The Wall (2017)
Directed by Doug Liman
Written by Dwain Worrell
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Sergeant Allen “Ize” Isaac
John Cena as Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews
Laith Nakli as The Voice (Juba)
Run Time: 88 mins
Box Office: $4.5M
IMDb 6.2/10 Metacritic 57/100 Rotten Tomatoes 65%
I watched this film today thinking it was going to be more of a war/action movie rather than a true suspense thriller. I was wrong. This film was so good, in my opinion, that I started writing this review immediately after watching the film and even had it playing again while working on this post.
While I don’t want to give any substantive details away, the movie is six years old and the trailer tells you just as much as I am going to about the plot. However, I will not reveal the ending as I would hate to be the reason you don’t watch the film. You'll find the trailer below.
However, let me set the scene for you. It’s 2007 in Iraq. President Bush has declared victory in the war in the Middle East. The rebuilding process and efforts have begun. Some civilian contractors are on location to build pipelines as part of the new infrastructure program. However, the civilians were attacked by an Iraqi sniper. Two American soldiers have been sent to conduct a recon mission and report back to superiors for further instruction. The first is Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews. The other is Sergeant Allen Isaac. Matthews calls him “Ize”. These two soldiers have been on sight for twenty-plus hours. They have been staring at several dead bodies in the sweltering heat in full sniper gear of their own and looking through their scopes at the scene before them. It seems that the contractors are all dead. There are other American soldiers that they can see that are also dead. Yet they have seen no movement, no shadows, no shots fired.
In the eerily quiet and deserted area, the remnants of what was once a building sit in shambles. Being a construction site there are the pipes from the lines being put down, pallets of building materials, a couple of trucks, a large pile of trash, a site management trailer, heavy machinery and equipment, the typical things found at a work site.
After seeing nothing of concern for such an extended period of time, Matthews decides to leave their observation position of cover and go down to the site itself and investigate. In doing so he of course exposes himself with no means of cover or protection. He soon realizes that all the victims were killed with shots directly to the head. This sets off internal alarm bells, as it should, and he quickly relays to Ize that something is wrong. Then Matthews gets shot and goes down. He is badly wounded and can’t move, out in the open in the middle of the site.
Ize runs out to retrieve his wounded comrade but is also shot. He takes a round in the knee effectively knee-capping him, causing him to take shelter seeking protection behind a crumbling stone wall. He goes through all his attempts to radio for rescue but they are unsuccessful. He does his best to bandage himself up and figure out what to do.
That’s when things get really interesting. The sniper contacts him on the local radio system that the soldiers use with each other. What follows is an intense yet relatively calm exchange between Isaac and the sniper. And the psychological warfare begins. And it is warfare. The emotionless voice seeps into the corners of Isaac’s mind like a toxic sludge. The result is an incredible cerebral battle of will, skill, and stamina.
What is entirely chilling is that not only do we know the sniper is there from the very beginning but also the strangely casual conversation he attempts to make with Isaac. Instead of military secrets and classified information, the voice on the other end of the radio wants to chit-chat as if they are pals, even comrades. He wants to hear stories from the American soldier about his life, his family, and his friends. He even wants to hear about Isaac’s experiences as a soldier. Now, as if being trapped in the desert under sniper fire isn’t bad enough, this particular sniper enjoys toying with his prey before he kills them. His voice is emotionally void and his attitude is one of unvarnished superiority which creates an extraordinarily intense and somber situation, like a stalker calmly taunting his victim with a barrage of “friendly” texts and phone calls. Except this stalker is a sniper in the desert in a foreign country.
Although the typical critics don’t seem to give this movie much credit or praise (and I rarely agree with these people anyway) I feel that the film was done very well. The action starts almost immediately. While it isn’t a rush of lethal bombardments stacked on top of each other, there are virtually no slow moments or lulls. It is a steady stream of “what happens next?” that keeps the viewer engaged and invested in the outcome. I think it takes a certain skill to make a movie that has one set, a simple plot, and basically one character. Think about Cast Away with Tom Hanks. And no, the actor in this film is no Tom Hanks but the same idea is there. Hanks carried that whole movie on his own with nothing but a volleyball to keep him company. It was a guy stranded on a deserted island. Classic plot theme. So simple. Yet the details in the story of that man on that island were much more complicated. Tom Hanks made it feel real to the rest of us.
A similar thing is done in this story. The intimate nature by which the enemy engages him, the struggles of survival, and the pending doom hovering over him all combine in a tantalizing mixture to make what I thought was a pretty damn good movie. Yes, some of it may be a little predictable however the execution of those things still creates a very satisfying film that gets your mind going, keeps your eyes peeled, and gets your blood pressure up.
Anyone who likes suspense thrillers would probably like this film. I like war movies. And combining a war movie with a psychological thriller was a perfect setup for a very entertaining movie.
The Menu (2022)
Directed by Mark Mylod
Story by Will Tracy
Written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy
Run Time: 106 mins
Ralph Fiennes as Chef Slowik (Chef)
Anya Taylor-Joy as Margot (Tyler’s date)
Nicholas Hoult as Tyler (Margot’s date)
Hong Chau as Elsa (Chief staff member and restaurant spokesperson)
Janet McTeer as Lillian Bloom (food critic)
Paul Adelstein as Ted (the food critic’s assistant)
John Leguizamo as Georgie Diaz (the movie star)
Aimee Carrero as Felicity (the movie star’s assistant)
Judith Light as Anne (the wife)
Reed Birney as Richard (the husband)
Rob Young as Bryce (elite investor)
Mark St. Cyr as Dave (elite investor)
Arturo Castro as Soren (elite investor)
Budget $30M Box Office $74.7M
IMDb 7.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes 89% Metacritic 71/100
This was a movie that I wanted to see strictly because of the previews. Many times there is a certain actor or theme that will entice me to watch something but this time it was the creepy mysterious way the previews presented the film.
