Archives for posts with tag: The Collection

mischief-night-poster

Director Richard Schenkman, whose previous efforts range from Playboy documentaries to the abysmal Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, delivers a surprising winner with this tense home invasion shocker.

Mischief Night evokes immediate sympathy and concern for protagonist Emily (Noell Coet), a girl psychosomatically blinded after her mother died in a car accident. When Emily’s father (Daniel Hugh Kelly), with her encouragement, leaves her alone in the house on what happens to be her community’s annual Mischief Night – an occasion for spooky pranksterism – she finds herself at the mercy of a mysterious intruder (or is that intruders?) in a raincoat. The resulting film is a genuine tingler that raises the bar for blind girl terror, besting Wait Until Dark and Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out in terms of its sheer contagious fright.

The most frustrating aspect of Mischief Night is the muddiness of its moral universe – and, ultimately, its consequent meaninglessness. A fun but superfluous prologue that punishes two fornicators suggests that the Mischief Night killer or killers are disgruntled moralists or judgmental fire-and-brimstone vigilantes of the type represented in The Collection. Subsequent murders, however, lack this puritanical dimension, with victim selection failing to point to any unifying principle other than maximum terror. For most of the movie, the killers function as personifications or agents of a personal Hell for Emily, taking out of commission one by one the people and things that give her a sense of security – a theme that would have been strengthened if the screenwriters had excluded some of the extraneous deaths.

Flaws aside, Mischief Night is as scary as anything the viewer is likely to find at the Redbox, and is therefore happily recommended.

4.5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Mischief Night is:

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

7. Class-conscious. Wealth and a comfortable home afford no protection from reality or from the moral ramifications of sin.

6. Pro-castration. Emily’s father, somewhat reminiscent of Henry Winkler in wimpy Waterboy mode, is a model sensitive man.

5. Liberal. An old man (Richard Riehle) listening to a conservative talk radio program is dispatched almost as soon as he appears. This might be interpreted as an indication that the old conservative certainties of traditional values and Constitutional republicanism are dead or no longer a feasible defense of America; but more likely is that this is simply gratuitous spite directed at Limbaugh listeners.

4. Anti-slut. An adulteress (Erica Leerhsen) is terrorized during the opening sequence. Emily’s physical closeness with and trust of her boyfriend (Ian Bamberg) is a source of discomfort for the viewer.

3. Anti-gun. Emily’s father accidentally shoots her boyfriend, believing him to be an intruder.

2. Feminist. Emily’s disability has caused her to become highly self-reliant in ordinary circumstances. She proves more valiant than her father in the defense of their home and even asserts an imaginary phallus in the form of a chainsaw.

1. Pro-family. Emily is close with her father, and her disturbance after her mother’s death, a rupture of the family unit, has left her blind and, if not helpless, then at a significant disadvantage. The father, however, is rather girly and ineffectual, thus mitigating the movie’s pro-family credentials.

Mia, a boring heroin addict (Fun Size‘s miscegenating tramp Jane Levy), is accompanied by her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and three other generic and foul-mouthed twentysomething friends to a remote cabin where they plan to support her as she attempts to kick the habit by going cold turkey.  Unfortunately, waiting for them down in the cellar is a creepy satanic textbook bound in human flesh, which one of the the dummies (Lou Taylor Pucci, looking like a live action Mr. Van Driessen) naturally opens and reads aloud, unleashing a gaggle of nasty beings that proceed to possess most of them in turn.

Evil Dead, as one might expect, is a more polished but less interesting film than its 1982 forebear.  Gone are the ratty, organic camera work and the distinctive claymation-style effects.  Gone, too, is most of the dark humor, as only the blackest of black sensibilities is likely to find anything funny about this new version.  No one can fault this Evil Dead for failing to deliver the jolts and gore, however, as buckets of the stuff are sloshed left, right, down, and onto the ceiling before the movie is over.  Superfluous more than actually bad, Evil Dead lacks the rugged individualism of the original, but should satisfy even the most jaded gorehounds in the audience.

3 out of 5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Evil Dead is:

6. Multiculturalist.  A token character of color (Jessica Lucas) has been added to the cast of demon fodder for this remake – two if white Hispanic Fernandez counts.

5. Gun-ambivalent.  Mia warns that no one should ever have touched the articles brought up from the cabin’s basement – among which are a shotgun and shells.  One character falls prey to a demon as a result of reaching for the gun, but the weapon also comes in handy toward the end.

4. Anti-family.  In the film’s opening scene, a father burns his possessed daughter alive and shoots her in the head to save her soul.  David spends most of the film coping with his afflicted sister, his affection for her being a hindrance rather than an asset.  His insane mother is waiting for him in Hell.

3. Anti-gay.  Demonic attack more than once takes the form of a slimy lesbian come-on.

2. Christian, sort of.  Like The Collection, Evil Dead is rife with the sadomasochistic Christian iconography of spilled blood, bodies transfixed with nails, and spiritual purification by fire and torture.  Evil Dead is certain to tingle the spines of the superstitious among its viewers, striking the fear of the unholy into them.  (See also no. 4)

1. Anti-drug.  Whereas Ash (Bruce Campbell) of the first film must rise from wimpdom and assert his manhood against what can only be described as a pack of demonically PMS-possessed college bitches, David in the new Evil Dead faces off against an allegorical type of demonic possession that most notably parallels or expresses his sister’s drug addiction.

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