Taking a Turn On The Busy Side

The Turning Poster

 

As the hourglass turns, so too does another movie to join the prize machine of movies that may or may not be worth the coin.  Welcome to Robbie’s reviews and tonight we dive into another horror movie that is going to try and shock us into a new realm of nightmares.  After much advertising, tonight’s film is hoping to turn a few hairs grey and maybe have us scratch our heads in confusion.  Will it work though?  I’ll share my thoughts down below as we get set for another review of:

 

Movie:  The Turning (2020)

 

Director:

Floria Sigismondi

Writers:

Carey W. Hayes (as Carey Hayes), Chad Hayes

Stars:

Mackenzie DavisFinn WolfhardBrooklynn Prince

 

 

LIKES:

  • Creepy Setting
  • Good Acting
  • On 90 minutes
  • Definitely More Unique
  • A More Realistic Tension Bringer

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • So Much To Keep Up With
  • Not the Scariest
  • The Weird Ending At the End
  • The Slow pace
  • Trailer Has Given Much A Way
  • The Lack Of Unique Creature

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Horror movies are coming out super frequent now, and the tactics to scare one are starting to grow stale because of exposure and desensitization, at least to me.  However, The Turning succeeds in that creep factor by helping grant the audience access to the a freaky board that is this bizarre chess game.  In the walls and halls of the mansion are plenty of dark shadows, settling boards, and other tricks to help set the mood.  It’s fantastic use of simplistic sounds and should help get the tension going.  A solid acting set by Davis leads the tale as she balances all set on her shoulders, going from aspiring nanny, to scared sleuth in the short run time.  Wolfhard and Prince as the young wards under Davis’ care, each bringing their own brands of creeps from the sinister smile and delivery of Wolfhard’s character, while Prince has that innocent yet mysterious nature in that angelic smile.  All of these performances work so well to mix with the setting to draw out the true, devious nature of the beast.  Yet, to add more fuel to the fire of likes, the movie also accomplishes something else to help it stand out from other films of this genre.  One is that it’s got a more unique approach to storytelling, which may not be apparent at first, but come the last twenty minutes or so, you’ll start to get another appreciation for the movie that some may like and others will despise.  Looking for realism?  Well, this movie succeeds again with sticking much closer to the realm of truth then the realm of fiction, at least for much of the film, and that component will help ground you to the artistic nature that this film tries to take.  If you like those psychological pushers, then this should be a selling point for you.  As for the best part, it’s all done in ninety minutes, showing that some of these artistic directions can indeed be shown in a reasonable time, take a note of this Oscar films.

 

Yet the film’s direction and unique styles may also be the downfall for the horror buffs and fans who like a little more tradition to their approaches.  First of all, there is a lot to keep up with in this film, as a hodge podge of films from the genre blend together to make a very busy film.  It’s almost like each inspirational film had an impact on the story, which pulled the story all over the place and make it busier than it needed.  As such, the movie starts suffering in turns of clarity and even scare tactics.  Thank goodness for the creepiness, because for me the scare factor was actually a little low, lost to mediocre jump scares, foreshadowing taken a little too far, and the trailers giving too much a way to those with a decent memory or have seen it enough.  It resulted in a feeling of the movie dragging a little longer than it needed, which meant it was a little boring, with only the artistic nature of the movie keeping my interest held.  As you can guess from the trailers, a unique explanation or curse is going to be a bit of long drive and as such you might disappointed with lies in the shadows of the halls.  Finally, the ending itself is not for everyone.  While I give it points for originality, the sudden finale makes for one of those endings that usually rubs me the wrong way, because it’s interesting but also a bit too unique and I’ll leave it at that.  It’s the result of the busy story, and the presentation may mislead you enough to be a surprise, but also potentially tick you off with this direction.  It’s going to really depend on what approach you like, from linear tricks and treats, or unique artistic decisions that are from left field.

