Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nathan's Sunday DVD Reviews - Chinatown, Tormented and The Strangers

Welcome to my first DVD review section. As a member of Lovefilm (the UK's version of Netflix) I tend to get through alot of DVDs and thought it would be useful to review these, to help others decide on something to watch next time they want a DVD! I am hoping to make this a weekly installment with two or three films reviewed.

First up is Chinatown, starring Jack Nicholson. The 1974 film, set in 1937 Los Angeles, revolves around Nicholson's character, Jake Gettes, a private detective who exposes cheating spouses, being hired to follow her husband the chief engineer for LA Department for Water and Power. When the husband's affair is exposed and he is found dead, it is clear there is more to the story than first thought.

This is a technically very sound movie. Nicholson is his usual charasmatic self, but in the most part in an understated way. Although made in the early 70s, it has the feel of a film from the 1930s, with even the credits and title sequence designed in retro fashion. Even though this is a well made film, I am not sure I particularly enjoyed it. Considered one of the best movies ever made, I was left slightly underwhelmed, but I would still suggest you watch it, as there are definitely some good aspects to the film.

Rating 3.5/5

Next up is 2009 Brit Horror, Tormented.Set in an English School, following the suicide of one it's students, the film stars a largely an unknown cast, other than Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number 4Beastly).Shortly after the funeral, it soon becomes clear that the young man was very unpopular and bullied.His ghost comes back to haunt those who made his life hell and kills them off one by one.

This is a brave attempt by the UK to join the popular horror market, but it is left largely lacking. Although the story is sound, and perfect for a horror film, the final execution (no pun intended) is disappointing. The effects are poor, the humor doesn't work very well and it just doesn't have real scare factor. I am not sure it knows it's place in the market, is it a serious horror with a touch of humor, or a comedy horror with a touch of scariness? It ends up being neither.

Rating 2/5

Finally, The Strangers, starring Liv Tyler (Lord of the RingsArmageddon). Inspired by true events, we see Liv Tyler and her husband, Scott Speedman (Underworld) tormented in their summer home by three masked assailants.

I have mixed feelings about this film. On the one hand, I found it quite slow. I expected it to be a bit more "violent" with the couple captured early on and tortured, but it si not like that. It has a slow build up with the three masked strangers playing a game of cat and mouse with the couple. On the other this slow build up does intensify the creepy factor.

The film is well shot and there is one scene, fairly early on, where we see Liv lighting a cigarette in the kitchen with her back to the living room. Slowly one of the masked attackers walks into the room, out of the dark and watches her. She is completely unaware he is there and it is just a frightening image.

Not a bad film, but I was just left a little uncertain, in more ways than one.

Rating 3/5

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