REVIEW: MINDFIELD

CAST

Michael Ironside (X-Men: First Class)
Lisa Langlois (The Nest)
Christopher Plummer (A Beautiful Mind)
George Sperdakos (Devil’s Advocate)
Eugene Clark (Land of Teh Dead)
Michael Sinelnikoff (The Lost World)
Russell Yuen  (Arrival)

2wr34tr34tAlthough made for an Anglophone straight-to-video market, Quebec science-fiction director Jean Claude Lord’s Mindfield also taps into the audience’s lingering fears about the the Cameron and Duplessis incidents, focusing on a fictional story built around the MKULTRA brainwashing program. Mindfield stars Michael Ironside in a rare “good guy” role as a police detective fighting the mob and his own repressed electroshock memories. Hard-boiled Kellen (Ironside) is hard at work organizing a police strike, but keeps getting distracted by vague flashbacks of the mysterious Dr Satorious (Plummer). At one union meeting he finds himself in a heated debate with Sarah, a civil rights lawyer who is currently trying a case against Dr Satorious. Sarah believes Satorious is using a combination of LSD and electroshock therapy to program people to kill, and then wipe their memories clean. Once Kellen reveals that he has been experiment on, Sarah asks him to testify. Kellen doesn’t like the idea, but during a shared car ride home, they dubiously forget their past arguments and end up falling in love.2On the way, Sarah stops at a pharmacy to get a prescription filled while Kellen waits in the car. As she steps in the store, so does Bob Champlain (played by Harvey Atkin, voice of the Leon’s commercials). Within minutes, four guys in ski masks break in and pull out their guns. When Kellen goes in to buy some cigarettes, he immediately realizes that the place is being robbed, and after another flashback, he pulls out his own gun and starts thinning out their ranks. The remaining crooks grab Bob as a hostage and drag him outside, demanding he tells them where “the key” is. Fearfully, Bob tells them it’s in his safe, and is shot before the remaining thugs take off. Kellen overhears this exchange, and when he gets to police headquarters he tells his Captain the robbery was merely a mob set-up to get Bob’s key. He grabs his partner and they go down to Bob’s office. Cracking his safe they find nothing but a huge stack of porn, but underneath the safe itself they stumble on a safe deposit key with a keychain from Erotim, a local sex shop. They visit the store, where the owner, a police informant, tells them about Bob’s connections to Johnny, an area mobster. After a few more professionals with mob connections are found dead, Kellen decides to take some action. Johnny is resting casually in his hot tub when a disrobed Kellen stealthily slips in beside him. Instead of say, shooting him to death, Johnny decides that a naked cop in his hot tub shows some sort of twisted moxie, and reveals that Rudy, an American hitman unconnected to his operation killed Bob.22Posing as Bob, Kellen visits the bank and gets the contents of the safe deposit box a film of Dr Satorious making brainwashed electroshock patients shoot at targets. But upon watching it, Kellen recognizes himself as one of the subjects! When Rudy kills Kellen’s partner with a car bomb, Kellen begins to see the extent of this government-sponsored conspiracy. After giving the incriminating film to Sarah for safe-keeping, he induces a flashback in himself by dropping acid. Stumbling into Satorious’ lab, Kellen discovers a computer file which lists mind-control subjects/assassins, including Lee Harvey Oswald. Kellen confronts Satorious with this evidence, but is caught off guard when Rudy shows up. Rudy and Satorious strap Kellen into an electroshock machine in an attempt to erase the incriminating data from his memory, but Kellen manages to escape, and hightails it to Olympic Stadium for the Police Union meeting (remember that plotline?). He is the only one who can save Sarah and the film, exposing government mind control programs. But he still doesn’t realize how far the conspiracy reaches.1

One of the final Anglophone feature films Jean-Claude Lord made, Mindfield is ambitious in it’s plotting, but needlessly confusing. Multiple storylines including the mob connections, the police strike, Satorious’ trial and Johnny’s prostitution ring muddy up the main thrust of the story and detract from Kellen’s singular quest for answers and revenge.  Despite their flaws, Canadian genre films like Jean-Claude Lord’s Mindfield are truly Canuxploitation films, tapping into our distinctly fears and reminding us of the dangers of a Government with no value for it’s populace.

