review

31 Days of Halloween: ‘Happy Death Day’ (2017)– Video Review

Did good things happen when Scream met Groundhog Day on Friday the 13th? Check out my video review for Happy Death Day and find out for yourself!


What did you all think of Happy Death Day? Where you entertained by this quirky slasher or were you not impressed? Hit me up in the comments below, I want to hear your thoughts!

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31 Days of Halloween: Review: Star-making performance carries Blumhouse to another victory in ‘Happy Death Day’

By Jordan Peterson |

HDD

A baby-faced killer stalks Jessica Rothe in “Happy Death Day.” | Universal Studios


Director: Christopher Landon
Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton
Release date: October 13th, 2017
Rated: PG-13 (for violence/terror, crude sexual content, language, some drug material and partial nudity)
Running time: 1 hour and 36 minutes


“Get up. Live your day. Get killed. Again.”

If the tagline for Blumhouse’s latest low-budget horror flick, Happy Death Day, sounds familiar, that’s because it’s essentially a variation on Edge of Tomorrow‘s “Live. Die. Repeat.” Both films sample the catchy Groundhog Day hook where somebody must re-live the same twenty-four hour duration over and over and over again until they’ve learned some valuable life lesson or accomplished some meaningful task (or both).

In Happy Death Day that somebody is Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), a sorority mean girl trapped inside the day of her murder (also her birthday) until she can unmask her baby-faced killer and learn to be a better person.

It couldn’t hurt, either. The first time we meet Tree, the snarky party girl is waking with a hangover in the bed of a sweet nerdy guy named Carter (Isreal Broussard) after a night of intoxicated debauchery. He folded her pants and offers her water and Ibuprofen, yet Tree’s only concern is making sure nobody ever finds out about their one-night stand.

Tree treats everybody in her life with similar disgust. That is, of course, except one hunky professor with whom she regularly helps commit adultery. So it’s no surprise that once the time comes to whip up a list of people who might want her dead, Tree doesn’t even bother.

Though it’s initially played for laughs, we eventually learn that deep down Tree truly hates herself. Not a shocker, I know. You need only flip on any T.V. show to find this exact trope playing out in one form or another. The difference here, however, is star Jessica Rothe (who briefly shared the screen alongside Emma Stone in La La Land).

Though it takes some time before Rothe is given much to do outside scowl, her infectious charisma ultimately wins the day. Happy Death Day is at its very best when she is allowed to embrace her inner-jokester. In between, Rothe serves the more somber, character moments with just the right amount of ham.

Verdict: 🎃🎃🎃 (out of four)


Did you all get a chance to catch Happy Death Day? What did you think? Was it everything you hoped a Scream and Groundhog Day crossover would be? Hit me up in the comments below. I want to hear from you!

31 Days of Halloween: Cube (1997)– Video Review

We keep the 31 Days of Halloween content flowing with this video review of the cult thriller Cube.

Have you all got to check out Cube? If so, what did you think? Hit me up in the comments below and let me know!

31 Days of Halloween: Review: Zombie drama ‘Maggie’ more dead than living

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Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin are father and daughter in “Maggie.” (Lionsgate)

Arnold Schwarzenegger built his acting career around blowing stuff up and nailing hammy one-liners. To that end, the notion of him starring in a zombie apocalypse movie conjures up some pretty thrilling images. Alas, whatever movie might be playing in your head (perhaps one where Arnie mows down legions of the undead with a military-grade turret mounted atop an armored truck with a half-smoked cigar hanging from his mouth) is still better than Maggie.

The first few minutes of Maggie cleverly establishes via a mattering of disembodied news reports (because those’ve never been done before) that a clearly made-up virus has broken out across the country and is slowly transforming those infected into decaying cannibals. Abigail Breslin’s Maggie is one of those unfortunate souls and Wade (Schwarzenegger) is her father, a lifelong farmer who’d rather kill a friendly cop just doing his job than turn his necrotizing teenage daughter over to quarantine.

