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Xavier Gens (Frontier(s), Hitman) weaves this grim and violent tale of a group of survivors who are trapped together in a bomb shelter after a nuclear attack on New York City. The longer they stay cooped up in the shelter together, the more civilized behavior collapses and the worst in human nature comes out.
Divide is a well made film and Gans gets really good performances out of his cast, including Michael Biehn, Lauren German and Rosanna Arquette. He crafts a lot of tension and takes us and his characters through some very disturbing sequences as savagery takes over and atrocities are committed with growing ease. But despite how well Gans’ film is made, it is the nature of the story and the filmmaker’s willingness to indulge in it that weighs it down. The problem is we’ve seen this kind of civilization breakdown many times before and Gans spends a little too much time on the horrible acts that the characters commit on each other. After a while we start to become numb and a bit bored as a good portion of the two hour running time is a journey through the evils that men do. The constant bombardment of vulgar and repulsive behavior looses it’s effect and the last act is spent just wanting it to come to some sort of conclusion. And when that conclusion comes, we are already too weary to fully feel it’s bleak impact. There are some interesting segments too, including one that gives us an idea of just who has perpetrated the attack, which is quite chilling and we do have to give Gans credit for such a brutally realistic portrayal of such an event. The production value is high and the scenes of a nuclear devastated NYC are extremely vivid and horrifying which adds to the emotionally dark tone of the film.
A well done movie, but a bit too bleak and depressing for it’s own good. The film makes it’s point over and over and it is emotionally draining. Certainly was worth seeing, but not the kind of movie I’d want to watch again.
3 cans of lye…gotta keep that bomb shelter toilet fresh!
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Vendetta is an action/revenge drama and is the second collaboration between WWE Studios and The Soska Sisters (American Mary, See No Evil 2). The story has celebrated Chicago cop Mason Danvers (Dean Cain) finally taking down the crime syndicate duo of Victor (Paul “The Big Show” Wight) and Griffen (Aleks Paunovic) Abbott. Three months later, an important witness vanishes and so does the case against The Abbott Brothers. Victor wastes no time and shows up at Danver’s house and murders the cop’s pregnant wife (Kyra Zagorsky) before the detective and police arrive and arrests him. A distraught Mason then tracks down Griffen Abbott and kills him in cold blood. The revenge minded cop is now sent to the Stonewall Correctional Facility…the same prison that is now home to Victor Abbott…and sets on a path to vengeance.
The Soska Sisters directing duo are two of the more original filmmakers around right now, as is their American Maryone of the most original horror flicks in quite some time. All the more disappointing that they chose such a routine action/revenge flick as their latest project. Written by Justin Shady it is a very straightforward prison-set story of vengeance and gives the Soska Sisters little opportunity to be…well, The Soska Sisters. The directors keep the film moving at a nice click. It’s only twenty minutes before Danvers is in prison and the hi-jinx between he and crime lord Abbott begin.Once behind the prison walls, though, it becomes a series of by-the-numbers fight, beating and murder scenes that start to grow a bit tiresome, when mixed with the been-there-done-that drama in between. As we move towards the eventual showdown, which is also a bit of a letdown, too, considering the build-up, we get very little we haven’t seen before in this type of flick. We also get a very predictable sub-plot about Abbott’s real boss and even that is revealed far too soon to give it real impact and the whole bit about Danvers and his wife trying to conceive…and succeeding right before she’s killed…is beyond cliché. Add to it that the film gets wrapped up very conveniently and we have a movie that is a far cry from what we enjoy watching the Soska’s do. It’s technically well-made and was never boring, but never felt like a Soska Sisters film. There was none of the dark humor and off-the-wall uniqueness that made American Marysuch an original film.
As for the cast, I enjoyed watching Dean Cain as a bad-ass. Bulked up and with some facial hair covering his boyish good looks, he surprisingly made a very solid tough guy. WWE Superstar The Big Show is fun to watch as the massive Victor Abbott and is convincing as the vicious and cruel criminal. He also gives us a lively characterization of a routinely written villain. Michael Eklund is very eccentric as Warden Snyder, but despite an off-beat portrayal, the character revelations are not all that surprising and actually make him less interesting, when all is said and done. The supporting cast are all fine as various prison guards, thugs and inmates. Again, in a Soska Sisters film, I expected far more interesting characters, but this isn’t their script.
I understand the Soska’s doing this to keep their relationship with WWE pictures strong, but wish they either picked a more interesting project…like their proposed film with WWE’s horror movie inspired Wyatt Family…or at least been allowed to do a draft of the script to add their quirky/morbid style. Their previous WWE Studios film See No Evil 2was more up their alley and felt very much like a Soska film despite them not writing the screenplay. They seemed to feel more at home directing that and just seemed more like going through the motions here. The film is still amusing at times and I was never outright bored, but I’d seen it all before and that’s something I’d never thought I’d say about a Soska Sisters film.
