Friday, December 30, 2016

Film Review: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the best horror movies of the year."

A father-son pair of coroners attempt to identify the cause of death for a Jane Doe, who was found half-buried at the scene of a violent crime...

The Autopsy of Jane Doe follows Tommy (Brian Cox) and Austin Tilden (Emile Hirsch), father and son respectively. Tommy and Austin work as coroners. One night, the pair receive the body of a Jane Doe, who was found at the scene of a violent and mysterious crime – everyone is dead inside a house without any signs of forced entry. Although he had a date, Austin is willing to help his dad with the job. The job starts off simple, a regular autopsy, but the evidence doesn't quite make sense to them. They eventually find themselves in a surreal state, struggling to find the balance between reality and fiction – and it all leads back to Jane Doe. I won't spoil anything else. I will say: it runs out of steam towards the end and the ending was a little underwhelming.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Film Review: The Good Neighbor (2016)

The Good Neighbor (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...the most surprising film of the year."

A pair of high school students create the illusion of a haunting in a neighbor's house while recording his reactions for a video...

The Good Neighbor is an interesting thriller. The film follows high school students Ethan (Logan Miller) and Sean (Keir Gilchrist). For a school project (I think?), the pair decide to plant hidden cameras in a neighbor's home to record his reactions to a fake poltergeist, which they have also created. The elderly neighbor, Grainey (James Caan), is targeted because he's supposedly rude and violent to everyone – he's toxic. So, they go on with their plan, remotely slamming doors and messing with the lights. All is according to plan until Grainey starts spending a suspicious amount of time in the basement... I won't spoilt anything else, but it is all very interesting. The ending was a little underwhelming, but I think it did try to deliver a message.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Film Review: The Revenant (2015)

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

"...a cinematic achievement."

Frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) fights for survival and vengeance after being mauled by a bear and being left for dead by his own hunting team...

The Revenant is an epic Western film with a rich character-focused plot. I won't go deep into detail for this review, though. I want to avoid spoilers and I'm sure you don't want to read a +1,000-word review. (Or, do you?) Anyway, the plot follows Glass, an experienced frontiersman with a complex past. He lives for his son, Hawk, and for his work. After being attacked by an Arikara war party, Glass and his group are forced to take a detour. During said detour, Glass is mauled by a bear and left close to death. Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), a grizzled trapper who has become flustered by the attacks, decides to stay behind with Glass. However, Fitzgerald's intentions are not quite pure. What follows is an epic quest for survival, vengeance, and redemption. It all leads to a powerful ending.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Film Review - Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016)

Kickboxer: Vengeance (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"If you love the genre, this will quickly kill 90-minutes of your day."

A kickboxer travels to Thailand to avenge his slain brother, who was killed during an illegal fight.

Kickboxer: Vengeance is a reboot/remake of the classic Van Damme film. So, it's basically the same plot. Eric Sloane is lured to Thailand to fight Master Tong Po (Dave Batista) in hopes of winning a handsome prize. Unfortunately, Tong Po kills Eric in the ring as his brother, Kurt Sloane (Alain Moussi), watches from the audience. So, Kurt begins his path to vengeance, which eventually leads him to Master Durand (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who trained Eric and will train Kurt. Cue the mandatory training montage. It all leads to a exciting final fight and a predictable ending.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Film Review: One Eight Seven (1997)

One Eight Seven (Review)
United States/1997
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a very compelling and entertaining movie."

Fifteen months after surviving a brutal stabbing at school, teacher Trevor Garfield (Samuel L. Jackson) moves from New York to Los Angeles and finds himself facing the same problems...

One Eight Seven follows Trevor Garfield, a once-passionate teacher who finds himself working as an anxious substitute after he is stabbed by a vengeful student. At his new school, Trevor immediately runs into trouble with Benny and Cesar (Clifton Collins Jr.), gang members in his class. Particularly, after Benny goes missing, he finds himself bumping heads with Cesar. What starts as a 'friendly' rivalry quickly escalates as the pair one-up each other. For example, if Garfield humiliates Cesar, Cesar humiliates Garfield. The plot targets violence in schools, gang problems, and machoism. The plot is occasionally 'excessive,' but it gets the job done. It leads to a very strong ending.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Film Review: Siren (2016)

Siren (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: FandangoNow
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a pleasantly unique and entertaining creature feature."

A group of friends unwittingly unleash a vicious creature during a bachelor party...

Siren follows a group of groomsmen: Jonah (Chase Williamson), the groom, Mac, Jonah's brother, Rand, Jonah's best friend, and Elliot, a groomsman. The group plan a crazy bachelor party in Garden City, but they are disappointed. Fortunately, they meet a shady man in a strip club who offers to take them to an underground club. Of course, the group agrees to join him, but not before consuming shrooms – smart, right? They end up in this surreal club, which adds a lot of unexpected personality to this film. Anyway, Jonah meets Lily (Hannah Fierman). Thinking she's a sex slave, he unleashes her, which leads to plenty of blood and gore. It leads to a solid climax and ending.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Film Review: Don't Breathe (2016)

Don't Breathe (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: FandangoNow
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Don't Breathe is a good movie – especially if you don't think about it much."

A group of thieves break into a blind man's house in hopes of stealing his fortune, but they quickly discover the man's sinister secrets...

