THE WARSAW GHETTO aka THE COURAGEOUS HEART OF IRENA SENDLER. (2009) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

sendler 1-fullTHE COURAGEOUS HEART OF IRENA SENDLER aka THE WARSAW GHETTO. (2009) DIRECTED BY JOHN KENT HARRISON. BASED ON THE BOOK ‘THE MOTHER OF THE HOLOCAUST CHILDREN’ BY ANNA MIESZKOWSKA.

STARRING ANNA PAQUIN, MARCIA GAY HARDEN, GORAN VISNJIC AND STEVE SPEIRS. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a surprisingly good made-for-television movie about one of the darkest periods in human history, the Holocaust, and one of the landscapes where the Holocaust took place, the Warsaw Ghetto. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were hounded and hunted into an area of German-occupied Poland, ie, this ghetto, that was too small for their huge numbers and where disease and starvation flourished.

It was from this infamous space that thousands of Jews were shoved onto cattle trucks and trains and sent off for so-called ‘re-settlement in the East,’ which we of course know now meant death by gassing in Treblinka or the other death camps.

This film has been likened to Steven Spielberg’s SCHINDLER’S LIST but in reality, it doesn’t come close to capturing the life of chaos, terror, deprivation and random executions that the Jews lived in this hell-hole. It does try hard, however, and I found it both entertaining and enjoyable, if one could ever be said to ‘enjoy’ a film about such a grim subject.

Anna Paquin seems to have recovered by now from the trauma of starring in a film which saw a naked Harvey Keitel being the direct cause of Paquin’s screen mother Holly Hunter having one of her fingers chopped off by an enraged and hearetbroken Sam Neill.

That’s Jane Campion’s exquisite film THE PIANO I’m referring to here, of course. Anna Paquin is now known for getting her own kit off as well in the hugely successful- and sexy!- HBO vampire drama TRUE BLOOD.

 THE COURAGEOUS HEART OF IRENA SENDLER, based on a true story, sees Anna Paquin playing a real-life Polish social worker who safely smuggled 2, 500 children out of the accursed Warsaw Ghetto during World War Two.

Her invalid mother is played in a nice understated way by Marcia Gay Harden, who once portrayed a religious nut trapped in a supermarket in the excellent film adaptation of Stephen King’s novella, THE MIST.

Anyway, Irena is appalled at the sheer scale of the suffering in the Ghetto. With several families crammed into the one room, with limited food and sanitation facilities, many Jews began to take on a gaunt and bedraggled-looking physical appearance.

This suited the Germans down to the ground, of course, as it only helped to perpetuate the myth that the Jews were dirty, lice-ridden creatures ripe with disease who should be exterminated like vermin.

In fact, typhus was one of the perils Irena had to face as she went into the Ghetto time and time again and came out with small children whom she placed with Polish families for ‘safe-keeping,’ as it were. The distress of the mothers who are having to part with their precious children in order to better ensure a future for them is shown very realistically here.

Stefan, Irena’s handsome dark-haired Jewish boyfriend and partner-in-crime, as it were, looks like Phil Dunphy from TV sitcom MODERN FAMILY. I’m just saying, haha. I loved Piotr, her big burly helper who shared the risks and the burden equally with Irena. I sure could use someone like him to muck in around the house.

I wonder if he survived the war, and how many of the children did as well? Have there ever been any reunions of the children saved by Irena Sendler, like we know there have been of the people now known as ‘Schindler’s Jews?’ It’d certainly be interesting to find out.

The bit where Irena is taken by the Gestapo and tortured is flippin’ terrifying, the tensest and scariest part of the whole film. The film is billed as a 12s, but I wouldn’t show those scenes to a twelve-year-old, especially if they’re in any way sensitive in nature.

This film, light on Nazis and concentrating mainly on Irena’s mission and the kiddies she saved, is an excellent tribute to the woman who smuggled so many children to safety right under the very noses of the leather-coated and jackbooted Gestapo.

The real-life Irena, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 when she was actually still alive, appears in person for a moment at the end of the film talking about those long-ago but still relevant days, which is a lovely touch.

It might be a movie spoiler to say that our heroine went on to live a long and hopefully happy life after that terrible period in history was over, but if anyone ever deserved to, it was surely Irena Sendler. The film adds another layer, as it were, to our knowledge of what went on in German-occupied countries during the war and, for that alone if for nothing else, it’s worth watching.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

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THE LODGE and THE WRONG HOUSE: A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

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THE WRONG HOUSE and THE LODGE: A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE WRONG HOUSE aka HOUSE-HUNTING. (2012) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY ERIC HURT. STARRING MARC SINGER, ART LA FLEUR, HAYLEY DUMOND, VICTORIA VANCE, PAUL MCGILL, JANEY GIOIOSA AND REBEKAH KENNEDY.

