WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
“When a colossal tectonic shift causes the sea level to start rising, a microbiologist gathers the DNA of as many species as she can, while the military creates an “ark” in a desperate attempt to preserve life on Earth.”
The Asylum and I have really got to stop meeting like this. Seriously, how many of the movies in my collection have their sneaky little paws behind it? Now, I was in the mood for a decent cheesy disaster flick, but this was too much. Above is the blurb for this movie taken directly from the Asylum’s website, which I feel needs to be addressed. Firstly, there was no tectonic shift, not on any of the 40 days this movie purportedly spans. Secondly, sea levels did not rise; at best we had a few isolated inland tidal waves. Thirdly, there is no way on God’s green Earth that that woman was a microbiologist. Fourthly, surely samples of 3 bees and a few moths doesn’t count as ‘DNA of as many species as she can’? Fifthly, no country has a military made up of 7 people. Sixthly, that wasn’t an ark, it was a strange train that floated. Seventhly, the DNA of 3 bees cannot preserve life on earth if you didn’t take any life with you onto the ark. So yeah, that about sums up how I felt about this movie, but I’m gonna do my usual review now to drive home just how daft it really was.
Jon and Tessa are such a lovely couple – you’ve never seen a 50-year-old man and a 19-year-old girl so madly in love. They’ve got a pretty good life too – they work for the super-secretive black-ops illuminati division of the US military, which means they’re very clever, very wealthy, and very well looked after. All that and as many rooftop picnics as they could ever dream of! What could possibly go wrong for a couple as spritely as this? Oh right, the world’s about to come to an end. How’s the world going to come to an end? Be damned if I know; all I saw were four drunken kids driving around the Sahara desert when a few thunder clouds appeared over head. Next thing they (and I) knew, there’s an enormous tsunami coming over the mountains and the whole desert’s submerged by an ocean of CGI water.
In what turns out to be the Asylum’s answer to 2012, a massive super storm is developing over Africa, and within the next few days it will cover THE ENTIRE PLANET. How this super storm started to develop we’re never going to know, but said super-secretive black-ops illuminati division of the US military has to come up with some way of saving at least a nominal portion of the American public (mainly the smart ones though). To do this they’ve decided to build an ark. The ark will be the world’s first live-saving sea vessel shaped like a dildo, and despite the fact they have to cram in 3 years work into a week to get the thing built, everyone’s fairly convinced that it can be done with relatively few screw ups. Oh, how they underestimated Mr Murphy on that one…
Turns out there are a few hiccoughs to overcome before the ark can sail. Firstly, it’s powered by turbines built on completely theoretical technology that, despite being the size of a small cat, will harness the power of the waves and wind to generate enough electricity to keep it sailing for as long as they need. Surprisingly, there are a few problems getting these turbines working. Now, that’s Jon’s job. Tessa’s job is to collect DNA samples so that they can rebuild nature once the flood waters recede. Unfortunately a rock slide took out the train carrying all her samples, and now she has to go out into the wild to collect more before everything’s under water. And this is only the beginning of their troubles: once the ark sets out, who knows how long they’ll all be at sea? Who knows if the ark will be able to hold its own against the power of nature gone utterly berserk? In the end, none of it will really matter, since you’ll have been bored to tears long before the flood waters even cover your baby toe.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- If it means a quickie on a roof, saving humanity can just wait 15 minutes.
- If it means a quick tussle under the sheets, then escaping the rising Biblical flood will also just have to wait.
- There’s a lot more rain and wind in the eye of a super storm.
- You can safely transport DNA samples in an empty Evian bottle.
- The secret of human evolution, life, and all philosophical pursuits, ultimately lies with the humble moth.
- Most ships can be rendered utterly useless with a simple power drill.
- It’s easier to pistol whip someone than to answer a stupid question.
- The lesser-spotted cave bee is a key player in upholding the planet’s various ecosystems.
40 DAYS AND NIGHTS TRAILER
BUY 40 DAYS AND NIGHTS AT AMAZON.COM
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
First of all, let it be stated for the record that I was given a screener copy of this movie for review, but that doesn’t mean that I have to say nice things about it. Let me also say that I’m not the biggest fan of found footage movies, purely because they can either turn out spectacularly (eg. the original Blair Witch Project) or as a horrible mess (eg. Cloverfield). Skew manages to pull off the genre quite well, mainly through blending in a number of other genres to keep the storyline going. On the whole it’s a good movie and worth a watch, but it does have a few problems. While it does deliver on the scares they are, at times, a bit few and far between and you have to sit through a lot of mundane dialogue before the next thing happens. The acting tends to come in waves, going from outstanding one minute to nightmarishly amateur the next (and there are only 3 people in the movie, so this is quite something). The main thing that actually does this movie in is not what it was so much as what it could have been: with all that was built up there was SO much more that could have been done with it. Anyways, enough of all that, let’s get on with the story!
Simon, Eva and Richard have been friends for ages and, as good friends do for other good friends, they’re getting ready to go on a little road trip to a friend’s wedding. Simon’s been having issues with his girlfriend Laura so she’s decided not to tag along (you will be reminded of this many times during the movie). Simon’s also a bit of an amateur film maker so he’s decided to record absolutely everything that happens on the road for reasons relating to a damaged childhood that you don’t really want to know about here. The trip starts out nice enough and everyone seems relatively alright with having a camera shoved in their faces for the greater part of the day, but things soon start to become a little weird for our little trio of travelling besties. First they run over a coyote (something that Eva seems to think should be reported to the highest echelons of power in the land), then the desk clerk at the motel they’re staying at is killed. To distract themselves from the terror Richard and Eva take turns filming their very private conversations that Simon mustn’t hear on Simon’s camera.
