Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Film Review: The Boy (2016)

The Boy (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU Rental
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"A great time killer for horror fans."

An American woman travels to the United Kingdom to become a nanny for the wealthy Heelshire family, unaware of their peculiar child...

The Boy follows Greta (Lauren Cohan), a young woman from Montana who travels to the United Kingdom to work as a nanny and to escape an abusive relationship. She arrives at the palatial Heelshire home where she meets Malcolm (Rupert Evans), the grocery boy, the Heelshires, and their 'son,' Brahms. To Greta's surprise, Brahms is a porcelain doll. Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire's son had passed away in a fire two decades ago. Anyway, Greta is left alone to care for Brahms and creepy things happen – often due to Greta ignoring the rules. It isn't the most original narrative, but it is engaging throughout its short runtime. It also leads to a solid climax and ending – not bad at all.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Film Review: Backtrack (2015)

Backtrack (Review)
Australia/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It will be a familiar film for most horror fans due to the writing, but it is still an entertaining horror movie."

Psychologist Peter Bowers (Adrien Brody) is thrown into a tailspin when he discovers his patients are actually deceased...

Before you scream at me for 'spoiling' the movie, you should know that I have not spoiled anything after the first act. Regardless, there isn't much to spoil for experienced horror/thriller fans. Backtrack follows Peter Bowers, a troubled psychologist who lost his daughter in an unfortunate accident. He tries to move on with his life, but he simply cannot. He eventually finds his patients are dead. So, to put their spirits to rest, he must backtrack to a darker part of his life. He returns to his childhood home and begins to investigate his past. The deeper he digs into his memories, the more secrets he finds. Sound familiar? Well, you've probably watched this film in one form or another before. It really doesn't break any new ground. It does lead to a decent ending, though.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Film Review: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (Review)
United States/1998
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It's obviously not as great as the original, but it is better than most of the sequels."

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), Michael Myers' sister, struggles to cope with life as she fears her murderous brother will return to finish the job...

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later follows Laurie Strode, Michael Myers' sister, approximately 20 years after the events that haunted her in 1978. Laurie has changed her name, she's birthed a son, Josh Tate (Josh Hartnett), and she became the headmistress of Hillcrest Academy, which Josh attends. Anyway, Halloween is coming around and Laurie is afraid Michael Myers will return. Laurie's irrational fear, in turn, interferes with Josh's life, stopping him from going on an overnight field trip with the rest of his classmates. So, he stays behind with his friends, a few faculty members, and a security guard. And, of course, Michael Myers shows up. The story isn't bad, but there isn't much to say about it. It all leads to a decent ending.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Film Review: We Are Still Here (2015)

We Are Still Here (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It has some pacing issues, the characters are hollow, and the story isn't exactly effective, but I was entertained."

After the tragic death of their son, Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig) move into an isolated house where they are attacked by malevolent spirits...

We Are Still Here is yet another very simple horror film. In terms of plot, there isn't much to discuss. Anne and Paul move into a rural house in New England. Anne feels her son's presence, Paul tries to shrug it off. Anne's beliefs are reaffirmed when they are told about the tragic history of the house. So, Anne invites another couple – a spiritualist couple – to the house in hopes of contacting her son. However, the house and the town have more secrets than they originally imagined. I won't spoil anything for you, even though most of it is predictable. It leads to an incredibly bloody climax and a decent ending.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Film Review: Sword of the Stranger (2007)

Sword of the Stranger (Review)
Japan/2007
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"The story is predictable but engaging, the action is spectacular, the art is beautiful, and the animation is superb."

Kotaro, a young boy, is hunted by a group of skilled swordsmen from the Ming dynasty for a mysterious reason...

Sword of the Stranger is a fairly simple film, especially in terms of character. The film follow Kotaro, who is being hunted in Japan by a group of swordsmen from the Ming dynasty. In his attempt to escape, Kotaro runs into a nameless ronin dubbed "No Name." Kotaro hires No Name as his bodyguard, paying the ronin to escort him to a temple. Well, it's not such a simple task when betrayal is necessary for survival. The reasons for hunting Kotaro are interesting, but it doesn't delve too much into it, which is a bit disappointing. Still, the story kept me engaged up to its bloody, action-packed climax.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Film Review: Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a fun blockbuster..."

22 years after the events of Jurassic Park, Jurassic World has become a successful resort with dozens of attractions. However, some attractions are more dangerous than others, including a set of hybrid dinosaurs...

Jurassic World is a fairly simple film – it's a blockbuster, after all. Siblings Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins) are sent to Jurassic World to spend time with their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park's uptight Operations Manager. Unfortunately, Claire can't stop working to spend time with her nephews, so she sends them out with her assistance while she handles her business. At the top of her agenda: allow Owen (Chris Pratt), a Navy veteran and Velociraptor trainer, to evaluate the paddock of a new hybrid dinosaur, Indominous Rex. Of course, everything goes wrong, which sends the park into a tailspin. From here, you have your basics: exciting chase scenes, close-calls, explosions, capture attempts, and even a pinch of romance. The ending was a little disappointing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Film Review: Furious 7 (2015)

Furious 7 (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Although I'm usually fatigued with series this far out, I'll be waiting for the eight installment."

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker), and the rest of their family are placed in danger when their past follows them home...

