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

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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

Intruding On New Takes Of Old Tales

 

 

The Intruder Poster

 

Dramas/Thrillers, the lifeblood of the very world of entertainment.  It’s within this genre that one finds some of the darkest tales, plunging into the fathoms of imagination that most dread to step into.  Yet, this genre sometimes gets a little too broad in spectrum, and tends to go to extremes that leaves the plots a little grandiose and run of the mill.  Hi Robbie K back with another review on the latest movie to hit the silver screen, hoping to shed some light and help you pick your movie poison.  I take a look at:

 

Movie: The Intruder (2019)

 

Director:

Deon Taylor

Writer:

David Loughery

Stars:

Meagan GoodDennis QuaidMichael Ealy

 

LIKES:

 

Soundtrack

Good Acting

Creepy Character Development

Beautiful Setting in many ways

Decent Evolution of Suspense

Character Centric Story:

 

Summary:

 

The soundtrack might be a rough way to open the review, but The Intruder is all about bringing cultures to the tale and part of that is music.  A fantastic selection of modern-day styles that represent the culture, the movie integrates the tracks into key scenes that sort of add ambience to the typical genre shots (making love and driving cars).  This added layer though is only a glazing to the acting that brings the characters to life on hand.  Meagan Good is well good at her work taking a common role and in some ways refreshing it to make it interesting, engaging and compassionate that you feel for the character. Michael Ealy dives a little more into the extreme role of hotheaded decisions and emotional moments that makes fans love the genre. Yet it’s Dennis Quaid who I think gets the nod for his performance in this movie.  His character is creepy, and he executes all the mannerisms and delivery needed to craft a thriller villain.  The smile that shows innocence yet insanity, the subtle laughs that get under your skin as they denote the edge about to be reached, and even more the temper that comes when these people do not get their way. It’s fantastic development that greatly spans the movie, taking months to achieve instead of days and seeing that evolution.  That is the making of a good casting for this genre for me.

But the characters need a setting to play in and The Intruder’s playground is one that is both aesthetically beautiful and haunting at the same time.  Again representing the themes of old vs. new, the house known as Foxglove holds stunning engineering work that ropes the modern society in, primarily for stunning view, gorgeous décor, and the atmosphere it brings.  Yet, the open floors, beautiful antiquated halls, and the multilevel house offers many shadows, sounds and ambiguity to get the tension going and drop the comfort level way down. In utilizing the characters, spreading the development over the story and utilizing such a playground, the Intruder is able to make an engaging level of suspense that keeps you into the series, much like a mini-series does.  Throw in the focus on characters and not scares, and again you begin to see a tale that finds its pace and keeps you interested in characters who extend past the one-dimensional outlook these characters often have.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

Trailers ruin much

So Much More Potential

Some Character balancing

Not the Most Intense ending

Still Idiotic Decisions

 

SUMMARY:  Despite the good this movie accomplished, it still falls victim to some of the trademarks that come with the Soap Opera like approach. It’s predictable, with many of the “surprising” components deduced a mile away based on the cliché plot points they love to tell.  In regards to this movie, the two trailers I have seen give away much of the film and in seeing that you can piece together much of what will happen way before you get to the scene.  This predictability is a shame because the potential they were building was set to be a potential memorable moment in the drama/thriller history, primarily in some more tactics Quaid’s character could do and in the climactic chase to be had. But again this movie failed to deliver on that promise by sort of short sighting the ending.  Instead of thrilling games of survival in the very house they chose, the last bout is a bit more boasting and brutish combat that ends rather quickly and unimpressively.  That simplicity is emotionally fulfilling in the sense of justice, but given how they were building on two of the characters, I had hoped for a little more fulfillment in this final scene.  The other component that would have been nice, as agreed by at least two of my audience members comments, the smart characters we were seeing were quite idiotic in their approach.  Despite all the things available at their hands, the “stress” of the moment appeared to have robbed them of their brains to achieve the goal they were looking for. It won’t bother many, but for this reviewer it takes away from the character work they had done in this story.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Better than I had anticipated, the Intruder manages to turn back the drama/thriller to an age of character focus instead of scares. Quaid in particular manages to take a simple role and craft it into a villain that you get hooked on watching, while his “prey” are characters with more dimensions and personality proving they aren’t just meant for knife and ax fodder.  Utilizing the setting and characters well, it’s the drama that comes closer to balance than many of the films I review.  Yet, the full potential of the characters was not quite reached for this reviewer, falling victim to predictable plots, time restraints, and an ending that again is cliché and more attuned to those wanting to lead with their hearts than heads.  Still all in all, it’s a movie that at least shows potential for future movies of this category to have a chance at story telling.  Worth a trip to the theater?  My opinion is no, as this is still a Lifetime film pumped up on budget, but check it out at home viewing.

