Will It Give You Goosebumps Again?

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween Poster

 

The book series that got me hooked to reading many years ago has tried to keep its relevance as up-to-date as possible.  With the first installment doing pretty well, it’s no surprise that they made a second film and yours truly is ready to dive in and figure out what lies in the latest book of R.L. Stine.  Can this family friendly horror keep things spooky enough to warrant a theater visit?  Robbie K here with a review on the latest silver screen sensation:

 

Movie: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)

 

Director:

Ari Sandel

Writers:

Rob Lieber (screenplay by), Rob Lieber (story by)  |2 more credits »

Stars:

Wendi McLendon-CoveyJack BlackMadison Iseman

 

 

LIKES:

 

Family Friendly:  The Goosebumps books have been a solid intro into the world of horror that brings kids into the fold of literature.  This movie sticks to those guns and adds that kid friendly element to warrant a try for a family outing.  Is it dark? Yes, but the studio managed to dilute the darkness to be manageable (for the most part) that kids should have a laugh at it. Case in point a three-year-old did very well in my viewing.

 

Good Pace:  Short and to the point, this movie was a quick, fun adventure that did little to slow the antics down.  From the get go, you’ll be immersed into the adventure at hand, as what can be describes Stranger Things, meets a Disney vibe and is executed well. The fact that time seems to fly by is a good sign that this will be fun for most.  Plus, 90 minutes is a good target goal in my opinion.

 

Creature Design: While certainly not as epic as Stine’s descriptions in his book, the crew in the movie studio have done some decent research.  The new creatures that inhabit the screen have got some flare to them, and while not the most realistic, at least have that same Stine vibe to them to still be easy for the little ones to handle.

 

The Use of Slappy: Slappy in the last film was not as utilized as I expected, reserved for a few jokes and that was it.  The sequel though really brought him out in spades, using him to establish a bit ,ore of the horror element, while also grounding the story down. Slappy was much more himself in this installment, his malicious side mixed with his deceitful antics bringing back memories of the horror that was Slappy in his books.  A solid antagonist to support the story, I enjoyed this character much more.

 

DISLIKES:

Under Utilization of Characters:  The kids get center stage and do well, but the older cast members not as involved as I was hoping.  Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ken Jeong were reduced to a few short sequences, still bringing their tricks to trade, but not getting involved in the story like I had hoped. As for Jack Black, he’s there, but not much more I can say .  They really diluted “Stine’s” part in this film and left me a little bummed with my Haunted Halloween treat.

 

Not as Much Nostalgia: Part of the fun of the last movie was all the references to the books and trying to find the cameos in their involvement.  Sadly, this film short sheeted us in this factor.  Yes, there are a few nods, but Haunted Halloween is trying to go a little more original than its predecessor.  Nothing wrong with that, it’s just I missed the find your childhood reference component from the first film.

 

More Creature involvement: Design might be good, but Haunted Halloween 2 didn’t use their creatures to their full potential either.  Many creatures get their kicks for a few seconds before being reduced to background images and occasional sound effect.  Such a step down in this design, Haunted Halloween didn’t have quite the spectacular impasses they wanted to bring in, and that left me feeling a little bored in terms of suspense.

 

Predictability/Trailer Spoilers:  My friend Tim has shared wisdom of be careful what trailers you watch.  These words are very applicable to this movie, as watch enough of the trailers and you have 80% of the movie.  Haunted Halloween has little in terms of grand surprises, and by watching these trailers, you can skip this film in the theater.

 

The Story Component: It’s not that the story was bad, but it was much less involved than the first installment.  Very straightforward, very cliché, and very piecemeal that it feels like an unfinished manuscript.  Slappy may have tied things together and made one heck of an antagonist, but their execution of his skill set was just missing something.  Some of the antics, gimmicks, and threats were very lighthearted, and due to the kid atmosphere, I feel they threw some punches to not go too extreme to leave nightmares.

 

The Verdict:

 

            Goosebumps 2 has some fun little quirks that will be very appropriate for the family atmosphere of the movie.  With good creature design and pacing it shows some promise to being the horror movie for the young and young at heart.  However, the originality factor took a little from the adventure I enjoyed in the first installment, primarily at how disjointed this movie felt in integrating all its characters and creatures.  It’s a step back in quality overall, and you can skip this one due to the trailers, but not the worst movie to come out overall. 

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Family: 7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

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This Venom Contains Laughing Side Effects

Venom Poster

 

Marvel holds many cards in the world of Hollywood, and despite the hope of a united universe, Sony pictures still holds off in giving us a united front for our superhero crew.  Tonight, a new contestant enters the park, not so much a hero as an antihero, this creature has pulled in a noble fanbase and inspired a number of other characters in the process.  If you’ve got the hints you know what I’m reviewing, so let’s get started as Robbie K reviews:

 

Movie:  Venom (2018)

 

Director:

Ruben Fleischer

Writers:

Scott Rosenberg (screenplay by), Jeff Pinkner(screenplay by)

Stars:

Tom HardyMichelle WilliamsMarcella Bragio

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Dark Aspect:  You’ll see a lot of jabs at this movie, but this installment at least gave us a taste of the darker side of the titular character. The movie dips into how not everything is gold in the realm of superpowers, as well as how grey everything can really be in the complex world of humans vs. the unknown.  It also allowed for some more intense action scenes to come into play, including some finishes the fanbase has been looking forward to for some time.

 

The Action… sort of: There are moments in Venom that feel well at home with MCU level style of battling.  Venom has at least two winning sequences for me that have explosions, choreographed take downs of extras, and some sweet utilization of CGI to bring out Venom’s fluid, whip like movements to bare.  It’s not the most dynamic, but it is miles above his first appearance back in Spiderman 3.

 

Sound Editing:  Probably not what most are looking for, I enjoyed the sound effects brought by the movie team.  You’ve got the alien slithering, the roiling growls of the hungry beast, plenty of speaker shattering booms, and enough effects to wrap together to make for the action scenes. 

 

Tom Hardy:  The star of the show and perhaps the best casting call for this movie, Hardy is certainly the leading component of his film.  His ability to play an awkward, down on his luck, vigilante reporter is quite spot on, as well as the uncanny ability to play a crazy person as well.  It came off naturally, held good chemistry with the rest of the crew, and certainly was entertaining to watch him interact with a digital, altered voice of Venom.  I’ve said it before, but Hardy’s ability to play any type of role continues to be present in his acting.

 

Comedy: Like most Marvel movies, Venom is loaded with comedy to get you laughing and ironically may be the biggest aspect of the movie.  Both intentionally and unintentionally, the movie had me laughing, primarily at the banter between Venom and Eddie Brock through much of the movie.  The insults are on point, the delivery of the lines, and even Venom’s questionable morals are all entertaining for this reviewer and probably the biggest point one should go in wanting to see.

 

The End Credits Teaser: Not fully relevant to Venom, the post credit scene is worth the wait and hints at a huge potential for the next Sony-Marvel production coming in December.  A little teaser to see if you want to take a trip into that.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The CGI:  Still better than anything I could do, Venom didn’t quite have the same definition and attention to detail that its Disney infused brothers do. The graphic are a bit messy, for although fluid, looks like living spaghetti trying to take form in many ways. Perhaps an homage to the early 2000s graphic style, Venom needed some upgrading to match the graphic expectations that the movie fans most likely desire.

 

The Story:  Hinting and promising so much in the trailer, Venom’s story department does hit the dark aspect that this antihero demands. Yet, it still took shortcuts for this film, skipping over a lot of build-up, character development, and even just plot development to get to the goods and comedy I guess.  Other characters are very one-dimensional and shallow, relationships are very fickle and seem to switch faster than a light switch, and in many cases crosses into cheesy proportions that didn’t work for me.  Grandiose displays may be something that younger audiences like,, but the story element still needs some tweaking to get to the Disney level.

 

The Other Symbiotes: I get this was the start of the franchise, but the advertisements really hammered into us the potential to see other creatures more than Venom take some screen time.  Sadly, they skimped on these as well, forcing to barely touch on these creatures before moving on to another poor plot point.  The main antagonist in this film didn’t get much time worth warranting, once more digging at the weaker storytelling of this studio. Even Venom took some time getting himself on screen, a sad use of merchandising rights when it could have been so much better.

 

The Anticlimactic Action: Venom does have some nice action scenes as mentioned before, but the problem is that they are often short lived or very carbon copy.  The chase scene showed promise, and the first-time combat had its moments, but they utilized their tricks a little too quickly.  The ending promised a potential to have a real, epic clash of the Symbiotic titans going, but again Sony cut the corners and left me wanting more to show off their powers.  Venom was very underpowered in this film, and they did little to utilize the keys handed to them.

 

The props for the mid-credit scene:  Actor choice for the surprise guest at the film is 50:50 to me, but the props to make him come to life… not very good for me.  Should a Venom 2 make it to the big screen, I’m hoping their wardrobe department makes some better efforts to get the next antagonist in.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Go in expecting a comedy and you will love this movie and have the most fun.  However, in regards to the full picture part of the film, it still has more to develop before it meets expectations set by Disney.  Hardy and some mediocre action scenes can bring some entertainment, but it doesn’t quite hit the home run outside of that. It’s a bit cheesy at times, a little overboard in terms of the comedy, and doesn’t quite deliver on the action, other symbiotes or even the story.  Yet, it has enough special effects kicks to warrant a theater visit, but only if you can handle the limitations mentioned. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Horror/Sci-Fi: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5-6.0

A Hell Of A Good Time

Hell Fest Poster

 

It’s that time of the year again, the leaves are changing, the air is becoming crisper and cooler, and the sounds of blood curling screams can be heard in the air.  Yes, it’s Halloween time and with it comes tonight’s review on the latest Horror movie to grace the silver screen.  Tonight, looks to be a joyful slasher film, where MTV meets thriller as a group of teens try to take on some lunatic force once more.  Yes, it’s time for Hell Fest, and yours truly is here to give you some thoughts on your movie going pleasures.  Let’s get started!

 

Movie: Hell Fest (2018)

 

Director:

Gregory Plotkin

Writers:

Seth M. Sherwood (screenplay by), Blair Butler (screenplay by)

Stars:

Bex Taylor-KlausReign EdwardsAmy Forsyth

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Not award winning, but still okay, the teenage cast of Hell Fest may be slightly annoying, but the direction and acting have led to characters seemingly likeable.  While not much past screaming and acting like teenagers, the group gets applause for making me believe in their terror and being the teenagers, they were designed to be.

 

Surprises:  It’s a straightforward movie, but Hell Fest did it’s best to keep you on your toes as to what would happen.  A blend of fake outs and take outs, the thrills will keep rearing their ugly heads in the 90-minute run time.  As such, you’ll be happy with trying to get an idea who will not survive the night, so kudos to that.

 

Fast Pace:  A predictable movie like this needs to have as many antics going for it to make it worth the trip.  Fortunately, the pace is fast, ever moving, and loaded with enough gimmicks to keep you entertained for the already lower run-time.  So those with short attention spans should be okay on this aspect.

 

Funny:  Face it, the stereotypes today can be very humorous if relevant or poked at in just the right manner.  Hell, Fest accomplishes this tasks, making sure to work their charm into the movie to help alleviate the stress of the horror.  A clever pun, good delivery of lines, and some well-time jokes are balanced well into this mix.

 

The Setting: My favorite aspect of the movie though is the special effect work, more so in regards to making the world come to life.  Hell Fest’s prop department really brought the themed event to full life in all its terrifying glory.  The mazes are impressively detailed, a variety of themes to please most fans of the scary theme park ordeals.  Wardrobe accomplished their task of making a beautiful display of nightmarish costumes, again in a variety of styles to play on the fears of the main characters, extras, and the audience.  As for the sound effects and light shows that Hell Fest has, again, it’s an impressive piece of work that integrates you into the experience first hand, and perhaps the most fun aspect of the movie.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Character Development: I know I expect too much from this genre or type of movie, but a little more background information, depth, or something else would have been nice to see in this movie.  Our crew is having fun with you, but a little more resourcefulness and brains, or some personality could have helped hook me into caring about the characters a little more.  As I said, it’s MTV looks, but a little more internal work is in order.

 

Predictable:  The movie doesn’t try to deviate too much from the linear presentation it tries to throw.  The trailers have presented the movie well, but sadly the linearity and unoriginality don’t win it points for a higher score.  If you just want the straight and narrow though, you’ve got a real winner in this film again.

 

Trailers reveal too much: Yep, you heard right, the movies once again suffer from too much advertising.  Hell Fest had much revealed in the confines of the public messaging service, and if you have seen enough commercials, you’re going to lose the magic this movie wants to bring.  Because of this the predictability goes up and the scares go down.  Speaking of which…

 

Not Scary At All: Because of the ludicrous presentation of the teens, edging back on the scares, and the trailers, the movie is actually not that fear inducing.  Yes, the villain is certainly creepy, the camera work helping a lot on this and there are some cringe worthy kills.  However, Hell Fest relies too much on the jump scares, with obvious set up and ploys so deliberately laid out that one would have a hard time trying to ignore it. Nevertheless, this movie is not going to be much for the fans of the truly terrifying, and most likely worth a skip. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall, Hell Fest is a fun installment into the horror genre that brings laughs and cheap thrills to the mix.  While there are certainly creepy aspects to the film and the setting/costumes are perfect for creating the place where horror and fun come together, it lacks that bite that good horror movies know how to execute.  Still, it is a fun experience and worth checking out as a group, but if you really want the nightmare inducing thrills and the nightmare inducing images, this movie most likely won’t creep you out. 

 

My scores are:

 

Horror:  7.0-7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5

Joining The Aimless, Action Packed Hunt

The Predator Poster

 

In 1987, a new science fiction icon was established, an apex hunter that proved its merit by tackling the threat of mercenaries led by America’s action star Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Yes, it was Predator, the franchise about alien hunters setting out to… well I guess hunt. Filled with gore, cheesy stories, and interesting technology, the Predator franchise has continued to secure its foothold in science fiction community, continuing to please the super fans in its numerous media. Tonight’s review is on the latest addition to the field, with a gigantic cast, a controversial media story, and what looks to be another special effects fest.  Robbie K is back with another review as he gives his opinions on:

 

Movie: The Predator (2018)

Director:

Shane Black

Writers:

Fred DekkerShane Black

Stars:

Boyd HolbrookTrevante RhodesJacob Tremblay

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting (primarily Olivia Munn and Jacob Tremblay):  It’s a star-studded cast loaded with talent. And this rag tag band of crazy mercenaries feels like a modern assortment of the classic squad. While more diverse than our original group, this squad had enough bite to their acting to make the characters diverse, and the crazy believable as they brought the hammer down.  While I nod my head to all performances, Olivia Munnand Jacob Tremblay were my favorites, their character balanced, involved, and the performances detailed in their respective quirks. 

 

The Special Effects: The evolution of technology means flashier graphics, bigger explosions, and more detailed imaginations coming to life. No surprise, The Predator is back and abusing the heck out of the computer generating images, crafting deadlier, more brutal aliens who are ready to kill in the goriest ways.  Fluid movements, detailed costumes and designs that are brought into beautiful displays, and technology that is the edgiest arsenal we have seen.  These effects are going to immerse you into the hunt, and really drop you into the blood bath that this series has been famous for.

 

The Story (kind of): Okay, it’s not the most basic of the predator stories, and it has sort of diverged from the straightforward kill for thrills that the franchise has bathed in for years.  It attempts to springboard a new connecting arc, that attempts to give a point past the hunt, and parts of it really did work for me as they connect the series.  As such, the series could utilize this new story element to bring with it a new turn of events, it just depends on the execution components.

 

The Comedy: Half the cast is from the comedy genre era, so you were expecting laughs.  The Predator has some nicely timed, clever jokes unleashed like a laser blast from the Predator’s cannon.  References to the first film, famous movie tropes, and some insult comedy go a long way in this film, many of which work to relief the bloody tension that comes with the thriller.

 

The Predator Feel: While not the most traditional of the bunch, The Predator still has much of the same components you love of the series. The Gore, the overkills, and the grandiose displays of gunplay vs. alien technology are there to keep you engaged in the bunch.  It is ridiculous, it is over the top, and brings with it a lot of satisfying Predator goodness that was established back in the 80s.

 

The Action:  I’ve hit the nail on the head multiple times, but I have to say that this installment has the fastest paced and the greatest number of sequences of the film.  The Predator takes many potshots at the action angle, utilizing the chaos to bring about more chaos in an attempt to keep our heart pumping fast.  Some of these fights are off the chain exciting, while others don’t quite live up to the snuff.  Nevertheless, the pace is thrilling to keep you engaged in the film.

 

DISLIKES:

The Sloppy Character Development:  It’s a Predator movie, I know it’s not the point of the series, but this film tried to try to elaborate on the backstories of the group.  Nodding to their attempts at change, if you are going to try to establish characters, do a little more to really get us connected to the group. Should this franchise out, we need a little more sustenance to the group, so that we can actually root for them in the end.  However, Jacob Tremblay did get a good development so kudos to them.

The Grandiose Speeches: We know this series is hard to take seriously when it comes to the dialogue, but this movie did a little too much inspirational preaching for my blood.  It was fun at first, but by the fourth speech, the lines had become stale, the timing inappropriate, and the emphasis/passion of the speech was missing. It was pointless to me at these points.

 

The Over Excessive Cursing: Shocker, I don’t like the haphazard use of the F bomb, but Predator’s lazy writing just kept rocking it from the speakers with no end in sight.  It’s a small dislike, but something that shows writing still has a long way to go in the art of balance.

 

The Story:  While I appreciated the springboard ideas, Predator still has a long way to go to achieve the story it wants.  It offers not so much a challenge, as a very shallow, cut to the point, ridiculous fest that Sci-Fi genre loves, but has started to cross into the eye rolling zones.  As the movie ends, there is potential, but the movie needs to pick a direction to roll, is the main limitation is the film’s inability to decide which plot setting it wants to go.  The Predator just tries to take too many paths, and seems confused as to which one it wants to stick with as it tries to reach new levels of campiness.

The Comedy:  Some of the comedy is great as I mentioned before, however this installment tries too hard at times to get a laugh.  Predator is meant to be indirectly funny, but this one was a little too forced on me that it didn’t see fitting to be in this franchise.  As such, the relentless humor takes away from the movie and leads to some of the mixed reviews that you are reading.  Again, the comedic relief is appreciated when timed, but too much of a good thing usually goes bad.

Sterling K Brown’s Character:  I get it, bad guys are supposed to not be liked, but this particular villain is more obnoxious than threatening/evil.  Again, this comes from incomplete character development and an aimless story idea, but Mr. Brown’s talents were not the best utilized in this film.   I would have liked more development, more threats, and less unyielding taunting that they took the character in.  Not the best antagonist in the series, and certainly not the best film editing techniques with him either.

Quantity vs. Quality Action wise:  As much as I like action, I like scenes where the fighting has impressive choreography, strategy with creativity, and lasts a decent time to make the skirmish worthwhile. The Predator has these moments that I love, but many are short bouts of carnage that seem to be just fillers to extend the movie length and show more special effects.  Quantity is good for pacing, but The Predator needs to focus on quality to really seal the deal for the next installment.  Utilize that suspenseful nature with the technology like the end game, and you’ve got potential to make some of the best fighting scenes in the series.

 

The Classic Predator: From a story aspect, I understand the inclusion, but the trailers really focused on differentiating the two as the selling points.  Sadly, outside of some contributions, the classic model doesn’t do as much as you hope it will.  The focus was more on the super predator and it would have been nice to see more done with the creature that started it all.  Sorry, but the studio needs to make up its mind as to which predators they want to focus on, instead of just creating new ones for the sake of creating new ones.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

Overall, The Predator is a mixed bag of tricks in terms of the quality it brings.  On the one hand it’s got all the science fiction action you could want with the carnage and special effects to maximize the chaos. Like all Predator movies, the fans will enjoy the hunt and the poor extras who try to face this colossal sized creature and it offers some major potential for them to follow up on. However, the movie struggles to find the directions it wants to take, primarily in the story vs. action. Vs comedy and that is where it divides people.  The series needs to research its origins and choose the direction for the next installment, making sure to emphasize quality instead of quantity.  Still, it’s worth a trip to the theater for the special effects alone and will certainly rattle your ear drums with the deafening sounds.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Horror: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Slender Thin Plot/Characters, This Horror Needs To stick To Video Games

Slender Man Poster

 

Horror movies are flooding into the theater almost as fast comedies, and despite the mediocre reviews they continue to be churned out at the breakneck speed.  Tonight, despite a Sci-Fi horror releasing this week, a second horror wants to take a stab at winning the box office battle.  Robbie K here, bringing you another movie review to help guide your viewing pleasures.  Let’s get started as I share my opinions on:

 

Movie: Slenderman (2018)

 

Director:

Sylvain White

Writers:

David Birke,  Victor Surge (based on a character by)

Stars:

Joey King,  Julia Goldani Telles,  Jaz Sinclair

 

 

LIKES:

 

Short Run Time

Good Cinematography

Makeup/Visuals

Design of Antagonist

Okay Acting

 

Slenderman doesn’t have much going for it for me, but at least the movie is at a short run time of about 80 minutes, so you don’t have to put up with too long of a movie (assuming you stay for the whole show).  The faster pace film has packs plenty of creepy-crawly mood to it, mostly thanks to the cinematography and setting designed for the movie. Bring in the makeup and visuals to further add that shadow of sadness/doom alongside the realistic setting and you an even strong case of being disturbed by the movie. Slenderman’s various actions really can get under your skin, and once his form is solidly captured on set, you might get the final ambience of shivering in your skin as the CGI monster stalks the “heroines”. As for the cast, they do well with the direction they were guided down, but I can’t say more outside of that.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Characters

The Disturbing Imagery

Plot Holes

Chaotic Camera Work

Aimless Direction

 

Unfortunately, the dislikes pile up, more so in how stereotypical this movie went forgoing any originality and potential for superficial gimmicks.  The first aspect are the characters, very shallow teenagers who not only dug themselves a major hole in this film, but refusing to change.  The static development leaves little to root for, nor any promise that things are going to go well for the teenage girls.  Sadly, the girls primary growth occurs in their ability to tolerate the awful images the CGI ghost brings with him.  Like the Ring, these visuals are not the most pleasing to watch and some felt unnecessary to include, thereby making their inclusion all the more pointless.  Instead they should have worked on the story, for it had many plot holes and dead ends that were disappointing to say the least. Slenderman’s avenues are quickly interrupted by prolonged bouts of cat and mouse games, where the camera work fails to capture all the details you wanted to see.  In addition, the movie did not succeed in taking a firm direction, leading to this spiral of hodge-podge horror that left me bored, listless, and counting the minutes for this predictable film to end.  I’ll applaud the nods to other horror movies, but this piece meal needed some refining to bring Slenderman out to his full horror.

 

The Verdict:

 

Slenderman looked insane, and it delivered on that quite well in regards to the mental war it plays on the girls.  Your scares come from realistic setting and camera work, but outside of that there is little to harp on.  The movie’s story is unfocussed, needing some editing and rewrites to really dive into the tale they wanted to present.  In addition, deeper characters and better focus on the CGI villain is a must if the series is to survive.  As such, I can’t recommend this movie for theater, nor is it worth your time at most rental sites (unless you are a teen looking to test your merit). Given everything coming out save your money and target those movies in the near future.

 

 

My Scores:

 

Horror:  4.0

Movie Overall: 3.0-3.5

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

Check Out This Upgrade

Upgrade Poster

 

Robbie K back with yet another review this time on a movie that looks to be interesting to say the least. With one of the weaker advertising campaigns to hit in a while, this movie didn’t reveal much in regards to its contents, so I went in wondering what was in store.  After seeing it, yours truly has plenty of things to report his thoughts as I review:

 

Movie: Upgrade

 

 

Director:

Leigh Whannell

Writer:

Leigh Whannell

Stars:

Logan Marshall-Green,  Richard Anastasios,  Rosco Campbell

 

 

LIKES:

 

Sci-Fi Plot:  The movie genre says Action/Comedy/Horror, but this reviewer felt it was more a science fiction piece than anything else. The piece is a culmination of various Sci-Fi hits that include things like: The Fugitive, Bladerunner, Matrix, and even HardCore Henry.  Such a ragtag collection really worked in this case, and brought with it an engaging story that addresses the issues of technology and how the world can potentially abuse them.  It’s a thrilling adventure that for the most part kept my attention, and helped dive deeper down the rabbit hole.

 

Decent Character Development:  You may remember the movie of Her where man and machine entered a complex relationship that was odd and inappropriate.  Upgrade takes that foundation and updates it to something much better, creating an interface between man and machine that isn’t love, but practically survival. While this relationship is multi-faceted, I was impressed with the amount of development both key characters got. STEM in particular had loads of development, despite only being a disembodied voice that was set for survival. As the movie progresses, the level of complexity between the two further expands, and creates one of the more engaging relationships I’ve seen in a while.

 

Decent Editing:  For a movie with a complex tale and a lot of pathways to connect, it surprisingly felt complete in such a short time limit. At around 90 minutes, Upgrade meets all its goals of action, storytelling, and motif exploring and keeping most of the footage tight and relevant to the film. This weekend is surprisingly meeting this goal, and I’m thrilled to see this art hasn’t been completely lost.

 

Action Scene:  For an action genre tag, Upgrade manages to accomplish this goal quite well and bring about one of the more intense scenes I have experienced in a long time.  Grey and his cyber buddy go through the motions from standard fist fight to kung fu fury and given the rock music infusion with a very active camera, the scenes only get more exciting.  Sure, some of the action scenes were simplistic stunts given other examples, but what’s impressive is that the action is always pertinent to the film. In addition, the style of fighting maintains the dark edge of the movie, leading to further amplification of the suspense and thrills this movie brings.

 

Realism:  Sci-Fi often gets a bad rap for being unbelievable, but Upgraded is one of those films that will shatter that fantasy glass ceiling. Set in the not so far future, the movie manages to bring the future technology to the “modern” world, skipping the grandiose futuristic cities and creatures, for a much more grounded approach. As such, the added realism, brings the horror element out and is scarier than what most horror movies can cook up.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Character underutilization: The movie relies a lot on two characters to make up the story, the secondary characters are semi important, but most of them get the shaft.  I would have liked better integration of these characters, especially the cop, who could have opened up more of the movie’s edge had she been given the chance. Perhaps future installment can help out with this, but for this movie…it was okay.

 

Gorey At Times:  There are some things one does not like to see and some of the finishing moves in this movie are examples of this. Upgraded doesn’t go overboard in bloody chaos, but it also is not afraid to show off the savagery of enhanced biomechanics.  Those of the faint of heart or squeamish are now warned, because some members of the cast will have some heavy hitting injuries to deal with in the 90 minutes. 

 

Rushed Ending:  The movie had so much going for it, but the ending while complete, dark, and fitting, seemed a bit rushed to get there. Sure, much of the rabbit hole was predictable to me, with only a slight layer escaping my theories, but when it came to boil things move a lot faster than they had.  I had hoped for a little more engagement, a little more obstruction, and definitely a full-on finish instead of a cliffhanger to indicate a potential series to come.  Breaking the pace, I had started to thoroughly enjoy so late in the game wasn’t my favorite decision of this movie. 

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Upgrade is definitely not the typical movie to grace the screen, but this darker film crafts an adventure that will pull many of the Sci-Fi genre into the mix.  The dynamic duo of man and machine is a keystone in supporting the film, and with energetic action, a realistic setting, and good editing, one will surely become immersed in the new matrix.  It still has some rough edges to smooth out, primarily in integrating all the character and not breaking the pace in the final minutes of the film.  Yet, the hinted series to come can address this, potentially leading to a plummet into a new Wonderland of androids vs. humans.  Worth a trip to the theater?  You bet, but be warned for the violence and be warned of the very loud sound effects that can be hard on the ears.

 

My scores:

 

Action/Comedy/Horror: 7.0

Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0