Another Friday another batch of releases. This week we have found footage superhero movie Chronicle, Daniel Radcliffe’s first post-Harry Potter film The Woman in Black, a movie about a whale called Big Miracle and another horror movie called The Innkeepers.
The Woman in Black
Radcliffe is fine; but the movie is drab and dreary, relying on a mood of tension that director James Watkins can’t quite deliver, much less sustain. For long stretches of silence, Kipps is in the home alone, spooking himself out at every turn.
None of it’s new, but it’s fun particularly because — like those Hammer films of yore — it peoples its great sets with solid actors.
As opposed to modern horror flicks like the Saw movies, where gruesome violence can almost blunt fears, The Woman in Black is a tasteful, old-school frightener, emphasizing suspense and foreboding over blood and guts.
“The Woman in Black” breaks no new ground in horror, but the old ground it breaks is good, wet muck. Not for nothing is it set in marshy tidal waters. Watkins understands that in this sort of tale, with these sorts of pleasures, eerie bests graphic and atmospheric trumps bold: The frights don’t exceed PG-13, and the color never brightens much past gray.
VERDICT: Wait for DVD
There have been dozens of “found footage” or faux-documentary movies in the 13 years since Blair Witch Project, but never has that narrative device felt more forced and unnecessary than in Chronicle. It’s like they had a perfectly good idea for a traditional movie but for some reason had to shoot it this way, maybe because they lost a bet, or got drunk and accepted a dare.
We all have, but Chronicle, I can say without hesitation, is the most original and excitingly executed wow-factor-meets-handheld-video feature since Blair Witch itself. It’s also a movie that rebuilds the power of special effects from the ground up.
Chronicle is too thrilling (on a cheapie $15 million budget, yet) to ruin with spoilers. The ending is overkill, but the potent and provocative journey never stops springing surprises. You’ll be hooked.
The movie is delightful for its first hour or so, and then turns dark and disturbing. The friends test their new powers and decide they’re like muscles — you have to build them up slowly. This they do like mischievous teenagers.
But director Ken Kwapis (“He’s Just Not That Into You”) insists on false warmth at every turn, even forgetting that in 50-below weather you ought to see a breath cloud or two. “Big Miracle” might be subtitled, “How Hollywood Turned a Real Story Into Bogus Fiction.”
“Big Miracle” gets off to a shaky start, but once revved up, it becomes an involving work-against-the-clock-and-the-odds action movie.
Big Miracle doesn’t have much of a plot, other than the comic escalation of interested parties who descend like vultures on the tiny town, hoping to convert the whales’ plight into all manner of capital.
If this movie already looks like your kind of thing, you won’t be disappointed. If you think it’s absolutely not your kind of thing, you might be surprised.
VERDICT: Wait for DVD
He’s an anticipation junkie, teasingly sending his characters down into cellars and up creaky stairs for two full acts without having them encounter the real danger you absolutely know is lurking. The idea is, by the time bad things happen, it will be a giddy relief, satisfying mayhem.
There’s a lot to be said for horror that doesn’t hit you over the head with shock and gore and special effects. But if you’re going to go that route, you need to have more than The Innkeepers delivers.
The trappings may look familiar, but “The Innkeepers” is a new twist on the good, old-fashioned ghost story: It’s the bored-slacker horror movie.
“The Innkeepers” is a nifty little scary movie with slacker trappings, another winning deconstruction of a genre film by writer and director Ti West.