No Such Thing (2002) - Dread Central
Connect with us
Dread Central Dread Central

Reviews

No Such Thing (2002)

Published

on

Starring Sarah (eXistenZ) Polley, Robert John (Thinner) Burke, Helen (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover) Mirren and Julie (Demon Seed) Christie

Directed by Hal Hartley


“Do you believe in monsters?”

Let me preface this review by making it clear that this is not a horror film in the usual sense. This is a faerie tale with a myriad of elements. If I had to try and give it some sort of classification, I would probably fall back on Sarah Polley’s statement to IFCTV that this is “…a monster movie with social implications”.

You’ve probably never heard of Hal Hartley. I hadn’t until I started reading about this unusual film. He is an independent filmmaker that is, apparently, well liked by critics for his straight-faced “comedies”. If No Such Thing is any indication I can see why, and I’ll definetly be seeking out some of his other work.

As the film begins, we are immediately introduced to The Monster, played by Robert John Burke (he is given no name and he is referred to as just The Monster) as he rants into a microphone detailing his disdain for the human race. It seems that he has, once again, slaughtered people (in this case a camera crew from America) who dared to enter his self-imposed isolation in the extreme north of Iceland. The Monster is a crude, alcoholic and thoroughly bitter being. He exists in constant pain. He is older than the human race and cannot die. He wants to shut out the cacophony of humanity as it drives him into rages, murdering us one by one if necessary. He also wants to die.

His utter disdain for humans is demonstrated as he wreaks havoc on a nearby village while dropping off the tape he has recorded. It is to be delivered to the network that sent the camera crew.

Cut to New York, New York where we are entering the offices of that very network. We follow Beatrice (Sarah Polley) into the offices where we are “handed off” to The Boss (a chain-smoking Helen Mirren) and her staff (One of whom is Erica “Fame! I’m gonna live forever!” Gimpel. You get the distinct feeling throughout the film that, originally, this staff played a larger part in the scheme of things.) in a meeting. Here we learn that this story takes place “the day after tomorrow” in a sort of desensitized, media driven society where terrorist activity is a day-to-day fact of life. The Boss is berating her staff for not finding the “worst news possible” for their ratings. One of the vetoed stories involves the sale of part of Manhattan to a major Hollywood studio that, coincidentally owns the network. Beatrice (an amazing example of a “true innocent”, pig tails and all), a mere intern, presents the audiotape sent to the network from The Monster (bear in mind that only we, the audience, know that The Monster actually exists). As Beatrice’s fiancé was a member of the missing camera crew she wants to go to Iceland to follow up on the lead. After some debate The Boss relents and Beatrice is on her way to Iceland.

Watching Beatrice’s pure and simple outlook on the world around her in contrast to the dark and angry disposition of The Monster as the finally meet and interact with one another is surprising. She has almost no fear of him even after he proves that he is, in fact, a monster instead of just a freak of nature. The initial conversation between the two of them is actually darkly amusing (I told you that Hal Hartley was praised for his use of comedy in his films.).

Beatrice –
What have you done with my friends?

The Monster –
I killed them.

Beatrice –
Why are you like that?

The Monster –
‘Cause I’m, ummm, a monster.

Beatrice –
There’s no such thing as monsters.

Beatrice’s apparent inability to be fazed by just about anything even after The Monster goes through the effort of trying to terrify her sparks him enlisting her aid finding the one man who can actually end his life. Beatrice, in turn, convinces The Monster to leave Iceland and accompany her in the search.

Once in New York The Monster becomes an instant celebrity against his will. Beatrice, on the other hand, begins to lose herself and get caught up in the flurry fame and attention.

The Icelandic landscape is captured beautifully in this film. The camera captures perfectly the sense of total isolation from the rest of the civilized world. The contrast between the two locations of the film definitely compliments each other as an extreme, New York and Iceland. You still believe that this version of our world really could exist (Frighteningly enough I personally don’t think we’re all that far off.). Most of the New York scenes were shot indoors.

As usual, Robert John Burke captures his role very well. The disdain and disgust The Monster feels throughout the film is truly believable. I thought the makeup effects truly conveyed an extreme age or weathering to a creature that has walked the surface of the Earth for millions of years. The rest of the cast (even the Icelandic extras) turns in great performances.

As much as I enjoyed No Such Thing I did feel that there was more to this story than was presented. It was almost as if parts of the story were discarded as unnecessary. But the “echoes” of those scenes, concerned looks from seemingly insignificant characters for instance, remained. I felt that, although not central to the story itself, some of the pivotal characters needed more background (I haven’t discussed the character that needed the most “fleshing out”, Dr. Svendsen, in this review.) However, if nothing else, these possible oversights did help maintain the illusion of a real and consistent world.

As I warned you at the beginning of this review, No Such Thing is not a horror movie; it’s an intelligent monster movie. It explores the concepts of existence and perception, collective fears and belief. There is a powerful philosophical question contained within. Do we, collectively, create the world we live in, believing things to be as they are as a whole so much that they become so. (Ask me about my philosophical argument concerning the flat Earth vs. the round Earth sometime.) But, as deep as this movie actually is, it is not difficult to follow once the story has developed. Although, if you aren’t ‘philosophically inclined’ you may be a bit disappointed in the film’s conclusion. I personally thought it fit the message perfectly.

“Let’s imagine that we’re the Monster, and that we’re capable of bringing it into existence just by will, collectively.” – Hal Hartley



3 ½ out of 5

Discuss in our forums!

Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading
Comments

Reviews

AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

Published

on

Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

Sending
User Rating 4.43 (7 votes)
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

News

The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

Published

on

By

Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

Sending
User Rating 3.9 (10 votes)
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Reviews

The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!

Published

on

Starring Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, Dan Berkey

Directed by Alan Lougher


The loss of a young child drives a mother to take a set of unusual measures to preserve his memory, and all it takes is one call to The Dollmaker.

When the short film by Alan Lougher opens up, we see a rather disturbing image of a little boy inside a casket, and the sound of a grieving mom speaking with an unidentified man in the background – he’s requesting something personal of the child to help “finish” his product, and it’s not before long that mom has her little boy back…well, kind of. What remains of the child is the representation of his former self, although it’s contained within the frame of a not-so-attractive doll, and the boy’s father isn’t a believer in this type of hocus-pocus (or the price to have this constructed, either). The doll comes with a specific set of instructions, but most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hour a day with the doll, or else you’ll go mad thinking that the soul inside of it is actually the person that you lost – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Well this is just too good to be true for Mommy, and as the short film progresses, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to her mind – it’s ultimately a depressing scenario, but Lougher gives it that creepy feel, almost like visiting a relative’s home and seeing their dearly departed pet stuffed and staring at you over the fireplace – HEEBIE-JEEBIE CITY, if you ask me. All in all, the quickie is gloomy, but ultimately chilling in nature, and is most definitely worth a watch, and if I might use a quote from one of my favorite films to apply to this subject matter: “Sometimes…dead is better.”

  • Film
3.5

Summary

Ultimately chilling in nature!

Sending
User Rating 3.31 (16 votes)
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!

Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

From Around the Web

Trending