It's horror-lite this time around, with some thrillers and psychological chillers that toe the lines between horror, drama, and suspense.
Jack & Diane
Here's a little movie about Jack and Diane, not two American kids and the only heart-land they know is of romance. Twisted, sick, bloody and violent romance.
In keeping with stereotype lesbians, we've got the butch (Jack, natch) and the lipstick (Diane) — played respectively by Riley Keough (Elvis Presley's granddaughter, and who was in The Runaways movie as Cherie Currie's sister) and Juno Temple (whose work in Kaboom and Killer Joe, I have loved very, very much).
These two actresses bring depth and gravitas to an otherwise jagged and kind of unlikable yet compelling film. If director Bradley Rust Gray was trying to make us, the audience, feel his characters' discomfiture, then kudos. While Jack and Diane isn't a movie I would care to see again, nor do I recommend it very highly, I have to admit it's fascinating on some level and certainly well-made. It feels like a hand-crafted film, and I like that.
The story basically follows hard-planed, dark Jack's sexual and emotional conquest of rounded, blonde Diane. Every time Jack gets too close, Diane's nose begins to bleed and she feels faint… at first, the horror film fan might wonder when the movie's tagline, "Love is a Monster" will literally come into play. (There are some cool fantasy sequences stop-motioned by The Brothers Quay.) It never does, not even figuratively. But if you don't mind a somewhat suspenseful, dreamy drama about young lesbian love, then by all means: jack into this one.
Sun Don't Shine
Here's another drama, dressed up in creepy clothing. Not that it won't appeal to genre fans — in fact, I think it certainly will — but aside from a brief cameo by horror.com friend AJ Bowen, Sun Don't Shine is not a frightly flick. Oh, there is a rotting corpse in the trunk of the car that rolls along in this road-trip head-trip, but that doesn't make it a horror film either.
Subtle, cryptic, mysterious, eerie and disturbing, the story follows Crystal (Kate Lyn Sheil) and Leo (Kentucker Audley), lovers on the run. Their sinister secret, Crystal's hacked-up husband in the boot, is tenuously kept as the miles go by and their trust in everyone — and each other — erodes to the point of explosion.
I wasn't ever able to find my in-points to the characters and while the acting was aces, I never cared about Crystal or Leo enough to care about what happened to them. Score is solid, and the sultry Floria setting adds cold sweat. The cinematography is interesting in a naively arty sort of way (but has too many shaky-cam meets mumblecore moments for my taste).
It's a good film. It has a slightly 70s cinema verite feel to it, reminding me a little bit of something John Cassavetes might have done, and specifically of Robert Altman's Three Women. It's not a great film. Worth a look for sure, and I give super-praise to an obviously talented writer / director (and filmmaker in general — Amy Seimetz knows all sides of the camera, having acted quite a bit, too).
Finally! A bona fide supernatural horror movie. Only problem is, it's not scary. Ah, well… when's that ever stopped me from at least giving a flick a chance? Seemed like a neat, if clichéd, idea (hello, paranormal activity!) and so I started off with anticipation.
Here's the official party line: A team of parapsychologists sets out to investigate a series of anomalous phenomena taking place in a newly occupied apartment. Telephone calls with no caller, mysterious shadows, extraordinary light emissions, flying objects, and exploding light bulbs, are some of the events they will face while recording their every step with state-of-the-art technology. Using infra-red filming, digital photography, psychophonic recordings, movement detectors, and magnetic field alteration meters, the group's attempts to contact the "other side" will grow increasingly dangerous as they near a point of no return.
Apartment 143 follows parapsychologists Helzer (Michael O’Keefe), Paul (Rick Hernandez), and Ellen (Fiona Glascott) investigating spooky stuff at the rented casa of recently widowed Alan (Kai Lennox), and his kids Benny (Damian Roman) and Caitlin (Gia Mantegna). At first, a poltergeist manifesting the grief of the family's loss is suspected, but as the team digs deeper they suspect the truth might just be steeped in murder and (you guessed it) mayhem.
Directed by Carles Torrens, whose work I've never seen, and scripted by Rodrigo Cortes (whose Red Lights was quite absurd), Apartment 143 is just another found footage film after all. While it's not exactly a scary one, it's just this side of decent.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson