Monday, February 29, 2016

Film Review: The Mist (2007)

The Mist (Review)
United States/2007
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...an intense and ominous film."

After a vicious storm, a group of citizens find themselves trapped in a supermarket when mist engulfs the city and a man claims a creature lurks within...

The Mist follows a group of citizens – primarily, David Drayton (Thomas Jane), who was at the market with his son when hell broke loose. Speaking of hell, the film also follows Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden), a religious fanatic, and Brent Norton (Andre Braugher), David's neighbor. So, you essentially have three different groups: David leads the people who want to fight the mysterious creatures and survive; Brent leads the people who don't believe in the creatures; and, eventually, Carmody leads people into believing her preaching about the apocalypse. The narrative does well in blending the human conflict and creature-feature excitement. You see the politics that occur when they're forced to make a choice and the action when they're forced to fight. The film leads to a haunting ending – the less you know, the better.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Film Review: The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

The Hills Have Eyes (Review)
United States/1977
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Prime
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...an exhilarating sensation that is only amplified through the sense of isolation and helplessness."

A family traveling to California find themselves stranded in a Nevada desert and stalked by a family of cannibals in the hills...

The Hills Have Eyes is a straight-forward horror film. The film follows the Carter family as they travel to Nevada; this extended family includes parents Bob and Ethel, siblings Bobby and Brenda, the eldest daughter, Lynne, Lynne's husband, Doug, the couple's baby, Katy, and their two dogs. Okay, it's a fairly large family, but nothing complex. Anyway, this family head out into the desert looking for a silver mine, despite being warned of the dangers – obviously. Their car breaks down, so Bob and Doug head out to find help. Eventually, the family is attacked and the fight for survival begins. From there, the momentum shifts from slow-burn to edge-of-your-seat thriller. I'm not sure how I feel about the actual ending, though. It's not bad, really, but it is very abrupt. I was sitting there, hooked and ready for more, then it just sort of ends out of nowhere – no closure or anything. I suppose it didn't have anything else to say.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Film Review: Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Sleepy Hollow (Review)
United States/1999
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...it is a very dark, charming, and entertaining package."

In 1799, constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate several beheadings...

Sleepy Hollow follows Crane as he arrives at the small titular village. He learns of the grisly murders: decapitations and missing heads at the hands of the Headless Horseman. He also learns the legend of the Headless Horseman – a ruthless and headless Hessian mercenary who rides at night in search of his head. Although a man of reason, Crane eventually begins to believe the tales when the beheadings continue and when he finally encounters the Headless Horseman. Slowly but surely, he begins to piece together the mystery. It's an interesting plot, although it has a few dull moments. The ending of the film was a bit underwhelming, though. You know, it has that classic scene where the antagonist is revealed, then the entire master plan is described in vivid detail – exposition.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Film Review: Bone Tomahawk (2015)

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

"Rarely does a film horrify as much as Bone Tomahawk."

Purvis and Buddy make a living by robbing and killing travelers. As they abscond from a crime, the pair stumble upon a Native American grave site and accidentally disturb a violent tribe...

Bone Tomahawk is a horror-western film. The film continues to follow Buddy. After Purvis is killed at the Native American grave site, Buddy absconds to the town of Bright Hope. At Bright Hope, Buddy encounters Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell) — an encounter which leaves Buddy with a bullet in his leg. Franklin enlists the wife of Arthur O'Dwyer (Patrick Wilson), Samantha, to help with Buddy's surgery. By the time morning arrives, Franklin and his deputy find the town has been covertly attacked by Native Americans. To make matters worse, Samantha, Buddy, and a fellow deputy seem to have been abducted by a savage tribe of cannibals. So, Franklin and Arthur form a small crew to execute a rescue mission. I won't say much more as I don't want to spoil the surprises during the latter of the film. The film leads to a surprising third act and good ending, though.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Film Review: The Diabolical (2015)

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

"It's not especially frightening or mind-blowing, but it is moderately entertaining and interesting."

Madison (Ali Larter), a single mother, tries to live peacefully with her two children, Jacob and Haley. Her family, however, is tormented by an inexplicable force within their house...

