These Good Boys Make Adventure Cute And Fun, Though Crude, Comedy

 

Good Boys Poster

 

Middle school is a time that can be trying.  As hormones kick in and bodies change, a lot of social status updates, and of course the concept of major bullying kicking into high gear that leaves one feeling different.  Today’s movie decides to analyze that, but in a different light that hopes to be entertaining while touching at the same time.  From the minds of half the stoner comedies and off the wall humors, comes tonight’s review of a movie that did not quite rope my interest.  But like the times they portray, you never know what surprises you might find in the halls of school.  Robbie K coming at you with a look at:

 

Film:  Good Boys (2019)

 

Director:

Gene Stupnitsky

Writers:

Lee EisenbergGene Stupnitsky

Stars:

Jacob TremblayKeith L. WilliamsBrady Noon

 

 

LIKES:

 

Good Pace

Cute

Surprisingly Deep

Good Acting

Some Great writing at times

Funny

Decent Use of Cast

Story

 

DISLIKES:

 

Lazy writing

A Little Too Aggressive For Me

Predictable

Some Forced Dialogue

Over Board On The Trailers Again

 

Summary:

Looking back at the movie, this was a tall order to try to succeed in putting adult scenarios in the hands of kids.  Yet, Good Boys accomplished this at times for me in the art of representing life in such a young cast.  The film has the comedy pace, keeping things moving quickly, and managing to take time to flesh out the characters.  It’s surprisingly tasteful at times and wrapped in a cute atmosphere as the naivety of the three boys manages to dull the blow that comes with the adult themes in this movie, which worked for me in terms of adding a new spin to freshen things up. In addition, the film manages to accomplish a story telling element that does not involve just getting drunk or stoned, but instead adding that kid perspective to the mix to help keep things ground and allow the laughs to keep coming.  If you have read my reviews, you also know I’m big on character utilization and surprisingly the Good Boys writers again succeeded in using the three young musketeers evenly.  There is good development of each member, enough differences for them to stand out, but have that similarity that friends seem to have.  The kids manage to sell that relationship and their acting is great as they capture the spirit of the awkward middle school friends trying to find their way in a new setting, or settings in this case.  As such, I give them props for being able to make a relatable tale, managing to capture the nuances of life in this youthful setting, and in a way that helped grip me and some of the audience into the ridiculousness at hand.  But you are really asking is it funny, after all it’s a comedy and it needs to be funny. Well at times the writing is dead on with timing, design, and delivery to make me laugh hard.  A few of my fellow audience members were unable to stop laughing, enjoying the Seth Rogen like comedy spewing from a smaller frame at a higher decibel.  If you like the comedies of Superbad, Knocked Up, and This is the End, then I have a feeling you are going to love the formula they used in this movie once more.

 

That being said, there are a few things of this movie that did not quite impress me as some others in the audience.  For one thing, despite the story actually being in this film and grounding, there is a little predictability thrown in that did not impress me.  Relevant as it was, the typical plot falls left me a little bored, waiting for either unique comedy or a deep scene to save me from the chaotic adventure.  And while I got some magic moments that were golden in terms of timing, character development and delivery, there are other times where the comedy genre writing took over.  Good Boys still suffers from excessive cursing, which although funny out of the lips of a child, is still not my favorite thing to watch and not the most unique writing component.  At times I felt the comedy forced, or the lines pushed a little too much on me, in an attempt to squeeze that last bit of crude and crass out for shock factor or a simple laugh.  Other times, I felt some of the comedy was a little too aggressive or over the line for me, mainly in the form of drug or sex humor that skirted under the trailer radar. This brings me to probably the sour note in the film, the over abundant advertising that really gave many of the big scenes away. I agree with others there is a treasure lying in wait for the adventurer to go to the theater, but some major elements have already been effectively beaten to death if you watch the trailers enough.  The convenient store scene, the swing scene, and the teenage girl scenes I knew were coming and left me feeling bored after how much I had already seen them.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Good boys turned out to be better than I anticipated, managing to ground a relatable story as the foundation and building the comedy around.  It’s pace, charm, and cuteness from the sensational actors is that factor the R rated comedy needed and those aspects will bring much of the laughs.  Throw in the deeper elements to help tone the aggressive edge down and my fellow audience members are correct in saying it’s a nice, versatile picture.  However, it still suffers from over aggressive cursing, lazier writing to fill in moments between the more aggressive styles, and worst of all, big scenes already presented frame by frame in the commercials.  Still all in all, this film is fun, though I’m not quite certain this one is the most theater worthy film, and may remain a better home viewing picture.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

