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

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Do You Dare See This Film

Truth Or Dare

 

Another weekend, another horror movie to arise in the dim lights of the theater.  This weekend, the big advertised thriller of young age adults versus the paranormal has reared its superficial prettiness in hopes of generating big bucks.  While the trailers have painted a very skeptical picture, but you never know what lies beneath the snippets edited in the trailers.  Robbie K here with the third review of the weekend, bringing some thoughts and observations on the latest films to hit the silver screen.  Let’s get started with this review of:

 

Film: Truth or Dare

 

Director:

Jeff Wadlow

 

Writers:

Jillian Jacobs (screenplay by),  Michael Reisz (screenplay by)

 

Stars:

Lucy Hale,  Tyler Posey,  Violett Beane

 

 

LIKES:

Good Pace:  Horror movies are a mixed bag of either being too slow or too fast.  Truth or Dare is fortunately one of those that seems to hit just the right speed to allow for everything to pan out as it should be.  This reviewer appreciated the brisk pace brought about by the pressure of the game, adding some slight edge and mystery as to when the next challenge would arise in a rather predictable plot.  Yet, the movie still took the time to allow their characters to semi-flesh out their issues and dive a little deeper than their superficial looks.  A nice balance is always nice to see.

 

Pretty Cast:  Pretty faces go a long way in this business, and Truth or Dare is chock full of attractive puppets set to potentially meet their doom.  This Abercrombie and Fitch models will be pleasing to many eyes, which does a lot of heavy lifting in the beginning to accommodate the typical montage.  And even throughout the drama, the looks will garnish more attention than the acting itself.  Still, the costume and casting get two thumbs up for fashioning a target audience relatable ensemble.

 

Decent Acting:  While the looks are certainly a big picture, the acting is still semi-decent alongside the directing.  Most of the cast actually deserves some props for fashioning characters that didn’t make me cringe or wish they would dieHale in particular was my favorite, using her talents to craft a very versatile character capable of being relatable to. Once more a portrayal of morals vs self-preservation, the lovely young woman more than delivered a stellar performance that evolved as her character adapted.

 

A Unique Concept:  The Truth or Dare game that is deadly might seem cheesy, but it wins points for originality in my book.  A simple child’s game (that can get out of control sometimes) as a device of death opened up creative avenues of potential fatality that kept things interesting.  While a little over the top at times, (though not as bad as Final Destination), it was cool to see this dynamic stay consistent and the strategy for how to get around the traps set forth.

 

DISLIKES:

Character Development:  The movie had a good start and a device to drive growth, but sadly that growth was fairly diluted for much of the characters.  Most of the cast were still shallow teens with drama that did nothing more than paint massive targets on their backs, falling into the slasher formula that many seem to enjoy.  While the game did drive some things to change for the two leads, the movie could have benefitted from a little more branching out.

Story Takes Some Dives:  The story actually held some gold nuggets in terms of quality, but that quickly dulled into fool’s gold as the plot elements dippedThe twist behind the games lethal forces, the other players who had the more sinister characteristics, and even the solutions were hinted at times only to be dropped.  More suspense and thrills could have been accomplished had they expanded on this category.  They started to clean it up at the end with the solution to the problem and the tension that came with it, leading to a rather engaging ending, but the middle of the movie could have used this treatment.

Rushed Deaths:  Some of the kills in this movie are intense bouts of our “heroes” racing against the clock to stop the game’s effects.  These kills are the more engaging, changing the odds to a more even split on their survival.  Others, are merely cheap wrap ups that the teenage group seem to drink up, which is a little disappointing at not delivering on the potential that was there.  Perhaps for the shorter attention span of the modern age, but still could have been better than what was presented.

Idiot Syndrome: Where A Quiet Place held realism, fear, and logic, Truth or Dare sadly falls victim to the famous idiot syndrome where the characters brains are absent after the first scene.  While this isn’t true for all characters, many of them seem to have their logic components absent during much of the film.  Why this annoying trait can’t be teased out a little more makes no sense to me, but the old stick continues to make for an annoying component that takes away from the characters, degrading them to MTV reality status.

 

The VERDICT:

            Truth or Dare falls victim to the cliché of teenage horror syndrome, in that is a gimmicky display of airheads going up against an unstoppable supernatural force.  True, it does have an original medium to terrorize our actors through, pretty cast with decent acting, and a good pace to entertain, it falls shy of being an epic horror.  It’s good for the teenage and young adults target audience, but for an audience as a whole this movie is better left for renting than anything else. If only the MTV syndrome could have been avoided, because this quality is what dilutes an otherwise engaging premise.

