Saturday, March 23, 2013


Often considered one of the last great silent films, Pal Fejos’s “Lonesome” came out just as the “talkies” were starting to grab the attention of audiences in a big way.  The reason for the enduring popularity of “Lonesome” is that it is a simple tale told beautifully, as we are witness to a day in the life of two characters, one boy and one girl, as they meet for the first time and fall in love.

The film opens with morning scenes of the two characters waking up and readying themselves for work.  The two couldn’t be more different as Mary sets her alarm and wakes up with enough time to ready herself for work, methodical in her actions.  Jim, on the other hand, barely wakes up in time to get ready at all.  He rushes washing, dressing and feeding himself all in an attempt to get to work on time.  When the two get to work, it is immediately apparent from the type of work that they each do that they are simple common folk or working class.  Jim works in a factory and Mary works as a telephone operator; both honest ways of earning a living.  Each of them works hard until the siren signals the end of their working day.  Separately they leave their place of employment in the company of their friends, happily chatting and laughing.  However as each friend soon leaves one after the other with a loved one in tow, it soon becomes apparent that our main characters are both single and alone.  As they both reach their respective homes, you can see and feel just how much the loneliness is affecting them.  They both just want to be loved and to love someone else.  While in the midst of feeling sorry for himself, an advertising vehicle passes Jim’s apartment reminding him of the fun and games that are scheduled to happen on the beach that day.  He decides that this is just what he needs and heads out to have some fun.  Soon enough the same vehicle passes by Mary’s place too who is also inspired to make the trip to the beach.  Almost immediately after arriving, Jim and Mary meet and their love affair begins as they spend the day together at the beach and at a carnival later that night.  There is an obvious attraction between the two and it finally appears that Jim and Mary have found what they have been searching for, but just as our couple is on cloud nine, as happy as can be, fate steps in and the two are separated.  With only knowing each other’s first name and little else, is there any chance our couple will reunite or are they destined to have loved and lost?

As I mentioned before, it is the simplicity of the tale that makes “Lonesome” so good, but the energy that is generated by Pal Fejos’s direction also goes along way as well.  With the exception of three scenes (which I will talk about later) there is always constant movement, be it either the characters, the camera or the background artists.  The opening scenes are just brilliant and so effective in their economy showing us the daily rituals of both our main characters.  Although we are witness to only one day in the lives of Jim and Mary, it is safe to assume that each morning would be similar in nature.  Mary is meticulous in her planning and would never appear late for anything, while Jim seems to take things as they come; you could say that these two are opposites and as we know, opposites attract.

With the exception of the thrilling and emotionally charged finale, the standout sequence has to be the work montage near the start of the film where we watch Jim and Mary go about their working day.  The editing of this scene is superb as images swipe across the screen as we change point of views of each character, creating perfectly the exhausting pace of a working day, and while all of this is going on, a large translucent clock is situated in the centre of the frame indicating how much time has passed (see photo below).  Again what is great about this scene is the constant motion as it creates enormous energy and atmosphere to the point that you actually feel exhausted by the time their working day is done.

The energy and exuberance continues as the two meet and have fun on the beach.  You can feel the level of excitement between our two characters which is so prevalent when you are getting to know someone and falling in love.  However it is during this beach scene that we get our first of three moments that stop the film cold and almost destroy this classic film in the process.

Being made in 1928, “Lonesome” was part of an era that saw a bridge from silent to sound films and as such, films that were shot silent sometimes had small sound or dialogue scenes added to them so the distributors could advertise the film as a “talking picture” which was the latest fad back then.  “Lonesome” has three such scenes and they are all terrible.  Everything that is great about the film prior is lost in these scenes, particularly the energy that I keep harping on about.  The worst example is the beach scene which during the silent scenes has background action constantly in motion.  As soon as the dialogue begins, all movement stops from the main actors, the background extras and even the camera itself.  As a result these scenes feel so out of place with the rest of the film.  The silent scenes have a charm that just does not exist during these dialogue scenes and the actors themselves are not as effective and convincing either.  They are awkwardly staged and performed but the worst thing is that the dialogue is so inane that it makes no sense for these scenes to be included in the first place.  They add nothing to the film and in fact have the opposite effect entirely.  Was this really what audiences were clamoring for in 1928?  The strange thing about it all though is that “Lonesome” has the perfect opportunity to use sound (albeit in a different manner) as a key ingredient to the finale is a song our couple danced to earlier in the film, however this opportunity to use sound organically in a silent film is subsequently wasted.

