by Hope Madden
There’s a real thread of forgiveness, consequences and redemption in current horror. It fuels Romola Garai’s Amulet, Jayo Bustamante’s La Llorona, and now, Limbo, the cheeky neo noir from writer/director/producer Mark H. Young.
Jimmy (Lew Temple) looks like a pretty cut-and-dried case to Balthazar (Lucian Charles Collier). He shot a grandmother (Veronica Cartwright) in the head robbing a pawn shop, caught a bullet in the back and now he’s here, facing judgment. But why has the man upstairs deemed Jimmy worthy of his own defense angel (Scottie Thompson)?
Must be something big. Even the other guy’s getting in on the deal. Both sides are weirdly interested in the outcome of this one case.
Young (Feral) has a knack for efficient, low budget horror. His work is not inspired, but it definitely makes the most of its budget. And in this case, you also have to hand it to him for casting.
Besides the always-welcome Temple and the great-to-see Cartwright, Limbo brings in familiar faces Richard Riehel (jump! to conclusions guy from Office Space), and James Purefoy as Lucifer.
Lauryn Canny (Darlin’) delivers the strongest performance as a prostitute back in real life that may or may not prove Jimmy’s worthiness of forgiveness, but everyone’s fun. Purefoy, who relishes these campy roles, chooses a hillbilly accent for Satan. Odd.
Odder still is whatever accent Collier is attempting, but that hardly sinks the film. It’s a goofy fantasy and just about anything flies.
The circular logic isn’t as tight as Young may think it is, but again, Limbo provides serviceable fun. No scares and not a ton of laughs—indeed, where Young is hoping to land on the horror-comedy spectrum is a bit muddy—but thanks mainly to a game cast, Limbo is still a pretty good time.
Maybe you just can’t wait until Tuesday’s screening of Springsteen and I, or maybe the E Street doc is not showing near you. Well, if you are suffering from a Springsteen movie jones, we have the cure.
The Boss has lent his talents – and in one case, his actual person – to bunches of films. Most of them are even worth seeing.
6) Light of Day (1987)
In concert, Springsteen has recalled the tale that led him to pen the song Light of Day, which Joan Jett sings for the film of the same name. Filmmaker Paul Schrader had sent him a screenplay entitled Born in the USA – a title Bruce stole outright for this other little song he’d been working on. In return, Springsteen wrote the rocking number that may be the only non-ridiculous thing about Schrader’s film.
5) Limbo (1999)
John Sayles’s weird romance turned noir turned adventure/thriller will keep you guessing. I suppose it’s only fair, then, that you may not immediately link the film’s song Lift Me Up to Springsteen. Singing in an unusual (for that time in his career, anyway) falsetto, Springsteen’s lyrics underscore the characters’ beleaguered search for redemption.
4) The Wrestler (2008)
Mickey Rourke’s succinct and frighteningly honest characterization of a performer with a shelf life found a lovely, lyrical mirror in Springsteen’s song of the same name.
3) Dead Man Walking (1995)
Springsteen garnered an Oscar nomination for his positively devastating song to accompany this positively devastating film. Beautiful, brutal and tragic – like the film – Springsteen’s lyrics put you in the conscience of a man on death row.
2) Philadelphia (1993)
Springsteen’s spare, haunting tune describes a conscience wrestling with shame, abandonment, redemption, and resignation. Underscoring the humanity in Jonathan Demme’s flawed but powerful film, Streets of Philadelphia won Springsteen an Oscar.
1) High Fidelity (2000)
Springsteen’s The River joins a slew of kick ass songs on the soundtrack, but High Fidelity boasts something the rest of these flicks do not. Bruce himself shows up, guitar in hand, to offer advice to the romantically misguided Rob Gordon (John Cusack).