thriller

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!

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‘Flatliners’ (1990)– Steelbook Unboxing

My 31 Days of Halloween/ horror content continues with this unboxing video for an exclusive Steelbook of the 1990 original supernatural thriller Flatliners.


Have you all seen the original Flatliners? How does it compare to the new reboot? Did you even check out the new take? I want to hear from you! Hit me up in the comments below!

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

Review: Eerie “IT” will chill your bones and warm your heart

Director: Andy Muschiettie

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Fin Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgard 

Year: 2017

Rating: R

IT is arguably one of Stephen King’s most involved and inscrutable works. The book significantly ties into King’s greater literary universe and explores abstract concepts that aren’t always easy to visualize or interpret, especially if you are unfamiliar with many of the author’s other stories.

That in combination with some of the more– ahem– avant-garde material in the novel might explain the lack of attempts at a big screen adaptation since King first published IT back in 1986.

Thankfully, Director Andy Muschiettie (Mama) and his screenwriters Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman accessibly scale back the more confounding, cosmic elements of King’s terrifying tale to focus in on the coming-of-age story at its core. And why not? It’s the strongest, most relatable aspect of the book and so too of the new film.

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Bill Skarsgard as IT, aka Pennywise

By now I’m sure you’re at least somewhat familiar with the iconic scene that sets everything into motion. It’s a rainy autumn afternoon in the small, fictional town of Derry, Maine. A young, sickly boy named Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) sends his baby brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) outside to play with a nifty paper boat. Almost immediately, the S.S. Georgie (as it’s christened) is swallowed up by a storm drain.

Just then, what should appear from the dark, damp abyss but a jovial, dancing clown (Bill Skarsgard). Calling himself Pennywise and claiming to be a friend, the gleaming anomaly offers Georgie his boat back. Paying no attention to the drool running from the clown’s mouth or the accompanying dead-eyed stare, Georgie reaches into the drain and– well– let’s just say Pennywise ain’t exactly runnin’ a charity here.

Sadly, Georgie is just the latest in a long line of children who’ve recently gone missing in Derry. And things might have stayed that way too. You see, nobody in Derry is too keen on actually investigating these disappearances. None of the adults anyways.

Holding out hope that his younger brother is still alive, Bill employs the aid of his closest friends (they call themselves the Losers Club) to investigate the Barrens, a local tract of muddy land where the nearby river meets the city sewage. Here the Losers hunt for George; instead, they discover they’re the ones being hunted.

IT-Losers

One by one, the Losers have their own traumatizing run-in with Pennywise wherein IT terrorizes them by taking the form of their greatest fears. Among these malicious manifestations are a deformed nun; an oozing leper; and the crispy, headless corpse of a dead child. Though we only catch brief glimpses of them, each shape is vividly repulsing and impossible to un-see. That’s the genius of Muschiettie’s approach.

However, the ultimate success or failure of IT hinges on its casting, which is why I’m enthusiastic to report that Muschiettie and company have positively nailed the casting and all the way around too.

Bill Skarsgard is an impressive follow-up to Tim Curry, who had an iconic turn as Pennywise during the IT miniseries back in 1990. Though his performance isn’t as flamboyant as Curry’s, Skarsgard still captures the whimsical spirit of the child-eating clown.

While you may buy a ticket to see Skarsgard as IT, you will walk away remembering the Losers. Spending time with the central group of kids here is a joy and even though there are seven of them, each is allotted a healthy dose of screen time; not just to explain their individual encounters with Pennywise, but also to explore the deeper (and oftentimes scarier) conflicts in their lives.

The chemistry among the young cast is infectious. It’s difficult to resist their shared charm but easy to believe that these kids would actually be friends in real life. Though their story seems otherworldly at times, their earnestness with each other and the audience feels very grounded. Ultimately, I felt scared when they felt scared and happy when they felt happy because I cared.

Grade: A

IT is setting fire to a number of box office records. That means plenty of people are heading out to see it, which means there ought to be plenty of opinions. How did you enjoy IT? Did you opt not to go because you hate clowns? Hit me up in the comments below! I want to know!

Review: ‘Good Time’ is a great movie about some bad people

Director(s): Josh & Benny Safdie

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Taliah Webster, Barkhad Abdi, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Rated: R (for language throughout, violence, drug use and sexual content)

Year: 2017

You don’t need to like the main character of a story. You need only be compelled by them. That’s good new for Good Time‘s Constantine Nikas, a.k.a. Connie– a.k.a. Robert Pattinson– a.k.a. the sociopaths scum of the Earth whose exploitative escapades pile up like a devastating train wreck that’s increasingly tough to look away.