 

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REVIEW: INSIDE MAN

CAST

Denzel Washington (The Equalizer)
Clive Owen (Sin City)
Jodie Foster (The Brave One)
Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange)
Kim Director (Blair Witch 2)
Ken Leung (Lost)

A man named Dalton Russell sits in an unidentified cell and narrates a story of how he has committed the perfect robbery. In New York, masked robbers, dressed as painters and using variants of the name “Steve” as aliases, seize control of a Manhattan bank and take the patrons and employees hostage. They divide the hostages into groups and hold them in different rooms, forcing them to don painters clothes identical to their own. The robbers rotate the hostages among various rooms and occasionally insert themselves covertly into the groups. They also take turns working on an unspecified project involving demolishing the floor in one of the bank’s storage rooms.Police surround the bank and Detectives Keith Frazier and Bill Mitchell take charge of the negotiations. Russell, the leader of the robbers, demands food and the police supply them with pizzas whose boxes include listening devices. The bugs pick up a language which the police identify as Albanian. They discover, however, that the conversations are in fact propaganda recordings of deceased Albanian communist dictator Enver Hoxha, implying that the robbers anticipated the attempted surveillance.When Arthur Case, chairman of the board of directors and founder of the bank, hears of the robbery taking place, he hires “fixer” Madeleine White to try to protect the contents of his safe deposit box within the bank. White arranges a conversation with Russell, who allows her to enter the bank and inspect the contents of the box, which include documents from Nazi Germany. Russell implies that Case started his bank with money that he received from the Nazis for unspecified services, resulting in the deaths of many Jewish people during World War II. White tells Russell that Case will pay him a substantial sum if he destroys the contents of the box. Frazier demands to inspect the hostages before allowing the robbers to leave and Russell takes him on a tour of the bank. As he is being shown out, Frazier attacks Russell, but is restrained by another of the robbers. Afterwards he explains that he deliberately tried to provoke Russell and judges that the man is not a killer. However, this is disproven when the robbers execute one of the hostages.The execution prompts the ESU team into action. They plan to storm the bank and use rubber bullets to knock out those inside. Frazier discovers that the robbers have planted a listening device on the police; aware of the police plans, the robbers detonate smoke grenades and release the hostages. The police detain and question everyone but are unable to distinguish the identically dressed hostages from the robbers. A search of the bank reveals the robbers’ weapons were plastic replicas. They find props for faking the execution, but no money or valuables appear to have been stolen. With no way to identify the suspects and unsure if a crime has even been committed, Frazier’s superior orders him to drop the case.Frazier, however, searches the bank’s records and finds that safe deposit box #392 has never appeared on any records since the bank’s founding in 1948. He obtains a search warrant to open it. He is then confronted by White, who informs him of Case’s Nazi dealings. She attempts to persuade Frazier to drop his investigation, but he refuses, playing a recording of an incriminating conversation that she had with him. White confronts Case who admits that the box contained diamonds and a ring that he had taken from a Jewish friend whom he had betrayed to the Nazis.  Russell repeats his opening monologue, but with the revelation that he is in fact hiding behind a fake wall the robbers had constructed inside the bank’s supply room. He emerges a week after the robbery with the contents of Case’s safe deposit box, including incriminating documents and several bags of diamonds. On his way out, he bumps into Frazier, who does not recognize him. When Frazier opens the safe deposit box, he finds the ring and a note from Russell. Frazier confronts Case and urges White to contact the Office of War Crimes Issues at the State Department about Case’s war crimes. At home, Frazier finds a loose diamond, slipped into his pocket by Russell.It’s not a flawless film by any means: the last reel doesn’t quite match up to what preceded it, and the script doesn’t really get you near the skin of the characters (even if it does serve up some delicious, not entirely expected moments). Yet as heist movies go, this is one of the better examples of recent times, with plenty of reasons to recommend it.