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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

“Wonder”full Message And Acting:

Wonder

 

When people with differences come into our world, most treat them differently often in ways that hurt their feelings.  As often represented in films though, it’s these different individuals who often change the world and make it better.  This is the theme of yet another book turned movie, entitled Wonder, centering on a boy named Auggie (Jacob Tremblay) who after numerous surgeries looks a little different from the physical scoring. Upon his debut in high school, Auggie is introduced to the world he has hidden from, impacting it more than he ever imagined. Robbie K back with another review on Wonder!

 

LIKES:

 

Casting: Another example that a great cast can pull out some awesome work, Wonder’s assortment of actors and actresses bring this tale to life.  Tremblay himself has the victimized role down well, controlling his emotions and unleashing them in a realistic manner of a kid tortured by cruelty of others. His energy is infective and bleeds not only into the other kids, but into the audience on his journey of growth. The central role of the movie, Tremblay manages to connect well with his co-actors, and further strengthening their chemistry. Julia Roberts, no surprise, brings her magic to the screen, charging the movie with that intensity and control that the maternal role requires. Izabela Vidovic has some emotional charge to her role, a balance of anger, confusion, and excitement that breaks some of the tension this movie has.  And Owen Wilson, though not as involved as you expect, nailed his role with well-delivered comedy that again breaks the tension.

 

Pace is good:  For a movie all about drama, this movie moves at a good pace to keep the adventure entertaining and meaningful.  Wonder has to cover a lot of stories and perspectives established by the book, which meant potential convoluted storytelling and drawn out plot dynamics.  With the exception of a few plots, the team did a great job addressing each character’s story, moving them together at a speed that felt complete, yet didn’t feel like molasses flowing down a hill.  Mix this with all the great comedic devices and challenges, and I felt fully entertained and emotionally fulfilled by the tale at hand.

 

The message: Of course, the biggest thing Wonder has is the message that Auggie and the gang bring in regards to a lot of life qualities.  The importance of family, not judging a book by its cover, and lessons about friendship will ring loud at the presentation this movie brings.  While some of the dialogue is cheesy, with a little over/under playing involved, much of this movie hits you with a strong, hammer blow to crack the stone casing our hearts may dwell in.  The end scene in particular really speaks volumes and had me believe that not everyone is a carbon copy of the rude nature this world breeds.  Wonder’s message is simple, see people for the inside not the outside, and learn how to accept people for their differences.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Sadness:  A good sad scene can really draw a movie together and solidify the emotional punch of the movie.  Unfortunately, Wonder is chock full of depressing moments that can really bum you out in the long run. The bullying aspect is only the start of things, as other family turmoil reveals itself, one will find their mood further going downhill, bumming them out as you wait for something good to happen to this family. If you have a lot of depression on your mind, then do me a solid and steer clear of this movie, or you may find yourself further depressed at the end of the movie.

 

The Loose ends: Wonder’s storytelling is unique in that it tries to culminate a number of the characters and get into their heads.  Sadly, despite getting a nice underlining motif to their behaviors… many of these stories are a little shallower than I expected.  Like a wading pool, a lot of the characters give you a mere 1-2 sentences of their backstory before turning attention back to Auggie.  Others, don’t even get that shot to elaborate their story.  Such one layered storytelling was not only disappointing due to laziness, but also unnecessary for me, when much of their problems were again explained in their interactions with Auggie.  So perhaps not rushed ends, but another example of poor editing choices.

 

The character interruptions:  The group took a gamble mirroring the book and trying to break things into chapters.  However, as mentioned above, these little excerpts weren’t really needed and took away from the momentum of the movie for me. Why did I need to see so many flashbacks in this movie, when a simple dialogue or editing tip could have done this without interrupting the flow of the film?  The answer is… I didn’t, and no matter how unique this shout out to the book is, for a cinema presentation though… this film needed to rethink this option and tie them all together in the more formulaic manner.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Wonder is a beautiful, soulful movie that is all about teaching you important qualities that we should already know.  It feels much like a book in much of its delivery, keeping in time with the novel it is based on, which will most likely please many of the fans.  In addition to the great moral lesson, the pace and casting are the selling points of this movie that will charm your way into your hearts.  The real limitations to this movie are more in the presentation and how much it tried to copy the book, interrupting the momentum of the movie to try to give you a complete picture, but didn’t make it feel necessary to me.  But despite these limitations and sadness, Wonder works on many levels and is the heartwarming family movie of the weekend. 

 

Drama:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.5

Web-Slinging Sensation: Comedy Returns To Spiderman

Spiderman

 

He can do whatever a spider can!  He is super brainy and has the ability to fight crime against a number of villains with interesting powers.  And he has had two reboots in the last two decades.  Yes, I’m talking about Spiderman, the young high school student who wears the coolest pajamas ever and has some pretty wicked powers.  This weekend, Disney studios gets their hands on the series, in hopes of breathing life back into the series and expanding their already vast repertoire of films.  Can Disney repeat its magic?  Robbie K here to give you the updates, and as always, I appreciate your reading and fun.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Not another origin story:  With all the reboots, cartoon series, and comics (if you still read), we know how the web slinger obtained his powers via radioactive arachnid science projects.  As such, the storyboard writers decided to scrap doing another reboot of this and dived right into the fun at hand.  Thank the lord!  Spiderman homecoming skips the boring, lacking power component, so that you get the most bang for your buck in regards to super power heroics and Spiderman clichés.  The presentation of this film is rather creative, using a selfie video to give a unique perspective on everything this Spiderman has gone through so far.

 

Fun and Funny:  Spiderman Homecoming takes a different approach from most of the other superhero films in that it feels like a high school student life only with…powers.  The result is a film that is fun, simplistic, and as me and my friend agree comedic.  This tale is all about making you laugh with a fantastic dialog, great delivery, and a cast that only amplifies it.  It’s not easy making a high school film that isn’t an afterschool special, drama filled, soap opera and still make it entertaining to watch.  But Disney was able to do it again.  While the production team has a lot to do with this, most audience members are going to give props to the acting.  Tom Holland again rocks the role, taking his cameo from Civil War and running… I mean slinging with it.  He is the first actor in this modern age to capture both the nerdy peter parker and the smart mouthed Spiderman, giving you the character you wanted made for some time.  Now throw in Michael Keaton portraying a villain who didn’t make you cringe, yawn, or sympathize for the performance they were asked to play.  The dynamic between them works and to take a lamer villain like the Vulture and make him respectable gets thumbs up from me.  And they utilized their entire cast very well, keeping their big-name contenders involved without robbing the main actor his time to shine.

 

Ned:  But my friend and I agreed that the best part of the film was Peter’s sidekick Ned played by Jacob Batalon. This character had me in enough stiches to require Spiderman to web it up.  Batalon delivers his lines perfectly, and makes the already comedic gold shine where others would fail.  He feels like a devoted fan boy and it works to keep things entertaining.  The cast did a great job sharing Peter’s secret with him and having him as the devoted friend wanting to do whatever he can to live as a super sidekick.  This character’s work is dynamic, it’s fun, and shows not all cleverness has been lost to cheap slapstick ploys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Special effects are so so:  I don’t know if it’s the costume, the approach, or what, but the special effects didn’t impress me as much as they usually do. Spiderman’s movements looked fake at times, and the weapons (outside of Vulture’s costume) were a bit hokie looking.  Not the biggest dislike, but worth noting.

 

Migraine inducing flashes:  Not really a dislike, but a forewarning is a few scenes involving some flashes, explosions, or morphing that may give one a giant headache or induce a migraine.  Three people in my showing, complained of auras from the film, so those with these type of migraines, or even worse seizures, may want to have caution and be prepared.

