Sketchley's Translations Main Index
By AARON SKETCHLEY (aaronsketch@HOTdelete_thisMAIL.com) Ver 1.2 2021.11.03

Horror Film Reviews


Deep Blue Sea

The Faculty

Sleepy Hollow

Species

Tremors

Deep Blue Sea

3 stars

Release date: 1999
Written by: Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers, Wayne Powers
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Review by: Aaron Sketchley
Reviewed on: 2021.04.06
Dr. Susan McCallister and Dr. Jim Whitlock are doing brain research on sharks in a remote facility in the ocean. One of the sharks escapes. Even though it is quickly recaptured, the negative publicity makes the corporate backers get cold feet and threaten to shut the facility down. Executive Russell Franklin returns with Susan to investigate and gives Susan and Jim until 'the end of the weekend' to come up with results that will justify their continued investment in the research. Problems quickly pile up when a powerful tropical storm hit the facility, and the sharks not only display human-like intelligence, but start flooding the facility, picking off the humans one by one!

Deep Blue Sea is the right blend of thrills, chills, and—most importantly—intelligence. It also has a surprising amount of self-awareness, with a lot of that provided by LL Cool J's character: cook Sherman "Preacher" Dudley. His is an intriguing mix of common sense and religion. The other characters are more or less standard for this kind of movie, but they are all performed equally well.

Nevertheless, the film is a great ride because it keeps throwing unexpected twists and turns in an original setting ("We go down to get up.") The film is also surprising as it kills off the apparently sacrosanct characters unexpectedly. Add to that the unpredictability of human-intelligence enhanced sharks, and one is in for a wild ride!

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The Faculty

3 stars

Release date: 1998
Written by: Kevin Williamson
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Review by: Aaron Sketchley
Reviewed on: 2021.11.03
Casey Conner is the dedicated and constantly bullied photographer for the Herrington High School's student newspaper. He is the assistant to spiteful Delilah Profitt, the paper's editor-in-chief and head cheerleader. Her boyfriend, Stan Rosado, is thinking about quitting the football team that he captains to pursue academic studies. Marybeth Hutchinson is a new transfer to the school, and attempts to make friends with Stokely Mitchell, who has spread rumours about herself that she's a lesbian so that she can become an outcast. Hutchinson soon develops a crush on Zeke Tyler—a rebel repeating his senior year—who sells illegal items to other students. After football practice, while Rosado is having a shower, the school's elderly teacher Mrs. Brummel comes in, naked, and in a state of panic. Rosado attempts to comfort her, but her skin begins peeling off, and she apparently dies. Later, other school staff tell him, Conner, and Profitt that Mrs. Brummel is suffering from cancer, and they ought to be quiet about what they saw to protect her from further trauma for the remainder of the school year.

During lunch break, Conner discovers a strange cocoon-like creature on the football field. Accompanied by Profitt, Rosado, Tyler, Hutchinson, and Mitchell—who has a crush on Rosado—Conner shows it to the science teacher, who believes it to be a new species. They all observe that not only does the creature rehydrate and grow in water, but it is capable of self-replication and has a hunger for human flesh! Later, Conner and Profitt sneak into the teachers' lounge to find a story. However, they witness the football coach and another teacher force one of the creatures that Conner discovered into the school nurse, who apparently dies. In their panic, they also discover the corpse of Mrs. Brummel in the closet they were hiding in! The teenagers flee, and call the police. However, Conner and Profitt's claims are dismissed, and they now have the full attention of whatever or whoever is behind the strange happenings at the school!

The Faculty is a unique film. On the one hand, it has an all-star cast and an A-list director. However, it's story is firmly in B movie territory. That said, Robert Rodriguez has plenty of fun with the film, throwing in reference after reference to other films. In fact, part of the fun is trying to identify the classic horror movies in which you first saw a particular special effect or other reference. Perhaps the highlight of this film is Rodriguez's subversive style of film making that makes the movie smart, without taking itself too seriously.

The only drawback to the film is the low quality 90's CG animation in the later parts of the film. They weren't exactly good at the time, and have a tendency to knock the viewer out of the film. Nevertheless, what the film gets right is the portrayal of teenage alienation in high school. This is something that the heroes have a hard time overcoming even when they have to start working together to save the day. It's thought provoking that part of the horror element comes from the protagonists being forced into a world were everyone is the same and gets along, but at the cost of their freedom and individuality.

Another thought provoking aspect is the film's reinvention of the fear of female sexuality. All the girls and women in the film subtly or overtly reveal their hidden sexuality and become more sexually aggressive after being taken over by the invaders. On the other hand, the teenagers in the film have to come to terms with and overcome their fear of the apparently 'monstrous' aspects of female sexuality—in order to become adults and save the day. It's especially telling that the ultimate hero of the film is the male character closest to his feminine side.

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Sleepy Hollow

3.5 stars

Release date: 1999
Written by: Andrew Kevin Walker
Directed by: Tim Burton
Review by: Aaron Sketchley
Reviewed on: 2020.11.17
Police constable Ichabod Crane is dispatched to the titular village that has had a series of decapitations. In investigating the murder mystery, Crane comes face-to-face with a larger conspiracy and the supernatural.

What strikes you first is the beautiful cinematography of the countryside that seems like the film is a recreation of autumnal scenes by famous painters. In addition, the colour pallet starts extremely muted—almost monochrome—and grows in breadth and intensity as Crane's journey sees him evolve and acquire a more well-rounded view of the world.

The movie is populated by a pantheon of well known actors and actresses. Admittedly, when I first saw the film I was only aware of a small portion of them. However, decades of film appreciation later, I recognize most of them and can appreciate Dir. Burton's genius at helping the viewer differentiate between the rather large number of similar villagers with them.

The film earns its frights, and has a creepy feeling throughout. There is some gore—making it unsuitable for younger viewers—but it is much more like the stuff seen in a CSI investigation than it is a slasher film.

The only drawback is that the film is a little unclear on who did what for whom in the conspiracy. Nevertheless, the film makes up for that with very clear depictions of the ringleader's motivations and how that person came to be able to control the Headless Horseman.

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Species

stars

Release date:
Written by:
Directed by:
Review by: Aaron Sketchley
Reviewed on:
Coming soon!
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Tremors

stars

Release date:
Written by:
Directed by:
Review by: Aaron Sketchley
Reviewed on:
Coming soon!
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