Films I Neglected To Review: Shenanigans.By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 04/20/18 11:19:37
Please enjoy short reviews of "The Endless," "Ghost Stories" and "Super Troopers 2."
Don't worry, there is not a chance that I would ruin any of the many startling developments that are in store from Benson and Moorhead. Working practically by themselves behind the camera--besides co-directing and co-starring, Benson also wrote the screenplay, Moorhead served as cinematographer and both worked on the editing--have created a twisty tale that owes a debt to any number of genre classics (though to list any of them hear would probably go down as a spoiler) while at the same marching down its own distinct path. The film begins generating an understated degree of tension and menace right from the start and keeps it accelerating throughout, even managing to maintain it during the occasional moments of humor to be had. There are some nifty visuals to be had--all the more impressive when you consider its presumably low low budget--but this, like the great recent film ''Annihilation,'' is a form of science fiction based on ideas instead of hardware and viewers may well find themselves engaged in long discussions about the questions raised here about the age-old battle between the notions of destiny and free will, among other things. Alas, while there was once a time when a film of such assured style and substance might have been given a chance with a big theatrical release, it is only appearing in a few theaters and will get most of its exposure as a VOD item. That said, whether VOD or theatrical, make sure to see ''The Endless'' because this one is a keeper.
One of the most startling things about ''Ghost Stories'' is that it actually has its origins as a hit stage play in London--considering the elaborate stagings on display here, it fairly baffles the mind how it could have possibly been done live. As for the film itself, it is, like most movies of this sort, a bit uneven. The first two stories are pretty good but the third one is the best of the bunch, thanks in no small part to the strong performance by Freeman, who somehow makes you sympathize with a character that you might wish to endure the tortures of the damned if you met them in real life. The flaw with the film is with the wraparound that tries to tie them all together. These scenes are well done, I suppose, but the denouement is just a little too clever for its own good and goes on for so long that the terror high supplied by the Freeman segment winds up dissipating without being replaced by anything nearly as strong. That said, ''Ghost Stories'' is still a fun and occasionally chilling throwback to a once-proud form of horror cinema and while it may not hit the heights of some of the classics of the format, it nevertheless pays a worthwhile tribute to them.
A ''Super Troopers'' sequel has been discussed for years now and I must confess that while watching it, even the most ardent Broken Lizard fan will have to admit that ''Super Troopers 2'' might have been more effective if it could have been made maybe ten years ago or so. And yet, this didn't bother me too much because I was too busy laughing to worry too much about that. A comedy sequel is a dangerous thing because that almost always result in a mere repetition of the jokes from the original film. Happily, the Lizard guys are well aware of that and when they do end up reprising old jokes (Meow), they manage to put a self-aware spin on them so that they still manage to work on some level. Other than that, I have to confess that I was amused by most of the shenanigans this time around--while this one never hits the heights of the original or ''Club Dread,'' which remains the group's finest film to date, the jokes still hit more often than they miss and some of them are really amusing. (I especially like the bit where they begin translating the numbers used in their radio calls into metric.) To be honest, if you do not like Broken Lizard, there is nothing here that will inspire you to change your way of thinking and if you have never seen their work before, this is probably not the best place to start. However, if you are a fan--and the fanbase generated by the original over the years is the obvious target audience here—you will most likely come away from it reasonably amused and satisfied and with a taste for a liter of cola.
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