 

Editing/Lack of Action:  Biggest dislike for me is more so the lack of action.  No surprise, Robbie wants his superheroes to have at least one engaging fight, but that wasn’t the case for me in this film.  While Homecoming was funny and entertaining, it still lacked the bite that superhero films have had.  The fights were short lived, didn’t involve too many spectacular moves, and the villains didn’t have any impressive moves.  We know Spidey’s universe have some of the most unique powers of the bunch, so why in the world didn’t they show that off more.  Of note, the battles do keep in theme with the movie, and are emotional in regards to character development, that is a plus.  Yet a 134-minute run time needed a few more suspenseful moments to get the full effect.  Either that or cut out the extra laugh, unnecessary moments to shorten the run time.  Sorry guys, but editing is still in need of work.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Spiderman Homecoming is certainly one of the better installments of the modern Spiderman age.  It certainly is one of the more enjoyable comedies I’ve seen in a while, and takes some of the darker edge that has been building over the last few installments.  A great use of cast, good writing, and many other fun gimmicks works on so many levels and will entertain many.  Yet it isn’t the most exciting film of this universe, nor did it need to be over 2 hours long. Still, it’s a great addition to the library and one I look forward to seeing continued and integrated into the rest of the films.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Oh yeah (as if I can stop you), it is worth it.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.5

 

B-E-A-UTIFUL Acting!

collateral-beauty

 

We all know Charles Dickens’ classic tale the Christmas Carol and all the lessons it teaches this time of season.  It’s a story that has been told through many mediums that continue to entertain the masses.  This weekend, we get a similar tale to grace the theater entitled Collateral Beauty starring Will Smith and a slew of other characters. The question is though, does this twist work?  Hi Robbie K here, privileged to share some thoughts on another movie.  Shall we get started?

 

LIKES:

  • Fantastic Acting
  • Equal Screen Time
  • Good use of Music
  • Fantastic morals

 

With a star, studded cast that includes Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Hellen Mirren, and Edward Norton you expected good acting.  Well good news, the acting met the expectations placed on the cast.  Smith of course takes the lead, delivering another grand performance of someone suffering in life (7 pounds and pursuit of happiness). He sells the anger and hurt, while maintaining his emotional balance to prevent falling into overacting territory. Edward Norton, again delivers a sound performance and probably has the most diverse energy of the cast.  Newcomer Jacob Lattimore surprised me with his performance, which although a little skewed, had the teenage angst and aggression representative of time.  But the champion actor is Helen Mirren, who continues to prove that age brings experience.  Mirren was the funniest of the group, but managed to sell the morals of the movie the most without going too far.  She engages so well with the entire cast, and does a good job as the keystone of the movie…you know past Will Smith.  The entire group again does a fantastic job altogether, and even better are all balanced through the movie, each member getting close to equal time (which is sometimes unheard of).

While the acting certainly helps make the story come to life, the editing of the movie helped amplify the emotions of the film. The cinematography is beautifully executed, combining the enchanting scenery with the raw pain of our suffering characters.  You’ll get plenty of close ups on tear stricken faces and troubled stares as our characters face the ordeals at hand.  But it’s the background symphony music, that helps add that edge to get the tears flowing. Beautiful piano work helps sell the scene, subtle at times before unleashing its full power as the lessons are learned.  The culmination of audio and visual are fantastic tools to seal the deal for the morals this film has to offer.  And speaking of morals, the writers did a nice job twisting the tale to focus on dealing with life’s problems.  Aside from Will Smith’s trial of accepting his daughter’s death, the other characters each have their own trials to face that involve self-assessment, acceptance, and a willingness to try and make things better.  Preachy as it can be, these important lessons are taught with the fantastic lines and strong acting premise.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not as deep as I thought
  • Felt Incomplete
  • Lackluster
  • More spirit interventions would have been nice

 

Despite all the good I reported, Collateral Beauty still has some rough edges that need some smoothing out.  For one thing, I felt there could have been more emotional punch to this film.  I felt the lessons in my heart, but I wasn’t borderline crying in this film.  It felt like they held back on the emotional punch. Whether this is due to some production quirks, some shallower plots, or the fact that the trailer delivered much of the film could have diluted it.  The movie also felt incomplete at parts, as if other scenes were needed or perhaps scenes deleted to take out the incomplete feeling.

In addition, the movie is a bit lackluster from the various tellings of the Christmas Carol.  This film doesn’t have the terror or suspense that Dickens’ three spirits contain, although they are much more entertaining.  This movie, despite teaching values, was just not as unique as I think it wanted to be. There were no grandiose twists, no outstanding spirit designs, and no key features to help make this movie stand out from similar morale tales.  I think I also wanted more spiritual interventions as well, another round to drive the point home to Howard.

