Monday, May 2, 2016

Film Review: The Visit (2015)

The Visit (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a simple found footage horror film with original characters, unnerving suspense, creepy visuals, and a few effective jump scares."

Teenagers Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) visit their grandparents, Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie), for a week. All is well until their grandparents begin acting erratically...

The Visit is a fairly simple found footage horror film. The film follows Becca and Tyler – 15 and 13 years old, respectively – as they visit their grandparents for a week. On their trip, Becca is shooting a documentary about her family. She intends on using the documentary to give her mother closure for an incident that occurred decades ago. There are a few strange rules and mannerisms, such as the 9:30 bedtime, but it is nothing significantly different. Well, not right off the bat. Becca and Tyler soon find themselves tormented by their grandparents' strange behavior, like being chased in crawlspace by Nana or finding where their Pop Pop hides his diapers. I was a bit disappointed by the ending – mostly because I predicted it while joking. (You know how it is, right? You pop in an M. Night Shyamalan movie and you predict an ending for the sake of it.) It wasn't a bad ending, though. It was good, leaving little to be desired.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Film Review: Black Mass (2015)

Black Mass (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU Rental
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...filled with lively characters, ominous atmosphere, and unnerving suspense."

The story of James "Whitey" Bulger (Johnny Depp) and his rise to power as an informant for the FBI.

Black Mass tells the story of James "Whitey" Bulger – or, simply 'Jimmy.' John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) is an FBI agent who returns to South Boston. He grew up with Jimmy in the city and plans on cleaning it up – well, at least the north part of Boston. He convinces Jimmy to become an informant, forming an alliance between the crime family and the FBI. Jimmy uses the FBI to take out his competition, which the FBI are targeting, and the FBI agree to look the other way for some non-violent crimes. Problem is: Jimmy is rather unstable and he's more than willing to bury anyone who crosses his path. At the same time, Connolly essentially idolizes Jimmy and he's willing to put his job on the line for the man – and he does so countless times. Of course, with each rise in crime films, there's always a fall. This isn't spectacle to behold, but the ending gives us a solid resolution.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Film Review: Close Range (2015)

Close Range (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"You're not going to watch Close Range for the plot, though. You're going to watch it for the action."

When he rescues his niece with brute force, Colton MacReady (Scott Adkins) finds himself fighting a corrupt sheriff and a vicious drug cartel...

Close Range begins with a great action sequence. Colton enters a building, pummels the cartel members in his path, then rescues his niece. Along the way, he also inadvertently steals a USB drive with valuable information. So, the leader of the cartel contacts Sheriff Calloway (Nick Chinlund) and orders him to apprehend Colton and his family. This sets off a chain of violent events where Colton beats up on some more bad guys. I mean, that's really the entire plot of the film. Some cheesy dialogue to fill some expositional conversation, an awesome fight, some more cheese, another fight... You get the gist. It's a repetitive formula, but at least half of it offers some real entertainment. It leads to an predictable ending – it was a bit cheesy, too.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Film Review: The Exorcism of Molly Hartley (2015)

The Exorcism of Molly Hartley (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...you're basically being screamed at throughout the entire movie like if you did something wrong."

Molly Hartley (Sarah Lind) is possessed by an evil spirit and the only person who can save her is Father John Barrow (Devon Sawa), a disgraced priest.

The Exorcism of Molly Hartley is a possession film. The film begins with Father Barrow participating in an exorcism. He makes a foolish mistake, which leads to the death of a fellow priest and a pregnant woman. So, Barrow is sent to a mental asylum thanks to another priest's connections – he plays basketball with the state attorney, you know? Meanwhile, Molly celebrates her 24th birthday and she's also 'made partner' at a young age. (I don't know how many times I heard that in this film.) So, how does she celebrate? She goes to a club, drinks, slobbers over another woman, takes drugs, then has a steamy threesome. You know, a normal 24th birthday. Anyway, her lovers end up dead and Molly ends up in a mental asylum. It continues to follow this pretty basic formula from there. It all leads to a very cheesy ending.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Film Review: Everest (2015)

Everest (Review)
United States/United Kingdom/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Vudu Rental
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a suspenseful and adventurous movie, bolstered by a strong cast and spectacular visuals."

Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) is the leader of Adventure Consultants, a group of Mount Everest guides. He leads his crew and his clients to the peak with some unfortunate consequences...

Everest is a film inspired by real events. The film follows Rob Hall and his crew of consultants; he's also joined by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his company, Mountain Madness. The first act of the film essentially follows these professionals and their clients as they prepare for their trek. They ascend several times to prepare their bodies for the harsh conditions. The second act follows the actual trek to the peak. You see the harsh conditions and the human struggles to get to the top. And, the final third or so of the story follows the way down, which is complicated by a severe storm. The ending felt a bit abrupt, but this is a film inspired by true events – I suppose you shouldn't expect anything too surprising.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Film Review: The Voices (2014)

The Voices (Review)
United States/Germany/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"It has shades of morbid humor throughout the film, but the film often feels more like a poignant drama."

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a regularly jovial man leading a normal life working at a bathtub factory in a small town... except he also hears voices coming from his pets.

The Voice is a poignant black comedy. The film follows Jerry, who seems like an upbeat guy. Jerry, however, also talks to his pets; Bosco, his slothful but positive dog, and Mr. Whiskers, his cynical and violent cat. (Good and evil, right?) Although he regularly visits his psychiatrist, Jerry refuses to take medicine. After a string of unfortunate events, he accidentally kills someone. With murder on his conscience, he begins to question his motives: Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Bosco would say he's good, that cynical Mr. Whiskers would persuade him to do worse. Jerry soon finds he can't stop killing because of the voices in his head. Although it has well-developed characters and themes, the plot is rather simple. Even at its short runtime, it feels a tad stretched. The film leads to a great ending, though.