The Troll Hunter

Director: Andre Ovredal (2010)
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Morck
Find it: IMDB

Students making a documentary find more than anticipated when the man they're trailing is revealed to be a 'troll hunter'. Keyboard warriors rest easy; he's after the other type of troll. Fairytale Trolls roam the Norwegian woods and countryside, looking for Christian men to munch upon. Hans (Jespersen) is part of a government conspiracy, ensuring that the Trolls stay within their designated areas. It's like Men in Black meets Cloverfield.

It's films like Troll Hunter with which the found footage subgenre shines. I have little interest in seeing middle class people being scared in their own homes, or in snotty kids being chased around ugly woods by unseen Blair Witches. I want to see the Moon (even when it's as half-arsed as Apollo 18), jungles full of cannibals and above all, I want to see Norwegian Trolls eating men dressed in tin suits. Fairy tale Trolls, that is. Although I would definitely watch a movie about a killer who hunts people that go around talking shit on Internet message boards. The Dark Knight Rises looks whack, does it? How would you like an axe in the face? It'd basically be The Punisher, except his victims are mostly children and me.

The locations are breathtakingly beautiful. Landscape fetishists should take great joy in Troll Hunter. It's certainly better than crappy old New York in Cloverfield. And then the Trolls appear, and that's incredible too. They look too unreal to ever be scary (like something out of that old PS2 game that nobody played), but there's a fairytale quality to the dodgy CGI that somehow befits the film. You won't quite believe it when you see it, but you'll really want to.

As our intrepid filmmakers follow Hans the hunter (think Quint from off've Jaws) on his travels, they encounter a number of Trolls, all beautifully designed and great to watch. The standout sequences see a Troll hiding under a bridge (how very Billy Goats Gruff), farting in a cave and a thrilling final bit with the biggest Troll of all.

Unfortunately, there are a few too many scenes which see the cameraman running through pitch-black forests, huffing and puffing like a paedophile in the kids' section at Primark. There's a character introduced too late into the film that slightly upsets the status quo (apparently Rossi was really unhappy with it) and the ending is a trifle predictable. Atheists will come away feeling smug though (oh, we come away feeling smug about everything) and it really is a beautiful film. Where the Blair Witches and The Cloverfields and the [RECS] have you feeling terrified to go back into the woods/New York/Barcelona, Troll Hunter will leave you disappointed by the lack of real Trolls there. Also, it has 'Teddy Bear's Picnic' on the trailer, and that gives me a warm feeling inside. Aaw.

The Bunny Game

Director: Adam Rehmeier (2010)
Starring: Rodleen Getsic, Jeff Renfro, Norwood Fisher
Find it: IMDB

This is the film that The Human Centipede 2 wishes it was. Hearing that it was denied a UK release by the BBFC immediately put it on my radar. Like that other infamous film, August Underground, I wish I hadn't bothered. When the film opened with a sloppy blowjob scene, I knew it wouldn't be my cup of tea. I prefer my tea without spermatozoon, thanks.

Like The Human Centipede 2, the film is entirely black and white and features characters performing bizarre sexual acts on one another. There's shit in The Bunny Game that they'd even balk at on Fetlife. Prostitute Bunny (the aptly named Rodleen Getsic) accepts a lift from a deranged trucker. You don't need to be Jeremy Clarkson to know that this is a bad idea, but hey, Bunny is desperate. The trucker spends the next few days torturing Bunny and making her play his sick, depraved games. He's a terrible antagonist, crying and screaming, huffing plastic bags like a low-rent Dennis Hopper. She meanwhile, gets by far the worse end of the bargain, all ball gags, crappy haircuts and ridiculous masks. To criticise is unfair though: don't hate the playa, as they say, hate the game.

As I watch more and more of this nonsense, it becomes increasingly difficult to review films like The Bunny Game. I mean, there are only so many ways to write "she gets tied up and tortured". Occasionally I have to say things like "newborn porn" or "the centipede goes up his arse" or "he puts a stupid rabbit gimp mask on her head" but mostly it's like reviewing the same film over and over again. It's a sad state of affairs when the edgiest thing a horror movie can do these days is have a happy ending. Just for once, I'd like to be able to write something along the lines of "and then the bad man realised that he was acting like a bit of a dickhead. He let the nice prostitute go and sought psychiatric help. Then he apologised to the S&M community for perpetuating negative stereotypes."

Like so many other controversial slash banned movies, The Bunny Game is perfectly competent. It's well acted, looks good (in a surrealist sort of way) and has a properly unsettling vibe. Had it the bravery to tell a story about something other than rape, I would probably have enjoyed it. It's a great film wasted on a shitty story. There are only so many stories one can tell about perverted men acting out their fantasies upon unwilling victims. And I don't want to see any of them. Dude, she's a prostitute. If you were to just pay her, I'm sure she'd let you tie her up and do whatever anyway.

