Films I Neglected To Review: 'Another Head Hangs LowlyBy Peter Sobczynski
Posted 02/23/18 10:10:51
Please enjoy short reviews of "The Cured," "Half Magic" and "7 Guardians of the Tomb."
Like the classic films from the late George Romero, ''The Cured'' finds writer-director David Freyne using the zombie mythos as a metaphor by which to examine what is going on in the world today. This time around, it can be read as an allegory for any number of things, ranging from Ireland's own violent past to more contemporary issues with race, religion and ethnicity. While I appreciate the effort that Freyne has made to make his film more than just an empty-headed gorefest, the allegorical leanings are just a little too thin and vague for their own good (precisely the opposite of Romero, who could occasionally be a bit on the heavy-handed side) and Conor's rise to power in the formerly dead community seems more arbitrary than anything else. Where the film succeeds, however, is in the more quiet and personal story of Senan trying to reacclimatize himself into a society that clearly doesn't want him while grappling with a secret that could destroy his relationship with the one person willing to show him some degree of kindness and sympathy. This portion of the story works in large part because of the low-key but genuinely affecting performances by Keeley and Page.( Donít fret, gorehounds, there are bits of nastiness strewn throughout the film leading to the gruesomely inevitable climax in which all hell breaks loose.) On the great scale of zombie movies, ''The Cured'' may not quite hit the heights of the Romero classics but I would put it up there with the likes of ''28 Days Later'' and ''28 Weeks Later'' as an increasingly rare example of the walking dead sub-genre that not only possesses a brain but knows what to do with it.
Although it obviously went into production long before the eruption of the #MeToo movement, ''Half Magic'' is a film that could not be more perfectly timed for the current zeitgeist if it tried to be and that is why it is even more upsetting to see how badly it fails to amount to much of anything. Although often underrated as an actress--she was heartbreaking as Rollergirl in ''Boogie Nights'' and hilarious in such things as ''Bowfinger'' and ''Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me''--she demonstrates no real facility for her new jobs behind the counter. The screenplay is a crude mess that plays more like a raunchier episode of ''Love American Style'' than showing any wit or insight into the nature of contemporary relationships and the material involving Honey trying to find her voice in the male-dominated film industry--a premise that has enormous promise and which someone like Graham might have had something of interest to say--is reduced to painfully over-the-top and eventually toothless satire of the sort found in a ''SNL'' sketch that doesnít make it to dress rehearsal. As a director, she is not much better--the film looks low-rent, it drags relentlessly and she shows no real facility for handling her cast, all of whom are pretty much wasted here, herself included. Pretty much devoid of any demonstrable trace of magic, cinematic or otherwise, ''Half Magic'' is a film that is far more boring than it is provocative or insightful. This is not to say that Heather Graham does not have an entertaining film in her that she was born to write and direct--just that this one is not it by a long shot.
This is all utterly preposterous, of course, and while I did not go into it expecting it to be good in any conventional sense, I was at least hoping for 90 minutes of agreeable silly B-movie nonsense. After all, the film is the brainchild of Kimble Rendall, whose previous film, ''Bait,'' told the loopy story of a group of people who managed to survive a tsunami inside a now-flooded supermarket only to discover that there are now sharks roaming the aisles. That film was dumb as a rock, of course, but at least it was reasonably fun and diverting. ''Guardians of the Tomb'' (the ''7'' appears to have been tagged on at the last second so that it would place higher in VOD listings), on the other hand, somehow manages to take an equally ridiculous story and make it boring beyond belief thanks to a combination of a dull story, uninteresting and unlikable characters, somnambulistic performances from nearly the entire cast, cheap-looking CGI effects and an ending that simply degenerates into a mass of noise and poorly choreographed action before closing with a bit setting up a sequel that will never ever happen. The only sign of life on the display is the performance by Kelsey Grammer as the increasingly unhinged CEO behind the expedition who eventually goes full Sideshow Bob once the spider venom starts coursing through his veins. I cannot begin to explain exactly why he would elect to appear in something so relentlessly trashy but it is clear that he is having fun, which is more than can be said for anyone who ends up watching it.
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