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Kilburnlad

The Shining


The Shining

We watched this classic horror film yesterday evening as it was Halloween. Released in 1980, contemporary reviews felt that it didn't do justice to Stephen King's book of the same name, but over time it has gained respect and is now regarded by some as one of the greatest horror films ever made. Personally, I found the acting a bit stilted, perhaps reflecting the period, while much of the psychological tension came from the soundtrack, with loud dramatic crescendos accompanying the critical moments. Very old school horror.

The plot is straightforward enough. Jack Torrence, played by Jack Nicholson, takes a job as the winter caretaker of the Overlook luxury hotel, which is always snowed-in during the winter. He will be there alone with his wife and son, but as a writer he relishes the tranquility. Nevertheless, the hotel manager does point out that the isolation can be a problem for some people, and recounts the story of how one previous caretaker, Charles Grady, went berserk, killing his wife and two daughters before turning a shotgun on himself. During the family's tour of the hotel it was also ominously pointed out that the building had been constructed on a Native American burial site. At this point one realised that it wasn't perhaps the place to be. Also during their introduction to the building, we learn that their son, Danny, has a telepathic ability, this being shared by the hotel's chef, Dick Halloran, who refers to it as 'shining'.

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Mother!


Mother! - Poster

Mother! was released yesterday and we went to see it. I had seen the trailer but not otherwise paid much attention to the advance publicity. I had thoughts of Rosemary's Baby in my mind but that couldn't have been wider of the mark, although I suspect that there was an intentional misdirection at work to put people off the actual reality of the story. As one reviewer quite rightly pointed out, "This is not the film that you think it is!"

First and foremost I must say that any detailed description of this film will ruin it for anybody who hasn't yet seen it. This review, therefore, will try to tread a fine line between giving you a feel for what to expect but not telling you things that will spoil the revelation - and it is a revelation. Initial press reviews lie between 'brilliance' and 'sickening'. The third act, which is all but expunged from the trailer, is bizarre in the extreme.

We start with a burnt-out house, a crystal, and then a remarkable reversal of the fire damage to both the house and its surroundings. And we see Jennifer Lawrence as mother, waking in her bed. Now, note that she is called mother, and note that this is spelled with a lower case 'm'. This is important, because her husband, a poet with writers' block is called Him, note this time with a capital H. All other characters bear lower case names, and all the names are descriptive of their place in life: e.g., damsel, philanderer, fool, idler, and so the list goes on. But before we get to these other characters, two more important ones arrive on the scene. First, we have 'man', a surgeon who arrives seemingly from nowhere, knocking on the door much to the surprise and consternation of mother. Her disquiet heightens considerably when Him invites the unexpected guest to stay.

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The Mummy


The Mummy

We saw The Mummy yesterday on its cinema release date, a rare occurrence for me. I had decided to see it based on the trailer and wasn't disappointed, although judging by the reviews a lot of people haven't felt as charitable. Tom Cruise is one of those actors that people either like or not, and many people may have judged the film on this basis. Personally, I find Cruise an extremely dedicated actor who puts everything into a role, to the extent of inhabiting the character and training himself to carry out whatever stunts are involved. In a recent interview on the Graham Norton Show he divulged that he has been training two years for something that we are hopefully going to see in a forthcoming Mission Impossible movie - if whatever it is comes off!

Back to The Mummy. This is an updated version of an idea that's been around since the 30s. However, this time instead of a clunking male mummy we have a lithe young woman, Princess Ahmanet, who was mummified and entombed alive after making a pact with the god Set, following which she murdered her family. Set gives her a special dagger with a ruby type jewel at the top of the handle, which will allow Ahmanet to transfer Set's spirit into the body of a human, but she was prevented from doing this when captured and entombed after her killing spree.

We now move forward to present day Iraq where we have Cruise, as Nick Morton, with his partner Chris Vail, chasing down a 'treasure' that he believes exists based on a map he stole from the attractive archaeologist Jenny Halsey after spending a night with her. Nick and Chris become pinned down by insurgents and look to be in serious trouble, but Chris has summoned a drone strike that sees off the insurgents and opens a large hole, in which we see an Egyptian statue that signifies the presence of a tomb. The treasure Nick was looking for? Jenny arrives and tears Nick off a strip for stealing the map before the three of them descend into the hole to investigate further.

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Get Out


Get Out

Get Out is obviously a film that divides opinion. Mark Kermode at the Guardian, a reviewer I respect, gave it four stars and made it his film of the week. Meanwhile, a reviewer at IMDB was scathing, saying that he wished he had seen Lego Batman instead. It's fair to say this film couldn't be any further removed from a Lego movie.

The opening sequence sees a young black man trying to find an address in an area in which he clearly feels uncomfortable. A leafy white suburb to put it bluntly. He has been on the phone to whoever he's trying to find, the who in that sentence becoming clear much later in the film. A car starts to shadow him and next we see him overpowered and dumped in the boot, the car screeching off.

We now cut to Chris and Rose, a seemingly happy couple. He is a successful photographer, and as he prepares to accompany her to meet her parents, he enquires "Do they know I'm black?" She hasn't, but doesn't seem to think that it matters. Her dad is fine, after all he would have voted for Obama for a third term. Chris isn't too sure, and his mate Rod, who works for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), is definitely not for it. But they go. On the way a collision with a deer, although nothing more than an accident, turns out to be a premonition of what's to come.

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Martyrs

The Telegraph's headline for the review of this film is "Why Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs is the greatest horror film of the 21st century". Meanwhile other critics have not been impressed, the Observer dismissing it with only two lines. It is probably the most horrific film I have ever watched.

Martyrs

It's difficult to review as any spoilers will make watching it almost pointless, unless you just want to witness the horror. It starts with a young girl, Lucy, managing to escape from painful captivity in an abandoned building. She is sent to a Catholic orphanage where she is befriended by Anna, who quickly realises that her quiet new friend is haunted by her experience, believing that monsters are attacking her.

The film moves on and the girls are now young women. Lucy believes that she has tracked down her tormentor from the days of her incarceration and dispenses summary justice to the woman and her family. She contacts Anna and at this point, about half way through the film, one doesn't really know what is going to happen next. What does happen is both surprising and shocking, and the second part of the film reveals why Lucy was taken as a child, and this time it is Anna who is to suffer.

As with many horror films religion plays a part, a big part in fact, but not perhaps in the way you may imagine. This is religion at its most fundamental, reminiscent of medieval times, where its proponents seek the ultimate truth and are prepared to inflict great suffering to satisfy their curiosity. And when the truth is extracted? Watch the film, but not if you are of a nervous disposition.

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