Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Good Spooky/Bad Spooky: Capsule Reviews

Sinister is the latest movie (that is not part of the Paranormal Activity franchise) from Blumhouse Productions, which has a special place in my heart because a) they have given us some fun scary movies, b) they ended the Saw/torture porn reign of terror that dominated the early aughties, and c) they produced the new Rob Zombie witch movie The Lords of Salem, which is due in 2013. Anyhow, Sinister is sort of like The Shining meets Paranormal Activity: It's about a true crime writer, played by Ethan Hawke, who moves his wife and two children into a house that was the scene of a grisly unsolved crime - a family of four was murdered, and the youngest daughter vanished. He finds a box of extraordinarily disturbing "home movies" in the attic, and begins to lose his grip on reality as it becomes clear that the crime he's investigating was not an isolated incident - and an extremely, well, sinister boogeyman may be to blame. This movie was a little silly in parts, but it was tons of fun. If you liked Insidious, you'll probably enjoy this one too. Extra points for doing a "found footage" movie with a twist: Instead of claiming the movie itself is comprised of found footage, in Sinister a character actually finds and watches the footage, with terrifying consequences.

And speaking of Paranormal Activity 4, what did everybody think? I really enjoy these movies, but even I have to admit that the conceit is getting a little tired at this point. I love the second and third movies - maybe even more than the first one - but this one felt like a retread, and few of the scares surprised me. Not a bad movie, and if you like this kind of thing you may as well check it out, but it won't be a tragedy if you wait for the DVD. I hear a fifth installment is already being planned. Has the franchise run out of go-go juice or are there still scares to be had in the saga of Katie the suburban succubus and her demonic cronies? You decide!

Like I said, PA4 - while flawed - wasn't bad. If you want BAD, I hope you caught NBC's airing of Bryan Fuller's Munsters remake, titled Mockingbird Lane, last Friday. Since the series wasn't picked up for the fall schedule, the network decided to broadcast the pilot as a one-hour Halloween special. (That, or they truly are "tanking NBC," just like Jack Donaghy said on 30 Rock!) I wanted to like this. I did! I'm not opposed to remakes (see: my love of Rob Zombie), and I love what they did with the Addams Family in the 90s. But tonally, this was a complete nightmare...and not the good kind. It lacked charm, it lacked scares and it lacked laughs. Maybe there's some sort of Munsters Curse that has rendered this great piece of classic '60s horror kitsch completely un-remake-able. We have the complete original series on DVD already; maybe this retread will be the last nail in the coffin and the Munster clan will finally be able to rest in peace? Here's hoping!

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