FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Sep 20, 2007


IN the past few days I've seen three wildly divergent horror films, but I can't muster the energy to write full reviews for any of them. Therefore, I'm taking the lame way out and simply writing a few thoughts on each...and you'll like it, dammit!

THE HOST (2006)

You know, I'd heard only glowing reviews of this Korean monster movie, even from some of my most trusted sources. Was I simply not in the mood for this? Were my expectations too high? I don't know...but I just wasn't feeling it. I'm definitely going against the grain when I say I wasn't overly impressed, but I think that much of my...unimpressedness was due to the effects: there was never a time when the monster felt real to me. The plot had some depth, and it's easy to read multiple metaphors into the goings-on, but the Sci-Fi Channel-esque CGI effects continually distracted me. Maybe I was just being cranky, who knows.

VACANCY (2007)

I missed Vacancy when it hit theatres, and I was bummed- I was really looking forward to this tale of hapless travelers who find themselves trapped in a hotel where guests end up unwitting participants in snuff movies. Again, was I expecting too much? I don't know, but I was a bit disappointed by this one as well. The first half hour or so was great- thumpings on the doors, shadowy figures running by was some suspenseful shit. Once Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale figured out what was going on and began their attempts to escape, I don't know, it got sort of boring, somehow. Sigh. Is it me?


Third time's a charm! I read the synopsis for this Swedish flick- vampires descend upon a town during Polar Night (when the sun doesn't come up for 30 days)- and immediately pegged it as a cash-in on the upcoming 30 Days of Night, wherein vampires descend upon a small Alaskan town during...umm...30 days of night. I popped it in expecting a pile of crap, but hey! I kind of loved this movie. It was bloody and it was funny, which took me completely by surprise. The ending was a bit abrupt, and at times the vampire effects were a bit wonky, but overall it was fun. Having read the 30 Days of Night graphic novel, I can honestly say this story has nothing in common with Steve Niles's story beyond pointy teeth and Polar Night. I know that sounds like a lot of similarities, but trust me, it isn't. And besides, Frostbitten has talking dogs, so how can you lose?


Jason Adams said...

I was left cold by The Host, too, Stacie. Way overrated. I do have to give props to the monster's first attack, which I thought was shot wonderfully, but after that? Bah.

And all the reviews that claim this thing is knee-deep in societal allegory, I say this thing's as deep as the Godzilla remake in that regard.

I swear that if this thing had been in English it wouldn't have gotten half the praise it did get.

M said...

You had me at "talking dogs".

Jesse Hammer said...

Yeah, The Host can suck it. I think people have really low expectations when it comes to Korean movies for some reason, which is retarded. Put this sucker up against OldBoy and watch it melt and then burst into flames from the awesomeness.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has watched waaay to many Sci-Fi Channel movies, I can state with all authority that the CGI in The Host was far superior to that of Boa vs. Python. I never thought that saying I loved this movie would put me in the minority.

Arbogast said...

I feel you, Ray. I liked The Host quite a bit and my review is on my site...

... not a perfect film but to me very enjoyable, with some one-of-a-kind sequences. The first attack is one but the shower of bones was a tentpole moment for me, too, and the death of the grandfather was both tragic and strangely beautiful.

spazmo said...

I found myself leaning hard on the FF button towards the end of The Host. And what a pointlessly downbeat ending.

Dave S said...

i was disappointed by 'the host' too. i liked it, but, man, those over-the-top glowing reviews, and the way that people were going on and on about it. there's no way a flick can live up to the kind of expectation that creates.

having said that, i thought it was interesting that 'the host' confounds expectations of the giant monster genre. i mean, it really is more character focused than most, and there were moments of humour that were unexpected.

spazmo, i have to say that i liked the downbeat ending. it caught me off guard and it added a bit of 'seriousness' to what i had been sitting through up to that point.

but forget the comparisons to 'jaws' everybody. 'the host' just isn't in that league of suspense.

Anonymous said...

I say "Yah" to Swedish vampires (and meatballs). This is gold!

David Lee Ingersoll said...

I've found that the more a movie is praised the more I should expect it to suck when I see it. Not because I think the movie will actually suck but because expecting Greatness in anything is a good way to be disappointed. Expecting Total-Suckitude allows me to relax and appreciate whatever shows up.

Stacie Ponder said...

"Expecting Total-Suckitude allows me to relax and appreciate whatever shows up."

