Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
One of the BEST examples on how to shoot a non-CGI 3D movie - (winner of best 3D movie award at Venice 2009!)
on 2 February 2012
PLEASE NOTE: if you are just looking for a 3D _horror_, "slasher", violent, gory, CGI-effect-ridden movie, like the typical box-office blockbusters produced today, IMHO this movie is NOT for you, and you should probably look elsewhere...
On the other hand, if you are looking for: 1) a _classic scary family movie_, which you can watch with your younger kids (but not with very little children, they would probably not sleep for a long time...); 2) a movie that looks as if it came straight from the 50s/60s US tradition of "low-budget, saturday-morning scary movies", and - more importantly, 3) a PERFECTLY SHOT 3D, NON-CGI MOVIE... DO NOT MISS THIS!
Regarding the story, there is not much to say, since it is a good mix of all the typical elements seens in dozens of other movies, also from the same, great director Joe Dante (you might find "homages" or involontary similarities to Gremlins, Poltergeist, the Ring and especially the almost totally forgotten The Gate, along with an ending that looks as if it came straight from the episode of "Amazing Stories: the Movie" shot by Joe Dante himself...), so there is not anything _particularly_ original about it...
Nevertheless, the real quality of this film, in my opinion, lies in the _way it is scripted, acted, shot and rendered in astonishingly perfect 3D_. As a matter of fact, in case you do not know the director, Joe Dante is one of the most passionate experts on US scary/terror movies from the past, including those cheap, scary B-movies he appropriately and lovely depicted in his critics-lauded "Matinee" (another underrated, satirical little gem with John Goodman).
Those movies used all sorts of technical "innovations" (does "smell-o-vision" ring a bell for anyone, for instance?), in order to lure the audience into buying the tickets, and anaglyph 3D was definitely the most successful and effective one of them all...
Therefore, in my opinion Joe Dante with this movie paid a great, technically perfect homage to that tradition, turning what might otherwise be considered just a not particularly original, low budget production into an enthralling, never boring and surprisingly exciting little gem: a movie from another era, where a well-crafted screenplay with a slow but increasingly tense pacing, convincing non-star main leads (and some typical Dante's cameos), and an extremely clever and experienced use of sound and cinematography will let you rediscover how honest, good _entertaining_ movies used to be made, before countless, mindless, split-second-edited CGI blockbusters turned the average world audience brains into an amorphous Blob (pun intended, of course), in my opinion...
But the most important aspect of this movie, which really makes it worth its price, IMHO, is the _incredibly effective and convincing use of the latest 3D-camera shooting techniques_! I have seen this movie only on a cheap, passive monitor from (LG's D2342P: no "state of the art" costly hardware, but the _same_ technology used in 3D movie theaters, just with 45-degree rotated polarized glasses), and the result is _AMAZING_!
I have bought _all_ the major non-fake (not converted from 2D) 3D movies available on Blu-ray, and among the very few "real world" ones (i.e. apart from the wonderful animated movies, where 3D is almost always perfect), this is by a long shot the _best_ one I have seen so far, apart from some documentaries: crosstalk between left and right images is almost non-existent, colors are so deep, vibrant and lifelike, that I could not believe this was a 3D movie; and, most importantly, Dante made a _perfect_, experienced, clever use of the 3D medium, in my opinion, by shooting in relatively _restricted_ spaces, with a careful framing that makes constant use of slow panning on multiple "depth planes" (foregrounds, middle grounds, backgrounds) which are often full of set dressing, props and moving elements, in order to obtain an almost visceral "presence" experience for the viewer.
As a matter of fact, even if probably nobody knows this, this movie won the very first "3D movie award" at the 2009 Venice film festival, a well-deserved recognition for this clever, well-crafted little 3D gem, that was also highly praised by most critics, by the way.
There are no useless, gimmicky "pop-outs" here (apart one, maybe), mind you: so, do not expect monsters flying at you or coming out of the sceen, but just _real people in ultra-realistc, real-world _physical_ sets with lots of _practical effects_, all used to convey the feeling that you are _there_ with the actors at any time. (There are some pool scenes shot from a high window that must be seen to be believed, for example: it almost feels like looking at a miniature behind your screen!)
So, if you are just looking for some good, old-fashioned, entertaining "scary movie for the family" which will put to good use your _brain_, AND/OR a very _realistic_ 3D movie to test your 3D setup, I think you should definitely try this one: this movie really deserves a bigger audience!