This week, we look at two Asian imports (Accident, and Mutant Girls Squad) on blu-ray, a micro budget schlock-thology (Junkfood Horror Fest), an apocalyptic horror (The Collapsed), a fractured fable (Snow White), and finally, a sci-fi tinged mystery feature currently making the rounds at the festivals (Pig).
Accident – This Chinese thriller follows a self-proclaimed “accident choreographer” and hit-man known as The Brain. He and his highly skilled squad of assassins terminate victims by trapping them in elaborately crafted, well-researched death scenarios. To the police, these look like unfortunate mishaps but are in fact calculated staged acts of crime. Though plagued with guilt, The Brain is uncontrollably morbid by nature. The recent avalanche of memories of his lost wife does not make things any easier. When an accident befalls one of his team, The Brain becomes increasingly paranoid, balancing on a thin line between reality and delusion.
While there is quite an impressive and violent death scene involving a wheelchair bound man whose metal apparatus is struck by lightning during a violent storm, Accident isn’t a horror film. Nor is it exploitative or overly gory. It’s a pretty good film though, with an absorbing plot and good characters.
The Collapsed - In the wake of the collapse of civilization due to a deadly virus, a family of four desperately tries to survive. Moving from their indoor bunker and taking to the forest, they soon discover the other survivors may be the least of their worries. (Yep: those who didn’t survive are still alive and unwell as zombies.)
The Collapsed, a Canadian film, has some good character development. The care and concern show in the screenplay to ensure the actors have something to work with, but ultimately, some of the dumb things they did (the daughter takes off alone to shave her legs in the woods? Really?) lost me.
Mutant Girls Squad – Sort of a Japanese X-Men (women) for the schoolgirl set, this sci-fi thriller follows a bullied, nerdy girl who develops superpowers which enable her to get revenge on her oppressors (the popular girls). But with great power comes great responsibility!
The whole presentation from acting to cinematography and everything in-between makes Mutant Girls Squad reasonably worthwhile, but unless you can get by the whacky, juvenile gimmicks (the squad shoot chainsaws from their derrieres, there are breasts that mutate into deadly swords, etc.), then it’s probably best-left on the shelf.
Snow White: A Deadly Summer – Modernized, present-day setting with only vestiges of the favorite fable, this take on Snow White follows a rebellious schoolgirl whose wicked stepmother sends her off to a wildnerness boarding camp for bad seeds. While it’s not exactly Crystal Lake, young Snow’s fellow delinquents do start to disappear one by one.
Don’t let the names Eric Roberts and Maureen McCormack (as Snow’s parents) fool you into thinking there’s some semblance of hope here – instead, let the director’s name, David DeCoteau (arguably, one of the worst working today… don’t take my word for it, hit Google) be your guide. Snow White is one of his less-bad movies, but it’s still a rotten apple.
Junkfood Horrorfest – Did I just say rotten? Yep. And here we go: the word “junk” definitely applies as this film’s bluntly-placed wordplay. An anthology horror film, kind of like a low-rent Tales From the Crypt (with a patently unfunny hillbilly corpse-zombie hayseed as the crypt-keeper), contains several short, suspenseless stories. The first one, Blood Thirsty Butcher, is about a perpetually ravenous tenant who lures his new neighbor into his unit with the promise of lunch, only for her to find out she’s it. Story two, The Solution, is about a nurse who cares for an elderly old man; that is, until she doesn’t care for him anymore, and has him killed. There are more, which I spot-checked only to confirm: They are junk, too.
These guys make David DeCoteau look like Martin Scorsese. To call what occurs here as acting would be doing a disservice to real actors like Jamie Kennedy and Megan Fox; cinematography appears to have been done on somebody’s cell phone; music is a mess; and ‘editing’ is not in the vocabulary of anyone associated with Junkfood Horrorfest. One of the worst. (Quite frankly, I am surprised the filmmakers would contact me and ask to send a screener… it’s easy enough to look me up, and know how my tastes run.)
Pig – This lo-fi indie sci-fi mystery thriller isn’t a horror film, but for those genre fans who enjoy backwards and out of order storytelling ala Memento or Identity, Pig could be worth a look. The story follows a man who comes into consciousness alone in the desert with his hands bound behind his back, a hood over his head, and a slip of paper with a name written on it. Once he frees himself and finds his way to the nearest house, the woman inside take it upon herself to help this stranger… or is he a stranger? Hmmmm.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson