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The Substitute is a cool little sc-fi/horror film part of the "Ghosthouse Underground" productions, which released a string of horror films, many which are being released to DVD just in time for the Halloween season. Among the Ghosthouse Underground production films is the atrociously bad "Dance of the Dead". Being that Dance of the Dead was so horrible I was extremely skeptical about The Substitute being an even remotely satisfying film. Because I'm a very open minded person I give every horror film a chance, and even though Dance of the Dead sucked, I'm not going to exclude all Ghosthouse Underground films from my viewing pleasures. Yes, I was indeed worried about The Substitute being total crap, but let me tell you...I'm sure glad I watched it!
A good way to describe The Substitute would be saying it's like "The Faculty" meets "The Goonies". Yes, it's rated R, but don't expect and any gore or any hard violence. There's not even any blood, no nudity, or anything extreme at all. It earned it's R rating simply for just a few "F" words. The Substitute plays more like a kid film. As a matter of fact, without the few scenes of profanity, The Substitute would feel more like a soft PG-13 horror film.
"6th Grade gets a new substitute teacher. She wants to train the class for an international competition in Paris. But something isn't right. How is she able read kids' minds? Why is she so mean? And how does she manage to convince everyone's parents she is so great when the whole class knows she is really an alien?"
The performances here are all solid, even from the kids. Each kid is very likeable and fun. The whole damn movie is fun! An interesting and unique story to go with it as well. The humor isn't laugh out loud funny, but let me tell you, it's very sharp and it's smart. The dialogue is intelligently playful and cool. The movie is faced paced and witty. The Substitute is like the films you watched as a kid that hold a special place in your heart. It's actually more like a kid film that's for adults.
There is nothing scary about The Substitute, that isn't the point of the film. It's simply just a fun and enjoyable horror movie! Nothing more.
And just for a heads up...you should watch this movies in subtitles. Being that the language is in Danish, the movie is dubbed in English. Watching this one dubbed makes everything seem way too cheesy, which in fact this is not a cheesy movie. If you watch The Substitute with subtitles you'll enjoy it more. It won't come off that corny.
Such a simple and typical "ghost story" premise - but this movie is downright creepy.
I'm not the biggest fan of James Wan - but that's not to say he doesn't make the list of my top new favorite horror directors. He in fact does...he's just way at the bottom for now. I dreaded the "Saw" film; absolutely hated it. And "Death Sentence" (not a horror film) was mediocre at best; nothing special. His only film (up until now) which I highly enjoyed was "Dead Silence". If I didn't know beforehand that Wan was attached to that film I would have probably guessed it was the works of someone like Hooper or Rami (or anyone else for that matter...just NOT James Wan!) What made Dead Silence so different, complete OPPOSITE to Saw, was the shadowy use of lighting and heavy atmosphere (the way I like it) - and it pushed forth a spooky and playful story as well. I sensed James Wan had much more in store. I just wasn't sure when his time would come to shine any further - or how many f*ck ups before I would totally loath his work no matter what came afterwards (kind of how I feel about Rob Zombie right now...in the "fu*king up" sense.) But what put James Wan on the bottom of my list, is his new film Insidious. Where he continues his dark atmospheric formula, EVEN more so here! You get lost in the film's darkness; surrounded by nothing but fear (literally at one point). I feel James Wan is on a good track.
I'm a sucker for many, many haunted house stories. They creep me out...to a certain degree. It's the kind of fear that usually lasts only a drive home from the movie theater late at night. But once in bed I'm over it. And I shut the lights; never nervous to open one eye to see what could be lurking in my corner. I have my limits; my own line - where fear from horror films usually takes its own root on a safer side. Only certain films like "The Amityville Horror" (1979), and "The Haunted" (1991) crossed that line, and pulled me into a darker side of uncomfortable weariness, and superstitious depression. That tremulous fear came back to me on Friday night after watching Insidious, and that line was crossed once again. DON'T let the PG-13 rating fool you. Insidious pulls something off even most R rated horror films can't pull off these days...It scares the shit out of you!
Such believable performances (even in the midst of the entire hokey-pokey "Poltergeist" escapade), with the darkest of tones throughout to set an unsettling mood of tension that never loses its grip. It's like a haunted house Disney-ride...
- But only faster and with real ghosts.
Dream Home plays in two parts - A horror film and a sappy drama. On the scary side it's a rollercoaster ride through hell. On the sappy side its torturous boredom. If you were to erase all its unnecessary nonsense (which is in between all the carnage) you'd have a great, shall I say...Masters of Horror episode. Keep in mind; I said a "GREAT" episode (which would be one of ONLY a few). So that's not saying much. But still, 50 minutes shy you're left with an over the top, brutal Japanese bloodfest. With its full running time you just get free bathroom breaks. Imagine Ichi the Killer with fu*king infomercials in between, only he's hosting himself, speaking elegantly, trying to sell you the best microwave oven. Within Dream Home lies a 45 minute horror film that is depraved, gory, and fun as fu*king hell. But I have to give a rating for its entirety, being it's a whole movie - one with a straight story from start to finish. My sarcasm probably makes you believe this movie's like a Sci-Fi channel parody of original crappy programming. Dream Home isn't a satire directed by John Landis. And it's far from Sci-Fi-ish. By no means is it lighthearted NOR does everything NOT piece together. It has a story that follows after each graphic detail. But here's its premise...