 

The VERDICT:

            The trailers did the film a lot of credit at painting a dark, twisted picture that is all about the creep factor.  A film like the Turning is sure to turn a few thoughts towards having more food for thought, and depending on what type of horror fan you are, will determine if you like it.  Points for this reviewer are a fantastic setting established for creepiness and realistic flow.  A good acting cast further brings the horror factor out and a more unique approach gets points in my book given how tough it is in this day and age.  However, this new approach is also potentially a downfall for some as the movie gets really busy, with so much though and direction that you have to figure out if you like keeping track of everything.  Scares took a hit for me in this film, and the slow pace itself leads to potentially a film that will not be the modern preference.  Still, if you are looking for a thought-provoking movie, this piece should give you something to talk about and the theater can help elevate the ambience for sound, though I think the true terror will come from watching it at home. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Horror/Mystery:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

A Grudge That Needs To Settle And Reset

 

The Grudge Poster

  It’s January, and that means it’s time for testing for things that may or may not work this year.  One genre that seems to love creeping in this time of year is the horror genre, in hopes of getting the fanbase flocking in.  Yet, the horror genre always fluctuates depending on the imagination, the risks, and the vision of those who helm the creative wheel of design.  This weekend, the solo film releasing this weekend is based on the popular series that has been retired in the America’s, in terms of mainstream, for some time.  I’m talking about the Grudge and today I review to determine if the latest malicious spirit adventure can reclaim its hold over the modern generation. Robbie K back with a look at:

 

Film: The Grudge (2019)

 

Director:

Nicolas Pesce

Writers:

Nicolas Pesce (screenplay by), Nicolas Pesce (story by)  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Tara WestwoodJunko BaileyDavid Lawrence Brown

 

 

LIKES:

  • Short Run Time
  • Good Use Of Visuals
  • Creepy Aesthetic
  • Lin Shaye’s Acting
  • A Unique Presentation Style

 

DISLIKES:

  • Complicated Story Telling
  • Predictable Story Telling
  • Not Scary
  • Vicious Deaths
  • Boring
  • Not Quite Unique Enough

 

SUMMARY:

 

It’s not a good start when the first thing I mention is the short run time, but in this case it works to be at the 90-minute mark for the run time.  Grudge is all about visuals and the art of trying to scare you, and I was able to see a heavy focus on those superficial features instead of the movie’s presentation as a whole.  The Grudge’s visuals rock in terms of establishing the spooky atmosphere, with shadows, low lighting, and spooky sound effects to make the creepy aesthetic as life like as possible.  I felt the haunting atmosphere leave with me, the lack of safety in my home or with lights on as the curse goes wherever it chooses.  That creepy nature itself is the true scare factor of the movie, always keeping you wondering what disturbing visual is coming next in the hallowed halls of the home.  As for the cast who has to act in the setting, Tara Westwood was a fantastic actress to take point in the progressing role.  Not quite the most unique role, but it works given the direction this film took.  Yet, the leading lady of horror Lin Shaye still shows off her trade for the occult captivating the insanity, looming nature of the spirits around her, and the feisty bouts of dramatic flair that fits perfectly in this world. In terms of my final positive, well the story is told in a nontraditional manner, and for that originality gets points in the eyes of this reviewer, especially given the attempt at trying to establish a mystery at the same time.

 

Then come the things that took away from the experience from me.  Though original, the story telling is complicated, a piece meal of flashbacks that like a mosaic seem to fit together, but more so in a fractured manner that is a bit too artistic given what I go to these movies for.  The mystery that was trying to be put in did not pan out for me, because of how predictable the story was, and in the short run time, all the clues were laid out for you miles in advance that it was underwhelming to say the least.  Despite, the attempt at making a creepy atmosphere, the scares themselves are very lackluster, a similar tactic of trying to throw something in every corner to scare.  Sadly, the techniques don’t change much and by the third jump out, the technique is so stale you turn it into a game of counting how many attempts in 90 minutes.  Even more so, it was more about gruesome deaths than actual scaring, the unrelenting depictions of blood and maiming actions await those giving this movie a change.  Not scary again, just there to feed the beast of darker picture lovers.  All of these should be no surprise in the Grudge series, I get it, but in the past the newness of it allowed these components to be more enjoyable, while the constant storytelling and linear progression helped balance all the chaos.  In this unique telling though, the constant back and forth, cheap scares, and predictable ending just makes this film boring, missing any sense of danger, challenge, or even gripping action.  The film as a result feels rather bland, missing the same oomph that we always love to see in this genre.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            The Grudge will always hold its unique nature and destructive force in the world of cinema.  However, this installment does not quite reach the goals set out by the series and directors long ago.  While unique story telling style and creepy aesthetic win in this movie, alongside some decent acting, the movie just is a bit too convoluted and boring to say it was the ride I was looking for.  Fans of the series are going to be the target audience, or for those just wanting complex tie ins of dark demises.  As for the rest, hold out until the streaming services pick it up, and event then it’s limited.  Instead, I encourage to try out some other films instead from the holiday season. 

