There's still hope--and I almost skipped it.
The horror movie year 2007 started off with what appeared to be three interchangeable serial killer films. One of them was even called THR3E (or something like that--subtle, eh?). But that turned out to be a limited-release "Fox Faith" PG-13 special that never even showed up near me. So scratch that.
PRIMEVAL? Jack the Ripper, Henry Lucas, and now the most prolific (and TRUE) serial killer of all time? 300 victims and counting? Still at large? Except that what they didn't bother to admit until last week was that he was a freaking CROCODILE??? Oh, go flush yourself. You've got a crocodile movie, then SELL me a crocodile movie.
And then there was PERFUME (guess the title SCENT OF A WOMAN was taken or something?),which mostly got the "over-rated, pompous art-house movie" type of review. The typical ZZZZZ signs.
Except that Mick LaSalle hated it (despite grudgingly acknowledging some visual flair). And Roger Ebert gave it four stars. THIS sort of discrepancy I've got to check out.
And I saw an OUTSTANDING film, the like of which was all but DEAD in 2006.
Okay--there's going to be the "is it a HORROR film?" debate as it doesn't spend most of its time trying to scare you or gross you out. The truly grisly material is confined to the first twenty minutes--the in-your-face stuff, that is. The theme continues to be abundantly gruesome..
Do you like dead bodies covered in clay or wax like HOUSE OF WAX or BUCKET OF BLOOD? Do you like madmen trying to preserve beauty for all time as in CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD? Or trying to restore beauty as in LES YEUX SANS VISAGE? Would the sight of a freshly-killed victim percolating in a distillation machine qualify?
Never mind the "scary"--if you're into horror, you'd be into THIS one.
The so-called "independent" scene has been far too busy regurgitating itself. Sometimes it really does take a major studio budget, production values, A-list talent--and the director of RUN LOLA RUN--to wake people up to just what can be accomplished in this field.
In case you haven't read the novel, we're in 18th century France, and our protagonist (Jean-Baptiste) has discovered that he has the most gifted nose in the world--he could become a sensation in the perfume industry if that were all he aspired to... but what he doesn't have is a scent to call his OWN. Nor does he know how to make it all come together. But an apprenticeship with Dustin Hoffman (an indisputable high point in an excellent film--this segment is to be treasured) gives him more than just know-how.
Alan Rickman in a crucial supporting role--narration by John Hurt--enough overt "horror" material for the cadre--and buildup to a perfect finale. All this in a movie that depends on one's olfactory passions and manages to pull it off without the viewer actually smelling a thing.
Why couldn't anybody accomplish something--or even TRY to accomplish something--on this level LAST year? I almost gave up as a result. But PERFUME proves that there's still plenty of room in which to explore the boundaries of what constitutes a "horror film."
Do NOT miss this one.
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