Rss

  • linkedin

Archives for : Horror

Movie Review: “Pet Sematary”

 

The horrors keep on coming! The past two months we’ve been treated to two highly anticipated “scary movies”. Pet Sematary that might have been better left dead, but there are still a few scares. Check out my ICTN review of the film, along with Jordan Peele’s box office smash, “Us”.

Share

Movie Review: “Us” Cuts Deep and Beyond the Superficial Scares

Image result for us movie

Coming off of a critically acclaimed, Oscar nominated directorial debut (Get Out), Jordan Peele had a lot riding on his sophomore feature, Us. But let’s just get the question that’s on your mind out of the way now. Us is not better than Get Out, and don’t go into the movie expecting it will be. If you enter the theater with that mindset from the start, you’re more likely to enjoy this all new twisted, weekend getaway.

Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) and her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) have taken their two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) to their family beach house expecting to unplug and unwind. Still scared from events that happened at the Santa Cruz boardwalk when she was a child, Adelaide is on edge from every strange or coincidental occurrence. And as the day turns to night, Adelaide’s suspicions turn into reality when eerie, uninvited guests show up in their driveway. Here’s the kicker; they look exactly like Adelaide and her family. From then on, these doppelgangers have turned what was supposed to be a relaxing trip into a horrifying nightmare.

It comes as no surprise that the cast does an incredible job. Nyong’o impresses with versatility and standout performance. Duke shows off his comedic chops; and newcomers, Joseph and Alex, give breakout performances that will likely have them, once again, on our movie screens.

Us takes you on an intense, chaotic thrill ride that will keep you physically and emotionally on the edge of your seat till the very end. Compared to his previous movie, Peele cranks up the scares, the gore, and the humor. It’s a combination that absolutely delivers. His visual techniques and writing have the essence of a modern day Hitchcock, but Peele still stays true to his own unique style of film-making. However, after seeing Us, I think we might be looking at the new master of horror.

Just like one of the many themes in Us, with the good comes the bad. Unlike Get OutUs is not a “perfect” movie.  Besides the fact that it may run a tad longer than it should (this is forgivable), there is A LOT to take in at first viewing. Get Out was straightforward and easy to understand, even though it had a complex narrative. To call Us “complex” would be an understatement. I’m still trying to figure out all the hidden meanings behind this one.  There are many layers you will only be able to peel back through multiple viewings. I already plan to watch the movie again this weekend. That being said, there are elements you’ll probably be able to figure out after first watch. One very obvious one is in the title. There’s a reason why Us has the same initials as the United States. Peele might be trying to tell us how he feels about the current status of our country and the way society treats outsiders.

Us cuts deep and leads you down a rabbit hole of theories. What has the world come to?  Do we need a fresh start? Do I have an evil, dark side? Though the questions you might have could be overwhelming, there’s no denying that Us is a witty and wickedly, entertaining horror flick.

I can’t wait to see what Jordan Peele has in store for us next!

Rating: 4.5/5

Us hits theaters March 22!

Share

Movie Review: “Happy Death Day 2U” isn’t a Film I’d Want to Relive Again

It sadness me to write this review, because I really loved the first “Happy Death Day”. It was such a pleasant surprise. It was reminiscent of the “Scream” era and provided the same kind of “whodunit” feel that kept you guessing till the very end.

In “Happy Death Day”, sorority girl, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), wakes up hungover on her birthday in her nerdy classmate, Carter’s (Isreal Broussard) dorm room. We got a peek into her daily life and learned she ignored her father’s call, she was sleeping with her married professor, and constantly belittled others. That night Tree was stabbed to death by someone in a disturbing baby mask. She then wakes up, and was forced to keep reliving her birthday with each day ending in her being murdered in some gruesome way until she discovered who was trying to kill her.

In “Happy Death Day 2U” Jessica Rothe reprises her role as Tree for a second helping of death day cake only to have it spoiled. Tree believes she has finally broken the loops after killing the person who was trying to murder her.  She’s now a different person. A better person in fact. Unfortunately, she’s wrong. Her now boyfriend, Carter’s roommate, Ryan (Phi Vu) has been working a college science project that was actually the cause of the repeated days. It’s even causing another loop into a parallel dimension. Tree gets sucked into that parallel world, and must relieve another murderous day until she discovers the new killer and the algorithm (will go right over your head) to get back to her original reality.

As I describe the premise, I’m already losing interest. The minute I saw this time machine, the exact thought that popped in my head was, “CRAP!” This sequel immediately feels more like a Disney Channel movie rather than a comedy/horror. All of the sudden we’re watching a cheesy comedy about girl deciding what’s more important, her boyfriend or her mom. And when the new killer is finally revealed, you could care less!  I honestly forgot about the killer because they become irrelevant. And the slapstick comedy is so cringe-worthy at times. Just look out for a scene with a fake blind girl and you’ll know what I mean.

At this point you might think I just hated the film all together, but there are some salvageable parts. Rothe is just as charismatic and enjoyable as she was the first time around. This girl really has a knack for comedy. And though I harped a little on it earlier, there are some mother/daughter sequences that hit you right in the feels.  Had the film gone in a different direction, I would have appreciated that story-line a lot more.

Yes, I would have been perfectly fine if they didn’t make “Happy Death Day 2U”, but they did. So should you see it? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but sure…ONLY if you saw and liked its predecessor. It’s not a must watch, but there are some interesting developments. That being said, I would recommend you save your money and make this one a rental.

Rating: 2/5

“Happy Death Day 2 U” opens in theaters February 13.

Fantastic Fest Reviews: “Halloween”, “An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn” & “Cam”

Halloween (2018)

The opening night film at Fantastic Fest was none other than the highly anticipated sequel, Halloween (2018). Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode to come face-to-face with masked serial killer, Michael Myers, who has haunted her since the traumatic night four decades ago.

The film is inspired by John Carpenter’s classic. But filmmakers David Gordon Green and Danny McBride decided to ignore all the other sequels that followed the original Halloween from 1978, and create a story that changes Laurie’s past. In other words, 40 years later Laurie is a bad ass. Michael Myers is not her brother. And, she’s prepared to take on whatever he throws her way.

Laurie Strode is one hell of a grandma in Halloween (2018). Though her daughter (Judy Greer) still resents her for making her grow up as a survivalist since childhood, her granddaughter, Allyson, (Andi Matichak) adores her. This creates tension anytime the family is all together. It isn’t until Halloween night that Michael Myers returns to wreak havoc, and finally finish the job he started 40 years ago. Only this time he’s up against 3 generations of Strode women.

Halloween (2018) far from a stand out horror flick. We’re basically seeing the same formula just different ways of murder. However, this film is a lot of fun! McBride’s writing shines throughout the film, and it’s the comic relief that provides any sort of originality. But don’t get me wrong, I love this formula and it’s great to see Curtis back in action in a role she handles so naturally. The movie entertains the whole time through and will leave you satisfied.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn

Surprisingly enough, the people that brought us The Greasy Strangler, which I hated; has now made An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, which I really liked a lot. Jim Hosking is back with a second feature that maintain his same style and his same personal dialect. Only this time, he let go of the nauseating grease murderers and swapped it out for characters we could actually care for.

Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) stars a Lulu Danger, a recently unemployed woman who is unsatisfied with her marriage to sleazy Shane Danger (Emile Hirsch) and life all together. In an attempt to fix the couples financial troubles, Shane steals from his brother-in-law. Which then makes him the target of the world’s worst hitman (Jermaine Clement). But Lulu sees this as an opportunity, she runs off with the hitman in hopes that he can help her track down her old flame, Beverly Luff Linn (Craig Robinson).

This offbeat comedy takes a minute to warm up to. You might not be sure of the flow it’s taking. But once it gets going, it’s actually quite delightful. The all-star cast does a fantastic job, and this might be my favorite performance by Aubrey Plaza. There’s a very unique and corky chemistry between Plaza and Clement that’s almost endearing.

An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn is the light-hearted deadpan comic relief that I was craving during a marathon of graphic horrors at Fantastic Fest.

Rating: 4/5

 

Cam

After letting Cam marinate for a bit, it quickly became one of my favorite films of the fest. Daniel Goldhaber’s feature debut is smart, sexy, and disturbing.

The film stars Madeline Brewer (Orange is the New Black and The Handmaid’s Tale) as Alice, a young web cam girl who is on the rise to breaking top 50 rank on a pornographic site.  Alice lives a normal life by day, but at night she is “Lola” and constantly comes up with wild narratives to spice up her online shows. She is anxious to reach the top and beat out the other cam girls in the network. However, she never breaks her 3 rules: No public shows, no fake orgasms, and never telling “her guys” that she loves them.

