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Mini-Review: Boy 7 (2015; Germany)

This film is based on a YA novel by Mirjam Bous. The book was so popular that it spawned adaptations in both the Netherlands and Germany in 2015. This is the German version.

The plot is one that starts in medias res as the protagonist cannot remember a thing about himself, then before he has time to think on it at all he realizes he’s being pursued by authorities, and has no choice but to frantically run out of sheer instinct.

Even seeing this much later than the Dutch version, it truly is impressive. It’s a prime example of trying to squeeze all of the narrative and visual potential from the source material versus rote, washed out, dystopia-by-numbers with a few wrinkles in the prior.

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Even some of its strengths are stronger than the highlights of the Dutch version. The electronic score pumps the tension and the endorphins as needed. David Kross, is an effective and more engaging lead, and it brings to fruition my wish/issue with the prior film, which is that it takes that extra fifteen minutes and makes tremendous use of them in creating ambience and developing character.

While the Dutch film was over-concerned with getting details in about how exactly the dystopia came to be but being tremendously broad (in a similar vein to The Purge), the German film treats the dystopia and the commingling of corporate and governmental law enforcement as givens, this allows for more identification with the characters, and basic suspense building.

Furthermore, the cinematography in this version is scintillating. It eschews clichéd desaturation and fluorescence and focuses instead on vibrant, saturated coloration, deep shadows, precise framing, and beautiful compositions that juxtapose the ugliness of the world they portray.

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Were this a story you were interested in seeing I would highly recommend this version of it over the Dutch.

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(L to R) ANNALISE BASSO as Lina and ELIZABETH REASER as Alice, her mother, in "Ouija: Origin of Evil."  Inviting audiences again into the lore of the spirit board, the supernatural thriller tells a terrifying new tale as the follow-up to 2014’s sleeper hit that opened at No. 1.  In 1965 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their séance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home.  When the youngest daughter is overtaken by the merciless spirit, this small family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.

Origin of Evil saves Ouija

Having not written about the original Ouija probably the only way to dissect this one is via a comparative analysis. As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t go into a standard review with comparative analysis as one of my primary tools. I feel it is so separate and other from reviews that it is its own category on this blog.

Suffice it to say that the original film was one I disliked to such a degree that it was one of those I could describe as painful with a nearly precise degree of literalness. I was at times discomfited by my physical revulsion to the laziness, obviousness, and cliché of the so-called original venture.

Thus, going into this film I had a feeling that at best I’d end up saying after it was over: ”You know a prequel to a movie based on a board game has no business being this good,” but it went a bit beyond that, which in an of itself is quite a surprise.

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The only things that really hold it back from going beyond that level are some of the over-the-top moments which I knew were there. There are just more of them but they weren’t ruinous. Some of them were how far the physical manifestations went, but most of it was about the CG.

However, even that didn’t go very far due to the fact wasn’t always subpar. Perhaps, what is most impressive is that I found myself noting that this film did little things you don’t see enough of lately. Namely:

  • Visually it used focus, or lack thereof, to make some scares more subtle.
  • The sound mix and design is excellent and restrained as necessary.
  • Most of the jump scares are diegetic and involve the characters being jolted by real fright.

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Knowing Flanagan’s other work, namely Oculus and the short film upon which it was based, I expected the performances to be on and show some depth but it ought not be taken for granted. When all was said and done at the end of the year Lulu Wilson was nominated at the BAM Awards, and the cast as a whole is very strong.

Very pleasantly surprised though I am wondering why this proto-franchise seems like its being constructed in reverse in terms of quality.

Mind you this is not to say that this redeems the Hasbro brand on film, but what it does do is fly in the face of the notion that prequels are less-than simply for the reason that it’s painting by numbers. Yes, there may be a blueprint but effort and creativity can take you down a different path. Furthermore, to continue the paint-by-numbers analogy, art can still be made either by disregarding the prescribed color or through technique. This film does both.

Best Films of 2016

Typically I post the best films of the year as a series of posts where I write about each individually. Since I didn’t see enough films in 2016 to make more than a top 10, and that list is reflected and discussed in the BAM Awards. I post merely a screencap of my Letterboxd list, in case anyone is curious as to the order the films appear in.

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Sports Film Saturday

This year I figured why not switch up the viewing options here. The motion picture and sports were meant to go together. They are linked not just for dramatic purposes but also for pragmatic purposes like preparation but also sharing training techniques, like this one.

 

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Short Film: Peace on Earth (1939)

If you think that short animated films deserve serious analysis, you should first visit Cartoon Brew, and second watch more films like Peace on Earth. It’s a chilling, gorgeously rendered, dystopian future that counts on simple ideas and hope (or loss thereof) rather than incessant cynicism for its effect, and incorporates a holiday theme. Enjoy!