Hunting For More Original Satire?

 

 

The Hunt Poster

 

 

The left-wing movies often are wild cards that have a hard time getting the recognition and credit they deserve.  Unlike so many other big chains, these movies dare to defy the normal with their approaches, taking radical chances to deliver an original film that manages to stick in your mind.  Unfortunately, these artistic visions can often be too out there, ahead of their time or too boring that they get shuffled into the forgotten realm.  However, reviewers like me are taking a dive into the ,movie to see if this film successfully defies the big chain tales that many love to hopefully do it justice.  Let’s get started I take a look at:

 

Movie: The Hunt (2020)

 

Director:

Craig Zobel

Writers:

Nick CuseDamon Lindelof

Stars:

Betty GilpinHilary SwankIke Barinholtz

 

Likes:

  • Run Time
  • Original
  • Campy
  • Funny In Weird Ways
  • Changing Tale
  • Few Slow Parts
  • The Ending Sequences

The Awesome Artistic Satire Of The Film

 

DISLIKES:

  • Broke a Cardinal Rule
  • Language At Times
  • The Opening Sequence
  • Crappy Character Development
  • Too Silly At Times
  • The Sometimes Too Political Nature Of It

 

Summary:

 

This tale already started off right with the promise of a shorter movie, not only for time saving components, but also for the potential of a good exciting tale.  Well, The Hunt did this for me in the weirdest ways.  First off, its ironically original, despite what the trailers suggest, deeper into the film though you get a much more original presentation that turns out to really fit in this crazy world they unleashed.  Campy tropes and movie mannerisms come out in full effect, and much like the movies of the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s,, the cheesy approach really works.  That corny nature not only works for the action and pacing, but the comedy that again works in weird ways.  The Hunt is one of those movies that is overly aggressive for much of the film, but given the theme of the movie that quirky sense of humor starts to come out and wind up being funny when all is revealed.  In addition, the brilliant change in the movie’s presentation of the story opens up a sort of mystery as to what is the true bizarre source of the film.  By putting out so many questions and keeping that air of mystery keeps you intrigued as to how deep the rabbit hole of hunting goes, leading to again a more engaging tale.  An added bonus, the movie ends up having few slow parts to go with it too, with the pace, time span, and weird mystery leading to few drawn, out conversation heavy moments.  When all of these moments start finally converging at the end, the climactic finish really feels climactic as the ending sequences unleash the torrent of action goodness you were looking for in this thriller.  It pulls the pieces together, reveals much of the secrets, and just finishes in the manner you’ve come to both expect and not expect, just like this movie says it would and keeps that weird energy going all the way.  When pulling all this together, the movie’s artistic satire on political division, typical human responses to just about everything, and sort of the daydreaming fantasies of how some of this drama could be resolved.

 

As I have said before though, these left field flicks are not afraid to cross the lines and sometimes it’s a little too much for this reviewer.  While not the worst breaking of one of my rules, the film did hit one of my no-nos that affected me a bit more than I care to admit.  Fortunately, it was short lived, but still a slight rewrite could have fit with the scheme of the film and been a little better for me.  However, past that, the movies focus on crude language and threats occasionally got into the lazy writing arena that again is more annoying than creative for me to see.  Past these two though, the movie’s flaws that really stood out started with the opening sequence.  Upon the start, the movie throws some odd curveballs that made me start to hate it and walk out.  A very rapid introduction, and some rather crappy character development left me feeling like I had been cheated by the trailers again, and was left with a shock culture film that did little more.  Fortunately, the movie worked the story better, but the character development did not improve much past two characters… which stunk with the potential it had.  I would have liked a little more sustenance behind the characters, but doing that would have shattered the illusion of comedy they were going for.  This brings me to my next point, the silliness of the film.  While clever, witty, original, and artistic, the over aggressive comedy of the film may have also been a slight downfall in terms of the story/character development.  By taking this ridiculously campy focus, so much else was crammed to fit this scheme that I felt it got a little too forced at times.  Yet I will have to admit I’ll take the forced comedy over the forced politics that this movie does.  While artistic and wholly satisfying to see at the end, the very dramatic, politically charged dialogue hit a nerve, primarily in how much I dislike social media ranting.  The movie crossed the territory at times, and though pointed out how ridiculous things could be… the movie sometimes got a little too preaching of political agendas that were not fun.

