Two Horror Films from Anchor Bay
Girls Against Boys (April 7/13)
Directed by Austin Chick, Girls Against Boys follows two women (Danielle Panabaker's Shae and Nicole LaLiberte's Lu) as they embark on a campaign of revenge against the various men that have wronged them. It's a familiar premise that's employed to pervasively striking effect by filmmaker Chick, as the director has infused the proceedings with an art-house sensibility that subverts the viewer's expectations at almost every turn - with the lush, intensely cinematic visuals ranking high on the movie's list of impossible-to-resist elements. There is, as such, little doubt that Chick's far-from-subtle screenplay - ie virtually every male character here is, to a certain degree, a reprehensible scumbag - is, for the most part, not as problematic as one might've feared, with Kathryn Westergaard's hypnotic cinematography and Panabaker and LaLiberte's strong work going a long way towards perpetuating the movie's irresistibly dreamy atmosphere. The mesmerizing vibe ultimately compensates for the narrative's rather conventional third act, as Chick lamentably emphasizes the obsessive, Single White Female-like turn in the central characters' relationship - although, by that same token, it's worth noting that the movie recovers nicely for a final stretch that's nothing short of captivating. The end result is a seriously off-the-wall little movie that offers more entertainment value than most efforts of this ilk, with Chick's audacious modus operandi elevating the material on an impressively consistent basis.
A rather underwhelming remake, Mother's Day follows several criminals (including Patrick John Flueger's Ike, Deborah Ann Woll's Lydia, and Rebecca De Mornay's Natalie) as they attempt to recover a cache of money that's hidden somewhere in the house they once owned - with the movie subsequently detailing the battle of wills that ensues between said criminals and the house's current residents (and their friends). Filmmaker Darren Lynn Bousman kicks Mother's Day off with an impressively engrossing opening centered around the aforementioned home invasion, with the brutality and lightning-fast pace of this stretch establishing a promising atmosphere of no-holds-barred horror. The slow-but-steady segue into a progressively meandering midsection puts a palpable damper on the movie's propulsive feel, as Bousman, working from Scott Milam's screenplay, has peppered the narrative with elements that could (and should) have been excised from the final product. The inclusion of a few admittedly striking sequences - eg a cat-and-mouse chase through a dry-cleaning shop - is simply not enough to compensate for the otherwise uneventful and padded-out vibe, and it doesn't help, either, that Milam places an increasingly prominent emphasis on elements of an almost eye-rollingly conventional nature (eg the various mind games that inevitably ensue between the characters). It is, in the end, difficult to recall a horror effort that has so completely squandered the promise of its initial setup, and it's clear that the film, saddled with a 112 minute (!) running time, simply had no shot at overcoming its egregiously bloated atmosphere.