The general premise of the movie is that a bunch of wealthy upper-class people make reservations at what is considered to be an extremely exclusive restaurant on a private island to be served food prepared by an elite and highly revered chef and staff. They are expecting the evening to be a quiet and lavish dining experience. As you might guess, the evening does not go as the guests planned which delivers to viewers a film chock full of “OMG!” and “WTF?” moments.
This exclusive fine dining event separates eleven people into five guest tables. First, we have a husband and wife, Richard and Anne. These are two older people, in their sixties or seventies maybe. They come off as a stuffy, bitter couple who don’t seem to even enjoy being around each other, let alone still love one another. They present as cold and detached from not only each other but everyone around them, seemingly living in their own little bubble. They are also regular guests at this establishment, having dined at Hawthorne eleven times in the last five years. Getting reservations at this establishment is such a rare and special occurrence that most people only get to dine there once, maybe twice. They’ve come to this place eleven times at $1250 per plate. Wow.
Next is the ever-revered and feared food critic, Lillian Bloom, and her trusty yes-man sidekick editor, Ted. These two are clearly floating in their own world of elitism, believing that their culinary knowledge and egotistical wit set them above even the average wealthy socialite. They gab back and forth with each other, providing us with the culinary critical sludge-like commentary that shows just how much above the rest of the guests they believe themselves to be. With precise articulation, they hurl the typical slurry of judgment as they dissect every detail about the restaurant, the food, and the staff.
Then we have the table where the movie star, named Georgie Diaz, and his assistant, Felicity, are seated. He’s the stereotypical aging actor whose career is on the downhill slide. His assistant is leaving his employ to start a new career outside of the movie business. This movie star is constantly trying to convince himself that he is still well known and beloved everywhere he goes. He uses his dying fame to intimidate or impress people and to garner special treatment and favor whenever possible. Felicity appears to be somewhat quiet and reserved yet she certainly has a bit of sass at various times when she speaks to her boss.
At another table, we have Tyler and Margot, a young couple out on what seems like a first date. They are, what I would consider, the main couple of the movie. Tyler is a complete “foodie”, obsessed with every aspect of the experience of dining at this establishment. So much so that he gets annoyed when Margot tries to smoke a cigarette before they go in. He chastises her, telling her that smoking will ruin her palate and she won’t be able to fully experience and enjoy their very expensive dinner. He continues to bombard Margot with little tidbits of knowledge about anything culinary or about Chef Slowik while alternating between condescension and hurling insults at her. He seems to enjoy “educating” Margot and the feeling that his grasp of the verbiage, utensils and appliances used in the profession elevates him over his date, who is not elite upper-class in his eyes. Conversely, Margot is just a regular young woman with a great deal of spunk and wit fueled by the independent fire of her vim and vigor. She certainly has no problem speaking her mind, standing up for herself, or calling people out on their bullshit. Clearly, she feels somewhat out of place among all of these rich superiority-driven socialites. However, it is also very apparent that she doesn’t let things like a perceived socioeconomic status rattle or bother her.
Three young men are seated at the final table reserved for guests that I have chosen to dub “the silver spoon gang” although many online have taken to calling them the “finance boys”. These men all work together in the cutthroat and crooked world of finance. They too feel that their position with their boss, Doug Verrick, who financed the restaurant so Chef could stay open during COVID (the angel investor), the amount of money they make, and the perks they enjoy prove their superiority over everyone else, especially anyone working in the service industry. These are money-men who drop their boss’s name to influence or intimidate people into doing what they want.
Chef Slowik is the brains and talent behind his exclusive restaurant, Hawthorne. He has an assistant that also fills the role of maître d’hôtel. Her name is Elsa. Elsa is the main liaison between the Chef, the staff, the restaurant, and the guests. She is a very stoic woman with a profound allegiance to Chef. Elsa comes off as odd, not personable, and very serious. Likewise, Chef Slowik comes off the same way. His softer tone and stiff smile are coated in a feeling of contempt and the pleasantness comes across as artificial and fraudulent.
Chef is a man that began his passion for the culinary arts at a relatively young age. His many years of dedication along with his exceptional creativity and witty expertise have led him to a point of success that allowed him to open Hawthorne. Hawthorne is an exclusive fine dining restaurant that never repeats any dish they’ve served, gets most of the elements of each dish from the island itself (from the protein to the garnish), and strives to offer the most unique culinary experience to each of their guests by focusing on the philosophy and metaphorical aspects of each creation served. Each dish has a meaning, a purpose, and a certain experience it is supposed to create for the diners. An all-encompassing escapade meant to stimulate anything and everything that lives inside a person’s mind, body, and soul. At least that is Chef’s goal and what he strives for in his perfection.
The guests take a private boat from the mainland to the island where they are each personally greeted by Elsa and addressed individually by name. Except for Margot. Margot was a last-minute addition by Tyler whose date broke up with him between scheduling the exclusive reservations and the actual evening of the dinner. So instead, she is addressed as “Ms. Westervelt”. Because Chef Slowik does not offer seating for one at his restaurant, Tyler had to find a replacement date. Margot was the lucky one Tyler chose to be his date. While waiting for the boat, Margot steps aside and lights a cigarette. Tyler criticizes her and tells her that smoking will ruin her palate and she won’t be able to truly experience the food. She begins to protest. That’s when Tyler gives her a kind of scolding look, almost as if it were a warning (like a parent gives a child when the child is about do something they are not supposed to do), and sternly asks her to please not smoke. She stamps out her cigarette and the boat arrives, which distracts the awed foodie, Tyler, whose excitement is immediately renewed by its arrival.
