Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Everly, Creep, and The Keep


Salma Hayek stars as the titular character in this action/revenge flick- when Everlys gangster boyfriend finds out that she’s planning to betray him to the police, all bets are off and the captive prostitute is beaten and prepared for death. Desperate to survive, she manages to shoot her captives and prepares to leave her apartment. But there’s a price on her head, an army in the elevator, and the police are on the payroll. That’s the first thirty seconds of the film and things get truly crazy from that point on!

Director Joe Lynch strips down the average “revenge” film and traps the protagonist in a single apartment and apartment hallway where ALL of the action takes place. We are caught up in a never-ending onslaught as our heroine fights off rampaging hookers, murderous psychopaths, tattooed Yakuza, savage dogs, well-armed thugs, assassins, and armored police in riot gear. She has no hope for survival and it’s not even an option, but she has a stash of money that she’s been saving and she needs to make certain that she can keep her mother and daughter safe from the monsters who are currently on the hunt for them all. AND... This movie was AWESOME!!! Okay, there’s this dude who gets shot right in the beginning but he doesn’t die- actually, he’s shot in the stomach and I guess it must chip his spine because he can’t move at all after that. But he tries to help Everly and we get a few minutes of good dialogue between them, we find out about the crime lord, we get details on the organization, and Hayek is as beautiful now at 49 as she was during “Desperado”- action sequences are fantastically shot and there’s a few tracking shots that show us how claustrophobic everything is at times. When the movie slows down it's only to build up the stakes and let us know who Everly is and what the villain is capable of. And all of this while trapped in one single location that gets wrecked through the course of the film! I was laughing at inappropriate moments an filled with glee as Salma Hayak blasted her way across the scene on a path toward bloody revenge!

Amazing use of space!

4.5 out of 5 and a definite MUST watch! MUST OWN!!!

The Keep

“They were all drawn to THE KEEP!”

Directed by Michael Mann and based on the horror novel by F. Paul Wilson, this 1983 film is a bit of an oddity from this era. We have some truly great actors and performances with Gabriel Byrne, Ian McKellan, Scott Glenn, and Jurgen Prochnow. We have some beautifully shot scenes and a couple of really eerie moments, but a really confusing narrative that never seems to address what might actually be happening within the walls of the ancient Keep in question.

The film takes place during World War Two and a German Squad has been stationed within the walls of an Eastern European Keep where an ancient force lies buried. Some of the soldiers accidentally release the “Force” (It calls itself “Molinar”) and another ancient immortal (Glenn) senses what’s happening from half a world away. Several soldiers are killed, villagers are blamed, and the SS Officer is convinced to bring in a Jewish Professor (McKellan) to translate some words found etched into the walls.

Okay, I found myself a little lost about halfway through this movie and kept watching with a hope that there would be answers- but most of what is happening is lost in the delivery and I had to do some research on the film’s source material to find out a few details. Molinar is not just an ancient force but a powerful Sorcerer, Scott Glenn’s character is an opposing force to Molinar and is maneuvering to stop the Sorcerer from accomplishing his task, with everyone else supposedly falling between the two powerful forces where one is good and the other is evil. I’m not going to spoil which is which- because there is a bit of a mystery involved in that bit of a detail.

The effects are fairly top notch, but the whole film sort of unspools with a number of scenes that seem a little rushed, incomplete, or maybe edited a little badly. There’s also a heavy-synth score that virtually blares beneath some of the more dramatic moments and it can work against the tension of the scene.

3 out of 5 and a low priority rental, though you could literally avoid this one and not lose any sleep. But it's definitely worth watching for sci-fi/fantasy/horror fans.


There’s a sub-genre with the Independent film market that is referred to as “mumble-core”, the basics of which are as follows: Rough outline sketch of a script, actors perform improv, and the director sort of splices together the material he shoots and tries to make a cohesive film out of all the material he’s shot. “Creep” falls squarely in this category and is the second of its sort to try and explore the genre using elements of horror.

The simple story is that a man answers a “craigslist” ad for a videographer to record a day in the life of a man who is dying of cancer. He wants to record a day in his life to share with his unborn son, a son that he regrets he may never get a chance to meet. And the whole of the film comes from the material collected during this project- and that’s all I can say without spoiling it. Suffice to say that not everything is as it seems and the film builds on suspense and slowly crawls and slithers to its unnerving conclusion. 

The film stars Mark Duplass as the “dying man” and Patrick Brice as the “videographer”. Duplass is engaging, funny, charismatic, and downright mesmerizing in his role as the character suffers breakdowns, turmoil, regret, and ultimately confesses a series of truths that makes Brice uncomfortable and maybe a little on edge. Are things really as they seem? Is there more going on here than is obvious, or are we just seeing a dying man facing his mortality?

3 out of 5 and a strong rental if you enjoy POV-shot films.

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