* They're Watching
A show very much like House Hunters International follows a couple choosing a house to buy in a rural part of Moldova. It seems odd at the outset for a couple of reasons. First, the couple is an odd pair. Becky is always happy and sees the silver lining in everything. She has simple tastes and loves creating pottery. Her boyfriend Goran is a famous soccer player and always angry or moody. He looks like a typical rich douche with his sunglasses, leather jackets, and monochromatic clothes. They barely interact and don't seem to share a lot of interests. The next strange thing is the house they decide to buy which is basically in ruins. If you've ever seen House Hunters, this part is hilarious because of how bad this house is. The interior hasn't been seen in about a hundred years and looks more like it should be demolished than renovated. The exterior is just as rough, but Becky is delighted at the possibilities.
The TV crew returns to the couple and their house six months later, expecting nothing to have been done. The crew consists of newbie Sarah, practically interchangeable Alex and Greg, and finally their abusive boss Kate. The only interesting character in the whole film is Vladimir, the realtor. He acts as the bridge to the locals and gets them out of a lot of trouble. Even though they are awful, trample on local customs, and anger the locals, he's there for them every step of the way with his friendly personality and affable nature. Sarah constantly talks over footage they try to film even though she went to film school. They find Becky has shockingly turned her ruin into a cozy home, but other things mar their filming. The local people seem more and more menacing as time goes on, eventually surrounding the house and destroying their vehicle. The ending had some definite flaws, but its unpredictable nature and humor makes me overlook the bad. It's definitely worth your time and fun spin on the found footage genre through the lens of a reality show.
My rating: 3.5/5
After his parents' died, Jody takes care of his little brother Mike in a small Oregon town that is reeling from a rash of unexplained deaths. Mike suspects that the local moritician he dubs the Tall Man has something to do with these murders. This film is about two young men trying to make sense of death. In this story, death is a mortician alien who steals bodies to turn into servants for another world. These two boys along with another friend are the only people aware of this threat and work together to stop him. The Tall Man portrayed by Angus Scrimm is a memorable character. The tools he uses and the way he operates are unique to this series of films like the dangerous silver spheres. I didn't expect this film to be about aliens at all, but it's integrated well into solid horror territory. I can see why many people love this film.
While I enjoyed the film, Phantasm is much more relatable for men and boys. Women in the film are not fleshed out characters and feel completely separate from the three main characters. Beautiful women are objects of lust or damsels in distress to be saved for the main characters. The femme fatale minion of the Tall Man (who I think is really him in another form) is a flat villain who barely speaks and uses her body to kill men. A fortune teller's granddaughter (who doesn't even have a name!!!) acts as Mike's supernatural aide and tells him "don't fear," which carries him throughout the film. This is truly a film for men where women are treated as wholly different and outside of their world. Phantasm has interesting concepts and a memorable villain, but the isolated view of the film puts me off.
My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins