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The Hole (2012) – A hole lot of nothing.  8 P

The once great Joe Dante (Gremlins 1 & 2, The Explorers) returns to directing after a long absence and the result is as depressingly shitty as the last movie he made, 2003’s crime against humor Looney Tunes: Back in Action.  Flat as a pancake run over by a semi then stomped on by a passing marching band, The Hole feels like some BS Halloween flick made for the ABC Family crowd that would suck even by those Hellishly low standards.  The screenplay is derivative, the characters common and annoying, and the entire thing put together with only the most rudimentary sense of style.  Only one sequence with a demon clown puppet hints that the twisted bastard who made Gremlins might still in there somewhere, straining to get out.  But honestly, if you can’t make a sequence with a demon clown puppet even a little creepy you’re probably blind.  It comes as no shock that this turd sat on a shelf for 3 years before recently being unceremoniously dumped into a few theaters and released to On-Demand providers.  I’m sorry Mr. Dante, but if this is all you have left in the tank, stay retired.  You and the John’s, Carpenter and Landis, can hang around and reminisce about past glories over golf, scotch or hookers.  Whatever makes you happiest.  Just stop directing movies.

Warlock (1989)Terminator in a witch hat.

Terminator and Warlock, a comparison.  A robot/witch from the future/past comes to the modern age via time travel to ensure the destruction of mankind by killing an unborn child/assembling a demonic book.  The robot/witch is followed through time by a rebel fighter/witch hunter trying to thwart it’s evil plan.  Once in the present a waitress gets entangled in the battle to save the world.  The robot/witch kills her roommate and sets her on the run with the rebel fighter/witch hunter.  In the end the plan to destroy the world is thwarted and the robot/witch destroyed but the rebel fighter/witch hunter is killed/sent back to the past much to the sadness of the waitress.  Warlock turns a few things around in this formula, Terminator had no Amish folk, but otherwise it’s a cheesy horror effort that tries to use the power of British thespianism, Julian Sands and Richard E. Grant, to lend the whole thing credibility.  It doesn’t work.  Not horrible but definitely one to file in the ‘who cares’ folder.

The Tall Man (2012) – Greatest movie Jessica Biel has ever made. So it’s okay.

In a backwoods Washington state town where hope and opportunity have evaporated, the children start disappearing with no trace.  Before long the distraught parents and citizens are constructing an ominous myth around their disappearing kids, the Tall Man.  A mysterious stranger in a long black coat, some believe this child snatching apparition to be no more than a construct of grief and desperation, others claim to have seen the shadowy menace and want the authorities to take the idea seriously.  The town nurse, Jessica Biel, does her best for a despondent population but one night, the Tall Man appears at her door and snatches her son.

Biel has been trying to get out of the babe role for a decade now.  The gorgeous girl has fame, fortune and a resume full of bottom barrel shit no one can stomach to watch more than once, if that.  She’s decided to pull a Theron and ugly up for the part of small town nurse chasing her son.  But she doesn’t look ugly so much as anemic and light deprived.  The script also takes some purposeful steps to beat her character up a bit.  It isn’t enough she go pale, she needs to get roughed up too.  I don’t think Biel has great oceans of depth as an actress but there’s no reason for her to continue to languish on as superficial eye candy for the XY chromosome crowd.  Her performance here is more than adequate and she sells the story, even as it starts to lose its grasp on probability.

More thriller/mystery cinema than the horror film the movie bills itself as, Tall Man is a very decent and respectable movie experience, if totally convoluted by the time its over.  It’s admirably unorthodox screenplay keeps its secrets under wraps in fairly intelligent fashion and while the viewer may put it all together before the film throws its cards down, it never overtly tips its hand.  Tall Man has a grim, rain soaked style and the unpredictable story works enough to keep your attention.  If the plots convolutions and finale don’t make you guffaw then you might find it an appreciative aside to the typical horror nonsense which populates the likes of Netflix.


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