Once they are on the island, Elsa greets them, takes verbal notice that Margot is not Tyler’s original named date, and then takes them on a tour of the island. The tour is a way to showcase the work and dedication that goes into preparing and presenting the evening’s menu. They walk the beach, told that the fishermen in the little boat they see are harvesting scallops for the night’s dinner service. They walk through a garden area where Tyler fawns over the fresh vegetables and herbs. The guests are shown the smokehouse where the chefs age their meat for over one hundred fifty days. They have bee hives for honey production. They utilize everything on the island they can, leaving nothing to waste.
After the tour, the guests are ushered into the dining room and seated at their designated tables at which time Margot starts to fully process that she was not Tyler’s actual date for this special dining event and it is further rubbed in by the name card at her seat having “Ms. Westervelt” written on it. She rolls her eyes and settles into her seat. Tyler, on the other hand, is like a kid in a candy store and wants to go up to the viewing area and watch the chefs at work. He takes Margot up with him and proceeds to explain the culinary techniques being used, trying to impress Margot and set himself above her in status. They are soon prompted to return to their seats for service to begin.
This is the point where things start to really get weird. From the start of service throughout the evening, every detail of every menu aspect has been meticulously planned and executed. To start each course Chef slaps his hands together in a startling clap and his small army of cooks comes to attention in one thunderous motion. The sound is aggressive, intimidating, and unsettling. Then, Chef Slowik makes a little speech explaining each dish's inspiration, ingredients, and purpose or meaning. As the courses progress the feeling of impending doom grows greater and greater within each guest. Each soliloquy is an escalation into the madness and misery of Chef Slowik and his decayed passion for cooking.
Now, this is the point where a lot begins to unfold in the movie and all the metaphorical and satirical elements unfurl. I am not going to go through all of that in too much depth in this particular review because honestly, that’s what a lot of other reviewers are doing. Everyone wants to pick apart every little detail of the movie and analyze it, yet no one seems to be overly concerned with giving actual opinions on the film itself. So, while I will be addressing those aspects of the film, those aspects would be better focused on in a separate blog post as there are a lot of psychological facets involved. And as an observation, the root of Chef’s dispassion is that very same kind of needling and nitpicking that destroys the entertainment aspect of films like this. Analyzation is great but overdoing it can take the “oomph” out of any art form. Sometimes, it’s best to just sit back and enjoy. The answers will come to you eventually.
Anyways…It is clear that Chef has lost his passion for his craft that once fueled his very existence. He goes to great lengths to painstakingly reveal everyone’s flaws while never really addressing any of his own personally. He has become obsessed with meaning and symbolism, completely bypassing the true joy of food: preparing it, serving it, and sharing it. He's long given up on the humanity and civility of providing epicurean services, the camaraderie in the kitchen and the profession itself, and the love and understanding that comes with making and sharing a meal with someone. He moulded his early passion into a career and that career has morphed into a miserable existence that Chef Slowik seems to loathe with every breath he takes.
I really enjoyed this movie. Every scene had at least one of those moments that you are anticipating and shocked by which leaves you wanting more and wondering what will they come up with next. The way the plot builds as the characters are unveiled is the perfect way to create the suspense that gives us chills. And while there are a few bigger names in the film they are relatively small parts. I thought that was a good thing. The cast was created in a way to try to accurately represent the diversity of average people dining out, even if they are in the elite class category.
But one of my favorite things about the way this movie was made is the camera work. After watching interviews with some of the actors and the director I found out that they had cameras positioned all around the restaurant and that they were filming at all times. That footage was then compiled and used to piece together the movie. This is slightly different than how most films are made as scenes are often filmed individually and then edited together. The making of this particular movie utilized a more "stream of consciousness" type filming method in which they filmed from all angles at all times and then edited that film down and arranged it to reveal the finished product we see on screen. This is why we get a lot of subtle nuances and reactions that we normally would not see because of editing and camera angles, etc. So, if you pay attention to the background, you will see several little things such as random facial expressions, body language, and other details that really add to the meatiness of the story.
I also feel that this is the kind of movie that grows on you. The first time I watched it I was a little on the fence. Although I liked it, I wasn’t sure if I was going to watch it again. But I did. And I kept watching it a few more times. Each time I picked up on some small detail that I missed before or something made more sense or came together more clearly than it did previously.
Also, the satirical side of the script meshes well with the dark comedy side of the film. Some moments are shockingly gruesome and yet there is an aspect that you can laugh at making the entire film a vigorous roller coaster of atrocious, cringe-worthy, comical, emotional, psychological, and socially awkward moments that affect the viewer in several ways, but always keep you guessing. Anyone who likes suspense/thriller films will enjoy this movie. Those who like horror with a little bit of gore but not a lot as most is implied or left to the imagination will enjoy this flick as well. And those movie watchers that a lot of symbolism are going to love this movie as well. And if it seems to not all come together the first time you see it, I recommend watching it a second time. You pick up on so much more when you watch a second time and know what happens.
I hope you all enjoy (or enjoyed) this movie as much as I did! It is a new favorite of mine. I will try to do a blog post on the metaphorical aspects of the film soon so we can explore that without clogging up an opinion piece like this review.
As always, thanks so much for reading, and happy horror hunting!!
