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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: “The Girl on the Train” is a Messy, yet Intriguing Thrill Ride

Image result for Girl on a Train

Emily Blunt isn’t the only one taking a ride in The Girl on the Train. The audience should be warned of the many back and forth jumps throughout this mystery thriller.

The film follows Rachel (Emily Blunt), a divorced alcoholic who spends everyday on a train ride that passes her old neighborhood. She watches a couple, Megan and Scott (Haley Bennett and Luke Evans), whom she views as “perfect” and almost lives vicariously through them. All the while she still tries to contact her ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), who is now happily married and with a baby.

One day during Rachel’s usual stare at Megan and Scott’s house, she notices Megan kissing another man out on her balcony and freaks out! Completely wrecked by the fact that Megan would “throw it all away”, Rachel gets even more drunk and angry. When she stumbles off the train that night she sees a blur that looks like Megan. She wakes up the next morning in her place with a bloody head, and unaware of anything that happened the night before. Ironically, Megan has now gone missing, and Rachel is determined to find out what happened to her.

If you find reading that premise at all confusing, it’s even more of a mess watching it. To be fair, by the end everything ties together and there are no loose ends. But it might be a struggle getting there for some.

Yes, the plot might have been poorly executed, but that doesn’t make the story any less fun. From the moment the film began, I was on the edge of my seat trying to add up of every clue and anticipating the expected twist. Though the climax and the unveiling of surprises are far from Gone Girl standards, they were still satisfying none-the-less.

What’s certain is the subtle yet believable performance Emily Blunt gives as a functioning alcoholic. She stays committed the whole way through. So much so, that her character can be extremely frustrating at times.

The Girl on the Train may not please everyone. And yes, Tate Taylor’s direction is less than adequate as he struggles to give a steady flowing narrative. Luckily the mystery and story alone are enough to keep this ride interesting.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Girl on the Train opens in theaters October 7

“The Girl on the Train” Official Trailer HD

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Quick Review: “Dark Places”

DARK PLACES marks the second film adaptation of a Gillian Flynn novel. And no, it’s not a GONE GIRL sequel. This film just proves once again that Flynn knows how to capture her audience with intricate story-lines that keep you on the edge of your seat.

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Interview: Joel Edgerton talks “The Gift”

We sat down with triple threat star, Joel Edgerton (Director/ Writer/ Actor) to discuss his new film, “The Gift”. We talked about bullies, rumors and much more! There’s a reason why critics are loving this film. It’s the must see summer thriller!

“The Gift” opens in theaters August 7.

Click Here to Watch “The Gift” Interview with Joel Edgerton

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Interview: Director Kevin MacDonald talks “Black Sea”

Black Sea tells the story of Robinson (Jude Law), a submarine captain who, in order to make good with his former employers, takes a job with a shadowy backer to search the depths of the Black Sea for a submarine rumored to be loaded with gold.

We got a chance to sit down with the Academy Award winning director, Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland), to discuss his latest film.

Besides the fear of being at the bottom of the ocean, these men are also kind of thinking about this money that they are about to find.  And some of them aren’t too happy about the fact that they have to do the even split, even though it would still be plenty of money. What do you think it is about money that changes people and makes them act in psychotic ways?

“Yeah I mean; I think the center of this movie is sort of what greed can do to people.  And not even so much what money can do to people, ‘cause it’s not sort of anti-money in this film.  It’s sort of anti-greed, I suppose.  And it’s the idea that, people, instead of realizing when you’ve got enough, it’s like I always want more.  I want more and more!  And that’s kind of part of human nature.  That kind of dark part of human nature, isn’t it?  Yeah, it’s the positive and negative of human nature, both present in this extreme circumstance.”

This was probably one of my favorite roles to see Jude Law in as Robinson.  I really felt for his character, especially, with him losing his family to his job.  Because I think in any work that you do, you can get wrapped up in it and kind of lose sight of the ones you love.

“I think that’s exactly, that’s the sort of central theme I suppose.  And it’s a very simple one really of this movie.  Is that we all kind of think that our jobs are so important; that we only get respect from other people, because of whether we’re successful in our jobs and all these sort of things.  And the pressure that there is to be successful to earn money, but actually when all is said and done; that’s not what’s important about life.  And at the end of our lives none of us are going to think, “oh I wish I had spent more time at the office.”  We’re going to think, “I wish had spent more time with my family.  I wish I loved that person more, and made that relationship work.”  Those are the things that you’ve got to think about.  And I guess that’s what’s fundamentally at the heart of this movie.”

