Layers of real life and movie history combine cleverly in this postmodern horror film, which just might be too knowing for its own good. But at least it's an unusual approach to the genre, offering a twisted retelling of a legend while aiming for some emotional resonance along with the usual violent nastiness. It's also directed with an unusually artful eye by first-time filmmaker Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
It was a series of unsolved murders in a small town on the Texas-Arkansas border in 1946 that inspired the 1976 movie of the same name, which screens here annually on Halloween. But this year, the screening is accompanied by a copycat murder, which escalates into a full-on rampage. Everything seems to centre around Jami (Addison Timlin), a teenager whose boyfriend was the first victim. After her parents died, she was raised by her straight-talking grandmother (Veronica Cartwright), who continually urges her to take charge of her life. So with the local cops unable to solve the case, Jami teams up with the local library archive clerk Nick (Travis Tope) to get the whole history of these past events. Meanwhile, a Texas Ranger (Anthony Anderson) arrives to head up the official investigation.
Screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa gleefully blends fact, fiction and the movies together into a heady mixture of horror movie cliches and shockingly realistic grisliness. In other words, this is both a fictional sequel and a playful true-life drama at the same time, which makes it feel eerily like the Scream franchise. Although this film never becomes a pastiche, and the characters are so likeable that we genuinely root for them to survive the killing spree. Timlin brings the right amount of plucky stubbornness to her role, even if it's unlikely that a witness-victim would be quite so gung-ho about doing her own police work. And there are nice turns from veterans like Cartwright, Ed Lautner (as a stubborn cop) and the late Edward Herrmann (as a nutty preacher) to add some weight.
Continue reading: The Town That Dreaded Sundown Review
Gary Cole - Photographs from 'An Evening with the Cast of Veep' which was held to celebrate the fourth season premiere of the hit HBO series and was held at the Paley Center for Media in New York City, New York, United States - Tuesday 7th April 2015
Teddi Siddall and Gary Cole - 21st Annual SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center - Arrivals at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center, Screen Actors Guild - Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 25th January 2015
Teddi Siddall and Gary Cole - A host of stars were photographed on the red carpet as they arrived at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards which were held at the Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 25th January 2015
Melissa McCarthy is clearly in a rut: the title character in this film isn't very far removed from her previous roles in The Heat and Identity Thief. Yes, Tammy is another chubby slob who is on the road to some sort of epiphany, and along the way she realises that simply running a comb through her ratty hair might make her look more human. At least the film has a seriously strong supporting cast who almost make it worth a look.
Tammy (McCarthy) is sacked from her job at a fast-food outlet on the same day she discovers that her husband (Faxon) is having a fling with a neighbour (Tony Collette). In a childish rage, she runs home to her parents (Allison Janney and Dan Aykroyd) and then decides to keep running, taking her grandmother Pearl (Sarandon) along for the ride. Pearl has a dream to see Niagara Falls before she dies, but she's just about as immature as Tammy is, so they immediately start getting into trouble. Their antics include a series of incidents involving a jet-ski, flirting and more with a father and son (Gary Cole and Mark Duplass), robbing a burger joint and attending a raucous 4th of July party at the home of Pearl's wealthy cousin (Kathy Bates).
Tammy is even less worldly wise than McCarthy's previous variations on the character: she has never even attempted to grow up, so reacts to everything like a toddler. Aside from not being remotely funny, this is deeply annoying from the start. And even the characters around her don't laugh - they roll their eyes in exasperation. Then after establishing her as a relentless loser who brings misfortune on herself, the script (written by McCarthy and her real-life husband Ben Falcone, who also directs and appears as Tammy's boss) contrives to make Tammy sympathetic by portraying her as some sort of a victim. Meanwhile, she of course slowly begins to look less cartoonish simply because she changes her shirt and takes a shower along the way.
Continue reading: Tammy Review