Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Film Review: Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...an excellent way to kill two hours."

A secret government agency recruits some of the world's most dangerous criminals to form a task force of supervillains in order to stop a powerful threat.

Suicide Squad is another addition to the annual barrage of superhero movies we receive. However, in this case, we're following a group of supervillains. The plot follows intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) as she forms a group comprised of supervillains in order to fight other metahuman threats after Superman's death. Her group consists of: Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang, El Diablo, Killer Croc, and Slipknot. They are led by Colonel Rick Flag, who is joined by Katana (Karen Fukuhara). Oh, and The Joker (Jared Leto) is in this, too. Anyway, some things go wrong and a city goes under siege. The Suicide Squad is sent to fix things. There's more going on in the story, but, to keep this review short, I won't get into everything. It leads to a solid ending, though.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Film Review: Under The Shadow (2016)

Under The Shadow (Review)
United Kingdom/Jordan/Qatar/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...emotionally effective, unnervingly tense, and frighteningly relevant."

When her husband is shipped out to war, a mother struggles to raise her daughter in war-torn Tehran, especially when a malevolent entity arrives in her home...

Under The Shadow is a great movie. The plot starts off as a tragic family drama. In war-torn post-revolution Tehran, Shideh (Narges Rashidi) is stopped from continuing her studies as a medical student due to her involvement with leftist groups. She is forced to return home to her husband, who is practicing medicine, and her daughter, Dorsa. Shideh's life becomes more stressful when her husband is called to war. This is where the film seamlessly transitions to a chilling horror movie. Shideh attempts to take care of Dorsa, living every day with the fear of missiles hitting her building. And, when Dorsa's doll goes missing, things start going bump in the night. She slowly begins to believe a Djinn is haunting her home. It leads to an interesting, albeit somewhat underwhelming, ending.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Film Review: The Hollow Point (2016)

The Hollow Point (Review)
United States/2016
Format viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...the type of film you watch when you just want to turn your brain off and enjoy some tension/brutality."

A new sheriff in a small town along the U.S. and Mexico border is hurled into a deal-gone-wrong involving a Mexican cartel...

The Hollow Point follows Sheriff Wallace (Patrick Wilson) after he takes over for the previous sheriff, Leland, who murdered a suspected peddler near the border. Wallace continues Leland's investigation, searching for the ammunition that was being moved and the other parties involved in the deal while preparing for the inevitable consequences of the deal's failure. Before Wallace can really dig into the investigation, he bumps heads with a sicario (John Leguizamo) who is hell-bent on tieing up loose ends for his bosses. Without spoilers, that's pretty much the plot. There are some other subplots here, including a generic relationship between Wallace and an old flame, but none of it really shakes the core of the story. It leads to an underwhelming ending, too.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Film Review: The Disappointments Room (2016)

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

"...an unoriginal and uninspired haunted house movie."

A family moves into a rural house in an attempt to start a new life. All is well until they discover a hidden room in the attic...

The Disappointments Room is a disappointment. (Clever, right?) The plot is painfully generic, severely lacking original ideas and unique frights. To be blunt, it feels like the story was pieced together using scenes from other movies. The plot follows a family of three: Dana (Kate Beckinsale), the mother, David, the father, and Lucas, their five-year-old son. They move into a rural house because of an 'accident' that occurred in their lives—an accident that leads Dana to become unstable. While settling in, Dana discovers a hidden room in the attic. She begins obsessing about the room while having visions about the previous owners. Eventually, it reveals everything you already knew. There was a pretty bloody surprise towards the end, although it's not really a surprise when it comes to the actual story. Anyway, the actual ending is also disappointing—predictable and underwhelming.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Film Review: Frailty (2001)

Frailty (Review)
United States/2001
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a fantastic film... a dark, personal psychological-horror experience."

A man confesses to an FBI agent about his family's history of murder that was inspired by his father's religious visions.

Frailty begins with FBI agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) arriving at his office to interview a man, Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey), who claims to know the whereabouts of a serial killer. It turns out: Fenton believes his dead brother was the "God's Hand" serial killer who Doyle was hunting. In order to prove it, Fenton tells Wesley about his childhood. From here, the story begins hopping from past to present. Fortunately, it's very smooth and effective. The past timeline focuses on Fenton, his brother Adam, and his father (Bill Paxton). Fenton and his brother lived normal lives until their father started talking about visions God sent to him. These visions instructed him to destroy 'demons.' These demons happen to be real people. It leads to a strong climax and a twisted ending.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Film Review: Pet (2016)

Pet (Review)
United States/Spain/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"The writer's obsession with delivering as many twists as possible leaves the film mangled with holes."

Seth (Dominic Monaghan), a lonely assistant at a pet shelter, kidnaps his high school crush after being rejected by her, but he soon realizes she harbors some sinister secrets of her own...