Speaking of the finale, without giving anything away, I must say that it is simply beautiful; beautiful and romantic.  What it also reveals is the use of some tricky editing from earlier in the film as we learn that two separate scenes actually occurred concurrently and not separately as we were led to believe.  This is not a problem however as this deception makes the finale and its reveal what it is which is incredibly emotional.

Throughout the film Pal Fejos shows that he is an expert in a number of film techniques such as superimpositions, double exposure and dissolves and he isn’t afraid to move the camera which seems to be in constant motion.  The whole film is really an extraordinary visual experience with something interesting always happening in frame.  He also appears to have a thorough understanding of editing as indicated by the stunning work sequence near the beginning of the film.  However what “Lonesome” is probably most remembered for is Fejos’s experiments in colour.  While crude by today’s standards, the colour added to certain scenes (like when the couple are alone at the beach at night, or at the amusement park) would’ve been both bold and exciting in its time.  I am not just talking about tints, but rather certain objects or moments had individual colour added to them.  While not essential, they just add to the visual flourishes that make “Lonesome” so special.

Overall, I found the experience of watching “Lonesome” to be wonderfully emotional and very romantic.  The main stars, Barbara Kent and Glenn Tryon, are utterly charming in their roles (with the exception of the sound sequences where they look quite uncomfortable, particularly Kent) while portraying a couple’s first night in love.  While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it the last great masterpiece of the silent era, it is still very good and so moving…….if not for those darn sound scenes.

4 Stars.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Even though the quality of his work has been on a steady decline for the past decade or so, I have remained a Dario Argento fan and something of an apologist.  Even when his (recent) films are being torn apart by the critics (and fans alike), I have always been able to find some good in them.  However after the disastrous one-two punch of “Giallo” and now “Dracula 3D”, it has become very apparent that Argento has lost it.  As bad as “Giallo” was, I was willing to give the director the benefit of the doubt because he subsequently disowned the film after the producers went ahead and edited his film without his involvement or approval.  However the complete failure of “Dracula 3D” falls at Dario Argento’s feet and his alone; it is his vision of this classic story and it is mind-boggling bad.

Right from the opening frame of the film, I knew that I was going to hate “Dracula 3D” if for nothing else for its look.  An inherent problem with making a 3D film these days is that it necessitates it to be shot digitally.  This immediately got me worried because if not handled correctly the film would have that crappy video look to it, but when I heard that Argento had hired Luciano Tovoli, his cinematographer from his classics “Suspiria” and “Tenebrae”, I not only breathed a sigh of relief, but I was actually quite excited.  Initial stills for the project looked quite good also, but the actual finished product is an altogether different thing.  The film looks beyond amateurish and has the visual beauty of a bad daytime television soap opera.  The lighting is both harsh and flat and never disguises the low budget that Argento was obviously saddled with for “Dracula 3D”.  There is not a hint of the genius you would expect from Argento and Tavoli when they work together and there is no way that you would recognize the look of “Dracula 3D” as being from the creators of one of the most colourful and visually beautiful horror films of all time, “Suspiria”.

