Alexandre Aja, aka Alexandre Jouan | Alexandre Jouan-Arcady | Alexandre Juan, who is he? I never heard of him before but from this day forward I think more than one major should entitle him a street! He is not a long experienced director and actor, just because he was born in 1978, but you can see he's got talent to sell. Such people don't need to train a lot because they've learned their job all too well and are extremely smart.
Now, although it's true this is a remake, it is also a rare case in which the remake surmounts the original, and there are not many excpetions in music either! Sure, the its predecessor by Wes Craven, a good director who's unluckily been on his sunset boulevard for a long while and was overrated during the late 90s, dates back to 1977. This means that Craven touched one of the peaks in his production and made a legendary movie considering the context. The 70s were a prolific decade and saw the extremization of horror thanks to William Friedkin, George Romero and flicks such as "Deranged", but damn it! This is undoubtely the best horror flick seen in the last 10 years and decidedly one of the best in the last lustre out of all categories, no shit!
The synopsis goes as follows: while traveling in a trailer to California through the New Mexico Desert, a family is misled to a shortcut going to nowhere by the owner of an isolated gas station and wrecks the car in a rock. Along the night and on the next day, their car and trailer are sabotaged, so that they are attacked by a group of deformed cannibals, fruit of the atmospheric nuclear tests conducted by USA from 1945 to 1962 in that spot. Absolutely trapped by the psychotics hidden in the mines, they have to fight to survive. The lucky ones die first, but some survive, one dog and one baby included, yet some mutant is still watching from far with binoculars. Who is it? Big Mama or another mutant as-of-yet unrevealed?
Besides the refreshing paints given by the director to the script itself, the masterdom of photography (this time shot in Ouarzazate, Morocco, instead of California like in the original flick), the pace without frills are a perfect example of new millennium dynamism devoid of stupid, funny, grotesque or unreal interventions spoiling several other horror films and I am not only referring to remakes. The cast is popular but not so renowned, with the exception of Michael Bailey Smith (the only actor who played "Nightmare" in the 5th episode, "Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The dream child", besides Freddy Krueger and Tobe Sexton), Robert Joy ("Amityville 3-D" and "Land of the Dead"), Billy Drago (remember De Palma's "The untouchables"?), Emilie de Ravin (already in the boring TV-series "Lost") and Vinessa Shaw (seen in Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes wide shut"), but the acting is top-notch and everything seems so real, included the scenes with the two dogs, the kidnapped baby that survives the slaughtering and the little deformed girl, the only one showing a glimpse of sanity, sacrificing her life for the sake of the baby and her father Doug, vilely attacked behind their shoulders by Lizard, the toughest mutant of the pack. And how not notice the excellent make-up which took hours to be prepared for every character and was studied in detail after the director and his assistant analyzed documentaries about the victims from Chernobyl and Hiroshima, the gory, cannibalistic scenes and the intensity that covers 90% of the 107 minutes?
Gruesome, scary extreme horror thriller I can't but highly recommend. Certainly you will become much more selective after watching a pure fucking terror masterpiece like this. A masterpiece you can own and enjoy to the infinite!
- June, 1st, 2009