In honor of my new book release, The Devil’s Liege, I thought that since it contains some oddness about vampires starving to death and being locked away, writing a review about Kevin Smith’s new movie, ‘Tusk,’ would be a great idea.
Firstly, the film is billed as a horror/comedy. It is not. I would consider it “Theatre of the Bizarre” or something to that effect. Were there some funny parts? Sure. But, the weirdness and the connection to horror really pulled it away from the comedic factor. I would put it in the same category as ‘May’ or ‘House of 1000 Corpses.’
If you haven’t read anything about the film, it is about a guy who cohosts a podcast about the weird crap people do. He intends to go to Canada to interview one of these oddities only to find that the guy has died. So, he visits a bar and discovers a note in the bathroom offering free room and board if willing to listen to a lifetime of stories. Too bad, this dude is a serial killer with a bizarre fetish.
Besides the fact that what happens is medically impossible the way it is presented, the film is entertaining to watch. Because I would watch it again, but probably not purchase a copy for my library, I would give it 3.5 stars.
Being a vampire isn’t all it’s cracked up to be- in fact, it kind of sucks.
After surviving his duel with Lilith, Mathias thought that he could relax. That is until he discovers that, Nossy, the new king, has been kidnapped.
When the investigating vampires seem to have no clue how to rescue Nosferatu, Mathias must step in. Everything is peachy until Mathias is named the next new king in order to stop the man behind Nossy’s kidnapping from taking over the throne.
Suddenly, his life is not his own again, and Mathias must make a choice: risk his life to find his friend, or sit back and watch disaster unfold.
About the Author
Named one of the Examiner’s 2014 Women in Horror: 93 Horror Authors You Need to Read Right Now, Danielle DeVor has been spinning the spider webs, or rather, the keyboard for more frights and oddities. She spent her early years fantasizing about vampires and watching ‘Salem’s Lot’ way too many times. When not writing and reading about weird things, you will find her hanging out at the nearest coffee shop, enjoying a mocha Frappuccino. Visit her at danielledevor.wordpress.com.
Photo Courtesy of IMDb ‘Lucy’ (2014)
Directed by Luc Besson
Screenplay by Luc Besson
Action | Sci-Fi
Stars Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi
Log Line: A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.
I saw the much-anticipated ‘Lucy’ last weekend and, before going into my review, I’d like to make a few preliminary comments. First, I am a huge fan of Luc Besson. Ever since ‘La Femme Nikita,’ I was convinced this guy could do no wrong. Second, I am in love with Scarlett Johansson—don’t tell my wife. Third, I’m very aware that no matter what I say here, this movie will make a ton of money. So that said, what’s my take?
I was disappointed.
This Was Two Movies
Apparently, ‘Lucy’ couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. On the one hand, it is a smart, funny, bloody sci-fi thriller that doesn’t skimp on the action. On the other, it’s an vfx-laden treatise on the history of man and his ability to utilize the untapped potential of his brain. Judging by the official trailer, I was promised the former. And I was getting it in all its Luc Besson glory until Lucy finally meets Morgan Freeman’s Professor Norman in Paris.
There was an upside to the mindy, spacey stuff that takes us from man’s beginnings with the original Lucy to the wonders of the universe. I enjoyed the visual effects—especially when Lucy stops Time with a wave of her hand. Sure, that’s cool. And the movie came in at ninety minutes, which meant we weren’t saddled with a slow-moving second act. But when the screenwriter stops caring that Lucy is on the lam and an evil Korean guy is after her, and opts instead to focus on her morphing into a frickin’ computer made of giant Nutella-like tendrils, that’s when you lose me.
Every Hero Needs an Arc
This is a basic tenet of screenwriting. As we’ve learned over the years, it’s the Hero’s Journey, people. The hero—or the protagonist—reluctantly sets off on a journey where a bunch of stuff happens. Whether it’s good or bad stuff doesn’t really matter. In the end it’s life changing. And there’s always a final battle, which the hero must win. Then he returns home changed and tells the others what he learned. The model may be old, going all the way back to Gilgamesh, but it works.
So what happened to Lucy? Well, she didn’t come back! Instead of an arc, we got a trajectory. She never gets to have the final battle with Mr. Jang—that’s left to the battle-weary French cop Pierre Del Rio. Once Lucy’s brain reaches a hundred percent utilization, she trips off somewhere beyond Time and Space, probably meeting up with an alternate universe version of herself, which is the OS from ‘Her.’ Seriously? What am I supposed to do with pure energy? I invested a lot of my emotions in this woman, and now she just disappears? And just like Professor Norman, I am left with nothing but a thumb drive with a bunch of ones and zeroes on it. Great. I guess I should start that backup now. Oh wait, she melted all the computers.
How Might This Have Worked?
