A Genetic Twist To Horror That Is Semi-Gripping Until the End

Hereditary Poster

 

Robbie K here, ready to try and do another movie justice in his reviews and observations.  Tonight’s focus is on a horror movie that looked very disturbing, chilling to the bone, and potentially containing a high creep factor to really make you squirm in your seats.  Yes, assuming you read the title of the movie on your way into this review I’m giving you my thoughts and observations on…

 

Hereditary (2018)

 

Director:

Ari Aster

Writer:

Ari Aster

Stars:

Toni Collette,  Milly Shapiro,  Gabriel Byrne

 

LIKES:

Creepy:  The trailers didn’t lie, Hereditary is creepy as heck and not afraid to flaunt it in so many forms.  While not loaded with jump scares that many love, Hereditary is all about using shadows and the edge of your vision to make you see things. It uses subtle sounds to keep you on the edge, and reveals just enough to keep you further engrossed in the thrills. Hereditary also is not afraid to cross the line to really get a reaction going, sometimes to the point of intensely disturbing visuals that one does not expect to see.  Yet, my friends and I all agreed that the true creep factor comes from how realistic this movie is, at least at the beginning.  The questions of how much is true and how much potential psychosis is helps depict some of the more extreme cases of mental illness and how dangerous and intense this disease can be. 

 

The Setting:  A creepy movie requires a setting to bring it to life and this movie has got that going on for it too.  The house is classic, semi isolated from town, with enough nooks and crannies to generate shadows that hide in the light.  It’s not these random temples or abandoned houses, but an actual lived in home that brings that realism to light and immerses you into the movie.  And if you don’t care about the creepy shadows and lights the movie holds, then just enjoy the beauty of the house, especially if you were dragged to the movie to begin with.

 

 

Dynamic Story Changes: A fancy way of saying twisting transition, Hereditary’s writer certainly new how to adjust the script to bring a different atmosphere with the movie.  At first more of a psycho thriller with some potential horror elements, the movie manages to gradually fluctuate into other genres.  It evolves into different types of horrors, and with it brings more levels of disturbing twists to begin to connect semi-vague pieces together. It certainly a bit haphazard and mashed like a play, but I give props for a writer willing to switch gears from time to time. In addition, some of the lengths they go to shake things up are certainly risky, but with it generating some reaction you weren’t quite expecting. 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Long:  Heritage certainly does the job of tying up loose ends and making sure everything is explained (which of course is a like). Sadly, it takes a little too long to get to that point and in a very complex manner that is almost like going around your elbow to get to your thumb. The second act, and partially the third act, were very drawn out, boring to the point of trying to make these connections in a mask of coping mechanisms.  Again, it’s realism and portrayal are awesome, but as the direction of the movie starts to change, these weird transitions start to feel a bit too odd and not worth your time.

 

The Goofy Faces:  Some of the movie tried to bring some torturous reactions in the non-verbal acting.  Poor Toni Collette came off with some rather goofy, perhaps unintentional, faces that were funny and looked more like being stoned or maybe getting brain freeze. Her son Peter (Alex Wolff) didn’t turn out much better, as his own facial dynamics were, well goofy as well, primarily in that buck toothed, stoned look that was meant to be exhaustion.

 

The Acting:  Don’t get me wrong, the acting was mostly decent, if not good, primarily in the portrayal of mental illness and fear.  Yet there were times where hysterical crying, yelling, and blubbering were again a little too much and went down the wrong path.  I’m not trying to pick on Wolff, but his hysterical crying was a little too forced for me and seemed incredibly fake compared to the rest of his performance.  Why this gimmick was done more than once, not really known, but I can’t say that it was a direction I would have taken.

 

The Tongue Clicking: Not quite an as annoying as the trailers made it out, the use of the tongue clicking was decent at times, but a little over used.  Whether it was the amplification by the speakers, or maybe just the excessive/random moments, this device started to grow annoyingly humorous and needed to stop.  Thank goodness they got light of it and didn’t bombard us too much with it.

 

The Complexity:  A complex plot makes you think, makes you question, and more importantly keeps you engaged.  This movie accomplished those goals, but when the ending finally came through and the final transition happened, the complexity felt stupid and unneeded.  Again, it supports the ending, but because of how much I didn’t like the ending, this complexity just didn’t feel the right direction to me outside of extending the film. Complexity can be good with a real good finish, (which some may like), but for this reviewer the ends didn’t justify the means.