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Mystery:  5.5

Movie Overall:  4.5

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

Black Christmas Poster

 

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

 

Film: Black Christmas (2019)

Director:

Sophia Takal

LIKES:

 

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

 

DISLIKES:

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

 

SUMMARY:

 

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

 

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

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

 

The VERDICT:

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

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Thriller:  4.0

Movie Overall:  3.0

 

Unsheathing the Comedy And Drama, Knives Out’s Tale Is Sharp!

Knives Out Poster

Mystery movies can certainly be fun, but the refined art of mapping out a crime can be a challenge in this world with ever shrinking attention spans.  However, there are still writers and directors out there ready to give it a try in hopes of bringing thought out plots back into the popular trend.  Tonight’s review holds such a promise and even more so it holds another redeeming trial for a director whose involvement in Star Wars was not the best received.  With lots of advertising, I’m sure you have seen the trailers so let’s get going as I review:

 

Film: Knives Out (2019)

 

Director:

Rian Johnson

Writer:

Rian Johnson

Stars:

Daniel CraigChris EvansAna de Armas

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • The Cinematography
  • The Plot Is A Good Mystery
  • Better Twists Than Anticipated
  • Involvement With Most Of The Cast
  • The Comedy

 

DISLIKES:

  • Some rather worthless characters
  • The Run Time
  • The Pace
  • Perhaps A Little More Murder

 

The VERDICT:

With an assembled cast such as this, you can best bet the acting will be at least moderate, and for me it was a fantastic display of work.  All parties assembled really play the dysfunctional role well, portraying the motive filled shouts and complaints to an art that did not annoy or go overboard.  Too many names to place, I’ll say that Craig was entertaining in his role of Colonel Saunders (a running joke) meeting James Bond as the detective, primarily in his interactions with Marta.  Ana de Armas was the star for me not only because of her character, but more so in the way she played the levels of emotion perfectly and interacted with the squad the most to balance this art.  Past the acting, the movie really picks up in terms of the visual presentation, feeling much like a detective movie from the 50s-80s, but modernizing it to the present day.  It should captivate many mystery lovers, but more so generic fans who can point out a lot of devices and nods to famous detective sagas.  However, the movie’s main selling point is the presentation of the story that let’s face it has been told time and time again in a Hallmark like fashion.  Johnson, for me, accomplished the role of bringing out a good mystery, not only in the classic hunt for clues and mapping out suspects, but adding some nice twists to the mix.  If you are paying attention to time and some info, you’ll start getting an idea, but this film’s twists (no matter how convoluted) do manage to spruce up the dusty manor of detective works.  An even better angle for me, is the character utilization, while not perfect, every character has a purpose in some form or angle, with few sitting off to the sides as just mere bodies to fill a convenient hole or bridge.  If not for the sake of the plot, then the character was used for comedy and that may be my favorite part of this movie.  Knives Out manages to be very humorous in the regards of the comedy aspect, with well written dialogue, delivery of those lines, and timing wrapping up nicely to leave many laughing during my showing.  That I feel will be a pull for many audience members, though don’t expect usual slapstick, banter, and ridiculous, logic defying stunts to be pulled here, or you’ll be disappointed.

 

For such an artistic film though, there are still a few things I would have liked tightened up.  Though all characters were utilized in some form, I can’t lie at least three could have had more involvement than what they did.  Hinting at being a part of the plot, these characters were left to the passing comments or joke props until that one moment a clue contributed.  That family engagement they sold in the trailers, needed some more development for me to keep everyone entangled in the mess as opposed to on the side.  In addition, the plot could have used a little more murder and threats to help spice up the drama/mystery, as I am partial to the deadly games of hunting in my movies, than anything else.  For a movie selling that murder, I had kind of expected something else, but it’s a mere trinket.  I can say the thing I had the hardest time with was the run time and the pace.  Knowing it’s a Johnson movie, I expect it to be long, and for the most part the movie ran at a good enough pace that it did not feel super long, but other times did show the dragging I dreaded.  I can say that there were parts that could have been cut out to shorten the length, or at least rewritten to include the character interaction I mentioned above.

 

So in conclusion, what are the thoughts on this controversial movie/tale.  To be honest, I do think it is a reimagining of Clue, and took a step into the modern world to help reach out to the new audiences.  It’s got the presentation of a mystery, with twists to help bring our well-acted characters together and entertain us with their drama. Comedy is also pulled out of the sheath and I think these two elements are the biggest selling factors to brave the nearly 2.5 hour run time Johnson has put forth.  As such, I feel this movie is worth a shot at hitting the theaters for those looking for a drama/mystery/comedy, while others will most likely enjoy from the comfort of their homes.

 

My scores for Knives Out are:

 

Comedy/Crime/Drama:   9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

Book To Movie: Where Did The Rest Of The Cast And Story Go?

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Poster

 

Another day, another time to review movies and weeks two of the 5 movie reviews a week continues.  Hi Robbie K here, and today we will be looking at yet another book turned movie, as pop culture icons and interesting concepts are interpreted for the silver screen.  Now you know the usual sayings, movie versions are often not as good as the literature counterparts, but that does not mean it’s not worth a chance to see the visual interpretation unfold.  Well, once again yours truly is back in the artificially lit trenches to determine if this is a movie worth your time.  Let’s get started:

 

Movie: Where’d you Go Bernadette (2019)

 

Director:

Richard Linklater

Writers:

Richard Linklater (screenplay by), Holly Gent (screenplay by)  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Cate BlanchettJudy GreerKristen Wiig

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Acting
  • Nice Portrayal Of Mental Illness
  • Cute
  • Good Morals
  • Fairly Good Pace
  • Cyndi Lauper Tribute

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • A Little Melodramatic
  • Dryer Comedy
  • Some rather useless characters/Plots
  • A Little More Connecting
  • No Mystery Whatsoever
  • The Abrupt End

 

Summary:

 

The movie in a way feels much like a book performance or big budget play.  Blanchett in particular does a lot of heavy lifting with the grandiose character of Bernadette and is truly the person to captivate you in this story.  Sure the other supporting actors hit their marks, the confused husband of Billy Crudup, the controlling neighbor played by Kristen Wiignot too much from the Bridesmaid character, and wise friendship of Laurence Fishburneare all good, with really the daughter Becky being the next outstanding performance of the bunch (Troian Bellisario) who is integrated into the films.  Yet, it’s really the focus on Cate managing to portray that storm that is mental illness that impressed this writer, not only in physical mannerisms, but even the pressured speech, the inconsistency, and more so the denial of handling the problems that gave me respect for the role.  Past the pillar of performances, the movie is a cute film that captures the spirit of the book (or what I have read of it) taking good morals about creativity, finding one self, love, and understanding and managing to smoosh it together into a rather audience friendly form that groups can enjoy.  It’s pace is okay, I think perfect for the key audience members, to really get the snapshots of Bernadette’s journey without being dragged into the detailed pits of despair that sometimes are seen in these profile movies.  Yet it is missing something that some book movies achieve so well.  And of course, who would not like to see some fun tributes and use of icon legend Cyndi Lauper come into play that’s a hoot right?

 

While the portrayals and the performances are nice though there is something about this movie that is a little too bookish for me. I love reading, but books give you that ability to spread the journey across time while movies are not quite that luxury and this movie emphasizes the point for me.  The melodramatic components of this film make for a great performance, but overshadow a lot of other features of this film, almost taking the Lifetime approach without the pregnancy, murder, or adultery.  For a comedy, the movie did not quite have the balance of laughs I know Cate can pull off, relying a little too much on the dryer sarcasm than anything else, which I think only hits a finite audience.  Yet the things about this book that get me are more so the inclusion of the other characters.  For a movie about essentially about reconnecting, to the world, the inclusion of the cast is not as good as I expected.  Despite decent performances, characters are limited to small bouts of banter with the main character, or merely just making appearances in shots in a hasty attempt to concise the healing process.  Other plot points including rivalries, cleaning up her mistakes, and even a particular gossip rival are swept to the sidelines to keep the focus on the journey to beautiful shots galore of the Antarctic peninsula. As such, I would have liked better connections than what I got.  However, for a title and trailer that suggest mystery, this tale has practically no mystery whatsoever.  In an attempt to either parody or touch Gone Girl, Bernadette’s journey offers no real challenge to the audience or the characters about where the titular character has gone.  You know every step of the journey and thus that aspect is essentially lost to the attempts to do the character connection mentioned earlier.  Finally, the ending, when all is said and done, and the “mystery” is concluding, the film sort of truncates the potential for an emotionally powerful finish and leaves you with a montage that while interesting is not the ending I had expected.  If this is how the book does, I might have taken another 15 minutes of creative liberty to give a fitting end, but hey that’s just me.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Truth be told, this movie is a stunning example of how performances can sometimes do a lot of heavy lifting and while not my favorite role, Cate really leads the charge in this near one woman show.  The movie again feels like a book, managing to keep a finger on the pulse of reality/book, and fill it with the cute, heartwarming, moral-filled lessons we love.  Yet, the flair for the dramatic components, alongside a disjointed attempt at deep character connections/development just did not have that story push I love.  Too much happening in too short of a time and a mystery that was ironically missing, the visual tribute to Bernadette’s story is not one of the best adaptations for most audiences looking for this type of movie.  As such, I think this movie is reserved to theater visits for a small few, and would have been better on the Lifetime channel, or OWN as a made for TV movie.  My scores for this film are:

 

Comedy/Drama/Mystery: 6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

Scary Stories To See In The Theater

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Poster

 

Growing up in the 90s, there were plenty of tales designed for kids to try and scare us without crossing the line.  Are you Afraid of the Dark, Goosebumps, Tales from the Crypt (both cartoon and regular), and even the Sci-Fi Channel held their own in bringing the horror to the modern-day audience.  As such, a good scary story in any form can really leave an impact that stays with someone for much of their lives.  Enter today’s review, where the theme is the impact that stories can have on us and a little extreme case involving bringing your darkest nightmares to life. Robbie K is back with the third review of the week and we bring you a look at:

 

Movie: Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019)

 

Director:

André Øvredal

Writers:

Dan Hageman (screenplay by), Kevin Hageman(screenplay by)

Stars:

Zoe Margaret CollettiMichael GarzaGabriel Rush

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Pace

The Comedy

The Creature Design

The Suspense At Times

The Acting

The Narrative Approach

 

DISLIKES:

Not Scary

Predictable

The Disturbing Moments At Times

Throw Away Characters

 

 

SUMMARY

 

With the flood of horror movies that come into the theaters, sometimes you find pacing and content issues replaced with gimmicks. Scary stories manages to take the anthology book and bind them together into a decent film, with a pace that feels very much like the classic shows that is fun, adventurous, and semi-engaging to craft a decent film.  It comes from a better balance, finding ways to integrate multiple entertainment qualities while always keeping its finger on the pulse of horror.  The comedy is corny, but natural, as it relieves some of the tension that is building up primarily from the character Chuck (Austin Zajur).  In regards to creature design, Scary Tales again adds some variety to their mix, picking new media to torture our main characters, which adds variety and doesn’t over utilize a gimmick (like the original Alien did).  Suspense is well placed in the movie, managing to make peaks and valleys of excitement the way an exercise program works.  By taking this approach it avoids the burnout some of these horror movies experience and manages to miss the mark of hasty finishes these films sometimes take.  As for the acting, well I’m good with it too. The kids do just fine playing scared students stumbling in to a new world and facing the consequences.  Like a weirder version of Stranger Things, the portrayal of weird, concern, and scared/terrified is a well-balanced performance that did not quite annoy me as some of them do.  Overall, these elements point to one thing, a narrative approach that feels like those kids books I loved, creepy and shocking, but never sacrificing the connecting spine to link all the sequences and creeps together.

 

Yet the movies does suffer a few things for this reviewer, but remember the volume of horror movies I see had desensitized me so I’ll do my best to factor that in.  First of all, the Scary Stories do not quite fit the originality bill in terms of story overall.  Originality is tough, but the movies formulaic approach and obvious foreshadowing would have been nice to break given the other walls it broke to focusing on plot then just gimmicks.  A second factor would have been to put more scare factor into it, treading closer to the R line could have brought the PG-13 film to the next level had they managed to craft some scarier moments.  The disturbing, creepy atmosphere and moments help, but they got lost to small gimmicks and cheesy CGI at times that diluted the scare factors. A few of my friends found the scare factor to be a little more than I did, so if you aren’t desensitized like me, you may find this dislike not the same.  Finally, a few characters held much potential, but many of them were throw away characters, merely sacrificial pawns to be sacrificed to the curse of horror movies.  Build up at the beginning held promise, but I would have liked to see these characters developed and battling a little more to actually care and connect instead of being left unfazed.  In addition, the story tie in could again have been developed more, primarily for the ghost they are chasing and the weird approach they took to tell her story, but hey more on that for the potential sequel to come.