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay by James V. Hart
Based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker
Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves
Budget $40M Box Office $215.9M
IMDb 7.4/10 Rotten Tomatoes 75% Metacritic 57/100
I recently watched this film for the first time. I have often seen vampire stories romanticized with this mushy dopey idea that being cursed as the undead for all of eternity and forced to feed on fresh blood merely to survive without feeling pain worse than opioid withdrawal is somehow beautiful and romantic and serene. Somehow the idea of a violent killer in defense of his church and faith being immortalized after denouncing his god when his true love is dead upon his return from war doesn’t seem like a cuddle-up and snuggle romantic kind of story.
Not to mention that the idea of living forever, alive or undead, seems depressing to me. How many times over the centuries would you fall in love? How many times would you have to let go of that love? How many truly beautiful human things would you miss out on once you were transformed into the undead? One has to admit there are certain highlights to being human. Highlights that truly make us feel alive.
As a vampire, I would think a being would lose a lot of what makes us human when changed into a creature of the night. The things that truly define our species as humans. Our emotions, our ability for compassion and empathy, some would say our opposable thumbs are key to our species (I don’t know if that’s one hundred percent true, I mean I’ve heard people say that it’s our ability to accessorize that separates us from the animals). The fact is we are animals and no matter what, that is never going to change. We may or may not continue to evolve but we will always be human.
Now, all that being said, they did try to make this film as much of a romance film as possible. It’s a love story…with some twists. Which is okay, I mean, I am human and I get why folks dig love stories, although I’m not really one of them.
But the general story is this…
Dracula was a defender of the church and the final living member of the Dracul family clan. The Prince Dracul was in love with a beautiful maiden and planned to marry her until his oath to protect the church drew him into battle once again. They parted ways with a final passionate kiss and professed their undying love for each other. He goes off to fight. Upon his return, he learned that his bride-to-be had received word through the trickery of his enemies that he was killed in battle. Overtaken by her grief and broken heart, she plummets to her death in the river below their castle. When he sees her dead upon his return to the church he was sworn to protect and God does not bring her back to him, he denounces his God and vows to return from death to avenge the death of his true love.
In his quest for vengeance, he finds his love again, albeit four hundred years later and she happens to be in love with someone else. But her current lover is no match for Dracula and he quickly dispatches anything and anyone in his way. It takes no time at all for Dracula to cut the ties that bind two lovers and two friends. Soon after he puts his plan into action to have his love by his side for all time.
Whether he is successful or not, I am not going to tell you. Though it is an older movie and I’m sure everyone but me has seen it, I just don’t want to tell the ending. You’ll have to watch the movie or read the novel. I have the Marvel Comics hardcover version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that I will be reading soon to compare with the movie. I can already tell you the artwork is fantastic in this comic version. But that’s another post in another section of the website.
As for the overall entertainment value of the movie, it was okay. I expected a lot more violence and blood, seeing as how it is a vampire movie. But I was left somewhat disappointed on that front. I will say that the movie does give a nice all-around story of Dracula, from the beginning to where the film leaves off. I haven’t read the actual novel itself so I can’t compare the film to that unfortunately but, I did think it was good. In my opinion, it was a little long though. I felt that they either had to edit the film to make it shorter from the editing room or they skipped over some parts of the book that made the film a little stuttered in the plot flow.
Other than that, talk about some huge names in this film. I must confess, Anthony Hopkins was the reason I wanted to watch this film. I’m not much of a fan of the vampire genre. But Coppola did a decent job holding my attention. It is a two-hour flick so it does pack a lot into the film but it goes at a steady pace, so it does feel like it moves a little on the slow side.
I felt the acting, for the most part, was good. It was strange to hear Keanu Reeves with the softer voice and accent but I suppose that does help show he has more range than I thought. The film work itself was of course excellent. It was very dramatic. The way the movie was filmed drew specific attention to various aspects of the story, making them more impactful. While I can’t give the film a total five-star rating, I can say that I did enjoy it enough that I would watch it again. I have the feeling it’s one of those films that kind of grows on you as you watch it more and more. I’m sure there are things I missed that I would pick up watching a second or third time.
Directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing
Written by Jill Awbrey
Jill Awbrey, Bart Johnson, Travis Cluff
Budget: No Data Box Office: $142.2K
IMDb 5.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes 37% Metacritic No Data
Well, judging by the looks of things on the other review sites this film did not impress many people in the film critic world. However, I thought that this was a pretty good film. We start with finding out that married couple Henry and Emma are in the midst of a heaping dose of marital discord. While no marriage is perfect, theirs is seemingly rocky at best. They decide to try for a new start by planning a romantic trip to a rental vacation house. They think the time away from the regular hustle and bustle of life and being allowed to focus on each other will be a huge step in the right direction in healing their broken marriage.
They arrive at a beautiful home with all kinds of lovely amenities and immediately start to try to make themselves comfortable, awkward as they feel the situation may be. Each seems to be struggling with their own demons. But both seem willing to make a true effort to repair their relationship. But things are not as they seem. Once they are in the house they soon find that they are not necessarily alone. Shortly beyond this discovery, they realize that they are locked in and trapped in this rental vacation home. But that’s not the worst part for this estranged couple.
Besides being locked in a strange house there is a voice that is speaking to them through the house intercom system. They discover that they are being watched by someone via cameras set up throughout the whole house. The voice is deep and intimidating. It dictates to Henry and Emma what they are to do when they are to do it, and how they are to do whatever the task commanded might be.
Henry and Emma soon figure out that they will have to work together if they are going to make it home from this vacation alive.