 

The Ending:  You saw this coming, but Hereditary’s ending wasn’t the one I had in mind from the trailers.  A surprise can be good, but to quote my friends, the ending had completely leaped over the gap to another movie altogether that didn’t quite fit all the way with the direction the first act did.  It was almost like two screenwriters wrote the two halves, came together and tried to paste them together (even though there was supposedly only one writer).  While the broad transitions will grip more people in, the movie’s grand finale wasn’t my cup of tea, though it may explain the disturbing steps this writer planned. And some of the end game decisions, rushed, pointless, and really not pleasant to look at (fans who see the movie will know what I’m talking about).

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The other reviews are right, this movie keeps you guessing, has a number of twists, is creepy and hard to stomach, and not afraid to go down the dark abyss to bring you shock.  So, bravo in thinking outside the box and crafting a rather original tale with a dynamic component to it.  Yet, this movie’s tinkering with the plot was unnecessarily complex, with a few gimmicks/deliveries not really keeping in tone with the genre and the ends not justifying the lengthy journey I took to get there.  If you like the Lords of Salem, you are going to enjoy the approach this movie takes, as it feels very similar in a lot of components. Yet, if you want a more linear, straightforward movie, hold your horses for later this year when other films are supposed to grace the silver screen.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Horror/Mystery: 8.0

 

Movie Overall:  7.0

Advertisements

Report To The Supe Troop

Super Troopers.jpg

 

The comedy sensation of the year 2001 had people screaming in their seats and quoting the film a decade later.  So, with the age of scraping the barrel for ideas, why not get a sequel out at a random time to appease the masses.  That’s the case this weekend as me and numerous other residents hit the theaters to catch wind of another comedic boat to dock in the silver screen harbor.  Robbie K with another entry to help guide your viewing pleasures as I review:

 

Movie: Super Troopers 2

 

Director:

Jay Chandrasekhar

 

Writers:

Jay Chandrasekhar (as Broken Lizard),  Kevin Heffernan (as Broken Lizard)

 

Stars:

Jay Chandrasekhar,  Kevin Heffernan,  Steve Lemme

 

 

LIKES:

 

Good Pace:  A comedy always treads on being too quick or too slow, and fortunately Super Troopers 2 manages to walk that tightrope quite well.  It’s fast paced antics keep the comedy flowing, but still throw in enough details to give you all the zany gimmicks you want.  While it’s true the run time was a tad longer than needed, the movie doesn’t feel drawn out due how well this movie moves.

 

Nostalgia:  Part of reviving a series is the ability to reignite the flames of passion and stoke the embers of remembering the original series.  On this task the movie succeeds as well, bringing with it an entourage of references to the original movie.  Old jokes, those quotable moments, even old relationships crawl back into the Montreal borders, never once going out of its way to offset the comedy.  Fans of the series are certainly going to pick up on these references, and for those who have not seen the movie for a while, do a refresher to get you familiar with everything from 2001’s installment.  It’s this component that is the driving force behind this movie and helps bridge the outdated into the new style of comedy.

 

Creative:  Despite all the course, stupid, and over the top antics, the movie is clever in its own right.  The worst sheriffs in the land, have gotten even dumber and rampant, but while logic is lacking, they do know how to insult.  Super Troopers 2 managed to bring nimrod humor to new heights, blending a bunch of cultural references and crafting them into well-timed writing (at times) much like Family Guy does.  Even more impressive, the movie manages to keep the comedy ever changing, blending a variety of styles into the 2-hour run time.  By bouncing between these various genres, the laughs kept coming and seldom left the theater in silence for too long.

 

DISLIKES:

Crude Moments:  The new wave may be about pushing the inappropriate line further and further away, but this reviewer isn’t a fan of this style at times.  Super Troopers 2 has fallen into the trend and showed a little more than I wanted to see, at times showing genitalia, uncomfortable sexual scenarios, and disturbing violence that I didn’t want details on. For me, save these moments for the director’s cut and stick to the clever phrases instead, especially with the acting not being that award winning.,

 

Crossing the Line:  Like many comedy movies, Super Troopers 2 sometimes doesn’t know when to quit and these guys get a little too aggressive with the comedy for my tastes.  A few of the insults dig deep, sort of trampling on cultures, racism, and even some celebrities who have passed.  If you don’t mind this inappropriate humor, ignore this dislike, but be warned these guys may go too far and offend you, so be prepared.

