Sunday 20 June 2021

Solstice (2008)

Director: Daniel Myrick
Writers: Daniel Myrick, Martin Musatov and Ethan Erwin, based on the 2003 film Midsommer, by Carsten Myllerup and Rasmus Heisterberg
Stars: Elisabeth Harnois, Shawn Ashmore, Hilarie Burton, Amanda Seyfreid, Tyler Hoechlin, Matt O’Leary and R. Lee Ermey

Index: Horror Movie Calendar.

I tend to avoid the inevitable American remakes of foreign horror films that succeed enough to be noticed by the mainstream, but I saw Solstice before I realised that it was based on a Danish film called Midsommer, and enjoyed its translation to the Louisiana bayou enough that I’m tentative about seeking out the original in case it spoils this one. In other major instances, such as The Vanishing or Let the Right One In, I saw the original first and don’t have that problem. Another reason why I’m not the logical audience for Solstice is that it’s a Daniel Myrick film, he who started out so successfully with The Blair Witch Project, surely the most popular horror movie I’ve never seen, on account of my having serious problems with shakycam. He hasn’t had the most prolific career, with few credits in between that debut in 1999 and a burst of activity around 2007 and 2008, but this should have brought him opportunity, as it’s a solid psychological drama that’s wildly different from what he was known for. Then again, maybe that was the problem.

The majority of the psychological weight stems from the inherent connection between twins, one of whom we meet immediately. She’s Megan Thomas and we meet her at the grave of her sister Sophie, who died in 2005 at the age of only eighteen. We know that we’re in New Orleans because the graves are all above ground vaults, on account of the water table being so high that burying them the usual six feet under would just mean floating coffins. How horror movie is that? Anyway, Sophie died on Christmas Eve and we join Megan the following June as she prepares to head out with friends to her family’s plantation house at Nowell Lake to both help get her mind off things and allow her the opportunity to pack up Sophie’s belongings. As you might imagine, doing both of those at the same time is going to be quite the accomplishment, because everything sparks a memory. And that’s before she decides to hook up with Christian, who used to be Sophie’s boyfriend. Sure, they’d split up before her suicide but how awkward can you get?

Father’s Day (2011)

Directors: Astron-6
Writers: Astron-6
Stars: Adam Brooks, Matt Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, Amy Groening, Mackenzie Murdock, Meredith Sweeney. Brent Neale. Garrett Hnatiuk, Kevin Anderson, Billy Sadoo, Alcon van der Baek and Zsuzsi

Index: Horror Movie Calendar.

If Mother’s Day, the 1980 Troma movie, may not have actually been set on Mother’s Day, at least we’re in no doubt that Father’s Day, the unrelated 2011 Troma movie, is indeed tied to Father’s Day. In fact, it makes the point so crystal clear in the opening scene that it’s almost deliberately trying to make up for that odd omission over thirty years earlier. It’s an icky start. The bed is bouncing, but not for the reasons you think. Someone’s carving someone else into little pieces. Oh, and having sex with his bloody skull, so maybe it is what you think. This is a Troma movie, after all, even if it was made by the Canadian filmmaking collective known as Astron-6, and it’s more outrageous than Mother’s Day in almost every regard. Our gay necrophile doesn’t have long, as someone struts down his corridor with gun drawn. The pervert killer does escape out of the window but he’s promptly shot, run over and shot again just to be sure. “Happy Father’s Day,” our new killer tells the old one, looking down from a rakish angle with his one good eye.

This is Ahab and he’s our lead, even if he doesn’t show back up again for a while. I should clarify that it’s really only fifteen minutes but it feels like a lot longer because the script doesn’t seem to know what it wants to tell us and it throws everything but the kitchen sink into these opening scenes. It’s also very gay and I do mean that literally, not as some stupid politically incorrect insult. Within the first ten minutes, we’ve witnessed a cannibalistic gay necrophile indulging his vices; been introduced to a young gay man called Twink, who doesn’t really work at a pizza joint, as he tells the cops, but robs men he’s sucking off in the street for his pimp, Walnut; and watched Twink’s tormented father raped and set on fire by a fat man. That’s pretty gay stuff. Even the cop who wonders about Twink, because the last time he saw his dad was when he picked him up from the police station a day earlier after being questioned about being found in a room with a buggered dead man, slaps him on the tush and tells him that he’s watching his ass.