REVIEW: THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS

CAST

Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Lily Cole (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Johnny Depp (Public Enemies)
Colin Farrell (Intermission)
Jude Law (Spy)
Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Verne Troyer (Austin Powers 2 & 3)
Tom Waits (Mystery Men)

Doctor Parnassus’ theater troupe, which includes sleight of hand expert Anton, confidant Percy, and Parnassus’ daughter Valentina, performs outside a London pub. The troupe’s main attraction is a magical “Imaginarium”, which offers whoever enters it a choice between difficult self-fulfillment or easy ignorance. After a drunkard is swayed to the latter, Parnassus says he has lost another one to Mr. Nick, a suave personification of the Devil. Mr. Nick reminds Parnassus that in three days Valentina turns 16, and her soul will be his. Hundreds of years ago Mr. Nick tricked Parnassus into gaining immortality, after making a wager similar to his current predicament.As the troupe crosses a bridge, Anton spies someone hanging beneath it. They rescue the man, who spits out a golden pipe when revived. Claiming to have amnesia, he joins the troupe as a barker. Parnassus becomes despondent over the impending loss of his daughter. Mr. Nick visits Parnassus, revealing the hanging man is a disgraced philanthropist named “Tony”. He offers Parnassus a wager: Valentina can stay with whoever wins five souls first.Tony convinces the troupe to remodel the show into a more modern act. While performing, Tony lures a posh woman into the Imaginarium and follows her, where they enter a pastel-coloured dream-world representing the woman’s imagination. The woman’s imagination also changes Tony’s face; upon discovering this, he dances elegantly with her, and they spy a motel run by Mr. Nick. Tony convinces the woman to take a gondola toward a pyramid alone, winning a soul for Parnassus. Tony falls back out of the Imaginarium, returning his face to normal; the woman exits shortly after and gives the troupe a vast sum of money. When three other women enter, each emerges elated; and thus Parnassus wins three more souls. Four Russian gangsters, to whom Tony owes money, are taken by Mr. Nick when they chase Tony into the Imaginarium. The score becomes four souls apiece.With the bet nearing its end, Parnassus reveals Valentina’s conception to her: after ageing from immortality, Parnassus made a new pact with Mr. Nick to be youthful again, in order to win the heart of a woman he loved. In exchange, any child he fathered would become Mr. Nick’s property at age 16. Valentina attempts to run away, but Tony enters the Imaginarium to give his soul to Parnassus; in exchange, Parnassus must teach him the trance that powers the dream world. Valentina returns as he tries to enter the mirror, but Anton blocks them, having discovered that Tony is a fraudulent charity scammer.Tony fights off Anton, pushes Valentina into the Imaginarium and joins her. Influenced by Valentina’s desires, Tony’s face changes again, and they float along a beautiful river in a gondola. After an impoverished child disrupts their boat trip, Tony transforms into a philanthropist speaking at a fundraiser. Anton, following the pair into the Imaginarium, appears as an outspoken child and exposes Tony as a fraud. A mob pursues Tony as the landscape disintegrates, causing Anton to fall into a void. Distraught and angry over her father’s bargain and a lifetime of hiding of the truth from her, Valentina gives her soul to Mr. Nick. Disillusioned by the easy victory, Mr. Nick offers Parnassus to trade Valentina for Tony. Chased by the mob, Tony flees to a gallows, but Parnassus confronts him, holding Tony’s pipe and a copy. Parnassus challenges Tony to choose which pipe is genuine. He chooses wrongly, inserts the copy in his windpipe, and is hanged. Mr. Nick keeps his word and Valentina is freed, but Parnassus is not told where she is, and is abandoned to wander in the Imaginarium.Parnassus emerges years later, finding Valentina is married to Anton and they have a daughter. He watches them from outside a restaurant window, but when tempted to join them, he is stopped by Percy. Teaming up once more, Parnassus and Percy sell toy theatre replicas of the Imaginarium and the troupe on a street corner. Mr. Nick invites Parnassus over to him, but Percy puts an end to the temptation.The acting is good, with Lily Cole surprisingly impressive and old hands Christopher Plummer and Tom Waits leading by example. Terry Gilliam direction combines the fantastical and the ordinary in a way that only he can. It is the first time he has participated in the writing process for two decades and this film has an autobiographical feel as Doctor Parnassus tries to entice with stories and the imagination only to be met by cynical crowds. This effort to wow the public may not move them away from CGI and is short of his best, but it is still entertaining and favourable over films which lack charm, imagination and storytelling.

