Posts Tagged ‘Suspense


Internet Oddities January 2009

It may be a new year, but there is no shortage of viral lunacy circulating the Internet.  So, while we cook up some new original material behind the scenes, have a gander and kill some brain cells from this garbage, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible.

P.S. I also included some trailers for upcoming flicks I think we should have on our collective radar.


Elevated by Vincenzo Natali

20 minutes you probably wont regret.

20 minutes you probably won't regret.

Short films fascinate me.  Others see it differently.  Some believe those who make shorts come in two varieties, those who are practicing or learning the craft of film making to go on to bigger and longer productions, and those who think their talent limits them to only creating short pieces.  Of course, any self-respecting moviegoer knows that art can sometimes be quick, and in it’s briefness, infinitely more effective.

Vincenzo Natali, widely known throughout the genre community as the man who “wowed” us with his mind-bending film Cube, made Elevated in 1997, the same year Cube was released .  It was his first short, but you wouldn’t know that by watching it.  The piece works simply by conjuring two emotions almost universal to the human condition as being terrifying things, claustrophobia and uncertainty.

The story focuses on three people, Ben, Ellen and Hank being trapped in an elevator, with the possibility of  something waiting outside of it to kill them.  Almost the entire work is shot in the elevator, which would incredibly boring to watch for 20 minutes had it not been for some very good acting.

Ellen is the main focus though, as we the viewer just relate immediately to her position.  The great thing about the acting here is it isn’t amazing by “academy” standards, but instead it’s believable and downright realistic.  It feels like some of the closest portrayals of how actual real-life people would react to being trapped in a box, not knowing if leaving it will be suicide, or if help is ever coming if they stay.  There’s no stupid typical horror movie mistakes, no improbably heroic behavior, just fear and anxiety being beaten into the characters and the audience collectively.

The ending is the only area where you might feel let down, and that’s really a personal choice you will make subconsciously.  This short is all about the “build”, and the payoff may not be exactly what your expecting, or you may, like I did, find it ballsy and automatically want to see more.  It’s easy to see how the same creative mind that brought us Elevated brought us Cube, and its my sincerest hope that Mr. Natali is heard from again considering that horror hasn’t seen a good “psychological” director in quite some time.

And I haven’t even mentioned the best thing about this yet.  It’s viewable on youtube for free. = PART 1 = PART 2

Take 20 minutes out of your day, and see if this doesn’t box you in a little.


Miracle Mile directed by Steve De Jarnatt

Remember when movies posters used to be really fucking cool?

Remember when movies posters used to be really fucking cool?

Miracle Mile is one of those rare films that suffers the most from something thats also its greatest strength, which is no one knows a damn thing about it.

It’s also one of those films where if you know what it’s about, you might as well not watch it.  There’s no twist, no huge surprise, no “Sixth Sense” style swerve.  Miracle Mile is just a straight ahead thriller, but succeeds on such a high level because for a majority of the movie, your left in the dark about whats really happening and going to happen, just like the main character who’s eyes we see most of the action from.

Of course, a review wouldn’t be much of a review if I just said “this movie is good, see it, but I can’t tell you ANYTHING about or it’ll be ruined.”  So here’s what I can divulge.  It’s a thriller, with a dash of action and romance thrown in.  Don’t worry, the romance angle doesn’t get in the way too much, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll actually find it helps the movie more than it hinders it.

The “thriller” formula it follows is one most of you should be pretty familiar with.  X is going to happen, and our main character needs to do A, B and C before X happens.  So, essentially, its a movie that plays on urgency and a sense of time.  Time that is quickly running out.

No thriller would be worth it’s salt if we didn’t care about those caught up in the circumstances though.  Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham play are love struck new couple that is our focus, and do a very convincing job of reacting to the realities that are quickly becoming apparent after Edwards, through a series of totally random events, comes to answer a ringing pay phone with someone on the other end of the line that has quite an interesting message.

If that last bit sounded a bit like the beggining of a twilight zone episode or something out of a Hitchcock show or movie, you’d be right on track.  Steve De Jarnatt, the director, worked on some Hitchcock Presents epsidoes in ’85, a mere 3 years before Miracle Mile was released.

The familiar feeling from those shows is here too.  There’s a great sense of mystery, you’re not sure what to believe, and your interest is piqued constantly with every new development and every new obstacle.  The cast of characters surrounding Winningham and Edwards do a solid job of filling out the everyday universe the film takes place in, and while some are funnier or more convincing than other, they all generally “fit” in with the vibe of the scene.

Problems do arise though.  Some of the acting, from the aforementioned supporting cast especially, is incredibly “80’s” and at its worst, falls into the categories of “cheese” and “camp.”  Its never enough to make you stop watching, or turn you off, but you may wince once or twice at what was hip, cool, and acceptable movie behavior 20 years ago, compared to whats in these days.  Also on the sick list is suspect camera work.  All very straight-forward with no real tricks or pizazz, which is a disappointment considering that some added flair could of made some of the scenes where the tension was already pretty high, that much more exhilarating, intense, and visually stimulating.

Even with the flaws though, Miracle Mile comes out way on top.  It doesn’t insult your intelligence.  The pace ensures that even when you think your right on the edge of becoming bored, your throttled right back into your seat with another revelation, character introduction, or action-y type scene, and the acting is above the standard for something many would consider a “B” movie.

And that’s really the best point of this picture, is that exceeds your expectations while riding on it’s strong idea of playing it close to the chest, and making you live…and possibly die right along side our hero.  If your in the mood for something quick and unexpected, take a walk on the Miracle Mile and see if it doesn’t wind up “blowing” you away.