I liked this film a lot. I’m not sure why the professional critics gave it such bad scores but the average viewer, from what I can tell online, seemed to enjoy it. I felt like the film was well written with a relatable plotline and that the actors, although not known to me before this film, did an above-average job in portraying their characters on the big screen. The fact that the plot was something practically anyone can relate to makes it not mundane in my opinion but actually kind of smart and genius. You want your viewers to be able to relate to your characters if nothing else.
Plus, the film had an excellent suspense element all the way through. The film moves at a steady pace and that makes it easy to keep things interesting by having something new happening in almost every scene. There were also some things that one might not expect that add flair and punch to the impact of the film.
I think suspense, thriller, and horror lovers would dig this film. It’s certainly one that I am going to be watching more than just the one time. I’m not sure yet but, it could be one of those movies where you don’t catch every little detail the first time watching it and so if you view it multiple times you get a full understanding of what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish and how they were trying to do that. Worth watching at least one time though. I’d tell that to anyone who digs our genres, ya know?
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Written by Josh Stolberg, Peter Goldfinger
Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, Samuel L. Jackson
Budget $20M Box Office $36.3M
IMDb 5.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes 36% Metacritic 40/100
As you can see from the numbers above, the “professional” critics have not looked upon this film too kindly. I did not look up their reviews and truly, I don’t want to. I watched this movie with some pretty high expectations. The fact that we are coming out of the Saw franchise and this is a kind of spinoff of that franchise, those are some big screens to fill.
Almost all of us have seen at least one Saw movie, probably the first one or the last one, Jigsaw. Both films did very well at the box office and yet the critics gave those two movies about the same scores as this movie. I honestly believe that don’t employ any horror lovers as critics and therefore, horror will always get low ratings in general from these outlets.
However, if you look at the “user ratings”, those are much, much higher, showing that average people are enjoying these films. While this film Spiral didn’t gross near as much at the box office as the first or last film did in the Saw franchise, this film did in fact make money, about $16 million in profit. The other films I have mentioned each made approximately $100 million at the box office, give or take a little here and there. So no, this film didn’t do as well.
Still, it has all the beautiful and macabre elements of what we have come to expect from the epic Saw movies. We have big time actors. We have a solid plot. We have even more gruesome, gory and horrifying traps. Nothing has been repeated or replicated. This film stands on its own. And it’s a good film.
Like I said, I went into watching this with high expectations and I personally feel that those expectations were satisfied. And I will tell you why. But I am only going to give the necessary information in order to keep from spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it yet.
Detective Banks (Chris Rock) is a wild cop with an urge to do the right thing, no matter what the cost. His father Chief Banks (Samuel L. Jackson) has long retired from the department and a new Captain (Marisol Nichols) is now running things. Banks is considered a reckless rogue kind of cop. There are also other reasons that his fellow officers don’t like him. He ratted out his own partner to Internal Affairs for killing an eye witness. This never bodes well for an officer that is eventually going to need to call for back up.
Then he gets assigned a rookie partner to train, in theory to try to help calm him down a bit. Their first case is a victim. A man caught in a terrifying upgraded version of a Jigsaw game. After that, tapes start showing up at the precinct for Banks to listen to and watch and bodies are falling left and right.
There’s a new psycho on the loose and Banks has a very small window of time to catch him. Will he get the chance to come face to face with his foe? You’ll have to watch to find out.
I thought, despite the bad scores from the critics, that this was a very well-done spinoff. They didn’t rely on a whole lot from the franchise except the spiral symbol and the abhorrent traps that are inflicted upon the victims. But it is all original and that made for a very captivating viewing.
It was a little different seeing Chris Rock in such a serious role but don’t think for a second that quick witted, snappy, one liner comeback attitude is still there. Maybe he just can’t help himself. But he does pretty well in this role in the film.
Of course, we always love Samuel L. Jackson. I mean, how can you not???
The other actors were also a refreshingly strong cast for a spinoff. They all carried their parts in the film extremely well.
The writer of the film has a very active, vivid and fantastically morbid imagination. You’d have to in order to come up with these traps and then the messages that accompany them.
I was every bit as satisfied with this film as I was with any film in the Saw franchise.
I would recommend this to any horror lover. The gore is great, effects are well done, plot has no obvious holes, acting is good, some big names in the film, amazing traps for the victims. It’s definitely worth the watch and I can assure you this is a movie I am glad I have and I will be watching it multiple times. I am also anxious for the next one to come out because I think we are looking at a continuation of the franchise.
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham
Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
Based on 2006 short film Alive in Joburg by Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, David James, Vanessa Haywood, Mandla Gaduka, Kenneth Nkosi, Eugene Khumbanyiwa, Louis Minnaar, William Allen Young
Budget $30M Box Office $210.8M
IMDb 7.9/10 Rotten Tomatoes 90% Metacritic 81/100
Welcome to the world of chaos where the movie Outbreak mashes up with MIB. And it all happens right here, on Earth, in District 9, a small area in Johannesburg that houses aliens called “prawns”. These are definitely not the regular type of aliens we are usually presented with on screen in typical alien films (E.T. excluded) and it is clear that there is discord between the aliens and the people of Earth, but like I said, not fully in the typical way you would expect.
This film is so strangely and uniquely put together, some parts presented as interviews in a documentary, other sections are like home video research footage. Then there are the parts where it is filmed like any regular movie. Truly a very effective cinematic combination. Some would say this is a found footage film but, it goes way beyond that to me. And I don’t tend to like found footage films.
So, now these aliens, let’s talk about them for a minute. They are really where the story begins and ends. Aliens come to Earth seeking refuge from their own planet. There is some disagreement as to whether they should be allowed here so, the government sections of an area of the land in Johannesburg and corrals the aliens there, naming it District 9. When that proves to be a no-go solution, the aliens residing there are “evicted” from District 9 by the government that put them there to begin with and are moved to an even more cramped and desperate living area.
