Another Random Triple Bill

Some quick stuff which might be worth a watch over Halloween.

Gerald's Game (Mike Flanagan, 2017), based on a lesser-known Stephen King novel, turns out to be a pretty solid adaptation of a middling book. When Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) head off to a remote cabin to spice up their sex life, things take a turn for the worse when he has a heart-attack and dies, leaving her handcuffed to the bedpost with no hope of rescue. As she drifts in and out of consciousness, some deeply repressed memories surface which are never good when Stephen King is involved. So the 'voices' in Jessie's head take physical form to alternately help and taunt her in her predicament, flashbacks gradually reveal some dark secrets and a possibly supernatural element suggests itself during the ordeal. All of this assuredly handled by Flanagan, and well-played by Gugino and Greenwood, with smart editing throughout to build a genuine sense of claustrophobic suspense. There is however a rather unnecessary coda which is a bit silly, detracting from what is otherwise a tight, effective little thriller. It's now available on Netflix, but anyone squeamish should watch out for one deliciously nasty watch-through-your-fingers scene towards the end. Also, fans of E.T. may be slightly disturbed....

The Purge (James DeMonaco, 2013) is set in a near-future America where the government has sanctioned one night of the year as a 'Purge' night, during which all crime is legal, in an attempt to cleanse society of undesirables. One man (Ethan Hawke), who has made a fortune from selling security systems to those who can afford it, fins himself as his family in trouble when a stranger is ill-advisedly admitted to their house during the night. There's actually a smartly satirical concept at the centre of The Purge, which promises brains as well as action. Unfortunately that premise has been stabbed, kicked and beaten senseless by the dim-witted, cliched horror movie tropes around it, leaving it barely alive by the end of the film. As a result, a potentially smart dystopian sci-fi is really dumber than a bag of hammers, so I've already purged it form my mind. Then again, it has spawned 2 successful sequels with another to follow, so what do I know?

Eyes Without a Face (Georges Franju, 1960) is a classic French horror film about a mad scientist (Pierre Brasseur) who attempts to transplant the face of a kidnapped girl to the disfigured face of his daughter (Edith Scob). It's a fairly macabre tale, but presented in poetic, expressionistic style, rather than outright horror. As a result, it isn't that scary, but it is filled with striking images and memorable sequences, as well as being open to several interpretations if you fancy restoring some brain cells after watching The Purge. It's a regular fixture on 'Great Horror Movie Lists and inspired the likes of Almodovar's The Skin I Live In and Michael Myers' mask in Halloween, as well as being directly referenced in Holy Motors by casting Edith Scob herself. Worth seeing, all I felt it fell short of outright classic myself.

Right, back to the pumpkin carving.....

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