Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Short Film: The Pearce Sisters (Great Britain, 2008)

The Pearce Sisters is a bleak oddity produced by Aardman Animations, a filmmaking studio better known for its whimsically entertaining stop-motion Wallace & Gromit or Shawn the Sheep series than unsettlingly funny animations like this one. The short is based on a tale by Mick Jackson that the director Luis Cook found in Jackson's book of short stories entitled Ten Sorry Tales.
Animated using a mixture of computer drawn 3-D and hand drawn 2-D animation, the film looks anything but high tech—as Luis Cook himself has said, "The film itself [looks as if it] could've been washed up by the sea." Cook has been at Aardman since 1992 doing commercials and promos and stuff, but this is his first short film. An eye-opening and disquieting blast of visual creativity, it is hardly surprising that The Pearce Sisters was chosen as the Best Short Animation at the 2008 BAFTA Awards or that it has won a yitload of other awards at festivals around the world.
The beautiful but disturbingly ugly short—a masterful, violent rumination upon love and loneliness liberally peppered with innards, dead fish, gore and nudity—may definitely not be everybody's cup of tea, but here at A Wasted Life we see it as perfectly brewed and served. Virtually circular in its narration, the short narrates a day in the life of Lol and Edna Pearce, two ugly old sisters that live a lonely and miserably hard life on a remote, windy and rain-raked coastal beach where they survive by catching and smoking fish.

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (USA, 2009)

Love him or hate him, Rob Zombie is truly a trailer park Renaissance Man: from music to writing to graphic arts to film, he seems to put his greasy fingers into any warm pie that will let him. And now, after four live action horror films—Halloween II (2009 / trailer), Halloween (2007 / trailer), The Devil's Rejects (2005 / trailer) and House of 1000 Corpses (2003 / trailer)—that share a penchant for ingenious visual overdosing but vary greatly in narrative quality and overall effect, Zombie has chosen to wiggle his fingers within the fecund genre of animation. To do so, he has returned to his graphic novel The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (published by Image Comics in 2007) to create a film of the same name. And what a film it is!
With The Haunted World of El Superbeasto Zombie has made the perfect animated film for the pimply, hormone-crazed 15-year-old horror fan still alive within all grown men. A rollercoaster of violence, T&A, and clichéd and inspired dialog, one-liners and visual jokes and references, the story of The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is less linear than it is a gossamer strand which he uses as an excuse to toss out funny and flat jokes, tits and ass, tasteless laughs, tits and ass, blood, tits and ass, horror, tits and ass, inspired idiocy and tits and ass. Much of the plot development is abridged and compacted within the numerous musical interludes which span in style from heavy metal to country to discofied, and while none of the songs will ever get radio rotation, they are all highly entertaining ditties of degenerate taste.
The "Haunted World" that is that of El Superbeasto is a netherworld populated by classic and non-classic film monsters and babes with big ta-tas drawn in a style that is more reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons in the 70s than, say, Disney films.
El Superbeasto is an obnoxious, pussy-obsessed and nylon-suited luchador (imagine a verbose Charles Burns's El Borbah with a Saturday Night Fever [1977 / trailer] wardrobe) with an overrated sense of self-importance who makes porno films by day and saves the world by night—providing he isn’t too busy chasing poontang.
Rather unlike his hot blonde sister Suzi X, who is first seen on a mission to steal Hitler's head (on loan from They Saved Hitler's Brain (1963 / key scene) and who spends much of the film fighting Nazi zombies when she isn’t playing with the clutch of her of her horny robot car Murray.
The stripper Velvet Von Black makes El Superbeasto’s chorizo move mightily, but before they can play patty-cake Dr. Satan has his talking ape Otto kidnap her: it seems she carries the mark of the devil on her ass, and if she and Dr. Satan unite, then Dr. Satan shall gain unlimited demonic power. Can El Superbeasto keep his mind on track long enough to stop Dr. Satan and save the world?
Aside from Zombie Nazis and Hitler’s head, almost every monster or cult favorite of cinema has a cameo in the film—Zombie even manages to toss in a Benny Hill cameo, a reference so uncool that it's cool again. Indeed, the jokes and visual puns are very much of a take no prisoners mentality—obviously enough, if you throw a lot of shit around, some of it will stick eventually; luckily for Zombie, most of his shit seems to stick. More than one scene will have you shaking your head long after the film is over—the rat shitting scene or the toe-sucking scene deserve special mention in this regard.
From the wonderfully traditional opening credit sequence underscored by some excellent traditional film music to the country closing number of the film, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is as inspired as it is sophomoric, as intelligently stupid as it is tasteless and sexist, as fun and funny as it is embarrassing—and therein lies its charm, if “charm” is even what you can call it. For all its horror film trappings, the film is never intentionally (or unintentionally) scary, and focuses instead on using the vocabulary of the genre—and the vocabulary of an overly hip, 15-year-old sailor—to take the piss out of anything and everything.
Simply put, if you like tits, horror and animation, you can’t go wrong with The Haunted World of El Superbeasto.

