FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Alfred Hitchcock |||
Alfred Hitchcock

This is perhaps an obvious choice, however, most people tend to overlook the Master of Suspense’s early work as well as the relevancy of his last film as a key element in the continuing transition and development of the genre he defined.

One of Hitchcock's early triumphs, this predecessor to the mistaken identity man on the run scenario Hitchcock turned to time and again, stars Robert Donat as the innocent wrongly accused of murder and pursued by both the police and enemy spies. This is the first example of Hitchcock’s mastery over the suspense tale, giving us a glimpse of the greatness to come.

Considered to be one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest works, this story of two men who meet by chance on a train and frivolously discuss swapping murders is a prime example of a common Hitchcock theme of the man who suddenly finds himself within a nightmare world over which he has no control. You can easily see how this film lays the ground work for the more popular “North by Northwest”.

Alfred Hitchcock's final film is a light-hearted thriller involving phony psychics, kidnappers and organized religion, all of which cross paths in the search for a missing heir and a fortune in jewels. Here, Hitchcock has brilliantly developed his signature form to include the now common, and often overused, device of plot twist, after plot twist, after plot twist. Widescreen!

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Skinwalkers

By BrianOrndorf

August 10th, 2007

Uh-oh, the Baby Huey of the horror genre, After Dark Films, is back, and this time they're ruining multiplexes with a werewolf movie. But not just any werewolf movie: a hastily-edited-to-a-PG-13 werewolf movie, with acting so dreadful it makes "Troll 2" look like a Mercury Theater production.

Skinwalkers

It seems an ancient curse that keeps werewolves alive is about to be shattered by a special 13-year-old boy’s prophecy-fulfilling birthday. Playing for the evil werewolves is Varek (Jason Behr), who leads his team of killers to the boy’s hometown for a hunt. On the flip side are the peace-loving werewolves, led by Jonas (Elias Koteas), who want the boy to live so their curse is broken. Counting down the hours until the prophecy takes hold, a war is waged between good and evil for the boy’s life, leaving his innocent mother (Rhona Mitra) in a state of shock.

What works in favor of “Skinwalkers” is that it isn’t a horror movie, but more of a monster picture. It doesn’t follow any currents trends in scare tactics, which is admittedly a nice change of pace. However, that’s where my praise of the film ends. After all, you cut out the werewolves, and what you’re left with is one idiotic movie.

Most of the blame can be pinned on director James Isaac, the man who previously gave the word the rotten, franchise-killing “Jason X.” Isaac doesn’t show all that much interest in werewolf lore, electing to lead the film into more action-oriented terrain, where more time is spent with bullets than horrific bodily transformations. Isaac is disturbingly comfortable with a majority of the asinine elements of “Skinwalkers,” from the generic (and unbelievably tedious) prophecy material to the costumes of Varek’s crew, who look more like roadies for the Allman Brothers Band than agents of part-dog doom.

Isaac also lacks a single clue how to instruct his actors, leaving them to their own devices for much of the film. With vacant pretty people like Behr and Mitra, this leads to great swells of silly soap opera reactions and fumbled emotional cues. Granted, “Skinwalkers” isn’t top-shelf screenwriting to begin with, but basic talent goes a long way to making mediocrity sparkle. Casting Jason Behr is not a step in the right direction.

The PG-13 curse strikes “Skinwalkers” in a very big way. With black blood replacement and profanity squeegeed off the film, this werewolf saga is sorely lacking any zest. The editing also wreaks havoc with the action sequences, with cuts and angles all over the place trying to cover up whatever made this film an R-rated venture in the first place. Also gone is the curious sensual element of the werewolf transformation. Apparently, when the werewolves blossom they burst into lustful stances, but in a PG-13 world, these scenes of sweaty, writhing bodies look more like a Spike TV cologne commercial.

One would think the combo of werewolves, Stan Winston’s make-up effects, and...well...werewolves would be more than enough to slap together a howlingly good time at the movies. However, put those elements in the hands of After Dark and it’s no surprise “Skinwalkers” is a stinker.

My rating: D