Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Top 10 Coming Soon Horror Movies of 2011 (May - December)

The best films of 2011 are coming soon.

A third of the year has passed and the input so far has included genuine effort (Insidious – a box office success1) and big budget (The Rite2 and Scream 43 – box office disasters). The latter films are also narrative gibberish. They are barometer for the mainstream low tolerance for horror nonsense.

The good news is that Hollywood may step away from the genre4 thus allowing independents and foreigners to shine and find an audience. By definition horror cannot sustain itself in the 4,000 screen mainstream. Horror is genre. It is subversive. The box office bonanza of The Exorcist 19735, Halloween 19786, Scream 19967 and The Blair Witch Project 19998 are the exception.

The horrorfolk are due an exceptional year.

Attack the Block  11th May UK (US dates to be announced)
The hardest subgenre to pull off is the horror-comedy. The best in film is Tremors 1990 –  there were laughs galore but neither audience nor characters laughed at the monsters.
There are laughs in the Attack the Block9 trailer but where are the scares? Perhaps they’re in the feature because the critics are giving this film big buzz10.

Los ojo de Julia aka Julia’s Eyes  20th May UK
Where J-horror fizzled Latin-horror is soaring. The influence Spanish cinema has on American horror goes beyond remakes (Quarantine 2010). Insidious is Spanish horror in all but language.

Belén Rueda stars as Julia. She also played the lead in The Orphanage 2007.

It wouldn’t be Latin if it wasn’t produced by Guillermo del Toro but no US release is yet scheduled.

No US remake has been announced.

The Troll Hunter  6th June US Limited
It’s been available on VOD since 6th May but hits theatres next month. The Blair Witch legacy continues as a group of students seek out folklore with a single camera. The POV movie is not yet dead – in America or Scandinavia.
Final Destination 5  12th Aug US & 26th Aug UK
The last instalment was the best of the sequels but this entry is written by the writer of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010. That’s when the studio should have called Alan Smithee. However this franchise is all about set pieces. 

It’s a director’s medium.

Fright Night 3D 19th Aug US & 2nd Sep UK
Colin Farrell playing the monster in a horror film means Hollywood knows he can’t carry a movie. Shame they dumped him here; Jennifer Aniston is looking for a co star to share her next romcom bomb.
Fright Night 1985
Fright Night 2011

Fright Night 1985 is horror-comedy at its peak. Farrell and co have a high watermark to replicate.

Dream House  30th Sep US
A big budget entry with big names; Rachel Weisz is one of the best Hollywood actors of her generation; Naomi Watts has grown into a formidable actor; Daniel Craig has momentum (Cowboys & Aliens 2011); director Jim Sheridan is an auteur.

This cannot fail.

Intruders  7th Oct US & UK
Daniel Craig is James Bond but Clive Owen could have been James Bond. He’s also the better actor. This film is further example of the Spanish influence. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is one of few to ever make a horror sequel (28 Weeks Later 2007) that surpasses the original.

Dibbuk Box  28th October UK (6th Jan 2012 US)
After a 16 year lay off Sam Raimi returned to horror with Drag Me to Hell 2009. This year he returns as producer. As prolific as he is he’s no Guillermo del Toro. Raimi’s resume as producer is scattershot volume as opposed to recognisable content.
Director Ole Bornedal helmed Vikaren 2007 so he knows what he’s doing with a lens. The dibbuk box itself is intriguing folklore11. All the ducks are in a row.

11-11-11  11th Nov US wide
Darren Lynn Bousman directed Mother’s Day 2011 – an entertaining genre set piece albeit with too much clutter. He also writes a blog12.

The above films are listed because of their confirmed release dates. There are equally enticing titles eg The Innkeepers directed by Ti West whose dates are to be announced. On that subject all dates are subject to change.

Everyone who’s been following Apollo 18 201113 knows that.

Thrill Fiction would like to thank Hallowshape for his insight and keen eye. You’ve pointed out things while I’ve been looking at others my friend.