I mean for me, the moment they entered the water; I was on the edge of my seat.  I was just terrified the whole time.  So, is there another film for you that has given you that same excitement while watching?

“I mean, I think Gravity has that feeling for me.  You know pretty much as soon as the movie starts, and you’re in this precarious situation space walking with Sandra Bullock. You’re terrified.  And you’ve got vertigo (laughs), and yeah, I think this is sort of the underwater version of that.”

Yeah, it is. It gave me the same effect actually, because I struggled to breathe in both those films.

“(Laughs) So there’s a good recommendation.  If you want to struggle to breathe, go and see this movie!”

Click Here for Video Interview

Black Sea opens in select theaters January 30.

Movie Review: “The Boy Next Door” is a Foolishly Redundant Tale

Men beware; just a taste of JLo can lead to an unhealthy addiction!

Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) is a high school teacher in the middle of a separation from her cheating husband (John Corbett).  Amidst the stress and drama, she has only been able to focus on her work and her son, Kevin (Ian Nelson).  She hasn’t been on a date in years.  Somehow, this always made-up beauty hasn’t even felt wanted by a man since the split.  She is lonely and vulnerable.  (Yeah, right…)  Here comes the new hot, young, and extremely fit neighbor.  Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman) seems harmless.  He’s a sweet kid taking care of his elderly uncle, and now he’s even befriended Claire’s awkward, wheezing son.  After going on a horrible double date with her friend/vice principal of her school, Vicky (Kristin Chenoweth), she receives a phone call from Noah who is need of her assistance.  The evening escalates from inappropriate to disgustingly wrong within seconds.  Claire wakes up immediately regretting the whole thing, but it’s too late.  A night of “passion” with “Jenny from the block” has caused Noah to catch a fever that he just can’t shake.

The Boy Next Door is a story we’ve seen before, multiple times.  In fact, you could probably figure out the entire film, without ever watching it.  Writer Barbara Curry offers no originality to this script, unless you count the record breaking amount of cheese in the dialogue.  Director Rob Cohen (Fast and Furious, The Skulls) does serve a few moments of excitement movie-goers can look forward to, particularly the end sequence.

January is known to be the worst month for films, and The Boy Next Door is no exception to that rule.  However, it is a film that audience members could possibly, still, enjoy.  I went in with the mindset of knowing this movie would be ridiculous and just had fun with it.  The acting is embarrassing, and the storyline doesn’t always make sense. Yet, there is plenty to laugh about.  Take for example, how Jennifer Lopez never looks bad.  It doesn’t matter if she’s fighting for her life in a burning barn, or if she’s about to go to bed; her lip gloss is always intact.

Sadly, The Boy Next Door does not provide the same entertainment value as other popular teen /stalker flicks like Fear or SwimFan.  But, if you’ve already seen all of the Oscar nominated films, and you’re looking for a thoughtless, outlandish comedy, The Boy Next Door maybe worth the watch!

Rating: 2/5

The Boy Next Door opens in theaters today.

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

Movie Review: “High School Possession” is Nothing to Fear

Lifetime isn’t really known for their “scary movies.”  But once in a while, they tend to deliver a film that successfully spooks you while watching.  High School Possession, however, is not one of those films.

Lauren (Janel Parrish-Pretty Little Liars) and Chloe (Jennifer Stone-Wizards of Waverly Place) are best friends.  But recently, Chloe is having trouble and spiraling out of control at home and at school.  Her mother has taken her to countless doctors, and none of them can clearly diagnose her.

While on assignment for the school newspaper, Lauren interviews Olivia (Shanley Caswell-The Conjuring) and her church youth group known as “The Chosen.”  But after the interview, she accidentally sees them performing an exorcism on a girl.  Lauren is horrified but intrigued.  So she begins to investigate, and it seems to have really helped the girl.  Now she wonders if Chloe might be possessed, and the only way to save her is through an exorcism.