"Cheng Li-sheung is a young, upwardly mobile professional finally ready to invest in her first home. But when the deal falls through, she is forced to keep her dream alive - even if it means keeping her would-be neighbors dead. "
Why is Cheng Li so EVIL? Why is she BEYOND Ultra-sadistic? Why does she have superhuman -like strength? Why won't she DIE? (she seems to slip right through every single assault). Why does Cheng Li show emotions of sadness and disgust, but yet continues her rampage? Was she ever institutionalized? Was she ever raped? Did her family emotionally or physically abuse her? Why can't she get a better job -instead she chooses to torture 25 innocent people? Is she slightly retarded - Mental illness? WHAT THE FU*K IS SHE...?
The answers to those and many, MANY more questions are never answered. I mean we see stuff from her past life, but no, those uh...those specific questions - NEVER answered. And don't give me, "She killed people to get her dream home. She loooooved that place". That's not a reason; it's just a motivation without a reason as to why it motivated her. And also, don't say "Her loved ones were forced to more out when she was younger, and they were pretty much left out to die. She went crazy!" - To that I say WHERE THE FU*K WAS THERE EVER a build up to this "insanity". Why not use a gun than if she was so angry. Why is she hacking, slicing, biting, butchering, and dicing...but again...looking nauseated? And please don't give me, "Michael Myers didn't have a real reason in the original" Who cares? Halloween was fu*king scary - Dream Home isn't scary. Dream Home plays with itself and smells like farts.
If the director didn't want to give an explanation, than fine - He should have left out all the serious drama (which led to nowhere, and just make it (like the good half) an over the top gore fest WITHOUT any explanations. At least it would have worked THAT way.
You won't get lost in the mist of randomness, in terms of spontaneous departures from forty different outlines. The problem isn't piecing the story where it fits; it's matching the pieces to blend with the story. It doesn't work to go "Dead Alive" - "General Hospital" - "Dead Alive" - "General Hospital". And yes, General Hospital is torture for me! But I do love Dead Alive. I'm not saying it's no good to have extreme opposites, even every second, but you better know the sport of film if you're going to persuade an audience you're not a fledgling hack who's inordinately uninspiring. At least some may feel that way judging on this movie alone, not knowing Ho-Cheung Pang is in fact a director of great talents. His track record consists of many accomplishments (none of which I've seen firsthand), but doing some research before I voice my opinion, it's safe to say Ho-Cheung Pang is lost in this specific genre. But showing some great potential I'm sure he'll get the gist a few more horror movies into the game.
Good gory horror, but overall...a dull film!
Creepy, gritty, and brutal film. The ending is disturbing as hell. I highly enjoyed this film, even though it filled me with rage (I wanted to kill those fu*king kids!) I can't wait to see what this director does with The Woman in Black remake. Should be very interesting. Anyways, Eden Lake is a must-see!
Oh my! Why do I keep giving John Erick Dowdle a chance? Uwe Boll makes better films than him. Dowdle is one of the worst mainstream horror directors ever. Devil was a joke. I watched it with a few friends and we couldn't even look at each other. That's how embarrassed this movie made us. We were too embarrassed to even stand up and press the stop button. The script was mentally challenged. The acting smelled liked poo-poo. And M. Night Shyamalan SUCKS. Yup! His stories are weak. I'll challenge him any day to a story. I'd cut off three of my fingers if that would make him except my challenge and I'd even give him a month's head start.
I need an agent bad.
I hope John Erick Dowdle wins a Razzie award someday soon. He deserves an honor for this crap.
Darren Aronofsky is a precisely skillful and veraciously explicit filmmaker who masters his work. I'm a huge fan of "Pi", "Requiem for a Dream", and I loved "The Wrestler". Aronofsky crafts his talents with such ingenuity; you may miss a monumental moment in the blink of an eye.
Sadly, not this time around.
Natalie Portman's performance is undeniably good, but surprisingly, for me, Black Swan wasn't. The acting wasn't the problem for me. It was the storyline I didn't like. The production design I didn't like. Everything was cold and empty - almost seemed cheap. But that wouldn't have been a problem if it wasn't for the story that almost bored me to tears. Too much melody with an overkill of "beautiful", "lovely", and "breathtaking" ballet that seems would only appeal to a rich old woman, sipping from a Champaign glass, with her pink poodle FuFu, while getting a pedicure. That's of course without knowing, and seeing it for the first time, that everybody loves this film.
