Friday, June 30, 2017

Film Review: The Invitation (2015)

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

"It's a great mixture of horror, thriller, and drama, and that ultimately creates an effective experience."

While attending a reunion at the Hollywood Hills home of his former wife, a man begins to suspect his ex-wife and her new husband have dangerous hidden intentions...

The Invitation is a horror-thriller-drama hybrid. The film follows Will (Logan Marshall-Green), a man who became depressed and estranged after the death of his son. Will and his new girlfriend, Kiara, attend a reunion dinner hosted by Will's ex-wife at their former home—a lavish house at the Hollywood Hills. At the house, we meet Will's ex-wife, Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband, David. He also reunites with a group of his old pals. There are also other people in the house—friends who Eden and David met in Mexico while meeting a cult-like group. Will begins to suspect Eden, David, and the other mysterious guests are trying to hurt them, one way or another; if not that, he believes they're trying to convert them. But, why? It leads to a fairly predictable but effective climax. The ending—as in, the very last minute—was also very effective.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Film Review: Crimson Peak (2015)

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

"...thanks to its setting and character, the film feels original, refreshing, and scary."

After tragedy strikes her family, an aspiring author marries an enigmatic man who brings her to a palatial house—a house that has not forgotten the past...

Crimson Peak follows Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring author. Unfortunately, as a female writer of ghost stories, Edith's career moves at a snail's pace. Her life changes when she meets Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), who, along with his sister, travels the world in search of funding for his clay-mining invention. In particular, Thomas is looking to finance his invention through Edith's father—which leads to rejection. However, Thomas still finds himself attracted to Edith. And so, their relationship blossoms. When tragedy strikes her family, Edith decides to leave her home and run away from her problems. She moves in with Thomas and his sister at their tumbledown house. All is well until things start to go bump in the night. Although atmospheric from beginning to end, this is where the film really begins to embrace its horror elements. It also starts to pack a few twists—most of which are predictable from the beginning. It leads to a great ending, though.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Film Review: Ms. 45 (1981)

Ms. 45 (Review)
United States/1981
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a dark, disturbing, and violent horror-thriller film."

After being raped twice in one day, a mute woman begins to roam the streets of New York City, randomly shooting the men who cross her path...

Ms. 45 is a simple but effective film. The plot follows Thana (Zoë Lund), a mute seamstress. One day after work, she finds herself walking home alone. During her walk, she's raped by a masked man with a gun. She goes home after the traumatizing experience only to find a burglar in her apartment—and that burglar rapes her as well. She's able to kill the burglar, though, and she finds herself in possession of his gun. She struggles to live with the murder, hoping to dispose of the body without raising any alarms. While doing so, however, she kills someone else. This leads her into a never-ending descent into murder and madness. She takes to the streets at night, aiming to kill the men in her path. It leads to a strong climax and a great ending.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Film Review: The Killer Inside Me (2010)

The Killer Inside Me (Review)
United States/2010
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a dark, brutal, and disturbing film..."

In 1950s West Texas, Sheriff Deputy Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) falls to his inner-demons, leaving a trail of death and violence in his wake...

The Killer Inside Me follows Lou Ford, a soft-spoken sheriff with some well-kept secrets. Lou is asked to help get rid of Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba), a prostitute who is having an affair with the son of a wealthy construction developer, Chester Conway. Instead, Lou finds himself having an affair of his own with Joyce. With Joyce, he devises a plan to scam the Conways and run off with a hefty payment. Yet again, Lou deviates from the plan. He attacks Joyce and Chester's son, hoping to make it look like they killed each other, but his plan is derailed. So, Lou finds himself at the center of a criminal investigation. There is so much more to the story, including some disturbing background for Lou, but I'll leave it at that to avoid any spoilers. It leads to a great ending, too.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Film Review: Perkins' 14 (2009)

Perkins' 14 (Review)
United States/2009
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a roller coaster of quality, featuring a few ups and many downs."

During the night shift, Sheriff Dwayne Hopper discovers one of the prisoners at the station may be the serial killer who kidnapped his son 10 years prior...

Perkins' 14 follows Sheriff Hopper and the residents of Stone Cove, Maine. Off the bat, you're introduced to Hopper and his broken family. His relationships with his wife and teenage daughter are strained because of an incident ten years ago where his son was abducted. Anyway, Hopper eventually ends up at the police station to cover the night shift. At the station, he meets Ronald Perkins (Richard Brake). After speaking to Perkins, Hopper investigates his background and his car which leads him to believe that Perkins is the serial killer who abducted his son and 13 other children over the past 10 years. As he pursues his leads, he unwittingly unleashes something from Perkins' basement. The rest of the plot reverts to your basic faux-zombie flick. It leads to an unfulfilling ending.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Film Review: Headshot (2016)

Headshot (Review)
Indonesia/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...packed with exciting martial arts and bloody gun battles."

After he washes ashore, an amnesiac is nursed back to health by a young doctor, but his past ferociously comes back to haunt him...

Headshot shares a few similarities to the great Thailand action film Headshot (2011), but it's not a remake. This plot follows a young man (Iko Uwais) who washes ashore with a gunshot wound on his head. He awakens months later unable to remember his past. Ailin (Chelsea Islan), his doctor, gives him the name Ishmael and begins to nurse him back to health, and so the pair develop a friendly relationship. All is well until a group of highly-trained assassins set their sights on Ishmael and Ishmael's past begins to unravel. Ailin is kidnapped and Ishmael sets out to rescue her. The second half of the film is action-packed, adding only tidbits of details to the plot. It leads to a thrilling climax and a good ending.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Film Review: I Am Not A Serial Killer (2016)

I Am Not A Serial Killer (Review)
Ireland/United Kingdom/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It's a dark, disturbing, and creative horror-thriller."

