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Archives for : thriller

Movie Review: “The Night House” Gives Thrills & Chills


I’ll admit, I scare easily. Films that aren’t even scary (Boo! A Madea Halloween) make me jump. But when I watch a truly, good horror film, I am on the edge of my seat, holding my breath during the entirety of the film. The only breather breaks are my screams. In David Bruckner’s new horror, “The Night House”, I screamed three times. 

After her husband, Owen’s (Evan Jonigkeit) unexpected suicide, Beth (Rebecca Hall) is left alone in their large lake house, and suddenly haunted by a mysterious spirit. Beth heads down a dangerous rabbit hole as this leads her to digging into her husband’s dark secrets. 

What Bruckner captures here is a very real and painful portrayal grief and depression. It’s not an easy subject matter to tackle, but it’s handled so well here. From Beth’s drinking, re-watching old videos of her husband, to how she interacts with her colleagues and people around her. Owen’s death has consumed Beth and is affecting her daily life and personal relationships. 

If you saw Hall in the underrated drama, “Christine”, you already know how well she can portray a woman on the edge struggling with depression. So, it comes as no surprise that Hall’s performance as a grief-stricken widow is incredibly powerful. Your heart absolutely breaks for Beth as she asks the questions one would probably have if their husband chose to end their life: Why? Was he that unhappy? How was he so good at hiding it? Did I really know him at all? Was he a monster and I had no idea? These are just a few of the questions the film will answer. 

“The Night House” is shot and edited beautifully. Paired with Kathrin Eder’s unsettling production design and the eerie music by Ben Lovett, the film makes for an engaging and terrifying experience. 

Where the film falls short, is that it’s slightly over ambitious. Though questions are answered for the most part, there might be some confusion at the end, and there are a few small plot holes. But if you can piece together a narrative that satisfies you, then this may not be an issue. 

“The Night House” is a creative story with gripping visuals and captivating performances.  

Rating: B +

Premiering this Week: Tom Clancy’s “Without Remorse”

Tom Clancy’s WITHOUT REMORSE will be available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video this Friday, April 30.

Produced by and starring Michael B. Jordan, Tom Clancy’s WITHOUT REMORSE revolves around an elite Navy SEAL who uncovers an international conspiracy while seeking justice for the murder of his pregnant wife.

Directed by: Stefano Sollima

Written by: Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples

Produced by: Akiva Goldsman, Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, Michael B. Jordan

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Lauren London, Brett Gelman, Jacob Scipio, Jack Kesy, Colman Domingo, Todd Lassance, Cam Gigandet, Luke Mitchell, and Guy Pearce

An elite Navy SEAL uncovers an international conspiracy while seeking justice for the murder of his pregnant wife in Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, the explosive origin story of action hero John Clark – one of the most popular characters in author Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan universe. When a squad of Russian soldiers kills his family in retaliation for his role in a top-secret op, Sr. Chief John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) pursues the assassins at all costs. Joining forces with a fellow SEAL (Jodie Turner-Smith) and a shadowy CIA agent (Jamie Bell), Kelly’s mission unwittingly exposes a covert plot that threatens to engulf the U.S. and Russia in an all-out war. Torn between personal honor and loyalty to his country, Kelly must fight his enemies without remorse if he hopes to avert disaster and reveal the powerful figures behind the conspiracy.

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Interview: Ruby Rose talks “Vanquish”

Director George Gallo brings us a new action thriller starring Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption) and Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black). Rose plays Victoria, a mother whose trying to put her dark past as a Russian drug courier behind her, but retired cop Damon (Freeman) forces Victoria to do his bidding by holding her daughter hostage.

I chatted with Ruby Rose to discuss her character, working with Morgan Freeman and played a game of would you rather. Watch the full interview in the video below!

“Vanquish” will be available in Select Theaters on April 16th and on Apple TV, and everywhere you rent movies on April 20th.

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Movie Review: “Voyagers” Gets Lost in Space

Neil Burger’s new sci-fi thriller, “Voyagers” fails to make any significant impact.