 

Over the Top moments:  Getting a pattern that my dislikes are about extremes?  Good, because Super Troopers 2 sometimes goes a little overboard in their presentation of just about everything.  There overdramatic pronunciation of just about everything was fun at first but got old for me as the banter continued.  The constant, cheesy fighting had its moments, yet they got too dependent on these squabbles to clean up the lazier moments.  All the dragged-out arguments, again funny at times, but soon began to add unnecessary length that a director’s cut at home could do.  Still, fans of the series live for the over the top moments, not caring how far down the ridiculous pathway it goes.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Super Troopers 2 may not be the original, but I agree with my buddy that it did a nice job modernizing its antics to the modern era. The comedy is rich in this movie, a blend of genres and tactics to keep things fun and every moving, showing that not all creativity has dried up in Hollywood.  However, that creativity comes at a price of very crude, sometimes inappropriate content that makes the movie a bloated mess of over the top moments.  While some things could have been left for a director’s cut, this reviewer respects the target audience who is seeking to relive the first adventure again.  So definitely check this one out of the new movies and enjoy the rancor jokes within.

 

My scores:

 

Comedy/Crime/Mystery:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Sexy, Sleek, and A Spy Thriller Indeed

Red Sparrow

 

Jennifer Lawrence, a chameleon in many forms as to what role she will play and how well she will act in it.  What is never questionable though, is that it will often involve some type of edge, with some anger thrown into the mix.  And this weekend, yet another film for her to exercise her emotions is back in the form of Red Sparrow, the latest spy thriller to sneak into the theaters.  The movie promises to be the same intense dynamics, perhaps with a little sexiness thrown in.  Does the movie have the same fire that it’s lead actress has, or is it another flop?  Robbie K happy to help you out with another movie decision with yet another review.  Let’s get started:

 

LIKES:

 

Costumes:  In a spy movie of such caliber, you are hoping that the costumes are going to be chic, sexy, and feel like the super spy role.  Red Sparrow’s costumes are worthy of the mantle of high fashion, being pleasant on the eyes and fitting so well with the roles given to Ms. Lawrence. They add a nice flare to the movie, being utilized to sell her cover and infiltrate the secrets held within all parties, and in such a subtle way as that.  It’s a small like, but one that warrants appreciation.

 

The Strong Woman Character:  If it’s a Jennifer Lawrence role, it’s going to involve a strong female role and Red Sparrow is again no exception to the movement of strong female characters.  Dominika has many layers, all built around a solid core value of family, bringing duty and loyalty to the heart of her character.  They build upon these values, weaving a complex character who with each peel exposes layers that continue to evolve with each dive into the dark depths of espionage.  And as more characters join the deadly game, Dominika gets to adapt in an attempt to juggle all the information being handed to her.  And not only do her actions speak volumes, but Dominika has a few lines to throw out that are empowering to many in the theater.  I enjoyed the strong, ever adapting character that hopefully can teach a few lessons amidst the destruction taking place.

 

True Spy Thriller:  With James Bond films, we’ve been spoiled with the spy and action series blending together.  Yet, the world of espionage is a lot less flashy given the emphasis of blending in and breaching the trusts of so many people. Red Sparrow flies into the territory of representing the espionage game, utilizing heavy writing, ingenuity, throwing out plenty of leads, and utilizing plenty of tactics to complicate the tale.  The mysteries that are presented are the lure to keep you invested in the 2 hour 19 minute run time, all screaming of a true spy thriller that has been missing for some time, including an ending that is worthy of being called a respectable twist.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow:  Sadly, the movie is very slow at parts, focusing more on the jargon, psychology, and training that is involved in this harsh environment.  While this is interesting, it is also very hard to keep attention when the plot doesn’t move to keep the thrills going and make learning the information fun.  Spy thrillers need to be thrilling, and I didn’t really get into the plot until the last thirty minutes of the film when the stakes increased dramatically.  Drama fans won’t have quite as big of an issue with this, because the love, sex, and relationships fill these slow moments, but fans like me need to have some coffee before coming in.

 

Complicated Jargon:  This goes with the slow speed, but Red Sparrow is not a conversation light movie.  Where many movies have simplistic dialogue that leads you in a linear fashion. Red Sparrow however is like one of those word webs, with so much spreading out it can be confusing to piece things together without paying major attention.  So many relationships to keep track of and so much information to maintain, you have to keep everything in check to figure out what the point of all this is.  And given how the tone of the characters fluctuates, it can sometimes be difficult to hear what they are saying as the cavalcade talk in whispers and hushed tones.