A troubled teenager with homicidal tendencies hunts a serial killer who may have supernatural abilities.

I Am Not A Serial Killer follows John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records), a teenager in a small Midwestern town. John is not a normal teenager, though. He is attracted to the macabre and he has homicidal thoughts. He uses a set of rules to stop himself from killing, though. However, when extremely violent murders start occurring in his town, John's inner demons begin to surface. In order to stop himself, he attempts to stop the serial killer, who may be a menacing creature. I don't want to spoil anything. This is one of those films that really catches you off guard if you go in blind. The plot works on multiple levels. However, I didn't feel like the ending resonated. It's original, it's outlandish, but it's just not very effective.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Film Review: Split (2016)

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

"...Split, despite its flaws, shows he's [Shyamalan] a master storyteller and a visionary filmmaker."

Three girls are kidnapped by a man with 23 distinct personalities—a man who plans on using the girls to unleash a fearsome 24th personality known as 'The Beast.'

Off the bat, Split forces you to suspense disbelief. The film starts off with a kidnapping sequence which is both chilling and silly. That ridiculous line has been in my head since I first watched the trailer: "Pardon me, sir, I think you have the wrong car." Still, thanks to Shyamalan's direction, it's an effective scene in which our victims are introduced: Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire, and Marcia—high school girls. This group is easily kidnapped by Dennis (James McAvoy), who is really Kevin—and Kevin happens to have 23 personalities. Casey and her friends wake up in a dungeon built by Dennis. In simple terms, just to avoid spoilers, the rest of the film follows Kevin and the captives as he plans the arrival of his 24th personality known as 'The Beast,' which happens to have superhuman abilities. It does lose a little bit of steam towards the middle, but the pacing is mostly good. It leads to a surprising third act and a great ending.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Film Review: Rings (2017)

Rings (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...this sequel plays out more like a teen horror movie from the early 2000s."

A young woman races to find the truth behind a supernatural curse after she watches a cursed tape that may take her life in seven days...

At times, Rings feels more like a remake instead of a sequel. Most of the film focuses on re-introducing us to Samara and the cursed tape while the final act adds a little to the lore. The film follows Julia (Matilda Lutz), a young woman who sees her boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) off to college while she stays in their hometown 'for her mom'—I don't believe that's ever explained in detail. After Holt abruptly vanishes, Julia visits her boyfriend's college where she discovers Holt has joined his peculiar and 'bad-ass' professor in a group to study Samara and her tape. Eventually, Julia watches the tape, then the couple race to break the curse before it's too late. The film often introduces these new and original ideas, but it always tosses them out before they get a chance to develop. Aside from some new background for Samara, Rings offers very little to the series in terms of plot. It leads to an interesting ending. In this case, 'interesting' doesn't necessarily mean 'good.'

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Film Review: Hell House LLC (2016)

Hell House LLC (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...one of the best found footage horror films I've ever seen."

A documentary crew led by Diane Graves attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding a tragedy at a haunted house attraction in 2009...

Hell House LLC is a mockumentary film. In 2014, Diane Graves and her crew attempt to discover the truth behind a mysterious tragedy that occurred in Hell House, a haunted house attraction. She does so by interviewing a woman who was at the haunted house during the incident, a journalist, and a member of the Hell House crew. She traces everything back to the beginning. The Hell House crew move out to Abbadon, New York, away from the big city to target a new audience and create a new haunted house at the abandoned Abbadon Hotel. Everything is normal at first, business as usual, but then things start going bump in the night. The bizarre occurrences quickly escalate in frequency and volume. The crew continues their work until opening day where the truth is revealed... Of course, I won't be spoiling the film for you. It fizzles out towards the end, but I enjoyed the ending.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Film Review: The Bodyguard (2016)

The Bodyguard (Review)
China/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It has its fair share of flaws, but I still enjoyed it."

A retired bodyguard settles in a small town near the Russian border where he befriends a young girl. When the young girl's father gets into trouble, he rushes to rescue her...

The Bodyguard starts off a bit sloppy. It's all over the place, shifting tones and utilizing a narrator for no apparent reason. The plot follows Ding Hu (Sammo Hung), a retired bodyguard who witnesses a murder. The murder isn't really important, though—the film abandons that almost immediately. We're then introduced to Li (Andy Lau) and his young daughter Cherry, who are Ding's neighbors. Cherry frequently visits Ding after she argues with her father. Anyway, Li is a gambler. In order to pay off his debt to a gang boss, he's sent into Russia to retrieve a valuable bag. He does so, but the mission is quickly derailed. This leads the gangs to search for leverage against Li—Cherry. However, Ding has grown fond of her—and he won't let her go without a fight. It leads to a decent ending.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Film Review—The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (Review)
United States/2006
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It's more of the same and it fails to deliver an effective origin story for Leatherface, but it's not bad."

During a cross-country road trip, two brothers and their girlfriends bump heads with a family of violent killers...

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is a prequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacrethe remake. The film follows a very similar formula, though. The story begins with the birth of Thomas Hewitt, who is popularly known as Leatherface, but it skips over his entire childhood, which is disappointing. Anyway, after Thomas commits his first murder, his uncle/father-figure, Charlie Hewitt (R. Lee Ermey), kills the only sheriff in the area, then he takes his role. That's about all you get for the Hewitt family. The rest of the film follows a group of friends on their last trip before the men head out to Vietnam. You have Eric and his girlfriend Chrissie (Jordana Brewster), and Dean and his girlfriend Bailey. This group ends up at the Hewitt house where they're tortured by the family. That's about it. I like the classic Texas Chainsaw formula, but it is a little too similar to the remake. The ending was also underwhelming.