Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Divide

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The Divide

But Uncle Mickey says we have to stay.
Why?
Because your face will melt off and your hair will fall out.

Um. Wow. Um. I’m still trying to collect my thoughts after watching this. It is very very rare when a film disturbs me, and this certainly did that. The violence is very graphic, but that’s not what creeped me out.

The Divide is a post apocalyptic. Nuclear missiles have hit New York and a group of people have taken shelter in their apartment building’s basement, which had conveniently been converted into a nuclear fallout shelter by the apartment caretaker, Mickey (Michael Biehn of Terminator fame). The group is composed of Mickey, a young couple, a mother and her child, a single man and a trio of young guys. The movie never explains where the attack came from, and Mickey, who is hinted to be a firefighter and 9/11 survivor, blames terrorist groups. The shelter is pretty damn spacious. There’s a large room, smaller rooms with doors, Mickey’s personal rooms and a large tiled room with a shower and a septic toilet.

They’re in the shelter for a while (maybe a few weeks?) when a bunch of soldier type guys in fancy biohazard suits bust in. Seriously, these suits make them look like astronauts. The young guys are attacked and one of them is shot. The group scatters into the other shelter areas. The soldiers seize the little girl, check her teeth, stick a needle in her and drop her in a body bag/box. They take off with her. Meanwhile, the group members are hiding in various places. The soldiers start looting (i.e. taking water) and presumably looking for the group members to either capture or kill. The group members instead manage to kill 2 of the solders and then they close the shelter door and lock it. The mother absolutely loses her shit. She just has a complete breakdown. It’s like the stress of the bombs and shelter was too much, but she was holding it in for her girl and now, her reason to live having been taken, she’s snapped.

The leader of the young guys, Josh (Milo Ventimiglia from Heroes), offers to go out into the world in one of the biohazard suits. When he walks out, it’s into a very surreal looking world. There are huge plastic wrapped tunnels leading from the fallout shelter door to various other places. It reminds me of the end of Resident Evil, with the white tunnels. One of these tunnels leads to a room with more soldiers, who are examining organs in jars and hair in tubs. Josh finds the little girl. She’s in some kind of weird cryogenic looking chamber. She has been shaved bald, her eyelids are taped shut and she has a tube in her mouth. Josh is then found out by a suspicious soldier. Josh manages to shoot a couple of them before running back to the shelter. He gets back in and the soldiers weld the door shut behind him. Josh thinks the girl is dead and tells her mother.

What follows is the complete and total breakdown of the group, mentally and eventually physically. It’s like every horrible possible aspect of humanity shows up to party. The degradation is most prevalent in the young guys. Josh and his buddy become absolutely terrifying. I’m actually scared and horrified at them. After the mother has her breakdown, she sort of comes back, but is so damaged that she believes that the only way to survive is to allow the young guys to sexually abuse her. It is so horrific to see her reduced to the status of a dog and her realization that she can’t get out of this situation turns her into a mindless zombie. The young guys, well, as they become sicker, they actually, in my mind, begin to LOOK like zombies. They shave their heads, their eyes are bloodshot and they are just visiting physical abuse on themselves. The middle young guy, Bobby, is doing okay, he seems like one of those players you’d see at a club in a fancy car picking up women, but then he has to cut up a dead body in the tiled room and stuff it down the septic toilet. You definitely see the change in him after that. He begins wearing a nightie around and putting makeup (badly) on. He’s just scary. It’s like something snapped in him and he has no humanity left. His attention span is like 10 seconds long and the physical wasting is as bad as the mental. Check out the change. Here he is at the start. And then this is him at the end. Freaky, hm?

I think though, the real lead in this is the female half of the couple, Eva. She retains her dignity and humanity. While everyone around her unravels (including her boyfriend), she stays calm. She tries to take care of the mother, of everyone. I think this need to protect and nurture ultimately keeps her sane. She is really quite good and you’d think that the quiet girl is unimportant, but you begin to root for her as she tries to keep everyone human. Though it didn’t seem so at first, everything in the story revolves around her and it is Eva who makes the ultimate decision in the end.

Very few films disturb me. The complete lack of emotion, or regard, of everything that makes us ‘civilized’ in this is not exactly upsetting, but enough to make you realize that in this situation, we’d probably all end up like this and that is really why we get upset watching it. This is why it’s a good movie. A perfect and imperfect representation of us at our worst. I don’t think I could watch it again for a while unless there were plenty of videos of cute kittens afterwards.

4 chocolate mousse cups out of 5.

I wrote an addendum to this regarding some questions that seem to have sprung up.

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Burke and Hare

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Burke and Hare

And your new students? Are they enjoying your lectures?
Ah, not as much as I understand they’re enjoying your wife, SIR.

