April 19, 2009

Magnet Releasing - Independent Genre Movies

After seeing the trailers on the DVD for Let the Right One In,* I noticed that Magnolia Pictures' genre arm "Magnet" has been releasing some films that have caught my attention. They're finding their way onto my Netflix queue for mostly late-night viewing when my brain can't do anything else.

Let the Right One In is a unique vampire film that deals with emotion without dipping into gag-inducing romanticism. It helps that the main characters are pre-teens, a fact which evokes feelings of protectiveness, but also the lugubriousness that (in my memory) clings to those middle school years. By layering vampires on top of that we don't get a slasher film or a superhero movie, but something more introspective.

Let the Right One In is part of Magnet's Six Shooter Series, an attempt to showcase what they feel are some vanguard international films in the scifi/horror/thriller genre.

I saw a second Six Shooter Series film this week entitled Timecrimes . I'm a sucker for a decent time travel story, and this one moves along quickly to get to the complications of traveling back over your own past. The situation and "rules" of this time-traveling universe will not be unfamiliar to fans of the genre, and the participants are bumbling enough not to get too deep into the questions and implications. But it is a diverting film and worth watching. The film Primer explored just how convoluted a story about the discovery of a paradoxical technology can get. Timecrimes isn't nearly as challenging, and won't leave you needing to watch a second or third time to appreciate the plot.

By the way, both Primer and Let The Right One In are available vis Netflix "Watch Instantly." I hate the name "Watch Instantly" -- I wish they would give it a proper name. Or at least something that is more like a noun.

Splinter is another recent Magnet release; you'll see the trailer on both the Timecrimes and Let the Right One In DVDs. This one is of the "bizarre creature attacks hapless couple right after they've been kidnapped by outlaws" variety. Horror movies after 1990 often take place while some crime is in progress.

This film draws heavily on familiar themes, with the victims trapped in a confined space (in this case a gas station) and a creature that can infect people. This is definitely a creature of the same extended family that John Carpenter's The Thing came from, although a lesser cousin. My impression is that the filmmakers had a new twist on the creature and so wrote a fairly tight script to pit the creature against some ordinary people. Execution of the film itself is quite nice, steering away from overindulgence in overexposing the creature to the audience. The characters are not overly complex, but more thought went into them than a lot of their contemporaries.

Magnet Releasing has good instincts in picking up genre films. There are a number of other Magnet films on my radar that look worthy of attention:

  • Special - Michael Rappaport as a man taking an antidepressant that causes him to believe he has superpowers. It's hard to peg from the trailer, but it's very intriguing.
  • Eden Log - A French film which appears to be about a renewable energy project gone awry -- a sci-fi/horror mystery.
  • Big Man Japan - A Japanese film that seems to be a parody of Kaiju films. Or perhaps a bizarre new take on them.

Which genre movies are you looking forward to coming out on DVD or in theaters, from independent and international sources?

* I'm a little annoyed that the subtitles I saw on the DVD version of Let the Right One In were not the same subtitles that theater-goers saw. I thought the film fell slightly short of my expectations, and I'm wondering if this is why. I still recommend the film to adventuresome horror fans, in any version.

Posted by James at April 19, 2009 6:08 PM
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i saw timecrimes this weekend as well and put all the previewed movies on my queue.

be warned: don't watch Let the Right One In on instant watch. the subtitles, when displayed on the top of the screen, get cutoff. now, i'm kinda in a straightup vampire flick mood.

Posted by: ryan at April 20, 2009 10:02 AM

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