If you hate zombie movies, and think there’s nothing left in the sub-genre, you’ll be surprised with Yeon Sang-ho’s “Train to Busan” and what it does with big budget zombie movies. Director Yeon Sang-ho practices the tradition of George Romero’s horror movies with thick social commentary, while also tapping in to the blockbuster crowds and proves you can have one without losing the value of the other. “Train to Busan” came completely out of left field for me back in 2016, and was not only the best horror movie of the summer, but one of the best movies of the year, easily. Yeon Sang-ho explores how a massive society is destroyed by flesh eating, rabid zombies, all of whom are relentless and charge rapid fire at their victims from around corners.
The Farrelly Brothers’ “There’s Something About Mary” is a pitch black romance comedy, and it embraces its dark mood with a sense of humor that’s relentless in being ridiculous. Released during a time where Ben Stiller still had potential, and Cameron Diaz was still something of a fox, the Farrelly brothers focus less on the dream girl and the guy who lost her, and more how the dream girl manages to arouse a group of men that are dangerously obsessed with her.
Taking off from classic teen revenge horror flicks like “Carrie” and, to a lesser extent “Urban Legends 3,” “Tamara” is yet another ho hum female fueled revenge horror entry about a brutally scorned woman coming back to strike at her killers. Young Tamara is a constant target for the jocks and popular kids in her high school and mocked on a daily basis, especially now that she’s written a controversial article about drug testing in the school which further gives them a reason. To get back at her, they play a very cruel prank which goes very awry giving her a bad case of death. And because she’s secretly a witchcraft practitioner, she comes back from the grave as one pissed off, undead, sexy avenging angel.
Director D.J. McHale manages to take what is a very simple but iconic ride for Disney World and transform it in to a pretty engrossing and charming supernatural thriller. “Tower of Terror,” now being remade in to a bigger budget Hollywood film, is one of the very few adaptations from Disney that not too many people are aware of. It precedes “Pirates of the Caribbean” and adds a neat mythology to the ride overall. “Tower of Terror” (sans the “Twilight Zone” connection) is something like “The Shining” except filled with a much sweeter tale about jealousy, grief, and a gross misunderstanding. Steve Guttenberg plays tabloid photographer Buzzy, a once prominent journalist now reduced to taking pictures for goofy supermarket papers. Alongside his loyal niece Anna (a teenaged Kirsten Dunst), the pair begin investigating the dreaded Hollywood Towers.
Just in time for Halloween 2016 comes one of the best horror indie anthologies of the last six years. “Tales of Halloween” is a sick, demented, and fun ode to the thrill of Halloween and its mythology and brings together up and comers and veterans of the horror film world to spin their own twisted yarns concerning the holiday many horror buffs hold so dearly to them. Epic Pictures grants fans a wonderful box set edition that holds all sorts of goodies for them. The best prize of all is “Tales of Halloween,” a movie that pays tribute to everything fun and horrifying about the holiday with ten short tales starring folks like Lin Shaye, and Adrienne Barbeau who unofficially reprises her role of Stevie Wayne as the film’s Halloween DJ who narrates every story. The neat touch to the movie is that every story unfolds within the vicinity of a normal suburban neighborhood on Halloween night.
A military-trained group wakes up in a forest with no clue how they got there or how to make it out. They venture to a farm where they find dead bodies and live prisoners. Taking the latter with them, they head for a field where they find the titular tank and hole themselves up in it. While looking for a way out of their situation, things go from bad to worse.
A Night watchman finds blood and camera equipment in an abandoned property on a land he was hired to patrol by developers. He turns these in to the local police who go through the hours of recorded evidence. On these, they find a group of campers being terrorized and picked off one by one.
Li Lu’s drama “There Is a New World Somewhere” is another one of those dramas about thirty somethings looking for directions in life. It’s in the tradition of movies like “Garden State” and Greta Gerwig movies, while director Lu really tries to invent her own “Five Easy Pieces.” The problem is “There Is a New World Somewhere” doesn’t present enough of a dilemma for our protagonist Sylvia to begin hitting the open road and looking for some sort of purpose. We settle in with her for all of fifteen minutes before we’re told how restless she is, and then takes off with character Esteban who she meets at a party one night.
Agnes Brucker is a very strong actress with a unique energy and charisma that has never really been wisely utilized by other directors, and it’s a shame. She’s very good in “There Is a New World Somewhere” and literally carries what is only a mediocre road trip film about two people trying to find themselves. I think. Or maybe they’re trying to find the meaning of life. Or a purpose? I never did catch on. Either way, Bruckner is the highlight as Sylvia a struggling artist anxious to launch an opening at the gallery she works in to showcase her art. When she’s turned down, she begins questioning her life and is called to party with some long lost friends, many of whom are on the verge of being married.
After forming a connection with party goer Esteban, Sylvia skips town with him and begins traveling around the country. Along the way, the pair have a passionate affair and wander around from landmark to landmark discussing the meaning of life, their passion for certain parts of life, and how unfulfilled they feel. Li Lu has a wonderful directorial style providing some great wide shots and beautiful dream like moments and montages where Sylvia and Esteban linger in various spots and different cities trying to savor life. I just wish “There Is a New World Somewhere” had a much more solid narrative and a lot more character depth.
When Sylvia skips town on her friends to take a trip with a stranger, it feels like half baked motivation to set the plot in motion. When the pair of character do manage to get in to various escapades, it’s never all that interesting. That said, Lu’s direction is vibrant, while star Bruckner is a very good actress who shines in an otherwise middling drama.
Now on VOD, IVOD, and is in Limited Theatrical Release until August 31st.