Elessar here, to give you our latest installment of Give It a Shot! (Apparently the exclamation point is part of the title, like Airplane!) And since the year is coming to a finish, I figured the best way to send off the year would be to devote this installment of Give It a Shot! to suggesting some movies from the last year that maybe didn’t get a lot of attention.
John Dies at the End
There isn’t a way that I can honestly name John Dies at the End as one of the top 10 best movies of 2013 (believe me, I tried) but I can honestly say that it’s one of my favorites. Like the book it’s adapted from, it’s a weird, creepy, often disgusting, occasionally frightening and often funny product, almost entirely unlike any other product in the market right now. And honestly, what else would you want out of a movie?
The setup is kind of on the weird side. Two guys, Dave, a slacker, and John, a semi-junkie living out in the Midwest, wind up taking a drug that gives them the ability to, amongst other things, see and combat demons, ghosts and assorted monsters. I’d tell you more, but then I’d wind up ranting and might accidentally tell you about the sequence in which a character dies, albeit briefly, and winds up communicating through a sausage. Oops.
It’s not a perfect movie; it’s hampered by its obvious low budget and short running time, neither of which will allow it to be as involved and dark as the book, but it’s still a great ride. It’s a weird and occasionally gory ride through existential musing and penis jokes. The two guys playing the leads are great, Paul Giamatti is in it (and he’s good in everything), and it’s directed by Don Coscarelli, late of the unspeakably awesome Bubba Ho-Tep and Phantasm. So if any of that sounds good to you, you should go seek out John Dies at the End. And the book too, because the sequel to the book is called This Book is Full of Spiders.
While you’re at it, check out Starshine’s review of the movie as well!
Oh horror films. I do love you so, but you have one of the most inconsistent outputs of any genre, even when we dive into the indie scene. For every Ginger Snaps or Trick ‘r Treat we have 50 Hatchet’s and Frozen (the bizarre and kind of stupid horror movie, not the really good Disney movie). Still, I do like horror films and 2013 was overall a pretty good year for them. We had the above mentioned John Dies at the End, The Conjuring (which, being a smash hit, doesn’t qualify for this list), Mama (ditto). Even the Evil Dead remake was pretty metal. So now we also have You’re Next.
You’re Next is not a smart, deep, intellectual or thoughtful movie about the human condition or anything like that. What it is, if you’re into this sort of thing, is totally freaking awesome. The setup is deliciously simple: a rich family is at their mansion out in the middle of nowhere, a group of psychopaths in animal masks show up with a variety of weapons and…nope, that’s about it. There’s more to the plot (it has a lot of fun faking out who the hero is gonna be, and there’s a couple of minor twists involving the motivations of the psychos) but there’s not a whole ton to this one.
Which unfortunately means I don’t have a lot to say. If this kind of movie is your bag, you’re probably going to like this one. It’s got a few really tense scenes, some solid black comedy, a bunch of well done kills and is overall a really well made and engaging example of the genre. If this sort of movie isn’t your thing, well this one isn’t exactly going to change your mind. So yeah, I guess that’s about it. Next!
Spring Breakers (directed by Harmony Korine, still probably best known for a movie entitled Trash Humpers) features, amongst other things, James Franco (as a white rapper, complete with a grill) belting out a Britney Spears ballad, while 3 girls (one of whom is still best known for being in freaking High School Musical) dance around in pink ski masks and bikinis with shotguns. And it’s probably going to be on my top 10 films of the year.
It’s been a weird year.
Spring Breakers, for the record, is devoted to 3 college girls (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Rachel Korine) who, desperate to go to Florida on Spring Break, pull off a stupidly risky but successful late night robbery, and head off to spring break. They’re quickly arrested on drug charges, but are bailed out by Alien (James Franco) an unsigned white rapper and petty criminal who offers to show them the real party. And that’s when things get…weird.
I’m not going to tell you how weird, partially cause I want you to go in cold and partially cause I don’t think you’d believe me when I tell how bizarre this movie gets (in particular Franco’s self-debasing performance). I actually can’t say much more than I have, apart from saying that disguising this movie’s trailers as just another Project X was a work of pure genius. Again, no spoilers, but 80 percent of the 3rd act of this movie seems to be designed to force people like its protagonists to see themselves in the characters and realize that those same characters are awful, awful, awful human beings. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So that’s it for this entry of Give it a Shot! Hope to see you again soon.