Monday, December 7, 2015

New horrors on video: GOODNIGHT MOMMY and COOTIES -- exploitation vs "fart" film

It's interesting to have two very different horror movies making their DVD and Blu-ray debut this past week. Neither set the box-office afire, but one, GOODNIGHT MOMMY, comes lauded with critical acclaim and is, in fact, Austria's submission for this coming "Oscar" race for Best Foreign Language Film, while the other, COOTIES, is one of those comic/horror exploitation items that appear with some regularity these days. Oh, yes: And the subject of both films involves some very, very naughty children.

TrustMovies was looking forward to both in his own way but, surprise, it's the silly-but-lots-of-fun exploitation film that brings home the bacon (or, in this case, the chicken) while the gorgeously photographed, ridiculously attenuated arthouse horror item turns out to be, yes, a "fart" film--TrustMovies' special moniker for the failed art film, usually one that's full of hot air. At 100 minutes, Goodnight Mommy is at least 20 minutes longer than its minimal content can bear; it is also so slow that I found myself dozing off at several points along the way.

The film's single surprise is telegraphed so early and so obviously that you will sit there waiting impatiently for the other shoe to drop. And finally it is one of the ugliest movies -- endurance-test torture ending in horrifying death -- I've had to sit through in a long, long time. If this were a good film in all those other ways, I could easily have borne the horror, but it's so bad so often that it ends up seeming simply pretentious -- little more than an excuse for the ugliness it ponderously builds toward. Yes, it's beautifully lensed and provides an object lesson in the hidden dangers of cosmetic surgery, but the fact that Austria would see fit to submit this piece of shit as a BFLF contender rather boggles the brain. Goodness: That country hasn't gifted us with anything this delightful, since, uh, Adolf Hitler.

Cooties, on the other hand, is low-level but rather juicy fun, well-cast and cleverly written and very speedily plotted, as it tells its all-too-possible tale of a bird-flu virus gone haywire. It comes from chickens and attaches itself, in tried-and-true movie style, to humans -- in this case children, turning them into blood-thirsty little demons. The opening scene that details a chicken's route from life in one of those horrible "bins" to death and onward into chicken-nuggetdom is alone worth the price of the movie rental: fast, funny, nasty and capped with a moment that should put you off those nuggets for good. The rest of the film -- featuring Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson and directed by a couple of smart guys and written by four more -- keeps the humor, scares, gore and thrills coming fast and furiously, right up to the clever, quick finale that offers a terrific last line paving the way for maybe a sequel. Had this one done better at the box-office. that sequel would have been insured. Still, even a straight-to-video would be acceptable by me.

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