“The Horror, the horror.” -Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Although Halloween is over, two films opening this Friday continue to put the “heart of darkness” into men, women, and children.
Opening everywhere, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 finds Harry, Hermione, and Ron in the thick of darkness looking to save their families, friends, and fellow Gryffindor professors against the almighty evil, Voldemort. Director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves have taken some liberties with J.K. Rowling’s source material, as one might imagine, considering not all our favorite characters can speak every word written in the novel. The first part leads viewers into what will be a thrilling conclusion to the magical series when the second part opens next July. The three young wizards, having grown into adults over the past nine years, search for more clues and find conflicts and revelations around every corner—including a fantastic animation sequence. Yates’ latest offering will test some audiences’ patience with some of the scenes going on longer than they should, or not pounding enough CGI magic into every scene, compared to its predecessors. To Yates’s credit, he gives our three heroes each a moment of true awakening, searching for hope and reason and wondering whether they’ll even make it to the end. I’ve always admired the Harry Potter series—books and films—for creating pure enjoyment throughout each adventure, and after the last 45 minutes of Part 1, I’m ready for Part 2 as soon as possible.
A different kind of horror comes to the Lagoon in the form of Monsters, a low-budget sci-fi drama by British first-time writer, director, cinematographer, and visual effects artist, Gareth Edwards; it’s a minor miracle. Monsters may draw strong comparisons to last year’s other alien/monster film, District 9, and rightfully so, but Monsters has a different approach from D9, becoming more about the journey than the resolution. In Central America, an American freelance photographer has been ordered by his boss to bring his daughter back to America, while the Mexican military has started shutting down lines of transportation to get safely across the “Infected Zone,” which has now become filled with aliens. Given unforeseen circumstances, the two must travel through the “Infected Zone” to reach the U.S, rather than take a boat. Monsters not only looks different, it feels different than most typical sci-fi movies. When we see each “monster” on screen, people are not screaming and trampling over one another to escape; humans have accepted that these creatures are probably here to stay. Monsters never has any frightening scare-tactic moments, but deep down, you’ll starting thinking about the “what if?” possibilities of an unknown presence which, we can’t communicate with, but we must find a way to co-exist with; that should be enough horror for anyone.