. Virtually all critics and a relatively wide swath of audiences dismissed Devil once the name M. Night Shyamalan appeared on the screen. After all, the guy’s said some ridiculous stuff about his own career, has made a handful of junk movies, and recently stunk up screens with The Last Airbender. So maybe Devil does deserve a lukewarm reception. Except that M. Night didn’t write or direct it so it’s not really fair to judge the film on his name.

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Boiling Point

With an announced production budget of under $2 million, The Last Exorcism undoubtedly won big this weekend, pulling in an estimated $21 million. Numbers like that get noticed and, unfortunately, get undeserved sequels greenlit. I openly admit to walking into The Last Exorcism with a prejudice: I don’t like fake documentaries or “found footage” films. It’s a tired trick. Hollywood doesn’t mind them though, because one mediocre weekend turns a big profit, and the film can be sent immediately to DVD. We’ve seen films like The Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity use this formula to great success on limited budgets. Since I’m not a Hollywood executive, I don’t really give a damn if they make a ton of money. There are more entertaining ways to earn it, like just releasing more medium budget horror movies. Or releasing horror movies on Halloween. But I digress. I don’t like faux documentaries or found footage films because they rarely work and they’re never even close to real.

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The variable that no one had heard of at Comic-Con was Skyline. Its footage and panel was a bit bland, but the special effects are the real stand outs. For a shoestring budget, the film has created some indelible images of women’s faces being lased, giant alien ships landing in brilliant blue down to city blocks, and millions of frail little human bodies being pulled up into the air to face what is probably the universe’s worst probing. Now, the teaser trailer has finally hit for the eyeballs of the masses. Check it out for yourself:

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Movie-savvy audiences might be in for a surprise soon. I’ve spoken with several trusted sources who have seen the film, and who can articulate their opinions without grunting, and they’ve unanimously praised Let Me In. While the original is aching and beautiful and heart-warmingly cold, the American remake might do what horror remakes struggle to do: be worth it. The positive praise comes with something else today. A new, glorious poster is online and ready to be loved. Just try not to step in the blood:

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Monster Movies

Dip your toes in the nuclear waste before we dive into a rant about the absence of modern monster movies.

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It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. That’s what they will tell you. And the most frightening thing about the entire situation is that they are right.

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If you think that January is a complete waste for movies, you’re right. You’re just not as right as you thought.

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