 

The VERDICT:

         The movie certainly surprised me in how fun it was as the first act opened up too much better components that were hidden by the trailers.  It was campy and original, adding some nice surprise and  to create an engaging and fast paced film with an ever-changing premise.  Most things flowed naturally, and the underlying mystery of what pulled everything together and why kept me engaged in the film to get to that fitting end.  An exciting climax and the brilliant poking at the ridiculousness of our extreme society tendencies further wraps this odd piece with a casing of fun ridiculousness that will be remembered.  Yet, this is not going to be a hit for those too hooked on the limited violence and straight and narrow tale presentation.  The Hunt has a lot of times stepping over the line and if you are sensitive to that stuff, you may be blinded from the smarter things this movie has.  I implore you not to walk out of the opening sequence despite the chaotic, simplistic, nightmare it starts out as. Yet, be ready for some over silly moments, lackluster character development, and very in your face political components to raid your ears. If you can’ handle these annoying trends that seem to continue to grow and infest entertainment, you need to stay away. However, if you can enjoy that wit and see the bigger pictures and components, you’ll be in good shape to enjoy this film and can recommend hitting this one up in theaters. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Horror/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

This Movie’s Quality Is Not Invisible

The Invisible Man Poster

 

When it comes to Thriller, and not the Michael Jackson song mind you, these films can hold a wide range of quality from boring and lame, to the most engaging film of the year.  As such, I could not help but hold skepticism when I saw the massive amounts of advertising for tonight’s film.  A film about the infamous monster movie, this Dark Universe turned stand-alone film looked to have potential, especially given the lead actress.  Yet, Blumhouse studio’s last film did not quite succeed like it wanted and once again returned to the theater to see if this film has the pizazz the hype is being granted.  Check in folks as I review:

 

Film: The Invisible Man (2020)

 

Director:

Leigh Whannell

Writers:

Leigh Whannell (screenplay by), Leigh Whannell (story by)

Stars:

Elisabeth MossOliver Jackson-CohenHarriet Dyer

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Realism
  • Suspenseful
  • Great Pace
  • Great Camerawork
  • Creative Tactics
  • Use Of Good Sound Effects/Editing
  • The Climax Is Great
  • The Emotional Connection To the Main Character
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • No Backstory/Rich Background
  • A Little Fake Looking At Times
  • Trailers Have Shown Lots Of Things, while Still holding More
  • Predictable for me
  • An Angle That Does Not Make Sense

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

The movie is taking a monster movie concept and bending the tale to become a much more dramatic thriller.  Like a great mini-series, Invisible Man manages to take the movie magic of the original tale and add a little more realism to it to help group more people in.  And it is that realism that makes so much of the rest of my likes really pop out for this movie.  A major selling point of the film is the suspense, and boy does it deliver on this aspect through the use of so many thing.  Whannell and her crew create a very tense atmosphere from the start of the movie to the end, never letting up on trying to keep you at the edge of the seat.  My friend and I agreed the pace was great, a constant moving ride of one woman contesting her sanity with the supposed reality, and never stopping in its quest to keep you engaged.  Very good camerawork helps amplify the feelings of a stalker in the midst and fighting the feeling of being alone despite the safety of the light.  Using other creative tactics such as varying environments, the illusion of safety, and other coy maneuvers to bring the manipulation of the invisible man to full light.  Throw in the use of fantastic sound editing, or in this case absence of sound editing and you fully get caught up in the atmosphere of fighting the paranoia and chaos of the real world.  Once the Climax hits, the movie only further amplifies all these maneuvers, yet moves the tale to several new acts that keeps the story entertaining and interesting, yet rounding the tale to completion.  And through it all, the main character is surprisingly amazing to latch on to, the emotional investment granting you empathy and rooting for her to find a break in the case.  Much of this has to do with the acting of the cast, Moss once again unleashing her amazing potential in this character.  She has these roles down pat, from the borderline sanity and screaming, to the strong woman ready to take charge.  The character design, alongside her performance succeeds in making a strong, central pillar to which much of the movie weighs on.  The rest of the crew does their job right of course, but I need to move on to the dislikes.

