247°F (2011)

247FMan, is “247°F” ever a rough experience. And not just because directors Levan Bakhia, and Beqa Jguburia pay homage to Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” movies by casting Scout Taylor Compton and Tyler Mane in one movie. But mainly because what should have been a disturbing, claustrophobic and suffocating horror thriller really is just a mediocre movie where once again stupid people turn on each other rather than think rationally and try to think of a solution. For reasons I still can’t figure out, writers Levan Bakhia, and Beqa Jguburia start the film off with a prologue giving us only one crucial bit of information we need to know about Compton’s character Jenna. She’s claustrophobic.

After a vicious car crash took the life of her boyfriend, she was pinned in her car for a long time, giving her claustrophobia. Remember that. She’s claustrophobic, the writers have to insist we remember. Truthfully, a lot of what occurs is made even worse by sheer human stupidity and failure to grasp any kind of common sense. When the story fast forwards, Jenna tries to move on by going on a vacation with her three long time friends in order to re-charge. After a lot of clunky exposition, the writers place great emphasis on the sauna that Tyler Mane’s character Wade has in his basement. Seriously, he has a hot box capable of frying someone alive in the basement. And the doors are made of wood, which initially made me theorize the door would swell shut locking the poor saps in.

Mane’s character Wade is one of the stupider of the bunch, feeding his residents moon shine, and allowing them to roam free without checking up on them. So in the midst of one of their spats, character Michael drunkenly stumbles out of the sauna, and his three friends are trapped inside, left to fend for themselves. Oddly enough, the sauna is given significant screen time in an effort to give it an ominous presence. Really you’re just left wondering why the group keeps going in to the lake, and running back in to the sauna about four or five times. What’s the point of this repetitive montage? In either case, three of the friends are left in the sauna to roast as Jenna really does nothing but moan, whine, and whimper in a corner, as friend Renee instantly begins freaking out, and the only intelligent character Ian does nothing but instill fear in the other victims.

Really? Should you describe what heat stroke is like to two girls hyperventilating in a sauna? And would it have been so tough to just sit and wait for Michael or Wade to come down and check the sauna? It’s made perfectly clear the group loves the sauna, so eventually Michael would have gone down to steam for a bit. Surprisingly, what should have been the anti-“Frozen” really doesn’t accomplish its sense of turmoil and horrific suffocation, and that’s mainly because of the terrible writing. The characters are despicable so there’s zero empathy, and the directors don’t really indicate visually how much these people are suffering.

Besides, knowing they’d eventually be discovered ruins any suspense. There’s also a really awkward focus on character Wade as the directors seem to be padding out Tyler Mane’s role for more prominent screen time. You think it’s leading somewhere, but it’s just a clumsily staged plot device to add an obstacle to the characters’ fight for survival. The only competent performances are by Travis Van Winkle and Tyler Mane, both of whom are likable and interesting in their performances. Compton still is a terrible actress, so her “tragic” character just feels whiny. The directors try to become metaphoric injecting some hallucinations and attempts to signify Jenna’s torment, but it’s just one big misstep after another. If you have to see “247°F,” see it for Christina Ulloa. You can skip everything else.

22 Jump Street (2014)


21 Jump Street was a film that I thought was funny on its original viewing, but I didn’t find it as hilarious or over the top hysterical as many others did. Recently, however, after two current viewings, two years later, I’ve come to discover that it is a very funny movie and it holds up incredibly well. Needless to say, I was excited to see what they were going to do with 22 Jump Street and I was excited to be spending more time with these characters. It’s hard to deny their chemistry and it is back and in full force with 22 Jump Street.

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20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)


In the fifties, many horror and science fiction films spoke of two things. The nuclear age, and the potential dangers of space exploration. While the US tested radiation, and strived to bring their men to space to explore other planets, Hollywood explored such ideas and its negative effects through filmmaking in films like “Godzilla”, “The Day The Earth Stood Still”, “Them”, and another film that would come in 1968 changing the face of filmmaking and horror for decades to come, a much more grim grotesque exploration in to the potential consequences of bringing a foreign chemical home with us and eventually spell doom for the rest of the world through a familiar foe.

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2 Hours (2012)

2hoursThere was something particularly haunting about director Michael Ballif’s short film “Two Hours” when I was finished. I have seen short zombie films over and over in the course of three years, but “2 Hours” manages to achieve a certain morbid and disturbing nature to it that will stick with viewers long after the credits have rolled. Shot on an apparently small budget that’s defined as “no budget” over the course of two years, director Michael Ballif manages to paint an interesting post-apocalyptic world based around the walking dead.

