For Your Renting Pleasure

red_state_headerWith a fall season shooting out some big name video games and an important World Series for STL fans, the Cardinals, Batman, and Nathan Drake have been keeping me a little too busy to slip some movies in.  Ok, there might have also been a Teen Wolf marathon on MTV at some point…  However, with those games in the bag (for the most part) and the Cardinals coming out the victors, it is now time that I get back to watching some rentals.  Other than Red State, I probably should have chosen a few better titles to come back with though…

Case 39 (2009)

Though Case 39 puts doubts in one’s mind about the necessity of children, it lacks any mystery and intrigue to the story that would have made it worthwhile.

Whether or not due to money problems on the studio’s part or lack of faith in the film, Case 39 was actually shelved for a while prior to its release.  Then there was the rise of Bradley Cooper.  Hoping to partake in the glory of his name, Case 39 was released.  Though I love him as an actor, he really doesn’t have much to do here, which is sad considering I am really not a fan of Renée Zellweger.  So with the two leads out, the burden of the film falls on the little girl cast in the role of the abused child needing the help of Zellweger’s child services agent.  Jodelle Ferland, who has been popping up all over the place for as far back as I can remember, plays the part of Lilith Sullivan.  At first she is her usual soft spoken, unimposing little girl that we have come to know (though I guess technically she was around 15 when this was filmed), and then out of no where this switch is flipped where the creepy factor starts to rear it’s ugly head.  Her performance is the highlight in these scenes in which she dominates the room as her character slowly becomes a variable to keep an eye on, but unfortunately the film itself provides nothing new to make this a must see in the horror genre.

Final Grade:  D+

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2010)

If Angel taught me anything, besides how much I could loath a series finale, then it is that a private investigator and the world of supernatural creatures often makes for a great combo.  That was then, Dylan Dog is now.

Dylan was once a man that the vampires, werewolves, and other creatures of the night called to keep them safe as law enforcement does for the human element of the world.  But today he works solely as a P.I. for the normal inhabitants after his reputation was changed for the worse years prior.  However, if he really wanted to get out of the game then he should have probably left the state, because these things have a tendency to come creeping back into one’s life.

As creature features go, this one is all over the place in terms of make-up and computer generated effects.  One morph right in the camera’s lens is pretty horrible, but in the end one final go at the effects leads me to believe that all the money was saved for these shots so that the climax of the film actually meant something (which unfortunately it didn’t due to the lack of interest in the build up).  The vampires were ok for the most part, pulling heavily from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer look, and the zombies were actually pretty interesting in terms of their degradation, but the worst were the werewolves.  They were too comical looking to be taken seriously as a threat, in a 1985 Teen Wolf sort of way, but worse.

Story wise, the relationship between Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh) and a woman, Elizabeth (Anita Briem), whose father’s death is what brings this case to Dylan’s attention, is laughably forced as it progresses.  At first he is just simply here to protect her, but as he lets her in (ie tells her all about what happened to his last girlfriend), things go a little like this: Dylan – “Oh I miss my girlfriend so much.  We can’t do this.  But we need the plot point, so do you want to have sex with me?”

For every horrible attempt to keep her character in play, there are just as many great moments between Dylan and his sidekick Marcus.  Sam Huntington creates the majority of the great scenes of the film with his awkward comedic relief, and without him there is no way that this film would have remained watchable in the slightest.

Final Grade:  D

Red State (2011) – Currently available for streaming through Netflix

Overly zealous religious individuals can be pretty annoying for those who don’t share their level of love for the Lord.  Then get them in a group and their beliefs can be down right deadly.

As a great attempt at marketing within the DVD, a preview for Bill Maher’s Religulous can be found before the DVD’s menu screen.  As a documentary about exploring the nature of religion and how beliefs may seem a little ridiculous to someone on the outside looking in, it fits perfectly with the main body of characters in Red State.  The film picks up with three boys who have a sexual drive that would put those from American Pie to shame.  When one of the three makes a date to get down and dirty with a woman he has been talking to on the internet, his two friends go along to share in the fun.

Arguing for the fact that you should always be hesitant to trust strangers you meet on the internet, these boys are drugged and kidnapped by a group of crazy religious individuals who make the Westboro Baptist Church look like standup citizens in their hatred of homosexuals and sexual deviants.  As this kidnapping brings in a hint of suspense as the lives of the three friends are seriously threatened thanks to the church’s willingness to rid the world of those who look to corrupt it, this genre switch only marks the first time in which the tone of the film changes, moving through horny boys to suspense to action to possible paranormal happenings before the film is done.

This group of believers will have anyone rooting for their deaths as things escalate and their stash of guns finally gets to come out of the bowls of the church (especially after a rather lengthy sermon about all those “filthy perverts”), yet it still manages to keep these religious extremists from being the only ones with faults as law enforcement officers move in to sweep the escalating situation under the rug as cleanly as possible.

With a few graphic moments that manage to shock and an end to the violence that is ridiculous enough in a comical sense as the tone once again flips on a dime, the film is recommended for those who don’t mind blood and religious extremists becoming a mockery.

Final Grade:  B-