You would think this film would take advantage of its demonic elements, and go for some attempt at making its audience scream.  This is meant to be released on the week of Halloween for a reason right?  Well, that’s too bad, because this might have been the lamest Lifetime thriller yet.  I have seen scarier and more interesting episodes of Pretty Little Liars.  I wasn’t sure if the direction was aiming for teen horror or family friendly.  Though High School Possession fails to deliver, the film’s set up of a possible sequel, surprisingly has some potential.

High School Possession premieres Saturday, October 25, at 8pm ET /PT on Lifetime.

Quick Reviews: “Tracks” & “Good People”

Tracks

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Lily Pearl

Directed By: John Curran

Written By: Marion Nelson (Screenplay), Robyn Davidson (Novel)

Rating: 3.5/5

I guess by now, we can expect that at least one film a year will be about someone’s struggling, isolated travels.  Though, unlike Life of Pi and All Is Lost, Robyn Davidson’s (Wasikowska) rough journey was by choice. Tracks follows the true story of Davidson as she treks 1,700 miles across the Australian desert with four camels and her faithful dog.  Since National Geographic ends up sponsoring her trip, Robyn agrees to the monthly drop-in of the magazine’s pestering photographer Rick Solman (Adam Driver), who must take pictures of her progress.

Unfortunately, this film does lack a certain amount of excitement that we would expect from most dangerous adventures.  Nevertheless, Tracks portrays an authentic voyage that is heightened by its stunning cinematography and the brilliant performances led by Wasikowska and Driver.

 

Good People

Rated: R

Starring: James Franco, Kate Hudson, Tom Wilkinson

Directed By: Henrik Ruben Genz

Written By: Kelly Masterson (Screenplay), Marcus Sakey (Novel)

Rating: 3/5

What good has ever come to people who find large sums of money in the movies?  None you say?  Well you’re right!  And that redundant premise that we have so often seen follows just as predictably in Henrik Ruben Genz’s thriller, Good People.

Tom and Anna Reed (Franco and Hudson), a young American couple, fall into serious debt while renovating Anna’s home in London.  As they begin to accept their losses of having a dream home and finally starting a family, they discover the dead body of their tenant who lives below them and the bag of cash worth $400,000 that he stashed away.  Since no one comes forward to claim the cash, Tom and Anna agree to only spend money that they need.  Unaware that this loot was stolen from a deadly enemy, they are now the crook’s latest target.

Good People is as formulaic as they come.  There are no twist or turns.  However, the story manages to stay engaging the whole way through and ends with a climactic, suspenseful conclusion.  Even though this movie probably won’t even get a bleep on the cinematic radar, Good People does pass for a solid rental.

Good People and Tracks are currently playing in select theaters on September 26.

Movie Review: “#PopFan” is a Ridiculous but Entertaining Psycho Thriller

Be careful who you trust, because the awkward, timid guy who lives in the secluded lighthouse may be someone you want to steer clear from.

A young pop star (Chelsea Kane) looking to recreate herself and her sound on a quiet trip to Maine is caught in a storm, crashes her car, and rescued by a young man (Nolan Funk) who takes her to his secluded lighthouse to recuperate. But she soon discovers that he is not just her rescuer, but a mentally unstable and obsessed fan who believes she is the image created in her videos.

Let’s be honest, we’ve seen this essential plot on Lifetime before.  The seemingly good guy turns out to be some psycho freak that won’t let his current obsession go.  This time around the recycled premise in #Popfan works in Lifetime’s favor.

Chelsea Kane shed her Disney image fairly quickly after Jonas, so it isn’t as alarming when she flaunts her sultry, strut at the beginning of this film.  Kane is the perfect balance of sweet and sexy, making her a fitting damsel in distress.  As for her capturer, Nolan Funk, I believe he must have channeled Mark Wahlberg from Fear, because that’s the voice I heard anytime this kid spoke.

This movie is not based on a true story and yes, there will moments of stupidity from the characters that will have you yelling at the screen.  But when it comes to Lifetime dramas, I think we can all admit we’re just looking for absurd amusement.  #PopFan is a fun and exciting watch.

#PopFan Premieres Saturday, August 23, at 8pm ET/PT on Lifetime.

“#PopFan” Official Trailer HD