It's the middle of the month, and Cutting Room for April 2017 is here! CR is a monthly post where we all do short, single-person reviews for movies we’ve watched on our own.
We have a long list of films to review, and while the movies you see here haven’t come up quite yet, they may receive the full review treatment in the future. Let us know if you have some thoughts on any of these movies, and check out past posts in the "More Horror" section up above!
3 Brain Maggots Eating Chinese Food
So I had to watch this movie after losing an ill-advised bet to Mark on the podcast. I'll get this out of the way right up front: it wasn't as bad as I expected. Now don't get excited, it certainly wasn't good, it just wasn't as bad as I expected. It's definitely reaching for that Syfy original B movie kind of thing, but the problem is that it's reaching way too hard. The movie exudes trying too hard, and as a result it's just not very much fun. I can't recommend this one.
The Devil's Candy (2017)
8 Axes, The Musical Kind
Getting my eyes on The Devil’s Candy has been a long time coming. I heard tons of good things about this visceral, metal thrill ride from its festival run, but just didn’t have an avenue to see it myself. It was well worth the wait, however. Though there’s a bit of fun to be had in the movie’s metal style, this is no Deathgasm. In fact, this movie is anything but outrageous. It is instead a hard-boiled and dark trip that focuses heavily on its characters. It has been a while since I’ve been as invested in the outcome and impact on a genre film’s protagonist(s), but that is exactly where The Devil’s Candy delivers in spades. Don’t pass it up. It’s well worth the surprisingly short 79-minute sprint.
Train to Busan (2016)
6.5 Korean Baseball Players
I’m on record as not being the biggest fan of zombie fare, but I wanted to check Train to Busan out because I am a fan of Korean film and the particular eye for a shot that many directors coming from that region seem to have. I can’t say this film surprised me in any way, but that’s not a bad thing. It is a through-and-through zombie flick in the sense that it is really a character study examining how different individuals react to a crisis. And as a Korean film, it delivered on the beautiful cinematography I was looking for. Also somewhat typical of Korean cinema, it has a long runtime and boy, does this one feel like it takes a while to run its course. I wholeheartedly recommend this to any genre fan and consider it required reading for zombie fans out there, but because of my aforementioned lack of interest in the subgenre, it’s coming in at a little lower score for me. Just know that’s close to the cap for a z-movie on my scale.
The main guy wears a Winnipeg Jets t-shirt so just be warned about that. Not that that would trigger anyone…. They’re like the most harmless franchise in the league. Anyway, Afflicted is a high quality found footage movie about two best friends who go on a globetrotting adventure only to have some things go, well, not quite as planned. This one goes to some pretty interesting places, and it’s probably better if you go in not knowing what those places are. Do yourself a favor and check this one out without reading anything more about it. Just a point of clarification: there is also a horror movie called The Afflicted about child abuse or something… I can’t vouch for that one. You’re looking for the one with the weird veiny head on the poster.
What We Do in the Shadows (2013)
5 Flat Meetings
Good ol’ New Zealand vampire comedy horror. Doubt you knew you needed more of that in your life. This movie follows a group of vampires (including Flight of the Conchords Jemaine Clement) as they prepare for the social gathering of the year where all the witches and zombies and ghouls and whatnot go to hangout and brag about being evil. It’s a tale that is full of the signature dry absurdist New Zealand humor that seems to be Jemaine Clement’s signature style. If you like that brand of humor, you will absolutely like this movie. If you don’t like that type of humor, then this is just going to be boring. Hence the right-down-the-middle recommend.
This was my top 1 from HRR a few months back. Why? Well, mostly because it was a dry month, but also because it looked to be at least a little unique. Abattoir follows an intrepid reporter as she tries to track the group of people responsible for murdering her family. As banal as that plot sound they spice it up by having the main villain literally steal crime scenes from the buildings they were a part of. It’s basically one big setup to go on a carnival ride of “murder through the ages.” This movie did turn out to be pretty unique, but it also is pretty clumsy in its delivery with not really much of a climax. The liberal use of CG also makes it seem more like that Haunted Mansion disney ride than a horror movie. If you’re looking for something to put on in the background and this one pops into your feed I’d give it a pretty tenuous recommend. Not really a fan in any other context though.
Train to Busan (2016)
7 Nintendo Products
It seems like the law of large numbers would dictate that there would eventually be a good zombie movie. Well, science is right on that one. The setup for this one is basically that people on a bullet train witness the world around them dissolve into chaos as they make their way toward the Korean city of Busan. The movie’s tension builds as the train hurtles toward the end of the track as the folks on board scramble to figure out what their plan for survival should be. This movie excels at developing the characters, which ultimately provides the emotional resonance that you need for a zombie movie to work. The only real knock I have against this one is its length. The combination of the 2-hour runtime, the subtitles, and the frenetic and stressful pacing made this one seem loooooong.
Don't Hang Up (2016)
6 Anchovy Pizzas
I would just like to point out that this movie about how zany college kids can be has an opening montage set to the Teddy Bears “Cobrastyle.”I’m not saying it’s a bad song or anything, just pointing out that the song came out in 2004, and this movie came out in 2017. That juxtaposition should tell you all you need to know about how “cool” and “jive” the dialogue in this movie is. That being said, once the action kicks in this movie you actually wind up with a suitably intense home invasion-esque flick. There are a lot of plot holes in this one, but if you’re willing to look past them you’re left with a sufficiently good time.