REVIEW: PRIEST

CAST

Paul Bettany (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Cam Gigandet (Easy A)
Maggie Q (Divergent)
Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Stephen Moyer (True Blood)
Christopher Plummer (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Alan Dale (Lost)
Mädchen Amick (Sleepwalkers)

A centuries long war between humans and vampires has devastated the planet’s surface and led to a theocracy under an organization called The Church. They constructed giant walled cities to protect mankind and developed a group of elite warriors, the Priests, to turn the tide against the vampires. The majority of the vampires were killed, while the remainder were placed in reservations. With the war over, the Clergy disbanded the Priests. Outside the walled cities, some humans seek out a living, free from the totalitarian control of the Church.
Priest (Paul Bettany) is approached by Hicks (Cam Gigandet), the sheriff of Augustine, a free town. Priest learns that his brother and his wife, Shannon – Priest’s girlfriend before he entered the priesthood – were mortally wounded in a vampire attack, and Priest’s niece, Lucy (Lily Collins), was kidnapped. Hicks asks for Priest’s help in rescuing Lucy. Priest asks the Clergy to reinstate his authority, but Church leader Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer) does not believe the vampire story and refuses. Priest defiantly leaves the city and Orelas sends three Priests and a Priestess to bring him back.
Priest and Hicks arrive at Nightshade Reservation where humans called Familiars, people infected with a pathogen that makes them subservient to the vampires, live alongside a number of the surviving vampires. After a fierce battle, the pair discovers that most of the vampires have taken shelter in Sola Mira, a vampire hive where Priest lost several of his comrades during a major battle. Priestess joins them at Sola Mira, revealing a bond with Priest. The trio destroys a Hive Guardian vampire, then discover that the vampires have bred a new army and dug a tunnel out of the mountain towards a town called Jericho. The other three Priests have arrived at Jericho just as night falls and an armored train arrives, unleashing hundreds of vampires upon the population. The vampires are led by a powerful and mysterious human wearing a black hat. When the three Priests reject Black Hat’s offer to join him, he kills them all.
The next morning, Priest, Priestess and Hicks arrive in Jericho and discover the town empty and the three dead Priests crucified. Priest and Priestess share an intimate moment where she makes her move, hoping that now that Shannon has died, he would no longer feel bound to her. Priest, who is clearly not over Shannon, gently refuses. Priest realizes that the vampires have been using the trains to travel by day and attack the free towns by night, with the walled cities at the end of the train line. Hicks believes an attack on the cities would be unwise because of the sun, but Priest reveals that factories, producing massive clouds of smoke and ash, have permanently deprived the city of sunlight, so the vampire attack would be a slaughter.
Hicks threatens Priest, claiming he will shoot him unless he promises to let Lucy live whether she’s been infected or not. (Priest had earlier revealed to Hicks, who is in love with Lucy, that if they discovered Lucy had been infected as a Familiar, he’d kill her.) Hicks doesn’t understand why Priest, who is basically a stranger to Lucy, cares so much about her. Priestess reveals that Lucy is actually Priest’s daughter, and that his brother, Owen stepped in as a husband and a father when Priest was taken by The Church.
While Priestess rushes ahead to plant a bomb on the railroad tracks, Priest and Hicks board the train to rescue Lucy. Battling vampires and Familiars, the two are finally overpowered by Black Hat just as they find Lucy. Black Hat is revealed as one of the Priests who was defeated in the final attack on Sola Mira and a close friend of Priest. After being captured, the vampire Queen gave him her blood, turning him into the first Vampire-Human hybrid who can survive the sun. As Priest fights Black Hat, Lucy discovers the truth about her parentage. Priestess battles several Familiars, finally placing the explosives on her motor bike and crashing it into the train engine. The explosion and subsequent derailment kills the vampires and engulfs Black Hat in fire, while Hicks, Priest, Priestess, and Lucy are able to escape.
Priest returns to the city and confronts Monsignor Orelas during Mass, telling him of the burnt train containing the vampires’ bodies, but not the queen’s. He proves this by throwing a vampire head onto the floor and shocking everyone in the room. Orelas still refuses to believe him, declaring that the war is over, while Priest says that is just beginning. Outside the city Priest meets Priestess and she reveals that the other Priests have been notified and will meet them at a rendezvous point. Priest sets off into the sunset.Scott Stewart has produced a brilliant picture with Priest. The CGI vampires are also suitably disgusting and resemble the eyeless denizens of hell seen previously in Constantine. The post-script epilogue suggests there is still a story to be told. Sadly with the film not doing sowell at the box office this is all we will get.

STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY

CAST

William Shatner (TJ Hooker)
Leonard  Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
DeForest Kelley (Canon City)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
George Takei (Heroes)
Walter Koenig (Babylon 5)
Nichelle Nichols (Scooby-Doo 4)
Kim Cattrall (Big Trouble In Little China)
Mark Lenard (Planet of The Apes TV)
Brock Peters (Soylent Green)
Grace Lee Whitney (60s Batman)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turltes 2)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s SHow)
Christopher Plummer (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
William Morgan Sheppard  (Transformers)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
Iman (Out of Africa)
Matthias Hues (At World’s End)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)

As a Klingon moon, Praxis, explodes without warning, the starship USS Excelsior, commanded by Captain Hikaru Sulu, is struck by the shock wave and its crew discovers that much of the moon has been obliterated. The loss of their key energy production facility and the destruction of the Klingon homeworld’s ozone layer throws the Klingon Empire into turmoil. No longer able to maintain a hostile footing, the Klingons sue for peace with their longstanding enemy, the United Federation of Planets. Accepting the proposal before the Klingons revert to a more belligerent approach, Starfleet sends the USS Enterprise-A to meet with the Klingon Chancellor, Gorkon, and escort him to negotiations on Earth. Enterprise’s captain, James T. Kirk, whose son David was murdered by Klingons years earlier, opposes the negotiations and resents his assignment.

After a rendezvous between Enterprise and Gorkon’s battlecruiser they continue towards Earth, with the crews sharing a tense meal aboard Enterprise. Later that night, Enterprise appears to fire on the Klingon ship with a pair of photon torpedoes, disabling the artificial gravity aboard the Klingon vessel. During the confusion, two figures wearing Starfleet suits and gravity boots beam aboard the Klingon ship and grievously wound Gorkon before beaming away. Kirk surrenders to avoid a fight, and beams aboard the Klingon ship with Doctor Leonard McCoy to attempt to save Gorkon’s life. The chancellor dies, and Gorkon’s chief of staff, General Chang, puts Kirk and McCoy on trial for his assassination. The pair are found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment on the frozen asteroid Rura Penthe. Gorkon’s daughter, Azetbur, becomes the new chancellor, and continues diplomatic negotiations; for reasons of security, the conference is relocated and the new location is kept secret. While several senior Starfleet officers want to rescue Kirk and McCoy, the Federation president refuses to risk full-scale war. Azetbur likewise refuses to invade Federation space, stating that only Kirk and McCoy will pay for her father’s death.

