Archive for First Impressions

First Impressions: Trick ‘r Treat

Posted in First Impressions with tags , , , , on December 9, 2008 by B33

As I’ve said on previous occasions, Horror is a particular genre within the film industry that’s gone through numerous stages. Unfortunately, the genre appears to be currently stuck in the remake or “splatter” era, as of lately, with the release of such films as “Saw V,” “The Ring,” “Hostel,” “The Eye,” “P2,” “Captivity,” “One Missed Call,” and so on and so forth. However, a select few of genuinely decent films stemming from the roots of Horror have emerged, such as “Cloverfield,” “Let the Right One In,” “Grindhouse,” “Shaun of the Dead,” “Pan’s Labyrinth,” and a few others. I suppose there’s a variance to the essential key elements of what many would call “decent,” as the average film needn’t really stretch it’s wings far to achieve some sort of profit margin at the box office. Films that take great risks are either abandoned or tend to suffer at the box office; however, there have been a select few times where these said “risks” ended up a success, if handled and executed in a correct manner.

Grindhouse serves as a primary example of a decent film that unfortunately featured poor marketing and a concept that didn’t necessarily appeal to the general theater going audience. The large production budget and poor release window also didn’t help matters. While Grindhouse was one of the best theater going experiences I’ve had and rests high in my list of all time favorite films; the title unfortunately bombed at the box office, although it was later met with a moderate amount of success on DVD. Cloverfield is another film that featured a concept that didn’t necessarily appeal to the general theater going audience… However, Paramount generated hype to the film by selectively releasing details of the plot and launched a full blown viral marketing campaign to further raise interest. With a fairly modest budget, the film was a smashing success and the DVD sales further rose the margin of profit. The risk paid off thanks to a well crafted marketing strategy. Which all ties into a particular film that’s unfortunately been pushed to the side as Warner Bros seems unsure on precisely how to handle it…

This recent “risk” that piqued my interest is a horror film entitled “Trick ‘r Treat.” The plotline entails four different tales all woven together into the same night of Halloween. Think of it as a “Pulp Fiction” sort of affair, in terms of the structure of the plot. I suppose one could hold in regard as a “entertaining” take on the horror genre of film that involves various ghouls, monsters, and folklore one associates Halloween with. The film centers around a mischievous creature named “Sam,” who is essentially the spirit (or mascot) of Halloween and rules and legends surrounding the holiday.¬† The title was directed and written by Michael Dougherty and financed by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. However, production on the film has been completed for quite some time and the release of the film has been continued to be pushed back to the point of an indefinite date. Warner Bros has since dropped “Trick ‘r Treat” from it’s current schedule of releases and the fate of the picture’s distribution is unknown, at this time. Fortunately, the film has been screened at a select few venues and is garnering unanimously positive reviews from various fans and critics alike. The only thing I really have at my disposal to fuel my first impressions are the reviews, images, and the trailer released quite some time ago. Below, I’ve embedded a rip of the trailer, courtesy of YouTube.

It’s a rather unique concept that captures my mind and fuels my desire to view this film. Though the demand isn’t from me alone. Numerous individuals have expressed interest in the film and a large amount of dismay towards Warner Bros for shelving it for two ideal Halloween release windows, in a row. It’s rare for me to be genuinely enthusiastic about a film, as there’s always a sense of skepticism and cynicism present in my general impressions, since the industry has failed to offer a significant reason to be excited about a film, as of lately. Hence why I’m baffled at the reluctance to Warner Bros to release “Trick ‘r Treat.” The fanbase is clearly present and the film does have an appeal to the general theater going audience, if marketed correctly and efficiently. Not only is choosing to shelf the film an insult to the cast and crew that worked diligently to bring the concept to life; it’s also an insult to the very audience that would be thrilled to see it.¬† The recent bit of rumors circulating around the Internet¬† states that Warner Bros might be testing the film and considering releasing it at a particular point in the future. Whether this true or not has yet to be determined. Until then, I suppose the only thing one can do is spread the word of the film’s existence and await it’s eventual release, whether it’ll be on DVD or will be granted a much deserved theatrical run.

The images found throughout the preview are courtesy of Bloody-Disgusting. If you would like to stay up to date with the bits of news, in regards to the film, you may visit the director’s official MySpace page.

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First Impressions: Left 4 Dead

Posted in First Impressions with tags , , , , , , on August 31, 2008 by B33

After developing Portal and Team Fortress 2; Valve is now steadily at work on their latest title, “Left 4 Dead,” which will hit Steam and major retailers on November 4th of this year (2008) for North America and November 7th for Europe. Left 4 Dead was first unveiled at the end of 2006 under the helm of Turtle Rock Studios, which was later acquired (i.e. absorbed, merged, etc) by Valve (given both studios having good relations with one another), hence how they ended up jumping on board the project. The story to Left 4 Dead is as follows; A unnamed virus has swept across the world and everyone affected has become the essential equivalent of a zombie. You take the role of one of the four survivors of the virus who must fight the hordes of victims in a First Person style of gameplay (FPS or First Person Shooter). Sounds relatively simple enough. What sets Left 4 Dead apart from other titles of the same genre is the gameplay and actual assets featured.

