Archive for the ‘HORROR’ Category

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark — The Guy Pearce Papers 4

18 Oct

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark – directed by Troy Nixey. Horror. Refurbishing an old mansion, the designer fails to pay attention to his little girl who has opened a Pandora’s Box in the basement. 99 minutes Color 2012.
When a horror movie drags you know it does so because, from a paucity of imagination, it must pad out its plot by repeating itself in Act III. This the screenwriters have done here, inflicting their fault on Guy Pearce. He is the interior designer who so wants his house to appear on the cover of Architectural Digest that he pays no attention to his little girl’s horror stories about the little creatures she has released from their primordial well in the basement. But this is all that he does, until he witnesses them himself and takes steps. Katie Holmes plays his live-in girlfriend who actually does believe the little girl’s story, but is brushed aside by Pearce. Except that his “Not now” never develops further; it never develops, for example, into a rage and impatience and frenzy more frightening than the creatures emitting from the heating ducts in the skirtingboard. He is given neither the lines nor the scenes. So his redemption when it comes comes as small beer. The sad thing is that the production is absolutely first class. The house is marvelous, the music is too. The tiny, vicious, wingless bat gnomes will scare the liver out of you. Pearce is at his best here. Watch the way he goes up the stairs, so swift and confident you know he has done it a hundred times before. He turns on his heterosexuality like a light bulb, with the ease of an eager grin. His American accent, once again, is right on the money. But the failure of the script to support his gifts tries one’s interest. Here’s how a horror film works: you take a little girl who is a horror and you allow her to come in contact with a second horror. That’s how it starts. Where it needs to go from there is that a third and greater horror still, in the human form of her negligent father, appears to imperil her mortally at the infected claws of the second horror. Can he save himself from himself and so save her? That is the question. It is never asked. Because Pearce is never allowed to become the greater horror still.

Guy Perce plays a Leading Role here. The little girl is the “star” because the story is about her danger and because she is given the most screen time. I use the term “star” in quotes because a star must shine like a diamond into which one must wish to dive. It is not a matter of beauty, it is a matter of being. For Elizabeth Taylor was a great beauty but also had this quality.

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The Dark Half

25 Jan

The Dark Half — directed by George A. Romero. Horror. A college professor moonlighting as a horror story writer is pursued to the death by his doppelganger, his own nom de plume — 122 minutes color 1991.

* * * *

Julie Harris, costumed entirely in lunatic fringe and puffing a meerschaum pipe to boot, plays the college crony crone of our hero, and it’s lovely to see how Harris, a big star with big leading roles behind her, can right-size a role like this and bring to it no more that it will bear, while still giving full value. The original Sally Bowles in I Am A Camera and Frankie in The Member of the Wedding and Abra in East of Eden, here plays a small supporting role: watch, you young actors, what this feels like and how this is managed: no larger, no smaller than ordained: perfect. My view of our hero though is that Timothy Hutton cannot carry a movie, and it is not because of lack of talent or variety of skills with that talent, for his range is certainly demonstrated here. It is as though somewhere in midstream he loses his grip on — I don’t know which — the part the role? A certain doughiness takes over, as the bread starts to rise and then collapses in on itself, as though he could not seek deeper than his instinct. At 31 or so, he’s certainly good looking, even beautiful, and he’s certainly come a long way from Taps, and he certainly has acting in his blood. Nonetheless, this is one of the best pieces of work of his I’ve seen, and his double header as the evil twin is droolingly good. The work of Stephen King always repels me: we’ve a disaffinity of temperament. Always about some male writer, Depp, Richardson, Hutton, Caan, always some remote place in the Maine woods, always someone out to get him and take over. Although over-discursive, here, this version of the theme interests me more than usual: the writer himself as the psychopomp into the hell-realm, not just the wrens, although I liked the wrens a lot.


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