It's easy to see why the BBFC wanted none of this. Since almost every moment of the film features some variety of sexual violence or other, there's literally nothing that could have been cut, save for ten seconds in the middle where our dirty trucker leans against a wall for a bit. There's a time and a place for pieces like The Bunny Game. Maybe an art gallery or Chris Brown's dressing room. These aren't films to be enjoyed; they're here to be endured. I have a friend who loves rollercoasters but hates horror movies. I hate rollercoasters but love horror movies. She asked me how I can bear to watch the gory bollocks I do. To me, horror movies are like mental rollercoasters. You have nice log flume rollercoasters (like Scream or A Nightmare On Elm Street), fast rollercoasters (Saw, Hostel) and then you have the fucking horrible ones (The Bunny Game, August Underground). Just as you don't ride a mental rollercoaster to look at the scenery, you don't watch The Bunny Game if you like films. I watch this shit to see if I can. And The Bunny Game beats Hostel in horror Top Trumps any day.

I doubt The Bunny Game is going to corrupt anyone. It won't damage anyone's mind (unless you happen to be epileptic. There's some pretty crazy flashing imagery) nor will it inspire any copycat killings. It sure damaged my liver though, for all the drinking I had to do to make it less boring. The only interesting part of the film was The Bunny Game itself, whereupon both characters wear stupid gimp masks and run around in the desert like it's a really gross episode of Star Trek.

As games go, The Bunny Game is not a particularly fun one. It's like playing Twister with the smelly weird guy who invited himself to the party. This is an intelligent, thoroughly artistic movie with far more attitude than your average torture flick. But fuck it, if this is the game, I don't want to play anymore.


Director: Paddy Considine (2011)
Starring: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan
Find it: IMDB

Not a film about my favourite dinosaur. Not at all. Tyrannosaur is a grim and gritty British film about angry people and miserable people being angry and miserable. It opens with the main character kicking his pet dog to death. That we eventually come to care for Joseph (Mullan) is a testament to the script, direction and powerhouse performances.

Drunk and angry (usually at the same time) Joseph happens across Hannah (Colman) who works in a local charity shop. They bond as Joseph snarls loathsome sweet nothings at her over a cup of tea. Hannah's life is less than dandy. A battered housewife, she lives in fear of husband James (Marsan). When he learns of her burgeoning friendship with Joseph, it becomes evident that things are building to a violent head. To be sure, there will be misery.

It's a film made up of awkward lengths of time between hugs. There's a moment when Hannah begs Joseph to hold her. During the time it takes, I felt like kicking the screen in and climbing inside the TV to do it myself. And I have a flat-screen; that shit ain't easy. When you're not wishing the characters would shut up and just hug one another, you're waiting for them to apologise. Joseph goes around saying and doing some awfully cunty things. Never mind dinosaurs, Tyrannosaur is one big game of apologetic chicken. As a tale of redemption, it makes the viewer squint extra hard for those slivers of hope. It's almost too grim at times, occasionally taking itself a little too seriously. Like his character in Dead Man's Shoes, there's a feeling that director Paddy Considine could afford to lighten up a little.

It's an incredibly powerful, emotive piece of British cinema, delivering doom and gloom in a manner that us Brits seem to excel at. No dinosaur, though.

Fetish Dolls Die Laughing

Director: David Silvio (2011)
Starring: Laura Romeo, Michael McGovern, Aaron Bernard
Find it: Official site

When they ask me, "old man, what did you do with your life?" I shall reply, "well children, I stayed up until 2:00 in the morning, waiting for Windows Media Player to buffer so I could watch a movie about a serial killer who murders women by tickling their feet until they die." "Do you regret it all?" they'll ask me. To which I shall respond: "no, not a fucking thing." Fetish Dolls Die Laughing is a supreme waste of time. But, like the act of tickling itself, that pointlessness has an odd, innocent charm. In the days of Human Centipedes and Donkey Punching, it's only fair that the humble tickle fetish should have its moment to shine.

Of all the things I have accidentally (shut up) become an aficionado of after discovering the Internet all-those-years-ago, tickle videos must rank amongst the strangest. If you had told ten-year-old Joel H that there would one day be a place where he could see a woman strapped to a table as a man tickles her feet to no real purpose, his mind would have been blown. Even more so if you'd told him about that one video I saw where the tickler does it whilst dressed as Batman. Truly, you can find anything online.

