Monday, January 07, 2008
We could do worse than a school of Guillermo del Toro influenced film-makers. Lord knows how much psychic damage the Tarantino School did. El Orfanato definitely echoes del Toro's own Devil's Backbone, although Backbone is the better film.
El Orfanato (The Orphanage) gets props for not just fine directing and some super creepiness. but for its really lovely script. Unlike a lot of horror thrillers where the reveal is some random tragedy unspooled at the end of an investigatory chain, the fair-play end (not twist, just end) of the mystery in in El Orfanato is one of those cascading "Oh God I just figured it out" vertigo moments. Blair Witch, if seen in the proper atmosphere, had one of those. The proper atmosphere of course NOT being on a TV screen where you've fast-forwarded through all the talking yokels who are actually laying some pretty cunning pipe, because after all you are a busy movie/tv executive with things to do.
I saw Blair Witch with the Lovely Wife on opening weekend with a packed audience that was very, very into it. The ending worked with alchemical perfection, the audience pulling the elements of the opening out of their memories at almost the precisely correct pacing to both realize what was happening and then, shudderingly, anticipate what was coming next. The movie is one of those that falls without fail into the "That was amazing"/ "No, that was pants" camp among friends. I think it kind of has to. It's a delicate little trick, that flick -- you either miss the sleight of hand and get sucked in, or you laugh when Criss Angel makes the fat tourist disappear under the tablecloth, eventually spiralling down into a nitrous-oxide like paroxysm every time your buddy waggles his hands and stage-whispers "MIND FREEEEEEEAAAAAK!"
You get what I mean. So, in the comments, your recommendations for horror movies to be viewed in The Proper Horror Flick Manner -- past 10 pm, lights off, and no goddam kibbitzing. Exorcist automatically gets the by. I'll toss in Session 9, and again will toss a nod at the not "great" but sure as hell "very fine" Salvage. I promise the Crook Brothers a bottle of Scotch when we cross paths.