Monday, July 31, 2017

Film Review—Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It's exciting stuff, really."

A team of scientists and their military escort explore an uncharted island where they discover the hidden creatures of the world...

Kong: Skull Island is a reimagining of the classic King Kong story. In 1974, U.S. government agent Bill Randa (John Goodman) and his partner Brooks set off on an expedition to Skull Island. In order to get there, they enlist the help of Lieutenant Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and his helicopter squadron as well as the help of skilled tracker Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston). Photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) also tags along. The group travel to the island, but their expedition is quickly interrupted by a giant ape known as Kong. Their helicopters are knocked down and the survivors are forced to fight for survival. There's a bit more to the story, but those are your basics and I don't want to spoil anything else. Besides, I don't want to recount the whole plot anyway. It leads to a solid climax and a decent ending.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Film Review: No Escape (2015)

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

"It is engaging, suspenseful, thrilling, and even frightening at times."

An expat and his family become trapped in a South-East Asia country after a violent revolution sparks...

No Escape follows expat engineer Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), his wife Annie (Lake Bell), and their daughters, Lucy and Briegel, as they relocate to an unnamed country in South-East Asia for Jack's new job. On the day of their arrival, they become friends with a Briton named Hammond (Pierce Brosnan). The day after, however, the Prime Minister is assassinated and a violent uprising begins. The rebels are especially focused on murdering foreigners. This leads Jack and his family to run and fight for survival. That's basically the entire plot. There are other small plot points, but it never builds on any of it. It leads to a decent climax and conclusion.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Film Review: Life (2017)

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

"It's not Alien for a new generation, it just doesn't have that same effect, but it is very entertaining."

A team of scientists on the International Space Station discover a new form of life from Mars. While researching the lifeform, however, they discover that it may not be as friendly as it seems...

Life is a very simple film—to a fault, even. The story follows a team on the ISS: Mission Commander Ekaterina Golovkina, Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), flight engineer Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds), systems engineer Sho Murakami, and Dr. Hugh Derry. The team captures a probe returning from Mars with a possible sample of life. After experimenting with the lifeform—basically awakening it—they're elated. They have discovered life beyond mankind. They even name it 'Calvin.' However, they quickly discover that Calvin isn't exactly friendly. After that, it's your basic fight for survival with the same ol' goal: don't let the hostile lifeform get to Earth. That's where the simplicity hurts the film. It doesn't take many risks, playing out as a derivative Sci-Fi horror film. It leads to a decent ending, although it was also predictable.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Film Review: Prom Night (1980)

Prom Night (Review)
Canada/1980
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"It's not the best or worst slasher out there. It's somewhere in the middle."

At a high school prom, a masked killer stalks and murders the students responsible for a classmate's death 6 years prior...

Prom Night is a simple slasher. It begins with a group of kids—Wendy, Jude, Kelly, and Nick—playing hide-and-seek in an abandoned building. Ten-year-old Robin Hammond joins them, but she's teased and frightened by the kids instead. She ends up falling to her death. The death is blamed on a known sex offender. Six years later, Robin's older sister Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis) and brother, Alex, prepare for their high school's prom. Wendy, Jude, Kelly, and Nick are still around, too—and each of them receive eerie phone calls from a creepy person. Eventually, the prom begins and people start dying... And, that's your plot. It leads to a predictable but well-executed ending.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Film Review: Unthinkable (2010)

Unthinkable (Review)
United States/2010
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the better time-killers I've recently watched."

A black-ops negotiator and an FBI agent attempt to interrogate a suspected terrorist who has threatened to detonate nuclear bombs in three cities...

Unthinkable follows an American Muslim man and former Delta Force operator named Yusuf (Michael Sheen), formerly known as Stephen Arthur Younger. Yusuf has made a tape announcing his plans to detonate nuclear bombs in three American cities if his demands, which he doesn't name, aren't met. Yusuf is captured at a mall and taken to a high school, which has been turned into a black site. At the school, starry-eyed FBI agent Helen Brody (Carrie Ann-Moss) is asked to find the bombs while "H" (Samuel L. Jackson) conducts his interrogation, which is really torture in its purest form. The main theme of the plot revolves around our morals—good and bad, black and white. It asks some interesting questions, too. Unfortunately, I felt like it led to an unfulfilling ending.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Film Review: The Bye Bye Man (2017)

The Bye Bye Man (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...not the worst film I've ever seen, but it wasn't great, either."

A group of friends move into a new house where they discover the origins of an evil entity...

The Bye Bye Man is an interesting film. The film begins in 1969 as a man with a shotgun walks around his neighborhood and murders anyone who said 'the name' that shan't be said. Fast forward to the present, college students Elliot (Douglas Smith), Sasha (Cressida Bonas), and John (Lucien Laviscount) move into an off-campus house. After they discover the name The Bye Bye Man, things start to go bump in the night and they feel a presence around them. The more they think about the name, the stronger the presence grows. So, they start hallucinating. Those hallucinations lead to distrust, misunderstandings, and irrational fear. It leads to an underwhelming final act and a predictable ending.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Film Review: Macabre (2009)

Macabre (Review)
Indonesia/2009
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a simple, suspenseful, and bloody movie."

A group of friends are lured into an ominous villa owned by a woman named Dara and her peculiar family.