Event Horizon (USA, 1997)

The third film of Brit Paul Anderson is an unexpected surprise. His first film Shopping (1994) was a pleasantly nihilistic trifle, predictable and almost annoying but al least visually interesting enough to make one think that maybe his next might be better. But his next was Mortal Kombat (1995 / trailer), a piece of true blue commercial crap, starring the Great God of Lousy Movies Christopher Lambert and based on a computer game, and all hope was gone—another hack and not much more. Then, unexpectedly, this film found its way into the theaters, where for some inexplicable reason it disappeared much too quickly. Dark and depressing, more a horror film than a science fiction film, its brief run belays the fact that it is actually a rather interesting, visually kinetic and at times highly effective cross genre mixture—sort of The Shining (1980 / trailer) meets Solaris (1972 / trailer) but without the pretensions, spiced a little with bits of Tron (1982 / trailer), Alien (1979 / trailer) and Hellraiser (1987 / trailer). Its obvious sources and its supposed extreme bloodiness have earned this film a lot a of derogatory ridicule, but truth be told, originality is only one aspect to rate a film—and often a questionable one, in this post-postmodern world—and, as any fan of horror, action or similar genre films can tell you, Event Horizon really isn’t extremely bloody, its just sorta bloody. In fact, it is probably realistically bloody, considering the situations of the story—rather unlike most Hollywood productions. The special effects are good enough, if not at times excellent, though many have complained that the computer animation is obviously fake. This is true, actually, but who cares? Cameron’s Titanic (1997 / trailer) had a bigger budget and didn’t do that much better.
Event Horizon is a horror film in space, complete with slamming doors, haunted house—er, ship—ghosts, killer demon, body count and open ending. Either you like this type of movie or you don’t, bastá. One disadvantage this film has over most of its ilk is that it actually works better in the cinema than on the tube, if only because the varied tones of dark tend to blend or disappear on video, as does the film’s fine use of sound. Likewise, the overall claustrophobic effect in the spaceships and the incredible sense of never-ending expanse of the space scenes all suffer on the little screen. But at least the acting is excellent all around and doesn’t suffer on the small screen, everyone involved being able to quickly present and establish their characters and individual personalities amazingly quickly, equally due to being cast to type and talent. Still, fat chance this film will see a re-release or art-house run, so make do with damaged goods found at the DVD store.
Know the story? Spaceship disappears, reappears years later, a rescue and salvage team is sent to find out what happened and all hell breaks loose.... but as the character Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) says at one point, “Hell is only a word. The reality is much, much worse.” The rescue ship sent, the Lewis and Clark, is under the command of Captain Miller (Lawrence Fishburne), and with Dr. Weir, the designer of the Event Horizon in tow, they travel way out to Neptune and board the deserted, drifting ship. Of the first three who go on board, Justin (Jack Noseworthy) is the first to experience the unknown, a meeting that eventually makes him walk out an airlock and blow some guts in space (put in suspended animation, he is still one of the few that supposedly survive at the end—though, truth be told, the film ends in such a way that the viewers can decide for themselves whether there are actually any survivors or not). One explosion later and the Lewis & Clark needs some heavy duty repairs, leaving everyone stranded in the meantime on a ghost ship full of the splattered remains of its initial crew. Ain’t long before long the individual guilts, ghosts and fears of the various crew members begin to manifest themselves. It seems that the “Gravity Drive,” as special propulsion system developed by Dr. Weir that recreates a black hole so that the ship can travel by jumping dimensions—solar systems?—took the Event Horizon somewhere else than just another solar system. Not only that, but the ship brought something back, something that don’t wanna play canasta.
Okay, so Peters (Kathleen Quinlan) does run around alone when she should know better, but how else can there be a body count? That Weir goes bad is believable, however, if only because the guilt he feels about the loss of his wife opens him up to the promise the entity seemingly gives him—a broken, weak person from the beginning, his possession, per say, is as logical as that of the little girl in The Exorcist (1973 / trailer). What is a bit less explainable is why Lt. Stark (Joely Richardson), Cooper (Richard T. Jones), DJ (Jason Isaacs) and Smith (Sean Pertwee) don’t seemingly have much problems with inner demons—not that it keeps the last two alive, though.Actually, like all horror films, if you want to pick the film apart, you can do so relatively easily. But in the end, the whole thing about the supernatural is that it doesn’t operate by logical or normal reasoning, so ignore the holes and enjoy the film. Event Horizon offers a pretty good ride, if you let it. (As would Cooper, one can imagine, if his offer of something hot and black were taken up.)

