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Movie Review: “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” – A Convoluted Plot, Scattered with a Few Scares

I’ll be honest; when I first saw the trailer for this film, I was immediately intrigued. Turning a game that I have loved playing with my friends since childhood into a horror flick sounded surprisingly clever. Think about it. The actual game of truth or dare is kind of scary. You could be forced to share secrets that would ruin friendships, or do things that could ruin you. With that thought in mind, Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare had the potential to really shine. Unfortunately, the film is just a commercialized knock off of The Ring (2002) and Would You Rather (2012).

We first meet our protagonist, Olivia (Lucy Hale), while she is posting a video on social media about her Habitat for Humanity plans this spring break. But, those plans quickly change. Olivia’s best friend, Markie (Violett Beane), begs her to spend the break partying in Mexico instead of helping people in need of homes. After about five seconds of deliberation, Olivia agrees and the girls are off to Mexico with four other close friends.

Once they get to Mexico, we see a cliché montage of the group having fun, partying, and taking selfies. But of course, they couldn’t just leave it at that. Nope, the group foolishly decides to follow a stranger they met at the bar to “a fun place”. Yup, it was that easy. They are led to an abandoned church, and the mysterious new friend suggests they play truth or dare. They soon to come to find out that the game is haunted by a demon, and now they are forced to play the game forever or die.

As silly as the premise sounds, the film still manages to conjure up a few screams. The actual dares keep you on edge and can be a little gruesome at times. So in that sense the film is effective. But as a whole, the film flounders. The dialogue is cheesy, and feels more like a teen drama series. Dare I say like Pretty Little Liars? There is also way too much crammed into this movie. The few character backstories are rushed, and the journey to finding out how to the end the game is confusing.

The acting is decent; lots of controlled tear drops. There’s a ridiculous love triangle in there somewhere between Markie, her boyfriend Lucas (Tyler Posey), and Olivia. But I chose not to put much thought into that because, clearly, the writers didn’t either. I blame most of my qualms on the script. These young actors are capable of giving better performances in a more solid film.

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare may entertain its target teen audience with its attractive cast and tense moments, but their money might be better spent if they save this one for a rental.

Rating: 2.5/5

“Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” opens in theaters April 13.

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“Get Out” One Year Later – Free Screenings on President Day!

First-Come, First-Served Offer Valid at 55 AMC Theatres Nationwide to Guests of the 7:00 P.M. Screenings on Monday, February 19

Universal City, CA, February 13, 2018—Filmmaker Jordan Peele, in conjunction with Universal Pictures, today announced free screenings of Universal’s Get Out on Presidents’ Day, February 19, at 55 AMC locations nationwide.  Each guest who requests a ticket the day of the screening—at a participating location—will be given one free admission to the 7:00 p.m. showing, up to theatre capacity.

Since its release in theatres in February 2017, Get Out has been nominated for four Academy Awards®, while inspiring audiences and artists worldwide.  A compilation video was also released that showcases the artwork inspired by Get Out—featuring the hashtag #GetOutOneYearLater—to encourage audiences to share more of their artwork, experiences and discussions that were influenced by the movie.

The promotion will be available at each of the 55 AMC Theatres playing the special screening of Get Out at 7:00 p.m. on February 19.  Free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and may only be picked up at the AMC box office that day.  Each guest must present a valid ID to receive their ticket, with a limit of one free ticket for each ID presented, while supplies last.  This offer is valid for the 7:00 p.m. showing of the film on February 19, only.

Markets that will playing Get Out on Presidents’ Day include ones in Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Houston, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Jacksonville, FL; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; New York City, NY; Oklahoma City, OK; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Raleigh/Durham, NC; San Diego, CA; San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, CA; Seattle/Tacoma, WA; St. Louis, MO; Tallahassee, FL; Tampa, FL; and Washington, D.C.  To find out more information, visit www.getoutoneyearlater.com.

“When Jordan approached us about a way to thank fans one year after the release of Get Out, we thought a Presidents’ Day screening during Black History Month would be a wonderful way to commemorate the film’s impact,” said Jim Orr, President, Distribution, Universal Pictures.  “The success of his stunning vision would not have been possible without the audience’s passion for both Get Out’s groundbreaking storytelling and its deft use of art as society’s mirror.”

For more information and a list of theatres offering the special screenings, please visit www.getoutoneyearlater.com.  Broadcast-quality clips from Get Out are available at www.epk.tv, and stills are available at www.image.net.

 

About Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com).  Universal Studios is part of NBCUniversal.  NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience.  NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks.  NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

Interview: Tyler Perry talks “Boo 2! A Madea Halloween”

Tyler Perry made the rounds, promoting his new movie, “Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween”. I sat down with the writer/director/actor to discuss his new film, how to make kids respect their elders, and more!

“Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” hits theaters on October 20.

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Movie Review: “Happy Death Day” Delivers Laughs and Scares

“Groundhog Day” meets “Scream” in this surprisingly funny, mystery thriller.

Sorority girl, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) wakes up hungover on her birthday in a stranger’s (Isreal Broussard) bed. She discovers she stayed the night with nerdy classmate, Carter, and rudely exits his dorm room. Thus begins her rampage of being a narcissistic mean girl to everyone who crosses her path. As we get a peek into a day in the life of Tree, we learn she ignores her father’s call, she’s sleeping with her married professor, and constantly belittles others. I know, hard to believe someone wants to kill her. As the night draws near, Tree heads to a party and is quickly stabbed to death by someone in a disturbing baby mask–oddly enough, that is the school’s mascot.  She then wakes up, and is forced to keep reliving her birthday with each day ending in her being murdered in some gruesome way. As Tree grows weaker with each consecutive loop, she must unmask her murderer and stop them from finishing her off for good.

Writer Scott Lobell does a great job with this clever script, as he adds a lot of humor and makes the film self-aware to the fact that this is a cheesy horror. The self-awareness allows for the movie to go beyond cliché lines and really have fun with a decently, thought out mystery. At this point I’ve described more of a comedy, but director Christopher Landon achieves a handful of scares that will have audiences jumping in their chairs.

The film’s story is solid, but the key ingredient here is the engaging breakout performance by Jessica Rothe. She nails the strong bitchy exterior that actually allows us to not feel guilty when we laugh at her numerous deaths, yet still gains sympathy towards her hopeful victory. Rachel Matthews, who plays an even more awful sorority sister, might provide the most laugh out moments with her over the top bitchy lines.

Whatever “Happy Death Day” lacks in the horror, it makes up for it in its entertainment. Reminiscent of the “Scream” era, it provides the same kind of “whodunit” feel that keeps you guessing till the very end.

I can’t say that this film should be at the top of your must-see list, but if you are looking for a few scares and fun time during this Halloween season, then “Happy Death Day” is the perfect choice.

Rating: 3.75/5

“Happy Death Day” opens in theaters October 13.

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Movie Review: “Get Out” is an Excellent Mix of Horror and Comedy

Image result for get out movie

Every once in a while a horror flick comes along that not only scares, but also includes plenty of laughs along the way. In the past few years, films like “The Visit” and “The Guest” have provided this full package. And now at the start of 2017, comedian Jordan Peele (“Key and Peele”) has captured this rarity again, and presented us with the gift of his directorial debut, “Get Out”.

Based on the film’s trailer alone, audiences knew we were in for some race-savvy satire that would lead to a number of awkward scenes. But, these moments of comic relief are so subtle and well executed that they blend perfectly with the eerie tension, while still keeping you engrossed in the suspense of the movie.

“Get Out” follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an African American photographer who’s planning to meet his Caucasian girlfriend’s parents for the first time. They are set to head upstate to her family’s secluded home, and of course, Chris expresses his concern by asking if they know he is black? Rose (Allison Williams) laughs it off and assures Chris that her parents are totally cool. To give him comfort, she lets him know that her dad would have voted for Obama a third term. Oh good, now we all feel so much better… Chris’ best friend (Lil Rel Howery) even warns him not go, but he does not listen.

On the drive to her parents’ house they hit a deer, foreshadowing an unpleasant visit ahead of them. And it’s here that we get our first act of racism with a cop who insists on seeing Chris’ ID after the accident, even though Rose was driving. Luckily, Rose diffuses the situation in a pretty knight in shining armor way.

Image result for get out movie

Finally, they arrive to her parents’ home, and both are welcomed with open arms. Rose’s mom Missy (Catherine Keener) and her dad Dean (Bradley Whitford) appear to be nice. Dean comes across a bit foolish at times with a few ignorant remarks when trying to “bond” with Chris, but other than that the parents seem harmless. However, their two African American servants, Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Walter (Marcus Henderson) behave in a very odd manner with forced smiles and unusual emotional breakouts.

Things just continue to get stranger. Missy offers to hypnotize Chris so that he can quit smoking. Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) makes it blatantly clear that he does not care for his sister’s new boyfriend. Then there’s a disturbing party in which Chris is hounded by the many white people in attendance. Soon enough, everything begins to unwind.

Jordan Peele’s script is sharp, witty, and an effective horror. There are subtle Hitchcock-like notes in his story telling. Peele’s cast only furthers his film with their well-rounded performances. Keener and Whitford do an incredible job maintaining their creepy, Stepford Wives composure. Major kudos to Lil Rel Howery for being the character that hilariously speaks on behalf of everyone in the audience.

“Get Out” is a refreshing horror-comedy that will keep you on edge till the very end!

Rating: 4/5

“Get Out” opens in theaters February 24th.

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Movie Review: “The Visit” is a Welcoming Comeback for M. Night Shyamalan

the visit

M. Knight Shyamalan was once known for his great films such as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs.  Unfortunately, his more recent projects have subjected us to some underwhelming, pieces of crap like The Happening and After Earth.  Well folks, I’m pleased to say that Shyamalan’s newest film, The Visit, succeeds as a highly entertaining horror-comedy!

Kathryn Hahn plays a single mother of two who has not spoken to her parents since she left home at the age of 19, and ran off with an older man.  Now, her parents have reached out to her through the internet and ask that her children come to visit their Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie), whom they’ve never met.

Per the kids’ wishes, the mom sends them to their grandparents’ isolated, Pennsylvania farmhouse in the woods for a week while she goes on a cruise with her new boyfriend.  The eldest child, Becca (Olivia DeJonge), is an aspiring filmmaker.  She takes this opportunity to document her entire trip, and hopefully uncover exactly what happened the day her mother walked out on her parents and maybe even mend their relationship.  Alongside her, as a second camera operator is her younger, germ phobic, rapping brother, Tyler (Olivia DeJonge).

The trip starts all well and good, Nana makes plenty of tasty treats and Pop Pop enjoys listening to Tyler’s ridiculously, hilarious raps.  Seems as though it will be a great week for the kids; that is until they discover why bed time is at 9:30pm.  Nana goes from a harmless, nocturnal sleepwalker to a straight up psychotic, creepy, crawler within each passing night!  And what exactly is Pop Pop doing when he disappears inside his mysterious shed?

As things are turning eerie fast, the kids are desperate to have their mother come get them before anymore craziness unfolds.

Shyamalan has not only redeemed himself as a filmmaker, but he has also brought originality to the found-footage genre.  His combination of humor and terror will have audiences uncomfortably laughing while still on the edge of their seats as they nervously anticipate what’s to come.

The acting is good overall, especially when it comes to the two kids, who could have ruined the whole film if they were wrongly cast.  Oxenbould was given some cheesy lines and potentially bad jokes, but his delivery and timing is so on point that you can’t help but enjoy every second he’s on screen.  But the real stand out here is Nana.  Dunagan gives an incredible performance as the disturbing grandmother who seesaws from sweet and nurturing to plain insanity.

The Visit provides comedy, horror, family, and best of all, a startling amount of effed up sh**.  Literally!

Rating: 4/5

The Visit opens in theaters on September 11.

Coming Soon: “The Babadook”

The Babadook

Director/ Writer: Jennifer Kent

Stars: Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, Tim Purcell

Synopsis 

Six years after the violent death of her husband, Amelia is at a loss. She struggles to discipline her ‘out of control’ 6-year-old, Samuel, a son she finds impossible to love. Samuel’s dreams are plagued by a sinister monster he believes is coming to kill them both. When a disturbing storybook called ‘The Babadook’ turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he’s been dreaming about. His hallucinations spiral out of control and as he becomes more unpredictable and violent, Amelia is genuinely frightened by her son’s behaviour. But when Amelia begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence all around her, it slowly dawns on her that the thing Samuel has been warning her about may be real.

“The Babadook” just won the Best Horror Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress Awards at the 2014 Fantastic Fest.

Be sure to catch this terrifying psychological thriller when it hits theaters November 28th!  Direct TV subscribers will have a chance to catch the film in their house on Halloween!

*Movie Review will be posted closer to release date.

“The Babadook” Official Trailer HD

Interview: “The Houses October Built”

The Houses October Built

Director: Bobby Roe

Writers: Bobby Roe, Zack Andrews, Jason Zada

Stars: Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe, Mikey Roe, and Brandy Schaefer

Synopsis

Looking to find an authentic, blood-curdling good fright for Halloween, five friends set off on a road trip in an RV to track down these underground Haunts. Just when their search seems to reach a dead end, strange and disturbing things start happening and it becomes clear that the Haunt has come to them.

I sat down with Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe, Mikey Roe, and Brandy Schaefer to discuss their new film, “The Houses October Built.”

Click here for “The Houses October Built” Interview

 

Movie Review: “The Guest”- An Inevitable Cult Classic

Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett have revitalized the horror genre with their exciting new thriller, The Guest.

Fans of Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) will be more than pleased with the surprising new side he shows in this sharp, jolting, retro thriller.  His insipidly charming good looks, accessorized with the all-American accent, are put to disturbing use.  Audiences won’t know whether to fear him or root for him.  His character, “David,” is almost like a suave Jekyll and Hyde.  Even if you’ve never seen Downton Abbey, gentlemen and especially the ladies will be in agreement that Dan Stevens has never been better.

The Peterson family is suffering a great loss.  The death of their son, Caleb, has set a somber tone in their household.  When David (Stevens) shows up on their door steps, claiming to be a close friend of Caleb’s from the army.  It’s almost as if they have received a gift from God.  Parents, Laura (Sheila Kelley) and Spencer (Leland Orser) view David as the perfect guest.  He is kind and helpful around the house.  Even their youngest son, Luke (Brendan Meyer), is impressed by the polished soldier when he puts his military fighting to use against some violent high school bullies.

It seems that only Anna (the outstanding Maika Monroe), the Peterson’s brooding, teen daughter, senses something is off with her family’s new found house guest.  Though David’s arrival has broken the cloud of mourning that had descended in their podunk, New Mexico home, a string of mysterious deaths occur during his stay.  A suspicious Anna starts to wonder if David could be responsible.

Last year, Wingard brought us the ingenious You’re Next, which like The Guest, is a horror that calmly lets things escalate to a state of restless violence.  Wingard and Barrett have admirably paid homage to the old-school slashers with their John Carpenter-influenced 1980’s styling.  From their music, to their by the numbers outline that follows the rules of the usual scary movies.  Plus, they have added a few secret ingredients that spice up the predicable horror flick recipe.

The Guest may be welcoming audiences to a familiar plot, but there is enough gusto in this story that makes for a surprisingly, hell of a good time!

Rating: 4/5

The Guest hits theaters September 17.

“The Guest” Official Trailer HD

Staying for Halloween? Here are the Top 7 Best Horror Flicks

Okay, let me just start off by saying this was one of the hardest list I have had to make.  There are so many good horror flicks, for so many different reasons.  Notice I could not pick 5, even though there are some honorable mentions.

I know some of us would rather take it easy on a Thursday night; Halloween doesn’t stop work from coming the next day.  So for those you who are just going to chill and pass out candy to the little ones, here are a few horror film suggestions to top off your night!

Note: All films must be watched in the dark and with proper focus for the full terror affect.

7. I know what you did Last Summer 1 & 2

Is he dead?

For the Slasher:  I know Scream is more preferred among fans, but I have always preferred the story-line in I know what you did Last Summer.  It is slightly less cheesy and in my opinion a scarier film.  Plus it stars four of the biggest celebs of the 90’s, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prince Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar. If you are going to watch the first one you must watch the second, it all ties together very well and you will be satisfied with the story.

6. Final Destination

You can’t run from Death

For the Deaths: I don’t even know how many of these sequels they have made now.  All I know is you must watch the original in 2D.  The idea of death chasing after you might keep you up tonight, but how these characters die will make you more cautious than usual.  The film will have you immediately engaged and on the edge of your seat.

5. Stir of Echoes

Does it hurt to be dead?

For the Twist:  Personally my favorite horror flicks are the ones with the best twists.  What Lies Beneath and The Uninvited are great examples.  You give me a mystery to follow and an ending I would not expect, all while having my eyes half opened, and I’m sold!  Stir of Echoes is the whole package kind of scary movie.  Good acting, original story, fear while watching, and a great twist.

4. The Ring

Seven Days…

For the Nightmares:  I can not guarantee that you will be as terrified as I was when first saw this film in 8th grade.  I can tell you that after I saw it, for two weeks straight I slept with the lights and TV on in my room.  I thought that would prevent Samara from turning it on her self and coming out of it.  Either way, you get my point.  The Ring will make you think twice before you dare to watch a tape that will kill you 7 days later!

3. The Exorcist

May the power of Christ compel you!

For the Classic: I feel like this one does not need much explaining.  If you’ve seen it you might wonder why it is not number 1.  Surprisingly enough 2 other films haunt me more.  The horrors that happen in The Exorcist can be prevented.  Just do not ever play with a Ouija board. Done!  I can sleep a little easier now.  None the less, this an incredibly well made film for its time and cult classic.

2. Paranormal Activity

It’s getting worse

For the Ending: Another scary movie with too many sequels.  But again, nothing beats the original.  Lets put aside the fact that this film only cost $15,000 to make and made $9.1 million its first week!  The acting is surprisingly good?  The story is so simple.  And the end is one of the scariest scenes I have ever seen in a film.

1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Who will survive and what will be left of them?

For the Chainsaw:  “Five friends visiting their grandpa’s old house are hunted down and terrorized by a chainsaw wielding killer and his family of grave-robbing cannibals.” Of course I am talking about the 1974 version of this film.  Imaging Leatherface chasing his victims with a chainsaw still haunts me.  This film is gruesome, disturbing and perfect for any Halloween evening!

Honorable Mentions: Child’s Play, Nightmare on Elm Street, Carrie (1976), It