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Archives for : thriller

Movie Review: “Possessor: Uncut” & “On the Rocks”

This week I review the Neon’s new sci-fi thriller, “Possessor: Uncut” and Sofia Coppola’s new comedy, “On the Rocks”. Both entertaining films, but one satisfies more than the other. Watch the review below to find out which movie you should see this weekend.

“Possessor: Uncut” is playing in select theaters now.

“On the Rocks” is playing in select theaters now and will be available on Apple-TV October 23.

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Movie Review: “Antebellum” and “Kajillionaire”

This week’s movie review features two very different films: Antebellum is a high profile mystery, thriller with a disturbing twist; Kajillionaire is a low key dark comedy that relies on quirky characters and dysfunctional family dynamic as a foundation for the story. Both films boast some highly respected actors and developing writers/directors. Which one should you go see?

“Antebellum” is available On Demand September 18, 2020.

“Kajillionaire” opens in select theaters September 25, 2020.

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Movie Review: “The Rental” is a Chilling Weekend Getaway

In Dave Franco’s directorial debut, “The Rental”, two couples rent a vacation home for what they hoped would be a celebratory weekend getaway. Unfortunately, this relaxing trip turns into a nightmare.

After Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Mina (Shelia Vand) close a big deal for their company, they decide to rent an Airbnb for them and their significant others. Charlie seems to be in a happy enough marriage with an aloof Michelle (Alison Brie), but at the same time he is dumbfounded by the fact that Mina is dating his ex-convict brother, Josh (Jeremy Allen White). Needless to say, there is a lot of sexual tension during the weekend.

When the group arrives at the secluded waterfront home, they are impressed with the house; but not so much with the creepy and racist property manager. They don’t let that doesn’t stop their fun. They carry on with drinking, drugs, and sex.

The partying comes to a halt when Mina discovers a hidden camera in the shower, and suddenly, the couples must fight to survive the night.

“The Rental” is an easy horror to digest. The film is only 88 minutes long, and during that time you’re entertained by the complex relationships and intensity. There’s just a few moments of comic relief to ease the tension, but the thought of them being watched is constantly on your mind.

Franco and his co-writer, Joe Swanberg do a fantastic job with their character development. Right away we’re locked into engaging characters who start off with one persona and gradually reveal another. The writers manage to get through many different plot points, while still being cohesive. Less is more here. The set, the score, the character traits, and other small details enhance the story.

All four stars do a fantastic job, but it’s the women that steal the show. It’s impossible not to sympathize with Brie’s character, Michelle. She plays the happy and naïve wife so well. Unaware of the fact that her husband isn’t as great as he’d like everyone to believe. And we can only hope to see more of Vand after an incredibly strong performance as Mina. She’s the whole package– smart, beautiful, and not afraid to stand up for herself against a racist.

Now “The Rental” isn’t as inventive as Jordan Peele’s feature film debut, “Get Out”. There are some holes in the movie. And not everyone will be satisfied with the ending, but it’s a solid thriller that subtly goes from nerve-racking drama to shocking slasher. It’s a lot of fun, and is a promising start for Dave Franco’s filmmaking career.

Rating: 3.75/5

“The Rental” is available On Demand July 24.

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Movie Review: “The King of Staten Island”, “7500”, & “You Should Have Left”

In the latest ICTN movie review, we check out the new film by Judd Apatow, “The King of Staten Island.” We also have a preview of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s intense, new thriller, “7500” and Kevin Bacon’s new horror film, “You Should Have Left.”

“The King of Staten Island” is available On Demand now.

“7500” is available to stream on Amazon Prime June 18th.

“You Should Have Left” is available On Demand June 19th.

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Movie Review: “The High Note” & “The Vast of Night”

I’ve got a couple of new film reviews for ya! First is “The High Note”, another mentor/mentee film that makes the most of its’ cast and should hit the right note with its’ audience.

Then there is the new Amazon Studios movie, “The Vast of Night”, which plays as a wonderful homage to “The Twilight Zone”. This film will satisfy that sci-fi itch with suspense, mystery, wonder and nostalgia.

“The High Note” is available on various On Demand platforms May 29.

“The Vast of Night” is available on Amazon Prime May 29.

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Movie Review: “The Hunt”, “The Invisible Man”, & “Emma”

In this time of Pandemic, diversions help keep us sane. Now, more than ever, we need the cinema. But we need a new cinema, a safe cinema, a Shelter-at-Home cinema; and so streaming comes of age. Watch my review of “The Hunt” and recommendations of two other new films available for home viewing now: “The Invisible Man” and “Emma”. Will anyone trade some popcorn for this fine half-roll of paper towels? Anyone?

“The Hunt”, “The Invisible Man”, & “Emma” are available on Amazon, Apple, YouTube, and other various On Demand platforms at a starting price of $19.99.

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Movie Review: “The Hunt” is a Bloody Catch

In 2018, the hilarious political comedy “The Oath” showed audiences how harsh extremist on either side (Conservative or Liberal) can be. The film was about a politically divided family, trying to make it through Thanksgiving. Things got rough quick, and at times, it got violent. But in the new action/horror film, “The Hunt”, they take the violence and politics to a whole new level; while still trying to prove the same point, just not as effectively.

“The Hunt” caused a lot of controversy before it was ever released. It was originally slated to open in theaters last fall, but was halted due to the film’s premise and mass shootings during that time.

The film opens with a group text thread among liberal friends. They make a joke about taking out their anger on “deplorables” during an upcoming hunt at the Manor. The next scene shows a rich group of people on a plane with people they have drugged and stowed away. Soon 12 of them are all spread out, unconscious, and in a field with gags in their mouths. Once they are all awake, they see a big box with various weapons for them to have a fair fight. We eventually find out, these chosen conservatives are being hunted like animals by liberal elitists.

Before anyone gets heated or offended, this thriller has no real insight into politics. It is too afraid to pick a side. Instead they make both the Republicans and Democrats equally dumb, with the exception of two women (Hilary Swank and Becky Gilpin).

The film features a talented all-star cast including Swank, Gilpin, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, and Ike Barinholtz. Though everyone adds to the hilarious humor of the film, it’s Swank and Gilpin who steal the show. Gilpin is quietly comical, while impressing with her kickass survival instincts. But it’s her nail-biting showdown with Swank that will have you cringing and cheering. However, the gore is not for the faint of heart. At times, I couldn’t even watch. There’s a bloody, graphic death at every turn.

While the purpose of the film might be lost, the humor and action is easily found. There is a lot of fun to be had with these idiotic characters (on both sides) and the gruesome, sometimes, shocking deaths they experience. It encompasses the same kind of satire and excitement from last year’s “Ready or Not”. Sadly, the premise is not as unique.

Ultimately, “The Hunt” feels like a funny version of “The Purge” films with a role reversal. It’s an entertaining, fast-paced, mindless thriller that provides plenty of laughs and shrieks.

Rating: 3.5/5

“The Hunt” opens in theaters March 13.

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Movie Review: “Underwater” Sinks

Kristen Stewart stars in Twentieth Century Fox’s “Underwater”.

Well, I should have known a film released in January was not going to stand a chance. But, “Underwater” had no business being made.

This film is basically a knock off underwater version of “Alien”. Its completely derivative script offers nothing new or worth watching. Even their semi all-star cast featuring Kristen Stewart, T.J. Miller, and Vincent Cassel can’t save this sinking ship.

The film is set seven miles beneath the ocean’s surface. Down there, aquatic researchers who work for a rich mining drill company are forced to reach the surface after an unexpected earthquake destroys their rig and somehow unleashes unspecified creatures with intent to kill. See, it already sounds lame.

Our protagonist is Norah (Stewart), the mechanical engineer. Aka the Ripley. She is a badass and she manages to do a lot of her heavy lifting in just a sports bra and undies. But, don’t discredit K-Stews performance. She has grown a lot as an actress these past few years and she was honestly my favorite part of the film.

The same can’t be said about T.J. Miller’s character Paul. What was intended to be comic relief, became an awkward dude with a stuffed animal who told bad jokes. As for the rest of the cast, they were forgettable due to a script that gave no real background or depth to its characters.

The visuals were solid, but the CGI of the underwater monsters were mediocre. At times the sandy water made it hard to see them when we really needed to see them. And don’t get me started on that damn audio. I’m not sure if it was the loud score or the water, but it’s difficult to understand the cast members about 50% of the time.

I’ll give the film points on its production design and even some creative direction by William Eubank. He does make an effort to try and intensify the situation through his unique and startling shots. However, none of his endearing camera work makes up for the disaster that is “Underwater.”

Save your money and just go watch any of the current, award nominated movies.

Rating: 2/5

“Underwater” opens in theaters January 10.

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Movie Review: “Glass” Might Not Have Been Worth the Wait

Before you read this review in disappointment, know that there are some moments of glimmer in Glass.

The end of Split (2016) left everyone in awe after realizing it was actually a long awaited sequel to M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable (2000). This left us anxious to see the final chapter and how Kevin (James McAvoy), David (Bruce Willis), and Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) all tie together!

Glass takes place weeks after the events in Split. Kevin Crumb, a multiple-personality case nicknamed The Horde, remains on the loose with 20-something individuals living inside him. Among them: The Beast, a superhuman with an occasional taste for human flesh. He is continuing to kidnap teenage girls (this time cheerleaders), and introducing them to each persona before unleashing The Beast on them.

But he is now targeted by Unbreakable’s David Dunn. After being the sole survivor of a horrific train crash, David discovered he was indestructible and capable of absorbing memories of other people’s misdeeds at a touch. He’s a masked vigilante, who wears a hooded jacket and nicknamed The Overseer.

When David and Kevin come head to head, they are apprehended and sent to a mental hospital for the criminally insane. It’s there that we discover Elijah Price, aka Mr. Glass, is being held at there as well. All three have been brought here to be treated by Dr. Staple (Sarah Paulson), who wants to cure them of their delusions of having superpowers. Meanwhile David’s son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), Casey Cooke (Anya Talyor-Joy), the Horde captive who got away, and Elijah’s mother (Charlayne Woodard) are trying to help their respective others. They each try to vouch for their loved ones.

Keep in mind Glass is 2 hours and 9 minutes long. A lot of that time will feel very dragged and wasted.  Sadly, the major downfall here is the weak script. Hyping this film as a project in the making for 19 years comes with high hopes. Unfortunately, it seems evident that Shyamalan had great idea with an interesting beginning, but might have lost his way towards the end.

There are some silver-linings, like the fact that James McAvoy is just incredible with his ability to abruptly change personalities and deliver such a captivating performance. Of the few that were given, there is also a solid twist in the film (The other twists are a bit of head scratchers).

Glass is hardly a film to write home about, and I can’t say it’s worth paying full price for in a theater. However, it is worth watching, if nothing more than to see the conclusion of this “interesting” trilogy.

Rating: 2.5

Glass opens in theaters January 18.

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