One of the people serving and executing these “evictions” is a man named Wikus van de Merwe. Wikus is traveling through District 9 serving eviction notices, getting the aliens to sign in agreement to the new living terms and bus them out. He has a camera crew and military support following him through the process.
While he believes he is right in what he is doing by serving these evictions to these alien refugees from outer space, he does NOT agree with the tactics, treatment and experiments being brought upon this alien community by the science and military personnel.
During one particular eviction they happen upon a cannister filled with a black liquid. Wikus confiscates the cannister, seals it in a plastic bag and keeps it to take to the lab for analysis. However, he is exposed to something incredibly toxic at a cellular level. Soon, he is not just a witness to the horrors he protests, but also a participant…and a victim.
Time is quickly running out and Wikus’s options are becoming more and more limited as he begins to experience the fusion of his DNA with that of the alien’s DNA, creating the first successfully “infected” human being.
You’re gonna have to watch to find out anything more. I don’t want to spoil anything.
My opinion of this film was that it was damn good. I could barely take my eyes off the screen and when I did, I missed something. Thank you, technology, for DVR. This movie had nonstop interest and action from the very first scene. Plus, there was an enormous amount of intensity throughout the whole film. I was literally on the edge of my seat with my hands over my mouth through over half the film.
The beauty of this little gem is not only the genius direction of Peter Jackson but also the incredibly awesome gory kill and splatter scenes. Not to mention that the CGI work is pretty freaking good.
Then you have the characters, which I must admit, are played just about as human as you can get. The disdain for those unlike themselves, the segregation of different types, the hate and maltreatment and abuse in such societal structures, all perfectly projected on screen for all to see. Not to view in a romantic awe of gunfire and explosions but more to be viewed as an alternative mirror image of ourselves and the problems we create.
All of that put together creates a frightening and intense emotional rollercoaster that you surely won’t want to miss.
Gus Van Sant
Anne Heche as Marion Crane
Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates
Julianne Moore as Lila Crane
Viggo Mortensen as Sam Loomis
William H. Macy as Milton Arbogast
Based on the 1959 thriller novel Psycho by Robert Bloch
Budget $60M Box Office $37.2M
IMDb 4.6/10 Rotten Tomatoes 38% Metacritic 47/100
This was a true remake. They didn’t mess with anything from the original movie. They just updated it to a current era for the time of release and left the rest of it the same. It seems to take place in the early 90s when Walk-Mans and od school headphones were in style and new technology.
The story is almost word for word to the original. This is uncharacteristically parallel to the original film. It’s so hard to find a remake where they didn’t change the whole story.
The kill scenes are a nostalgic throw back to the 1960 film where we don’t see the actual blade slice into flesh but we see the screaming and panic, the blood and the fear, the dead lifeless bodies.
Vince Vaughn stepped completely out of his realm to play this role and he embraced it with the imitation innocence and constant aloofness of Norman Bates. He is excellent at giving the creepy vibes throughout the movie and he is perfect at turning from the well known extrovert that he is into a reclusive introvert. He seems to have done some research on the character.
Another fascinating thing in the remake film of 1998 is that the Bates house behind the motel looks exactly like the Bates house in the original. Even the interior is the same. A very nice touch to truly honor the classic genius of this film.
Definitely worth seeing. I don’t care what the critics say. I think Vaughn was spectacular and pulled off the Norman Bates character perfectly.
I would recommend this to any Psycho fan and almost all horror fans. It’s worth the watch.
Directed by Christian Alvart
Written by Ray Wright
Release Date: October 1, 2010 United States
August 13, 2009 New Zealand
Starring: Reneé Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper
Budget $1M Box Office $28.2M
IMDb 6.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes 21% Metacritic 25/100
Interestingly, this was a film I have wanted to see for quite some time. I think it was the idea of the creepy little girl because other than the movie Chicago, I am not a Reneé Zellweger fan. Yes, I know the whole “you complete me” scene from Jerry McGuire and that’s overplayed and completely unrealistic in love. But I’m going to leave that alone. This isn’t a daytime talk show episode I’m doing here.
Unfortunately, as I looked through reviews for this film, it seemed that nobody really liked it or gave it any kind of favorable review. But you know me. I am going to watch regardless of what the average review ratings are.
In this film we have Emily (Zellweger) who is a social worker. Her case load, as is all those of social workers, is outrageously beyond her capacity as one single human being. However, she does her best to do her job, which she sees is protecting children from abuse, neglect, and danger in and out of their home environment. That’s when she comes into contact with this one particular child, Lilith (Jodelle Ferland).
Now, on the outside Lilith looks and acts and seems very much like a normal little girl. It also appears that she is in an incredible amount of danger from her parents. Emily is assigned to investigate the circumstances at Lilith’s home and find out why her grades are slipping and what the problem is exactly between Lilith and her parents. Apparently there has been some emotional discord at the house and well, Emily is tasked with getting to the bottom of the issue.
While meeting with Lilith at her school Emily gives her her home phone number and tells her to call anytime if she needs anything or feels she’s in trouble. Emily gets this phone call in the middle of the night and upon hearing Lilith screaming on the other end of the line, Emily rushes over to intervene on whatever is going on.
Emily busts into the kitchen through the back door and finds Lilith trapped in the oven and both her parents fighting to keep her in and her poor little body struggles to get out. They’ve already turned the oven on as high as it can go so it is only a matter of time before the child’s airways are scorched and she dies. Emily springs into action and the good rescuer and after battling the parents for a minute, frees Lilith from the oven just in the nick of time.
