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Review: Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine, He’s Just Not That Into You, Marley & Me and Son of a Lion

By February 19, 2009December 31st, 2013One Comment

Friday the 13th poster Strange as it may seem but review­ers are people too and, like the rest of you ordin­ary folk, we have blind spots and mine is hor­ror. Back when I was a civil­ian, I man­aged to avoid most of the icon­ic hor­ror movies of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s for reas­ons (I’m sorry to say) of pure squeam­ish­ness. Imagine my, er, sur­prise then when I dis­covered that this week had two, pos­sibly even four, hor­ror films in it. Eek.

My only pre­vi­ous expos­ure to the Friday the 13th cata­logue was a grainy pir­ate video in 1981 (with sound about ten seconds out of synch) so, with few pre­con­cep­tions, I am pleased to report that the Michael Bay-pro­duced remake is quite enter­tain­ing. Silly, of course, but entertaining.

The scene is present day Crystal Lake (scene of the hockey-masked ghoul named Jason’s camp counsellor-offing ram­page in the ori­gin­al) and a group of gorm­less rich col­lege kids are look­ing for laffs on Jason’s turf. You sus­pect it won’t end well for any of them and you are right. Director Marcus Nispel made the video for Cher’s “Walking in Memphis” so you can see how he could eas­ily turn his hand to this sort of thing.

My Bloody Valentine 3D posterProving that 3D won’t save a film with a rub­bish script, poor act­ing and plod­ding dir­ec­tion, My Bloody Valentine 3D is an R16 Scooby-Doo adven­ture with a bunch of bloody-axe-poking-through-the-screen effects instead of genu­ine thrills and chills. What was I afraid of, really? Turns out bore­dom is the biggest problem.

He's Just Not That Into You posterHe’s Just Not That Into You isn’t strictly a hor­ror film but I watched it through my hands all the same. A col­lec­tion of self-absorbed Baltimore thirtyso­methings with Hollywood cheekbones and per­fect teeth drone on about rela­tion­ships, com­mit­ment, mars, venus, “Why won’t he call?”, “Why won’t she have sex with me?”, etc. It’s all very tire­some until one real­ises that it isn’t in fact a mil­lion miles away from one’s own life – apart from the cheekbones and the teeth. What it isn’t is very funny or very dramatic.

Marley & Me posterWhile I’m riff­ing on the sub­ject of hor­ror, I’ll express my dis­ap­point­ment that Marley & Me isn’t the remake of Cujo that the world has been cry­ing out for, but a middle-of-the-road story about a couple that buys a dog. Seriously, that’s about all that hap­pens. The couple is Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, which will sell a few tick­ets, but the film itself couldn’t be a softer touch. Somewhere deep down inside Marley & Me is the ker­nel of some­thing real and mean­ing­ful but, as often hap­pens, the Hollywood machine requires some­thing dif­fer­ent, some­thing less inter­est­ing, less specific.

Son of a Lion stillThe Paramount’s ded­ic­a­tion to com­mer­cially unprom­ising but cul­tur­ally uplift­ing cinema con­tin­ues with Son of a Lion, an anti­dote to everything shal­low and broad on offer this week. In the remote bor­der­lands between Pakistan and Afghanistan a young boy tries to per­suade his Afghan res­ist­ance hero fath­er that he doesn’t want to fol­low in his foot­steps. The world is chan­ging says his uncle, even Pashtuns need an edu­ca­tion now. But his hard-hearted fath­er, a wid­ower, is afraid of los­ing his son to the Mullahs or to Guantanamo.

It’s a clas­sic­al story of break­down between the gen­er­a­tions, giv­en a new wave twist by Australian dir­ect­or Benjamin Gilmour. If you liked Michael Winterbottom’s In This World (and I did) you will get a kick out of Son of a Lion. The Australian film industry is in the doldrums at the moment but if Son of a Lion is any­thing to go by, Gilmour is one to watch for the future.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 18 February, 2009.

One Comment

  • Robyn says:

    I’ve nev­er liked hor­ror films. Of all those icon­ic hor­ror films, all I’ve seen is Friday the 13th, and the only bit that scared me was right at the end. Otherwise it becomes a cycle of ten­sion and release which just becomes bor­ing after a while. Horror films are only good for teen­agers on dates, when the girl can cling on to the boy when she’s scared. Evidently I’m too much of a mod­ern girl for that sort of carry-on.