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Thriller:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

Can’t Keep Quiet About This Great Horror Film

A queit place

 

Horror Movies continue to flood the theaters, each one hoping to stake its claim in the Hollywood world and actually get a decent rating.  One such candidate comes out this weekend, with a well-received preshowing, and a festival to support it, this movie holds high potential to accomplish the goal of a good horror movie.  Tonight, my second review hopes to bring good news on this movie and promote it for being a horror film that will leave you reeling.  Robbie K back again, as he reviews:

 

Title: A Quiet Place

Director:

John Krasinski

 

Writers:

Bryan Woods (screenplay by),  Scott Beck

 

Stars:

Emily Blunt,  John Krasinski,  Millicent Simmonds

 

 

LIKES:

Editing:  Horror movies miss the mark quite often in this category, usually adding unneeded details to increase the length of the movie.  A Quiet Place manages to really tighten this element up, with almost 100% of the movie holding pertinence to the movie’s storytelling.  The result, is an immersive horror tale that doesn’t dive too far down the hokey realm and instead towards the quality thriller tale we’ve been seeking.

 

Acting:  For a movie with few words, the small cast was able to maximize their screen time with their nonverbal acting.  Blunt and Krasinski (the actual married couple) play their roles to the T, unleashing all that primitive rage of protecting their offspring from the elements.  There is love, passion, and fear all rolled up into the mannerisms and facial acting.  As for the kids, again impressive openings as they portray kids stuck in a dangerous wilderness where life hangs in the very balance.  The family dynamic reigns strong in this small cast, including all the interpersonal dynamics and drama that comes with a close knit group.

 

Creepy:  The movie wins points in the scare department for being a realistic fear factory that delivered on two levels.  One is of course the good use of jump scares that had a number of people jumping in their seats, not over utilizing it as many films in this genre doHowever, the real chills come from the creepy atmosphere contained within the deadly frontier our world becomes in this reality.  The creatures themselves are horrific, mutated abominations that are the stuff of nightmares as these alpha predators hunt our heroes.  Even creepier though, is the feeling of isolation and being watch (or heard in this case) by the threat looming out there.  That delicate balance brings with it an inherent suspense that will keep you locked up until its all released in one giant flinch/scream depending on the audience member.  This energy carries on throughout the whole movie and is more than a welcome factor this genre needed.

 

DISLIKES:

A Few Unnecessary Scenes:  A small dislike, but there are a few scenes/ideas that didn’t pan out for me in the film.  Some of these scenes seem to be nothing but an opening for a death or to provide a passing glance of the creatures (which they tease for a lot in the first half of the film).  Others, I think try to add a little more tension to the scenario (such as an injured foot), only to not prove pertinent in the long run.

 

The Pregnancy/Baby Dynamic: On the one hand I liked this component because it helped add more to the family dynamic/character building this genre often fails at.  Past this symbolism of hope though, the whole dynamic adds a slight cheesy flavor to the tension more so at the speed, ridiculousness, and semi-cringe worthy handling of this factor.  I can’t say much without ruining the story, but the direction took a steep drop in believability for me when this gravid plot line came into play.

 

Trailers:  Given the only 90 minute run time, the other factor that provides enough glimpses to ruin the surprise are the trailers. Depending on how many times you have seen the trailers, you can see the twists have been ruined and the movie become predictable.  So be prepared my friends, because the more you watch advertising, the more you have revealed before the movie starts.

 

The VERDICT:

 

A Quiet Place has accomplished the goal of good storytelling meeting the thrills of a pending game of cat and mouse.  The movie has heart, character development and a number of the positives, but nothing is more important is how well the movie manages to ring in terms of tis advertising and how focused they were for a 90 minute scare fest.  While those who have seen the trailers a lot may be at risk of a so-so movie, A Quiet Place reigns high in my horror genre and is worth a viewing in the theater if you are looking for a movie to really drop you back in the creepy level.  If not, definitely check this one out in rentals

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Horror/Thriller:  8.5

Movie Overall:  8.5

For the “Win”chester?

Winchester

 

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” such a truthful phrase in this modern-day world.  Well take this phrase, combine it with legendary house, and some events that occurred in the past and this mixture results in the plot of our next movie.  Welcome to another Robbie’s movie review, and tonight I’ll be posting on the latest horror movie entitled Winchester.  This interesting spectacle holds some wonder to it, but does it have the goods to deliver, especially with sensation Helen Mirren leading the charge?  I’m here to answer that question for you, so let’s get going.