The start of the film explains how earth is growing hotter. Drought and disease have caused severe damage to the population. Scientists are looking for a new planet that can support human life, and they find one in 2063. They decide to send a group bioengineered teens into space in order to populate the new world that is hundreds of light years away. The trip will take them 86 years. Meaning their future grandkids will be the ones carrying out the end of the mission. The only adult on board is Richard (Colin Ferrell), who leads and counsels the kids as if they were his own. To prevent chaos and create order, the teens are given a “blue drink” that has essentially been drugging them, and inhibits them from feeling, really, anything. Two of the voyagers, Christopher (Tye Sheridan) and Zac (Fionn Whitehead), figure this out. Zac angrily stops taking the substance, then all hell breaks loose.

Suddenly, the movie turns into “Lord of the Flies” IN SPACE. It becomes so predictable and wild, that you just want to skip to the end. It’s not that the storyline is boring. In fact, at times it can be engaging; but it offers nothing new. The beginning makes you think this familiar tale will have a refreshing spin. But when it’s over, you’re left wondering if this really needed to be a movie?

Story wise, “Voyagers” is nothing special. But perhaps, the purpose was to showcase the talented, young actors. However, most of their impressive diverse cast were merely background noise. The film primarily focuses on Sheridan, Whitehead and Lily-Rose Depp, who plays Sela. Depp and Sheridan play off each other well and have great chemistry, but the film never dives too deep with its characters. We get to know everyone at a surface level, except for maybe Zac whose villain-like qualities gradually grow, the more jealous he gets of Christopher.

“Voyagers” is well shot. The cinematography by Enrique Chediak is beautiful. The music by Trevor Gureckis compliments the tone of the film, and provides the right amount of suspense.

Burger’s script is not bad, either, it just feels derivative. It’s disappointing when the premise of the film allowed for so much more. I mostly wish we explored the other world. The concept is realistic, and it would have been interesting to learn more about why they chose to create new life on this particular planet. Instead, “Voyagers” chooses to focus on the characters resenting their isolation, and their lack of “feeling”. They want to take advantage of getting to experience pain and all sorts of pleasure. This raises the question of whether or not they prefer a wild-life of “freedom”, or to go back to their routine, monotonous life that serves a greater purpose; one they won’t be alive to see come to fruition.

“Voyagers” may still be worth the watch for purely entertainment purposes. It’s plays out like a teen drama you’d watch on the CW. So if that’s your cup of tea, then this film is right up your alley. Otherwise, keep your expectations low, and be prepared for a rushed and underwhelming ending.

Rating: 2/5

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Interview: Director Vaughn Stein talks “Every Breath You Take”

“Every Breath You Take is a searing psychological thriller about a psychiatrist (Casey Affleck), whose career is thrown into jeopardy when his patient takes her own life. When he invites his patient’s surviving brother (Sam Claflin) into his home to meet his wife (Michelle Monaghan) and daughter, his family life is suddenly torn apart. “

I sat down with director Vaughn Stein to discuss the importance of conveying grief, how he himself handles tragedies, the appeal of psychological thrillers and more. Listen to the full interview below!

“Every Breath You Take” opens in select theaters & premium VOD April 2, 2021.

Director Vaughn Stein
“Every Breath You Take” Interview with Director Vaughn Stein
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Interview: Director Edward Drake talks “Cosmic Sin”

I chatted with director Edward Drake to talk about the new sci-fi thriller, “Cosmic Sin”. We discuss the making of the film, the video games that inspired the film’s look, working with Bruce Willis, and much more. Watch the full interview below.

“Cosmic Sin” opens in theaters and is available On Demand March 12, 2021.

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Movie Review: “Bliss”

Amazon Studios new sci-fi thriller, “Bliss” is a mind-bending headscratcher. The film follows Greg (Owen Wilson) who, after losing his job and recent divorce, discovers he’s been living a computer simulated world. Susan Stephens shares her thoughts on the film along with suggestions of two romances to watch during this Valentine’s Day weekend.

“Bliss” is available to stream on Amazon Prime February 5, 2021.

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Movie Review: “Wonder Woman 1984” Fails to Soar as High as its Predecessor

It pains me to write this review, as the first “Wonder Woman” movie was one of my favorite films of 2017. Patty Jenkins directed/wrote a simple, yet, thrilling, and charming story. It still holds up today as an incredible film. Sadly, the sequel, “Wonder Woman 1984” does not carry that same merit.

First off, what the heck!? I mean who approved this script!? Did they even refer to the last movie??

