New in Theaters: ‘The Last Days on Mars’

'The Last Days on Mars': Anybody out there?

‘The Last Days on Mars’: Anybody out there?

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Ruairi Robinson pitched his sci-fi horrorshow The Last Days on Mars as “United 93 in space.” That’s a pretty gutsy presentation, not to mention almost entirely miscalculated.

The Last Days on Mars is opening this week in (highly) limited release. My full review is at Film Journal International:

Outer space is the new haunted house. There was a time when films about first contact involved actual contact—sure, everybody might end up running in terror from the laser beams, but there was at least some attempt at communication. Failing outright conflict, filmmakers wanted to show mankind coming to grips with some unfathomable extraterrestrial phenomenon (2001 to Mission to Mars). But more recently, from Prometheus to Europa Report, humanity ventures to distant planets only to end up kibble for varied alien nasties. That dulling trend continues in Ruairi Robinson’s imagination-challenged astronauts-meet-zombies flick The Last Days on Mars

You can watch the trailer here:

New in Theaters: ‘Room 237′

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room_237-posterStanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film The Shining is many things: Creepy, deliberate, fiendishly jokey, way over-reliant on Jack Nicholson, and perhaps the last interesting film that Kubrick did. But to some people it was far more than that. The documentary Room 237 weaves footage from the film in with interviews from its many dedicated viewers who have analyzed every single frame…and found things there you wouldn’t believe.

My full review is at Film Journal International; here’s part of it:

If it wasn’t The Shining, it would have been something else. That’s the first conclusion reached while watching Rodney Ascher’s all-enveloping head-first dive into the world of diligent obsessives who have parsed and filleted Stanley Kubrick’s horror film for deeper meaning. Many of them go so deep into each frame that it’s a wonder the many hypotheses hauled up in their nets, wriggling and wild-eyed, weren’t even further out on the fringe. “I admit,” one interviewee says in a rare sober moment, “that I am grasping at straws”…

Room 237 is playing now in limited release.

You can watch the trailer here:

 

Trailer Park, Halloween Edition: ‘The Bay’

Being that it’s Halloween time, movie theaters should be packed with scary movies. But this year, the fright-fest seems a little light, with the fourth Paranormal Activity and Sinister being about all there is. It’s a positive development, with studios having finally moved away from the endless slasher sequels, 1970s remakes, and torture-porn trash that typified horror films for so many years. The trend now, and it’s a good one, seems to be towards found-footage frights of the post-Blair Witch variety and amped-up variations on the old haunted house stories. Then you’ve got your zombie movies.

Now there’s The Bay, something of a genre-stew that comes courtesy of Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum and, oddly enough, director Barry Levinson. Better known for Baltimore-set character studies and Homicide, Levinson this time helms a conspiracy- and ecological horror-tinged story (supposedly told via found footage confiscated by the federal government and then leaked) about mysterious events in an idyllic Maryland oceanside town. Flesh-eating somethings, zombies, and plague quarantines look to be just part of the queasy, blood-spattered mayhem.

You can see the trailer below; just wait for the scene with the man holding a fish by the mouth: