Wolf Creek 2 (2013)

★★★½ / 👎

Wolf Creek 2 (2013) poster

Wolf Creek 2 is a vile cartoon, but a generally well-made one. It takes advantage of a noticeably larger budget than the first film, with solid action sequences, tight editing and a quirky but effective soundtrack. When not preoccupied with the gore, the movie also looks pretty great; given that it’s literally about a psychopath who slaughters “foreign vermin,” it’s a surprisingly effective ad for Australia’s tourism industry. (I suppose I may simply lack the instinct for self-preservation, but then again, Hostel and Turistas never made me want to visit Slovakia or Brazil….)

Jarratt is a bit less Crocodile Dundee and a bit more Leatherface this time around, sadly, and whole sections are lifted from other, better horror & suspense films. The victims do generally register as individual human beings, which is more than most torture-porn movies manage (or even attempt). The second half of the film is less effective than the first, though, as the obligatory scenes from this subgenre play out in a fairly rote manner, enlivened only by the manic energy of the actors.

Given the obvious talent both behind and in front of the camera, I wish that everyone involved in this belated sequel had made, well, anything else; but for what it is, it’s not bad at all.

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Draft Day (2014)

★★★½ / 👍

Draft Day (2014) poster

Middle-of-the-pack docudrama that apes the style of Moneyball to make exactly the opposite argument. As someone who neither knows nor cares about football, I was entertained.

Welcome to the Punch (2013)

★★★½ / 👍

Welcome to the Punch (2013) poster

Stylishly shot, and colo(u)r graded within an inch of its life, Welcome to the Punch is a Hong Kong–inspired crime thriller about an obsessed cop and a ruthless gangster on a collision course. The plot is generic, but the individual scenes are well observed; the numerous recognizable actors all give solid performances, even in relatively small or thankless roles.

Mama (2013)

★★★½ / 👎

Mama (2013) poster

Mama is two strains of horror/terror at war with each other, resulting in a film which doesn’t fully deliver on either. The Jamesian metaphor-as-ghost-story, exploring the thematic terrors of motherhood, clashes awkwardly with the creature feature baddie displayed early and often in stinger-laden jump scares.

The World’s End (2013)

★★★½ / 👎

The World's End (2013) poster

Though technically superb, pleasingly misanthropic, and dripping with style, this is easily the weakest of the “Cornetto trilogy.” Ramshackle pacing meant that I’d largely checked out long before the terrible, awful, no-good ending. Both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz exemplify their chosen genres and then improve upon them; The World’s End does neither.

Dredd (2012)

★★★½ / 👍

Dredd (2012) poster

Absurd and ultraviolent but entertaining. Reminded me of Equilibrium in that it is not actually a good film, but rather a satisfying genre exercise that is much better than it had to be. (I understand why so many people want a sequel.)