Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, April 04, 2008

If you romp amongst The Ruins,be prepared to become part of the When Groups Are Attacked! genre

The big horror movie release this week is The Ruins,which is based on Scott Smith's novel,and it's about a group of young tourists who stupidly go to a remote area that even the locals fear to tread and are targeted by the ancient evil forces within.

Despite my jaded tone,this may be a fun little flick and it puts me in mind of one of the oldest horror movie genres around,When Groups Are Attacked! The title speaks for itself and while most zombie films take up a lot of space on the list of WGAA!,I think it would be more interesting to find some other examples of this reoccurring plot line.

A good example is Identity,which stars John Cusack,Amanda Peet,Ray Liotta and a host of others as a stranded bunch of motel residents who are being picked off one by one and are not only trying to figure who is after them but what is the connection between these strangers and why does everyone seem to share the same birthday for such a random gathering?

Identity is a B-movie in the best possible sense and has a few unique twists that would be criminal to give away to those who haven't seen it. It's also fun to watch again,especially for Cusack's performance which is sadly touching towards the end:

You couldn't talk about this genre without mentioning The Descent,a dark look at group dynamics as a band of weekend spelunkers wind up lost,trapped and under siege in a series of remote caverns below the earth's surface.

This was one of the scariest and smartest movies of 2006,and if there are any lingering notions left about women being "the gentler sex",whoever still thinks that clearly has not seen this film. As the danger progresses,these ladies prove once and for all just how fierce the feminine instinct can be(btw,this clip is not work,kid or squeamish safe and a little bit spoilery-you have been warned):

The Faculty is a sci-fi "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" film and yet it has plenty of original ideas and a cool mix 'n' match blend of pop culture riffs,thanks to screenwriter Kevin Williamson and directer Robert Rodriguez who turn this atypical type of story into a "Breakfast Club Vs. The Threat From Beyond Space."

The casting here is part of fun,with future big stars like Elijah Wood and Josh Hartnett as members of the teen alien hunters posse and the high school staff being made up of Famke Janssen,Robert Patrick,Piper Laurie and Jon Stewart as the science teacher who unintentionally bands the doubtful students together after attempting to assimilate them into the otherworldly fold:

Finally,we come to The Village,which is a much better movie than many realized at first. I know that a lot of people expected it to be a whiz bang of a scare show,but M. Knight Shyamalan's portrayal of a remote community in a seemingly past time period that is held back from the wider world due to fear of "Those We Don't Speak Of",has a more subtle agenda of entertainment and art.

Say what you will about M. Knight and his particularly patented use of plot twists,one thing that you can not accuse him of is talking down to his audience. He gives the viewer true respect and it shows in his choice of actors,the beauty of the visuals and the background music that perfectly sets the mood of each scene:

Whatever you watch this weekend,keep one thing in mind;don't make the classic mistake of boxing yourself and your fellow survivors into a corner as the threatening menace moves into for the kill. Wide open spaces are your best bet,buddy(this announcement was paid for by the National Film Geek Association,please watch your genre films responsibly).


Julia Stewart said...

I am obsessed with The Village- saw it twice in the theater and many times over on DVD and TV.

I can't begin to express my complete facination with the whole idea of the movie..

After I saw it - it wouldn't leave my head.... the concept just floored me.

lady t said...

I love the whole Twilight Zone vibe of The Village and such good performances from William Hurt,Joaquin Phoenix and of course,Bryce Dallas Howard(she was amazing!).

Have you seen Lady in the Water? BDH is great in that one as well.