Archive for May 19th, 2011

Having reviewed over a hundred movies last year I have taken a step back writing reviews this year to let my blog return to its more random origins. For various reasons once in a while I am compelled to write a review, in this case it was having a “screener” sent all the way from America! Being a low budget independent movie I’m not sure where you will get your hands on a copy (especially on this side of the Atlantic).

Shot in a documentary style using “found footage” in the vein of The Blair Witch Project (1999) Killer View (aka Snuffed) forgoes a linear structure and cuts between missing journalist Martin Monahan’s (Martin Moakler) interview with a sociopath serial killer, Ben (Noah Key) and the killers own footage of his handiwork.

The sound and some of the visuals are a little shaky as would expect from a low budget movie, this however can be overlooked as it does added to the realism of the “found footage” concept (anyone who has seen Paranormal Activity (2007) will remember the sound design was too good considering the supposed origins of the footage), it also helps that the movie isn’t let down by the acting with all the cast providing believable performances.

The interesting twist is that the killer videos his murders and sells the snuff movies to the local populous, and this is where the movie finds its place and its voice in the overcrowded horror genre. I’m not sure if it was the intention of the filmmakers but I took this whole concept as a comment on societies consumption of increasingly graphic horror movies, think a Peeping Tom (1960) for the 21st century.

Brian O’Connell Director of Killer View

Surprisingly there is virtually no onscreen violence with most of it taking place just off camera, this in itself is no bad thing in light of the overly graphic and tedious “torture porn” that has been prevalent in recent years. Interestingly the film works best as the perfectly played nervous and naive journalist interviews the more assured killer.

The film isn’t scary in the horror, make you jump sense and isn’t hugely shocking but it is surprisingly plausible in its concept and often difficult to watch as it turns its viewer into a voyeur. This made me more disturbed when I thought about it than while I was actually watching it. Comparisons with Henry: A Portrait of a Killer (1986) are inevitable, whilst I don’t think the movie is actually as good as Henry it is certainly a must see for fans of the genre.


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I went into see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with a certain amount of trepidation. I loved the first movie but found its sequels to be dull, tedious, overlong and pointless. My fears for this fourth instalment were raised when I discovered that it was in 3D; fortunately there was a 2D option, I took it.

Cap’n Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is seeking the mythical Fountain Of Youth, along the way he crosses paths with old flame Angelica (Penélope Cruz), her farther, the legendry pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and a Spanish fleet for good measure.

The film really is a mixed bag. Lets start with the problems, when you scrape away twists and turns, the plot is minimal at best and really doesn‘t make much sense. The cast is under utilised, particularly Penélope Cruz who is totally wasted. McShane’s Blackbeard is good but not great, he isn’t given the time or freedom to have fun with the part the way he did with Al Swearengen in the TV show Deadwood. And as with previous films in the series its way too long.

On the positive side, the film looks great. The special effects are scaled back from the CGI excess of the last two movies leaving making the big moments feel bigger. The best of these is a mermaid attack that is really well handled. This however takes us back to the problem of the movie, the mermaid characters are under developed, underused and on the periphery of the plot. On the surface the introduction of mermaids seems to be integral to the plot but in practice it looks like someone had an idea that they thought would be cool then contrived a plot point to justify their inclusion. The same could be said of the main mermaid, Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and her relationship with missionary, Phillip (Sam Claflin); they keep popping up throughout the film but don’t really have much to do and drift out of the plot as if discarded by the writers. Were they intended as replacements for Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom? If they are, they are poor replacements, not through any fault of the actors, they do as much as they can with the underdeveloped characters.

At the end of the day this is Johnny Depp/Cap’n Jack Sparrow’s movie, and he is still an engaging and entertaining character, unfortunately he is being diluted by week movies, Disney really needs to make hard decision put the bottom line to one side and write him a great movie or shelve the character. It has been suggested that the movie could be the first of a second Pirates trilogy, handled well this could work, there is certainly more mileage in the Angelica character and her relationship with Cap‘n Jack, and anything that gives Penélope Cruz more screen time has to be a good thing! There is also a lot more that could be done with the mermaid’s.

A surprisingly good fun swashbuckling adventure that I enjoyed more than I thought I would. It is probably only worth two stars out of five but I will give it three.


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