|Max Von Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstand|
|Isabelle Adjani and new friend|
|Sacha Baron Cohen (r)|
I’ll only speak briefly on 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg, USA, 2016), since it trades largely in secrecy. The film was announced out of the blue two months ago, with the production team hinting at a loose connection with the shaky-cam monster film Cloverfield (Mat Reeves, USA, 2008). The new film takes the form of a thriller. Following a car crash, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up to find herself chained up in a cell. She’s underneath the home of Howard (John Goodman), who says he has rescued her from whatever mysterious thing has happened above ground. Goodman (creepy) and Winstead (resourceful) both offer strong performances, and the film is above average for the genre thanks to a solid script. The film’s greatest draw is its greatest weakness, and the Cloverfield connection is where the film falls apart. I’d love to go into more detail, because there’s a lot to say about the true nature of this film, and of its marketing, but it just wouldn’t be fair. As a standalone thriller, though, this is a strong film.
The week’s remaining films can be tackled quickly:
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (Gregory Plotkin, USA, 2015) is the sixth film in a horror franchise which has been running for so long that the studio is now too embarrassed to include numbers in the titles. Usually in these films, we see people being attacked in their own homes by unseen forces, but the gimmick this time around is that the protagonist has found an old custom-made video camera through which we can see the demon responsible for the attacks. This visual representation actually serves to make the film less scary, which can’t have been the intended outcome. This will supposedly be the final film in the series, which makes the tease of an ending even more disappointing. I do not recommend this film.
Nor do I recommend Indigenous (Alastair Orr, USA, 2014), another horror film, which I stumbled across late one night on Netflix. In this film, a group of unusually attractive young Americans take a trip to Panama, where they party on the beach for the first half of the film. They read online that tourists have gone missing in a nearby jungle, watch a video of tourists being attacked there by a mysterious creature, and then very cleverly decide to explore the region for themselves. The rest of the film shows the cast sprinting through the jungle at night while screaming each other’s names, as the creature picks them off one by one. This is not an incompetently made film, but it is entirely unambitious, and a total waste of time.