Three Rewatches

Posted: June 7, 2022 in Uncategorized

I revisited three films recently. Two improved in my estimation. One went down.

It wasn’t that long ago that I said that I didn’t need to rewatch Ghost Story again for a good long time, having received my traditional disappointment with it. But the discussion that ensued with Steve Sullivan led me to take yet another run at it, doing my damndest to separate it from the novel. And I have to say that helped. Director John Irvin does achieve some really spooky atmosphere, especially in the early goings, and that first shot, with the weeping on the soundtrack, really is one for the books. It’s still a clumsily paced film, with the principle problem being the egregiously extended flashbacks. Not only do they kill the build-up of dread in the present, but they take up so much time that the present-day narrative winds up being rushed. Even on its own terms, the haunting doesn’t make much sense. BUT, the parts that do work, work well, and I know I’ll be back to wintry Milburn.

I had not seen The Wolfman since its theatrical run, when it struck me as a very flawed work, but one with its heart in the right place, and I did enjoy its earnest attempt to do an old-fashioned gothic horror film in 2010. Seeing the director’s cut was something of a revelation. The story had time to breathe, and the pieces fit together in a much more satisfying way. It pays full tribute to The Wolf Man (1941), not just in the character names, but also thematically, pushing Curt Siodmak’s Freudian themes even further. Its affection for Universal horror films in general extends to giving us a perfect double for Una O’Connor in the tavern. No, it’s not a perfect film, but I now find this the best of the Universal remakes.

(And before anyone asks about the recent Invisible Man — yes, it’s a very well-made film. On its own terms, it may be the most well-made of the Universal reboots. But I think its terms are disappointing. I found it unpleasant, and it was beat-for-beat exactly what I expected from the trailer, without a single surprise, i.e. Sleeping with the Enemy with special effects. Why have the two modern takes on this story gone for, frankly, the lazy option of making the invisible man an abuser? Whatever happened to the maniacal possibilities and grandeur of “Even the moon is frightened of me!”?)

Finally, I had another look at Boogeyman (2005), a film I remember really enjoying in the theatres. This was a big letdown. The jump scares work in mechanical way, and there is some good atmosphere in the first act. But by the end, the film makes no sense at all, and not in a good, oneiric, Lucio Fulci kind of way. It just degenerates into stuff happening, losing interest and dramatic stakes with every succeeding scene of rule-changing boogeyman behaviour and closet teleportation systems. Plus the severely anticlimactic ending feels like the film saw the 90-minute mark coming up and realized it had to get everything sorted PDQ. In the end, an uninspiring, routine B-horror.

Ghost Story keeps me coming back because, for all its flaws, it’s also interesting. I doubt I’ll be back again for Boogeyman. It just isn’t interesting.

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