Burying the Ex

Burying the Ex is currently available on instant Netflix

Burying the Ex

Burying the Ex (2014) – Rated R

When Max (Yelchin) learns that his new live-in girlfriend, Evelyn (Greene) is controlling and manipulative, he is afraid to end the relationship. However, fate occurs and Evelyn is killed in a freak accident. A couple months have passed and Max meets his dream girl, Olivia (Daddario). The new romance gets tricky when Evelyn comes back from the grave and insists on continuing their once relationship by all means.”

Joe Dante does not direct films very often. When he does, they often involve horror and comedy – two great tastes that don’t always work well together. He cut his teeth on making trailers back in the Roger Corman days and, together with John Landis, runs the wonderful Trailers from Hell website. New trailers with expert commentary arrive Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and each week is themed.

He directed the best Jaws ripoff, Piranha in 1978. He is probably best remembered today, among horror fans, for The Howling (1981)  and Gremlins 1 & 2 (1984, 1990). My favorite is his wonderful homage to entrepreneur William Castle, Matinee. I was really looking forward to Burying the Ex.

Burying the Ex stars Anton Yelchin as our likable boyfriend with a quandary. He has been in horror movies before – Only Lovers Left Alive and the Fright Night reboot. He played the titular Odd Thomas and helped anchor that quirky horror feature. He is certainly amiable here and very sympathetic.

Ashley Greene does a fine job as the proverbial girlfriend from hell, sexy yet horrifying. Alexandra Daddario is suitably winning as the new girl, Olivia. Essentially the only other cast member is Oliver Cooper as Max’s half-brother Travis. He’s a little annoying but bearable.

Unfortunately the writing here by Alan Trezza is not up to par. His only other writing credit is for the short of the same title. Therein lies the problem. Burying the Ex is cute but feels terribly padded out. The idea is good but honestly, in spite of the ‘R’ rating, they are afraid to go anywhere with it.

There are uncounted references to numerous horror movies. Sadly these are not homages nor are they plot important in any way so they quickly become tedious (and this is from a certified horror nut). As they don’t really feature in the plot other than to establish Max and Olivia’s cred, I am not sure if the fault belongs with Dante or Trezza.

Burying the Ex is pretty much completely inoffensive. It is mild fun but could have been so much more.

 

Odd Berberian Thomas Sound Studio

Odd Thomas and Berberian Sound Studio are currently available on instant Netflix

Odd Thomas

 

Odd Thomas (2013) – Not rated

In a California desert town, a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities encounters a mysterious man with a link to dark, threatening forces.

Odd Thomas is based on the first in a series of books by Dean Koontz featuring the titular character. For being based on a novel, this movie is unusually brief (1 hr 36 minutes). imdb lists rather a large number of scenes cut.

I’d be generous in calling this film streamlined but, while it seems a little choppy, it is not incoherent. Exposition is breezy and mostly done in voiceover by Odd (Anton Yelchin). Many things in Odd Thomas could use fleshing out – both ideas and relationships.

Yelchin is certainly a magnet for franchises. He was Chekov in the two most recent Star Trek movies, Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation, and Clumsy Smurf in the Smurf movies. Here he has the opportunity to anchor a franchise.

Writer (screenplay)/director/producer Stephen Sommers is no stranger to franchises either, having done the reboot of The Mummy (1999) which not only spawned two sequels but also a prequel that itself became a franchise (The Scorpion King movies). Unfortunately Dean Koontz does not have a track record of movie hits like Stephen King. Dean Koontz has eighteen writing credits including four movies based on Watchers. That and Demon Seed were minor hits, the rest not so much.

Clearly I digress. Odd Thomas ran into some legal and financial problems and was delayed and then dumped on the market.

Yelchin is charming. Stormy, our heroine, is played by a very attractive Addison Timlin (Derailed, Stand Up Guys). There are good, albeit brief, turns by Willem Dafoe, Patton Oswalt, and Shuler Hensley. Most of Oswalt’s scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.

I have not read the book but the movie seems like a Cliff’s Notes version. It is still a lot of fun though.

Berberian Sound Studio

 

Berberian Sound Studio (2012) – Not Rated

A shy sound engineer agrees to work on a depraved horror film, only to find that the dysfunction surrounding the project blurs fiction and reality.”

I like it when a favorite character actor gets a chance to be star in a film of their own, particularly when they are a character actor because they don’t fit the standard Hollywood model of beauty. Such is the case here with Toby Jones (recently Arnim Zola in Captain America).

Berberian Sound Studio is filmed and edited very well. Scenes end exactly when they should. Closeups occur often and are well-done. There are no wide or open shots leaving the film feeling very claustrophobic. Sound, as you might expect from the subject matter, is astonishingly good. Berberian Sound Studio is in a mix of English and Italian with English subtitles. Other than Jones, the other actors appear to be all Italian.

Berberian Sound Studio will reward your patient viewing. Gilderoy’s (Toby Jones) mental state being disturbed by the content of the film in the first two acts is gradual but very effective. No spoilers but the third act takes a brilliant turn. The camera movements and shots are central so put away your cellphones and ipads when you watch this disturbing, subversive film.