Mar. 8th, 2014

philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
It wasn't so long ago that I released my "best movies" list for 2013, but I've already seen two movies probably more deserving of a place on that list (at very least in the top 20). My reviews are below.

Escape (2012)

There's been an odd tendency recently for horror directors to try out a kind of atmospheric period piece horror. Neil Marshall (director of "The Descent" and "Doomsday") made "Centurion", a film about Romans being massacred by Picts in Northern England (starring Michael Fassbender btw). Then Christopher Smith (director of "Severance" and "Triangle") made "Black Death", a film about a bunch of Church-sanctioned mercenaries investigating claims of necromancy in a village mysteriously unaffected by the plague (starring Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne).

This film, "Escape", is from Roar Uthaug, the director of "Cold Prey". The first two "Cold Prey" movies feel like someone watched every single slasher film, worked out a formula for what was best about all of them and then flawlessly applied that formula. "Cold Prey" is a slasher film with genuine characters and genuine terror and there's no other slasher film that can hold a candle to it.

"Escape" takes place ten years after the Black Plague. A family is travelling down a mountain pass when they are attacked by some kind of savage group of bandits led by a mysterious woman who has a remarkable level of influence over her male helpers. Out of the family, only the daughter is left alive. The group of bandits' plans for her are not pleasant and her only option seems to be to escape, but how?

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The East (2013)

Another script from Brit Marling, here once again teamed up with director Zal Batmanglij. Since they worked together on "Sound of my Voice", one of my favourite movies from 2012, I'd actually been quite keen to see this at cinemas. But unfortunately I ended up missing it. The reviews haven't been terribly positive in spite of the more high profile cast this time around.

I will admit first of all that this is not quite on the same level as "Sound of my Voice". Nevertheless, I think there is a similar high level of quality here. Instead of a couple who wish to expose a dangerous cult, this time it is a trained corporate spy actively employed to track down a dangerous anarchist group.

From some accounts you'd have thought this was a whiny anti-corporate rant, but in actual fact the script takes great care not to push too far one way or the other. On both sides there are pragmatic elements which get in the way of doing the right thing. The anarchist group are aware that small-time stunts do not make headlines and constantly have the temptation to cause more harm. Meanwhile the firm uncovering the group are disinclined to step in and take action on the anarchists unless they can obtain a fee for doing so. The anarchists are in danger of taking their demands for justice too far, while the corporations are in danger of putting profit above integrity.
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