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The X-Files – Sanguinarium (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Appropriately enough, Sanguinarium is a bloody mess of an episode.

To be fair, it’s not a total write-off. There are some interesting ideas here, and the episode’s willingness to indulge in trashy horror is almost endearing… to a point. However, Sanguinarium often serves to illustrate just how much care and consideration is necessary to make an episode of The X-Files work. It is a very effective counter-example, an episode that demonstrates it takes more than just pulpy horror to make an episode work. Sanguinarium is almost as revolting and as graphic as Home, but it lack all the little elements that made the earlier episode work.

The doctor will see you now...

The doctor will see you now…

It’s cheesy instead of wry. It’s gratuitous instead of simply hyperactive. It’s blunt instead of subversive. Sanguinarium is not a misfire to the same extent as – say – Teso Dos Bichos or Excelsis Dei. It has a few ill-judged elements, but it’s more clumsy than offensive. It might be a bit much to suggest that there’s a classic episode buried just beneath the surface of Sanguinarium, but it seems fair to say that there is a much better episode somewhere in here. One suspects that pressure behind the scenes simply made it tougher to bring that episode to the fore.

Nevertheless, Sanguinarium is an interesting failure, if not quite a satisfying episode.

Blood work...

Blood work…

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Non-Review Review: Oculus

Oculus is torn between two extremes. On the one hand, it’s an ambitious horror film that engages with questions of perception and subtext, while throwing all manner of horror tropes together to form something of a horror movie stew. On the other hand, it rather quickly devolves into a fairly generic horror film that coasts on gore to unsettle the audience and always takes the easiest possible scare. Oculus is at its best during its muddled and exposition-filled opening acts.

While certainly flawed, these segments have an endearing substance to them. In contrast, Oculus is at its worst in the obligatory third act run-around.

All work and no play makes Rory Cochrane a dull boy...

All work and no play makes Rory Cochrane a dull boy…

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Non-Review Review: The Raven

The Raven is one of those concepts that might have been interesting to follow from the pitch phase. It seems almost impossible that anybody thought the movie, in the condition that it was released, was a good idea – so I’m curious at how various people were convinced to sign on and to help shepherd it to the screen. Of course, my inner cynic suggests that money was a prime motivating factor, but it’s very hard to imagine anybody being convinced that “Edgar Allan Poe lives through se7en in 1849 Baltimore” would prove the basis of a massive cash windfall.

There must have been something of interest here, something worthy of attention at some point in the process, rather than just the half-hearted attempt to knock-off one of those nineties serial killer knock-offs with a slight change of scenery.

A shadowy figure...

A shadowy figure…

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The Horror! The Horror!

This weekend sees the release of the only two original (i.e. not a sequel, prequel or spin-off) major releases this May. For the kids – both young and old – we have the newest Pixar film, which is steadily becoming one of the highlights of the movie year. The other film – while firmly awaited by horror aficionados – has snuck up on the rest of us, generating great buzz from preview screenings. Drag Me To Hell is apparently the best horror film in quite some time, and one I am now hotly anticipating, but it got me thinking – whatever happened to the horror genre?

Bruce Campbell just isn't trying any more

Bruce Campbell just isn't trying any more

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