Thursday, April 1, 2010
A few weeks ago I received an invitation to see a movie that has been in talks for a long time. Now, from what I know this movie was only viewable by selected people who received an invitation and I was one of the lucky few that got it. Well, my expectations were somewhat average because the name of the movie is Manic Monday and I immediately thought of the song of the same name by The Bangles. Well, I saw the movie at a small theater and after the viewing I have to say this: Manic Monday is the best horror film that has come out in the last 10 to 20 years. I am being serious, in fact, I will go further to say that Manic Monday has made my top 5 horror movies of all time; ranking in at #4. That’s how good it is.
So, you might be asking what it’s about it. Well, this is the directorial debut of Dex Baxter a Canadian director most known for his music videos for independent rock bands. The story is about a middle-class couple whose young daughter accidentally opens a portal to hell while playing around with a Ouija board. However, the plot thickens when their neighbor Mr. Smit gets involved and shares his deadly secret. So, now it’s up to the family to try to save their daughter as well as the world from the unspeakable evil. The plot sounds cliché but trust me when I tell you that it’s not. This movie goes places that most movies of this caliber refuse to go.
What I want to elaborate on is why this movie is so scary. It’s hard to describe but I’ll try to do my best. It uses raw horror to its advantage and much like House of the Devil it has a somewhat slow buildup but the scares come at you out of sheer nowhere. The shrill music builds up making the audience anticipate something and than nothing happens and when the scare comes at you, there isn’t any music at all. It’s raw and it’s a homage to 80s horror movies. The gore is fantastic and brilliant. There is hardly any CGI and most of the gore and mutation scenes are all done by puppetry and I would say it’s on par with The Thing. The sound design made me so uneasy because you could hear the bones cracking and the inner organs twisting, as the body morphs into the demons. Again, it’s hard for me to describe the terror of it but you’d have to see it to believe it.
There is one scene that stands out to me as probably one of the best and goriest scenes that I had ever seen since the lawnmower scene in Dead Alive. The couple’s daughter, Heather, gets her hand caught in a garbage disposal while trying to fish out a piece of jewelry she dropped. Well, the garbage disposal gets turned on by a spirit and that’s when the poor girl’s hand gets mangled, torn, ripped and shredded as blood and meat chucks fly all over the place. Here is where it gets better; Baxter uses the song ‘Dream On’ by Aerosmith to play over the maiming and it’s done so well that it almost plays out like a brutal music video. Her mother comes to her rescue and the girl is saved but it’s still one of the best scenes that I have ever seen.
Let’s talk about the performances. Melissa Jost plays Heather Gamble, the young girl who opens the gateway to hell and her performance is stellar. She is a very talented young girl and I see her going place in the movie business. Jeremy Winston plays Peter Gamble the father and Elaine Barstow plays Miranda Gamble… the mother. Their performances are very convincing as the mother and father and you begin to believe them and sympathize with them as they try to save their daughter as well as the world. The supporting cast features the amazing George Salem and Mary Johnson who did a great job holding the cast together. But the biggest recognition goes to Tom Huston who plays the creepy and frightening neighbor Ezekiel Smit. His look is very domineering since he’s so tall and slim. He speaks in a thick Yankee accent and he is very convincing. Hell, I was scared of him. I didn’t know what his agenda was and every time he came on screen I slowly moved my hands to my face so that I could hide behind them.
Overall, Manic Monday is flawless. There is nothing wrong with it. Everything from the amazing performances to the eerie atmosphere of the movie was all done with extreme care and passion. Even the technical aspects of the film are brilliant. The cinematography was mind-blowing and the sound design was the best part of the film. I swear, I haven’t been this scared of a movie since I saw The Thing back in 1998 or 1997. For a first time director, this film is award worthy and keep in mind that this is a no budget movie similar to Paranormal Activity. So, if you happen to have this play in your city or town… see it!! You will not regret it.