In terms of plot, Macabre is a very simple film. The story follows newlyweds Adjie and Astrid (Sigi Wimala), Adije's sister, Ladya (Julie Estelle), and their friends Alam, Eko, and Jimmy. On their way to the airport, they pick up a woman who asks for a lift to her home. They take her home and they're invited into her house for a special dinner of gratitude. At the house, they meet Dara, the owner. Before they know it, the group of friends are knocked out and, when they awaken, they are brutalized. The rest of the film essentially follows the characters as they try to escape the house. There are some interesting ideas surrounding Dara and her family, but it never truly develops them. So, what you see is what you get. It can be a bit disappointing, but it ultimately works. It leads to a bloody, albeit predictable, ending.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Film Review: Among the Living (2014)

Among the Living (Review)
France/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"If you're a fan of French horror films like High Tension or Frontier(s), I think you'll like the graphic style of this film."

Three kids ditch school to explore an abandoned movie studio where they find a captive woman being dragged by a masked man...

Among the Living follows a group of kids who ditch school in order to avoid detention. They smoke, they set a farm aflame, then they explore an abandoned film studio. At the lot, They find a tow truck hauling a red car. And, in the car's trunk, they discover a tied and gagged woman. Before they can help her, they hear someone approaching—a masked person. This masked person carries the woman into an underground-level of the set. Of course, these kids are curious and courageous—they want to help the woman and find out more. Unfortunately, they're not able to help her and they find themselves in the crosshairs of a brutal killer. The rest of the film follows the kids in their own homes where the killer attacks them. The change in setting was initially disappointing since I wanted to see more of the abandoned film studio, but it ends up working fine. The ending, however, felt rushed and underwhelming.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Film Review: The Church (1989)

The Church (Review)
Italy/1989
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...by the second half, the film feels more like it's focused more on its visuals than its plot, and that's a little disappointing."

In medieval Germany, the Teutonic Knights slaughter a village of suspected witches and build a church over their grave. In the present, the church's librarian discovers and opens the grave, leading to deadly consequences...

The Church begins in medieval Germany. The Teutonic Knights are led to a group of suspected witches, which leads them to massacre an entire village. When they're done, they bury the dead and build a church over them, hoping to seal their evil for eternity. I loved this introduction, so I wish the plot spent more time on it. Anyway, fast forward to the present and the church is still standing. Evan, the new librarian, eventually discovers a crypt in the catacombs of the church. Of course, being curious, he breaks the seals and unleashes a horde of evil spirits. The film started to lose me during the second half, where the plot shifts focus to a group of generic characters who become trapped in the church. It starts explaining less, which is both good and bad. On one hand, I like the ominous and ambiguous atmosphere. On the other, it can feel like it's all over the place. The ending was okay, too.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Film Review: Lake Mungo (2008)

Lake Mungo (Review)
Australia/2008
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...the type of the film that gets under your skin and leaves an impression."

A small family struggles to come to terms with the drowning death of their daughter...

Lake Mungo is a horror mockumentary. The plot details the drowning death of Alice Palmer and the subsequent events—some of which may have been supernatural. Family and friends are interviewed about their relationships with Alice. Alice's final moments—including elements of her hidden life—are also revealed. There really isn't much to talk about when it comes to the plot. It has some heavy themes, some twists and turns, and a few compelling characters, but there isn't much else to the story. I'm afraid if I said anything else I would be spoiling your experience. It leads to a deep but somewhat underwhelming ending.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Film Review: Dark Places (2015)

Dark Places (Review)
United States/United Kingdom/France/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...a chilling film with some engaging mystery elements."

Libby Day (Charlize Theron), the sole survivor of her family's massacre, revisits the crime 28 years after the fact and discovers some grisly revelations about that night...

Dark Places follows Libby Day, an unemployed person who seemingly does nothing all day. Libby survived the massacre of her family at the suspected hands of her older brother, Ben; she even testifies against him. As an adult, she relies on the money sent to her from sympathetic people as well as the earnings from her book. With her funds running low, she's forced to take up some kind of work. She accepts an offer from a Lyle Wyrth to make an appearance at his true crime club for $700. At this club, she discovers a group of people who are convinced Ben did not murder his family. Libby is reluctant, but, in need of cash and closure, she agrees to reopen her old wounds and find the truth about that night. This is a crime-mystery, so I won't bother spoiling anything else. It leads to an underwhelming climax and ending, though.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Film Review: High Tension (2003)

High Tension (Review)
France/2003
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"If you love suspenseful and violent horror films, you'll love this movie. If you need everything to make sense..."

Best friends Marie (Cécile de France) and Alex decide to spend a weekend at the secluded farm house of Alex's parents. However, on the night of their arrival, a mysterious man attacks the home and leaves the friends fighting for survival...

High Tension follows Marie and Alex. After nights of partying, the pair head out to the house of Alex's parents so Marie can meet them for the first time. The night begins as expected—meet the family, settle in, and so on. Then, a man in a rusty truck knocks on the front door. This grubby man slaughters Alex's family and kidnaps Alex while remaining completely unaware of Marie's presence. One thing leads to another, and the friends find themselves fighting for survival. The plot has no filler and a very fast pace. I'm afraid if I continued discussing the plot I'd just end up spoiling something. I will say: this film would have been better without its 'twist' ending. The ending is interesting and there are ways to make it sorta work, but it ultimately opens too many holes.