Before the sequels and direct-to-DVD spinoffs, before a dozen or so
careers sputtered and/or took off in its wake, and well before the old
gang got back together for American Reunion, the original American Pie
was a revelation, however minor and derivative. Though sex-obsessed
comedies about teenagers desperate to lose their virginities were
nothing new even thirteen years ago, Pie bridged
the raunchy-sweet wildness of the Farrelly Brothers and the
regular-schlub raunch-with-heart of Judd Apatow. Since then, the series
has been eclipsed, to a degree, by the inevitable advances in raunchy
youth comedy: the Apatow-produced Superbad integrated its laughs and emotional core with greater naturalism and specificity, while the Harold and Kumar series, sort of a cousin to the Pie movies, added a more subversive spirit to gross-out gags.
At its core, the horror genre centers on the standard cautionary tale.
Better be careful what you do, says the fright formula, or the
consequences can be dire. Well, here's betting they're not as awful as
the new film fashioned from them, ATM. Centering around a trio of
investment banking jerks trapped in a kiosk by an unseen assailant, the
premise deals with that age old adage of being at the wrong place at
the wrong time. While we never quite understand the motives of the
murderer and our pseudo-Yuppies are unlikable to a fault, a narrative
like this should work, if only on a primal level. Unfortunately,
director David Brooks (his first time making a feature) doesn't
understand how to create dread or suspense. The results reek of
amateurishness and the inability to forge any formidable fear factors.
Keyhole, Maddin's first full-length film since his stunning quasi-doc My Winnipeg, constitutes what could charitably be called a transitional picture but is also remarkably close to a catastrophe. Shot on digital, it loses that discovery which gave Maddin's batshit narratives the quality of a fever dream, from the island of misfits in Brand Upon the Brain! to the hallucinatory gothic twitches of Cowards Bend the Knee and Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary. The look is clean and clear, devoid of that sumptuous layer of grain, and suddenly Maddin's material is imbued with a unsettling newness; it's the first fully narrative film from the Canadian auteur that feels as if it's of this decade.