The Marsh (Canada, 2006)

"People're weird. They die... they get weirder."

Geoffry Hunt

Claire Holloway (Gabrielle Anwar) is a successful writer of morbid kiddy books who is plagued by nightmares. One day she sees the house of her dark dreams—the Rose Marsh Farm in Westmoreland County—on the tube and promptly rents it to stay in while working on her next book. Wow! Not only do some of the faces in town seem familiar to her, but back at the ranch she is haunted by the terrifying ghosts of a little girl and a teenage boy (Joe Dinicol of Diary of the Dead [2007 / trailer]). The local newspaper publisher Noah Pitney (Justin Louis of Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II [1987 / trailer] and Blood & Donuts [1995 / trailer]) wants to get to know her despite the fact that she sort of acts like a frigid bitch, but it's better that way cause in a by-the-number flick like this the viewer knows that he ain't as kosher as he pretends to be. Instead of snuggling up in his arms when the ghosts start a-haunting, she runs to the local parapsychologist Hunt (Forest Whitaker)—every small town has one, right?—whose business card she just happens to find under the sofa. What is her connection to the ghosts and the tragedy that happened in the house some 20 years earlier? Well, here's a hint: Claire Holloway was adopted…
OK, one can understand why Gabrielle Anwar said yes to making this film. The Marsh was released a year before Burn Notice went on air in 2007 and she began earning a regular pay check as Fiona Clenanne, the anorexic-looking second-tier female. But in 2006, she was still an actress normally referred to as "that woman who did the tango with Al Pacino" in one of his worst films, Scent of a Woman (1992 / trailer), and had only headlined a few non-masterpieces such as Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal (2001 / trailer), Flying Virus (2001 / trailer) and Abel Ferrara's totally pointless remake Body Snatchers (1993 / trailer).
Thus, the lead in a Canadian-shot theatrical release with a name co-star like Forest Whitaker (who worked with her already when he was less well known in Body Snatchers) must have been tempting, especially when house payments have to be made. So, Ms Anwar, we understand and forgive you for taking part in this piece of shit and hope you were at least well paid. But in regard to Forest Whitaker, man, dude, you're a fucking serious actor! What the hell are you doing in something like this? Do you have a gambling problem? Were you stoned when you read the script? Did you get free blowjobs guaranteed in your contract for the length of the shoot? Let's hope that that award you got for The Last King of Scotland (trailer)—made the same year as The Marsh—will keep you out of films like this in the future.
The Marsh is a generic haunted house film that offers little new to the genre but, for that, is both twice as predictable and has twice as many holes in its story than the average television flick. Scriptwriter Michael Strokes may be a practiced hand at scripting B-movie plotlines—see the superior B-flick Exit Speed (2008 / trailer), the laughable CGI-heavy Z-flick Shadowbuilder (1998 / trailer) and the generic Mark Dacascos film Sanctuary (1997 / trailer)—but he was being particularly lazy with The Marsh. Aside from the generic and coincident-driven story, tangents are picked up and dropped or forgotten—for example, the red herring tale about the Rose tragedy 100 years earlier, whether or not the Dad (Peter MacNeill) was in on the cover-up, anything that might relate to what the teenage ghost says, anything that has to do with explaining how Claire became an orphan, why the publisher wants to cover up something that was reported in the newspaper 20 years earlier, and whoever's skeletal hands do the pulling—at the drop of a hat. And why does the little girl ghost do all the killing—after waiting 20 years, supposedly because she needed to be jump-started by Claire the Sparkplug—when it's the teenage ghost that is the evil one? And why does he want to keep her?
The Marsh may be nicely shot, but any and all possibly effective scenes end up inducing anger in the viewer due to the cheap trick of ALWAYS using sudden loud noise to underline the scare. Obviously enough, those involved were trying to achieve something a bit more classy than the average direct-to-DVD haunted house flick, but mood and subtlety—two aspects integral to the best classy haunted house flicks ranging from The Haunting (1963 / trailer) to The Shining (1980 / trailer)—do not seem to be among the directorial talents of the director, Jordan Barker.
If you want a decent haunted house flick, skip this turkey and either catch the two just-mentioned masterpieces or, if you prefer your films less historically burdened and more "independent", try Dark Remains (2005 / trailer)—it has ten times the scares of The Marsh at half the budget.