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21 Jump Street (2012)

When all is said and done “21 Jump Street” completely bastardizes the original television series from the eighties. The original show was a dramatic and controversial series that took painstaking turns in to very taboo subjects in America and was the stepping point for Johnny Depp. No one shares that frustration more than I do. But surprisingly enough “21 Jump Street” is still a fun and absolutely entertaining action comedy that is about as close to an American version of “Hot Fuzz” as you can get. While it does use the “21 Jump Street” model to get the premise rolling, it doesn’t really spoof or satirize the show. There’s no one mocking Johnny Depp, or Dustin Nguyen, nor is anyone mocking major episodes of the series. The directors do pay homage to the show with their own nods to the series, but it doesn’t lampoon the show so much as use the framework to tell a new story. A new story that’s incidentally based around a more comic tone.

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2069: A Sex Odyssey [Ach jodel mir noch einen – Stosstrupp Venus bläst zum Angriff] (1974)

There is a planet of hot women out there. They want sperm. And they’re coming to Earth for some men who have sperm. Unfortunately where they’re from men are rare, and their race may wither and die without man seed. There’s your plot for “2069” a sex comedy that’s about as stupid but arousing as all of the other porn parodies of the sixties and seventies. True, I refer to it as a porn parody primarily because of its title, but in reality it’s not even a slight spoof on Kubrick’s classic film. It merely borrows the title for the excuse to implement the 69 and is a pretty tame softcore porn and sex comedy that sets down on a group of alien women who happen down on Earth to abduct and sex up a bunch of hapless men to revive their society. What confounds me is how was their planet originally able to reproduce without men around? And are these women hoarding sperm for their planet or are they hoping to become pregnant on their own?

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28 Days Later (2003)


Occasionally within the throes of watered down horror movies, a director comes along and decides to completely re-write the way horror is done. Danny Boyle is one of those people who will undoubtedly change horror movies. The movie constantly changes into pastels of moods within its canvas setting constantly going from light moods, ala the shopping scene, instantly cranking up the tension. He can leave us smiling with delight and in a split second leave us biting our nails and cringing in our seats. Boyles relies a lot on isolation to scare us, showing massively long scenes of lonely landscapes forcing us to feel even more terror and insecurity.

After animal rights terrorists invade a science lab, they begin breaking monkey’s free from their cages despite the frantic warnings from a scientist and are violently attacked by the apes that tear them apart and infect them. 28 days later, a man awakes from a coma in a hospital bed to discover a desolate and trashed hospital before him. He begins to inspect the marvel before him as the entire city of Britain is empty with no one in sight. He stumbles upon survivors that save him and tell him a virus has broken free on the general population and mankind as he knows it ceases to exist. The results of the virus are the infected. People that growl with beaming red eyes that kill anything in their path and infect others by tearing them apart or vomiting blood on them. It only takes twenty seconds to become one, so they waste no time disposing of their friends.

They stumble upon father and daughter survivors who decide to travel a military base where they supposedly have everything under control, but what they will find is not what they will expect. Boyle dares to break the mold of the horror genre by masterfully giving us a range of moods and colors, and terrifying sequences non-stop. Writers Boyle and Garland actually gives us characters we can care about and the director helps us by exploring the psychological effects this horror is having on them. We see Jim, the coma patient, have dreams that he is alone and deserted; we can see the desperation within the father’s eyes, and the torment in the daughter’s. These are actually characters that we feel bad for and within a split second Boyle takes them away from us. Characters in this movie come and go and Boyle snatches them without hesitation. Boyle often drops the characters off in small cramped dark places making the audience even more nervous and more anxious as we know terror is looming but we can do nothing about it.

The infected are horrifying as they stare with beaming red eyes and bloody faces and growl aloud; they can run and jump and dash and never stop. While “28 Days Later” is horror first and foremost it’s also more of a commentary on humanity and how we never really learn from our mistakes. We watch four people forced to live and exist in a world without order, a world with carnage, a world not very different from ours. This forces them act upon themselves and begs the questions: In a world without order, how do you achieve it? Who decides what life should be like, and is it all ultimately futile? This shows what humans do when there’s no structure or basis for order and basically take it upon themselves to do it with unsuccessful results. Danny Boyle is a genius director and might as well have re-invented the horror genre. Bravo Mr. Boyle, bravo.

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