Words: Rob DeStefano

Box Office Pop

Despite the second installment’s dip in critical reception and box office gross, Paranormal Activity 3 made a jarring appearance this October, claiming the highest weekend opening for a Fall release since 1982: this beat out Blockbuster sequels such as Saw III, Scary Movie 3, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Bra. In less than a two week run, it has already eclipsed 2011’s other haunted house exploitations: Insidious, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and Dream House – the latter was generally unattended and advertised two impoverished children dressed in wallpaper. With this subgenre in vogue, the Paranormal Activity franchise is here to stay – or at least until the banal “final chapter.”

Aside from horror fans, children were the main benefactors of the month, driving Dolphin Tale, Real Steel, and Puss in Boots to the top of the charts. This time last year it was the more adult themed movies that succeeded financially – Saw 3D (VII) and Jackass 3-D – and it was Beverly Hills Chihuahua that reigned in 2008. There’s a suspicious trend of maturity here. 

Critics’ Flop

The Three Musketeers is a standout as one of the worst reviewed movies of the month: a useless reimagining from director Paul W.S. Anderson, who is also responsible for the similarly 3D Resident Evil: Afterlife. Actress Mila Jovovich, wife of said director, tweeted her outcries regarding “Musketeers” box office failure, blaming the distributor for lazy marketing, but there are apparently greater issues than a distributor trying to bandage its wounds. Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune writes, “…this horsy version plays as though any two people involved in the making of the picture failed to have a single conversation with any other two people.” Filled with equal disdain is Roger Moore: his Orlando Sentinel review states, “But seriously, any movie whose first scene involves a 17th century scuba diving Ninja and climaxes with a 17th century airship battle must be by the director whose initials have long been rumored to stand for ‘What S–te,’ British slang that rhymes with ‘bite.’”

The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) also garnered terrible feedback. Roger Ebert gave it zero stars. This is a rare gift saved for only a few movies similar to Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, which he commented on in 2005, “You don’t want to know what happens when she sneezes.” He could have recycled this line for “Centipede.”

Our Top

Excluding Martha Marcy May Marlene, which was screened at the Hamptons International Film Festival and has already received our praises, the October pick goes to Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In. It’s a dark and hypnotic story of a disturbed plastic surgeon (Banderas) who cannot cope with his wife’s death. He creates genetically altered flesh that he uses on live subjects, trying to recreate the departed. The story expands drastically, bringing several obscure and fascinating characters into the mix. Though it’s billed as a drama/thriller, it more accurately fits the shoe for sci-fi/horror – one that should be viewed on the big screen to fully appreciate its artistry.

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