Dive Down Into 47 Meters of Survival Terror

47 meters

 

It’s the beginning of summer and many people are storming to the beaches for a variety of activities. And of course, Hollywood is happy to release a shark movie to scare everyone back into the theaters, or at least try to.  My build up is of course on the latest suspense/thriller shark movie 47 meters down.  This “original” titled film looks interesting, so naturally I’ve been assigned to analyze, comment, and share with the public.  Robbie K here back again this weekend with yet another review. Let’s “dive” on in shall we?

 

LIKES:

 

Cute leads:  Many modern films are all about using that eye candy to reel you in, and 47 meters is no exception.  The lovely ladies Mandy Moore and Claire Holt take much of the screen time and as such are very pleasant to watch.  For one thing, they are certainly cute. Whether in stunning dresses or wet suits, they look fabulous to keep your attention to the big screen.  Looks aside though, the more important aspect is their acting.  While certainly not an Oscar performance, the girls have the part down pat of playing fear, scared to the point of either death or survival.  The kept the acting in check (for the most part) and sold me into their characters. Of course, they could have used a little more character development to further invest me into the girls’ lives.

 

Suspenseful:  When it comes to suspense/thrillers we want…well suspense.  Good news folks, 47 meters has you covered with this aspect.  The setting itself will get your muscles tense, the dark, foreboding depths filled with terror at what lurks in the shadows.  Yet that is just the surface of the thrills, as the ever-present threat of drowning looms over our heroines. This constant threat continues to amplify the fear, especially when the CGI sharks swim in and things get further heated. The team balanced the fear with brief rests to ease the tension, many times faking us out with foreshadowing before taking a different path.  Such dynamic antics, alongside great sound and music editing, resulted in a fantastic culmination that many shark movies have lacked in the past.

 

Surprises: As I mentioned up above, the directing team kept things dynamic through this movie.  While there is certainly a linear goal for the girls (survival), the path they pursue takes many detours to get there. Just as you think one goal is accomplished, another curveball is thrown to waylay their mission and keep things interesting.  Yet it’s the end that really churns up the water and will leave you in a daze that many horror movies fail to achieve.  So well done on that guys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Pointless extras: You see the credits, you realize there are few names listed for the acting cast.  In all honesty, they could have left almost all those names off. One major dislike is the limited involvement with the other cast.  Yes they do a lot of background activity to help increase their chances of survival, but you just don’t see much involvement in them. As such, you can’t help but wonder what was the point of them (primarily their boy interests) being in the movie.

 

Miracle moments: Many films have those moments that are sheer coincidence or miracle moments.  In 47 meters down, those moments are quite frequent, throwing plenty of inconsistencies that are a bit eye-rolling at times. Prolonged bouts of struggle often fade fast and magically get solved.  These stretches do add suspense, but many of them are incredibly unlikely to end that way and takes away from the magic they were building up. If you can suspend these observations you will have no problem, otherwise get ready to laugh at some of these cheesy moments.

 

Few shark moments:  After all the advertising of shark attacks, one would think this movie would be filled with close encounters of the toothy sea beasts.  Not the case my friends.  Certainly, there are moments of intense jaw chomping action, but much of the 90 minute screen time is left in the dark.  Like Jaws, the threat of the unknown paints the picture of fear, but I had hoped for a little more engagement with the sharks. Instead, much of the movie focuses on the decreasing air supply and the girls trying to handle their fear.  When the sharks do finally come into play, it is exciting, but also the most overdramatic component of the film, especially that ending sequence.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The reviews say it is the first good shark movie since Jaws, and on some level I agree with that.  However, 47 meters down has a long way to go to master the epic tale of the shark attacks.  It certainly has suspense and uses some cool tricks to get you fired up at the fear the lies at the bottom of the ocean floor.  While the survival aspect is neat to see, I came for a shark movie and felt I only got about 1/3-1/2 of that with the limited shark involvement. And for many of those moments, the coincidental solution to their problems made for some eye-rolling, groan filled reactions.  Still it isn’t the worst shark movie to date and is miles above the “original” pictures from Sy-Fy!  Worth a trip to the theater?  Yeah I think it is on some level, but you can hold off for NetFlix as well. 

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0 

Life, or Did They Mean Death?

Life

 

What is life?  That is a question that so many researchers have tried to answer over the centuries.  And what better way to try and answer that question than with a Hollywood movie production starring Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal.  My last review this weekend is on the movie called Life, a science fiction/horror film hoping to provide the scares of the March season. But will contact with this film give you the chills, or send you running to the ills…with disappointment. Robbie K here with another review. Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

  • True Science Fiction
  • Evolution of the creature
  • Creepy and horrifying
  • Good characters

 

Summary:  We know most science fiction movies fall short of the genre, focusing more on the fantasy element and special effects (Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.)  Life though hits the genre right on the mark, dropping us amidst an international space station where research about Mars is underway.  As the chaos unfolds, the crew has to use their training, knowledge, and science (and not gigantic guns) to try to outwit the beast before it gets them.

And speaking of the creature, “Calvin” as it is called has an interesting design at the start looking like a fungus.  Yet the spores quickly evolve into a deflated looking star fish, and from there began to evolved into a truly destructive creature.  Calvin’s metamorphosis is perhaps the creepiest aspect of this film, as his search for the crucial ingredients (food, water, and oxygen) drives it to savagery (it will make you look at star fish in a whole new way).

Outside of that though, some other factors that brought the thrills and chills start with the realistic setting.  There rendition of the international space station looks pretty close to our own world’s, minimizing the fantasy component to keep one ground in the horror the team tries to present, establishing a feeling that this could happen.  To go alongside this, the other factor is how alone one feels on the station. Much like the first Alien movie (to which this pays homage to), you feel the isolation of the station as if you are the prey Calvin seeks.  This added edge truly brings the horror aspect full circle

Finally, the characters also help amplify the horror component of this film.  It is nice to see the human cast not be a bunch of idiotic, shallow teens for once, but instead educated scientists fighting for survival (while also not being the single-minded buffoons that often take these roles). The cast was dynamic, each specialized but capable of covering their team members should something happen.  Such development led to characters you actually rooted for, instead of against them as we often see in horror films.  And the actors all played their roles fantastically, from Ryan Reynolds sarcasm, to Jake Gyllenhaal’s scary accuracy in someone with social anxiety.

DISLIKES:

  • Unneeded dramatic opening
  • More evolution of the creature
  • Predictable ending (though nice twist)
  • Savagery of kills

 

Summary:  A minor dislike I know, but Life’s dramatic capturing of the capsule in the first twelve minutes was really unnecessary.  All I gleamed from this opening was technical displays and a little excitement to get the mood going.  There are probably a few other scenes that could have been left out as well, but these were minor compared to the big stink they made with this opening sequence.

Unnecessary scenes aside, the other thing I would have liked was more development into the creatureDon’t get me wrong, the final form was creepy, but after all the changes happening in the beginning (which were a stretch mind you), the team suddenly brought it to a halt.  Yes, they tried to explain it via “science”, but this abrupt halt just broke pace/balance the movie was establishing, which felt a little off for me, right down to the end.

Speaking of ending, Life’s trailers hint at what the conclusion is, and based on my observations I had a good idea where it would go.  I wanted things to be different, but sadly the ending can be predicted within 30 minutes of the show time (assuming again you haven’t watched the trailers).  Albeit there was a nice twist to try and throw you off, Life’s directors didn’t go the full distance to prove my observations wrong.

Yet the biggest beef I have with this movie is the dark, disturbing, savageness the directors instilled. If you’re a fan of watching gore filled deaths, suffering, and depressing looks this movie will send “out of orbit”.  For me though, these moments only take away from a movie if done too much or in the wrong manner.  My biggest strike comes from the graphic death of a lab mouse (which broke my heart as most animal cruelty does).  That’s only the start of Life’s grotesque hunt as Calvin finds disturbing ways to attack the band of researchers in immense detail. Why the directors felt the need to focus on such disturbances…I don’t know, but in this case less would have been more, as the first Alien flick did long ago.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall, Life is one of the better science fiction, horror films I’ve seen in years.  It drops the grandiose serial killers and idiotic victims, and upgrades to an adapting monster hunting intelligent people. This realism crafts a more suspenseful tale that kept me engaged, while crafting that horrifying atmosphere I love.  While most of my dislikes are small, the mutilation involved, alongside some scientific imbalances, really didn’t impress me in this movie and the predictable ending didn’t necessary wow me as well.  Is this worth a trip to theater?  If you are looking for a good horror film, then by all means hit the theater for it.  As for weak constitutions, skip this one and save some time.

 

My scores:

Horror/Sci-Fi/Thriller: 8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Should you “Get Out” and See This Film?

get-out

Another February weekend, another time for a horror movie to hit the silver screen. Tonight, my review is on Get Out, a simplistically titled tale that is from the mind of Key & Peele’s Jordan Peele! How well does a film directed/written by a comedian fare, as always, it’s my job to share some thoughts, insights, and opinions on the latest film. So, stay in, grab a drink and read my thoughts on this “epic” film.

LIKES: • Good Central Character • Comedic Relief • Well-Paced • Decent Story

Summary: It’s always good to have a character you can grip onto if you are going to watch them face the nightmares of this film. Chris is one of those protagonists that fulfills that role containing all the elements you want in a character: backstory, level headed decisions, not annoying, etc. Daniel Kaluuya is certainly one of the better horror genre actors, and portrays his role in a manner that doesn’t want to make you roll your eyes, outside some emotional flatness the team made him portray. Yet the other actor to steal the show (not based on looks) was LilRel Howery as Rod the TSA. Rod’s scenes are purely comedic, serving to relieve the tension the movie builds up and keeping it decently integrated into the story. These scenes, in addition to lightening the mood, keep the pace of the movie flowing to avoid that prolonged dragging feeling that many horror films seem to have. Such a pace kept the film interesting to me by keeping the suspense at a maximum. Perhaps the biggest strength to me, is that Get Out has a decent story laced with some originality. While not the scariest tale to hit the screen, this film has some hot topics built into the story (primarily racism and its wrongdoings) that go alongside the character building moments of the story. In addition, there is a nice twist to the tale, which may please many fans of this genre.

DISLIKES • High Political Points • Unnecessary Scenes • Not scary • The ending being a little too easy

Summary: While Peele’s writing is certainly impressive, tasteful, and clever at times, it also falls victim to being overly political for me at times. Get Out has many scenes were the extras throw the multiple judgmental stares, the rude, overstep their boundaries with too personal (and insulting) questions, or out of the way monologues about skin color that were more eye-rolling than necessary. It’s not that I don’t believe this issue exists, I just grow tired of directors deviating from the cleverness and pace of the story to make a point in these movies. Another unnecessary deviation was some of the comedic relief moments. Don’t get me wrong, Rod’s comedic relief was very welcome and had some of the best dialogue presentation of the film. However, there were moments where his scenes felt out of place, randomly thrown in there where they felt more like an SNL intermission than being pertinent to the story. Guess a comedian can’t fully drop his roots.

His comedic background may also be the reason this movie wasn’t too scary either. Again, Peele has done the genre justice in terms of making a thriller with a decent plot that has some substance to it. But this movie failed to scare me at any point of the film, outside of maybe a few creepy stares from the brother or other staff. I think Peele tried to make it creepier from the realism aspect, but outside of that the jump scares were poor, the extras presentation was more annoying than scary, and the theme of the movie takes a different twist. Finally, when the movie reaches its exciting climax, Peele’s writing definitely leaves you feeling fulfilled on many levels. However, much of that ending seems to be a little too conventional that takes away from what he built. Things happen in random succession and there are a few moments where logic (and realism) are dropped like so many hot potatoes it again becomes more humorous than fun.

The Verdict:

Despite my doubts, Get Out is a movie that stands out (in a good way) from many of the horror movies unleashed in the last few years. I always find value in a film has a good central character that has development and a well-paced, intriguing story to support it. In addition, while the comedy does have its out of place moments, the comedy is also a welcome diversion to make you laugh, fortunately in a manner that isn’t overly stupid. However, if you are looking for a movie that will haunt your dreams and make you jump, this isn’t the movie for you. Whether it is the lack of scare tactics or the overly political moments, Get Out’s horror aspect is highly diluted in this film, feeling more like a mystery than anything else. Worth a trip to the theater? I’m on the fence about this one, but I have to say wait on this one until it hits home in a few months.

My Scores: Horror/Mystery: 7.0 (mystery element) Movie Overall: 6.0

 

The Final Chapter Shakes Up The Action!

resident-evil-7

In 1996, Sony unleashed its survival based horror Resident Evil onto the world, bringing the zombie virus era to the modern age.  Then in 2002, Hollywood tried to ride the coattails of success with the first movie starring Milla Jovovich as the special agent Alice.  Fifteen years later, and a lot of painstaking story lines, the final chapter has arrived promising action, death, and a whole lot of special effects.  Robbie K here, ready to review another movie and give you some insight into what “horrors” enter the theater.  Let’s get started, shall we?

LIKES:

  • Story comes full circle
  • Nostalgia
  • Action

Summary: Alright the story isn’t the best, but after six installments you hope for a decent ending to all the madness.  The Final Chapter delivers on the promise of closing the story and tying up many of the loose ends we’ve been having for the last decade and a half.  What’s even more entertaining about the story though is how much nostalgia the directors left in the post-apocalyptic wake.  Fans of the first movie will certainly enjoy many of the old rooms and traps laced in the hive, while game fans will enjoy some references to some of the most sinister creatures to inhabit the virtual world. This nostalgia helps add a little more enjoyment to the mix, giving a little complexity to an otherwise simple movie.

Hands down though, the action is the selling point of the movie.  The Final Chapter is nonstop, over the top, chaos involving a bunch of animated/made up extras getting beaten the nearly unstoppable Alice. Resident Evil’s notorious fast martial arts meets guns and chains continues full force, pulling out all the special effects to make it the biggest bang of the bunch.  A few of these moments are quite impressive, and most likely amped up in 3-D, and seeing Milla continue to punish the uncredited cast is always thrilling to see.

DISLIKES:

  • Plot holes/Rushed Simplicity
  • Predictable
  • Cheesy at Times
  • The Awful Camera Direction

Summary: Yes, the plot comes full circle, but the writers really botched some of the plot points on this one. The writers must have felt pressured to get the script done, because plot feels very botched together, primarily seen in the random jumping points that often serve as a fast forward.  Much of the story is a very diluted tale of vengeance, with a few twists being thrown in to try and mix things up.  Unfortunately, these twists are mostly predictable, and the formulaic elimination of characters (commonly seen in this series) is just as linear as they always have been, while also feeling sometimes out of place.

Yet we know the story isn’t always the strongest aspect of the Resident Evil series.  So, let’s pick out some of the limitations of the heart pumping, out of control action we’ve come to love in this series.  First off, the stunts get a little cheesy at times, stretching Alice’s abilities to superhero qualitiesIf that weren’t enough, a few of these battles feel out of place, added only to fill as much time with action sequences than necessary.  But it’s the prolonged, beat someone to a pulp scene that are the most pointless of the mix and gets old after the third reiteration. However, the worst quality of the movie is the camera work.  When Alice and company aren’t fighting for survival in the post-apocalyptic world, the camera is surprisingly stable.  Yet, the minute the action starts, thing go crazy and not in a good way.  Imagine giving a five-year-old a camera, giving them caffeine and sugar to work up a frenzy, and then giving that five-year-old editing rights and you get something to describe the work. Resident Evil 7’s action sequences involve the camera constantly shifting perspectives, in a dizzying array that really adds little other than annoyance and perhaps nausea.  Why they chose this direction?  I can’t answer this, but this reviewer was not impressed with the cinematography of the film.

The Verdict:

 

Resident Evil 7 does the job of wrapping up the series (maybe) by answering many of the questions we’ve had.  While the story is simplistic, and some of the major resolutions anticlimactic, most should be okay with it if it means getting your action on.  Those looking to see Alice tear a new one with over the top scenes and CGI will not be disappoint, assuming you can get past the chaotic camera work.  I would say this one would be worth a theater trip because for the special effects, however with the cinematography I can’t say for certain.  However, fans of the series are encouraged to scope it out to get the finish to years long journey.     

 

Action/Sci-Fi/Horror:  7.0

Movie Overall: 5.5

Wars Falls Back To Traditional Underworld

blood-wars

 

Years ago, before vampires were glittering in the sun, another movie chose a darker presentation for the occult world.  This series brought a war between the werewolves and vampires, in a stunning action film that sealed Kate Beckinsale as a monster slaying queen.  If you’ve guessed Underworld, you’re right, and you can probably guess that the fifth movie is the theme of my latest review.  Will the fifth installment keep us enthralled in the centuries long war, or will it turn it to ash like a vampire in the sun.  Robbie K is back with another review, and as always I’m here to share my opinions on another movie.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES

  • Better story than four
  • Cool costumes and design
  • Underworld Action…somewhat.

 

For those who liked Underworld Awakening, I don’t mean to step on any toes.  However, Blood Wars was a much better story for me.  Dropping most of the genetic science, this film goes back to the feuding family, Game of Thrones aristocracy we loved in the previous films.  Selene’s journey through the Vampire politics comes back in full force, teetering the fine line of trust and fear at her race’s true intentions.  It feels like a traditional Underworld story and provides some answers to the lingering questions and complicated family ties.  This is the kind of tale that got us hooked into the series, and fit much better than the proceeding film.

In regards to the costumes, I always liked the outfit designs our cast wears.  The team once again combines modern with traditional to craft ensembles that represent each factions style.  Our vampires take on the rich, aristocratic dresses and tuxes, while the lycans get the urban warrior look that screams grunge. I myself like the northern faction’s looks the best, part mystical elf and part deadly vampire that work very well in the winter tundra fortress.  Regardless of who you are rooting for, know they will look good doing it.

But the biggest selling point of this movie is the action the film brings to the table.  Blood Wars certainly has the war theme to it filled with lots of gun play, modern war machines, and more gun play.  It takes a step back to the first movie’s fight sequences and gives you plenty of CGI death, complete with bloody gore, to fill your appetite.  But between the bouts of gunplay, the fifth installment mixes things up with some martial arts and swordplay resulting in some satisfying finishes.  The scenes are certainly not the flashiest things to grace the screen, but they fit well in the Underworld Universe.

 

DISLIKES

  • Too much in one story
  • Very rushed at times
  • Plot gaps that follow
  • Not focusing on other characters
  • Action short lives/lacking suspense

 

Despite the improvement in the story, Blood Wars still struggles with balancing the various aspects of the tale.  This installment crams a lot of tales into one including redemption, searching for her daughter, weird romances, and a lot more I don’t have room to write.  While this brings a very diverse plot, it also brings a very rushed delivery, with each arc lacking the details to build suspense and really sell it.  Even the editing could have used a little polishing to help organize the story a little better, instead of jumping between all the revelations haphazardly.  And despite all the revelations and story arcs in this film, Blood Wars still has plot gaps in it, some strategically used to coax a sixth film, and some unintentional.

In addition, I was also disappointed at not exploring more avenues with some of the other characters as well. Yes, the story is about Selene and her new male colleague David, so naturally they would get the most screen time.  However, they had new characters they really could have developed to add some more depth to the story.  Marius the big bad lycan really could have been an awesome villain and the northern vampire clan leader could have brought a new set of skills to the table to complement Selene.  However, they dropped these characters to the backburners and left me disappointed at the lost potential..

Finally let’s talk about the action.  Yes, the action is fitting of the Underworld series, but it still needs to be better developed for me.  Many of the shooting bouts were very simplistic and dry, reduced to a bunch of extras falling or wielding plastic looking guns.  In addition, many of the battles are reduced to swarm syndrome where all the extras are shown in a wide pan over that again lacks the details I like to see.  And as for the martial arts and sword scenes, well they were mostly short lived that they weren’t necessary.  They had some really cool ideas, but these fights were either awkwardly placed or so short they aren’t worth mentioning.  Such a shame when you consider how far they pushed the action all those years ago.  There wasn’t much urgency to these battles, and I felt kind of bored with them due to the lack of suspense.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Underworld Blood Wars isn’t that bad of a movie and probably will deliver what most expect.  It took a step back to its roots, and delivered a story that we are all familiar with.  However, there was just too much for me in this tale and I wasn’t impressed with how lackluster these elements were.  In addition, the battles (while fitting) also needed some tweaking to help bring that edge and suspense to make the movie more exciting.  Regardless, this reviewer suggests waiting on this film to hit your local Redbox vendor, or at least not see it in 3-D. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Horror:  7.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Insidious Meets Inception: Original But Not Spectacular

incarnate

            Ahh Christmas, a time of giving, good will, peace, and evil spirits. Wait… what?  Yes, it seems that the first weekend of December is a time to release films involving demons, ghouls, and whatever apparition you can think to open the holiday season.  This weekend, the name of the film is Incarnate, starring Aaron Eckhart, Catalina Sandino Moreno, and David Mazouz (among others).  Haven’t heard of it?  Don’t worry most haven’t, but nevertheless I’m here to inform you on the latest films to hit the silver screen. Here we go!

 

LIKES:

  • Plot based horror
  • Eckhart’s acting
  • Decent Thriller

 

The horror movie genre is not known for having the greatest plots, and often has a frail story to give purpose to the scares.  Fortunately, Incarnate has a more original tale to help it stand and one that isn’t too shabby.  I can best describe it as Inception meets a horror movie, where Dr. Ember (Eckhart) is able to dive into people’s subconscious to exercise demons.  While certainly cheesy, this twist adds a bit of mystery and thrills to add some excitement to what has been a tried and true formula.  This tale has some decent character development and establishes some rivalries that help keep you engaged into the movie as Ember tries to put his demons to rest.

Of course, much of the movie relies on Eckhart’s acting skills. Most know that Eckhart has a limited emotional range he can reach, and he still hits the same gruff, solitary moping that he always portrays. It works in this film, as Ember’s back story promotes his depression and single minded goal of eradicating the darkness at hand.  He sells the suffering and rage built up in him all while making you empathize the trials he has to face.  In addition, his confidence and ability to break the rules makes his character the antihero you love to follow.  Not bad for a main character to which the movie relies on.  The other characters work very well in their roles, there just wasn’t much to go on.

Finally, the movie treads more down the thriller (and somewhat action path) then the horror path.  Incarnate’s tale focuses on the character drama and story than the actual scares, though it does have a few good jumps at times.  The horror element comes in the theme of the evil spirits and possession, but outside of that really focuses on trying to entertain you with thrills and engaging characters.  So, if you’re looking to be scared out of your pants… sorry to disappoint.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not scary
  • Very rushed pace at times
  • Shallow Character development
  • Other characters shafted
  • Demon design

 

Again, the movie is lacking in scares and the jump scare moments are very predictable/unoriginal in this tale.  Most of the time it’s the sudden blaring of music that will have you jump, eventually being dropped to the background.  In regards to the creepiness, this film can’t help you there either with only the deep seeded voice and a few soulless eyes being the tools to unnerve you. Like I said, the movie focuses on thrills and plot than scares.

And despite that focus, Incarnate’s directors and writers had a good start, but they didn’t take it to its full potentialFor one thing, the pace becomes very rushed at times, a few sequences being so dramatically built up only to quickly end in a bang, crunch, or loud scream. The rushed pace robs the film of the suspense it desires, but also limits the amount of character development. Yes, we get insight into Ember’s backstory, but other parts of his past are left unexplained.  As for the other characters, there tales are either nonexistent, or so simplistic/formulaic that the characters didn’t need to exist in the film. His fellow workers, the mother, and even the demons would have benefitted from some more thinking time, before putting this film out to press. Perhaps the potential sequel will enlighten us more on their lives should it come to pass.  In addition, some of the plot explanations behind the science were laughable.

Speaking of the demons, don’t expect any top notch, award winning monsters that will make you pee your pants or stay up late.  Much of the creatures are reduced to blood shot eyes, or human avatars with dark black eyes that are a little freaky.  I had hoped that there would be a little more sustenance behind these creatures, especially with their importance to the story.  The big, bad leader of the bunch gets a lot of hype, and good news is you get to see it at the end… or parts of it.  Rather than reveal the entire demonic spectacle, they decided to show very little of the demon’s true form.  Why such small portions with such hype?  I don’t know, but it was annoying and kind of stupid in my opinion.

 

The Verdict:

 

Overall, Incarnate was a nice surprise in how much story there was in the holiday horror.  Perhaps it was my low expectations going in, but the film had some good thrills to get this last month going.  However, it needed more time, development, editing, and creepiness to truly obtain the masterpiece they were shooting for.  Perhaps the impending sequel will make up for the limitations, especially if the cliffhanger at the end is any indication.  Regardless, Incarnate is a film left for the RedBox, and your money is better reserved for the films coming out later this month. 

 

My scores:

 

Horror/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Decent Ghosts, Okay Scares, Del Toro Plot

Crimson Peak

            In the season of horror specials, I look for special gyms among the mediocre Halloween specials of today. So naturally I turn to the theater to provide me with the scare, creeps, and thrills to put me in the spooky mood. One movie that has shown promise is Crimson Peak, directed by Guillermo del Toro, the supposed master of horror. His work has provided such thrills in the past, but is the Peak capable of pushing one over the edge into a realm of nightmares and screams. As always read on to find out.

With del Toro you never know what you are going to get, but in this film his direction seems to be story. Crimson Peak is certainly plot favored, actually focusing on the characters instead of just the scares. From the beginning we jump into Edith’s (Mia Wasikowska) story, getting a look into her life and her relationships with our colorful cast. After a rather slow, detailed opening, there is a little ambiguity that lures you in to the second act. Once at the house, the true mystery begins, as you try to decipher the nuances of the obvious plot. I knew the general details, but piecing the motives, the drive, and deeper details was the real challenge in this movie. The few twists in the tale were decent, if disgusting, but this was a solid tale for a genre that is often lacking in the story department.

In the acting department, del Toro’s casting director did her homework incredibly well. Wasikowska performed very similar to her work in Alice, very primp, proper, and elegant without the awkward curiosity. I felt her responses to the CGI ghosts were kept in check and blended well with the more grounded moments of the film. Tom Hiddleston plays his old hat as the eclectic debonair blinded by ambitions and driven with a dark intensity to sting. He delivers his lines with poise, amplifying them with the right emotional edge to drive the dialogue home. Charlie Hunnam looks handsome (according to a few female audience members), and his acting isn’t too shabby, though he takes a backburner to the rest of the cast. The best acting title of the movie though goes to Jessica Chastain who is like a chameleon changing tones, emotions, and parts at the drop of a hat. Chastain executes her part fantastically, capturing the dark environment and personifying it in her acting.

By now I’m sure you’re saying, “Cut the crap, I want to know if it was scary!” For this reviewer, Crimson Peak was not as scary as the trailers had made it to be. The scares are largely based on the surprising, jump out at you moments, but are so predictable (or obvious) that they lose their surprising sheen. In addition, the direction the film takes also dulls the edge of the scares, almost as if there is no threat to be had. The real “scare” factor is the design of the ghosts themselves. Rotten, decaying bodies drenched in crimson red and wraith black certainly establish a lovely picture. Their disjointed movements are also quite disturbing, the unnatural angles, the bone crunching and unholy screams mixing to form creatures that nightmares are made of. However, the house itself may play a big factor in upping the scare. A Victorian mansion filled with creaking floors, spacious halls, and dim lighting is a rather realistic stage to haunt. In fact, the creepiest aspect may be the manipulation of those shadows, to hide the visage of the dangers and steal the comfort of home away. Once more Del Toro allows your imagination to do the heavy lifting for making you squirm in your seat.

Crimson Peak is one of the better horror stories, filled with mystery and character development. While not the scariest movies, the setting and use of shadows is a great tool to scare audiences. Del Toro just needed a little more honing and a slight change in plot to give you the scares that most of us wanted. Though there was a lack of screaming, it was a lot better than half of the mundane sequels and thrillers that come to the theater. I can’t recommend this one for the theater, unless you are looking for a decent horror plot, so save this for watching home to maximize scares.

My scores for Crimson Peak are:

 

Drama/Fantasy/Horror: 7.5 (for drama)

Movie Overall: 7