Neil Fox on film: Total Recall, The Possession

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Total Recall

Memory is a funny thing. There was uproar when it was announced that they were remaking Total Recall – you’d have thought they were set on a new version of Terminator, or a true sci-fi movie classic.

It’s a response that doesn’t tally with the initial reception for the original upon its release, which those with long memories may recall was lukewarm at best.

The original was deemed too violent, too confusing, too camp, all of these things.

Yet over time it has grown into a cult classic, one seemingly impervious to a remake.

It was also criticised for the way it deviated from its Philip K. Dick source material. Yes, remember in the ‘let’s save Total Recall’ hyperbole that it was an adaptation, not an original story.

This remake/updating/reboot is closer in content and tone to Dick’s original story.

There’s no Mars for a start. It is also a much more straightforward science fiction action movie.

Farrell is Quaid – the Arnie role – a factory worker who believes he is actually a spy, after visiting Rekall, a company that supplies fake memory implants.

He goes on the run to uncover the truth, escaping from his (not real?) wife Kate Beckinsale with the help of his (not real?) girlfriend Jessica Biel. It’s a hard life Colin.

It’s less confusing, but also less fun, than the Verhoeven version. It commits the great crime of remakes – it doesn’t improve or offer a decent alternative to the original, so despite being different, it never feels like more than a cash in.

The Possession

Horror is a genre that never falls foul of the cyclical nature of other genres. It’s always there, clogging up movie screens with its awful, derivative schlock. This is absolute, seen it all before nonsense, with a schlocky cast telling a well worn tale. Young girl buys cursed trinket. Estranged parents try to solve the curse and save their child. It’s yawnsome, boring, trite garbage. We deserve better.

Berberian Sound Studio

Peter Strickland’s Katalin Varga was one of the most refreshing British films in years when it came out in 2009. It was an Eastern European set revenge thriller that was both a classically derived genre piece but full of mysticism and cultural originality. It was a brilliant, little seen gem, and he has followed it up with one of the best films of the year.

Toby Jones (Captain America) is brilliant as a lonely sound engineer working on an Italian horror film whose life unravels as life imitates art. It is a fantastically unsettling film, full of mystery and tension that recalls the best audiofreak films such as Blow Out and The Conversation as well as classic Italian horror, particularly the work of maestro Dario Argento. Seek it out, you won’t be disappointed.