 

My friend and I both agreed that the movie’s simplistic backstory is a little disappointing, especially in terms of the secondary characters.  While it was certainly for time purposes, I believe some extra time to background build up only would have further strengthened the character and helped get the rest of the cast involved more thoroughly in the film.  Past this point though, the movie’s component that is a minor flaw is the fake looking effects that sometimes arise.  Understanding, it is not the main theme, the movie does sometimes draw into the fake looking special effects, that still fit for the film, but not the smoothest at times.  Past that minor flaw, the movie’s next component that got me was the predictability of the film.  Now for me, I’ve had plenty of experience to see foreshadowing and allusion to what is coming next, so using that and much of what the trailers have revealed I got most of the twists of this movie.  My friend though stated not remembering most of the trailers and did not pick up on some of the predictable parts, and stated that if you have not been bombarded by the trailers you should have no problem dodging much of the predictability.  As for me though, I had most of the suspenseful moments toned down because I had a good guess of what was coming next.  Yet, the part that got me near the end though was a concept the movie takes to geniously start the next bout of thrills and get the excitement turned up.  Yet, that concept should have been consistent and if you review the scenes and realize Cecelia’s advantage should have remained said advantage, but then gets warped in a nonsensical way was a little irritating for me.  Lost in the moment and seeing the next approach to threatening, it helps soften the blow, but the logic does not have to drop for the sake of keeping the thrills. 

 

The VERDICT:

            In all honesty, the movie was awesome on so many levels.  An engaging character leads this thrilling, fast paced adventure, where a realistic approach helps to give this monster flick a much deserved repaint.  Using fantastic camera and sound editing, alongside creative approaches to keeping the thrills coming only further amplifies this film’s successful goal of entertaining, with plenty of rewatchability for this reviewer.  And throw in the amazing character and acting to bring her to life and you will find the movie succeed on many levels to bring life into this genre.  However, the lack of backstory is something I really longed for to help give more layers to a few of the characters, and the computer graphics to help show the threat could have sued some touching up.  Alongside the predictability and inconsistent advantage twist, these two components were the weakest aspect of the movie, and for once I would have loved some extra time to iron things out and make it perfect.  Overall though, this movie is a fantastic flick with rewatchability and definitely worth a trip to the theater with a group or by yourself. 

 

My scores for the film are:

 

Horror/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

This Boy is Growing Up? A New Direction For This Horror Film

Brahms: The Boy II Poster

 

The age of sequels continues to surprise me in the extent they will go to make a dollar.  Tonight, the movie that I saw came out of left field, especially in given how they ended and took the first film.  Yet, seeing an opportunity to make a buck, the movie has arisen to once more extend the series into a potential continued franchise in hopes of being the next Marvel like entity.  Well, despite the years between, I’m willing to give it a shot in hopes of some creative potential showing up to brighten the series and try to wow the crew.  Will it work?  I don’t know, but here are my thoughts on the latest horror film:

 

 

Movie: Brahms: The Boy II

 

Director:

William Brent Bell

Writer:

Stacey Menear

Stars:

Katie HolmesOwain YeomanChristopher Convery

 

 

LIKES:

  • Some nods to the Original Tale
  • Moves At A Decent Pace
  • The Creepy Atmosphere And Look Of Brahms
  • A Solid Opening To A Franchise
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Not Scary
  • The Lackluster Suspense
  • Stories That Have Little Details
  • Mediocre Character Development
  • Trying to Retcon Part Of The Story
  • The Set Up Of the Franchise Focus

 

SUMMARY

 

I guess if trying to establish a franchise, it’s important to have nods back to the original, and in this film’s case it does so.  Enough to pay homage to the origins of Brahms last adventure, the Boy II fills in the pieces of how the two movies are connected to help ease you into the new direction it takes.  It does this well enough without detracting from the tale of this film, and fortunately the movie continues at a decent pace to keep you from being too bored given this is not the most exciting horror tale to come to mind.  Using the new and old stories together, this potential launch into a new franchise at least holds potential to have some further mystery to it, which is probably the biggest selling point of the story.  In regards to scares, Brahms’ tale is another example where creepy is the primary source of fear.  Using a realistic environment, creepy shadows, and the slight movements and off camera work, the imagination leaves an unsettling taste in your stomach.  Brahms’ soulless gaze and porcelain face always seems to stare into you and leave me with crawling skin.  You know something is up with the doll, especially in this new direction, but that mystery of what lies in the antique dolls eyes.  It’s that source that is the true horror element in this film and goes with the slower movies scares this film thrives in.  As for the acting, solid performance by all involved, with Katie Holmes reappearance a balanced and believable film of terror, love, and bravery all mixed into one.  Young actor Convery executes the role well, surprisingly making a part with few lines have some layers to it and tell the tale through his facial expressions than actual lines.  The rest of the cast accomplishes their roles, though the dad could have used some more involvement, but otherwise a great family dynamic.

 

Yet the movie falters in a few other things that take away the magic horror movies try to accomplish again.  For one thing, much of the film is predictable given all the foreshadowing done at the beginning, with lines designed to lead you into the plot.  There are a few changes in the later acts to help give you some “surprise” as it leads to the next direction of the film, but for the most part you know what is coming by about midpoint of the movie.  Scare wise, the movies unsettling nature is the main source, but in regards to other tactics it does not work and did not leave me feeling too uneasy when leaving the theater.  Lackluster scares faded into little suspense, which unfortunately led to boring action and drive, another staple of the horror film.  As such, you will need to enjoy the calmer scare tactics to enjoy this film.  If looking for more of the story element well you again find some lacking moments to this film as well.  The story tries to take some side tales to help add more complexity and mystery, but upon revelation are nothing more than quick detours that do little on their drive back up the main story.  The same goes for the character development, small tales that lead to some scars on our characters psyche, only to be grated down to passing comments and unmeaningful solutions that again lost the potential.  Given the focus on the doll, I guess other characters had to struggle in the character department.  An even bigger mess is trying to forget, or at least underplay, the ending events of the first film. Thus when the original writers come up with a rewrite that is not a reboot, I would say, but more of retconning to make the new direction work.  It’s sad to see the integrity dropped for the focus on the franchise and I believe that is the source of much of the trouble of this film.  By not focusing on continuing the tale, or more so focusing on the film by itself, the movie suffers from cutting corners and new gimmicks, thus overall decreasing the quality.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Brahms’ second installment proves that money talks, and this film is a set up for a new face in horror in the near future.  This story thrives on the creeps, acting, and franchise frenzy, hoping you’ll ignore the previous installment and welcome the new direction.  Some of these things work well, but overall the movie suffers from focusing on potential franchise and skimping on the stories and development other movies have succeed in.  Throw in that the scare factor and the suspense are very lacking and you are once again bored in this tale that held potential and dropped it again.  The Boy legacy continues to dance around maximizing scares and hybridizing other franchises to craft a haunting legacy that can leave more of a print.  Yet, the movie will continue to be mediocre movie productions without tightening up the story and injecting a little originality and development into it.  As such, this film would best be left to the Netflix viewing, rather than hitting the theater. 

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Mystery/Thriller:  5.5

Movie Overall:  4.5

 

A Grimm Fate For A Grimm Tale?

Gretel & Hansel Poster

 

Fairy tales have been graced with magic to make them more appropriate for the young mind of other countries.  At their roots though, the Grimm fairy tales hold a heart of darkness that were meant to teach the lessons to the youth of the European natures.  Despite the disturbing tales we have seen today’s movies hold, the original stories are truly the nightmare inducing moments that can leave on scarred.  So with the gloves coming off in the modern-day cinema, let’s bring that horror to life and potentially twist even further.  Hi Robbie K here to bring about another movie review on the latest silver screen slayer.  Will this late month horror movie slay, or is it just another victim of the dumping grounds of January?  Let’s get reviewing:

 

Gretel and Hansel (2020)

 

Director:

Oz Perkins (as Osgood Perkins)

Writer:

Rob Hayes

Stars:

Sophia LillisAlice KrigeJessica De Gouw

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • The Acting
  • The Short Run Time
  • The Richer Dialogue (from one aspect)
  • The Beautiful Woman
  • The Look Aesthetic Of The Movie

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Pace
  • The Lack Of Character Development
  • The Lack Of Scares
  • Disgusting Imagery
  • The Dialogue
  • The Politics
  • The Whininess Of Hansel
  • The Almost Pointless Introduction Of Characters
  • The Story

 

Summary:

In horror there are many things needed for the execution of the chilling tale and in this case the acting is a big selling point for me.  Sophia’s role is a little twist on her It character, with same intensity and damage, but this time a little Older European and maturity that takes the lead on the new approach this tale takes. She’s strong and fierce, yet shows the scared vulnerability that a child role would and it is a staple to latch on to.  Then comes the wonder Alice Krige, whose adaptation into the deluded villain once more impresses me.  Sinister and yet innocent, powerful and yet sickly, and caring yet cold, she balances all these emotions and succeeds in crafting a creepy character.  Though you know what she represents, the acting always left me with that slight hope something will go differently.  The two have wonderful chemistry together, something I would have liked to have a little more guidance and development to maximize.  While not in it for long, the beautiful Jessica De Gouw shined in her performance, both in look and presence of her character.  I would have liked more expansion on this character, especially given how commanding her presence was, but that was not the focus this tale took.

Moving on from the acting, the movie succeeds in accomplishing its journey in a short run time and not trying to get too bloated (see Midsomer director’s cut).  The film has a much more poetic dialogue, that feels well adapted to the Grimm Fairy tale writing, and goes with the artistic feel of this movie that Perkins focused on.  Yet, the biggest focus of this movie is the look of the film.  Gretel and Hansel is all about creating the creepy atmosphere and letting it be the component to creep you out for much of the film.  The use of camera filters and lighting are the main tools that somehow rob the hope of success from the film.  All the shadows and elusive safety keep things always dark and dismayed, while also sort of establishing a sickening feeling that only further infects you with the skin crawls that come.  The visualization of the witches home and the tricks she brings, also have that atmosphere that will certainly embed itself into your mind and leave you scarred for the event.  Sure there are some shock culture moments and jump scares, but really it’s the looming atmosphere and cinematography that succeeds the most.

 

It seems that the visualization was too key a focus though, for some of the movie telling basics were dropped in my opinion.  First of all, the pace.  Horror movies often keep things moving, but this artistic twist is not one of those films, sometimes feeling super drawn out and stuffy rather than the thrilling tale.  Part of this comes from just the slow buildup of the “surprising” reveal, but the other part comes from the weaker character development.  Gretel and Hansel’s tale has sort of piece meal components that are shown just enough to set a background, but never to give meaningful insight to craft interesting characters.  Even the witch herself is rather plain, a back story that is introduced too late, not very surprising, and sort of crammed into the ending instead of again giving rich characters to fear or analyze.  The story instead just seems to hover around this convoluted conversation between Gretel and the Witch, always working towards this slow discovery of what we know and barely moving away for most of the movie.  I guess they felt it pointless to make a big story for an already known tale, but then I question the introduction of some other characters into the film, and the hopes of using them as means to add variety to the movie.  As such the various side stories are not needed merely adding obvious foreshadowing and time to the film.

Something else I could have had edited out would have been the whininess of the little brother, who had a symbolic component to Gretel (the star), but sort of got annoying with the way they took the character.  Realistic, absolutely, but Hansel’s involvement was not as enjoyable to me, especially when the politics started coming into play (which we are about to discuss).  In regards to scares, again the movie relies a lot on the visuals to scare you, and though creepy at times, it is more a movie to focus on disturbing imagery than real creeps.  If you love the shock factor films, you’ll get it, but for me, the disturbing imagery would have been better minimized in place of the story and creepy scares I particularly love.  Finally the politics.  Not even horror films can escape the political trends of the modern day, and the title should give you a hint of the focus the writers wanted to place.  Again, I’m never above a message being integrated into the story, but that does not mean the story and dialogue have to be purely focused on that message and rubbed In my face.  That fluid, old English dialogue is awesome and poetic, but is so geared toward pushing for this new political twist that it falls into that vortex of cyclic conversations.  The result is again a stuffy movie that does not move to the predictable ending fast enough.  It’s a shame given the potential, but this was the biggest weakness for me in this film.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Gretel and Hansel is a great example of visionary creativity to make an old tale feel new.  With haunting atmosphere and a cast to play in it, these are the main strengths for the film and the component artistic loving movie goers are going to love. Yet, this artistic nature really took away from the story for me and left me with a boring, bloated film that missed the potential the trailers painted.  Story wise the characters are rather flat, the extra story characters and background information so streamlined it is almost a waste of film for this reviewer.  Throw in too much focus on the political message hogging most of the attention and you get this film that seems to be two sharks circling, but never attacking.  I give props for a psychological dive and realistic portrayal in the film, but this Grimm’s Fairy Tale is a little too sleep inducing and bloated for my tastes.  Thus, I believe this film was dumped into theaters, when it really should have premiered on a streaming network instead best left for watching at home.  Thus, my scores are:

 

Fantasy/Horror/Thriller:  5.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

Black Christmas I Gave You My Hopes, But The Twitter Ranting Just Gave It Away

Black Christmas Poster

 

A common trend I keep seeing these days is that remakes continue to be a popular option.  Hollywood’s struggle for originality and desire to turn a profit continues to pump reimaginations of classic tales, in hopes of attracting a younger audience.  Sometimes these spins turn out to be incredible, while other times the product is cringe worthy mashups that leave scars in our memories.  Tonight, a second remake of a beloved “cult” classic tries to spice up the holiday with scary slasher tactics.  The commercials are painting this one to potentially be cheesy, but nevertheless we dove into the trenches to give it a shot.  My review today is on:

 

Film: Black Christmas (2019)

Director:

Sophia Takal

LIKES:

 

  • Moves Quickly
  • Has Some Funny Moments
  • A Few Likeable Characters
  • Relevant Topics

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not Really Scary/Horror
  • Paper Thin Plot
  • Rushed
  • One-Dimensional Characters
  • Antagonists That Are Limited
  • Much Ruined In Trailers
  • Fight Scenes Very Limited
  • Predictable Twists That Are Lack Luster
  • Cheesy Writing and Dialogue
  • Poster Politics That Are in your Face

 

SUMMARY:

 

When doing a remake, the challenge is to find a way to gives nods to the original, but still make it your own and Black Christmas tries very hard to do this.  My buddy and I agreed that it moves at a brisk pace, not taking long to get into the slasher antics and what are femme fatales will be up against.  A few likeable characters await those willing to give this a shot, with the main character and maybe two others standing out as somewhat balanced people with a consciousness and open mind.  Not sounding too good huh?  Well, I’ll report that there are some funny moments in the film, both intentional and unintentional that I think will tickle people’s fancy, but compared to others, it lacks a lot of cleverness that we’ve seen.  Finally, there are some very relevant topics that have some good portrayal in it, though this also comes with a warning as some scenes may strike up PTSD if it happened to you. 

 

That’s about all the likes I had for the film and now onto the limitations this installment had, at least from my perspective.  Let’s get it out there and say that though classified as a horror/thriller, it is merely a mask to what the film was presented as to meBlack Christmas is not scary, though the slasher/thriller aspect is still there and works for the bloodbath to come.   Some of this diluted horror comes from the paper-thin plot, as this retelling turns into a rushed, predictable tale that forgoes any build-up, development or even organization capable of crafting an engaging tale that balances plot points.  Though there are some likeable characters, this lackluster tale is plagued with one-dimensional players who are close-minded, extreme approach, flawed personas that hold little potential to change and will be engaged to those who find their interests matching the characters.  Even the antagonists (you know the killers that are part of the appeal of a horror) are super shallow, falling into their lanes with little evolution, threat, or creativity.  These run of the mill characters just aren’t interesting, and it’s difficult to invest any time to rooting for them given how fast this film moved and how little they developed it.  If this sounds harsh, I do apologize, and perhaps a better critique is that the film has already given a lot of the goods away in the trailers, with only a few editing tricks coming in to conceal the truth behind the hoods.  If you thought the fight scenes looked a little limited, hoping it was just a segment or hint at what was to come, well… you might be disappointed in this as well.  Black Christmas does not get an award for best fights, traps, or struggles, again being very simplistic bouts that might be going down the realistic approach.  While relevant to some topics, again these struggles are rather boring, and don’t quite leave the memorable finishes that this genre puts into our brains.

   All these though are minor compared to what I believe the real limitation is for this remake… the writing.  Black Christmas this year has fallen victim to the poster political trend to take topics, put an extreme approach to it, and then rub it in your face.  It starts with cheesy writing and dialogues that offer little outside what one can find in a social media or Reddit debate, with characters falling onto one side of the spectrum or the other.  With little in terms of plot development, most of the things that come out of our characters mouths are just sniping comments and forced speeches trying to show us some persons views on these issues.  While I’ll acknowledge my friend and I agreed with the viewpoints they shared, and found validity in their opinion, using the movie as merely a big budget  visualization of social media debates was not the right focus or means to do it (hence the number of weaknesses most are reporting).  So much was sacrificed to rub it in my face about these topics that I found myself more irritated than moved, especially for one that always knows these lesson, and the retribution to come back to storytelling, or even fun slashing was lost.   Yet, like Charlie’s Angles, the film found its rabbit hole and dove as deep down as it could go, and did not look back up, which will appeal to the targeted audience and small cult followers that love these types of movies.

 

The VERDICT:

Black Christmas’ trailer painted an interesting picture to say the least, as the film could have gone either way.  Sadly, the direction they chose was one that was not the best for me.  My friend said it best as, “A Twitter Post turned into a movie”, this horror/thriller will not offer scares, thrills, or even a semi-engaging story for those who are fans of the genre.  This new take is much more political and has sacrificed so much to cram the beliefs of the production heads of this movie in that it was more infuriating than enjoyable.  Again, the issues are not the problem, it’s the presentation, and we’ve seen plenty of popular culture films handle political issues with much more class.  After reviewing everything, this movie is not meant for the theater unless you are all about in your face popular event topics with a Halloween mask to get you into the film.  I’d say this film is best left to accidental stumbling upon and would look to other options instead.

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Thriller:  4.0

Movie Overall:  3.0

 

I Don’t Think You Will Sleep Through This One

Doctor Sleep: The IMAX 2D Experience Poster

 

Stephen King is on a role this year with two stories turned to movies, among other products, and potentially raking in even more cash. The age of taking author’s works and putting visual spins on them continues to thrive and sometimes we get an interpretation that brings our nightmares/expectations to life.   On the other hand, the limitations of movies can sometimes lead to bad projects that are disappointing more than anything.  What will happen in this interpretation?  Well I’m here to share my opinions to help you get the most out of your movie going experience.  Let’s get started as I review:

 

Movie: Doctor Sleep

 

Director:

Mike Flanagan

Writers:

Stephen King (based on the novel by), Mike Flanagan

Stars:

Ewan McGregorRebecca FergusonKyliegh Curran

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • Feels Like A Visual Form Of Book
  • Nice Haunting Atmosphere
  • Pacing For The Most Part is Good
  • Great Antagonists
  • Fantastic References To original/With modern twists
  • Story Telling As a Whole

 

DISLIKES

  • The Run Time
  • Expecting More Integration of Shining’s connections
  • Not Scary
  • Graphic Violence That is Haunting But Disturbing

 

SUMMARY

 

When the revealed the cast of this film I was interested in seeing how they would adapt into King’s Universe.  The result is positive for me with the three main characters really taking a shine to the multi-layered characters each contributing to the terror in some way.  McGregor takes much of the lifting in his evolution of tortured spirit, keeping that quiet intensity famous of his younger counterpart, but somehow pulling out other tricks when the time is right to give a psychiatrically tortured counterpart.  As for the antagonist, Rebecca Ferguson is wonderful counterpart to McGregor, keeping that same creepy tone, but this time bringing a savage/psychotic edge that fits well in the horror genre, think villains from Walking Dead before it went too far.  As for the talents of Curran, well she was the perfect balance that sort of inherited both sides of the Shining coin, executing her vulnerable side well, but also managing to bring girl power to an even medium.

Acting aside, the rest of the movie thrives in the element of bring King’s imagination to life.  To be honest it does feel like a visualization of the book, the intricate details, outlines story, and connecting points a wonderful example of the art of literature translation.  King’s words always paint a picture of sheer horror, immersing one into a nightmare realm that goes into the darkest corners of the minds and dreams.  Doctor Sleep’s haunting chills line just about every minute of this film, bringing with it characters that fit into it, primarily the antagonists that Danny faces.  Such fitting characters and truly nightmarish villains make a wonderful centerpiece to get hooked onto.  Yet, the movie does not just focus on making the characters the star, instead finding way to integrate the Shining into the film while sticking to the originality of the tale.  Seeing various nods back to the original tale, though with modern face lifts, and having them there to support the tale, again getting an applause from me. With such details, you might think the pacing will suffer, but Flanagan accomplished the task of keeping all these details and plot dynamics balanced, but not sacrificing the entertainment value that movies are expected.  In conclusion to this like section, the story telling is told well at an engaging pace that makes for one of the better horror movies and book translations in a long while.

 

Yet for me, it’s rare to see a perfect movie that I love everything about and this was true for Doctor Sleep as well.  For one thing the run time is a little long for a later night showing, I know my fault, but despite how well the balance of this tale is, there was some pacing that made the 2.5 hours a little too long for me.  Perhaps it was from working a 15-hour day, or maybe it’s due to wanting a little more of the Shining’s plot components brought in, given how long the opening was about the time lapse between the two stories I might have wanted a little more integration into the mix to help fully get my horror element on. In addition, the movie did not do the most in the scare factor for me, going more down the  drama/thriller category than the actual horror element.  I’m not saying others will not get scared, but it all depends on what you like to jump at creeps vs jump scares.  For me though, the aspect I know was needed, but I did not like is the torturing and graphic violence components.  I can say I like action movies and over the top stunts, but in this movie the violence is all about inducing the disturbing, skin crawling factors that these books are famous for.  Weak constitutions to graphic displays of fear inducing dismantling need to rethink diving into this, for there are several scenes where this factor comes into full swing with little mercy.