Portman's descent into madness meant nothing to me. Yes, she gave a great performance as an overly obsessive, depressed, and determined ballet dancer (who is delusional?) but the outcome added to my overall dissatisfaction which slowly built from the very beginning. And so I murmured the words, "Okay...uh...but I really don't care." It was the character (and the story) who I felt this way for...NOT Natalie Portman. Regarding the character's lack of sanity, she revealed nothing that ripped through my emotional state and boggle the mind on a more subconscious level of psychological hysteria. In her case she'd better off telling her story to a psychiatrist, not because he hasn't heard it before, just because it's his job to listen. But I'm not being paid to hear it. On the contrary, I'm the one who's paying to listen to this shit ("watch it" actually) My point is this (if you didn't catch my sarcasm) - If I'm going to sit and watch a movie about some ballerinas dancing around and dramatic crazy chicks with jealousy issues, then you better BLOW MY MIND! I didn't pay twelve dollars for a movie so I could fall asleep. (Well actually I - I kind of did.)
Her (character's) illness was too simple for something which had no background. No childhood story. No mentions of traumatic scarring or reminiscence of dark causes to this dementia. Any repressed memories I should know about? But wait a minute; maybe they do show scenes to back up her character (I surely can't remember. I was half asleep). But guess what...There just wasn't enough. (Otherwise I would have actually given a shit). A film on ballerinas sure needs a strong backbone to pull my ass in - at the same time intrigue me, and thrill me. Unfortunately, because the movie's just about ballet dancers with a girl who doesn't understand the same thing that we don't understand, just like they don't understand - makes it quite retarded...understand? (Or at least it can be - just like this film.) Darren Aronofsky didn't push the envelope further enough. (Although at one point in the film it got very sexy between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.) The way I see it; Say less? Show more!
Further on her performance - Although I was moved by her strong ability to play such an empty oddity, I wasn't fearful, scared for, nor threatened by Portman's character (even if I was a ballerina popping E with her in a nightclub). Her delusional state of frenziness wasn't forged enough in imagery to convince me of any real dangers that might push me over the edge in frantic astonishment. Nor was I nervous enough to lead to a point where the final act would be shocking, if it in fact was - which it wasn't. There was nothing to save its downfall. Why isn't her character's behavior OVERLY erratic? - Right away you might say, "Crazy people don't always seem crazy on the surface you idiot". Okay. I get that. Please, don't call me idiot. But I'm watching a two hour movie. It's not like you have all the time in the world to create a 3 dimensional character with a sinisterly more interesting obstacle than a mirror, four walls, and a weird guy in fu*king spandex. Thirty minutes in she's already a bland pill to swallow. If I'm going to worry because this girl's in jeopardy, within herself or with others, then give me a more legitimate backstory as to; How serious is this (this illness - this darkness)? What's the reason for her emotional outlook on dealing with it? Where did the trouble begin? What about a clear cause? Why should I be frightened if she's doesn't seem too frightened herself? - Not enough to the point where I fear for her life. But she's definitely sad enough to the point where I feel bad for her - But isn't this a thriller? Why aren't I thrilled? Why am I only getting depressed? Snoozy? Drowsy? Sleepy? Horny? THE LIST STOPS THERE! Answer "Why"? I was freaking bored.
Like Martin Scorsese's "Bringing Out the Dead", Black Sawn was holding something back that was needed to be said, but when it came time to speak aloud, in all its furious rage, it jumped back into a hush-hush moment, and yet again, was given an Ambien to take a nap. It was an hour into the film that I realized this pattern had no intentions in boosting itself from its sluggish moderation, nor dig deeper into the factor of psychosis and blend something new into its take on twisted mental capacity. Now I scratch my head, place the popcorn on the floor and check the time. By that time I was tired (but not by its weirdness WHICH should've been weirder, truthfully) but bored by its direction to go nowhere other than a path of multi-subgenre discombobulation. My mind turned stiff, got spacey - there was nothing left to move me OTHER than Natalie Portman's performance - BUT NOT as an antagonist whose inner-mind doppelganger frightened me - but as a daydreamer; whose dark fantasies cross over into a delusional cold and lonely world, strangely bringing her a degree of satisfaction with a sense of self-belonging (in a community which honors her greatness). But the bitch was still boring.
Portman's character's whole background was a bore; her life, her friends, her school, family/and social life...everything. Empty! Just like Lindsay Lohan's bank account.
Toward the end of the film her violent decision only hints to me that I'll be driving home soon, which makes me happy because I know the movie's almost over. And then I pray that David Cronenberg directs the sequel, or at least gives Aronofsky a big tip in reconstruction of "frightful" obscurities. I complain about all these specifics mainly for this film only. I usually don't for others. Simply because it's Darren Aronofsky and I'm a huge fan of his work. For a movie I so highly anticipated, I expected much more. Maybe it's his different use in style that completely threw me off track and rubbed me the wrong way. It just didn't feel like one of his films to me. I was thinking this was going to be completely different. I just wasn't a fan.