Tell-Tale, Directed by Michael Cuesta, 2010Everyone should know at this point that I am a huge fan of diving into straight-to-video films to find the diamonds in the rough. Tell-Tale (my full review) is one of those diamonds, though really that shouldn't be a surprise. I understand why it didn't get a theatrical release - Josh Lucas isn't exactly a bankable star, most modern audiences don't care about Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, and it isn't strictly a horror movie - but it bares none of the lesser qualities one expects from straight-to-video films. It looks great, it's got a rock solid cast that includes the aforementioned Lucas, Brian Cox and Lena Heady, and it's got a fairly inspired script to boot-- all things that aren't much of a surprise when you see the Scott Free Productions banner at the beginning of the film.
I also think you'd be hard pressed to find a smarter, more refreshing remake of Poe's classic tale of paranoia than Dave Callaham's script, which finds Lucas as the recipient of a new heart that pounds with rage whenever he approaches certain strangers. Plus, I think it's got my favorite ending of anything I've seen so far this year. Definitely worth a watch for anyone who likes slower, more character-driven thrillers than simple splatterfests.
Urban Legend, Directed by Jamie Blanks, 1998
Every other year or so I get this strange compulsion to watch Urban Legend. There's just something about late '90s horror that I have a lust for. I think we can all agree that it isn't a particularly great slasher, but in a lot of ways it's also the most '80s-era horror flicks to come out of the post-Scream slasher boom. It's got a catchy but slightly ludicrous premise and is firmly rooted into its birth year thanks to a "God, look how young they are!" cast and soundtrack.
Does it hold up well 12 years later? Eh, about as well as any film like it can. It's not exactly bad enough to warrant a watch simply for the cheese factor, but it also doesn't have enough truly memorable moments to warrant popping it in if you're in the mood for a good bit of horror fun. It's just kind of...there...minding its own business. But since I have such an inherent, child-like fondness for things like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, I can't help but check out Urban Legendfrom time to time. Maybe I should give some of the sequels a shot...
Jennifer's Body, Directed by Karyn Kusama, 2009
I like Jennifer's Body. I know I'm in the minority on that front, but I honestly do. It's not great, but it is divergent enough from what most horror movies are that I think it's a more interesting film than most people who dismiss it because of Diablo Cody's script are willing to admit. Megan Fox is perfectly cast in it, Amanda Seyfried is wonderfully frazzled (I might even argue she's the best female, teen horror lead since Emily Perkins in Ginger Snaps), and all of the trademark Diablo Cody'isms and femme-centric point-of-view are actually refreshing to see. The horror genre isn't exactly known for taking risks on what kind of characters it uses for its protagonists and villains and it's even more conservative when it comes to the written word, so I welcome a film that goes out of its way to break the mold.
I do wish that Karyn Kusama was a bit more willing to go all out in the horror department instead of often just having the demon-imbued Jennifer brandish CGI teeth and rush at the camera, but beyond that I'm okay with the movie (even if lines like "Do you know what this is for? It's for cutting boxes." do grate on me a tad).