Set It Off (USA, 1996)

(Spoilers.) F. Gary Gary has said that the film was inspired in part by Luc Bresson's La Femme Nikita (1990 / trailer), in that when he saw Bresson's film he got interested in the idea of making a film that put women in what are traditionally male roles — in the case of Set It Off, that of bank robbers. More than anything else, however, the film is simply one of the many new black films that came out in the wake of New Jack City (1991 / trailer) that were basically updated, contemporary versions of the Blaxploitation genre. F. Gary Gary does it so well, however, that the film easily transcends the label and can be seen simply as an excellent crime thriller with a black, feminist twist. True, the motivations behind why the four hot young ladies decide to enter the life of crime achieve validation only through their being black (can't imagine any lily white Valley Girls suffering what they do), but as action packed and thrilling as Set It Off is, it lacks the cheap feeling of true exploitation.
Okay, there are flaws in the story and in the logic occasionally, but the film carries the viewer along so thoroughly that it takes a second or third viewing to pick them out — and then, the film is still so good, you don't really give a shit. The biggest flaws of the film all pop up the last third of the film, about the time the four decide to do their last big job and blow town. It just makes no sense that the four ladies, after so effectively disguising themselves with wigs the first couple of times, would resort to some idiotic see-through plastic masks that in no way hide their identity for their last robbery, even if they do think that the police are on to them and that time is running out. The tragic ending starts out realistically enough, the first death being especially touching because of all four bank robbers, Tisean (Kimberly Elise) had the least materialistic or revenge-driven motivation — she had simple, desperate need. The last couple of deaths are staged most dramatically, but also most unrealistically. A car encircled by cops is not the only thing that will get riddled with bullets if the encircling police let it loose; cross shooting would guarantee that a number of police would shoot themselves as well. And when Frankie (Vivica A. Fox) finally gets it, there is no fucking way in hell that a tour bus full of tourists bound for Mexico is going to trawl by slowly in front of the fleeing woman as she gets made into Swiss cheese; even if such a bus did get through whatever police blockades there might be, it too would be the recipient of numerous bullets. Unless the L.A. police have developed some new secret type of bullets that train in only on black, fleeing female bank robbers, the climactic shootouts defy reality in every way, even if they do make for some nice Hemingwayesque endings.
Of all the sub-plots, Stony's love affair with a black banker seems the least necessary, the nice yuppie serving little purpose other than to be the occasional voice of reason spewing forth wisdoms that are relatively easy to say if you happen to have a lot of money. (Interesting to note that even in 1996, it still seems to be the unstated law of the land in the USA that the woman never goes to bed with the guy until the third date.) Lastly, the sudden conversion of Detective Strode (John C. McGinley) at the film's end from a hardcore, dick-headed pig to an understanding, sympathetic cop (in the vein of the cop played by Harvey Keitel in Thelma & Louise [1991 / trailer]) is most unconvincing. It comes across less as a logically development in the story than that the filmmakers either suddenly lost the balls to keep the symbols of white authority and pressure nasty or were forced from higher above to soften the portrayal.
These flaws aside, from the opening bank robbery that ends up costing bank teller Frankie (Vivicia A. Fox) her job to the last scenes of the Stony (Jada Pinkett) escaping into Mexico, the film carries the viewer along lock, stock and barrel. Like the direction and the characterization, the acting in uniformly excellent, and the tragic aspects of the story never come across as maudlin, but rather as truly heartbreaking. It isn't hard to understand why the four women finally decide to fuck the system, for the system definitely has no intention of doing anything other than fuck them. And it does so, for the most part, all the way until the film's end.

