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With his most stylish film yet, horror specialist Alexandre Aja takes a wildly irreverent approach, packing the screen with rude humour, visual flourishes and spiky characters. But it's assembled in such a rapid-fire way that it's difficult to get a handle on anything, which makes the movie feel like a series of outrageous set-pieces without a coherent plot to hold them together. The likeable actors help bring their characters to life, but the film is too hyperactive to let us engage with any of them.
It's set in a small town near Seattle, where Ig (Daniel Radcliffe) is in shock after his childhood sweetheart Merrin (Juno Temple) was violently murdered. Then he becomes the prime suspect, and the media have a field day. So he hires his lifelong pal Lee (Max Minghella) as his lawyer, partly because he's the only person in town who believes he's innocent. This includes Ig's parents (James Remar and Kathleen Quinlan) and brother (Joe Anderson). As the situation continues to deteriorate, Ig suddenly discovers that horns are growing on his head and no one seems very shocked by this. They also seem unable to lie in his presence, so he decides to use this to find out who really killed Merrin. Along the way he gets a shocking glimpse into what everyone in town really thinks about each other.
The film is an assault on the senses, as Aja packs every moment with outrageous sights and sounds, encouraging the actors to sometimes drift over the line into broad slapstick. He also fills the screen with religious imagery, including churches, crosses, pitchforks and snakes, all hinting that Ig's transformation is connected with his loss of faith. Or maybe it's just part of the film's jokey attitude. But as pieces of the central mystery slowly fall into place, the movie seems to become looser and less coherent. Even when the real villain is identified, there's still at least half an hour of flashbacks and revelations, confrontations and conclusions, none of which are particularly surprising or satisfying.
Continue reading: Horns Review
There is no better place for this examination than the culturally diverse melting pot of modern-day Los Angeles. In just over 24 hours, Crash brings together people from all walks of life. Two philosophizing black men (Ludacris and Larenz Tate) steal the expensive SUV belonging to the white, L.A. District Attorney (Brendan Fraser), and his high-strung wife (Sandra Bullock). A similar vehicle belonging to a wealthy black television director (Terrence Howard) and his wife (Thandie Newton) is later pulled over by a racist cop (Matt Dillon) and his partner (Ryan Phillippe). Soon, many of these people get mixed up with a Latino locksmith (Michael Peña), a Persian storekeeper (Shaun Toub), and two ethnically diverse, dating police detectives (Don Cheadle and Jennifer Esposito).
Continue reading: Crash (2004) Review
That also explains director Nick Hamm's jackhammer approach to his material. He knows he's working with a cheesy campfire story, the kind best whispered to terrified boy scouts in the dead of night. But he's sadly unaware of when enough is enough, and his final act becomes a series of ludicrous scientific explanations offset by cheap jolts to our nervous system.
Continue reading: Godsend Review
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