This is one twisted movie. But it’s also craftily executed, proving once again that when it comes to horror, foreign offerings are not to be underestimated. Directed by Jaume Balaguero of “Rec” fame, Sleep Tight tells the story of Cesar, a sociopathic concierge who can only find happiness in the misery of others. Played to the hilt by Luis Tosar, Cesar has his sights set in particular on the indefatigably upbeat Clara, who looks like a Spanish Jennifer Aniston. Cesar is not content to simply daydream about Clara’s unhappiness. He actually lurks about in her apartment at night, drugging her into a deep sleep while he puts poisons in her face cream, plants cockroaches in her apartment, and, yes, has his way with her while she’s unconscious.
One of the highlights of the movie is Cesar’s relationship with preteen tenant, Ursula (Iris Almeida). Ursula has a taut face and pretty, cruel eyes. She’s been doing her own spying and knows what Cesar is up to. There’s a playfulness to their disdain for each other that adds some levity to what could easily become heavy-handed drama.
It’s pure entertainment watching Cesar up the ante as her becomes increasingly frustrated that none of his tactics to destroy Clara’s happiness work. She just keeps leaving the building everyday with a smile on her face. It’s also an interesting commentary on human nature, and how some people seem to able to choose happiness while others are relegated to tough knocks and misery. In one of the more
There are several points where you think the movie might end, but it keeps delving deeper and deeper into Cesar’s obsession with Clara until it finally reaches a crescendo of violence when Clara’s boyfriend confronts Cesar. What ensues is one of the most gory deaths I’ve seen in a while. It’s long and drawn out and the blood looks hyper realistic. Personally, I felt it was over the top. But it’s a minor complaint for what is otherwise a very solid thriller, right up there with Single White Female and Fatal Attraction.
Oh, and don’t forget to reconsider the movies title in light of its unsettling conclusion. ;)
I have to admit that even before I began watching The Dark Knight Returns Part 1, I already had high expectations. I was a fan of the Batman animated series that first introduced the signature Bruce Timm art style so knowing that he was on board as an executive producer was a plus. This story is based on the 1986 Frank Miller four part comic book series comprised of The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight Triumphant, Hunt The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Falls. It takes place about 10 years after the death of Robin, Jason Todd, which is thought to have played a major role in Bruce Wayne’s decision to retire as Batman. Gotham is once again plagued with crime but it’s the reemergence of Harvey Dent (aka Two Face) that coaxes the 55-year old Wayne to come out of retirement. But Dent, like Wayne, has changed quite a bit since their last encounter and I found the result of their reunion to be a pretty mature and believable resolution. It’s also revealed that in Batman’s absence there’s been a lot of debate about whether he was an aid to ridding Gotham of its villains or inadvertently part of the cause of their rise. Luckily, rather than wasting time indulging in the public or private speculation, Batman immediately goes to work. It’s not long before he discovers that beyond Dent, another menace called The Mutants are wreaking havoc throughout the city.
The fight sequences between Batman and The Mutant leader are some of the best choreographed and “fair” I’ve seen in a while. The animators seemed to be conscious of the deliberation of attacks from a seasoned combatant verses the energy conveyed by pure youth. Peter Weller (RoboCop) turns in an incredible voice performance as The Dark Knight, completely embodying the older, no-nonsense version of his younger more patient self. Here it’s apparent that Andrea Romano is at the top of her game having cast so many prior Warner Brothers Animation projects to date. I have a particular fondness for her because of her passion for the work and her dedication to the people she brings to the table. Bob Goodman’s screenplay stays pretty true to the Frank Miller series and director Jay Oliva doesn’t pull any punches with regard to the level of violence prevalent throughout Part 1. In support of this, Robert Hargreaves' sound design is as impressive as always and most notably when Batman comes charging into the Mutant camp with the Batmobile.
The pacing throughout is pitch perfect and the character development is well balanced – especially the introduction of Carrie Kelly, who dons a knock off Robin costume and teams up becoming Batman’s new sidekick. Even though you can kind of see what’s coming with final scene of part 1, it’s a great cliffhanger to leading into Part 2. As a fan of the series, seeing characters like Commissioner Gordon and Alfred still loyal to Bruce conjures the same type of nostalgia as a film like The Expendables. More so than anything, The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 clearly shows why Batman is so many people’s favorite serious hero whether super or otherwise. Although aging and tormented, he’s determined to continue the fight for Gotham’s justice and unlike some, he encourages others to join the fight. The Blue Ray includes a two part Two Face episode from the original animated series, several featurettes, a documentary on Batman creator Bob Kane, a sneak peak of Part 2 (due in early 2013) and a digital comic book. This is definitely one for the permanent collection!
Cut to nine months later and Mandy has somehow assimilated into the in-crowd and is about to spend the weekend with them on a remote farm. Of course, muy killings ensue, but how it all unravels will no doubt surprise you. The movie is beautifully shot with liberal quantities of lens flare and golden hour lighting. Amber Heard, who plays Mandy, could not have asked for a better debut vehicle to showcase her classic, Hollywood good looks.
Here are the things that struck me about Mandy Lane. One, it’s got a nice build up. I happen to be one of those people who prefer the silly preludes before the killing sprees in horror movie, and this story unfolds nicely in that regard. Plenty of middle-aged wish fulfillment played out here with all the eye candy. Secondly, Amber Heard. Have I mentioned that this gun-toting lesbian is hot? Lastly, the direction, production, and script - this movie is just a cut above as horror flicks go. It’s not scary though – it’s more of a thriller.
So pick this one up on a Friday night if you can find it (it is quite difficult to find because it never got its intended US release). It’s a Digging-Thru-Crates gem.