Archive for September, 2013

into the dark (2012)

Posted: September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
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When Sophia’s father dies she has a crisis of faith, denouncing religion and isolating herself. Thinks begin to look up when she meets a young man with whom she has an instant connection and falls in love, before ghostly happenings threaten to tear them apart.

A romantic supernatural thriller, “Into the Dark” (also known as “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”) debuted at last year’s Hollywood Film Festival, by all accounts generating a decent amount of “buzz”, and finally sees a mainstream release this year.

As the star-crossed lovers the makers have cast two actors chiefly known for their exploits on the small screen, with fairly predictable results. Mischa Barton has a nice line in wistful stares, which is just as well as they make up the bulk of her passionless performance. There is a real disconnect between the words she is saying and her delivery, as if she is reading sentences she doesn’t understand from a foreign language phrasebook. Ryan Eggold (best known for the reboot of 90210) fares better, having the occasional moment of charm in his delivery and making the most of the odd good line (“I like to brain damage my women”) but it seems that delivering a believable performance has come second to cocking his head and nailing his half-smile for the camera.

Neither are helped by a script filled with trite dialogue, poor characterisation and plot points that end up going nowhere. The film initially tries to be a romance against a backdrop of supernatural threat and while slow-moving, still manages to feel rushed. Rather than have the relationship progress or the peril heighten it feels like the film just plays the same scenes out over and over again, as if they included alternate takes in the final cut to bump up the runtime. Attempts to flesh out the relationship with cutaways, montages and flashbacks seem tacked on and leave the film feeling somewhat jumbled.

Late on, the film introduces some disposable characters and descends into a jumbled mess of poorly executed ghost house cliches (“Did you hear that?”), even shamelessly lifting some shots and story ideas wholesale from other horror movies. The film becomes increasingly nonsensical the longer it goes on, throwing a bewildering amount of horror tropes at the screen to see if any stick (spoilers: they don’t), before settling down into an unsatisfying conclusion that strives to be meaningful but just feels old hat.

“Into the Dark” is a ponderous shambles, poorly realised and incredibly derivative. You sense that writer/director Mark Edwin Robinson believed he had something profound to say, and the initial premise may be interesting in more capable hands, but what we have ended up with here is a dull misfire, neither intriguing nor frightening.

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bad milo (2013)

Posted: September 2, 2013 in Uncategorized
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An accountant suffers from crippling bowel problems which he believes are a symptom of stress. As circumstances begin to get the better of him both personally and professionally, the horrifying true cause of his stomach issues is revealed to him…a demon that resides in his gut.

The cinematic world has clearly suffered from a lack of “monster living in your ass” movies and writer/director Jacob Vaughn has taken it upon himself to set the record straight. The wonderfully trashy premise strongly recalls the output of Frank Henenlotter and thematically plays with the dangers of repressing your emotions and the fear of being a bad father. However, while the director never misses a chance to whack you over the head with the subtexts, they are poorly realised and go nowhere, feeling like an attempt to create an illusion of depth where none exists or was needed.

“Bad Milo” is a horror-comedy that only occasionally manages to be either effectively. There is the odd gruesome scene that will appeal to lovers of trash cinema, but these are few and far between. Likewise, although the film does have some nicely comedic visuals and the occasional good one-liner (“I’m an accountant, I don’t know the first thing about humans”) these are the exception and a lot of the “comedic” moments fall incredibly flat, particularly in an over-long middle stretch with few highlights.

The cast are primarily drawn from recent American television comedy and most bring variations on their usual schtick to what are largely underwritten roles. Ken Marino is sympathetic as Duncan, the put-upon accountant, and makes the best of the few good lines he is handed. He clearly deserves much better than the material he is lumbered with both comedically and dramatically. Most of the supporting cast bravely attempt to bring life to what they are given, particularly the always-excellent Stephen Root, but their characters are mostly dependent on the viewer being aware of their personas already rather than being fully fleshed out here.

The over-bearing score seemingly tries to ape the sound of Danny Elfman (not something that should be aspired to at all, yet alone on a limited budget) and ends up distracting from scenes rather than adding to them. The cumulative effect of the jaunty sounds, uneven tone and poor characterisation leaves this feeling like a “comedy” episode of “Tales from the Crypt”, needlessly padded to get it up to feature length.

“Bad Milo” has a terrifically fun premise and a strong cast but squanders both, being only intermittently enjoyable over the course of an incredibly slow moving 85 minutes. A strong, if overly neat, ending with real charm threatens to rescue some goodwill, but it is hard to forget the sheer tedium that preceded it.