ParaNorman is the latest product to roll off the animated 3D CGI assembly line and it looks great. It starts well and the concept is strong. And that's just about where ParaNorman runs out of virtues. The characters are shallow and, ironically, 2 dimensional and stereotypical. The misunderstood oddball, the fat kid, the bully, the obnoxious oversexed teenage sister, etc. Even John Goodman fails to inject much life into this routine exercise. For all its potential, ParaNormal fails on most levels to capitalize except for aesthetics and some good spooky scenes and dark themes. Overall, a disappointment. Especially in comparison to Coraline, which was a small masterpiece.
Willow Creek is a blatant, unapologetic ripoff of The Blair Witch Project, and a pretty bad one at that. The acting is not up to par with the amateurs in Blair Witch, a film that virtually invented the "found footage" genre. Many have come and gone since Blair Witch scared most of us witless in 1999, and this one is no better than any since then. Silly, obviously staged interviews with locals leads to basically one night in a tent with lots of sitting in silence, staring into a video camera, waiting for something interesting to happen. When it finally does, the end is abrupt and unsatisfying.
Creator is a better film than its reputation thanks to a fine performance by Peter O'Toole and a good supporting cast including a young Virginia Madsen, Vincent Spano and David Ogden Stiers. The film has its flaws, but is good-natured and often funny if too often sentimental. The plot is actually quite clever for the mid-80's - Peter O'Toole has been cultivating his dead wife's cells for 30 years until technology allows him to recreate her using the fertilized egg of a another woman. It feels just plausible enough to be compelling, and we do wonder if Dr. Wolper will pull it off. O'Toole looks and is cast in a role of a much older man (he was 53 at the time), but his charm and charisma make this worthwhile despite its flaws.
THE Citizen Kane of "found footage" horror movies, this one invented the genre in 1999. A low-budget, amateur production thrown together by a handful of people with a few days of footage cobbled together into a tidy 84 minutes - and it simply works. The acting is largely believable, and the pace is perfect. From the opening minutes the interviews with locals feel quite real, the enthusiasm of the 3 filmmakers soon turns to frustration, then fear, then panic, then hysteria. And over what? This is the best horror movie ever made where the monster is entirely left to our imagination.
Sinister is effective and affecting, but the material will be too disturbing and tasteless for some, including me. The ending is a downer, and the audience figures out the sick joke of a plot twist long before Ethan Hawke does (or should). I enjoy great horror movies, especially dark, atmospheric films that show less and suggest more. This one doesn't show it's hand too often, but when it does the result is pretty disturbing.