Lilith’s parents are immediately arrested and sent to jail to await trial and such. They tell Emily that Lilith is not a normal girl, that she’s evil. They try to explain that this little girl is not a little girl, she’s a demon and she’s not to be trusted. Of course, Emily thinks they are nuts and they do in fact spend some time in a psych ward.
Meanwhile, Emily takes Lilith to her own home until the family services department can find her a permanent home. But since Lilith seems to be doing well, happy and healthy and thriving at Emily’s, the family services people don’t consider finding her a new home a priority. This is when things start to take a turn for the worse for Emily and her relationship with Lilith.
Emily soon learns that Lilith isn’t the sweet, charming and innocent child she seems to be. Once the truth is known, it becomes a battle of wills, a test of endurance, persistence and faith. The age-old battle of good against evil with the outcome unknown…unless you watch the movie.
As I said in the beginning, there were pretty much no favorable reviews for this film. I applaud Zellweger for trying to step out her comfort zone and expand her acting to other film genres. However, she falls just short of convincing as a terrified foster mother and victim. Although she seems to go to great lengths to show fear and always seems to have tears welling up in her eyes at every moment of the film, that’s about as far as her horror acting ability goes. I feel she is much better suited for the corny rom-coms and drama films.
Jodelle Ferland is spectacular at being a creepy little childlike thing. She reminds me of the little boy in the Twilight Zone episode called ‘It’s a Good Life’ where this young farm boy has incredible mental powers and can “think” anything he wants to happen into reality. Even the most unimaginable things one could think of, this kid does. This kid is able to materialize and terrorize those who live with him with these outrageous imagination creations.
Lilith is no different. She’s a “special” child with “special abilities”, to put it nicely. If we were to be blunt, this is a psycho evil little heathen with nothing but death and destruction on her mind until she gets exactly what she wants. She’s hard to fake out too because unfortunately, this little brat can read minds. So not good. So now, in order to win against her evil little ass, you have to be able to make her believe the opposite of the things you are thinking of doing to her.
Play complicated mind games much?
Anyways, I didn’t think the movie was as bad as the rest of the reviewers but it wasn’t something that I am going to rush to watch again. Even though I own it. But it wasn’t so bad that I would never watch it again. I’ll let you all make your own decision on whether or not it’s worth watching, let alone worth watching more than once.
Directed by John Carpenter
Screenplay by Bill Phillips
Based on the novel Christine by Stephen King
Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky, Harry Dean Stanton
Original Release date December 9, 1983 Run Time 110 minutes
Budget $10M Box Office $21M
IMDb 6.7/10 Rotten Tomatoes 69% Metacritic 57/100
For the first time, I have two of the trailers included for this film. One is the original, classic trailer, the other is the typical trailer you would get after the movie had been released but was still being promoted before showings of other films or on video cassette previews.
This is one of my all-time favorite movie adaptations of a Stephen King novel. What’s so blatantly different about this particular story of King’s pretty much starts out with from the first scene with death and we just keep going. Now, since this film was release in ’83, I’m going to take a wild shot in the dark here and assume that this movie is old enough that it has been seen by the majority of my readers... However, if you haven’t seen it by now, before I go any further, here is your spoiler alert notice.
!!!!!!CONTENT BELOW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!!!
There, now we can continue.
So, first thing we see is a Chrysler auto plant and auto workers making 1958 Plymouth Furys. All of the ones currently on the line are all the same boring grayish kind of color except for one. This one single solitary masterpiece of an automobile comes rolling down the line and she’s a pristine, gorgeous, sporty, candy apple red with a high gloss shine. By the time this sexy beast leaves the factory, she’s already claimed the life of one man, he ashes his cigar on her front seat and another man was messing around near the front end under the hood and well, she probably took off a finger or two when she let the hood of this American made tank of a car slam down on his hand, sending him into shrills of pain. Okay, that’s in 1957, got it?
Fast forward twenty-one years later to 1978 and we meet Arnie Cunningham. Arnie is the poster boy for the stereotypical of what my generation called a geek or a nerd. (Do kids still do that these days? I would think with all the progression that the school popularity hierarchy might have changed a bit by now. But what do I know? I don’t have kids. Anyways…1978)
It’s the first day of a year at high school. Luckily, Arnie is friends with a kid named Dennis Guilder. Dennis is a football player and he and Arnie are close buddies. And for Dennis, the first day of school isn’t a big deal or anything. But for Arnie, it’s the first day of a long line of upcoming torturous, embarrassing and demeaning encounters with Buddy Repperton and his cronies, Don Vandenberg, Moochie Welch and Richie Trelawney, the merciless school bullies.
On the way home, Arnie and Dennis pass by what looks like a junky old car parked in a junky old yard of a junky old house. Arnie tells Dennis to stop the car and go back. When they get to the car Arnie immediately falls in love with it, while all Dennis can see is a hunk of junk not worth anything. The owner comes to talk to Arnie and is happy to speak with him, since he is interested in the car, a 1957 Plymouth Fury. Dennis has some smartass comments to say and tries to talk Arnie out of buying the car but it’s no use. Arnie writes a check and Christine becomes his new baby.
From that point on, Arnie starts to change and with every little thing he fixes, replaces or rebuilds on Christine, he becomes more and more unlike himself. Eventually, the only thing he cares about at all is that car. During the time that he owns it several bad things happen involving the car itself. His new girlfriend, Leigh, who also happens to be the hottest girl at school and won’t date anyone but for some reason chooses to date Arnie, almost chokes to death in the car at the drive-in theater. Certain other people are threatened by Arnie and others that seem to be problems in Arnie’s life seem to mysteriously die violent and ugly deaths.