Through the course of Good Time, Connie ruins the lives of everybody unfortunate enough to cross tracks with him. He gets his brother Nick (played by co-writer/director Benny Safdie), the only person he truly cares about outside himself, thrown in prison for a botched bank robbery. He tricks an elderly woman into letting him hide out in her house, then seduces her granddaughter (who looks a lot younger than we’re told). Connie even drugs and frames a security guard at the local carnival, all in the pursuit of ten-thousand dollars needed to bail out Nick.

It’s the type of selfish and self-destructive behavior that makes for a fascinating character study and Pattinson is mesmerizing as a master manipulator with a gift for reading people and situations and orchestrating both to his advantage. Not unlike Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler or Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver, Pattinson will have your skin crawling and leave you reeling for a shower.

Connie doesn’t care what he has to do or who he has to do it to on his way to reuniting with his brother. It’s what makes him far and away the most deplorable character in the film. That said, nearly everyone we meet is in one way or another deserving of our disdain. In particular Buddy Duress’s Ray, a whiny, low-life drug dealer who helps Connie navigate the neon-laden criminal underbelly of New York.

And thanks to Director Benny and Josh Safdie’s stylized vision, it’s a fittingly muted place to be. Frequently the singular source of light is a static, white television screen; a dim, blue street lamp; or the ghostly luminescence of some far off pair of headlights. The world Connie inhabits is constantly humming with a soft, bleak glow.

These bleak, electric colors work in conjunction with the pounding synth score to reflect Connie’s artificial soul. He doesn’t value people and relationships the way most people do. At times though I found the music to be too “in your face” and more headache inducing than thought provoking.

If possible, I recommend going into this film as blind as possible. I found that the trailer spoils a considerable plot point of the story. Regardless, Good Time is a great film about some bad people.

Grade: A

What did you think of Good Time? Were you impressed by Robert Pattinson’s performance? Who is your favorite movie sociopath? Let us know in the comments below!

Review: What’s old is new again in ‘Wind River’

Director: Taylor Sheridan

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Teo Briones, Graham Greene, and Gil Birmingham

Synopsis: An FBI agent teams with a town's veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. 

Rated: R

Year: 2017

It’s late night. A young Native American woman bolts barefoot across the vast, unforgiving Wyoming tundra. She collapses into the frigid snow. Warm blood pools from her mouth onto the icy slush. She stumbles back to her feet before buckling one last time just a few yards away.

Within the first few minutes of Wind River, long-time screenwriter and first-time director Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water) paints a powerful picture. It’s one of a merciless countryside where only grief and loneliness thrive; one of life and death on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Sheridan channels and maintains this chilling ambience throughout the film. As I shivered in my seat, I couldn’t help but feel the influences of other great murder mysteries like Zodiac or The Silence of the Lambs.

Their influences don’t stop there, either. Wind River also borrows familiar story tropes. Most noticeable here is the through line involving a young, ambitious crime fighter who enlists the aid of a grizzled expert (in some field) to help solve a gruesome murder.

In this case, our crime fighter is Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen). She’s a Vegas-based FBI agent and though she’s still wet behind the ears, she’s the closest prospect to the reservation. It’s not long after Agent Banner’s arrival that she pairs herself off with Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a local hunter who knows the surrounding land “like it’s his job” and shares an intimate relationship with the natives.

Olsen and Renner displayed great chemistry in both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War so it’s no surprise that the two work well together here. That said, Wind River is Jeremy Renner’s movie. Twice the guy’s been nominated for an Oscar and he could very well be looking down the barrel of a third nod for his work as what equates to a contemporary take on Clint Eastwood’s performance in Unforgiven.

Wind River also boasts a strong supporting cast with honorable mentions going to Graham Greene and Gil Birmingham. Greene breezily manages double duty as both the reservation’s world-weary Chief of Police (who only has six officers to cover a landmass equal to the size of Rhode Island) and a majority of the film’s comic relief. Birmingham, on the other hand, gives a heart-wrenching performance as the young victim’s father whose family seems to be coming undone at the seams.

As he proved with Sicario and Hell or High Water, Sheridan understands people and has a talent for transcribing natural speech onto the big screen. This helps him craft rich, human characters that are easy to invest in and root for, even (or perhaps especially) when they inevitably do wind up taking the law into their own hands.

Those scenes are cathartic to say the least, but they also speak to the deeper thematic context of Sheridan’s unofficial frontier trilogy. Our government marginalizes certain groups of people but how does that marginalization affect the people within those groups and at what points does the law start and stop working for and against them?

Grade: A

What did you all think of Wind River? Are you a fan of Sicario and/or Hell or High Water? Let us know what you think of Taylor Sheridan as a rising talent in the comments section!