THE LODGE. (2008) DIRECTED BY BRAD HELMINK AND JOHN RAUSCHELBACH. WRITTEN BY DEB HAVENER. STARRING KEVIN MCCLATCHY, ELIZABETH KELL, OWEN SZABO AND MANDY KREISHER.

I picked up these two little horror finds at my local music/DVD store recently and made a night of watching them back-to-back. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience but, like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie. THE WRONG HOUSE is a million times better than THE LODGE, which I think we’ll start with.

It’s kind of a typical run-of-the-mill dopey-young-couple-holidaying-in-a-creepy-cabin-in-the-woods type of film, and I must admit that I wasn’t crazy about the couple involved, which makes it harder to properly engage with the film. Julia and Michael don’t seem to have that good of a relationship.

Michael, a dope-smoking Little Rich Boy with a wealthy Pops, seems to love Julia, at least, and he’s hoping to use the weekend away at an isolated mountain lodge as a chance to pop a certain question. He’s got the little box and everything.

Julia doesn’t seem to care about Michael too much, though, judging by the number of times she tries to get out of having sex with him. And surely a surfeit of sleazy vacation sex is the main reason for a young couple heading for the hills for a couple of days? But he’s a doped-up twat, so I can’t say that I blame her too much for that.

The titular Lodge is nice and spacious and comfortable enough, but how come the seriously uptight owner is hanging around the place like a bad smell instead of leaving the young ‘uns to their own devices as they’d- not unnaturally- been expecting? Henry is a decidedly odd fish but, to add fuel to an already over-stoked fire, there’s a shadow at the window and I think it wants to come in…

This is a pretty violent film, and there’s some sexual violence in there as well, deservedly earning the film its 18s rating. I could have completely done without the addition (more like tacking on) of a fourth person into the mix, however.

It took away some of the film’s believability and it looks like it was added because what’s a movie nowadays without a creepy mute of a long-haired girl in it, standing there in the corner like a spare part with her bedraggled barnet obscuring her mopey face? Bit of a spoiler there but I just had to get that off my chest…!

Believe it or not, and I’m sure you can easily believe it, there’s a creepy mute of a long-haired girl in THE WRONG HOUSE too, but there’s a perfectly satisfying reason for her not talking. Yes, it’s annoying that she’s there at all but in this case she’s serving a purpose.

Meh. I’m getting really tired of the creepy-mute-girl trope. Can’t they ever mix it up a bit? Have an overweight middle-aged garage mechanic or lollipop lady (or even a sarcastic hippopotamus wearing glasses and carrying a briefcase) standing in a corner blindly staring at nothing instead of a long-haired girl? Just for a bleedin’ change, you know…

THE WRONG HOUSE is also known as HOUSE-HUNTING. Two families, the Hays family and the Thomsons, each turn up at a remote countryside farmhouse at which they think is an Open Day, designed to let prospective buyers check the place over with a view to buying it.

Both the Hays family and the Thomsons absolutely love the place. And the house must really, really like them too, because when it’s time for them to go home, it won’t let them leave. All their attempts to go home leave them right back where they started, back at the house. The house has an evil purpose in mind. It’s called revenge, and it’s going to drive the two families clean out of their minds…

The two Dads, Marc Singer as Charlie Hays and Art LaFleur as Don Thomson, are absolutely excellent as the two alpha males who desperately try to hold their families together  while the house closes in around all of them like a ghastly inescapable fog that holds evil within it, terrible evil.

Victoria Vance as the domesticated Thomson Mom Leslie is wonderful in her moving portrayal of a woman who’s tragically lost a child and can easily be pushed over the edge of sanity because of it. The three young ‘uns (including Mopey Girl) I disliked intensely. What horrible bloody kids…!

The tension is ramped-up again and again as the families turn on each other and tear strips off each other, much to the delight, one would imagine, of the watching house. The house is always watching, by the way.

Watching and waiting. Just what you don’t really want in a house you’re contemplating buying, methinks. A know-it-all, smart-alecky house imbued with human reasoning and a malevolent sentient. What a pain in the ass…!

So the consensus is as follows. THE LODGE, meh. It’s okay but it’s only okay. THE WRONG HOUSE, excellent. Scary, well-paced with no droopy or flagging bits and with a satisfying ending that only disappoints if you’re, like, super-fussy and hard to please.

I loved this film, anyway. I always love films about evil houses that have pre-ordained, murderous agendas. They really float my boat. Float my boat good. Watch it and float with me. We all float down here, dontcha know…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor