I’m still here, just swamped with stuff I’m not doing but should be. It’s the end of the semester (which pretty  much extends from mid-November until Christmas), and I’m notoriously terrible when it comes to multi-tasking, so the blog hasn’t seen an update in a good while.

I’m hoping that in the next week or two I’ll get a couple of films in, and perhaps over the break I’ll be able to get back into gaming (I even let my XBOX Live subscription expire, which is a travesty AND a tragedy, like, at the same time).

Anyway, as December moves on, I’m looking forward to Mama more and more. Guillermo del Toro’s success in horror has been limited, in my opinion, to El Espinazo del Diablo (“The Devil’s Backbone”), admittedly a brilliant piece that doesn’t seem to get the recognition it deserves. Del Toro’s other forays into horror, such as Cronos and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (which del Toro co-wrote), were fairly awful and total shit, respectively.

Thankfully, del Toro served only as executive producer on Mama, which was directed by Andres Muschietti, based on his short film of the same name. Muschietti’s filmography is relatively sparse, and as far as I can tell, Mama is his first stab at directing. Hopefully he’ll live up to the del Toro name, which clearly serves as a marketing device more than anything (see The Orphanage).

Don’t get me wrong: when he’s in his element, del Toro is great. I love Pan’s Labyrinth, and as I said, Devil’s Backbone is brilliant. But for whatever reason, his other horror efforts have left a bad taste in my mouth. Take, for instance, his horrendously awful vampire novel trilogy (which, despite its awfulness, I read in full). These books start off strong, but quickly spiral into an insipid mess of lazy scares, annoyingly bad writing (who edits this stuff?), and Family Value-Mongering (they literally capitalize the term “Dear Ones” every single goddamned time it appears).

So, yeah, don’t read those.

I started the inexplicably ungrammatical YellowBrickRoad on Netflix, but had to stopWhile its first few minutes had potential, the film suffered from wooden, utterly unconvincing acting, the totally nonsensical decisions of the main characters, and the lamentable and off-putting sound/smell of the director huffing his/her own farts. A great man once said you always like your own brand. Alas, it’s not really marketable.

Really, it just takes too much for granted about the horror genre. Characters are supposed to be stupid, I guess, even when one or more of them realize the stupid danger they’ve pointlessly put themselves in and warns the rest of the group. I could accept that, if their motivations were more realistic. The plot revolves around a writer whose specialty is, like, paranormal stuff, or something. I don’t know, it wasn’t entirely clear. But it’s been a while since his last book, and he catches wind of this town where everybody disappeared and thinks, “Hell yeah! Let’s get to exploitin’!” Even Sinister, which has a similar premise–and which I hated–did it better.

But the clincher was one scene in particular, the first instance of present-time violence in the film which could have seemed frightening, but instead came off as a kind of darkly-funny afterthought, like something one writer bet another they couldn’t work into the script. Spoiler: When one character suddenly attacks his lady  friend with a rock, tears a chunk  (of skin? of something?) out of her face, then manually rips off her leg, before running off into the forest, the other characters decide, manfully, that they’re going to follow him, because, you know, he just brutally murdered somebody. And, like, he had their map, or something. Maybe he just needs a good talking-to.

I stopped watching then. I don’t recommend you start.

2 thoughts on “Relapse

  1. I get a strong Emperor’s New Clothes vibe about Pan’s Labyrinth – maybe if you’re a specially trained folklorist it makes sense to you, but for me it was the same generic magical realism that people seem to gobble up without a second thought.

    Hellboy was good. Just the first one.

  2. Eh, there’s no accounting for taste, I’m told. I feel similarly about Darksiders: generic, obnoxiously mediocre, etc.

    But actually I’m inclined to agree with you about Pan’s Labyrinth, at least on one level: it’s nothing new (except maybe visually). My stance is that newness isn’t necessary for greatness, though. I thought it was beautifully executed and I appreciated the dark tone. It was kind of a dark “Fern Gully” or, more accurately, “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.” Definitely nothing conceptually groundbreaking, but I really liked it for what it was.

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