I took a week to have a side rant and get all that ‘Butcher’ business off of my chest, but Bloody Streams is back in its original format!

I’ve watched a lot of films over the past few weeks that amazed me, some that pissed me off, some that wasted my time and some that I just want to forget ever happened. I’m still having a difficult time dealing with what truly defines “horror” so; I’ve been trying to watch them all in an attempt to help you out. Three of the four films I’m sharing this week all have that in common; they were categorized as horror, but really ride the fence into one genre or another. I hope that January is treating all of you Deviants well and I hope you’ll each find something to enjoy in this week’s Bloody Streams!

Toad Road (2012)

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this film. I’d heard great things through all of the festival talk, but, since I live in the middle of nowhere, I hadn’t even been given the chance to check it out until now. Let’s get this out of the way first; when I say I’m trying to wrap my brain around it, I’m in no way implying that I’m trying to decide if I liked it. I think I actually loved the movie. (I’ll have to concrete that statement with subsequent viewings) What I mean is that, much like Memento  or Irreversible, the movie seems to be laid out in such a way as to suggest that there is a realization that may come with further research or conversations. I think we all have a “Toad Road” in our towns. You know, the road you go on – probably in some dimly lit wooded area – to see ghosts or demons or whatever. It’s a rite of passage. My Toad Road was Whistler’s Road. It’s completely ridiculous, but you have to go at least once; just to be able to say that you went. The Toad Road in the film actually consists of gates and each gate sends you further into hell. No one has gotten further than the fourth gate before passing out, though. That’s the challenge our protagonists will venture on. To stop the description of the film there is to do it a disservice because everything about this film feels genuine and authentic. It’s one of the first films in years that make you feel like the camera is eavesdropping on the situation. The performances couldn’t be better. I’m not sure if the actors are that good or if they legitimately just set up these situations and captured their honest reactions. The duo that will travel this road is James and Sara. James is a total waste of a human being. He burns people’s hair while they’re sleeping, he’s constantly high, he treats people with no respect….until he meets Sara. Sara is a nice, clean, honest kid who, with the help of James and his friends, slowly begins to get into drugs. This is where they fall for each other; James because Sara provides him a way out and Sara because James provides her a way in. It’s as tragic a love story as can be. Throw in the presence of demons and this is an all-around great movie. I could have done with more supernatural elements, but with a run time of 76 minutes, there’s only so much you can do. And although this does skate on a very thin sheet of ice as to whether or not it can be truly defined as “horror” and not just a metaphor for addiction, it’s built around a horror convention that we’re all familiar with and I think that validates the inclusion. I’ve not seen anything else the director has done, but he’d do good to return to the genre very soon.

Resolution (2012)

I funnily just watched Resolution  a week before I watched Toad Road, although Resolution has been available on Netflix for quite some time. The two films couldn’t be more similar if they tried. They both deal with drug abuse, the responsibilities of a friend in those situations, demons and ghosts, how addiction will always haunt you, exploring nature, both feature indie filmmakers and fairly unknown actors; the list could seriously keep going. And, at the same time, Resolution is lacking in so many of the aspects that made Toad  such a great watch. The story here is that of two long-time best friends, Michael and Chris, that have been torn apart by Michael’s need to reside in the “normal” world of a wife and kids and Chris’s desire to reside in the world of smoking crack and shooting guns in a trailer on an Indian reservation. Michael shows up one day and handcuffs Chris to the exposed plumbing, as a means of forcing Chris into sobriety. While the supernatural elements are a bit more rampant in this film, they also seem to be all over the place – never quite settling on ghosts or demons or UFOs or Indian curses. The performances seem really…forced…and there’s practically no substance to the visuals; it honestly looks and feels like a Lifetime movie. It’s very possible that I missed something, as I saw this on a couple of best-of lists for the year, but it just feels like they pieced together an unbelievable storyline and bookended it with a completely absurd and unrewarding finale that just pissed me off. Feel free to let me know how you felt about either film.

+1 (2013)

I really enjoy time travel movies. They can be so complex and challenging, but, if done right, they can be extremely entertaining and rewarding as well. Primer, Donnie Darko, Timecrimes, The Butterfly Effect, SOME of the Terminator  series and Looper  are just a few examples of the ones who have done it right. So, how does +1  handle the affair? Meh, not very well. The movie starts out with a meteor crashing to earth that sends a weird charge of electricity through a town’s power lines. From here we segue into the opening for pretty much every other party movie (i.e. Project X, Can’t Hardly Wait); the blowout party of the year at the house where the parents are away. I need to be like 15 years younger because my parties were never like this. We didn’t have people walking around naked or anyone making out with a disco ball or strippers or burning tennis ball matches, etc. Kids these days, right. Midway through the festivities the power dims in and out and that’s when the shit hits the fan. Because the power going out creates another version of each person at the party, except it sends them back in time about 30 minutes; a doppelganger for every drunk teen. It just so happens, the three people we’re following around realize that this is what’s going on. As the darkness reoccurs and the Plus Ones get closer and closer, the three teens fight to keep their lives and their sanity before the collisions occur. While the movie itself is fine, there were so many holes in the time travel aspects. Not until the end does it seem like every single person has a clone or else that packed house would have grown big time the first go-round. There’s also not much horror. The clones aren’t like Village of the Damned; they’re just as frightened when they realize what’s going on. So, what’s the point? There’s no colonization going on, no mass killings; just a bunch of idiots who probably won’t even remember what the hell happened. I think the IMDb and Netflix guys need a class in categorization, as this fits snuggly in the Sci-Fi/Thriller category. There’s some visual eye candy and half-naked girls throughout, so, if that peaks your interest – give her a go. Otherwise, watch one of the flicks I mentioned above.

The Reeds (2010)

Well, as it turns out, I inadvertently watched two horror movies with elements of time travel. This one was a bit crazier, though. During a weekend boating trip, a group of friends take a wrong turn and end up in “the reeds”; a place where you can’t trust anything that you see and nightmares will become reality. The time travel aspect ends up being more of a premonition than actual journeying through dimensions of time. While the technical parts of the movie are decent – the effects, acting, cinematography – the story just loses its way. It just ends up feeling like a TV episode where a ghost needs someone’s help so that they can pass on to the other side peacefully. And there’s a twist ending that doesn’t need to be there. I’m not going to say not to watch it, but it’s been done before and it’s been done more effectively. I didn’t know until after I watched it that this was part of the “After Dark Horrorfest” series. I’m pretty sure this is the only entry I’ve seen from that particular brand because I just assumed they were all shit, but I’ll be perusing their catalog for other possible gems.

Matt, Signing Out