The trip becomes even stranger as we move on from coyotes to entire bus loads of people, shop owners and policemen dying wherever our little group ventures. To top that crazy, the camera also has this weird way of distorting people’s faces while recording and it has a tendency to show the viewer angry ghosts everywhere. Simon’s starting to get a little freaked out but feels mysteriously drawn to the camera and compelled to continue filming everything. Eva’s beginning to feel uncomfortable with his odd obsession and Richard, as the big strong boyfriend, won’t have someone unsettling his lady, so he starts going off on random angry outbursts that amount to nothing. The fact that they amount to nothing may have something to do with the fact that this guy can’t really pull off a facial expression other than loveable douche, but that’s beside the point.
The group must now make their to the wedding party in the face of Simon’s growing paranoia, a camera that may or may not be a portal to hell and an odd love triangle that doesn’t really go anywhere but serves to help heighten the “tension”.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Speedometers are just one of the many modern pieces of technology Jeeps come equipped with.
- Nobody appreciates how hard it is to pee and film at the same time.
- Woman’s intuition gives females the right to interfere in everyone’s business.
- Being 100% sure of something and knowing something are not the same thing.
- Roadkill should be left on the side of the road as carrion. It’s nature’s way.
- In the event of running down a coyote alcoholism can be used as a means of getting over the trauma.
- People should buy video cameras as a way of getting back at their parents for not being amazing photographers.
- Camera smashing is uncalled for and unfair.
- As an exception to the rule atheists are permitted to worship one deity / totem of their choice.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
This movie made me terribly sad. As a reviewer it really breaks my heart to sit through a movie and watch as the director just loses more and more control over his creation. Some movies may miss the mark and some movies may forget to have things happen, but this movie just didn’t know how to end. Poor little creature. My psychic horror senses tell me that the director started off with a great plan, but as the story tried to develop itself the movie just got away from him and when it hit the 90 minute runtime mark he threw his hands up and said, “Right! Stop the cameras, we’re ending the movie here!” There’s no great character development, there’s no real insight into who the killer is or why he’s doing what he’s doing and, because the movie just ends, there’s no kind of solution offered. Plus there’s no real suspense at any point that may have kept this little train on the tracks. That said, it is a fun watch if you like to see the many creative ways that people can be killed with an excessive number of chains!
Being one of those movies that centres around high school kids a number of rules apply: we have jocks, we have sluts, we have one clever brunette and one dorky younger brother. Also, everyone’s well into their 20s. The dorky younger brother just happens to be Zack Young from Desperate Housewives. Whilst playing an intense game of WoW he receives a beautifully put together chain letter that tells him to send it on to 5 people within 24 hours. Since his sister Rachael needs to use the computer she throws him off and, believing in the immense power of chain letters, decides to forward it on but only includes 4 recipients. When Neil (Zack Young’s alter ego in this movie) finally manages to get his computer back he notices her mistake and adds her as the 5th recipient and sends the chain letter along.
Here’s where things start to go bloodshedingly wrong for our semi-group of 20-something highschool kids. You see while Rachael had sent the chain letter onto her friends the e-mail itself was coming from Neil’s account and, since he’s horribly unpopular, none of the friends take it very seriously and delete the e-mail. This is where our first victim Johnny Jones comes into the picture. After enjoying a nice little shot of growth hormones and a 3 minute gym session he goes to get some water. While drinking at the fountain he finds his head being repeatedly rammed into its delicate metal features and loses some teeth in the process. He is then dragged to another corner of the gym where our killer gets to work with his many, many chains. Like cooking, brutal slayings require a decent recipe: first of all you handcuff the victim to the chains. Once done you truss the victim up and lift them off the ground with some more chains to ensure that the arms pop out the sockets. You then slash their Achille’s heel, making it impossible for them to escape. You then take EVEN MORE CHAINS and proceed to grind their face into a smooth, delicate paste before making your escape into the night. In case you missed it: lots of chains. Chain Letter. What a clever little killer we have with us.
In amongst all of this are a few ancillary characters of which the most important is Jessie. She’s good-looking but she’s brunette and occasionally wears glasses so you know she’s the brains of the outfit. As the body count shuffles a little higher she decides to enlist the help of Neil and her friend Michael to try and stop the murders. For backup they have Detective Crenshaw trying to work out what’s going on back at Police HQ. Of course nobody’s better equipped to figure out who a psychopath is than a highschool girl taking a class in the dangers of technology and Jessie, despite already forwarding the chain letter on, tells everyone to send it to her again so that she can do some detective work of her own. With the aid of her glasses and Google she manages to figure out that the chain letter has a virus attached to it that infects cellphones and computers and allows the killer to use them as GPS units. This makes hunting his victims down much easier than in the good old days where killers had to lurk behind bushes for hours in the vague hope of a victim crossing their path. It’s then up to Jessie, Neil and Michael to save the day blah blah blah stop the killer blah blah blah redeem mankind’s belief in the joys of technology blah blah blah.
Chain Letter isn’t good, but it’s the good kind of not good that you can at least cock your head at in confusion and have a good laugh at.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Schools are a combination of socialising and football games. At most students may have 1 class a day.
- Right after water and food a phone is right up there with the basic things needed for a human to survive.
- Men have enormous engines put in their cars in the hopes of enticing gorgeous women.
- Killers who use an excessive amount of chains are helping to keep an entire industry alive.
- High school kids never have parents that live with them.
- The phrase ‘why don’t you come get me?’ should not be thrown around lightly.
- Policemen on the phone sound a lot like telemarketers.
- You don’t put glasses on to read – you put glasses on to think.
CHAIN LETTER TRAILER
BUY CHAIN LETTER AT AMAZON.COM