One pivotal thing you need to make a successful film about Dracula is atmosphere, particularly at the beginning of the film, and this just has none at all.  The journey to Dracula’s castle is meant to be creepy and ominous, with the town folk trying to stop Harker from meeting the vampire, however here the journey he takes is a pleasant ride through a forest in daytime.  There is nothing to be afraid of here and Dracula’s first appearance in the film is just groan-inducing.  He is a major character and meant to be full of charisma, much should be made about his introduction, but he literally just appears from out of nowhere.  It is disgraceful.  It doesn’t help that Thomas Kretschmann, who plays the infamous Count, gives a seriously underwhelming and boring performance.  Like everything else in “Dracula 3D”, he is terrible which is actually a bit of a surprise because he isn’t some no-name actor.  This is a man who has showed he has some talent in a lot of other films, including his other film he did with Argento, “The Stendhal Syndrome” (arguably Argento’s last great film).  In that film he attacked his role with ferocity and was really terrifying, but there is none of that here; it seems very obvious that Kretschmann only took the role of Dracula for the paycheck.  He even reprises the infamous “Children of the night.  What music they make.” line (made immortal by Bela Legosi in the 1931 “Dracula”) but his delivery is so uninspired that the moment just falls flat and is embarrassing.

In fact it seems pretty obvious that Argento just does not have the ability to illicit a good (or even passable) performance out of any actor these days because the entire cast of “Dracula 3D” are woeful.  While I understand that the majority of the cast are not speaking their native language (the Italian film was shot in English), this is no excuse for Argento because if the cast were unable to be believable in speaking the language, they should not have been cast.  The worst offender is actually Dario Argento’s daughter, Asia.  There was once a time when I felt that Asia was more than just a pretty face and was actually a pretty good actress.  She was cast in a lot of films from all around the world (including Hollywood) but is most famous for the ones she has made with her dad.  This is their fifth collaboration together and easily their worst which not surprisingly houses Asia’s worst performance yet in one of Dario’s productions.  She is just never believable and I cringed whenever she was on screen.  Also enough is enough with having Asia naked in her father’s movies.  I used to not have a problem with it (even though it is a strange situation) and believed that it was necessary for the stories being told, but the last two in “Mother Of Tears” and “Dracula 3D” have been nothing but gratuitous and did not service the film at all.  It is hard not to have an icky feeling watching these scenes due to how gratuitous they are and knowing it is her father behind the camera.  It does not help the film either because it takes you right out of it.

The biggest contributor to the decline in Dario Argento’s recent work is the advent and use of CGI in them.  He is one director that just does not seem to know how to use the technology to the best of its abilities nor does he seem to have an eye for when a computer effect is just bad.  “Dracula 3D” is full of these shocking effects with the majority of them looking as if they were from a computer game from twenty years ago.  There is a perfect example early in the film when Harker enters his room at Dracula’s and notices a pathetic looking computer generated spider.  I almost died when I saw this, it is so amateurish and I couldn’t work out why he wouldn’t have shot the scene live, in-camera with some sort of practical effect.  The spider doesn’t look close to being real or that it exists in the environment it is placed.  Another terrible example is Dracula’s transformation from wolf to human which just looks plain unfinished.  A lot has been made already about the infamous scene in this film when Dracula transforms himself into a giant praying mantis to kill a man.  It is every bit as ridiculous as it sounds, but this is the kind of scene that in his heyday Argento would’ve pulled off and made cool (has anyone watched the insanity that is “Phenomena”?).  Here though with the terrible CGI is just appears dodgy and pointless.  Argento’s use of CGI appears to represent his laziness in the latter part of his career.  Instead of taking the time and getting everything looking perfect on stage and in camera, it looks as though he is content with just shooting everything quickly and then “fixing” it all in post.

Shockingly, Dario Argento has forgotten how to shoot an effective death / murder scene.  This used to be what he was known for; the brilliant set pieces that ended in murder: the building of the suspense, the camera moves, the terror, the weapon, and finishing with the brutal violence.  He was a master at it and no one did it better, but it appears that this talent is long gone now.  Gone are the days when Argento himself would “play” the hand holding the weapon delivering the killer blow to its victim.  Instead these days we get the most generic of killings that any director with little imagination would come up with.  However this is not the problem per se, it is the complete lack of build up before the killing that is the problem.  The death scenes no longer have any impact because they just happen now.  The whole set-piece is gone and we just get the death, which as a result is the reason why so many of Argento’s recent films have lost their author’s identity; they could be directed by anyone.  Again, I believe that the use of CGI has a lot to do with the decline of his death scenes.  There are two scenes in “Dracula 3D” that hearken back to scenes in previous, better Argento movies which are perfect examples of what I am talking about.  One is the scene when Dracula transforms into a swarm of flies and bursts through a window.  While it is an ok idea, the presentation of the idea is anything but because it is all down via CGI and again never once looks real.  There is a similar scene in “Phenomena” but it is all shot via practical means, the use of real flies and just being clever.  The scene in “Dracula 3D” is depressing because it is a reminder of what he used to deliver and it is sad how far he has come.  The other scene is when a character is forced by hypnosis to shot himself and when he fires, we see the bullet travel from under his jaw through the top of his head in slow motion.  Again, it is all done with CGI but this is the closest we get to seeing the old Argento, even though it reminds of a similar and much better sequence in “The Stendhal Syndrome”.

