Thursday, 26 May 2011



This isn't really how I like to watch films - in instalments. But sadly it took three goes for me to get to the end of this particular movie. Not because it's monumentally long, not because it was so soul-witheringly tedious, but because the first two discs that an unnamed rentals company (hereafter referred to as LikeMovie) didn't work. The first one didn't even play: it just whizzed around inside my machine making an unpleasant juddering noise, like I'd put a spoon in there or something. LikeMovie replaced it a couple of days later with another copy, which played perfectly well up to about 51 minutes in, when it froze solid and refused to proceed any further. And it's not my player - it wouldn't work on my PC either (I don't like watching movies on my PC screen anyway but that's another matter). So LikeMovie sent me another replacement copy and that played well - at least from the 45 minute mark. If it was damaged earlier than that I wouldn't know because I skipped near to where it had frozen the other day. In AdmireCinema's defence: they got me that third copy within a week of the first one fritzing up, and I've got an extra rental as a bonus. And it really doesn't happen very often. But if it grinds to a halt at 51 minutes in, and it's actually a decent little film, it IS annoying.

And Don't Look Up IS a decent little film. It's certainly nothing special, but it's well enough put together to pass muster. A paranormally-sensitive film director has an urge to remake a Romanian silent horror movie which was abandoned after spooky stuff happened on set, mirroring the true-life folk-tale curse of the story, and the director (played by Eli Roth!) died. When he and his crew start restaging the movie in the same Eastern European studios, it's no great surprise when the same spooky happenings begin again: members of the crew are bumped off one by one and the real evil spirit of the story returns, accompanied by swarms of unconvincing CGI flies.

Sadly, after about an hour it gives up trying to be pleasantly creepy and opts for turning into a typically unfathomable Japanese-style horror, complete with the familiar figure of the lank-haired girl ghost, which is hardly surprising when Don't Look Up turns out to be a remake of a Hideo Nakata film! It's nicely done much of the time, with some occasional spurts of gore and some effectively creepy moments, although the CG flyswarms are very ropey. Plotwise, it's open to question as to whether a film crew would stick around an obviously collapsing project with a rising body count and a director who's patently unhinged, and it's odd to see this low-budget horror film crew apparently working with Panaflex film cameras rather than digital (although the plot does call for odd things to show up on the processed dailies) when this film was actually shot on HD, according to the IMDb's technical specs page. But it's effective enough, particularly in its first half, with an interesting cast (it's got Henry Thomas, Kevin Corrigan and Lothaire Bluteau), and certainly worth a rental. Though probably not three.



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