 

Graphic TortureSerial killers rejoice, you’ll see the dark dealings of punishment unfold in very disturbing moments, but for others with weaker constitutions you’ll need to turn away. There is plenty of Red in this movie, and not in the slasher movie cheesiness Hollywood has made famous.  This movie has been majorly grounded in terms of thrills, but with it comes some realism that is more gruesome to see.  I appreciate this darkness to some extent, but the there are some nightmare inducing images, and in some cases a little unnecessary to the story.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Despite all the mixed reviews, I think that Red Sparrow is a fine film that shows off Lawrence’s talents to be edgy and a strong women character.  The film has plenty of mystery to solve as you try to uncover the true meaning behind this thriller, searching for any information possible.  And given all this convoluted information, this movie certainly is the closest thing to an espionage film we’ve gotten in a long while.  Yet, the movie is slow, and geared more toward romantic drama lovers who could care less about the story and more about the sabotage the characters throw at each other.  Nevertheless, this dark story is not for the faint of focus and should be geared towards those who like a darker story with lots of kinks to unravel.  My scores are:

 

Mystery/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Game On For This Night Of Fun

Game night

 

Comedies, another genre that crashes into theaters, like waves crashing on a beach.  Whit is often lost in the flood of comedy movies, but every so often, the minds are able to once again give us something fresher to laugh at.  Today’s flick involved the ever-popular game night, a tradition that works its way into the homes of all ages to help with establishing friendly rivalries, a local watering hole, and the chance to drink and compete.  Tonight I finish my reviews with Game Night starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, which hopes to amp up the stakes of tradition for the chance at big wins and adventure.  Let’s get started on the review to determine if the house paid.

 

LIKES:

 

-Multiple comedy styles

-An intriguing mystery

-Decent Character Development

-Clever Adventure at times

 

Game Night is a comedy that works well in terms of the multiple styles of comedy packed into the small-time frame of the movie.  Slapstick, stupidity, one liners, over the top stunts, and overacted delivery are balanced together to keep things interesting and fun in the 100 minutes or so of content. And while much of this is dumb fun, there is an intriguing mystery to ground it all to a common point and keep things in line.  How far does the rabbit hole descend in terms of crime, you’ll have to see for yourself, but there are plenty of twists to keep you guessing.  Surprisingly, Game Night’s players have a little more background than the usual pawns of this genre, with each member dealing with some issue that plagues them.  Themes like responsibility, jealousy, and self-worth are all here, gradually expanded upon as the teams try to find the clues to rescuing their kidnapped colleague.  It’s a clever adventure and gets my two thumbs up in terms of a unique flair.

 

DISLIKES:

 

-Sometimes too stupid

-Tried to Hard

-More Game Night Antics needed

 

No surprise, this movie is jam packed with idiotic antics to tickle the funny bone.  At first these gags were good, some of the running jokes building momentum to deliver some well-timed punches.  Soon the audience and I started to give pity laughs at the jokes being entirely too stupid, dragging on to levels that made napping look like a better option.  Even worse, sometimes the characters tried too hard to be funny, Bateman in particular putting too much behind his delivery.  These moments are fairly obvious and start to overshadow the game night qualities I was hoping this movie had.  Given all the mysteries, and theme of game night, I had hoped for a little more antics that mirrored the games one usually plays at a game night, like an intense scrabble mystery, or a Jenga like obstacle course.  Instead, the movie resorted to the usual stunts and tactics, that while entertaining at times just lacked the originality they could have held.

 

The VERDICT:

 

When it comes to comedies, Game Night wins in terms of the variety of comedic ploys it unleashes in such a short time frame. With an intriguing mystery and some decent character development, you will get a decent adventure compared to most other ridiculous comedies that grace the theater. Still, Game Night suffers from overacted antics and stupidity that gets stale quickly, lacking that full-on game night cleverness you might have expected.  It is a start mind you, but there is plenty to work with should a second game night be picked up should it make enough money this weekend. As much fun as this movie is, I can suggest a trip to the theater for this one for a group night out, but otherwise hold out until the rental services get it.

