Encapsulated Cinema: Attack the Block, The Bleeding House, and Red State

This edition of “Encapsulated Cinema” focuses on the efforts of three writer/directors, each of whom bring something totally different to the proverbial screen. This list also contains my favorite summer flick thus far this year, though I’ll let you figure out which one of these bad boys will take home that honor. After all, I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise.

Here they are, in no particular order.

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Attack the Block
I can honestly say, without a doubt in my tiny little mind, that writer/director Joe Cornish’s sci-fi adventure flick “Attack the Block” is the best movie I’ve seen thus far this year. No joke! It has everything you could possibly want from a summer movie: intrigue, suspense, action, comedy, and a touch of good, old-fashioned gore. At first, the idea of spending an entire movie with a group of annoying, punk-ass teenage assholes didn’t sound too appealing, that is, until you get to know them. They’re essentially an urban version of “The Goonies”, a rag-tag band of misfits that, despite their misplaced hostility and questionable ethics, are pretty genuine guys at heart. The creature effects take some getting used to, as the blood-thirsty aliens looks more like large, unruly piles of dog hair than they do menacing extraterrestrials. However, your preconceived notions towards these beasts will shatter as soon as someone gets chomped. “Attack the Block” is precisely why I like going to the cinema, and should serve as a reminder that people will like original, lively motion pictures with a brain and a heart.

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The Bleeding House
I have a serious love/hate thing going on with writer/director Philip Gelatt unnerving 2011 thriller “The Bleeding House”. The film explores what tends to happens when you go against your better judgment and let a creepy white stranger into your home to spend the night. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t take very long for this peculiar house guest to show his homicidal colors. Although the film is ultimately predictable — chances are you’ll have it all figured out by the twenty minute mark — the pecking order is truly unpredictable. Characters that I thought would survive to see the end credits are dispatched early on, and while I was pretty sure how the entire plotline would play out, I wasn’t sure who would be alive to enjoy it. Part of me really enjoyed the film’s timid pacing, Patrick Breen’s slightly overwrought performance. Then, of course, there’s another part that feels everything feel into place a little too easily. Don’t get me wrong — “The Bleeding House” is a solid horror offering, and should satisfying those of you who thought Ti West’s “The House of the Devil” was one of the better horror flicks of 2009. Lightly recommended.

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Red State
Who knew that Kevin Smith could actually piece together a horror movie? The question remains: Is “Red State” something the “Clerks” director should be proud of? That’s a bit more complicated. The film is dominated by two hefty sequences, the first being an overlong sermon which, I believe, is supposed to let us know just how crazy these religious zealots truly are. The second is an extended shoot-out between ATF agents and the aforementioned lunatics, a segment that ends just when John Goodman is about to lay the smack down on the trigger-happy preacher. Why Smith decided to cut away at this particular moment is baffling; given how impossibly evil this guy truly is, robbing the audience of a solid, blood-soaked conclusion suggests that Smith really had no idea what he was doing with “Red State”. Is it a horror movie? A commentary on religious extremism? An action/thriller with a message? I’m not sure. And, truthfully, I doubt Smith could tell you what he was hoping to achieve with this one. Other than proving to the world that he knows how to move a camera, of course. A failed experiment, nothing more.