Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Film Review: It Comes At Night (2017)

It Comes At Night (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Vudu
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

 It might not be a film for everyone, but if you enjoy slow-burn horror films that include some compelling elements of drama, I think you'll enjoy this movie."

As a mysterious threat ravages society, a man and his family find safety in a house in the woods... until a young family arrives in search of refuge.

It Comes At Night follows Paul (Joel Edgerton), his wife Sarah, and their seventeen-year-old son Travis. The family lives in a house in the woods, following a strict routine in order to avoid the mysterious outbreak as well as the other survivors, who may not be as friendly as they seem. Their world is shaken, however, when Will (Christopher Abbott) breaks into their house seeking water for his family. The families eventually agree to join up in order to increase their chances of survival, but trust is still an issue. There really isn't much more to the story, though. It leads to a bleak but somewhat underwhelming ending, especially if you expect an explanation.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Film Review: The Butterfly Effect (2004)

The Butterfly Effect (Review)
United States/2004
Format Viewed for Review: Vudu
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the most interesting films of the 21st century."

Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) suffers from blackouts during his childhood. As an adult, he discovers a way to revisit and change the past by reading his journals, but he soon finds that there are consequences to his every action...

The Butterfly Effect follows Evan Treborn throughout his life. As a child, he spends time with a close group of friends: Tommy, a troublemaker, Kayleigh, Tommy's brother and Evan's crush, and Lenny, a frail kid. He experiences several significant events with his friends, including molestation at the hands of a trusted adult, a devastating accident caused by a prank, and the violent death of his pet. As an adult, Evan begins reading his journals and he discovers that he can miraculously revisit the past with his adult mind inhabiting his young body. And, everything he does in the past, changes the present. This leads to some significant and often catastrophic changes, which I won't spoil. This tragic story leads to a somber, effective ending.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Film Review: The Unjust (2010)

The Unjust (Review)
South Korea/2010
Format Viewed for Review: DramaFever
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a masterfully crafted web of deceit."

On the hunt for a serial killer, a detective becomes intertwined in a messy scandal along with a gangster-turned-businessman and a corrupt prosecutor...

The Unjust is a film filled with twists and turns, so I'll try to keep my summary of the plot as short and spoiler-free as possible. The plot begins by explaining that there is a serial killer on the loose—a vicious killer who only targets elementary school students. When the lead suspect is killed, leading to criticism and pressure from the Blue House, a senior officer concocts an idea to save face: create a suspect. So, detective Choi Cheol-gi (Hwang Jung-min), a detective who is always passed up for promotion despite his hard work, is hired to do so. Cheol-gi works with gangster-turned-businessman Jang Seok-gu (Yoo Hae-in) to force a former child abuser into taking credit for the serial killing crimes in exchange for some cash for his family. At the same time, Cheol-gi must deal with Joo Yang (Ryoo Seung-bum), a corrupt prosecutor who has his sights set on him for his own selfish and spiteful reasons. As you can see, there is a lot going on in the plot. It leads to a great ending, too.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Film Review: Videodrome (1983)

Videodrome (Review)
Canada/1983
Format Viewed for Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It's not perfect and it might not even be for everyone, but it is undoubtedly interesting, entertaining, and relevant."

Max Ren (James Woods), president of CIVIC-TV, descends into madness after he stumbles upon a program that depicts real torture and murder.

Videodrome is an extremely interesting film thanks to its compelling themes and surreal presentation. The plot follows Max Ren, a cable-TV programmer who is searching for the next 'big' thing. For his niche, however, he's searching for something sleazy and immoral—something that pushes the boundaries. He finds what he's looking for in Videodrome, a program that depicts torture and murder without plots. Although he initially believes it's fake, he quickly realizes it's real and that it's part of a bigger picture. He can't fully wrap his head around it, though, because the program causes him to experience bizarre hallucinations. There is much more to the plot, but there's no point in spoiling it—you get the gist. It leads to a great climax and an interesting ending.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Film Review—Tokyo Videos of Horror: Panic Collection

Tokyo Videos of Horror: Panic Collection (Review)
Japan/Date Unknown
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"Despite its short runtime, it left a much stronger impression than most big-budget, feature-length films in the subgenre."

An anthology of short found-footage horror from the Tokyo Videos of Horror series.

