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It Follows and Furious 7 Movie Reviews

It Follows

This film has been gaining steam since the film festivals last fall. While The Babadook was all the talk of horror last year, It Follows’ name kept popping up. I avoided all trailers and footage for the film, and I’m so glad I did. This is a throwback to 80’s teen horror with John Carpenter and his masterpiece Halloween as the filmmakers template. Set in Detroit suburbia we’re immediately thrown into a horrific event that I shall not describe in detail because to ruin this would be to ruin a modern horror classic. Yes, a modern classic. As a prologue it’s excellent for giving us a small taste of the films synthy and techy droning score as well as the slow moving camera that moves through American suburbia like a ghost. As a piece of visual exposition to the “rules” of the film it’s quite smart too.

Director David Robert Mitchell channels 80’s horror, including lord Kubrick and Cronenberg, to recreate a completely lost type of horror. By centralizing the film on a single group of young characters it becomes a tale ultimately about the loss of innocence and loneliness. Our lead female heroine, Jay, is played by Maika Monroe whose sure to be a star. She brings the same sort of innocence that Jamie Lee Curtis brought in Halloween, but here Jay is a more nuanced character that the film explores through it’s concept and in her relationships that extrapolate off of it.

The horror concept is that after a person has sex, an unknown supernatural power follows the person they had sex with. So it becomes a giant game of hot potato but with fuckin. How this has not been done before is bewildering to me. This chain of a never-ending abyss is firmly felt in the film’s dread filled tone.

I’d say go see it if you enjoy horror even in the slightest. Honestly, even if you don’t particularly like horror go see it because it’s a well made film that’s ripe for some analytical discussion plus it’s just a fucking blast. Think Halloween meets The Goonies and then the all of those characters meet up and go watch The Shining.

The characters do slightly fall victim to the horror cliche of dumb decisions, but it doesn’t ruin any scenes.  There has to be a good amount of disbelief with such high concepts and suspenseful horror. The concept is at its best when it’s building up and we have no idea when the creature will find them. The creeping atmosphere is palpable and unnerving like the best horror is.

Often in the background people will appear to be following them and it creates a feeling of uneasiness and anxiety. It’s nice to finally see a horror film that takes place mostly during the day, and still remains to be frightening.

During the final third of the film the repetitive concept begins to grow tiresome and the film overstays its welcome for about 20 minutes. Still some quite good scenes with frightening moments but there’s a clear exit at the end of the second act that would’ve ideally been the climax. Nonetheless, the great stuff is so great that it made even the iffy stuff good. Crazy, I know.

Here’s a horror film with a remarkable concept that’s terrifyingly uneasy and so well directed that at times I couldn’t breathe. Analyzing the unknown entity is fun to do after and offers a nice discussion about innocence, sex, and the transition to the adult world. It Follows is an 80’s horror throwback with a modern edge of anxiousness that’s propelled by the knowledge that adulthood waits for all of us. Among this decade’s best horror films.

Grade: B+ 

 

Furious 7

We’re back with the gang for a 7th time. 7th. Oddly this franchise only has become popular since Fast Five. I’ll say first that I’m not a fan of these movies. At all. The first is a poor ripoff of Point Break, one of my all time favorite films. These films never get close to the pure macho bromance of Bodhi and Johnny Utah. With the past three fllms they seem to have found what they want to be though. Big ridiculous cartoons of action. If that’s your thing then go ahead and enjoy. I’ll defend Tokyo Drift as the only good one.

In this installment Jason Statham is the villain Deckard Shaw and he’s picking off characters one by one. The gang, led by mumbling Vin Diesel, go after him along with the help of Kurt Russell’s government agent. There’s a clear attempt to create drama between the characters, but this series is so cartoonish and has so many paper cut out characters that it doesn’t click. It’s a soap opera with hot wheels action stitching a thin story together, and when it’s working in those boundaries it’s a decent time. Sadly, new director James Wan’s action sequences are messy, incoherent, and lacks any semblance of rhythm.

Action should build through pacing, editing, composition, and movement like a great song with a climax. The soundtrack here is annoyingly loud, obtrusive and doesn’t bring any exuberance to the action scenes. The editing and pacing is sloppy with overlong cartoon action sequences. I wanted to take a nap. The tone here doesn’t ever connect together to be a whole vision. Being ridiculous is perfectly fine, but when an element is off it becomes too silly and alienating. For every one liner that’s cool there’s one that falls flat like a 10 year old wrote it.

I do appreciate how earnest it is and that it is unapologetically confident about its cartoonish ridiculousness. There’s some funny moments and a few nuts action set pieces. But far too often it misses its marks and veers off the road into mediocrity. The film is sso committed to outrageous earnestness that it makes itself an admirably bad action flick. Some of these problems would go away if they had cut out the sub plots and extra characters. Also, why was there not more of THE ROCK?!? He’s the most charismatic guy in the film! I can think of three characters and multiple sub plots that were not needed and knock it down as a whole.

We’re obviously not coming here for the acting and story, but it would be nice if they could find a decent quality and balance. Fast Five did it fine! Modern blockbusters aim so low that it makes me sad and these movies can be better. The films saving grace is its final 10 minutes, which actually finds decent emotional footing. It’s a sweet send off for the late Paul Walker.

Grade: D+

 

 

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