 

Let’s finish this up.  Summarizing the review, Scary Stories certainly is a tale to tell in the dark, or the theater in this case.  It’s a good tale that tributes back to the 90s horror decade, with a narrative that binds so many things together to make you laugh and potentially jump.  I liked the balance a lot and the diversity of the creatures and means to which our “heroes” are trying to solve the legendary mystery.  Yet, the film still does not have quite the bite and scare factor for this reviewer (remember desensitized) and I would have liked a little more of it and the narrative put in and finding a way to break the mold on the predictability. Nevertheless, this is one of the better horror tales that I have seen in a long time, and as I said give it a shot in the theater.

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Mystery/Thriller: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

Coming Home To New Scares and Stories

Annabelle Comes Home Poster

 

Another week, another chance to impress us with a horror movie.  This week, the Conjuring Universe continues its ride to the box office bucks in as much style as it can before the big films come.  Yet, like many extended universe movies, you have no idea whether the next installment will succeed, or just make your wallet bleed.  Welcome to another Robbie’s Movie Review and tonight we see if the latest spooky film will ride the ghost train to the bank.  As always, happy to share some opinions so let’s get out there and get it done!

 

Movie:  Annabelle Comes Home (2019)

Director:

Gary Dauberman

Writers:

James Wan (story by), Gary Dauberman

Stars:

Vera FarmigaPatrick WilsonMckenna Grace

 

LIKES:

 

  • Acting
  • Creepy
  • New Types of Ghosts
  • More Looks Into The Haunted Room
  • Decent Pace
  • Some Surprising Story Elements

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Predictability
  • Story Is A Little Fractured
  • The Boyfriend Arc
  • Not As Scary As I Had Hoped
  • A Little Anticlimactic

 

SUMMARY:

 

The latest movie in the conjuring universe starts to go back to its roots and polish up things.  Annabelle’s latest story brings the creepy nature of the movies back to the home and that adds the realistic notion of scares that make fans like me love the series. In the sanctity of the home, one hopes to be harbored from ghosts, but Annabelle’s minions prove that not even the familiarity of a home can save you. Nevertheless, the movie manages to bring new types of ghosts and scares that potentially will become movies of their own as the forbidden treasures of the Warrens surface and hint at the secrets in store.  Surprisingly, the movie still manages to find some storytelling elements in it as well, but this time through the eyes of a new cast, whose younger members accomplish the goals of terror filled teenagers and adolescents trying to cover up their mistakes.  The backstory and character development can be touching, but never quite engulfs the main goal of scaring.

 

Sadly, the movie suffers from the usual horror trade of imbalance and predictability.  The use of foreshadowing, the same tactics for trying to build scares, and the trailers have spoiled much of the suspenseful parts for me and given the rushed component this sometimes blew through the scary parts too quickly to allow the audience to stew in the intensity of the moment.  In addition, the movie held too much in terms of story lines, primarily in the number of artifacts they tried to use.  Ambitious as it was to brings many guests to the party, Annabelle’s focus on all the spirits led a fractured story component that did not quite have the majesty of the origin story we got a few years back.  Ghosts aside, the story of the humans with more of a pulse did not come fully together, falling into some simplistic stories that did not quite have the bite I was hoping, especially in regards to the boyfriend arc, which while funny was not entirely necessary to the film.  As you can probably guess the movie as a whole not quite that climactic in its finish.

 

            Yet despite all the imbalances, Annabelle’s latest trek is about the middle runner for this reviewer.  With enough creeps in the realistic setting, one may find themselves afraid of what lies in the dark, becoming quite sensitive to sounds.  With new ghosts, some new tricks, and a few new spins on the formula it works for those looking for a good ghost story.  Yet, the movie sort of strayed from the story/scare balance of the first one and the characters don’t quite have the same drive some of the stronger series installments (Conjuring and Annabelle Creation) has in terms of characters to latch onto or a story to ground it all. Still, it’s got enough special effects to garnish a theater run, but only barely.  Instead, this one may be better reserved for home, where the setting can help add some horror in itself.

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Mystery/Thriller: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0