Kirk and McCoy arrive at the Rura Penthe mines and are befriended by a shapeshifter named Martia, who offers them an escape route; in reality, it is a ruse to make their arranged deaths appear accidental. Once her betrayal is revealed, Martia transforms into Kirk’s double and fights him, but she is killed by the prison guards to silence any witnesses. Just before the prison warden reveals who set them up, Kirk and McCoy are beamed aboard Enterprise by Captain Spock, who had assumed command and undertaken an investigation in Kirk’s absence. Determining that Enterprise did not fire the torpedoes but that the assassins are still aboard, the crew begins looking for them. The two assassins are found dead, but Kirk and Spock trick their accomplice into believing they are still alive. When the culprit arrives in Sickbay to finish off the assassins, Kirk and Spock discover that the killer is Spock’s protégé, Valeris. To discover the identity of the conspirators, Spock initiates a forced mind-meld, and learns that a group of Federation, Klingon, and Romulan officers plotted to sabotage the peace talks, fearing the changes their success might bring (the titular “undiscovered country”), and Chang is one of the conspirators. The torpedoes that struck Gorkon’s cruiser came from a prototype Bird of Prey that can fire while cloaked, and hovered just below Enterprise at the time of the assassination.

The crew contacts Sulu, who informs them the conference is being held at Camp Khitomer. Both ships head for the talks as fast as they can. As Enterprise nears the planet, Chang’s cloaked Bird of Prey moves to intercept. With Enterprise unable to track his ship’s position, Chang inflicts severe damage on Enterprise and then Excelsior. At the suggestion of Uhura, the Enterprise’s communication officer, Spock and McCoy modify a photon torpedo to home in on the exhaust emissions of Chang’s vessel, using equipment originally intended to study gaseous anomalies. The torpedo impact reveals Chang’s location, and Enterprise and Excelsior destroy the Bird of Prey with a volley of torpedoes. Crew from both ships beam to the conference and halt an attempt on the Federation president’s life. Kirk pleads for those present to continue the peace process. Having saved the peace talks, Enterprise is ordered back to Earth by Starfleet Command to be decommissioned, but the crew decide to take their time on the return voyage. As Enterprise cruises towards a nearby star, Kirk proclaims that though this mission is the final cruise of Enterprise under his command, others will continue their voyages.With political parallels that most people will recognise, The undiscovered Country is an unabashed political thriller masquerading as a science fiction film, and it works wonderfully. The script is intelligent but not overly confusing, as political thrillers sometimes are. The performances, especially Kim Catrell as the new Vulcan deck officer, taking over for Sulu who now captains his own ship, and Christopher Plummer as a wonderfully Shakespearian old school warlike general, opposed to peace, are first rate. Nicholas Meyers assured and inventive hand in the Directors chair can be felt throughout and you feel like you are watching a film with a proper story to tell. While remaining squarely in the Star Trek universe The Undiscovered Country is more of a thriller than an action adventure and in doing so it has left its own mark, distinct and unusual.

REVIEW: COLD CREEK MANOR

 

CAST

Dennis Quaid (Traffic)
Sharon Stone (Catwoman)
Stephen Dorff (Blade)
Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers)
Kristen Stewart (Twilight)
Christopher Plummer (Star Trek VI)
Wayne Robson (Cube)
Peter Outerbridge (Beuty and The Beast)

Cooper (Dennis Quaid) and Leah Tilson (Sharon Stone) are living in a cramped New York City apartment with their two children, Kristen (Kristen Stewart) and Jesse (Ryan Wilson). While on a business trip overseas, Leah’s boss informs her of an available promotion within the company, but only if she’s willing to have an affair with him. She calls Cooper while he is dropping the kids off at school but, before she can speak to him, Jesse is nearly hit by a car in the early morning traffic. Although he isn’t hurt, Leah returns home immediately and they decide living in the city is no longer a safe option for their family.

They relocate to a huge, decaying mansion out in the country, which is still filled with the possessions of the previous family who disappeared years earlier. Cooper, an unmotivated documentary filmmaker, is intrigued and sees it as an opportunity to get back into work. While cleaning up one morning, he finds many Polaroid photographs of the family including nude shots of a teenage girl. Jesse finds old clothes in his bedroom closet belonging to a young boy his age called Grady, and a book with a strange riddle written inside.

