Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

The odds were stacked against Mama being any good. The film was produced by Guillermo Del Toro, whose work as a director is fantastic, but whose producing history isn’t great with the last film he only produced and didn’t direct being the lousy Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Mama also boasted a premise that featured the two most popular cliches of horror movies these days: creepy kids and ghosts. But, somehow, the movie manages to rise above this problems and is not only a solid horror flick, but a genuinely scary one as well. Mama wastes no time getting into the scary stuff, and while there are a lot of jump scares, there are no “false alarm” scares (it was just the dog!) to be found. It’s tense, it’s creepy, the ghost has a great design, and the ending is a lot darker than I thought it would be. Jessica Chastain actually delivers a really good performance here, too, proving that she can handle horror movies with the same zeal she exhibits in her more presitigous works. I wouldn’t call Mama a masterpiece, but it’s one of the better horror movies I’ve seen in recent years, with genuine scares and ratcheting tension throughout.
3.5 out of 5

Rise of the Guardians
Rise of the Guardians is a real curiosity, and is essentially The Avengers but with folkloric and/or holiday characters in place of superheroes. When Jack Frost is appointed to be one of the “Guardians” of childhood, alongside the Tooth Fairy, Santa, the Sandman, and the Easter Bunny, he finds himself in the midst of a war between the guardians and Pitch Black, the boogeyman. Pitch’s motivation is unclear at best, and the movie is a pretty generic “new guy finds his place” story, but the creative interpretations of the characters make Rise of the Guardians worth a look. Where else are you going to see Santa Claus portrayed as a tattooed Russian viking with an army of yetis? Or the Easter Bunny as a man-sized, Australian, boomerang-chucking rabbit who lives in an underground lair populated by eggs with legs? It’s all incredibly weird, but the movie is never boring and keeps the pace moving along nicely. A fun and unique family film that will entertain both kids and adults, Rise of the Guardians doesn’t deliver much beyond its unique character interpretations, but it’s still a good time.
3 out of 5

The Possession
Given that Sam Raimi was producing this small-scale horror film with a PG-13 rating, I was hoping The Possession would turn out to be another Drag Me To Hell: suspenseful, gross and funny. Unfortunately, this was a pretty typical girl-gets-possessed movie. The dad knows what’s going on but no one believes him. He’s in the middle of a divorce and everybody sees his daughters bizarre behaviour as indicative of him mistreating her, blah blah blah. You’ve probably seen all this stuff before if you’re a horror fan like me. The only interesting thing about The Possession is the demon at the centre of the action. The “dibuk” is a demon from Jewish folklore that can only be stopped by trapping it in a special box, and the bits that focus on the history of the dibuk are pretty cool. If only they had surrounded them with a better movie.
2.5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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