Spoiler: she gets tickled

Detective Greer English (Romeo) is a maverick cop investigating a series of brutal murders. We're shown how she has a penchant for always putting herself in danger in order to solve crimes. This reasoning will put her on a path to the 'Tickle Monster's' table. The Tickle Monster. Really. No longer is the Boogeyman the stupidest-sounding horror movie monster. Like Jason in Jason Goes To Hell, the Tickle Monster is a malevolent force that possesses bodies and forces its victim to go around tickling women to death. The current embodiment of the Tickle Monster is Billy, a chubby foot fetishist who makes crappy bondage videos with his wife. After he tickles his wife to death, Billy/the Tickle Monster embark on a killing spree that brings them to Detective English's attention. Although she could have found him by just looking in the phonebook. Weird horror movie crimes are always committed by people called Billy.

He was not to be interrupted whilst watching Jackie Brown.

Really, the film is just a series of connected fetish videos. There is a lot of tickling in Fetish Dolls Die Laughing - and I'm not even sure how it works. Mostly, Billy just tickles someone for awhile until blood starts spurting out of their mouth and they die. There's suspension of disbelief, and then there's being asked to believe that tickling can rupture your organs and kill you to death. Ditto, a brilliant bit of logic straight out of a fetish video: that having your feet continuously tickled whilst tied up will cause incurable insanity. That's actually quite similar to The Joker's plan in The Killing Joke.

I hope you like this. Because there's 100 minutes worth of it here.

One's tolerance for Fetish Dolls Die Laughing will depend entirely on how much you enjoy watching people being tickled. It's unabashedly a fetish movie, albeit one with a more intricate plot than most. In its gratuitous pandering to a foot-loving audience, it's a shame that it couldn't offer a little more for non-fans. And at 100 minutes, it's a little too long for what it is. At least two tickle scenes could have been lost, as could a lengthy sub-plot with a second serial killer. But it's amusing, (not to the extent where you'll die laughing though, yo ho ho) imaginative, grotesque and tongue-in-cheek enough that its flaws become forgiveable. Ultimately, it's a film about a man tickling womens' feet until it kills them. You're either on board for that sort of thing or you're not. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. And vanilla is my least favourite spice.

Final Destination 5

Director: Steven Quale (2011)
Starring: Nicholas D'Agosto, Emma Bell, Tony Todd
Find it: IMDB

The least final of all the destinations. Final Destination 5 ignores the previous movie's title reboot (surely this should have been called The Final Destination 2?) and continues the franchise as it's always been - this time with Tony Todd back whispering weird warnings at the film's ill-fated friends.

Where the previous films were all about the school/college kids getting themselves killed in stupid accidents, this fourth sequel has grown up a little. Final Destination 5 is a works' outing gone terribly wrong. It makes a nice difference to see young professionals getting themselves killed instead of just another bunch of obnoxious kids. The cast of Final Destination 5 are still pretty obnoxious, but at least they can hold down a job. Which is more than we can say for headless Stifler or Mary Elizabeth Winstead when she got killed on a train. David Koechner offers welcome respite from all the prettiness, playing the hunky young things' boss.

The opening disaster is possibly the best ever seen in a Final Destination movie. It feels positively apocalyptic; a giant bridge collapsing whilst laden with screaming idiots and traffic. It's still business as usual though, and the movie progresses in much the same manner as its four predecessors. There a few new ideas here and there, but nothing revolutionary. Tony Todd offers the soon-to-be-dead a tip hitherto unmentioned in any other Final Destination. Given how well it works, you'd think he'd have mentioned it at some point to Ali Larter or headless Stifler.

The first half of Final Destination 5 is the hardest to watch of all the films. A gymnastic set, an acupuncturist and laser eye surgery set the stage for some truly grisly scenes of carnage. Anyone who's ever stood on a pin or upturned plug will sympathise. The eyeball squeamish (like myself) will not enjoy the laser eye bit (which actually ends up like a replay of the Final Destination 2 dentist sequence). Next to the elaborate set-pieces come the more throwaway surprise deaths. Both really work, despite an over-reliance on wet plug sockets and bad CGI gore.

Alas, the final quarter tries to do something semi-new, and the film flounders. Instead of Death trying to kill the Pretty Young Things, there's a subplot with a confused cop and a stupid shootout in a restaurant. Not to sound smug (well okay, maybe a little bit) but I saw the 'twist' coming from the start. It's cute though.

Of all the horror franchises out there, Final Destination might be the most consistent. For one thing, every film is exactly the same. But most importantly, it's guaranteed to entertain (if, that is, you're the sort of person who finds other peoples' misfortune hilarious. Me, I piss myself with LOLs every time those injury claims adverts come on TV). It's like a Faces of Death version of You've Been Framed.