This is true, and I try to adopt that attitude often myself- it saves a lot of pain! But really, I'd only heard absolutely glowing reviews of The Host, and it's got a really high rating on imdb. I went into it like "Hey, this is supposed to be good!", and came out of it like "Hmm."

Oh well. I'm sure I love some movies that leave people scratching their heads as to why.

Like Jumpin' Jack Flash.

Arbogast said...

I am with you on Vacancy, though, except that I found the first have to be as tedious as the second. When it was over, all I could think to say was "Well, that happened."

Arbogast said...

"First have"... WTF?! "The first half," I mean, natch.

Melizer said...

I haven't enjoyed any Asian horror (or their remakes) I've seen, and each one further reduces the probability I'll give any more a viewing. :(

I'm glad you at least enjoyed the first half of Vacancy, Stacie. Leading up to the moment when they realize the room in the videos is the room they are in is one of few times in recent memory I can recall being truly vicariously terrified. That spoiler was in the trailer and I was still freaking out. If I was in that situation, I would be complete toast. I thought the snuff films in the extras were alternately amusing and nearly too realistic. The killers with no grudge are scariest, like TCSM. I was actually surprised by a kill near the end, and if a kill can surprise me anymore, that's gotta be worth watching. And Frank Whaley's performance as the manager is surely worth the price of admission alone.

Melizer said...

"If I was in that situation, I would be complete toast."

That brings to mind those Worst Case Scenario books. You need to write an illustrated "How to End Up the Final Girl & Survive A Slasher Attack", Stacie!

Arbogast said...

I don't mean to expressly piss on everything melizer just said but, you know, when you gotta go you gotta go. Am I the only one who found VACANCY to be the most lily-livered movie about snuff films ever made? I was surprised how many of the snuffs captured on tape happened out of frame... especially since the killers are performing for the camera. (Remember how disturbing the home movie footage was in HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER? All VACANCY had to offer was women screaming in terror and guys in overalls running around.) VACANCY was bullshit, typical big studio product masquerading as visceral indie-style horror but without the balls to risk doing anything remotely unpleasant. Any psychological horror movie in this day and age that resorts to stunt drivers for its final act is just outright admitting it doesn't know what it's doing.

Melizer said...

Well, I agree with most of that, but I don't think it was a matter of cajones that it wasn't more explicit. I don't think it was "about snuff films" as much as it was about "what if you checked into a human roach motel?". It wasn't the aim to be truly disturbing, but rather to be a fun thriller. There was a lot of women screaming in terror and guys in overalls running around because one of the points was to emphasize that the killers wanted to play cat-and-mouse as long as possible. And the snuff films in the extras weren't supposed to be the content of the videos, it was just footage to take some snippets from to use in the film, to show you just enough to let your imagination run wild. I thought the hanging and drowning were certainly "remotely unpleasant" enough for the purposes of this movie, I feel they walked the fence precisely right. And I loved the car kill! And as a single woman that often travels alone, with no auto repair or self-defense skills to speak of, maybe this just struck a chord with me more. It was frightening to me. I did think it went on too long and the beginning was better than the end. It certainly could be improved some.

My only experience with snuff is from Faces of Death and 8MM, and I'm not often in the mood to venture that far over to the dark side, but I am going to check out HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER on your recommendation. I think what we all have in common here is that we enjoy the fun of the 70/80s slashers (somewhere Stacie said it best). Like I said in the forum, opinions are divided far and wide on this one!

Arbogast said...

but I am going to check out HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER on your recommendation

Watch it with someone you love!

Anonymous said...

To those not impressed by THE HOST: you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I think your brains have croggled from watching too much crap product (as one must in horror films).

Stacie Ponder said...

"I haven't enjoyed any Asian horror (or their remakes) I've seen, and each one further reduces the probability I'll give any more a viewing."

Well, really it's no different than any other kind of cinema- you'll like what you like. Asian horror does tend to be a bit heavy on the 'supernatural' angle, though, but I've liked more than I've disliked, that's for sure.

"you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but..."

So...folks who weren't thrilled are entitled to feel that way, but... they're wrong? Awesome! :D

d.o said...

...Im glad you enjoyed Frostbitten. Here´s an inside tip if you ever write a horrormovie:

If you decide to give dogs speaking parts in it, you pretty much divide people into the categories of "loved it" or "I´d rather have bumblebees on fire attacking my eyes than watch that crap again"

Thanks for a great blog!

Daniel Ojanlatva - writer Frostbitten.