Read more Thrill Fiction: Top 10 Coming Soon Horror Films 2011
1 Insidious Box Office Mojo
4 Anchor Bay ceases horror film production Youtube
5 The Exorcist
13 Apollo 18 LA Times
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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Rammbock aka Siege of the Dead

A zombie is what a virus looks like: ugly, carnivorous and without soul. It is infection. It is plague. It is anti-human.

When Hollywood first discovered the zombie they kept their depiction close to the mythos à la White Zombie 1932. Then along came George A Romero. In Night of the Living Dead 1968 he customized the zombie. He made them cannibals.

Cannibalism amongst humans is both myth and metaphor. It has been used as a propaganda tool by the colonial racists to genocidal effect. It rarely exists even within the animal kingdom but behind the myth it can exists amongst humans. Give the right/wrong conditions.

Due to its scanty occurrences cannibalism is not a daily fear but the thought of it is terrifying. To compound that terror Romero’s zombies ate people alive. Lions suffocate their prey before they eat. Hyenas gorge on live animals. Romero customized his zombies well.

There is an added insidious component: the Romero zombie spread its condition through biting ie saliva. Later in the AIDS infected 80s the contagion was further spread through contaminated blood. By and large the Romero blueprint was untouched for over 30 years.

Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later 2002 updated the formula with horrifying simplicity: the hitherto lumbering zombies now ran like a wolf pack. Every film depicting the undead since 1968 has been a Romero zombie or a Boyle add-on.

(The Serpent and the Rainbow 1988 is not a horror film.)

The zombie is metaphor for American pop culture. From music to fast food to movies and now finally sport (mixed martial arts) America influences and subsumes indigenous cultures wherever their exposure. So goes America so goes the rest of the world. The zombie movie exists in the UK (the aforementioned 28 Days Later and its sequel), Italy (Zombie Flesh Eaters 1979) and Serbia (Zone of the Dead 2009).

In Germany it is called Rammbock 2011. It is marketed to English speakers as Siege of the Dead.
‘Rammbock’ is not a translation. The word means ‘battering ram’. This is significant within the film but even in German it is opaque in context. ‘Siege of the Dead’ tells its own story.

The zombies are Boyle add-ons. The siege takes place in an apartment building thus the setting is reminiscent of [REC] 2007 and La Horde 2010. The premise is different to both.

Dawn of the Dead 1978 served as an allegory to consumerism. Resident Evil 2002 was an action film. Like the television show The Walking Dead Siege of the Dead attempts to tell a love story within a zombie attack.

A deaf mute could tell the difference between a European film and an American one – the Yanks are better looking with better teeth and with full hair and makeup. Actor Michael Fuith plays the lead looking to get back with the girlfriend who just dumped him. Michael is overweight and balding with an apologetic manner.

This is an acting performance without ego. It’s reminiscent of Edward Woodward in The Wicker Man 1973. Fuith is the centre of this film. It is his story. It is his quest to find the girl he is in love with. He is believable because girls don’t come along everyday for men who look like him. He is believable because it is easy to see why she dumped him. Whether he achieves audience sympathy is questionable.

The best thing about this film is the story. It is constructed step-by-plausible-step into a whole. So much so that the film seems to consist of one act. Nothing happens out of place and there are no inconsistencies. There are a couple of ‘stupid character’ moments but in the scheme of horror movies that amount is a compliment.

Writer Benjamin Hessler discovers a brilliant weapon to fight the undead which works perfectly within this picture. However it won’t travel beyond the film and it won’t become part of zombie lore. Hessler does include commentary about the media’s kneejerk reaction and wild speculation but Romero has done that before – only better.

This then is love story/action/horror. It works as a genre piece but isn’t one for those who don’t like zombies. It adds nothing new to the genre and says nothing new about love or any other human condition. Genre is all about singing to the choir but the singer had best sing well. Siege of the Dead is Kelly Rowland when the audience deserves Beyonce.

The most curious aspect of this film is the running time. At 59 minutes Siege of the Dead arguably doesn’t qualify as a feature. Patrons should be aware of this before purchase.

Siege of the Dead opens 4th May in the US. Special thanks to Bloody Disgusting Selects for making this happen.

Read more Thrill Fiction: Popcorn

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