Jane Austen is the latest to undergo the Seth
Grahame-Smith treatment after Abraham Lincoln’s history was rewritten with
vampires. But, instead of bloodsuckers, Elizabeth Bennet & co. are faced
with the undead horde. The results aren’t as fun as that sounds, I’m afraid.
The Pride and Prejudice bits work better than the zombies ones, but I’m passed
caring about Austen’s over-told tale.
The cast is hardly short of talent, and they seem
committed throughout, but they’re left fighting against Burr Steers script.
Matt Smith has fun as the bumbly Mr. Collins (more fun than us, I might add),
Jack Huston is all charm as Lt. George Wickham and Sally Phillips is amusing as
the over-eager daughter-dealer Mrs. Bennet. Lily James is also solid in the
lead role and she has the necessarily sass to pull off this bizarro Austen
figurehead. That’s not to mention Charles Dance, Sam Riley and the other classy names.
But, Steers’ writing is just too boring to ever grant
them much to do. He instills (presumably as does Grahame-Smith) a welcome
feminist streak, dialing up Austen’s work with swords and smoking muskets. It
works, at times, but the corsets and garters seem to confuse the message
Talented cast and a funky pop-up book history lesson
sequence aside, Pride and Prejudice and
Zombies simply doesn’t work. Steers never fully wrangles the mashup, and
we’re just left with boring schlock.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is out now on Digital Download, DVD, Blu-Ray & VOD.
A man (Fabien Lucciarini) sits down on his hotel bed with a book. He cleans his glasses, inspects his glass of scotch and proceeds to read. He is interrupted by the gentle swoosh of a letter being slid under his door. He closes the book and opens the letter. It contains a photo of an unsuspecting younger woman (Mouna Bouchouk). On the back is her name, a “classified level 5” code and a three hour timeframe.
So goes the set up to Simeon Lumgair’s 10-minute London-set thriller, ÉLUDER (translated as “to evade”). It’s a stylish piece of work, from the classy Hitchcockian title animation to the soft focus glow of the lighting. Lumgair’s camera moves with confidence in both the compact hotel interiors and the sleek exteriors. London looks fabulous and Vijey Anant (cinematographer) handles the low light levels well.
The production value is high throughout, and Lumgair selects five effective classical pieces for the film’s score. While they provide real dramatic purpose, their use can come across as a tad heavy, at times. Likewise, the story twists and turns nicely, without ever really offering too many surprises.
On this basis, ÉLUDER’s inclusion in the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner seems deserved. And even if the thriller plotting does nothing for you, the film is a real delight to look at.
The home invasion movie has long been a staple of horror
cinema and, with Emelie, director Michael
Thelin takes a logical step to the dangerous babysitter.
Parents, Dan (Chris Beetem) and Joyce (Susan Pourfar), are treating themselves to an evening meal alone to celebrate their 13th wedding
anniversary. Their regular babysitter is unavailable, but she points them in
the direction of her trusted friend, Anna (Sarah Bolger). But, when the parents
leave, the eldest child, 11-year-old Jake (Joshua Rush), soon starts to suspect that something may be up with their new sitter.
It’s a novel set-up, and one that delivers a number of
effectively uncomfortable scenes as Anna’s behaviour gets increasingly
sinister. There are some really messed up moments, played with real confidence
by Bolger and the three children (Rush, Carly Adams and Thomas Bair).
That doesn’t, however, quite make up for the fact that the primary
arc plays out exactly as one might expect. If anything, the reveal that Anna’s
ulterior motive is firmly rooted in the real world elicits shrugs rather than
gasps. Like The Visit before it, I
would have appreciated some sort of supernatural explanation over the grounded
revelation we’re given.
Which is strange, I’ll admit, because the chilly realism
elsewhere is a real draw. But the intertwining of that with an otherworldly thread
would have arguably proved more satisfying. In the end, the explanation we’re given may
have sufficed, if only more time had been given to a brief, but appealing, Home Alone/Straw Dogs sequence.
Thelin is more confident with the visuals and he utilises a
series of eerie slasher-esque POV long shots.
They capture the sense of suburban threat in an instant, and leave us unsure
about the identity of the watcher or the watched.
Emelie is well made,
and I anticipate interesting things from Thelin in the future, but it just plays
too obvious to generate any lasting surprise.