Archive for the ‘US YEAR OF PRODUCTION 2009’ Category



USA 2009  Directed by: Robert A. Masciantonio  Written by: Robert A. Masciantonio  Produced by: Charles Smith  Cinematography by: Jeff Schirmer  Editing by: R. Emmet Sibley  Music by: Kurt Oldman  Cast: America Olivio, Christian Campbell, Lauren Rooney, Pete Postiglione, Joe Aniska, Sarah McCarron, Amy Rutledge, Mink Stole, Meredith Orlow, Giovanna Galdi, Tracy Toth, Robert A. Masciantonio, Stink Fisher, Megan Madsen

Does it sound cynical saying you’re bored by a movie that depicts torture and mutilation from beginning to end? Even though it’s not the on-screen violence in particular that makes you yawn frequently throughout NEIGHBOR, it is true nevertheless that the film, despite its acts of cruelty, leaves you unimpressed and strangely detached from what’s happening.

NEIGHBOR is not the first film of its kind, and it’s certainly not the best: most of what makes up the backbone of the story are common genre ingredients, presented as a salad buffet of best-of moments. Built upon what feels like a remake of Skip Wood’s THURSDAY director Robert A. Masciantonio is juggling around with serial killer motifs, revenge flick excerpts and editing techniques of psychological thrillers, without ever coming to a conclusive result.

An even bigger problem is the choice of the lead actress: America Olivio is portraying her character with harrowing overacting, incapable of nuances or adding the slightest human touch or personality to the figure she plays. Ms. Olivio is not exactly talented, and that’s too little to make a film centered around a single character work. Imagine HENRY played by Ron Howard, and you get the idea. Thanks to Ms. Olivio, NEIGHBOR tends to be unintentionally comedic most of the time, not hauntingly realistic.

If you have ever studied serial killers you will have noticed that no matter how insane they seem, or irrational, they always have a very good reason to kill, even if that “good reason” is only a good reason in their world. Unfortunately, Mr. Masciantonio believes that a serial killer movie is all about killing and neglects the fact that serial killers are driven by lust, fear, dead mothers or slimy soap bars. The reason NEIGHBOR never feels threatening is because “the girl” is unreal, like a remote-controlled, lifeless robot without a purpose, and all that’s left for the audience is to sympathize with the victims (played by a solid cast, surprisingly).

Bottom line is there is just no real story to NEIGHBOR, nothing the movie is “about”, what puts it in the neighborhood of THE TOURIST. So don’t waste your time, and grab a copy of DREAM HOME instead.





USA 2009  Directed by: Karyn Kusama  Produced by: Daniel Dubiecki, Mason Novick, Jason Reitman Written by: Diablo Cody  Cinematography by: M. David Mullen  Editing: Plummy Tucker  Music: Theodore Shapiro  Cast: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Brody, Johnny Simmons

What a lie: this is not about JENNIFER’S BODY, but solely about Megan Fox’s body. Without her (body), the movie would have gone unnoticed, among the also-ran. Not to mention that Fox is the villain and it’s actually Amanda Seyfried, the heroine, who legitimately should have posed for the cover art. It’s magic: cast Megan Fox and turn a B-movie into A-List material. Nice.

Megan Fox may be the it-girl of the moment, but it’s indeed her body that’s an asset here, certainly not her acting. But her mediocre on-screen performance blends nicely into the rest of the film: scripted like your average possessed-by-demons flick it has all the genre ingredients that we’ve known for ages. Fox is the new Blair, and JENNIFER’S BODY might have scored higher if it would have just been relabeled as CHEERLEADER EXORCIST or so.

Mostly JENNIFER’S BODY caters a teenage audience (despite the rating) and feels like TWILIGHT or HARRY POTTER 2.0. Some scenes are gross enough for more mature semesters, but overall the movie is more high school drama than horror movie. In its best moments it looks like a Brother’s Grimm adaptation and is quite charming.

JENNIFER’S BODY is partly watchable, but towards the second half the movie tends to be repetitive and increasingly boring. The ending – that means the ending after the real showdown that starts right before the credits and is edited similar to THE HANGOVER – is wonderful, but not enough to compensate for our lost time.

We would have expected more from the JUNO team. JUNO was quirky, straight-forward and authentic, all of what JENNIFER’S BODY is missing. Megan’s body may not be easily forgettable, but JENNIFER’S BODY is.




USA / CANADA 2009  Directed & Written by: George A. Romero  Produced by: Paula Devonshire   Cinematography: Adam Swica   Editing: Michael Doherty   Music: Robert Carli   Cast: Alan Van Sprang, Kenneth Walsh, Richard Fitzpatrick, Julian Richings, Kathleen Munroe, Athena Karkanis, Devon Bostick

Death isn’t what it used to be, and zombie movies aren’t either. As mentioned earlier, in this day and age zombie movies only have about two ways to go: the extreme splatter fest or a genre-transcending concept (that does not necessarily have to be a comedy of some sort).

George A. Romero’s latest installment of his zombie open-end-ology is a disgrace of his earlier works and the genre he has influenced for decades. Starting with a smart tie-in with his previous film, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD follows the group of soldiers known from DIARY OF THE DEAD and their quest for an island that is said to be a safe zone, free from flesh eaters and inaccessible for any of them.

After no more than a few minutes we wish we skipped this entry and waited for the next. SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD is almost a remake of DAY OF THE DEAD, with the island replacing the bunker and a couple of crazy families experimenting with the zombies trying to train them replacing the scientists. So now it’s the military vs. the islanders instead of the military vs. the scientists. Oh, and the soldiers are now the good guys and the civilians are the bad guys.

SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD has such lousy dialogue, acting and timing that it is comical beyond belief without the intention of being funny. Most of the time it is a dreadful copy of the master’s earlier milestones. Now matter how you look at it you’ll wish for more remakes like THE CRAZIES 2010. Please someone take the zombies away from Romero until he recovers (unlikely, he’s obviously close to retirement).

It appears to me that Romero has most certainly lost it and DIARY was a last lucky fluke. I’d even rank many of the DAWN rip-offs from the early 80’s higher than SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD. The film has no relevancy whatsoever: it has nothing new to say (nothing at all actually), it has no charm, no character and it is not really entertaining. This is not about budget or resources; this is about lack of ideas. And a director without great ideas and a vision is nothing but a dork with a camera.

SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD is another sad example of the decline of a once-great director. The dead may come back, but the good old days don’t.