 

My scores:

Drama/Horror/Mystery: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Cursed To Mediocrity

The Curse of La Llorona Poster

 

Horror movies, they seem to come a dime a dozen these days, following a carbon copy formula that does not shy away from trying to appease the die-hard fans.  With the establishment of universe trends, various film franchises continue to work their hardest to match the success Marvel’s comic universe is currently pulling. And tonight’s review is a movie that barely finds a way into one of these universes, but still tries to make a claim on its own.  Yes, tonight yours truly takes a look at the haunted cries of:

 

The Curse of La Llorona (2019)

 

Director:

Michael Chaves

Writers:

Mikki DaughtryTobias Iaconis

Stars:

Linda CardelliniRaymond CruzPatricia Velasquez

 

LIKES:

  • Jumps into scares
  • Good Run Time
  • Good Use of Shadows
  • Decent Acting
  • Comedic Relief
  • Good Make Up

Summary:  A horror movie has to keep the speed going and get to the darker thrills that this genre brings.  The weeping woman’s journey does not hesitate to give its audience the chills it wants, hopping into the jumps and creepy tone within minutes of it starting. As such, the pace of the movie is very brisk, keeping in time to present as much of the scare fest as they could in the 90-minute run time. For yours truly, the jump scares don’t quite get me, but instead the creepy atmosphere is there to settle into the crevices of your mind La Llorona is all about utilizing the shadows to stoke the embers of your imagination to craft unspeakable horrors.  It’s those slight sounds and eerie music that were the scariest components for me and it worked well.  I’ll hand it to the cast in this film, for they sold the terror of the movie, as if they were being haunted.  From the kids to the adults, each one did a wonderful job with the limited roles they had in this film.  My favorite was Raymond Cruz, not because he was the star of the film but more so the comedic relief used in his role. Despite all the bone chilling screams, and various telekinetic pulls, the rogue priest makes for some laughs without it being too forced.  Finally, in regards to haunted make ups, La Llorona does a nice job of the pale pallor, dark lipstick, and gory liquids to satisfy most make up fans.  Nice execution, with some haunting special effects makes for an interesting antagonist.

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Simplistic
  • Story Is Okay
  • Jump Scares not So much
  • Flat Characters
  • Trailers Revealed Much
  • Unoriginal Makeup
  • Not The Best Connection To The Universe

 

SUMMARY:  While scaring is the name of the game in these types of movies, the fact they are pumped out rapidly leads to some quality drops for this reviewer.  The simplistic nature of this film is a limitation for me, the potential decreased by just the simple presentation that they pulled out.  No twists, no original edge, and a story that held a lot of promise were all just mediocre for me and led to a story that was hard to grip onto for me.  Even the characters were only semi-there, flat one-dimensional people that weren’t the most engaging for me to hook onto.  Perhaps the scares would get you, but seasoned horror people like me won’t find much in originality from scares, nor the most suspenseful climax. 

Now part of this was due to me finding tricks of avoiding jumping, and others due to the trailers showing much of these scenes in their brief life on the television.  Yes, La Llorona falls victim to the trailer revealing too much, giving you much of the premise in the short two-minute commercials. And while I said the makeup was executed well, this universe is having trouble coming up with unique make ups that don’t follow the same template.  Because of this, the weeping woman may look good, but she’s another pale figure with black lines to emphasize death.  And finally, the connection to the Conjuring Universe is like a derivative line touching the main curve.  A brief exchange from a shared character it the only opening to the universe and without a teaser or much else to connect, the story telling continues to be lackluster at best. 