Don't Breathe is a film with an interesting concept and flawed execution. The plot follows a group of thieves: Rocky (Jane Levy), a young woman who really wants to escape to California with her daughter, Alex (Dylan Minnette), a young man who is 'friendzoned' by Rocky, and Money, Rocky's boyfriend. The pair find out that a blind war veteran (Stephen Lang) who lives in the abandoned side of town has over $300,000 in his home – he's never heard of a bank – so they decide to burglarize him. Unfortunately, while doing so, they discover this man is very skilled and very violent. They soon find themselves trapped in the house and forced to fight for survival – all while discovering more of the blind man's secrets. Like I said, it's a very simple film. A lot of other 'critics' praised it for stuff like it's 'unbelievable' twists, but, if you've watched a lot of films, this is will come off as a by-the-books horror-thriller. The ending was underwhelming, too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Film Review: Locke (2013)

Locke (Review)
United Kingdom/United States/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...you can probably get a similar experience to Locke by eavesdropping on phone calls at the airport or mall."

On the eve of his biggest project, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a successful construction manager, receives a phone call that changes his life...

Locke is a very simple film about a very complex man. The film follows Ivan Locke, a practical family man with a very successful career. Locke receives a phone call from Bethan, a colleague who he had a one-night stand with several months prior. It turns out: she's having his baby. So, despite having a loving family at home and facing a challenging project the next morning, Locke leaves work in Birmingham and heads to London for the birth. Throughout the film, we get into Locke's head, discovering more and more about his complex character. We witness how he speaks to his family, how he handles his work, and how he intends on handling his mistake. It leads to an underwhelming ending – it doesn't resonate.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Film Review: House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

House of 1000 Corpses (Review)
United States/2003
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"It's an entertaining throwback to 70s exploitation films."

A group of friends in search of violent urban legends end up imprisoned by a family of serial killers...

House of 1000 Corpses follows a group of friends – two couples traveling cross-country in hopes of discovery grisly urban legends and bizarre roadside attractions for a book they're writing. While taking a stop for gas, the group meet Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), who tells them about the infamous Doctor Satan. While searching for the tree where Doctor Satan was hung, the couple pick-up a hitchhiker – Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie). And, of course, Baby leads them to her house, which is filled with psychopathic serial killers. The plot offers exactly what you expect. It doesn't go out of its way to deliver a unique experience, but it works as a throwback to classic slasher/exploitation films. I wasn't a big fan of the final act, but it wasn't bad. It's been growing on me.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Film Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

10 Cloverfield Land (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: FandangoNow
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...it was ultimately underwhelming and disappointing."

After a car accident, a woman awakens in a bunker with two men who claim the world has suffered from a unprecedented chemical attack...

10 Cloverfield Lane follows Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is running away from her fiance. She is hit by another vehicle, then she awakens in the bunker. In the bunker, she meets Howard (John Goodman), the austere owner of the bunker, and Emmet, one of Howard's willfully ignorant employees. So, afraid she has been abducted by Howard, Michelle tries to find a way to escape – over and over again. There are some twists here and there, but it mostly plays by all of the rules. I must say, I was very surprised by the predictable ending because it was so damn predictable. Perhaps it was all the hype I remembered from the commercials when this first released, but the ending was painfully generic and lackluster.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Film Review: Intruder (1989)

Intruder (Review)
United States/1989
Format Viewed For Review: Hulu
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the better slashers from the 80s."

The night crew of a local supermarket is stalked and slaughtered by a mysterious psychopath...

In terms of plot, Intruder is a very basic slasher. The film follows the employees of a local restaurant, including Jennifer (Elizabeth Cox), who has a fight with her violent ex-boyfriend before closing the store. Anyway, the employees are told that the store is being sold so they have to work throughout the night to update the prices. Unfortunately for them, they are targeted by a psychopath with very violent murder methods. That's basically the entire plot. In this case, the simplicity works in its favor. The ending was also good.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Film Review: The Hitcher (2007)

The Hitcher (Review)
United States/2007
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"The Hitcher is a solid time killer."

A serial killer terrorizes two college students who gave him a ride...

The Hitcher is a barebones slasher. The film follows Jim (Zachary Knighton) and Grace (Sophia Bush), a college couple traveling across New Mexico to meet their friends for Spring Break. On the way, they pick up 'John Ryder' (Sean Bean), which turns out to be a bad idea when Ryder tries to kill them. They successfully escape his clutches, but they find they can't permanently shake him off as Ryder vigorously pursues them – all while framing them for his crimes. That's about all you get from the plot. On one hand, it's very tight and fast-paced so its keep the filler at a minimum. On the other hand, it doesn't really shine due to its lack of character and atmosphere. It also leads to a painfully cheesy and generic ending.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Film Review: Ghosts of Mars (2001)

Ghosts of Mars (Review)
United States/2001
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"I applaud it for its originality."

On Mars, a police unit is sent to pick up and transfer a notorious criminal from an isolated mining post. Their plans are derailed when they discover the area has been abandoned and the buildings have been filled with the dead...

Ghosts of Mars is a very creative film. It's a science-fiction action-horror sort-of zombie movie that takes place on Mars. That's pretty creative, right? The plot primarily follows police officer Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) and the rest of her unit. The unit arrives at a mining post to pick up prisoner Desolation Williams (Ice Cube). The problem: nearly everyone is dead. The bigger problem: the survivors have been possessed. There's quite a bit that goes on in the plot, especially towards the beginning where it's trying to build its world, but it eventually irons out for a smooth ride during the latter half. As a whole, I'd say it gets progressively better until its very cheesy ending.