Island of the Living Dead (Italy/Philippines, 2006)

Bruno Mattei is without a doubt one of the legendary cult names of Italian trash cinema. If there was a band wagon to jump on, he undoubtedly did, often with cheap rip-offs of the original name products but always with an unbelievable filmic incompetence that belies description. As is mentioned both on IMDB and Wikipedia, he was sometimes referred to as the "Ed Wood of Italian filmmaking," a description that indicates the surrealistic level of ineptitude found in Mattei's films but fails to accurately signify just how sleazy and tastelessly exploitive his movies are.
Mattei, who died of a brain tumor at the age of 76 on May 21st, 2007, was not only a true maverick of bad taste and hack exploitation film, but a productive filmmaker as well, having directed over 50 films in his life, including numerous popular, infamous and downright crappy titles such as Casa privata per le SS (1977 / short offensive scene), Hell of the Living Dead (1980 / trailer), The Other Hell (1981 / trailer), Caligula et Messaline (1981), Rats - Notte di terrore (1984 / trailer), Robowar - Robot da guerra (1988 / trailer), Zombi 3 (1988, un-credited with Lucio Fulci / trailer), Terminator 2 (1990 / trailer), Cruel Jaws (1995 / trailer), and Cannibal Ferox 3: Land of Death (2003 / trailer). (Notice just how many popular films and genres he exploited? Like Casanova, he truly did them all.)
Just prior to his death, Bruno, once again behind his favorite moniker of Vincent Dawn, returned to the popular genre of Italian zombie films to make Zombies: The Beginning (2007 / trailer) and, the year before, this movie, Island of the Living Dead. And what a movie it is!
Scripted by Antoni Tentori, a less than productive scriptwriter who also spilled the ink for A Cat in the Brain (1990 / trailer), Demonia (1990 / trailer) and Three Faces of Terror (2004 / trailer), Island of the Living Dead offers everything that is to be hoped for or expected in a Mattei film other than tits: a retarded and plodding script full of inconsistencies and laughable plotting that wallows in horrendous acting and bad dubbing but is interspaced with occasional bursts of blood and guts.
In other words, a film that really will make you drop your jaw in amazement and have you either pissing your pants in laughter or shitting in them from anger. The badly synced dubbing of the film is particularly hilarious, even for a Mattei film. While the German voice-over artists seemingly tried to do a serious job, the English-speaking voice-over artists were either on drugs or were going for high camp. They may not have fully succeeded, but they did at least do a memorable job.
The plot is simple enough. Following a brief introductory scene taking place in the time of the conquistadors in which everyone dies and the village burns, the movie moves to present day. A group of failed and broke treasure hunters go aground in the fog just off the coast of an unknown and uncharted island. In need of water, all but one go on land while the boat is being repaired. I
n no time flat, the main (toy) boat explodes, the safety raft is gone and zombies start attacking — rather fitfully, to tell the truth. Seeking safety, our group retreat to some skeletal structures where they find a treasure but, as they tend to wander off by themselves or in groups despite the known dangers, their numbers quickly decrease. Will any of them survive?
Hardly a plot to fill a 1.5 hour movie, which explains why Island of the Living Dead drags sometimes, but enough of a skeleton to be able to pad the movie with scenes and events that often defy believability in the ineptitude of their execution or total lack of logic — and, in-between, some nice shock moments to keep you awake.

Like so many of Mattei's movies, Island of the Living Dead was filmed in the Philippines, so the film doesn't lack in extras and nice scenery. Likewise, shot in high-end digital video, the images are sharp and colorful — though sometimes to the extent that they look too much like cheap movie sets. The acting is uniformly over-the-top, but particular mention must be given to the beautiful non-actress Ydalia Suarez, who plays Victoria and regrettably never loses her top in the film: Ms. Suarez, who obviously learned acting by watching the dregs of silent films and overemphasizes every action accordingly, manages to make everyone else in the movie come across as talented. The other lead female of the film, Yvette Yzon as Sharon, also doesn't look too bad, but since her acting is simply on par to the film itself, special mention is not necessary — unlike with the living dead of the flick, which seem to exist in various forms: some are simple undead meat-eaters, others appear to be ghosts, and some are particularly vampiric. One particularly friendly, talkative and likable undead old lady holds rather a long conversation with Sharon before suddenly going up in flames, while the undead conquistador who talks to Captain Kirk (Gaetano Russo of The Gates of Hell (1989 / trailer) just simply disappears into the air. The flamenco-dancing senorita that entices Snoopy (Maui-born Jim Gaines of The One Armed Executioner [1983 / trailer] and, alongside Jeff Stryker, After Death: Zombi 4 [1988 / trailer]) is hardly that friendly: in the end, she proves to be the vampire of the film.
To say that Island of the Living Dead is a bad film is not only an understatement but also misses the point. The movie is so incomprehensibly, horrendously amateurish that it is almost a religious experience. Perhaps the film really isn’t old enough to be as enjoyable as it could (and one day will) be, but damn, it definitely is a movie-watching experience that no one can or will be easily forget — even if one wants to.

