Yep, still watching movies.
Director: So our dream cast is Julian Sands, Brigitte Bardot, and Joan Collins.
Producer: That’s fantastic! Did you get them?
Director: Oh, hell no. They wouldn’t get near this crap. I went to the corner cafe and picked up some people who look kinda like ’em.
Producer: Can they act?
Director: Is that a trick question?
Producer: Okay, what about the story?
Director: Well, people do things for no reason, and there is a moat, and there are boobs, and a gun!
Producer: Let’s go!
There are a few kinds of horror I don’t get into. This covers two of them: the so-bad-it-must-be-on-purpose, and the avant-garde. Fascination starts out with a thief taking shelter in a chateau. Wait, no, there was a slaughterhouse, but I’m going to try to blank that out with therapy. Anyway, the house is abandoned but for two hot chicks wearing too much makeup. He ineptly threatens them with his tiny gun (no entendre, it’s a ridiculously nonthreatening gun), followed by some seriously unarousing girl-on-girl, followed by, oh hell, I have no idea. Knives and robes and things. I couldn’t stand much more. Boobs.
“Charming” isn’t a word I usually use to describe horror movies, but it fits The Inkeepers, at least in the beginning. Luke and Claire are working the desk at The Yankee Pedlar Inn, during its last weekend. With few guests to bother with (and they don’t bother much, anyway), they are spending their time looking for the ghost of Madeline O’Malley, who hanged herself after being jilted on her wedding day.
Luke and Claire are great characters, clearly drawn through their interaction. There’s an attention to detail in the direction and performances that tells without over-telling. I love that. Luke is a skeptic, not really believing even though he’d like to make some cash from a website about the hotel’s ghosts. Claire wants very much to believe, but she’s also scared witless by the whole thing. You can only laugh when they get drunk and do the thing you never do in horror movies: go in the basement.
Where The Inkeepers misses is in the conclusion. I don’t mind some mystery, but this was a case that needed explanation. The teasers were set up, but little came from it. I still enjoyed the movie, but it didn’t satisfy my need for closure. Definitely interested in seeing other movies by the director, Ti West.
The Moth Diaries was adapted from the book by Rachel Klein. The trick with adapting a book to film is to create a visual story that can stand on its own, no homework required. I was left baffled by this film because we never really find out what’s going on. There are more loose ends than not. Inexplicable actions, scenes, emotional setups. All of this was no doubt covered in Klein’s novel, but it never made it to this pretty but disappointing film. The synopsis intimates that the “villain”, Ernessa, is a vampire. The movie treats her more like a ghost. We see bits of the ghost’s history through–what–hallucinations on the part of the protagonist, Rebecca? I found the whole thing unconvincing.
Daniel has been missing for seven years. His wife, Tricia, is declaring him dead in absentia. Her sister, Callie, stays with her to help her cope and move to a new place. But is Daniel really dead? A mysterious tunnel, and a history of neighborhood disappearances convince Callie something else is going on.
Absentia was a pleasant surprise. Set in LA, the casting passed on the glitz and went nicely real. The film looks good on an indie budget, but don’t expect special effects. This is about the visceral scare–the thing lurking in the dark.
Two glitches: the writer doesn’t know what a “lucid dream” is (it’s when you’re aware you’re dreaming), and it’s painfully obvious they couldn’t afford a composer for the music. Despite that, this is one I would definitely recommend. The writing is tight, the performances good, and the direction and photography tell the story with art, but without gimmickry.