Posted February 10 2010 - 04:08 PM
Added my first two 2010 releases.
Daybreakers - in the near future, a bat-borne plague has turned 99% of the human population into vampires. The remaining humans are hunted down and farmed for blood by a corporation headed by Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), an individual who views vampirism as a miracle since he was dying before the plague broke out. There aren't many humans left though, and when a vamp goes without blood, they turn into grotesque Nosferatu variants called subsiders. Bromley enlists his top hematologist (Ethan Hawke) to come up with a blood substitute, but an underground band of surviving humans have a different resolution in mind. This film has a unique premise, and for the first hour or so, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the world that Michael and Peter Spierig created. The opening scene shows one of the downsides of vampirism, as a girl takes her life rather than be stuck in a child's body for eternity. There were some fun touches thrown in too, like blood coming in wine bottles and being poured over ice. The film also touches on themes of corporate greed taking precedent over the good of the public. Alas, the second half turns into a cliched mess. The ending in particular is really cheesy as a result. Truthfully, I would have been happy if the entire band of humans idea had been scrapped entirely. Surely they could've come up with something better than that. Other segments of the picture seem rushed, like the subplot involving Bromley's daughter. Speaking of Bromley, Sam Neill is one of my favorite actors, so it was great seeing him in a genre film again. His presence is easily the highlight of Daybreakers. I've never much cared for Hawke, and his performance here did nothing to change my mind. Willem Dafoe also pops up, and while I usually do like him, his character here is annoying. As is, chalk it up as a movie that could've been more. Oh well, at least it's way better than the last work from the Spierigs, Undead. That was one of the rare films that I stopped watching halfway through. Quick note: I saw a father and two young teens leave shortly after an early scene involving a gory testing of the blood substitute. Guess they thought this would be another Twilight.
Frozen - a college student, his girlfriend and his jealous buddy go on a weekend ski/snowboard outing. It was supposed to be just the guys, but the girlfriend came along much to buddy Lynch's dismay. She is still learning, and as a result of this, the trio spend most of the day on a bunny slope. After some complaining from Lynch, they decide to go on a quick run down the mountain before the day is through, but there's bad weather moving in. They manage to convince the lift operator to let them go, but through a series of unfortunate circumstances, the lift is stopped midway up the mountain leaving them stuck as the place shuts down for the week. With bad weather, the freezing cold and a large drop between them and the ground, the chances for survival are looking slim. And that's not taking the pack of hungry wolves into account. I caught this Saturday and thought it was fantastic. It's from the Open Water/Black Water/The Canyon school of survival horror, but this may just be my pick for best of the lot. At one point early on into the trio's predicament, I discovered that I had unknowingly squeezed my hands together so tightly that they'd fallen asleep, so it's safe to say that the tension got to me. The characters also really grew on me as the film wore on, and I actually felt really bad for them. With the "introducing" credit, I'm guessing this is Emma Bell's first film. While she has a spotty moment or two, for a first-timer, I'd say she knocked it out of the park. Her standout scene takes place when she's relaying her fears about what might happen to her puppy if she dies on the lift, and if he'd think she abandoned him. Also effective is the sparingly used score, usually played over visuals of the abandoned ski park. There are some gruesome bits, particularly the hand scene from the trailer and a discovery towards the film's end, but most of the tension comes from the predicament itself and some of the debasing things the characters have to do. I didn't think much of Adam Green's Hatchet, but this is worth the praise that one received.