Just when Alice is moving up in her ranking, she has an unwelcoming surprise when she sees a girl who looks just like her live on her web cam profile. Frantic and paranoid, Alice is on a mission to find out who has taken her identity and stolen her top rank.

Even though 60 percent of Cam consists of a bunch of web cam girls performing erotic acts, the film is incredibly magnetizing. It’s as if you’re in a trance the minute the film begins and you can’t stop watching. The neon lighting, the shocking sequences, and the captivating performance by Brewer is enough to suck you in.

Cam is the movie you didn’t know you wanted to see. It’s a tantalizing thrill-ride with a bone-crushing end that will leave you wanting more.

Rating: 4.5/5

Fantastic Fest Interview: Allison Williams & Richard Shepard talk “The Perfection”

Richard Shepard, Allison Williams, and Logan Browning on the red carpet at Fantastic Fest for the premiere of “The Perfection”.

 

This was my first year at Fantastic Fest and I was treated to a lot of great movies. But the one that stands above the rest was Richard Shepard’s (The Matador and Dom Hemingway) horror-thriller, The Perfection.

The film follows Charlotte (Allison Williams), a former child prodigy cellist, who after a decade returns to the people that helped train and groom her into the powerhouse sensation she once was. However, another woman Elizabeth (Logan Browning), has taken her place and what unfolds after the two’s meeting is better left a mystery until viewing.

Director Richard Shepard explained his inspiration behind the movie came from the structure of Korean movies like Old Boy and The Handmaiden. “American movies don’t do that sort of structure and I had been itching to do a film with horror elements.”

Allison Williams (Girls and Get Out) stars alongside Dear White People’s, Logan Browning. Both give unforgettable performances that will have audiences squirming in their seats. While the two were magnetic on screen, they were also helpful behind the scenes. “I invited both Allison and Logan in the editing room because I felt, Oh they’re going to be able to help me see things I may not see. Because an actor inherently has a bullshit detector that a lot of people don’t have. Because it’s so hard to be an actor. Actors really have to lose themselves and if something feels false, they know it almost more than anyone,” said Shepard.

Without giving too much away, you’re never certain which direction this intense thrill ride is going take until the very end. But the journey getting there is a good one. “I wish there was a way, and I guess there is, to attach some kind of monitoring system to audiences watching this movie. About like who they trust, what they think the plot is, throughout the movie; and it would be like an EKG and like spiking, you know? And I think that’s one of the things Richard does so well. As an audience member watching, you know that whoever made it is in control of it. So it’s not that awful feeling of I don’t know what’s going on and I think I’m supposed to know what’s going on. You’re like I know exactly as much as the filmmaker wants me to know in this moment, and it’s really fun not knowing anything more than that,” explained Williams.

Finding the balance of making a movie that keeps the audience on its toes while still maintaining focus is a rare skill.  And often times, a film that tries to trick the audience too much can result in a mess. Luckily, The Perfection never veers off track. “I believe that if that we can keep the audience off kilter, but at the same time have them care about the characters even when their doing stuff that they can’t believe their doing; they still care for them. It’s also challenging because you don’t want to lose your audience. You want to make the surprises feel fun as opposed to confusing.” said Shepard.

Williams then went on to explain how the film immediately will have you hooked, “It takes guts to start it off with the film’s opening shots of just static like locked frames, and its muted colors and it’s clearly a sad scene. For a film buff, there’s sort of an embarrassment of riches in there. It sort of tells you everything you need to know about the movie, but you just have no idea yet. Most opening scenes of movies are sort of tangential to the actual plot of the movie, but hopefully they’re of the same caliber. This is much more informative than anyone will know until they finish watching the movie.”

Williams added that The Perfection is a film that should be seen twice as you will gain respect for it after a second viewing and realizing how deliberate everything was. “We labored over this. We cared about every millisecond of the movie. And it wasn’t until yesterday. There was a group of us that thought about every second we put into this. And it’s so vulnerable to care so much about something. And now it doesn’t belong to us anymore; it belongs to you guys.”

Though The Perfection may be baffling at first, just relax and let the film string you along. This is a performance that’s worth sitting through.

Rating: 5/5 (The title is self-explanatory, this film is a perfect score)

Share

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.

Share

“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.

Share

 

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.

Share

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.

Share