 

My scores are:

Comedy/Crime/Mystery:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

All Aboard! Another Mediocre Adaptation Is Heading To Station

Murder

 

Mysteries, a genre that intrigues so many with complex tales, intertangled deception, and often drama to help build suspense before the big revelation.  While many people try to combine mystery with other genres, there are those who choose to focus on mystery alone.  One of these artists is Agatha Christie, a forefront writer who continues to tease our brains with crimes that dive into deeper levels.  And with great literature, comes great grounds for Hollywood to make movies from it.  This particular tale has gotten a remake this weekend, one with a star-studded cast to try to bring people into the movies in this modern telling.  What’s in store?  Please read on to find out as we review Murder On The Orient Express.

 

LIKES:

 

Setting:  Start off with a simple like, this film is a shining example of green screen visuals blending with real world shots.  The snowy wilderness of the mountains is a dazzling spectacle of symbolism that mirrors the foreboding crime that hangs over the Orient Express.  It’s a breathtaking display of technology that keeps the darker spirit of the movie alive, and may leave you chilled at the menacing nature hanging in the air.  But the highlight is the train and the recreation of those elegant cars and cabins the locomotive industry was famous for.  This recreation takes you back in time and immerses you in the classical setting, while also designing a death trap to which our players partake in.

 

The Mystery:  For a movie that focuses on the classic question of who done it, Murder on The Orient Express did a nice job keeping the mystery going.  The screen adaptation drops enough hints to throw one off the path, all while keeping you engaged in deciphering the identity of the culprit.  As our detective interviews all the characters, you will start getting an idea of how complex the whole case is, further shrouding the scene in a veil that tries to keep you from the answer.  It works, keeping suspense going and the film moving, which isn’t easy in mysteries these days.

 

Kenneth Branagh: Acting wise all the cast do their jobs very well, some better than others in terms of screen time, elegance, and of course capturing their accents down correctly.  Yet of all the group… it was Kenneth Branagh who I enjoyed watching the most.  True, he is the main character and thus gets the most screen time, but his acting was very enjoyable to watch for nearly 2 hours.  His French accent is not the best at times, but he gets the OCD detective role down pat, catching the nervous energy and single minded focus that comes with the disorder.  His explanations of the crime are delivered in such a serious tone, confidence filling the voice as he presents his logic and convinces you of all the facts. Finally, his comedic delivery is also very well done, not too forced and well-integrated into the conversations, Branagh carries a lot of the movie on his sharply dressed shoulders.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow: We know mysteries have to go slow to build things up, but Orient’s wheels really slog at times. Primarily when it comes to linking a few backstories together, the movie sort of derails into from the path at hand.  Losing this momentum takes away from the suspense, and sort of gets a yawn if you don’t pay close attention to the dialogue.  And even when they resume chasing the mystery once more… they drag things out in a grandiose display that does hold emotion, but steps far over the line for this reviewer.

 

Unbalanced Characters:  A star studded cast again calls for time management and using your resources well.  Orient took a nice shot, but they failed to really give the characters equal time on the screen.  I don’t know how the book is written, but it was obvious the casting favored certain actors over others.  Certain characters really get the shaft in this installment, brought out of the shadows for mere seconds and a few answers, before dropping off the screen.  This happened with at least four characters for me, brief introductions that were certainly important, but almost confusing at some points.  Certainly, Christie did better in displaying her suspects in the book, but they didn’t do it as well as I think they could.

 

Rushed development:  It’s a plus to have a mystery that moves, it is not so much a plus when your key development areas move like a blur.  Murder on the Orient Express involves one having to listen to the dialogue extensively to piece things together, primarily in the alibis of the characters.  For me, there were a lot of rapid dialogue exchanges that hastily were spilled out in an attempt to give our characters some background.  This background information is incredibly important, so perhaps they should have shifted to a lower gear to clarify this information and establish that depth they were going for.  Such a shame to have all these details smeared in a half-sloppy manner when there was such potential to be had.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Compared to the book and the older rendition of this movie, Murder on The Orient Express 2017 is not the shiniest noire in the box. Great visuals, a luring mystery, a phenomenal main character will carry the audience far in this film and provide the main source of entertainment in the film.  The main problem is that the team didn’t deliver on the potential that this story/cast had.  It was unnecessarily slow at points, characters were lacking in a very character centric plot, and it was rushed in areas that was the sustenance.  Therefore, the movie overall is mediocre, and better left for a free pass/RedBox in this reviewer’s opinion.