The movie already has the elements of a great sci-fi action thriller—bad guys, experimental drugs, exotic locations and a woman who, though she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, starts out dumb as spit when it comes to choosing men. Speaking of bad guys, the only thing better than a Korean bad guy is pairing him with an English bad guy. Bravo, Luc!
As I said before, I was good with everything until the fateful meeting with Professor Norman. Previously, she had only spoken to him by phone or video screen. He was becoming her Alfred. But once she meets with the good professor and other scientists, we’re transported to the Science Channel as Lucy’s brain utilization increases and everyone discusses the nature of Time and Space. At this point, I wouldn’t have been surprised if everyone adjourned to a nice restaurant and spent the next five hours discussing Sartre or the symbolism behind clowns in horror movies.
Here’s my idea for a third act. When Mr. Jang and his army arrive at the university to kill Lucy, she is already starting to lose her powers because the drug is wearing off. That, coupled with a blinding headache and other side effects from the drug, it’s a question of whether she can still take out the bad guys before they can kill her. A massive final battle ensues where everything—the university, everything—is destroyed as Lucy battles with Mr. Jang and his men while becoming weaker and weaker.
At a critical moment, Mr. Jang shoots Lucy. Weak and bloody she still manages to send him to hell. Then she collapses as the professor makes his way to her. As the professor examines her, he realizes that she is once again human. How? Well, her irises appear normal. Working fast, he and Del Rio get her to the hospital, where surgeons operate on her and she recovers.
Epilogue. Lucy is standing outside the airport with Del Rio. She’s going home to see her parents. He says, “I guess we’ll never know what would have happened had you hit a hundred percent.” Just then, a toddler drifts into the path of an oncoming taxi, his mother running after him and screaming in French. Suddenly, the taxi stops completely, as if Time itself had stopped. The crying mother retrieves her child as Del Rio stares at Lucy in amazement. “What?” she says, smiling. Then she kisses the cop on the cheek and walks into the terminal. Setup for a sequel? You bet.
The Wrong Question
Every great movie asks a question at the beginning that must be answered at the end. In ‘Lucy,’ the question appears to be “what would happen if we could access our whole brain instead of just ten percent?” To me, that’s the wrong question. It has nothing to do with a hero’s life. What happened to Lucy could have happened to anyone—the conniving boyfriend, the French cop or Professor Norman.
I think a better question is, “Will Lucy become the person she is meant to be?” With my ending, I think the movie would have answered that. It still would have been a kick-ass story and we would have left the theatre satisfied that Lucy completed the hero’s journey.
First of all, I’d like to thank Steven for letting me guest on his blog. His love of horror is something to be admired.
Now, onto the scary bits. Well, actually not that scary. More like weird, but we’ll get to that in a moment. I am one of those people who tend to try to find the strangest movies to watch, not unlike Norman Reedus’s character in ‘John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns’ (2005). And, yes, I would totally watch a movie that supposedly caused everyone who watched it to go maddeningly insane, but that’s beside the point.
For today’s viewing pleasure, I offer up an odd little film simply entitled ‘Vampires’ (2010). It was directed and co-written by Vincent Lannoo.
Publicized as the ‘This is Spinal Tap’ of the vampire generation, you get the idea early on that the film is not just going to be a little weird, but odd. We are introduced to a vampire family who has agreed to let a film crew follow them around for a while to see what living as a vampire is like. The father is kind of an old-guard sort of guy. Reminds you of Bela Lugosi a little. The mother is an odd sex-crazed woman who laughs. A lot. Their children… well, that’s another issue entirely. The girl has a huge desire to be human again. The boy is probably the nerdiest vampire I have ever seen, and yet somehow, he sleeps with the wife of the local coven-master.
This is sort of a horror-comedy, but I would classify it as an odd horror film. Again, one that isn’t scary, but more of the type that makes you think in an odd way, so I would say that it does definitely get a reaction. It actually has very little comedy, and what is sort of comedic is very dry. Not to say that I didn’t like the film. People who have hunted down films like ‘Vampire Trailer Park’ (1991) will likely enjoy it as much as I do, but if you are looking for the slick Hollywood type of horror film, this is not the film for you. In fact, I would venture to say this is one of those movies that you either love or hate. There is no in between.
The one thing that stuck with me, and I think was the deciding point that I really loved the movie, is the scene where the vampire girl who wishes to be human simply walks away. The cinematic effect of that scene is striking and poignant.
I give it 4 Stars.
About the Author
Danielle DeVor spent her early years fantasizing about vampires and watching ‘Salem’s Lot’ way too many times. After living briefly in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she moved back to her hometown to write. When not writing and reading about weird things, you will find her hanging out at the nearest coffee shop, enjoying a Mocha Frappuccino. She is also the “Fearless Blogger” for author Tina Moss’s blog.