They go for breakfast at the local diner where they meet and befriend the owners, Ray and Ellen Pinski and their daughter, Stephanie. Many residents of the town, including the crass waitress of the diner, Ruby (Juliette Lewis), have heard they’re now living at the manor and feel offended that they haven’t taken the time to put the old family’s belongings into storage, which causes immediate tension. Meanwhile, the family get settled in and Cooper decides to commit its history to making a new film. One morning, they find the previous owner Dale Massie (Stephen Dorff) in their home, and they feel inclined to ask him to stay for breakfast. He tells them he’s recently been released from prison and needs help finding work, so he pressures Cooper into hiring him to help with the renovations on the house. Later on, Cooper meets Sheriff Annie Ferguson (Dana Eskelson), Ruby’s sister, who informs him that Dale’s aging and slightly demented father is living in a nearby nursing home. Cooper goes to visit him, hoping to glean some details about the house’s sinister past. Disjointed comments made by the elderly man lead him to believe that Dale murdered his wife and children, and he begins to search his 1,200-acre (4.9 km2) property for their remains. Meanwhile, although Dale initially proves to be a good worker, the underlying sense of menace he projects is unsettling and makes the family uncomfortable. Then a series of terrifying incidents start to occur, including finding dozens of poisonous snakes in their house. Although he has no proof, Cooper becomes suspicious of Dale, believing he put them there on purpose, and fires him.

That night, Leah informs Cooper about her boss’s proposition and also tells him that she was going to say yes, but that was the day Jesse was hit by the car and it put everything into perspective for her. Cooper storms out and spends the night at the local bar where he speaks with Ruby, Dale’s girlfriend, who warns Cooper about him saying, “Don’t fuck with him. He’ll rip your fucking head off.” Dale becomes angry with her being drunk and needy that he hits her, which shocks Cooper to find out how monstrous he can be. On the way home, Cooper realizes he is being followed. He speeds up but because he is intoxicated, hits something and causes him to crash. In the morning, Kristen finds her new horse dead in their backyard pool. She blames her father but Cooper is certain it was a deer he hit and not the horse.

Cooper becomes more and more suspicious when he finds other evidence such as Grady’s braces in the front yard. Then, all of his suspicions are confirmed when he and Leah discover three skeletons in Devil’s Throat, a deep well that is hidden in the woods. Using a walkie talkie, he contacts Sheriff Ferguson, unaware she has been attacked and disabled by Dale at the police station, who punctures the tires on Cooper’s truck and sets Leah’s car on fire to prevent them from escaping. Trapping them in the house in the middle of a storm that has knocked out the electricity, he forces them to rely on their wits and physical prowess to save themselves. Dale finally corners Cooper and Leah on the roof after chasing them through the mansion. Dale, now raving mad, openly declares his insanity as well as his intent to kill them (with a family sheep killing tool/mallet) and throw them down the Devil’s Throat like his family. However, the couple is able to turn the tables on their tormentor by charging him with a line of rope that knocks him off his feet. They quickly tie him down against a roof lantern (skylight) before he can break free. Cooper takes the killing tool and taunts Dale as Dale had done to him, before shattering the skylight, sending the screaming Dale to his death.

The film cuts to show that the bodies of Dale’s family are now rightly entombed in the family graveyard at Cold Creek Manor and that Cooper and his family have finally attained their wanted peace.

It is certainly far from one of the best horror films out there, but then again, people should not expect it to be, 2003’s ‘Cold Creek Manor’ is a well acted and a very entertaining piece nevertheless.

