The Week In Screenings Part LV
A brace of films for our regular screening correspondent Alex Kidd to report on this week, one advance screening, the other a just-released theatrical biggie. Here’s his thoughts in his latest missive, as well as a trailer for his next night of trailers…
First film this week was the horror thriller Chernobyl Diaries, which follows the adventures of a group of backpacking American friends who decide to do a bit of extreme tourism by taking a trip to the town of Pripyat, the former home of the workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Though once there they encounter some very unexpected and deadly residents, stranger creatures who don’t want to see them leave. Heading into this one I wasn’t sure what to expect, a lot of these mid-level horror films are really average with no real stand out factors to them. So it’s great to be able to say that this is a better than expected and fairly solid horror entry that certainly deserves a watch.
Starting off with a dose of home video footage it then flips to a straight narrative story, but in an interesting experiment the film is still shot in a very handheld style, with the camera floating around our protagonists as if it was one of the characters, there’s even one shot where the cameraman very clearly has the door closed on him as if to keep the camera out of what’s about to happen next.
The Eastern Block setting also brings a different tone to proceedings and the gloom laden atmosphere really ads to the feeling of dread which start to well up during the start of the film. There is one genuine stand out sequence in the film, though I’m not going spoil it for you, but it’s such a sudden and unexpected thing that it really stands out as a classic moment. Although some of the characters used here might seem like standard stock horror film people they are provided with a more resourceful attitude than usual, which also comes across as bit more fresh and entertaining. It’s not perfect but it’s much better than I expected and I would say I actually enjoyed Chernobyl Diaries.
Later in the week it was time for a trip to one of the best places in London to see a film, the Superscreen at the O2 Cineworld, that huge mega-screen which really brings a film to life and it the sort of size that all cinemas should be, in a perfect world that is. I was heading there to watch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which I imagined was going to look great on that huge screen and luckily it really did. I’d heard about the book this was based on and about the other revisionist classic literature and horror cross-over books such as this one and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, but hadn’t read any and I wasn’t sure if they’d be good or just simple cash-ins trading on the novelty of the names.
Abraham Lincoln turns out to be a well put-together film that takes itself very seriously, which was interesting as it’s the name which is the real hook here and I was expecting a much more fun and knockabout adventure, instead what we have is a film of two halves with a young Abe learning that vampires stalk the USA and him setting out the revenge the death of his mother at their hands. While then the film kips forwards in the mid-point to find Abe now the President and still having to worry about the countries secret vampire menace.
Director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Night Watch) is certainly in his element here and uses the CGI action sequences to their fullest advantage making people fly through the air in all manner of impossible ways, which is really the best thing to do with CGI, use it to show things that we can’t physically do. Benjamin Walker does a great job as playing the towering and stoic Honest Abe, who’s a demon at dispatching vampires with his trust silver bladed axe. I was really impressed overall with Abraham Lincoln, though I do think it was missing a slight fun element which could have helped play along to the over-the-top nature of the films title.
One other bit of screening news this week, my next trailer event Night Of The Trailers Returns now has a confirmed date and venue: Sunday September 23 at the Roxy Bar & Screen, it’s free entry and it’s a completely brand new show – put it in your diaries now.Tags: screenings
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