Wednesday, October 20, 2010

11 days to halloween

now, i'm wary of movie sequels in general i can be particular to a sequence of movies that turn into a franchise and even if the sequels suck they provide a modicum of enjoyment and fun viewing. the original star wars trilogy is an example of a good franchise but it is an odd duck from the pack of movie franchises because the middle film, empire strikes back, is the best of that bunch. my favorite recent movie franchise are the tremors films. the best of that group is the first flick but all of them have a measure of charm.

a sequel is not always a franchise in the making. sometimes it is a rather needless cash grab, or god-knows-what-the-fuck-they-were-thinking-when-they-made-a-second-feature. but i'll sometimes give it a shot. sometimes, joel, you have to say what the fuck. i'm a huge fan of u.k. director neil marshall, and i love his feature the descent so when i read good press on the sequel i said, what the fuck.

marshall's film is about a group of adventure-seeking women who go caving in the appalachians, get lost in the caves then are attacked by a clan of sub-human, blind, feral, ferocious, and obviously very pissed, cave-dwellers. sure it sounds goofy as hell but marshall achieves a beautiful story about one of the women, sarah, who lost both her husband and her daughter in a car accident. sarah is, in the phrase of critic carol clover, the final girl and she is there because her friends believe that after a year of grieving a holiday in a cave is just what sarah needs. marshall's use of the dark, tight places of the caves plays havoc on the viewer's nervous system. the chemistry of the women is just right and when the feral creatures do attack about mid-way thru the pic marshall deftly explores the breakdown of the group and the survival instincts of the characters.

marshall's flick is taut, beautiful and with the director's ending, a near-perfect gem. marshall i think was the executive producer of number two. number two is helmed by jon harris, an unknown, to me, director and pennned by others who are not, obviously, marshall. i don't mean to sound dismissive since harris manages to work a few chills in his movie. sarah is back in the center of this movie that takes place a few minutes after the events of the first pic. the creatures are more vicious and the gore is ramped up. there is one scene that matches nearly marshall's claustrophobic set-pieces. with all that the harris's movie fails to suspend the curtain of disbelief from the outset and while marshall's flick was mainly about the group dynamics of his characters harris's pic is just about watching blood and guts.

not that i have anything against blood and guts but i was hoping for a movie that would measure up not only to marshall's earlier effort but the vibe of the halloween season. it kinda, sorta does. i don't feel like 90 minutes of my life have been stolen from me after watching number two. but i didn't feel like reaching for the candy corn either.

happy halloween!


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