Pet offers a twist to the captive-captor formula—or, more like a few twists. The plot follows Seth, a lonely but caring assistant at a pet shelter. One day, he bumps into Holly (Ksenia Solo), a high school classmate, on the bus. His feelings for her return and he attempts to ask her out, which leads to failure every single time. So, Seth begins obsessively following her. One thing leads to another, and Seth eventually kidnaps Holly and keeps her in a homemade cage in an abandoned room at the pet shelter. Now, this is where the twists begin to pile on. As revealed in the trailer, Holly is not exactly sane. However, there is a lot more here, but I won't spoil it. Some of the twists are clever, some of them are absurd. Initially, the ending was surprising. However, the more you think about it, the more you realize it just doesn't work.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Film Review: Patriots Day (2016)

Patriots Day (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Fandango Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...an unnerving account of a devastating tragedy."

An account of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the immediate aftermath...

Patriots Day is based on a true story—obviously. Of course, as with every film based on a true story, this film took a few creative liberties. For example, Patriots Day follows Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg), a person who doesn't actually exist. Saunders, however, presents the best of the brave first-responders with his efficient character. Although I didn't personally experience this tragic attack, I think it's safe to say this film won't offend anyone despite some of its liberties. In terms of a synopsis, there isn't much else to say. The plot follows Saunders and other responders, such as FBI Special Agent DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon), as they witness the event and pursue the men responsible. It also depicts the Tsarnaev brothers and their actions before, during, and after the attack. It leads to a compelling ending.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Film Review: The Exorcist 3 (1990)

The Exorcist 3 (Review)
United States/1990
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"You would think he [Blatty] spent years behind the camera honing his skills to create something so stylish, fluid, and effective."

A police lieutenant investigates a series of grisly murders—which share the method of a deceased killer known as "The Gemini."

The Exorcist 3 is a great mix of police procedural and supernatural horror. The film follows Lieutenant William F. Kinderman (George C. Scott)—who is also in the first film, played by a different actor. Kinderman is investigating a string of extremely violent and unusual murders, all of which share the method of a deceased killer. When a good friend passes away, Kinderman focuses his investigation on a hospital. When the murders continue, the lieutenant focuses on a man held in the psychiatric ward—a very familiar man. I won't spoil anything else from the film. This is one where the less you know, the better it is. It has plenty of interesting twists and turns, and it leads to a solid climax. The exorcism felt a bit underwhelming, as if it were tacked on for no reason, but the ending still resonates.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Film Review: Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Manchester by the Sea (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Fandango Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...one of the best films of 2016."

When his brother passes away, a depressed uncle is asked to take care of his teenage nephew.

Manchester by the Sea follows Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a Boston janitor and handyman. Lee has a bit of an attitude, which tends to get him into trouble. He is easily agitated, especially when he drinks. One day, he receives news about his brother's passing. So, he returns to his hometown of Manchester. While waiting for the funeral, he takes care of his teenage nephew, Patrick. He also learns that his brother wanted him to take care of Patrick, which is something he doesn't exactly want to do. Through well-timed and edited flashbacks, we learn about Lee's haunting past in Manchester, which explains his attitude. It leads to a simple but effective ending.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Film Review: Hostel (2005)

Hostel (Review)
United States/2005
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...more than the typical 'torture porn' film."

Two college students traveling across Europe are targeted by a mysterious group that kidnaps and tortures people for money.

Hostel follows college students Paxton (Jay Hernandez) and Josh (Derek Richardson) as well as their Icelandic friend Óli as they travel across Europe in search of girls. During a night of debauchery, the friends meet a man who tells them about a magical hostel in Slovakia filled with the most beautiful—and easiest—women on the planet. And, when they arrive, they're pleased to see he wasn't lying. All goes well during the first night, but then Óli goes missing. Then, another woman at the hostel goes missing. The disappearances lead the students into the underground world of torture—pay-to-torture. It leads to an incredibly bloody final act and a solid ending, although some things are a little too convenient for my tastes.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Film Review: Bloody Birthday (1981)

Bloody Birthday (Review)
United States/1981
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a unique, entertaining, and effective slasher."

Born during a total eclipse of the sun, three kids wreak havoc on their small neighborhood...

Bloody Birthday is an interesting film. It's simple, it's cheesy, and it's fun. The film begins with the birth of three children: Debbie, Curtis, and Steven. These kids secretly murder the people they dislike. Joyce Russell and her younger brother, Timmy, seem to be the only people who suspect something is afoot. Unfortunately, the killer children are sly and deceitful. Well... That's basically the entire plot. Debbie, Curtis, and Steven kill while Joyce and Timmy either mind their own business or try to catch them. There is an explanation for the kids' wicked ways, but it's a bit on the cheesy side. It leads to a good ending, though.