Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
Film
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA

Sometimes, a bad movie inspires a bit of unnatural love. In other instances, films overlooked by the masses make it into our personal preferences. Whatever the case is here, we have several examples of efforts we feel bad for enjoying, but love nonetheless.


 

cover art

John Dies at the End

Director: Don Coscarelli
Cast: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman, Doug Jones, Daniel Roebuck

15


John Dies at the End
Magnet Releasing


With its collection of oddball characters and reliance on snark over scares, John Dies at the End is hipster horror at its most innocuous. This “too cool for school” scary movie just loves to wallow in the weirdness that Coscarelli and his collection of F/X techs can come up with. There are mutant spiders, slugs with rows of gnarly teeth, and a last act monster made up of goo, human memories, and one large evil eye. In between, we get decapitation, vivisection, zombified limbs, and exploding eyeballs. This is not some hyperactive bloodbath, however. While gory and gruesome, much of this movie’s messier bits are in service of something hilarious, not horrifying. Bill Gibron


 

cover art

Oblivion

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo

14


Oblivion
Universal


The guilt is optional in Tom Cruise’s latest (as long as you’re strictly considering the movie and not giving money to a Scientologist), a science fiction film prettier than most, with better production design, and even a touch smarter. What pulls Oblivion down from the ranks of the average is its ending. It’s simply not… logical. Like I said in my review, director Joseph Kosinski seems satisfied pounding a square peg into a round hole when it comes to dealing with his characters emotional intelligence. This digression from logic makes it impossible to elevate Oblivion above “visually impressive”, but it doesn’t make watching Tom Cruise give it his all any less fun. Ben Travers


 

cover art

21 and Over

Director: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Cast: Justin Chon, Miles Teller, Skylar Astin, Sarah Wright

13


21 and Over
Relativity Media


Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) is turning 21 years old, and if his friends have any say in the matter, he’s going to get drunk. This is the premise for the absurdly over-the-top 21 & Over, a comedy that I should’ve walked out on within the first 20 minutes. Instead, I stayed to the end, and this remains the greatest movie-going decision of my life. If my peers discovered that I developed a deep admiration for this film, they’d take away my film studies degrees and put me out to pasture. They’d be completely justified. However, something draws me to the onscreen shenanigans, and each time I watch the film, I think of how quickly youth passes us by, and how I wanted nothing more than to make those crazy college nights last forever. Call me sentimental, but 21 & Over is not simply a film about partying, it’s a film about life. There’s a Jeff Chang in all of us. Jon Lisi


 

cover art

The Purge

Director: James DeMonaco
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield, Tony Oller, Arija Bareikis

12


The Purge
Universal


Sure the star is Ethan Hawke, who seems to take on the worst projects possible to fund his theater work, and both Michael Bay and the Paranormal Activity guys produced it. But this exercise in home-invasion melodrama (the future government has decreed an annual 12-hour period where all crime is legal) has a fizzy political subtext as potent as anything in horror since The Night of the Living Dead. As Hawke tries to keep his family alive, a black man comes to the door, chased by a kill-squad of Tea Party-like white kids looking to use the Purge to rid the city of undesirables. Things go downhill once the house’s security is breached, but this is the rare genre film that doesn’t try to hide its message. Chris Barsanti


 

cover art

No One Lives

Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Cast: Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, Lee Tergesen, Laura Ramsey, Derek Magyar, Beau Knapp, America Olivo, Brodus Clay, Lindsey Shaw

11


No One Lives
Anchor Bay


We don’t come to a movie like No One Lives hoping for the most rational and realistic treatment of spree killer psychology ever set to celluloid. Instead, we want to see bags of body parts, decapitated heads, and bullets turning brains into mush, and in that regard, the movie manages quite well. Unlike other WWE product which seems content to let its company talent turn things tedious, Brodus Clay’s appearance could be considered a cameo, if that, and by hiring Kitamura, the suits behind the scenes have at least one eye on something other than the basic bottom line. You may not discover its vein draining delights in your local Cineplex, but once it hits the stream, give this goofy gorefest a try. Hopefully, Driver and his death dealing dandy persona will find a home alongside other homicidal heroes like Freddy, Jason, and Michael. For blood soaked brutality alone, he fits right in. Bill Gibron


Related Articles
6 Aug 2014
By grounding the violence of his barely veiled speculative fiction in the here-and-now, James DeMonaco risks inciting an audience beyond the walls of the cinema.
27 Jan 2014
The Jackass ne’er do wells keep trying to squeeze another penny from the working class world of jerry-rigged skate ramps, overflowing testosterone, and homoerotic pranks.
By PopMatters Staff
6 Jan 2014
For those who love film (as we do), it's often hard to hate the medium you enjoy so much. In the case of the movies listed here, the ability to loathe was quite easy, actually.
24 Dec 2013
It's the Lonely Planet version of personal reinvention, a winning if ultimately weak walk through casual carpe diem and taking risks.
discussion by
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.