Christine isn’t just any old car. She’s special. She’s got a history, a past, a string of pain and death in her wake. It’s almost like she’s cursed. But in the strangest of ways. She can actually rebuild herself so no damage is ever permanent. Her radio only plays old songs from the 1950s. She gets very attached to her owners, devoted in fact. If anyone tries to mess with Arnie or get in between the two of them, Christine can take care of whatever the problem is. And she can take care of Arnie. Even though throughout the movie we see Arnie get more pale and sickly looking, his eyes sunken with dark bags underneath, the change in his attitude becomes that of a cocky and indignant wretch rather than the sweet, caring and sensitive kid he started out to be. And there’s nothing anyone can do. For Arnie, to get rid of Christine, to protect anyone. Nothing.
Eventually, everything comes down to a battle between Dennis and Leigh versus Arnie and Christine. A battle that neither Arnie nor Christine is willing to lose and Dennis and Leigh can’t afford to not fight.
Okay, so this is one of my favorite Stephen King stories. I’ve watched this movie since I was a child. I love this movie. It’s not just the idea of this cursed car avenging his owner’s mistreatment or heartache or whatever. It’s also the idea that this car has a mind of its own. It can rebuild itself. It poisons the person who owns it. It kills those who try to take the owner’s love from it. It plays songs people don’t even hear on the radio anymore. This car is evil and magic at the same time. A blessing and a curse. If you own it, you can solve all your problems in your life, but if you own it, it is sure to kill you or someone you love, at minimum someone you know. All the while seemingly living off the very essence of life inside you, draining and expelling anything good or wholesome and replacing it with anything bad or evil.
Plus, for the era in which it was made, they did some fancy FX work to make this car do things that even KITT in Night Rider couldn’t do. Yes, I know what Night Rider is and yes, I know that shows my age and yes, if you don’t know what Night Rider is, you’re what I refer to as a young person. No offense. Just too many generations back for most of ya, that’s all.
Anyways, this movie is a classic. Not Oscar material by any means but one of Hollywood’s best movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novels by far. A must see for any horror fan. And if any of the younger people out there think that it’s gonna suck because there’s no CGI, I promise you, it won’t. I guarantee there were good movies and graphics prior to CGI and back in these days, we still required actors, directors and special fx techs to have talent because not everything could be fixed with the computer and digital programs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s a certain respect for the pioneers of special effects; the makeup, the puppeteer work, the robotic creations, everything that went into making us believe these people really looked this way and these things really did happen. This movie gets a lot of respect from me for the things they make this car do.
Directed by Jason Axinn
Written by Jim Cirile and Tanya C. Klein
Voices for animation:
Budget NO DATA Box Office NO DATA
IMDb 7.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes 64% Metacritic NO DATA
This is an animated adult horror film that first premiered at the London FrightFest Film Festival on August 23, 2019. It was then released on Video on Demand on March 17, 2020.
Before I get into my opinion, I MUST let you in on the general plot teaser on the box of the BluRay box.
It reads as follows:
After emerging as the sole survivor in a deadly revenge game set up by her father to his children, Miriam receives an offer from a supernatural entity to go back in time and try again. Now, Miriam must survive both her father’s blood lust and the Gamemaster’s ever-changing rules to save her siblings as she relives the worst night of her life.
Sounds pretty crazy right? So, here’s the set up…
Miriam gets called to her father’s place along with her siblings to have a discussion. This discussion is about how he truly feels about them. One he calls out for being a pill popper. Another for being a failed musician that gets his kicks utilizing sexual asphyxiation. He insults another for being gay even though he’s truly a genius for his father’s company. And Miriam, he just loathes for speaking out publicly against him, telling of his atrocious behavior over the years.
So, Daddy has decided to get them all together and play his own little sick and twisted version of being Jigsaw, setting traps for his children and requiring things of them promising their freedom and redemption if said tasks are completed.
Miriam must not survive her father, but also this supernatural entity, the Gamemaster, who is a real bitch, and her penchant for changing the rules mid-game. Though feeling set up for failure, Miriam will put forth all her effort to save herself, her siblings and win the game any way she can. The question is, with all the ever-changing rules, will her effort be enough?
This was a fantastic animated film to watch. I’m usually not a fan of animation but this particular film I couldn’t peel my eyes from.
I was fascinated by the artwork and the detail. It was like watching a comic book in motion. The artwork wasn’t like normal animation art where they have individual frames done one at a time, each frame is photographed one at a time and then they are all run together to make an animated cartoon or film. This film was as if the comic book art was lifted from the pages itself and put in motion. So, it didn’t have that Saturday morning cartoon fluidity of movement but it was an incredible creative wonder to experience in its entirety. Also, the artist (or artists) had a brilliant knowledgeable use of color that even further brought this would be graphic novel to life on screen. The range of colors give so much life and dimension to the characters and the scenery that this truly is an actual film, animated or not.
It consists of the kind of fantastic revenge story that so many horror fans love. It’s the battle between a rich and arrogant father and his disapproval and disappointment in his not-so-perfect children. The story consists of a fairly natural dialogue complete with the kind of foul language that anyone in that situation would use, so it is believable and at times flippant and amusing. The progression of the story is a great ride full of plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested, entertained and disturbed. There’s plenty of blood, gore and violence for those of us who love that stuff and it’s done very well for animation. The whole film was fast paced and stayed moving, making it so the 91-minute run time was nothing but a brief moment in time.
I would suggest any horror lover, especially horror comic book and graphic novel lovers, see this. You won’t be disappointed.