Everything I have mentioned about “Dracula 3D” has been terrible but amazingly I have saved the worst for last which is Claudio Simonetti’s ridiculous score.  It is mind numbingly bad and worst of all it is almost played consistently throughout the film.  Like everything to do with this film, it just doesn’t sound as if it was done by a professional, it actually sounds like a work in progress; it was like nails on a chalk board for me.  The music just didn’t complement the visuals onscreen at any time nor did it provide any sort of atmosphere, which is kind of the point of the musical score and if it doesn’t do its job, why have it at all.  There was a time when I was excited to see Simonetti’s name in the credits of the new Argento film because he just seemed to get what Argento needed in his films.  This is no longer the case, and if Argento ever makes another film, I dream he gets Ennio Morricone to score it for him (Morricone scored Argento’s first three films).

Overall, there was nothing to like at all in Dario Argento’s latest film “Dracula 3D”.  In fact the experience of watching the film was heartbreaking for me; this man was one of my heroes and to see how far he has fallen is just heart wrenching.  While I will always watch any new film Dario Argento makes, I will no longer anticipate them.  My dream is that he makes one final giallo, that is set in the 70’s, shot on thick film stock of the era and without the use of CGI.  That he takes his time and that he is set a nice budget to achieve it.  However I have had this dream for over twenty years now, so it is looking unlikely to happen,.  As it is, if you are not a fan of Argento, you may get more out of this film than those who are.  If you are a fan, please avoid “Dracula 3D” like the plague and pretend the film never existed.  It is too painful to see how far someone we consider a master has fallen.  Avoid.

No Stars.

As you may have noticed the film was shot in 3D, however I only watched the 2D version thus why there is no discussion of the merits and effectiveness of the technology in regards to “Dracula 3D”.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


After a six year break between features, Japanese photographer cum director Mika Ninagawa returns with her second film “Helter Skelter” which takes a critical look at celebrity idolization and how a fading star reacts when they are no longer in the spotlight.  However within the narrative she tackles a number of other issues as well and this is actually the film’s ultimate weakness.

Lilico is the current “It” girl.  She has everything; looks, money and the adulation of millions of screaming fans.  While it looks on the outside she has the world in the palm of her hand, in reality Lilico is actually a very sad young girl because the life she leads is actually a very vacant and shallow one, and is one that leaves her with few friends and minimal (real) human contact.  However the drug that is fame means that she forces herself to continue and be everything that her fans want her to be which is perfect.  She is on the cover of every magazine and her look is what every Japanese girl dreams of.  That look, however, is secretly the result of extensive full body plastic surgery which suddenly is on the verge of being found out after a number of other clients from the exclusive surgery she attends die suddenly and bloodily causing the police force to investigate the matter.  Not only does Lilico have to deal with that, but she must also come to terms with her dwindling fame as new girl Kozue enters the scene and starts to steal the spotlight from her.  Lilico turns to drugs and alcohol, as she begins her downward spiral towards an inescapable hell, causing her to do some truly reprehensible things to other people in an attempt to stay famous.

