Ils (Them)

Olivia Bonamy Ils

Ils is the 2006 French horror film starring Olivia Bonamy & Michaël Cohen. Written and directed by David Moreau & Xavier Palud.

Given how “based on” films are often the telltale signifiers of the dearth of original material to glean a full feature from, Ils is far from the usual fare. One could argue Ils’ writers sought to possibly curb that notion by the relative fleetness of duration. An hour and thirteen minutes to be precise. That is an assumption, that the writers shifted their efforts from, for example, adherence to fact to making it work with less. That’s one thing. Secondly, and although it is essentially a home invasion horror, it keeps its cards very close to the chest for as long as possible, which for a lean run time comes with the risk of either front- or backloading its story. Opening with a tense eight-minute scene packing in stop-and-go, pull and tug action (action as in the antonym of speech), it flies fast. In one fell swoop a good chunk of time is knocked out and the film starts to pick up at the half-hour mark, more or less the halfway point of the film. That makes it a tale of two halves pacing wise; its front and back. It is a unique and subtle structure possibly indiscernible for viewers more used to the three-act flow. And it works. Effectively.

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The Night Flier (1997)

Night Flier

Read or viewed, horror is a purely escapist diversion, and a passive experience at that. Especially with films. Seldom is the intellectual effort a book requires is demanded by horror movies, and I don’t think we necessarily watch them to be scared or for the vicarious fear. This makes the question of what constitutes a good horror movie? a futile inquiry. Perhaps the subjectivity of the answer is why no one — not for lack of trying — was able to produce a definitive answer. I believe elements of an unfriendly fantasy is what the viewer seeks. We know the writer is full of shit, but we partake in the charade. We’re complicit in the act, and in a way this makes us participants, unlike readers. Also, the line between preposterous and credible in a horror is often uniquely defined by the observer. I guess what I want to say is we consume horror for our own reasons. And this gem of conspicuous 90’s sleaze went under the radar as far sheer entertainment and adherence to source material. Stephen King’s The Night Flier. Continue reading

Brotherhood of the Wolf

The two times I sat in parts of it, I don’t remember Brotherhood of the Wolf being the sloppy hodgepodge I finally saw in totality last night. Like, I’m mad I was so close to posting on Facebook I’ll be watching it. Technically I did see it then, but only finally in its entirety. It’s another movie I stumbled on (but held off on viewing for ten years, I guess) but unlike Irreversible, which also had Bellucci and Cassel and the daughter-fucking Butcher by Philippe Nahon, this was a severe and disappointing deviation from my early impressions. In Irreversible’s case, it was so notorious that I kind of went all voyeuristic rubberneck and prematurely viewed some clips. I had to. But I hold no regrets. I think I’m of the kind that thinks fuck spoilers because the only true ones apply to twist endings, and those are basically an immature plot device, a director’s cop out when he knows the jig is up. They cut both ways but more often than not the wielder will show a few scars too many. Here, films tend to be like a boxing match you know the outcome of but are more interested in how its destination has been arrived to. In film, it is more the cinematic journey, the round by round, blow by blow development that is impervious to some spoilers. But I don’t go around Wikipedia reading the plot section before deciding ‘oh, I’ve got to see this.’ Listen, man.. at what point is spoiler-free truly free? We’ve long learned how to handle the asshole that spills beans every scene — Scarface fans anywhere? — so is it when you abstain from even reading the synopsis? Or watching the trailer? How gullible can you be if your sole source of intrigue is trailers, nowadays? And I never understood going in blind, as if movies were some all you can eat buffet. Was that a subliminal jab at Netflixing? Movies are like fine dining — be that a delicacy or a reputed chef, you don’t go in completely unbiased. There is some deliberation. Okay, so two analogies is enough to show you I know what I’m talking about. On to the review. Continue reading

Metaphors & Symbols in Oculus

In the public bathroom where I work are four mirrors and washing sinks below three. The nearest mirror hangs over what remains of the removed sink, the grouting and makeshift piping. Standing in front of that mirror is more convenient. The reflection off it just seemed more spacious because it extended further below the other three, with the basins beneath. Yesterday I went to understand why. They were all identical. The unobstructed path to it gives a wider angle, creating the perception that it was bigger. Continue reading