Tokyo Videos of Horror: Panic Collection is an introduction/compilation of short movies from the Tokyo Videos of Horror series—a series I'm not actually familiar with. However, aside from the found-footage style, it did remind me of another great anthology series: Tales of Terror from Tokyo. The first story in this film follows a small film crew who enter an abandoned hotel to play with a Ouija board. The second story follows a couple who are lighting fireworks at the beach when they're interrupted by the voice of a child. And, the third story follows two friends who decide to visit their old middle school before it gets demolished, but, of course, they also run into trouble. Although the second and third stories are very similar, I enjoyed all of them.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Film Review—Friend 2: The Great Legacy (2013)

Friend 2: The Great Legacy (Review)
South Korea/2013
Format Viewed for Review: DramaFever
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...it's still an adequate crime film—you'll find plenty of shady deals, brawls, and violence—but it's not the sequel it could have been."

Seventeen years after the events of the first movie, Lee Joon-suk (Yu Oh-seung) is released from prison after serving time for ordering the assassination of his friend.

Friend 2: The Great Legacy is often a hit-or-miss film. The plot is a follow-up to the 2001 crime classic. You should definitely watch the original film before this. The story follows Lee Joon-suk, who is serving time for his friend's assassination. As he prepares to leave, we're introduced to Choi Sung-hoon (Kim Woo-bin), a young man who has fallen to a life of crime after living a troubled childhood. Sung-hoon ends up in the same jail as Joon-suk, so, at the request of Sung-hoon's mother, Joon-suk takes the young man under his wing. However, all is not well beyond the prison walls. When he's released Joon-suk finds that his subordinate has taken control of his gang. So, together, Joon-suk and Sun-hoon set out to set things straight. It leads to an underwhelming climax. The ending is compelling, though.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Film Review—Léon: The Professional (1994)

Léon: The Professional (Review)
France/1994
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a stylish, action-packed thriller with compelling characters and relationships."

Léon (Jean Reno), a highly-skilled assassin, reluctantly takes in Mathilda (Natalie Portman), a twelve-year-old girl, after her family is murdered.

Léon: The Professional is a unique experience. The plot is simple on the surface, but the characters and their authentic relationships truly shine. The story follows Léon, a professional assassin—the best in town, in fact. When he's not out killing for the mob, Léon lives a lonely, unrooted life. His life changes after the family of his neighbor, Mathilda, is slaughtered by a group of corrupt DEA agents led by Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Instead of abandoning her, he reluctantly takes her in and begins teaching her the way of the assassin. But, just as he changes her life, she changes his. The film leads to an action-packed climax and a compelling ending.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Film Review: The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

The Slumber Party Massacre (Review)
United States/1982
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"It does nothing to differentiate itself from the rest of the genre, but it works."

An escaped mental patient with a drill crashes a high school slumber party, hell-bent on killing everyone.

There isn't much to say about the plot in The Slumber Party Massacre. The story follows a group of high school girls who throw a slumber party. Of course, some guys crash the party, too. All is well until an escaped mental patient arrives at the party and starts picking them off, one-by-one. Meanwhile, Valerie, a new student at the school, spends time with her sister at their house next door, blissfully unaware of the carnage at the slumber party. That's it. What else is there to say, really? The climax was good and the ending was decent.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Film Review: No Mercy (2010)

No Mercy (Review)
South Korea/2010
Format Viewed for Review: DramaFever
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It is dark, gritty, and relentless."

A forensic specialist is forced to aid a suspected killer in order to rescue his daughter from his clutches...

No Mercy follows forensic specialist Kang Min-ho (Sol Kyung-gu). As he waits for his daughter to arrive in South Korea from the United States, Min-ho is called upon to aid in the investigation of a young woman's murder. This woman, found at a local river, is found dismembered and decapitated. Thanks to the work of Min-ho and rookie cop Min Seo-young (Han Hye-jin), the crime is tracked to environmental activist Lee Sung-ho (Ryoo Seung-bum). Sung-ho happily confesses to the crime, too. However, after Sung-ho's capture, Min-ho finds his daughter has gone missing—and Sung-ho is responsible. So, in order to save his daughter, Min-ho must save Sung-ho. Don't worry, most of this little summary occurs during the first act, but I won't spoil anything else anyway. It's a film where the less you know, the better it is. It leads to a great ending, too.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Film Review: John Wick (2014)

John Wick (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed for Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...filled to the brim with stylish hand-to-hand combat and plenty of masterfully choreographed shootouts."

A retired hitman comes out of retirement after a group of thugs take everything from him.

John Wick is a simple but effective action film. The plot follows John Wick (Keanu Reeves), a retired hitman. After the death of his wife, Wick is left to grief alone. That is, until a puppy shows up at his door as a posthumous gift from his wife. However, just as Wick prepares to move forward with his life, a group of thugs break into his home, steal his car, and kill his dog. So, Wick returns to his old ways and begins hunting the man responsible—Ioseft, the naïve son of Viggo (Michael Nyqvist), a Russian mob boss. That's really all there is to the plot. It doesn't delve deeply into any of its characters, but it does enough to help you sympathize (or hate, in some cases). It leads to a strong climax and an expected ending.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Film Review: Shot Caller (2017)

Shot Caller (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Google Movies
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a suspenseful, emotional, violent, and raw experience."