 

The VERDICT:

In truth, the movie about the legendary figure is okay for me.  It fills the void of a scary movie for the month, and has some of the traditional means to generate a few jumps.  Your best source of entertainment will be to bring those who scare easily to the film and watching them react.  Yet in terms of the movie, it’s just not the same dark magic that the Conjuring wielded a long time ago.  It’s got the superficial “charm” to it, and uses shadows well to terrorize the actors they have casted/  Fortunately, despite the limitations, the movie has a low run time, meaning you won’t be in the theater that long in case it’s not your particular cup of tea. Worth a trip to the theater?  Kind of, but I’d say this one leans more towards the home viewing in this reviewer’s opinion.  My scores are:

 

Horror/Mystery/Thriller: 6.5

Movie Overall 6.0

New Loop, New Twist: Happy Character Development 2u

Happy Death Day 2U Poster

            Sequels often get a bad rep because of never living up to the expectations of the original, and sometimes insulting the name of the franchise. Often a sequel is not needed, an obvious cash grab to try and extend the franchise just a little longer in hopes of keeping interest.  So tonight’s review is one of those cases where a sequel was not really needed, but nevertheless exists.  I’m talking about the sequel to last year’s campy slasher/comedy Happy Death Day, a film that surprised me in how much fun I had.  Will the second fill follow suit, or are we stuck in sequel limbo?  Robbie K back with another review on:

 

Movie: Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Director:

Christopher Landon

Writers:

Christopher LandonScott Lobdell (characters)

Stars:

Jessica RotheIsrael BroussardPhi Vu

 

 

LIKES:

  • Jessica Rothe
  • Character Development
  • New Twist
  • Funny
  • Emotional

 

Summary:  Happy Death Day was all about Tree’s journey to being a better person and the sequel is no exception as it dives more into the former sorority girl’s life.  Rothe’s performance continues to amaze me as she brings Tree to life, expanding upon the character, as a good sequel does, and really bringing emotional twist to the mix. The second dive surprisingly brought some emotional punches into the fray and was very heartwarming (potentially tear jerking) in unexpected ways.  Secondary characters get a little more time to develop as well, moving past the superficial stereotypes and somehow remaining relative and pertinent to the story.

Yet the movie isn’t just about the lovely Tree going on a soul-searching journey of … death, but rather trying to find ways to bring a new twist to and outdated genre and still keep to its rules.  In regards to the story, Happy Death Day 2U manages to add a science fiction twist to the mix, that helps establish a new goal, story element, and connection to first film.  While not quite the slasher tale, the added dimension helps the movie stand out and avoid feeling like a carbon copy of the original that was only a year or so ago.  In addition, the comedy remains true to its gimmick of making you laugh as actors and writing blend together to become well-timed comedic antics.  It works beautifully and adds a fun pace to the film that energizes it all over again to reinvigorate the series.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not as suspenseful
  • The beginning gimmick
  • Comedy a little overdone

 

Summary: The sequel’s two areas of improvement for me are going a little too far into the gimmick at the beginning and the overdone comedy.  The new twist works, but at first it didn’t impress me in the odd presentation/rule bending it did.  Fortunately, they were able to get a handle on it, but at the beginning the odd transition didn’t work outside of a messy transition.  The other component that did not quite work for me, was a few moments where the comedy was forced on the audience, a little too drawn out or grandiose for my liking.  They were minor ones, but limitations that took away from me.

I think the biggest limitation was how the suspense was taken away for me like the first one had.  The slasher component is mostly gone alongside the mystery, leaving it a fun adventure but missing that darker edge that the film was famous for.  Sure the humor got a little darker than anticipated, leading to some rather disturbing scenes, though these carried the attitude of the film.  Yet, the prolonged bouts, the squeezed in extra obstacles, and the hasty wrap up led to some shortcuts being taken and decisions to put the movie more in a comedy sort of mood.

 

 

The verdict: Regardless of the twists, the movie still has the fun adventure that makes it one of my favorite comedies of the last few years.  Rothe leads much of the fun, but the new twists, energy, and true to its roots presentation also help to make it a decent sequel that expands on the first film. Yes, it got a little carried away with the science fiction and comedy elements, leading to a diluted suspense factor. Still, it’s worth a check out into the theater for the fun movie of the weekend.  Definitely check this one out in the near future.

 

My scores are:

Horror/Mystery/Thriller: 7.5

Comedy/Sci-Fi/Mystery:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

 

 

Escaping The Horror Formula! An Escape Room Review

Escape Room Poster

            The age of horror took a major turn when the Saw series unleashed its gory thrills to the Hollywood industry.  Sadly, the very edge and gimmicks it brought grew stale, as sequel after sequel appeared to dilute the quality and originality.  Soon carbon copies came in, eventually flooding the market with mediocre films that didn’t do much to progress the genre.  Still, there are always those hopes that some quality still lurks in the chaotic slew that is this genre.  Hi, Robbie K here with his first review of the year on the latest Horror movie entitled:

 

Movie: Escape Room (2019)

 

Director:

Adam Robitel

Writers:

Bragi F. Schut (screenplay by) (as Bragi Schut), Maria Melnik (screenplay by)

Stars:

Deborah Ann WollTaylor RussellTyler Labine

 

LIKES:

  • New Twist
  • Attention To Detail/Creativity
  • Good Acting
  • Character Development
  • Story
  • Stuck To Gimmick
  • Suspenseful Energy
  • Short Run Time

 

SUMMARY:  These types of films fall victim to stale presentations and lack of originality.  As such, the Escape Room approach was a nice twist on this film bringing with it a new creativity and approach that was refreshing.  Each of the rooms had extraordinary detail, planned out to feel like the intense game of survival, filled with snares, baits, and clues to spur the threats on. Such design brought with it new arenas to engage your mind and held much more sustenance.

What further advanced the story were the characters, contenders who for once had more dimension than simple, snobbish, cannon fodder that often take center stage.  These players held backstories, opportunities to learn, and personalities that evolved with each passing minute.  As such, I found myself rooting for the team to succeed instead of rooting for a timely demise to end their flawed personalities.  The actors had more room to use their talents to cross the spectrum and do a surprising job expanding upon what was once simple roles.

Tying all of this together those, was an engaging story that managed to combine all the backstories, gimmicks, and flair into an engaging cinematic piece that delivered on its promise, but remained interesting on many levels.  Uncovering the mysteries, solving the clues, and keeping the energy flowing through the film with a presentation that was filled with anticipation and excitement. Given that they balanced the gimmick with a story it gets bonus points, even more so keeping it in the short run time leads to even more bonus points.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Cliché
  • A few stretches
  • Wanting More Backstory for some characters
  • Ruined by Trailers

 

SUMMARY: Sadly, all the planning and details laid out still haven’t escaped the cliché and unoriginality that follows these types of films.  Escape Room falls into these own sets of traps, but fortunately the spin, ingenuity, and suspense are able to divert the blunt of this area of improvement.  One of those that is a bit eye rolling, is that the rooms takes some stretches of the imagination and ignoring reality to get on board.  While most of it is acceptable, there are some times I had to turn my brain off extra to get over the unrealistic hurdle.

In addition, there was a little bit of adjusting the story order I would have liked to see, placing all the character stories closer to the beginning where their lives were explained in more detail.  Had they done this, I feel some of the parts rushed over for me would have been improved, but this minor detail is nothing compared to my big limitation.  That much of the story, twists, and fates have been revealed in the trailers to great detail.  If you’ve got a good memory, and watch the trailer with enough focus, you’ll get about 60-75% of the movie revealed.  So avoid the trailers enough and you will be okay, but otherwise look forward to the last 25% to really give you the last tidbits.

 

The VERDICT:

 

         This genre is what you pay for, but fortunately Escape Room renews the potential for greatness in this type of movie.  With a focus on detail, character designs, and story integration this addition to the group was fantastic for me.  It’s engaging pace and suspenseful energy will offset most of the film’s limitations.  Given all the visuals and fun I had, the movie is well worth a trip to the theater and certainly one of the better horror movies to show up in a while, at least in terms of thriller/slasher.  I certainly enjoyed this film and look forward to this direction for future installments if possible.  My scores are:

 

Drama/Horror/Mystery:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0