Monday, February 27, 2017

Film Review: Sadako vs. Kayako (2016)

Sadako vs. Kayako (Review)
Japan/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a fun, exciting, and engaging horror crossover."

In order to stop their deadly curses from spreading, Sadako and Kayako are forced to fight...

Sadako vs. Kayako is almost like two films rolled into one since it follows two different scenarios—one for Sadako, the other for Kayako. On the Sadako side, college students Yuri (Mizuki Yamamoto) and Natsumi stumble upon the legendary cursed tape. Natsmui watches the tape due to Yuri's curiosity, which leaves Natsumi cursed. So, the pair race to stop Sadako. Meanwhile, high school student Suzuka (Tina Tamashiro) moves to a new house with her family. Her new home just happens to be located across the street from Kayako's house. The film frequently jumps between both plots until they eventually link. It's not difficult to follow, though. It leads to a very... interesting ending. It's a little strange, but I think I like it.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Film Review: Saving Mr. Wu (2015)

Saving Mr. Wu (Review)
China/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It starts off rough and some of the issues continue until the end, but it is an entertaining film."

Police race against the clock when Mr. Wu (Andy Lau), a Hong Kong movie star, is kidnapped by four criminals disguised as cops.

Saving Mr. Wu is a hostage/police procedural thriller. The film starts off rough. It attempts to quickly introduce you to three groups: Mr. Wu and his fellow hostage, Zhang (Wang Qianyuan) and his gang, and the police who are trying to capture Zhang and save Wu. Worst of all, the first act of the film frequently hops between different times: past, present, even farther into the past, present again, and so on. It feels like a roller coaster for all of the wrong reasons. Eventually, it irons itself out. The plot continues to follow Wu as he speaks with his kidnappers and finds out about their plans while the police get closer and closer. There's not much else to say about the plot, but it is effective. It leads to a decent ending, too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Film Review - Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

Ouija: Origin of Evil (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: FandangoNow
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"In Origin of Evil, he [Flanagan] showcases his ability to create character and suspense."

In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters are haunted by an evil presence after introducing a Ouija board into their séance scam business...

Ouija: Origin of Evil is a prequel to Ouija (2014). Fortunately, you do not have to watch the original to watch this film. Origin of Evil takes place in 1967 Los Angeles, so it immediately has a unique and attractive old-fashioned style. The film follows a small family: mother Alice (Elizabeth Reaser), daughter Lina (Annalise Basso) and youngest daughter Doris (Lulu Wilson). This family operates a scam business where they perform fake séances. However, after implementing a Ouija board into their routine, they quickly find out Doris has the ability to communicate with the dead. They capitalize on her newfound ability, but Lina quickly notices Doris' shift in behavior. The plot doesn't really take any major risks, but it works. The final act is a little disappointing, though. This is another supernatural movie that ends up becoming a slasher by the end. The actual ending was decent, though.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Film Review: Offerings (1989)

Offerings (Review)
United States/1989
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...it really doesn't deviate far from the standard slasher formula."

Ten years after he was pushed into a well, John Radley returns to his old neighborhood to punish his childhood bullies...

Offerings is understandably compared to John Carpenter's Halloween—it is practically a clone, to be blunt. So, there isn't much to say about the plot. John Radley is a mute kid who is bullied by the neighborhood kids—except for Gretchen, who treats him like a friend. John falls into a well due to his bullies and he ends up in a mental hospital. Fast forward ten years and John escapes from the hospital and returns home to kill his bullies. Truth be told, there's not much more to discuss in terms of plot. It's a barebones slasher. It leads to a predictable climax and ending. A few elements of the ending are effective, but it really doesn't deviate far from the standard slasher formula.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Film Review: The Guest (2014)

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

"...an exciting action-horror movie oozing with style."

David (Dan Stevenson), a soldier, introduces himself to the Peterson family as a friend of their son who died in action. He is warmly welcomed by the family... until deaths begin occurring in their community.

The Guest is a action-horror hybrid with a pinch of black comedy sprinkled on top. The plot is simple—at least in the beginning. The film follows David, a recently discharged soldier. David introduces himself to the Peterson family, which consists of: Spencer, the father, Laura, the mother, Luke, the son, and Anna (Maika Monroe), the daughter. Charmingly enigmatic, David introduces himself as a friend of the Peterson family's slain son, Caleb. He is welcomed to the family, where he helps Laura cope with the loss and Luke deal with his bullying—among other things. Eventually, people start dying—and all of the evidence leads to David. The 'twist' is interesting and unique. The climax was very well executed. And, the ending was interesting.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Film Review: Extraterrestrial (2014)

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

"...despite its alien concept, it still relies on 'cabin in the woods' clichés."

While spending a weekend at a secluded cabin, a group of friends are terrorized by alien visitors...

Extraterrestrial is, unfortunately, a generic horror film. The plot follows a set of painfully generic characters: April (Brittany Allen), a young woman with commitment issues, Kyle, April's boyfriend, Melanie, the 'quirky' stoner, Seth, the douchebag, and Lex, Seth's forgettable girlfriend. So, the first thirty minutes introduces us to a small town that appears to be targeted by aliens. Most of that time, however, is focused on April and her friends. So, it's boring and obnoxious. Eventually, a UFO crash lands nearby and, of course, the group decides to investigate. They end up being targeted by the aliens, which leads to a fight for survival in the woods/cabin. That's about it, really. It leads to a decent climax and ending. Again, it's nothing new or daring.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Film Review: Blackhat (2015)

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

"It's not a compelling story about the dangers of hacking, it's not a thrilling film filled with tension and action. It's somewhere lost in the middle, wondering what it's supposed to be."