 

  The VERDICT

            I have to agree with my friends who saw the film, Doctor Sleep is one of the better novel interpretations that I have seen in quite a while.  My favorite aspects of this film are how much like a book it plays out, yet never sacrifices the entertainment factors and visualization components that films need.  A haunting atmosphere to play in, with great characters to bring out the solid story, I feel many King and horror films will be impressed with the presentation of this tale.  While the run time is a little longer than expected, and the scares are at a minimum compared to the first film I watched a long time ago, the true component to warn people about is the graphic violence/torture that may haunt your memories for some time.  It’s true I would have liked a little more of the Shining aspect, but overall a solid story telling from King and company again.  Is it worth a trip to the theater?  Absolutely, as it has theater quality effects and good storytelling for most audience members to enjoy.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Fantasy/Horror:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

It’s The Final Countdown… To Halloween Horror Flicks

 

Countdown Poster

 

What would October be without at least one horror movie to come to theaters?  Boring is what many would say, and so we have the final weekend of the holiday trying to gain some revenue before the season is over.  So Robbie K is back once more to give you some ideas on the latest of the horror installments to haunt the silver screen.  Will it be good?  Will it be bad?  Will you die of boredom?  The answer to those questions is below so let’s get ourselves in shall we as we review:

 

Movie: Countdown (2019)

Director:

Justin Dec

Writer:

Justin Dec

Stars:

Elizabeth LailJordan CallowayTalitha Eliana Bateman

 

LIKES:

  • Moves At A Good Pace
  • A slightly new twists
  • Funny At Times
  • Liked The Central Character
  • The Story Is Cute

 

DISLIKES:

  • The CGI work
  • The Thrills and Kills Are Mediocre
  • A Little Silly In Terms Of Story Telling at Times
  • Dead Ends
  • Predictable

 

SUMMARY:

 

Horror movies are something that have come to be a little too mass produced, where ridiculous concepts come out of the wood work to try and capture your attention while darkening your dreams. In this case the movie takes a hit at it, but rather than crafting original beasts instead focused on a quick pace to keep you entertained for the most part. Countdown’s limited time limit requires things to move at a brisk pace that is both entertaining and yet complete.  The film manages to bring a slightly new twist to the mix, taking an old concept and modernizing it, while still tagging some traditions to it.  As such, the film has a little more originality to it and that’s something difficult to capture in these days of over production. In this dark tale, there is fortunately some comedic relief to lighten things up, but not enough to make it a spoof, again portraying some balance that films seem to lose.  My feeling for the strongest component of this movie is the character development, and more so the central character of Countdown.  Quinn (Lail) is a lovely character that has a little bit complexity past the usual damsel in distress/air head that comes with horror territory.  The various levels of personality made for a more engaging heroine, and seeing her evolution as her plight grew more stressful with each passing second.  I think Lail was a fantastic actress to watch, delivering a nice performance that went hand in hand with the cuter story she shared with the other characters. The story may not be that harrowing, creepy, or even unique, but there is an energy to it that seems to be a toned-down version of a horror movie that is once more about the characters and not just the thing they are fighting.

 

While many of these components are nice in terms of storytelling, the movie did cut costs on other areas that may not be impressive to the usual lovers of the genre.  First the CGI work needs a little trimming up, looking a bit hokie, faded, and too computer in my opinion. In addition the beast doing all the killing did so in rather, contained ways that were off screen or hidden in shadow.  It’s not that I want to see gruesome death and mangling, but a little more details might have been preferred for this writer. And while I enjoyed the story telling for the most part, there were times that the film felt a little silly, taking tangents that were stretches to incorporate in some way to liven up the film.  They did not work for me in forms of comedy, but instead became crashes into dead ends where characters, plot points, and other components were left to stand for some wrecking ball to break through.  I guess to meet time constraints they took this approach to again be original, but it just fell short as lazy storytelling with these components.  Finally, the film is predictable, with only a few things hiding in the wings to try and surprise us.  Yet, all the foreshadowing and obvious introduction to the plots were the stars needed to point me towards the things they wanted to keep a surprise and by the revelation I had pieced most things together.  Again, kudos for trying, but not the most surprise filled plot.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall I did not hate Countdown, but instead grant a nods towards a character centric story with a cute vibe and good pace to entertain.  It’s true I would have liked a little more haunting/craziness to come into play to give you that true Halloween thriller you were looking for this late in the season.  It’s predictable tale, sort of hidden killer, and silliness that filed away the edge of the movie and thus takes away from the atmosphere they created.  I felt that they could have just put this one onto a streaming site, but I’ll give them props for trying to put their work out onto the screen.  Yet, this film really boils down to being better suited at the home viewing then coming to theaters so hold out until the release if you can.  As such, my scores are:

 

Horror/Thriller:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0