 

REVIEW: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2011)

CAST

Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Rooney Mara (The Scoial Network)
Christopher Plummer (Star Trek 6)
Stellan Skarsgård (Thor)
Steven Berkoff (A Clockwork Orange)
Robin Wright (Nine Lives)
Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck)
Goran Višnjić (Elektra)
Geraldine James (Arthur)
Embeth Davidtz (Army of Darkness)
Alan Dale (Lost)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Joel Kinnaman (Robocop 2014)
Élodie Yung (Daredevil)

In Stockholm, Sweden, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), co-owner of Millennium magazine, has lost a libel case brought against him by businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström (Ulf Friberg). Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a brilliant but troubled investigator and hacker, compiles an extensive background check on Blomkvist for business magnate Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), who has a special task for him. In exchange for the promise of damning information about Wennerström, Blomkvist agrees to investigate the disappearance and assumed murder of Henrik’s grandniece, Harriet, 40 years ago. After moving to the Vanger family’s compound, Blomkvist uncovers a notebook containing a list of names and numbers that no one has been able to decipher.

Salander, who is under state legal guardianship due to diagnosed mental incompetency, is appointed a new guardian, lawyer Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), after her previous guardian Holger Palmgren suffers a stroke. Bjurman abuses his authority to extort sexual favors from Salander and violently rapes her, not realizing she has a hidden video camera on her bag. At their next meeting she stuns him with a stun gun, rapes him with a dildo, and marks him as a rapist with a tattoo on his chest and stomach. Threatening to disclose the video recording, she blackmails him into writing a glowing progress report and granting her full control of her money.

Blomkvist’s daughter Pernilla (Josefin Asplund) visits him and notes that the numbers from the notebook are Bible references. Blomkvist tells Vanger’s lawyer, Dirch Frode (Steven Berkoff), that he needs help with his research, and Frode recommends Salander based on the work she did researching Blomkvist himself. Blomkvist hires Salander to investigate the notebook’s content. She uncovers a connection to a series of murders of young women from 1947 through 1967, with the women either being Jewish or having Biblical names; many of the Vangers are known antisemites. During the investigation, Salander and Blomkvist become lovers. Henrik’s openly national socialist brother Harald identifies Martin (Stellan Skarsgård), Harriet’s brother and operational head of the Vanger empire, and Blomkvist marks Martin as a possible suspect. Salander’s research uncovers evidence that Martin and his deceased father, Gottfried, committed the murders.

Blomkvist breaks into Martin’s house to look for more clues, but Martin catches him and prepares to kill him. While torturing Blomkvist, Martin brags of having killed women for decades but denies killing Harriet. Salander arrives, subdues Martin and saves Blomkvist. While Salander tends to Blomkvist, Martin flees. Salander, on her motorcycle, pursues Martin in his SUV. He loses control of his vehicle on an icy road and dies when it catches fire. Salander nurses Blomkvist back to health and tells him that she tried to kill her father when she was 12. Blomkvist deduces that Harriet is still alive and her cousin Anita (Joely Richardson) likely knows where she is. He and Salander monitor Anita, waiting for her to contact Harriet. When nothing happens, Blomkvist confronts her, deducing that the woman posing as Anita is Harriet herself. She explains that her father and brother had sexually abused her for years, and that Martin saw her kill their father in self-defense. Her cousin Anita smuggled her out of the island and let her live under her identity. Finally free of her brother, she returns to Sweden and tearfully reunites with Henrik.

As promised, Henrik gives Blomkvist the information on Wennerström, but it proves worthless. Salander hacks into Wennerström’s computer and presents Blomkvist with evidence of Wennerström’s crimes. Blomkvist publishes an article that ruins Wennerström, who flees the country. Salander hacks into Wennerström’s bank accounts and, travelling to Switzerland in disguise, transfers two billion euros to various accounts. Wennerström is found murdered. Salander reveals to her former guardian Holger Palmgren that she is in love with Blomkvist. On her way to give Blomkvist a Christmas present, Salander sees him with his longtime lover and business partner Erika Berger (Robin Wright). Heartbroken, she discards the gift and rides away.I recommend it whether or not you have seen the original series. I also recommend you do check out the original series. If they do complete the rest of the trilogy, there will be opportunities in those movies to vastly outshine the originals, certainly if they include more detail from the books as they do here.