Don’t be afraid of the Dark (2010)

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Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes work quite well together in this run-of-the-mill haunted house remake of a 1973 made-for-TV movie.  Bailee Madison does well as Sally, the daughter who is harassed by the little critters, and manages to create a bit of empathy for the character; not bad for an 11 year-old.  Fun to see serial cameo Alan Dale pop up, otherwise this is really a by-the-numbers horror that isn’t especially scary.

Produced by Guillermo del Toro (the critters aren’t filled with eyes though) and directed by a comic book artist for some reason (Troy Nixey), not that he does a bad job, it just seems an odd choice.  The creatures themselves are quite fearsome little hunchback things and their scuttling puts me in mind of facehuggers, but otherwise there is nothing special about this standard haunted house fayre.  But, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion man.

Science on Film

As scientists we get a pretty hard time of it.  If we’re not struggling for publishable results, or being misquoted in the press about our research; then we’re being portrayed as über-geeks in The Big Bang Theory or with cinema-screen foreheads and clipboards in adverts (I’m looking at you Tefal).  Some of my non-science friends still call me boffin. If that isn’t enough, our subject matter, our interest, nae, our passion can be treated with such cavalier contempt in films.

As I see it, there are several issues to address here.  There is a fair amount (as you might expect) of bad science in movies; however there is also some good science (or at least the director has made an attempt to grasp some basics).  Quite often the scientist is the voice of reason (though the incidence of anyone paying them any attention is rather less); more often than not however, the mad scientist is the preferred flavour.  Finally I shall give some thought to the stereotypes that are perpetuated in the movies and whether there is any likelihood that it may change.

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Troll Hunter (2010)

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A group of 3 Norwegian college students start following a grizzly guy called Hans because they believe he is a bear poacher, an issue that is currently relevant in their town.  After they have followed him into the woods one night they discover that he is actually the titular Troll Hunter.  His job involves studying, but mainly killing, Norway’s Troll population.  As the students are filming for a documentary, the film is shot from the POV of the cameraman, a la Blair Witch/Cloverfield.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

It seemed appropriate to watch a horror film on Hallowe’en, and it just happened that A Nightmare on Elm Street was on.  Since this is the first Hallowe’en since Wes Craven died, I thought that this was also very appropriate.  Having set up his stall firmly in the horror genre with Last House on the Left and The Hills have Eyes (neither of which I’ve seen I must admit) it was this story of sleepy slaughter that really announced Craven to the world.

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Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

So, I haven’t seen movies 2 and 3 of the franchise, but I figured I probably wasn’t missing huge plot points given the nature of the films.  I could always say that I just want to see all the Paul W. S. Anderson iterations.

Afterlife starts off with lots of Paul Anderson’s visual flair, which I happen to quite like (Three Musketeers notwithstanding).  It’s all quite silly, but looks quite cool.  The problem is this only lasts for about five minutes, the film soon degenerates into a derivative action zombie thriller with some fancy tech.

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