Or, a quick fix of slick flicks.
Devil’s Pass: Found-footage Dyatlov Pass Incident investigation. Some fun Russian scenery; very nice twist at the end.
Kill List: An aging contract killer goes in for One Last Job and things predictably go haywire. An unexpectedly emotional film; you can feel the regret and confusion of the characters, and their relationships are sharply-drawn. Also very twisty in the back half, with the final twist an especially nasty one. Much better than it had to be, though not really the revelation many horror blogs seemed to think.
True Confessions: Midcentury Cat’lick tale of murder, corruption, and Church complicity. Robert Duvall and Robert De Niro are the stars so you know this will be great to watch. Under the rancid surface there’s a surprisingly sincere (and Christian) tale of redemption through humiliation, which, as you know, I will always eat.
Desperate Teenage Lovedolls aka Desperate Teenage Runaways: A trash punk girl-gang/band film you can watch on YouTube. See description here. Some great moments and lines (“‘Job’ is a bozo no-no!” is my favorite, and new motto) and some fabulous music and costumes, including the psych-ward sheet cloak. But overall I admit this was too self-consciously trashy for me. Like, it lacked some essential sincerity. Lots of overacting-on-purpose rather than actually acting.
28 Days Later: Rewatch, and it completely holds up. This film is just so tightly-constructed. Beautiful to look at, with characters you instantly feel you know, and all the plot’s terrifying jack-in-the-boxes spring right when they should. Various themes of male violence, despair vs hope, and found family. This is just a really solid film, a minor classic.
This is a very short, fast-paced flick with a lot of heart, memorable characters, and some very fun dialogue. (“You can’t put JEWS in the crossword!”) Sharp choices include the shot of the inflatable rat the labor unions always drag to their protests, the sour little “Thank you for your service” moment with the returning Iraq vet, and the subway-shutdown announcement: “All service has been canceled. Thank you for using mass transit.” I admit I was sort of sad that the threat turns out to be zombie-like victims of a rat-borne plague, and not KILLER RATS!!! per se, but we still get a bit of ratwrangling.
Lots of good choices in the movie’s structure, as well. Some of the characters have various kinds of combat or fight training, and they fight the way they were trained. Others don’t have that ability, and… yeah, they don’t get to fight, because sometimes people are just really vulnerable to physical attack. The characters band together in the face of total societal breakdown: This is a post-2003 blackout movie, not a post-1977 one. (In fact, given the [spoilers], it’s a “Jesse Walker on Katrina response” movie.)
This would be a really stellar horror flick if it used less shakicam and fewer tight close-ups. By the final 20 minutes or so I found it genuinely hard to figure out what was going on. I should be asking, “What’s going to happen to these characters next?”, not, “What just happened to them?” Terrific setup which doesn’t quite get the payoff it could have. Still, very much worth a watch.