 

My scores are:

 

Crime/Drama/Mystery:  7.0-7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

“Let’s Play A Game” Again. Piecing the Story In Place Of the Gore-Y

Jigsaw

 

“Let’s Play A Game”, those simple words haunted the theaters for years, signaling the start of yet another slasher movie in the Saw series.  What started out as a unique twist to the serial killer saga was only the start to a face cringing, spine tingling, sometimes nauseating saga that hooked people in until around the sixth-seventh iteration when it finally ended.  That was until this year, where the saga was to be reanimated in hopes of bringing more bucks to the theaters.  Will this eighth installment have the ability to defy death like it’s protagonist antihero, or is it dead like the poor victims of his games.  Only one way to find out and that is read my friends, so let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Fast-Pace:  With all the slow movies I have been seeing, I give props to the Saw series maintaining their consistent pace.  From start to finish, the tale keeps moving, sparing no second for unnecessary details or attempts at prolonged character development. The mystery of figuring out the identity of the game master, mixed with the spread-out trials that promise a messy end are well-balanced to keep things going.

 

Decent Characters: A horror movie often has many brain-dead characters begging to be chainsaw fodder.  Fortunately, Saw movies continue to choose players who have a little more complexity and skills than many of the Spring Break teens favored. The tradition lives on, as each player has a little more buried within, still having a few obviously destined corpses, but others who have a shot at making it out.  And for those not in the game, but trying to solve the mystery, they too have some layers to them that may or may not be pertinent to the story.  It’s those engaging elements that are crafted in the story, making them more engaging to follow.

 

The Presentation:  Another component I still like is the presentation of the movie.  Many go for the kills, but the better component for me is how they separate the story into two settings.  One is still the players trying to escape the closes thing to hell’s torture chamber, while the other are the outside characters hunting down the “maniac” that continues to weave his traps. The ability to entangle these two components, balancing their timing to provide clues and hints to the story all while keeping you invested in the game.  Such a dynamic presentation provides those checks and balances necessary for a slasher movie, and keeping things as fresh as possible.

 

Twist:  As many of you know, Saw movies are all about the ability to throw that last wrench into the gears to blow your mind.  Despite my experience with predicting endings, this one got me.  The questions I asked were on the right path, but they were able to drop enough interfering factors to throw me off the trail.  Jigsaw once again impresses me with their storytelling, and their mastery of presentation.  I can’t say much more, but ask the right questions and you might get the answers.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Lazy Deaths:  Those first few movies were convoluted in their traps. They had designed devices that were an impressive display of imagination, horror, and engineering that gave everyone a kick in terms of design.  While Jigsaw still has the impressive connections and storytelling, it unfortunately fails in the terms of the traps themselves.  They are surprisingly simple for the most part, and a little more reserved than I expected in this modern era. Yes, there is still plenty of blood in this battle for moral consequences, but they didn’t involve quite as much skin crawling madness.

 

Acting a little cheesy:  Despite the engaging characters, there are times when there are a few inconsistencies in the character’s intelligence, or often the case their acting.  While decent for the most part, the writers hit some blocks in terms of dialogue or direction they wanted the characters to go.  There are those moments the “tension” overwhelms them into hysterical messes that are cheesy rather than believable. In addition, the dialogue sometimes gets lazy, just going into expletives than conducive dialog.  A weak dislike yes, but I’m drawing on straws.

 

The potential for a series:  Like the original series, I had hoped for an ending, but then this movie showed up.  While I did enjoy it, I am worried that the way this movie ends sets up the potential for a new series to start.  Sure, this means more Saw goodness, but it also means the potential to dilute this movie into another run of the mill series that will become a product of lazy producing.  Hopefully that won’t happen, but these days series are the prize most companies seek.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Jigsaw is the piece of the puzzle that brings quality back to the lovely massacre series. Going back to the roots, the writers were able to bring back a brilliant presentation and characters you can follow.  All the nostalgic qualities rush in with the deadly traps, bringing that fast-pace, twisting tale that captivated us all those years ago.  While still not the first movie, especially in terms of death design and potential to revive the series, it was a welcome addition to the series.  So, if you are looking for the horror movie of the month, Jigsaw is your answer for the theater my friends. 

