365 Film Challenge Part 6: Odds and Grizzly Ends

This post has less of a theme than the last couple of updates on the challenge, I guess that here the link is that each film features characters coming to bloody deaths.

Film #15: Law Abiding Citizen

WoM has been trying to get me to watch this for a while, but I’ve been resistant. I’m not sure why because I’m a big fan of Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx, and quite like a decent revenge flick. So, finally I got around to watching it.

I should have waited longer.

lawabidingpos#

Story starts of simple enough, Butler is at home with his wife and kid, two burglars break in, one is a psycho who stabs Butler and rapes his wife, then kills her and then kills the kid too. Grim. Anyway, Foxx is the prosecutor and due to a slip up with evidence or something, the case isn’t locked in for a win. The psycho is willing to do a deal for a reduced sentence, however, and in order to secure a conviction, and maintain his stats, Foxx goes for it.

10 years later, burglar #2 is executed, but the injection has been tampered with and he dies in agony. Psycho is prime suspect, but gets help to escape from a mysterious voice on phone. It turns out to be Butler who has planned his revenge and tortures the guy, and then allows himself to be arrested. But there’s no evidence, and Butler starts playing mindgames and seems to be able to execute elaborate plans from inside prison.

That’s about as far as I got because this film is horrible. Like, a good revenge tale is pretty easy, the idea is that the villains are worse than whatever the hero does to them. Think about Kill Bill, the Bride slices up a lot of other folks but these are the people who killed her fiancee, her friends and almost killed her, as well as killed her unborn baby (she thinks). Also, the Bride takes them out in straight fights, not the kind of devices the villain from Saw would make.

Now, the film might work as a criticism of a broken legal system, but that’s fluffed in that some of the actions don’t seem to address flaws. Does the psycho’s lawyer really deserve to die? I mean, sure he defended the two burglars, but is the film arguing that justice would work better if the accused couldn’t mount a defence?

The problem here is that the film revels in this really unpleasant nastiness, which just left me cold. Butler’s performance is all weird too, because he goes so deep into cold, sadistic killer that any sympathy I had evaporated. I stopped feeling bad for the character who starts the movie watching his family get murdered! That’s not a good sign.

Nasty, unpleasant and seems to think it’s cooler and cleverer than it is. Avoid. 1/10.

Film #21: Crawl

I remember this movie coming out at the cinema and it looking like it might be a decent watch, as I quite like a decent creature feature movie and the story of killer gators could be quite thrilling.

The plot’s simple enough, a college student in Florida returns home to check on her estranged father as a hurricane approaches. Unfortunately, she finds him injured in the crawl space under their old house, along with two angry gators. This is bad enough but as the storm rolls in the water starts to rise and it seems as if the gators are pretty committed to turning the family into lunch.

crawlpos

The problem with this movie is it falls between two stools. You have two basic creature feature types- the more recent trend is for small scale, tense stories of people trapped somewhere with a critter trying to snack them which works well but is usually a bit of a one trick pony. Your second type is your old school approach where the critter turns a town into a smorgasbord and the action moves along quite quickly as you feed a bunch of random townsfolk to the beast.

This starts off as though it’s going to be the first type. The two main characters trapped with two gators, the rising water adding a ticking clock element. But then they seem to read the audience suspicion that this means there won’t be much of a body count so random characters get thrown in to get chowed down on. Looters and cops show up to basically underscore that these gators are not to be trifled with.

But what’s missing is a sense of fun and a decent ensemble cast. You need a group of characters to get onboard with and root for, so that when some get picked off you actually give a crap. Why do I care that the looters get munched? Or the coppers? They just showed up, and may as well have been ringing a dinner bell.

It has some tense moments and a couple of thrills, but the characters are rather uninteresting and I was more concerned about the family’s dog. I just feel for these movies you kinda need to lean into the ridiculous and go big, while this film becomes preposterous but is a bit too seriously. Where’s the fun? 5/10.

Film #22: The Head Hunter

No film about a monster hunting Viking-style warrior has any right being this bloody dull. The poster below is at least ten times cooler and more badass than the movie.

headhunterpos

Half an hour into this movie and we’d had three off screen fights. On screen we’d mainly watched our gruff lead doing chores, talking to a grave and sticking heads on the wall. It is utterly, utterly tedious.

Our main character has nobody to interact with, and so a lot of the film is just him moodily stomping about the place, occasionally talking to his horse or dead body. His desire to avenge his daughter’s death in thoroughly unengaging. When he does kill the beastie, a healing potion is knocked over and the severed head reanimates, looking for a body. A good idea, but arriving after almost 45 minutes of monotony it’s a bit late.

There’s some good low key effects, and at times the filmmakers do well to hide the failings of the budget, but it’s still a cop out to have almost every fight happen off screen.

Do yourself a favour, watch The Witcher instead. 3/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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