Unlike almost any other country on the planet, the “idol” phenomenon in Japan is just crazy.  Young teenagers are taken off the streets and made into instant stars, but their shelf-life is incredibly short before someone new takes their place and they are ultimately discarded.  It is easy to see these people thinking their fame is going to last forever and because of that start to act a different way, as if they are more important than they really are, and the devastation that would occur when the fleeting adulation is no longer present is obvious.  As I mentioned above, director Mika Ninagawa was previously a fashion photographer so I am sure that this is a world that she knows extremely well as she would have come into contact with many “Lilico’s” during her photography days.  This is the part of “Helter Skelter” that she gets spot on, the rise and ultimate fall of an idol, and personally I would have preferred her to focus on just this for the film because the other issues she also attacks, although valid and worthy of looking at, ultimately take away from the main focus of the film.

Ninagawa very smartly cast Erika Sawajiri in the role of “Lilico” who gives an amazing performance in the role.  It is such a brave performance because the things that happen to Lilico often mirror things that similarly happened to Sawajiri about five years previous.  Sawajiri was a big star in Japan, a very popular actress and model but she lost it all after a disastrous appearance at a film festival back in 2007 while promoting her then new film “Closed Note”.  It was obvious she wanted to be anywhere than where she was and she handled her interviews and appearances with disdain and was very unprofessional.  It turned into a massive scandal in Japan as her fans and peers turned their backs on her, and as a result Sawajiri left the business until her return with this very film “Helter Skelter”.  Obviously living through a similar situation, Sawajiri must have understood the character of Lilico, and while some critics have stated it is just art imitating life, the reason why it is such a brave performance is because she is opening up herself and becoming transparent about everything she went through herself.  She also performs her first nude scenes, which are all tastefully done, but caused a sensational in Japan.  

In fact, the strongest aspect of “Helter Skelter” (besides the visual element) is the acting.  Everyone puts in a strong performance, from Shinobu Terajima who plays Hada, Lilico’s long suffering and regularly abused personal assistant (and is probably the only person in the world who sees Lilico as the unhappy girl she really is), Kaori Momoi who plays Tada, the woman who found and “created” Lilico (which creepily we find out later in the film, in the image of her teenage self) and Kiko Mizuhara who plays the up and coming Kozue (and was fantastic in the small but pivotal role of “Midori” in “Norwegian Wood”).  Even the two prosecutors (whose names I am unsure of) are magnificent although their importance in this film is dubious at best.

The start of “Helter Skelter” (which is based on a manga incidentally) is especially strong when the main focus is on Lilico and her stardom and her gradual decline.  The film hits its peak during a scene when Lilico goes out to the country to visit her sister where she comes to realize just how far removed she is from herself (and her sister) and that she is no longer recognizes the girl she has become.  However it also gives an indication that she is probably unable to go back to who she once was as she gives her sister some horrifying (and quite sad) advice.  From this moment though, the film starts to spiral out of control a little as it begins to lose focus, as the police investigation starts to come more prominent and a lot of Lilico’s reactions to situations start to border on the ridiculous as she starts to pick off her rivals one by one.  While I like the idea of the investigation into the plastic surgery clinic, as it gives a chance to comment on just how far girls are willing to go to alter their body for fame (and perfection), unfortunately this story thread isn’t given the proper time it deserves and as a result works against the film.  While I appreciate that Mika Ninagawa obviously had a lot to say on the subject of fame and what girls are willing to do to achieve it, I just feel that she has spread herself too thin by attacking as much as she had and the film would have been much stronger if she focused on just Lilico.  Sadly, by the end of the film, it has almost fallen completely apart and it is hard to relate to which is a shame because what comes before it, is very strong indeed.

Coming from a photographic background, you would assume that Ninagawa would have a strong visual sense, and you would be right.  “Helter Skelter” is an absolute feast for the eyes with so much going on in every frame.  It is filled with bright colours throughout and the whole film looks like an advertisement for the genius that is pop-art.  However you can have too much of a good thing, and I think that sometimes because so much is going on in the frame all the time, it does become a little tiring and again works against the film.  Do not get me wrong, there are some stunning images in the film; I particularly liked the scenes in Lilico’s red bathroom, but at the end of the day, your eyes just don’t know where to focus because there is just so much to look at.  When you look at the trailer for “Helter Skelter”, I am sure that you would be blown away by the visual style presented, but when you are watching that same style for over two hours, it gets a little too much.  It is true that sometimes less is more, and I would say (even though I hate saying it) that “Helter Skelter” is over produced.  The only scenes that do not have this bold bright style are those set in the police station.

