Super 8

Godzilla, Dracula, Frankenstein.  Monster movies have always had their audience on the edge of their seats screaming out in horror.  Super 8 is J.J. Abrams homage to this enticing genre.  Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) and their friends live in rural Ohio where they are creating a low budget monster movie for a local film competition.   On set at a railroad station, they witness a Air Force train derailment which unleashes strange and bizarre occurrences on their small town.   Joe’s father and deputy sheriff, Jackson (Kyle Chandler) fights to keep his town safe while butting heads with Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard0) who Jackson blames for his wife’s factory accident.  The town and boys must sift through the chaos to complete their film while trying to unveil the secrecy of the train.   From the very beginning you get the feeling that Super 8 is the movie J.J. Abrams has always wanted to make.

The vagueness of what the Air Force train unleashes onto the town is what creates the initial suspense.  The Air Force is close lipped and preventing all who know from ever speaking again.  As the movie continues, more townsfolk have contact with the ambiguous monster, but when they go to describe it all they can do is ramble in gibberish.  At first it just seems like fear has gotten the better of them but as the audience starts seeing the monster it starts becoming cliche. The problem with horror films recently is that their audience has become sterilized to visual fear. Current horror films including Super 8, now need things that jump out.  They need to catch the audience off guard to create fear.  While at first I had hoped Super 8 would reinvigorate the well thought out monster genre, its ending left much to be desired including fear.

Looking though the cast you may not know many familiar names.  The main cast is a group of new actors, most of which Super 8 is their first film.  These young actors who also featured an experience Elle Fanning work flawlessly together.  Their constant bickering and distinct personality made them seem like real friends.  The dialogue was also taken from the pages of Woody Allen with characters talking over each other in a controlled chaos.  Their friendship and demeanor seemed real so when their fear and interest in the monster pushed the story along.

Early in the film the kids are at a old railroad station when the drama begins.  I wanted to talk about this scene in reference to J.J. Abrams directing style but first I need to give a special mention to the special effects team.  I said the train derailed but a more accurate describes would be that it blew up in a elaborate dance of metal and explosives.  My jaw dropped at how cool this scene was.  Although it went on longer than probable, this minor inaccuracy was worth the high-flying, metal-screeching mind fuck that this drawn out special effect created.  Also, the kids were right in the middle of the action dodging flying debris and running from exploding railcards.  Back to my point.  Abrams made a stylistic choice when directing this movie that may have bothered others.  Throughout the scene blue flare lines were seen in certain shoots.  It did not bother me, instead it gave the movie an updated eerie creeping feeling I look for in horror films.  What did you think about Abrams style?

Stay through the credits to see the completed short films the kids were making, The Case.

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