Month: January 2015

Trifecta of Horror: Leprechaun: Origins (2014), Housebound (2014), Deliver Us From Evil (2014)

Leprechaun: Origins

It’s out with Warwick Davis and in with WWE wrestler, Dylan ‘Hornswoggle’ Postl, in this reboot/reimagining/retooling/retiling of the 90s slasher that spawned sequels no one really cares about. A group of crazy kids go on holiday to a part of Ireland that looks absolutely nothing Ireland. There they’re taken in by two walking stereotypes, who offer them an abandoned cottage to stay at. But saint and begorrah, it be infested with a creature that be after your lucky charms. Turning up the seriousness to 11, Leprechaun Origins has no limericks, no green hats and no fun.

Housebound

Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) is in a whole heap of trouble. Having been placed under house detention at her mother’s house, Kylie has to put with her mother’s constant questions, overaffection and, worse still, her conviction that her house is haunted. Initially dismissive, it’s only when Kylie begins to experience things that go bump in the night herself, that she starts to take the issue seriously and delves into the house’s terrible past. Despite the film running longer than the storyline can justify, Housebound is a fairly successful black comedy with some real chilling moments. Fans of early Peter Jackson are in for a treat.

Deliver Us From Evil

We’re in New York and police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) is investigating a series of crimes, when he inexplicably joins forces with a… sigh… priest. Cue lots of possessions, jump scares and Joel McHale wearing his hat backwards. This is a travesty in terms of horror, failing to add anything original to the genre. Should you see this in your partner’s Netflix queue, break up with them immediately. Seriously. There is no punchline. Clearly they are thinking about watching this with, which shows a distinct lack of love for you. I’m sorry, but it’s time to go meet someone else. You will get through this, I promise.

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Taken 3 (2015)

Liam Neeson is back as Bryan Mills in Taken 3 – infuriatingly written as Tak3n in some quarters – the second sequel to the surprise hit of 2008. The last entry, Taken 2, followed the idiom of it’s not broke, don’t fix it and essentially became a retread of the first albeit with more daughter, more Famke Janssen and added orienteering with grenades.

This time around Taken 3 turns out to actually be a large misnomer, with no one being taken, swiped, pilfered, shanghaied, kidnapped, shoplifted, disappeared or hijacked. Instead, our Irish hero finds himself on the run from the police when he is set up for the murder of his ex-wife (Famke Janssen in what is fair to say a small cameo). With his ex’s husband from the last two films – now being played by a sleazy Dougray Scott – pointing the finger of blame squarely at him, Bryan must find out who set him up and why. Hot on his heels is Inspector Dozler, played by Forest Whittaker, potentially the slowest detective to hit our screens since Inspector Clouseau.

Whilst the first two films had enough going for them to at least be recommendable to others, Taken 3 is by far one of the laziest sequels we’ve seen since The Hangover Part 3. Breaking from the formula to use a script that was very likely doing the rounds under another name, it suffers greatly from the plot, to the set pieces, to the huge gaping plot holes, to the overall performances of everyone involved. Throw in some retconning of the highest order and a distinct lack of actual action until gone the hour mark, and you are looking at poor night at the cinema, irony be damned.

The audience deserves better, but evidently no one making Taken 3 feels the same way. Here’s hoping T4ken is a long way away.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)

After Kick Ass, Matthew Vaughn returns to the material of l’enfant terrible, Mark Millar with Kingsman: The Secret Service, loosely based on Millar’s comic book The Secret Service.

Taron Egerton plays Eggsy, a London kid from the wrong of the tracks who is taken under the wing of Colin Firth’s Harry Hart, a gentlemen spy for a secret service known as Kingsman who set up shop, literally, on Saville Row. Whilst Eggsy tackles his spy training head on, internet tycoon Richmond Valentine (a lisping Samuel L Jackson) is traversing the globe looking for the rich and powerful to join his solution for global warming. Spoilers: he’s up to no good. Can Eggsy and Hart stop him before it’s too late?

Based on a script co-written with his usual collaborator Jane Goodman, Vaughn’s Kingsman is an explosive and blackly humorous response to the po-faced spy thrillers such as the Bourne Trilogy (there is no fourth) and Daniel Craig’s Bond. It’s also spectacularly violent, with a key scene set in a Westboro Baptist type church being the most gloriously vulgar and memorable. Anyone raising an eyebrow at Colin Firth being in an action film will be pleasantly surprised as he fights his way through a scene that feels like both The Raid movies compressed down to five minutes.

Whilst the film never lets up, there are some missteps. Kingsman was clearly filmed in the UK, and its apparent in many a scene that steps foot outside the British Isles. Admittedly not the crime of the century, but it does take you out of the film. There’s also a crude joke towards tot eh end that attempts to heighten and satirize the typical conjugal rights ending to a Bond movie, but instead rewrites Eggsy character unnecessarily.

However, these are minor quibbles in a film that for the most part is a blistering, balls to the wall comic book adaptation.