The other problem with the film is that it just does not know when to end.  It is far too long and has more endings than “The Return Of The King”.  Each time you think the film is over, another ending is tacked on until we get to a very bizarre ending involving Kozue entering a club that I just did not understand at all.  One of the endings also has a very sad moment with Lilico’s sister where we see that she took her sister’s dubious advice after all, indicating that things will never change while beauty and the appearance of perfection is celebrated the way it is today.

Overall, there is so much good in “Helter Skelter”, particularly in the first half of the film, that I urge people to give it at least one viewing.  The main story about the rise and fall of a celebrity idol is a powerful one, but once the film starts looking at other side stories, the film does suffer until it ultimately becomes a bit of a mess at the end.  Due to the strong visual style of the film, it is always entertaining (even as it goes off the rails) to watch, and it contains a strong return to the screen after a five year absence from Erika Sawajiri with her stunning performance as Lilico, and “Helter Skelter” is worth seeing just for her.

3 Stars.

Friday, March 8, 2013


The problem with remakes is that they are very hard to take at face value and just enjoy them for what they are because you inevitably compare them to the original film.  Another trap of the remake is when they are presented with nothing new brought to the table (compared to the original) which ultimately makes the decision to re-do the film totally pointless as you may as well just watch or re-release the original.  Usually the likely candidates for a remake are films that have already been very successful and producers attempt to recapture lightning in a bottle which rarely works.  The best films to be remade (in my opinion) are those that have a great idea that hasn’t quite been presented properly or flawed films that have potential to be something greater than they are.  While it is nice for the film to also have a following, sometimes this works as a negative because fans can react quite strongly and negatively if you change the story or characters they love so much.  Personally I thought that “Who Can Kill A Child?” was a fantastic choice for a remake because while the original film is extremely well made, it is rather unknown and there was an opportunity to make some significant and different points by updating this story to today’s time and world, as opposed to the world of the 1970’s.  

“Come Out And Play” is the said remake, and follows the plot almost exactly of “Who Can Kill A Child?” so here is my synopsis which I have cut and pasted from my review of that film.  The film is about a young couple, Francis and Beth, who are holidaying in Mexico before the birth of their third child, when the two of them decide to hire a small boat to visit a tiny neighboring island.  As soon as the couple reach the island it is obvious that something is amiss.  The place is incredibly quiet and with the exception of a few kids they happen to come across, the island appears to be empty.  Francis and Beth continue along their journey to find a place to stay the night, with Francis becoming more and more convinced that something sinister has happened on the island and not wanting to upset his pregnant wife, subtlety looks for signs of what may exactly have happened, until he comes to the shocking realization that there are no adults on the island and worse, the reason for this is because the children have turned on them and killed them all.  Knowing that they are going to be next, Francis and Beth must try to get off the island as quick as they can, but this is going to be a lot easier said than done.

“Come Out And Play” is a prime example of how a great director can elevate the material while at the same time a mediocre director can bring it to a crashing thud.  I am going to come right out and say it; I hated this movie!  I found “Who Can Kill A Child?” to be a creepy, suspenseful and chilling film that was filled with the most incredible atmosphere, where as “Come Out And Play” has none of this.  Warning bells should have started ringing with the remake’s watered down title, but I went into watching this film with a lot of hope that it would be successful.  As soon as the film began, I knew that this wasn’t going to be the case because it just lacked atmosphere.  The original film begins with some very graphic footage of children suffering the effects of war and famine that is really very disturbing but it sets the tone and atmosphere of the film perfectly and even gives it some weighty subtext.  This opening is eliminated for “Come Out And Play” and the film is immediately worse off for it.  To be honest, I never expected the opening to survive in the remake but by deleting this subtext, the film is really just about some kids doing some horrible things to other people; it loses its poignancy.

