Paprika (パプリカ, Papurika): a machine that lets others participate in your dreams has been stolen and hijacked; Paprika is the best shot at getting it back. It’s interesting that in Hollywood, any form of animation is almost exclusively reserved for kid’s films, whereas in Japan you get this: a fearless sci-fi film that explores technology, mythology, reality, iconography, dreams, reality and the psyche. As mind-meltingly complex as it gets, the film always remains interesting, engaging and entertaining – probably down to the super-stylized mix of animation techniques – the blu-ray is extremely vibrant. With a mix of luscious visuals and an abundance of ‘thinking’ material, you have the luxury of being able to tune out of the story and still be dazzled. However, both elements combine to create a screen-bursting, visual and mental extravaganza. “This is your brain on Anime” – great marketing line.
The Cabin in the Woods: 5 friends go to an isolated cabin for a party, and although a bunch of zombified rednecks lurk in the woods, this is far from your average slasher/horror flick. My only real complaint is that the film puts all of the cards on the table a little too early – although it’s understandable, because such an ending would be too much to nonchalantly tag on during a finale. There’s plenty decent acting, even better SFX, good suspense / tension / scares, brilliant streak of tongue-in-cheek genre humour (The whiteboard with entries like “Angry Molestation Tree”, and ‘trowel’ quip are golden). The film works its way towards the revelatory ending, and the final reel is one of the best pieces of horror in decades – it’s an insane roller coaster paying both tribute and homage to the last 100 years of horror cinema. This is clearly made by horror fans, for horror fans. Don’t watch the trailer, or even read any more reviews, just get your arse to the cinema and check this beast out for yourself. Cabin in the Woods is creepy, entertaining, smart, fresh, funny, original and goes far beyond (and behind) the standard horror movie formula. Easily one of the best modern horrors in a long, long time.
Bonus: here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard – Click to Enlarge
The Woman in Black: whilst figuring out a reclusive widow’s estate, a young lawyer awakens a nasty ghost that terrorises the local town. Everything is inherently creepy; it’s a timeframe that we associate with ghosts, the setting is the classic cut-off haunted house, crazy weather, and there’s just something uneasy about staring/possessed/haunted children. It’s well-ececuted with lots of suspense and randomly placed big/noisy jumps; nothing groundbreaking, but very effective. Despite being a tad young, Radcliffe – and his sideburns – do well given there’s a lot of non-speaking sections, and Hinds truly lights up the scenes he’s in. The woman herself is better when not seen, and after the dig-up, the film loses its old-skool fear as the ghost’s behaviour becomes more ‘modern horror’. Being a pansy, for a film rated 12A, this had me in knots all over the place with some truly unbearable moments – it’s definitely not for kids. All characters also suffer from classic horror tropes; why go chasing ghosts, why go back to the house, why dot the townspeople refuse to re-locate? But these are probably better unanswered. Like Hammer itself, The Woman in Black is it’s a classic genre picture, very british, and good to see back on the silver screen.