Thursday 8 August 2013

Byzantium (2012)

As far as Vampire films go, Interview with the Vampire is still one of my favourite movies. So when I first heard that Neil Jordan was returning to the sub-genre to direct Byzantium, I was that little bit more excited about it. Jordan also directed The Company of Wolves (1984), The Crying Game (1992) and  Michael Collins (1996) among other films, so we know we're going to get quality.

Don't head into this movie thinking it will be just another generic vamp flick with lots of fangs and blood. This is a horror / drama. I'd also like say that it has one of the most stunning movie posters I've seen!

The story follows Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) and Clara (Gemma Arterton). They live from day to day with Clara doing what she has to, to earn money to support them both. When someone from Clara's past turns up, Werner (Thure Lindhardt), she puts them both in a compromising position and the two girls have to flee to another location.

They hit a seaside town, somewhere that Eleanor believes they have been before. Straight away, Clara does what she does best, making money and looking for a place to stay. In the meantime Eleanor meets Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), which turns into a friendship. Clara has now found a place stay with Noel (Daniel Mays), in his run down hotel.

Clara works her magic and turns the hotel into a thriving business, with a difference, and Eleanor attends the local school with Frank. Everyday, Eleanor writes down her tragic story of immortality and trows it away each time. But when she decides to write the same story, claiming she is a 200 year old vampire, and give it to her friend frank, it back fires on her as Frank passes it on to their teacher, who in turn becomes concerned that Eleanor has a problem since she insists that what she wrote is the truth.

This all leads to Clara having to clean up the mess Eleanor has made, in turn making more of a mess herself. Now the attention of the authorities has been drawn as well as someone else from Clara's past. Past events are starting to haunt Eleanor and Clara even more than before, threatening to separate the them from each other. Will they get the happy ending they both earnestly and secretly crave for or will death be their future?

The big difference between this film and other vampire films is the mythos itself. It has very original origin story and as for the feeding, the normal set of tools are not used, but the thirst for blood is still the same! With some decent practical FX, the flow of blood should keep vampire and horror fans happy.

The story itself is extremely well written by Moira Buffini and with Jordan's direction, it's an excellent film that the seasoned non horror movie buff will appreciate too. Jordan's vision fills the screen and the movie does have a similar feeling tone as Interview with the Vampire, without as much action and more drama though.

The film flashes back and forth from the past to the present, answering all the questions that arise in your head throughout the proceedings. This makes you get more involved and connected to each character.

It's a beautifully crafted movie full of emotional content. From the dreary looking location to the contrasting colourful lights all within the seaside town, Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton bring the whole thing to life with great performances. The supporting cast is full of quality too, but it's Ronan, along with Caleb Landry Jones that steal the show.


Byzantium gets 5 Stars

Check out the trailer below...

Saturday 3 August 2013

The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring is directed by James Wan. If you didn't know, he also directed Saw (2004), the very underrated Dead Silence (2007), Insidious (2010) and of course the upcoming Insidious Chapter 2 (due September 13th 2013). With some very solid films under his belt, I was expecting something equally as good. I was not disappointed!

Let's start with the facts. The movie is based on Ed and Lorraine Warren, as played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. The married couple were paranormal investigators and in 1952 founded the New England Society for Psychic Research (FIND OUT MORE HERE).

The film itself is based on old case files of the Perron family investigation. Mother, Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor), father, Roger Perron (Ron Livingston) and their five daughters Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy and April.

Now I've been doing a little research into this, since it's "based on a true story" and I found some interesting stuff (FIND OUT MORE HERE)!

"The Conjuring IS based on a true story...our story. However, the film is not based on my trilogy House of Darkness House of Light. It is, instead, based upon the case files of Ed & Lorraine Warren...There are liberties taken and a few discrepancies but overall, it is what it claims to be — based on a true story, believe it or not." - Andrea Perron (in a Letter to, June 2013)

The opening scene sees the Warrens investigating a disturbance involving a rather sinister looking doll that is quickly dealt with. They are showing the recorded film as part of a lecture. We then get introduced to the Perron family as they are moving into their new home. A big creepy as hell old house!

As most haunting movies go, strange things start to happen around the house causing worry for Carolyn and Roger. They call upon the Warrens for help and with their team they set about investigating, recording and capturing evidence of a paranormal manifestation among other things. Ed and Lorraine delve deeper into the past of the house with disturbing results.

This means one thing, everything goes from bad to worse for all involved! It's not just the Perron family at risk, but also the Warren's family. It fast becomes a race against time to save their loved ones.

Everybody loved hanging out with Ed

It's no surprise that this film topped the US box office in it's opening weekend. James Wan really pulled off something special from a modest script written by Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes, who, in previous years also co-wrote together Whiteout (2009), The Reaping (2007) and House of Wax (2005).

It's been a very long time since I sat in the cinema and heard such loud and frightening screams from audience members. In fact, it's been that long that I can't remember when or what was showing. Don't let this fool you though, they were the screams of non horror fans. The scenes in question, to us horror fans, are a little on the cheap side, but don't let that put you off. The tension throughout is real, along with the fact that Wan gets you looking one way and hitting you the other. It's been a while since I've seen a great use of miss-direction in the genre.

And with talent like Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who are both solid in everything I've seen them in, it was easy to relate or have a connection with the characters. Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor play the loving parents well, which is supported by the five young cast to good effect. John Brotherton as Brad provided some comedy moments to lighten the mood a little.

All this added with the good special and practical effects made a very enjoyable watch, even if I was freaked out quite a lot of the time. Stay during the end credits as there is a few pictures of the real Warrens and the Perron family. 1 hour and 52 minutes might sound like a little too long for a horror flick, but I didn't notice because I got into the film so much. Again, this is testament to the great story telling. I highly recommend watching The Conjuring as it's easily one of the best horror movies of the year.


The Conjuring gets 5 Stars

Check out the trailer below...