Film night: Europa Report and Grave Encounters 2

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

Hey, it’s been a while. So, lets take this one at a time. First off:

Europa Report is a good film.

Europa Report is a weird piece of film. It’s like an exercise in dualism, wrapped up in a beautiful sci-fi flick.

er-4

As someone who’s watched horror films throughout most of my life, I see a trend in today’s film industry – especially concerning horror films – that is quite worrying. It’s not enough to paint up a scenario and have things happen. We need to have things pointed out to us , like we’re small children being read a book by our parents. We’re always told what the monster is and what it’s weak point is. We’re always told the moral point of the story, instead of the film-makers making it clear by the story and the actions of its actors. In modern film, subtlety is nearly dead.

Jason Vorhees - also a victim of modern horror, even though the character was hardly subtle in the past.

Jason Vorhees – also a victim of modern horror, even though the character was hardly subtle in the past.

So, why am I rambling on about horror and stuff, when Europa Report (ER for short) is a sci-fi film? You’ll see. Some spoilers down there, but they’re in black, so you have to highlight it to read. Like the following text.

ER is a film about a crew sent to Europa (one of Jupiter’s moons) to try to find proof of life. It’s shot like a documentary, with a slew of camera angles in and outside the ship, as well as a three narratives going on in a parallel. One is of the project leader, and some other members talking after the expedition, one is a crew-member commenting on the third narrative, which is the events on Europa 1 and its crew. The crew arrives on Europa after an accident has cut them one short, and from there things go from bad to fucking shitty.

Visually, ER is a stunning film. It’s an indie film, but I assume they had a decent budget, because it is so pretty.

No joke, the film is incredibly pretty.

No joke, the film is incredibly pretty.

Adding to the beauty of the film is how realistic if feels. The low-to-no-gravity scenes look great, and the film makes a good point of showing what effects months in space has on the travellers.

Not a preferred view of a space ship.

Not a preferred view of a space ship.

The crew on Europa stumble upon what could be one of the greatest finds of all history, but what are the mysterious lights and radiation spikes coming from?

In a way, ER is a horror story. It’s a descent into unknown territory and throwing yourself blindly into what could be certain death. And in a way, a scientific exploration is perfect fodder for horror. The characters have reasons to take risks to uncover things.They’re not just stupid kids walking into the dark and getting killed. That said, ER isn’t a straight horror film. It’s definitely pure sci-fi with some horror elements, as most sci-fi have.

It’s half brilliant and half idiotic, for reasons that are spoilery, so they follow in black text. What ER does in the final act is so unbelievably stupid. After a good hour of building up our curiosity, they decide to show AND tell. What I mean is that we get a definite look at what the crew’s been followed by throughout the film, and it only stands to make the end-product worse.

In the final moments of footage, the lights that the crew have come upon are revealed to be octopus-like creatures, and the lights are simply the tips of their tentacles, like those funny-looking predatory fishes in deeeeeeeep sea. It just poses a shit-ton more questions why we never saw anything else than the lights at random times. Surely the probe would have seen other life underwater if the octopus-like creatures use the light as a lure, especially when the probe had lights on it. Then the closing monologue wraps it up like the octopus-thing was the one thing to make it all worth it. It’s just such an unnecessary last-minute addition that shows up and changes the nature of the film. Just very bitter and annoying to see.

All in all, I think Europa Report is a very good film, but with some seriously detracting elements. It’s at the very least a definite watch if you’re a fan of sci-fi.

On to the next one, then:

Grave Encounters 2 is a good film.

Grave Encounters was one of the few good found-footage films that got a gigantic following (the genre, not the film, although the film might have a big following) after The Blair Witch Project popped up and made people excited for the new take on the genre.

GE was good despite the found-footage angle, instead making the formula work with creative scares and brilliant build-up. It also featured some stellar acting, especially by the leading man. It was about a small film crew visiting a shut-down mental hospital for their very b show. The presenter’s rapid descent from confidence and scepticism into downright terror and madness was nearly perfectly executed, and set the bar high for its successor.

GE2 works on the premise that the events during the first film actually happened. The crew disappeared and the horrors that took place really happened. Film student Alex takes his friends and girlfriend with him on his hunt for the truth, which takes them to the very place that the first film took place at.

So these guys show up again.

So these guys show up again.

Let’s be clear,the film is very meta. As it takes place “in the real world” it can talk shit about modern films and name-drop Wes Craven, among others. Even the ending further nails on how meta the film is.

It’s ironic, with how the film unabashedly slams modern horror for being uncreative, repetitive and soulless when it itself for the longest time is all of these. The film-students themselves are absolute hacks, that are filming a horror flick more b than Jason Voorhees’ left boot. They talk about having ambitions to revolutionise the genre while they produce horror by the numbers. Obviously it’s on purpose, given how overly bad the acting is in the guys’ film, and can be seen as a jab towards the repetitiveness and staleness of the genre as well, but it soon becomes clear that the film-makers themselves are just re-treading their previous film, both in tone and in story. Or are they?

In what is as close to a stroke of genius a horror film gets, the film throws the viewers a huge curve-ball and turns the entire premise on its head. It’s probably the greatest horror twist in the last decade. It even adds to its own mythos and succeeds in being truly creepy before the rather predictable – but nonetheless exciting – climax. It even manages to be really funny along the way.

It’s definitely recommended for horror fans who like their horror to be creative as well as scary. While it’s certainly not the best horror film ever and far from it, it’s very entertaining, albeit the first half hour is complete garbage and entirely unnecessary for the film.

I’d say it was a nice night of film-viewing. See y’all next time, whenever that’ll be.

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