A furloughed convict and a special international task force hunt a cyber-criminal around the world...

Blackhat is a painfully average film. The plot severely lacks a sense of urgency and, well, plot. It struggles to maintain any sort of momentum from beginning to end. Essentially, a hacker causes a deadly accident at a Hong Kong nuclear plant. Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang), the head of China's cyber warfare unit, is placed in charge of the investigation. He enlists his sister, Lien (Tang Wei), and heads to the United States for more assistance. He even convinces the FBI to release Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) from prison since he was the creator of the original Remote Access Tool used in the attack. Anyway, this group tracks the code around the world. There are some very predictable subplots here – who would have guess Lien would have a thing for Nicholas? – and the plot doesn't really have any impact. The ending doesn't leave an impression, either.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Film Review: The Silenced (2015)

The Silenced (Review)
South Korea/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...unique and fascinating."

In 1930s Korea, A young girl is sent to a remote boarding school where she discovers that everything is not what it seems...

The Silenced is a very interesting film. The plot follows Shizuko (Park Bo-young), who is abandoned at the boarding school by her step-mother. The headmistress (Uhm Ji-won) promises to take care of Shizuko, who has an illness. Shizuko, who's real name is Cha Ju-ran, has trouble adapting, but she's helped by Kazue (Park So-dam). All is well until Shizuko begins to notice the 'strange' things happening to her classmates, which include abrupt and mysterious disappearances. The first half resembles a typical period supernatural horror film. It takes a sharp turn towards the second half, though. It went somewhere I did not expect it—and I loved it. It leads to a unique and exciting climax, and a satisfying ending.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Film Review: Funny Games (2007)

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

"...an incredibly suspenseful, darkly humorous, and surprising horror film."

A pair of psychopaths take a family hostage in their own cabin for their sick amusement...

Funny Games, the remake of a masterful Austrian thriller, follows the Farber family: Anna (Naomi Watts), the mother, George (Tim Roth), the father, and Georgie (Devon Gearhart), the son. The Farbers head to their lake house for a break. All is well until two young and peculiar men, Paul (Michael Pitt) and Peter (Brady Corbet), show up at their home to help put their boat in the lake and ask for eggs. One thing leads to another, and the Farbers end up being held hostage by their uninvited guests. They make a bet to see if the Farbers can survive until 9:00 AM – about 12 hours – while they play a set of sadistic games. The film stalls towards the second half – perhaps on purpose – so it has a few pacing issues. However, most of the film stays on its feet until its strong ending.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Film Review - Rampage: President Down (2016)

Rampage: President Down (Review)
Canada/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...reiterates the same tired points from the first two films while barely developing a satisfying plot."

Mass murderer Bill Williamson (Brendan Fletcher) heads to D.C. to attack the government and continue his mission...

Rampage: President Down is a disappointing sequel to Rampage: Capital Punishment. This sequel follows Bill Williamson, who has successfully evaded authorities for years. He heads to D.C. and, before, you know it, the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of Defense are dead. They don't show you anything concerning the titular promise. Instead, you're just told that Bill 'magically' sniped them from over a mile away. The rest of the film hops between two perspectives: Bill as he hides in the woods and prepares for his end and two inept FBI agents who pursue him. Unfortunately, due to its heavy-handed politics—Bill never misses his opportunity to preach—this film feels more like a platform than a movie. That's evident through the thin plot. It leads to an oddly humorous and ironic ending.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Film Review: Man on High Heels (2014)

Man on High Heels (Review)
South Korea/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It is as entertaining as it is compelling."

Yoon Ji-wook (Cha Seung-won) is a hard-boiled detective who mercilessly pummels any criminal in his path. At heart, Ji-wook hides his desire to become a woman...

Man on High Heels is a surprising film. From the trailer, this film looks like a grim, hard-boiled action-drama. In reality, the film is a mixed-bag – which can be both good and bad. The plot follows Ji-wook, an effortlessly cool and highly-skilled detective. Under his rough, scar-riddled exterior, Ji-wook hides his desire to become a woman – a desire that has haunted him for years. He tries to quit his job, but a gang he destroyed is out for vengeance. So, he has to balance his old life while trying to acquire a new one. It's a very interesting film. Obviously, it's center themes are based on something that is still taboo in Hollywood blockbusters, so it's also original. It leads to a very blood climax and a compelling ending. It felt a bit underwhelming at first, but it still has me thinking so it must have worked.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Film Review: Attack on Titan Part 2 (2015)

Attack on Titan: Part 2 (Review)
Japan/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a notch below its predecessor—which is already a polarizing film, especially for fans of the anime/manga."

After discovering his special ability, Eren Yeager (Haruma Miura) discovers the truth about the Titans and struggles with an internal conflict...

Attack on Titan: Part 2 (known as End of the World) picks up where the previous film left off. So, there will be a few spoilers in this review. The plot continues to follow Eren Yeager and his scouting team, which includes Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara) and Armin (Kanata Hongo) as they attempt to the block the hole on the outer wall. There are a few revelations, though—some from the previous film, some new. Of course, Eren uses his newfound ability to turn into a Titan—and that's pretty fun. Eren also joins the resistance. All of this happens in ~80-minutes without the recap and the credits, so it feels short and ineffective. It leads to a solid but sorta predictable ending. I'd say it played it safe.