Friday, November 30, 2007

30 Days of Night

My expectations weren't high for this one, mostly due to the presence of Josh Hartnett, who seems to doom every film he touches. So it was a great surprise to see the subject of vampires given new life and rebuilt with respect for its Nosferatu (Murnau) and Vampyr (Dreyer) foundations into a chilly and grim modern tale. 30 Days of Night chooses an underexploited backdrop -- a small Alaskan down during its month of ceaseless night. These vampires are genuinely creepy, though a few look to have escaped from a Marilyn Manson road crew. Their unknown and ancient language, reportedly made up by the writers, sounds Germanic, which again recalls the past's best vampires. The film is hyper-grisly for sure, but rightly sparing in story details that might spoil the menace of the vampires. How did they find this town? Where did they come from? What happened to the passengers on the ship they arrived on? What's going to happen next winter? Ben Foster is great as The Stranger. Few young actors are such consistent and believable nutcases. And Hartnett is actually watchable! I'm looking forward to reading the original graphic novels.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Scared and loving it

Grudge 2 is on and though I've missed the beginning, it doesn't matter. It's lush and creepy, so who cares if the story doesn't hold together. Big-eyed, pale-skinned children have long been scary (All hail Village of the Damned). So are things that stand quiet and half hidden out of the corner of your eye, fleeting reflections -- you can't miss. The mundane is frightening too, as all the best horror writers know. Things like the shabby, worn tape over the door of the Grudge room that causes visitors so much grief. It's a beautifully shot picture.

So this week on my recommended list: The Poet and The Narrows, both by Michael Connelly, one of the best mystery writers going. Harry Bosch is a great, damaged character, joining Travis McGee (MacDonald) and Victor Carl (Lashner) as my top favorite detectives. I'm a few pages into Brother Odd, and since Koontz is unmatched as writer who can scare you and up your humanity quotient at the same time, it's going to be a pleasure, I'm sure. Good watches include Tranformers (amazing fx and not too treacly), Nip Tuck, as always, and A Charlie Brown Christmas.