Director Henry Hobson has an ambitious, zombie-lite vision for his film. He wants to tell a personal, character-driven story about a daughter living her last days alongside her father, step-mom (Joely Richardson), and closest friends, all of them well aware that the end is near for the young lady. The aspiration is admirable and Hobson fittingly constructs a consistent, meditative air of gloom.

Unfortunately, the narrative often wanders from the beaten country path and into the indiscernible wilderness (both figuratively and literally) with little explanation as to why. In one short scene Wade sets a nearby field ablaze seemingly just so he can watch it burn. Another time he drives over to his neighbor Bonnie’s (Rachel Whitman Groves) house (even though it’d already been established that the two live close enough to walk) to investigate the room where she kept her zombified husband and son. It’s a touching moment but one that admittedly had me puzzled as to Wade’s motivation.

It should also be noted that, despite the draw of her aging co-star, it’s Breslin who carries Maggie. Schwarzenegger is still an actor of limited range. The behind the scenes artists have done a nice job making him appear haggard and beaten down, but it’s still up to Schwarzenegger to sell me on his character’s emotional journey and here Mr. Universe just isn’t up to the task.

🎃🎃 (out of 4)


Director: Henry Hobson

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson, Rachel Whitman Groves

Rated: PG-13

Year: 2015

What did you all get a chance to check out Maggie? What did you think? Was it your cup of tea or would you rather see Arnie take on zombies in good, ole fashioned Arnie style? Hit me up in the comments below, I wanna hear from you!

 

‘Blade Runner 2049’ (2017)– Video Review

Blade Runner finally gets a sequel in Blade Runner 2049. Is it worth the 35 year wait?

What did you think of Blade Runner 2049? Do you absolutely love it or do you think these films are boring? I want to know so hit me up in the comments!

31 Days of Halloween: Review: ‘Gerald’s Game’ another excellent Stephen King adaptation

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Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood star in Netflix’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “Gerald’s Game.”

Leave it to Stephen King to find a way to make handcuffs in the bedroom not sexy.

That’s the case with his smaller known tale of matrimonial terror, Gerald’s Game. Obviously the 1992 novel has been around a while, but for most of its existence many have considered it unfilmable. Well thanks to Netflix, that’s now a concern of the past.

As of September 29th, the fearless streaming service has released their adaptation of King’s novel. Now King isn’t known for grounded storytelling; rather, he’s adored for his disturbed characters and darkly twisted imagination. On those fronts, Gerald’s Game is a true winner.

The setup is simple yet unsettling. Jessie (Carla Gugino) and her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) attempt to save their troubled marriage with a weekend getaway at a reclusive lake house. That’s where Gerald handcuffs his wife to the bed as a freaky approach to spicing up their limp romance.

In vintage King methodology, Gerald suffers a heart attack and dies before un-cuffing Jessie from the headboard (of course he couldn’t use fuzzy cuffs because those break too easy). It’s a nightmarish scenario that immediately had me contemplating what I’d do in the same situation, heaven forbid.

Almost immediately (and often in eye-rolling fashion) the odds start building against Jessie. A starving, feral dog wanders into the lake house via a door the couple inexplicably leaves open and begins feasting on her husband’s corpse. She’s also frequented by a tall, gangly vision of a man who may or may not be a hallucination brought on by Jessie’s intensifying dehydration and mania.

Most of Gerald’s Game centers around Jessie speaking to herself in the bed. To be more accurate, she’s speaking to aspects of herself represented by ghostly manifestations of herself and Gerald.

With so few characters populating its story, Gerald’s Game rides or dies with its lead performances and thankfully Gugino and Greenwood came to play (see what I did there?). Both commit to the various versions of their characters and the way the two volley philosophies of life and death back and forth is so hypnotic that it alone sustains most of the film’s near-two hour runtime.