 

LIKES:

The Setting: One of the coolest things about horror movies is the potential to craft new, dark, incredible settings that bring life, or in this case death, to the screen.  The movie has one of the most interesting settings I’ve seen in a while, a glamorized mansion modeled after the Winchester estate.  This jigsaw puzzle like house is not the friendliest on the eyes, but it works to craft a twisted chamber that plays games on the mind.  It holds great potential for a lot of scares with the uncertainty that lies around every corner and angled stair case.  And once the lights go down and only the candles flicker, that is when the true craziness of the house is unleashed.

 

The Character Development:  Scary movies are mostly about scares, and in much of the modern-day media that’s all they care about.  Fortunately, Winchester goes a different route and brings focus back to the characters walking the hallowed halls.  Both Mirren’s character and Jason Clarke have some decent plot arcs to tie them to the central story contained within Winchester’s elaborate walls.  Their journey through their struggles has some potent emotion behind, specifically Clarke’s whose path to enlightenment takes a few dramatic twists that are impressive.  I liked the personalization of the characters, even the big bad spirit, that had a little more backbone to it than simply being dead.  And how all these characters mesh into this story, helps give a purpose to all the scares that are at hand. 

 

The Twist:  The story itself is not too unique, but it is stronger than most horror movies hold.  While character development certainly has a hand in it, and a fairly linear story to tag on to, the movie really shines in the twist that awaits those brave viewers.  The director and cinema crew were able to hide the truth quite well, using subtle camera work, dialogue, and timing to really draw your attention away.  And when it finally all comes to a draw, you applaud at the integration to the plot it holds and transforms into the final act of the movie.  Certainly not the creepiest of the characters, but also held some impressive makeup to help seal the deal.

 

DISLIKES:

Minor Scare Factor: I’ll admit, one scene got my flinching, but Winchester didn’t have the scares the initial trailer laid down for us.  They rely on the same scare tactics throughout the 90-minute film, jump scares galore that rely on the sound suddenly dropping and something popping out.  While diverse in the things that come out in the dark, the tactics stay pretty much the same and eventually lose the edge they wanted to keep.  Even the exciting climax was nonchalant because it had crossed into the overdramatic and away from the scares.  A little more creepiness, might have helped this factor out, but maybe the implied sequel will come in.

 

Under Utilization of Characters:  The movie is primarily about Mirren and Clarke’s characters. The other characters, they unfortunately are reduced to secondary roles that are semi-significant, but still lacking that needed edge that could have helped them stand out.  Henry and his mom, and John the head carpenter, they were specifically mentioned, and then…they quickly faded into the background until their hasty conclusions.  Again, not the worst use of characters, but some finesse and better integration could have been the key.

 

The Story/Other Ghosts:  I mentioned that the story was a big improvement over much of the horror movies I have seen, but I also said there was room for improvement.  Winchester’s story has some depth to it, but there were some plot points that were built up and then fizzled out.  Mirren’s family tragedy, the trauma young Henry and his mom truly faced, and even the ghost’s master plan all kind of dropped short of the details I had hoped to see.  Had these stories been taken a little farther, not only would the story have improved, but it also would have given the story a little more edge and allowed for other ghosts to enter the mix.  Speaking of ghosts, I believe the trailer promised many spirits trolling the halls and torturing our heroes.  And once again this movie failed to deliver.  Plenty of spirits fell victim to the Winchester rifles, but only one of them had the guts to have any bite to the story.  The rest had a few jump moments, but their stories were lost to the background, contained in the books that line the wall of the main room.  And those hidden in the bolted rooms, most of them didn’t even bother to make an appearance, or any meaningful one at that.  No, Winchester needed to conduct a séance to recruit more spirits to its cavalcade.

 

The VERDICT: 

 

            Winchester wasn’t the scariest movie to haunt the theaters, but it is a better piece of storytelling than most horror movies have these days.  Solid character development and a twist help bring this twisted setting to life, and provide a semi-entertaining movie to the audience.  The film still needs some amplification to boost things along.  Primarily in the story and integration of the characters, Winchester fails to capitalize on the ghosts of the manor to provide all those scares, and falls victim to failed scare tactics. And had they integrated and dived further in all the characters stories, perhaps this too could have soared to higher quality.  Not the worst movie in the world, but this one can be saved until the Redbox picks it up. 

