Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Film Review: Tokyo Videos of Horror 1

Tokyo Videos of Horror 1 (Review)
Japan/Date Unknown
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Prime
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...if you're a fan of anthologies and found footage movies, this is a very entertaining package."

An anthology of five short films from the Tokyo Videos of Horror series.

Although I reviewed Tokyo Videos of Horror: Panic Collection last year, I'm still not very familiar with the series, so here I am watching more. (And it helps that this collection is also available on Amazon Prime Video.) This collection features five videos. The first video is part of the aforementioned Panic Collection. It follows a couple who are lighting fireworks at the beach before they're interrupted by the voice of a child. The second story is very short, following a group of friends who are visited by a creepy entity during a trip. The third story follows a pair of cleaners who are sent to a grave where they are asked to perform some strange rituals. The fourth story is another short one. It's a video of a family playing while being 'watched' by something. It ends with a surprisingly brutal story of revenge where a young woman is forced to consume two capsules, then she's asked to kill herself. Although some of the stories were ridiculously short, I enjoyed this collection.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Film Review: Hard Candy (2005)

Hard Candy (Review)
United States/2005
Format Viewed for Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It dares to enter taboo territory, and I applaud it for it that."

A teenage girl baits and captures a man in a plot to expose him as a pedophile.

Hard Candy follows Hayley (Ellen Page), a 14-year-old girl, and Jeff (Patrick Wilson), a 32-year-old photographer. After developing a relationship over the internet, Jeff and Hayley meet at a café, then they decide to go back to Jeff's house. At the house, Haley continues to flirt with Jeff until she drugs him and ties him to a chair. When he awakens, she reveals her true intentions: she wants to expose Jeff as a pedophile. Of course, Jeff refutes the claim, but there are a lot of secrets in his house. The rest of the plot is basically Hayley torturing Jeff, physically and psychologically. It leads to an interesting ending. I liked the ending, but it felt underwhelming compared to the rest of the movie.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Film Review: Don't Knock Twice (2016)

Don't Knock Twice (Review)
United Kingdom/2016
Format Viewed for Review: Showtime
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It's not a terrifying movie, but it was a fun time killer."

A mother attempts to reconnect with her estranged daughter, who happens to be haunted by a demonic witch.

Don't Knock Twice reminded me of horror films from the 2000s. The plot follows Jess (Katee Sackhoff), an American painter with a troubled past, and her estranged daughter Chloe (Lucy Boynton). Jess wants to rebuild her life with Chloe, but Chloe refuses since she isn't ready to forgive Jess for her past actions. Her mind is quickly changed when, for some reason, Chloe and her friend Danny decide to test a local urban legend and disturb a witch by knocking twice on her door. So, Chloe runs home after she finds herself being haunted by said witch. There isn't much more to the plot. It has a few 'twists,' if you can call them that, but it mostly plays it safe and follows a predictable route. The ending was interesting, but it felt rushed and underwhelming.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Film Review: Before I Wake (2016)

Before I Wake (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed for Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It's an entertaining and even heartfelt blend of horror and fantasy."

A couple adopts an orphaned child whose dreams become reality while he sleeps.

Before I Wake follows a young couple, Mark (Thomas Jane) and Jessie (Kate Bosworth). Mark and Jessie are still mourning the loss of their first and only child. Their lives change after they adopt an 8-year-old boy named Cody Morgan (Jacob Tremblay). He's a shy but well-mannered child with an interesting past—his mother passed away at a young age, he was abandoned by his past families, and he doesn't like sleeping. Mark and Jessie eventually find out about Cody's special ability: his dreams manifest physically. Mark and Jessie are happy with the dreams... but then the nightmares start occurring. Then, they start seeing The Canker Man. It leads to an emotionally effective ending, but the exposition was heavy-handed—it felt lazy.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Film Review: Don't Hang Up (2016)

Don't Hang Up (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"If you're a fan of thrillers like Joy Ride, you might enjoy this one the most."

A pair of teenage pranksters are targeted by a mysterious stranger who wants to play a game with them.

Don't Hang Up follows two pranksters, Sam Fuller (Gregg Sulkin) and Brady Mannion (Garrett Clayton). Sam is depressed because of his girlfriend's distant behavior, so Brady comes up with a bright idea: drinks and pranks. So, the pair drink and prank Sam's neighbors. Then, they receive a mysterious call from a 'Mr. Lee,' who happens to know a lot about Sam and Brady. They shrug off his initial threats and move on with their night. Mr. Lee has other plans for them, though. He reveals that he's kidnapped the loved ones of Sam and Brady. The only way to free them is if Sam kills Brady... or if Brady kills Sam. It leads to a predictable ending. The ending didn't leave a strong impression, unfortunately.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Film Review: Acts of Vengeance (2017)

Acts of Vengeance (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It has a decent amount of action, but it's missing heart."

A popular defense attorney searches for the person who killed his wife and daughter in hopes of exacting his revenge.

Acts of Vengeance follows lawyer Frank Valer (Antonio Banderas). While he's at work, breaking a promise to his family, Frank's wife and daughter are murdered and dumped in a hole in a train yard. Frank is devastated by the news and he begins to punish himself, turning into a human punching bag for a local fight club. However, after finding and reading Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, Frank decides to take action. He trains himself into a fighting machine and takes a vow of silence until he finds the person who killed his wife and daughter. That's basically the entire plot. There's no way around it: it's generic. It leads to a predictable ending, too.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Film Review: Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...an engaging and entertaining crime-thriller with some of the most explosively violent scenes I've seen in recent years."

A drug runner finds himself in prison after a deal goes bad.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 follows Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn), a former boxer who's down on his luck. Looking to rebuild his life with his unfaithful wife, Lauren (Jennifer Carpenter), Bradley decides to return to his life as a drug runner. All is well for about a year and a half. Bradley and Lauren live in a new house, they have a child on the way, and they have plenty of money to spare. However, after a deal goes bad, Bradley lands in prison. Things only get worse after Lauren is kidnapped by his former associates. The lives of Lauren and his unborn child are threatened. In order to save them, Bradley must fight his way to Cell Block 99 in a different maximum-security prison. It loses some steam during its second act, but it hits hard during its grand finale. The ending is brutal and effective.