The Diabolical follows Madison and her children, as well as Madison's boyfriend, Nikolai (Arjun Gupta). The first two acts of the film generally play out like a family drama. Madison is a single mother, Jacob is an intelligent child with behavioral issues stemming from his anger issues, and Haley is a jolly little girl; Madison is also dating Nikolai, who is Jacob's teacher. Oh, and the family are experiencing strange events in their home in the form of apparitions, often bloody, occasionally appearing out of nowhere. With that said, not much really happens in the first two acts. It's interesting, sure, but it's not all that engaging. The third act gives us a solid revelation, though — it's different from the same old cliches. It definitely picks up the pace and unravels a decent mystery. I wasn't a big fan of the actual ending, but it wasn't bad.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Film Review: A Walk Among The Tombstones (2014)

A Walk Among The Tombstones (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a very dark and gritty crime drama."

Private detective Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson) is hired by a drug trafficker to find the men who kidnapped and killed his wife...

A Walk Among The Tombstones is a noir crime drama-thriller film. The plot follows Matt Scudder, who is hired by a drug dealer, Kenny Kristo, to find and bring his wife's murderers to justice. Although initially hesitant, Matt Scudder agrees after hearing the heinous details of the crime – Kenny's wife, Carrie, kidnapped and murdered despite a ransom being paid. Matt begins tracking the moments before Carrie's abduction, methodically piecing together the crime. The more he digs, the darker the hole gets – the crime gets grislier with the more details uncovered. I can't say much about the plot considering the film's strong focus on mystery and investigation. It is very engaging, though, and the film offers plenty of surprises. The film also offers a powerful hook for each jab, delivering some appalling scenes. It leads to a strong climax and decent ending.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Film Review: The Gift (2015)

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

"Thanks to its blend of mystery and thrills, The Gift keeps you on the edge..."

A young married couple, Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn Callum (Rebecca Hall), are rattled when an enigmatic figure of Simon's past reemerges...

The Gift follows Simon and Robyn as they settle in their new home in California. While shopping with Robyn, Simon runs into Gordon "Gordo" Mosley (Joel Edgerton), an acquaintance from high school. Although he initially attempts to shrug it off, Gordon constantly visits the home while Simon is at work. He develops a friendship with Robyn. After catching him in a lie, Simon has enough and tells him to stop visiting. Unfortunately for him, Robyn continues to pry into Simon past and unravels a disturbing mystery – it is a twisted journey. The film leads to a strong climax and ending. The ending felt more like a strong hook than a haymaker, though. It still has a strong impact, but it did feel a bit underwhelming due to some of the circumstances.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Film Review: Yakuza Apocalypse (2015)

Yakuza Apocalypse (Review)
Japan/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...an entertaining experience, offering something very creative and engaging."

Yakuza boss Kamiura harbors a sinister secret, which he passes on to his faithful right-hand man Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara)…

Yakuza Apocalypse primarily follows Kageyama. Kageyama is part of Kamiura's gang. Kamiura defeats his foes with his ruthless skills, but he does not harm civilians, which makes him very popular; Kamiura also happens to be a vampire. When he is killed, Kamiura passes the torch to Kageyama. Kageyama, unaware of his new blood, finds himself lusting for blood. In turn, he finds himself creating an army of yakuza vampires; I mean, they're really yakuza vampires. So, Kageyama sets out to exact his revenge. The story becomes a bit more muddled towards the end. This is because of some very strange additions to the story. There are some 'eccentric' characters that appear and some shifts in character that start to rattle the foundation of the film. The ending is not bad, but it also really wasn't satisfying.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Film Review: Wer (2013)

Wer (Review)
United States/2013
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...throws you into a tailspin with plenty of werewolf excitement."

After a family is savagely murdered in the woods, defense attorney Kate Moore (A.J. Cook) opts to defend the enigmatic suspect, Talan Gwynek (Brian Scott O'Connor)...

Wer follows Kate and her crew as they prepare to defend Talan. Talan is suspected of brutally slaughtering a family in the woods. The only living witness of the heinous crime claims a beast attacked her family and killer her husband and son. Kate, however, believes Talan has been unjustly arrested due to his appearance – Talan is tall and hairy. Evidence also points the murders could not have been committed by a human, regardless of size. Eventually, Kate finds out she's been defending a werewolf. (I don't think a spoiler alert is required, it's in the title and every other description out there.) So, a manhunt ensues – and plenty of people die. The film leads to a predictable ending. The ending was also a bit cheesy, really. I didn't hate it, but it wasn't as strong as the rest of the film.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Film Review: Tokyo Tribe (2014)

Tokyo Tribe (Review)
Japan/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...an uproarious extravaganza that should not be missed."