Furious 7 continues after the events Fast & Furious 6 while serving as a bit of a sequel to The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. It's got quite a large story, filled with a large cast of characters representing several groups, including the original family, a covert ops team, and a terrorist group. So, I'll try to keep it simple. Dom and his family left Owen Shaw in a coma, which causes Owen's older brother, Deckard (Jason Statham), a seemingly unstoppable special forces assassin, to seek vengeance. He kills Han and leaves a 'special' package for Dom. From there, Dom and his crew begin their retaliation. The group go on a globetrotting adventure, searching for a way to stop Deckard. Again, that's the simplified version. The film leads to a bittersweet ending – it works.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Film Review: The Abandoned (2015)

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

"There isn't anything here that really leaves an impression."

Julia Streak (Louisa Krause), an unhinged young woman, takes the graveyard shift as a security guard at an abandoned apartment complex...

The Abandoned is a clich̩ horror film. The story follows Julia Streak, who has to take anti-psychotic pills to function Рhint, hint. She arrives at the complex where she meets her snarky partner, Cooper (Jason Patric). The pair don't hit it off, but they tolerate each other. They spend the night talking and patrolling the building. Eventually, Julia begins to believe something is afoot in the building. Although Cooper dismisses her concerns as delusions, Julia refuses and proceeds to investigate. Basically, Julia does everything she's told not to do. There isn't much to discuss in terms of the narrative. It doesn't surprise due to some heavy-handed hints and a reliance on clich̩s of the past. (What's the first thing you think of when you see pills in a horror movie?) It all leads to an underwhelming ending.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Film Reivew: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Mad Max: Fury Road (Review)
Australia/United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the best films of 2015 and one of the best summer blockbusters I've ever seen."

Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) rebels against the tyrannical Immortan Joe by taking his five wives away during a trip to collect gasoline...

Mad Max: Fury Road takes place after the nuclear holocaust. Civilization has collapsed, the world has become a barren wasteland, and groups of violent survivors have formed – Immortan Joe leads one of those deranged groups. Max (Tom Hardy), a survivor, is captured by Joe's army and forced to become a human blood bag for a War Boy named Nux. Meanwhile, Imperator Furiosa, leading a convoy to collect gasoline, takes a detour while she secretly tries to take Joe's five wives to safety. Unfortunately, Joe quickly finds out and she finds herself with several armies hot on her tail. Nux joins the pursuit, which forces Max to join as well. There isn't much to spoil in this narrative, but it is very exciting stuff. It all leads to a great ending.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Film Review: Triple 9 (2016)

Triple 9 (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU Rental
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...it never failed to entertain..."

A group comprised of criminals and corrupt cops plan on killing a cop in order to complete a daring heist...

Triple 9 is an interesting crime thriller. The plot doesn't really focus on a single character, so there's a lot going on. Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) leads a gang of criminals and corrupt cops on several heist. Although his crew seek riches, Michael is actually hoping to appease the Russian mafia so he can live happily with his son - who happens to be the nephew of the mob boss. Meanwhile, Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), who is part of Michael's crew, is given a new partner – Chris Allen (Casey Affleck). When Michael is given a tough heist with limited options, the group devise a Triple 9 scenario – a scene where a cop is downed in order to buy time. Of course, Marcus nominates his new partner, but the group obviously run into trouble. It has quite a bit of story, to be honest. It all leads to a strong climax and ending.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Film Review: Anguish (2015)

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

"...the type of film I'd only recommend if you're suffering from insomnia."

Tess (Ryan Simpkins), a teenager with some unidentified mental issues, moves into a new house with her mother Jessica. Tess eventually begins to experience bizarre hallucinations...

Anguish is a generic, pseudo-arthouse horror film. The story starts off with Lucy, another moody teenager, arguing with her mother about a camping trip. Lucy doesn't get it her way, so she heedlessly exits the car and gets hit another oncoming car – she dies. Fast forward a bit, Tess arrives in town with her mother. You might expect some spooky stuff to happen, right? Wrong. Instead, in attempt to build 'character,' you get to watch Tess brood over life and skateboard along with some hip indie music. Okay, eventually she begins to hallucinate and she attributes said hallucinations to Lucy's lingering spirit. It all leads to a very weak climax and ending. I was surprised it ended on such a weak note. It really fails to leave an impression.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Film Review: The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

The Purge: Anarchy (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Although I had a few complaints, I really enjoyed the film."

Three parties are forced to fight for survival during the Purge, a night where the government legalizes all crime for 12 hours.

The Purge: Anarchy follows waitress Eva (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter Cali (Zoe Soul), married couple Shane and Liz, and an unnamed police Sergeant (Frank Grillo). All of these groups are preparing for the Purge in their own ways, but they each run into trouble, which leaves them outside on the most dangerous night of the year. So, of course, they conveniently cross paths and join forces. Sergeant tries to rescue the group while completing his own mission, which remains ambiguous until the end. There are a few turns here, but most of it is predictable. The plot isn't bad, though. The ending was decent, too.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Film Review: Insidious Chapter 3 (2015)

Insidious: Chapter 3 (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It's more of the same from the series..."

Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) visits parapsychologist Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) in order to contact her deceased mother. To her dismay, she opens the door for a wicked spirit...

Insidious: Chapter 3 is a prequel to the original film. The film follows Quinn, her father, Sean (Dermot Mulroney), and her younger brother, Alex – like the sibling in the previous films, Alex is in this for two, maybe three scenes. Anyway, Quinn visits Elise in hopes of contacting her recently deceased mother. Elise tries, but she ultimately fails. Before splitting ways, Elise warns Quinn about contacting the dead – don't do it. Of course, Quinn still does it. Quinn goes on about her life, followed by a ghost who can't breathe and worrying about being accepted to a school of theater, then she's hit by a car. From there, the film follows the Insidious formula. Yes, you end up in 'The Further' again. I usually enjoy The Further segments, but these scenes felt a bit underwhelming and cheesy. I wasn't a big fan of the final act.