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I’m not a big fan of the original See No Evil. Despite the use of the imposingly massive WWE superstar Glenn “Kane” Jacobs, the film was a by-the-numbers slasher that generated very little suspense and it’s juvenile delinquent characters didn’t generate much endearment to give us someone to root/fear for. But the film does have a bit of a following and did well, especially on home media. So, after 8 years…Jacob Goodnight is back and he’s not only bringing fan favorite scream queens Danielle Harris and Katharine Isabelle along with him, but he is being directed by the devious duo behind American Mary, the Soska Sisters, as well.
The story opens the same night as the massacre at The Blackwell Hotel, with pretty morgue attendant Amy (Danielle Harris) about to leave her shift and head out to celebrate her birthday. But with bodies from the massacre heading in, Amy decides to stay and help her co-worker Seth (Kaj-Erik Eriksen) with the added workload…and thus her friends, including vixen with a morbid side, Tamara (Katharine Isabelle) decide to surprise her at the morgue with an impromptu birthday party. But there is still some life in the prone corpse of vicious serial killer Jacob Goodnight (Glenn “Kane” Jacobs) and soon he rises from his slab, with an assortment of postmortem surgical tools at his disposal, to continue his work by slaughtering the “sinners” who are partying in the morgue. Will any of them escape alive as Goodnight seals them in and begins adding to the bodies already stored there?
With the Twisted Twins taking over from ex-porn director Gregory Dark, the film is an improvement over the first one and for some very surprising reasons. The Soskas are working from a script by Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby and thus it doesn’t quite have the delightfully eccentric tone of Mary, that they wrote themselves, but it does have their style and does have a bit more fun with this slasher sequel than the deadpan and too-serious-for-it’s-own-good first flick. At first I was a little disappointed as the film started out and seemed to be a bit routine coming from directors whose work is anything, but until the second half suddenly cranks things up considerably and that’s where the film surprised me a little bit. And it’s not with the kills, which are cool, that the Soskas really got my attention with, but with some surprisingly poignant moments between the characters, mostly involving Harris’ Amy, that really resonated and really added something to the proceedings. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a slasher/horror that took the time to have such nice character moments between the carnage and it really added to the endearment of those characters and the suspense of wanting them to get out of there moderately intact. The film also deviated at times from the slasher formula and that added some freshness to it and the Soskas, as with American Mary, give us some disturbingly gruesome moments, but without going overboard or being gross for gross sake like SNE #1. A little restraint makes the violent moments all the more effective when they do come…and there are a couple that elicited an out loud “whoa” from me as I watched. Add in some nice moody cinematography by Mahlon Todd Williams that takes good advantage of the city morgue setting and a nice score from The Newton Brothers and you have an entertaining little slasher that does have the usual slasher plot holes…such as, are there so few exits in such a large public building that Goodnight could seal them all on all floors and without anyone knowing…and why are the guests’ cellphones locked in a safe?… but it still entertains like it’s supposed to.
As for the cast… “Kane” is as imposing as ever as Goodnight. Harris does really strong work here. Not only in creating a little depth for Amy, who has chosen a career that is obviously not popular with her family, but really shines in some of those character moments I mentioned before. Amy is a strong, though slightly cynical, heroine with guts and a heart. She also has a nice chemistry with Eriksen, who is good as Seth. Seth is crushing on her big time and she knows it and the scene when they reveal their mutual feelings for each other works really well and the actors’ chemistry makes it work despite there being a 7 foot madman stalking them at the moment. Isabelle is a hoot as the promiscuous babe with a dark side, Tamara. It’s not a deep role as her Mary Mason and it seems like, this time, she’s having some fun with a more ditzy part and letting Harris do the more serious emoting. Her postmortem lap dance for Jacob Goodnight’s corpse is a fun number, to say the least. The rest of the cast are solid and despite Amy’s brother Will (Greyston Holt) being a bit of a self-centered jerk, we have a fairly likable cast of supporting characters with Chelan Simmons as pretty blonde Kayla, Lee Majdoub as Tamara’s boyfriend Carter and Michael Eklund as the chief morgue attendant Holden. A much more endearing bunch than the angry delinquents that populated the first flick.
So, See No Evil 2 may not be a classic, but it is a solid and entertaining slasher that has some surprisingly effective quieter moments in-between the well-orchestrated carnage. The Soska’s bring the action and suspense, especially in the second half and even with it’s barely 90 minute running time, give us some nice resonating character scenes bolstered by it’s lead actors especially, Harris, who does some of her best work. And that’s what impresses about the Twisted Twins the most…they can deliver some very sick and twisted moments, but can also deliver some poignant quiet moments in between, just like the little conversations between Mary and Lance in American Mary. Another intriguing film from two of the more original filmmakers out there.