Valve’s primary goal with Left 4 Dead is to spark a change in the Co-Op style of gameplay often flawed for various reasons. Clearly, a decent amount of forethought and planning has gone into the gameplay aspect of Left 4 Dead as it’s vastly encouraged you work together or else you yourself will end up dead (along with your other team mates as well) at the hands of the vast amount of zombies featured. Running off on your own to be the sole “hero” is not wise and it’s doubtful you’ll last long. Players must stick together in order to fend of the enemies present as well as help each other out when a particular team mate happens to fall into a snag (becoming overwhelmed, falling off a ledge and hanging, injured, etc). To even further mix things up for the player, Valve has added an intriguing new AI (Artificial Intelligence) concept they’ve dubbed “The Director.” As player’s progress; The Director will observe the group as a whole to decide upon the difficulty curve, pacing, number of enemies, etc. There are no set spawn points for enemies within the game. Everything is varied upon the given factors and circumstances of the players. If you have a team that works well together, has little friendly fire, and a decent amount of health; The Director will spawn enemies at a greater number and in a more diverse strategic manner to up the ante and make the game much more difficult. However, if you have a team that’s poorly performing with a low amount of health; The Director will ease up on the player and lower the amount of enemies and set the difficulty curve at a lower rate to offer a bit of a break.

The Director also affects the player’s individual perspective as well. Music and visual effects are implemented in a procedural manner to reflect upon the player’s particular condition and situation. Combine the procedural alterations between the variations of a player’s experience individually and as a whole; and you have a game that encourages a vast amount of playability that further drives the entertainment and value of the product. It’s a rather intriguing concept that makes up for the fact it’s yet another title in the over saturated First Person Shooter genre of gaming. One to four players may jump into the roles of “The Surviviors,” although you don’t necessarily need more than one role filled as The Survivors can also be controlled bots via AI. Co-operation, again, is the key as players have the ability to aid each other and any selfish player present will soon be corrected (and can ultimately be booted by other team members in a voting system present). Players can communicate through automated commands courtesy of quick menus present (certain commands will be automatically uttered when reloading or spotting an infected civilian). And to further drive a co-operative style of gameplay, the developers allow players to spot each other through walls, obstructions, etc by utilizing a green glow around each player when blocked by an object.

There is a particular backstory to each character, though there will be no cutscenes in the game to further flesh it out. Instead, the developers have recorded a vast amount of dialogue that will be featured pending upon the various situations the player encounters. This further encourages multiple playthroughs and keeps the gameplay at a solid pace rather than breaking it up with cutscenes or a linear timeline, as well. Overall, I’m very intrigued with what Left 4 Dead has to offer. The concept isn’t particularly original by any means; though the title makes up for it by introducing enforced principles on top of rather solid gameplay. There are additional modes to extend the experience and various other aspects to further add depth to the game itself. Though I still have doubts on whether the actual gameplay will grow repetitive; despite the measures taken. The fact that it’s a First Person Shooter also leaves me leary as the genre has become rather bloated and over saturated in the industry, as of lately. Left 4 Dead hits the PC and Xbox 360 this Winter, with a possible Playstation 3 port in the works. For more information, please visit the official website at www.l4d.com.

First Impressions: The Strangers

Posted in First Impressions with tags , , on May 17, 2008 by B33

The next sleeper horror flick to hit this Summer is upon us and I for one am very intrigued by what has been released thus far about this new film entitled “The Strangers”. The basic idea is as follows; a couple located in a secluded house is randomly intruded upon by strangers (natch) and now face a night of torment from attackers they don’t know nor fully understand their motivation. I’m impressed with the editing displayed in trailer and if it reflects the final cut, it’ll definitely go above and beyond in terms of suspense and the inventive ways it appears to display the tone.

Actors Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman play the couple and seem to fit the roles decent enough based on what I’ve seen thus far. The film also seems to be riding upon the “Based on true events” card which it claims its based on a certain case that has no document regarding it in existence. Regardless, it does hold loose similarities to other murder cases out there and hence can lay claim to the tagline without being specific… All and all, the film appears to bring forth a interesting concept along with decent editing that plays into the suspense and overall atmosphere. I’m a bit cautious since this is the director Bryan Bertino’s debut as a filmmaker. Regardless, I’ll still give it a shot when It hits theaters May 30th, 2008.

High Definition version of trailer can be seen by clicking on the following link: http://www.apple.com/trailers/universal/thestrangers/