Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Skew (2011, Sevé Schelenz)

Skew is a new "found footage" horror film that has been making the rounds at film festivals over the past year.  Being the hermit that I am, I was fortunate to receive a screener of the film.  Ever since seeing The Blair Witch Project in the theater I have been a fan of this sub genre and jump at the chance of seeing new "found footage" films.

Skew is about three friends, Rich (Richard Olak), Eva (Amber Lewis) and Simon (Rob Scattergood) who go on a road trip to their friend's wedding. Rich and Eva are dating and we learn that Simon and his girlfriend (who was supposed to come on the trip) are having some problems in their relationship.  Simon brings along a videocamera to record the trip, much to his friends' dismay.  As their trip commences, strange things start happening and soon people (and animals) that they meet along the way start dying.  Simon finds a connection with the murders but is afraid to tell his friends.  To complicate matters more, Simon and Eva start showing that they have feelings for each other, causing a rift between the trio.

Skew reaffirms my faith in the "found footage" genre by featuring everything that makes these films great.  It is filled with creepy atmosphere and effective camerawork, some jump shocks and also complicated characters that are far more developed than your normal horror film. Sometimes the build up for these films drags and you can't wait for something to actually happen, but the interaction between Skew's characters is just as gripping as the rest of the film.  The actors excel at their roles and make the film believable.  This is simply one of the best "found footage" films I've seen.

RATING:  9/10

Skew is now available to stream on NETFLIX

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011, Rupert Wyatt)

Who doesn't love Planet of the Apes?  Whether it be Charlton Heston seeing the crumbled Statue of Liberty or Roddy McDowall's roles as Cornelius and Caesar, you can't deny the awesomeness of this series.  With these online college classes you can get the background you need to be a great actor like Charlton Heston.  Though many thought the series was dead with Tim Burton's needless remake, we can now rejoice at a proper continuation to the Ape saga with Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes stars James Franco as Will Rodman, a scientist who is working on finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease.  Just when he thinks he has perfected the serum, the ape that was being tested goes crazy and smashes the lab.  The project gets shut down but Rodman continues experimenting and finds a cure, which he gives to his father (John Lithgow) who is suffering from the disease.  The second test ape he used, Caesar, begins getting much smarter than normal apes and after being sent to an ape sanctuary, he starts teaching the other apes in hopes of rising up against mankind.

I'm sure everyone has their favorite Apes film and I wouldn't be surprised if most people would say the first is their favorite.  Though it was definitely a classic, I much prefer Escape and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes to the original.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes shares some similarities to Conquest but they are two completely different films.  Considered a prequel and also a reboot to a new series of Apes films, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was brilliant.  The story was very modern (as I'm sure the originals were in their time) and though it was definitely science fiction, not once was my belief dispelled while watching the film.  That to me is the most important aspect of why Rise of the Planet of the Apes was so successful.  The cast here is first rate, especially Franco and Lithgow but the real star was Andy Serkis's motion capture performance as Caesar.  I usually poo poo CGI but the unbelievably realistic Apes created for this film are amazing.  In some ways this film surpasses the originals and overall I'd say it's tied as my favorite Apes film with Escape and Conquest.  The Rise of the Planet of the Apes DVD from 20th Century Fox is a must have for fans of the film with three very enjoyable extras - Deleted Scenes, Mythology of the Apes documentary and The Genius of Andy Serkis.  Even if you aren't a fan of the series, you will find something in this film you will like.

RATING:  9/10