I just had to get that out. It is extremely frustrating, because we know DC can’t seem to figure out how to create the same kind of quality superhero movies like Marvel. That was until the first “Wonder Woman”. They found a gem in Patty Jenkins, and I know she is capable of much better than this.

“Wonder Woman 1984” picks up 66 years after Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) helped end World War 1 with the help of her friends and self-sacrificing boyfriend, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). She’s now in Washington DC curating ancient artifacts; working with a socially awkward Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). She is still saving the world, but she’s unhappy and living a lonely life without any loved ones.

Diana’s life is pretty routine until a foiled mall robbery shakes everything up. The incident leads to the discovery of an old artifact known as the dream stone, which grants wishes, but also takes something in return. It’s a dangerous tool that leads to a series of catastrophic events when it falls into the hands of a ponzi scam artist, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal).

The acting in “Wonder Woman 1984” is good. Gadot has some stand out moments, particularly in a heartbreaking, emotional scene with Pine. And Pascal plays a hilarious, wacked out nut job. And Wiig does a fantastic job as Barbara/The Cheetah. She was actually my favorite part of the film. I just wish they utilized her more as a villain. Though Pascal is great to watch, I would have loved seeing Wiig in her full evil mode for much longer than what we’re given.

The problem here is in the writing. It goes beyond campy into cheesy territory. The opening sequence of the film is promising. But early on after Pascal steals the artifact, the movie just goes downhill. It gets muddled, and doesn’t even make that much sense. Maybe too many people were involved in writing the story, or maybe they were trying too hard to make a unique plot. But it didn’t work. They focused on corny jokes and a fluffy subject matter instead taking the route of the previous film’s darker tone. There are minimal action scenes, and the few we see have no real impact or awe factor. And I can’t go into detail, but there are so many problems with the ending. I would vent about if I could.

As a fan of the first “Wonder Woman”, I still have to advise you watch this sequel, and form your own opinion. There’s still some fun moments, and the characters are enjoyable. My only advice is to go in with the lowest of expectations.

Rating: 3/5

“Wonder Woman opens in theaters and streams on HBOMax December 25.

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Movie Review: “Promising Young Woman” is a Provocative Revenge Thriller

Carey Mulligan stars as “Cassandra” in director Emerald Fennell’s PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features

Sometimes bad people need to be taught a lesson in hopes that they won’t do their harmful acts again.

How that lesson is taught may not always be conventional. In Focus Features new drama, “Promising Young Woman”, Cassie (Carey Mulligan) is a med-school dropout who seeks revenge after a traumatizing past event.

We first meet Cassie in a bar where is she appears to be wasted, barely able to keep her head up. She attracts several predators in suits, including Jerry (Adam Brody), a “nice guy” who offers to take her home. While in the ride share, he decides to take her back to his place instead and sees an opportunity for a little date rape. Little does Jerry know that Cassie sees an opportunity, too. She is suddenly wide awake and sober; ready to make him think twice before taking advantage of another woman again.

From this point on, we discover Cassie’s objective, but don’t always see her actions after her initial trap. Director/writer, Emerald Fennell (“Killing Eve”) chooses to leave a lot of her targets’ punishments to the imagination.

Things change after a chance encounter with an old med-school classmate, Ryan (Bo Burnham). Now Cassie is smiling, laughing, and dare we say happy? But how long will this last? And will it keep her from her ultimate mission?

Not since “Hard Candy” have I enjoyed such an enticing revenge story.  Mulligan is at her best, showing such complex emotions. She varies from cold-hearted to heartbreaking. Burnham is more charming and funny than ever. And you can expect to see some surprise familiar faces that will add to this already well-casted film.

“Promising Young Woman” is a cautionary tale that would serve well in high school and college classrooms. Especially geared toward men who don’t seem to understand what consensual sexual activity means. But the film goes beyond the actions of the men responsible for the sexual assaults. It also highlights those who turn a blind eye, and even the parties responsible for defending the guilty.

One can only hope that after watching a movie like this, it will impact audiences enough to understand how damaging any form of sexual assault or harassment can be and do what they can to prevent such acts.

“Promising Young Woman” highly entertains, as it has plenty of comedic and tender moments. But also, expect certain sequences to stay with you long after the film is over. It’s disturbing in a satisfying way. This is easily one of the best movies of 2020 and a must-see.

“Promising Young Woman” opens in theaters December 25.

Rating: 4.75/5

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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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