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Posts Tagged ‘Exorcist


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Being stalked is I would imagine not an overly pleasant experience. Thankfully an experience that I have virtually no association with. So imagine how much worse it would be to be stalked by a dead girl? Well that is exactly what happens to poor Laura Woodson in the recently released cyber-thriller Friend Request. A film that has a fantastic premise, but alas much like other modern horrors does not live up to its trailer hype and delves into familiar overdone territory in the third act.

Laura is lovely, attractive, cultured, educated and most importantly popular. A fact that brings her to the attention of new strange student Ma Rina (one quick grumble, why is anyone in modern teen/horror films that expresses artistic talent or individuality a mopey, whiny prick?? Anyway, I digress….) So Ma Rina attaches to Laura, much like a gloomy window hanger or sad caterpillar, a friend request is sent and then shit starts to unravel. Overbearing Ma Rina bombards our heroine with posts, messages and other pleasantries. A birthday celebration lands Laura into trouble and Ma Rina takes it badly. So badly, she hangs herself and records the act for posterity.

Laura feels suitably although to be fair unjustly guilty. But the fun is only starting. All her friends receive a post notification. A video. The video of Ma Rina in her last act on earth. Then the friend requests come. Laura is hounded and berated by most of her online friends but she cannot delete her account or her friendship with her now deceased classmate. And this was one of my favourite elements of the movie.

As a society we are chained to not only our phones but our dependence on faceless interactions with people we hardly know or met on a night out. The young (and disgustingly attractive) characters in this film are treated subsequently and all meet grisly deaths. An almost kind act of redemption from beyond the grave and there is no way stop any of it. This is where my second favourite element of the movie. Each death is framed and shot in a nod to other movie deaths. In no particular order, The Exorcist (1 & 3), A Nightmare on Elm Street, Ringu, The Eye and The Omen are all referenced.

The last act does the film a disservice. I won’t spoil it but the writers chicken out and revert to lazy back story which can be seen halfway through the film. The explanation of the killings and why they were done serves a purpose but it feels flat and uninspired, in the same way the Paranormal Activity series of films relies on the same explanation for every other world experience.

Overall, Friend Request is an above average modern horror film. The premise is incredibly entertaining, the actors are passable and served by a half decent script. The deaths are ridiculously entertaining and the film only loses steam as it drags to its third act. Recommended!!


3.5 / 5


Written by thepanch

April 26, 2016 at 8:27 pm

To Know, Know, Know Him….

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To Know, Know, Know Him

After the release and subsequent unprecedented success of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws in 1975 it did some irrepressible damage. Not to box office, ticket sales or any real harm in a physical sense. Quite the opposite there, it broke all kinds of records and became the first “summer blockbuster.” No, it did lasting damage to the people that saw it. It put people into the mind-set that great white sharks were flesh hungry beasts and if you swam in the ocean, you were likely to stumble across one, and would wind up in a mouthful of teeth. In short, Jaws turned Great White Sharks into, as far as the public were concerned, bastards.

I cannot claim to have swam with or met any Great Whites, but I have heard of more people being run over on the roads than eaten alive by Great Whites. What I’m getting at is if something is painted in a certain light it is left like that. In short, shit sticks. And if someone is painted out to be a mental case, chances are he is probably capable of a grievously dastardly deed. And so we come to Harvey Phillip Spector, or as you know him, Phil Spector.

I can see your mind working. Yes, that Phil Spector that rose from humble working class roots, deprived of a father at the tender age of six through suicide to become one of the most influential music producers of all time. He would go on to record one of the most successful singles of all time, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling by The Righteous Brothers. He would also famously produce The Beatles’ Let It Be. As a result he would fall out with McCartney because he plastered his infamous “wall of sound” over the sparse, mainly acoustic tracks on the album.

Indeed Spector was to become notorious for going to extremes with his artists and prone to temperamental outbursts in the studio, frequently shooting a gun off to illustrate a point or simply to garner some form of an emotional response. William Friedkin used similar techniques while filming The Exorcist. He was never charged with murder, now that I come to think of it. Before we go any further, my personal opinions on the case are just that, my own and I do not presume to believe Spector is either innocent or guilty.

This brings us to David Mamet’s Phil Spector, a little gem of a film that despite dealing with the death of Lana Clarkson and the fallout from it does not presume to determine guilt or innocence in any way. It is a film that focuses on the relationship between Spector (Al Pacino) and his defence attorney played by Helen Mirren. But more importantly it asks the question, do we create monsters or are they created in the media through pictures, sound-bites and caricatures?

Indeed Mirren’s character asks that very question very intelligibly, “Why does the monster live in a castle? Why does the minotaur live in a cave?” This is just one of the brilliant exchanges between characters in Mamet’s trademark dialogue in so much as it is terse, to the point and smooth. Spector does little to protect his image as a “monster” by living in a walled off mansion with sentry dogs and barbed wire littering the perimeter.

Pacino is surprisingly restrained and plays Spector as a rambling, intelligent eccentric man. He focuses on the obvious mental illness that Spector suffers from and this comes out in his involuntarily shaking hands, his foaming mouth and roving eyes. He also portrays Spector as a frequently empathetic, genuine person when he gives Mirren’s character a blanket as she is cold and whispers to her, “I know how sick you are, and how much this is costing you. I have met some insane people in my time, but very few sane ones. Even fewer that I could talk to.”

Mirren plays her defence attorney with a level of empathy, compassion but never sympathy. She treats it as just another case, but is somewhat worn down by Spector’s eccentricities and sometimes good humoured nature. The film has one major flaw. The court-room scenes are woefully short and given Mamet’s penchant for long, rewarding exchanges these opportunities seem wasted ultimately. But as I said earlier, the film is a character study and does not attempt to presume either innocent or guilt so I’m just nit-picking.

I can highly recommend this film and it runs a neat 92 minutes. Go get it!!!!

4.5 / 5

Written by thepanch

May 13, 2013 at 6:12 pm