Watched two films over the weekend, both of which were quite cheaply shot, but both of which showed that you don't need giant budgets to make decent films, especially if there's a good script and actors that can do their job well. First up was Monsters:
“Six years after Earth has suffered an alien invasion a cynical journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through an infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.”
Now reading that you’d think this would be an action packed, monster laden movie, much like District 9, but in fact the action is in short supply and the ‘monsters’ hardly feature at all. The film is more a character study and revolves around Samantha Wynden, played by Whitney Able and Andrew Kaulder played by Scoot McNairy and their interaction together as they try to get across the Mexican border back to the US. Both actors play their parts pretty well, but Whitney was the better of the two. Essentially it was about the human side of the story, but I felt that a few action scenes would have helped raise the bar for what is otherwise not a bad film, but one that could have been far better. 7/10
The second film was Winter’s Bone:
This was another film that forsakes action for character, but in this case it worked really well: “An unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact.”
Lead character, Ree Dolly played by Jennifer Lawrence was superb in her role as the 17 year old responsible for raising her younger brother and sister and coping with her withdrawn mother. When a local Sheriff tells her that her father, who manufactures crystal meth, has put up their house as collateral for his bail and unless he shows up for his trial in a week's time, they will lose it all, she sets out to find him, but the community of mountain people are staying tight lipped, forcing Ree to delve deeper if she’s to get to the truth and save her family home. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance was strong enough to carry this film on her own, but the other characters, many who had never acted before, gave a real sense of place and added to the feeling of mistrust that bubbled beneath the surface. 8.5/10
Finally, if you haven’t heard, Dark Regions Press, publisher of my collection Voyeurs of Death and the upcoming Fangtooth have been awarded the Horror Writer Association’s Speciality Award, and to celebrate they are offering 25% of everything for a very limited time using the coupon code: HWA2010. So what are you waiting for?