Burke and Hare is an overlooked British comedy set in Georgian UK. The movie is very loosely based on the Burke and Hare serial killers of Edinburgh.

The amazing Simon Pegg of awesome Shaun of the Dead fame is Burke and Andy Serkis (Gollum from Lord of the Rings) is Hare. They are a pair of Irish immigrants to Edinburgh and are looking for work. Hare’s wife runs a local lodging house, but it’s not really bringing in the coin. They stumble upon the idea of grave robbing after their attempt to sell rotten cheese rinds as magical Irish cure all moss fails. They sell the body of a dead lodger to a famous surgeon, Knox (Tom Wilkinson), who is locked in a poisonous struggle with his local medical rival, Monro (Ahh Tim Curry, how WONDERFUL you are! No one plays a better sanctimonious jerk).

So Burke and Hare realize that this body selling business is pretty damn good, but the demand is exceeding supply. So they hit on the idea of killing their lodgers (Christopher Lee cameo!) and then random people on the street. Burke falls for a local actress and needs some serious cash to support her, so they start getting rather reckless. And the local militia is slowly beginning to notice.

This is a funnish movie. There are some pretty good one liners and some funny parts. It won’t really stick with you or anything after. The premise seems rather wishy washy and unbelievable. The actress is just too damn innocent and naive seeming and Burke a gullible rube. The people, for the most part, seem oddly clean for that period of English history. It was mostly funny but I won’t be thinking of it for very long. I definitely had no desire to watch it again. Well, except for the parts with Tim Curry. He’s just fabulous as pompous and cutting rival. Sadly, he’s not in it very much. Maybe 10 minutes or less of total screen time. Burke and Hare is just one of those movies that disappears into the bargain bin and something Pegg did to pass the time. It’s a meh.

2 scoops of cassata gelato out of 5.

Kairo

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Kairo

Death was eternal loneliness

A very creepy Japanese horror movie. There’s also an American remake, Pulse, which I looked into it a bit and having watched the original, I have no interest in.

This is a rather old film, made just when the Internet was beginning to enter our homes. Two groups of people notice that their friends are getting kinda weird, depressed and isolated, especially after they have bought into this new fangled ‘Internet.’ The suicide rate begins to quietly but definitely soar. The Internet begins to be populated with pictures and videos of people committing suicide. There’s also something happening in the background, and doors and windows sealed up with red tape start appearing slowly, but with more and more frequency. People also disappear, leaving no bodies, but instead shadows eerily similar to ones left behind by victims of atomic explosions. People commit suicide in broad daylight, such as jumping off of buildings or hanging themselves while their friends are in the next room.

A man walks by a sealed door and wonders what the big deal is and why these are everywhere. He rips the seal off the door and walks into a room. Just an ordinary room. There is a couch, coffee table, much like any living room. He turns to leave and sees a ghost blocking his way. She’s black and white and I think extremely freaky. As she moves, she kind of jerks and her image blurs and breaks in half before knitting together. It’s like she’s trying to hold herself in this material world. She moves towards the man, blurring and fragmenting. Freaking out, like any one would, he jumps and hides behind the couch. From his perspective, you see her white fingers, blurred around the edges, creep over the edge of the couch and she pulls herself over, staring at him the whole time. This is a tense, tense scene and you are breathing just as hard as he is. The next day, his friends notice he seems very depressed and he turns into one of those human shaped shadows imprinted on a wall.

It turns out that the afterlife has a finite capacity. This is explained in a sort of flashback/speculation by the characters. The afterlife is now full, and there’s only one place for dead souls to go. Here. It is speculated that the break must have occurred in a room and that a psychic must have been nearby. A building under construction is shown, and in a room, a blurry image of a man, much like the earlier woman spirit, begins to take shape. A very worried looking construction worker (the likely psychic) runs out of the room and up to a fellow worker and asks him for tape. The only tape he has is red. Using this red tape, the psychic seals up the door and windows of the room. The next scene is awesome I think. It shows the room, sealed up, and then suddenly a bulldozer or some kind of construction machine goes right through the wall. The psychic is watching this, and while you can’t see his face, he has WTF written all over his body language.

The two groups of characters are trying to get out of the city and meet up, their numbers dwindling with every passing minute.

Spoiler: the reason why everyone is committing suicide is that the spirits cause feelings of intense depression and hopelessness. When you die, you don’t go anywhere with clouds and harps and crap. You just end up back where you were before, only with the added bonus of not being able to feel/do/change anything. You’re stuck, just like you were before, but this time without any chance of hope. This is it. It can never get better.

I enjoy Kairo. Yes, it’s quite depressing, but very interesting. It’s got a creepy quality to it that I find North American horror movies lack.

4 mint chocolate bars out of 5.