 

My scores:

 

Crime/Horror/Mystery:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

Groundhog Day Meets Massacre: Death Day Is Fun Halloween Movie

Death Day

            Halloween weekends are certainly a bag of tricks and treats themselves.  A variety of genres try to compete for the number one spot on the box office, and horror movies continue to try to prove their worth. My weekend reviews start with another film in the slasher collection that looks interesting to say the least.  Like all horror films, the truth behind the vague trailers can take a number of forms and levels of quality, so I wasn’t sure what I would get on this viewing.  What is the verdict?  As always read on to find out!

 

LIKES:

 

Surprisingly Deep Character:  Most slasher films fail in terms of a gripping character to follow the journey with, in order to provide fodder for our demented killer.  Surprisingly, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) has depth hidden within her superficial looks and sorority attitude. Seeing her character evolve over the film changed my attitudes towards her, especially as her sorrows began to emerge onto the field. And even more impressive is how balanced her multiple aspects were balanced into the story, to maintain the development that was so nicely done.

 

Censored:  There are those slasher movies that go over the top to maximize the vomit inducing kills and dismemberments. Happy Death Day, fortunately, is not one of those movies.  For a movie about repeating the same day over with a “deadly” conclusion, it keeps things rather clean and to the point, avoiding the mind scarring scenes that will be famous on YouTube. The PG-13 rating should assure you that this is a rather mild horror and won’t leave you sleepless like some other films can.

 

The Mystery:  If you have seen the trailers, you have probably been allured/intrigued as to who is behind that freaky baby like mask.  That aspect carries on into the film as you try to piece the puzzle together and solve the Scooby Doo like case.  It was the adventure of seeking those answers that kept me invested in the movie, searching for any slight hint to give away the surprise. Keep your eyes open, your minds active, and your thoughts running and you’ll get it within 25 minutes, but otherwise enjoy the ride the director created.

 

It’s fun: Movies that involve repeating the same day over and over again gets stale fast, because of cheap editing tricks to make the scene seem fresh.  Fortunately, Death Day keeps things fun and fairly fresh in the 1.5 hour run time.  This movie has plenty of chuckles thrown into the mix, many poking fun at the horror movie genre.  Tree’s dialogue itself has that aggressive, sorority girl element to it, filled with passive-aggressive compliments and sarcasm that are well-timed.  Throw in some well-developed secondary comedy from secondary characters, and the fun just keeps on rolling with each passing day.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Not Scary:  My friend and I both agreed that this movie lacked any real bite in terms of the scare factor.  Oh sure, a creepy, knife wielding, baby face mascot wearing killer would have anyone afraid to walk a dark corridor in the real world.  With the silver screen barrier though, the movie’s horror element doesn’t do much to build suspense or make you shrivel in your seats. Aside from a few jump scare moments, the comedy aspect of the movie will take over more than the scare component.  Sorry you fear feeding fans, no dice on this one.

 

Little Over the Top:  Ridiculous factors are all in good fun when they are timed well and not overdone.  Happy Death Day sometimes lost its regulation with the overly ridiculous moments, leading to these eye-rolling proportions that were just eating up time.  Some of the death scenes themselves fall in this category, alongside a few repeat sequences of Tree’s journey across the quad.  The running jokes themselves also get a little stale, especially when it comes to the rival sorority sister who was directed to be a little too aggressive my taste to take seriously.  Oh well, got to love those superficial characters that are meant for comedy alone right.

 

Some unfinished story elements:  While I’m surprised with how much of a story this movie had, no matter how cliché it was, there were still some underdeveloped aspects to the tale.  One was a few of Tree’s character development arcs, that started to blossom, only to die out like her character does.  A few of these could have further expanded her character, bringing in other characters to help draw it out and adding that dynamic element I like to see.  In addition, a few other plot elements were squeezed into the film in a rushed manner, sometimes feeling out of place until they were able to draw it back in with a well-placed plot element.  Had the scares been better…this element would sting less, but the story element is a big part and could have used some fine tuning.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Happy Death Day is one of the more fun slasher films I have seen in a long time.  It’s a movie that will appeal to many with its fun pace, decent comedy, intriguing mystery, and character that keeps you invested in their life.  While this was much better than my expectations, the movie still suffers some from imbalanced comedy gestures, unfinished story elements, and most importantly lack of scares.  Therefore, go in there expecting a drama/comedy with a slasher twist and you’ve got the right approach to this movie.  Yet, if you are looking for the next psycho thriller… hold your horses for a Redbox rent to capitalize on your investment.

 

My scores:

 

Horror/Mystery/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0