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Heavenly Creatures (1994)

October 26, 2009

7/10 Experimental Periods

With The Lovely Bones coming out soon, figured I’d give this a look being that it’s the only other movie by Peter Jackson that doesn’t feature wizards, zombies, or giant apes.

Heavenly Creatures is the increasingly strange true story about two High School girls in New Zealand that form a strong friendship through their wild imaginations, then the friendship grows into obsession, then the obsession leads to murder.

Too much drama in High School.

But yeah, it’s all true and it’s quite bizarre. The story itself is pretty interesting not so much because it actually happened but rather because of the way Jackson presents it to his audience.

It’s really interesting to watch this as a turning point of sorts for Peter Jackson as he started to evolve from B-movie horror director to the dude behind the effing Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s kind of weird that the camerawork in this movie feels just like it does in Dead Alive – one of Jackson’s more noteworthy gorefests – as it’s composed of constant zooming, extreme close-ups all the time, off-kilter angles, and very few stationary shots. It moves along at a mile a minute, but somehow it all works.

The best way I can describe what it’s like to watch an early Peter Jackson movie is that after a while you feel like your stuck in a carnival fun house. The scenes that take place in the girls’ imaginary worlds are the most evident examples of what I’m talking about as they all pretty much boil down to clay figurines of knights and princes coming to life to dance or kill people. Sounds weird, but it’s actually pretty cool and helps to put the Lovely Bones trailer in perspective for me.

Even the acting is distinctively Peter Jackson as nearly everyone in the cast delivers their lines with almost too much enthusiasm to the point where they’re practically caricatures of the people they’re playing. It’s like everyone’s on a Red Bull high all the time, it’s very intense to take in, but it also makes the dialogue pretty funny in turn, which is a good thing. And considering that it doesn’t take long for these two girls to go from weird to batshit, P.J. does a fine job of utilizing this directorial style to present them at their most crazy.

Alright, enough about Peter Jackson, you get the point.

The two girls are played by Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet in their breakthrough roles, even though I still don’t really know who the hell Melanie Lynskey is. Nonetheless, they’re both good even though Winslet kinda steals the show. Not the best thing she’s ever done, but whatever, hard to knock Kate Winslet for anything nowadays.

I’m having trouble with this review because so much of what makes it unique are the visuals. It’s got a good script and good actors to work with it, but the story actually didn’t end up being all that interesting. You know how it ends right from the get-go and it’s only a matter of time before the two girls finally lost their shit completely. But still, I liked Heavenly Creatures, not a dealbreaker of a complaint. Worth a watch if you’re the head of the Kate Winslet fan club or a just looking forward to seeing how Peter Jackson is going to pull off The Lovely Bones.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 30, 2009 4:47 pm


    Thanks for posting a thorough, honest and entertaining review! We linked to your excellent post on our blog, *Product Review Round-Up* under the category of Entertainment. The link is embedded in this listing:

    With Peter Jackson’s “Lovely Bones” out soon, Aidan reviews an earlier Jackson movie (not involving Hobbits)

    Again, many thanks!

    Happy Trails to you,
    Grace and Tiffany
    The Uncommon Cowgirls of Product Review Round-Up

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