In a dystopian Japan, territorial gangs called 'tribes' reign supreme. War erupts when Mera (Ryôhei Suzuki), leader of the Wu-ronz in Bukuro, sets off to dominate Tokyo through violence...

Tokyo Tribe is a stylish, ludicrously quirky, morbidly humorous and action-packed rapping musical. Like that sentence, the narrative can be quite a bit to ingest, especially through a review. So, I'll keep it simple. Tokyo is dominated by several tribes; each tribe has its own style, in appearance, rapping, and message, and their own turf. You step into a turf that's not yours, you die. Under the lead of Buppa, a sadistic, cannibalistic gangster, Mera sets out to start a war with the other tribes. Particularly, Mera wants to kill Kai of the peaceful Musashino Saru tribe, due to an 'incident' at a sauna. There's a bit more to the story, like a runaway caught in the war, but that's the gist. The film leads to an action-packed climax and an excellent finale. I did not expect to laugh so much during the ending, but I couldn't help it. As absurd as it is, the ending delivers a big message.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Film Review: Ugly (2013)

Ugly (Review)
India/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"As the title states, it is a truly ugly reflection of humanity."

When his 10-year-old daughter vanishes, Rahul (Rahul Baht) spirals into a web of deceit, crime, and violence...

Ugly starts off a bit rough. Off the bat, the film introduces us to a large cast of characters – a husband, an ex-husband, a brother-in-law, a close friend... you get the gist. Fortunately, it does iron out after the rough introduction for a fairly smooth ride. The film primarily follows Rahul after his daughter, Kali, vanishes while he was picking up a script for an audition from his agent, Chaitanya. When she's not immediately found, Rahul is suspected of kidnapping his own daughter by police chief Shoumik Bose (Ronit Roy), who is actually Kali's stepfather as he married Rahul's ex-wife. (You see where it can get a bit complicated, right?) Anyway, when the suspicion surrounding Rahul dwindles, the pair get caught in a web of deceit. Rahul, Shoumik, and the rest of the police force continue searching for Kali, but find nothing. Further muddling the already complicated investigation, certain people begin to take advantage of the kidnapping for their selfish greed – the characters are about as ugly as the title. The film leads to a haunting ending – it leaves a very strong impression.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Film Review: Asylum Blackout (aka The Incident) (2011)

Asylum Blackout (aka The Incident) (Review)
France/2011
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...effectively suspenseful and violent..."


The crew of an asylum for the criminally insane find themselves trapped when a storm causes a power outage and the inmate begin rioting...

Asylum Blackout follows George (Rupert Evans), a cook at the Sans Asylum, as well as his friends and coworkers, Max (Kenny Doughty) and Ricky (Joseph Kennedy). The trio play in a band together, but have had trouble pushing their musical careers due to the constant banter and other intimate relationships. Anyway, while working at the asylum, the power goes out, which traps everyone due to the electronic locks on the doors. The group try to keep control by locking the inmates in their rooms, but some rowdy inmates pounce on the opportunity. So, the fight for survival begins. The film leads to an ambiguous ending, open to more than one interpretation. Personally, I felt it was unnecessary and unjustified.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Film Review: Curve (2015)

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

"There wasn't enough to make it a good film, but it was enough to make it engaging until the end."

Mallory (Julianne Hough) is on her way to Denver for her wedding rehearsals. When her car breaks down, she finds herself in the company of a charming hiker, Christian (Teddy Sears), who harbors some sinister intentions...

Curve is a fairly basic film. The film begins with a phone call between Mallory and her sister, essentially spelling everything out. (One of the first lines of dialogue is "Hey, sister." I don't know, I never answer my brother's calls and say, "Hey, brother." You get the gist.) Anyway, Mallory drives off and decides to take the scenic route. Her car breaks down and charming hitchhiker Christian comes to the rescue, so she offers him a ride. Unfortunately for Mallory, Christian has other intentions – violent intentions. So, noticing Christian isn't wearing his belt, she drives off a curve. She ends up trapped in the overturned car while Christian tauntingly roams freely. Most of the 'story,' which isn't much, follows Mallory as she attempts to survive the harsh conditions, starvation, and dehydration. It switches up for the final act, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. The ending was painfully generic, though.