Saturday, 23 April 2011

Scream 2

1997, 18, Directed by Wes Craven
Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, Liev Schreiber

The joy of the original Scream lay in the fact that it was a mock-up of the convention it was successful in being. More of the same then in Scream 2 which focuses on the tropes every sequel adheres to, including the fact that they rarely surpass the quality of the original. Although this may be true here, Wes Craven’s follow-up is by no means a disaster. In fact, it is a highly enjoyable watch that features more jumps and tense-ridden scenes (look no further than the moment where Sidney must crawl over an unconscious Ghostface killer to escape a crashed car). Beginning with an opener not quite as memorable, but as effective and tongue-in-cheek as number one, Scream 2 reunites the survivors of Woodsboro two years later as a copycat killer decides to leave victims lying around fresh after the release of Stab, the cheesy film based on the Woodsboro killings. The Scream film’s strong points are the engaging characters and with a longer running time here, there is more opportunity for interaction between these creations (most entertaining being Cox's Gale and Jamie Kennedy's Randy). There are moments which drag, however with passable performances all round, a slick script (the unsung hero, Kevin Williamson) fit with deft direction and a genuine surprise climax, it is no wonder something so grisly can be so fun. Fittingly, it doesn’t manage to surpass the first one – but hey, maybe that’s the point!



Thursday, 21 April 2011


1996, 18, Directed by Wes Craven
Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Courtney Cox

The slasher film is a difficult genre to nail and yet countless filmmakers take a stab at it hoping that they will provide their audience with a fresh original take that they probably do not need, but will enjoy. After a slew of horror hits dating as far back as 1972, including The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes and A Nightmare on Elm Street (all of which have been tellingly remade), Wes Craven ingeniously adapted his love of all things bloody into a fresh groundbreaking take on that same genre. The plot is simple: a killer who has watched one too many scary movies terrorises teens of Woodsboro exactly one year after the particularly gruesome death of the mother of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). And so it is, Scream in it all its gruesome glory, doesn’t reinvent, more re-establishes the rule book. Amongst the slashing, there is a massive element of comedy: Jamie Kennedy’s horror-geek Randy runs through the dos and don’ts whilst watching Carpenter’s Halloween. The film verges on spoof without ever reverting to silly tactics; it is through the references to film’s past that the believability of these characters (Arquette’s hapless cop; Cox’s vivacious reporter) is reinforced and the tension raised. It is for this reason (combined with the iconic Ghostface) that Scream has emerged and will continue to be something of a modern horror classic. The film spawned three sequels, the fourth hitting cinemas last week 11 years after Scream 3.



Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Hot Tub Time Machine

2010, 15, Directed by Steve Pink
Starring: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson

John Cusack is a crowdpleaser. Working his way through teen comedies, a few mystery dramas and disaster flicks, he manages to make something not-so-great into watchable fodder. Hot Tub Time Machine, much like his purely awesome Grosse Pointe Blank (also directed by Steve Pink) contains the theme of reflection about times gone past. Only, this is about a million times crazier. A group of disbanded friends reunite when one attempts suicide. Heading to a hotel they stayed at during a particularly memorable time of their lives, they get into the hot tub – only to be thrown back to 1986. Pink’s nostalgic offering is filled with enough raunch and chucklesome moments to direct this towards a contemporary audience, as well as long-time Cusack fans. Add Crispin Glover to proceedings as a one-armed bellboy whose 80s version still has his limb intact and you will be guaranteed a silly amount of hilarity-filled set-pieces in which you wait for the inevitable. As long as you are seeking something not in any way taxing and completely removed from reality, that will make you grin like a child (who the hell isn’t?), then have a soak in this hot tub. When all is said and done however, the feeling remains that without Cusack’s presence, this would barely be watchable.