Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 252 - Assault on Precinct 13

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) directed by John Carpenter

John Carpenter knows how to make the no nonsense suspense thriller. Like Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13 explores an age old nightmare, the relentless bad guy(s) out to get you. Assault is a stripped down genre film at its most basic. You got your good guys on one end and the bad guys trying to get them on the other. You learn basically nothing about who these guys are or why they want to kill everyone in Precinct 13, but there they are like the zombies in Night of the Living Dead. In fact, if I had to compare this film to any other it would be George A. Romero's zombie classic. Just replace the zombies with gang members and the house for the police station and the stories are almost identical. A mismatched ragtag group of survivors must defend their fort against the wave of faceless nameless invaders.

It really is remarkable just how quickly things move along in this film. The violence starts suddenly and out of nowhere with no rhyme or reason, but just know that when it starts it will not stop till the very end. It all starts with a really shocking scene where gang members are holding up an ice cream truck. A little girl comes by to complain about the ice cream she just bought where she is unceremoniously and nonchalantly shot. It is a really shocking scene that breaks all the rules; since when was it okay to shoot little girls? The scene achieves its desired effects by painting a cold violent world.

The film is so short and compact that there really isn't a single wasted scene which is a good example of effective and efficient editing but can also be a pitfall as well. You know how people are always complaining about how some films are just too slow? Well Assault is the complete opposite, it goes by way too quickly. We are simply presented with the situation (the good guys holed up in the police station) and must find a way for them to survive the ordeal without knowing anything about it. Who are these guys trying to kill them? Why are they trying to kill them? With nothing to work with it's kind of tough to care about what happens.

The premise is a generic one that's been done countless times and there isn't much of a story to fill in any blanks. It is simply about these guys fighting off the bad guys' invasion. For that, Assault is a pretty enjoyable film, though I am pretty surprised by its cult classic status and high praise on Rotten Tomatoes. It is no Halloween or Night of the Living Dead.

Oh, also the musical score kicks ass.

Grade: B-

No comments:

Post a Comment