Must Love Death, Directed by Andreas Schaap, 2009
Sometimes a movie is so out there it evades description, but I'll give it a shot: Must Love Death is a German made, English language horror comedy about a down on his luck singer who, after experiencing back-to-back heartbreaks, agrees to a suicide pact with three strangers that turns out to be less a pact and more a round robin game of 'let's torture this poor schmuck'.
Despite a second half that will make you squirm between giggles, I'm hesitant to even call Andreas Schaap's film a horror movie. If anything, it's a jet black romantic comedy, but as the title implies it's also a movie only for people who love the morbid side of life. I didn't fall head over heels, but there is no denying how unique of genre bender it is. It's certainly a film to keep on your radar as it begins to globe trot to various festivals.
Nature's Grave (AKA Long Weekend), Directed by Jamie Blanks, 2009
I haven't seen Long Weekend, Colin Eggleston's original 1974 Ozploitation film about a couple who venture into the wild for a few days only to discover that Mother Nature's creatures great and small don't take kindly to their intrusion, so I can't speak as to how different Jamie Blanks' update on the film is. However, I imagine it can't be too different considering the screenwriter Everett De Roche can be found over at IMDb stating, "I wrote both the original and the remake, and yes, Director Jamie Blanks insisted on a verbatum version, although I was able to insert a few more spooky bits."
I don't think Nature's Grave, as the film is called in the States, is as engaging as Blanks and Roche's last collaboration, Storm Warning, but it's a likeable adult take on the nature-gone-amuck subgenre. This isn't some Syfy Saturday premiere of all animals versus all humans, it's a scaled story of a couple on a severe rough patch in their relationship that happen to be getting assaulted by eagles and ants. James Caviezel and Claudia Karvan are both good in it and there is a palpable air of dread to the entire thing that I admired more on a second go (after I was no longer expecting all animals versus all humans).
I also admire how relatively objective Roche's script is. Sure there are obvious shots of the married couple needlessly abusing nature, but it's not a preachy, "This is what you get when you don't recycle" kind of approach.
Nature's Grave comes out DVD on August 4th and is worth a rent down the line.
Thirst, Directed by Chan-wook Park, 2009
I've got a full review up for Thirst over at HorrorsNotDead.com, but I'll pull the most encompassing bit about the buzzed vampire movie from the mind of Oldboy director Chan-wook Park over here:
"The easiest way to describe something as complex as THIRST would be to call it the Anti-TWILIGHT vampire movie. It's lethal, highly erotic, romantic in its savagery, lustful, difficult, and, best of all, totally uninhibited. Chan-wook Park is not out to split the notion of the vampire into good and evil, as so many films with this dynamic do, and he is certainly not concerned with making any of his characters enviable. His goal is to show how unrestrained a detached soul can be. Simple as that. Vampirism is a catalyst for examining faith. Faith in the Lord, Faith in Marriage, Faith in Humanity. All three are layered insecurities spread throughout Park and Jeong's script. It's fascinating to watch how seamless the transition can be from devotion to absolute corruption."
I think it's safe to say that Thirst is the first Must See horror movie of 2009. It opens in NYC tomorrow, July 31st, but I'm sure it will be expanding outwards in the weeks to come.