Monday, 3 January 2011

The Mist at The Ruins in Pontypool

Happy new year!

Another digit change and a new blog name (perhaps the first of many. I am rather indecisive). Unlike the previous title, I will probably not go into detail about this name. I did think that it was appropriate to have a title that reflected the content at least some way. I like horror, this blog is typically about horror, so the title now has the word horror in it. There you go.

With this new year, I have several ambitions, one of them to continue with this blog and regularly update it (I even have subjects to write on for the next few posts! I am shocked at my level of commitment!). One thing that might make this a bit more fun is if anyone who reads this and has any thoughts on the mumblings should contribute their own thoughts/criticisms/insults to it and maybe share it with any friends who are horror driven. I have a good clue who will actually read this (hi, Ally and Joey), and the conversations we seem to have from this are always a bit of fun. I'd love to see peoples thoughts and opinions popping up. It may be a pipe dream, but things like horror are always better in groups!

So, to ring in the new year I am going to quickly look at three films that all get a big thumbs up from me. I mention them because apparently just before I make my way back to the land of the Swans, Ally, Joey, Rob and I shall be partaking in a good old horror film night. If anyone else out there was looking for a good marathon of films slightly different than the norm, these less obvious choices come highly recommended.

This slightly obscure Canadian horror is one that many people might not be familiar with. A friend recommended it to me after I talked to him about low budget zombie film Colin, so I was expecting something similar. Damn it if this isn't as far away from lo-fi as possible! Set in a radio station, the story revolves around a grizzly DJ reporting a sudden outbreak of insanity throughout the region. It comes to turn that people are being infected by certain words. It's pretty much a zombie film that replaces the Trioxin with vocabulary. I'll be honest, I only half-watched the first half, but was really intrigued by it and got fully into the plot. It's a bit of a head wrecker trying to figure out if the whole word infection plot device works (I'm still on the fence, but my suspension of disbelief is high), but the way the film deals with it is fantastic and enthralling. I've read a lot of reviews trashing the film for its plot devices and general storyline but to be honest, even though I think it breaks down into typical horror fare for its last act, the film itself is too original and intriguing to not enjoy. I'd be inclined to think some people couldn't get their head around the infected words idea and became frustrated at it. Like I say, I am still unsure if I buy that myself, but screw it, go with the film and trust it to give you a good time!

One of my favourite finds of all time, The Ruins is set on top of an ancient Mayan ruin that six twenty-somethings on top of, trapped by locals who are trying to stop any infection spreading, and terrorised by, ok, this sounds ridiculous but bear with me, killer plants. I amn't talking about Day Of The Triffids here. These are savage beasts that trick, stalk and attack. I picked up the film for a song, and boy am I glad I did. For some reason, it never sticks in my mind, maybe it is because there are certain moments that feel so intense and graphic, even though they are visually tame by many comparisons. It is quite an unpleasant film for all the right reasons. There are characters, there is plot, there is tension. In the vein of Pontypool, there is an almost plague like device in operation here, and like Night of the Living Dead, we are left to figure out what we would do in the same situation. The characters are trapped, they have no supplies, the situation is dire and they do exactly what anyone else would do. I love films like this and think it is one of the better horror films to come out over the last few years (and certainly one of the most overlooked). Enjoy!

Ah, the granddaddy of all modern day horror films! Frank 'Walking Dead/Shawshank Redemption' Darabont gives us one of the best adaptations of a Stephen King story in the form of this intentionally 50s style B-movie. While trying to be a slightly campy throwback, Darabont actually gives us a modern classic. The action revolves around Thomas Jane (The mutta fukkin Punisher), his kid, and a lot of locals trapped in a supermarket when a mysterious fog rolls in, bringing with it hellish monsters to terrorise everyone and their attempts to protect themselves. It is fascinating to watch what people do when they think it is the end of the world. Everyone is accounted for: the families; the military; the religious nuts; the everyday person. As with most Stephen King work, there is a slightly comic book feel to the action, but not in a completely over-the-top way, more a people-being-braver-than-you'd-probably-be kind of way. The film has an undeniable charm and is so re-watchable it is sickening! Performances are great and the story matches up perfectly. I've had many discussions whether or not the ending suits the film. To me, it is perfect and the only way I would have liked to have seen it end, whereas others found it a bit gratuitous. Even with this point, I have yet to find someone who has seen The Mist who didn't instantly love it.

A quick side note on The Mist; if you can, get the special edition version. It includes a black and white version of the film, which is what the director originally intended for the film to be displayed in. You wouldn't think it, but the difference is astounding. Whereas the colour one feels vibrant, modern, yet slightly kitsch, the black and white version feels like a proper 50s nuclear monster piece. I find it makes it two completely different films, both of them fantastic. A powerful and interesting technique!

So, yes, there you go, a good old horror film night in planned for you. It's a bit different than an Evil Dead night or Saw marathon! Have a good one!