 

My scores:

Biography/Fantasy/Horror: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

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

Jigsaw

 

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

 

LIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My scores:

 

Crime/Horror/Mystery:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

Groundhog Day Meets Massacre: Death Day Is Fun Halloween Movie

Death Day

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

 

LIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My scores:

 

Horror/Mystery/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Flat on Many Levels! Needs A Full Code To Bring To Life

Flatliners

            Death, the inevitable destination that we are constantly reminded of in the various forms of media.  We spend all our time trying to postpone it that sometimes we miss out on life itself.  This weekend’s remake though focuses on hastening to that endpoint all in the name of science.  I’m talking about Flatliners, a movie that many may be “deathly” afraid to see for one reason or another, however this reviewer is back in the theater to bring you some information on the latest silver screen picture.  Let’s go!

 

LIKES:

 

Pretty Cast:  You get this from the trailers, but Flatliners is another example of pretty faces taking full front in a movie.  Like MTV meets a horror film, this cast will make young and old hearts beat as the characters dress in either preppy fashion or tight clothing to get the blood pumping.  Made up faces sparkle in the light, despite the ever-pressing doom hanging over them, and even in their worst they still look incredible.  Very important qualities in a movie.

 

Morals Wrapped in HorrorA better reward of this movie is the impressive delivery of some important lessons, one of which was rather personal to me.  The first is not to play with the defibrillator to study death, a lesson we all thought we knew, but guess we could use a refresher. Second is to take responsibility for your actions, and make up for them in an honorable manner.  Third is all about forgiveness, something that everyone can use a reminder of in terms of accepting apologies of those that are sincere.  While a bit theatrical at times, Flatliners delivers its lessons solidly, integrating it into the plot and making it fit well into the story.  This gooey, moral driven center is the sweet reward of the movie and perhaps my favorite component of the movie.

 

Decent Characters: Horror movies often have idiots for characters, or so blatantly shallow you can’t help but root for them to meet their end.  Not the case in this film.  Flatliner’s crew, despite the stupid desire to meet death, actually feel like relatable characters.  Their friendship, their flaws, and their fears were relevant to me, and were well-acted by our beautiful cast. As such, these characters are little easier to latch onto and invest your time into, following them through the nightmare they unleashed. For me, it was Diego Luna I grasped on to the most, his character being a keystone into connecting the elements of the plot.

 

Short Run Time:  Always nice when a horror movie doesn’t drag out too long, lost in the unnecessary details that often aren’t needed. Flatliners did a decent job trimming the fat, keeping things concise (if a bit rushed) and essential to explaining our character’s backstory, while still keeping the plot moving.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Not Scary:  Perhaps it’s me seeing so many movies, but Flatliners again failed to shock me.  Outside of the looks they wear when they stop their own hearts (as well as the questionable medical techniques), the movie doesn’t remotely focus on scares of any sort.  There are few vivid images that start down the path, but these fizzle out and become lost in a rather vague concept.  Throw in the rather lax attacks of the entity and well… there isn’t much more to build on to explain the calm pace this movie takes.

 

Vague Creature:  The trailers portray something being unleashed, but Flatliners does a poor job explaining what it is.  A spirit?  A demon? Their minds breaking from all the stress?  The answer is left for you to decipher, but don’t expect much in terms of the evil taking any form. This not only robs the movie of potential scares, but also makes the story confusing and more towards a drama than anything else. While this gets points for making you think, I still would have liked a little more imagination into my monster, or whatever it was.

 

Rushed Elements:  While the characters are better than most horrors, they still are mere shadows to great story works. Flatliners’ dilemmas are hastened through on many levels, a rather pathetic climax with a resolution obtained more easily than the Hulk Smashing through a building.  Some characters got their just desserts on development, but others got off a little easier than expected.  But development would mean a longer movie, so I can’t be too upset.

 

Predictable:  It’s hard to throw surprises in these days, but Flatliners was a little too familiar for my tastes.  In addition to the scares, much of the tale was easy to see coming, and following that pathway just takes away from the originality factor.  With this gone, the special feeling of this movie is further reduced to just another weekend filler.

 

The VERDICT

 

            Flatliners is another example of modern, horror movies with superficial glimmer that is merely gold paint. A pretty cast and good morals don’t offset the fact that movie is just not scary enough, nor original enough, to garnish a theater visit.  The abstract monster that dwells within us all gets you thinking, but come on, we want something to make us lose sleep at night.  Therefore, this mediocre remake gets the following:

 

Drama/Horror/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0