Friday, October 23, 2015

Mysteries and Lamentations

The Pure in Heart: Simon Serrailler Crime Novel #2 by Susan Hill (2005):  Realistic in its depiction of a police search for a kidnapped child, often melodramatic and overly determined in its depiction of everything else: welcome to the world of Susan Hill's Detective-Chief-Inspector Simon Serrailler and the relatively small English cathedral town in which he works. This is an improvement on the first Serrailler novel, which featured an improbable serial killer doing unprecedented things for a serial killer and virtually no Simon Serrailler. Of course, more Simon Serrailler in this novel means more space to notice what a drip he is. Hill has labelled these novels 'crime novels' rather than mysteries or procedurals. That's mainly because the novels don't focus exclusively on the solving of a crime, but rather the effects of horrific events on everyone pulled into that crime. So if you like mysteries and family melodrama but don't like closure, this series may be for you. Lightly recommended.

The Unborn: written and directed by David Goyer; starring Odette Yustman (Casey), Gary Oldman (Rabbi Sendak), Cam Gigandet (Mark), Meagan Good (Romy), Idris Elba (Wyndham), and Jane Alexander (Sofi Kozma) (2009): Poor Odette Yustman has to spend the first half of this movie as a scantily clad victim who shows an awful lot of camel-toe in one scene. The cheesecake doesn't do the movie any favours. Writer-director David Goyer has actually fashioned a pretty interesting horror movie that uses Jewish legends to good effect. It also throws several startlingly distorted monsters at the viewer. 

Yustman does a good job with an occasionally thankless role. The movie would probably have benefited from not air-lifting Gary Oldman and Idris Elba in to play surprisingly small parts that might have been better served by character actors (the more rumpled and lived-in the character actor, the better). Still, this is a surprisingly good modern horror movie, especially from a major studio. It would actually be better if it were about a quarter-hour longer, so long as those fifteen minutes were spent on plot and character and scares and not more camel-toe. Lightly recommended.

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