The Innkeepers - DVD and Blu-ray (2011) – Grade B
The House of the Devil (2009) is a terrifically creepy and heavily atmospheric horror film that draws the audience in with very little; honestly, almost nothing happens. Most of the film depicts a female college student who walks around inside of a house, all alone. It’s the sound design, the isolation, the long periods of quietness, and the overall feeling dread and oncoming terror; much like with Alfred Hitchcock’s bomb analogy. The Innkeepers goes for the same shtick, in terms of leading the audience with very little and even though it takes place in a supposedly haunted hotel, there’s little that happens throughout most of the film. That’s the sign of a very talented writer and director.
The writer/director in question is Ti West and with The Innkeepers he’s two for two. Taking place mostly inside the Yankee Pedlar Inn during its final week of business, we follow its only employees, Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) as they lazily waltz back and forth, up and down the stairs, as they deliver towels and other useful things to the last occupants in the hotel. They’re familiar with the rumors that the hotel is haunted and at night they take turns trying to capture video and audio phenomena all around the hotel.
Again, the film is filled with atmospheric noise, room tone, and sounds of shuffling about, and Claire and Luke try to debunk the rumor that there exists the ghost of a woman who’d committed suicide in there a very long time ago. One night, Claire hears the piano playing on its own and another night see sees an apparition. But it’s not frightening for some reason. But what’s truly creepy is the newest guest to arrive: an old man who insists on staying on the third floor, which no longer contains floor boards or beds, because he’d spent his honeymoon up there many a decade back.
It’s a thoroughly creepy film that the audience an interesting question: how is it that we feel unsafe in an empty, quiet hotel just because it’s quiet and we know that someone had taken their life there in the past? It’s our subconscious playing tricks on us all the time; we see what we want to see and we hear what we want to hear. Ti West plays with the audience’s active subconscious; he provides us with little to see and little to hear but the thought that something might be seen or heard at a later date. It’s the anticipation that drives our suspense levels up and through the roof, and Ti West has managed to pull it off twice.
I can’t wait to see and experience his next film. From what I’ve read it’s about the thin that lies between sanity and insanity, the notion that what we see, think, and feel may not be true. Tell you the truth, I’m already there.
Let the Bullets Fly - DVD and Blu-ray (2010) – Grade B
Click here to read my review for Let the Bullets Fly.
The Wicker Tree - DVD and Blu-ray (2010) - Grade D-
Here is a remarkably sub par follow up/reimagining of Robin Hardy’s own classic horror masterpiece The Wicker Man (1973). The cinematography is nice and the film as shot on the RED camera but the overall product delivers, essentially, the same idea as the previous film did but here it just moves too slowly. The worst part is that the finale isn’t terrifying or impactful so the journey feels almost entire wasted. It’s not even a nice try; it’s just a lot of nothing. The actors are terrible and the pacing is tolerable. Try to avoid this film.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Blu-ray (1979)
I’d only watched the first two episodes (out of seven) and already like it more than the recent Gary Oldman, 2-hour vehicle. The HD transfer is terrible, however; it’s very soft and has a terribly visible and thick film grain, so seeking this out on DVD would do one just as well.
I cannot grade the mini-series but I give its Blu-ray release a rating of 1.5/4.
Kite - Blu-ray (1998) - Grade A
Kite is one of the most violent and disturbing anime that I have ever seen. It is 50 minutes long (the length changes depending on the version that’s watched), utterly disgustingly violent, and contains strong sexual conduct. It’s definitely a sort of Hentai (anime porn). But I’ve watched it several times and own the DVD and can say that it’s one of my favourite action anime because the fighting and shooting sequences are enthralling. They’re unrelentingly gory but unique, and very awesomely conceived and delivered.
If the Blu-ray isn’t around look for the DVD, but try and research first which version is the most uncut because it also affects the violence in the film, and the violence sets the action apart from other anime.