After a deadly car accident, Jacob Harlon (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is sent to prison where he becomes institutionalized...

Shot Caller follows Jacob Harlon in a nonlinear story. The plot frequently jumps between past and present. In the present, Jacob, known as Money by his gang, is released from prison. He immediately begins working on a deal orchestrated by his boss, The Beast, who still resides in prison. The deal: selling a cache of illegal firearms to a violent gang. In the past, Harlon is depicted as a successful family man who made a mistake: he drank, he flew past a red light, and his actions killed his best friend. He ends up in prison where he realizes it's either kill or be killed—be a warrior or a victim. Harlon decides to be a warrior. The storytelling allows the film to stay on its feet throughout its entire runtime—it never feels boring. The story is simple, but it works. It does, however, lead to an unbelievable ending. Yes, I know, I know: it's just a movie! I just felt like it pushed the realms of reality a bit too far.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Film Review: The Truth Beneath (2016)

The Truth Beneath (Review)
South Korea/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...a stylish, fast-paced mystery-thriller with plenty of twists and turns as well as some stellar performances."
 
For 15 days, a politician and his wife maneuver through a scandal involving their daughter's sudden disappearance just before the national elections.

The Truth Beneath is a roller coaster of a film, filled with exciting twists and turns. The plot follows politician Kim Jong-chan (Kim Joo-hyuk), who is seeking to win an election against his former mentor, his wife Kim Yeon-hong (Son Ye-jin), and their daughter Kim Min-jin (Shin Ji-hoon). All is well during the campaign until Min-jin mysteriously vanishes. In order to keep their political momentum, Jong-chan and his team decide to keep the disappearance under wraps. Yeon-hong, however, won't allow it as she embarks on an investigation of her own. During her investigation, Yeon-hong discovers her daughter's hidden life as well as much more. I won't say more, though, because that would just ruin the surprises. Seriously, this is a film you should watch without reading spoiler-riddled reviews—the less you know, the better. It leads to a great climax and a solid ending.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

31 Days of Halloween 2017 Review Recap!

31 Days of Halloween 2017 is over, ending with my review of John Carpenter's The Thing. Unfortunately, I did not review 31 movies this year. My schedule was busy, so I missed over a week of reviews. So, I'll punish myself for that later by watching some of the worst movies ever made. Anyway, thanks for joining me this year. I always appreciate your readership. Below, you'll find a list of the movies I watched, the scores I awarded, and the average of the year.

10/01: Alien: Covenant (2017) - 7/10
10/02: Cannibal Ferox (1981) - 5/10
10/03: Flowers in the Attic (1987) - 7/10
10/04: Happy Birthday to Me (1981) - 7/10
10/05: My Bloody Valentine (2009) - 6/10
10/06: See No Evil (2006) - 5/10
10/07: The Cat O' Nine Tails (1971) - 7/10
10/08: Suspiria (1977) - 8/10
10/09: Inferno (1980) - 7/10
10/10: Opera (1987) - 8/10
10/11: The Stendhal Syndrome (1996) - 7/10
10/12: Cult of Chucky (2017) - 6/10
10/13: The Piper (2015) - 7/10
10/14: Amityville: The Awakening (2017) - 4/10
10/15: The Crucifixion (2017) - 7/10
10/16: N/A
10/17: N/A
10/18: N/A
10/19: N/A
10/20: Train to Busan (2016) - 9/10
10/21: Natural Born Killers (1994) - 8/10
10/22: Noroi: The Curse (2005) - 8/10
10/23: N/A
10/24: N/A
10/25: N/A
10/26: N/A
10/27: I Saw the Devil (2010) - 10/10
10/28: Dawn of the Dead (2004) - 9/10
10/29: Raw (2016) - 8/10
10/30: The Corpse of Anna Fritz (2015) 7/10
10/31: The Thing (1982) - 10/10

Average Score 167/230: 7.3/10 (estimated)

With a 7.3 average, this the highest scoring 31 Days of Halloween special on this site—and this is the fifth year. It should be note that there were less movies this time around, though, so that probably helped the score. (Less movies=less chances of watching something bad.) Although I missed my goal, I had a lot of fun this year and I'm looking forward to next year's celebration already. If you want to check out last year's recap, click here. Thanks for reading!