Coraline (USA, 2009)

"You probably think this world is a dream come true... but you're wrong."

Coraline (the voice Dakota Fanning, from Man on Fire [2004 / trailer]), a petulant and bored little girl, has left her beloved hometown and friends and moved with her parents to a large old house, which has been divided up into three apartments, in the middle of nowhere. Her parents live for their computers and have little time for her, and the other residents of the house — the aged burlesque artists Miss April Spink (Jennifer Saunders) and Miss Miriam Forcible (Dawn French) and the former vaudeville performer Sergei Alexander Bobinsky (Ian McShane) — are all both too old and too odd to be friends. Coraline doesn't find the only other kid around, Wyborne 'Wybie' Lovat (Robert Bailey Jr.), the grandson of the house owner, to be all that much better. Wybie gives Coraline a doll that he found at his grandma's that looks just like her and has buttons for eyes. Soon thereafter, Coraline finds a bricked-up passageway that opens at night to take her to a parallel world in which everyone has button eyes, her parents are loving and caring, and everything is magical. The Other Mother (Teri Hatcher of Tango & Cash [1989 / trailer] and Fever [1999 / trailer], who also does the voice of the Real Mother) invites Coraline to stay, on the condition that she replace her eyes with buttons. ("You know, you could stay forever, if you want to. There's one tiny thing we have to do first...") When Coraline refuses, she quickly learns that dreams can be nightmares in disguise as the Other Mother tries to force her to remain. Can Coraline escape, save her real parents and help release the trapped souls of the children stolen before her?
Henry Selick, the man behind two other contemporary stop-motion masterpieces, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993 / trailer) and James and the Giant Peach (1996 / trailer), as well as the interesting but less-than-successful partially-live-action oddity Monkeybone (2001 / trailer), has done it again: He has created yet another jaw-dropping stop-motion cinematic wonder, a visual delight made less for children than for the child still found within the adult. Based on a fantasy novella by Neil Gaiman, who also wrote the interesting live-action "magic other world" films MirrorMask (2005 / trailer) and Stardust (2007 / trailer), the basic story of Coraline is a beautifully nightmarish fourth or fifth cousin to Alice in Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass, complete with (mangy) talking cat (voiced by Keith David of The Thing [1982 / trailer], The Quick & The Dead [1995 / trailer], Pitch Black [2000 / trailer] and the abysmal 29 Palms [2002]). The longest stop-motion film yet made, Coraline is also the first stop-motion feature to be filmed in 3-D — but like the truly best of films, it need not be seen in this currently popular gimmick to be enjoyed. In 3-D or 2-D, Coraline is one of those rare films that prove that "Yes, Virginia, there is still creativity in Hollywood."
Though marketed as a children's film, Coraline is pretty strong stuff for little kids — and, perhaps, for some adults. Within minutes, for all its color and all the fun and innocence the technique itself seems to promise, the film takes on a creepy, disturbing tone that keeps the viewers at the edge of their seats until the finale. (Indeed, the credit sequence of the doll being re-sewn is downright unsettling and highly disturbing.) Even the "happy" parts — the show interludes, for example — have an oddly perverse or threatening feel to them; but then, as is shown later in the film, they do indeed hide dangers. For whatever reason — and much to the benefit of the movie — Selick seriously reduces the amount of saccharine musical interludes that are normally found in this type of film (i.e., children's films, and especially animated children's films) normally have. And since Selick never goes to the Michael-Bay-style excesses that, for example, ruin that other less magical but scary kiddy computer-animated film Monster House (2006 / trailer), Coraline also maintains a much finer, sincere and consistent unsettling tone.
But for all the chills and dread, Coraline also remains a simply beautiful piece of filmmaking. Just like there is no wrong brushstroke found in the best masterpieces (be it Rembrandt's Mona Lisa, Gericault's Raft of Medusa, Dix's Portrait of Sylvia Von Harden or Picasso's Guernica), there seems nothing misplaced or wrong in Coraline. Coraline is beyond doubt a masterpiece of its kind, a tour de force that can be enjoyed as such or simply enjoyed as a truly fine film. Do yourself a favor and watch it today! You won’t be disappointed — but you might have a nightmare or two tonight.
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