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Silent House: Tense, Edge-of-Your-Seat Horror
Sold on a gimmick which turned out to be untrue, not that you’d know it by watching the film, Silent House is nevertheless one of the tenser, well acted thrillers that have come out this year. The gimmick, of course, is that the film is all one shot. The reality though, is that it was filmed in ten minute segments then edited together. The editing is seamless and you wouldn’t have reason to doubt the filmmakers if you hadn’t known beforehand that the film wasn’t all shot in one go.
The film follows Sarah (Olsen) as she, her uncle Peter (Stevens) and her dad John (Trese), prepare their summer home for sale. The house is old, in terrible shape and more frequently occupied by squatters than its actual owners. Sarah, who’s already a pretty jumpy individual, finds herself trapped in the house with no way out and no means of communication with the outside world. If that sounds ridiculously vague it’s because we’re trying not to spoil the film and any details more than that probably will.
The camera, which thankfully is not headache-inducing despite its constant movement, focuses mainly on Sarah, allowing us to experience the action from her point of view. There are plenty of close ups on Sarah’s face which, combined with the fact that the bulk of the film takes place inside a moldy, creaky house with locked doors, boarded up windows and no power, makes the film pretty claustrophobic.
Olsen proves herself highly capable of carrying a film. In one line, she manages to be infantile, scared, psychotic and vengeful. Her body language, tone of voice and facial expressions are so expressive; the film wouldn't have worked half as well without her, especially as it generally focuses on her reaction to the things happening around her and less on the action itself.
Contrary to what usually happens when films rely on reaction shots, it doesn't feel like a cop out or the sign of a low budget. Instead, it helps us connect with Sarah and lets us delve into her psyche. Silent House is less of a Boo! Monster! type of horror film and more of an intense psychological thriller that genuinely manages to keep you guessing. The third act brings the film’s psychological undertones to the forefront, completely screwing with everything that had happened before. It’s a polarizing ending, one that many people will regard as infuriating, but as with the rest of the film, this reviewer loved it.
The latest reboot and retelling of one of the most cherished and iconic comic book characters, makes one thing clear right from the very start; Superman is the original and ultimate superhero.
Man of Steel opens with a lengthy – yet extremely gratifying – prologue of Superman’s origins on the distant planet of Kryptonite, where noted scientist Jor-El (Crow) and his wife Lara Lor-Van (Zurer) have just welcomed a healthy baby-boy into the world, which they name Kal-El. Their planet, as Jor-El anticipates, is dying and before an attempted military coup by General Zod (Shannon) and his gofers, the worried parents transport Kal-El to down to the safety of planet Earth in an effort to preserve their people.
Jumping ahead thirty years, we find a grown-up Kal-El (Cavill) – now Clark Kent – trying to find his place in the world. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn about the different stages of his upbringing in Smallville, Kansas and the issues that arise as he comes to discover his superpowers. His adoptive parents, father Jonathan Kent (Costner) and mother Martha Kent (Lane), have always tried to impart wisdom on the boy and his dad, who has played a major role in his life, has continuously encouraged self-control and advised him never to reveal his superhuman abilities to anyone.
Soon, Clark is left with no choice but to have his identity exposed when General Zod, along with his commander – the menacing Faora-Ui (Traue) – arrives on earth and threatens to invade Earth if he doesn’t surrender. Along with the help of the persistent journalist, Lois Lane (Adams) – the only person who knows his true identity – Superman needs to do everything in his power to protect the innocent and serve as a beacon of hope.
Helmed by 300 director, Zack Snyder, and scripted by The Dark Knight screenwriters, David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, Man of Steel has been one of the most anticipated film of the year and delivers in no uncertain terms. Sophisticated and sleek, everything about Man of Steel feels unvaryingly tight and incredibly easy to follow, and the two-hour plus running time never poses as an obstacle to the story.
Gone are the days of whimsical optimism and goofy humour; this Superman is exceptionally dark – ala The Dark Knight – and boasts a surprisingly relatable and highly-complex storyline. Snyder, who has already showcased his incredible visual panache in 300, once again delivers some of the most thrilling and head-spinning action sequences in the busniness. But then again, it’s the dream-like quality to the flashback scenes and Hans Zimmer’s phenomenal and moving score that provides real richness and depth to the story throughout.
Cavill, the first British actor to take on this iconic role, is truly superb. His depiction of a troubled superhero, who strives to always do well by everyone, is wonderful and never sappy. The role of Lois Lane stays away from the usual damsel in distress dramatics and Adams takes it on with aplomb; she’s charming, strong and incredibly feisty. As the antagonist of the story, Shannon is incredibly compelling and demands attention every time he appears on screen, while Crowe, Costner and Lane contribute just as much in their briefer roles.
This is it. This is the one Superman film everyone has been waiting for and we’re happy to report that Man of Steel is everything we hoped and expected it to be; it’s the sophisticated, adult take that the world’s most famous superhero has so desperately needed.
Funny man, Marlon Wayans – the same guy who brought us White Chicks, Little Man and the notorious horror comedy spoofs, Scary Movie I and II – takes another jab at pop culture parody in his latest undertaking, A Haunted House. Directed by Michael Tiddes and co-written by Rick Alvarez and the comedian himself, A Haunted House works, for the most part anyway.
With a camera in hand to record all aspects of his life, Malcolm (Wayans) is looking forward to welcoming his girlfriend Kisha (Atkins) to his suburban bachelor pad and is more than just excited about taking their relationship to the next level – hence the recording.
Not long after, peculiar things start to happen; unexplained noises, doors opening by themselves, et al. This ultimately begins affecting the couple's sex life – which in Malcolm's mind is the biggest problem of all.
Unable to sell the house, Malcolm seeks help from Dan the security man (Koechner), Chip the gay psychic (Swardson) and Samuel L. Jackson-quoting priest, Father Williams (Cedric the Entertainer). However, the group quickly learns that cleansing the house of evil spirits is much easier in theory than in practice.
A Haunted House gives us the first-person experience the whole way through. Poking fun at the Paranormal Activity series, as well as 2012 futile horror flick, The Devil Inside, this is a film that finds itself somewhere in between utterly hilarious and totally absurd. Moviegoers know what they're in for with parodies such as these and as expected, the fart, sex and weed jokes are still very much the foundation.
However, if you're able to look past its ridiculous, and sometimes grotesque, setup you will find some genuine humour and commendable writing, from both Alvarez and Wayans, which push the boundaries of joke-telling through the roof.
Holding the ship from sinking are its two lead characters; Wayans and Atkins make a good match and share an undeniable on-screen energy. Both are equally responsible for delivering some of the more deserving laugh out loud moments while the supporting cast deliver perfromances that, even by Wayans' standards, are way too over-the-top.
Silly, hilarious and grotesque at the same time, A Haunted House is definitely not for everyone. If you're in the mood for some mindless entertainment and you appreciate the in-your-face joke telling, then A Haunted House is a safe bet.