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Shock and awe still satisfies at theaters

By Staff | Sep 26, 2013

Horror flicks have screamed to a ravenous surge among cinema genres. Although icons like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg predicted a shakeup in film financing and distribution due to slack tent-pole returns, the often lower budgeted fright films have leaped into the spotlight.

Ultimately, center stage comes with quantifies and questions – the video game industry has taken in more bucks than flicks. Instead of TV and DVD, the real competition for entertainment dollars is games.

Secondly, the Navy yard mass shooting has revived simmering debate concerning violent video games and violent flicks.

On the trouble with mega budgeted tentpole summer film offerings that tanked (“Lone Ranger,” “RIPD,” “Pacific Rim,” etc.), the buzz nearly always emphasizes the budget. Hey, get a grip, it’s the story stupid that brings moviegoers to the big screen complexes. They don’t care about the amount of money spent to produce if the execution is not entertaining.

Late in the summer, the low budget “Conjuring” leaped to the head of the box office charts. It zipped to $100 million in sales, even with a paltry $20 million dollar budget. Why? It scared, shocked, and entertained viewers. “You’re Next” scared the flippers off everyone by its cunning twists on the “and then there were none” standard at an isolated retreat of the almost super-wealthy.

“Insidious: Chapter 2” has continued the string of horror hits. Likely, the reimagining of “Carrie” will pack auditoriums, too.

“Insidious” sequel viewers found a furiously paced story that took advantage of visuals to assist in transitions. This cuts down on the need for narrative explanations and audience head scratching.

Switching between life and a dark, misty afterlife way station, director James Wan astutely and artistically decided that depicting the real world sequences mostly in light and the netherworld with misty darkness quickly cuts to the would-be convoluted premise with ease.

Interestingly, the new horror roll outs have avoided the extreme torture visuals that dominated franchises such as “Saw,” which Wan directed in 2004. This decision calms the race to depict that which is the most gross and avoids the explicitly violent label. Look for “Machete Kills” to again test the bloody slashing torture limits when it debuts this month.

“The World’s End” – a “Big Chill” for drinking buddies reunion featuring Simon Pegg – mixes a comedic revival of the good ol’ days of barhopping for a group of middle-aged dudes. The drinking marathon takes a screwy, yet interesting “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” -styled twist. If you wrote this one off as simply an intoxicated comedy, don’t. The invasion premise salvages this one.

As the fall movie season awaits the “Hunger Games” follow-up, the questions awaiting resolution by you the social media users are whether the romantic comedies “Baggage Claim” and “Don Jon” will woo, how many favorable twits will accompany the Wiki-leaks inspired, “The Fifth Estate,” and whether Brad Pitt convinces as an attorney plunged into the world of drug trafficking (“The Counselor”). George Clooney and Sandra Bullock seem to be shoe-ins for “hit” status when “Gravity” opens, in which they are cast adrift in outer space.