A lot of the early reviews I read for “Come Out And Play” stated that the film was an almost shot-for-shot remake, however this couldn’t be further from the truth.  While a lot of the images are very similar, if you remember my review of the original film, I gushed over its visual style; the expert blocking and camera positioning, how beautifully it had been lit and the razor sharp editing that brings the images together perfectly in a show of supreme storytelling.  Sadly, the visual style of “Come Out And Play” is almost non-existent as it is predominately shot handheld (with a lot of shaky camera work) and the lighting is incredibly dull and flat; it brings no life to the beautiful island surroundings.  Being shot handheld, a lot of the shots seem to last a lot longer than the original film and thus the need for editing tends to be less, but this actually ends up sucking all the energy out of the film.  In fact momentum is one thing that “Come Out And Play” is seriously lacking.  Because there is no atmosphere or intensity, the film struggles to build to its thrilling crescendo, rather it all appears very one note. 

Another problem with this update is that in an attempt to shock or surprise, every major moment of the film has been slightly altered from the original film.  Most of them are bloodier but all of them are less effective.  Each moment is so poorly handled that with each scene I was getting angrier with the film and the filmmaker behind it.  For example in “Who Can Kill A Child?” there is a foreigner who constantly tries to make contact with someone on the island for help via a radio.  In the original when Tom finally gets to her, she is dead and he finds the children slowly removing her clothes from her now lifeless body.  In the remake, again the girl is dead when “Francis” finds her but this time half of her face and torso is missing.  This just makes no sense whatsoever and is obvious that the scene is used to shock because there is no possible way that the kids in that amount of time could have dismembered this poor girl before Francis finds her.  It is just very sloppy filmmaking.  If this was a once off, maybe I could handle it, but as I mentioned, every one of the big moments of the film has been botched in an attempt to make them more explicit or surprising.

Earlier in this review I mentioned how a mediocre director can sink a potentially good project and the director of “Come Out And Play” is a guy who calls himself Makinov.  All that is known about the man is that he is of Belarus descent and that he wears a creepy red mask when out in public which he apparently wore while directing this film (his true identity is unknown).  The credit at the end of the film states that it is “a film made by Makinov” and that is it for the end credits.  Looking on it states that Makinov wrote, produced, and directed “Come Out And Play”, as well as being the cinematographer, editor and did the sound.  If the film was a success, I would be saying well done to the guy but he has obviously taken on too much in regards to the making of the film and has got to close to it and without anyone else on the crew to point out where the film is going wrong, he has sadly made a disaster out of it.  He has created a film that celebrates the lowest common denominator and attempts to shock rather than entertain.  Speaking of shocks, the entire music “score” is shocking and painful to the ear.  Less like music and more like a high pitched shrill, the score did the exact opposite of what it was meant to achieve which was to create a palpable atmosphere.  It was like fingernails on a blackboard to me and again compared to the original (which had a suitably eerie score) suffers considerably in comparison.

Briefly let me touch upon the actor’s work here, and let me say that they both try their best, but unfortunately don’t have much to work with.  Vinessa Shaw, who plays Beth, always has a pleasant screen presence and she is serviceable here but doesn’t hold a candle to Prunella Ransome who has the same role in the original.  I had heard a lot of good things about Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s performance prior to seeing the film but to be honest I do not know what all the fuss is about.  Again, he was serviceable but nothing special, but at least he had a better running style than Lewis Fiander in the original.  

Overall, I hated my experience of watching “Come Out And Play”.  The film just had no atmosphere at all, and even though the film is considerably shorter than the original, because of how poor it has been made and put together it actually felt a lot longer.  In an attempt to shock the audience director Makinov has lost the poignancy of the original film and has directed the film in the most obvious way possible.  I stated in my “Who Can Kill A Child?” review how I thought the most obvious way to portray the kids would be as dark and brooding killers and Makinov has proved this as this is exactly what he has done.  Sadly there is no way I can recommend “Come Out And Play” to anyone, in fact I suggest you avoid it at all costs.  However I will once again recommend the original film “Who Can Kill A Child?” which is brilliant and far superior.  I will finish up this review with a plea to directors of future remakes: if you do not have anything new or original to add to the film please just leave it alone because the remake will ultimately become an exercise in pointlessness.  

1 Star.