 

The VERDICT

 

Collateral Beauty is certainly an example of great acting, as our stars have incredible chemistry, integrate through most of the movie, and have the emotional balance we would want in such a cast.  In addition, the morals are taught well thanks to the strong dialogue and wonderful audio/visual techniques to amplify the emotions.  However, there was something missing that just didn’t make this movie as emotionally deep as I expected.  Still, this is a movie that will move many and a good, fun movie for the holiday season.  Is it needed to be seen in the big screen?  When looking at the technical qualities and the unique aspect of the film…no this movie is worth a Redbox rent. However, in regards to the moral lessons and heartfelt story, this one is worth a visit. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

Shut In, Shuts Out Some Quality

shut-in

 

Another Friday, another excuse to release a horror movie in the sea of mediocrity. Robbie K here, and today I join two other souls to review Shut In starring Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay, a supposed thriller movie that flew under the radar.  But is Shut In going to deliver the thrills, or like many just give you chills from the AC.  Let’s get started shall we?

 

LIKES:

  • Realistic
  • Good psychological portrayal
  • Nice Twist

When it comes to horror movies, there is a fine line between boring and corny scares. Shut In treads this line well dropping the monsters, grandiose serial killers, and aliens for a more realistic source of fear. You, the audience, will be subjected to the worst monster of all, the human psyche forced to figure out what is real and what is an illusion as Mary tries to uncover the mystery at hand.  This film drops all the theatrical gore and maiming of the stereotypical horrors and forces your imagination to paint a scarier reality that gets under your skin. The team also loves the use of darkness to play with your mind, utilizing both sound and video editing to maximize the feeling of isolation in the domestic setting.

Even more impressive is the portrayal of schizophrenia or parasomnia in this case. Hollywood often designs sequences to be trippy, horrifying, or overdramatic.  In this movie though, the hallucinations are accurate to those described by mentally disturbed patients.  You’ll see nightmares illustrating guilt, terror at the inability to distinguish fact from fiction, and the lack of peace associated from hearing noises that go bump in the night.  Shut In is certainly all about getting locked in, but not so much the house as in your mind.  The result of this approach, is some added suspense to get you invested.

But the real surprise is the twist that pops in the end, which is somewhat hinted in a few scenes.  While certainly not the biggest surprise (hello Arrival), Shut In’s revelation takes the tale down a different road and leads to a semi satisfying, albeit dragged out, conclusion.  And unlike some films in this genre, the twist actually fits in well with the realistic tone of this movie instead of dropping it into the dimension of corny, convenient write ins. 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not that scary
  • Not that suspenseful
  • Could have been a Netflix Movie

 

Despite all the realism and psychological shocks in this movie, Shut In didn’t really frighten me that much.  For one, the team decided to use the usual array of scare tricks (e.g. camera angle of an abandoned hall, music going silent, and dialogue that foreshadowed the coming jump scares) which after the third time grew stale. In addition, there wasn’t an entity that got under my skin or would give me nightmares.

In addition, the supposed suspense was lacking for most of the movie. The underlying mystery was certainly intriguing to say the least, but I didn’t find my heart rushing, my eyes darting, or my butt at the end of the seat.  The suspense did pick up once the twist was revealed, but the sequences drowned out and diluted the threat thereby reducing the adrenaline rush.  Does this mean it was bad?  No, it just wasn’t the spine tingling chill the trailers made it out to be.

Yet the thing that probably took away from the film the most, was how much it felt like it belonged on Netflix.  Outside of acting and good use of speaker sound effects, Shut In really doesn’t have much uniqueness to warrant big theater release.  It’s very simplistic with formulaic scares, that lacks the bite you hope a movie brings.  As I made this realization, I found myself bored. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall Shut In has the realistic horror element most films lack in this genre.  The added psychological element helps keep things intriguing alongside the mystery of the little boy, and Naomi Watts is still a stunning actress to watch.  Unfortunately, Shut In uses stale tricks to scare you and is bland in the grand scheme of things, not counting the twist.  The good news is it runs at a short run time of 90 minutes, so you’ll get out of the theater rather quickly. If you are reading this review, you can guess this movie is best left to Netflix or Redbox. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Thriller: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5