Battle Royale

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I am quite convinced that whoever the woman is who wrote The Hunger Games saw Battle Royale before being ‘struck’ by the idea of Katniss Everdeen. The similarities are surely not just coincidental. Children battle to the death on an isolated island (or arena for THG) with the weapons they are given/can find.

It’s not exactly the same but the basic story is definitely very familiar, however, in Battle Royale the government chooses a naughty class of children to be the sacrifices. It’s not random death selection like in THG. From there on it’s pretty much the same. Lots of kids you don’t feel much for get chopped to bits by other kids you don’t feel much for and the kids you do get to know try to avoid killing as much as possible but have to do it to save themselves now and then.

There’s a little romance thrown in to Battle Royale in between the insane violence – not sure why, there’s nothing nice going on here and you know everyone’s going to die, right? As if you’d be thinking about boys/girls at this time. Although it’s a while since I was a teenager so maybe kids these days are all into bloody destruction matched with romance?

Battle Royale is really violent although not in a very realistic way. It’s a mean film though. There isn’t any weak conquering the mighty to be seen and those you think might make it through the battle to the death are just as likely not to.

BR is pretty gross and pretty wrong but I think it’s got quite a bit to say about authority and the role of government in making laws that are good for some but bad for others (really bad in BR) and usually bad for the people who have the least power to do anything about it. Maybe I’m reading a bit more into it than the writers intended but if I saw it at all I’m pretty sure it’s there – I’m not the best at finding hidden meaning in anything. At the same time it seems just as much an excuse to get Japanese girls to beat the shit out of each other while wearing school uniforms and still managing to be manga cute while, of course, the blood sprays in every direction.

There’s no happy ending here and a lot of the death is really quite gruesome. If you can handle splatter splash heads off kind of gore you might just like Battle Royale. Don’t watch it if you don’t like blood or if you don’t like to see the blatant meanness underlying the entire story or watching a film while knowing it’s never getting any better or that general feeling of dread when you know it’s all going to hell in a handbasket but you’re sitting in your living room and you probably don’t need to keep watching.

Also this film is in Japanese with subtitles. Also this film does not have Cary Grant in it, which is disappointing but something I’ll probably have to get used to when it comes to movie watching…

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Attack the Block

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It’s not often that you see a movie set in London’s estates that isn’t an intense downbeat heavy drama. Don’t get me wrong this movie is still downbeat about the life the kids are leading but this time they’re fighting aliens!! Yeah, take that Brit drama!

Attack the Block is set in the familiar high rise estates so often seen as part of London’s seedy underbelly on TV and film. Filled with criminals, destitutes, single mothers and neglected teens. I’m really hoping the reality is a bit nicer than the portrayal on the screen.

We start in the criminal underbelly/neglected teen section of the estate and pretty much stay there through the whole film. These kids are finding their meaning in drug deals, robberies and brit gang culture. The two younger boys who follow our main protagonists around show us where these young men came from, idolising their elder brothers, and the drug dealers show us where these youngsters are headed.

The tough guy act doesn’t last long when they realise they are dealing with really aggressive aliens not the usual easy to intimidate residents of their block. With the help of a nurse living in the block, that they earlier held up at knife point (which lends an interesting dynamic) they are forced to use their wits and strengths, rather than relying on smart arsery, to out run the marauding aliens.

The aliens are pretty cool too, well, not the first one it looks kind of gross (it looks like a large hairless dog), but the follow ups are big old wolf types that are so black they are like that new black that science just found which is really hard for humans to see (yes, science is one conglomerate where people do science), they are blind, and have glow in the dark teeth! Yeah, aliens FTW!

I wonder if glow in the dark teeth keep you awake at night?

So, redemption. You know it’s coming, you know you want it. You’ll get it but you’ll have to wade through quite a few torn up bodies and a sea of blood to get there. Also a room full of marijuana which is locked up like Fort Knox. The story turns out to be quite clever, there aren’t any major twists but the giveaway makes the movie a lot more enjoyable and some things that hadn’t made sense before make a lot more sense.

The action is pretty constant with a couple of scenes early on that take their time to build you up to the inevitable gore with such tension that it is almost mean. The chase is on from pretty early on and it only lets up for moments of relief.

I loved this film it was just the right mix of horror, suspense and sci-fi. It was like Alien but set in London and with way more action! So more like Aliens but with the underprepared crew of the Nostromo running around rather than the soldiers toting huge guns.

The Cabin In the Woods

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Now I’m not usually a horror fan, I’m too easily grossed out, freaked out, stressed out and scared up. I used to be totally immune as a teenager. I’ve seen all the Friday 13ths’s, Halloweens’s and Nightmare on Elm Streets’s but those babies are slasher classics. All over-the-top blood splatter and screaming teens. The problem is that at some point (after the 80s) mainstream horror got a bit too real for me. I just can’t handle the Saw type horror where it’s based on torture and realism. If that shit could be done by a person to another then I can’t handle it. If it’s being done by Freddy Krueger then that’s just dandy.

(An aside… after I watched Nightmare on Elm Street the first time when I was 13 I started having regular dreams I was being hunted by Freddy. He is the worst character to have hunting you in your dreams cos of that being his thing ‘n’ all – it was Nightmare on My Street. However, it all ended one dream where I grabbed a chopping knife, cut his heart out and chucked it in the fire.  I seriously never had a nightmare about him again.  I’m completely kick arse in dreamland y’know.)

So, The Cabin in the Woods… it’s a horror film but it’s a horror film written by Mr Joss Whedon who has got to be one of the cleverest wrtiter/directors out there at the moment. I’m a Buffy fan from way back so you can just correctly assume my love for Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse, The Avengers and anything else he touches. Luckily, Cabin is no exception.

If you’ve ever thought “what I’m after is an enticing mix of sci-fi, supernatural themes, comedy and horror” then this is the movie for you.

Watching Cabin is like watching a mash up of Evil Dead, Hellraiser, The Wicker Man (original not Nick Cage -way to ruin a film Nick), 2001, Solaris, 1984  and Vacation. It’s different, yet strangely familiar and every now and then you just have to laugh. It’s gory (there will be blood splatter), there are monsters, there are demons, there are teenagers, there are lots ot trees all over the place,  there is a cabin and there are folks in suits.

I like the bigger picture that’s always in play here and that you’re introduced to it straight away so the mystery is ‘why is this happening?’ more than just who’s going to die first. Although if you’re a horror aficionado or watched Scream you’ll be able to pick the order in which deaths should occur – Whedon sticks to the rules on that at least.)

Cabin is my kind of horror. I’m definitely going to watch it again for all the little storyline gems that I missed the first time because I didn’t watch it very closely (*cough*myhandwasinfrontofmyface*cough*).

If you like clever horror you should watch Cabin, if you only like realistic horror fests you shouldn’t.  Or at least watch it knowing it ain’t your usual horror film.