VIDEODROME

If you’ve been following my recent movie review tread (and if haven’t, why not?) Videodrome continues in my look back at sc-fi movies that explore the concept of reality vs delusion (which began with the Inception review). Directed by acclaimed iconoclast David Cronenberg and starring James Woods and the gorgeous Debbie Harry, Videodrome (released in 1983) looks positively dated (due to technological advances) but its themes and concepts are still relevant.

IMDB synopsis –

Sleazy lowlife cable TV operator Max Renn discovers a snuff broadcast called “Videodrome.” But it is more than a TV show–it’s an experiment that uses regular TV transmissions to permanently alter the viewer’s perceptions by giving them brain damage. Max is caught in the middle of the forces that created “Videodrome” and the forces that want to control it, his body itself turning into the ultimate weapon to fight this global conspiracy.

As with most movies, Videodrome begins very promisingly but alas loses steam somewhere to the end and becomes somewhat incomprehensible as well. Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that most of the plot narrative is an elaborate hallucination in Max Renn’s damaged mind. And so what may be perceived as a weak plot may actually be lack of understanding on the part of the audience. Again, that may be the point of it all.

But this is Cronenberg after all, so there’s more than enough sex and gore to satisfy fans of both sci-fi and horror. Cronenberg is really after one major theme – does video ultimately alter our perception of reality? As I mentioned earlier as Videodrome was made in 1983, much of the tech looks very archaic by modern standards and thus would be ripe for a remake where Cronenberg’s theme is even more valid. True to form, Universal has snapped up the rights to do so BUT will this remake even come close to being as disturbing as the original. I seriously doubt so. In the meantime, get your minds scrambled once again…

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AMERICAN PSYCHO

Continuing on with the theme of movies asking the question, “what is real” is a film that is not science-fiction but screws around with your perceptions nonetheless. That movie is American Psycho (2000), directed by Mary Harron and starring Christian Bale.

First, the IMDB synopsis.

Patrick Bateman is handsome, well educated and intelligent. He is twenty-seven and living his own American dream. He works by day on Wall Street, earning a fortune to complement the one he was born with. At night he descends into madness, as he experiments with fear and violence.

Set in the late 80s/early 90s, American Psycho (based on the novel written by Bret Easton Ellis) focuses on the then thriving yuppie culture to deliver a pointed attack on greed and selfish behavior, bringing it to a psychotic conclusion in protagonist Patrick Bateman (Bale in a star turn).

For the first three-quarters of the film, the narrative whizzes by sharply as we follow Bateman through his schizophrenic existence – investment banker by day, serial killer by night. As the plot thickens, it seems that Bateman might be exposed for the monster he is but inexplicably, all evidence of his life of crime seems to have vanished.

Did it all happen in his head only? That ambiguity is never clarified even as the film ends with Bateman’s blank stare… rather brilliant, I might add.

Bale is the main attraction here and the rest of the cast (Jared Leto, Reese Witherspoon) is rather incidental. Particularly amazing are the moments he actually recites detailed reviews of his favorite music i.e. Huey Lewis & the News, Genesis and Whitney Houston. Hilarious and creepy, all at once! Lovely!!

Not for queasy stomachs but if you love black comedy and can appreciate a little gore for what it is, then go for it…

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JENNIFER’S BODY

A tween horror flick made by people who really should know better.

Written by Diablo Cody (Juno, United States of Tara) and executive produced by Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air), Jennifer’s Body is really too clever by half, trying to be a shocking, funny satire (whilst being a vehicle for Megan Fox) and failing miserably. Sure, a proper analysis will discern that Cody’s script is multi-layered as it comments on high school relationships and such but the narrative pace is too pedestrian and predictable to carry through these concepts.

The main problem with the film is that whilst there are genuine witty moments in the dialogue, it’s just not scary enough and the low gore level will disappoint hardcore fans. Plotwise, this plays like a B-movie from the 70s (especially the rock band bit) with modern irony thrown in for good measure. The performances are mostly even, although Fox is (as always)¬†only a pretty face and she cannot seem to transcend that.

So watch it for Megan Fox, if you must. Watch it if you like witty, ironic dialogue but please don’t watch it if you’re doing it for the horror.

Amazon

DAYBREAKERS

If you’re sick to death of all the vampire-themed movies and TV series that seem all the rage now, then you might want to consider the slight twist that Daybreakers offers to this jaded genre. Basically, in Daybreakers, due to an infection most of mankind have beend turned into vamps and the human minority served as blood supplies. Naturally, this is a diminishing resource and the vamps are in a race against time to find a blood substitute. The consequence of not doing so – vamps devolve into primal bat-like creatures due to blood impoverishment.

Don’t get me wrong, at its core, Daybreakers is a good B-movie but a B-movie nonetheless. There are intriguing performances from Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill and Willem Dafoe although the plotline does lose steam towards the end. Inevitably, deux ex machinas rear ugly heads and the ending will leave you less than satisfied. That all said, the movie is a visual feast and gore-fans will enjoy the over-the-top fight scenes.