Check out the cover to Dr. Sleep, Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining due out Sept. 24.
There’s a scene in Simon Killer when the film’s title character repeats nearly verbatim what he studied during medical school in response to a woman’s question about his background.
In the moment, it was easy to identify with the situation. We’ve all got semi-rehearsed questions to the typical cocktail-party questions “What do you do?” and “Where do you live?” But later Simon’s response seems suspect as the nature of this deeply disturbed character becomes more apparent.
Brady Corbet, who plays Simon and co-wrote the film’s script, cites this scene as an example of the character’s sociopathic nature.
“Most people that are sociopathic [are] just doing. They’re not doing something wrong, they’re not doing something right. They’re just acting,” Corbet said during a Q&A following Simon Killer’s New York premiere on Feb. 18 at Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Simon Killer has been described as a slow-burn thriller, though the film doesn’t necessarily build dread and culminate in a grand explosion like other movies that have been described as such. Rather, it follows a man whose motives are unclear from the start and only become murkier as the story progresses.
Simon is in Paris to unwind after having completed medical school and ended a relationship with a long-time girlfriend. As Simon tells it, his ex broke his heart by cheating on him. But the truth to that story comes under suspicion after Simon sends a series of emails to his ex that grow darker with each message.
At the same time, he’s set his efforts on winning over Victoria, a prostitute he meets one night at a bar, telling a series lies to gain her trust. It isn’t long before he enlists Victoria in his games of obfuscation in order blackmail her customers for money, a move that leads to a disastrous results.
Corbet said he and director Antonio Campos wanted to make a coming-of-age story about a character who comes of age “in a really, really awful way,” citing as influences novelists Patricia Highsmith and Georges Simenon, whose novels often “chronicled the downward spiral of an adult male character.”
In Simon Killer, “there is redemption at the end of the film but there is an evolution in the character from A to B,” Corbet said. “You meet a character at a fork in the road. This is a character who maybe could go either way.”
It doesn’t take long to determine which way that’s going to be for Simon, but the more interesting thing about the movie’s progression is how it calls in to question even the details about Simon that we took for granted as being true — that he was dumped by his girlfriend or what he studied in medical school, for example.
Simon Killer doesn’t answer these questions, instead leaving it to viewers to draw their own conclusions.
The film opens April 5 at the IFC Center in New York.
I’ve forfeited three hours of spare time to watch the first few episodes of “The Following” and don’t plan to devote more than that to Fox’s serial-killer thriller.
I’m not demanding a refund — the Kevin Williamson-penned show has a few things going for it — but the storyline has too many hokey plot devices to turn me into a repeat customer.
A quick synopsis: The heavy-drinking, former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is sucked back in to a cat-and-mouse game after convicted serial killer Joe Carroll escapes from prison. Carroll is quickly apprehended, but the game has just begun as his escape sets off a plot involving a network of Carroll-devotees whom the former college professor has brainwashed into serial killers to do his bidding while he’s behind bars.
I was eager for “The Following” to premier. As a horror fan, it’s encouraging to see TV networks devote serious resources to the genre. But as in film, not all horror TV offerings are created equal.
My problem with the show centers on the storyline itself. The plot is cheesy on its face. I was hoping that the delivery by the show’s actors would help me look past that fact, but so far I’ve found that the performances simply amplify the absurdity of the plot.
In some respects, “The Following” is like the horror cousin of “Scandal,” ABC’s ultra-soapy political drama-thriller. The only difference is the latter show’s creators pretty much own up to “Scandal’s” absurdity. And energetic performances by Kerry Washington, who owns her role as PR maven/political powerbroker Olivia Pope, and her co-stars make viewers want to come back for more.
“The Following” is lacking in the acting department. Bacon is mildly interesting as Hardy, but there’s little chemistry among his character and the show’s other players. I’ve found myself struggling to figure out why I should care whether Bacon is able to track down Carroll’s minions, who have kidnapped Carroll’s son Joey as part of the locked-up killer’s grand plan.
It does have it’s moments, though. Each episode is peppered with flashbacks intended to explain how Hardy first caught Carroll several years ago. Those flashbacks — if further developed — could present a much more coherent, believable premise than the present-day story that “The Following” presents.
Call me a hypocrite. I love “The Walking Dead” — not the most realistic show on TV today. But it’s easier to believe in a world where the deceased transform into flesh-eating zombies thanks to the show’s focus on the underlying human dramas that unfold as a band of survivors struggle to rebuild their lives and create some semblance of normalcy.
Any followers of “The Following” want to offer a differing opinion?
Here Comes the Devil, which has generated buzz at genre festivals, had its New York debut that was supposed to occur as part of Film Society’s Scary Movies festival in October cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. But it’s screening as part of Film Comment Selects on Friday, Feb. 22 at 10:15 p.m.
Check out the full line-up for others.
“This film has it all. Talking meat monsters, penis door handles, telepathic dogs, bratwurst telephones, exploding eyeballs, alternative universes and mind-altering drugs.”
Yes, John Dies is an off-the-wall romp. A man behind me in line for the film’s New York City premier on Monday night described it as “Evil Dead-ish.” I’d agree with that, though it generates its laughs relying less on shlock gore and more on the mind-bending situation its lead characters, John and David, find themselves in. That said, the film has plenty of shlock.
The film is based on David Wong’s 2007 novel, which has gained a fervent following and was earlier published as a web-based short story. As such, many were eager to see how true the movie is to its source material.
Some fans have been less than pleased to say the least, maligning the film for cramming the book’s myriad twists andturns into an hour and 40 minute movie, though still leaving out key plot points in the process.
Director Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho Tep) said he “tried to stay as true to as possible to David Wong’s brilliant book.”
It’s been two years since I read the book, so I honestly don’t remember every detail well enough to do a point-by-point comparison to the movie. My conclusion, though, is John Dies the film does do the book justice, given the expansive ground it has to cover.
Like the book, the film follows the travels of David and John, two twenty-something friends who are trying to unravel the mystery of a trippy, sometimes-lethal drug called soy sauce. A hit of sauce enables a person to see into the feature, read people’s thoughts and communicate telepathically. Most who take it die, and the drug’s arrival is somehow tied with a strange virus that takes hold of its victims in the form of a swarm of flies.
The story is narrated by David, played by newcomer Chase Williamson, who is relaying his tales to a skeptical reporter named Arnie, played by Paul Giamatti. Giamatti, who also helped executive produce the film, is definitely a highlight, though his presence is somewhat limited.
Coscarelli acknowledges the challenges he faced adapting the film’s script from the book, which he read after Amazon.com suggested he’d enjoy it based on his purchases of “Zombie fiction.”
“I was really hoping it would work as a movie, and it did for about the first third,” Coscarelli said of the book during a Q&A following the screening on Monday. “Then it just takes this left turn into an area that’s unfilmable. It’s just not filmable even with a camera-level budget, and at that point I’m thinking, ‘Ok, now what do I do.”