Gerald’s Game is at its most disturbing when it’s exploring Jessie’s traumatizing past via artsy flashbacks. This is also when the film is at its most compelling as Jessie is forced to finally acknowledge and confront her deepest, darkest secrets. At times Mike Flanagan’s (Oculus, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil) film feels more like a brooding coming of age movie than a straight horror thriller.

🎃🎃🎃 1/2 (out of four)


Director: Mike Flanagan

Starring: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greendwood

Rated: TV-MA

Year: 2017

Did you all get a chance to check out Gerald’s Game on Netflix? If so, what did you think? Is it worth the hype? Let me know in the comments below!

Review: Energized ‘American Made’ glides on Cruise control

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Tom Cruise plays the drug smuggling pilot Barry Seal in “American Made.” (Universal Pictures)

It’s good to see Tom Cruise acting again!

Not to put down Cruise’s work as a supremely entertaining action hero, but Ethan Hunt’s character arc wrapped up with Mission: Impossible III. Cruise has been playing a variation on the super spy melody ever since (what ‘Mummy’ remake?).

Cruise gets a chance to fully embrace his more boisterous inner-thespian in this ludicrous, quick-paced crime comedy based off the real-life exploits of Louisiana-born TWA pilot Barry Seal. Seal, to earn a little extra cash on the side of his commercial career, made a habit out of sneaking cigars back into the states during flights to Cuba. This, of course, does not go unnoticed.

In the late 70s, the giddy pilot is approached by a mysterious, redheaded CIA clerk named Schaffer (Domhnall Gleeson) who offers him a job as a CIA operative. The name of the game? Flying over and nabbing pictures of secret Soviet military installations down in Central America. Giggling, Seal accepts. For a bored pilot who’d resorted to deliberate nosedives of commercial airliners for the sake of spicing up his monotonous routine, the offer (much like this movie) is too thrilling to pass up.

Eventually, Barry gets so good at his new job (as he puts it in the film) that the feds increased his shady workload. Seal began working as an intel courier for the Panamanian dictator (also a CIA-informant) as well as smuggling weapons to the U.S.-backed Contra in Nicaragua. Sometimes Seal even snuck young Nicaraguan troops into and out of the states who needed to be trained to combat Commies back home.

Seal’s dubious relationship with the CIA is carefully groomed by Schaffer. And though he doesn’t get much screen time here, Gleeson steals the scenes he’s in with an appropriately awkward performance.

In exchange for his services, the CIA agrees to look the other way once Seal gets involved with Pablo Escobar (Alberto Ospino) and starts running cocaine for the Medellin cartel. Before he knows it, Seal is literally drowning in riches (there’s a funny sequence wherein Barry, struggling to find a place to stash his dirty money, opens a closet door only to have a huge pile of cash spill out all over him).

It’s more money than he and his family can spend or bury in the yard. It’s more even than they can launder, though that’s not for a lack of trying. The Seals set up several fronted businesses that help transform Mena, Arkansas into a pseudo-boom town.

Director Doug Liman (whose previous works include the Matt Damon-led ‘Bourne’ films as well as the Cruise-helmed Edge of Tomorrow) takes a cavalier approach to the story at hand. American Made never pauses to acknowledge the destructive repercussions of Seal’s crimes or their ensuing insanity. Nor does it delve into the cruel inner workings of cartel business. Instead, Liman keeps flying from one crazy episode to the next.

That same momentum which keeps American Made airborne also keeps it from soaring to greater heights. We never learn much about anybody, including Barry Seal. In fact, he’s made out to be a greedy, Reagan-era caricature.

Ultimately, American Made floats on Cruise’s charm and charisma. It’s the actor’s most enthusiastic performance in a long time and it’s impossible to resist that superstar smile of his. We know Barry Seal is a one of the bad guys, but it feels right rooting for him to come out on top of all the insanity.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (Out of 4)


Director: Doug Liman

Starring: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright

Rated: R (for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity)

Year: 2017